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: 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: 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: 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: archaeology, Chinese culture, funny things, Science, technology
In the early 1900s, divers looking for sponges in the Antikythera area between Crete and Greece came upon one of the most mysterious discoveries the world has ever seen—the Antikythera Mechanism.
The device was being carried on a Roman ship that was wrecked between 80 and 60 B.C. The ship was believed to have been sailing to the Anatolian Peninsula (also called Asia Minor) to what is now Turkey and was carrying some of the finest works of art of its day. The divers found over 200 amphorae, or ceramic jars, which were still intact on the sea floor.
After the device was found, it wasn’t until 50 years later that an Australian archaeologist using X-rays began to discover that there was a lot more to the mystery piece than was originally thought. However, due to limited technology at the time, the actual function of the Antikythera Mechanism wasn’t known until decades later.
In 2005, using sophisticated software and technology, it was finally discovered that the Antikythera Mechanism was an astronomical device, and by using it, one could navigate one’s position at sea by charting the stars in the skies.
It was also an astrological device. By setting it to a particular day, such as a person’s birth date, one could see how the stars and planets would line up for that person. Using it as a timeline, one could then tell that person’s future by looking at the planets’ alignment for decades to come.
The device could also predict lunar phases, lunar eclipses, and the positions of the sun and moon for years to follow. Later it was also found that the device could predict the motion of the planets, and cast horoscopes for planning future festivals and events in the ancient world.
Mathias Buttet, director of Research and Development at the Swiss watchmaking company Hublot, said, “It includes ingenious features which are not found in modern watchmaking.” Buttet has managed to recreate a smaller version of the device the size of an average wrist watch.
Altogether, the Antikythera Mechanism used about 30 gear wheels, with very sophisticated and intricate parts that all interconnect. Researchers are still not sure who created the device or what its true purpose ultimately was.
The Antikythera Mechanism, along with other artifacts found at the shipwreck, can be viewed at the exhibition “The Antikythera Shipwreck: the Ship, the Treasures, the Mechanism,” which will continue to run at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece, from now through Aug. 31, 2013.
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- Chinese Axes Polished Better in 4,500 B.C. Than Today
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Tags: archaeology, Culture, Science
Researchers said last week they have unearthed art in an ancient cave in the mountains of Mexico’s Tamaulipas state.
The art, which was painted on rocks, is said to predate Spanish rule, reported LiveScience.com.
Around 5,000 pieces of the rock art was found across 11 different sites in the area, said the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History, which carried out the research. The art was created via white, black, red, and yellow pigments.
Archaeologist Gustavo Ramirez said that the findings show that in the area, “it was inhabited by one or more cultures” before Spanish rule, according to the website.
Researchers said they have not been able to precisely put a date on when the paintings were created.
“We have not found any ancient objects linked to the context, and because the paintings are on ravine walls and in the rainy season the sediments are washed away, all we have is gravel,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez said the paintings are anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, astronomical, and “abstract,” according to the institute’s website.
He said there is the possibility researchers might take samples of the pigments, “which would allow us to approximate datings through chemical analysis or radiocarbon.”
Tags: archaeology, Culture
African coins found in Australia? Researchers found five African coins dating back around 1,000 years in Australia’s Northern Territory, which could potentially force historians to come up with a new narrative as to who first discovered Australia.
The coins were found in 1944, but new research found they were that old, reported the Australian Associated Press. They were discovered by an Australian soldier stationed on the Wessel Islands during World War II.
Ian McIntosh, professor of anthropology at Indiana University, said in a statement: “Multiple theses have been put forward by noted scholars, and the major goal is to piece together more of the puzzle. Is a shipwreck involved? Are there more coins?”
Researchers said the coins dated back to 900 and the 1300s, and were from Kilwa Sultanate, located in Tanzania.
“All options are on the table,” he continued, “but only the proposed expedition can help us answer some of these perplexing questions.”
Indiana University researchers suggest the coins could be remnants of an early shipping network that linked East Africa, India, and the Spice Islands.
