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Author Topic: One world  (Read 2656 times)
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« on: September 05, 2006, 11:07:23 PM »

I am writing this post by memory, based on bits and pieces I have picked up over the years. I intend to return here to amend and add material 'as and when'. The subject - it is very broad - is to look at the lives and beliefs of people in Europe as far back as we can go and see how they relate to peoples today.

By 'far back' I mean before and immediately after the last Ice Age, which ended some 10,000 years ago. By 'peoples today' I am not restricting myself to Europe.

Because I am starting without notes, I am in danger of error, so please be understanding and patient as, in time, I come back to correct, delete and expand.

King Arthur's Cave, Herefordshire. Photo by Professor Nick Barton

In Britain, there is evidence of early Upper Palaeolithic occupation, in both cave and open-air sites, from before 30,000 years ago, including at King Arthur?s Cave in Herefordshire.  Human remains from around this time are best represented by the famous burial known as the ?Red Lady? (actually a male) from Paviland Cave on the Gower.

However, a major cold event, which peaked around 18,000 years ago, once again saw the abandonment of the British Isles.  This cold event saw the last major advance of the ice sheets of the Devensian glaciation, which came as far south as Birmingham and covered much of Herefordshire.  Britain was probably not re-colonised by humans until around 13,000 years ago.  In the Midlands, artefacts from this late Upper Palaeolithic period have been found in caves in Herefordshire and Derbyshire.

Further fluctuations in the climate ensued, the severest cold period of which probably again saw the abandonment of Britain, before the current warm phase (the Holocene) began about ten thousand years ago.  From that time to the present the human occupation of Britain has been continuous.

During that last abandonment of Britain, most of the population moved south, to the south of France, Spain, then the alps, before returning to Britain when the Ice Age ended.

Horse panel with carved image of horse outlined for clarity. Photo by UNED

In June last year two Spanish experts Dr Sergio Ripoll, one of Spain?s foremost authorities on cave art and Dr Francisco Munox, a specialist in Upper Palaeolithic and Palaeolithic art, assisted British experts in locating cave art in Britain. Dr Paul Pettitt, a scientific consultant for Creswell Crags and Dr Paul Bahn, Britain?s leading Ice Age art specialist, identified 12 engravings with their help in Church Hole, one of the caves at Creswell Crags. In April this year, following further research and a lucky burst of natural light, they found more. Now in excess of 80 engravings have been discovered.

Around 13,000 years old, the cave art in Nottinghamshire?s Church Hole dates from the period at the end of the last Ice Age. It is thought to be around 8,000 years older than similar discoveries in Britain.

By comparing radiocarbon dated remains with ice-core climate records, a team of scientists estimated the speed and timing of human resettlement in late glacial Britain. It suggests a wave of migration coinciding with a sudden rise in temperature and the northwards spread of herd animals such as wild horse and deer. The archaeologists looked for evidence of their return in ancient caves in western and northern England. The team radiocarbon dated bits of butchered bone from animals the settlers hunted such as red deer, and wild horse and cattle. The data reveal repopulation began as far back as 16,000 years ago.

The bones are only slightly younger than earliest dated human-modified remains from countries such as Belgium and Germany, suggesting a rapid advance from mainland Europe. Their progress was helped by the fact Britain was a peninsula, not an island.

The more famous cave frescoes are in southern France - Lascaux - and elsewhere, but - and here I am stretching - I understand that the migrating people of Britain may well have both inhabited the same caves and be responsible for the art there.

A prehistoric map of the night sky has been discovered on the walls of the famous painted caves at Lascaux in central France. It is a map of the prehistoric cosmos, thought to date back 16,500 years, showing three bright stars known today as the Summer Triangle. A map of the Pleiades star cluster has also been found among the Lascaux frescoes. And another pattern of stars, drawn 14,000 years ago, has been identified in a cave in Spain.

The ancient star map shows a bull, birdman and a bird on a stick.

A star map was also found painted on the walls of a cave in Spain, dated to 14,000 years ago. The Cueva di El Castillo cave, in the mountains of Pico del Castillo, contains a region called the Frieze of Hands.

At the end of this remarkable section can be found a curved pattern of dots.

Analysis of the mitochondrial DNA of modern European populations shows that over 80% are descended in the female line from European hunter-gatherers. Less than 20% are descended in the female line from Neolithic farmers from the Middle East. In 1997 DNA analysis was undertaken on a tooth from a Mesolithic man whose remains were found in Gough's Cave at Cheddar Gorge. His mitochondrial DNA was of a type found in 11% of modern European populations.

The construction of the earliest earthwork sites in Britain began during the early Neolithic (c. 4400 BCE- 3300 BCE) in the form of long barrows used for communal burial and the first causewayed enclosures, sites which have parallels on the continent. The former may be derived from the long house although no long house villages have been found in Britain, only individual examples.

The stone-built houses on Orkney such as those at Skara Brae are however indicators of some nucleated settlement in Britain.

Evidence of growing mastery over the environment is embodied in the Sweet Track, a wooden trackway built to cross the marshes of the Somerset Levels and dated to 3807 BCE. Leaf-shaped arrowheads, round-based pottery types and the beginnings of polished axe production are common indicators of the period.

The Middle Neolithic (c. 3300 BCE-c. 2900 BCE) saw the development of cursus monuments close to earlier barrows and the growth and abandonment of causewayed enclosures as well as the building of impressive chamber tombs such as the Maeshowe types. The earliest stone circles and individual burials also appear.

Different pottery types such as Grooved ware appear during the later Neolithic (c. 2900 BCE-c. 2200 BCE) whilst new enclosures, called henges were built, along with stone rows and the famous sites of Stonehenge and Silbury Hill reached their peak. Industrial flint mining such as that at Cissbury and Grimes Graves began.

I am on shaky ground here, but I have heard archaeologists speculate that before the stone henges were wood henges and there is some evidence that the earliest may have been made at the end of the last Ice Age, which is to say, some 10,000 years ago.

This brings me to my first point: whatever purposes the henges served, that purpose was known at least as far back as the last Ice Age and quite possibly earlier. Next, I will explain what purposes they may have had.

« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2006, 09:45:37 AM »

Holme Timber Circle ('Seahenge')
In 1998 a circle of timber posts within the intertidal zone on the north Norfolk coast was brought to the attention of the Norfolk County Council Archaeological Service. A subsequent programme of archaeological recording and dating revealed that the structure was constructed in the spring or early summer of 2049 BC, during the Early Bronze Age. Because of the perceived threat of damage and erosion from the sea a rescue excavation was undertaken during the summer months of 1999. The structure was entirely excavated, involving the removal of the timbers and a programme of stratigraphic recording and environmental analysis. A survey was also undertaken within the environs of the site which has identified further timber structures dating from the Bronze Age. Detailed examination of the timber from the circle has produced a wealth of unexpected information which has added greatly to our understanding of Early Bronze Age woodworking, organisation of labour and the layout and construction of timber ritual monuments.

Wood henges predate stone henges. Being of wood, they appear to have been rebuilt periodically. It may not be possible to know when the first were built, but I have been told by archaeologists who have specialised in this area that they suspect that the first wood henges were built at the end of the last Ice Age.

A henge is a near circular or oval-shaped flat area over 20m in diameter which is enclosed and delimited by a boundary earthwork that usually comprises a ditch with an external bank. Access to the interior is obtained by way of one, two, or four entrances through the earthwork. Internal components may include portal settings, timber circles, post rings, stone circles, four-stone settings, monoliths, standing posts, pits, coves, post alignments, stone alignments, burials, central mounds, and stakeholes" (English Heritage definition).

Given the defensive impracticalities of an enclosure with an external bank and internal ditch (rather than vice versa), henges are considered to have served a ritual purpose, perhaps built with intention of shielding what went on inside the enclosure from the outside world.

Theories about henges

Henges may have been used for rituals, or astronomical observation rather than being areas of day-to-day activity. The fact that their ditches are located inside their banks indicates that they would not have been used in a defensive function and that the barrier the earthworks provide is more likely to have been symbolic rather than functional. It has been conjectured that whatever took place inside the enclosures was intended to be separate from the outside world and perhaps only known to select individuals or groups.

The alignment of henges is a contentious issue. Popular belief is that their entrances point towards certain heavenly bodies. In fact, henge orientation is highly variable and may have been more determined by local topology rather than any desire for symbolic orientation. A slight tendency for Class I henges having an entrance set in the north or north-east quarter has been identified following statistical analysis whilst Class II henges generally have their axes aligned approximately south east to north west or north east to south west.

It has been suggested that the stone and timber structures sometimes built inside henges were used as solar declinometers, used to measure the position of the rising or setting sun. These structures by no means appear in all henges and often considerably post-date the henges themselves. They therefore are not necessarily connected with the henge's original function. It has been conjectured that they could have been used to synchronize a calendar to the solar cycle for purposes of planting crops or timing religious rituals. Some henges have poles, stones or entrances that would indicate the position of the rising or setting sun during the equinoxes and solstices whilst others appear to frame certain constellations. Additionally, many are placed so that nearby hills either mark or do not interfere with such observations. Finally, some henges appear to be placed at particular latitudes. For example, a number are placed at a latitude of 55 degrees north, where the same two markers can indicate the rising and setting sun for both the spring and autumn equinoxes. Henges are present from the extreme north to the extreme south of Britain however and so their latitude could not have been of great importance.

New Wood Henge
Remains of the largest timber henge ever found have been discovered at Stanton Drew, near Bristol, a site already famous for its three circles of standing stones. The new henge, detected during a magnetometer survey of the Great Circle, the largest of the stone monuments, has nine concentric rings of what look like postholes, each about three feet wide. The outermost ring is more than 300 feet in diameter, filling most of the area within the Great Circle, while the innermost ring is about 75 feet across. All told, there were probably between 400 and 500 posts. Beyond the stones the magnetometer located an encircling ditch, no longer visible, about 23 feet wide and almost 450 feet in diameter. Thus, the whole monument is somewhat larger than Stonehenge, whose outer bank measures about 360 feet across. A date of ca. 3000 B.C. seems probable, though excavation would be needed to confirm it and to show that the magnetic traces are indeed those of postholes. Neolithic timber circles are known at other sites in southern Britain, such as Woodhenge and Avebury, but none is on the scale of the Stanton Drew circle.


Woodhenge is a Neolithic Class I henge and timber circle monument located to the North of Amesbury in Wiltshire, England, and it is closer to Amesbury than is Stonehenge.

Woodhenge was identified in 1922 after an aerial archaeology survey undertaken by Alexander Keiller and OGS Crawford.

Maud Cunnington excavated the site between 1926 and 1929.

Pottery from the excavation was identified as being consistent with the Grooved ware style of the middle Neolithic, although later Beaker sherds were also found. So, the structure was probably built during the reign of the Beaker People.

The site was believed by Cunnington to consist of a central burial, surrounded first by six concentric rings of postholes, then by a single ditch and finally an outer bank, around 85m wide. The burial was of a child which Cunnington interpreted as a dedicatory sacrifice although it was destroyed in The Blitz (bombing by the Germans during World War II) and re-examination has not been possible. Cunnington also found a skeleton of a teenager in one of the ditch sections she dug. Another theory is that the site is the burial location of a Celtic royal family.

Most of the 168 post holes held wooden posts, though there is evidence of a pair of standing stones having been placed between the second and third post hole rings. The deepest holes measured up to 2m and the height of the posts they held has been estimated at up to 7.5m above the ground. This sort of timber would have weighed around 5 tons and are similar as the erection of the bluestones at Stonehenge.

Further comparisons with Stonehenge were quickly noticed by Cunnington; both have entrances oriented approximately on the midsummer sunrise and the diameters of the timber circles at Woodhenge and the stone circles at Stonehenge are similar making the reasons for the name more understandable.

The positions of the postholes are currently marked with modern concrete posts which are a simple and informative method of displaying the site.

There are various theories about possible timber structures that might have stood on the site, and about how the axes, etc, of the rings might have aligned with positions of the Sun on the horizon. Many opportunities remain for further work in this respect, unfortunatley, work on the study of Stonehenge has overshadowed any real breakthroughs in the understanding of Woodhenge.

In my view, the archaeoastronomical interpretation of henges is weak. That they are related to the sun appears beyond doubt. However, equally important is their relationship to the moon.
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2006, 12:33:50 PM »

I think that there is good evidence that henges were used to carry the soul of the dead to the moon, via moonlight refracting through quartz.

Ancient Scotland: Prehistoric Religion
In north-east Scotland there is a special type of circle known as the recumbent stone circle, in which a large slab is set horizontal or recumbent between two flanking upright stones in the southwestern arc. Seen from within the circle, the recumbent arrangement frames the rising or setting of the moon at certain times, and sometimes cup-marks have been carved at the point where the moon rises or sets over the stones.
Interest in the movements of the moon may account for the widespread use of white quartz pebbles both in stone settings and in burial monuments.

These monuments were in use over very long periods of time, and their archaeology can be quite complex. In addition to the visible elements of all these ritual sites, there may be pits, graves and hearths below ground level. The likely survival of related archaeology has to be considered in the protection of these monuments.

This is why my toughts on this are speculative. The period is so far removed from us and any evidence is so slight that nobody can be sure of much. Informed and responsible speculation, though, has its place.

Nether Largie, Argyll
There are six promininent standing stones in the fields, five of them laid out in an extended cross shape (see plan above), with their axes set north-west to south-east. All but one of the stones are cup-marked, with the distinctive central stone C decorated with 40 cupmarks and 3 cup-and-ring markings. The stones of this alignment are large, all being nearly 3 metres tall. Another smaller stone lies 100 metres northwest of the main group.

There are also two smaller square settings of four slabs (see plan), one setting closely surrounding the central stone C, and the other close by to the south.

The standing stones here seem to have been erected in a carefully chosen location, so that, together with the local horizons, both the northernmost and southernmost positions of the moon during the major standstill are indicated1. Standing at the southern pair of stones, A and B, and looking to the north-west, an observer sees a ridge of low hills. The azimuth of about 318? with the horizon height of over 4? indicates the extreme northern (midwinter) setting position of the full moon at the major standstill. The flat face of the central stone C also indicates about the same position on the horizon.

Standing at the northern stone E and looking past the central stone to stone A, an observer sees (if the weather is clear) Bellanoch hill, over 4 miles distant, on a bearing of 206.5?. The view is partly blocked by trees. This gives the position of the setting full moon at its extreme southerly (midsummer) position.

Nether Largie central standing stoneThus the stones at Nether Largie indicate both ends of the band of western sky within which the moon always sets. The major standstill takes place only once every nineteen years, though the extreme moon would come close to those indicated positions during the months before and after the standstill also.

This site is probably the most important and coherent lunar site in Scotland, with no real parallels elsewhere, except with an alignment at Barbreck house, which is now enclosed by buildings and trees.

It is worth noting also that the excavator of the two stone circles at Temple Wood nearby suggested that the area of the northern circle there had also incorporated astronomical lines2. Jack Scott believed there had been wooden sighting structures on the site of the uncompleted ring. These structures were set out on a north-south axis and had served to establish the position of the noonday sun. A two metre long slab, still visible in the centre of the northern circle, is set precisely on a north-south line, and you may care to examine this circle during your visit to the Nether Largie stones.

On Stanton Drew, Avebury and Stonehenge: Standing Stones
Wimblestone is perhaps the most well-known standing stone in Somerset, situated just under a line of trees at the western end of a valley whose northern edge was the site of a Neolithic settlement [Clarke & Richards 1972]. The stone is around 2m tall and an equilateral triangle in shape, roughly 0.5m in width, and at its base is an oval hole. This huge shark's tooth is aligned such that its thinnest aspect points east/west. To the west is a sharp rise onto the Mendips at Dolebury Warren, not far from Aveline's Hole. At the other end of the valley, in Banwell, is another megalith of the other type found in the region - a large, flat, rectangular stone. This megalith is about 2m high, 1.5m wide, and 0.5m thick. Its top edge is rain-damaged and looks as if a corner is missing. The thinnest aspect points to Fry's Hill with its raised end, which leads up onto the Mendips near Cheddar Caves. Hence such stones can be seen as signposts to the henges at Priddy. It is also interesting to note that, standing at the Banwell stone's raised edge, facing south-southwest and hence perpendicular to it, the prominent Brent Knoll appears cradled between two closer hills. The huge, almost conical, Brent Knoll stands alone over a hundred metres proud of the western end of the Levels. It lies on an azimuth of 211 degrees from the Banwell megalith, that of the major southern setting of the midsummer moon. The minor southern setting may be seen directly to the right of its base, an azimuth of 231 degrees. Viewing the major southern setting over something is seen at Stanton Drew (Section 3) and further afield (Sections 5 and 6). It can be further noted that a similar alignment can be found in Trencrom, Cornwall where the southern setting of the midsummer moon is seen over Trencrom Hill from a nearby megalith.

Total eclipse of the moon November 8, 2003, over Keppel Henge

Stanton Drew
The megaliths at Stanton Drew are arranged in three circles, two of which have short avenues, with a nearby Cove and an outlier.
An alignment stretches from the Cove, through the centre of the main circle, to the centre of the northeast circle, at around 52 degrees from north [Burl 1987, p.14-16], which will be returned to here. A second alignment exists from the centre of the northeast circle to that of the south-southwest circle, with an azimuth of 211 degrees and a declination -30.9 degrees, it marks the major southern setting of the midsummer "Moon?" [Thom 1967, p.100 S3/1].
From this newfound stone circle centre an alignment exists with the centre of the northeast circle which passes directly through the middle of the aforementioned gap in the ditch to the Cove; the view, aligned along the left bank of the gap, has an azimuth of 231 degrees - that of the minor southern setting of the midsummer moon.

As a very speculative aside: The timber rings may not share the same centre as the stone circle because they predate it by a significant amount of time. The posts were obviously large and in a very large ring. This makes them similar to the timber posts found under the carpark at Stonehenge, which have been dated as Mesolilthic [Cleal et al. 1995]. That is, the stone circle may have been built at a previously important site.

* compars.gif (19 KB, 935x661 - viewed 85 times.)
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2006, 01:04:02 PM »

Let us look further how the henge took the spirit of the dead to the moon.

