Walter Cruttenden writes to remind folks about this year's CPAK gathering, being held this weekend in San Diego:
Just a reminder that our 5th annual "Conference on Precession and Ancient Knowledge" (CPAK 2008) will take place at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in La Jolla, California this coming weekend October 4th and 5th.
CPAK has become the meeting place where authors, scientists and independent researchers explore the ancient idea that consciousness and history move in a vast cycle of time with alternating Dark and Golden Ages, a cycle Plato called: The Great Year. This once universal belief is finding increasing support in new interpretations of myth and folklore, discoveries of anomalous artifacts, revisions of archaeological site dating, astronomical insights, linguistic studies and new theories of consciousness.
Speakers at CPAK 2008 include Dr Robert Schoch, John Anthony West, David Hatcher Childress, Dr. Jocelyn Godwin, Dr. Carmen Boulter, Walter Cruttenden and Dr William Sullivan - full details available at the CPAK 2008 website. For anyone interested in ancient cultures, archaeoastronomy, and the topics discussed in books such as Fingerprints of the Gods and Hamlet's Mill, there's sure to be some fascinating discussion over the two days.
In the Road News section of his website, Filip Coppens has announced some more interesting news related to the controversial 'Bosnian Pyramid' excavation (with related image):
An archaeological site in Donje Mostre, in the Bosnian Valley of the Pyramid, has unveiled a Neolithic artefact that has been dated to 6000-3000 BC. The discovery was made by students of the German University of Kiel on September 23, and was announced by Zilke Kujundžic, who is actually one of the main opponents to the pyramid project, having filed numerous petitions for the work to be stopped, claiming the entire project is a hoax. We need to specify she actually labelled the object a pyramid.
The small ceramic pyramid – in some reports also referred to as a benben stone, because of apparent visual similarities with such stones in Egypt – is a major discovery, showing that local people, millennia ago, created ceramic objects in the shape of a pyramid. One can only wonder why, noting that Donje Mostre is also the location where giant rectangular stone blocks have been found, some of which are definitely manmade.
Filip is critical over Kujundžic's refusal to acknowledge a possible link between the find, and the 'Bosnian Pyramid. The saga continues...
Also worth noting at Filip's site is the news that 'alternative history' explorer Stan Hall has passed away. Hall organised the "Tayos Cave Expedition" in the 1970s, in search of the legendary 'Metal Library' of South America.
Last week at Cabinet of Wonders, Emps posted a piece about the 2012 meme:
It won't be long now until we are only four years away from 2012 and with the global economic meltdown in full effect it is tempting to worry that there might be something in it. This is exactly the climate doom-mongers and salvation-peddlers thrive in and I fully expect to see everything starting to ramp up soon. We've already seen some odd behaviour in Holland and an attempt to... sex up Armageddon and that is going to be nothing compared to some of the things we are going to see in the next few years.
So we are always grateful for a more level-headed analysis of the issue. I've previously looked at an good paper from the journal Nova Religio and so I was interested to see that Skepsis have posted what looks like the full text of an MA thesis called "'The 2012 Phenomenon': A historical and typological approach to a modern apocalyptic mythology."
I feel like I'm in a growing (or is that dwindling?) minority of people that are saying "what's the deal with this 2012 thing?" I've not seen anything to really convince me that 2012 is likely to bring some sort of apocalyptic event or turning point in human history. The Mayan calendar has an end-point there - what else have we got? For me, it just seems that 2012 offers some sort of touchstone for New Age hope - it feels rather like the whole Nostradamus 1999 prediction/millennial fever all over again. Apocalyptic movements are, after all, a common part of human history. So what makes 2012 different?
Post away - convince me I need to start building a bunker and gathering cans of food!
Update: Added a new poll on the topic, which you'll find in the info blocks on the right side of every page.
A new archaeological expedition has pinpointed the date of Stonehenge's construction - at least the stone bit - at 2300 BCE. No doubt bugging all those people who have written in the past that Stonehenge was built before the Great Pyramid.
Also covered in the story is this new concept of the famous megalithic site being the 'ancient Lourdes' - a place of pilgrimage for those seeking healing:
Professors Darvill and Wainwright believe that Stonehenge was a centre of healing - a "Neolithic Lourdes", to which the sick and injured travelled from far and wide, to be healed by the powers of the bluestones.
They note that "an abnormal number" of the corpses found in tombs nearby Stonehenge display signs of serious physical injury and disease. And analysis of teeth recovered from graves show that "around half" of the corpses were from people who were "not native to the Stonehenge area".
A further twist to the story is the importance (or not) of the Amesbury Archer:
Intriguingly, the date range ties in closely with the date for the burial of the so-called "Amesbury Archer", whose tomb was discovered three miles from Stonehenge. Some archaeologists believe the Archer is the key to understanding why Stonehenge was built.
