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Science & Education                   3,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

Africa

 During the 1950s, an Italian team of archaeologists led by professor Mario Liverani, from the University of Rome, explored the Libyan Sahara and, by chance, discovered the mummified remains of a young boy at the Uan Muhuggiag rock shelter a hundred miles west of the Nile Valley, which dated to 3500 BC. Although no other mummies have been found in this area, it is proof that the tradition of mummification is far older than originally believed. This Libyan mummy is a thousand years older than the first Egyptian mummy and the oldest ever found in Africa. In preparing the boy for burial, he was eviscerated and embalmed with an organic preservative, then wrapped in skins and insulated with leaves. The sophistication with which he was mummified suggests he was not the first, but rather the result of a long-standing tradition. (70)

Southwest Asia

 The Sumerians also realized--or were told--that if different ores were blended together in the smelting process, a different type of copper could be made--one that flowed more easily, was stronger after forming, and was easy to cast. Thus we can credit them with the creation of the first alloy-bronze-which required far too precise a mix of tin and copper to be merely an accidental discovery. An ax head from 2500 BC was found to contain 11 percent tin and 89 percent copper. But tin, unlike gold or copper, is not found in nature. It exists in stannic oxide ore, which is hard, heavy, and inert. Smelting is required to separate out the tin, which means that the process to retrieve tin had to precede the creation of bronze--quite an involved and complicated road to walk, and certainly one that would require minds constantly trained on innovation and purposeful experimentation. And because casting is the only way to shape bronze, the Sumerians even fabricated standardized molds to create the ingots they distributed to their cities. Such rigor, creativity, and focus certainly add up to an amazing feat for a people so recently ensconced in the Stone Age. (69)

Though expensive, bronze was eventually used in a wide variety of things, from axes and awls to hammers, sickles and weapons, like daggers and swords. The wealthy were entombed with figurines, bracelets and pendants of bronze. Scholars have yet to learn how the ancient Mesopotamians got the idea of mixing tin with copper to produce a much stronger bronze. But excavations have produced tin-bronze pins, axes and other artifacts from as early as 3000 BC. (82)

After systematic explorations in the central Taurus Mountains of Turkey, an archaeologist at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago has found a tin mine and ancient mining village 60 miles north of the Mediterranean coastal city of Tarsus. …the mine and village demonstrated that tin mining was a well-developed industry in the region as long ago as 2870 BC. Dr. Yener said, "It had gone beyond the craft stages that characterize production done for local purposes only" To Dr. Guillermo Algaze, an anthropologist at the University of California at San Diego and a scholar of Mesopotamian civilizations, the discovery is significant because it shows that bronze metallurgy, like agriculture and many other transforming human technologies, apparently developed independently in several places. (82)

The mine, at a site called Kestel, has narrow passages running more than a mile into the mountainside, with others still blocked and unexplored. The archaeologists found only low-grade tin ore, presumably the remains of richer deposits that had been mined out. On the hillside opposite the mine entrance, the archaeologists found ruins of the mining village of Goltepe. Judging by its size, Dr. Yener said, 500 to 1,000 people lived in the village at any one time. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal and the styles of pottery indicated that Goltepe was occupied more or less continuously between 3290 and 1840 BC. It began as a rude village of pit houses dug into the soft sedimentary slopes and later developed into a more substantial walled community. (82)

Scattered among the ruins were more than 50,000 stone tools and ceramic vessels, which ranged from the size of teacups and saucepans to the size of large cooking pots. The vessels were crucibles in which tin was smelted, Dr. Yener said. Slag left over from the smelting, collected from inside the crucibles and in surrounding debris, contained not low-grade tin ore but material with 30 percent tin content, good enough for the metal trade. Then crucibles, set in pits, were filled with alternating layers of hot charcoal and cassiterite powder. Instead of using bellows, workers blew air through reed pipes to increase the heat of the burning charcoal. Tests indicated that this technique could have produced temperatures of 950 degrees Celsius and perhaps as high as 1,100 degrees (1,740 to 2,00 degrees Fahrenheit), sufficient to separate the tin from surrounding ore.

