This song wins 2013 “Best Song for Indie/Documentary Film” at Hollywood Music in Media Awards.
By Tara MacIsaac
Two camps of scientists have faced off on the issue of the underwater structure known as Bimini Road off the coast of the Bahamas since it was first discovered in 1968.
One camp says it is a 12,000–19,000-year-old man-made structure—flouting the conventional understanding that advanced civilizations only emerged some 5,000 years ago.
The other camp says it is a natural formation.
Dr. Eugene Shinn dismisses as “New Age” the claims that a culture advanced enough to build such a structure existed in that region so long ago. He has behind him the heavy weight of current scientific understandings.
Dr. Greg Little realizes his claims to the contrary are viewed with “outright ridicule,” as he explains in a 2005 paper on the subject. “I have no expectation that any of the skeptics will actually change their views or even consider any alternatives to their beliefs,” he writes.
“All contradictions to their beliefs are probably perceived as a direct threat to them professionally and psychologically,” Little says. “The long history of science has countless examples of widely held beliefs that were proven wrong by research. But even in the face of incontrovertible proof that these beliefs were wrong, many so-called scientists refused to accept the new evidence.”
Little is a psychologist who has taken a keen interest in Bimini and has participated in multiple dives with archaeologist William Donato along the structure.
Donato explains in an email to the Epoch Times that the line of stones form a wall, known as a breakwater, built to protect a prehistoric settlement from waves. During their dives (documented by film and photographs), Donato and Little found the structure to be multi-tiered and to include prop stones they say must have been placed there by humans.
The duo also say they found anchor stones with rope holes carved into them and at least one stone later analyzed at the University of Colorado, which was found to have tool marks, deliberate shaping, functional wear, and erosion features similar to steps.
Little writes that a neutron activation analysis compared nearby shore stones to the Bimini Wall stones and showed the Bimini stones had fewer trace elements, suggesting they were formed elsewhere and transported to that location.
“We know what the Bimini Road is now,” Donato says. “The natural feature theory has been totally discredited. Shinn has no background in archeology and [Marshall] McKusick [who worked with Shinn to promote the natural-formation theory] seems to know nothing about marine archeology.”
Shinn, a retired geologist who worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, argues Bimini Road is made up of beachrock—the climate in the region causes sand and other materials on the shore to cement into rock relatively quickly, creating “beachrock”—that was covered by water as the sea level rose.
Rocks of similar shape and in a similar formation have been found in some other regions, says Shinn. The information he sent the Epoch Times in response to inquiries, however, did not seem to explain exactly how the rock forms into the large, thick block shapes seen in Bimini.
Shinn carbon dated some rock samples and found them to be only about 5,000 years old or younger. But, he later admitted to Little, the accuracy of his dating is questionable. Little explains that bulk dating is inaccurate because the samples can be contaminated by materials from later dates.
Shinn told Little, according to Little’s 2005 paper: “You are right, dating of beach rock is not very precise especially if it is a bulk sample. The dates listed in the Nature article were bulk dates done at a later date by a student learning the carbon 14 method.”
Little also accuses Shinn of changing the results of some of his studies.
One of the proofs Shinn has given in recent writings and interviews that Bimini is naturally formed involves core rock samples he took to show a dip toward deep water. If all the cores show a dip toward deep water, explains Little, this would indeed prove the rock formed where it is and did not form elsewhere later to be transported by humans to its present location.
In 1978, Shinn’s published study of Bimini states that 25 percent of his samples showed a dip toward deep water. Little points out that Shinn’s later writings claim all of his samples showed this dip.
When Little confronted Shinn on his discrepancies, Shinn replied: “You must realize that because of all the craziness surrounding the Bimini site and the unusual people, it was hard to take the exercise with the same seriousness we would have employed with our regular research. We did it for fun. There was not the peer review usually associated with our real jobs. The details you have pointed out are evidence of minimal peer review. I got a little carried away to make a good story.”
The Epoch Times asked Shinn to confirm he said this to Little and asked him to clarify the discrepancies pointed out by Little.
Shinn said via email: “I am not going to nit-pick over Little’s concerns.”
He called into question the funding behind Little’s work. Little is funded by the Edgar Cayce Foundation, says Shinn, which was started by people who believe in the writings of Cayce (1877–1945), a purported psychic who had visions of Atlantis.
Little states in his 2005 paper that his work on Bimini is not a quest to find Atlantis. “Skeptics invoke emotion-laden, ridiculing terms,” Little wrote.
Little states: “For obvious reasons, mainstream archaeologists have avoided Bimini as if it was infected with a deadly virus. They have been convinced by reading others’ summaries of the early research—not by digesting the actual facts—that Bimini has to be nothing but natural beachrock and that a harbor cannot be there—therefore it is not there.”
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This girl can really sing. A voice from the heaven. So mature… for her age.
“Skull 5,” as it has been called, could link Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, Homo erectus–the classified earliest members of the Homo genus, according to researchers.
“Unlike other Homo fossils, this skull, known as Skull 5, combines a small braincase with a long face and large teeth,” reads a press release from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The skull was found in the country of Georgia around 96 miles southwest of the capital, Tbilisi, in the Dmanisi excavation site.
Georgian National Museum anthropologist David Lordkipanidze, who led researchers in finding the skull, said it was discovered eight years ago.
“It is really an extraordinary find in many respects,” Christoph Zollikofer of Zurich’s Anthropological Institute and Museum said, according to NBC News. He took part in the discovery.
He added: “[The Dmanisi finds] look quite different from one another, so it’s tempting to publish them as different species. Yet we know that these individuals came from the same location and the same geological time, so they could, in principle, represent a single population of a single species.”
“Had the braincase and the face of Skull 5 been found as separate fossils at different sites in Africa, they might have been attributed to different species,” he said, adding that Skull 5 has a tiny braincase and large face, which have not yet been observed in a Homo fossil.
