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Reclaiming the Goddess: Stop Using the Name ISIS to Describe a Bunch of Ignorant, Murderous F**ktards

Isis the Goddess

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I love history, and I love mythology. This is why, on August 30, 2001, my wife and I named our first-born Isis, after the high goddess of the ancient Egyptian pantheon. The goddess Isis, whose origins stretch back, at the very least, 4500 years from the present, was worshipped as the ideal of motherhood, as a deity who cared for the plight of others, as one who would watch over travelers, and who was 'Great of Magic', being able to bring life to the dead.

Her influence was such that her worship continued for more than 3000 years, not only in Egyptian culture, but also by the high civilisations of the ancient Greeks and Romans as well.

Fast forward the better part of five millennia, and it has taken just three years for a loose assortment of low-life scumbags to co-opt that name of compassion, magic and power. For whatever reasons, a group with many names - including, in Arabic, ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah fī 'l-ʿIrāq wa-sh-Shām; in English Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and Islamic State (IS) - has become more popularly referred to simply as 'ISIS' (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), largely through mass media repetition and then reinforcement through discussions on social media.

Perhaps it is the fact that people already know the word Isis - it is in their subconscious already, so it's easier to connect meanings to it. Unfortunately, the word Isis within your subconscious has power associated with it, both through its ancient heritage and by the nature of the goddess herself. By connecting it to these weak losers, you gift them some of that power through the name alone. So what I'd like to ask you to do, is to stop using it.

There are a lot of powerful people with the name of Isis. My daughter is one of those. But their power comes from being compassionate, intelligent, beautiful, and magical. The group that has been co-opting the name are party to none of those attributes, and it is those attributes which give true power. So stop calling them by the name Isis.

Unfortunately, women named Isis, no matter what their personal attributes, now have to put up with associations with this group - despite having had the name much longer, and doing many good things in that name. For instance, this week software engineer Isis Anchalee had her Facebook account shut down, apparently because the mega-tech corporation assumed a connection with terrorism based on her name.

Perhaps even more frustratingly, Isis also had to respond to the morons of the internet after they chimed in with what they thought was the obvious answer:

A far better answer is to stop using the word Isis in relation to the murderous group currently wreaking havoc in Syria and Iraq. But what to call them, you might ask? As mentioned above, they have been referred to under several other names: Barack Obama has been referring to them as ISIL, many others (including myself) simply as Islamic State. But those names suffer from the same problem - it associates this group with statehood, in a way legitimising it, and it also associates it with Islam, and I'm sure most Muslims feel the same way about linking them with that word as I do with Isis.

So here's the solution. It's one that has already become official in many quarters: call them Daesh (or Da'ish). The word - originally coined by Syrian activists, but now in official usage in France, Australia, and by others such as John Kerry - is an acronym that accurately reflects the group's chosen name, 'ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah fī 'l-ʿIrāq wa-sh-Shām'. But Daesh are apparently furious about it, with reports that they have threatened to cut out the tongues of anyone who uses it. Why, if it is an accurate acronym? Here's your answer, summarised well by Arabic translator Alice Guthrie:

Because they hear it, quite rightly, as a challenge to their legitimacy: a dismissal of their aspirations to define Islamic practice, to be 'a state for all Muslims’ and – crucially – as a refusal to acknowledge and address them as such. They want to be addressed as exactly what they claim to be, by people so in awe of them that they use the pompous, long and delusional name created by the group, not some funny-sounding made-up word. And here is the very simple key point that has been overlooked in all the anglophone press coverage I’ve seen: in Arabic, acronyms are not anything like as widely used as they are in English, and so arabophones are not as used to hearing them as anglophones are.

Thus, the creation and use of a title that stands out as a nonsense neologism for an organisation like this one is inherently funny, disrespectful, and ultimately threatening of the organisation’s status. Khaled al-Haj Salih, the Syrian activist who coined the term back in 2013, says that initially even many of his fellow activists, resisting Daesh alongside him, were shocked by the idea of an Arabic acronym, and he had to justify it to them by referencing the tradition of acronyms being used as names by Palestinian organisations (such as Fatah). So saturated in acronyms are we in English that we struggle to imagine this, but it’s true.