Analyses of his corpse and artefacts from his grave indicate he was a wealthy and powerful man, with knowledge of metal working, who had travelled to Salisbury from Alpine Europe, for reasons unknown.
The new expedition has been filmed by the BBC Timewatch series, and the resulting documentary will be broadcast this Saturday, 27th of September. Should be fascinating.
Previously on TDG: Stonehenge the "Neolithic Lourdes"?
I'm very pleased to announce the publication of a new Daily Grail Publishing release, a freshly minted edition of Paul Devereux's wonderful book The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia (available now from Amazon US and Amazon UK):
Once again, another great cover from our good friend Mark James Foster of Artifice Design.
The book title says it all: author Paul Devereux explores the use of psychedelic substances throughout human history, and right across the globe. It's a great read, fascinating in its insights, and I'm really proud to have brought it back into print in a newly edited version (originally released in 1997, but more relevant now than ever).
I'll post a bit more about the book, perhaps with some excerpts later - hopefully by then Amazon will be showing the cover image! But wanted to give a heads-up to readers, because I know plenty of you will be very interested in this book.
Update: At this moment, Amazon US are discounting the book right down to $12.10 - not sure how long that will last, but you won't see the book cheaper than that!
The alleged 'Bosnian Pyramid' shot back into the limelight last week, with the "First International Scientific Conference on the 'Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids'" taking place from August 25th to 30th. Philip Coppens attended, and posted a detailed review of the event on his website.
To cut a long story short, the "Committee for Recommendation" concluded that there were important questions that should be answered about the site. This Committee had a number of archaeological heavyweights involved, including Egyptologist Dr Nabil Swelim, Dr Hassan El-Saady (historian and vice-dean of the Faculty of Arts at the Alexandria University) and Dr Mostafa El-Abbadi (historian and Founder of the modern Library in Alexandria (Bibliotheca Alexandrina):
The conclusions and recommendations were as follows: “We, the participants of the First International Scientific Conference “Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids” (ICBP 2008) conclude:
- Work at the archaeological location “Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids” in Visoko, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is an important geo-archaeological and epigraphical research that requires further multidisciplinary scientific research which should answer the origin of the Bosnian pyramidal hills and the extensive underground tunnel network as well as other archaeological sites in the vicinity;
- ICBP Conference recommends that Second International Scientific Conference about the Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids should be held in Sarajevo in two years (2010) and gather experts in pyramid research from all over the world;
- ICBP Conference introduce the initiative to establish Centre for Pyramid Studies with headquarter in Sarajevo;
- ICBP Conference recommends universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to establish study at the graduate level for archaeology as a support to the research project ‘Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids’.”
We've reported previously that open-minded investigators such as Robert Schoch have concluded that the 'pyramid' is not man-made (see also Issue 6 of our free PDF magazine Sub Rosa for a full report), so this may perhaps mark a turn-around in the fortunes of Sam Osmanagic's archaeological project. Certainly, the presence of some of these 'big names' is a boost for the prestige and credibility of his investigation of the 'Bosnian Pyramids' (Incidentally, I don't agree with Filip's summation that Robert's investigation was an "unscientific dismissal").
On the other hand, when Filip points out that Dr. Mohamed El-Anbaawy, one of the more critical members of the panel, argued that "much remains to be done in order to get satisfactory explanations for all geological and manmade features in the ‘Bosnian Pyramidal Region’", I don't read it as positively as Filip does ("satisfactory explanations" for "manmade features"?). Indeed, the cautious wording of the Committee's conclusion ("geo-archaeological" etc) still suggests to me that the verdict on the 'Bosnian Pyramids' remains up in the air. I'm sure we can all agree though that there should be further objective investigation, free of mud-slinging and politics, to bring more clarity to the situation.
Anybody want to revise their vote?
And you thought this was all settled - apparently not:
A leading expert on the shroud of Turin has won the support of an Oxford University laboratory for new carbon dating tests on the venerated but controversial relic, which was dismissed two decades ago as a fake.
Carbon dating tests carried out in 1988 indicated that the shroud, long revered as the winding-sheet in which the body of Jesus was wrapped for burial and bearing his imprint, had been made between 1260 and 1390.
The Catholic church admitted at the time that the shroud could not be authentic.
John Jackson, a physicist at Colorado University and a prominent expert on the relic, has argued that the tests were skewed by 1,300 years because of high levels of carbon monoxide. He said many other elements of the shroud, including details of the image, indicate that it is much more ancient.
Jackson will now work with the Oxford University lab to reassess the age of the relic. However, for now he'll have to work theoretically, because a Catholic spokesman has said that any tests will have to wait until after it is put on public display in 2010 - if the Vatican agrees at all to the new testing.
