Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Archaeology of Legend

Telegraph: King Arthur's round table may have been found by archaeologists in Scotland.

The King's Knot, a geometrical earthwork in the former royal gardens below Stirling Castle, has been shrouded in mystery for hundreds of years.

Though the Knot as it appears today dates from the 1620s, its flat-topped central mound is thought to be much older.

Writers going back more than six centuries have linked the landmark to the legend of King Arthur.

Archaeologists from Glasgow University, working with the Stirling Local History Society and Stirling Field and Archaeological Society, conducted the first ever non-invasive survey of the site in May and June in a bid to uncover some of its secrets.

Their findings were show there was indeed a round feature on the site that pre-dates the visible earthworks.

Historian John Harrison, chair of the SLHS, who initiated the project, said: "Archaeologists using remote-sensing geophysics, have located remains of a circular ditch and other earth works beneath the King's Knot.

"The finds show that the present mound was created on an older site and throws new light on a tradition that King Arthur's Round Table was located in this vicinity."

Stories have been told about the curious geometrical mound for hundreds of years -- including that it was the Round Table where King Arthur gathered his knights.

Around 1375 the Scots poet John Barbour said that "the round table" was south of Stirling Castle, and in 1478 William of Worcester told how "King Arthur kept the Round Table at Stirling Castle".

Sir David Lindsay, the 16th century Scottish writer, added to the legend in 1529 when he said that Stirling Castle was home of the "Chapell-royall, park, and Tabyll Round".

It has also been suggested the site is partly Iron Age or medieval, or was used as a Roman fort.

Extensive work on the royal gardens was carried out in the early 17th century for Charles I, when the mound is thought to have taken its current form.

The first known record of the site being called the King's Knot is from 1767, by which time it was being leased for pasture.

Locals refer to the grassy earthworks as the "cup and saucer", but aerial photographs taken in 1980 showed three concentric ditches beneath and around the King's Knot mound, suggesting an earthwork monument had preceded it.

The new survey -- funded by Historic Scotland and Stirling City Heritage Trust -- used the latest scientific techniques to showing lost structures and features up to a metre below the ground.

It also revealed a series of ditches south of the main mound, as well as remains of buildings, and more recent structures, including modern drains which appear at the northern end of the gardens.

Mr Harrison, who has studied the King's Knot for 20 years, said: "It is a mystery which the documents cannot solve, but geophysics has given us new insights.

"Of course, we cannot say that King Arthur was there, but the feature which surrounds the core of the Knot could explain the stories and beliefs that people held."

Archaeologist Stephen Digney, who coordinated the project, said: "The area around Stirling Castle holds some of the finest medieval landscapes in Europe.

"This investigation is an exciting first step in a serious effort to explore, explain and interpret them. The results so far suggest that Scotland's monarchs integrated an ancient feature into their garden, something we know happened in other countries too.

"We are looking forward to the next stage in September when we hope to refine some of the details."

Dr. Kirsty Owen, Cultural Heritage Adviser at Historic Scotland, added: "The project has the potential to add to our knowledge of the landscape context of the medieval and early modern occupation of Stirling Castle.

"The ditches identified may intriguingly be part of historically documented earlier garden features, or if prehistoric in origin could add to our scant knowledge of prehistoric activity at Stirling Castle.

"We look forward to seeing the results of the next phase of investigations."Futher work including a ground-penetrating radar survey, is now planned to take place next month to find out more.

A small display of the interim results can be seen close to the site at the Smith Museum.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ancient Protractor Denied By Darwinists

New Scientist: Egyptian tomb mystery may be world's first protractor.

The bizarre object to the right was found in the tomb of an ancient Egyptian architect. For over 100 years, it has languished while archaeologists debated its function.

Now, a physicist has thrown her hat into the ring, arguing that it is the world's first known protractor. The intriguing suggestion – which has drawn scepticism from archaeologists – is based on the numbers encoded within the carvings on its surface.

The architect Kha helped to build pharaohs' tombs during the 18th dynasty, around 1400 BC. His own tomb was discovered intact in 1906 by archaeologist Ernesto Schiaparelli in Deir-al-Medina, near the Valley of the Kings. Among Kha's belongings were measuring instruments including cubit rods, a levelling device that resembles a modern set square, and what appeared to be an oddly shaped empty wooden case with a hinged lid.

