Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by azriel on Sat Mar 11, 2017 4:52 pm

Laughing Only in small doses !

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:36 am

{{Ok you might want to settle in for this, its not going to be short!
Get a brew on pull up a buckie Nod

Right here is the premise for this, or the issue it seeks to address (rather issues really).
Following the end of the Last Ice Age something interesting happened, after hundreds of thousands of years of a hunter-gatherer existence humans started doing odd things- building stuff, domesticating animals, agriculture then settlements.
And folk seemed to be doing this all over the place, the middle-east, northern Europe, South America, China, all, relatively speaking and compared to the hundreds of thousands of years of not doing this sort of stuff, all at once.

This has led to lots of speculation that there was some ancient Atlantian style race who taught modern humans how to farm and build and gave them astronomy- or of course it was those pesky meddling aliens what did it.

Exactly what happened has always fascinated me and Ive been battering my head over it for a long time now.

From studying what appear to be the main factors in their broadest sense I narrowed it down to several key innovations- temple building, astronomy, agriculture, settlements, cities. For the moment that order is not important- just that these major factors are all present in all cases.

So the first thing I did was to build a chronology charting the earliest known examples of ech of these things to see what their correlations might have been.
As soon as I did that some things suddenly became very clear- (all dates are BCE)

9,700- final end of last ice age

9,500- first known temple, gobekli tepe, turkey

9,000- aboriginal astromical observation calendar, Victoria, Australia

8,000- astronomical site in Scotland near Aberdeen.

7,000- agriculture begins in middle-east first farmed settlements

7,000- 6,000 - localised flooding globally caused by rising sea levels and changes in climate. Middle east begins to become more arid, deserts begin to expand. Flood myths develop in Middle-east, South America and China.

6,500-6,000- mass migration from middle-east and southern Europe to northern Europe.

5,800-6,000 agriculture in mainland Europe

5,000-6,000- estimated beginning of Sumerian calendar. Apsu temple created, later would become site of the city of Ur.

6,000- agriculture in UK, first farmed settlements stone circles start being built in Orkney, Scotland with astronomical alignments

5,000- astronomical aligned stone circles appear in Germany then across europe

5,000- agriculture begins in Africa

4,800- astronomical stone circle, Egypt

4,000-3,000- astronomical aligned temple complex completed in Scotland, Orkney

3,800- city states begin to appear in middle-east beginning with Uruk and Ur. Ur is built around the temple of the old apsu temple which has been maintained since its creation on that spot, each new temple build on the old.

3,500- Sumerian calendar recorded for first time on cuneiform, based on older Sumerian calendar

3,500- first Indian calendar and observatories

3,000- earliest version of Stonehenge erected in England-astronomically aligned.

3,000- agriculture in Xincun, China

3,000- astronomical aligned pillars, turkana basin

3,000- skara brae settlement of stone buildings in Scotland

2,500- great pyramid Egypt, sophisticated astronomical alignments

2,500- final phase of Stonehenge built, England

2,400- oldest known portable calendar Germany- nebra sky disc

2,137- earliest Chinese astrological records



And here is what I think happened, what it meant and why we dont need Atlantians or aliens to explain it-

Ice age ends and ice sheets begin to slowly retreat from mainland Europe.
Humans are hunter-gatherers, but in Turkey a temple is constructed- no one lives there, though some sort of priesthood may attend to it. Tribes gather here for ritual purposes unknown, and probably to trade goods, information, knowledge, and mates.

Meanwhile in Scotland, on the land vacated by the melting ice sheets someone creates the first astronomical site in Europe to track the moon and solstices and invents astronomy.
The idea probably makes some sort of priesthood important but does not seem to catch on widely.

Back in the middle east the beginnings of agriculture and domesticating are underway, but take awhile to catch on too. The new farmers possibly run into trouble with the old guard, whose rites and rituals and beliefs are based around gods of the hunt ect not the new emerging gods of the agriculturists.
With northern Europe now free of ice and ripe for farming there are several waves of mass immigration of farmers, they bring agriculture to mainland Europe.