If you take a look at some of the masonry in South America’s megalithic structures and walls, such as the 12-sided stone at Cuzco, Peru, you’ll notice immediately that things are lining up awfully well—and extremely tightly.
Our standard history texts say the Incans, who occupied Peru at the time the Spanish conquistadores arrived, were responsible for all the structures found in the area.
But how could the Incans have managed to construct, with extreme precision, structures like Saksaywaman, with stones as heavy as 150 tons nesting and dovetailing neatly together, with no evidence of the needed technology?
The “standard” explanation is that the Incans somehow managed to use a “guess and check” method of chipping at the stone with their stone tools, then setting the stone in place, seeing how it fit, then lifting it up and chipping further, then checking again, and so on.
This method appears very likely to have been used in the 16th and 17th centuries, when conquistadores and missionaries observed the Incans at work. But what they were building at the time involved much smaller stones, and not the kind of precision in creating blocks with 12 angles. Shaping such complex blocks, and with such a tight fit, only using round stone hammers seems exceptionally unlikely. Especially when dealing with 100-ton blocks!
Even those offering explanations such as these, like archeologist Jean-Pierre Protzen, still acknowledge other problems, primarily how the Incans could have transported (and lifted up and down repeatedly) these large stones. Some of the quarries were as far as 20 miles from the building sites, and in mountainous regions, no less.
Moving big stones isn’t always mysterious—if the quarry is higher than the final site or without much elevation difference, and there’s lots of space for lots of men to drag, then even enormous stones can be moved. Take, for instance, the Thunder Stone that is the seat of the Bronze Horseman statue in St. Petersburg, Russia. Weighing in at a truly massive 1,500 tons, the Thunder Stone was moved in 1768, using only manpower and some engineering ingenuity.
But for a society with only primitive tools available, and no advanced engineering, how are 100-ton stones moved through 20 miles of mountains?
At the very least, it probably means whoever built them were more advanced than we’re currently giving them credit. But what the Spaniards said at the time indicate that the Incans didn’t possess the needed engineering skills.
So it might mean that it was someone else who built the structures.
In fact, the Incans themselves acknowledged to the conquistadores that these structures were there long before them, built by a different people. A favorite topic of speculation among the Incans was apparently trying to figure out how the ancients actually built the walls, fitting the stones in so tightly.
Saksaywaman, in the history books, is said to have been completed in 1508, but those living just a few decades later, like Garcilaso de la Vega, born in 1539 and raised in the area of Saksaywaman, professed to having no idea of how the walls were constructed. And no one else seemed to, either.
Is it possible that the Incans built on top of the previously existing structures and Spanish chroniclers made the mistake of thinking they had built the entire structure?
If the builders were even more ancient, then wouldn’t our textbook understanding of history suggest that it’s even less likely previous civilizations would have the knowledge and ability to build such structures.
So we’re faced with the possibility of a civilization much more advanced than the Incans, but of which we know almost nothing about—except that they could create structures like Saksaywaman.
How the stones were moved still proves a mystery, as it does for other megalithic sites, such as the Great Pyramid of Giza. While we are capable today of transporting such stones, and lifting them up, our conception of the technological advancement of ancient peoples doesn’t always square with the achievements we have clear evidence of in these structures.
There are, however, a few theories about how the stones were shaped. Several local legends are about a liquid known to the ancients, derived from plants, which can turn rocks soft.
Explorers, such as the legendary Percy Fawcett, also brought back tales of such a substance, as did Hiram Bingham, who (re)discovered Machu Picchu. Furthermore, Jorge A. Lira, a Catholic priest, in 1983 said he was able to recreate this stone softening, but was unable to figure out how to make the stones hard again.
Curiously, marks on some of the stones at Saksaywaman look remarkably like stray marks on our modern concrete—indicative of being molded or scraped into shape.
While this remains speculative, we can be sure that stone hammers and repeated lifting up and down aren’t responsible for the precision and power needed to create Saksaywaman. Structures like this invite us to learn more about our past, and realize that the ancients might have been far more advanced than we give them credit.
The idea of continents that supported ancient, perhaps even cultured and prosperous people, before they sunk under the sea has captivated historians since the days of Plato and even earlier.
Made popular by the famous ancient Greek philosopher Plato, Atlantis is perhaps the most widely known, but certainly not the only sunken great landmass. In addition to the legend of Atlantis, there are also legends of other sunken continents, or large landmasses, one called Lemuria and another called Mu. Furthermore, there are others which have already been verified by science: Zealandia, Doggerland, and the Kerguelen Plateau, for example.
Perhaps the most famous sunken continent legend, Atlantis has sparked centuries of theories without much verification other than Plato’s stories, titled Tinnaeus and Critias, according to BBC. Plato tells a story of an island; he actually doesn’t use the term continent.
Its influence extended into the Mediterranean, past the Pillars of Hercules, which are known today as the Straits of Gibraltar. He said it was larger than Libya and Asia combined.
Its kings were descended from Poseidon, god of the sea and earthquakes, according to Plato.
Atlantis was a powerful empire and its influence stretched to Italy and Egypt. Following a war with very ancient Greeks, Atlantis was destroyed in one terrible day by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and floods, approximately 9,000 years before Plato wrote about it around 360 B.C.
Plato documented the origin of the legend in Timaeus. According to Atlantis Quest, Critias learned the story from Solon, a Greek statesman and ancestor of Plato, when Critias visited Egypt about 590 B.C. Apparently, while in Sais, he had learned the legend from Egyptian priests who knew of the lost land.
Interestingly, Solon’s quest to Egypt is corroborated in Plutarch’s Solon, written 75 A.C.E.
