Re-Blog: What Were Pyramids For?


(Originally posted 9/12/2017 on Read With The Gringa)

What do you think about pyramids? A mystery? A fascinating bit of architectural engineering? Monuments to an ancient civilization? Cool place to visit? Tourist trap? Biggest tombs ever built?


If those were your answers, you might have been right on all accounts except one, maybe. There seems to be some wiggle room about whether or not the pyramids were originally constructed as the final resting places of Egypt’s ancient pharaohs. Here’s what we know:

  • No mummies have ever been found within any of the 3 great pyramids of Giza. 

But does that mean that these amazing structures were not tombs? The gringa says, “Not so fast.” Despite the insistence of UFOlogists and ancient alien enthusiasts who argue that, if not tombs, then power generators of celestial origins, there is still plenty of other evidence to support the traditional belief that the pyramids were burial complexes.

With regard to the 3 great pyramids of Giza, they were constructed from 2550-2490 BC. The tallest was built by Pharaoh Khufu. His pyramid is flanked by smaller ones dedicated to Pharaoh Khafre and Pharaoh Menkaure. But Khufu’s remains have never been found. Khafre’s pyramid was also empty. Menkaure’s mummy may or may not have been found. 

There are allegations that part of Menkaure’s mummy may be in the British Museum of London’s Egyptian artifact collection. But there is much controversy that surrounds the authenticity of the remains. Within his pyramid was found a wooden coffin inside a chamber believed to be the king’s chamber. The coffin contained mummified fragments.

So, despite the fact that mummies were not actually discovered is no reason to discount the pyramids as tombs. There have been plenty of other artifacts, burial paraphernalia and relics of Egypt’s ancient death rituals that makes it clear that these were the resting places of ancient Egyptian royalty. The following items were found in Khufu’s great pyramid when it was unsealed in 1925:

  • Access shafts filled in with limestone masonry, bedrock and plaster until solid to prevent entry from outsiders.
  • An entry at the end of the access shaft featuring a doorway bearing the official seal of King Khufu. 
  • A small entry chamber, 15’x8′, clad in gold and bearing inscriptions identifying the contents of the chamber as the burial belongings of Khufu’s mother, Queen Hetepheres.
  • A gold and ebony carrying chair belonging to Queen Hetepheres.
  • The Queen’s palace furniture: golden gilt bed, chairs and storage chests.
  • Jewelry of silver, lapis-lazuli, turquoise and carnelian wrought in the shape of butterflies.
  • Golden toiletry set of wash bowl, water jug, razor, and cosmetic jars.
  • Alabaster chest containing the mummified internal organs of the Queen.
  • The Queen’s empty sarcophagus.

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There are also those who point to how small many of the coffins and sarcophagi are. They claim that they were never meant to house a human body. But once you understand what happened to the human body during an ancient Egyptian burial ritual, you understand why the coffins are so small. 

For one thing, the dehydration process performed resulted in significant shrinkage. So, no, ancient Egyptians were not small, dwarfish half-alien/half-human creatures. I mean, think about it. When adventurers encountered deep jungle tribal people, got slaughtered, and their remains cannibalized and leaving behind a shrunken head trophy made to commemorate their ill-fated visit, nobody supposes that those adventurers were diminutive space aliens traipsing about South American jungles.

So, just because no one seems to be found to be at home and receiving guests at the pyramids, that doesn’t mean they were not originally intended to reside there. Tomb raiders have had centuries to ransack these resting places. Once notorious tomb raiders made local ancient headlines, there is no doubt that many Pharaohs built their elaborate burial shrines with instructions for a burial service with all the pomp and circumstance royalty deserves. But then a secret plan to actually bury the kings and queens at an unknown address was carried out in the dead of night. 

Why should such a possibility be beyond belief? After all, doesn’t that sound familiar to those dear readers with a Judeo-Christian background? Doesn’t the bibilical story go that god hid Moses’ body when he died in the wilderness? Why would such a strange detail be a part of the story? Because at that particular time in ancient history, the local cultures were rife with bad guys who would rob the burial places of famous leaders hoping to enrich themselves with a tidy stash of loot.

So, sorry to all you dear readers who are still holding out hope that ancient extra-terrestrial ancestors shared natural power generator technology with the Egyptians. That’s not what happened. The great pyramids are the result of something very common: mankind’s desire for immortality, the desire to never be forgotten, and incredible ego that demands a monument to its greatness.

But, really, when you study the real history of ancient Egyptian culture, religion and the kings and queens who led each kingdom, it’s fascinating. Why would you need to make up something else like space aliens?