Back in Scotland with the arrival of farming the old religious beliefs based around predicting solstices and eclipses suddenly becomes incredibly useful for telling you when to sow and harvest crops. Plus the priests still get to look good with all the eclipse and solstice stuff. Not only that the circles work at any latitude and the formula for how to make one is encoded in the means by which you set it up. Its a win win. Its tech that travels.

The idea is so good and fits so well with the new ways of farming, combined with its mobility and ease of set up anywhere, that it quickly spreads south to England and then into mainland Europe where it is the dominant bit of technology for the better part of two thousand years.
Its so good that it makes it all the way to the middle east and into Egypt- here it sparks the locals into whole new ideas of their own about astronomy resulting nearly two thousand years later in the great pyramid.

Agriculture is now able to sustain so many people in the middle east that it gives rise to the first large scale settlements- and the first cities are born, their temples are dominated by the gods appropriate to such a society, finally defeating the older ways of the hunter gatherer religions.

800 years later back in Scotland they complete a temple complex connected to astronomically align stone circles, an idea which spreads south resulting 1000 years later in stone henge.There are now so many priests in Orkney, and their technology in such demand that they need somewhere to live and Europe gets its first town in Skara Brae. This is also a popular idea and spreads southward to mainland Europe, just as the same idea is spreading north from the middle-east. The result- settlements with recognizable houses and enclosures popping up everywhere over the next thousand years or so. Civilization has arrived.

All this astronomy stuff spreads to India who also think its a good idea and start their own branch and calendar.

Back in the middle-east all those new gods have got a city each- and a bunch of religious tales and gods from one city state in particular, good old ancient Ur is making its way across the land in the general direction of Egypt- eventually, after a very long time and a lot if influences all modern Abrahamic religions will evolve from its roots. Tales which made the journey include the flood, garden of Eden, most of the creation story regards the waters ect and Eve, mother of all living (under a different name but bearing the exact same title).

Middle-east and Europe head off into the bronze age- China finally catches up with agriculture.

Bronze age- China finally decides to do some astronomy too. Europe so cocky about the whole thing now they are making hand held portable calendars and have deforested most of Europe and turned into a big farm.

Iron age- everyone seeks increasingly sophisticated and violent ways to fight over each others farms.

So a perfect storm- end of the ice age freed up land ripe for taking over and perfect for farming shortly before some bright sparks go and invent agriculture and domesticating of animals to feed some priests.
At the same time at the northern end of the globe some pioneers in the newly freed lands invent astronomy and a means to record their findings. But its not of much use except to the priest who use it to look like they have supernatural knowledge and so they dont have to do any heavy lifting.
Then agriculture spreads north with immigrants and suddenly the astronomy has a very practical use and the technology travels south- but the religion only goes so far with it. The further it gets south the more detached the technology becomes from its religious purpose, and instead the tech is simply incorporated into whatever the local religion is- priests being very keen on keeping their jobs. So a religion that starts as being about the journey between life and death and the ability to commune with ancestors for knowledge and wisdom ends up in Egypt as a giant pyramid and the book of the dead. Traces remain of the original connections, particularly the relationship between stone and an afterlife, but suited to the local climate and beliefs and going off on its own path of local invention after the initial tech arrives.

So what does it all mean?  The above perfect storm of events I mentioned- combined with something archeologists for some reason always seem to me to downplay- its obvious to me the world was far more interconnected than given credit for- its easy with agriculture to see how it simply moved north into Europe via migration from places where it already existed, but explaining the expansion of stone circle technology indicates that people were traveling deliberately- ideas are still moving in stages- stone circle calendars go from the very north of Scotland down through England, through Europe and into the middle-east in chronological order and it takes time- about a thousand years all in to get all the way. But the spread of the tech seems obvious- and that means people had to be moving between these places to convey the knowledge. And telling each other their stories and myths and legends and religions too.

It would also indicate that China was out of the loop of whatever this early communications/trade networks were, as both astronomy and agriculture arrive later there, most likely via India.