...the Beaker People became obsessed with the belief that maths and geometry held such a deep and obscure meaning to life that it could be used to their own benefit. To this belief they added a few extra ingredients. At Woodhenge they made a maturing egg that hopefully contained the life of a sacrificial child. To this they added a multitude of broken clay vessels and animal bones. Mixed in with the clay of these vessels were a variety of stones, often of quartz and flint, some marine shells, and a few vessels even carried geometric messages.

These are the idealised egg-shapes that the wooden posts of Woodhenge describe.

As for whether (Professor Alexander) Thom's postulated 'megalithic yard', was a universal standard of measure throughout the whole of Neolithic Europe: the arguments will continue to rage. Neither has Thom's case been helped by the fact that prehistoric people tried to force Pi into the value of 3 at Woodhenge. Although such treatment turned the radii of the Woodhenge eggs into 'bastard' sizes, it doesn't alter the fact that the use of Thom's megalithic yard in Wiltshire is now proven beyond any doubt.

Newgrange ? a view from the platform
In a recent critical evaluation of O?Kelly?s restoration, Palle Eriksen (2004) argues that
the monument may have been built in a number of stages, that the mound would have been dome-shaped and hence there never was a vertical revetment wall placed on top of the kerb.
In the vicinity of the entrance, rather than a vertical wall composed of quartz and granite
standing on the kerb, it may have been either laid on the face of a less steeply sloping mound or as a deposit on the ground in front of the monument.
By way of complementing Eriksen?s remarks this contribution places the reconstruction
work in a wider context, offers a different interpretation of the stratigraphic sequence and
the role of the quartz/granite layer at Newgrange and comments on the consequences of the quartz wall for archaeological and public interpretation of Newgrange. The use of the term ?passage tomb? rather than ?passage grave? has become standard in Ireland (see de Valera & ONuallain 1972: xiii) and this is used here. While not the focus of this debate the discussion below is based on a recognition of the range and depth of symbolic value that quartz would have held for people in the Neolithic (e.g. Cooney 2000a: 176-8).

The extensive sod stripping to provide turfs for the passage tomb mounds was also seen as precipitating a socio-economic decline which brought an end to the society which had built Newgrange (O?Kelly 1982: 128, 145, 1983: 52). Subsequent activity at Newgrange during the Beaker period was discussed in terms of a very different social context. The people were described as having a lower standard of living with food production concentrated chiefly on cattle and pig herding (van Wijngaarden-Bakker 1986). The extravagance of the construction of the tomb/house for the dead had wrecked the economy.
...there has been important work done on the sourcing of the material. Mitchell (1992: 129) demonstrated that the quartz at Newgrange and Knowth came from the Wicklow Mountains, 50km to the south, as shown by the occurrence of distinctive large crystals of muscovite in the quartz (see also Meighan et al. 2003 for further fieldwork and preliminary oxygen isotope data).
Eogan (1986: 48, 65) suggested that the spreads could either have been the result of cairn slippage, indicating a concentration of quartz on the mound in the vicinity of the tombs, or were deliberately laid features.
So, we are left with support both for the idea of quartz as a cairn or mound facing as well
as a deliberately placed feature on the ground in the vicinity of tomb entrances.

Easter Aquhorthies is an example of a recumbent stone circle, i.e. a circle of standing stones whose two tallest stones flank a slab laid on its side. These sites typically date from the third millenium BC. The recumbent and its flanking stones frame the moon rising or setting in the southern sky, enabling lunar observations to be made by the farming communities who built the circles.

Stonehenge for the ancestors: the stonespass on the message
As a result Stonehenge can be interpreted as belonging to the ancestors, a stone version for the dead of the timber circles used for ceremonials by the living. By extension, Avebury and many other stone monuments of this period can be understood as built for the ancestors in parallel to the wooden monuments constructed for the living.

Daily Life in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Scotland
Time and the monthly calendar were kept by being aware of the nightly phase of the moon. The moon reflected light, but not heat, was visible during both the night and day, and was constantly changing shape. The sun was always circular and gave off heat and light. Everyone knew that the sun and moon were powerful spirits in the sky. The sun was a male spirit and each year warmed the female Earth. This brought new life in the spring in the form of plants emerging out of the soil. The sun light filled the back of the tomb on the shortest day of the year through a slit over the door. At other times of the year this space was filled in with a solid block of white quartz. This yearly impregnation would help the part of the soul of ancestors that resided in bone to transmigrate into mothers wishing to have a baby. The changing moon was continually being reborn and dying and was represented by a flat death stone atop the tomb with cup marks. These represented their rebirth from the part of the ancestors soul that dwelled underground.

« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2006, 02:03:54 PM »

We have seen how the henges incorporated quartz in order to convey the spirit of the dead to the moon. The common term used to describe this practice is shamanism.


Shamanistic practices are sometimes claimed to predate all organized religions, and certainly date back to the Neolithic period. Aspects of shamanism are encountered in later, organized religions, generally in their mystic and symbolic practices. Greek paganism was influenced by shamanism, as reflected in the stories of Tantalus, Prometheus, Medea, and Calypso among others, as well as in the Eleusinian Mysteries, and other mysteries. Some of the shamanic practices of the Greek religion later merged into the Roman religion.

The shamanic practices of many cultures were marginalized with the spread of monotheism in Europe and the Middle East. In Europe, starting around 400, the Catholic Church was instrumental in the collapse of the Greek and Roman religions. Temples were systematically destroyed and key ceremonies were outlawed or appropriated. The Early Modern witch trials may have further eliminated lingering remnants of European shamanism (if in fact "shamanism" can even be used to accurately describe the beliefs and practices of those cultures).

The repression of shamanism continued as Catholic influence spread with Spanish colonization. In the Caribbean, and Central and South America, Catholic priests followed in the footsteps of the Conquistadors and were instrumental in the destruction of the local traditions, denouncing practitioners as "devil worshippers" and having them executed. In North America, the English Puritans conducted periodic campaigns against individuals perceived as witches. More recently, attacks [citation needed]on shamanic practitioners have been carried out at the hands of Christian missionaries to third world countries. As recently as the nineteen seventies, historic petroglyphs were being defaced by missionaries in the Amazon. A similarly destructive story can be told of the encounter between Buddhists and shamans, e.g., in Mongolia (See Caroline Humphrey with Urgunge Onon, 1996).

Today, shamanism survives primarily among indigenous peoples. Shamanic practice continues today in the tundras, jungles, deserts, and other rural areas, and also in cities, towns, suburbs, and shantytowns all over the world. This is especially widespread in Africa as well as South America, where "mestizo shamanism" is widespread.

We can see that the beliefs and practices of a time long ago lived on. They became incorporated into later cultures, including those of ancient Greece and Rome, and through them transmuted into the religious beliefs of today. They also lived on in other cultures, largely unchanged.

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« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2006, 11:40:53 PM »

Thank you for taking the time to assemble all this remarkable history. I will read again and again until I can grasp all of the fundamentals. A wonderful article.
Thank You.

« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2006, 06:09:20 PM »

Nazca and its Lines
The clues to the function of the lines are found in the highly advanced pottery and textiles of the ancient Nazcans, some of which show a flying being emitting discharge from its nose and mouth. This is believed to portray the flight of the shaman who consumes certain psycho-active drugs that convince him he can fly and so enter the real world of spirits in order to rid sick people of evil spirits.

In this way, the lines are not designed to be seen physically from above, but from the mind's eye of the flying shaman. This also explains the presence of creatures such as a monkey or killer whale which possess qualities needed by the shaman in his spirit journey. Of the geometric figures, the straight lines are a feature of ancient Peruvian ritual behaviour, much like ley lines in Europe. The represent invisible paths of perceive energy, while the trapezoids are thought to have been ritual spaces where offering were made to the gods.

Nazca: Airport of the Gods?
 Shamanic cultures use ?shamans? (priests) to seek contact with the gods, the ancestors, the dead. These are local in a different dimension; they are not physical beings, but ?spiritual entities?, often the souls of the tribal ancestors, as well as creator deities. The land of the dead was similar to Earth, but was found in another dimension ? here, yet invisible to our eyes

Straight lines were specifically linked with the voyage of the shaman in the Otherworld, as well as with the Otherworld in general. Souls were said to be only able to travel in straight lines. ?Dead roads?, ?dead straight roads?, often linked the church with the cemetery ? if some distance separated them.

« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2006, 05:57:18 PM »

Flying reindeer from shaman drum
Yes, it is the shaman who joins the cardinal points in the past and the present.

The shaman beats his drum until he reaches the specific rhythm and tone that sends him into a trancelike state of ecstasy. The rhythmic beats affect the central nervous system, producing a hypnotic condition. In this altered state called gievvot, his soul travels in extra-corporeal form to the spirit world to converse with the dead.

But first, the drum must be granted ?life? by means of a particular ritual, and possessed by a guardian spirit ? most commonly a reindeer. The shaman, with the help of his reindeer guide (or bassev?resarves), can make his spiritual journey. On the drum skin are painted (in alder bark mixed with spit) various blood-red symbols that help guide the shaman on his ?reindeer vision? across the cosmic road (Milky Way) to J?bme?jmoo, the Land of the Dead.

How did Santa get the power to fly like the wind? In An Account of a Visit from St Nicholas, his aerial acrobatics are described thus: ?He sprang to his sleigh, to the team gave a whistle, / And away they all flew like the down from a thistle.? In Lapland, the Saami shaman (called the Magi of the North) is believed to have the power to raise the wind and storms. In olden times, Lapp sorcerers sold ?wind-knots? to sailors in the form of three knots tied in a handkerchief. As the knots are untied the winds would increase. Sailors beware ? the loosening of the third knot can cause an accursed m?lstrom. It is said that the sorcerers of Lapland learned their accursed art from Zoroaster the Persian. Yet power over the wind comes from the Devil himself, ?the prince of the power of the air? (Ephesians 2:2).

In Lapland, sorcery was a craft preserved for male shamans, but there have been documented reports of female practitioners. Throughout the ages, Lapland has had the sinister reputation for being a place for witches? orgies. On Lapp witches, Cotton Mather (infamous for his role in the Salem Witch Trials) wrote in his book Wonders of the Invisible World: ?Undoubtedly the Devil understands as well the way to make a Tempest as to turn Winds at the Solicitation of a Laplander.? He went on to write that they ?can with looks or words bewitch other people, or sell Winds to Mariners? and by their Enchanted Kettle Drums can learn things done a Thousand Leagues off.?

The Saami shaman or noid (also spelled nojd, noyde, and noajdde), besides having power over the wind, was believed to have the gift of second sight, invisibility, shapeshifting, weird visions, and the capability to create false apparitions. Because of the awesome supernatural power thought to be wielded by the noid, Martin Luther believed that Lapland was the home of the Devil. Missionaries to Lapland believed that the noid were literally possessed by demons, and the shaman?s drum was a powerful ?instrument and tool of the Devil?. The regions and peoples of the extreme north have always held a special fascination for inhabitants of the temperate zones. The excessive cold, the winter darkness, and the reputed mystical powers of the Hyperborean people have long attracted the imagination of writers, adventurers, and seekers of mystic powers. Surely, Santa Claus lives in the north because, like a Holy Magus, he seeks the great supernatural power of the noid.

Tore Ahlb?ck and Jan Bergman, Eds, The Saami Shaman Drum, Donner Institute for Research in Religious and Cultural History, Finland, 1991.
Dmitri Bayanov, In the Footsteps of the Russian Snowman, Hancock House, USA, 2004.
Jan Bondeson, The Feejee Mermaid, Cornell University Press, 1999.
Odd Mathis H?tta, The Ancient Religion and Folk-Beliefs of the S?mi, Alta Museum.
Clement Clarke Moore (attributed), An Account of a Visit from St Nicholas, 1823.
Ernest J Moyne, Raising the Wind: The legend of Lapland and Finland Wizards in Literature, University of Delaware Press, 1981.
Tony van Renterghem, When Santa Was a Shaman, LLewellyn, 1996.
The Magic of Lapland and Christmas Every Day - On the Arctic Circle, Santa Village, Rovaniemi, Finland.
Phyllis Siefker, Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men, McFarland & Company, Jefferson, North Carolina, 1997.
Stanislav Szukalski, Behold!!! The Protong, Last Gasp, San Francisco, California, 2001.
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« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2006, 06:07:45 PM »

That is one great post!
There is so much we have yet to learn about our past but this little bit is just plain fun. There is a kernel of truth in almost every legend it seems.

« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2006, 12:29:05 PM »

Origins of Santa Claus
Other possible origins
American mycologists Jonathan Ott, James Arthur, Jan Irvin and Andrew Rutajit as well as UK mycologist Dr. Patrick Harding suggest that many of the modern features attributed to Santa Claus may somehow be derived from those of the Kamchatkan or Siberian shaman. Apparently, during the midwinter festival (holiday season) in Siberia (near the North Pole), the shaman would enter a yurt (home) through the shangrak (chimney), bringing with him a sack of fly agaric mushrooms (presents) to give to the inhabitants. This type of mushroom is brightly colored red and white, like Santa Claus, though some question the relevance of this, the above scholars' research provides many astouding associations that make their work highly probable. The mushrooms were often hung (to dry) in front of the fireplace, much like the stockings of modern-day Christmas. Furthermore, the mushrooms were associated with reindeer who were known to eat them and become intoxicated. Reindeer are also associated with the shaman, and like Santa Claus, many people believed that the shaman could fly.

The Nganasan (Siberian) shaman Tubiakou, exhausted upon return from his shamanic flight, is seated on a deerskin, and his assistants are unfastening his chains. His ritual costume includes a bear paw bracelet and iron deer antlers.

Siberian Shamanism
Among the Siberian and Mongolian indigenous peoples, the universe is conceived as a living organism. The polar star is a celestial nail, and the Altaic shamans decorate their drums with the symbols of Venus and the constellation of the Great Bear. In Buryat shamanistic symbolism, the World-Tree is connected to the World-River, which interlinks with all the three worlds. It must be traversed by the shaman in order to reach any part of the Otherworld.

In Siberian cosmology, the universe is also associated with animal concepts, such as the elk for the Middleworld, the bear for the Master of the Animals, or, among the Evenks, for the ethnogenic father. In addition, the universe has a tripartite structure consisting of the Upper, Middle, and Lower worlds, each one being a replica (imago mundi) of the other two. The Yakut shaman embarks on a soul journey by ascending progressively several celestial poles, the World-Tree. It is particularly important that the drum of a Siberian shaman be made from the wood of the World-Tree. The cosmological symbolism depicted on the drumskin, in conjunction with the whole drum, stands for the entire universe. All these types of symbolic devises are internalized by the shaman as his or her personal metaphors.

Excerpted from: P. Vitebsky. The Shaman. London: MacMillan, Duncan Baird Publishers, 1995; pp. 10-11.
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2006, 03:57:53 PM »

Perhaps our dear readers can see how Stonehenge and earlier, wooden monuments dating back, perhaps, to the last Ice Age, connect to an interest in the dead through shamanism across the world, and continues as a belief system into today's world. In my view, this is represented in ordinary homes across the world each Christmas.

It may not be entirely coincidental that Christmas, this very Christian festival, is tied to shamanistic practice.

The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross
John Marco Allegro (17 February 1923 - 17 February 1988) was a controversial archaeologist and Dead Sea Scrolls scholar.

Allegro published a translation of the Copper Scroll two years before the official version published by J?zef Milik. He is best known for his book, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, in which he posits that Jesus in the Gospels was actually a code for a type of hallucinogen, the Amanita muscaria, and that Christianity was the product of an ancient "sex-and-mushroom" cult. Although recognized as iconoclastic, his scroll scholarship still carries some measure of respect among peers. In the preface to the second edition of his book The Dead Sea Scrolls, he stated his desire to build "a bridge...between the antagonistic faiths of this world."

He studied Semitic languages at Manchester University, and Hebrew dialects at Oxford University. Trained for the Methodist ministry, he eventually became devoted to debunking the story of Jesus.

John Marco Allegro was the first British representative on the international team of scholars who gathered in Jerusalem in 1953 to collate the thousands of scroll fragments from Cave 4 by the Dead Sea. He was also the only agnostic on the team and the most willing to ask, from a non-religious perspective, what the Dead Sea Scrolls could tell us about the origins of Christianity.

The sectarian scrolls, such as the Community Rule and Thanksgiving Hymns, show many correspondences with parts of the Gospels and Acts. Pointing out the similarities in the 1950s disturbed some theologians, who felt the uniqueness of the Christian story could be under threat. But there are also obvious differences between the religious outlook depicted in the Scrolls and that of the New Testament. Allegro thought the similarities compelling and the differences intriguing. He asked: what continued, what changed, and why?

His studies on these questions culminated in The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth (Westbridge Books, 1979; Prometheus Books, 1985). No one paid the book much attention. The roars of outrage raised by his controversial book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross in 1970 were still echoing around the academic world and he found it difficult to make his voice heard. As I have argued in John Marco Allegro, the Maverick of the Dead Sea Scrolls (pb. Wm B Eerdmans, 2005), it is time to allow Allegro a fair hearing.

The light of the sun

A step which Allegro pointed to but did not fully explore in The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth would be to show more explicitly how far the doctrine of divine light reflected, in fact was part of, the still older theme of sun-worship. In these terms, the myth of Christianity, as an expression of divine light, would fit into the syntax, as it were, of more ancient beliefs, but gain an identity of its own as an institutional church.

The sun brought the earth to life, every year and every day. The sun-gods of various religions share the same characteristics. Persian Mithras and Egyptian Horus, for example, are born on 25 December after three days of winter solstice; they have twelve companions; they perform miracles; they are killed and rise from their tomb after three days; their epithets include the Way, the Truth, the Redeemer, and in the case of Horus KRST, the Anointed One. The Gnostic sect who danced at sunrise, the eastward orientation of every church, celebrated the life-giving power of the sun. So in AD 324 it took no great revolution of belief for the Emperor Constantine, who had been a follower of the sun-god Mithras, to call his god Jesus instead, and decide that all his subjects should do the same. The myths and imagery of sun worship, whose fundamental concern is the fertility of the earth and all its creatures, easily assimilated the corresponding myths and imagery of the Christian Redeemer.

