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

No, A Drone Didn't Discover Ancient Underwater Geoglyphs

You know a story's hot when the source site's down for exceeding its bandwidth. That's the case with Rob Antill's Digital Anthill. Back in January 2013, Rob got his mitts on a DJI Phantom. It's a $500 USD drone with a video camera and pretty darned sweet if you ask me.

During one of Rob's inaugural flights over Kootenay Lake, just outside of Nelson, BC, he caught sight of something downright curious. Everybody and their brother thrilled at the possibility of Rob's discovery writing a new chapter for North America's history. Who wouldn't be, considering labyrinths and spirals are a common motif in human art from prehistory to the 21st century?

Nah. Kootenay Lake's water level rises and falls in the spring. About ten years ago the Lakeside Labyrinth Society created one in Kootenay's shallows. From their site:

Basically, a labyrinth is a walking meditation; an opportunity for quiet reflection to connect with that place inside yourself where insights and understanding can occur. A labyrinth pathway spirals into a central destination, and then back out again, using the same path. The spiralling is said to mimic the convolutions of the brain, and it is thought that the right and left brain hemispheres become balanced when walking a labyrinth. This is what appears to support mental clarity and understanding to occur.

Locals insist this formation is recent, and the product of Lakeside Labyrinth. A lively discussion on West Coast Native's Facebook page features a thread of comments in this vein. For bigger skeptics refusing to take local yokels at their word, Lost Kootenays shared an image of these stones from last March when the water was significantly lower. If the water level regularly reveals this spiral, it would hardly be a mystery to frequent visitors of Kootenay Lake's shores.

Don't despair, as there's still plenty of hidden wonders in North America. Twelve meters beneath the surface of Lake Michigan, researchers hoping to find old shipwrecks stumbled upon a 89 meter circle of stones. One of these stones appears to bear the image of a mastodon, evidence these giant beasts still roamed those ancient shores as the glaciers retreated.[1][2]

Considering this site's depth, there's almost no chance anyone flying a drone will stumble upon the site. Plus the site's being kept secret out of respect for the Grand Traverse Bay Indian community in hopes of preserving the site for further investigation.

This isn't the only stone circle in the area. About 61 miles north of Traverse City, a stone circle was discovered on Beaver Island in 1985. Its 39 stones are arranged in a 121 meter circle. Allegedly they are aligned with astronomical events like the summer solstice, the rising of the stars Aldebaran, Rigel, and Sirius.[3] If that doesn't beat all, one of the stones appears to bear the carving of a bull on it.

  1. Stonehenge in Lake Michigan? http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Sto...
  2. Lake Michigan Stonehenge http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp264-ss15/...
  3. Beaver Island Stone Circle - Rising Time and Time Again http://www.repositorybeaverislandstoneci...

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Archaeoacoustics: Listening to the Sounds of History

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum - Paola, Malta

When we study the ancient world, we have but one sense to use.  We can, unfortunately, only view the past with our eyes.  As beautiful as the artefacts of our ancestors are, this one dimensional perspective tends to be somewhat restrictive to our understanding.  After all, when we consider our contemporary world, we have the benefit of seeing, smelling and hearing all of the various elements that make up that landscape.  Not so with the ancient world.

However there are a select few people trying to change that.  Those people are working in the field of archaeoacoustics, and though this is a relatively new field of study, great strides are being made in an effort to understand the significance of sound as it pertains to the monuments and rituals of our ancestors.  The term archaeoacoustics has been coopted from its earlier use, as it pertained to sounds being recorded in clay pottery and other such objects during their manufacture in ancient societies, so as to be “played back” with the use of modern equipment.  This idea was once supported by many in mainstream science, but has recently fallen into disrepute as a result of many failed attempts to verify it through experiment.  The term now relates more widely to the study of sound in ancient construction and monuments.

In spite of the fanciful ideas of the more conspiratorial among us, not every ancient monument was constructed to capitalise on resonant frequencies, but some were and they deserve a closer look.

Chanting, a ritualistic form of stylised speech, and the root of all western music, was first used by ancient and prehistoric spiritual leaders in nearly all cultures as a means of furthering or supporting other aspects of ritual.  It was meant to bring the participant closer to a religious or spiritual awakening.  Chants are used in nearly all religious variants, from modern shamanistic cultures to pagan, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic traditions.  It ranges from simple melodies to complex musical structures and depending on the setting, can offer a profound experience to witnesses.

As is common knowledge, sound or music has a profound effect on us humans (and likely on some animals as well).  We develop strong associations between musical elements and certain emotions and our moods are often deeply affected by what we hear.  For this reason, spiritual or religious chants often have a deep effect on our perception of related experiences.  Religious hymns are designed to foster a connection between the congregant and the clergy, and in fact churches the world over are constructed with this in mind.  The shape and orientation of the church and its internal elements are painstakingly arranged to optimise the acoustical properties of the space, so as to maximise the effect of song and instrument alike.  And this is by no means a new practise.