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Tags: archaeology, Body & Mind, CCP, China, Culture, environmental issues, film, funny things, health, human rights, IT and Media, labor camps, Nature, persecution of dissidents, Science, Society, sustainable development
And some more…
By Michelle Yu
“When I die, bury me on the sunny side of the hill, because I’m afraid of the cold,” a child, now nameless and faceless, said to his fellow teenage prisoners over half a century ago. For the 4,000-5,000 juvenile prisoners at the Dabao labor camp, such requests were common, as the children were surrounded by death every day.
By Gu Qinger
Chinese torture victims have confronted Xinhua, the official propaganda organ of the Chinese regime, over its publication of a report by Liaoning officials which denies that inmates are being tortured at a labor camp in the northeast of the country called Masanjia.
By Matthew Robertson
It would have been impossible even very recently in China to produce a documentary about torture and slavery in an officially-run labor camp, and not be thrown in jail for it. Chinese independent filmmaker Du Bin, however, has done just that, and he’s now in Hong Kong speaking at film screenings and blithely taking interviews from overseas media.
By Shar Adams
WASHINGTON—After five days and 40 testimonies from international witnesses from the military, scientific and academic fields, a committee of six former Congress members agreed to seek international support to break a “truth embargo” on encounters with extraterrestrial life.
By Jack Phillips
Some are questioning the origin so-called “ring around the sun” that appeared on Monday.Reports said that the ring is a 22-degree halo, also known as a sun halo, according to ABC News. The halo is formed by small ice crystals that are contained in cirrostratus clouds. The sunlight then refracts through the ice at the 22-degree angle, creating the optical phenomenon.
By Matthew Robertson and Carol Wickenkamp
A group of nearly a dozen Chinese human rights lawyers who attempted to investigate an extralegal “brainwashing center” in the southeast of the country were violently set upon by guards on May 13, before being handed over to police, who beat them further and held them overnight before releasing them.
By Cassie Ryan
While the latest official news from China says that the H7N9 bird flu outbreak is now under control, a new international study urges continued caution.
By Gao Zitan
Chinese media recently exposed quality issues in the bottled water industry, saying its regulation levels are from the Soviet era.
Beijing News reported May 2 that over 10 Chinese experts had found that the standards for bottled water are very low, with only 20 test indices versus 106 for tap water quality.
By Will Hickey
One reason behind greater pollution leading to global warming has been artificially lowered gas prices brought by subsidies. Governments have carried on this shortsighted policy to foster growth and satisfy consumers. But as world fuel prices begin rising again, the costs of subsidy—both budgetary and environmental—will come to the fore.
By Matthew Robertson
University professors and administrators in China have been given clear instructions recently about precisely what topics of discussion are off-limits in the classroom.
By Sally Appert
Communist officials in Shaanxi Province have resorted to hiring fake monks to collect donations in an attempt to recover the debt they incurred from a large development project near the ancient Famen Temple.
Accused of violating one-child policy, Zhang Yimou’s real crime was backing Jiang Zemin
By Xia Xiaoqiang
A successful Chinese film director becomes entangled with the propaganda schemes of a brutal dictator. The director enjoys a rich and privileged life, but then loses everything when the dictator’s political opponents charge him with violating the nation’s family-planning laws.
By Zachary Stieber
Byzantine mosaic floor: The “extraordinary” floor was in a public building during the Byzantine Period in what is today Isreal, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Tags: archaeology, Chinese culture, Science, Society
An ancient Mayan village buried in volcanic ash for centuries has revealed unusually well-preserved houses, crops, and gardens.
U.S. archaeologists excavated the village of Cerén, discovered in the 1970s in El Salvador. A volcano destroyed the village over 1,400 years ago, and the volcanic ash preserved the plants effectively in that tropical area.
“What this meant for me, is this site had all these plant remains lying on the ground,” study lead author David Lentz, professor at the University of Cincinnati, said in a press release.