The identity of these highland mining people is unknown, but their pottery betrays cultural ties to societies in northern Syria and Mesopotamia. The Bronze Age could not continue forever, scholars say, in part because tin was so hard to get, contributing to the expense of the metal alloy. The age came to an end around ll00 BC, when iron, plentiful and accessible just about everywhere, became the most important metal in manufacturing. (82)

Among the tablets that Smith brought back from Nineveh was one containing huge, preposterously large numbers. No mathematician, Smith did not attempt to find out what they meant, but eventually Chatelain translated them into decimals. One Babylonian number contained fifteen digits: 195,955,200,000,000. He soon discovered that the Nineveh number was not as arbitrary as it looked; it was 70 multiplied by 60 to the power of seven. With a flash of inspiration, Chatelain wondered if the Nineveh number could express time in seconds. On this assumption, he worked it out to 2,268 million days, or something over 6 million years. The indefatigable engineer now recalled the precession of the equinoxes, that wobble on the earth's axis that takes just under 26,000 years to complete its cycle. (also known as a Big Year). He tried dividing this into the Nineveh constant (as he called it), and immediately knew he was on the right track: it proved to be an exact number of precessional cycles: in fact. exactly 240 Big Years. Chatelain found himself wondering if the Nineveh constant was what astrologers and occultists had called 'the great constant of the solar system', a number that would apply to the revolution of all the bodies in the solar system, including moons. (123)

He proceeded to calculate the cycles of the planets in seconds (no doubt using the NASA computer), and found that each was an exact fraction of the Nineveh constant. If the Sumerians knew the Nineveh constant over 5,000 years ago, their scientific knowledge had to have even earlier origins. Chatelain went a step further. When he divided the Nineveh constant into solar years, then compared this with a modern astronomical table based on a caesium clock (which gives the most accurate estimation of the length of a second), he found a slight discrepancy in the sixth decimal place. It was only a twelve-millionth of a day per year, but it puzzled him. Then he saw the solution. Modern astronomical measurements tell us that the rotation of the earth is slowing down very slightly, so every year is getting shorter by sixteen-millionths of a second. The Nineveh constant proved to be totally accurate 64,800 years ago, and that suggested to Chatelain that it was first calculated 64,800 years ago--at a time when, according to anthropologists, our ancestor Cro-Magnon man had only recently appeared in Europe. (123)

The new inspiration of civilized life was based, first, on the discovery, through long and meticulous, carefully checked and re­ checked observations, that there were, besides the sun and moon, five other visible or barely visible heavenly spheres (to wit, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) which moved in established courses, according to established laws, along the ways followed by the sun and moon, among the fixed stars; and then, second, on the almost insane, playful, yet potentially terrible notion that the laws governing the movements of the seven heavenly spheres should in some mystical way be the same as those governing the life and thought of men on earth. The whole city, not simply the temple area, was now conceived as an imitation on earth of the cosmic order, a sociological "middle cosmos," or mesocosm, established by priestcraft between the macrocosm of the universe and the microcosm of the individual, making visible the one essential form of all. The king was the center, as a human representative of the power made celestially manifest either in the sun or in the moon, according to the focus of the local cult; the walled city was organized architecturally in the design of a quartered circle (like the circles designed on the ceramic ware of the period just preceding), centered around the pivotal sanctum of the palace or ziggurat (as the ceramic designs around the cross, rosette, or swastika); and there was a mathematically structured calendar to regulate the seasons of the city's life according to the passages of the sun and moon among the stars - as well as a highly developed system of liturgical arts, including music, the art rendering audible to human ears the world-ordering harmony of the celestial spheres (128)

