The Real Dr. Frankenstein

Dr. Andrew Ure, (1778 – 1857), was a Scottish scholar, chemist, and doctor. He was a Professor of Natural Philosophy, specializing in chemistry and physics, at the Andersonian Institution in Glasgow in 1804. His evening lectures on chemistry and mechanics enjoyed considerable success. But Dr. Ure had a slightly darker side. A popular idea of his day was that electricity was the key to life and could be used to reanimate dead bodies, bringing them back to life.

In 1818 Ure revealed the experiments he had been carrying out on the corpse of a murderer/thief named Matthew Clydesdale, after the man had been executed by hanging. He decided to perform one of his experiments in front of an audience of his fellow doctors and students. He explained to his audience his belief that in cases of suffocation, drowning or hanging, that life could be restored by stimulating the phrenic and supraorbital nerves. Ure then began his experiment.

He proceeded to cut into the corpse and insert electrodes into the incisions. At first, the corpse actually simulated breathing. When the supraorbital nerve was excited, Dr. Ure states, “…every muscle in his countenance was simultaneously thrown into fearful action; rage, horror, despair, anguish, and ghastly smiles, united their hideous expressions in the murderer’s face…” The scene took an even more bizarre turn when one of Ure’s assistants was actually kicked by the corpse, sending him flailing to the floor. The display proved too much, as most of the audience quickly fled the scene. One man was so taken aback by what he saw, he passed out.

Via: CuriousHistory

Sensory Deprivation and the Presence of God

In 1983, a team of deeply pious scientists conducted a radical experiment in an undisclosed facility. The scientists had theorized that a human without access to any senses or ways to perceive stimuli would be able to perceive the presence of God. They believed that the five senses clouded our awareness of eternity, and without them, a human could actually establish contact with God by thought. An elderly man who claimed to have “nothing left to live for” was the only test subject to volunteer. To purge him of all his senses, the scientists performed a complex operation in which every sensory nerve connection to the brain was surgically severed. Although the test subject retained full muscular function, he could not see, hear, taste, smell, or feel. With no possible way to communicate with or even sense the outside world, he was alone with his thoughts.

Scientists monitored him as he spoke aloud about his state of mind in jumbled, slurred sentences that he couldn’t even hear. After four days, the man claimed to be hearing hushed, unintelligible voices in his head. Assuming it was an onset of psychosis, the scientists paid little attention to the man’s concerns.

Two days later, the man cried that he could hear his dead wife speaking with him, and even more, he could communicate back. The scientists were intrigued, but were not convinced until the subject started naming dead relatives of the scientists. He repeated personal information to the scientists that only their dead spouses and parents would have known. At this point, a sizable portion of scientists left the study.

After a week of conversing with the deceased through his thoughts, the subject became distressed, saying the voices were overwhelming. In every waking moment, his consciousness was bombarded by hundreds of voices that refused to leave him alone. He frequently threw himself against the wall, trying to elicit a pain response. He begged the scientists for sedatives, so he could escape the voices by sleeping. This tactic worked for three days, until he started having severe night terrors. The subject repeatedly said that he could see and hear the deceased in his dreams.

Only a day later, the subject began to scream and claw at his non-functional eyes, hoping to sense something in the physical world. The hysterical subject now said the voices of the dead were deafening and hostile, speaking of hell and the end of the world. At one point, he yelled “No heaven, no forgiveness” for five hours straight. He continually begged to be killed, but the scientists were convinced that he was close to establishing contact with God.

After another day, the subject could no longer form coherent sentences. Seemingly mad, he started to bite off chunks of flesh from his arm. The scientists rushed into the test chamber and restrained him to a table so he could not kill himself. After a few hours of being tied down, the subject halted his struggling and screaming. He stared blankly at the ceiling as teardrops silently streaked across his face. For two weeks, the subject had to be manually rehydrated due to the constant crying. Eventually, he turned his head and, despite his blindness, made focused eye contact with a scientist for the first time in the study. He whispered “I have spoken with God, and he has abandoned us” and his vital signs stopped. There was no apparent cause of death.

Via: ACuriousHistory

The Dashka Stone: Map of the Creator

In 1999, a professor at Bashkir State University in Russia named Alexander Chuvyrov made a remarkable archeological discovery. He was called to the house of Vladimir Krainov, who reported a strange slab buried in his backyard. Chuvyrov was instantly intrigued, as he had been searching for similar slabs that have been cited in various historical manuscripts. The slab was so heavy that it took over a week to unearth. The discovery was named the Dashka stone and later titled the Map of the Creator. The artifact is approximately 5 feet high, 3.5 feet wide, .5 feet thick, and weighs at least one ton. The stone was investigated and determined to be some sort of three-dimensional relief map of the Ural Region. Today the military uses similar maps to measure elevation and terrain. The Dashka stone reportedly contains representations of civil engineering work, weirs, an irrigation system, and powerful dams. To date, the ancient technology used to make the map is unknown and extremely advanced.

The map also contains numerous inscriptions. At first, the scientists thought that it was an Old Chinese language, although it was later reported that the inscriptions were done in a hieroglyphic-syllabic language of unknown origin. A group of Russian and Chinese specialists in the fields of cartography, physics, mathematics, geology, chemistry, and Old Chinese language researched the artifact and were the ones that identified it as a map of Ural region, with rivers Belya, Ufimka, and Sutolka listed.

Dating of the slab was reported to be over 100 million years old, but no reliable resources citing evidence of what type of test were used or the exact results could be found. If the Map of the Creator is genuine then it would suggest the existence of an ancient highly developed civilization. Researchers have claimed that a three-dimensional map of this order could have only been used for navigational purposes. Many websites claim that the slab is proof of ancient flight. Recent discoveries indicate that the slab is a piece of a larger artifact.

The Dashka stone continues to undergo scientific testing and is not available for public viewing.

http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-bizarre-a … veries.php
http://english.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/30/28149.html
http://www.itogi.ru/paper2002.nsf/Artic … _0237.html

The Undying Mystery of Count St Germain

In 1745, one of the most intriguing people in history visited London; a man who was said to be over two thousand years old! Some said he was in league with the Devil, others thought he was a Himalayan yogi of the highest order; all that we know is that, according to written historical references, a Count St Germain was apparently on the European scene from 1651 to 1896 – a period of 245 years.

Unable to explain the incredible lifespan of this man, the historians either omitted him from the history books or claimed several impostors in different time periods were responsible for the myth. But if we face the unadulterated facts about the count as they were written, they paint a very perplexing picture of a phenomenal man. Here then, is the story. When the English soldiers returned from the Holy Land after the third Crusade came to a disastrous end in the twelfth century, they brought back with them many fabulous tales of the mysterious Orient.

One particular story the crusaders often told was of a man known in the East as the Wandering Jew. The story went as follows. In the Judgement Hall of Pontius Pilate, there was a Jewish doorkeeper named Cartaphilus, who had actually been present at the trial of Jesus of Nazareth. When Christ was dragging his cross through the streets on the way to Calvary, he halted for a moment to rest, and at this point, Cartaphilus stepped out from the large crowd lining the route and told Jesus to hurry up. Jesus looked at Cartaphilus and said, “I will go now, but thou shall wait until I return.”

The Roman soldiers escorting Christ to the crucifixion site pushed Cartaphilus back into the crowd, and Jesus continued on his way.

What did Jesus mean? thought Cartaphilus, and many years later, the doorkeeper gradually realized that all his friends were dying of old age, while he had not aged at all. Cartaphilus remembered Christ’s words and shuddered. He would wander the earth without ageing until Christ’s Second Coming.

This tale was dismissed by the religious authorities of the day as an apocryphal yarn, and the legend of the Wandering Jew was later interpreted by the Christians as an allegorical story, symbolizing the global wanderings and persecutions of the Jewish race because of their refusal to accept Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. The tale gradually passed into European folklore and joined the other fairy tales of the Middle Ages.

