Hey look, Uri bought an island:
Relaxing in his luxury Thames-side mansion, Uri Geller, the world-famous spoon-bender, was suddenly riveted by an advert for the sale of a mystical Scottish island. But while the prospectus for Lamb Island, off the east coast of Scotland, listed the disadvantages – "it is completely bare, and uninhabitable because it's so rocky, does not come with planning permission" – Mr Geller realised it was his chance to be part of a legend linking Robert the Bruce, King Arthur and the ancient kings of Ireland.
Mr Geller's attraction to Lamb Island, a volcanic outcrop in the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh, is its claim to be one of the three "great pyramids of Scotland", which mirror the layout of the pyramids at Giza, near Cairo in Egypt. The other islands are Craigleith and Fidra.
Last night Mr Geller, 62, who paid £30,000 for the island, said: "It might seem forbidding, but it is one of the keystones to British mythology, and I am thrilled to be its owner.
The fun part? The article in The Scotsman mentions the research of a regular Grailer, Jeff Nisbet. Jeff wrote about the island in an article for Atlantis Rising in 2002, which you can now find on his website: "The Pyramids of Scotland". Not to mention another of his articles features a photo of a UFO over the island. Sounds perfectly Uri to me.
(And if that's not enough weirdness for you - check out Filip Coppens' website for more. Filip might even add my own contribution if he finds time...)
The imposing temple in Rome, completed in AD 128, is one of the most impressive buildings that survives from antiquity. It consists of a cylindrical chamber topped by a domed roof with an oculus in the top which lets through a dramatic shaft of sunlight. It boasts a colonnaded courtyard at the front.
When Robert Hannah of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, visited the Pantheon in 2005, researching for a book, he realised that the Pantheon may have been more than just a temple. During the six months of winter, the light of the noon sun traces a path across the inside of the domed roof. During summer, with the sun higher in the sky, the shaft shines onto the lower walls and floor. At the two equinoxes, in March and September, the sunlight coming in through the hole strikes the junction between the roof and wall, above the Pantheon's grand northern doorway (pictured). A grille above the door allows a sliver of light through to the front courtyard - the only moment in the year that it sees sunlight if its main doors are closed (see diagram).
Hannah reckons this is no coincidence. A hollowed-out hemisphere with a hole in the top was a type of sundial used in Roman times, albeit on a much smaller scale, to show the time of year. While the Pantheon's dome is quite flat on the outside, it forms a perfect hemisphere inside. "This is quite a deliberate design feature," says Hannah.
The book Hannah was researching is Time in Antiquity (Amazon US and UK), which "explores the different perceptions of time from Classical antiquity, principally through the technology designed to measure, mark or tell time." While this case is certainly still up in the air, it seems that more and more ancient structures were built with intentional alignments to the sun and heavens.
The latest issue of the journal Time and Mind (2:1) has been released, and is available for electronic purchase (either complete, or on a per article basis). Featured articles in the new release include "The Prehistoric Solar Calendar: An Out-of-fashion Idea Revisited with New Evidence", by Euan MacKie, and "Re-enchanting Rock Art Landscapes: Animic Ontologies, Nonhuman Agency and Rhizomic Personhood" by Robert Wallis. Other topics touched on include Stonehenge, psychogeometry and Neolithic consciousness. Remember that you can get a taste for the journal by downloading articles from the first issue (1:1) for free.
I'm well overdue to change the Daily Grail poll to a new topic - as I write, there have been 2777 votes on what 2012 will bring, with the majority of respondents saying 'nothing'. But before we move on, here's a recent CNN article on the topic which you might like to check out:
"There's going to be a whole generation of people who, when they think of the Maya, think of 2012, and to me that's just criminal," said David Stuart, director of the Mesoamerica Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
"There is no serious scholar who puts any stock in the idea that the Maya said anything meaningful about 2012."
But take the fact that December 21, 2012, coincides with the winter solstice, add claims the Maya picked the time period because it also marks an alignment of the sun with the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and you have the makings of an online sensation.
The article does a good job of talking to knowledgable, skeptical scholars such as Anthony Aveni ("I think that the popular books... about what the Maya say is going to happen are really fabricated on the basis of very little evidence"), as well as 2012 'celebrities' such as John Major Jenkins ("The trendy doomsday people... should be treated for what they are: under-informed opportunists and alarmists who will move onto other things in 2013").