Sources: 

Image Credits: 

Ancient Egypt

Video Credit:

Getty Museum

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Curses! Curses, I Say! Or, Maybe Not


If you’ve ever indulged in the fantasy of an Indiana Jones-style adventure, the gringa knows EXACTLY how you feel! Epic excitement and mystery! But what the heck is up with all of those curses? Are they real? Have people died mysteriously because they explored ancient Egyptian tombs? Is there any science to explain how it happened? Were ancient Egyptians magical booby-trap designers?

Let’s look at the curse of all curses, the Curse of the Pharaohs.  It claims that if you disturb the resting place of any ancient Egyptian (not just a pharaoh), you are in for big trouble. So, that would stand to reason, in the gringa’s mind, that if you messed about with a pharaoh’s tomb, you should get trouble on an exponential level.

The most famous ancient Egyptian pharaoh tomb in modern history to be explored is that of Tutankhamun, discovered by Howard Carter November 4, 1922. Was a curse released when the tomb’s seal was broken 3 months later on February 16, 1923? Well, apparently there were quite a few deaths that occurred:

George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert,  Earl of Carnarvon (we’ll just call him George-and, Downtown Abbey fans, yes, THAT Carnarvon!), was the fella who paid for the adventure.  About 5 weeks after the seal was broken, March 25, 1923, rich, ol’ George dropped dead from a mosquito bite that became infected when he cut himself shaving shortly after he arrived in Cairo.

Was such a death a rare occurrence, thus indicative of supernatural causes? Nope.  According to industrial records from 1923, contained within “The Industrial Bulletin, Volumes 1-5”, 16 deaths were filed with the US Workmen’s Compensation Bureas in a single MONTH, deaths caused by infection of cuts received on the job. As recent as 2010 more than 27,000 people died from sepsis specifically related to bedsores. In other words, they died when their wounds and sores became infected.

The gringa’s inclined to think that ol’ George’s death was not because of a pharaoh’s curse but just bad hygiene and bad luck. He also had a reputation for being a rather sickly fellow in the first place. No wonder, then, that a tiny mosquito back and contaminated razor cut did him in. But what of the other folks said to have died from Tut’s curse?

George had a half-brother, Colonel Aubrey Herbert, MP. He was a radiologist and X-rayed King Tut. He died six months after his brother, September 26, 1923, from arsenic poisoning.  Now, brother Aubrey had bad eyesight all of his life. He was practically blind and a dentist thought he could solve the problem.  Instead, he got poisoned. Crazy as it sounds, arsenic has a long and illustrious history of use in dentistry, often used as a pain reliever and root canal treatment. Was brother Aubrey a victim of supernatural vengeance? Probably not.  Just another victim in a long line of dental victims. Even today you get your teeth capped or drilled at your own risk. A dentist patient dies, on average in America, every other day.

So what about the American railway mogul, George Jay Gould? He died from a fever after he visited the tomb. Also quite common.

Then there’s Egyptian prince, Ali Kamel Fah. His wife shot him dead not long after he enjoyed a photo safari of the tomb. The gringa thinks the wrath of a wife probably has nothing at all to do with anyone that’s been dead for millennia.

Another guy who X-rayed the mummy, Sir Archibald Douglas Reid, also died. Supposedly from a mystery illness but the gringa’s pretty sure that travel to exotic places often resulted in all kinds of mystery illnesses in 1924 that are, today, considered quite common.

Another victim of gun violence who visited the tomb was the governor of Sudan, Sir Lee Stack. He was shot while driving through the streets of Cairo. Methinks the possibility of an assassin’s bullet, inspired by nationalist fervor, angry at all of these foreigners desecrating the revered resting places of their ancestors is more likely than a curse. Maybe it was a politically motivated assassination by factions unhappy with foreign powers involved in the Sudan. Or, it could have been the work of a greedy tomb raider who wants all these folks gone so they can stage a raid and enjoy some profit.

And then tragedy strikes George’s family, yet again, when his other brother, Mervyn Herbert, dies of malaria related pneumonia. But, there again, dying from malaria, even today, when visiting an exotic locale, is nothing mysterious.

Another guy on George’s team, A. C. Mace, also died of arsenic poisoning in 1928.  Rather than think sinister spirits were flitting about for five years wreaking havoc on unsuspecting curiosity seekers, the gringa thinks it’s more likely that Mace made an unfortunate visit to the dentist.

And what of Captain Richard Bethell? Dead from self-inflicted poisoning, munching on toxic tidbits in bed, much like how the gringa snacks on bon-bons while enjoying a good book. Stupidity or suicide, I say, not a curse. Most likely suicide because, a year later, his father committed suicide by jumping from the seventh floor of an apartment building.