Then, in the 13th century, a number of travellers returning to England from the Continent spoke of meeting and hearing of a strange blasphemous man who claimed he had been around when Christ was on earth. These curious reports were later strengthened in 1228 when an Armenian archbishop visited St. Albans. The archbishop told his astonished audience that he had recently dined with an unusual man who confessed to being Cartaphilus, the man who mocked Christ.

Many more encounters with Cartaphilus were reported in the following centuries, and each meeting seemed to be taking place nearer and nearer to Western Europe. Then one day in the year 1740, a mysterious man dressed in black arrived in Paris.

The gaudily-dressed fashion-conscious Parisians instantly noticed the sinister stranger, and admired the dazzling collection of diamond rings on each of his fingers. The man in Black also wore diamond-encrusted shoe-buckles, a display of wealth that obviously suggested that he was an aristocrat, yet nobody in Paris could identify him. From the Jewish cast of his handsome countenance, some of the superstitious citizens of Paris believed he was Cartaphilus, the Wandering Jew.

The man of mystery later identified himself as the Count of St. Germain, and he was quickly welcomed by the nobility into the fashionable circles of Parisian life.

In the distinguished company of writers, philosophers, scientists, freemasons and aristocrats, the Count displayed a veritable plethora of talents. He was an accomplished pianist, a gifted singer and violinist, a linguist who spoke fluent Spanish, Greek, Italian, Russian, Portugese, Chinese, Arabic, Sanskrit, English, and of courese, French. The Count of St Germain was also a fine artist, an historian, and a brilliant alchemist. He maintained that he had travelled widely, and recounted his many visits to the court of the Shah of Persia, where he had learned the closely-guarded science of improving and enlarging gemstones. The Count also hinted that he had learned many other arcane lessons of the occult.

But what stunned his awestruck listeners most was his insinuation that he was over a thousand years old. This came about one evening when the course of conversation turned to religious matters. When the Count was invited to comment on the subject, he movingly described Christ as if he had personally known him, and talked in detail of the miraculous water-into-wine event at the marriage feast of Cana as if he were describing a party-trick. After his peculiar anecdote, the Count became tearful, and in a broken, uncharacteristically sombre voice, he said, “I had always known that Christ would meet a bad end.”

The Count of St Germain also spoke of other historical celebrities such as Cleopatra and Henry VIII and as if he had known them personally. Whenever sceptical historians would try to trip the Count up by questioning him about trivial historical details that were not widely known, the Count would always reply with astonishing accuracy, leaving the questioner quite perplexed.

The Count’s claim to be much older than he looked was reinforced one day when the old Countess von Georgy met him. She immediately recognized the enigmatic nobleman as the same individual she had met fifty years previously in Venice, where she had been the ambassadress. But she was amazed that the Count still looked the same age now as he did then, which was about forty-five. The Countess was naturally confused by this, and asked the Count St Germain if his father had been in Venice at that time. The Count shook his head and told her that it had been himself, and he baffled the Countess by telling her how beautiful she had looked as a young woman  and how he had enjoyed playing her favourite musical piece on the violin. The Countess recoiled in disbelief and told him, “Why, you must be almost one hundred years old.”

“That is not impossible.” replied the Count.

“You are a most extraordinary man!” exclaimed the old Countess, “A devil!”

The comparison to a demon touched a sore point in the Count, and in a raised voice, he replied, “For pity’s sake! No such names!”

He turned his back on the shocked Countess and stormed out of the room.

The King of France, Louis XV was intrigued by the stories of the mysterious Count St Germain. He sought him out and offered him an invitation to attend the royal court. The Count accepted the invitation, and succeeded in captivating the king and his courtiers, as well as Madame de Pompadour, the king’s mistress.

During the spectacular banquets that were held at the court, the Count would abstain from food and wine, but would sometimes sip mineral water instead. Furthermore, when the Count did dine, it was always in private, and precisely what he did consume is not known, although some of the courtiers claimed he was a vegetarian.

Count St Germain arrived in London in 1743 and lodged at a house in St Martin’s Street. He stayed in the capital for two years, and during that time he set up a laboratory and carried out mysterious experiments in it that seem to have been of an alchemical nature. His work was closely guarded, but seems to have involved attempts at manufacturing artificial diamonds. During his stay in London, the count was a frequent guest at the Kit-Kat club, where he mingled with members of the highest nobility. At this prestigious club, the Count once astounded members by talking of two inventions he was working on; the steam train and steamboat. This was twenty years before James Watt put together his crude prototype of the steam engine, and 84 years before George Stephenson‘s Rocket steam train of 1829.

In 1745, the year of the Jacobite Rebellion in Britain, the Count St Germain was arrested at a coffee house in Paternoster Row and charged with spying. Horace Walpole, the son of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister, mentioned the incident in a letter to his lifelong correspondent, Sir Horace Mann. Walpole wrote:

“The other day they seized an odd man who goes by the name of the Count St Germain. He has been here these two years, and will not tell who he is or whence, but professes that he does not go by his right name. He sings and plays on the violin wonderfully, is mad and not very sensible.”

At a time when English xenophobia was at an all-time high because many foreigners, especially Frenchmen were known to be sympathetic to the Jacobite cause, the Count should have been imprisoned. But instead, he was released. Just why this occurred is still a mystery. One curious report that circulated at the time claimed that the Count used hypnotic suggestion to ‘persuade’ his detainers that he was innocent. This is a real possibility, because, true enough, Anton Mesmer, who is credited with the discovery of hypnotism, stated years before that the Count possessed a ‘vast understanding of the workings of the human mind’ and had been directly responsible for teaching him the art of hypnosis.

In 1756, the Count was spotted by Sir Robert Clive in India, and in 1760, history records that King Louis XV sent Monsieur St Germain to The Hague to help settle the peace treaty between Prussia and Austria. In 1762, the Count took part in the deposition of Peter III of Russia and took an active role in bringing Catherine the Great to the throne.

Count St Germain opened a mass-production factory in Venice in 1769 where he developed a synthetic form of silk. During this period he also executed several magnificent sculptures in the tradition of the classical Greeks. A year later he was again active in interfering in the politics of other nations; this time he was seen in the uniform of a Russian General with Prince Alexei Orloff in Leghorn!

After the death of Louis XV in 1774, the man from nowhere turned up unexpectedly in Paris and warned the new monarch, King Louis XVI and his Queen, Marie Antoinette of the approaching danger of the French Revolution, which he described as a ‘gigantic conspiracy’ that would overthrow the order of things. Of course, the warning went unheeded, and among the final entries in her diary, Marie Antoinette recorded her regret at not taking the Count’s advice.

In February 1784, Prince Charles of Hesse-Cassel, Germany, announced the news that the Count was dead, and was to be buried at the local church in Eckenforde. Among the crowds that attended the fueneral service were many prominent occultists, including Count Cagliostro, Anton Mesmer, and the philosopher Louis St Martin. The coffin was lowered into the grave, and many of the mourners sobbed at what seemed so unbelievable; the death of the immortal count. But that is not the end of the story.

A year later, in 1785 a congress of Freemasons was held in Paris. Among the Rosicrucians, Kabbalists and Illuminati was the supposedly dead Count St Germain.

Thirty-six years after his funeral, the Count was seen by scores of people in in Paris. These included the diarist Mademoiselle d’Adhemar, and the educationalist Madame de Genlis. Both women said the Count still looked like a forty-five year-old.

In 1870 the Emperor Napoleon III was so fascinated by the reports of ‘The Undying Count’ he ordered a special commission to be set up at the Hotel de Ville to investigate the nobleman. But the findings of the commission never came to a conclusion, because in 1871, an mysterious fire of unknown origin gutted the Hotel de Ville, destroying every document that related to the self-styled count.

The Count St Germain was briefly seen in Milan in 1877, attending a meeting of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons.

In 1896, the theosophist Annie Besant said she had met the Count, and around the same year, Russian theosophist Madame Blavatsky said the Count had been in contact with her, and she proclaimed that he belonged to a race of immortals who lived in an subterranean country called Shambhala, north of the Himalayas.

In 1897, the French singer Emma Calve also claimed that the Count St Germain had paid her a visit, and she called him a ‘great chiromancer’ who had told her many truths.

