Where we attempt to fill you in on everything they forgot to teach you at school

Ancient 'Fort' May Have Been Peruvian Version of Stonehenge

Aerial photograph of Chankillo

In the coastal desert of Peru lies a strange structure some 2300-years-old, consisting of what appears to be a fort atop a hill, but with a vertebrae-like line of 13 towers constructed on a raised area to its south-east.

The fort is odd from a military point of view because it would have been almost impossible to defend: it has numerous entrances and no source of water inside. Then there are the towers, which are several hundred metres from the hilltop fort, lie in a straight line and serve no discernible defensive role.

So in 2007, archaeologists put forward a new interpretation. They suggested the site may have been a place of worship and a solar observatory, like Stonehenge, rather than a fort.

Their main evidence was that the towers line up with the sunrise on important dates such as summer and winter solstice.

Today, Amelia Sparavigna at the Politecnico di Torino in Italy adds some evidence using a program developed for calculating the position of the sun in the sky to determine how much sunlight should fall on solar panels.

According to Sparavigna, "the observing points are situated so that, on the solstices, the sunrises and sunsets line up with the towers at either end of the line, suggesting that this ancient civilization had a solar calendar". She goes on to suggest that this method of observing the sun's path during the year may have been used to help determine the optimum time for planting crops.

Ironically, Sparavigna also notes that the ancient archaeological site is now sadly under threat from new construction work planned by...agricultural companies.

Download the paper from Arxiv.org

Tattoos of a 2500-Year-Old Siberian Princess

2500 year old tattoo on a Siberian Princess

Just in case you thought getting a tattoo made you a cool, hip thing: do you want to be like your great, great, great ... great grandma?

The intricate patterns of 2,500-year-old tattoos - some from the body of a Siberian 'princess' preserved in the permafrost - have been revealed in Russia.

The remarkable body art includes mythological creatures and experts say the elaborate drawings were a sign of age and status for the ancient nomadic Pazyryk people, described in the 5th century BC by the Greek historian Herodotus.

Full story at the Daily Mail

'Lost Pyramids' of Egypt Found Using Google Earth?

Lost Pyramids of Egypt in Google Earth

Does this Google Earth image show a previously undiscovered ancient Egyptian pyramid complex? Satellite archaeology researcher Angela Micol has found two such complexes in her scans of Google Earth imagery, and has passed them on to Egyptologists for possible verification.

One of the complex sites contains a distinct, four-sided, truncated, pyramidal shape that is approximately 140 feet in width. This site contains three smaller mounds in a very clear formation, similar to the diagonal alignment of the Giza Plateau pyramids.

The second possible site contains four mounds with a larger, triangular-shaped plateau. The two larger mounds at this site are approximately 250 feet in width, with two smaller mounds approximately 100 feet in width. This site complex is arranged in a very clear formation with the large plateau, or butte, nearby in a triangular shape with a width of approximately 600 feet.

The sites have been verified as undiscovered by Egyptologist and pyramid expert Nabil Selim. Nabil’s discoveries include the pyramid called Sinki at Abydos and the Dry Moat surrounding the Step pyramid Complex at Saqqara. Nabil has stated the smaller 100 foot “mounds”, at one of the proposed complex sites, are a similar size as the 13th Dynasty Egyptian pyramids, if a square base can be discovered.

Next Steps

The Egyptian sites have been sent to Egyptologists and researchers for further investigation and “ground truthing”. Angela has stated, “The images speak for themselves. It’s very obvious what the sites may contain but field research is needed to verify they are, in fact, pyramids and evidence should be gathered to determine their origins. It is my hunch there is much more to these sites and with the use of Infrared imagery, we can see the extent of the proposed complexes in greater detail.”

Full story at Archaeology News Network; see also the Google Earth Anomalies website for more imagery.

(via @VinBrown)

Update: Google Earth Tour of Mysterious Locations

Evidence for Earliest Modern Humans Pushed Back By 20,000 Years

The orthodox view of the emergence of modern human culture has received a major jolt, with new evidence from South Africa pushing the 'official' date back some 20,000 years - twice as far back as previously thought (to 42,000BCE).

The earliest unambiguous evidence for modern human behaviour has been discovered by an international team of researchers in a South African cave. The artefacts are near identical to modern-day tools of the indigenous African San bush people.

Although 75,000-year-old evidence for human innovation has previously been found in southern Africa, the meaning of these artefacts has been difficult to interpret.

"These were things that seem symbolic, but there's no direct link to those people. We don't know what they were thinking," explained co-author Dr Lucinda Backwell of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.

These new discoveries, however, resemble modern day tools used by San hunter-gatherers so clearly as to remove any doubt as to their purpose.

"You can hold [one of the] ancient artefacts in your left hand and a modern artefact in your right and they're exactly the same. It's incredible… the functions are very, very clear," Dr Backwell told the BBC.

Read the full story at the BBC.

Five Men Stand Beneath an Atomic Bomb Explosion

"What you guys doing?"

"Oh nothing, just waiting FOR AN ATOMIC BOMB TO EXPLODE ABOVE OUR HEADS!"

