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

Stone Age Cinema: Cave Art Animations?

Cave art - the first steps of the nascent human mind into expressing itself through drawing and painting? Or were these ancient people already far more accomplished artists than we give them credit for? New research is suggesting that superimposed images found in cave art are not bumbling attempts at depicting animals, but were in fact meant to be viewed as animated scenes.

In this video, researcher and film-maker Marc Azéma from the University of Toulouse Le Mirail in France reveals how several frames of an animation are superimposed in many animal sketches. A horse painting from the Lascaux caves in France, for example, is made up of many versions of the animal representing different positions of movement. In this video, Azema extracts the individual images and displays them in succession, demonstrating how they play back like a cartoon.

In other examples, motion is represented by juxtaposing drawings of a body in motion. Azéma creates another sequence by picking out motion frames to produce an animation of a running animal.

Apart from layered paintings, ancient humans may have used light tricks to evoke motion on cave walls. Engraved discs of bone have also been found which produce galloping animations when spun on a string, reminiscent of flipbooks.

Full story at New Scientist.

Vale Philip Coppens (1971-2012)

Philip Coppens

The end of the year brings tragic news, with the passing of a very good friend of TDG, researcher and author Philip Coppens. Philip has been closely aligned with this site since almost the very beginning (so much so that I still struggle to type Philip rather than Filip, which he originally went by) - I've posted links to his regular, fascinating online articles over the years, and he contributed a number of features as well to our Darklore print anthology series (Volumes 1 to 5). He was less than a month younger than me, we had very similar interests, and both of us had a similar work ethic to our research, so I certainly felt that he was a kindred spirit. I was lucky enough to meet up with Philip at a Nexus conference here in Australia a few years back, and we had a good, long, personal chat about the whole scene and our experiences over the years. Philip had what I felt was an almost eidetic memory when it came to his research, he could converse at length about any number of Fortean subjects, remembering all the history, people involved, and esoteric connections off the top of his head (something that I struggle with). While he authored a number of books, and was a regular presenter at conferences and recently on TV with Ancient Aliens, for me he will always be remembered as a Fortean researcher with very few peers - you could always count on him to find something fascinating that hadn't been uncovered before. We didn't see eye to eye on a number of conclusions (e.g. the Bosnian pyramid), but we both respected each others' work greatly. I recommend that you browse his website to get a feel for the breadth of knowledge the man had on a wide range of topics.

In the last few months Philip had been suffering from a mystery illness, which was finally recently diagnosed as a rare and very aggressive form of cancer, angiosarcoma. I understand a number of emergency surgeries were necessary in the past few days, and in the end it was all too much, with Philip passing away on December 30th, aged just 41. His wife Kathleen McGowan posted the following message:

My eternal beloved, my grail knight, my poet prince has made his transition. He is in the arms of the angels. In his last words he asked that I thank you all for loving him so much. We were both so greatly blessed. Good night, sweet prince. My love for you knows no boundaries and no time.

Philip's passing also comes on the back of another fantastic researcher, with the death of astronomer and long-time psychical investigator Professor Archie E. Roy, author of the recent book The Eager Dead (and I tried to make it even worse by having an emergency situation myself with anaphylaxis due to a wasp sting).

Farewell to two fellow explorers of the strange, may all the mysteries be revealed to you now. You will be remembered.

Ancient 'Alien' Burial Site Discovered

Elongated Skull

Well next season's series of Ancient Aliens is writing itself...

Close to the small Mexican village of Onavas, south Sonora, archaeologists have uncovered the first pre-Hispanic cemetery of that area, dating to around 1,000 years ago.

The burial ground consists of 25 individuals; 13 have intentional cranial deformation and five also have dental mutilation, cultural practices which are similar to those of pre-Hispanic groups in southern Sinaloa and northern Nayarit, but until now, have not been seen in Sonora.

...For archaeologists, the discovery is exciting new evidence of cranial deformation, something which has not been recorded before in the Sonora cultural groups.

...The archaeologist said that, “Cranial deformation in Mesoamerican cultures was used to differentiate one social group from another and for ritual purposes, while the dental mutilation in cultures such as the Nayarit was seen as a rite of passage into adolescence. This is confirmed by the findings at the Sonora cemetery where the five bodies with dental mutilation are all over 12 years in age.”

However, she continued,“In this case, you cannot recognise any social differences because all the burials seem to have the same characteristics. Nor have we been able to determine why some were wearing ornaments and others not, or why of the 25 skeletons only one was female. “

Video report about the discovery below (Spanish language). Maybe our resident Mexico expert RPJ can fill us in a little more about this fascinating cultural practice:

The Mysterious Influence of One Human Mind

The Mysterious Influence of One Human Mind: Mapping the Occult City

Suggested Anaesthesia“STUDENTS of history find a continuous chain of reference to the mysterious influence of one human mind over that of others. In the earliest records, traditions and legends may be found reference to the general belief that it was possible for an individual to exert some weird uncanny power over the minds of other persons, which would influence the latter for good or evil. And more than this, the student will find an accompanying belief that certain individuals are possessed of some mental power which bends even “things” and circumstances to its might.