If modern civilisations were to fall in the same manner as ancient Egypt, would future generations be able to figure out the basics of our languages? The discovery of the Rosetta Stone provided the key to unlocking the mystery of Egyptian hieroglyphs. But modern writing is largely on paper or computer disks, which do not have the lifetime of stone.
Influential tech-geek/journalist Kevin Kelly has a fascinating rundown on how the Long Now Foundation addressed this problem, with their 'Modern Rosetta Stone':
During a Long Now field trip to a southwest archaeological site, the idea of a modern Rosetta Stone came up -- a backup of human languages that future generations might cherish. At a winter retreat in 1999, Long Now board member Doug Carlston suggested that for the parallel common text of this modern Rosetta Stone we should use the book of Genesis, since it was most likely already translated into all languages already. We hatched a plan to produce a 3-inch non-corroding disk which contained at least 1,000 translations of Genesis and other linguistic information about each language.
Following the archiving principle of LOCKS (Lots of Copies Keep 'em Safe) we would replicate the disk promiscuously and distribute them around the world with built in magnifiers. This project in long term thinking would do two things: it would showcase this new long-term storage technology, and it would give the world a minimal backup of human languages. We thought it might take a year to do.
Long story short, it took eight years. Last night at a ceremony at the Long Now museum in Fort Mason, one of five prototype disks Rosetta disk was presented to the Oliver Wilke Foundation, a Frankfurt-based linguistic center, who help support the project.
Check out Kelly's article for more details of this fascinating project. Also pretty cool is this tidbit of information regarding an earlier prototype, which is the stuff science fiction books are made of:
But it was not the very first disk. That one is in space. In 2004 the Rosetta Space Probe was launched by the European Space Agency. This small craft was created to land on a comet in 2014. Before it blasted off, the ESA contacted us because we share names. They asked if we'd like to mount a version of the disk on their probe. Of course we would! We had manufactured a pure nickel disc with a subset of 6,000 pages of language translations, which was mounted on the payload section of the probe.
So assuming the mission continues well, in 2014 the Rosetta Probe will land on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where it will measure the comet's molecular composition. Then it will remain at rest as the comet orbits the sun for hundreds of millions of years. So somewhere in the solar system, where it is safe but hard to reach, a backup sample of human languages is stored, in case we need one.
Or perhaps, not so much fiction. Who knows what's out there orbiting our Sun, unbeknownst to us...
Long-time readers of TDG will know that I'm very interested in archaeoastronomy (take a look at my essay on "The God With the Upraised Arm" as an example). MSNBC has just published a cool online feature titled "Ten ancient observatories spied from space" which is worth checking out.
Today, cutting-edge astronomers use space-based observatories to gain a sharp view of the stars and advance our understanding of the cosmos. But appreciation for celestial bodies dates back to ancient times. Many cultures built structures in ways that suggest they were in tune with Earth's annual trek around the sun. Other structures appear to take constellations and planets into account... Each page includes an image taken by GeoEye's Ikonos satellite, as it flew 423 miles above Earth at an average speed of 17,000 miles per hour.
Included are obvious sites such as Stonehenge and Chichen Itza, but also lesser known locations including Casa Rinconada and Chankillo.
Previously on TDG: Google Earth Tour of ancient and mysterious places.
Andrew Bayuk has posted his annual "Guardian's Spotlight interview with Dr Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. The interview covers a number of topical areas, including the restoration work on (and laser survey of) the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, and also that the Great Pyramid of Giza will no longer be part of the yearly closing cycle of the Giza pyramids - it will remain open always from now on (though limited to only 300 people per day).
Also mentioned in the interview is the 'persistent' matter of the Queen's Chamber shafts in the Great Pyramid (the site of the "Gantenbrink Door", first discovered...oh, 16 years ago now?):
I meet now with people from Singapore, and scientists from Manchester University, and also from Hong Kong, and we built a kind of a tunnel in the desert, similar to the one in the Great Pyramid, and they made 3 times experiments. And next month we have the final experiment. After that, we’ll choose the team to continue the work...
...We will hope that it’s the beginning of next year, maximum.
Also worth checking out, while you're in the neighbourhood, is this recent update on the Great Sphinx:
Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) said that the scientific studies carried out by the Ecology and Engineering Center revealed that the groundwater in front of the sphinx is potable water, found at a depth of 4,8 metres below ground – a level which has not changed since ancient times. He asserted that within two months, the water in front of the Sphinx will be pumped out within the framework of a 2 million LE project being carried out by the Archeological Engineering Centre at Cairo University (AEC).
Needless to say, that area is another that has had it's fair share of rumour and controversy...