The time line might also answer the question of the first human settlements, at least the why of them. People often look for a single reason, hence aliens or Atlantians.
Actually what it seems to show to me is something rather interesting- in the middle east it would seem the idea of a temple, a sacred place with megalithic structures to mark it out, came first- with hunter-gatherer tribes meeting there maybe once, or several times in a year.
And that eventually the idea of a sacred place and a temple atop it led to the first temple at what would become Ur- at whose earliest levels there is likewise no indication people lived there. But around the Ur temple eventually was built the first city-states.
So in the middle-east it seems the temples came first, and settlements grew up around them once agriculture had been invented and could provide the food.
In this case it may be that agriculture was begun by the first priests who perhaps in small numbers did stay for some periods to tend to the sacred temple. This seems as likely a motivation for its creation as any. As well as the domestication of animals- the need to provide a larder when the rest of the tribe went off hunter-gathering for 6 months to a year and priests stayed to tend the temple.

However it was- the order in the middle east seems to go- religion, temples, agriculture, cities, astronomy.

Conversely in Scotland agriculture arrived about a thousand years before they got serious about building a temple and all the stone circles. in that case it seemed that the arrival of a sustainable food source all year round allowed for the labour time required for the construction. And when the agriculture was combined with the already existing astronomical religion it was a perfect combination to make their farming super efficient and to take the guess work out a lot of it and make the priesthood a boom job field.
So in Scotland, whilst the religion probably came first, the temples came later, and long after the first evidence of astronomical interest- the culmination of the temple in Orkney been about two thousand years after the arrival of agriculture and settlements, but 4,000 years after the astronomy started.
And by the time of skara brae the winning combination of stone circle tech and agriculture had been in Egypt for nearly two thousand years.

In fact with the exceptions of Australia, China and South America- all who seem to have independently evolved astronomy, with the exception of the Aboriginals the other two were much later- for the middle east and Europe it seems to have spread the ideas about through trade and migration in a back and froth exchange of knowledge and development, starting with Scotland in the north and Sumeria in the south.
I would propose that each thing alone probably would not have been as successful. But what we got was a blending of complementary ideas.
I have already suggested a reason why agriculture might have begun when it did- it arose out of the need to provide sustenance all year round for the new caste of priests who attended sacred places like Gob Tepi, and later the apsu at Ur around which the first cities developed.
What is not so easy to speculate on is what inspired the early settlers in the harsh environment of post glacial Scotland to invent astronomy and a practical way of marking and recording it. All we can say it was really early on- 8000 bc, 2000 years before agriculture that would sustain the temple building and larger stone circles arrived. But I still dont think it was aliens!

Anyhow that's my speculation based on the dates of these major human breakthroughs of why they happened when it happened, and why they worked so well and how it spread out and how inevitably it provided the basis necessary on which to build modern civilization.

What do you think? }}}

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by David H on Thu Jul 20, 2017 6:26 am

I think you should also consider the history of boats, rafts and navigation. There are amazingly early populations on several islands, predating modern humans, where it's hard to explain a stable population without intentional navigation out of sight of land. I think some form of long-distance navigation predates the ice age. In my opinion, astronomy, religion, and cultural exchange all have strong links to boats. But I may have a bias....

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:01 am

{{Yes indeed. Given the dating evidence the next logical thing to look for is how the information was moving about.

Some research has given some very enlightening results thanks to some recent discoveries.

The oldest known waterborne vessel is from the Netherlands and dates to 8000bc- its a log canoe style of boat. Exactly how far these boats could go is hard to estimate- as there is no reason to assume they made long single journeys, rather than short hops. In short hops you could get a long way. Anywhere round the coast of the UK.
The bigger question is would it be capable of crossing the English Channel and then making its way all the way round the coast?
The former the answer seems to be yes, the latter seems to be of some debate and doubted.

What is not however doubted by archeologists in general is that by the bronze age -3500 ish onwards such voyages were possible and been undertaken.

Which brings me onto the new evidence. Given this position on bronze age capabilities we have a find in England, at Bouldnor Cliff. The site is now 11 metres underwater but was in the Mesolithic fertile ground, and apparently also used for boat building. Thing is the techniques used for splitting the trunk to form 'plank' boarding was not thought possible until the bronze age- indicating that in fact the technology to sail to continental Europe form the uk and beyond existed more than 2000 years earlier than assumed. The Bouldnor Cliff boat is thought to date from as early as 6000 bc.
But the absolute clincher was the discovery of wheat at the site which could be dna checked- showing it was not native to the UK and had come from the middle-east.