All of this means that the name lends itself well to satire, and for the arabophones trying to resist Daesh, humour and satire are essential weapons in their nightmarish struggle. But the satirical weight of the word as a weapon, in the hands of the Syrian activists who have hewn it from the rock of their nightmare reality, does not just consist of the weirdness of acronyms. As well as being an acronym, it is also only one letter different from the word 'daes داعس' , meaning someone or something that crushes or tramples. Of course that doesn’t mean, as many articles have claimed, that 'daesh' is 'another conjugation' of the verb ‘to crush or trample’, nor that that is 'a rough translation of one of the words in the acronym' – it’s simply one letter different from this other word. Imagine if the acronym of 'Islamic State in Iraq and Syria' spelt out ‘S.H.I.D’ in English: activists and critics would certainly seize the opportunity to refer to the organisation as ‘shit’ – but I think it’s safe to say that no serious foreign media outlet would claim that 'shit' was another conjugation of the verb 'shid', nor a rough translation of it.

...Some Syrians I’ve talked to rate the satirical value of the word very highly; for others, such as al-Haj Salih himself, however, the main weight of the word is not around humour, but around two very serious points he and others make. First of these is that both the shape of the word and the combination of letters in it are redolent of words from al-jahaliyya, the pre-Islamic dark ages or ‘age of ignorance’ that – as well as being a time rich in poetry and narrative heritage – has huge connotations of hideous barbarity in the popular imagination, being the realm of jinns and monsters and evil spirits and marauding freaks. This has also been overlooked in anglophone coverage, or been confused with an idea of the word having a previous set meaning in and of itself: as we know, it doesn’t. But given the connotations of this type of word, it sounds (to many an arabophone ear) very clearly like it must denote some crazed, bloodthirsty avatar belching back out from the guts of history.

As al-Haj Salih very gently and firmly expresses to me by phone when I interview him for this piece, 'If an organisation wants to call itself ‘the light’, but in fact they are ‘the darkness’, would you comply and call them ‘the light’?' The second, and equally important, point that al-Haj Salih stresses to me is another take on why a neologism is insulting: it’s an obviously fictitious name, for an obviously fictional concept. Once again, the movement’s claim to legitimacy as a state and to rule is being rejected as nonsense, reflected in a fabricated nonsense name for them.

So the insult picked up on by Daesh is not just that the name makes them sound little, silly, and powerless, but that it implies they are monsters, and that they are made-up.

Guthrie was also interviewed about this by Public Radio International:

Here's my challenge to you. Start using Daesh as the moniker for this group. Never associate them with the name Isis again, except perhaps in explaining the name Daesh to others. Hop on Facebook and ask your friends to do the same. Don't give this group power - instead do what they don't want you to do: belittle them, satirise them, make clear their true nature, which is of weakness, ignorance and non-compassion. Call them Daesh.

When you think of Isis from now on, think of the image of the goddess at the top of this post, or of the image of my own goddess Isis below, caught dancing in the sunset, as personifying the true beauty of that name.

Dancing Isis

Evidence Of Humanity's First Written Language In Australia?


Steven and Evan Strong are unearthing one of the biggest stories on humanity's hidden history. They're the researchers behind the website Forgotten Origin, proposing many maverick theories like "Out-Of-Australia" among others.

