Saturday, March 1, 2014

Evidence of an Ancient Global Civilization, pt 5.

We now reach a topic on which tons of delusional literature has been printed. The pyramids. From there, we go on to the topic of pre-Columbian transatlantic contact and American civilization in general.
In studying the architectural remains of ancient civilizations, one category is particularly striking: The pyramid. As Keel says in Disneyland of the Gods: We know that pyramid building was once a universal practice throughout the world. Over six thousand years ago unknown peoples were assembling great pyramids in Mexico. Gigantic man-made mounds were constructed in China, Great Britain, North America, and on remote Pacific islands while the Egyptians were still living in mud huts along the Nile.[1, p. 398]
The pyramid is somewhat striking, but on the other hand it is also quite natural: hills and mountains are obviously somewhat impressive natural formations, and emulating those formations may be a fairly natural idea. Secondarily, pyramids are easier to build than many other shapes, simply due to physics.

As for the quip about the Egyptians still living in mud huts when mounds were being built elsewhere, it is helpful to note that most Egyptians probably did live in mud huts for quite a while even after the pyramids were built, on account of mud huts being quite an affordable and durable solution to housing in general in that area with the technology of the time. Essentially, her phrasing makes it sound like mound building elsewhere around the world predates Egyptian pyramid building by significant time spans, without her actually making that strong a statement. Mound building on remote Pacific islands definitely does not predate the earliest pyramids of Egypt, as they were only being settled at about the time the first pyramids were completed. Unless Murdock means something less than 'remote' by 'remote'. Other than that, the claim of mounds having been built about 6000 years ago seems somewhat more likely to be accurate (e.g. Watson Brake, 5,500 years ago in Louisiana, among other mounds both earlier and later in the Old World).

Which particular pyramids of Mexico are referred to as being 6000 years old would also be interesting - there are quite a few pyramids, so please don't leave us hanging. I find no pyramid supposed to predate the Pre-Classical period, which spanned roughly 2000BCE-200CE. Murdock not only wants us to think those earliest Pyramids were built at the onset of that period rather than the middle or later parts - she wants us to think they stem from 2000 years earlier.