The other thing to look at is goods- the UK was exporting 'green stone' whch was used across europe in the production of ceremonial axes (a practice which continued when Bronze came along) - this trade dates to the Mesolithic. And with the arrival of the bronze age tin became the new mineable commodity and the UK was a mass exporter of it to Europe and the middle-east- often in return for lapiz-lapuzi.
There is also pottery, the Ustan Bowls srpead form Orkney to mainland Europe as early as 3750bc indicating Orkney was indeed exporting more than ideas with the rest of the UK and beyond. And further indicates that the routes by which the stone circle knowledge passed southwards and the agriculture passed northwards were probably already well established by the that time.

But its that early date of 6000bc for the middle-eastern wheat at the boat building site that intrigues me most. As it indicates that some sort of route was established with the middle-east from the UK. And given that the stone circle technology did not begin moving south until at least 1000 years later that is plenty time for the further establishing and development of these routes and contacts.

chronology-

8000- dugout canoe, Netherlands

6000- boat building site, bouldnor cliff, England. Evidence of wheat from the middle-east.

5000-3000- export of green stone from England to continent for use in ceremonial axe making.

3750-3500- Hembury pottery connects England and Normandy in trade.

3720-2890- spread of ustan bowls form Orkney to England and then continent

3500- Tin mines in turkey exporting widely.

2500-2000- tin mining in UK export as far as middle east.

2000-1500- boats built at Dover, England.

}}}

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by halfwise on Thu Jul 20, 2017 2:52 pm

This looks really, really interesting. So I'll save it for tonight while doing laundry.

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by halfwise on Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:48 pm

Realized I was tied down from doing work while munching my way through lunch, so I could read this.

It seems you have an interesting, somewhat testable hypothesis.  But part of testing is competing theories and trying to bust up the original theory.  So here's a few potshots to see if your theory can survive.

1. Is it really that hard to tell when it's the right time to plant crops?  Wouldn't watching the weather do just as well? In fact given weather variations the idea of a single best day or two to plant seems somewhat absurd to me, though I know astronomy has been used for this for ages.  Perhaps it's just a simpler way to get the right time for those who haven't developed enough experience to judge the seasons and variability correctly.  And come to think of it, the variability is so high in temperature zones that it truly can be difficult to figure out what season you are in. It cuts both ways.

2. Could all of this also be due to population density?  Right after population is suppressed by an ice age, when the pressure is released the growth should be somewhat exponential.  Advanced culture and technology requires a sort of leisure class to develop, plus discussion with others who have the time to discuss and experiment.  This won't happen until you hit a critical population density.  Of course, looking back thousands of years and trying to pinpoint whether population density drove technology or technology helped increase population density will be difficult.  But it's a straw man to pit your own theory against.

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by David H on Thu Jul 20, 2017 6:22 pm

I want to go deeper, especially bringing the Americas into this with increasing evidence that there was permanent maritime based human habitation on the West Coast long before 10,000 BCE. Then there's Australia and some of the Pacific Islands... It's fascinating stuff. My personal opinion is that there was much more sophistication 20,000 years ago than we now acknowledge, but it left no bits for the archaeologists to find except a few stones and the occasional bone until stone architecture became a thing about 10K ago. Wood and leather just don't last 20,000 years (unless you're a mammoth and are unfortunate enough to fall into an ice flow) so there's now only circumstantial evidence, but it's sure tantalizing! Nod

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:58 pm

1. Is it really that hard to tell when it's the right time to plant crops? - Halfy

{{Apparently yes but to be honest I dont actually know in what ways now you mention it. Perhaps Dave can help us out here- how much more difficult is farming without a calendar to farming with one Dave? How important is being able to set your dates for things?}}}

2. 2. Could all of this also be due to population density? - Halfy

{{{Population and climate change certainly are factors- after the end of the ice age there was both rising sea levels and more arid climates and it comes with mass immigration northwards into Europe from the middle-east- which is believed to have occurred in three major waves within a relatively short time frame.
I imagine there were several factors in this- climate, population growth and possibly local issues between the old religious order and the newer emerging ones associated with crops and harvests ect- early myths, tales and religious texts, including the biblical cain and abel story, hint at some sort of major trouble there. }}