Nowhere is acoustical significance in ancient construction more striking than in underground temples.  There are famous examples of such construction throughout the old world, perhaps the most famous is the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid of Khufu (or Cheops, whichever you prefer) at Giza in Egypt.  Some theorists maintain that the King’s Chamber was designed and built to use sound as a resonant booster, to give the Pharaoh a better chance of reaching the afterlife, though this is not a widely held opinion among mainstream archaeologists or Egyptologists.  Those same theorists, conspiracy theorists you might say, suggest also that the Hall of Records, an unconfirmed structure or room situated under the Sphinx, has significant acoustical properties as well.  This is, for obvious reasons, entirely suppositional of course.

But we needn’t resort to conspiratorial fantasy in this case, for there are many ancient monuments and temples that use sound and acoustical properties to their advantage.  The underground city complex at Budapest, called the Labyrinth of Buda Castle, which is located under Castle Hill in Buda (which is the west-bank part of Budapest on the Danube river in Hungary), is said to have special acoustical properties, though since this site is largely a natural formation, it doesn’t really count here.  It does remain the oldest known example of the shape of a room or cave being used to amplify or resonate sound for ritual purposes.

Other examples, such as the Oracle Room in the Hypogeum of Ħal Seflieni in Paola, Malta offer much to study.  Hypogeum means ‘underground’ in Greek, and in this case refers to a subterranean labyrinthine structure of the Seflieni phase of Maltese prehistory (3000-2500BC).  It consists of several passages and chambers, of which the Oracle room is the smallest.  With its delicately painted ceiling, the Oracle room boasts the most powerful or effectual resonant chamber in the ancient world.  Even muted sounds made in this chamber resonate and amplify, which has the effect of distorting the sound and making it seem like it has a divine origin (or that it hadn’t been generated by any source in the chamber).  Today the hypogeum is a necropolis, containing the remains of some 7000 prehistoric Greeks, but at one time it was used for religious ritual.

Another site, Chavín de Huantar in the Peruvian Andes, is a large city ruin that was built by the pre-Incan culture known as the Chavín in approximately 1200BC, though the area is thought to have been occupied as early as 3000BC.  The site has buildings, ruins, temples and other artefacts.

Ancient visitors and priests at Chavín de Huantar would have been privy to an experience not found anywhere else.  The buildings were constructed using a highly specialized combination of shafts, corridors and surfaces, all designed to make a series of echo chambers, in which sounds – often conch shell trumpets, called pututus, being blown by priests outside of the structure and chanting, as well as water running in streams under and around the buildings – would seem otherworldly.[1]  Add in the psychotropic effect of ritual consumption of San Pedro cactus juice (and possibly other substances, like ayahuasca), and one can easily see how a pilgrimage to such a temple would have been a profound spiritual experience.

Perhaps the first archaeoacoustic researcher, Iegor Reznikoff, an anthropologist of sound with the Université Paris Ouest, found, in the 1980’s, that there is a connection between the location of prehistoric artwork in the caves at Lascaux (and other ancient cave sights in southern France, where the oldest known human art is found from 25,000BC) and the acoustic resonance of those same locations.[2]  Reznikoff and a colleague mapped such caves, highlighting areas of acoustical significance and found that those areas coincided with areas that held the most works of prehistoric art.[3]  Which suggests a defined ritualistic process to the painting, and may have been prevalent among prehistoric artists.

Acoustic resonance is a feature of many natural caves, and it’s likely that this natural feature was the primary motivator in the development of acoustics in ritual sites and practices.  Modern technology allows archaeologists to identify and study such features of ancient sites, and in most cases the research is inaccessible to the amateur.  However, there are branches of this endeavour that are within reach of anyone who can get themselves to the locations in question.

Recently, a team of researchers have been using sound to study the world famous Stonehenge megalithic site in Wiltshire, England.  According to experts from London’s Royal College of Art, Stonehenge holds more mystery than meets the eye.  For many years, enthusiasts and researchers have held that Stonehenge had an audio component, either in its use or construction.  Many visitors report that chants and music seem to resonate in a strange way at various points within and around the structure, but new insights seem to suggest that the stones themselves were musical instruments.

Research recently published in the Journal of Time & Mind, suggests that the bluestones – the smaller stones that make up the interior of the monument – actually have acoustical properties and may have been selected for that reason.[4]  It turns out that the stones resonate in a peculiar way when struck with a hammer or other instrument, and generate a wide range of sounds.  Researchers even found what may be evidence of hammer or stone strikes on several of the stones, indicating that they’re on the right track.

This research, with the input of other experts, suggests that many of the standing stone sites throughout the UK may have had, as a central feature, an acoustic nature.[5]  It may be that Stonehenge and other standing stone circles and like monuments were built as musical instruments, to be used in conjunction with or as a part of ritualistic gatherings and celebrations.

The same may be true for monuments all over the world, as is highlighted by researchers such as Michael Tellinger, who demonstrates in a video on his YouTube channel the acoustic properties of artefacts found at Waterval Boven, South Africa. (See below)

There is no denying it, sound has played a central role in the development of not only human spirituality and culture, but also in architecture.  While most of our history can only be relayed in terms of visual artefacts and writing, the aural history of our ancestors just begs to be heard.  And when you consider the fact that resonant sound has been a significant part of human life for upwards of 27,000 years (at least), it’s no wonder so many people feel so passionately about music and its makers.