Recently they came into possession of some letters from Frederic Slater, President of the Australian Archaeological and Education Research Society, discussing Australia's Stonehenge in New South Wales. When he visited the site, before its destruction, he noted:

So too the existence of carved “letters” or symbols. Some of our group saw markings on the rocks that looked decidedly artificial, but since the women who were responsible for recording the rocks were denied permission to move or even touch them (due to Original custom), more investigation by the men is required, and will take place the next time on site. In the meantime, as it was with the terraces, both academics and the farmer acknowledge seeing many inscriptions on the rocks. Slater often goes into great detail in both identifying individual letters from the Sacred Language, and supplying definitions that resonate to a repeating esoteric theme. “It is the letter k – the 7th letter of the letters alphabet. Means a seed – the germ of life.” For exactly the same reason given when discussing the credentials of terraces, we also accept as fact the existence of an Original alphabet and accompanying symbols.

Evan Strong claims to have evidence regarding the provenance of Slater's findings, and more is forthcoming.

You may also like:

Ancient Meteorite Impacts Recorded in the Oral Folklore of Indigenous Australians

Australian Aboriginal Stories Accurately Preserve Details of the 'Flood' at the End of the Ice Age

Pyramid Scan Identifies an 'Impressive Anomaly' Behind the Blocks of the Great Pyramid

Pyramid Anomaly

For more fascinating stories like this one, like The Daily Grail on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned a new project that will scan Egypt's pyramids looking for secret chambers. The initial information on the project suggested that the scanning would begin with the pyramids at Dashour (the 'Red Pyramid' and the 'Bent Pyramid'), but in a news conference today Egyptian authorities have revealed that thermal scanning at the Giza Pyramids has already detected possible secret passageways or chambers:

Two weeks of new thermal scanning in Egypt’s Giza pyramids have identified anomalies in the 4,500 year-old burial structures, including a major one in the largest pyramid, the Antiquities Ministry announced Monday.

Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty and technical experts working on the project showed the higher temperature being detected in three specific adjacent stones at the bottom of the pyramid in a live thermal camera presentation to journalists.

The scanning showed “a particularly impressive one (anomaly) located on the Eastern side of the Khufu pyramid at ground level,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The first row of the pyramid’s stones are all uniform, then we come here and find that there’s a difference in the formation,” said el-Damaty, pointing at the three stones showing higher temperatures.

While inspecting the area, el-Damaty said they found “that there is something like a small passage in the ground that you can see, leading up to the pyramids ground, reaching an area with a different temperature. What will be behind it?”

Here's some video of the press conference that has been posted to YouTube:

But is this discovery as exciting as the Egyptian Antiquities Minister would have us believe? An Egyptian Egyptologist who spoke to local news outlet Ahram Online claimed that "nothing would be found behind the blocks except for fractures, as this is the 'mother rock' of the plateau" - no doubt referring to the bedrock mound that the initial blocks of the pyramid were originally built around and upon.

Pyramid plan

I'm not sure this precludes the existence of an ancient 'secret chamber' - any such natural fracture, if large enough, may in fact have been seen as the most sacred chamber possible, enough perhaps even to inspire the building of a pyramid upon. But I'm also a little skeptical of how hard Egyptian officials are pushing this, knowing the problems they are having with their tourism industry (especially after last week's air tragedy).

Nevertheless, I'm really excited to see this technology being used to search for secret locations around the Giza pyramids, which could result in discoveries that rewrite the history books. Presidential hopeful Ben Carson is probably hoping that they find some grain...

Looking forward to seeing more results from this project as they are released - exciting times!


Alan Moore and John Higgs Discuss the 20th Century

Our good friend John Higgs - author of the acclaimed recent book Stranger Than We Can Imagine - recently chatted with comics maestro Alan Moore (who has also recently released a new, acclaimed comic series, Providence) about a shared interest - the 'hidden threads of history' that helped form the cloth of the 20th century, and in particular the influence of science fiction and horror on modern western culture. The 23 (ahem!) minute long video is embedded above for your enjoyment.