Although it is disturbing to see the number of deaths that occurred within just a few years of opening King Tut’s tomb, the details reveal credible reasons, some with scientific evidence, to explain them as quite normal and of this world. So, if you plan to visit Egypt, don’t be afraid of any, ol’ curse. Visit the tombs. Explore the pyramids. Ride some camels. But get inoculated for malaria before you go, sleep under mosquito netting, use insect repellant, and wear long sleeves!

Sources:

World Travel Guide

South Coast Herald

Dallas News

National Institutes of Health

Mirror UK

Live Science

The Daily Beast

Google Books

Image Credit:  Unrated Film

Operation Scan


Have you heard of Operation Scan Pyramids? This effort is authorized by the nation of Egypt who has partnered with institutions of higher learning and technology industries around the world. Their mission is to use 3D scanning technologies to solve the 4500 year old mysteries of the pyramids. Using high-tech tools like 3D scanners, infrared thermography and photogrammetry, it has been a work in progress for 12 months now. And now, finally, things are getting interesting.

The latest findings have revealed two anomalies that researchers suspect could be two rooms, or “voids”, inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. Why does this matter? The main thing scientists want to know is how this Wonder of the Ancient World was constructed. Here we are nearly 5,000 years later with technology that can get a probe to Mars but a human being still can’t construct a pyramid.

Conspiracy theorists would hope that such construction clues would link mankind to cosmic origins. However, it is more likely that more mundane explanations will be determined as to what these voids are. It is more likely that they are obstacles designed into the pyramid to prevent would-be invaders from successfully making their way to the burial chamber. With one void near the pyramid’s entrance, the gringa imagines some deadly booby-trap like an ancient guillotine or something of that sort tripped once an intruder crosses the threshold.

The gringa awaits spellbound for the next revelation. The only advice I can offer is that if you decide to try to sneak a peek yourself, make sure that you’re wearing a helmet.

 

Sources:

www.scanpyramids.org

www.ibtimes.co.uk

Image Credit:  travelingcanucks.com

Good Guy/Bad Guy – Who Needs ’em?


The good guy/bad guy narrative is a literary classic. It seems rooted in religious beliefs of good and evil and non-religious esoteric beliefs of Yin & Yang. For every good guy there seems to be a universal need for a counterbalancing bad guy. Is this realistic? Is this necessary? The gringa would like to believe that bad guys and evil are simply obsolete. I mean, haven’t we reached that point yet in the evolution of humanity that we don’t need the contrast of the bad in order to recognize and appreciate what is good? And if we are basing our good guy/bad guy theory on ancient teachings that use real world examples of good and evil, what if those past histories are incorrect? After all, aren’t historical records always skewed according to the perspective of the author, whether they be the victor or the vanquished?

Take, for example, one of the earliest examples of good guy/bad guy: Egypt and the ancient Israelites. According to the religious teachings of Judaism and Christianity, it is widely accepted that the Egyptians were the “bad guys”, enslaving the Hebrew people who were eventually chosen by God to be the “good guys”. However, historians and archaeologists who specialize in Egyptian history, not to mention Egyptians themselves, argue that this is an unfair depiction of the relationship between the ancient Egyptian empires and the surrounding less powerful nations and peoples. Can science and historians reveal the truth?

David Wolpe is a rabbinical scholar who argues that archaeological evidence simply does not support the biblical notion that ancient Egypt practiced widespread enslavement of the Hebrew people, or any people for that matter. But just because evidence hasn’t been found doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. So let’s look at the historical facts that are known and the science of archaeology to understand these facts.

1700 B.C.

Before their enslavement, the Hebrew people migrated to Egypt to survive a famine. The biblical record maintains that they were there for several generations. There is basically a 300 year gap between the appearance of the Joseph story and Moses.

1400 B.C.

The earliest possible date suggested by the Jewish and Christian religious texts for the enslavement of the Hebrew people by Egypt would have been 1400 B.C., in other words, about 300 years after the era of the pyramids.

So what was going on in Egypt from 1700 B.C. to 1400 B.C.? Why would Egypt need widespread enslavement if the grand monuments had already been constructed?

14th Dynasty

Egypt’s 14th Dynasty ruled anywhere from 1725-1650 B.C. or 1805-1650 B.C. depending on which historian you talk to. Regardless, this would have been the dynasty in power when Jewish and Christian texts claim that Joseph took his family to Egypt in order to survive the region’s famine. His family would grow to become the Hebrew people. Does the known history and archaeological science support that a famine occurred in the region during this time? What kind of science might be used to find out?

