Prehistory

Is Humanity Doomed?

If you have ever read about our ancestors, you were probably taught that, at the end of the last Ice Age, the citizens of North America hunted the many species of megafauna (giant mammals) to extinction. After all, why not assume terrible humans are responsible for all that death?

As it turns out, evidence has been growing of a planet-altering catastrophe as the cause. Most likely an impact event centered over North America (which endured most of the extinctions), with indications of impact craters littered across the East Coast.

Why is this so fascinating? Because it reminded me of the tendency of some people to immediately blame humans for every terrible event to befall the planet. These are the same people, with their dour and glum outlook, whom have been predicting for decades, that we only have a decade or two before we destroy the planet, run out of energy, and starve to death.

Then the decades pass, and the apocalyptic scenarios do not. Continue reading

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Categories: Ancient America, History, Native Americans, Prehistory | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Turn Right, and Meet Me in the Lost World

In my review of travel adventure books, we have searched for Sheba and explorers of the New World. We have also disappeared into the jungles of Latin America on the trail of lost cities. Now we will return to uncovering the ancient world.

Mark Adams set a benchmark for travel adventure lit with his Turn Right at Machu Picchu. This fish-out-of-water follows the trail of legendary explorer Hiram Bingham who brought Machu Picchu, the hidden Inca mountain refuge, to the world’s attention. A perfect combination of Adams’ travails and history — every bit a page turner as a novel.

Adams followed this adventure up with Meet Me in Atlantis. Here he tries to hunt down the true experts of the legendary lost city, among a field known for, how should I put it, fringe thinkers. His hunt leads to many possibilities, and even though not as much adventuring as his first book, it is a refreshing change to the libraries full of bizarre Atlantis speculations.

Now we turn to David RobertsThe Lost World of the Old Ones where he continues his many years of hiking off-trail into the Southwest. Readers will be amazed at how much lies undiscovered and unknown about the civilizations that once populated these states. Roberts chronicles the politics, history and conflicting visions that have attempted to preserve the past — not always successfully. A fascinating and entertaining account that will remind people that United States has its own lost civilization still waiting for discovery

mcpic

Categories: Ancient America, Ancient Sites, artifacts, History, Native Americans, Prehistory | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Raising Giza

The pyramids of Giza. The last of the Seven Wonders of the World. They have spawned endless speculation into the methods of their construction and purpose. Much of it bizarre: Aliens built it. It’s a power plant. A weapon. Vault of lost knowledge.

This all makes for a lot of absurd — I mean interesting — speculation. And occasional fun fiction. In this case, though, fact is far more interesting.

In The Secret of the Great Pyramid, Egyptologist Bob Brier chronicles the quest of architect Jean-Pierre Houdin to unlock the secret of the Great Pyramids assembly. Rather than resorting to stargates and levitation, Houdin looked at it with an eye honed by design and engineering: Moving and raising blocks is physics. No advanced math is needed. No spaceships either. That doesn’t mean it was easy.

Realize that Egyptians wrote about nearly everything, except how they built pyramids, which adds even more to their mystique. Brier recounts their history, which began with others before those at Giza. A bit of science, a bit of trial and error. Eventually it was perfected. I won’t reveal the details here, but it seems we may have long been looking for an answer too complicated. Sometimes simple is all that is needed.

Perhaps most fascinating is that pyramids came early in Egyptian history rather than later. We continue to learn that the ancients were quite intelligent. Too often we look back and down on those who have faded into history — “chronological snobbery” C.S. Lewis called it. They were smart, just had a different level of technology and knowledge base. Discoveries continue to show that mankind’s intelligence existed very early, if not from the beginning.

Our modern nations have existed for an eye-blink in time. Will we approach the longevity of ancient empires? Or will we be crushed under the weight of our misplaced stones?

So perhaps the pyramids carry a message after all.

pyr

Categories: Ancient Sites, History, Origins of Man, Prehistory | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Noah’s Ark Lands in Hollywood

Expensive biblical epics haven’t been a staple of Hollywood for decades, but this week saw the release of the first trailer of Noah which will hit theaters in early 2014.

Enter controversy.

Some like J.W. Wartick have written on concerns over possible “divergence from the Biblical story.” Fair enough, but I don’t have a problem with divergence, if it is in the sense Brian Godawa describes:

…there is nothing wrong with engaging in creative license, whether it is magical seeds or six-armed Watchers, or even Noah as a warrior. I don’t even think there is a problem in using non-biblical sources like the Book of Enoch or the Sumerian version of the Flood story, where unlike in the Bible, Noah receives dreams about the coming Deluge. The question is, does it support the spirit or meaning of the original story, or the original author’s intent. Bible believing Christians do not necessarily own this category of Biblical interpretation. The Bible doesn’t say what vocation Noah had before the Flood, only what he was afterward (a tiller of the soil). So if a Christian attacks the notion of Noah as a warrior shaman, he may really be illustrating his own cultural prejudice of the notion of a white bearded old farmer which is not in the Bible either…[bold mine]

However, Godawa does discuss quite a few concerns he had with an earlier draft of the script. Having only seen a brief clip of the movie, and not knowing how the script evolved or was edited, I’m not going to add or subtract from his analysis other than this: I do like how the film trailer does not depict Noah as a pastoral old man leading cute, Narnia-like animals into an ark. This Sunday School-fantasy version ignores the terror — and ultimately the point — of the account: Horrible evil is occurring in the world and mankind will be wiped out because of it. The actual story — an adult one — has been co-opted by preschoolers. Perhaps the film will spark debate on how shallow our take on Noah has become.