Schiaparelli thought this last object had held another levelling instrument. The museum in Turin, Italy, where the items are now exhibited identifies it as the case of a balancing scale.

But Amelia Sparavigna, a physicist at Turin Polytechnic, suggests that it was a different architectural tool – a protractor. The key, she says, lies in the numbers encoded in the object's ornate decoration, which resembles a compass rose with 16 evenly spaced petals surrounded by a circular zigzag with 36 corners.

Sparavigna says that if the straight bar part of the object were laid on a slope, a plumb line would revealed its inclination on the circular dial (as illustrated in this graphic).

The fraction of one-sixteenth features in a calculus system the Egyptians used, says Sparavigna, and they also identified 36 star groups called the decans, which later formed the basis of a star clock. She suggests the object was "a protractor instrument with two scales, one based on Egyptian fractions, the other based on decans".

But Kate Spence, an archaeologist at the University of Cambridge who specialises in ancient Egyptian architecture, is not convinced and maintains the object is simply a decorative case. She says that unlike those on known measuring instruments, the markings in question are not particularly accurate: "When the Egyptians want to be precise, they are." She says the Egyptians tended to define angles by measuring the two sides of a rectangle, and that no similar instrument is known.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why Should We Care About the Opinion of the Many?

"But why, my dear Crito, should we care about the opinion of the many? Good men, and they are the only persons who are worth considering, will think of these things truly as they happened." -- Socrates in Plato, Crito, 360 B.C.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Expanding Earth and Antediluvian Devolution

"We want to make clear that the existence of giant people [in ancient times] ... must be regarded as a scientifically certain fact." -- Louis Burkhalter, paleontologist, 1950

"Wherefore no one who considerately weighs facts will doubt that Cain might have built a city, and that a large one, when it is observed how prolonged were the lives of men, unless perhaps some sceptic take exception to this very length of years which our authors ascribe to the antediluvians and deny that this is credible. And so, too, they do not believe that the size of men's bodies was larger then than now, though the most esteemed of their own poets, Virgil, asserts the same, when he speaks of that huge stone which had been fixed as a landmark, and which a strong man of those ancient times snatched up as he faught, and ran, and hurled, and cast it:
Scarce twleve strong men of later mould
That weight could on their necks uphold,
thus declaring his opinion that the earth then produced mightier men. And if in the more recent times, how much more in the ages before the world-renowned deluge? But the large size of the primitive human body is often proved to the incredulous by the exposure of sepulchres, either through the wear of time or the violence of torrents or some accident, and in which bones of incredible size have been found and rolled out. I, myself, along with some others, saw on the shore at Utica a man's molar tooth of such size, that if it were cut down into teeth such as we have, a hundred, I fancy, could have been made out of it. But that, I believe, belonged to some giant. For though the bodies of ordinary men were then larger than ours, the giants surpassed all in stature. And neither in our own age nor any other have there been altogether wanting instances of of gigantic stature, though they may be few. The younger Pliny, a most learned man, maintains that the older the world becomes, the smaller will be the bodies of men. And he mentions that Homer in his poems often lamented the same decline; and this he does not laugh at as a poetical figment, but in his character of a recorder of natural wonders accepts it as historically true. But, as I said, the bones which are from time to time discovered prove the size of the bodies of the ancients [See the account given by Herodotus (BK. I. 67) of the discovery of the bones of Orestes, which, as the story goes, gave a stature of seven cubits], and will do so to future ages, for they are slow to decay." -- St. Augustine, City of God, XV, 9

Friday, August 19, 2011

Plate Tectonics Says Sun Has No Impact on Earth

Science Daily: New Images Reveal Structures of the Solar Wind as It Travels Toward and Impacts Earth.

ScienceDaily (Aug. 18, 2011) — Using data collected by NASA's STEREO spacecraft, researchers at Southwest Research Institute and the National Solar Observatory have developed the first detailed images of solar wind structures as plasma and other particles from a coronal mass ejection (CME) traveled 93 million miles and impacted Earth.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Moon Younger Than Previously Believed

"The stars did not yet revolve in the heavens; the Danaides had not yet appeared, nor the race of Deucalion; the Arcadians alone existed, those of whom it is said that they lived before the Moon, eating acorns upon the mountains." -- Apollonios Rhodios, librarian, Argonautica, ~246 B.C.