{{{Dave- my knowledge of prehistroy in the Americas is pretty sketchy- I know S American history for that period better than northern- I shall need to do some research! }}}

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by David H on Thu Jul 20, 2017 11:03 pm

For religious calendars, see if you can find a copy of "How Natives Think: About Captain Cook, for Example" by Marshall Sahlins. The Hawaiian culture was uniquely well preserved in writing before it was westernized. Sahlins is a brilliant anthropologist, and the book is especially fun (and a bit wicked) because its purpose is not only to refute but to eviscerate a colleague who had dared to challenge him. Twisted Evil
Especially with your interest in shamanism I think you'd find it interesting. The Hawaiian system is clearly part of the family of beliefs that go with the seafaring cultures of the whole Pacific Rim, and I suspect their roots are far, far older.

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by halfwise on Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:16 am

Humph, Dave doesn't care to expound on the importance of calendars to farming.

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by David H on Fri Jul 21, 2017 7:09 pm

Not much time to delve deep right now, but I'll say that the importance of celestial calendars to agriculture is going to vary wildly from region to region. In these semi-northern latitudes the calendar that really matters is the biological one.  For example, here we know that when the salmon-berry bushes put out new shoots, it will probably be a couple weeks until they put out leaves, and when the leaves get to be the size of small cat's paws the sap will be starting to run in the cranberry vines, which is when they become vulnerable to frost damage.  And so on throughout the growing year.

 The actual calendar dates can vary by a month or more depending on weather, but the shoots, leaves, buds, blossoms, and berries never lie!  

Where the celestial calendar would be far more important to farmers in the old days would be in the winter when the biological calendar shuts down (and when you and your livestock are most likely to starve). Then you'd use the sky for calculating the remaining time till Spring, when the biological calendar starts again.

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by azriel on Fri Jul 21, 2017 9:15 pm


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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:05 pm

{{Dave- perhaps a more pertinent question would be - do you think in the first say- five- six generations of farmers starting with a calendar would be more advantageous than not? And would it be important enough to explain why it spreads south as far as Egypt just as technology? }}}

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by David H on Sun Jul 23, 2017 6:39 pm

That's a bit of a tricky and politically loaded question Petty, but I'll give it a shot.

First I don't think there's a meaningful way to define the First Farmer. I see it as a spectrum over thousands, and probably tens of thousands of years.  He're where it gets political. Although indigenous people had been managing the land here for something like 10,000 years, when we took their land we said "Oh, you're "hunter/gatherers"! You won't be needing this!" and took their best farmland first.

I suspect that astronomy was the same. You can't live in nature without appreciating the magic of the sky. Plant's and animals metabolisms change based on length of daylight and number of days above and below certain threshold temperatures. Migratory birds use the stars for navigational aids, and other sophisticated calculations of timing.

We're all living in the middle of a giant biological "astronomical calendar" that even now is often more useful than what the State-run weather services give us. (Sorry Halfy, but if you guys were to say the winter was going to be late, but the geese were starting to migrating early, I'd probably trust the geese first.)

So I think what you're seeing in history is that as political power was consolidating, it's not so much that they invented religion, astronomy, and calendars (which are all intertwined).

Instead it's that the State took control of religion, astronomy and calendars, branding you a heretic and a witch if you continued to farm by the older ways. And of course taking your farm, which after all was the whole point! Nod

A bit like what Eddy Izard said about flags.



At least that's the way I see it. Shrugging

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Jul 23, 2017 6:56 pm

{{{Mmmm. I think we need to define 'farmer' in this context.
Whilst I agree about it all being built on much longer observations (the first Egyptian astronomical information we have includes knowledge already in it that could not be gained in any other way than having observed the movements, in some cases over hundreds of years and several generations before the records were ever set down) the archeological definition of farmer is based on the domestication of plants and cattle animals- all indications of which are that it first happened in Mesopotamia and spread out from there.
So whilst hunter gatherers most certainly did manage land, use burning ect to do so they were not domesticating crops or cattle.