The debate continues over the true location of Altantis. Some theorists claim that land masses off the coast of Crete may have been Atlantis. The latest theory came from physicist Rainer Kühne who claims that Atlantis was a piece of southern Spain destroyed by a flood between 800 and 500 B.C, according to National Geographic.
“These satellite photos show rectangular structures and concentric circles that match very well with Plato’s description of the palaces and the city of Atlantis,” said Kühne, according to National Geographic. His research was reported in the journal Antiquity.
Another interesting theory comes from Atlantis Quest. The continent might have existed as part of the mid-oceanic Azore Plateau and sunk quite suddenly, due to sea floor subsidence. The interesting part of this theory is the fact that the geologic timetable for the sinking corresponds to the time period Plato described.
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Tags: archaeology, Culture, Science
A comet strike hit the Earth long ago, and evidence has been discovered in Tutankhamun’s brooch by African and international researchers.
The comet entered Earth’s atmosphere above Egypt about 28 million years ago and exploded, “raining down a shock wave of fire which obliterated every life form in its path,” according to the researchers.
The explosion heated the sand beneath it to about 3632 Fahrenheit, resulting in the formation of yellow silica glass. The glass is scattered over an approximately 3728 mile area in the Sahara desert.
A specimen of the glass is found in Tutankhamun’s brooch, a yellow scarab at the center.
“Comets always visit our skies – they’re these dirty snowballs of ice mixed with dust – but never before in history has material from a comet ever been found on Earth,” says Professor David Block of Wits University in the announcement.
The research was published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters and presented in public on Thursday at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
Another form of evidence was a mysterious black pebble dubbed “Hypatia” that was found by an Egyptian geologist in the Sahara. After chemical analysis on the pebble, the researchers concluded that it is the first known evidence of a comet nucleus.
“We propose that the Hypatia stone is a remnant of a cometary nucleus fragment that impacted after incorporating gases from the atmosphere,” the researchers write in the introduction to the published findings. “Its co-occurrence with Libyan Desert Glass suggests that this fragment could have been part of a bolide that broke up and exploded in the airburst that formed the Glass. Its extraordinary preservation would be due to its shock-transformation into a weathering-resistant assemblage.”
“It’s a typical scientific euphoria when you eliminate all other options and come to the realization of what it must be,” professor Jan Kramers of the University of Johannesburg, lead author of the study, said.
“Comets contain the very secrets to unlocking the formation of our solar system and this discovery gives us an unprecedented opportunity to study comet material first hand,” said Block.
The gigantic impact of the explosion also produced microscopic diamonds.
The discoveries point to a new way of finding comet material.
“NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) spend billions of dollars collecting a few micrograms of comet material and bringing it back to Earth, and now we’ve got a radical new approach of studying this material, without spending billions of dollars collecting it,” said Kramers.
The study has come international. For instance, Dr. Mario di Martino of Turin’s Astrophysical Observatory has led several expeditions to the area where the desert glass is found.
Dr Marco Andreoli of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation and Chris Harris of the University of Cape Town were also involved, along with other researchers.
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Tags: books, CCP, censorship, China, Culture, Falun Gong, human rights, IT and Media, Society
By Zhou Xing
Jason Q. Ng, a Google Policy Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, introduced his new book “Blocked on Weibo” on Aug. 29. The book reveals a large number of keywords censored by Chinese authorities on the Chinese microblog service Weibo.
Since 2011, Ng has spent nearly two years studying blocked keywords. He told the Epoch Times that among the 1,500 blacklisted words, 500 are unique, 150 of which are listed in his book. He believes he can help readers understand how Chinese netizens use the Internet by using various approaches to collect data from Weibo.
Ng said it’s sometimes difficult to predict which words will be blocked or why they are blocked, but those critical of the authorities are usually chosen.
For example, “tank” is associated with the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989, and so it is not surprising it should be blocked. But once the phrase “rich woman” was blocked. “Rich woman” was associated with Guo Meimei, a young woman who flaunted wealth and claimed she was an officer with the Chinese Red Cross. This combination of words rapidly circulated on the Internet, then it was blocked.
‘Canadian French’ Becomes a Forbidden Phrase
Ng’s research shows that Chinese authorities included proper names, place names, and some unlikely phrases in its censorship. The name Jiang Yanyong was blocked because he disclosed the fact that the Communist Party was concealing the SARS epidemic in 2003. Kashi, a place in Xinjiang where riots and conflicts often occur, is also blocked.
An unlikely phrase, “Canadian French,” is taboo on China’s Weibo because the Chinese pronunciation of “Canadian French” is “Jia Na Da Fa Yu” which contains two characters “Da Fa,” a term used in “Falun Dafa,” a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline.
Since 1999, the Chinese authorities have brutally persecuted practitioners of Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong). The Communist Party has used the entire mainland Chinese media network to paint an image of Falun Dafa as mad and evil, while censoring Falun Dafa books and any materials that give an accurate description of Falun Dafa. Because the phrase “Canadian French” contains the two characters “Da Fa,” it has been deemed worthy of censorship.
Coincidentally, Ng’s study also found that “Renmin University of China Law School,” a Communist Party institution, also contains the characters “Da Fa,” so it was censored for the same reason that Canadian French was censored.
Ng notes that Western countries meet their citizens’ needs with fewer restrictions on the free flow of information, but China maintains strict control.
“I believe that Chinese citizens want more freedom of speech, but they still have no chance to participate in the discussion on network control.” Ng said.
Ng was very interested in how much the Communist Party invested in network control. He said that there must be at least 100,000 people censoring words on Weibo, because some blocking occurs within seconds after the nearly 600 million Weibo users have circulated the word(s).
Even the title of Ng’s book was deleted within a few minutes of being posted by a Weibo user. Ng said that even if the posted text were converted into a picture, it would still be censored.