Constantine had been converted twelve years earlier, and, whether out of religious conviction or political expediency, he would have appreciated the potential for control offered by the orthodox - that is, institutional - side of the "new" religion, rather than the individualism of Gnosticism. The Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter called the church's hierarchy of bishops and deacons "waterless canals," but the Gnostic focus on attaining inner light, each for himself, could never have had the same unifying force in society. The church's flesh-and-blood stories of martyrs and miracle cures could appeal to people everywhere, and its hierarchy of bishops and priests offered a reasonably efficient way to control them. For the sake of consistency, this involved adopting and promulgating one coherent version of the Redeemer story. As John Allegro put it, "Absurd though the myth was in its historical and religious pretensions, and sadly misleading in its presentation of contemporary Judaism, its stories contained such elements of truth and reflections of deep religious sentiment, combined with a fluency of style and an illusory simplicity of content, as to procure a sympathetic and ready audience in the gentile world. Its protagonists, the Great Church, eventually won the day, and its hierarchy ensured that for the future the writings of the canonical New Testament should be invested with supreme and incontrovertible authority as sources of doctrine and history" (The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth, p. 192).

In summation, John Allegro observed the way the Jesus story echoed events and ideas in Gnostic literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Old Testament, and he identified the doctrine of divine light as the unifying theme. This is expressed in myth and imagery and is a key to understanding a range of mythologies - including Christianity.

If we compare the Christian story with other contemporary writings and also with recurrent themes in the mythology of other cultures, we see it in the context of a much older and deeper current of religious thought. And if we observe this as students of human thought rather than as devotees of a particular religion, it is not to belittle Christianity as a phenomenon of history but to strengthen it as an expression of human understanding.

John Marco Allegro
During the time that he was working with his fellow scholars to reconstruct the scrolls, John Allegro lost his faith. He did not like the fact that the scrolls were so restricted from the public and he made his opinion known. Four years after he had transcribed the scroll it still had not been published, so he published his own version entitled The Treasure of the Copper Scroll. Allegro continued to publish his own versions of the status and content of the scrolls. This angered his fellow scholars and eventually caused them to deny him access to the scrolls.

    After this, in 1970, Allegro wrote his most controversial book, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, voicing his opinion that Christian religion was based on a cult practicing frequent drug-use (psychedelic mushrooms) and sex. He theorized that Jesus' last words on the cross were not a lament to God but ?a paean of praise to the god of the mushroom? (Skepticfiles.org - John Allegro).
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2006, 06:26:35 PM »

INTO THE LIGHT: Shamans (from left) Hamilton Souther, Julio Gerena Pinedo, and Alberto Torres Davila preside over an ayahuasca ceremony in the Peruvian Amazon. Drawn by the prospect of life-changing visions, visitors come from around the world to take part.

Many will dismiss the considerations of Allegro, without much thought, and that would be a mistake.

Looking again at the use of hallucinogenic drugs by shaman:

The origins of shamanism
The history of healing wizards in Peru matches that of the ritual use of hallucinogens and appears to have emerged alongside the first major temple-building culture -- Chav?n (1200 BC--200 AD). Agriculture, ceramics and other technical processes including some metallurgy had already been developed by 1200 BC, but Chav?n demonstrates the first unified and widespread cultural movement in terms of sacred architectural style, and the forms and symbolic imagery used in pottery throughout much of Andean and coastal Peru during this era. Chav?n was a religious cult which seems to have spread from the central mountains, quite possibly from the large temple complex at Chav?n de Huantar near Huaraz. Taking hold along the coast, the image of the central Chav?n deity was woven, moulded, and carved onto the finest funerary cloths, ceramics and stones. Generally represented as a complex and demonic-looking feline deity, the Chav?n god always has fangs and a stern face. Many of the idols also show serpents radiating from the deity's head.

As far as the central temple at Chav?n de Huantar is concerned, it was almost certainly a centre of sacred pilgrimage built up over a period of centuries into a large ceremonial complex used at appropriate calendrical intervals to focus the spiritual, political, and economic energies of a vast area (at least large enough to include a range of produce for local consumption from tropical forest, high Andean and desert coast regions). The magnificent stone temple kept growing in size until, by around 300 BC, it would have been one of the largest religious centres anywhere in the world, with some three thousand local attendants. Among the fascinating finds at Chav?n there have been bone snuff-tubes, beads, pendants, needles, ceremonial spondylus shells (imported from Ecuador) and some quartz crystals associated with ritual sites. One quartz crystal, covered in red pigment, was found in a grave, placed after death in the mouth of the deceased. Contemporary anthropological evidence shows us that quartz crystals still play an important role in shamanic ceremonies in Peru, the Americas, Australia and Asia. The well-documented Desana Indians of Colombia still see crystals as a "means of communication between the visible and invisible worlds, a crystallization of solar energy, or the Sun Father's semen which can be used in esoteric undertakings".

In one stone relief on the main temple at Chav?n the feline deity is depicted holding a large San Pedro cactus in his hand. A Chav?n ceramic bottle has been discovered with a San Pedro cactus "growing" on it; and, on another pot, a feline sits surrounded by several San Pedros. Similar motifs and designs appear on the later Paracas and Mochica craft work, but there is no real evidence for the ritual use of hallucinogens prior to Chav?n. One impressive ceramic from the Mochica culture (500 AD) depicts an owl-woman -- still symbolic of the female shaman in contemporary Peru -- with a slice of San Pedro cactus in her hand. Another ceramic from the later Chimu culture (around 1100 AD) shows a woman healer holding a San Pedro.

As well as coca, their "divine plant", the Incas had their own special hallucinogen: vilca (meaning "sacred" in Quechua). The vilca tree (probably Anadenanthera colubrina) grows in the cloud-forest zones on the eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes. The Incas used a snuff made from the seeds which was generally blown up the nostrils of the participant by a helper. Evidently the Inca priests used vilca to bring on visions and make contact with the gods and spirit world.

Shaman Preparing the Vision Quest
Photo displayed with the kind permission of Skip Kaltenheuser

Mapacho - Sacred Tobacco
Family Solanaceae
(nightshade, potatoes, tomatoes, Datura, etc.)
Nicotiana tabacum and Nicotiana rustica

N. tabacum (mature plant)

Nicotiana (tobacco) is a genus of 21 to 67 species of perenial herbs and shrubs, including many subspecies, strains and cultivars, characterized by large fleshy leaves and numerous sticky hairs. Various species are used as ornamentals, insecticides, and for smoking.

Mapacho is considered very sacred by Amazonian shamans and is employed alone (by tabaqueros) or in combination with other plants in shamanic practices. Some shamans drink the juice of tobacco leaves alone as a source of visions.  Mapacho is used extensively in healing practices and is considered a medicine, not a health hazard, when used properly.

Nicotiana are native in North and South America, especially in the Andes (45 species) and in Polynesia and Australia (21 species). The two commercially important species are Nicotiana tabacum, cultivated in warm areas for smoking tobacco, and N. rustica, cultivated mainly for insecticidal use. Both species are believed to be of hybrid origin.

Tobacco is one of the most important plants in the lives of all tribes of the northwest Amazon (Wilbert, 1987). It's many names include lukux-ri (Yukuna); ye'-ma (Tariana); a'-li (Bare); e'-li (Baniwa); mu-lu', pag?ri-mul? (Desano); kherm'-ba (Kof?n); d?-oo-w? (Witoto) It plays a part in curative rituals, in important tribal ceremonies and it is occasionally used as a recreational drug. In its various forms it is also employed in the ordinary medical practices of some tribes.

    Schultes, R.E. and R.F. Raffauf. 1995. The Healing Forest: medicinal and toxic plants of the northwest Amazonia, Dioscorides Press, Portland, Or.. ISBN 0-931146-14-3

    Wilbert, J. 1987. Tobacco and Shamanism in South America, Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2006, 09:19:10 PM »

Here we have the use of drugs by shaman across the world, used as part of a ritual which induced the feeling and hallucination of flight. Mention was made of the use of hallucinogens in South America:

As well as coca, their "divine plant", the Incas had their own special hallucinogen: vilca (meaning "sacred" in Quechua). The vilca tree (probably Anadenanthera colubrina) grows in the cloud-forest zones on the eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes. The Incas used a snuff made from the seeds which was generally blown up the nostrils of the participant by a helper. Evidently the Inca priests used vilca to bring on visions and make contact with the gods and spirit world.

Where these substances available outside the Americas?

American Drugs in Egyptian Mummies: A Review of the Evidence
Samuel A. Wells

The recent findings of cocaine, nicotine, and hashish in Egyptian mummies by Balabanova et. al. have been criticized on grounds that: contamination of the mummies may have occurred, improper techniques may have been used, chemical decomposition may have produced the compounds in question, recent mummies of drug users were mistakenly evaluated, that no similar cases are known of such compounds in long-dead bodies, and especially that pre-Columbian transoceanic voyages are highly speculative. These criticisms are each discussed in turn. Balabanova et. al. are shown to have used and confirmed their findings with accepted methods. The possibility of the compounds being byproducts of decomposition is shown to be without precedent and highly unlikely. The possibility that the researchers made evaluations from of faked mummies of recent drug users is shown to be highly unlikely in almost all cases. Several additional cases of identified American drugs in mummies are discussed. Additionally, it is shown that significant evidence exists for contact with the Americas in pre-Columbian times. It is determined that the original findings are supported by substantial evidence despite the initial criticisms.

In a one-page article appearing in Naturwissenschaften, German scientist Svetla Balabanova (1992) and two of her colleagues reported findings of cocaine, hashish and nicotine in Egyptian mummies. The findings were immediately identified as improbable on the grounds that two of the substances are known to be derived only from American plants - cocaine from Erythroxylon coca, and nicotine from Nicotiana tabacum. The suggestion that such compounds could have found their way to Egypt before Columbus' discovery of America seemed patently impossible.

The study was done as part of an ongoing program of investigating the use of hallucinogenic substances in ancient societies. The authors themselves were quite surprised by the findings (Discovery, 1997) but stood by their results despite being the major focus of criticism in the following volume of Naturwissenschaften. Of the nine mummies evaluated, all showed signs of cocaine and hashish (Tetrahydrocannabinol), whereas all but one sampled positive for nicotine. It is interesting too that the concentrations of the compounds suggest uses other than that of abuse. (For example, modern drug addicts often have concentrations of cocaine and nicotine in their hair 75 and 20 times higher respectively than that found in the mummy hair samples.) It is even possible that the quantities found may be high due to concentration in body tissues through time.

Without question, the study has sparked an interest in various disciplines. As Balabanova et. al. predicted, "?the results open up an entirely new field of research which unravels aspects of past human life-style far beyound [sic] basic biological reconstruction."


The Criticisms
The biggest criticism of the findings of Balabanova et. al. was not necessarily directed at the extraction process per se, although this was discussed. The biggest criticism was that cocaine and nicotine could not possibly have been used in Egypt before the discovery of the New World, and that transatlantic journeys were not known - or at least they are highly speculative. It is safe to say that the criticisms of the study would have been minimal or nonexistent if the findings had been made of Old World drugs. Such findings, in fact, would not have been at all unusual as the use of stimulants were known in Egypt. Poppy seeds and lotus plants have been identified for just this use in manuscripts (the Papyrus Ebers) and in hieroglyphs (as Balabanova et. al. show).

Schafer (1993) argues that, "the detection of pharmacologically active substances in mummified material never proves their use prior to death." He argues that such compounds could have been introduced as part of the mummification process. The suggestion is that (especially) nicotine could have been introduced around the mummy (and subsequently absorbed into its tissue) as an insecticide (being used as a preservative) within relatively modern times. A similar criticism was raised by Bjorn (1993) who wondered if nicotine might have been absorbed by the mummies from cigarette smoke in the museums where the mummies have been preserved. According to Schafer, the only way to show that the compounds were taken into the bodies while they were alive would be to find different concentrations at different distances from the scalp - a procedure not undertaken by the authors.

Another interesting criticism of Schafer (1993) is that Balabanova et. al. might have been the victims of faked mummies. Apparently people (living in the not too far distant past) believed that mummies contained black tar called bitumen and that it could be ground up and used to cure various illnesses. In fact the very word 'mummy' comes from the Persian 'mummia' meaning bitumen (Discovery, 1997). A business seems to have developed wherein recently dead bodies where deliberately aged to appear as mummies and that some of the perpetrators of such deeds were drug abusers.

The criticism that seems most popular is that the identified drugs might have been products of "necrochemical and necrobiochemical processes" (Schafer, 1993; Bjorn, 1993). One explanation is that Egyptian priests used tropine-alkaloid-containing plants during the mummification process that subsequently underwent changes in the mummy to resemble the identified compounds.

Yet another argument is that there is nothing in the literature showing that any of the three compounds have been identified in bodies that have been dead for some time.

Reply to the Critics

Analytical Techniques and Contamination
In the study, samples were taken from nine mummies that were dated from between 1070 B.C. to 395 A.D. The samples included hair, skin and muscle were taken from the head and abdomen. Bone tissue was also taken from the skull. All tissues were pulverized and dissolved in NaCl solution, homogenized, and centrifuged. A portion of the supernatant was extracted with chloroform and dried and then dissolved in a phosphate buffer. Samples were then measured by both radioimmunoassay (Merck; Biermann) and gas chromatography / mass spectrometry (Hewlett Packard) - hereinafter GCMS.

This is the procedure used to produce what McPhillips (1998) considered indisputable evidence for confirming products of substance abuse in hair. Within recent years, hair analysis has been used more commonly in this kind of screening process and the techniques employed have been optimized. Mistakes are known to have occurred in some cases evaluating for metals, but the ability to detect drugs such as cocaine, nicotine, and hashish seem not been problematic (Wilhelm, 1996). The two possible mistakes in analyzing hair for drugs include false positives, which are caused by environmental contamination; and false negatives, where actual compounds are lost because of such things as hair coloring or perming. In recent years, these techniques of hair analysis have revealed the interesting findings of arsenic in the hair of Napoleon Bonaparte, and laudanum in the hair of the poet Keats.

The procedure includes a thorough washing of the hair to remove external contaminants followed by a process of physical degradation using a variety of methods (such as digestion with enzymes or dissolution with acids, organic solvents, etc.,). Following these preparatory procedures, the hair is then analyzed. Antibody testing (e.g. radioimmunoassay) is a well-established procedure although there is small potential of obtaining false positive results. These are mainly caused by the cross-reactivity of the antibody with other compounds, including minor analgesics, cold remedies and antipsychotic drugs - compounds not likely to be found in Egyptian mummies. Because of the possible false positives, chromatography (GC-MS) is routinely utilized to confirm the results.

The suggestion of nicotine contamination from cigarette smoke is eliminated by the use of solvents and/or acids in the cleaning process - methods used by Balabanova et. al. and all other researchers that have documented drugs in mummies.

The validity of Balabanova's findings seems to be vindicated at least so far as the analytical methods used in the study. The authors' methods as well as those in the additional findings reported here (see below) have used the combination of immunological and chromatographic methods to both analyze and confirm samples.

Faked Mummies
The argument that the mummies might have been modern fakes was investigated by David (Discovery, 1997). David is the Keeper of Egyptology at the Manchester Museum, and undertook her own analysis of mummies, independent of Balabanova's group. In addition, she traveled to Munich to evaluate for herself the mummies studied by Balabanova's group. Unfortunately the mummies weren't available for filming and they were being kept isolated from further research on grounds of religious respect. David had to resort to the museum's records. She found that, except for the city's famous mummy of Henot Tawi (Lady of the Two Lands) the mummies were of unknown origin and some were represented only by detached heads.

David's inability to examine the mummies herself may have kept the possibility of faked ones open; however, her evaluation of the museum's records seemed to indicate otherwise. The mummies were preserved with packages of their viscera inside. Some even contained images of the gods. In addition the state of mummification itself was very good. The isolated heads may have been fakes (evidence one way or the other is lacking) but the intact bodies examined in Balabanova's research were clearly genuine.

Chemical Changes
The argument that the identified drugs might be byproducts of decomposition is highly unlikely. The argument appears to resemble a 'Just So' story of biochemical evolution without the benefit of natural selection. Schafer (1993) admits that natural decomposition or mummification has never led to the synthesis of cocaine or related alkaloids but leaves the possibility open anyway. He argues that the compounds in question might theoretically have been produced by tropine-alkaloid-containing plants (such as were present in species that were utilized in the mummification process).

The benefit of the doubt in this case clearly goes to Balabanova et. al. Until it is shown how cocaine could be produced in this way, the argument is hypothetical at best.

Isolated Example
The detection of drugs in human hair is a fairly recent endeavor (McPhillips, 1998; Sachs, 1998). A few compounds were identified during the 1980's but it wasn't until the 1990s that drug screening via hair analysis became accepted and used as a possible alternative to urine sampling. The criticism that no known cases of cocaine, nicotine, or hashish have been reported in human hair must, therefor be interpreted with clarification. None of these compounds had been observed in human hair because the process had not been fully developed, nor had the application even been considered until quite recently. Even then the claim is not true.

Cartwell et. al. (1991) using a radioimmunoassay method detected cocaine metabolites in pre-Columbian mummy hair from South America. In this study two out of eight mummies analyzed showed cocaine metabolites. All samples tested were confirmed by a separate laboratory (Psychomedics Corporation, Santa Monica, California) using GC-MS. The two mummies testing positive were from the Camarones Valley in northern Chile. The artifacts as well as the mummies at this site were typical of Inca culture.

Since the initial work of Balabanova et. al., other studies have revealed the same drugs (cocaine, nicotine, and hashish) in Egyptian mummies, confirming the original results. Nerlich et. al. (1995), in a study evaluating the tissue pathology of an Egyptian mummy dating from approximately 950 B.C., found the compounds in several of the mummy's organs. They found the highest amounts of nicotine and cocaine in the mummy's stomach, and the hashish traces primarily in the lungs. These findings were again identified using both radioimmunoassay and GSMS techniques. Very similar results were again found in yet another study by Parsche and Nerlich (1995). Again, the findings were obtained using the immunological and chromatographic techniques.

David's work (Discovery, 1997) though not finding cocaine, did confirm the presence of nicotine. This finding has seemed a little less threatening to conservative scholarship in that it seems possible (albeit unlikely) that a nicotine-producing plant may have existed in Africa within historic times - only becoming extinct recently.