“Not only do we find these plant remains well preserved, but we find them where the people left them more than a thousand years ago, and that is really extraordinary.”
The scientists got their first glimpse of a Mayan kitchen, which included an intensively planted garden.
“We could tell what was planted around the houses,” said Lentz. “This is fabulous because people have long debated how the Maya did all this. Now we have a real example.”
Another new discovery was malanga, a root crop related to taro, which scientists didn’t know the Maya cultivated. The team also found grasses that don’t exist in that area anymore and a house containing over 70 ceramic pots.
In addition, they found a paved road called a “sacbe,” which Lentz plans to follow in the future to see if it leads to other interesting discoveries.
“It was tricky because we kept encountering things we’d never encountered before at a Maya site,” said Lentz. “They were just invisible because of the lack of preservation.”
“Cerén is regarded internationally as one of the treasures of the world,” he added.
“What’s been found there gives you a real idea of what things were like in the past and how humans have modified things. I think what we’re learning there is revolutionizing our concept of the ancient past in Mesoamerica.”
The findings are helping scientists understand the Mayas’ agriculture and how they lived with such a dense population. The research will be presented at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Honolulu on April 3-7.
Tags: archaeology, Chinese culture, funny things, Science, technology
By Xin Guo
Epoch Times Staff
Ancient Chinese science and technology were very advanced. The Ancient Chinese knew more about science and technology than any other culture. For instance, the yin-yang fish bowl that is part of the collection of the Hangzhou Museum in China’s Zhejiang Province cannot be explained by modern science nor replicated by modern technology. It remains a mystery to the world.
Among the collections of the Hangzhou Museum, there is a bronze spouting bowl named the “Yin-Yang Fish Bowl.” The bowl, which is about the size of a washbasin, has two handles and a decoration of four fish at the bottom. There are four clear parabolas drawn between the fish, just as those described in the Yi Jing (The Book of Changes). If you fill the bowl half-full of water and rub the handles with your palms, instantly the water in the bowl will tumble and the vibration will cause water to spout four two-foot-tall fountains from the mouth of each fish on the wall of the bowl. Moreover, the bowl will make the same sound as chanting the ancient divination words in the Yi Jing.
Bowl Cannot be Replicated by Any Modern Technology
Physicists from the U.S. and Japan have used all kinds of modern scientific instruments to examine and investigate the bowl trying to find out its construction principles of heat conductivity, sensoring, self-propelling, and spraying and making sound, but have not succeeded.
In October 1986, a replica bronze spouting bowl was made in the U.S. It looked identical to the yin-yang fish bowl but was a failure, as it could not function properly: It could not spout water, and the sound it made was very dull.
Modern science can only lament its insignificance before the miracles created by ancient Chinese technology and treat it as an unsolved mystery.
What were the principles upon which ancient people made the bronze fish bowl? As developed as it is today, why can’t modern science and technology make a replica of a bronze ware bowl made by people in ancient times?
According to experts’ analysis, modern science is analytical science. Characterized by high accuracy and strict quantification, it has reached the level of micro quantum technology. The so-called “Nami Technology” may very well represent the achievements of today’s high-tech. Yet modern science has a fatal weakness: linearism. Linear science still dominates today’s modern science and continues to apply a simplified approach to natural phenomena as always.
The real world and Mother Nature do not conform to linear principles, but in most cases non-linear theory instead. Modern science and technology are nothing but man-made simplification against the truth of Mother Nature.
Fountains of water that are similar to those in the bronze spouting fish bowl are called “solitary wave” or soliton phenomena. Different from ordinary waves, solitary waves do not disperse when occurring, and therefore can last a long time. The existence of solitary waves is a non-linear phenomenon.
Thus the construction principles of the yin-yang fish bowl are far beyond the scope of modern science, and it is therefore impossible for modern technology to replicate.
Tags: archaeology, Culture
Viking sunstone found? Researchers said they found what could be a sunstone, an object referenced in Viking legends to locate the sun.