And as we can use dna and the like to be fairly specific where this type of farming began, in Mesopotamia, we can say that it and the first known encoding of complex astronomical data in a physical usable form, with stone circles in Orkney, occurred within the same time frame and overlap each other.

So when I say the first few generations of farmers- I mean those folk who were domesticating crops and animals, and transporting that information and probably seeds and cattle too, with them as they moved northward into Europe.
To the first generations of these 'farmers' laying out recognizable modern crops in man-made fields, how useful would be having an accurate calendar for them versus relying solely on local natural observations to correlate your times with? }}

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by halfwise on Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:27 pm

I think Dave has said pretty clearly that a calendar just isn't all that useful. It would seem to me that praps the priests didn't gain power by doing something necessary, but by doing something cool - which was provide an approximate date far ahead of time. Farmers could get along just fine without it, but it's satisfying and somewhat useful for planning to have a long term prediction.

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:44 pm

{{{ Thing is with circles they have only two uses- ritualistic and observational. There is no evidence to indicate that a stone circle in Egypt is being used with the same ritual rites as one in Orkney. But they do both still provide the same observational information.
If there is no practical usage, and no evidence of consistent ritual use across the area they cover, then its difficult to explain why they spread so far and so quickly (relative to the times) }}}

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by David H on Sun Jul 23, 2017 8:01 pm

Well first off, I've got some problems with that definition of "farmer".  In the 21st century Monsanto and their buddies would like to do something similar and define "farmer" as someone who grows genetically modified and patentable crops. I suspect systematic selective breeding was very similar in its day. As much a marker of conquest as a technological advance.  But leaving that aside for the moment...

A calendar is a "one size fits all" tool, and among the farmers I know and respect it's viewed less as a primary tool and more as a crutch for beginners. "He's a calendar farmer" is said of newbies who would be lost otherwise.

How to say this?

OK, let's say a good calendar is as useful to a farmer as a good commercial cake mix is to a baker. Wink

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by David H on Sun Jul 23, 2017 8:06 pm

OK so following that line of thought, I can see how a calendar could be extremely useful to the development of a feudal system, allowing for standardization of management of large areas of cropland that are worked by serfs/slaves who you're no longer trusting to make the judgement calls that farmer-owners make.  How does that fit into your model?

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by David H on Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:09 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote:{{{ Thing is with circles they have only two uses- ritualistic and observational. There is no evidence to indicate that a stone circle in Egypt is being used with the same ritual rites as one in Orkney. But they do both still provide the same observational information.
}}}

So what if the observational info is at least partly for navigation?
9,700- final end of last ice age

9,500- first known temple, gobekli tepe, turkey

9,000- aboriginal astromical observation calendar, Victoria, Australia

8,000- astronomical site in Scotland near Aberdeen.

Victoria and Aberdeen would both be great sites of Pleistocene seaports, if such things existed. There's growing circumstantial evidence that sophisticated leather and rope technologies existed tens of thousands of years ago, and skin boat traditions exist alongside wooden boats on every continent. Imagine the skin boat you could make from a mammoth!Nod Yet they'd leave no archeological record except people and ideas popping up in unexpected places. To my way of thinking there are too many "prehistoric land bridges" in the current theories.

Another question. What's the evidence that the circles that have been found so far were new technology at the time? If I were going to make such a circle for practical purposes, I'd drive cedar stakes in the ground and it would be good for 100 years, but leave no trace 5,000 years later. What if we're just seeing a cultural change from wood to stone?


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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by David H on Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:37 am

OK here's a good short read:
http://www.iro.umontreal.ca/~vaucher/History/Prehistoric_Craft/

The oldest discovered boat in the world is the 3 meter long Pesse canoe constructed around 8,000 BCE [ Wikipedia ]; but more elaborate craft existed even earlier. A rock carving in Azerbaijan dating from ~10,000 BCE shows a reed boat manned by about 20 paddlers. Others argue that hide boats (kayaks) were used in Northern Europe as early as 9,500 BCE.

However, the very first sea-worthy boats were most probably built long before that, about 800,000 years ago, not by Man but by his predecessor Homo Erectus.