Written in English by Arleen Richards.
Read the original Chinese article.
Tags: archaeology, Culture, Science
CAVALESE, Italy—The year 1492 is one of history’s most famous dates, when America was discovered by Europeans. However that “New World” may have been already known to the ancient Greeks, according to a book by Italian physicist and philologist Lucio Russo.
The translated title for Russo’s book would be “The Forgotten America: The Relationship Among Civilizations and an Error Made by Ptolemy.” But the author told the Epoch Times that the title for the English version, which isn’t ready yet, will probably be “When the World Shrunk.”
Among the many clues of contact between ancient Europeans and Native Americans are the few pre-Columbian texts to have survived the Spanish devastation.
In a book about the origins of the Maya-Quiché people there are many interesting points. The fathers of that civilization, according to the text, were “black people, white people, people of many faces, people of many languages,” and they came from the East. “And it isn’t clear how they crossed over the sea. They crossed over as if there were no sea,” says the text.
However, researchers later decided to translate the Mayan word usually meant for “sea” as “lake.”
There are also many Mayan depictions and texts about men with beards. But Native Americans do not grow beards.
Furthermore, some artworks of the ancient Romans show pineapples, a fruit that originated in South America.
Ways of Thought
Russo, who currently teaches probability at Tor Vergata University of Rome, says the main reason why researchers think America wasn’t known to ancient Greeks is not due to lack of proof, but to scientific dogma.
For years, the theory that civilization evolves according to fixed stages has been dominant. For example, a civilization discovers fire, then invents the wheel, writing, and so on, all the way to modern technology and democracy. All civilizations are supposed to pass through these stages and they can be ranked according to their level of evolution.
But Russo presents a different scenario: inventions, like writing or breeding, didn’t develop independently in every different civilization, but filtered from one to another.
It is also untrue that science becomes better and better with time. There were, in fact, many instances of scientific and cultural decay, like the destruction of Carthage and the fall of Greek civilization, from which the Romans inherited only a small portion of their scientific knowledge.
Importantly, one of the skills they didn’t inherit was how to navigate the oceans.
You can get an idea of this by considering that “the size of the ships in the Hellenistic era was exceeded only in the era of Napoleon” and that Columbus based his trip on a partial recovery of Hellenistic math, according to the book. The Greeks were, among other things, at that time the only civilization that was able to understand that the Earth was round—an understanding that was later lost.
Even today we are in an epoch of “scientific crisis,” Russo told the Epoch Times. But it’s a crisis different from that of Roman times. The modern decay hides itself using technological advancements as a mask and consists in shrinking the availability of knowledge, now the property of a few people.
The Error of Ptolemy
So, how did people come to forget America, if it is true that it was already known to the ancients? The error, according to the author, is mainly due to Ptolemy, who developed a world map finding a midpoint between the claims made by various ancient sources.
The key problem is the identification of the Fortunate Islands, which the ancient Greeks sometimes referred to, as the Canary Islands (near the West coast of Africa). But the Greeks were actually referring to the Antilles, according to Russo. The misunderstanding was due to the Romans and other post-Greek people’s disbelief and incapability of navigating the oceans.
With philological and mathematical reasoning, Russo leads the reader to understand the meaning of all of Ptolemy’s errors—which are generally considered pretty huge—showing how the knowledge of the planet by ancient Greeks was instead very precise. Ptolemy missed the latitude of Canary Islands by 50 degrees, making them to appear on the point of the map were the Antilles would expected to be. Of course America was not on his map.
According to Russo, the book prompted two kinds of extreme reactions. Scientists and philologists showed enthusiasm, while negative reactions came from historians and geographers, whom he said were often unable to understand some logical aspects of his works.
Russo thinks we have “a lot to learn” from the ancient Greeks. For example we should “try to limit excessive specialization,” because the most interesting things can be understood only by those who have a grasp of more than one aspect of human knowledge.
Tags: Chinese culture, picture of the day
By Ron Dory
Wheaton, Md.—It seems like the perfect setting for the Potomac Valley Watercolorists to display their floral watercolor paintings at Brookside Gardens in exhibition.
Light grapefruit colored Brugmaglia, or ‘angel’s bell’ flowers hang before a background of forest green and dark aqua hues in Ruth Ensley’s painting Reina de La Noche, which translates to “Queen of the Night.” Words cannot describe this beautiful painting.
Ensley’s painting is just one among many presented by the Potomac Valley Watercolorists (PVW). Other paintings in the show include works by local artists from the mid-Atlantic region, including Sue Moses, Jill Poyerd, and Yoshimi Matsukata.
Home to vibrant collection of plants flowers and wildlife, the Brookside Gardens is the setting of the last exhibit by the PVW before the upcoming public release of their first book titled “Potomac Valley Watercolorists Celebrating 40 years from 1974-2014.” The exhibit runs until Sep. 22.
The 200 member group is comprised of water color instructors and artists who exhibit at prominent galleries, museums, and in nationally acclaimed shows, according to the PVW website. The PVW book is a 188 page collection of photographs and information on its members’ art works, inspiration and process.
“You can see a range of styles represented in the book. It’s all water media but there are artists that work in multi-media and abstractly,” said Yoshimi Matsukata, a member of the group.
Matsukata’s painting ‘Exuberance’ is presented in the Brookside Garden exhibition. In Exuberance, Matsukata paints a close-up image of a Hosta plant in a realistic style that is almost 2-dimensional. She uses bright yellows and shades of green to portray the Hosta exuberance— the name of the painting.
“It was early spring, I felt the strength, the strength of life coming though,” said Matsukata about the moment that she painted Exuberance.
PVW artists often acknowledge the challenges of using watercolor. Jill Poyerd describes a water color technique of pouring a wash of color in her blog. In the process, the artist pours pigmented water over the working surface, with a not entirely predictable result!