Interestingly enough, an examination of pollen buried deeply in Egyptian soil around the Nile reveals that a devastating drought occurred at this time in history. This region was dependent upon the annual floods of the Nile Delta to enrich their agricultural lands. A drought would have, indeed, resulted in a famine.

So what would life have been like as an immigrant in an ancient Egyptian kingdom?

Archaeology reveals that rulers during the 14th dynasty had names that indicated Canaanite or Western Semitic origins, with one king and queen with Nubian names. So, it seems that at this time Egypt was an ethnically mixed bag. These kings and queens would be involved in conflicts with neighboring rivals to control the strategic area of the fertile Nile Delta. Control the agriculture, control the food. Eventually a prolonged period of famine and disease weakened the kingdom which then fell to a takeover by the Hyksos. The Hyksos takeover would have occurred after the suggested time of the Hebrew Exodus story.

So, pre-Hyksos Egypt was noted by industrious multi-ethnic rulers who jealously defended the Nile Delta with military might and concentrated on building extravagant monuments to demonstrate their success as rulers. Rulers during the time period 1800 B.C. to 1650 B.C. contain a series of non-contested figures as well as controversial names:

  • Yakbim Sekhaenre (contested): 1805 B.C. – 1780 B.C.
  • Ya’ammu Nubwoserre (contested): 1780 B.C. – 1770 B.C.
  • Qareh Khawoserre (contested): 1770 B.C. – 1760 B.C.
  • Ammu Ahotepre (contested): 1760 B.C. – 1745 B.C.
  • Sheshi Maaibre (contested): 1745 B.C. – 1705 B.C.
  • Nehesy Aasehre (uncontested): 1705 B.C., name means “The Nubian” inscribed on 2 known monuments.
  • Khakherewre (uncontested): 1705 B.C.
  • Nebefawre (uncontested): 1704 B.C.
  • Sehebre (uncontested): 1702-1699 B.C.
  • Merdjefare (uncontested): 1699 B.C.
  • Sewadjkare III (uncontested): 1698 B.C.
  • Nebdjefare (uncontested): 1697-1694 B.C.
  • After this there is a list of names established as Egyptian kings of the 14th Dynasty but without designated dates for their reigns.

What do we know about these kings and the conditions of their kingdoms that might have any affect on the good guy/bad guy designations in the Jewish and Christian religious texts?

  • Majority of the cartouches excavated refer to each reigning king as “son of Ra” in addition to whatever the king’s individual name was.
  • During Sheshi’s reign 1745-1705 B.C., seals with his provenance have been discovered in archaeological digs in Egypt, Nubia and Canaan suggesting that his kingdom enjoyed widespread trade and relations outside the immediate borders of Egypt. Some scholars believe this to be the Sheshai mentioned in Jewish and Christian religious texts as being of the Anakim of Hebron when the Hebrews conquered the land of Canaan.
  • If Sheshi had good trade relations with the people of Canaan and was the ruler of Egypt when the Hebrew people conquered Canaan, it would only be natural that Egypt might then take a posture of hostility toward the Hebrew people.

It is then possible that the ancient Hebrew people were not victims of the ancient Egyptians. They may have been viewed as nomadic invaders who disrupted trade with allies. It reminds the gringa of European history and stories of Viking raiders. The Hebrew people also practiced a foreign religion that was monotheistic. It is easy to see even today how religion can play a big part in hostilities between cultures that can lead up to oppression and even war.

I mean, think about it. The Hebrew people first show up needing a place to survive a famine. Egypt graciously takes them in. Then, after weathering the storm, growing fat and happy as well as increasing in population and herds who need grazing land, the Hebrews, within one generation, rise up and attack a trade ally, Canaan, a rich land for Hebrew herds of sheep and goats. The Hebrew people take over the nation by slaughtering, according to the biblical account, every man, woman and child because God “told them so”. The gringa can imagine the horror of Egypt at these actions. I can also understand how the polytheistic Egyptians would decide that the single God of the Hebrews was a backstabbing baby-killer. No suprise then, that there would be no love loss between Egyptians and Hebrews that continued to live together in Egypt. Hebrews were probably eyed suspiciously and discriminated against, though probably not enslaved.

These resentments, deep in the heart of the Egyptians who saw their trade allies vanquished by people they considered to be dangerous heretics, would have most likely been an attitude that would have been passed down for generations. Just as politicians have used such emotions and history to stir up support for their cause throughout my own country’s history, the gringa thinks it is very possible the same type of politics were at play when it came time for the Hebrew people to rise up, claim oppression, revolt and march out of town. They just seemed to forget that they started it all.