I enjoy history immensely, especially those pivotal moments when something special happens. So I just have to share a gem of a page I discovered while reading through Volume IV of The New Musical Educator...published in July 1953, when one Johnny Allen 'Jimi' Hendrix was just ten years old. Little did they know when this passage was written the impact it was about to have.
(Apologies for the lack of updates, I've not been very well - all should be back to normal next week though.)
As promised, here's the first instalment of a series of posts giving a summary of what I considered the best stories from last year. That doesn't necessarily mean they were the biggest stories - sometimes what interests me more is the reaction certain stories inspire, how they link up with other news threads coming out at the time, and so on.
To start, here's what I thought were the most fascinating 'Hidden History' stories for 2008:
- Despite the drop in visibility since the 'hey-days' of the 1990s, the 'Hall of Records' mythos continues, as evidenced by this story.
- Similarly, the quest for the 'secret chamber' hidden by the 'Gantenbrink Door' in the Great Pyramid continues, with Dr Zahi Hawass at the reins.
- And still more secret pyramid chambers rumours in last year's ongoing news story regarding the 'internal ramp' theory of French architect Jean Pierre Houdin.
- Finishing up in Egypt: Did Khufu build two pyramids at Giza?
- Everyone seemed to get interested in the origins of Stonehenge once more.
- The 'Jesus Tomb' controversy erupted...again.
- In related news, the 'Jesus Bone Box' fraud case collapsed.
- Telling us what we already new, researchers proclaimed that the ancients smoked pot.
- An exciting Peruvian 'lost city' was ruled to be a natural formation by authorities.
- The legal fight over a $500 million underwater treasure continued.
- And the Flores 'Hobbit' debate just keeps on going.
- Almost 20 years after Graham Hancock wrote about it, some latecomers suggested the Ark of the Covenant could be in Ethiopia.
- A specialist in faked antiquities suggested that the enigmatic Phaistos Disc may have been a 100-year-old hoax.
- There was controversy and disappointment when it came to release of the 'Bloodline' documentary.
- The new Indiana Jones movie ensured that the crystal skulls made a comeback...and brought the skeptics out swinging in the process.
- The Long Now Foundation devised a new Rosetta Stone.
- There were new theories about the colonisation of the New World.
- And finally, the dominating 'hidden history' story of the year was probably the much-hyped and debated Bosnian Pyramid claim. Which went on, and on.
- But my personal pick for the best story of the year: Göbekli Tepe finally got some mainstream media coverage. Look for a slew of misinformed books from hidden history 'experts' in the near future...
Tomorrow, we head into UFO country...bring your fly swats.
Robert Bauval is well known for his 'Orion Correlation Theory' (the hypothesis that the three pyramids at Giza are laid out to mimic the three stars of Orion's 'belt'), and recently extended his thoughts on the matter in his book The Egypt Code (Amazon US and UK) . You can read my interview with Robert about the book and his research here on TDG.
Robert has already begun work on his next book, which looks to extend his heretical hypothesis further into prehistory. Co-written with Thomas Brophy, the book is titled Black Genesis, and Robert recently discussed the topics covered in an interview with his webmaster Richard 'Fuzzy' Fusniak. Although an audio interview, Fuzzy has overlaid the audio with helpful maps and graphics, so I've embedded the YouTube video of the interview below.
Robert discusses the importance of the prehistoric 'calendar circle' at Nabta Playa to the new book, no doubt providing a link to his own theories about the importance of astronomy/sky-watching to ancient Egyptian culture (as well as Tom Brophy's own theories). In short, and in Robert Bauval's own words, the aim of Black Genesis "is to prove that the origins of ancient Egypt comes from black African prehistoric cultures...what we thought was original to the pyramid builders, was in fact practiced by a prehistoric black African culture in the Sahara, thousands of years before."
As if Robert hasn't already beaten the beehive of Egyptology enough, this new book is sure to generate some controversy. Beyond inducing apoplexy in Dr Zahi Hawass, Black Genesis may well reignite the controversial Afrocentrism debate.