The story of the immortal count went out of vogue at the beginning of the Twentieth century – until August 1914, in the early days of World War One. Two Bavarian soldiers captured a Jewish-looking Frenchman in Alsace. During the all-night interrogation, the prisoner of war stubbornly refused to give his name. Suddenly, in the early hours of the morning, the unidentified Frenchman got very irritable and started to rant about the futility of the war. He told his captors, “Throw down your guns! The war will end in 1918 with defeat for the German nation and her allies!”

One of the soldiers, Andreas Rill, laughed at the prisoner’s words. He thought that the man was merely expressing the hopes of every Frenchman, but he was intrigued by the prisoner’s other prophecies…

“Everyone will be a millionaire after the war! There will be so much money in circulation, people will throw it from windows and no one will bother to pick it up. You will need to carry it around in wheelbarrows to buy a loaf!” the Frenchman predicted. Was he referring to the rampant inflation of post-WWI Germany?

The soldiers scoffed at the prediction. They let the prophet ramble on. He gave them more future-history lessons: “After the confetti money will come the Antichrist. A tyrant from the lower classes who will wear an ancient symbol. He will lead Germany into another global war in 1939, but will be defeated six years on after doing inhuman, unspeakable things.

The Frenchman then started to become incoherent. He started to sing, then began to sob. Thinking he was mad, the soldiers decided to let him go, and he disappeared back into obscurity. His identity is stil unknown. Could he have been the Count St Germain?

Today, most historians regard the Count St Germain as nothing more than a silver-tongued charlatan. But there are so many unanswered questions. What was the source of the Count’s wealth? How can we possibly explain his longevity? For that matter, where did he come from? If he had been an impostor, surely someone would have recognized him.

The only surviving manuscript written by the Count, entitled, “La Tres Sainte Trinosophie” is in the library at Troyes, France, and to date, it has resisted every attempt to be fully deciphered, but one decoded section of the text states:

“We moved through space at a speed that can only be compared with nothing but itself. Within a fraction of a second the plains below us were out of sight and the Earth had become a faint nebula.”

What does this signify? Could it be that the Count St Germain was some type of traveller in the realms of space and time? A renegade timelord from the future who liked to meddle with history? If this were so, perhaps he really had talked with Christ and the kings of bygone days.

La Tres Sainte Trinosophie can be viewed in it’s entirety here.

Via: Dark-Stories

Source: http://www.slemen.com  © Copyright 2004 by Tom Slemen.

The Most Kissed Face of All Time

In the late 1880s, the body of a 16-year-old girl was pulled from the Seine. She was apparently a suicide, as her body showed no marks of violence, but her beauty and her enigmatic smile led a Paris pathologist to order a plaster death mask of her face.

In the romantic atmosphere of fin de siècle Europe, the girl’s face became an ideal of feminine beauty. The protagonist of Rainer Maria Rilke’s 1910 novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge writes, “The mouleur, whose shop I pass every day, has hung two plaster masks beside his door. [One is] the face of the young drowned woman, which they took a cast of in the morgue, because it was beautiful, because it smiled, because it smiled so deceptively, as if it knew.”

Ironically, in 1958 the anonymous girl’s features were used to model the first-aid mannequin Rescue Annie, on which thousands of students have practiced CPR. Though the girl’s identity remains a mystery, her face, it’s said, has become “the most kissed face of all time.”

Via: TheOddmentEmporium

The Rosetta Disk

The Rosetta Disk is the physical companion of the Rosetta Digital Language Archive, and a prototype of one facet of The Long Now Foundation’s 10,000-Year Library. The Rosetta Disk is intended to be a durable archive of human languages, as well as an aesthetic object that suggests a journey of the imagination across culture and history. The  foundation attempted to create a unique physical artifact which evokes the great diversity of human experience as well as the incredible variety of symbolic systems we have constructed to understand and communicate that experience.

The Rosetta Disk is one small answer to the riddle of longevity. An “iconic object” designed to last about 2,000 years, the disk itself is heavy nickel, 3 inches in diameter, and decorated with the words “Languages of the World” swirling around a core of 30,000 microetched pages. The pages contain a small bit of text — 27 pages from the biblical story of Genesis — and some basic phonetic and grammatical details, printed in at least 1,000 languages, legible only under a 1,000x microscope.

The Disk surface shown here, meant to be a guide to the contents, is etched with a central image of the earth and a message written in eight major world languages: “Languages of the World: This is an archive of over 1,500 human languages assembled in the year 02008 C.E. Magnify 1,000 times to find over 13,000 pages of language documentation.” The text begins at eye-readable scale and spirals down to nano-scale. This tapered ring of languages is intended to maximize the number of people that will be able to read something immediately upon picking up the Disk, as well as implying the directions for using it—‘get a magnifier and there is more.’

On the reverse side of the disk from the globe graphic are over 13,000 microetched pages of language documentation. Since each page is a physical rather than digital image, there is no platform or format dependency. Reading the Disk requires only optical magnification. Each page is .019 inches, or half a millimeter, across. This is about equal in width to 5 human hairs, and can be read with a 650X microscope (individual pages are clearly visible with 100X magnification).

The 13,000 pages in the collection contain documentation on over 1500 languages gathered from archives around the world. For each language there are several categories of data—descriptions of the speech community, maps of their location(s), and information on writing systems and literacy. Grammatical information including descriptions of the sounds of the language, how words and larger linguistic structures like sentences are formed, a basic vocabulary list (known as a “Swadesh List”), and whenever possible, texts are also included. Many of the texts are transcribed oral narratives. Others are translations such as the beginning chapters of the Book of Genesis or the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

The Rosetta Disk is held in a four inch spherical container that both protects the disk as well as provides additional functionality. The container is split into two hemispheres with the three inch Rosetta Disk sitting in an indent on the flat meeting surface of the two hemispheres. The upper hemisphere is made of optical glass and doubles as a 6X viewer, giving visual access deeper into the tapered text rings. The bottom hemisphere is high-grade stainless steel. A hollow cylinder has been machined into the bottom hemisphere that holds a stainless steel ribbon for disk caretakers to etch their names, locations, and dates – hopefully creating a unique pedigree for each Rosetta Disk as it travels through time and human hands. A small stylus tool is included for future caretakers to add additional information.

At the very least, the Rosetta Disk provides an informative overview of human linguistic diversity in the 21st century. However, it may do much more. The translations on the disk, for example, are a close analog to the Rosetta Stone, whose parallel texts (in this case unintentionally) enabled the decipherment of Egyptian Hieroglyphics. It isn’t a great stretch to imagine that the language information on this disk could provide the key to the (re)discovery of valuable society sustaining knowledge far into the future.

The Rosetta Disk is being designed and developed through the collaboration of artists, designers, linguists and archivists including Kurt Bollacker, Stewart Brand, Paul Donald, Jim Mason, Kevin Kelly, and Alexander Rose and Laura Welcher. Primary funding for the first Rosetta Disk and the project that grew out of it came from the generous support of Charles Butcher and the Lazy Eight Foundation.

“I don’t think it’s an apocalyptic object,” Mason says. The Disk might survive a nuclear winter, but planning for a total collapse of civilization isn’t the point of Long Now. “There’s a variety of purposes for the Disk, from the iconic to the actually functional.”

The Disk is already an icon, in fact, for a more awesome project — a massive effort to collect basic information about every existing language into a single online database, called the All-Language Archive. In some ways the Disk is beside the point: It has led to a practical, down-to-earth venture that may be more important than a bunch of microscopic Genesis translations. What started as a dreamy experiment by a handful of Buckminster Fuller-ish future theorists at a Presidio nonprofit has evolved into a serious effort to preserve the world’s dying tongues, and Mason — to his considerable surprise — finds himself in charge. Maybe that’s why he talks so stiffly sometimes, using a lingo one might call “visionary-bureaucrat.” He’s not an uptight guy, but he moves around the office with a stressed, intense concentration laid over his native bohemian looseness.