Scientists have said that a crystal found in a 16th-century shipwreck in England could be the fabled Viking “sunstone” that was used by them to navigate 1,000 years ago.
The stone is made of a type of calcite called Iceland spar and is transparent, and polarizes light, researchers told AFP. The object was found in a shipwreck that was sent from England to France in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth but crashed off the island of Alderney in the English Channel.
The sunstone is said to possess powers that can find the sun despite cloud cover, darkness, and snow, according to Viking legend. Vikings are believed to have discovered North America hundreds of years before the arrival of Christopher Colombus in 1492. And these sunstones, or “sólarsteinn,” could have enabled Viking mariners to navigate during their civilization’s height between 900 and 1200 AD.
Recently, a diver spotted a precise cut stone that lied near the ship’s navigation equipment and brought it back to land where European suspected that the crystal might be made of calcite, according to Lizzie Wade of the Huffington Post.
Scientists said that the stone might have been a back up to magnetic compasses on board the 16th century ship, meaning that English sailors might have used them as well.
“Although easy to use, the magnetic compass was not always reliable in the 16th century, as most of the magnetic phenomena were not understood,” said the study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A, according to AFP. “As the magnetic compass on a ship can be perturbed for various reasons, the optical compass giving an absolute reference may be used when the Sun is hidden.”
According to History.com, the sustones are referenced in the Viking saga about the Norse hero Sigurd. In the legend, a king “grabbed a sunstone, looked at the sky and saw from where the light came, from which he guessed the position of the invisible sun,” according to the website.
Danish archaeologist Thorkild Ramskou in 1967 posited that the sunstones might have been cordierite or Iceland spar, which were then pointed at the sky until light passing through it reached its brightest point. As a result, the Vikings could have located the Sun.
Tags: archaeology, Chinese culture, funny things
$3 bowl for $2.22 million: A Chinese bowl bought for $3 was sold for $2.22 million at an auction. The bowl was described as “rare and important.”
A Chinese bowl that that was bought at a tag sale for $3 turned out to be 1,000 years old.
At a New York City Sotheby’s auction on Tuesday, the bowl sold for $2.22 million. Sotheby’s said that it was sold to a dealer in London, and it far exceeded the pre-sale value of between $200,000 and $300,000.
The rare bowl, around 5 inches in diameter, was made during the Northern Song Dynasty. The person who initially purchased the item bought it at a tag sale in 2007 and had it displayed in their living room for a few years before it was examined, reported The Associated Press.
Sotheby’s described the white “ding” bowl as “rare and important,” according to its website.
The Northern Song Dynasty lasted between 960 and 1127.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, on its website, said that the “early Northern Song dynasty witnessed the flowering of one of the supreme artistic expressions of Chinese civilization: monumental landscape painting.”
Tags: archaeology, Culture, environmental issues, Society, sustainable development, today's thoughts
There has been much speculation and even some scaremongering going on about the Mayan calendar, but it’s nothing to worry about. The biggest threat is probably ourselves and how we treat our planet …
When it’s time to move into the fifth solar cycle we’ll see what happens. I think it will be a transition to something else, something better in the long run. But if we want it to happen, man must stop destroying his habitat and raising his moral …
I’m posting some links that I think are worth reading and is explaining a bit more about the Mayan calendar. Click on the headline to get access to the article.
By Alex Johnston
Epoch Times Staff
2012 doomsday prediction? The Dec. 21, 2012 date is likely wrong for the end of the Mayan calendar, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara said.
The calendar, which was created thousands of years ago by the Mayan civilization in Central America, stops at the Gregorian date of December 21, 2012. Many people have speculated that catostrophic events could occur when the date comes, which the Roland Emmerich film detailed in 2012.
Professor Gerardo Aldana, an associate professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at U.C. Santa Barbara, said that the date could be inaccurate by 50 to 100 years or even more.
By Belinda McCallum
Epoch Times Staff
Ninth-century hieroglyphs painted by a Mayan scribe in Guatemala are records of lunar and perhaps planetary cycles, forming the oldest known Mayan calendar.