“It’s a bit like harnessing the wind, you can’t really control it but you can use it” writes Poyerd of the technique.
The luminosity and the transparencies that can be created with watercolor are some of the aspects of the media that keeps Susan Moses connected with the medium.
“I like the convenience and the challenge of working with watercolor in the way it mixes with paper and I like to express myself and to share that joy with other people,” Moses said.
Moses prefers to paint outdoors in the environment of her subjects. She enjoys gardening at her home in North Potomac, painting landscapes, the natural environment and capturing the innocence of children in portraits.
Her painting “Agapanthus and Bee” was accepted into the Baltimore Watercolorists Society 2013 Regional Exhibition at Stevenson University in Maryland from June 30-July 31.
On Nov. 2nd and 3rd, St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Arlington, Va. will host an exhibition, “The Spirit of Water Color,” featuring approximately 200 artworks by about 52 Potomac Valley Watercolorists. Works of art and the group’s book will be available for purchase at the exhibit.
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Tags: archaeology, Culture, funny things, Science, Society
By Venus Upadhayaya
A quaint village in central India has fueled some Facebook discussion on ancient foot prints and an engraved image of a mysterious flying object.
In Piska Nagri village, on the outskirts of Ranchi City in Jharkahnd State, geologist Nitish Priyadarshi has been studying large footprints that, according to local lore, may signify the presence of gods from the sky landing on site.
The footprints are on a rock and look like they were of those wearing wooden sandals commonly worn thousands of years ago in the region. One set of footprints measures 11 inches in length and 5 inches in width, and another set in the same area measures 10 inches by 4.5 inches. God-kings of Indian mythology Lord Rama and Lord Lakshmana are believed to have spent time in the area in search of Rama’s wife, Sita.
Priyadarshi said the imprints are on granite rock, and thus were likely carved there rather than imprinted on the hard substance. “It may have been made by the local people manually at that time in memory of the visitors,” he said.
What Priyadarshi finds interesting is the engraved image of a flying object next to the footprints.
“The footprints and the flying object are on the same piece of rock on each other’s side. Maybe they were engraved to show that the two king gods arrived at the place on a flying object,” Priyadarshi said.
The age of the footprints has still not been ascertained. “Seeing the weathering stage [foot prints found here are weathered] of the foot prints it can be said that the age of the foot prints may be thousands year old,” he said.
There have been many discoveries of ancient footprints around the world. Many of them are thousands of years old and are both natural (left by ancient inhabitants) and carved, denoting some meaning.
The Romans carved footprints before a journey as protective rites. Footprints were carved upon leaving for a journey and as thanksgiving for a safe return. In Ireland and northern Europe, rock footprints were closely associated with kingship or chieftainship.
Priyadarshi said: “We live in a highly advanced, technical world, but there are nevertheless a great many mysteries all around us. Ancient places and mysterious beings, sunken worlds and cultures, landscapes imbued with symbolism, unexplained apparitions, and unbelievable finds from ancient times—all of these remain mysteries for humankind, despite intense investigations.”
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Tags: Culture, funny things, Society
A few days ago Colleen Theisen who helps with outreach and instruction at the Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa shared an amazing gif she made that demonstrates something called fore-edge painting on the edge of a 1837 book called Autumn by Robert Mudie. Fore-edge painting, which is believed to date back as early as the 1650s, is a way of hiding a painting on the edge of a book so that it can only be seen when the pages are fanned out. There are even books that have double fore-edge paintings, where a different image can be seen by flipping the book over and fanning the pages in the opposite direction.
Tags: Culture, Society
by: Lola Akinmade-Åkerström
As diverse as Sweden is, there are a few societal norms that are distinctly Swedish. Understanding a handful of them will hopefully prepare you culturally before you relocate. When you’re invited home to a Swede, you’d better be on time and take your shoes off, writes expat Lola Akinmade-Åkerström.
For decades, Swedish culture has been boiled down to four stereotypes we know so well — ABBA, blondes, Volvo and IKEA.
Though the above are evident in Sweden’s society, the country is rapidly becoming richly diversified. Aspects of various foreign cultures are woven into everyday life — from music to food and fashion. With a relatively high quality of life, solid infrastructure, and basic access to healthcare and education, a steady number of people continue migrating to Sweden. As of 2008, there were roughly 200 nationalities represented in Sweden, making up 14 percent of the population.
That said, there are a few societal norms that are distinctly Swedish, and understanding some 20 of them will hopefully prepare you culturally before you move:
1. Start building your coffee tolerance
According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), Sweden ranks second in the world after Finland in terms of coffee consumption per person. Coffee drinking is fostered through a tradition called fika — in which friends, family and/or colleagues meet for coffee or tea.
Fika is often enjoyed with freshly baked pastries such as cinnamon buns (kanelbullar), collectively called fikabröd. What makes the concept of fika intriguing to foreigners is the sheer frequency at which it is observed each day. It’s not uncommon to grab a cup of coffee after breakfast, after lunch, before dinner and after dinner. This tradition is an opportunity for Swedes to set aside a few moments each day for quality bonding over coffee.
Tags: archaeology, Culture, Science, Society, technology
By Leonardo Vintini
Many people think modern technology is very advanced, but according to Dr. Peter J. Lu, post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard University, Chinese people in 4,500 B.C. did a better job making flat and smooth surfaces than we can nowadays with our best polishing technologies.
Dr. Lu, who worked with his team in the study of four ancient Chinese axes discovered in the 1990s, knows well what he’s talking about when he mentions polishing. The researcher submitted the Neolithic artifacts to a number of scientific tests, determined to come to the conclusion that the axes only could have been made using advanced techniques involving diamond.