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:52 am

allowing for standardization of management of large areas of cropland that are worked by serfs/slaves who you're no longer trusting to make the judgement calls that farmer-owners make.  How does that fit into your model?- David

{{Thats an interesting question.
If you take the Sumerian example it seems to go religion and sacred sites first, then a temple- but still no people living there- its then thought agriculture came next which supported the base for the first cities and their population.

But of course you need more than just the food for a city, you also need water, and you need a means to distribute stuff, a means of knowing who gets what, and people to distribute it and buildings for storage ect ect, it quickly mounts up.
So its possible that 'agriculture' was already long known about but never practiced on a scale or in an organised manner to have had much of an impact or for long enough to establish domesticated grains and cattle.
And in fact it was the development of astronomy and calendars and predictions that allowed for the organisation and planning necessary to conduct agriculture on a grander more permanent scale- and that was part of a more organised plan sparked by the ability to predict events and dates in the future.

'To my way of thinking there are too many "prehistoric land bridges" in the current theories.'- David

Agreed. Nod  I shall be reading that link you posted or further info on the matter!

'What if we're just seeing a cultural change from wood to stone?'

The Aberdeen example was of a wooden circle and henge- the wood is long gone but the potholes for them are still evident- this is the same means by which they discovered the second henge at Stonehenge and the original wooden henge that predated the stone one.

Wooden henges predate stone ones in England but its less clear in Scotland- the Ness of Brodgar site would shows that there were two circles: one stone, one wooden- death and life and in-between a processional way that led through the 'temple' area- this bit seems to have represented either trials on the way to the land of the dead from the living or some sort of ritual purification process- the buildings are oddly shaped inside, forcing anyone entering to take a certain route through the building. Some doorways have fire pits at the threshold indicating you had to walk through flames to exit the building.
Although so far Stonehenge seems to lack this feature it too did originally consist of a wooden and stone hedge with a processional route between them just as the original in Orkney.

Of course I should clear terms here as I'm using them a bit loosely as they tend to be interchangeable in conversation, but are not in fact in reality- the henge is a shallow bowl like shape which, when you stand in the centre, gives you a flat horizon 360 degrees around, necessary for astronomical measurements and clear lines of sight. The circle is just the stones, which are aligned usually to phases of the moon, the solstices and sometimes Venus. The line of sight to astronomical objects can be very intricately incorporated, so that stones may be selected because they have a indentation, that when the stone is placed correctly the sun will appear in during certain days. Some markings and carvings are also designed to be highlighted or only visible under certain astronomical conditions. Kind of like moon letters but without the magic.
You can also measure the movements of the planets and stars by observing how long they took passing the gap between stones and notches made in the stone could represent how high or low in the sky certain objects would appear at their peak points.
Its been shown that you can not only track with surprising accuracy the planets and stars this way but comets to.

All this knowledge together gave the priesthood the ability  to not just designate harvest times and sowing times, predict eclipses and the lunar phases but also seems to have incorporated religious beliefs, burial, fertility to it all as well.
Maes Howe, a chambered cairn has an entrance with a 'light box' above is entrance- this a slot so positioned that on the right day of the year the light from Venus will enter through the slot go straight down the entrance passage and into the pitch black main chamber where it strikes the rear wall- which is embedded with natural quartz making it glow.
Other light tricks include it falling on certain symbols or markings at certain times of the year.
So its obvious that to the original inventors there was a lot more to how they used the information  circle and henge could yield than for just agriculture.

In terms of belief tentative bits and pieces are being put together.
Its clear their was a form of ancestor worship going on. The wooden circles seem to have been representative of life, fertility, regeneration and were probably predominantly aligned for solar and Venus worship as these are the life and the fertility Gods and Goddesses.
There was also the stone circles which had more lunar connotations to them and were associated with the ancestors and the world of the Dead.
That a processional way linked the two, and featured some sort of ceremony on route, would indicate a belief in a connection between living and dead.

Regards the dead burial practices have led some to speculate that the idea of individuality only existed for the living and the ancestors were not individuals upon dead but became part of an amalgamated whole of ancestors. People were not buried individually Rather it seems the corpse was ritually dismembered, and some parts removed altogether, and multiple bodies would be buried in the same place together in a jumble.
Yet these jumbles are often ritually place- Chambered cairns had alcoves for bones but the are a mixture, men and woman, skulls not matching other bones ect.
Some peat bodies also indicate that 'mementos' of deceased were carried by the living, possibly as a means of communicating for advice or asking for help from the ancestors.