"These were Arcadians of Evander's following, the so‑called Pre-Lunar people." -- Plutarch, historian, Moralia: The Roman Questions #76, 1st century

"In the remotest times, before the Moon accompanied the Earth, according to the mythology of the Muysca or Mozca Indians, the inhabitants of the plain of Bogota lived like barbarians, naked, without any form of laws or religious worship." --Alexander Von Humboldt, naturalist, Researches, 1814

"The passages in Ovid as to the existence of the Arcadians before the Moon are universally known." -- Alexander Von Humboldt, naturalist, 1851

"We shall commence with a few of the principal passages from the ancients, which treat of the Proselenes. Stephanus of Byzantium (v. 'Apkas) mentions the logographs of Hippys of Rhegium, a contemporary of Darius and Xerxes, as the first who called the Arcadians proselenous. The scholiasts, ad Apollon. Rhod. IV 264 and ad Aristoph. Nub. 397, agree in saying, the remote antiquity of the Arcadians becomes most clear from the fact of their being called proselenoi. They appear to have been there before the Moon, as Eudoxus and Theodorus also say; the latter adds that it was shortly before the labours of Hercules that the Moon appeared. In the government of the Tegeates, Aristotle states that the barbarians who inhabited Arcadia were driven out by the later Arcadians before the Moon appeared, and therefore they were called proselenoi." -- Alexander Von Humboldt, naturalist, 1851

"...the pre-Hellenic Pelasgian inhabitants of Arcadia called themselves Proselenes, because they boasted that they came into the country before the Moon accompanied the Earth. Pre-Hellenic and pre-lunarian were synonymous." -- Alexander Von Humboldt, naturalist, 1851

"Capture of our Moon becomes the only option, it cannot have been created from the Earth." -- Wallace Thornhill, physicist, October 2000

"Currently, the moon is moving away from the Earth at such a great rate, that if you extrapolate back in time — the moon would have been so close to the Earth 1.4 billion years ago that it would have been torn apart by tidal forces (Slichter, 1963)." — Dennis J. McCarthy, biogeographer/geologist, 2003

Science Daily: Moon Younger Than Previously Thought, Analysis of Lunar Rock Reveals.

The research team, which includes scientists from the Natural History Museum of Denmark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Carnegie Institute's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism and Université Blaise Pascal, used newly-refined techniques to determine the age of the sample of a FAN that was returned by the Apollo 16 mission and has been stored at the lunar rock collection at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

The team analysed the isotopes of the elements lead and neodymium to place the age of a sample of a FAN at 4.36 billion years. This figure is significantly younger than earlier estimates of the Moon's age that range to nearly as old as the age of the solar system itself at 4.567 billion years. The new, younger age obtained for the oldest lunar crust is similar to ages obtained for the oldest terrestrial minerals -- zircons from Western Australia -- suggesting that the oldest crust on both Earth and the Moon formed at approximately the same time.

This study is the first in which a single sample of FAN yielded consistent ages from multiple isotope dating techniques. This result strongly suggests that these ages pinpoint the time at which this sample crystallised. The extraordinarily young age of this lunar sample either means that the Moon solidified significantly later than previous estimates -- and therefore the moon itself is much younger than previously believed -- or that this sample does not represent a crystallisation product of the original magma ocean. Either scenario requires major revision to previous models for the formation of the Moon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

St. Augustine On Myth, Astrolatry, and Platonism

"But whether Venus could bear Aeneas to a human father Anchises, or Mars beget Romulus of the daughter of Numitor, we leave as unsettled questions. For our own Scriptures suggest the very similar question, whether the fallen angels had sexual intercourse with the daughters of men, by which the earth was at that time filled with giants, that is with enormously large and strong men." -– Augustine, City of God, III, 5

"... though the verses of the poets are mythical, they are not altogether devoid of truth...." –- Augustine, City of God, III, 11

"But possibly these stars which have been called by their names are these gods. They call a certain star Mercury, and likewise a certain other star Mars. But among those stars which are called by the name of gods, is that one which they call Jupiter, and yet with them Jupiter is the world. There also is that one they call Saturn, and yet they give him no small property beside, namely all seeds." -- Augustine, City of God, VII, 15

"The Italic school had its founder Pythagoras of Samos, to whom also the term 'philosophy' is said to owe its origin. For whereas formerly those who seemed to excel others by the laudable manner in which they regulated their lives were called sages, Pythagoras, on being asked what he professed, replied that he was a philosopher, that is, a student or lover of wisdom; for it seemed to him to be the height of arrogance to profess oneself a sage." -- Augustine, City of God, VIII, 2