Belonging to the Sanxingcun and Liangzhu cultures, the four ceremonial axes were dated between 2,500 and 4,500 B.C. Although in the beginning it was believed that the material used for the polishing was quartz, Lu’s team demonstrated that this is an erroneous idea.
The axes were submitted to electronic ultrasound examination, radio-graphical diffraction, and examination by electron microscope. It was determined that 40 percent of the axes was composed of corundum, a rock also known as ruby when it is red. Corundum is well known for being the second hardest material on the planet. The fine polishing work exhibited on these artifacts could have only been achieved by employing the one material harder than corundum—diamond—which had previously been believed to be first used in 500 B.C. in India.
To confirm the hypothesis, Lu took samples of the oldest axe and used a modern machine with diamond, albumin, and silica to polish them.
To the amazement of the scientists, the electron microscope confirmed that the polishing that resembled the ancient axes most closely was the one done with diamond. In fact, the craft that was carried out on the axes centuries before our era was more exquisite than the work done with modern precision instruments.
Through the study of these ceremonial Chinese axes, scientists now possess a more solid knowledge about the polishing techniques of antiquity, enabling them to explain the abundance of finely carved objects like jade. Nevertheless, many questions still exist in regard to how Chinese “cavemen” could have made the finest and smoothest axes history has ever known.
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Tags: art, Culture, funny things, picture of the day
People are asking, prompted by a new special on Mermaids, whether mermaids exist or not.
A look over the years shows that many people around the world have sighted or even directly experienced mermaids. Here’s a timeline of some of the major sightings and experiences, including Christopher Columbus, John Smith, and William Shakespeare.
First Century AD: Pliny the Elder writes about Nereids, or women with rough, scaly bodies like fish. They are “sitting upon dolphins, or ketoi, or hippocamps,” in some cases, he writes in Natural History.
Pliny describes how the legatus of Gaul wrote to the late Emperor Augustus about “a considerable number of nereids” being “found dead upon the seashore.” Further, “I have, too, some distinguished informants of equestrian rank, who state that they themselves once saw in the ocean of Gades a sea-man,” Pliny writes, according to a translation by the University of Chicago.
Fifth Century AD: In the book Physiologus, which is said to have been written or compiled in Greek by an unknown author, there is a portion dedicated to “The Nature of the Mermaid” that is translated by graduate student Mary Allyson Armistead as follows:
“In the sea there are many marvels.
The mermaid is like a maiden:
In breast and body she is thus joined:
From the navel downward she is not like a maid
But a fish very certainly with sprouted fins.
This marvel dwells in an unstable place where the water subsides.
She sinks ships and causes suffering,
She sings sweetly —this siren—and has many voices,
Many and resonant, but they are very dangerous.
Sailors forget their steering because of her singing;
They slumber and sleep and wake too late,
And the ships sink in a whirlpool and cannot surface anymore.
But wise and wary men and are able to return;
Often they escape with all the strength they have.
They have said of this siren, that she is so grotesque,
Half maid and half fish: something is meant by this.”
Sometime between 1040 and 1105: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, or Rashi, describes mermaids in the Talmud.
“There are fish in the sea with which half is in the form of man and half in the form of a fish, called sereine in Old French,” he wrote.
Also, not too long after, the Moshav Zekeinim, a commentary on the “Torah” by the medieval Tosafists, explains mermaids while calling them sirens, according to the book Sacred Monsters.
“This refers to the creature in the sea which is similar in part to a person, from the navel upwards, and it is similar to a woman in all aspects, in that it has breasts and long hair like that of a woman, and from the navel downwards it is a fish,” it is written in the commentary. “And it sings beautifully, with a pleasant voice.”
13th Century: Bartholomew Angelicus, in De Propietatibus Rerum, describes a mermaid, and tells of her stealing sailors from their ships.
Middle of 13th Century: Speculum Regale, or The King’s Mirror, is written in Old Norse, a translated version appearing several centuries later.
In the book there is a description of a creature found off the shores of Greenland.
“Like a woman as far down as her waist, long hands, and soft hair, the neck and head in all respects like those of a human being. The hands seem to be long, and the fingers not to be pointed, but united into a web like that on the feet of water birds. From the waist downwards this monster resembles a fish, with scales, tail, and fins. This shows itself, especially before heavy storms. The habit of this creature is to dive frequently and rise again to the surface with fishes in its hands. When sailors see it playing with the fish, or throwing them towards the ship, they fear that they are doomed to lose several of the crew ; but when it casts the fish from the vessel, then the sailors take it as a good omen that they will not suffer loss in the im-pending storm. This monster has a very horrible face, with broad brow and piercing eyes, a wide mouth and double chin.”
1389: The book Eastern Travels of John of Hesse is published, in which many perils during a voyage are relived. At one point the author writes: “We came to a stony mountain, where we heard syrens singing, mermaids who draw ships into danger by their songs. We saw there many horrible monsters and were in great fear.”
1403: A mermaid drifts inland through a broken dyke on the Dutch coast during the heavy storm. She was spied by some local women and their servants, “who at the first were afraid of her, but seeing her often, they resolved to take her, which they did, and bringing her home, she suffered herself to be clothed and fed with bread and milk and other meats, and would often strive to steal again into the sea, but being carefully watched, she could not.”
The mermaid later learned how to sew but never spoke. She died 15 years after she was discovered. John Swan, an English minister, describes the story in the 1635 book Speculum Mundi.
The book also includes the following describing mermaids:
“Transform’d to fish, for their bold surquedry :
But th’ upper half their hew retayned still,
And their sweet skill in wonted melody
Which ever after they abused to ill,*
T’ allure weake travellers whom gotten they did kill.”
1493: Christopher Columbus spots three mermaids rise high from the sea. Columbus wrote in his ship’s journal: “They were not as beautiful as they are painted, although to some extent they have a human appearance in the face.” He also noted that he had seen similar creatures off the coast of West Africa.
