The Hand of the Cyclopes Part III
When lacking firm dating evidence, as with the Grand Terrace at Baalbek, some of the most ancient constructions in the world have been associated with certain epochs by calculating their alignment to the position of celestial bodies which move around the heavens in immense regular cycles over a vast period of time.
Sir Norman Lockyer devoted much of his career to studying the sun, focussing on the astronomical connections of ancient monuments. Lockyer found that many Egyptian monuments were orientated to celestial bodies. He was of the opinion that the Egyptians were aware that the heavens were anything but constant and slowly changed position. Lockyer noticed that the temple of Amen-Ra at Karnak was orientated toward the summer solstice so that on the longest day of the year the sun's rays entered the temple at sunset, travelled along the building's axis and finally penetrated the sanctuary. Allowing for the slowly changing tilt if the earth's axis, Lockyer calculated that the temple at Karnak, or at least the original foundation, must have been constructed c.3700 BC as opposed to the widely accepted dating of c.2000 to 300 BC.
|Amen-Ra Temple at Karnak|
The Earth is not a true sphere; it bulges at the equator and flattens at the Poles so that the radius is some 14 miles greater at the equator. Additionally, the Earth's axis around rotation tips relative to the plane (or ecliptic) of its orbit around the sun. The sun, moon and other planets to a lesser degree, exert a gravitational pull on the greater mass of the Earth's bulging equator, slowly moving the axis of rotation. Owing to these forces, the Earth tends to spin and wobble like a top, rather than a uniform motion like a wheel on an axle. This slow wobble of the Earth is called precession, the effects of which determine what we see in the heavens. The stars slowly shift in long but regular cycles relative to the celestial north and south poles over an immense period of time. One such cycle is known as the 'Great Year', a cycle of 25,920 years owing to this phenomenon known as the 'Precession of the Equinoxes'.
The reality of this movement is very slow and not perceptible to the naked eye; knowledge of this cycle is amassed from celestial observations over an immense period of time and indicates a very ancient culture. Evidently Greek astronomers had sufficient instrumentation and data to detect the immensely slow motion of the effects of precession and consequently the phenomenon was 'rediscovered' by Hipparchus in 127BC. However, despite Lockyer's claims it is not generally accepted that the Egyptians possessed this knowledge.
The Processional Code
The celestial bodies appear to move through one degree of their cycle over a period of 72 years with each sign, or house, of the zodiac occupying 30 degrees in the sky. Consequently, the number 72 is significant in terms of astronomy. The vernal equinox is the constellation that rises in the east just before the sun appears above the horizon. This is known as the helical rising. The vernal equinox is recognized as the first degree of the sun's yearly circle; the first day of the year or the vernal point.
The effect of precession is to cause the ‘vernal point’ to be reached fractionally earlier in the orbit each year with the result that it very gradually shifts through all 12 houses of the zodiac, spending 2,160 years in each house, completing the cycle and returning to the same point in 25,920 years.
During the course of each year the earth’s movement along its orbit causes the zodiacal background against which the sun is seen to rise to change from month to month: Aquarius – Pisces – Aries – Taurus – Gemini – Cancer - Leo, and so on. Currently, on the vernal equinox, the sun is seen to rise due east between the zodiac constellations of Pisces and Aquarius as we move towards the Age of Aquarius.
The movement of this ‘processional drift’ is in a retrograde direction, that is in opposition to the annual 'path of the sun': Leo - Cancer – Gemini – Taurus – Aries – Pisces – Aquarius. Therefore, by possessing knowledge of the effects of precession, it is possible to back-calculate a particular zodiacal age, for example, the ‘Age of Leo’, that is the 2,160 years during which the sun on the vernal equinox rose against the stellar background of the constellation of Leo, lasted from 10,970 until 8,810 BC.
Thus, the equinoctial sun occupies each zodiacal constellation for about 2,160 years, the age of Pisces for example would last 2,160 years (72 x 30 = 2,160). When we multiply the 72 years by the 360 (12 x 30) degrees of a complete cycle, 'The Great Year', we arrive at the number 25,920 years for each cycle to be completed and the constellations returning to the point they started.