Away back in the dim past of man’s history on this planet this belief existed, and it has steadily persisted, in spite of the strenuous opposition of material science, even unto the present day. The years have not affected the belief, and in these dawning days of the Twentieth Century it has taken on a new strength and vitality, for its adherents have boldly stepped to the front, and confronting the doubting materialistic thinkers, have claimed the name of “Science” for this truth and have insisted that it be taken, once and for all, from the category of superstition, credulity and ignorant phantasy.”

- William Walker Atkinson, from Practical Mental Influence & Mental Fascination (Advanced Thought Publishing Co., Chicago, IL, 1908)

The late 19th and early 20th Century were a vibrant time for the city of Chicago. Many of the "adherents" that William Walker Atkinson mentions in Practical Mental Influence & Mental Fascination were "(stepping) to the front, and confronting the doubting materialist thinkers," from the heart of the Second City itself. This includes Atkinson, whose savvy with authorial pseudonymity matched his knack for running multiple publishing ventures out of the same office, under different names, to expand the market for his ideas.

At the recent American Academy of Religions pre-conference event, Mapping the Occult City, hosted by Phoenix Rising Digital Academy and DePaul University, (which I discuss in more detail over on The Teeming Brain,) the history of Chicago's esoteric publishing houses provided an interesting focus for a number of different areas related to the city's occult history. Throughout the panel presentations, and in the featured presentation of occultist, artist and initiate Michael Bertiaux, themes continued to arise which flowed perfectly along the channels dug by tenacious turn of the century occult entrepreneurs.

A prominent features of Chicago's esoteric involvement is it's central role in publishing Theosophical, New Thought, Spiritualism and even more standard Western esoteric works through companies like Atkinson's Advanced Thought Publishing Co., Arcane Book Concern, and Yogi Publishing Society,  Sydney Flowers' Psychic Research and New Thought Publishing Company,  Hack & Anderson, and de Laurence, Scott and Company . Even the great jazzman Herman Blount(Sun Ra) spent time passing out tracts of his poetry and utopian Afro-Futurist philosophy on the El (Chicago's sub-way system.) ... Read More »

The Heretic Volume 2

Volume 2 of The Heretic Magazine is now available for sale, and returns with another stellar line-up of material from the likes of Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval. The Heretic is a magazine project created by two of our good friends, editor Andrew Gough and designer Mark James Foster (Mark has worked on Darklore with me, and was also the designer behind Sub Rosa, so you'll definitely get a similar vibe to some of TDG's own projects).

Volume 2 is a collection of essays written by world-famous experts in their field, as well as contributions from fresh, new voices, from the worlds of Alternative History, Lost Civilisations and Technologies, Mysteries and Conundrums, Rennes-le-Château, the Occult, Politics, Science and much more.

Edited and collated by Andrew Gough, Volume 2 features Graham Hancock, Robert Bauval, Robert Eisenman, Robert Feather, Tim Wallace-Murphy, Ralph Ellis, Dawn Bramadat, Madlen Namro, Lucy Wyatt, Hugh Newman, David Ritchie, Miguel Conner and many more. In all we have crammed 22 compelling and thought-provoking articles and features into our latest edition.

And don’t forget that Volume 1 remains available for purchase and provides the perfect accompaniment to our new edition.

The Heretic is, like Sub Rosa, a digital age magazine. However, while Sub Rosa was done as an interactive PDF, The Heretic makes use of now ubiquitous tablet computers/eBook readers, and so is available as a multitouch Apple iBook or a Kindle eBook (the former is recommended, for a complete experience).

The Heretic's website has direct links for purchasing the magazine from both the iTunes store and various Amazons around the world.

[Visit The Heretic Magazine]

Australian Prime Minister Announces Mayan Apocalypse

Finally, a member of the one-world-government has broken ranks and admitted that the apocalypse predicted by the Mayans is imminent. Of course, it had to be an Australian...

Quest for the Lost Civilisation

'Alternative history' researcher Graham Hancock recently linked to this complete set of his 1998 documentary series 'Quest for the Lost Civilisation' on YouTube, so I feel fine in posting it here. The series is made up of three 50 minute documentaries, in which Graham traverses the world and explains his controversial theory that "an ancient civilization, highly intelligent people who sailed the planet as early as 10,500 B.C., spread advanced astronomical knowledge and built ancient observatories". The three episodes are:

  • Heaven's Mirror
  • Forgotten Knowledge
  • Ancient Mariners

Skeptics may scoff, but Hancock earnestly points out similarities in giant stone structures in the Egyptian desert and Cambodian jungles, and on Easter Island and in Micronesia, he points out what he considers evidence of an ancient society of seafarers. His ideas may seem utterly bizarre at first, but Hancock presents them in an understated and good-natured manner, and he also makes clever use of computer graphics and aerial photography to illustrate the startling similarities in ancient structures found from the North Atlantic to the South Pacific.