1560: According to Curious Myths of the Middle Ages by Sabine Baring-Gould: “Near the island of Mandar, on the west of Ceylon, some fishermen entrapped in their net seven mermen and mermaids, of which several Jesuits, and Father Henriques, and Bosquez, physician to the Viceroy of Goa, were witnesses. The physician examined them with a great deal of care, and dissected them. He asserts that the internal and external structure resembled that of human beings.”
1590: William Shakespeare is believed to have written Midsummer Night’s Dream between 1590 and 1594. In it, he writes:
“I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s back,
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song;
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres
To hear the sea-maid’s music.”
Soon after, he continues. “Come over here, Puck. You remember that time I was sitting on a rocky coast when I head a mermaid? She was riding on a dolphin’s back. Her singing was so sweet and pure that the rough sea grew calm and stars sot madly about the sky on hearing the sea-girls song.”
1608: Explorer Henry Hudson recounts an experience in the ship’s journal that happened on June 15, while sailing through the Bering Sea off the top of Norway.
“This morning one of our company, looking overboard, saw a mermaid, and calling up some of the company to see her, one more came up, and by that time she was come close to the ship’s side, looking earnestly on the men. A little while after a sea came and over- turned her. From the navel upward her back and breast were like a woman’s, as they say that saw her ; her body as big as one of ours ; her skin very white, and long hair hanging down behind, of colour black. In her going down they saw her tail, which was like the tail of a porpoise, and speckled like a mackerel. Their names that saw her were Thomas Hilles and Robert Rayney.”
Later, in the mid 1800′s, in an analysis of the incident in The Romance of Natural History, naturalist Philip Henry Gosse says that the usual claim of sailors mistaking manatees for mermaids won’t work here.
“Whatever explanation may be attempted of this apparition, the ordi-nary resource of seal and walrus will not avail here. Seals and walruses must have been as familiar to these polar mariners as cows to a milkmaid. Unless the whole story was a con-cocted lie between the two men, reasonless and objectless, and the worthy old navigator doubtless knew the character of his men, they must have seen some form of being as yet unrecognized.”
1614: Captain John Smith, of Pocahontas fame, sees a mermaid off the coast of Massachusetts.
He writes that “the upper part of her body perfectly resembled that of a woman, and she was swimming about with all possible grace near the shore.” It had “large eyes, rather too round, a finely shaped nose (a little too short), well-formed ears, rather too long, and her long green hair imparted to her an original character by no means unattractive.”
1619: Two senators in Norway capture a merman, according to Adventures in Unhistory. The senators, Ulf Rosensparre and Christian Hollh, decided to release the merman back into the sea.
1739: The Gentleman’s Magazine describes in an issue an experience with a creature.
“Some fisherman near the City of Exeter drawing their nets ashore, a Creature leap’d out, and run away very swiftly, not being able to overtake it, they knock’d it down by throwing sticks after it,” the description reads, according to Adventures in Unhistory.
“At their coming up to it, it was dying, having groan’d like a human creature: Its feet were webb’d like a duck’s, it had eyes, nose, and mouth resembling those of a man, only the nose somewhat depress’d; a tail not unlike a salmon’s, turning up towards its back, and is four feet high.” It was publicly shown in the city.
1797: William Munro, a schoolteacher in Scotland, writes a letter to a Dr. Torrance in Glasgow, which is published in The Times of London on Sept. 8, 1809.
“About twelve years ago when I was Parochial Schoolmaster at Reay, in the course of my walking on the shore of Sandside Bay, being a fine warm day in summer, I was induced to extend my walk towards Sandside Head, when my attention was arrested by the appearance of a figure resembling an unclothed human female, sitting upon a rock extending into the sea, and apparently in the action of combing its hair, which flowed around its shoulders, and of a light brown colour. The resemblance which the figure bore to its prototype in all its visible parts was so striking, that had not the rock on which it was sitting been dangerous for bathing, I would have been constrained to have regarded it as really an human form, and to an eye unaccustomed to the situation, it must have undoubtedly appeared as such. The head was covered with hair of the colour above mentioned and shaded on the crown, the forehead round, the face plump. The cheeks ruddy, the eyes blue, the mouth and lips of a natural form, resembling those of a man; the teeth I could not discover, as the mouth was shut; the breasts and abdomen, the arms and fingers of the size in which the hands were employed, did not appear to be webbed, but as to this I am not positive. It remained on the rock three or four minutes after I observed it, and was exercised during that period in combing its hair, which was long and thick, and of which it appeared proud, and then dropped into the sea, which was level with the abdomen, from whence it did not reappear to me, I had a distinct view of its features, being at no great distance on an eminence above the rock on which it was sitting, and the sun brightly shining.”
“Immediately before its getting into its natural element it seemed to have observed me, as the eyes were directed towards the eminence on which I stood. It may be necessary to remark, that previous to the period I beheld the object, I had heard it frequently reported by several persons, and some of them person whose veracity I never heard disputed, that they had seen such a phenomenon as I have described, though then, like many others, I was not disposed to credit their testimony on this subject. I can say of a truth, that it was only by seeing the phenomenon, I was perfectly convinced of its existence.