We often find that when ancient texts start to reel off numbers 12, 30, and 72 and 2160, multiplies and divisions there of, such as 5 x 6 (30), the figures add up to numbers in the precessional sequence. The numbers were then attached to gods and encoded in myths to ensure transmission through the ages and often to disguise the sacred system from the uninitiated.
According to Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend, in their seminal book Hamlet's Mill there are over 200 myths or folk stories from over thirty ancient cultures that refer to a Great Year tied to the movement of the equinox or the motion of the heavens. Their argument predominantly concerns the recurrent and persistent transmission of a ‘precessional message’ in a wide range of ancient myths.
de Santillana and von Dechend state that the 'precessional message' encoded in these myths provides a sequence of numbers, preceded by the appearance by, what they call a morphological marker, such as the appearance of a canine, 'The Opener of the Way', intended to alert the target audience that a piece of important data was next in the story. They cite the Norse traditions of the Poetic Edda that speak of the monstrous wolf Fenrir:
500 doors and 40 there are
I ween, in Valhalla’s walls;
800 fighters through each door fare,
When to war with the Wolf they go.
To the uninitiated these numbers seem innocent enough but on calculating the quoted numbers we derive at 540 x 800 = 432,000, an important number in the precessional code which we will come to shortly. We find a similar sequence in the Osiris myth from The Egyptian Book of the Dead, which highlights the processional numbers of 360, 72, 30 and 12. Essentially these numbers are ‘excess baggage’ and not essential to the story but again they convey the processional code.
Archaeo-astronomer and Egyptologist Jane B. Sellers is one of the few serious scholars to have tested the theory advanced by de Santillana and von Dechend in Hamlet’s Mill, and argues that the Osiris myth appears to have been deliberately encoded with a selection of key numbers by which exact processional values can be calculated:
- 12 - the number of months in the year equal to the number of constellations in the zodiac,
- 30 - the number of days in the month, equates to the number of degrees allocated along the ecliptic to each zodiacal constellation,
- 12 x 30 = 360 - the number of months multiplied by the number of days, which equals the total number of degrees in the ecliptic,
- 72 - the number of conspirators in the group led by the deity Set in the plot to kill Osiris. This number is equal to the number of years required for the equinoctial sun to move one degree along the ecliptic,
- 72 x 30 = 2,160 - the number of years required for the sun to complete a passage of 30 degrees along the ecliptic and pass through any one of the 12 zodiacal constellations,
- 2,160 x 12 (or 360 x 72) = 25,920 - the number of years in one complete precessional cycle or ‘Great Year’, and for the cycle to return to the beginning, the ‘Great Return’.
72 is the most significant number in the code. To this is frequently added its half, 36, making 108. This is often divided by 2 to give 54. Typically with esoteric numerology it is permissible to employ almost any conceivable permutations by using multiplications or divisions of the essential numbers, for example 108 x 4 x 60 = 25,920 years, and so on. The highly significant number 2,160 can be multiplied by 10 (= 21,600) or by 2 to give 4,320, or 43,200, or 432,000, the number of fighters calculated from the Poetic Edda, above. All of these numbers, and their derivatives, relate precisely to the rate of precession of the equinoxes.
At Baalbek the traces of processional numbers are faint but can be found in the columns. The columns are considered part of the Roman structure at Baalbek as they sit upon the Roman masonry placed upon the ancient Grand Terrace; significantly, there were originally 54 columns which is a division of 72, the significant number of the processional code. However, this gives us no indication of a date for the original construction at Baalbek. Ancient monuments aligned to the position of a certain constellation on a certain date does not prove it was constructed at that time. Of course anyone possessing a knowledge of precession could have constructed these monuments to point to a certain epoch, for whatever reason.
An example of this is the lay out of the Giza periods which Robert Bauval, with Adrian Gilbert, proposes appear to have been laid out in a pattern similar to Orion's belt. During Orion's travels through the skies in the precessional cycle, the constellation we know in the northern hemisphere as The Hunter, appears to move up and down through the sky. To this end, Bauval determined that the layout of the Giza pyramids reflected the position of Orion, calculated through the processional cycle, at 10,450 BC, at its lowest point in the sky. However, carbon dating from the mortar of the Great Pyramid suggests construction fits with accepted 4th Dynasty chronology, c. 2560 BC. This dating also concurs with the astronomical alignment of the so called 'star shafts' emerging from the King and Queen Chambers.