Murdock goes on with this fantastic 'fact':
During World War II pilots flying “the hump” reported seeing one or more massive pyramids standing silently in isolated Himalaya valleys.[1, p. 398]
This indeed is what her source, John A. Keel reports, but he, in turn, gives no sources. For the record, it is worth mentioning that John A. Keel was a UFOlogist with no scientific credentials whatsoever. He seems to have been a contrarian with regard to science in general - if scientists believe a thing, they must be wrong.
Of the ubiquitousness and similarity of pyramids, David Hatcher Childress states:
Mayan pyramids are found from Central America to as far away as the Indonesian island of Java. The pyramid of Sukuh, on the slopes of Mount Lawu near Surakarta in central Java is an amazing temple with stone stelae and a step pyramid that would match any in the jungles of Central America. The pyramid is in fact virtually identical to the pyramids found at the ancient Mayan site at Uaxactun, near Tikal.[1, p. 398]
At this point, making statements like "that is like, ... just your ... opinion, man" starts almost having an academical tinge of respectability. The Sukuh pyramid was built well within historical times, by a literate, well-understood Asian society, there are no major mysteries to it. The similarities also appear to be rather superficial: Candi Sukuh has a clear huge doorway, and the external stairways do not extend to its top platform, whereas Uaxactun seems to have had a separate temple built on its top platform. In fact, the more I look at images of the two pyramids, the less similar they seem.
In speaking of the global civilization, Keel elucidates the weaknesses of the current archaeological paradigm:
All these things seem to be interrelated, as if they were once part of some great civilization—a common culture that spread throughout the world and then died. . . . We have a reasonably complete history of the past two thousand years, and a half- baked archaeological reconstruction of the past five thousand years. But there are so many gaps in our knowledge that most the popular archaeological theories really have very little merit. Indeed, we can’t even be sure that the Egyptians built the Great Pyramid . . . [1, p. 398]
Funnily, several of the given examples actually are from within the past two thousand years, which Keel admits to being fairly well understood; this includes Chichen Itza (up to 1700 years ago), Sukuh (about 500 years ago), Tiwanaku (up to 1300 years ago) and thus within the time span that Keel admits to being well understood. Besides, as a non-historian (and indeed with no formal education beyond high school) his opinion on the field of history is but that of a high school student.
In fact, the Great Pyramid is admittedly much more ancient than the Egyptians of history, as Hotema relates:
 When the most ancient Egyptians first saw the mysterious Sphinx and the great Pyramid of Gizeh, only their tops projected above the wind-blown sand of the desert. They knew no more about the purpose of these structures, their builders, or when they were built, than we do. . . . [The Great Pyramid] could not possibly have been the work of the Egyptian natives, nor has any one ever claimed that it was.[1, p. 398]
A primary source for this Egyptian 'admission' would be interesting. The source, Hotema, was an intriguing person. No biography is available online, but fans of his on various fringe fora seem to express a great admiration for his weird beliefs:
Who is Hilton Hotema & where did he learn all that stuff? This extensive book of Hotema published in 1963 is definitely one of the most drastic revelations of the 20th century. Among other fascinating concepts the author brings up is that humans evolved from a superior race of space aliens; that originally there was only one sex, that women still possesses latent the capacity for virgin birth. He became a prolific writer during the '50s and the '60s eventually publishing more 40 different books, and lessons. He is regarded as the greatest authority of the 20th century on human, mystical, and religious analysis and interpretation. Born in 1878 was a Clergyman, Naturopath, chiropractor, writer, Mason, musician, and manufacturer of violins, among other things. although I personally, in no way, a fanatic of traditional dogma, warn the reader regarding Hotema's opinions, assumptions and conclusions which are rather incompatible with the teachings of established religious doctrines (Meaning Christianity)The book is highly illustrated with unusual drawings on the occult, anatomy, physiology and archeology which makes it more interesting. In 1979 at the ripe age 92, Hilton Hotema finally advanced into higher planes of existence., but see also
An admission from such a peculiar new age kook probably cannot be taken as serious evidence regarding anything.
In the word “pyramid,” Anderson has detected “pyr-a-met,” which he translates as “grand central fire.” The pyramid is the celestial “altar in the midst of Egypt.” The pyramid, thus, was a worldwide symbol of an altar, being an encoder of “sacred knowledge.” [1, p. 399]
Here, Murdock definitely is misrepresenting her source. I was inclined to think 'ah, but Anderson is but a 19th century kook', but in this case, Murdock's misrepresentation makes him appear all the kookier than he genuinely is. Looking up what he actually wrote gives this:
Its four angles on the due north and south, east and west points, its apex, crossed X and the sun when at its meridian height at the longest day resting in glory upon it, it is truly a pyr-a-met, or grand central fire, enlightening the south, east and west sides, and leaving the northern side in shade or darkness, for the sun in our hemisphere never goes to the north of the ecliptic. [2, p. 8]
Anderson seems rather to be making a pun than an actual claim there. His claim about the north side of the pyramid is also mistaken - it is in fact illuminated by the sun from sufficiently high an angle that the sun in fact shines on all four sides of it when at its zenith for a large part of the year.

So, a bogus etymology, not even presented as an etymology by its source - an astrologer of the 19th century - has some value in trying to figure out ancient symbolism on a global scale? There is too much iffy stuff about this particular bit of reasoning. Even further, how does 'grand central fire' translate into 'encoder of sacred knowledge'? Further, the term pyramid is a Greek word for what the Egyptians called something along the lines of mr (we don't know the vowels of Old Egyptian). Why would the Greek word for something the Greeks encountered in Egypt tell us anything about the pyramids' meanings in other parts of the world? Why is not the Egyptian term - or other terms used by regular pyramid builders discussed? Is it because to the conspiracy theorist, everything is connected?
Although such a date is not allowed by the current paradigm, which places all civilization after the time of the Sumero-Babylonian cultures, the pyramid at Cuicuilco, Mexico, is evidently at least 2,500 years older than the earliest known Sumerian finds, as the Mexican structure was apparently unearthed under a lava field created by a volcanic eruption 8,500 years ago. [1, p. 399]
Was it? Sources please? No reason to believe the lava field is 8,500 years old is provided. Is there laboratory work that demonstrates its age? Where can I find this? Sources? It is interesting that the most bold claims are given no backing evidence whatsoever, despite Murdock boasting how well-sourced her books are.

