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)

News Briefs 30-10-2015

"The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience."

Quote of the Day:

“Everything comes in time to him who knows how to wait.”

L. Tolstoy

News Briefs 29-10-2015

Scariest. Halloween. Ever!

Thanks to Paul

Quote of the Day:
"I awoke only to find that the rest of the world was still asleep."

~Leonardo da Vinci

Crop Circles: Debunked?

Where do crop circles come from? What's their purpose? Chris Thomas and Homespun present their take on the modern mythos behind cereal art. Cropped remixes familiar fortean tropes in a way Doug Bower and Dave Chorley would approve.

You might also like:

Fractalicious: The Otherworldly Fractal Landscapes of Julius Horsthuis

Julius Horsthuis is avVisual effects designer and fractal artist who experiments in making 'fractal shorts' - not a new style of pants with an infinite hem-line, but short videos of 3D fractal 'landscapes'. Horsthuis' creations are jaw-droppingly gorgeous (HD and full-screen an absolute must), and on his website he also offers tutorials and raw files for those who are interested in exploring this area themselves:

Over the years I've gathered experience in film, 3D animation and VFX that I now try to expand with a little help from fractals. Fractal shorts are great for developing skills – they are exercises in framing, composition, color and style.

For people interested in the process and techniques I've also written a little background on each Fractal short. The articles vary in scope; some are about techniques, others are more about the idea behind it or some hurdle I had to take to finish the piece..

I've also included the animation files for each Fractal short. You may download it and open it with the free software (Mandelbulb3D) to study your favorite fractal or maybe improve upon it. More information on the software in the about section. You can find the background and animation file in each of the Fractal Shorts.

If you feel you want to donate some money to support my work you are very welcome as I've embedded a 'donate' button in the about section.

The aim of this website is two-fold: I want to promote my own work so that more people will see it, and give suggestions and feedback so that I can become better at what I love doing by doing more of it. On the other hand I also hope to inspire people to create, and want to share what I've learned with the community that I've learned so much from.

Above is his creation 'Our Fractal Brains', and just to double-up on the eye candy below I've embedded another of his works, 'Fractalicious 2'. Apologies in advance for and DMT flashbacks or recovered memories of R'lyehian abduction experiences...

(h/t Boing Boing)

News Briefs 28-10-2015

They are out there.

  • Scientists to scan ancient pyramids with cosmic rays to find hidden chambers and other secrets.
  • Maybe it's time to stop snickering about aliens.
  • Survey that revealed widespread iffy research practices in psychology was itself iffy.
  • Consumer 3D printer used to create human tissue.
  • Sonic tractor beam invented.
  • Biscuit that survived the Titanic sells for $23,000.
  • The people who stole the moon.
  • Hung, drawn and quartered skeleton found in Welsh pub could be English saint.
  • Reclusive programmer Steve Grand is creating a farmyard of virtual animals out of code.
  • Bronze Age warrior’s tomb discovered in Pylos, Greece.
  • Cassini is about to taste the huge geysers of Enceladus.
  • Frozen cave lion cubs found in Siberia.
  • Mysterious artefact dug up in Pennsylvania: Ancient Grenade?
  • Haunting new find of death masks from ancient Siberian warrior race.
  • Brain-controlling sound waves used to steer genetically modified worms.
  • Quote of the Day:

    Everyone's quick to blame the alien.


Joyriding with Seriah Azkath, Joshua Cutchin & Yours Truly in 'Where Did the Road Go?'

Last Friday night I had the pleasure of engaging in an all-encompassing conversation with Seriah Azkath, the host of the awesome radio show Where Did the Road Go?; with us was my good friend Joshua Cutchin, musician and author of the widely acclaimed book A Trojan Feast.. Since this was my first appearance on the show, we were supposedly going to stick to one subject in particular --Artificial Intelligence-- but as it is often the case when you're engaging with intelligent people who share many of your ideas about Forteana, we ended up pretty much going all over the place (UFOs, Bigfoot, Extraterrestrial life and a hell of an etcetera).

In fact, after Seriah stopped the recording, we still kept chatting for FOUR MORE HOURS, until it was past 3 in the morning and I suddenly realized I hadn't parked my car inside the garage yet...

To say that I enjoyed this conversation is an understatement of Trump ego proportions. Like probably many of you, I've been a fan of Seriah for quite a long while, ever since I listened to him as a guest on Micah Hanks' Gralien Report. Not only is he the kind of host who comes fully prepared at the moment of asking the interviewee about their latest book or investigation, but in fact he's had *plenty* of personal experiences with the kind of high strangeness that makes one question your basic presumptions about reality, as well as eroding the faith in all those who claim to have simple explanations to what's going on with these phenomena --both from the skeptic AND the true believer camp...

Ditto with having my first chance to joining Joshua Cutchin on a radio interview --even though we were already good friends and have engaged in many a discussion over Skype privately. It's my opinion Joshua's doing a much-needed work in the Fortean field, by pointing out to the kind of cases and characteristics of witnesses' testimonies that used to be overlooked or discarded by previous investigators --like the kind of foodstuffs given to experiencers by non-human entities-- who didn't stop to consider THOSE little details might just the kind of thing which will cast a bit more light into these apparently unsolvable enigmas.

So, if you're the kind of person who doesn't mind dark and bumpy roads filled with lots of bifurcations and dangerous curves then strap in, because it's gonna be one hell of a ride!

News Briefs 27-10-2015

Only 11 days left to help fund this amazing collector's edition UFO book by Jacques Vallee - get in!

Quote of the Day:

We must go not only into space, but eventually, by any means found necessary, into the stars. Creatures we cannot even imagine, evolved from us, our passengers on that trip, will thank us – their nameless ancestors who carried the fire of life away from one sun, and into the potential bay of eternity.

Vinay Gupta

Idle Tentacles Are The Devilfish's Playthings


Living in a fishbowl isn't all it's cracked up to be. Three squares a day, moody lighting, and a never-ending parade of ugly-but-clever apes tapping on the glass. But life gets dull. There are only so many hiding spots, the gravel is only so deep, and that plastic diver isn't getting any more attractive.

Combining their mad Houdini skills with unearthly intelligence, octopodes are notorious for causing mischief. Many FOAFtales litter the internet of nightly jaunts to snack on neighbors. They use tools, care for their young, and show empathy. Take this passage from Sy Montgomery's delightful The Soul of an Octopus. Anna, a volunteer with Asperger's Syndrome at the New England Aquarium, is having a hard time coping after her best friend's suicide, and the staff encourages her to play with a wild-caught octopus named Octavia.

She was working that Wednesday in Cold Marine when Dave suggested she might want to play with Octavia. "At that point," Anna wrote me, "I had already taken her out more times than I could count, and I felt like I knew her pretty well. I think she sensed something was wrong. She was a lot gentler than she usually was, and she had her tentacles on my shoulders. It's hard to explain why I think she understood... After interacting with an animal lots of times, you get to understand what the usual behavior is and what it does in different situations.

Observations and anecdotes like these suggest there's something more going on than mere instinct and conditioning. Patrick Lee at The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco respects their intelligence, knowing happy critters mean happy visitors. He illustrates his maverick approach to engaging the strange in the video below.

So, maybe, the next time you're out for sushi, give the takoyaki a pass. There's a chance octopodes might return the favor when human sashimi is on the menu.

You might also like:

News Briefs 26-10-2015

Sigillum Dei Infinitum...

Quote of the Day:

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.

Greg Hill