Bauval, along with Graham Hancock argue that these constructions were designed to point to a specific epoch by the use of precession; perhaps the date of a catastrophe as a warning to mankind. They go on to propose that the Great Sphinx pointed to the equinoctial rising of the constellation Leo on the horizon; the Age of Leo being from 10,970 to 8,810 BC. Hancock and Bauval argue for a an original lion-headed sphinx, corresponding with Leo, before being re-carved at a later date. They calculated that the alignment of the Great Sphinx gazing toward the equinoctial rising of Leo on the horizon would have been around the same date of 10,450 BC.
|The Great Sphinx|
The geologist Professor Robert Schoch's attention was drawn to the weathering on the Great Sphinx by John Anthony West. Schoch had written an article, 'Re-dating the Sphinx', in which he argued for an old sphinx. Schoch claims the precipitation-induced weathering on the sphinx is of a distinctly different nature from the wind-induced weathering evident on various Old Kingdom tombs and structures found in the vicinity carved from the same limestone sequence.
Schoch argues that the Great Sphinx of Giza was weathered heavily at an early period in its existence by precipitation, suggesting that it must have been carved prior to the last great period of major precipitation in this part of the Nile Valley, known as the "Nabtian Pluvial", a period of relatively heavy rainfall, from 12,000 - 10,000 to about 5,000 years ago.
Schoch concludes that the Sphinx complex, the sculpture and its associated stone temples, is considerably older than its traditional attribution of c.2,500 BC and would not have been a totally isolated phenomenon in the Neolithic world: other massive stone structures were being built around the Mediterranean as early as 10,000 years ago. The standard chronology is clearly flawed.
The Oldest City in the World?
Tiahuanaco (Tiwanku) has been described as the “Baalbek of the New World”. Known to the ancients as Taypikala, an aymara word meaning "Stone of the Centre", the ceremonial centre of Tiahuanaco high in the Bolivian mountains, is surrounded on three sides by the Andes and Lake Titicaca on the fourth. Remembered as the “City of the Sun", every 21st June, winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, the local people celebrate Machaj Mara, the Aymara New Year, just outside the temple.
|Tiahuanaco Temple complex|
Geologists argue that this massive land upheaval occurred millions of years ago in Earth's distant history. Orthodox archaeology dates Tiahuanaco to c.200 AD, reaching its peak around 500 AD and then went into steady decline until c.1000 AD. Yet there are no record of a major cataclysm occurring here during that time to have instigated the downturn in Tiahuanaco's fortunes.
Puma Punku, the port of Tiahuanaco, is an area filled with enormous stone blocks weighing typically between 100 and 150 tons, but one block still in place weighs an estimated 450 tons. Some of these massive stone blocks have incisions as if cut by a diamond-tipped saw blade and placed with such precision that a razor blade could not be placed between them. One of the construction blocks used for the pier weighs an estimated 450 tons, yet the quarry for these giant blocks was on the western shore of Titicaca, over 12 miles distant. As with Baalbek and other massive stone constructions archaeologists simply fail to answer how these massive stones were quarried, and transported to the building site, or how the construction engineers managed to manoeuvre them so skilfully to form a massive complex of megalithic buildings.
Many of the stone blocks at the complex weigh typically in excess of 200 tons, and in some cases are held together by large metallic, I-shaped couplers, rather than individual inter-locking shaped blocks found at Sacsahuaman or at Cuzco, typical Cyclopean masonry. Researchers believe that molten metal was actually poured into I-shaped slots carved into the rock in situ; the construction engineers must have possessed a mobile furnace of some sort. A similar technique was used in Egyptian constructions and at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
In his final and most important book, the four volume Tihuanacu, the Cradle of American Man, Arthur Posnansky, an engineer who dedicated fifty years to its study, argued that Tiahuanaco was constructed approximately 17,000 years ago. He observed enormous blocks of stone used in massive structures all over the site that no known pre-Columbian culture had the technology to fashion or transport. Posnansky found the astronomical arrangement of these structures relative to one another indicated that the original construction engineers possessed a highly sophisticated knowledge of astronomy and mathematics. Posnansky's dating techniques are based on astronomical phenomenon and controversial to say the least and not surprisingly rejected by orthodox accounts. Posnansky is often said to have used precession, as described above, for deriving his dating evidence, but this is not correct as he based his findings on the phenomenon known as the 'obliqueness of the ecliptic'.
