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Unorthodox Thoughts

chewing gum for the mind

Tag Archives: ancient technology

It drives me crazy when I watch television shows that ask questions such as, “How could ancient man have created massive stone monuments, such as the Great Pyramid or Puma Punku, without the benefit of modern tools and machinery?”  ; then follow the question up with speculation about how Aliens must have made the monuments from a researcher like the floofy-haired guy pictured below.

I like to believe that mankind has been a species of thinkers, innovators and technologists for much longer than our modern telling of history gives us credit for, but in this case let’s take a look at the technology known to have been in use and accepted by most historians.  Take for an example Ancient Aliens The Mystery of Puma Punku season 4, episode 6.

The H blocks, Gateway of the Sun, and other square-cut objects (pictured below) at Puma Punku are said to be too difficult to cut with stone age tools by ancient alien/astronaut proponents.  Often times on these television shows, books and blogs, it is speculated that these materials can barely be cut or moved now; so that alone should be proof enough of evidence for extraterrestrial influence.

Puma Punku is provided as evidence for E.T., but look at the detail of carving on the Code of Hammurabi. Diorite tools and vessels were being used thousands of years ago.

In fairness to the ancient alien proponents, the stones at Puma Punku are very heavy, difficult to cut and sourced from more than 15km away in some cases.  The blocks found at Puma Punku are made of red sandstone or andesite, with the latter being used for more intricate work such as the inset cuts.  These ancient builders also were metal workers, which is evidenced by the use of I-shaped metal clasps.

The limestone obelisks and granite blocks of ancient Egypt are known to have been worked using diorite and/or dolerite stone cutting tools (pictured) in combination with the application of fire for increased cutting speed and efficiency.  I recently watched Dr. Zahi Hawass perform experiments proving that using fire pits to soften the rock allowed it to then be quickly pulverized by workers using stone balls of greater hardness.

Cutting limestone is one thing, but ancient alien proponents often point out that granite and diorite are much harder, if not impossible, to cut with ancient tools to high levels of precision.  After a little searching around, I found many examples of intricate stonework being produced thousands of years before the Puma Punku site was erected such as the Code of Hammurabi.  Carved in 1772 B.C from a large piece of diorite (more than equivalent to the hardness and durability of the andesite blocks at Puma Punku), it was created more than 2,000 years before Puma Punku.

Diamond tools are known to have been used for thousands of years (2500 B.C. in China), and maybe even much longer as nothing would have barred the mineral from being collected (as it is found naturally in the Earth’s crust).  The reason that no diamond tools remain on these sites to be found today should be obvious to any modern or ancient observer; their value would not allow them to be discarded.

The drill holes and complex interlocking blocks would be a complicated engineering feat, but stone drills have been proven to be able to cut those holes at a similar level of precision in granite and sandstone.  Since copper was known to have been in use as well, the claims of drilling being proof of ancient aliens requires more than a stretch of the imagination.  Also at Pumu Punku can be found hydraulic hoses and aqueducts used for sewage management and irrigation of agriculture.  The Greeks, then later the Romans were known to have similar aqueduct and pumping/piping technology which also predates the Puma Punku site.

In closing, I suggest that anyone who doubts that ancient man could have moved large stone blocks around should watch this YouTube video.  Without the aid of pulleys, hoists, metal levers and/or other advanced tools, a  man named Wally Wallington is able to not only move and position large stone blocks weighing many tons each; but actually erects a 19,000 pound obelisk by himself on video.  How does Wally accomplish this?  Sticks and stones!

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Pigment was blown onto the cave walls using hand stencils, perhaps by Neanderthal?

While writing my previous post related to the knowledge of ancient man, I was concerned about pushing the limits of accepted timelines around the Lascaux cave paintings of France.  The conservative dating of most cave painting sites around the world have always been considered to be roughly 17,000 – 24,000 years ago.

Reverence for the bull is common amongst ancient cave paintings

Recently, this thinking has changed as a result of a new archaeological technique that measures the growth of  tiny stalactites on top of the paint pigments.  Using this method, the world’s oldest cave paintings have been dated in Northern Spain within a series of 11 caves; the most prominent being at El Castillo.  It appears that not only are many of the finds at least 40,000 years old, but according to researchers may have been created by Neanderthal.

These boat pictures give new meaning to the term ‘Ancient Mariner’

Another interesting facet of this discovery is that these cave paintings were created over a period of more than 20,000 years; which is two to four times longer than Lascaux site is thought to have been maintained.

Many people have accused me of trying to portray ancient man as a ‘Noble Savage’.  The argument most of these critics give is that ancient myth, religion and knowledge are useless to study because ancient man didn’t understand the world in the way we did today.  People can’t get past the fact that ancient cultures used stories filled with anthropomorphic figures (part-man, part-animal beings) and other symbolic metaphors.  It doesn’t occur to people that it would be difficult to pass down knowledge to an ancient audience in a way they could not only understand it; but themselves repeat it.  In my opinion, shamanism and myth/story telling was the instrument for both passing down this knowledge and the framework for preserving succession so that this knowledge could continue to be propagated.

Don’t buy that argument?  I will leave you with this quotation by the late Giorgio de Santillana, History of Science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, of whom I will be talking more about in future posts concerning myth:

“[the modern reader] insists on his capacity to understand mythical ‘images’ instantly, because he can respect as ‘scientific’ only page-long approximation formulas, and the like.  He does not think of the possibility that equally relevant knowledge might once have been expressed in everyday language. He never suspects such a possibility, although the visible accomplishments of ancient cultures – to mention only the pyramids or metallurgy – should be a cogent reason for concluding that serious and intelligent men were at work behind the stage, men who were bound to have been used to a technical language…”

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