Hancock raises some puzzling questions, and even if you don't buy his arguments, bolstered though they are by mathematical equations and astronomical diagrams, the Quest for the Lost Civilization is an entertaining mixture of archaeology, astronomy, and speculation.

Wow, almost 13 years since that series aired! In more up-to-date Graham Hancock news, I can also tell you that Graham's next fiction novel, War God, is now available for pre-order at Amazon UK and other online bookstores (release date of June 6, 2013).

Last Chance to See the Origins of Consciousness

Tonight I'm heading in to see Graham Hancock, Dennis McKenna and Mitch Schultz do their thing at the 'Origins of Consciousness' lecture tour stop here in Brisbane. The tour so far has been well received, and ticket sales strong (tonight is sold out, as was the stop in Melbourne). There are still a few tickets left for the final appearances at Byron Bay and Sydney (tomorrow and Sunday, respectively), so if you're nearby and interested, make sure you grab a ticket before they disappear:

Entheogenesis Australis & Lost Tribes are proud to present

The 2012 Origins of Consciousness tour

An exploration into Psychedelics, Spirituality & Ancient Civilizations, with Graham Hancock, Origins of Consciousness Tour FlyerDennis McKenna, Mitch Shultz & more.

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

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

Tickets can be purchased from the Entheogenesis Australia website.

Modern Technology Reveals Stonehenge's Long-Held Secrets

Stonehenge, by Wigulf (Creative Commons Share-Alike 3.0 Licence)

Modern technology has revealed some ancient secrets that Stonehenge has kept hidden for thousands of years:

A detailed laser-scan survey of the entire monument has discovered 72 previously unknown Early Bronze Age carvings chipped into five of the giant stones.

All of the newly discovered prehistoric art works are invisible to the naked eye – and have only come to light following a laser-scan survey which recorded literally billions of points micro-topographically on the surfaces of the monument’s 83 surviving stones. In total, some 850 gigabytes of information was collected.

Detailed analysis of that data – carried out on behalf of English Heritage - found that images had been engraved on the stones, normally by removing the top 1-3 millimetres of weathered (darker coloured) rock, to produce different sized shapes. Of the 72 newly discovered images revealed through the data analysis, 71 portray Bronze Age axe-heads and one portrays a Bronze Age dagger.

Prior to the laser survey, 46 other carvings (also of axe-heads and daggers) were known or suspected at Stonehenge – mostly identified visually back in the 1950s. The laser-scan survey has now confirmed the existence of those other images and provided more details about them.

The 72 new ‘rock art’ discoveries almost treble the number of carvings known at Stonehenge – and the monument’s largely invisible art gallery now constitutes the largest single collection of prehistoric rock carvings in southern Britain.

It's important to note that Stonehenge was almost a 1000 years old when the first carvings were made, so we should be careful to segregate cultural meaning to the various periods of the monument's existence. The full report ("Stonehenge Laser Scan: Archaeological Analysis Report", PDF download) contains an image of the axe-head carvings:

Stonehenge Axe Carvings

I definitely recommend reading the entire report, as it contains a number of interesting discussions about Stonehenge that you probably won't find in the media reports on this project.

Update: Some commenters (below) have suggested the carvings look as much like mushrooms as they do axeheads, which might bring you meaning to the name Stonehenge. What say you?

Buddhist 'Iron Man' Stolen By Nazis Is From Space

Nazi Buddhist Iron Man From Space

This one is in the running for the headline of the year - "Buddhist ‘Iron Man’ found by Nazis is from space":

A Buddhist statue brought to Germany from Tibet by a Nazi-backed expedition has been confirmed as having an extraterrestrial origin.

Known as the ‘iron man’, the 24-centimetre-high sculpture may represent the god Vaiśravaṇa and was likely created from a piece of the Chinga meteorite that was strewn across the border region between Russia and Mongolia between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago, according to Elmar Buchner, of the University of Stuttgart in Germany, and his colleagues.

Given the extreme hardness of the meteorite — “basically an inappropriate material for producing sculptures” the paper notes — the artist or artists who created it may have known their material was special, the researchers say. Buchner suggests that it could have been produced by the 11th century Bon Ben [Corrected 27/9] culture, but the exact origin and age of the statue — as opposed to the meteorite it is made from — is still unknown. It is thought to have been brought to Germany by a Nazi-backed expedition to Tibet in 1938–39. The swastika symbol on the piece — a version of which was adopted by the Nazi party — may have encouraged the 1938 expedition to take it back with them.

The use of iron from meteors in ancient times is an interesting topic. Cultures all over the world used the heaven-sent nickel-iron alloys, from the Inuit to the ancient Egyptians, and in many places the etymology of the word iron resolves back to 'fire/thunderbolt/metal from heaven". One can only imagine in what sort of reverence those ancient people held this seemingly god-given substance.