Such a possibility might allow for a comfortable resolution to conservative scholarship but doesn't explain the evidence of cocaine. Additionally, the possibility of a native plant going extinct is unlikely. Much more reasonable would be that an introduced species under cultivation could go extinct, yet this only begs the question of the original provenance of the species.

In any event, considering the several confirmations of Balabanova's work (as well as that of Caldwell et. al. prior to her study) it appears that the argument against their findings based on too little evidence is quickly vanishing (if not already obviated).

Pre-Columbian Voyages to America
The major reason for the initial criticisms to Balabanova's work is the disbelief in pre-Columbian transoceanic contacts. Egyptologist John Baines (Discovery, 1997) went so far as to state, "The idea that the Egyptians should have traveled to America is overall absurd?and I also don't know anyone who spends time doing research in these areas, because they're not perceived to be areas that have any real meaning for the subjects." Another interpretation on why researchers haven't considered the subject closer is given by Kehoe (1998), "After mid-century, any archaeologist worried about money or career avoided looking at pre-Columbian contacts across saltwater [p. 193]." It appears that acknowledging that pre-Columbian contacts occurred was not academically acceptable. Kehoe (1998) also gives examples of several researchers whose work has been academically marginalized because it supported these views (e.g. Stephen Jett, Carl Johannessen, Gordon Ekholm, Paul Tolstoy, and George Carter).

Surprising at it may seem, evidence for early ocean voyages to America from the Old World is not lacking - nor is it negligibly verifiable. Within the last two years, two periodicals, focusing on these contacts have been established. The first, entitled Pre-Columbiana, is edited by Stephen C. Jett, Professor of Clothings and Textiles at the University of California, Davis; the second is entitled Migration and Diffusion and is edited by Professor Christine Pellek in Vienna, Italy. There is certainly quite a bit of spurious reports of early contacts from the Old World, however, a general disregard for all of the evidence is, anymore, itself evidence of academic negligence, as these two periodicals indicate.

A bibliography of these early contacts is given by John Sorensen (1998) in the first issue of Pre-Columbiana. It is a good example of the kinds of evidence being uncovered by legitimate researchers and institutions. The bibliography is itself a condensation of a two-volume work of these publications and includes titles such as: The world's oldest ship? (showing evidence for a pre-Columbian ship in America) published in Archaeology; Peruvian fabrics (showing very strong similarities between Peru and Asia) published in Anthropological papers of the American Museum of Natural History; Robbing native American cultures: Van Sertima's Afrocentricity and the Olmecs (showing evidence for connections between Africa and the Olmecs of Middle America) published in Current Anthropology; Possible Indonesian or Southeast Asian Influences in New World textile industries (showing at least three textile-related inventions that appear in both Indonesia and the New World) published in Indonesian Textiles; and, Genes may link Ancient Eurasians, Native Americans, published in Science.

And the list goes on and on - some evidence being better than others - but as a whole it seems pretty much irrefutable. Claims to the contrary seem to be made by individuals with a vested interest in the isolationist position. The evidence, pro and con, when evaluated objectively, would seem without question, to favor the diffusionist position (which claims that pre-Columbian contacts took place).

The initial reaction to the findings of Balabanova et. al. were highly critical. These criticisms were not based on a known failing in the authors' research methodology, rather they were attempts to cast doubt on an implication of the research - that cocaine and nicotine were brought to Egypt from the New World before Columbus. This conclusion is not acceptable to conservative investigators of the past. In fact it suggests a deep-rooted aversion to what Balabanova suggested might mean an unraveling of aspects of history contrary to basic reconstructions. This aversion, according to Kehoe (1998) stems from the conviction that Indians were primitive savages destined to be overcome by the civilized world - that the acme of evolutionary success resided in the conquering race itself. "Childlike savages could never have voyaged across oceans."

Balabanova's findings bring yet other evidence forward that humanity is not so easily pinioned into the pre-conceived notions of primitive and advanced - even as this might be related to the presumed technology of earlier times. The quest for discovery - to find new worlds - is not just a modern selective advantage of our species. Perhaps it is the defining characteristic.

Literature Cited:
Balababova, S., F. Parsche, and W. Pirsig. 1992. First identification of drugs in Egyptian mummies. Naturwissenschaften 79:358.
Bisset, N.G. and M.H. Zenk. 1993. Responding to 'First identification of drugs in Egyptian mummies'. Naturwissenschaften 80:244-245.
Bjorn, L.O. 1993. Responding to 'First identification of drugs in Egyptian mummies'. Naturwissenschaften 80:244.
Cartwell, L.W. et. al. 1991. Cocaine metabolites in pre-Columbian mummy hair. Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association 84:11-12.
Discovery Information. 1997. Curse of the Cocaine Mummies. Thirty-six page transcript of program viewed on US national TV in January 1997 and July 1999.
Kehoe, A.B. 1998. The Land of Prehistory, A Critical History of American Archaeology. Routledge, New York and London. 266 pp.
McIntosh, N.D.P. 1993. Responding to 'First identification of drugs in Egyptian mummies'. Naturwissenschaften 80:245-246.
McPhillips, M. et. al. 1998. Hair analysis, new laboratory ability to test for substance use. British Journal of Psychiatry 173: 287-290.
Nerlich, A.G. et. al. 1995. Extensive pulmonary haemorrhage in an Egyptian mummy. Virchows Archiv 127:423-429.
Parsche, F. 1993. Reply to "Responding to 'First identification of drugs in Egyptian mummies'". Naturwissenschaften 80:245-246.
Parsche, F. and A. Nerlich. 1995. Presence of drugs in different tissues of an Egyptian mummy. Fresenius' Journal of Analytical Chemistry 352:380-384.
Sachs, H. and P. Kintz. 1998. Testing for drugs in hair, critical review of chromatographic procedures since 1992. Journal of Chromatography (B) 713:147-161.
Schafer, T. 1993. Responding to 'First identification of drugs in Egyptian mummies'. Naturwissenschaften 80:243-244.
Sorenson, J.L. 1998. Bibliographia Pre-Columbiana. Pre-Columbiana 1(1&2):143-154.
Wilhelm, M. 1996. Hair analysis in environmental medicine. Zentralblatt fur Hygeine und Umweltmedizin 198: 485-501.
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2006, 09:20:20 PM »

Transcript of the video

The Mystery of the Cocaine Mummies

In the 21st dynasty of the Pharaos, 3,000 years ago, there took place one night at a temple, the funeral of Henut Taui - the Lady of the Two lands.

Compared to the great rulers of Egypt, her burial was a modest affair. But just like the Pharaos, she too was mummified, and her body placed in the depths of a desert tomb, in the belief it would give her immortality.

In an unexpected way, it has. Her mummified body waited throughout recorded history - the Greeks and Romans, the Dark and Middle ages, the Renaissance and Napoleon, until in the early 19th century, her tomb was plundered.

The king of Bavaria bought the ornate sarcophagus with the mummy inside. He gave it to a museum in Munich, where for another century, Henut Taui lay undisturbed.

Then four years ago a German scientist, Dr Svetla Balabanova, made a discovery which was to baffle Egyptologists, and call into question whole areas of science and archeology to chemistry and botany.

She discovered that the body of Henut Taui contained large quantities of cocaine and nicotine. The surprise was not just that the ancient Egyptians had taken drugs, but that these drugs come from tobacco and coca, plants completly unknown outside the Americas, unheard of until Sir Walter Raleigh introduced smoking from the New World, or until cocaine was imported in the Victorian era.

It was seemingly impossible for the ancient Egyptians to get hold of these substances. And so began the mystery -

The mystery of the cocaine mummies.

It was in Munich, in 1992, that researchers began a huge project to investigate the contents of mummies. When as part of their studies, they wanted to test for drugs, it was no surprise that they turned to toxicologist Dr Svelta Balabanova for help.

As the inventor of groundbreaking new methods for the detection of drugs in hair and sweat, she was highly respected in her field. Dr Balabanova took samples from the mummies, which she pulverised and dissolved to make a solution. As she'd done countless times before, she ran the samples through a system which uses antibodies to detect the presence of drugs an other substances. Then as a backup the samples were put through the GCMS machine which can accurately identify substances by determining their molecular weight. As the graph emerged with peaks showing that drugs were present, and as the printer spewed out the analysis of just which drugs, something seemed to have gone very wrong.

DR SVETLA BALABANOVA - Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ulm:
"The first positive results, of course, were a shock for me. I had not expected to find nicotine and cocaine but that's what happened. I was absolutely sure it must be a mistake."

Balabanova ran the tests again. She sent fresh samples to three other labs. But the results kept being confirmed. The drugs were there. So she went ahead and published a paper. The reaction was a sharp reminder that science is a conservative world.

DR SVETLA BALABANOVA - Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ulm:
"I got a pile of letters that were almost threatening, insulting letters saying it was nonsense, that I was fantasising, that it was impossible, because it was proven that before Columbus these plants were not found anywhere in the world outside of the Americas."

From toxicologists to anthropologists - everyone thought the same.

DR JOHN HENRY - Consultant Toxicologist, Guys Hospital, London:
"The first thing you think of is that this is just mad. It's wrong. There's contamination present. Maybe there's a fraud present of some kind. You don't think that cocaine can be present in an Egyptian mummy."

Yet Balabanova herself had been worried about contamination. First she checked all the lab equipment. But being a forensic toxicologist, that wasn't all she did. Balabanova had learned her trade from working for the police, and had been trained in the methods they use for investigating a suspicious death. She'd been taught how vital it is when an autopsy is carried out to know wether the victim has consumed or been given any drugs or poisons. And she had also been taught that a special forensic technique exists which can show that the deceased has consumed a drug and rule out contamination at the same time.

So, anxious to ensure that her tests on the mummies were beyond reproach, she used this very technique - it's called the hair shaft test. Drugs and other substances consumed by humans get into the hair protein, where they stay for months, or after death - forever. Hair samples can be washed in alcohol and the washing solution itself then tested. If the testing solution is clear, but the hair tests positive, then the drug must be inside the hair shaft, which means the person consumed it during their lifetime. It's considered proof against contamination before or after death.

DR JOHN HENRY - Consultant Toxicologist, Guys Hospital, London:
"The hair shaft test is accepted. If you know that you've taken your hair sample from this individual and the hair shaft is known to contain a drug, then it is proof positive that the person has taken that drug. So it is accepted in law. It's put people into prison."

The hair shaft test on a couple in Jersey [Channel Is.], showed their two sons had drugged them before killing them. And aside from the Newall case , the technique has been used in countless others over the last 25 years. Since it's also used for drugs tests on addicts, company employees and in sport, to suggest it could produce false results was for Balabanova unthinkable.

DR SVETLA BALABANOVA - Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ulm:
"There's no way there can be a mistake in this test. This method is widely accepted and has been used thousands of times. If the results are not genuine, then the explanation must lie elswhere, and not in my tests, because I'm 100 percent certain about the results."

If the fault was not in the tests, what else could lie behind the impossibility of mummies containing drugs from coca and tobacco, from a continent not discovered until over 1,000 years after the end of the Egyptian civilisation? In search of an explanation, we went to one of the UK's foremost authorities on mummies, a person who had spent years rummaging around in the bodies of ancient Egyptians, Rosalie David.

ROSALIE DAVID - Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum:
"When I was informed that cocaine had been found in Egyptian mummies, I was absolutely astounded. It seemed quite impossible that this should be the case."

Sceptical of Balabanova's results, Rosalie David decided to get some sampless from her own mummies and have them tested especially for 'Equinox'.

ROSALIE DAVID - Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum:
"What we shall do is to provide tissue samples and a hair sample from a number of mummies in the Manchester Museum collection. I shall be very surprised to find they had cocaine in them."

It would be a while before the results came back from the lab. Rosalie David's motive was not only to independently check Balabanova's methods. She also wanted to run the same tests but on different mummies. For she had more than one idea about how Balabanova could have got a misleading result.

ROSALIE DAVID - Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum:
"There were two ideas that sprang immediately to mind. One was that possibly something in the tests could give a false result. The second was that possibly the mummies that had been tested were not truly ancient Egyptian, that they could be some of these false, relativly modern mummies, and traces of cocaine could be in those individuals."

What Rosalie David was referring to happened in Egypt in Victorian Times. It was a gruesome operation to supply the antique dealers of Luxor.

When 19th century travellers went to Egypt in search of mummies and other valuables, the dealers might not have the genuine article available. And so the crudely mummified body of a recently dead Egyptian might be procured instead. For a shrivelled corpes would greatly increase the value of a genuine but empty sarcophagus.

Sometimes collectors would buy only limbs or other mummified spare parts. These are doubly suspect for the trade in fake mummies, especially separate heads and limbs, has an even older origin.

Eating the flesh of mummies was a common 16th century practice in Europe. People believed that mummies contained a black tar called bitumen, and so thought powder made from the ground up bodies would cure various illnesses.

This is the very origin of the word mummy, from the Persian for bitumen, mummia, and although it made people sick a roaring trade in powdered mummia grew, supplied from body parts and tissue shipped in bulk from Egypt.

The temptation to resort to fakes was high.

ROSALIE DAVID - Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum:
"Very soon, the demand outstripped the supply and certainly in the 16th century a French physician undertook a study of this trade. And he found that in fact they were burying bodies of convicted criminals in the sand. They were producing mummies, and these then became a source for the medicinal ingredient."

Could it be that the mummies Balabanova tested were fakes? Carbon dating on mummies often produces incorrect results, so archaeologists often rely on the provenance - knowing what tomb and excavation the mummy comes from and on examination of the mummification techniques.

So the only way for Rosalie David to check out here theory about fakes was to travel to Munich to see for herself the seven mummies that were the cause of all the fuss.

The Munich mummies as they are known, belong to the city's Egyptian Museum, which is housed in the old palace of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who started the collection.

Inside the museum, Rosalie David found the sarcophagus of Henut Taui - the Lady of the Two Lands. She discovered from the museum catalogue that the coffin was bought by King Ludwig from an English traveller called Dodwell in 1845. There was no record of an exact excavation, but Henut Taui was said to have come from a tomb reserved for the priests and priestesses of the god Amun in Thebes.

But while being shown the other coffins Rosalie David discovered that apart from Henut Taui, most of the Munich mummies are of unknown origin, and some of the tested mummies turned out to be only detatched heads. According to the museum, research had revealed inscriptions, amulets and complex embalming methods, which the museum claimed proved the mummies were ancient.

DR ALFRED GRIMM - Curator, The Egyptian Museum, Munich:
"The investigation shows clearly that the Munich mummies are real Egyptian mummies, no fakes, no modern mummies. They come from ancient Egypt."

The obvious way to prove this was to show the mummies to Rosalie David, but all the museum would let her see were empty sarcophogi.

DR ALFRED GRIMM - Curator, The Egyptian Museum, Munich:
"On grounds of religious respect we don't show these mummies here in our galleries. That's one point. The other is we don't allow to film the mummies and to show them on TV."

It wasn't always so, for the mummies had already been shown on television. But this German film [film showing mummified bodies without wrappings] announcing Balabanova's results has caused quite a fuss. And so now, even though giving access might defeat the accusation of harbouring bogus mummies, it seemed that the museum wanted nothing more to do with the research they politely pointed out was far from respectable.

DR ALFRED GRIMM - Curator, The Egyptian Museum, Munich:
"It's not absolutely proven and I think it's not absolutely scientifically correct."

Rosalie had to make do with research papers and books from the museum. Were the Munich mummies fakes? Despite her initial suspicions she decided that on balance, they probably were the real thing.

ROSALIE DAVID - Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum:
"From the documentation and the research which has been carried out on the Munich mummies it seems evident that they are probably genuine because they have packages of viscera inside, some with wax images of the gods on them and also the state of mummification itself is very good. I would say that the detatched heads we can't comment on, but the complete bodies probably are genuine."

And if that wasn't enough, it turned out that the results from the Munich mummies were not the only evidence from the dead. The anthropologists who originally ordered the tests didn't continue the project. But Balabanova, alongside her normal research into the metabolism of drugs started requesting samples of other ancient human remains from universities. And it was then that she got more results from Egypt.

She tested tissue from 134 naturally preserved bodies from an excavated cemetery in the Sudan, once part of the Egyptian empire. Although from a later period, the bodies were still many centuries before Columbus discovered the Americas. About a third of them tested positive for nicotine and cocaine.

Balabanova was mystified by the presence of cocaine in Africa but thought she might have a way of explaining the nicotine. As well as Egypt and the Sudan, she tested bodies from China, Germany and Austria, spanning a period from 3700BC to 1100AD. A percentage of bodies from all these other regions also contained nicotine.

[Graph showing presence of nicotine: Percentage of bodies with positive result - Egypt:89% Sudan:90% China:62.5% Germany:34% Austria 100%]

DR SVETLA BALABANOVA - Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ulm:
"I continued to work on it because I wanted to be sure of my results, and after 3000 samples I, was absolutely certain that the tobacco plant was known in Europe and Africa long before Columbus."

Far from being solved, the mytery that began in Egypt was spreading. Balabanova was suggesting that an unknown type of tobacco had grown in Europe, Africa and Asia thousands of years ago. But every schoolchild knows that tobacco was discovered in the New World. She was asking for a substantial slice of botany and history to be completely rewritten. Would anyone back her up?

Dr Balabonova had told us that we might find the secret of the mysterious presence of nicotine and cocaine in Egyptan mummies in the ancient plants of Africa. Perhaps there had been drug plants which the Egyptians had used but had vanished along with their civilisation. This led to a much more basic question. Were the Egyptians, the great Pharaos and pyramid builders really users and abusers of drugs?

The clues can be found hidden in the walls of the grand temple of Karnak. The entire building is covered depictions of the lotus flower from the tops of the vast columns to the pictograms on the walls. Until recently, Egyptologists took this most commonplace Egyptian symbol to have only a religious meaning. But according to some the true significance of the lotus has been overlooked.

ROSALIE DAVID - Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum:
"The lotus was a very powerful narcotic which was used in ancient Egypt and presumably, was widespread in this use, because we see many scenes of idividuals holding a cup and dropping a lotus flower into the cup which contained wine, and this would be a way of releasing the narcotic.