The discussion ranges from Lovecraft to George Lucas, but also finishes with Moore reiterating a point he's made before - that somehow, fictional (or 'imaginal') elements have a habit of bleeding across into reality:

I believe that the membrane between fiction and fact is porous and semi-permeable, and I have become used to my most ridiculous ideas - whether that be coming up with V for Vendetta and then suddenly seeing a load of Guy Fawkes mask anarchists invading the world stage...or having come up with the idea related to my film project Jimmy's End of having a sinister clown manifesting in various locations around Northampton, and returning from holiday and finding that a sinister clown had manifested in Northampton, at the end of my street, about a hundred yards from my front door. You start to get the impression that sometimes things can kind of percolate through from the realm of ideas into the realm of actuality.

Moore has also, of course, previously mentioned bumping into another of his characters, John Constantine.

Two gentlemen with fascinating insights into the the making of modern culture - recommended viewing!


News Briefs 02-11-2015

Only 5 days left to invest in a collector's edition UFO book by the legend, Jacques Vallee - get in!

Thanks @THEJimHarold and @m1k3y.

Quote of the Day:

When convention and science offer us no answers, might we not finally turn to the fantastic as a plausibility?

Dana Scully (The X-Files)

The Ancient and the Astronauts: Space Station Crew Tasked with Photographing Mysterious Ancient Structures in Kazakhstan

 Steppe Geoglyphs

Late last year we mentioned a stunning discovery in northern Kazakhstan: more than fifty massive, ancient geoglyphs that had gone undetected until found by a researcher using Google Earth.

NASA has recently joined the effort to learn more about these mysterious sites, and a couple of weeks ago they released satellite photographs of some of the figures. And they have now also put photography of the region on a task list for astronauts aboard the International Space Station, though they note that “it may take some time for the crew to take imagery... since we are under the mercy of sun elevation angles, weather constraints and crew schedule".

The glyphs were first discovered in 2007 by 'armchair archaeologist' Dmitriy Dey, a Kazakh economist, after being inspired to search for ancient structures in the landscape of his homeland using Google Earth after watching a Discovery Channel documentary. He has continued his meticulous search since then, and has now documented some 260 structures.

Kazakhstan Geoglyphs

And professional archaeologists are now suggesting that, like other 'recent' discoveries such as Gobekli Tepe, the Kazakhstan glyphs are changing the way we look at early peoples:

Persis B. Clarkson, an archaeologist at the University of Winnipeg who viewed some of Mr. Dey’s images, said these figures and similar ones in Peru and Chile were changing views about early nomads.

“The idea that foragers could amass the numbers of people necessary to undertake large-scale projects — like creating the Kazakhstan geoglyphs — has caused archaeologists to deeply rethink the nature and timing of sophisticated large-scale human organization as one that predates settled and civilized societies,” Dr. Clarkson wrote in an email.

“Enormous efforts” went into the structures, agreed Giedre Motuzaite Matuzeviciute, an archaeologist from Cambridge University and a lecturer at Vilnius University in Lithuania, who visited two of the sites last year. She said by email that she was dubious about calling the structures geoglyphs — a term applied to the enigmatic Nazca Lines in Peru that depict animals and plants — because geoglyphs “define art rather than objects with function.”

Dr. Matuzeviciute and two archaeologists from Kostanay University, Andrey Logvin and Irina Shevnina, discussed the figures at a meeting of European archaeologists in Istanbul last year.

Artifacts from near some of the structures, such as spear-heads, date back to a Neolithic settlement that lived in the area around 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, suggesting the geoglyphs are close to twice the age of the Egyptian pyramids. But other preliminary tests of some construction material used resulted in a date of around 800 BCE - so for now the actual date they were built remains an unanswered question.

In any case, this is certainly an ongoing investigation that we will surely be keeping a close eye on!

Link: NASA Adds to Evidence of Mysterious Ancient Earthworks

(h/t @m1k3y)

Secret Pyramid Chambers: New Project Will Use Latest Technology to Search for Hidden Rooms in the Monuments of Egypt

For more fascinating stories like this one, like The Daily Grail on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

"Just because a mystery is 4500 years old, doesn't mean it can't be solved". So proclaims the PR video above for the 'Scan Pyramids Mission', a new project announced yesterday that will employ various high-tech methods to study four of Egypt's largest pyramids, searching for hidden chambers and clues to the methods of construction used to build them.