Its really hard to judge how far afield the symbolism went with the stones circles tech as it went southward and how much just got attached locally.
At its furthest the circles were in Egypt. And there are superficial at least similarities in the underpinning basics of the beliefs- both build in stone with an association with death, both use stone to mark out astronomical events starting with stone circles, and if you look at a diagram of the interior passages of the Great Pyramid (itself encoding a ton of astronomical info) they bear a remarkable resemblance to Egyptian tomb paintings of the route the soul takes, which is along a particular path beset with trials. Similar to the Orkney processional way connecting living and death with its preset route through and possible trials such as the fire. And lastly when a Pharoah dies they go off to become eternal, but not as individuals as they all blend together into Horus. Much as the Orkadians seem to have believed the dead were an amalgamation rather than individuals.
Sadly untangling what might be local and what might be imported ideas at this distance is probably all but impossible.}}}

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by David H on Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:37 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:
{{So its possible that 'agriculture' was already long known about but never practiced on a scale or in an organised manner to have had much of an impact or for long enough to establish domesticated grains and cattle.
And in fact it was the development of astronomy and calendars and predictions that allowed for the organisation and planning necessary to conduct agriculture on a grander more permanent scale- and that was part of a more organised plan sparked by the ability to predict events and dates in the future.}}}

That makes a lot of sense to me. As for domestication of livestock and crops such as grains, as a farmer I have to believe this had been going on in small-scale, geographically isolated areas (valleys or example) for many thousands of years before the dates that the geneticists and archaeologists are now coming up with. It's just that it doesn't leave a big enough fingerprint to be detected until it gets distributed by "civilizing force" throughout a much broader area.

Imagine one small dale in Yorkshire that had selectively bred a particular variety of sheep in isolation over centuries, then having it abruptly spread throughout Scotland during the Clearances, leaving major changes to both the archaeology of Scotland and the gene pool of sheep. Yet another dale with a different breed of sheep that never got disbursed would leave no measurable trace at all.

Those are the sorts of events that I think you're seeing in the archeological record. And that's still the history of agriculture to this day.

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:46 pm

{{That definitely bears (pun intended!) some thinking about Dave.
If that was the case however another reason would need to be sought to explain the popularity of stone circles and why they spread. If it was not driven by an agricultural use and predates the large scale agriculture (which it does anyway- just not the spread of circles) then another factor must have been driving it. }}}

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Re: Oddities, curiousities and strangness in history [2]

Post by David H on Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:06 pm

I do believe that some kind of formal astronomy is far older than we can currently prove.  Here's a short quote from that Hawaii/ Captain Cook book I mentioned (not the best quote maybe, but it's easy):

Marshall Sahlins, "How 'Natives' Think" wrote:Hawaiians also paid great respect to the astronomical instruments set up by Cook's people in the precincts of Hikiau temple, where the celestial ceremonies of the Haole were protected by the tabu of Lono priests. The islanders called the clocks and watches 'gods', akua.  Fornander commented on the attribution, in connection with the reception of Cook "as a god, an 'Akua'" -- a comment that reflects very well the difference between the otherworldly existence of the Judeo-Christian  God and the this-worldly presence of "heathen" divinity:
"It should be borne in mind that to the heathen Hawaiian the word Akua did not convey the same lofty idea as the word God or Deity does to the Christian. To the Hawaiians the word Akua expressed the idea of any supernatural being, the object of fear or of worship. This term was also ... applied to artificial objects, the nature and properties of which Hawaiians did not understand, as the movement of a watch, a compass, the self-striking of a clock, etc. (Fornander 1969)"

He goes into the distinction between Akua and Mana, which we might all lump under divinity or magic. What I think is fascinating is the meeting of 18th century British astronomy with indigenous Polynesian astronomy. Both the similarities and differences are fascinating to me. I have to believe that they're both branches of the same ancient tree going back 10's of thousands of years, if not 100's or thousands...Shocked

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