"The ancient Egyptians certainly used drugs. As well as lotus they had mandrake and cannabis, and there is a strong suggestion the also used opium.

"So although it very surprising to find cocaine in mummies, the other elements were certainly in use."

So the Pharaos clearly indulged in drugs. Hashish - which Balabanova also found in the mummies - is an Egyptian tradition which has survived for thousands of years, although nowadays, in public, pipes tend to be filled with nothing more than tobacco.

By contrast, the narcotic blue lotus flower, once so essential at parties, is now on the verge of extinction. And if it could disappear, why not other drug plants? We decided to persue Balabanova's unusual theory that an ancient species of tobacco might once have grown in the Old World.

Small amounts of nicotine are present in a wide variety of plants and foods, but the high concentrations sought by smokers can only be found in tobacco.

[Graph showing quantities of nicotine: Concentrations in bone samples - Modern Smoker in nanograms/gram :c40ng China:c55ng Germany:c65ng Sudan:c45ng Egyptian Mummies:Off screen!]

The idea of a lost species of tobacco came to Balabanova because the concentrations in the bodies from Asia and Europe were similar to modern day smokers.

But one thing had puzzled her. At 35 times the dose for smokers, the amounts of nicotine she had found in Egyptian mummies were potentially lethal.

But first, Balabanova was baffled, but then she had a thought. The high doses of nicotine in Egyptian bodies could be explained if the tobacco - as well as being consumed - had also been used in mummification.

Over their 3000 year history the Egyptian preists kept the recipe of spices and herbs used to preerve the thousands of people and millions of animals they mummified a closely guarded secret.

The high levels of nicotine in tobacco can kill bacteria. Could it have been one of their secrets?

Balabanova looked through old literature about the bodies of the great Pharaos and queens themselves. No longer under the care of the preists the fragile royal mummies are now kept in strict atmospheric conditions in the Cairo museum.

But Balabanova discovered a story from the days when scientists could still tamper with them - a story that had almost been forgotten.

Ramses II died in 1213BC, a few hundered years before Henut Taui. When he was mummified, every possible skill and every rare ingredient was used by the embalmers to try to preserve his body for eternity. For where Henut Tuai was only a preistess, Ramses was arguably the mightiest of all the Pharaos.

His imposing image adorns most of Egypts famous sites for he presided over the Golden Age of it's civilisation, and as a skilled military commander, won the conquests that made it into a powerful empire.

What interested Balabanova was what happened to Ramses 3000 years later, when he went on his final royal visit.

"Les chercheurs francais ont realise de nouvelles descouvertes en etudient la momie du pharon Ramses II." [Excerpt from TV France]

On september 26th, 1976, amid all the pomp and circumstance - due a visiting head of state - French TV cameras recorded the arrival of the mummy of Ramses II at an airport in Paris. An exhibition about him at the museum of mankind was planned.

But the body was found to be badly deteriorated, so a battery of scientist set about trying to repair this damage.

The bandages wrapped around the mummy needed replacing, so botanists were given pieces of the fabric to analyse what it was made of. One found some plant fragments in her piece, and took a closer look. Emerging on the slide, according to her experience, were the unmistakable features - the tiny crystals and filaments - of a plant that couldn't possibly be there.

DR MICHELLE LESCOT - Natural History Museum, Paris:
"I prepared the slides, put them under the microscope and what did I see? Tobacco. I said to myself, that's just not possible - I must be dreaming. The Egyptians didn't have tobacco. It was brought from South America at the time of Christopher Columbus. I looked again, and I tried to get a better view and I thought, well, it's only a first analysis. I worked feverishly and I forgot to have lunch that day. But I kept getting the same result."

Amid a storm of publicity. people alleged - just as they did with Balabanova's results - that this must be a case of contamination. It's a view shared today by Ramses' keeper at the Cairo museum, who suspects there is a straightforward explanation.

PROF NASRI ISKANDER - Chief Curator, Cairo Museum:
"According to my knowledge and experience, most of the archeologists and scientists, who worked on these fields, smoked pipes. And I myself have been smoking pipes for more than 25 years. Then maybe a piece of the tobacco dropped by haphazard or just anyway and to tell this is right or wrong we have to be more careful"

To combat the allegations of careless smoking Michelle Lescot extracted new samples from deep inside the body of Ramses' mummy and took care to document it with photographs. And as far as she was concerned, these samples again gave the same result - tobacco.

So was Lecot's discovery the proof Balabanova needed for an ancient species of tobacco? For a second opinion, we went to the herbarium at the Natural History Museum to find an expert on tobacco who had seen Lescot's published work. She argued that Lescot's evidence would only identify the family from which tobacco comes, and not the specific plant.

DR SANDY KNAPP - Natural History Museum, London:
"I think that they had a certain amount of evidence, and they took the evidence one step farther than the evidence really allowed them. Sometimes you can only go so far down the road towards telling what something is, and then you come against a wall an you can't go any farther, otherwise you start to make something up."

Sandy Knapp thought the plant from Ramses was more likely to be another member of the tobacco family, which is known to have existed in ancient Egypt, such as henbane, mandrake or belladonna.

DR SANDY KNAPP - Natural History Museum, London:
"I think it is very unlikely that tobacco has an alternative history, because, I think we would've heard about it. There'd be some use of it present in either literature, temple carvings, somewhere there would've been evidence to point and say 'Ah, that's tobacco', but there's nothing."

DR MICHELLE LESCOT - Natural History Museum, Paris:
"I'ts true that the official theory is tobacco originates in South America. It's also true that there are species in Australasia and the Pacific Islands. There could have been other varieties, ancient varities that once existed in Asia. Why not Africa? Varieties that have now disappeared so it's not sacrilege to challenge the official theory."

The jury was still out on the vanished species of tobacco though Michelle Lescot was convinced that her identification had been correct. But she couldn't help with the cocaine, for it seemed not even one botanist believed in a disappearing coca plant.

DR SANDY KNAPP - Natural History Museum, London:
"Finding cocaine in these Egyptian mummies - botanically speaking - is almost impossible. I mean, there is always a chance that there might be some sort of plant there, but I think there is some sort of mistake. There is something wrong there. I can't explain it from a plant point of view at all."

For thousands of years people in the Andes have been chewing coca leaves, to get out the cocaine with it's stimulant, anaesthetic and euphoric properties. There are actually species of the coca family which grow in Africa, but only the South American species has ever been shown to contain the drug. Since cocaine is not in any other plants, Balabanova was completely mystified, but she thought she might have just one possible idea.

DR SVETLA BALABANOVA - Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ulm:
"The cocaine of course remains an open question. It's a mystery - it's completely unclear how cocaine could get into Africa. On the other hand, we know there were trade relationships long before Columbus, and it's conceivable that the coca plant had been imported into Egypt even then."

An ancient Egyptian drug trade stretching all the way across the Atlantic Ocean? This was an idea so far-fetched it could only be considered once all the others had been eliminated, the idea that the Egyptians had been able to obtain imports from a place thousands of miles away from a continent supposedly not discovered until thousands of years later.

Was it possible that coca - a plant from South America had been finding it's way to Egypt 3,000 years ago?

If the cocaine found in mummies could not be explained by contamination, or fake mummies or by Egyptian plants containing it, there appeared to be only one remaining possibility... An international drug trade who's links extended all the way to the Americas.

To obtain incense, myrrh and other valuable plants used in religious ceremonies and herbal medicines, it's true, the Egyptians were prepared to go to great lengths.

Even if traders, like today, made all sorts of exotic claims for the source of their products, there is, nevertheless, clear evidence of ancient contats as far east as Syria and Iraq. The extended north into Cyprus, south into Sudan and Somalia and west into Lybia, but America? To the majority of archeologists, the idea is hardly worth talking about.

PROF JOHN BAINES - Egyptologist, Oxford University:
"The idea that the Egyptians were travelling to America is, overall, absurd. I don't know of anyone who is professionally employed as an Egyptologist, anthropologist or archeaologist who seriously believes in any of these possibilities, and I also don't know anyone who spends time doing research into these areas because they're perceived to be areas with any real meaning for the subjects."

But on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, where the moving current of the Gulf Stream arrives in Mexico directly from the west coast of Africa, there is a professionally-employed anthropologist who does seriously beleive in such possibilities.

PROF ALICE KEHOE - Anthropologist, Marquette University:
"I think there is good evidence that there was both trans-atlantic and trans-pacific travel before Columbus. When we try to talk about trans-oceanic contact, people that are standard archeologists get very, um, skittish, and they want to change the subject or move away. They suddenly see a friend across the room - they don't want to pursue the subject at all. They seem to feel that it's some kind of contagious disease they don't want to touch, or it will bring disaster to them."

Why was the mere contemplation of voyages before Columbus or the Viking crossings to America, thought to be some sort of curse?

It was in 1910 that some early antropologists began to theorise that the stepped pyramids in Mexico might not have been the invention of the American Indians. Could the technology have come from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, from Egypt, where there were also stepped pyramids?

After spotting other trans-atlantic similarities, anthropologists began to argue that all civilisation was ivented in Egypt and later handed down to what they regarded as primitive societies. The implication that Old World culture was superior was thought acceptable at that time.

But the arrival of modern dating techniques showed that the similarities were far more likely to be independant developements. For example, the Egyptians abandoned pyramids with steps in favour of smooth ones 2,000 years before the first stepped pyramids occur in the Americas. What's more, the suggestion that American Indians couldn't build their own civilisations became highly unpopular.

Despite a breif revival in the 1970's when anthtropologist Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Atlantic in a primitive reed boat, research into ancient contact with America was frowned on, even if connected with theories of cultural superiority.

But the idea that the ability of the ancients to cross the oceans might have been underestimated continues to be quietly whispered about. Over the years evidence has grown which suggests it might be time to look again at such voyages. To imagine that the Egyptians, who apparently only sailed up and down the Nile or into the Red Sea, might get as far as the Americas perhaps sounds fantastical. But in science, what is one day thought absurd, can next day become accepted as fact.

[Picture of a Norse settlement in Newfoundland]

One senior academic thinks it's important to remember that before the discovery of this Norse settlement in Newfoundland in 1965 theories about Viking voyages to America were dismissed as nonsense.

PROF MARTIN BERNAL - Historian, Cornell University:
"What we've seen is a shift from the idea of Viking landings in America being seen as completely fantastic or partisan, to being accepted by every scholar in the field."

NARRATOR: The fact that evidence of the Viking crossings was hidden has encouraged Martin Bernal to contemplate even earlier voyages that are likewise dismissed as impossible.

PROF MARTIN BERNAL - Historian, Cornell University:
"I have no reason to doubt that there were others - but what they were, and how much influence they had on American society is open to question. But that trans-oceanic voyages are possible - or were possible - seems to me to be overwhelmingly likely."

A likelihood Bernal believes is reinforced by some Roman jars found in 1975 in a place called the Bay of Jars in Brazil. It's been suggessted that a Roman galley could be buried under the sea. But he interpretation of such finds is heavily disputed.

PROF JOHN BAINES - Egyptologist, Oxford University:
"They would fit the possibility that there was the odd ship that by mistake ended up on the other side of the Atlantic. What they're not going to fit is the idea of sustained two way contact, because there is a huge amount of historical evidence from the Roman world, but there is nothing to suggesst such contact existed."

PROF MARTIN BERNAL - Historian, Cornell University:
"They can't have been planted because the bay was known as the Bay of Jars since the 18th century, so that Roman jars had been turning up, and this links up with indirect Roman documentary evidence of contact."

The Bay of Jars is only one of several oddities claimed as evidence of trans-atlantic contacts. Also in Brazil, there is an inscription said to be in an ancient Mediterranean language. Meanwhile, in Mexico, there are 3,000 year old figurines with beards, a feature unknown in native Americans plus colossal statues that are said to look African, and an apparent picture of a pineapple - an American fruit - has been found in Pompeii.

But if tobacco from Mexico or coca from the Andes was carried across an ocean, it apparently need not have been the Atlantic. According to Alice Kehoe, a number of other American plants mysteriously turn up outside the "sealed" continent. But they are found on the other side of the Pacific.

PROF ALICE KEHOE - Anthropologist, Marquette University:
"The one that absolutely proves trans-pacific vaoyaging is the sweet potato. There are also discoveries of peanuts more than 2,000 years ago in western China. There is a temple is southern India that has sculptures of goddesses holding what looks like ears of maize or corn."

And if American maize might have got as far as India, why couldn't tobacco or coca have reached Egypt? They could have come across the Pacific to China or Asia and then overland to Africa. The Egyptians need not have travelled to America at all, or known where the plants had originated, but could have got them indirectly, through a network of world trade. But any ancient trade route that includes America is unacceptable in archeology.

PROF JOHN BAINES - Egyptologist, Oxford University:
"I don't think it is at all likely that there was an ancient trade network that included America. The essential problem with any such idea is that there are no artefacts to back it up that have been found either in Europe or in America. And I know that people produce examples of possible things, but they're really very implausible."

Yet discovery of minute strands of silk found in the hair of a mummy from Luxor could suggest the trade stretching from Egypt to the Pacific. For silk at this time was only known to come from China. Martin Bernal argues that it would be a pity to replace earlier cultural arrogance with an arrogant belief in progrss.

PROF MARTIN BERNAL - Historian, Cornell University:
"We're getting more and more evidence of world trade at an earlier stage. You have the Chinese silk definitely arriving in Egypt by 1000BC. I think modern scholars have a tendency to believe rigidly in progress and the idea that you could only have a worldwide trading network from the 18th century onwards, is our temporal arrogance - that it's only modern people that can do these things."

The evidence for ancient trade with America is limited, and most of it is disputed, but it can't be completely ruled out as explaining the apparent impossibility of Balabanova's results, results that at first seemed so absurd many thought they would be explained away by a simple story of a botch-up in a lab, results that still without firm explanation continue to crop up in unexpected places.

For in Manchester, the mummies under the care of Rosalie David, the Egyptologist once so sure that Balabanova had made a mistake, produced some odd results of their own.

ROSALIE DAVID - Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum:
"We've received results back from the tests on our mummy tissue samples and two of the samples and the one hair sample both have evidence of nicotine in them. I'm really very surprised at this."

DR SVETLA BALABANOVA - Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ulm:
"The results of the tests on the Manchester mummies have made me very happy after all these years of being accuesed of false results and contaminated results, so I was delighted to hear nicotine had been found in these mummies, and very, very happy to have this enormous confirmation of my work."

The tale of Henut Taui shows that in science facts can be rejected if they don't fit with our beleifs while what is believed proven, may actually be uncertain.
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2006, 09:46:24 AM »

Could there have been 'One World' in very early times? In discussing similarities in cultural traditions across the world both in the ancient world and today, and claiming that they may be related, there is the issue of how this diffusion may have occurred.

Pre-Columbian Transoceanic Contacts
I believe that the recently forwarded evidence of human genetics, cultivated plants, and language are overwhelming, and put transoceanic influence studies on a new and much firmer footing. We no longer need rely solely on cultural comparisons: hard science, though a hard sell to some, is in the process of demonstrating what simple cultural comparisons alone can never do: folks were traveling the oceans in amazingly early times and left their genes and their languages in America and took home American cultigens. They were there, and if they were there they had the opportunity to exert cultural influence.

Questionable Origins
The problem is complicated by the fact that at least two American plants do seem to have crossed the Pacific before Columbus crossed the Atlantic. One of these is the sweet potato, apparently known in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. The other is cotton, the diploid variety of which is found in both Old World and New, and may have been taken to the New World very early.

Transpacific and transatalantic travel in ancient times is therefore a real possibility.

« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2006, 02:10:11 PM »

The article quoated above - Questionable Origins - has some interested and related observations on the possibilities of transoceanic transport of various plants, though the author takes, perhaps, a rather sceptical view.

The problem is complicated by the fact that at least two American plants do seem to have crossed the Pacific before Columbus crossed the Atlantic... The other is cotton, the diploid variety of which is found in both Old World and New, and may have been taken to the New World very early.

Let us see what modern science and in particular, the genetics, has to say on diploid cotton and its history.

Cotton: The Fabric of Our Lives

The origin, evolution, and domestication of cotton remain somewhat of a mystery even to this day. The time when cotton fiber was first used by humans is not known. It is known, though, that civilizations on both sides of the world possessed cotton. The oldest archaeological record of cotton textiles, which dates back to about 3000 B.C., was found in excavations at Mohenjo-daro in the valley of the Indus River in West Pakistan. Peruvian archaeological excavations found cotton specimens that had been fabricated into textiles as far back as 2500 B.C. There are even reports of cotton fabrics found in prehistoric pueblo ruins in Arizona - in the New World, and in the Upper Nile, what is now Sudan country of Africa - in the Old World (Brown, 1958).

There are 43 species of cotton. These consist of both diploid (2n = 2x = 26 chromosomes) and tetraploid (2n = 4x = 52 chromosomes) types. The New World tetraploid species are allo-tretraploids, which means that their chromosomal makeup combines the genomes of two distinct diploid species (Munro, 1987). The two genomes were so sufficiently different that their chromosomes would not pair during meiosis, consequently, the initial hybrid was sterile. Therefore, natural doubling of each set of chromosomes had to occur for the natural hybrid to be fertile and produce offspring, this is an extremely rare event in nature.

Thirty-seven of the 43 species of Gossypium, are diploid and distributed predominately across the Old World: Africa, Asia Minor, Mexico, and Australia. The remaining six species of cotton are tetraploid and their origins are believed to be in the New World, specific countries being Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Hawaii, and the Galapagos Islands (Smith, 1995). There are many varieties of cotton grown in different countries. These differ in the attributes of their fiber, yield, ginning percentage, disease resistance and vegetative characters (Munro, 1987).

Cotton is unique among cultivated crops in that four distinct species were domesticated by humans, and in that, two evolved in the Old World and two evolved in the New World:
* Gossypium herbaceum var. herbaceum race acerifolium, this race is considered the most primitive cultivated form of the Old World cotton.
* Gossypium arboreum, is probably a mutation selected by humans. This second Old World species is found today only under production, or as escapes from production.
* Gossypium hirsutum, a New World species which is believed to have evolved in Mexico. The oldest archaeological specimens of this species were found in Tehuacan, and are tentatively dated at 3400 to 2300 B.C.
* Gossypium barbadense, is the second species of New World cotton. This cotton, it is noted, was considered to have been the cotton of choice because of the quality of its fibers, compared to the Gossypium hirsutum by the Mayans (250 to 900 A.D.). This variety generally has almost no fuzz on its seed.