...the wheel appeared. And we have evidence of the development of the two numerical systems still normally employed throughout the civilized world, the decimal and the sexigesimal; the former was used mostly for business accounts in the offices of the temple compounds, where the grain was stored that had been collected as taxes, and the latter for the ritualistic measuring of space and time as well. Three hundred and sixty degrees, then as now, represented the circumference of a circle - the cycle of the horizon - while three hundred and sixty days, plus five, marked the measurement of the circle of the year, the cycle of time. (128)

The many varieties of metals and alloys for which Sumerian and Akkadian names have been found and the extensive technological terminology attest to the high level of metallurgy in ancient Mesopotamia. For a while this puzzled the scholars because Sumer, as such, was devoid of metal ores, yet metallurgy most definitely began there. The answer is energy. Smelting, refining, and alloying, as well as casting, could not be done without ample supplies of fuels to fire the kilns, crucibles, and furnaces. Mesopotamia may have lacked ores, but it had fuels in abundance. So the ores were brought to the fuels, which explains many early inscriptions describing the bringing of metal ores from afar. The fuels that made Sumer technologically supreme were bitumens and asphalts, petroleum products that naturally seeped up to the surface in many places in Mesopotamia. ...the technological use of these petroleum products began in Sumer circa 3500 BC...(146)

Egypt

 According to the Egyptologist Walter Emery, the stone vessels of Egypt's archaic period (3100-2650 BC) were perhaps the Egyptians' greatest method for artistic expression. No other country, at that time or since, has achieved such precision. While the quality varied, stoneware was manufactured in vast quantities and with astonishing aesthetic design and technique. Every type of available stone was used. Specimens, dated to the first (2920-2770 BC) and second (2770-2650 BC) dynasties, have been found that are made from diorite, schist, alabaster, volcanic rock, serpentine, steatite, breccia, marble, limestone, mottled black-and-white porphyritic rock, purple porphyry, red jasper, obsidian quartz, dolomite, rock crystal, and basalt. Even with our modern industrial knowledge, we have yet to reproduce such items with the techniques or machinery they employed. Furthermore, stoneware such as this has not been found from any later era in Egyptian history. It seems, then, that the skills necessary to produce such meticulously crafted items were somehow lost. (70)

In the center of open bowls and plates, where the angle of the cut changes rapidly, one can see a clean, narrow, and perfectly circular line made by the tip of a cutting tool. Unmistakably, these tool marks were from lathe manufacturing (rotating an item on two spindles so the reduction of material is even on all sides). Delicate vases, made of brittle stone such as schist, were finished, turned, and polished to a flawless, paper-thin edge. One nine-inch bowl, hollowed out with a three-inch opening at its top, was flawlessly turned so that it balances perfectly on a rounded and tipped bottom. This tip is the size of an egg's rounded point, requiring a symmetrical wall thickness without any substantial error. Elegant items made from granite indicate not only an accomplished level of skill, but perhaps an advanced level of technology as well. Pieces made from granite, porphyry, or basalt cores were hollowed out with a narrow and flared opening, some of which have a long neck. (70)

In 1995 Dunn, armed with a six-inch precision straightedge, inspected the interior and exterior surfaces of two sarcophagi. The twenty-seven-ton lid of one of the sarcophagi, and the inside surface of the granite box on which it sat, was precisely square to .00005 inch--5/100,000 of an inch. He also verified that its corners were precise to 5/32 of an inch. According to Dunn, replicating the precision of the granite boxes in the Serapeum would be extremely difficult even today. More mysteriously, they had the knowledge and technology to lift, maneuver, and delicately place enormous blocks of stone weighing many tons, as well as the means to quarry and move millions of blocks over a long period of time. (70)