The city of Xultún was discovered almost a century ago in the remote rainforest of the Petén region and covers 12 square miles. It was once home to many thousands of people, and monuments were constructed from the first centuries B.C. Only 56 structures have been counted and mapped among thousands more.
Epoch Times Staff
A second reference to the Mayan December 2012 prophecy has been publicized, and is carved on a piece of brick found at Comalcalco in southern Mexico.
Previously, only one ancient glyph has been referred to on a stone tablet at nearby Tortuguero.
Known as the Comalcalco brick, the inscription is about 1,300 years old, and is thought to have been laid facing inward or concealed with stucco, implying it was not meant to be seen.
Tags: archaeology, Culture
Two U.K. archaeologists walked 1,500 kilometers (nearly 1,000 miles) over five years to gain a better understanding of these geoglyphs in southern Peru.
Discovered in the 1920s, the Nazca Lines are highly visible from the air, criss-crossing the world’s driest desert, where they persist due to the lack of rain and wind.
They were probably created by the Nazcas, who lived from 200 B.C. to A.D. 700, but their function is unknown. Some have theorized they are associated with UFOs, because they are only visible from high altitudes.
The researchers looked at the layers of designs, studied associated ceramic relics, and also used satellite imagery. They made the discovery of the 4.4-kilometer-long (2.7 miles) labyrinth, including a spiral formation, while walking it.
“This labyrinth was meant to be walked, not seen,” said study co-author Clive Ruggles at the University of Leicester, according to ScienceNews.
“The element of surprise was crucial to the experience of Nazca labyrinth walking.”
There is relatively little damage to the rocks along the path, suggesting people took care while walking there, perhaps shamans or pilgrims. The large numbers of people crossing the desert to the pilgrimage center of Cahuachi followed different trackways and steered clear of the labyrinth.
“Meandering and well-worn trans-desert pathways served such functional purposes, but they are quite different from the arrow-straight lines and geometric shapes which seem more likely to have had a spiritual and ritual purpose,” said study co-author Nicholas Saunders at the University of Bristol in a press release.
“It may be, we suggest, that the real importance of some of these desert drawings was in their creation rather than any subsequent physical use.”
The study was published in the journal Antiquity.
Related Articles: UFO in Peru Nearly Strikes Plane (Video)
Tags: archaeology, Culture, Science
Excavation of a Mayan kitchen in Mexico has yielded numerous fired clay balls that contain microscopic food residue, such as maize, beans, and root vegetables.
Seventy-seven balls about 1 to 2 inches in diameter, and hundreds of fragments were discovered at Escalera al Cielo in Yucatán. They are made of local clay and are over 1,000 years old.
U.S. researchers worked with Millsaps College and Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) to investigate what cooking techniques these balls were employed for.
“We propose that the balls were used either in pit oven cooking installations or heated and placed directly into pots containing soups/stews, or perhaps used to keep food warm,” wrote study co-author Stephanie Simms from Boston University in an email.
“We have no direct evidence of a hearth or pit oven—the clay balls appear to be in a storage location on the back corner of a kitchen where they could have been gathered up and recycled/reused—so it is also possible that they were used in another manner, perhaps heated in a cooking fire and placed directly into the cook pot.”
Pit oven cooking times vary from one to two hours up to a day or more. As suitable stone resources in this region were limited, the clay balls could have been used instead.
“This cooking method involves digging a shallow pit, lining it with stones, building a fire on top of the stones and waiting until it is reduced to embers, then placing packets of food wrapped in (maize or other) leaves or whole roots, squash fruits, etc. on top of the heated stones, and covering them with earth and leaves to seal in heat,” Simms explained.
Escalera al Cielo was an upper-class settlement that was occupied between A.D. 800 and 950, and rapidly abandoned at the end of this period.
Very similar clay ball artifacts have been found at nearby sites, suggesting this heating technique was widespread and used by all members of society.
The study was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
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