If the above narrative can in any degree be subservient towards establishing the existence of a phenomenon hitherto almost incredible to naturalists, or to remove the scepticism of others, who are ready to dispute everything which they cannot fully comprehend, you are welcome to it from,
Your most obliged, and most humble servant,
1801: Dr. Chisolm recounts a visit four years prior to the island of Berbice in the Carribbean. The residents call mermaids mene mamma, or mother of waters. Governor Van Battenburgh gives the following description to Chisolm:
“The upper portion resembles the human figure, the head smaller in proportion, sometimes bare, but oftener covered with a copious quantity of long black hair. The shoulders are broad, and the breasts large and well formed. The lower portion resembles the tail-portion of a fish, is of immense dimension, the tail forked, and not unlike that of the dolphin, as it is usually represented. The colour of the skin is either black or tawny. The animal is held in veneration and dread by the Indians, who imagine that the killing it would be attended with the most calamitous consequences. It is from this circumstance that none of these animals have been shot, and, consequently, not examined but at, a distance. They have been generally observed in a sitting posture in the water, none of the lower extremity being discovered until they are disturbed; when, by plunging, the tail appears, and agitates the water to a considerable distance round. They have been always seen employed in smoothing their hair, or stroking their faces and breasts with their hands, or something resembling hands. In this posture, and thus employed, they have been frequently taken for Indian women bathing.”
1822: A young man, John McIsaac of Scotland, testifies under oath that he saw an animal that had a white upper half with the shape of the human body, while the other half was covered with scales and had a tail, according to a story in the London Mirror. The sighting took place in 1811. McIsaac describes the creature as having long, light brown hair, being between four and five feet long, and having fingers close together.
“It continued above water for a few minutes, and then disappeared,” according to the article. “The Minister of Campbeltown, and the Chamberlain of Mull, attest his examination, and declare that they know no reason why his veracity should be questioned.”
1830: Villagers at Benbecula, in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland saw a small woman on shore. They tried capturing it, but failed, so they pelted it with rocks. A few days later,its corpse washed ashore, according to Hidden Animals. They then examined it. “The upper part of the body was about the size of a well-developed child of three or four years of age, with an abnormally developed breast. The hair was long, dark, and glossy, while the skin was white, soft, and tender. The lower part of the body was like a salmon, but without scales.” The creature was buried in a coffin later on.
1842: Phineas Barnum, of Barnum and Brothers fame, got connected with what was said to be a mermaid who had been caught near the Feejee Islands in the South Pacific. There is much debate whether the mermaid was a mermaid or something else.
On the supporting side, the New York Sun had a review which in part said: “We’ve seen it! What? Why that Mermaid! The mischief you have! Where? What is it? It’s twin sister to the deucedest looking thing imaginable—half fish, half flesh; and ‘taken by and large,’ the most odd of all oddities earth or sea has ever produced.”
In a portion of an autobiography written by Barnum, published by the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University, Barnum says that he obtained the specimen from the estate of a dead sailor, who had purchased it from Japanese sailors.
Barnum recounts going to his naturalist to ascertain the “genuineness of the animal.” His naturalist tells him that he cannot conceive of how it was manufactured, “for he never knew a monkey with such peculiar teeth, arms, hands, etc., nor had he knowledge of a fish with such peculiar fins.”
Writes Barnum: “Then why do you suppose it is manufactured?” I inquired. “Because I don’t believe in mermaids,” replied the naturalist. “That is no reason at all,” said I, “and therefore I’ll believe in the mermaid, and hire it.” Barnum showed the animal in his museum in New York and got out of it quite a bit of money.
Others say that the whole thing was a hoax, and that it was created by Japanese artisans.
1857: The Shipping Gazette reported that Scottish seaman had spotted a creature off the coast of Britain.
“We distinctly saw an object about six yards distant from us in the shape of a woman, with full breast, dark complexion, comely face, and fine hair hanging in ringlets over the neck and shoulders. It was about the surface of the water to about the middle, gazing at us and shaking its head. The weather being fine, we had a full view of it and that for three or four minutes,” said John Williamson and John Cameron.
1947: A old fisherman in Scotland reported that he had seen a mermaid in the sea about twenty yards from the shore, sitting combing her hair on a floating herringbox used to preserve live lobsters, according to Sir Arthur Waugh in The Folklore of the Merfolk. “Unfortunately, as soon as she looked round, she realized that she had been seen, and plunged into the sea,” he writes. “But no questioning, says Mr Maclean, could shake the old fisher- man’s conviction: he was adamant that he had seen a mermaid. So one never knows!”
2008: A sighting of a mermaid happened in Suurbraak, a village in the Western Cape of South Africa, reported Aldo Pekeur, a correspondent for the New Zealand Herald. A resident of the village, Daniel Cupido, said he and his friends were next to the river around 11:30 p.m. when they heard something like someone “bashing on a wall.” Cupido went toward the sound, and found a figure “like that of a white woman with long black hair thrashing about in the water”.
Cupido said he tried to help the woman but the woman made “the strangest sound,” which Dina, Cupido’s mother, said was so sorrowful “my heart could take it no more.” The creatures are described as Kaaiman, or half human and half fish creatures living in deep pools. Suurbraak tourism officer Maggy Jantjies said she knew the people who saw the Kaaiman well, and that they did not misuse alcohol.
2009: The reports from dozens of people of seeing mermaids spurred the town council in Kiryat Yam, near Haifa, to offer $1 million to anyone who can prove by photo or capture that mermaids do exist.
“Many people are telling us they are sure they’ve seen a mermaid and they are all independent of each other,” council spokesman Natti Zilberman told Sky News. “People say it is half girl, half fish, jumping like a dolphin. It does all kinds of tricks then disappears.”
2012: An official in Zimbabwe said that mermaids were hounding government workers off dam sites in several different areas. Water Resources Minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo told a senate committee in March that traditional chiefs were going to perform rituals to get rid off the mermaids believed to live in reservoirs in Gokwe and Mutare, where workers are afraid to go, according to Voice of America. Some workers reportedly went missing while others have refused to go back to install water pumps.
Traditional leader chief Edison Chihota of Mashonaland East told the media outlet that mermaids exist. “As a custodian of the traditional I have no doubt,” chief Chihota said. “For anyone to dispute this is also disputing him or herself.”
Daniel He contributed research to this article
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