The project, to be coordinated by Cairo University and the Heritage Innovation Preservation (HIP) Institute, will kick off next month, and is expected to run through until the end of 2016. The Bent Pyramid at Dahshur will be the first target, followed by the nearby Red Pyramid - and then the largest two of the three pyramids at Giza, those attributed to Khufu (Cheops) and Khafre (Chephren).

“This special group will study these pyramids to see whether there are still any hidden chambers or other secrets” inside them, Minister of Antiquities Mamduh al-Damati announced at a news conference.

Non-destructive high technologies will be implemented. Two infrared thermography missions will establish a thermal map of the pyramids to reveal differences in density: one brief conducted by the expert Jean-Claude Barré from LedLiquid, whereas the other, running for at least a year, will be led by Université Laval of Quebec. Their goal is to identify if there are any voids behind the faces of the pyramids. Two missions using muons radiography also aim to verify and accurately visualize the presence of unknown structures within the monuments. These techniques are being developed in Japan by the teams of KEK (High Energy Accelerator research Organization) and Nagoya University. “Many theories have been proposed, either explaining their construction or their structural anomalies, but we are physicists and engineers, not archaeologists”, insists Hany Helal, Professor at Cairo University and former Minister of Research and the higher education and Coordinator of the project, head of mission for the Faculty of Engineering of Cairo. “Our goal is to use techniques to get concrete results. Then the Egyptologists will interpret them.”

In parallel to the exploration missions, the company Iconem will realize a photogrammetry campaign using drones, to rebuild the Giza plateau and the site of Dahshur with all their monuments in 3D, with a unique centimeter precision. These models will be made available to researchers and the public in open data by the HIP Institute, a non-profit structure of general interest.

Pyramid scan

The search for secret chambers in the pyramids of ancient Egypt is certainly a topic that excites the inner Indiana Jones in most of us - from archaeologists seeking a cache of objects that might lead to a better understanding of Egyptian culture, to New Agers dreaming of an Atlantean 'Hall of Records' or advanced alien technology.

Regular readers of The Daily Grail will know that the Giza Plateau has a long history of being searched for secret chambers:

  • In the late 1960s, the 'Joint Pyramid Project' investigated Khafre's pyramid looking for hidden rooms
  • in the 1970s Stanford Research International (SRI) (along with Edgar Cayce's Association for Research and Enlightenment) examined both Khufu and Khafre's pyramids, as well as the Sphinx
  • In 1986 a French duo performed a microgravimeter survey (as well as doing some old-fashioned drilling) in the Great Pyramid
  • In 1987 a Japanese team used ground-penetrating radar (GPR) equipment in the Great Pyramid and around the Sphinx
  • In 1991 French engineer Jean Kerisel performed another scan of the Great Pyramid using GPR and microgravimetry
  • In 1992 German engineer Rudolf Gantenbrink famously sent a robot up the 'air shafts', discovering what seemed to be a tiny 'secret door' at the end, possibly hinting at a secret chamber beyond. Other teams have continued to follow-up on this work in the decades since
  • In the late 1990s the ARE-connected Schor Foundation scanned around the Great Sphinx, as well as doing some further investigation inside the Great Pyramid, and exploration of the 'water shafts' beneath Khafre's causeway
  • More recently French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin put forward a theory about secret chambers in the Great Pyramid based on the layout of supporting stones in the King's Chamber

It's such a dense and controversial history that you really need a book to cover it all - and in fact, others have already done that. For more in-depth discussion of the search for hidden chambers in Egypt, see the books Giza: The Truth by Ian Lawton and Chris Ogilvie-Herald, and Secret Chamber by Robert Bauval. There's also a ton of information in the related stories linked at the bottom of this article.

One can only wonder: if they do end up finding hidden chambers, how much 'destructive' excavation will be allowed by the Egyptian authorities within these most-famous of monuments, in order to gain access to what lies within?