Apparently, there is an outdated scientific claim to this effect from before radiometric dating became commonplace. The method that reaches the date Murdock claims introduces a lot of uncertainty into the dating, but as she made no reference to the scholar whose estimate it was, the reader will not be aware of this. See
Notice that this source - Philip Coppens - was somewhat of an alternative author. He seems to have been the only alternative author with a sense of scholarly caution I have yet come across, though, which in my eyes fully redeems him for having been a regular talking head on Ancient Aliens.
The city of Tiahuanaco on the shores of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia is one of the most enigmatic and stunning places on Earth. Lying in a desolate spot some 12,500 feet above sea level, Tiahuanaco has astounded and perplexed travelers for centuries. Although orthodox scholars deem this megalithic mystery an Inkan construction, the Inkas themselves insisted it existed long before their culture came into being. The city is dated by the orthodoxy to no earlier than the 5th century CE, but unorthodox scholars have opined that it may be as much as 15,000 years old. [1, p. 399]
Orthodox scholars do not deem Tiahuanoco an Incan construction - the dates would not add up if it were: the Incas started expanding in the 14th century according to orthodox dates, and Tiahuanoco is dated almost a millennium earlier and is outside of the Incan homelands. A remarkable claim like 15,000 years requires quite a bunch of backing data, none which is provided here. (Not even a reference!)

Murdock should have provided a more clear reference to some of these 'unorthodox' scholars. The main claimant seems to be Posnansky, whose claims have been thoroughly rejected by astronomers and historians alike, on account of resting on mistaken assumptions of what astronomical conclusions can be drawn from the existing evidence. [David H. Kelley, Eugene F. Milone Exploring Ancient Skies A Survey of Ancient and Cultural Astronomy, Second Edition 2011.pdf]

Now Murdock shifts the focus from the pyramids and the dating of ruins onto unusual objects from the past.
The Ashoka Pillar in India is an enormous lingam made of iron and “expertly welded.” Of the pillar, Jochmans says, “The mystery is that any equivalent mass of iron, subjected to the Indian monsoon rains, winds and temperatures for 1,600 years or more would have been reduced to rust long ago.” [1, p. 399] 
Firstly, a minor correction: the Ashoka Pillars are an entirely different thing. The thing Murdock speaks of is the iron pillar of Delhi. The reason it has not rusted seems understood today, but the fact that some ancient smiths knew how to achieve this effect (quite likely without understanding how it works), is impressive. Impressive is a different thing from mysterious, though. (Yes, there are mysteries to it, but these mysteries most likely have solutions that will fit the current consensus view of mainstream historical scholars).
From a shipwreck in Greece of the first century BCE comes a navigational device or “astrolabe,” which “calculated the annual movements of the sun and moon.” Miniature model airplanes have been found in both the “old” world and the “new,” and legends of diverse peoples speak of “flying machines.” [1, p. 399]
The antikythera mechanism is genuinely an interesting device, and it has indeed caused serious scholars to adjust their view on the sophistication of mechanical devices in antiquity. However, the technology needed for it was reachieved in medieval times. The antikythera mechanism is somewhat mysterious as well, but there is no need to posit the ancients were in possession of remarkable technology due to it: gears and arithmetic is roughly what you need to construct it, in addition to someone having a spark of genius. Also, Murdock should have provided more sources - she does not even provide us with the name of the device here.