It is unknown exactly how cotton from the Old World traveled to the New World, but one theory suggests that from the origins in Africa and Asia Minor ancient trade routes existed along the east coast of Africa, to the western coast of India. Through ocean trade routes, even as escaped cargo, the fiber plant, it is reported, found its way to the New World (Smith, 1995).

Although the cotton industry is very successful today, and cotton is the most common textile fiber now in use, it was the last natural fiber to attain commercial importance. In the 5th century B.C., the Greek historian Herodotus reported that among the valuable products in India was the "wild plant that bears fleece as its fruit." In the following century, cotton was introduced from India into Greece by Alexander the Great. Although the early Greeks and Romans used cotton for "awnings and sails," as well as for clothing, it was not adopted for widespread use in Europe until centuries later ("Cotton", Microsoft Encyclopedia).

In the New World the Mexicans used cotton for weaving in the pre-Columbian period, as stated earlier. It is known that the natives upon Columbus' arrival cultivated two types of cotton. Cotton could have been used as wadding, packing, or for dressing wounds. Smith states, "The use of cotton as a spinnable fiber probably occurred in societies that already spun flax or animal hair (Smith, 1995).

Polyploidy and the evolutionary history of cotton
Author: Wendel, Jonathan F.; Cronn, R.C.
Date: 2002
Source: Advances in Agronomy. 87: 139-186.
The evolutionary history of the genus included multiple episodes of trans-oceanic dispersal, invasion of new ecological niches, and a surprisingly high frequency of natural interspecific hybridization among lineages that are presently both geographically isolated and intersterile. Recent investigations have clarified many aspects of this history, including relationships within and among the eight genome groups, the domestication history of each of the four cultivated species, and the origin of the allopolyploid cottons. Data implicate an origin for Gossypium 5?15 million years ago (mya) and a rapid early diversification of the major genome groups. Allopolyploid cottons appear to have arisen within the last million years, as a consequence of trans-oceanic dispersal of an A-genome taxon to the New World followed by hybridization with an indigenous D-genome diploid. Subsequent to formation, allopolyploids radiated into three modern lineages, including those containing the commercially important species G. hirsutum and G. barbadense. Genome doubling has led to an array of molecular genetic interactions, including inter-locus concerted evolution, differential rates of genomic evolution, inter-genomic genetic transfer, and probable alterations in gene expression. The myriad underlying mechanisms are also suggested to have contributed to both ecological success and agronomic potential.

'Within the last million years' does not pin down the date exactly. It does, however, encompass the history of modern man.


Cotton (Gossypium spp. )

   1. Origin and history of use: Gossypium is a genus of 39 species found worldwide, four species are domesticated:
         1. Gossypium herbaceum from S. Africa and G. arboreum from India, both independently domesticated, especially India, spread to Arabia, Europe. Both are diploid species, have short staple (fiber).
         2. G. hirsutum upland cotton, domesticated in Central America, predominant cotton grown today, long staple, tetraploid hybrid of wild South American diploid species and Old World G. herbaceum.
         3. G. barbadense, Sea Island, pima, or Egyptian cotton, domesticated in Andes, spread early to Caribbean, also long staple, tetraploid hybrid of New World and Old World diploid species.

It is therefore established that the diploid variety of cotton is found across the world and has been from ancient times.

* cotton.doc (39.5 KB - downloaded 18 times.)
* PLANT FIBER MATERIALS - cloth, paper, spices and herbs.doc (68.5 KB - downloaded 27 times.)
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2006, 11:16:25 PM »

It's time to take a look at the culture that built Stonehenge and related monuments.

Approximate extent of the Beaker culture
Beaker culture
The Bell-Beaker culture (sometimes shortened to Beaker culture, Beaker people, or Beaker folk, German Glockenbecherkultur), ca. 2800 ? 1900 BCE, is the term for a widely but spottily scattered archaeological culture of prehistoric western Europe starting in the late Neolithic (stone age) running into the early bronze age. The term was devised by the Honorable John Abercromby.

Its remains have been found in what is now Portugal, Spain, France (excluding the central massif), Great Britain and Ireland, the Low Countries, and Germany between the Elbe and Rhine, with an extension along the upper Danube into the Vienna basin (Austria), with Mediterranean outposts on Sardinia and Sicily; there is less certain evidence for direct penetration in the east. Beakers remained in use longest in the British isles.

Beaker culture is defined by the common use of a pottery style ? a beaker with a distinctive inverted bell-shaped profile found across the western part of the Continent during the late 3rd millennium BCE. The beakers seem to be associated with the consumption of mead or perhaps beer and are likely part of a larger prestige-oriented cultural package.

Some believe the Beaker culture to be of Iberian origin (modern day Spain and Portugal). To others, the Beaker culture apparently derives from early Corded Ware culture elements, with the Netherlands/Rhineland region as probably the most widely accepted site of origin, (J. P. Mallory,EIEC p. 53). It is often suggested as a candidate for an early Indo-European culture.

In contrast to this, Marija Gimbutas derived the Beakers from east central European cultures that became "Kurganized" by incursions of steppe tribes. Despite this, an eastern origin is not often sought, even by supporters of the Kurgan hypothesis.

Given the unusual form and fabric of Beaker pottery, and its abrupt appearance in the archaeological record, the traditional explanation for the Beaker culture has been to interpret it as a diffusion of one group of people across Europe. During the early twentieth century, Beaker pottery was seen as one element of a people who, through repeated waves of invasion, brought with them metal-working, crouched burials and round barrows, replacing an earlier Neolithic race of Europeans. Vere Gordon Childe described the Beaker people as "[w]arlike invaders imbued with domineering habits and an appreciation of metal weapons and ornaments which inspired them to impose sufficient political unity on their new domain for some economic unification to follow."

There is no necessary correlation between an archaeological culture and an ethnic group however, as there is no one-to-one correlation between the material culture excavated by archaeologists and an ethnicity or society. Additionally, material culture and technological innovations can spread independently of population movement that is, through cultural diffusion rather than demic diffusion. Childe's view is now seen as being incorrect, its connections erroneous and based on limited knowledge, whilst its assumption of a Beaker invasion is considered an attempt to attribute numerous different cultural changes to one cause.

Other archaeologists, noting the distribution of Beakers was highest in areas of transport routes, including fording sites, river valleys and mountain passes, suggested that the pan-European style of Beaker 'folk' were originally bronze traders, who subsequently settled within local neolithic or early chalcolithic cultures creating local styles. Close analysis of the bronze tools associated with beaker use suggests an early Iberian source for the copper, followed subsequently by Central European and Bohemian ores. This would support a "two-wave" thesis for the spread of Beaker culture, initially coming from the South West, and subsequently spreading from Central or even Western Europe. Lanting (1976)[1] suggests, from a compilation context, that Bell Beaker culture emerged on the Rhine delta from a Corded Ware culture context.

A recent Strontium isotope analysis of 86 people from Bell Beaker graves in Bavaria suggests that between 18-25% of all graves were occupied by people who came from a considerable distance outside the area. This was true of children as well as adults, indicative of some significant migration wave. Given the similarities with readings from people living on loess soils, the general direction of the movement according to Price et al, is from the northeast to the southwest [2].

Many archaeologists now believe that the Beaker 'people' did not exist as a group, and that the beakers and other new artefacts and practices found across Europe at the time that are attributed to the Beaker people are indicative of the development of particular manufacturing skills. This new knowledge may have come about through the influence of neighbouring peoples, rather than as a result of mass migrations, knowledge that could spread independently of any population movement. An example might be as part of a prestige cult related to the production and consumption of beer, or trading links such as those demonstrated by finds made along the sea-ways of Atlantic Europe. Palynological studies of pollen analysis conducted, associated with the spread of beakers certainly suggests increased growing of barley, which may be associated with beer brewing.

This non-invasionist theory was first proposed by Colin Burgess and Steve Shennan in the mid 1970s and it is now common to see the Beaker culture as a 'package' of knowledge (including religious beliefs and copper, bronze and gold working) and artefacts (including copper daggers, v-perforated buttons and stone wrist-guards for archers) adopted and adapted by the indigenous peoples of Europe to varying degrees.
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2006, 11:29:00 PM »

Many archaeologists now believe that the Beaker 'people' did not exist as a group, and that the beakers and other new artefacts and practices found across Europe at the time that are attributed to the Beaker people are indicative of the development of particular manufacturing skills. This new knowledge may have come about through the influence of neighbouring peoples, rather than as a result of mass migrations, knowledge that could spread independently of any population movement.
That is my view, also. Let us look at the culture that later developed into the Beaker Culture.

European Megalithic Culture
The European Megalithic Culture was a prehistoric (and preliterate) civilisation based primarily in Western Europe, that has left a legacy of large stone monuments, or megaliths, scattered widely across the continent. The earliest of these constructions, found in Brittany and the Iberian Peninsula, are reckoned to date to around 4800 BC, thus predating the Egyptian pyramids by some two millennia.

Originally consisting of communal tombs and other fairly simple structures, megalithic design later evolved to include the stone rows of Brittany and the hundreds of stone circles of the British Isles, of which the most famous is Stonehenge. Many of these constructions have been shown to have significant astronomical alignments, though the function of these still remains mysterious ? a fact that has not prevented endless theorising. Whilst a number of intriguing and distinctive artistic symbols have been discovered, it is virtually certain that this early culture had no proper form of writing, and consequently we are almost totally reliant on archaeology to unearth its history.

Types of megaliths

Carnac, Brittany

The most common type of megalithic construction in Europe is the dolmen ? a chamber consisting of upright stones (orthostats) with one or more large flat capstones forming a roof. Many of these, though by no means all, contain traces of human remains, and it is debatable whether use as a burial site was ever their primary function. Though generally known as dolmens, many local names also exist, such as anta in Portugal, stazzone in Sardinia, hunebed in Holland, dysser in Denmark, and cromlech in Wales.

Another type of megalithic monument that occurs throughout the culture area is the single standing stone, or menhir. Some of these have been shown to have an astronomical function as a marker or foresight, and in some areas long and complex alignments of such stones exist ? most famously at Carnac in Brittany.

In the British Isles the most well-known type of megalithic construction is the stone circle, of which there are hundreds of examples, including Stonehenge and Avebury. These too display clear evidence of astronomical alignments, both solar and lunar. Stonehenge, for example, is famous for its solstice alignment (though whether this was originally intended to mark the winter solstice, rather than the summer, is open to question). Examples of stone circles, though rare, are also found in Continental Europe.

Poulnabrone dolmen, Ireland
Other structures
Associated with the megalithic constructions across Europe there are often large earthworks of various designs ? ditches and banks, broad terraces, circular enclosures known as henges, and frequently artificial mounds such as Silbury Hill in England and Monte d?Accoddi in Sardinia. Sometimes, as at Glastonbury Tor in England, it is theorised that a natural hill has been artificially sculpted to form a maze or spiral pattern in the turf.

Spirals were evidently an important motif for the megalith builders, and have been found carved into megalithic structures all over Europe ? along with other symbols such as lozenges, eye-patterns, zigzags in various configurations, and cup and ring marks. Whilst clearly not a written script in the modern sense of the term, these symbols no doubt conveyed meaning to their creators, and are remarkably consistent across the whole of Western Europe.

Distribution and development

Cup and ring marks, England
The distribution of megalithic constructions strongly indicates that this culture was spread by seafarers. With the earliest sites found on the Atlantic seaboards of Brittany and Portugal dating to about 4800 BC, the techniques of building and other cultural traits gradually spread to other coastal areas, thence inland via the major river systems. Archaeologists usually distinguish five geographical regions within the megalithic culture that display certain local characteristics in addition to sharing in the general continent-wide trends. These are the North West Group (north Germany, Netherlands, and Denmark), Far West Group (British Isles), Centre West Group (north-west France), South West Group (Iberia), and Mediterranean Group (Malta, Sardinia, Corsica, the Balearics, and surrounding coasts).

As the people who created the megalithic culture have left no decipherable records, their linguistic affiliation remains completely obscure. It has recently been argued, however, that the spread of Indo-European languages in Europe coincided with the introduction of agriculture during the Neolithic period (see Anatolian hypothesis). If so, the megalith builders would have spoken an early dialect of Indo-European, some terms from which may survive in river names and other geographical features across Western Europe. The megalithic culture remained at the Neolithic stage until the so-called Bell-beaker explosion from around 2500 BC, which ushered in the Chalcolithic period ? a preliminary phase of the Bronze Age. It was this era that witnessed the full flowering of megalithic design in such areas as the British Isles with their stone circles, and Brittany with its alignments.

Because of many well-preserved burials in Northern Europe from this period, such as that of the Egtved Girl in Denmark, we even know something of the clothing styles worn by these people. Most such garments were made of wool, but bronze personal adorments, such as bracelets, were common.


    * Circa 4800 BC: Constructions in Brittany (Barnenez) and Iberia (?vora and Mourdo). Emergence of the Neolithic period, the age of agriculture.

    * Circa 4000 BC: Constructions in Brittany (Carnac), Iberia (Lisbon), France (central and southern), Corsica, England and Wales.

    * Circa 3700 BC: Constructions in Ireland (Knockiveagh and elsewhere).

    * Circa 3600 BC: Constructions in England (Maumbury Rings and Godmanchester).

    * Circa 3500 BC: Constructions in Iberia (M?laga and Guadiana), Ireland (south-west), France (Arles and the north), Sardinia, Sicily, Malta (and elsewhere in the Mediterranean), Belgium (north-east) and Germany (central and south-west).

    * Circa 3400 BC: Constructions in Ireland (Newgrange), Holland (north-east), Germany (northern) and Denmark.

    * Circa 3000 BC: Constructions in France (Saumer, Dordogne, Languedoc, Biscay, and the Mediterranean coast), Iberia (Los Millares), Sicily, Belgium (Ardennes), and Orkney, as well as the first henges (circular earthworks) in Britain.

    * Circa 2800 BC: Climax of the megalithic Funnel-beaker Culture in Denmark, and the construction of the henge at Stonehenge.

    * Circa 2500 BC: Constructions in Brittany (Le Menec, Kermario and elsewhere), Italy (Otranto), Sardinia, and Scotland (north-east), plus the climax of the megalithic Bell-beaker Culture in Iberia, Germany, Ireland, and Britain (stone circle at Stonehenge). With the bell-beakers the Neolithic period gave way to the Chalcolithic, the age of copper.

    * Circa 2400 BC: The megalithic Bell-beaker Culture was dominant in Britain, and hundreds of smaller stone circles were built in the British Isles at this time.

    * Circa 2000 BC: Constructions in Brittany (Er Grah), Italy (Bari), Sardinia (northern), and Scotland (Callanish).

    * Circa 1800 BC: Constructions in Italy (Giovinazzo).

    * Circa 1500 BC: Constructions in Iberia (Alter Pedroso and Medons da Mourela).

    * Circa 1400 BC: Burial of the Egtved Girl in Denmark, whose body is today one of the most well-preserved examples of its kind.

    * Circa 1200 BC: Last vestiges of the megalithic tradition in the Mediterranean and elsewhere come to an end during the general population upheaval known to ancient history as the Invasions of the Sea Peoples.

    * Barraclough, Geoffrey The Times Atlas of World History (Times Books, 1978)
    * Renfrew, Colin Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins (Jonathan Cape, 1987)
    * Service, Alastair & Bradbery, Jean Megaliths and their Mysteries: The Standing Stones of Old Europe (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979)
    * Spanuth, J?rgen Atlantis of the North (Sidgwick and Jackson, 1979)
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2006, 06:36:59 PM »

These two are related:

Pre-Columbian Voyages to America
And the list goes on and on - some evidence being better than others - but as a whole it seems pretty much irrefutable. Claims to the contrary seem to be made by individuals with a vested interest in the isolationist position. The evidence, pro and con, when evaluated objectively, would seem without question, to favor the diffusionist position (which claims that pre-Columbian contacts took place).

I believe that the recently forwarded evidence of human genetics, cultivated plants, and language are overwhelming, and put transoceanic influence studies on a new and much firmer footing. We no longer need rely solely on cultural comparisons: hard science, though a hard sell to some, is in the process of demonstrating what simple cultural comparisons alone can never do: folks were traveling the oceans in amazingly early times and left their genes and their languages in America and took home American cultigens. They were there, and if they were there they had the opportunity to exert cultural influence.

« Reply #19 on: November 07, 2006, 11:06:38 AM »

Now the point has been made on transoceanic contact, let us also look at how far back in time this may have been.

« Reply #20 on: November 07, 2006, 03:25:31 PM »

You see the spirals in the image above (Cup and ring marks, England)? You will find the same in all sorts of megalithic sites across Europe, Malta in particular:

Tarxien Temple

* Mnajdra Temple.jpg (55.64 KB, 501x353 - viewed 11 times.)

* Hagar Qim Temple.jpg (38.35 KB, 500x276 - viewed 55 times.)
« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2006, 03:40:26 PM »

As you say, those spirals are everywhere.

Achnabreck, Strathclyde, Scotland

Portal Stone at Newgrange, Ireland

Spiral at Newgrange roof stone, Ireland

« Reply #22 on: November 07, 2006, 05:34:22 PM »

This offers an explanation of the spirals:

Loughcrew Cairn L Megalithic Monument
Oldcastle, Co. Meath Ireland
Solar Eclipse 3340 BC Nov 30th
Confirmation of World's Oldest Solar Eclipse Recorded in Stone
Paul Griffin

Special thanks to Dan Charrois and his team at Syzygy Research for all their help and assistance in making this page possible and for valuable information pertaining to the eclipse.

Irish archaeoastronomer Paul Griffin has announced the confirmation of the world's oldest known solar eclipse recorded in stone, substantially older than the recordings made in 2800 BC by Chinese astronomers. This finding was made at the world's oldest lunar eclipse tracking multi cairn site at the Loughcrew Cairn L Megalithic Monument in Ireland, and corresponds to a solar eclipse which occurred on November 30, 3340 BC, calculated with The Digital Universe astronomy software.