Hopefully, the filmmakers chose not to put modern agendas into an iconic account from the ancient world. There’s enough historical contextual sources to draw from, as Godawa does in his own novel on Noah. In a film of this budget, studios try not to be too offensive to anyone. It is a business after all. Then again, many big budget films failed in 2013.

Time will tell if Noah emerges under a rainbow or washes out.

Update [3/2/14, 3/17/14]: After continuing controversy over a film not released, Jerry A. Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), discusses Five Positive Facts and Five Negative Facts about the film. Johnson and the NRB were behind the recent press release from Paramount Pictures which states, “the feature film is a dramatization of the major scriptural themes and not a line-by-line retelling of the Bible story.”

Apparently the NRB thinks the Christian world is not intelligent enough to figure that out on their own. On the other hand, the “Sunday School-fantasy version” of Noah I discussed above that many envision in their minds is not “a line-by-line retelling of the Bible story” either.

And here, Dr. Hugh Ross looks at the biblical Noah account here and here. Or check out his new book that explores this and other issues of Genesis.

Update [4/3/14]: Here’s an interesting debate: Is Noah a Gnostic interpretation or not.

Categories: Ancient Documents, Bible, Prehistory | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunken Continent?

Scientists have found evidence of a lost land off South America. Sunken part of that continent? Or a completely unknown land from deep history?

It’s the kind of thing that fiction is made of.

Categories: Forgotten Places, Mysteries, Prehistory | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

News From the Past & A Warning From Above

If you have completely lost interest in what the media chooses for news every night and in the daily papers, and the incompetence of the government makes you want to never turn the news on again, here’s some interesting recent stories:

The latest finds on Stonehenge indicate it started as a huge graveyard. Stonehenge’s importance for the dead has long been known, but these finds continue to roll back myths about aliens and druids building the ancient structure.

There’s a lot of empty space in Pacific Ocean and there has long been speculation of lost lands (and civilizations). Now the remains of a micro-continent scientists have named Mauritia have been found.

The Sahara continues to reveal North Africa was more than a desert in ancient times, giving up remains of stone age peoples.

And while the government can’t agree on what to waste our money on next, asteroids have been making a number of visits to Earth as of late. Impact events have changed Earth’s, and our, history in the past.

But, hey, Congress is busy buying each other’s votes and pretending they are looking out for you. You have nothing to worry about.

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Gilgamesh: The Warrior King

Brian Godawa has been writing a fascinating fantasy series that takes place in the ancient Near East. It began with Noah Primeval which was rooted in the question, “What was going on in the world that was so horrible that mankind needed destroyed?” The series continued with Enoch Primordial (actually a prequel), which centered around the enigmatic Enoch. A man barely mentioned in the biblical accounts, but because he never died, and the other books attributed to him recount many a strange event, he has long been a person of high speculation.

Godawa now steps out from filling in between the lines of the biblical accounts with Gilgamesh Immortal. Taking off from events in the Noah episode, the tale of Gilgamesh provides a link to storie Godawa has next that is centered around Babel. One can’t study Near Wast cultures in a vacuum, so bringing in the most famous character from that region’s legends that isn’t chronicled in the biblical accounts was a perfect idea. Gilgamesh, a king and warrior of Mesopotamia, rules his empire with an iron fist. He has everything. Then he encounters a Wild Man that is his equal in many ways, and better in others. He begins to realize there has to be something more.

He wants immortality.

There begins his quest to conquer the weak and silent gods of old. These fallen angels had largely been destroyed and contained during the Great Flood, but he seeks out their remnant. It’s a journey full of adventure and death, while one of the most sinister of these “gods” is about to re-emerge and try to take Gilgamesh’s kingdom.

This book, along with the others, have Godawa’s trademark fast-paced storytelling. Their combination of fantasy and history is a largely original take on the people and places they are centered around. He also draws on the elusive references to Nephilim, Watchers and “sons of god” in the bible and other writings. For centuries, people have debated exactly what these beings were. Essentially Godawa is saying, “Maybe these references aren’t so mysterious. Maybe all of the ancient legends of battling gods aren’t just myth. Perhaps there are kernels of truth in them. Maybe there is a reason that the ancient cultures believed in them so much.”