The natural result would be for the Hebrew people to villainize Egypt, victimize themselves, then paint a heroic picture of their escape to inspire their own people and motivate them for noble purposes. On the other hand, the ancient Egyptians would have historians creating records for the pleasure of their rulers. They would depict their nation as benevolent and tolerant. Factions such as the immigrant, nomadic, heretical Hebrews would be painted as radical rebels stirring up unrest and not wanting to work.

So, in the end, the gringa does believe that, much as I would like to think that humanity has evolved to the point where we no longer need the good guy/bad guy narrative because people know better now, that’s simply not the case. As long as we have politicians who have something to gain by exploiting the differences in groups of people, we will always have the good guy/bad guy narrative. But it is a human creation, not a spiritual reality. And for kids who adore science as much as they adore truth, the science involved in archaeology can help resolve many divisive differences that exist today because of politicized religious teachings of yesterday. Become an archaeologist and change the world.

Sources:

www.biblicalarchaeology.org

www.ancientegypt.co.uk

wikipedia.org

Image Credit:  flashtrafficblog.files.wordpress.com

 

Ceres, Dawn, Pyramids & Craters


NASA’s spacecraft Dawn has been on a mission to the planet Ceres which is located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Compared to Earth’s diameter of almost 8,000 miles, Ceres seems tiny with a diameter of less than 600 miles. It is so small that despite its official designation as a minor-planet, there are still those who will call it an asteroid or a dwarf planet. To put it in perspective, the entire surface of Ceres is about the same size as India or Argentina. Whatever the moniker, the dear reader gets the point. Still, UFO and ET enthusiasts like to believe that Ceres was once home to an intelligent otherworldly species that liked to build pyramids. The gringa can only say, “Um, not.”

Why is the gringa so sure of herself in raining on their parade? Let’s take a look at some of the geographical and geological characteristics of this teensy-weensy little world:

Craters

First of all, just take an up close and personal look at the pitiful pitted little thing. It has more impact craters than an eight-year-old ginger gringa had freckles. It seems pretty obvious to me that with global environmental disasters happening on a regular basis, it is very unlikely that life would flourish in such a place. Not to mention any surviving life having the opportunity to pursue advancements.

Elements

Ceres, in many ways, is pretty much a clone of our desolate moon, an enormous rock with a lot of ice. With no evidence or traces of ever having vegetation, any ETs most assuredly would have starved to death. Unless, of course, it was a civilization that could survive on the nourishment of clay seasoned with ammonia and a splash of salt and iron.

Environment

It’s highly unlikely that water as we Earthlings know it ever existed on Ceres. Although there is alot of ice, enough even to indicate the possibility of an ocean at one time, it wouldn’t have been a salty brine like we are accustomed to, inhabited with sharks and whales and penguins and such. It most likely would have been a caustic sea of ammonia and sulfuric acid. So, unless those ETs had skin of steel and enjoyed a dip in antifreeze, any recreational activities of a Ceres civilization would have been strictly limited to land-lubbing.

Details, Details, Details

If the gringa has sufficiently convinced you that no one was building pyramids on Ceres way back when, let us move on to the details that are still interesting despite lacking any ET spin.

In the late 1700s Johann Elert Bode suspected a planet existed between Mars and Jupiter. However, the official discovery of Ceres is credited to Giuseppe Piazzi in 1801 who first claimed it was a comet. It was later classified as a planet but then redesignated as an asteroid in the 1850s. It seems scientists still haven’t made up their minds because it can be called any number of names when referred to by different people. The gringa doesn’t so much care. It makes no difference to me. Ceres is just Ceres, a planet named after the Roman goddess of agriculture despite the fact that not a single ear of corn or blade of grass has ever been grown on its surface.

Over thousands of years meteors and comets have slammed into Ceres, creating hundreds of craters. A few of them are distinctly bright, containing either minerals with reflective properties or light reflecting off of ice. It is theorized that underneath the crusty and dusty surface of Ceres is a layer of water and ice that, by volume, is more than the fresh water found on Earth. This has led to scientists entertaining the notion that if living organisms once lived in the sea of Ceres, it is possible that through the many cosmic impacts throughout history some biological material may have been ejected into space and made its way to Earth. So, ETs on Ceres? The gringa thinks not. ETs from Ceres on Earth? It’s possible.