The Irish Neolithics used a 4044.5 day lunar eclipse cycle which is broken up into 365 days x 11 years + 29.5 days (synodic lunar month). This is also similar to a Tritos/Nova Lunation combination of one Tritos cycle of 3986.63 days and two nova lunations of 29.53 days each, yielding a total of 4045.69 days.

The Irish Neolithic astronomer priests at this site recorded events on 3 stones relating to the eclipse as seen from that location. This is the only eclipse that fits these petroglyphs out of 92 solar eclipses tracked by the discoverer.

Neolithic Word Symbol Key Code:
To better understand the symbols to follow, the following legend (established by Paul Griffin through extensive study of the Loughcrew Megalithic Complex area) may be helpful:

Full Moon

Anticlockwise (from centre) single spiral
SW2 Kerbstone Knowth Satellite 12, Knowth SE4, SW18, NW9, SE31, SW9, SE2 Kerbstones

New Moon

Small Clockwise (from centre) single spiral
Stone 4, 20, Cairn L Stone 1, Cairn H Loughcrew K13, Newgrange SE4, SW7, NE6, SW9, Kerbstones Knowth

Lunar Eclipse

Concentric Circles Isolated
Cairn H Loughcrew Knockmany, Stone 2 + 4 SE2, Knowth East Basin SW5, NE4, NW10, SW3, NW15, NW20, NW19, NW4, SE34, SE29, SE28, East 0, Knowth

Solar Eclipse

Concentric Circles Overlapping
Eclipse Stone, Stone 7 Cairn L, Stone 1 Cairn T Loughcrew, NW20, Knowth, Stone 6 Sess Kilgreen, Tyrone

Standing Stone or Pillar

Stones North of Loughcrew SE4, SE2, Knowth, K52, K67, K1, R21, L15 Newgrange

Eclipse Icon 3340 BCE

We see here, again, how the megaliths are to do with the moon as much, if not more than the sun.

« Reply #23 on: November 07, 2006, 07:20:19 PM »

This panel is of the tombs at Mycenae, Greece and dates to the 16th century BCE. Mycenaean art was temporarily dominated by the influences of Minoan art. Cretan artists must have emigrated to the mainland, and local varieties of all the Minoan arts arose at Mycenae.

Note that the date is much more recent that the spirals appearing in the above illustrations.

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« Reply #24 on: November 08, 2006, 01:50:24 AM »

I have something to add about the spirals. In the Virgin Islands very similar engravings were noted when I was doing my amateur archaeology, many, many years ago. There is something about these symbols that I, and others, feel has to do with the female reproductive organs, the ovaries. That has been stated by persons more knowledgeable than myself. The whole discussion is in prehistory but the prevalence in all parts of the world begs for an answer, at least in my mind anyway.

« Reply #25 on: November 08, 2006, 12:08:43 PM »

I have something to add about the spirals. In the Virgin Islands very similar engravings were noted when I was doing my amateur archaeology, many, many years ago. There is something about these symbols that I, and others, feel has to do with the female reproductive organs, the ovaries. That has been stated by persons more knowledgeable than myself. The whole discussion is in prehistory but the prevalence in all parts of the world begs for an answer, at least in my mind anyway.
That is very interesting, Doc. I hope that with time, you may be able to reference this pattern to the Virgin Islands.

When I studied them in Malta some decades ago, I understood them to represent eternity, in that a spiral is never-ending. Similar to the idea of resurrection: having reached the end, you can return. However, they are also associated with the female figurines which I understood to represent the Earth-Mother goddess. Now we have the idea that they are astronomical symbols. Maybe these are not unconnected.

« Reply #26 on: November 24, 2006, 06:26:17 PM »

Professor Timothy Darvill, Head of the Archaeology Group at Bournemouth University, has breathed new life into the controversy surrounding the origins of Stonehenge by publishing a theory which suggests that the ancient monument was a source and centre for healing and not a place for the dead as believed by many previous scholars.

After publication of his new book on the subject - Stonehenge: The Biography of a Landscape (Tempus Publishing) - Professor Darvill also makes a case for revellers who travel to be near the ancient monument for the summer solstice in June to reconsider. Instead, Professor Darvill believes that those seeking to tap into the monument?s powers at its most potent time of the year should do so in December during the winter solstice when our ancestors believed that the henge was ?occupied? by a prehistoric god - the equivalent of the Roman and Greek god of healing, Apollo ? who ?chose? to reside in winter with the Hyborians, long believed to be the ancient Britons.

The basis for Professor Darvill?s findings lies in the Preseli Mountains in west Wales where he and colleague Professor Geoffrey Wainwright have located an exact origin for the bluestones used in the construction of Stonehenge some 250 km away.

?The questions most people ask when they consider Stonehenge is ?why was it built?? and ?how was it was used??? says Professor Darvill. ?Our work has taken us to the Preseli Mountains to provide a robust context for the source of the bluestones and to explore various ideas about why those mountains were so special to prehistoric people?.

?We have several strands of evidence to consider. First, there have folklore in the form of accounts written in the 14th century which refer to a magician bringing the stones from the west of the British Isles to what we know as Salisbury Plain,? he continues. ?It was believed that these particular stones had many healing properties because in Preseli, there are many sacred springs that are considered to have health-giving qualities; the water comes out of the rocks used to build Stonehenge and it?s well established that as recently as the late 18th century, people went to Stonehenge to break off bits of rock as talismans.

?Also, around the Stonehenge landscape, there are many burials, some of which have been excavated and amongst these there are a good proportion of people who show sings of being unwell ? some would have walked with a limp or had broken bones ? just the sort of thing that in modern times pressurises people to seek help from the Almighty.

?In the case of Stonehenge, I suggest that the presiding deity was a prehistoric equivalent of the Greek and Roman god of healing, Apollo. Although his main sanctuary was at Delphi in Greece, it is widely believed that he left Greece in the winter months to reside in the land of the Hyborians ? usually taken to be Britain.

?Altogether, and with the incorporation of the stones from Wales, Stonehenge is a very powerful and positive place of pilgrimage, although whether the monument?s healing power actually worked is a matter for further discussion,? he concludes.

Source: Bournemouth University Press Release

Professor Timothy Darvill launches essays on the archaeology of Gloucestershire
A volume of papers reviewing the archaeology of Gloucestershire in the light of new discoveries and new thinking over the last 25 years has just been launched by Professor Timothy Darvill at a lunchtime gathering in the headquarters of Cotswold Archaeology near Cirencester. Edited by Neil Holbrook and John Jurica, the volume is jointly published by Cotswold Archaeology, the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, the Committee for Archaeology in Gloucestershire, and English Heritage.

Speaking at the launch, Professor Darvill noted how much had changed since the last synthesis of the county�s archaeology was published back in 1984. Commercial archaeology had completely changed the way archaeology was funded; new field practices had given new opportunities for the way ancient materials were studied; and archaeological theory had radically altered the way in which the past was understood. All these things were visible in the papers presented in the volume. Rather important, however, is that this volume on Gloucestershire is the first regional study of its kind to take account of the wealth of new evidence arising from the integration of archaeological work with key stages in the spatial planning system that now applies in England. In his own contribution to the volume, which covers early prehistory, Professor Darvill draws extensively on research being carried out at Bournemouth University for English Heritage that aims to document and understand changing patterns of archaeological work across England. One outcome of this study is a database of archaeological investigations undertaken by commercial, private, and research bodies; a national resource that will no doubt by used in many future synthetic studies such as this one.

Twenty-five years of archaeology in Gloucestershire: a review of new discoveries and new thinking in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, and Bristol 1979�2004, Edited by N Holbrook and J Jurica, is available from Cotswold Archaeology. (ISBN 0 9523196 8 3. Published by Cotswold Archaeology and Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society as Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Report 3, 2006)

* Picture by Phil Rowley / BU

Telephone: +(0)1202 695536 Email:

Born and brought up in Cheltenham and the central Cotswolds, I have always had a love of the open countryside, walking, cycling, and visiting ancient sites. After being introduced to history and archaeology at school I was fortunate in being able to participate in excavations at Cirencester, Gloucester, Andoversford, Guiting Power, and many other sites beside through the 1970s. After completing a first degree in archaeology and then a PhD that focused on the Neolithic of Wales and western England at Southampton University I worked for the Western Archaeological Trust and the Council for British Archaeology before establishing a private practice offering consultancy services to developers and land managers. I was appointed to the Chair of Archaeology in the newly-established archaeology group at Bournemouth University in October 1991. My current research interests focus on the Neolithic of northwest Europe, prehistoric ceramics, and archaeological resource management. In addition to archaeology I have a longstanding interest in music, especially folk, blues, and rock.

Academic and professional qualifications
    * 1979 BA(Hons) Archaeology. University of Southampton
    * 1983 PhD. University of Southampton
    * 1984 Member of the Institute of Field Archaeologists
    * 1988 Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London
    * 1990 Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
    * 2001 Registered Professional Archaeologist
    * 2005 DSc. University of Southampton

1983-1984. Field Officer, Western Archaeological Trust: October 1983 to March 1984 Director of Birdlip Bypass Landscape Survey. March 1984 to October 1984 Director of excavations at Commercial Road, Gloucester (Medieval castle and Roman buildings). Western Archaeological Trust went into voluntary liquidation during 1984. Reports published in 1984 and 1989.

1984-1985. Project Officer on the archaeology of the uplands project sponsored jointly by the Council for British Archaeology, the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, and the Countryside Commission. This work was a contribution towards the Countryside Commission's Upland Project. Reports published in 1986.

1985-1991. Director of Timothy Darvill Archaeological Consultants specializing in research and development programmes for government funded bodies, developers, and local authorities. Major contracts included: Research and preparation of reports for the Ancient Monuments in the Countryside initiative established by English Heritage (1985 7); Environmental impact assessment (archaeology) for the Channel Tunnel Project in England (1986); Research on evaluation procedures for the Monuments Protection Programme (1986-1994); Archaeological adviser to Cotswold District Council for Corinium Development (1988 1993); Research for English Heritage on the monument decay study (1989); Stonehenge Visitor Centre sites (1990-1996). Other clients included: Dyfed Archaeological Trust, the Oxford Archaeological Unit, the Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, Thames Water Authority, the Countryside Commission, Erostin Group Plc, Countryside Planning and Management, and the Automobile Association.

1991. Appointed Professor of Archaeology, Bournemouth University. Head of Archaeology Group (1996-); Director of the Billown Neolithic Landscape Project, Isle of Man; Member of University Research Committee (1993-2000); Vice-chairman of the University Research Committee (2000-).
Membership of panels, committees, boards and working parties

These have included: Secretary of Council for British Archaeology Regional Group 13 (1984 1988); Member of the Executive Board of the Council for British Archaeology (1987/8); Reviews Editor (Archaeology) for Transaction of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society (1984 1990); Member of the Council for the Gloucestershire Countryside (1986-1989); Member of Council of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society (1982 1991); Member of the Executive Committee of Council for British Archaeology Regional Group 13 (1984-1991); Member of the Committee for Archaeology in Gloucestershire (1978-1991); Co ordinator for the Neolithic Studies Group (1983 ); Member of the Council for British Archaeology's Countryside Committee (1987 1992); Member of Council of the Institute of Field Archaeologists (1988 1990); Member of Council of the National Trust (1988 1997); Member of the Structure and Policy Review Working Party of the Council for British Archaeology (1988 1990); Member of the National Trust Archaeology Panel (1989-1997); Chairman of the Institute of Field Archaeologists (1989 1991); non-pecuniary Director of Cotswold Archaeological Trust (1988-); External representative on the RCHME convened Working Party on the Future of Local Sites and Monuments Record (1998); Chairman of the board of directors of the Cotswold Archaeological Trust (1992-). Member of the QAA subject benchmarking panel for Archaeology (1999-2000); Member of Council of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society (2000-); Chairman of the Dorset Coastal Forum Archaeology Working Party (1999-2001); Chairman of the Poole Harbour Heritage Project (1998-); Chairman of the Subject Committee for Archaeology (2001-); Trustee of the Theoretical Archaeology Group (2001-); Chairman of the HEA Archaeology Subject Centre Steering Group (2004 ); Member of the Council of the Society of Antiquaries of London (2004 ); Member of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London (2004 ); Chairman of the English Heritage / National Trust Avebury Museum Advisory Panel (2005); Advisory editor for several journals including International Journal of Heritage Studies (1994), and Antiquity (1998-2003).
Current teaching

Unit leader / deputy leader for BSc Archaeology, BA Archaeology and Prehistory, BSc Marine Archaeology, BSc Heritage Conservation, and BSc Field Archaeology :

    * AHE104 Exploring the Historic Environment Past and Present (20 credits: level C)
    * AHE108 Introduction to Archaeology and Prehistory (20 credits: level C)
    * AHE205 Excavation and Fieldwork (20 credits: level I)
    * AHE209 Bronze Age Britain (20 credits: level I)
    * AHE311 The Neolithic of Britain and Ireland (20 credits: level H)
    * Dissertation supervision (40 credits: level H)

Other contributions to taught undergraduate and postgraduate units include lectures and seminars on: Neolithic Europe; Archaeological theory; Landscape archaeology; Social use of space; Research methodology; Project management; Archaeological, heritage, and planning legislation; European prehistory; Prehistoric ceramics.

Current research interests
    * Neolithic of Northwest Europe
    * Ancient ceramics
    * Archaeological resource management

Current projects include:
Billown Neolithic Landscape Project, Isle of Man

Archaeological Investigations Project

Prehistoric Rock Art in Britain

Stonehenge and its landscapes

SPACES: The Strumble-Preseli Ancient Comminities and Environment Study (with Professor Geoffrey Wainwright)

Select bibliography
New approaches to our past: an archaeological forum (edited with M Parker Pearson, R Smith and R Thomas. Southampton University Archaeological Society, 1978)
Megalithic chambered tombs of the Cotswold Severn region (Vorda, 1982)
The archaeology of the uplands (CBA and Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England, 1986)
Prehistoric Britain (Batsford, 1987; Yale University Press 1987; Routledge 1996)
Ancient monuments in the countryside (English Heritage, 1987)
Prehistoric Gloucestershire (Alan Sutton, 1987)
Cirencester: town and landscape (with Christopher Gerrard. Cotswold Archaeological Trust, 1994)
Planning for the past. An assessment of archaeological assessments 1982-91 (with Stephen Burrow and Deborah-Anne Wildgust. English Heritage, 1995)
Neolithic houses in northwest Europe and beyond (edited with Julian Thomas. Oxbow Books, 1996)
Prehistoric Britain from the air (Cambridge University Press, 1996)
Making English landscapes (edited with Katherine Barker. Oxbow Books, 1997)
MARS: The Monuments at Risk Survey of England 1995 (with Andrew Fulton. Bournemouth University and English Heritage 1998)
The Cerne Giant : an antiquity on trial (with Katherine Barker, Barbara Bender, and Ronald Hutton. Oxbow Books, 1999)
Prehistory: a teacher's guide (with Mike Corbishley and Peter Stone. English Heritage, 2000)
Anglo-Russian archaeology seminar: recording systems for archaeological projects (edited with Gennadii Afanas'ev and Eileen Wilkes. Bournemouth University and the Institute of Archaeology, Moscow, 2000)
Neolithic enclosures in Atlantic Northwest Europe (edited with Julian Thomas. Oxbow Books, 2001) One land, many landscapes (edited with Martin Gojda. British Archaeological Reports International Series, 2001)
Oxford guide to archaeological sites in England (with Paul Stamper and Jane Timby. Oxford University Press, 2002)
Concise Oxford Dictionary of archaeology (Oxford University Press, 2002)
Megaliths from Antiquity (Antiquity Papers 3. Edited with Caroline Malone. Antiquity Publications, Cambridge, 2003)
The long barrows of the Cotswolds and surrounding areas (Tempus, 2004)
Heritage of value: archaeology of renoun (edited with Clay Mathers and Barbara Little. University Press of Florida, 2005)
Stonehenge. The biography of a landscape (Tempus, 2006)

* Stonehenge 'No Place for the Dead', Says Expert.pdf (26.26 KB - downloaded 24 times.)
« Reply #27 on: December 11, 2006, 03:22:00 PM »

Jordanian Physician Unveils Mystery of Stonehenge Civilization
Amman, Dec. 8 (Petra) ? The Jordanian Astronomical Society (JAS) on Thursday organized a scientific lecture for students of Astronomical and Space Sciences at Al Al-Bayt University.

The lecture was entitled with The Stonehenge Code and hosted the Jordanian physician Imad Al Qayyam who outlined a number of facts and results based on his precise anatomical findings in the human body, explaining the mechanism of living of the Stonehenge civilization, which existed in Britain and is competing to be one of the new 7 wonders.

Qayyam also revealed the relation between the astronomy physics and the human body anatomy, which forms a scientific revolution in the 21st century concepts. He also outlined a number of results he came up with in his scientific research presented to be published in the California-based scientific magazine 'Plus 1'.

//Petra// Shniqat
« Reply #28 on: February 21, 2007, 12:12:55 AM »

Golden Cone from Ezelsdorf, Urnenfeld Period 12th - 8th century BCE

Golden cone of Ezelsdorf-Buch

The photo showed something the museum eventually decided to buy, when they discovered it wasn't a fake: the fourth golden cone or hat ever to be unearthed: Bronze age artifacts had been found in Avanton, Schifferstadt and Ezelsdorf. The site where the fourth hat was found is unknown - see the earlier entry on treasure trove law in Germany.

Since the 1996 discovery, it's been possible to interpret these cones as the hats of some kind of priest or wizard, and the symbols on them relate to the sun cult.

Mysterious gold cones 'hats of ancient wizards'

The wizards of early Europe wore hats of gold intricately embellished with astrological symbols that helped them to predict the movement of the sun and stars.

This is the conclusion of German archaeologists and historians who claim to have solved the mystery behind a series of strange yet beautiful golden cone-shaped objects discovered at Bronze Age sites across Europe.

Four of the elaborately decorated cones have been uncovered at sites in Switzerland, Germany and France over the past 167 years. Their original purpose has baffled archaeologists for decades.

Some concluded that they were parts of Bronze Age suits of armour; others assumed that they served as ceremonial vases.