It’s an intriguing premise. Perhaps it sounds irrational in our supposedly advanced world. But it’s perfectly reasonable to ask why did the ancient world pay so much credence to such things? Was it all just because of active imaginations? Or have we left behind part of our history we chose to forget?

Godawa’s series not only entertains, it asks such questions. And it gives us one possible imagining of the answers. It could have happened like this.

Categories: Bible, Books, Fiction, Legend, Prehistory, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apocalypse Time

Here’s something to read while you are hunkered down in your bunker tonight waiting for the Mayan Apocalypse: 6 Real Threats Facing the US. Note the article doesn’t list the government’s poor responses to disasters or their driving us to a financial collapse…

It’s probably too late now, but The Mayan and Other Ancient Calendars is an informative little book on the ancient world’s time-keeping. Or for a more detailed examination of their skywatching, try Stairways to the Stars. This book is far more fascinating than those by people who pretend to know something about the Mayans.

There’s still time to go buy canned chicken. Hey, doesn’t hurt to be prepared. It’s not like the government is going to help you out whether it’s Mayans, snowstorms or whatever may come your way.

Categories: Native Americans, Prehistory | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Enoch: The Merging of History and Fantasy

There are but a handful of vague references to Enoch in the Bible. One of those is one of the most enigmatic passages in the Bible, for it states Enoch was taken by God and did not die. That, combined with the non-canonical book I Enoch and its writings on the Watchers (another little-explained item in the Bible), has made Enoch long the center of speculation. Who was he? What did he do? Brian Godawa attempts to answer these mysteries in the second volume of his epic-ancient-history-based series, Enoch Primordial.

In his first book, Noah Primeval, the premise was, what had the world degenerated to that required its destruction? In that world the Nephilim controled the world, filling it with their evil corruptions. In Enoch we see how those beings rose to power and the first rebellions against them.

This book is actually a prequel to the first. I suspect the author released his story on Noah first because he is better known. In esoteric circles, Enoch is at the center of speculation on the nature of the Nephilim, The Watchers and Sons of God. In the appendix to the first book, Godawa delves into the biblical and historical backgrounds of these enigmas and also draws from the myths of contemporary cultures to the ancient Hebrews. The question is posed, what if those myths, and the Nephilim of the Bible, were references to the fallen beings of heaven?

That premise underlies Enoch and Godawa creates an action-laced adventure full of fantastic beings and battles that draws on the whispers of history. The early pre-Abraham chapters of Genesis have the feel of great antiquity – almost an outline of the distant past, short of detail. While Godawa’s book is fiction – and perhaps the best example of a new sub-genre of fantasy sometimes referred to speculative fiction – he has managed to piece together a story that is not only gripping, but with more hints of truth than all the oddball, esoteric “nonfiction” writers out there.

In the appendix he gives more background detail to his story. I generally don’t like when authors start explaining things, but here it adds to the story, making one wonder where fiction ends and fact begins. His stories are set during the Late Bronze Age or thereabouts. I would argue that these stories are much older and far removed from us. Nevertheless, whatever or preconceived notions are about a novel that draws from biblical accounts, if you are a fan of fantasy or historical adventure, this series should be on your must read list.

Categories: Bible, Books, Fiction, Prehistory, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Exactly Were the Neanderthals?

The status and sophistication of the hominid species Neanderthal has been a matter of debate for decades. Once thought to be an ancestor man, genetic studies show it to be unrelated, though some studies have shown possible limited interbreeding. But how advanced were they? They existed for over a 100 millenia and went extinct about the same time man was making his big push across the globe. One recent study concludes they were building boats. They are the only other known hominid to ever approach man’s abilities.

Like all other hominids and primates, they pose a bit of problem for evolution in that they appear suddenly in history. The “family tree” of man is technically made up of assumed connections between bone fragments. Even though largely not considered man’s ancestor, they are often still referred as a “cousin” or such to fit into the evolutionary paradigm. This why some creationists still pretend they are humans in spite of the evidence. Taking this track instead of focusing on the more obvious problems doesn’t make a lot sense. I suspect this is just to fit this mysterious species into their own flawed interpretation of Earth’s history.

So where do neanderthals fit into the picture? How advanced did they get? Were they simply the latest in a long line of increasingly advanced primates, as some have suggested, designed to prepare the world for man? No evidence of religion or similar levels of sentience is known among them. Their use of simple tools is not unheard of in the animal world. But boats?

We pretend we have explained man’s past and the other beings we share the planet with. It takes only a quick glance to find that each new discovery has only proven we know very little.

It was religion that first said we all originated from the same ancestors, in one location and that intelligence and religion existed from the beginning. Science and history have caught up and verified these claims. Yet many still close one eye to the flaws and holes in evolution and young-earth creationism.

Perhaps someday people will allow facts lead to where they may without trying to bend them around a preconceived conclusion.

[For more on man’s past, see Who was Adam?.]

Categories: Mysteries, Origins of Man, Prehistory | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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