“We found ourselves in possession of a tool,” he says, “and a medium” —the Web —”that allowed for a collaborative creation of a very broad reference work, one that we’re now on the verge of recasting as an attempt to finish one of the [critical] data sets of humanity.” (The human genome map would be another major data set.) The goal, he explains, is to create “a record of human languages, tending towards All.”

Time is running short for this kind of work, because linguistic diversity is going the way of species diversity. Hundreds if not thousands of tongues are spoken only by a few isolated and elderly speakers, so linguists need to get to those speakers before they die —and take their rare words with them. The Rosetta Project wants to ease that problem, if it can.

The site lists 1,470 languages so far, out of about 4,000 worldwide that have paper documentation —either published in dusty books or “languishing away,” according to Mason, “in file cabinets and shoe boxes and closets,” where missionaries or far-flung researchers might have left it for posterity. The project’s goal for the next five years is to collect that written information on the rest of the world’s languages and put it online. This first step toward an All-Language Archive seems modest when compared to the company’s reallyambitious second step, though: collecting data on the remaining 2,000 or 3,000 languages that aren’t even documented. Of course, such a huge undertaking might not get funded by the Rosetta Project’s backer, the Lazy Eight Foundation, which supports unorthodox educational and scientific work.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/43530099″>Rosetta</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/scottoller”>Scott Oller</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

The Decipherment of Hieroglyphs and The Rosetta Stone

Hieroglyphs dominated the landscape of the Egyptian civilization.

These elaborate symbols were ideal for inscriptions on the walls of majestic temples and monuments, and indeed the Greek word hieroglyphica means ‘sacred carvings’, but they were too fussy for day-to-day scribbling, so other scripts were evolved in Egypt in parallel. These were the ‘hieratic’ and ‘demotic’ scripts, which can crudely be thought of as merely different fonts of the hieroglyphic alphabet.

Then, towards the end of the fourth century AD, within a generation, the Egyptian scripts vanished. The last datable examples of ancient Egyptian writing are found on the island of Philae, where a hieroglyphic temple inscription was carved in AD 394 and where a piece of demotic graffiti has been dated to 450 AD. The rise of Christianity was responsible for the extinction of Egyptian scripts, outlawing their use in order to eradicate any link with Egypt’s pagan past.

The ancient scripts were replaced with ‘Coptic’, a script consisting of 24 letters from the Greek alphabet supplemented by six demotic characters used for Egyptian sounds not expressed in Greek. The ancient Egyptian language continued to be spoken, and evolved into what became known as the Coptic language, but in due course both the Coptic language and script were displaced by the spread of Arabic in the 11th century. The final linguistic link to Egypt’s ancient kingdoms was then broken, and the knowledge needed to read the history of the pharaohs was lost.

In later centuries, scholars who saw the hieroglyphs tried to interpret them, but they were hindered by a false hypothesis. They assumed that hieroglyphs were nothing more than primitive picture writing, and that their decipherment relied on a literal translation of the images they saw. In fact, the hieroglyphic script and its relatives are phonetic, which is to say that the characters largely represent distinct sounds, just like the letters in the English alphabet. It would take a remarkable discovery before this would be appreciated.

The Discovery of the Rosetta Stone

In the summer of 1798, the antiquities of ancient Egypt came under particular scrutiny when Napoleon Bonaparte despatched a team of historians, scientists and draughtsmen to follow in the wake of his invading army. In 1799, these French scholars encountered the single most famous slab of stone in the history of archaeology, found by a troop of French soldiers stationed at Fort Julien in the town of Rosetta in the Nile Delta.

The soldiers were demolishing an ancient wall to clear the way for an extension to the fort, but built into the wall was a stone bearing a remarkable set of inscriptions. The same piece of text had been inscribed on the stone three times, in Greek, demotic and hieroglyphics. The Rosetta Stone, as it became known, appeared to be the equivalent of a dictionary.

However, before the French could embark on any serious research, they were forced to hand the Rosetta Stone to the British, having signed a Treaty of Capitulation. In 1802, the priceless slab of rock – 46 ½” high, 30″ wide and 12″ deep, and weighing three quarters of a ton – took up residence at the British Museum, where it has remained ever since.

The Translation of the Rosetta Stone

The translation of the Greek soon revealed that the Rosetta Stone contained a decree from the general council of Egyptian priests issued in 196 BC. Assuming that the other two scripts contained the identical text, then it might appear that the Stone could be used to crack hieroglyphs.

However, a significant hurdle remained. The Greek revealed what the hieroglyphs meant, but nobody had spoken the ancient Egyptian language for at least eight centuries, so it was impossible to establish the sound of the Egyptian words. Unless scholars knew how the Egyptian words were spoken, they could not deduce the phonetics of the hieroglyphs.

When the English polymath Thomas Young heard about the Rosetta Stone, he considered it an irresistible challenge. In 1814 he went on his annual holiday to Worthing and took with him a copy of the Rosetta Stone inscriptions. Young’s breakthrough came when he focussed on a set of hieroglyphs surrounded by a loop, called a cartouche. He suspected that these highlighted hieroglyphs represented something of significance, possibly the name of the Pharaoh Ptolemy, who was mentioned in the Greek text.

If this were the case, it would enable Young to latch on to the phonetics of the corresponding hieroglyphs, because a pharaoh’s name would be pronounced roughly the same regardless of the language.

Young matched up the letters of Ptolemy with the hieroglyphs, and he managed to correlate most of the hieroglyphs with their correct phonetic values. The decipherment of the Egyptian script was underway. He repeated his strategy on another cartouche, which he suspected contained the name of the Ptolemaic queen Berenika, and identified the sound of further hieroglyphs. Young was on the right track, but his work suddenly ground to a halt. It seems that he had been brainwashed by the established view that the script was picture writing, and he was not prepared to shatter that paradigm. He excused his own phonetic discoveries by noting that the Ptolemaic dynasty was not of Egyptian descent, and hypothesised that their foreign names would have to be spelt out phonetically because there would not be a symbol within the standard list of hieroglyphs.

Young called his achievements ‘the amusement of a few leisure hours.’ He lost interest in hieroglyphics, and brought his work to a conclusion by summarising it in an article for the 1819 supplement to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Jean-François Champollion’s obsession with hieroglyphs began around 1801 when, as a ten-year-old, he saw a collection of Egyptian antiquities, decorated with bizarre inscriptions. He was told that nobody could interpret this cryptic writing, whereupon the boy promised that he would one day solve the mystery.

Champollion applied Young’s technique to other cartouches, but the names, such as Alexander and Cleopatra, were still foreign, supporting the theory that phonetics was only invoked for words outside the traditional Egyptian lexicon. Then, in 1822, Champollion received some cartouches that were old enough to contain traditional Egyptian names, and yet they were still spelt out, clear evidence against the theory that spelling was only used for foreign names.

Champollion focussed on a cartouche containing just four hieroglyphs: the first two symbols were unknown, but the repeated pair at the end signified ‘s-s’. This meant that the cartouche represented (‘?-?-s-s’).

At this point, Champollion brought to bear his vast linguistic knowledge. Although Coptic, the descendant of the ancient Egyptian language, had ceased to be a living language, it still existed in a fossilised form in the liturgy of the Christian Coptic Church. Champollion had learnt Coptic as a teenager, and was so fluent that he used it to record entries in his journal. However, he had not previously considered that Coptic might also be the language of hieroglyphs.

Champollion wondered if the first hieroglyph in the cartouche, the disc, might represent the sun, and then he assumed its sound value to be that of the Coptic word for sun, ‘ra’. This gave him the sequence (‘ra-?-s-s’). Only one pharaonic name seemed to fit. Allowing for the omission of vowels and the unknown letter, surely this was Rameses. The spell was broken. Hieroglyphs were phonetic and the underlying language was Egyptian. Champollion dashed into his brother’s office where he proclaimed ‘Je tiens l’affaire!’ (‘I’ve got it!’) and promptly collapsed. He was bedridden for the next five days.