 


[1] Brooks, Michael.  Was sound the secret weapon of the Andean elites? Newscientist Magazine – September 2008 http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19926721.700-was-sound-the-secret-weapon-of-the-andean-elites.html?page=1

[2] Starr, Douglas. Notes From Earth: Echoes From The Distant Past. Discover Magazine – November 2012 http://discovermagazine.com/2012/nov/03-echoes-from-the-distant-past#.UsCjmvRDsid

[3] American Institute of Physics. "Music Went With Cave Art In Prehistoric Caves." ScienceDaily, 5 Jul. 2008. Web. 29 Dec. 2013. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080704130439.htm

[4] Paul Devereux, Jon Wozencroft. Stone Age Eyes and Ears: A Visual and Acoustic Pilot Study of Carn Menyn, Environs, Preseli, Wales. Time & Mind  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1751696X.2013.860278#.UsCuvfRDsie

[5] Sarah Griffiths, Amanda Williams. Stonehenge ‘was a prehistoric center for rock music’: Stones sound like bells, drums and gongs when played. DailyMailUK December2013 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2515159/Why-Stonehenge-prehistoric-centre-rock-music-Stones-sound-like-bells-drums-gongs-played.html

 

New Discovery Shows that the Ancient Babylonians Tracked the Planets Using Advanced Maths

Babylonian tablet

From the 'it turns out they were much smarter than we thought' department: new research, based on a newly discovered ancient clay tablet, has found that the ancient Babylonians tracked the planet Jupiter using maths that was previously thought to have been invented 1400 years later:

Newly translated ancient tablets show that ancient Babylonian astronomers used unexpectedly advanced geometry to understand the planets.

The find, described on Thursday in the journal Science, reveals that Babylonians tracked Jupiter by calculating the areas of trapezoids they used to symbolize the planet’s motion across the sky. This geometrical trick rewrites the history books: The technique was thought to have originated in England more than a millennium later.

The study also fills in crucial gaps, says Niek Veldhuis of the University of California, Berkeley, who wasn’t involved with the study, since it “finally connects Babylonian mathematical astronomy with geometrical mathematics”—a missing link that has eluded scholars for more than a century.

Science has the full-text of the paper for those interested, and have also posted the following short video for the tl;dr crowd:

Link: Babylonians Tracked Jupiter With Advanced Tools: Trapezoids

Paper: Ancient Babylonian astronomers calculated Jupiter’s position from the area under a time-velocity graph

Egyptologists Say They Have Likely Discovered a Secret Chamber Behind the Wall's of King Tut's Tomb

Death Mask of Tutankhuman  (Creative Commons, author Carsten Frenzl)

Fresh off announcing that they may have discovered secret chambers in the Great Pyramid, Egyptian officials are now saying that they are 90% sure that they have identified a hidden chamber behind the walls of the tomb of King Tutankhamun.

Tut's tomb itself lay hidden for millennia, before Howard Carter famously opened the chamber in 1922, revealing a cache of treasures. Now, 93 years later, it seems that Tut's burial chamber was just one part of a larger complex.

Egyptologist Nicolas Reeves suggested in August that the famous Queen Nefertiti may actually be buried in a secret chamber beside Tut's tomb, after noticing a number of strange fissures and cracks in the walls of the room.

In a press conference, Egyptian officials announced that scans carried out recently are highly suggestive that a secret chamber does indeed lie behind the walls of Tut's tomb:

The primary results of the scan give us very positive results, very good results. We have here something behind the west and the north walls. It could be a burial chamber, especially behind the north wall. But this result...it is [a] primary result. We need more more time to solve the data and work to give us accurate results from the data, and [this will take] more than one month.

...But we can say now that we have defined behind the burial chamber of King Tutankhamun another chamber, another tomb, something behind - approximately 90% positive.

For more on about the discovery, see this National Geographic story which gives a nice insider perspective of the process of examining the tomb:

The room hushed, and Watanabe began to push the [radar scan] cart along the wall once more. After moving a little more than half of the distance, he broke the silence: “They changed the material here.”

This was exactly the point at which there seemed to be a doorway on the Factum Arte scans. Watanabe is not an Egyptologist, and he had not studied Reeves’s ideas closely, but what he observed on the radar matched up. He did one more scan of the west wall, and then he proceeded to the north. “It’s just a solid wall,” he called out, at the beginning. He reached the section of the wall that Reeves had proposed was a blocked-over partition. “There is a change from here,” Watanabe announced.

After he was finished, he studied the multicolored bars that ran across the computer screen. “Obviously it’s an entrance to something,” he said through a translator. “It’s very obvious that this is something. It’s very deep.”

We look forward to hearing more about this discovery - imagine the excitement if this does indeed turn out to be a previously unopened tomb, and of one of Egypt's most celebrated rulers!

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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?

Image

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.

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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!

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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!

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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)