In the solar system, the Earth's orbital plane is known as the ecliptic plane; the axial tilt of the Earth's is called the obliquity of the ecliptic. Unlike the long term regularity of the slow clock of precession, the obliquity of the ecliptic, the Earth's tilt, is constantly changing over a 41,000 year cycle. This angle oscillates slowly between a minimum of 22 degrees and 1 minute to a maximum of 24 degrees and 5 minutes; it is currently tilted at an angle of around 23 degrees and 17 minutes.
Tiahuanaco has four surviving primary structures; the Akapana pyramid, the Kalasasaya platform, the Subterranean Temple, and the Puma Punku. Utilizing his measurements of the lines of sight along the stone pillars of the Kalasasaya, noting the orientation and the deviations from the cardinal points, Posnansky was able to show that the alignment of the structure was based upon the astronomical principle of the obliquity of the ecliptic.
It is now generally accepted that the Kalasasaya functioned as a sophisticated celestial observatory, its purpose to fix the equinoxes and the solstices and to predict, with mathematical precision, the various seasons of the year. Certain structures within the Kalasasaya seem to have been deliberately aligned to particular star groups and designed to facilitate accurate measurement of of the sun in summer, winter, autumn and spring. The famous ‘Gateway of the Sun’, which stood in the north-west corner of the enclosure, is thought to be a complex and accurate calendar carved in stone. Animals depicted on it have been extinct for millennia. The Gateway of the Sun is carved from a single block of andesite and today displays a crack running through the lintel to the doorway. Yet photographs in Posnansky's Tihuanacu, the Cradle of American Man show that prior to the 20th century it was literally torn in two as if by some convulsion of the Earth.
|Gateway of the Sun, 1877|
Between 1927 and 1930 Posnansky's conclusions were scrutinised by a team of four leading German astronomers who verified the accuracy of his calculations; the Kalasasaya alignments did indeed indicate a date of 17,000 years ago. The academic furore led them to revise their estimate downwards to 9,300 BC. This struck historians and archaeologists as being some 9,000 years too early but this date has persisted with studies during the mid-1990's confirming Tiahuanaco was indeed built almost 12,000 years ago.
Yet decades of intensive excavations and archaeological research has drawn a total absence of prehistoric tools and midden deposits for any occupation of the Tiahuanaco complex anywhere near these ancient dates. However, it must be noted that much of the site is in a very poor state of preservation, having been subjected to looting and amateur excavations over the centuries. The destruction of the site continued during the Spanish conquest and beyond.
From it's construction 12,000 years ago Tiahuanaco's ending certainly seems linked to some catastrophe in the distant past. This date corresponds with the same epoch that the ground plan of the Giza pyramids was laid out, 10,450 BC, and the Great Sphinx was carved from the bedrock, staring at his celestial counterpart, the constellation of Leo, rising on the horizon, 10,970 to 8,810 BC. Conventional wisdom argues that there is no known civilisation from this period capable of such achievement. Any evidence that does not fit the accepted dogma is rejected. Yet new discoveries continually move the clock back.
The original foundations of the Jupiter temple at Baalbek, that do not fit any known culture, is aligned eastward, facing the equinox sunrise but any celestial markers were lost long ago during the construction of the Roman temple on top, making it now impossible to date these immense stones of the Trilithon. Yet it seems likely that these colossal stones of the Grand Terrace at Baalbek were also erected during the same period as Tiahuanaco, but the mystery of who built the massive foundations and how are just as mysterious.
Norman Lockyer, The Dawn of Astronomy
Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend, Hamlet's Mill
E. A. Wallis Budge, The Egyptian Book of the Dead,
Jane B Sellers, The Death of Gods in Ancient Egypt,
Robert Bauval, with Adrian Gilbert, The Orion Mystery
Graham Hancock, Fingerprints of the Gods
Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock, Keeper of Genesis
Robert Schoch, 'Re-dating the Sphinx', KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt
Robert Schoch, Voyages of the Pyramid Builders
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