Cracking the code

Although this was just one more cartouche, it clearly demonstrated the fundamental principles of hieroglyphics. It showed that the scribes sometimes exploited the rebus principle, which involves breaking long words into phonetic components, and then using pictures to represent these components. For example, the word belief can be broken down into two syllables, ‘bee-leaf’. Hence, instead of writing the word alphabetically, it could be represented by the image of a bee and a leaf. In the Rameses example, only the first syllable (‘ra’) is represented by a rebus image, a picture of the sun, while the remainder of the word is spelt more conventionally.

The significance of the sun in the Rameses cartouche is enormous, because it indicates the language of the scribes. They could not have spoken English, because this would mean that the cartouche would be pronounced ‘Sun-meses’. Similarly, they could not have spoken French, because then the cartouche would be pronounced ‘Soleil-meses’. The cartouche only makes sense if the scribes spoke Coptic, because it would then be pronounced ‘Ra-meses’.

Champollion went on to show that for most of their writing, the scribes relied on using a relatively conventional phonetic alphabet. Indeed, Champollion called phonetics the ‘soul’ of hieroglyphics.

Using his deep knowledge of Coptic, Champollion began a prolific decipherment of hieroglyphs. He identified phonetic values for the majority of hieroglyphs, and discovered that some of them represented combinations of two or even three consonants. This sometimes gave scribes the option of spelling a word using several simple hieroglyphs or with just one multi-consonantal hieroglyph.

In July 1828, Champollion embarked on his first expedition to Egypt. Thirty years earlier, Napoleon’s expedition had made wild guesses as to the meaning of the hieroglyphs that adorned the temples, but now Champollion could reinterpret them correctly. His visit came just in time. Three years later, having written up the notes, drawings and translations from his Egyptian expedition, he suffered a severe stroke. He died on 4th March 1832, aged 41, having achieved his childhood dream.

Live Animals Entombed in Wood and Stone

It is one of the strangest phenomena reported. Something that can’t happen, but stories saying it does turn up again and again anyway. Stories of animals found alive locked deep within stone or wood, with no observable way they could have entered. This is the mystery of entombed animals:

Reports of entombed animals found inside stones (reputedly sometimes still alive) date back to the 15th century and have occurred as recently as the 1980s. For example, in a letter to Julian Huxley, an Eric G. Mackley claimed to have freed twenty three frogs from concrete in Devonshire and in 1876 sixty-three small toads were reportedly found in the middle of a five meter wide tree trunk in South Africa.

Scientists have paid little serious attention to the phenomenon since the nineteenth century and most specimens were destroyed after the Victorian era, the world’s only remaining entombed toad resides at the Booth Museum of Natural History in Brighton, was found by two workmen in Lewes in 1898 and donated by Charles Dawson in 1901. It consists of an oval, hollow flint nodule millions of years old containing a mummified toad. The toad apparently was quite famous in it’s hey-day, featured on cigarette cards and in paranormal magazines`and it still tours the globe. Dawson’s explanation is that the toad crawled through a small hole in the rock when it was very small, managed to find enough food to grow but then became too large to escape it’s little prison and eventually died of either old age or starvation. He speculated that if the workmen had split the stone before the animal had died, it would have joined the ranks of the living toads-in-the-hole and suggested that this theory could be provide a tentative answer to the hundreds of findings.

However, Dawson cannot be viewed as an entirely reliable source being blamed now for various ‘imaginative frauds’, most infamously for his involvement in the Piltdown scandal, where a faked anthropoid skull was claimed to be Darwin’s ‘missing link’ between human and ape. Sadly, taking this into consideration along with the fact that the toad has visibly shrunk since it’s original discovery (indicating it was not very old to begin with) it is likely that it could be another faked natural spectacle.

Being at my seat near the village of Meudon, and overlooking a quarryman whom I had set to break some very large and hard stones, in the middle of one we found a huge toad, full of life and without any visible aperture by which it could get there…The laborer told me it was not the first time he had met with a toad and the like creatures within huge blocks of stone…

This account, which appeared in the 1761 edition of Annual Register, was attributed to Ambroise Pare, the chief surgeon of Henry III of France in the 16th century. It is an early example of phenomenon. Logically this report is impossible. The stone had to be thousands, if not millions of years old. The toad shouldn’t have a lifetime of more than a few years. If it was really sealed in the stone, how did it get there? Or if it was entombed when the stone was made, how did it survive?

Perhaps one such story over a period of hundreds of years can just be dismissed as a folktale or a hoax, but there are others. Workers doing an excavation in Hartlepool, England, on April 7, 1865, split open a block of magnesium limestone to discover a living toad. The Hartlepool Free Press reported, “The cavity was no larger than its body, and presented the appearance of being cast for it. The toad’s eyes shone with unusual brilliancy, and it was full of vivacity on its liberation.” The animal was very pale when first discovered with a color similar to that of the rock that had encased it, but later the toad turned to an olive-brown. “It appeared,” the Free Press continued, “when first discovered, desirous to perform the process of respiration, but evidently experienced some difficulty, and the only sign of success consisted of a ‘barking’ noise, which it continues to make invariably at present on being touched. The toad is in the possession of Mr. S. Horner, the president of the Natural Historical Society, and continues in as lively a state as when found. On a minute examination of its mouth it is found to be completely closed, and the barking noise it makes proceeds from its nostrils. The claws of its fore feet are turned inwards, and its hind ones are of extraordinary length and unlike the present English toad.”

We can also see an example of a wood entombment by looking at a story from South Africa. In 1876 the Uitenhage Times printed an article reporting that a timberman who was cutting a tree into planks came across a cache of 69 tiny toads, each the size of a grape. The toads were confined to a hole in the tree. “They were of a light brown, almost yellow color, and perfectly happy, hopping about and away as if nothing had happened. All about them was solid yellow wood, with nothing to indicate how they could have got there, how long they had been there, or how they could have lived without food, drink or air.”

According to the Michigan Argus of December 1st, 1871, one man was so curious about these stories he tried his own experiment to see if such things were possible.. M. Herissan, a French savant enclosed three live toads in separate cases of plaster in February of 1771. In April of 1784 Herissan opened the cases, which were still whole, and found two of the toads still alive, though the third was “a martyr to science.” The article continued saying that the animals were handed over to the Academy of Science and a careful examination showed that “the animals had no communication with the external air, and must have existed without the least nourishment.”

Toads aren’t the only subject of these stories. An 1821 edition of Tilloch’s Philosophical Magazine reported a stone mason named David Virture discovered a “lizard imbedded in the stone. It was about an inch and a quarter long, of a brownish-yellow color, and had a round head, with bright sparkling projecting eyes. It was apparently dead, but after being about five minutes exposed to the air it showed signs of life.” The rock the lizard had been found within had been some 22 feet underground. “It was coiled up in a round cavity of its own form, being an exact impression of the animal,” the article continues, “This stone is naturally a little damp; and about half an inch around the lizard was soft sand, the same color as the animal…The stone had no fissure, was quite hard, and one of the best to be got from the quarry of Cullaloe…”

Turtles have also gotten this treatment. In August 1975 construction workers in Fort Worth, Texas, were breaking up concrete that had been laid down more than a year before when they came across a living green turtle. The animal must have been caught in the concrete as it had been poured because the body-shaped hole in which it had stayed during that time was clearly visible.

Sometimes two different types of animals have been found together as the account from a World War II British soldier reported in Jerome Clark’s book Unexplained shows:

In Algeria in the early part of 1943, I was working with a team whose job it was to quarry stone that was then used for making roads and filling bomb craters…One morning, we had set off the charges as usual and I started to prise away the rock from the quarry face when I saw in a pocket in the rock a large toad, and beside it a lizard at least nine inches long. Both these animals were alive, and the amazing thing was that the cavity they were in was at least 20 feet from the top of the quarry face. Try as we might, we couldn’t find how it was possible for the two creatures to be where they were – there were no inlets, cracks or fissures leading to the cavity…

Parts of the scientific establishment have taken both an interest in the phenomena, while other members scoff at it. In an article in an 1890 Scientific American a writer declared “Many well authenticated stories of the finding of live toads and frogs in solid rock are on record.” While a few years later the editor for the magazine Nature argued, “It matters little to tell the reporters of such occurrences that the thing is absolutely impossible, and that our believing it would involve the conclusion that the whole science of geology (not to speak of biology also) is a mass of nonsense.”