As for the "miniature model airplanes" and "flying machines", those found in South America resemble fish, and were found among other things that resemble other kinds of animals. As Murdock does not tell us which finds she is referring to, the critical reader again is left to do all the scholarly work for her.
There are also the fabulous drawings at Nazca and elsewhere that can only be seen from above. [1, p. 399]
Indeed they can only be seen from above, but making them does not require seeing them - relatively straightforward geometry is all that is needed.
Also in Peru have been found 50,000 engraved stones that “show people, extant and extinct animals, star maps, the star ring of the zodiac, and maps of unidentified land areas. The people are shown hunting or struggling with a variety of monsters that resemble brontosaurs, triceratops, stegosaurs, and pterodactyls, which properly belong to the Mesozoic era [225-65 million BP]. Even more surprisingly, human beings are portrayed as having domesticated animals that appear to be dinosaurs and are using them for transportation and warfare. People are shown using telescopes, looking at the stars, and performing surgery.” Although these baffling stones have been attacked as modern frauds, which some admittedly are, mention was purportedly made of their existence by a 16th century Spanish priest who sent some of them to Spain. [1, p. 400]
Here, a reference to the priest in question would have fit well. As it stands, this claim is not verifiable. I have not been able to obtain Berlitz's Atlantis: The Eighth Continent, which is the source for the quoted segment. Its name does not inspire confidence, nor does Berlitz' name either - he was one of the main proponents of Atlantis for quite some time. These stones have a name, and I am left to wonder whether Murdock omitted mentioning them just to make it more difficult for the critical reader to find them! Their usual designation is 'the Ica stones'.

Of the allegedly 50,000 engraved stones few have ever been seen by anyone else than the main claimant. Here, we hear the hoax warning bell tolling if it ever did. For more on these Ica stones, see

In addition, the oxidation of the engravings would appear to demonstrate that many of the stones are at least several centuries old, dating to a time when neither native Americans nor anyone else were supposed to know about such things. [1, p. 400]
Please give a reference already, Murdock. Where can I find a report on the lab work regarding that oxidation? It seems - as per the Skeptical Dictionary referred to previously - that exposing the stones in a chicken pen for a while is enough to provide a nicely oxidated surface.
In Central America, another technological anachronism appears in massive spheres almost perfectly round. [1, p. 400]
Apparently, the claims to 'perfection' is a result of people misunderstanding the imprecision of the measuring method used by the only scholar to have carried out such measurements.
In another apparent anachronism, pictures of horses and asses are frequently found in Mexican hieroglyphs, even though the Americas were wiped clean of such fauna 12,000 ago. [1, p. 400]
Do we know for certain these hieroglyphs predate the Spanish invasion? Such an assumption would almost look like the expectation that all skills were lost as soon as transatlantic contact was made. Even the editor of Higgins' Anacalypsis figured the presence of the horse indicates more recent vintage for these pictures, which indeed is the natural assumption - any counterclaim needs backing evidence.
The Enigma of North America
In the analysis of the ancient advanced global civilization hypothesis, North America still seems to remain part of the old paradigm with few signs of any advanced culture or outside influence, other than in legends. However, this perception is incorrect, as, in reality, North America was inhabited by one or more advanced cultures who did indeed leave their traces, traces sometimes so obliterated that they are certainly of a very profound antiquity. In actuality, it will come as a shock to many that the United States has numerous ruins and earthworks so old that the natives encountered by Europeans had no idea who built them. As Keel relates:
[The experts] tell us that North America was uninhabited by anyone except Indians before the Europeans arrived. They overlook all the stone towers and structures found all over this continent (including miles of paved roads) when the Pilgrims arrived. 
[1, p. 400] 
Funny how Keel does not accept the idea that the Indians could have been clever enough to build paved roads, stone towers and other structures. The arguments presented in the sources basically assumes that the scientific consensus is very static about where native American tribes have been located, that a tribe has inhabited its area since basically the days of the Clovis culture - it is pretty clear now that some tribes did move around, and into places with clear traces of previous tribes. What is more, a lot of such migration seems to have occurred in the disease-induced collapse that occurred after Europeans reached the Americas.

Murdock would have benefited from reading up on recent developments in the archaeology of the Americas. Turns out the Indians indeed had quite large cultures, which alas were hit very hard by smallpox and other diseases that were brought to the new world by the Europeans. It would seem it is possible that a majority of the native American population perished in the decade after contact due to disease. Traditions and ways of life were lost, societies crumbled. I would recommend every reader of this blog, as well as Murdock herself, to read Mann's 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus. In fact, his overview of early scholars' hostility to the native Americans finds strong echoes among the sources Murdock quotes here - they just refuse to ascribe agency and any ability to innovate or to organize themselves to the native Americans.