Previously on TDG:
Author-researcher Filip Coppens has helpfully written a comprehensive summary of the history and current state-of-play of the controversial 'Bosnian Pyramid' discovery and excavation. Filip - who has visited the pyramid/hill, as well as having immersed himself in the literature concerning the site - concludes in favour of the 'man-made' hypothesis, and says that it will have an immense impact on the current historical paradigm:
So, all false perceptions and ego-trips aside, it is clear that the Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids has much validity and will rock the old pyramid paradigm in years to come. But the research project will continue to be controversial for some time longer. What the Foundation needs is more time — just as it took Howard Carter several years before he located Tutankhamen's tomb. Progress is slow, but obvious.
In time, the Bosnian pyramids will not only be added to the new paradigm of pyramid structures that appear across the world, but they will also reveal a new dimension to the Vinca culture and show that the pyramids are European, rather than Egyptian, in nature. Either way, a new page is being added in the development of civilisation.
As I've mentioned previously, with due respect to Filip's (more informed) view, I still haven't seen anything which would convince me either way. The hill certainly looks geometric (though this seems to require one particular viewing of it, going by the photos I've seen - the southern and western aspects don't look nearly as convincing), and viewing Google Earth the alignment of the north face looks rather accurate. On the other hand, the much-hyped 'paths' and 'blocks' often cited and photographed simply look like natural geological structures to me (and some I think appear to have been 'enhanced' during excavation).
I'd be more than happy to be convinced at a later point though - while I retain my skepticism on the 'Bosnian Pyramid', I look forward to being convinced by more evidence!
Previously on TDG:
French architect Jean Pierre Houdin and his co-researcher Bob Brier are seeking permission from Egyptian authorities to use an infrared camera in order to find confirming evidence for his theory that the Great Pyramid was built using an internal ramp. He has already had some confirmation via a 1986 investigation that used microgravimetry, which seemed to show a spiraling structure within the pyramid, as well as a new interpretation of a strange 'chamber' two thirds of the way up one of the edges of the Great Pyramid:
At about the 300-foot (90-meter) mark on the northeastern edge lies an open notch. On a recent expedition with a National Geographic film crew, Brier — aided by a videographer with mountain-climbing experience — scaled perilous crumbling rocks to reach the notch. Ducking inside the notch, Brier entered a small L-shaped room.
He wasn't the first to visit the space, but until now Egyptologists had taken little notice of it. Houdin, the architect, said the feature figures perfectly with his theory. For the interior tunnel to work, it would have required open areas at the Great Pyramid's four corners, Houdin says. Otherwise the blocks wouldn't have been able to clear the 90-degree turns.
Like railroad roundhouses, these open corners would have given workers room to pivot the blocks—perhaps using wooden cranes—so the stones could be pushed into the next tunnel. The notch and room are remnants of one such opening, Houdin claims. They are located at one of the spots where Houdin's 3-D computer models suggest they should be.
Inside the corner space, which was apparently walled in as the pyramid was completed, there should be two tunnel entrances at right angles to one another—each leading to a section of the internal ramp, Houdin believes. Perhaps all that stands between him and the solution to the mystery are massive blocks that thousands of years ago sealed the tunnel, Houdin said.
Houdin and Brier are seeking "authorization, by the Egyptian authorities, to stay around for 18 hours, close to the pyramid, with a cooled infrared camera based on an SUV and to take images of three [pyramid] faces every hour during this period...A green light from Cairo and the Great Pyramid mystery is over." Sounds simple, but we know that our old friend Dr Zahi Hawass isn't so amenable...remember the name Gantenbrink, by any chance? Last year Dr Hawass was quoted as saying (in regards to the Houdin theory):
It makes sense, but not great sense. Everybody can have a theory, you have 300 people and 99 percent of them are non-specialists, I cannot let them all go onto the site... I cannot allow these people to check their theories unless they have a well-known institution backing them.
Or at least without letting Zahi take some credit for the discovery...
Previously on TDG:
The excellent PBS series Nova this week features the investigation and controversy over the Flores 'Hobbit' discovery, in "Alien From Earth". As usual, accompanying the television feature is extended material on their website, which is well worth a visit. You can even submit a question to my former lecturer, Dr Mike Morwood, co-discoverer of the controversial remains. For those without access to PBS, I'm not sure if the show will be available to watch online after it airs, as some other features are - but probably worth checking back to the website later this week to see.