During the 1950s, an Italian team of archaeologists led by professor Mario Liverani, from the University of Rome, explored the Libyan Sahara and, by chance, discovered the mummified remains of a young boy at the Uan Muhuggiag rock shelter a hundred miles west of the Nile Valley, which dated to 3500 BC. Although no other mummies have been found in this area, it is proof that the tradition of mummification is far older than originally believed. This Libyan mummy is a thousand years older than the first Egyptian mummy and the oldest ever found in Africa. In preparing the boy for burial, he was eviscerated and embalmed with an organic preservative, then wrapped in skins and insulated with leaves. The sophistication with which he was mummified suggests he was not the first, but rather the result of a long-standing tradition. (70)

Mallery made the even more astonishing claim that the British Museum had sent some iron tools from Egypt to a metallurgist and was 'astounded to find out that the ancient Egyptians were using powdered metallurgy', a process that involves heating the metal to a temperature where it vaporises, after which it condenses in the form of a powder. The Egyptians obtained these temperatures, Mallery contended, by 'the same processes that made our atomic bomb possible'--atomic fission--'so 5,000 years ago the Egyptians were using the same processes that we thought we had discovered today to make the atom bomb'. Mallery added that 'the timing of the process agrees with the timing of the ancient maps'--in other words, perhaps 6,000-7,000 BC. Mallery was also convinced that he had found gold that was 100 per cent pure. (123)

Indus Valley

 "They also had a tremendous craft technology, if not the best craft technology in the Bronze Age," claims Jim Shaffer, of Case Western Reserve University. "In city after city, the Indus people built deep, brick-lined wells, smelted and cast copper and bronze, and made jewelry. (68)

In some cases this approach was so scientific that 'even today', as Jonathan Kennoyer admits, many aspects of Indus technology are not fully understood as scholars attempt to replicate stoneware ceramics from ordinary terracotta clay and to reproduce bronze that was as hard as steel. (124)

China

 It is a report from Reuters in Beijing dated June 6, 2002, and bore the title "Tunnels, Pipes, Tower, from 'ET Launch Site' Found in China." The article noted that a team of Chinese scientists was heading out to a remote area to investigate "a mystery pyramid that local legend says is a launch tower left by aliens from space." The article went on to describe the site as containing a 180-foot-tall pyramid and "rusty iron scraps, pipes, and unusually shaped stones" dubbed "ET relics." Soon after the publication of this report an investigative article by Jo Lusby and Abby Wan was published in City Weekend, a biweekly English-language publication printed in Beijing. It began: On the south bank of a saltwater lake sits a metallic pyramid said to be between 50 and 60 meters tall. In front of the structure lie three caves, each with triangular openings. The two smaller caves have collapsed, but the largest central cave is still passable. Inside, on the ground, lies a 40-cm length of pipe, sliced in half. Another red-brown pipe is sunk into the earth, only its lip visible above the ground. Outside the cave, half-pipes, scraps of metal, and strangely shaped stones are scattered along the southern bank of the lake. Some pipes run into the water; it is unknown what may lurk in the salty depths. The real mystery of this structure discovered in a desolate, barren desert next to a salt lake was noted after the rocks and metal samples from the site were analyzed. According to the official Qinhua News Agency, "results of preliminary rock and metal analysis show the pipes are 30 percent ferric oxide with a high content of silicon dioxide and calcium oxide; 8 percent of the sample's makeup was categorized as unidentifiable." The engineer who conducted the studies said the levels of silicon dioxide and calcium oxide point to the pipes having been on the mountainside for a long time--at least 5,000 years. Iron smelting, however, dates back only 2,000 years. (68)

Europe

In the Copper Age, a period that may have begun as early as 3,000 BC in the Alpine region, people searched for malachite, a copper carbonate that appears naturally as a bluish green efflorescence on rock and cliff sides. They scraped and flaked off the malachite and then smelted it in a crucible in a campfire. They increased the fire's temperature by blowing oxygen into it through bellows. The nearly pure copper would then be poured into a stone mold, for an ax, for example. (79)