A third theory, which had gained widespread acceptance until now, was that the cones functioned as decorative caps that were placed on top of wooden stakes that surrounded Bronze Age sites of worship.

Historians at Berlin's Museum for Pre- and Early History, however, claim to have established with near certainty that the mysterious cones were originally worn as ceremonial hats by Bronze Age oracles.

Such figures, referred to as "king-priests", were held to have supernatural powers because of their ability to predict accurately the correct time for sowing, planting and harvesting crops.

"They would have been regarded as Lords of Time who had access to a divine knowledge that enabled them to look into the future," said Wilfried Menghin, the director of the Berlin Museum which has been carrying out detailed research on a 3,000-year-old, 30" high Bronze Age cone of beaten gold that was discovered in Switzerland in 1995 and purchased by the museum the following year.

Mr Menghin and his researchers discovered that the 1,739 sun and half-moon symbols decorating the Berlin cone's surface make up a scientific code which corresponds almost exactly to the "Metonic cycle" discovered by the Greek astronomer Meton in 432 B.C.E. - about 500 years after the cone was made - which explains the relationship between moon and sun years.

"The symbols on the hat are a logarithmic table which enables the movements of the sun and the moon to be calculated in advance," Mr Menghin said. "They suggest that Bronze Age man would have been able to make long-term, empirical astrological observations," he added.

The findings radically alter the standard image of the European Bronze Age as an era in which a society of primitive farmers lived in smoke-filled wooden huts eking out an existence from the land with the most basic of tools.

"Our findings suggest that the Bronze Age was a far more sophisticated period in Europe than has hitherto been thought," Mr Menghin said.

Another cone, found near the German town of Schifferstadt in 1835, had a chin strap attached to it. The cone, which is also studded with sun and moon symbols, is the earliest example found and dates back to 1,300 B.C.E..

Other German archaeologists have suggested that the gold-hatted king-priests were to be found across much of prehistoric Europe. Prof Sabine Gerloff, a German archaeologist from Erlangen University, has found evidence that five similar golden cones were exhumed by peat diggers in Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries.

These objects, described at the time as "vases", have disappeared. Prof Gerloff says, however, that her research suggests almost conclusively that they were hats worn by Bronze Age king-priests.

She is also convinced that a Bronze Age cape of beaten gold - the "Gold Cape of Mold" discovered in Wales in 1831 - was part of a king-priest's ceremonial dress.

How do these hats relate to Stonehenge?

They all bring the sun and moon together.

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« Reply #29 on: June 24, 2007, 09:37:26 PM »

I am curious how this map relates to the Beaker Culture megalith map above. It appears to be very similar yet not as extensive as this map. Was there another culture/s that followed the magalith tradition?


This map of Britain and Ireland, is divided into 100 kilometre squares. Locations of prehistoric stone circles and stone rows are indicated by the red dots. Click on a grid square to see that map sheet in greater detail. Many of the pages have links to images and text elsewhere on the web, making this a master index of stone circles and rows on the web.


Learning is a treasure which accompanies its owner everywhere.
« Reply #30 on: June 24, 2007, 10:10:23 PM »

I think that the map you just posted is simply identifying known megalithic sites, whilst the earlier was trying to show that as the culture developed, it expanded.

You notice that the upper map shows the culture to be - simplistically - primarily coastal and then riverine. I think that this is how the entire culture spread globally, for it was technology-driven, not militaristic, and this knowledge was carried by boat.

There is another slight possibility to explain the above map. I know of a stone circle near my home, but it was built over with a housing development some 25 years ago. I suspect that quite a number of sites have been destroyed in the more populous south east: starting with the builders of churches and monasteries, who found standing stones a convenient building material (particularly so when they were obviously pagan).

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« Reply #31 on: July 09, 2007, 12:44:02 PM »

Reverse Heyerdahl: Ancient-style Reed Boat Tackles Atlantic

Jul 7, 2007

Washington/New York - Like the great Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, a German biologist and amateur anthropologist is obsessed with ancient long-distance seafaring.

   But while Heyerdahl's 1947 Kon-Tiki and later Ra expeditions proved that ancients could have used trade winds and ocean currents to drift westward around the globe to South America and the South Pacific, Dominique Goerlitz wants to prove the opposite.

   Goerlitz, 41, and a crew of eight plan to set sail Wednesday from New York in a prehistoric-style reed boat to show that people 6,000 to 14,000 years ago could have made the more complicated eastwardly journey from the New World to get back home again.

   The reed boat - called the Abora III - is constructed along the lines of Heyerdahl's Ra, out of 17 tonnes of reed papyrus that grows at the 3,800-metre-high Lake Titicaca on the border of Peru and Bolivia. Goerlitz in fact had some input from the late Norwegian explorer on some of his earlier boats launched in Europe.

   Unlike the Ra, however, the Abora has 16 leeboards - or retractable foils - for steering, a refinement that will enable Abora to tack into the wind and carry it eastwards.

   'Why did I not see this?' Goerlitz quoted Heyerdahl as saying after their first meeting in 1995 in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Heyerdahl was referring to the keel-board evidence in ancient drawings that Goerlitz had found.

   First stop on the Abora's projected three-and-a-half-month journey is the Azore islands, where Goerlitz hopes to put in for fresh provisions by August 10, and then to Cadiz on Spain's southern tip and the Canary Islands. The boat will be equipped with modern navigation and communications equipment.

   One of the crew members, Bolivian Fermin Limachi, 38, the son of a man who worked on a Heyerdahl boat, helped build Goerlitz's Abora. The Amyra Indians of the high Andes are the world's only known people who still know how to form reeds into tight tapered bundles for sea- worthy vessels.

The idea that ancient people could have navigated and steered large vessels across vast oceans - not just drifted in wind and currents - flies in the face of all established academic knowledge. That in fact is what spurs Goerlitz on - that, and the fact that people laughed at Heyerdahl, too.

   'We act as though the ancients were second class people,' Goerlitz told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. 'Yet they must have been advanced sailors, and I'm convinced they had advanced navigation.'

   Goerlitz cites the evidence: Plants known to have originated exclusively in the New World, like cocaine and tobacco, were found in the tomb of the ancient Egyptian ruler Ramses II. Vintage 6,000-year- old rock drawings in Egypt's Wadi Hammamat depict reed boats with keels on the side.

   But what clinched Goerlitz's conviction was a lowly plant called the bottle gourd. Goerlitz, who says he makes his living as a freelance lecturer, is working on his doctorate in invasion biology at the University of Bonn.

   For more than a decade, he has bugged his professors about how the bottle gourd, which was essential for the development of irrigation and agriculture across a world that had not yet discovered pottery, managed to spring as a full-blown domesticated plant within a relatively short time in Asia, the Americas and Africa.

   The standard answer was that the seed was first domesticated in one place, and then floated to the other places.

   'I asked my botany professor, and he shrugged his shoulders,' Goerlitz said. ''We assume it got there under its own power,' I was told. 'Ask the archeologists'.' The archeologists didn't know either, and they sent Goerlitz to the ethnologists, who also didn't know.

   Goerlitz was convinced that the answer lay in vibrant long- distance ocean voyages, carried out for trade or colonization long before historians believe was possible.

   Goerlitz found confirmation in more recent molecular biology studies showing that the bottle gourd, in fact, grew 9,000 years ago in southern Africa, and yet also emerged as a full-blown domesticated plant, without any evidence of gradual cultivation, in the Americas about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.

   'There's amazing evidence that people could sail in every direction, and the evidence in the books must be completely wrong. People who spread agriculture ... from Asia to Africa, these must have been advanced sailors,' Goerlitz said.

   The Abora's website, www.abora3.de, will be posting live reports on the journey, estimated to cost more than 500,000 dollars.


Learning is a treasure which accompanies its owner everywhere.
« Reply #32 on: July 11, 2007, 02:17:57 PM »

Carved and decorated gourd
This gourd, intricately carved and decorated with silver, resembles a pipe-stem. A pipe attachment would have been inserted in the central opening in the body of the gourd. It was most likely donated by the India Museum to Kew in 1879, when the South Kensington-based museum closed its doors.

   For more than a decade, he has bugged his professors about how the bottle gourd, which was essential for the development of irrigation and agriculture across a world that had not yet discovered pottery, managed to spring as a full-blown domesticated plant within a relatively short time in Asia, the Americas and Africa.

   The standard answer was that the seed was first domesticated in one place, and then floated to the other places.

   'I asked my botany professor, and he shrugged his shoulders,' Goerlitz said. ''We assume it got there under its own power,' I was told. 'Ask the archeologists'.' The archeologists didn't know either, and they sent Goerlitz to the ethnologists, who also didn't know.

   Goerlitz was convinced that the answer lay in vibrant long- distance ocean voyages, carried out for trade or colonization long before historians believe was possible.

   Goerlitz found confirmation in more recent molecular biology studies showing that the bottle gourd, in fact, grew 9,000 years ago in southern Africa, and yet also emerged as a full-blown domesticated plant, without any evidence of gradual cultivation, in the Americas about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Lagenaria siceraria: Genetic and archaeological evidence for the early history of domesticated bottle gourd:

Bruce D. Smith

Archaeobiology Program, Department of Anthropology, NMNH,

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560, USA

Over the past several decades, new genetic and archaeological approaches have substantially improved our understanding of the transition to agriculture, a major turning point in human history that began 11,000 - 5,000 years ago with the independent domestication of plants and animals in at least eight separate world regions. Biologists and archaeologists interested in understanding the initial domestication of plants in the Americas, however, have long been puzzled by the apparent very early presence of the bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) in the New World. Thought to be indigenous to Africa, this ideal container crop has been reported in archaeological contexts in East Asia by 9,000-8,000 cal. B.P., and to have had a broad New World distribution by 8,000 cal. B.P. This paper presents the results of a recent collaborative research project integrating genetic and archaeological approaches and designed to address a set of core questions regarding the early history the bottle gourd. Was it indigenous to the Americas, and if not did it reach the New World directly from Africa or through Asia? If introduced, was it transported by humans or by ocean currents? Was it wild or domesticated upon arrival, and where was it first domesticated? Fruit rind thickness values and accelerator mass spectrometer radiocarbon dating of archaeological specimens indicate that the bottle gourd was present in the Americas as a domesticated plant by 10,000 cal. B.P., placing it among the earliest domesticates in the New World. Ancient DNA sequence analysis of archaeological bottle gourd specimens and comparison with modern Asian and African landraces identify Asia as the source of its introduction. The bottle gourd, like the dog, was a �utility� species. Both appear to have been domesticated somewhere in Asia long before any food crops or livestock species, and both could well have been brought to the Americas by Paleoindian populations as they colonized the New World.

Bottle gourds

The bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) is particularly interesting because it is one of the few plants that was cultivated in both the Old and New Worlds in prehistoric times. Several early civilisations used its dried fruits as storage containers; the ancient Hawaiians alone had over 40 different uses for it. The plant may have originated in Africa. Its dry fruits, capable of floating for considerable periods, were probably distributed to South America by sea.

Bottle gourds are also sometimes known as calabashes, not to be confused with the fruits of the calabash tree (Crescentia cujete). They come in an amazing variety of shapes, sizes and colours. Some may reach 3 m in length whilst others may be up to 2 m round. Colours vary from dark green to almost white and they may be mottled or striped, warted, ridged or smooth.

Probably the first, and still the most important, use of the bottle gourd was as a water carrier. The natural hourglass shape of some varieties allowed a rope to be attached. They were also used as containers for making butter, cheese and beer, and for storing dry materials such as grains.

In Japan, the bottle gourd itself was eaten - the flesh was cut into strips and dried in the sun before consumption. Amongst the medicinal uses of the bottle gourd were as a purgative, an antidote for certain poisons and a cure for coughs. An infusion of the seeds was drunk to cure chills and for headaches, and juice from the leaves was taken against jaundice and to cure baldness! In early Peruvian civilisations, bottle gourds were even used in head surgery. A broken piece of skull was replaced by a piece of gourd shell, and the skin stitched back over it.

Bottle gourds are also used as floats for fishing nets and in raft-making. An unusual method of catching ducks involved floating bottle gourds on lakes for several days so that the ducks became used to them. Hunters, with their heads concealed by other gourds, would then swim towards the ducks and catch hold of them from under water.

Dried gourds can be carved into spoons, pipes, snuff boxes and bird houses, decorated as ornaments and made into articles of clothing such as hats, masks and penis sheaths. They are also widely used in musical instruments including rattles, xylophones and drums as well as wind and stringed instruments.

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« Reply #33 on: July 12, 2007, 03:51:28 AM »

NEW YORK � A 41-foot raft made of reeds and wooden planks set out Wednesday on voyage from New York to Spain, a daring and perhaps foolhardy attempt to prove people in the Stone Age could have crossed the Atlantic. The fragile-looking craft was towed down the harbor past the Statue of Liberty, to be cut loose once it passed into the open sea. At the helm was Dominique Gorlitz, 41, a German botanist and ex-teacher who has spent years preparing for the expedition.

 �We are trying to retrace the ancient waterways to prove that prehistoric people crossed the ocean both ways,� Gorlitz said as the Abora III, named for a Canary Island sun god, cast off. He estimated the voyage would take five weeks to Pontevedra, Spain, where success would prove that mariners predating Columbus by 12,000 years could have navigated the ocean by sailing against � as well as with � prevailing winds. The Abora III will use leeboards to steer like a modern sailboat. A stop was planned at the Azores.

Gorlitz's crew of 10 men and two women have enough food for 100 days, fresh water and a few modern amenities � satellite phones, navigational gear and generator-powered laptops.  The group seemed unfazed at crossing the Atlantic during hurricane season in a tiny craft with two wooden huts and a toilet shack on deck. �If I was not confident that we could do this, I would not do it,� Gorlitz said.

Gorlitz's theory is based on traces of tobacco and coca � substances native to the New World � having been found in an Egyptian pharaoh's tomb, as well as cave drawings in Spain he says suggest that people 14,000 years ago understood ocean currents. Kenneth L. Feder, an anthropology professor at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Conn., said Abora III's trip cannot prove any of that.

�I wish them well, but for a proper replicative experiment in archaeology, the culture has to be consistent,� he said in a telephone interview. �How can they replicate the past accurately by using evidence from thousands of years ago in Egypt and a boat similar to those built 800 years ago in South America? These are completely different periods.�

He said there were other possible ways for nicotine and coca to have turned up � possibly from now-unknown plants in Africa, or even from �mummy unwrapping parties� in 19th century England.  �This trip proves that if you are brave and foolhardy you can sail a primitive boat across the Atlantic, but that's all it proves,� Feder said.



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« Reply #34 on: July 12, 2007, 10:01:40 PM »

" He said there were other possible ways for nicotine and coca to have turned up � possibly from now-unknown plants in Africa, or even from �mummy unwrapping parties� in 19th century England.  �This trip proves that if you are brave and foolhardy you can sail a primitive boat across the Atlantic, but that's all it proves,� Feder said. "

The dogma nevers changes, the exact same thing was said when Heyerdahl sailed. Never mind that the rest of the facts are ignored.


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« Reply #35 on: October 26, 2007, 10:20:27 AM »

Public release date: 17-Oct-2007
Contact: Suzanne Wu

University of Chicago Press Journals

Fossilized cashew nuts reveal Europe was important route between Africa and South America

Cashew nut fossils have been identified in 47-million year old lake sediment in Germany, revealing that the cashew genus Anacardium was once distributed in Europe, remote from its modern �native� distribution in Central and South America. It was previously proposed that Anacardium and its African sister genus, Fegimanra, diverged from their common ancestor when the landmasses of Africa and South America separated. However, groundbreaking new data in the October issue of the International Journal of Plant Sciences indicate that Europe may be an important biogeographic link between Africa and the New World.

�The occurrence of cashews in both Europe and tropical America suggests that they were distributed in both North America and Europe during the Tertiary and spread across the North Atlantic landbridge that linked North America and Europe by way of Greenland before the rifting and divergence of these landmasses,� explain Steven R. Manchester (University of Florida), Volker Wilde (Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Sektion Palaeobotanik, Frankfurt am Main, Germany), and Margaret E. Collinson (Royal Holloway University of London, UK). �They apparently became extinct in northern latitudes with climatic cooling near the end of the Tertiary and Quaternary but were able to survive at more southerly latitudes.�

The cashew family (Anacardiaceae) includes trees, shrubs, and climbers prominent in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate climates around the world. A key feature is an enlarged hypocarp, or fleshy enlargement of the fruit stalk, which is a specialized structure known only in the cashew family.

The researchers examined possible fossil remains found in the Messel oil shales, near Darmstadt, Germany, which are dated to about 47 million years before the present and reveal the presence of a �conspicuously thickened� stalk. In four out of five specimens, this hypocarp was still firmly attached to the nut, indicating that the two were dispersed as a unit. According to the researchers, the size and shape of the hypocarp � like a teardrop and two or three times longer than it is wide � support its assignation to the Anacardium genus, common to South America, rather than the African Fegimanra genus, though the fossils have features common to both.

�The occurrence of Anacardium in the early Middle Eocene of Germany suggests . . . that the two genera [Anacardium and Fegimanra] diverged after dispersal between Europe and Africa,� the researchers write. �Presumably, Anacardium traversed the North American landbridge during the Early or Middle Eocene, at a time of maximal climatic warmth, when higher latitudes were habitable by frost-sensitive plants.�

The astoundingly close similarity between the fossil and modern day Anacardium also indicates little evolutionary change to the cashew since the mid-Eocene period: �Although cashews have been cultivated for human consumption for centuries, it is clear that they were in existence millions of years before humans. The cashew had already evolved more than 45 million years ago, apparently in association with biotic dispersers,� they write.


A major outlet for botanical research since 1875, the International Journal of Plant Sciences presents the results of original, peer-reviewed investigations from laboratories around the world in all areas of the plant sciences. Topics covered include genetics and genomics, developmental and cell biology, biochemistry and physiology, morphology and structure, systematics, plant-microbe interactions, paleobotany, evolution, and ecology.

Steven R. Manchester, Volker Wilde, and Margaret E. Collinson, �Fossil Cashew Nuts from the Eocene of Europe: Biogeographic Links Between Africa and South America.� International Journal of Plant Sciences 68(Cool:1199-1206.

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