Most explanations for these events depend on the reporters being hoaxers or bad observers. “The true interpretation of these alleged occurrences appears to be simply this – a frog or toad is hopping about while a stone is being broken, and the nonscientific observer immediately rushes to the conclusion that he has seen the creature dropping out of the stone itself,” says a writer in Nature. This explanation runs in the face of many of the reports where the animal was found in a cavity shaped like the animal itself.

Cases of entombed animals remain a mystery. Clearly the Scientific American writer is correct in saying that there seems to be no answer to this puzzle unless we are willing to rewrite the science of geology or biology. Still, it seems the phenomena exists. Undoubtedly some of the reports are hoaxes, others are errors, but many remain a true mystery for a future scientist to resolve.

Via: UnMuseum and TheOddmentEmporium

The Mysterious Stone Spheres of Costa Rica

The stone spheres of Costa Rica, one of the strangest mysteries in archaeology, are a collection of some three hundred polished stone orbs, the first of which were discovered in the Diquis Delta of Costa Rica during the 1930s. The spheres range in size from a few centimeters to over two meters in diameter, and weigh up to 16 tons. Their precise date of construction is uncertain, but they are believed to have been carved between 200 BC and 1600 CE.

The stone spheres came to light during early cultivation of the farmland. Most were discovered by workmen as they cleared and burned the jungle in preparation for planting.

The first scientific investigation of the spheres was undertaken shortly after their discovery by Doris Stone, a daughter of a United Fruit Co. executive. These were published in 1943 in American Antiquity, attracting the attention of Dr. Samuel Lothrop from Harvard University. Lothrop’s findings were published in Archaeology of the Diquís Delta, Costa Rica 1963.

Numerous myths surround the stones, such as they came from Atlantis, or that they were made as such by nature. Some local legends state that the native inhabitants had access to a potion able to soften the rock. Another calls for the center of the spheres to contain a single coffee bean.

The stones have a surprisingly smooth surface. According to laser measurements by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, the spheres were 96% perfect.

The stone spheres have been found in clusters of up to twenty, and often in geometric patterns such as triangles, rectangles or straight lines. Such alignments often point to the earth’s magnetic north. Archaeologists have been able to date the stones by the artifacts that have been found lying alongside them. Some of them have, thus, been dated as far back as 400 B.C.E.

Via: ACuriousHistory

The Diving Horses of Atlantic City

Diving Horses were an attraction that was popular in the mid 1880s, in which a horse would dive into a pool of water, sometimes from as high as 60 feet. William “Doc” Carver “invented” the idea of horse diving exhibitions.

Allegedly, in 1881 Carver was crossing a bridge over Platte River (Nebraska) which partially collapsed. His horse fell/dived into the waters below, inspiring Carver to develop the diving horse act. Carver trained various animals and went on tour. His partner, Al Floyd Carver constructed the ramp and tower and his rider Lorena Carver was the first rider. Sonora Webster joined the show in 1924. She later married Al Floyd Carver.

The show became a permanent fixture at Atlantic City’s very popular venue, Steel Pier. There, Sonora, Al and Lorena continued the show following his death. In 1931, Sonora and her horse “Red Lips” lost their balance on the platform. Sonora survived the fall, but was blinded (caused by detached retinas in both eyes).

Via: TheOddmentEmporium

The Sealand Skull and the Order of Pegasus’ Light

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An alien survivor from a prehistoric saucer crash? An unfortunate time traveler from the future? A tradesman from a parallel universe? A hitherto undiscovered species? Or a mere freak deformity of a human being? Nobody knows for sure, but no matter the explanation, the Sealand Skull has potential to change the view of the world we live in.

The July 2007 discovery of the skull in Olstykke on the Danish island Sealand did however not make headlines and remained largely ignored by science until 2010. The researchers who in 2008 examined the skull at the Veterinarian High School in Copenhagen merely concluded that “Although resembling a mammal, certain features make it impossible to fit the animal into Linnaean taxonomy”.

Dug up during the replacement of old sewer pipes, the finder at first believed that it was some horse bone, as the house formerly belonged to a horse butcher, and the garden is full of remains. It was not until refilling the trench that he noticed its humanoid shape. Later excavations at the site have not uncovered further remains with connection to the creature, only identifiable animal bones, stone axes and other Neolithic tools which are common to the area. The fact that the skull was found among Neolithic remains does however, not reveal its age. Carbon 14 dating at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen has shown that the creature lived between 1200 and 1280 AD. Furthermore, the skull was found above the old pipes, whose age suggests that it wasn’t buried until after 1900. Also the absence of other skeleton parts of the creature, together with the skull’s state of preservation, has led the scientists to suspect that it has not been buried for long, probably only a couple of decades. 

Perhaps to conceal the secret behind its existence someone stored it for ages and later deliberately buried it. It is interesting to note that residents in Olstykke and nearby villages have from former times told about a local member of l’Ordre Lux Pégasos (the Order of Pegasus’ Light), whom accordingly on behalf of the order protected various items – among them a mysterious cranium and several devices made of extraordinary light, albeit unbreakable metal or ceramics. The skull is said to have originated from the Balkans, but it has also been stored in Paris, France, and in Munich, Germany, before arriving in Denmark.

If the story holds true, it is possible that further research may lead to the whereabouts of alien artefacts. It is plausible that l’Ordre Lux Pégasos still keeps objects as well as insights into their origin and purpose. Little is known about the order however, except that it was established around 1350 and throughout its existence has counted influential poets and authors among its members. Among the prominent initiated were Giovanni Boccaccio, William Shakespeare, Réne Descartes, Thomas Jefferson, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Ambrose Bierce, Karin Boye, H.G. Wells, Julio Cortázar, Joseph Heller, Octavia Butler, Aleksandr Solsjenitsyn and Ahmed al-Baghdadi. One can wonder why the task of preserving alien artefacts and knowledge fell upon an order solely consisting of writers, but the very name of the order does hint at one or more guests from the Pegasus constellation, who for some time lived among us and brought us vast knowledges and inspiration. The secrecy of the order however suggests that humanity is not yet ready to share the Pegasian knowledge.

The Sealand Skull is about one and a half times larger than a male Homo sapiens cranium. Especially the eye sockets contribute to its size. Its smooth surface reveals that the creature was adapted to cold climate, and its relative eye size that it was either a night creature, lived underground or on a planet orbiting a remote or dim star, probably an orange or red dwarf. It is noted that the star 51 Pegasi in the Pegasus constellation was the first Sun-like star known to have a planet. Planets orbiting the Pegasus star HR 8799 were the first to be directly imaged, and spectroscopic analysis of HD 209458 b, another planet in the constellation, has provided the first evidence of atmospheric water vapor beyond our solar system.

Via: TheOddmentEmporium

The Legendary Tales of Atlantis

 More than 2,500 years ago, a legend first began to spread about a society of the past that enjoyed an abundance of natural resources, great military power, splendid building and engineering feats, and intellectual achievements far advanced over those of other lands. Called Atlantis, it was described as a continent-sized area with rich soil, plentiful pure water, abundant vegetation and animals, natural hot springs for health and vigor, and such mineral wealth that gold was inlaid in buildings and was among the precious metals and stones worn as jewelry. Slaves performed manual labor, allowing a large elite to pursue knowledge, enjoy sporting events, and continually improve upon an already thriving society.

In the ensuing centuries, no conclusive evidence of Atlantis has been found, but its attributes have expanded to include additional engineering and technological feats that enhance its legendary status in the popular imagination. In 1882, Ignatius Donnelly published Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, arguing that all civilization is an inheritance from Atlantis. Listing numerous parallels between ancient cultures spaced far away from each other, Donnelly argued that their commonness resulted from contact with Atlanteans.