In the 1960s, Thorn, a retired professor of engineering from Oxford University, established that the Ring of Brodgar and most other megalithic sites in western Europe were built using a standard unit of measure which he labbed the 'Megalithic Yard'. He also suggested that the reason for digging the henge at this spot was because it provides four major foresights to observe movements of the moon - known as the major and minor standstills - which are important to the prediction of its cycles. (160)

The bottom line of his research was that nearly 4,000 years ago the Minoans had used a system of mathematics based on a 366 degree circle, that appears to be directly connected to the mathematics of the megalithic people who lived in western Europe 5,000 years ago. The Minoans seemed to be using a circle of 366 degrees with each degree subdivided into 60 minutes, and each minute further divided into 6 seconds. (160)

Butler had started by studying the mathematical structure of the Phaistos Disc. It is engraved on both sides with a series of pictograms laid out inside spirals. Although no one understands the writing system, Butler found that the symbols on the disc are compatible with a 366-day calendar, which was so accurate that over a period of 40 years it would be out by only three days. He also noted that there seemed to be an indication on the disc that would allow even this small error to be corrected.He decided to see if this small measure of angle represented a useful distance on the Earth's circumference, and his first calculation showed it to be a little over 3 metres. This rang bells, because the Minoans used a unit of length called the Minoan Foot, which archaeologist have observed from their buildings was equal to 30.36 cm. Butler made some quick calculations and realized that 1,000 Minoan feet was equal to 366 megalithic yards. Not approximately ... exactly! He also noted that one megalithic second of arc was equal to 366 megalithic yards, or 1000 Minoan feet, on the Earth's surface. Each megalithic second of arc represents a distance of 366 megalithic yards on the Earth's surface and six of these comprise the distance a megalithic minute of arc covers on the Earth's surface - and is equal to 2,196 megalithic yards (a unit that Butler has called a megalithic mile). There are 60 megalithic minutes of arc to the megalithic degree, and therefore also 60 megalithic miles. Since there are 366 megalithic degrees to the circle, it follows that the circumference of the earth should be 60 x 366 megalithic miles, which comes out at 21,960 megalithic miles. Convert this number into kilometres and the result is 40,009.98 kilometres. The polar circumference of the earth is presently estimated to be 40,010 kilometres, so the megalithic people agreed with modern measurements to the last 20 metres! Such a precise match is unlikely to be mere coincidence. (160)

So, it seems that some 4,000 years ago the Minoans of Crete had inherited a system from the megalithic peoples of western Europe, whereby one second of arc was the same as one second of time, and this could be expressed as a distance of 366 megalithic yards on the surface of the Earth. If one were to measure this distance accurately and mark it on the ground in an east-west direction, it actually represents the amount by which the Earth turns (at any given spot) in one megalithic second of time. In this way these prehistoric people reconciled time and distance into one form of measurement. In a remarkable way, megalithic mathematics integrates the speed of rotation of the earth with distance measured on the surface, so providing an ideal tool for navigation as well - a standard unit for building. (160)

South America

 

Mesoamerica

 Each day had a particular glyph and meaning ascribed to it, and at the end of the fifty-two-year cycle a renewal ceremony would be performed. The long count period lasted for about five thousand years. This was equivalent to an age. According to the Maya, humanity is in the fifth "Sun" or "Age." That will end about five thousand years from the beginning of their calendar, which started in 3011 BC and expires in 2012 AD. (59)

The Mayans knew of the planets Neptune and Uranus by at least 3144 BC and, with the Sumerians, knew their periods of revolution around the Sun. Yet, we claim the planets were discovered in modern times by William Herschel (Uranus in 1781) and Johann Galle (Neptune in 1846). They were simply rediscovered. (113)