"If, then, Plato defined the wise man as one who imitates, knows, and loves this God, and who is rendered blessed through fellowship with Him in His own blessedness, why discuss with the other philosophers? It is evident that none come nearer to us than the Platonists." -- Augustine, City of God, VIII, 5

"Whatever philosophers, therefore, thought concerning the supreme God, that He is both the maker of all created things, the light by which things are known, and the good in reference to which things are to be done; that we have in Him the first principle of nature, the truth of doctrine, and the happiness of life -- whether these philosophers may be more suitably called Platonists, or whether they may give some other name to their sect; whether we say that only the chief men of the Ionic school, such as Plato himself and they who have well understood him, have thought thus; or whether we also include the Italic school, on account of Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans and all who may have held like opinions; and, lastly, whether also we include all who have been held wise men and philosophers among all nations who are discovered to have seen and taught his, be they Atlantics, Libyans, Egyptians, Indians, Persians, Chaldeans, Scythians, Gauls, Spaniards, or of other nations -- we prefer these to all other philosophers, and confess that they approach nearest to us." -- Augustine, City of God, VIII, 10

"... he [Porphyry] is at a loss to understand how the sun and moon, and other visible celestial bodies – for bodies he does not doubt that they are – are considered gods." -- Augustine, City of God, X

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Humans Travelled the High Seas 130,000 Years Ago

Archaeology News Network: Homo Erectus travelled the high seas.
Early manlike creatures may have been smarter than we think. Recent archaeological finds from the Mediterranean show that human ancestors traveled the high seas.

A team of researchers that included an N.C. State University geologist found evidence that our ancestors were crossing open water at least 130,000 years ago. That's more than 100,000 years earlier than scientists had previously thought.

Their evidence is based on stone tools from the island of Crete. Because Crete has been an island for eons, any prehistoric people who left tools behind would have had to cross open water to get there.

The tools the team found are so old that they predate the human species, said Thomas Strasser, an archaeologist from Providence College who led the team. Instead of being made by our species, Homo sapiens, the tools were made by our ancestors, Homo erectus.

The tools are very different from any others found on Crete, Strasser said. They're most similar to early Stone Age tools from Africa that are about 700,000 years old, he said.

Initially the team didn't have any way to date the tools.

That's where NCSU geologist Karl Wegmann came in.

At the time, Wegmann didn't know much about archaeology, but he did know quite a bit about Crete's geology. He had been figuring out the ages of Crete's rock formations to study earthquakes.

A few of the stone tools the team had discovered were embedded in those same rock formations. Those rocks were formed from ancient beach sands, Wegmann said.

Today, the rocks and the tools embedded in them are hundreds of feet above the shore.

The same process that drives the region's strong earthquakes - colliding continents - is pushing Crete upward out of the sea at a rate of less than 1/20 of an inch every year.

The island's slow rise has preserved beaches from many eras as terraces along the coast.

The lower terraces are the easiest to date. Scientists can measure the age of seashells embedded in the rock using radioactive carbon dating.

This method estimates the age of those terraces at about 45,000 and 50,000 years old.

"We know that (the tools) are tens of meters above the terrace we dated at 50,000 years old, so we know right off the bat that they have to be at least that old," Wegmann said.

But 50,000 years ago is carbon dating's limit. Anything older has to be dated using another method.

Dating by terraces

Crete's rise from the sea gives a fairly simple way of doing that. Once they know the age of lower terraces, geologists can calculate the age of higher terraces just by measuring the difference in the beaches' elevation.

If geologists know how much farther the older terrace traveled upward from the newer, and they know how fast it was going, they can figure out how long it took to get there.

Or, in other words, its age, in this case a record-smashing 130,000 years old.

"The thing to me that really makes this unique and exciting is ... these other sister species maybe weren't entirely stupid like we portray them," Wegmann said. "They were capable of really complex things."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Retarded Science

"It is remarked that no physician in Europe who had reached forty years of age ever, to the the end of his life, adopted Harvey's doctrine of the circulation of the blood; and that his practice in London diminished extremely from the reproach drawn upon him by that great and signal discovery. So slow is the progress of truth in every science, even when not opposed by factions or superstitious prejudices." -- David Hume, philosopher, History of England, 18th century