Viewing

Ceres is too dim to be seen with the naked eye except on extremely dark sky conditions. The best way to peek at Ceres is through a pair of binoculars or a telescope. The best time to see Ceres is fast approaching, from August through April. Observers in mid northern latitudes should look toward the low southern sky after nightfall. It is best to view on a night when the Moon is in waning stages. Look toward the Sagittarius constellation and Ceres will arc slowly westward and approach the border of the Capricorn constellation.

If you have a fancy telescope you can enter coordinates and the telescope will do the hard work of locating and tracking for you. But if you only have binoculars, it is still easy enough to locate and track Ceres so don’t be discouraged.   For some help in finding Ceres, online astronomy clubs are a great resource.  The gringa wishes you the greatest success in taking a peek at Ceres!

Sources:

www.nasa.gov

ufoholic.com

www.astroleague.org

Image Source:  www.skyandtelescope.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biggest Pyramid Scheme Ever – Maybe


Do the gringa’s dear readers remember Sam, the big ball hunter of Bosnia? Well, the gringa found the subject of ancient big balls so fascinating, she continued to do a bit of digging around (pardon the pun) in Sam’s archaeological projects. Ol’ Sam, aka Semir Osmanagic, seems to have made quite a notorious name for himself in the scientific community where geometric relics are concerned. The Indiana Jones of the Balkans has also claimed to have discovered pyramids in Bosnia.

First reported shortly after his announcement of his discovery in 2001, serious archaeologists where quick to label his find nothing short of buffoonery. Sam, true to form, soldiered on despite his naysayers.  He is fully convinced he has discovered Europe’s first ancient pyramids and it begins with Bosnia’s Visocica hill that lies close to Visoko, a Bosnian town almost twenty miles northwest of Sarajevo.

Visoko was once the capital of Bosnia during medieval times. Roman and Illyrian ruins can be found nearby as well as Neolithic relics. Perhaps, then, thousands of years ago, it was a thriving capital city noted by architecture similar to ancient Egypt.

Dubbed by Sam as the “Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun”, excavation began in an official project in 2006. On hand, in addition to Sam’s international archaeological team, were tourists, curious locals, journalists and, interestingly enough, beauty contestants from the Miss Bosnia pageant.

As days and weeks passed, volunteers and crew members removed enough earth to reveal what they claim to be a system of tunnels. Sam reported the tunnels to be constructed of sandstone blocks and man-made mortar. His best estimate on the age of the pyramid and tunnel network is around 2,500 years old. The project had not discovered any bones, pottery, charcoal or other artifacts that might have been linked to any ancient Bosnian civilization.

As tourism to the site increased, Sam increased the size of the site for visitors to explore. Other hills were soon named: Pyramid of the Moon, Pyramid of the Earth, Pyramid of Love and Pyramid of the Dragon. Locals say business is booming with cash laden tourists buying all sorts of souvenirs, eating at the cafes, and staying overnight at the town’s inns. How fortunate for a region that has struggled to recover from the brutalities of the 1990s. Sam thinks this positive turn of events is just what Bosnians not only need, but also deserve after enduring such suffering.

Sam recognizes that the number of archaeologists that scoff at his discovery is legion. Some have even attempted to get his dig shut down. Others worry about how it will harm the integrity of “real” archaeology. Then there are those who worry that there may be true historical value to be studied in the area but that Sam’s “wacky” pyramid scheme could inadvertently destroy the evidence as he focuses on “creating” ancient pyramids.

The press has given him mixed reviews. Among those getting on the Bosnian bandwagon are ABC, Associated Press, Boston Globe, MSNBC, and the Washington Post. Archaeology magazine, however, criticized the press for being gullible. Mark Rose, the editor, attempted to smear Sam’s reputation by poking fun of his claim that Mayans could have been the ancestors of the mysterious Atlantis civilization. Now, the gringa has seen theories bandied about regarding this and language is usually the link. That is a possibility I could find plausible.

However, Rose went further and accused Sam of believing that Atlanteans were space aliens from the star cluster Pleiades. Here, the gringa just shrugs. The problem with such an accusation is that there is no evidence one way or another of the existence of Atlanteans and therefore no way to prove or disprove their ethnic (or planetary) origins. I believe, then, that is an unfair accusation because once accused, a person has no way to defend themselves wrong or right. To me, it is an empty argument. I don’t dismiss the possibility of something I can neither prove or disprove as being a “crackpot” consideration. I just shrug and say, “Who knows? Big deal.”

Despite all of this, Sam remains standing strong against the haters and insists that the pyramids are, indeed, quite real. The Bosnian government also supports him completely and in 2011 gave permission for Sam to thoroughly investigate the hills/pyramids. Their reasoning is that they expect archaeologists to criticize Sam’s discovery. To accept Bosnian pyramids, they have to reject what they have been taught as traditional history. That is a bitter pill many will find too hard to swallow. The gringa understands.