The Calendar is called the Mayan Calendar (not Olmec) because the Classic Maya perfected all the aspects of it. They calculated how time influences history, and they left a clear and complex record of their discoveries. When they were developed enough to mythologize their origins, they linked the development of maize with their own origins in time in their creation account, the Popol Vuh. Today, corn remains a central focus of Maya culture and ceremony. The Long Count begins around 3113 BC, which happens to be the moment when complex temple-city civilizations suddenly arose in ancient Egypt, Sumer, and China. Since the Maya were also a culture with pyramids, hieroglyphs, mythology, and astronomy, and since their Calendar accurately describes the historical cycles of the development of civilization, why not assume their actual origins go back to the beginning of their Calendar, especially since maize was domesticated even earlier? This is an important point because all thirteen baktuns must be considered, especially the originating baktun, when complex civilizations began, which was 3113 to 2718 BC. (A baktun is a period lasting 394 years; baktuns are the main divisions of the 5,125 years of history that the Long Count describes.) The Long Count of 5,125 years is divided into thirteen cycles of about 394 years called baktuns; each baktun is divided into twenty cycles called katuns, which are composed of twenty 360-day-long tuns. Since the basic unit, the tun, is 360 days, time inches backward about five days each during nearly every solar year (a solar year consists of 365 days), which yanks one's mind right out of linear time. ...the acceleration of time through the expression of multiplying basic units by twenty is a key concept in the Calendar, and it started with multiplying one tun by twenty to get one katun. Then a katun is multiplied by twenty to get a baktun, a baktun is multiplied by twenty to get a piktun, and so on. Therefore the tun is the basic unit of time acceleration in the Calendar. (129)

The Maya had a highly sophisticated calendar and an advanced system of mathematics. From one stele at Quirigoa in Guatemala, the start of their calendar can be placed at approximately 3135 BC. Their own tradition stated that they were descended from four 'Becabs' who came over the sea to escape the Flood. On page 115 of J. Thompson's book, The Rise and Fall of the Maya Empire, is reproduced a drawing of four Atlas figures, who are the four Becabs, depicted here set at the four sides of the world to hold up the sky. They come from columns in the Castillo Chichen Itza. They are bearded and of European appearance. (135)

The oldest of the three Mesoamerican calendars is known as the Long Count: it counted the number of days from a "Day One" that scholars have identified as August 13, 3113 BC. Alongside this continuous but linear calendar there were two cyclical calendars. One, the Haab, was a solar-year calendar of 365 days, divided into 18 months of 20 days each plus an additional 5 special days at year's end. The other was the Tzolkin, a Sacred Calendar of only 260 days, composed of a 20-day unit rotated 13 times. The two cyclical calendars were then meshed together, as two geared wheels, to create the Sacred Round of fifty-two years, when these two counts returned to their common starting point and started the counts all over again. This "bundle" of fifty-two years was a most important unit of time, because it was linked to the promise of Quetzalcoatl, who at some point left Mesoamerica, to return on his Sacred Year. The Mesoamerican peoples therefore used to gather on mountains every fifty-two years to expect the promised Return of Quetzalcoatl. (In one such Sacred Year, 1519 AD, a white-faced and bearded Spaniard, Hernando Cortes, landed on Mexico's Yucatan coast and was welcomed by the Aztec king Montezuma as the returning god--a costly mistake, as we now know.) (137)

Anyone who wants to tackle the mystery of the Mayan calendar today has to solve three different problems: the starting date of this calendar, the length of the time span this calendar covered, and the duration of its short cycles. Opinions on all three questions differ widely. Originally, the dates proposed for the start of this long calendar were as much as 520 years apart. Recently this discrepancy has been reduced to 260 years and there are only two groups of American archaeologists who dispute each other. The team led by Herbert Spinden maintains that the long Mayan calendar started in 3373 BC. The team led by Edward Thompson thinks it began in 3113 BC. As the Mayas counted time, this 260 year difference represents thirteen periods of 20 years each that are called 'katuns', Twenty katuns, or 400 years, are equal to one 'baktun'. (141)

North America

 

Other