On July 19, 1957, five men stood at Ground Zero of an atomic test that was being conducted at the Nevada Test Site. This was the test of a 2KT (kiloton) MB-1 nuclear air-to-air rocket launched from an F-89 Scorpion interceptor. The nuclear missile detonated 10,000 ft above their heads.

A reel-to-reel tape recorder was present to record their experience. You can see and hear the men react to the shock wave moments after the detonation.

Read more about it at NPR.

Easter Island Statues 'Walked'?

Fascinating article today from our good friend Alan Boyle at Cosmic Log on the legends regarding the "walking" statues of Easter Island, and how they may have had some basis in truth. Boyle discusses a recent National Geographic feature in which researchers attempted to move a 5-ton Moai replica vertically, rather than by sliding it horizontally along the ground:

The researchers found that the statue's fat belly produced a forward-falling center of gravity that facilitated vertical transport. A crew of as few as 18 people could use ropes to rock the statue back and forth, and forward... The vertical-transport trick worked with four rope-pullers on each side, plus 10 people to pull on the statue from behind, as if they were holding back a dog that was straining forward on a walk.

"It's really unnerving and beautiful, all at the same time," Hunt said.

...The statue-walking experiment alone doesn't prove that the entire scenario put forward by Hunt and Lipo is true, but it's consistent with the claims in the islanders' oral tradition that the statues "walked" down the road in ancient times. It also provides an alternate explanation for the ruined statues that littered the roads: When you lose control of the ropes, that's what happens, and you don't have any good way to move the broken pieces.

Read the full story at Cosmic Log.

Graham Hancock Down Under

Australian fans of Graham Hancock, here's a treat for you, coming later this year: in October Entheogenesis Australis & Lost Tribes are presenting "The 2012 Origins of Consciousness Tour: An Exploration into Psychedelics, Spirituality & Ancient Civilizations", with featured guests Graham Hancock, Dennis McKenna (co-explorer with and brother to Terence McKenna), and Mitch Schultz (of the recent documentary DMT: The Spirit Molecule).

What role have psychedelics played in the evolution of human imagination? What is the link between mystical experiences, neuroscience and parallel dimensions? What was the lost civilization destroyed in the last Ice Age? Will we meet the same fate or are we on the cusp of making the great leap forward into an evolved consciousness?

Join Graham Hancock, Dennis McKenna and Mitch Schultz as we unravel some of the BIG questions and take you on an inspirational journey to reconnect with our sacred past, help us understand our present challenges and work towards transforming the future.

The tour will be a fascinating combination of keynote talks, panel discussions and Q&As to be held:

Melbourne, 13th October
Brisbane, 18th October
Sydney, 20th October

Limited capacity. Full program & workshops announced soon. See entheo.net or email info@losttribes.net.au

Looking forward to it!

Stonehenge 1901

Before you go working on the astronomical alignments of Stonehenge, it's worth being familiar with the history of the place. For example, here's the stones being straightened in 1901:

Stonehenge 1901

Megalith-sized version here.

(via @EnglishHeritage)

Did Ancient Egyptians Record Binary Star Eclipses?

There's been plenty of controversial theories in recent decades about the possibility of advanced astronomical knowledge in ancient Egypt. Here's another one to add to the list, courtesy of arxiv.org: "Did the ancient Egyptians record the period of the eclipsing binary Algol - the Raging one?":

The eclipses in binary stars give precise information of orbital period changes. Goodricke discovered the 2.867 days period in the eclipses of Algol in the year 1783. The irregular orbital period changes of this longest known eclipsing binary continue to puzzle astronomers. The mass transfer between the two members of this binary should cause a long-term increase of the orbital period, but observations over two centuries have not confirmed this effect. Here, we present evidence indicating that the period of Algol was 2.850 days three millenia ago. For religious reasons, the ancient Egyptians have recorded this period into the Cairo Calendar, which describes the repetitive changes of the Raging one. Cairo Calendar may be the oldest preserved historical document of the discovery of a variable star.

Let the Dogon arguments begin all over again...

Update: More mainstream coverage of the paper via this Discovery.com article.

Bauval Returns Serve to Hawass

Last week I mentioned that former Egyptian archaeological supremo Dr Zahi Hawass had attacked 'hidden history' author Robert Bauval on the front page of the Egyptian daily Al Ahram. Bauval has now returned serve, bringing up the controversial old topic of whether Hawass PhD was funded by New Age organization, The Association of Research and Enlightenment (ARE), the executive branch of the Edgar Cayce Foundation. The allegations were first made in the biography of Cayce's son Hugh Lynn, written by A. Robert Smith:

In Robert Smith’s book it is further claimed that the reason for helping Hawass get his PhD was for Hawass “to advance within the [Egyptian] government to further his own career and open doors for Hugh Lynn [Cayce]’s project, [and] he could do it best on the wing of higher education at an American Ivy League college.” (Smith, Chapter 19, p. 250)

But many years later, in 1998 to be precise, both Hawass and Lehner denied that Hugh Lynn Cayce had been instrumental in helping Zahi Hawass obtain a Fulbright Scholarship to study for a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. They made official statements to that effect in the KMT Journal (volume 9, Number 1, Spring 1998, pp.5-6).

For another take on this most recent controversy involving Hawass, see also Philip Coppens' latest article "A New Future for Egyptology".