Traditional history attests that 2,500 years ago ancient Bosnians were living in tents or caves and cooking by campfire. Evidence to this effect has been found in ancient tools discovered in exploration of caves and suspected settlement areas. To claim that man-made monuments on the scale of pyramids were being built just seems outrageous. Sam knows he must deliver extraordinary evidence to change the minds of skeptics. The gringa needs to understand the evidence that is available.

As excavation progressed, the “hill” took on the shape of a stepped pyramid. Many geologists, archaeologists and scientists of related studies conducted their own examination of the site. They concluded that the shape of the hill is naturally occurring, despite its resemblance to a stepped pyramid. The formation is called a flatiron formation. The European Association of Archaeologists went a step further and published  a press release claiming the whole thing is a hoax perpetrated for financial and political gain.

In direct contradiction to these scientific professionals are others who have thrown in their support of Sam’s pyramid scheme. The Geodetic Institute, located in Sarajevo, sent out a surveyor. His measurements reported that the Pyramid of the Moon is a step pyramid with three triangular sides and a flat top. The sides are oriented toward cardinals points  making it highly unlikely this is an accidental occurrence of nature. When satellite images were thermally analyzed, they determined that the pyramid structures’ pattern of heat loss showed that it occurred more rapidly than the surrounding natural hills. This gave way to the theory that the hills suspected to be pyramids are man-made and containing voids such as chambers and access tunnels.

Sam theorizes that ancient Illyrians constructed the pyramids between 12,000 – 500 BC and construction could have been ongoing over a period of time spanning multiple cultures and civilizations. A tunnel system spanning over two miles connects the three main pyramids. Sea levels would have been 1,500 feet lower than today so, although the tunnels contain water now, they would have been high and dry thousands of years ago.

During medieval times, a fortress sat atop Visocica. Experts who stand firm as Sam’s critics claim the ruins he is excavating actually belong to this ancient Roman observation post. The gringa leans more toward this theory than an ancient pyramid considering the purported age of the pyramid. If the pyramid was constructed between 12,000-500 BC, this part of Europe would have been covered by a sheet of ice almost one mile thick. Where would they get the stones? If they found the stones and required ingredients for mortar, how would they have been able to make the foundation stones connect with the earth? They would need to excavate nearly one mile of ice over a span of several square miles to construct multiple pyramids. Then they would have to dig a tunnel system into a frozen earth.

Now, I understand the desire for fame and glory. The gringa also understands the desire for a people, impoverished by years of civil war, to take advantage of a profitable project. I’m not convinced these are genuine, man-made pyramids that are thousands of years old. I do think they are newly man-made pyramids constructed atop ancient Roman ruins. And even though archaeological purists would scream at just how wrong that is, the gringa once again shrugs and says, “What’s done is done.” Now I’m more concerned with the humanity factor of the locals who are alive today. They would like to eat well, live comfortably and have the means to educate their children. If a crazy pyramid scheme can do all that and everyone is aware of the controversy, who cares? It can only be a hoax if the criticisms are suppressed. As long as they are openly published, it is buyer beware. Everyone is free to believe what they want to believe. And I still like Sam even if he is off his nut.

Sources: en.wikipedia.org, www.smithsonianmag.com

Image Credit: news.nationalgeographic.com 

 

 

 

 

Japan’s Underwater City of the Sea Gods


The gringa’s dear readers may find musings of the lost city of Atlantis as fascinating as the gringa. What if it has actually been discovered off the coast of Japan? Hey, stranger things have happened! Although it is more likely that it is a lost city from Japan’s ancient Jomon civilization, sunk into the ocean thousands of years ago after a cataclysmic earthquake, tsunami or climate upheaval after the last ice age, it is still fun to entertain fantastical theories as well as explore the real science behind this archaeological mystery.

Originally discovered by dive instructor Kihachiro Aratake in 1986, these amazing formations have come to be known as the Yonaguni Monument. This massive underwater complex, dated to have hailed around 8000BC, can be found off the coastline of the island Yonaguni which is part of Japan’s Ryukyu island chain. Extending over an area of almost 1000 feet x 500 feet, the complex consists of ten structures, some appearing to be in the shape of animals as well as to contain glyphs of human characters and animals. Roads and retaining walls can be seen connecting the structure in the pattern of a well designed city.