A large part of this chapter originates with Charles Fort. Alas, no direct reference is made to where in his work these claims are made - neither in Murdock's sources nor in her own material. Thus tracing these claims to their original sources is essentially impossible, without reading the huge corpus of texts Fort left behind. Of course, reading his four published books would be a good start - but ... that should not be the responsibility of the critical scholar.
Fort catalogued all kinds of metal objects from swords and axes to coins that have been found and dated as pre-Columbian. Somebody was mining ore and coal in this country, and pumping oil in Pennsylvania before Columbus set sail. [1, p. 400]
Certainly a closer source for this statement would be more than justified, it is almost necessary. Further, Fort had no or nearly no interaction with academia, the chance that he got any of his coins or axes 'dated' by any credible method is pretty goddamn low. It would be interesting to know how far radiometric dating methods had been developed by the time of his death, but in light of his refusal to accept any validity of science whatsoever suggests to me he would not have used any scientifically accepted methods anyway.
Rather than tussle with the problem of identifying those mysterious North Americans, the archaeologists have chosen to ignore these artifacts. J. Churchward relates the writings of Kentucky historian George Ranck as saying that under the modern city of Lexington is the “dead metropolis of a lost race . . . that these remains of a great city and a mighty people did exist, there can be not the shadow of a doubt. . . . Here they erected their Cyclopean temples and cities, with no vision of the red men who would come after them, and chase the deer and the buffalo over their leveled and grass-covered walls. Here they lived, and labored, and died, before Columbus had planted the standard of old Spain upon the shores of a new world; while Gaul, and Britain, and Germany were occupied by roving tribes of barbarians, and, it may be, long before imperial Rome had reached the height of her glory and splendor.” [1, p. 401]
Spanish and French chroniclers who had travelled in North America do describe native American cities and mound-building. Anglophone chroniclers seem not to have been travelling far into America, thus not seeing what the Native Americans were up to, until centuries later when it was essentially too late, due to the disease-induced collapse of native American populations. At this point, credulous, racist idiots like Ranck and Churchward made up any amount of bullshit; to them, it was inconceivable that the native Americans could have done anything that required an ability to organize or indeed anything that required intelligence. I do not doubt that Ranck further had such a disdain for the native Americans that he felt justified in making stuff up that would show the native Americans were not the first inhabitants of America - in many people's minds that is essentially the same as reducing their claim to legitimate claims on the land, which I do not doubt he thought he had achieved.
In addition to the stoneworks in North America were the astonishing earthworks, some a mile or more long, constituting geometrical images such as circles, ellipses, octagons, rectangles and squares, as well as serpents and other animals, some of which were purportedly extinct by the time of humans in America. [1, p. 401]
And as pointed out, Spanish and French chroniclers even witnessed some mound building, thus positing any excessive ancient age to them is not needed. Which particular ones depict extinct animals? SOURCES. PLEASE.
Like the Great Pyramid, various edifices of North and South America were not built by the later cultures but either acquired by force or inherited by default because the buildings had been abandoned by earlier cultures. [1, p. 401]
It is intriguing how the buildings that Murdock here refers to never are specified. Which particular buildings are those? How do we know that they were inherited or acquired by force? Is it because some 19th century racist posited it?
In fact, although Egypt is often given the honor of being the originator of much human culture, the Egyptians themselves recorded that they were the inheritors of a great civilization that came from elsewhere. Indeed, the Egyptian culture seemingly appeared out of nowhere at a high level of development, as did the Sumero-Mesopotamian and South American. This fact is explainable if the civilizers were advanced groups coming from elsewhere, from lands that had been destroyed by climatic change, war or other cataclysm. [1, p. 401]
Where did the Egyptians record such a tradition? SOURCES. PLEASE. Further, Murdock seems to be contradicting herself: "Indeed, the Egyptian culture seemingly appeared out of nowhere at a high level of development" vs. "Gigantic man-made mounds were constructed in China, Great Britain, North America, and on remote Pacific islands while the Egyptians were still living in mud huts along the Nile". Two statements that just do not add up.

We further have pretty clear evidence of a progression from less advanced to more advanced societies in the Middle East, Mesoamerica, the Inca homelands as well as elsewhere.

[1] D.M. Murdock, The Christ Conspiracy, 1999. Adventures Unlimited ltd.
[2] Karl Andersson, Astrology of the Old Testament

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