Link: Official Website for the Scan Pyramids Mission

Link: PDF Brochure for the Scan Pyramids Mission

Related stories:

CSI Turin: The Shroud's DNA


The case isn't closed yet on Christendom's most famous relic. A team of investigators from the Università di Pavia got a second crack at the Vatican's dirty laundry, opening up a whole new can of worms.

Back in 1988 an international team announced the Shroud of Turin was 600-700 years old with 95% certainty. The niggling 5% lay in science's inability to duplicate the image, and the shroud's cloth.

The original investigation's protocol called for taking several samples for dating. Luigi Gonnella, the scientific advisor to the Archdiocese of Turin, allowed only one from an outside corner. Instead of dating different sections of the artifact, ensuring the samples were representative of the whole shroud, investigators could only say that corner was from the middle ages.

The problem begins with a fire that badly burnt the relic in 1532, leaving several holes burned on the shroud. Two years later artisans filled them in with a technique called invisible mending. Most likely the tested fibers were from the artisan's repairs, rather than the original cloth. Another circumstance casting doubt on the sample was possible contamination from repeated handling throughout the centuries, skewing the radiocarbon results.

Earlier this year Gianni Barcaccia and pals got their hands on the dust vacuumed off the fibers in 1978, hoping trace the artifact's travels. Over the centuries it's picked up pollen, dust, and other particles from around the globe. Using DNA testing, they've turned up some interesting discoveries. Either the cloth's from medieval times, coming into contact from people from around the world. Or the Shroud of Turin is from the mideast, travelling around the Mediterranean, qne being exposed to different people over a longer time span suggesting it's much older than believed.

Stranger still, Barcaccia and company found data suggesting another hypothesis.

One obvious possibility is that during the course of centuries, individuals of Indian ancestry came into contact with TS. Taking into account the rate of DNA degradation and PCR-biases toward undamaged DNA, the recent contamination scenario is extremely likely. However, one alternative and intriguing possibility is that the linen cloth was weaved in India, as supported perhaps by the original name of TS - Sindon - which appears to derive from Sindia or Sindien, a fabric coming from India.

Check out the full text of Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud at Nature.

Return to Antikythera: Team Goes in Search of More Lost Treasures of Antiquity

In 1900 Greek sponge divers located the wreck of an ancient Greek ship near Antikythera Island, which is thought to have sunk over 2000 years ago. They salvaged a large number of treasures from the wreck, including hundreds of bronze and marble statues, and more famously, the remains of a mysterious device that has become known as the 'Antikythera Mechanism'. This advanced clockwork machine turned out be "a complex mechanical 'computer' which tracked astronomical phenomena and the cycles of the Solar System."

However, since the original salvage, very little further investigation of the wreck had been done until a new team - under the banner of 'Return to Antikythera' - resumed investigations in October 2012. The latest expedition has just begun, and you can keep up with the latest developments at the website as they are posting updates from the wreck.

What does the wreck still hold? Locals on Antikythera tell tales of giant marble statues lying beyond the sponge divers’ reach. Records from the 1901 salvage indicate at least one large marble statue was dropped during recovery operations, and there are hints that others were dragged into deeper water under the mistaken belief they were just boulders. Meanwhile, ancient technology geeks like us wonder whether the site might be hiding another Antikythera mechanism, more pieces of the original, or at least some clues as to whom this mysterious object belonged to.

For those seeking a more detailed exploration of the history and possible functions of the Antikythera Mechanism, grab a copy of Decoding the Heavens: A 2000-Year-Old Computer and the Century-long Search to Discover Its Secrets, by Jo Marchant.

Link: Return to Antikythera

Beebs of the Gods: Graham Hancock on BBC News

Graham Hancock made an appearance on BBC News yesterday to discuss his recently-released book, Magicians of the Gods [Amazon US & UK].

I can already envision Zahi's screen all smeared in orange juice and Earl Grey...