Similarities do indeed exist among various ancient cultures, as do significant differences. Flood myths and sun worship, for example, might be based on a shared teaching, or they might be separate reactions to beneficent and destructive elements of nature. Pyramids were built in Egypt and the Americas, but they are also significantly different in their structures. The walls of pyramids in the Americas did not converge to form a true point, as they did in Egypt; rather, the walls reached a certain level upon which a platform was built and often a temple erected. If Atlantis did indeed fall somewhere between 8500 and 9500 B.C.E., what accounts for the long time lag until the pyramids were erected in Egypt (generally dated around 2500 B.C.E.) and North America (generally dated after 200 C.E.)?

Since the 1800s, Atlanteans have been credited for having had the technology to generate electricity, build flying machines, and harness nuclear power for energy and war-fare—all developed more than 9,000 years before such things came into being in modern society. Other claims have Atlanteans knowledgeable about a formidable death ray, secrets for levitation, and pure forms of energy through crystals. Many Atlantis enthusiasts firmly believe that the inhabitants of the lost continent had cosmic connections with extraterrestrials and may actually have been a colony established on Earth by alien explorers.

Since Atlantis was first described, claims have been made that certain members of the civilization escaped destruction during its catastrophic final days and managed to impart their knowledge to other peoples of the world, helping civilize primitive societies, passing on the secret of written language, and supervising construction of some of the world’s most mysterious structures of the ancient world. The pyramids of Egypt and the Americas, the Sphinx in Egypt, and the megaliths of western Europe are among the structures attributed to the genius of Atlanteans.

According to most accounts, Atlantis was suddenly destroyed by a cataclysm of earthquakes and floods and swallowed up by the sea. No definitive remnants have ever been found, and the exact location of the “lost continent” remains debatable. The idea of Atlantis was first expressed in the works of Plato (c. 428–348 or 347 B.C.E.), the Greek philosopher, who stressed that a perfect world exists in ideas. For example, a shoe, according to Plato, exists as an idea before a craftsperson makes the material object identified as a shoe. The material world, then, is a reflection of ideas, never quite reaching the perfection of ideas, but which serve as models for which the adepts might strive.

While Plato used the model of Atlantis to represent a world of perfect order in contrast to all that was imperfect in the world around him, he labeled the story of Atlantis “literally true”—a significant declaration. For Plato was suspicious of fiction and art. If ideas are the primary reality, and the material world is a reflection of ideas, then art, as a reflection of the material world, is twice removed from reality, according to Plato. His claim that the Atlantis story is literally true helps sustain the continuing legend of Atlantis. It remains a legend, or an Idea, however, until some material proof shows that Atlantis existed in the material world. Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.), another of the great Greek philosophers, viewed the Atlantis legend as fiction.

 Plato’s writings comprise several letters and 25 dialogues. His views and those of his mentor, Socrates (c. 470–399 B.C.E.), were presented as dramatic conversations exploring such topics as truth, the origin of the world and its composition, the purpose of humankind, and what an individual should choose as an aim of life. Atlantis is discussed in two of Plato’s dialogues, Timaeus and Critias. Timaeus provides a description of the island continent and how Atlanteans conquered all the known world except for the Athenians (Plato was an Athenian). Critias, named after the primary speaker in the dialogue, Plato’s great-grandfather, presents a history of Atlantean civilization and describes the ideal society that flourished there. Critias notes that the stories were originally passed on by an ancestor, Solon (638–558 B.C.E.), a politician and poet who traveled widely. Critias and Solon were both ancestors of Plato.

Solon, as the story goes, was informed by Egyptian priests in the city of Sais, located in the Nile delta, that there was once a land even older in history than Egypt, which the Greeks acknowledged as being centuries older than their own society. The priests described a large island continent called Atlantis that prospered some 8,000 years earlier, which dates Atlantis before 8500 B.C.E. The continent was located beyond “the Pillars of Hercules,” the Greek term for the rocks that form the Straits of Gibraltar, the westernmost point of the Mediterranean Ocean. Beyond the straits is the Atlantic Ocean.

 There were several cities on the continent. The primary city, also called Atlantis, was located in the center of a series of concentric rings that alternated between rings of water and land. The water rings served as canals for trade and helped form a series of natural defenses that made an invasion of Atlantis extremely difficult.

The city of Atlantis, in the innermost circle, had palaces and temples where wise and powerful rulers lived. The ruling coalition descended from Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. Poseidon and Clieto had five sets of twin sons, according to Greek mythology, each of which was given a region of Atlantis.

Atlas, the firstborn son, was given the largest province, which became the city of Atlantis, a name that derives from Atlas. The finest structure on the island, the Temple of Poseidon, honored the god and served as the home of the primary ruler.

Atlantis had a powerful army of professional soldiers, as did each of the other nine regions of the continent. The culture of Atlantis promoted learning, through which advances in engineering and science made the land bountiful, beautiful, and powerful. In addition to magnificent architectural structures, a network of bridges and tunnels linked the rings of land, and clever uses of natural resources provided security and abundance. Many groves provided solitude and beauty, racetracks were used for athletic competitions, and irrigation systems ensured great harvests.

 In Plato’s account, the people of Atlantis eventually became corrupt and greedy, putting selfish pursuits above the greater good. They began invading other lands with the idea of world domination. Angered by these developments, Poseidon set about destroying the civilization, battering the continent with earthquakes and floods until Atlantis was swallowed up by the ocean.

 That description of the destruction of Atlantis has been linked by some to other cataclysmic events—stories of a great deluge in the Bible, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and flood myths in other societies. Some contend that the end of the Ice Age between 12,000 and 10,000 B.C.E. likely resulted in rises of water levels in various parts of the world and that earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and climate changes, either incidental or associated with the Ice Age, occurred during the time identified with the destruction of Atlantis.

The location of Atlantis has been claimed on each of the seven continents, and in several spots in the world’s oceans and seas. Additionally, many of the ancient world’s wonders have been attributed to Atlanteans who, presumably, escaped the destruction of their homeland and spread their advanced engineering skills elsewhere.

The text of Plato’s dialogue suggests the Atlantic Ocean “beyond the pillars of Hercules” as the location of Atlantis. As late as the twentieth century, a belief persisted that a landbridge once existed in the ocean and ran between Europe and Africa and North and South America. Such a land-link concept helps explain similarities in flora and fauna existing on continents spread thousands of miles apart. The mid-Atlantic ridge, a series of undersea mountains, has been presented as a remnant of the land bridge, or as the remains of Atlantis.

Jacques Collina-Girard of the University of the Mediterranean in Aix-en-Provence had been studying patterns of human migration from Europe into North Africa at the height of the last Ice Age, 19,000 years ago, when his reconstruction of the area revealed an ancient archipelago with an island at the spot where Plato wrote Atlantis existed. The island was named Spartel, and it lay in front of the Pillars of Hercules to the west of the Strait of Gibraltar at a time when the sea level was 130 meters lower than it is today. According to Collina-Girard, the slow rise of post-glacial sea levels would gradually have engulfed the island and the archipelago 9,000 years before Plato.

 While the concept of an island being swallowed by the sea in the area before the Pillars of Hercules seems a viable theory, there is as yet no evidence discovered to prove that a continent existed in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. The shallow waters around the northwest coast of Africa and extending to the Canary Islands is an area that may have been above the ocean at one time and has been suggested as a location for Atlantis, but no physical remains of human habitation have been located there.

Alan F. Alford, a leading authority on ancient mythology, spent five years investigating Plato’s account of Atlantis, In December 2001, announced his conclusion that the myth of the lost continent took place only in Plato’s mind. In Alford’s theory, the Greek philosopher invented Atlantis as a metaphor for the ancient version of the contemporary “Big Bang Theory.” Atlantis, as a symbol for a lost paradise, represented a kind of cataclysm of all cataclysms that brought about the beginning of all time.

The discouraging theories of the skeptical do little to diminish the enthusiasm of those who earnestly believe in the physical reality of Atlantis. The Atlantic Ocean location for the lost continent received renewed attention in the late 1960s, specifically the region near Bimini Island in the Bahamas, an island chain off the coast of the United States. Fueling the excitement over what appeared to be discoveries of actual roadways, walls, and buildings under the water was the fact that they were found in the exact location and at the same point in time as prophesied by Edgar Cayce (1877–1945), a psychic, whose “life readings” for clients revealed that many of their present-life psychological traumas were being caused by a terrible incident that the sufferer had experienced in a past life. Many of the presentlife traumas of his clients, according to Cayce, were due to the sufferings they had experienced as people who lived in Atlantis in a previous life.