For decades scuba diving tourists, as well as scuba diving archaeologists, have explored ancient ruins of a castle, majestic archway, five temples, a step pyramid and a massive arena. As the gringa only gets to explore pictures of the ruins, it is still pretty obvious even to my untrained eye that these are man-made. Yet there are still scientists who prefer to believe these are natural formations that were enhanced by ancient people into functional structures. This really aggravates the gringa when scientists wave aside the obvious because they just don’t want to admit that ancient civilizations may have been far more advanced than modern “experts” have traditionally been taught to believe.

Just as the west has Aesop’s fables, Japanese culture has their own popular fables, myths and legends. The Mu civilization is a fabled Pacific people. The ancient tale explains that they disappeared under the waves of the sea. In 1996 Masaaki Kimura, professor of marine geology from Japan’s University of the Ryukyus, began his own research to see if this is the long lost home of the Mu. He, too, was of the belief that Yonaguni was most likely a man-manipulated complex of natural formations. However, he was completely converted after his first dive.

Kimura identified quarry marks on many of the megalithic stones. And, since nature does not normally lay out large stones in symmetrical patterns and create many stones with right angles, the gringa tends to agree with Kimura’s conclusion. He studied carvings that were distinctly human faces and animals. The style was clearly indicative of Asian art. He refers to Egypt’s famous sphinx as he described one underwater sculpture of what seems to be a king. A glyph resembling a horse and a painted relief resembling a cow are still discernible making it apparent that this was not a city of mermaids and mermen living under the sea but was actually a thriving, above-ground metropolis at one time.

This area of the Pacific is famous for earthquakes and tsunamis. In the spring of 1771 the largest tsunami ever recorded struck Yonaguni. With a height of well over 130 feet, a catastrophic oceanic wave such as this would have been powerful enough to blast this ancient city well below the surface of the Pacific. Also, 10,000 years ago the sea level would have been more than 100 feet lower than it is today. The geographical area that the Yonaguni complex sits on would, at the time of its existence, have been well above the sea and on dry ground, a coastal city. A land bridge would have also existed connecting the chain of islands with the mainland making it entirely possible for humans to settle there with their domesticated animals.

Although some experts date the ruins to be about 10,000 years old, Kimura’s estimate gives the complex a much younger age. He suspects it may be a 5,000 year old civilization. Either way, this still places the city’s existence during the time of the Jomon civilization. Evidence to be more specific about the age of the structures is hard to come by. Existing beneath the ocean means that things like pottery or wooden objects have long since decayed and disappeared forever. There is, however, the chance of analysis of the paint used on the cow to get a bit more specific at pinning down a particular century.

Jomon culture during the timeframe considered for these structures can be divided into two separate eras:

  • Incipient Jomon (10,500-8000BC)
  • Initial Jomon (8000-5000BC)

Incipient Jomon civilization has left behind archaeological remains that indicate that the Jomon people were primarily hunter gatherers who produced pottery identified by their pointed bottoms and corded markings.  The following period, Initial Jomon, was noted by rising sea levels and global temperatures. The land bridge between the islands and the mainland would have disappeared. Diet would have transitioned to primarily sea based fare and the development of agriculture and farm production animals since natural resources were limited on the island. Large refuse mounds consisting of large amounts of shells discovered on archeological digs on the islands  attests to this. Remains of stone religious figurines and tools such as knives and axes have also been discovered in island digs and dated to the same period as the underwater city.

Historians describe the culture of the Jomon era to be very complex and in the early stages of organized agricultural develpment. Similarities with Asia’s ancient northeastern cultures as well as the ancient indigenous peoples of the Americas can be detected in many of the artifacts discovered. The Jomon preferred to live in coastal or river communities in homes that were sunken into the earth. Ironic, then, that one of their greatest cities eventually sunk into the ocean.

Although the gringa is unable to scuba dive because of epilepsy, I am certain that at least a few dear readers could join the many tourist divers and send me pictures and a recount of your adventure. During winter months, shark enthusiasts sink beneath the waves to observe the hammerheads that frequent the area.  However, if sharks aren’t your thing, and you prefer the mystery of history, you can always take a detour to the ruins and share your thrills here on the gringa’s blog.

Since the late 90s the underwater city has become increasingly popular among tourists. Famous writers and photographers have braved the waves to record their own bit of history. The Discovery Channel and National Geographic have performed their own expeditions. So, if any dear reader does get the opportunity for a dive of their own, you must drop the gringa a line here and share your own exciting story.

Sources:

National Geographic

www.mic.com

www.news.com.au

Hidden Archaeology

www.yonaguni.ws

www.britannica.com

www.metmuseum.org

Wikipedia

Image source: Source: Hidden Archeology