 Cayce helped popularize a modernized view of Atlantis as a superior civilization that had developed planes, submarines, x-ray, anti-gravity devices, crystals that harness energy from the sun, and powerful explosives. He theorized that an explosion in 50,000 B.C.E. blew Atlantis up into five islands; another occurred in 28,000 B.C.E.; and the third, the one described by Plato, occurred around 10,000 B.C.E. Cayce claimed that he had been an Atlantean priest from around 10,500 B.C.E. who had foreseen the coming destruction and sent some of his followers to Egypt. Those followers directed the building of the Sphinx and the pyramids.

 In 1940, Cayce predicted that remnants of Atlantis would rise again near the Bahamas in the late 1960s. In 1967, two pilots photographed a rectangular structure in the ocean off the coast of Andros, the largest island of the Bahamas. Another configuration of stone, in the shape of a “J,” was found by divers off the island of Bimini. The J-shaped formation was believed to be a road of stone. Extensive diving expeditions became common in the area, and some divers claimed to have seen remnants of temples, pillars, and pyramids. However, none were documented by extensive excavations.

 The J-shaped structure became popularly known as the Bimini Road and was a cause of celebration among enthusiasts of Atlantis and Cayce. Geological tests, however, show that the J shape is actually a limestone beachrock. Fractures in the formation give it the appearance of a construction of blocks, but the entire formation shows the same grains and microstructure—a quality difficult to replicate in a series of blocks. Radiocarbon testing of shells in the stone show that the formation is relatively young—about two or three thousand years old, some 9,000 years younger than the alleged final destruction of Atlantis. Finally, the curve of the J parallels the beachline of the nearby island, showing it has been shaped by the same currents affecting the island.

The rectangular structure off the coast of Andros, on the other hand, was indeed manmade—it was a storage facility built in the 1930s where sponges could be deposited after they were collected in the surrounding ocean. Despite these explanations, enthusiasm over the Bahama site continues among believers.

Another theory suggests that Antarctica was once located in the mid-Atlantic and had a more temperate climate where a civilization once thrived. Antarctica, thus, has been claimed as the site of Atlantis and of a similar type of advanced civilization.

The question of where Atlantis was located still persists. Among the many possible sites for Atlantis on the seven continents or under the seas, two popular locations are based on areas that, like Atlantic Ocean regions “beyond the pillars of Hercules,” can be related to Plato’s time. One site is the island of Crete, where the thriving Minoan civilization fell into disarray around 1400 B.C.E. The other site is in present-day Turkey, known in ancient times as Anatolia, where associations with Atlas and his descendants were strong.

Little was known about Minoan culture before the discovery in 1900 of a great palace at Knossos on the island of Crete by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (1851–1941). He named the culture that created Knossos and thrived on Crete “Minoan civilization” after Minos, the legendary king of Crete. The palace at Knossos was probably damaged by an earthquake about 1700 B.C.E., a date that marked the end of one phase of the early history of Crete. Minoan civilization had regular contact and trade with ancient Egypt, which lies southeast, across the Mediterranean, from Crete. Crete, then, qualifies as a land far to the west (in those days) of Egypt where Atlantis was said to be by the Egyptian priests who spoke of the continent to Solon.

Archaeological excavations early in the twentieth century unearthed remarkable artifacts of Minoan civilization. Then, in 1939, Greek archaeologist Sypridon Marinatos (1901–1974) discovered pumice, volcanic ash, on Crete. Marinatos connected the ash to the tremendous eruption of a volcano on Thera, a nearby island. The eruption was reported in ancient histories. The explosion would have created havoc on Crete and perhaps a tidal wave that swept over the island. To illustrate that possibility, Marinatos likened the Thera explosion to the 1886 eruption of Mt. Krakatoa that could be heard a thousand miles away and created tidal waves that killed 36,000 people. The volcanic ash on Crete helped preserve excellent artifacts of Minoan civilization, including whole streets and houses as well as frescoes and pottery.

However, while Plato’s text cites earth-quakes and floods as having destroyed Atlantis, there is no mention of a volcano. The date of the Thera volcano, around 1500 B.C.E., does not match the period of the downfall of Atlantis, which Egyptian priests told Solon had occurred 8,000 to 9,000 years earlier. The 1500 B.C.E. date does coincide if the claim of 8,000 years is reduced to 800 years. That tactic was suggested by Greek geologist Angelo Gelanpoulous in 1969: he theorized that all dates and measurements related by Solon were exaggerated and were actually one-tenth as large as claimed. Gelanpoulous’ theory provided some neat correlations, but they work only in a few circumstances.

Another problem with identifying the fall of Atlantis with the destruction of Minoan civilization is an inexact correlation between the eruption of Thera and the demise of ancient Crete, where Minoan civilization continued on for another century after the volcanic eruption. In fact, during twentieth-century excavations, some volcanic ash was found beneath an elaborate palace, showing that construction soon continued after the eruption. Furthermore, there was no apparent disruption in trade between the Minoans and Egyptians. The volcanic eruption caused havoc on Crete, but it did not destroy Minoan civilization.

The kings of Knossos attained their greatest power about 1600 B.C.E., when they controlled the entire Agean area and traded extensively with Egypt. The subsequent destruction of Knossos and the collapse of Minoan culture coincided with the beginning of the most flourishing period of Mycenae civilization in Greece; this coincidence suggests that it may have been the warlike Mycenae who attacked and destroyed Minoan civilization.

Lydia, an ancient country of Asia Minor (now Turkey), was located in the valleys of the Hermus and Cayster rivers (now the Gediz and Büyükmenderes rivers). Known earlier by the name Maeonia, it had fertile soil, rich deposits of gold and silver, and a magnificent capital, Sardis. Lydia prospered as a powerful dynasty beginning about 685 B.C.E. During the sixth century B.C.E., Lydia attained its greatest splendor under the rule of King Croessus. The empire ended when the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great (c. 585–c. 529 B.C.E.) captured Sardis about 546 B.C.E. After the defeat of Persia by Alexander III (c. 356–323 B.C.E.), king of Macedonia, Lydia was brought under Greco-Macedonian control, and then in 133 B.C.E. it became part of the Roman province of Asia.

 Lydia was across the Agean Sea from Greece. A legendary king of Lydia was named Tantalis: his name sounds similar to Atlantis, and he shared many mythic attributes among Lydians that the god Atlas had among Greeks. Like Atlas, Tantalis was a leader of the Titans, the group of gods who were overthrown by Zeus. In Greek mythology, Zeus punished Atlas by banishing him to the west and made to hold up the sky. A similar fate was shared by Tantalis in myths of Anatolia (an old name for the region in Asia Minor that includes Turkey).

According to that myth, Tantalis ruled over a fabulously wealthy city he founded on Mt. Sipylus in Lydia. His city was shattered by earthquake and flood and was reputed to have sunk when he lost the favor of the Olympian gods.

During the 1990s ruins were found on the northern slope of Mt. Sipylus. The area had undergone several phases of change through the centuries. Among the ruins was a statue of the goddess Cybele that was dated around 1400 B.C.E., a time when the Hittite rule over the area was overthrown by locals affiliated with the Mycenae civilization of Greece. The area of Tantalis had been conquered, and perhaps razed. Or, it subsequently was buried during an earthquake, and eventually submerged by a lake. The area is in a major fault zone, and heavy earthquake damage to the cities of Lydia was documented in 17 C.E. Among the hardest hit of twelve ancient Lydian cities was Magnesia at Sipylus, in the region where Tantalis was located.

Lake Saloe in Turkey has long been identified with the lost city of Tantalis. The lake was pumped out in modern times to provide more land for farming. It is now a fertile plain with nearby rivers. An old caravan route was found, certainly not a remnant of a mighty empire, but the tantalizing prospect that Tantalis was Atlantis remains.

Via: UnexplainedStuff