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. … veries.php … _0237.html

The Time We Found Pyramids on Mars

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Mars has long fascinated people. One of the few objects in the night sky to show a visible color and the only one that wandered, it was a natural draw. As astronomy blossomed and scientists realized that it was another world, visionaries began to speculate about life there.

The first good telescopic observations revealed a world with definite features, areas of light and dark which could be continents and oceans. In 1877, Giovanni Schiaparelli took advantage of a particularly favorable opposition (when Mars and Earth are on the same side of the Sun, and Mars appears high in the night sky) and he drew a map of the planet. In keeping with the belief that the dark regions were oceans, when he saw dark lines across the lighter areas, he dubbed them “canali,” which is Italian for “channels.”

Map of Mars by Giovanni Schiaparelli

Note that although the “rivers” or “canals” are not real, he did see many things that are real — the Hellas basin is a gigantic impact crater, and the “lake” that he depicts in “Thaumasia felix” is actually the caldera of Olympus Mons.

American astronomer Percival Lowell believed that Schiaparelli had discovered artificial canals. Lowell became a major early proponent for the idea of a complex civilization on Mars. He persisted even when later observers failed to find the canals, demonstrated the likelihood of them being an optical illusion, and even when spectrographic data revealed that Mars was not really a very hospitable place — cold, dry, and with an atmosphere too thin to maintain liquid water. The idea persisted occasionally in science fiction until 1965, when Mariner 4 flew by Mars.

In its brief flyby, it revealed a Mars that appeared as dead and hostile as the Moon — barren and pocked with craters. Furthermore, the canals were clearly not present.

Map of Martian Canals by Percival Lowell

Mariner 4 image of Mars, showing moon-like craters

The idea of life on Mars fell largely out of favor as a result of this, but interest in Mars remained. Though the canals were obviously not real, speculation turned from present Martians to Martians past. If there was no civilization now, was it possible there had been in the past? After Mariner 4, Mariners 6 and 7 also flew by, largely confirming the lifeless image. But then that all changed.

Mariner 9 arrived in Mars orbit on November 14, 1971. It was followed within a month by the Soviet probes Mars 2 and Mars 3. On arrival, the probes discovered a Mars transformed: a vast dust storm completely masked the planet. Eventually, the dust settled, revealing a world of wonders previously unseen: staggeringly huge extinct volcanoes, a tremendous canyon system named for the probe (Valles Marineris), dry riverbeds, fog, clouds . . . and something else. On February 8, 1972, Mariner 9 returned an image of what looked an awful lot like pyramids in a region called Elysium Planitia:

Mariner 9 image of Elysium Planitia, showing pyramid-shaped structures

Could it be? Had there really been intelligent life on Mars, which had built pyramids eerily similar to the Egyptian pyramids at Giza? Some other vaguely artificial-looking objects were also observed, and piqued a bit of interest, but none more than the pyramids. That was nothing compared to what would come in 1976, though.

In 1976, two “flagship class” probes arrived at Mars: Viking 1 and Viking 2. Each was an orbiter/lander pair. Their orbiters surveyed the planet in much more detail than Mariner 9 had been able to achieve. In addition to obtaining better resolution images of the pyramids at Elysium Planitia, they also found some more in a region called Cydonia Mensae. As exciting as the first pyramid discovery had been, this really took off in the public imagination, for in addition to what seemed like a complex of pyramids, there was a gigantic face.

The “Face on Mars,” photographed by Viking 1; note that the black spots are data loss, not real objects

A consultant at Goddard Space Flight Center happened to see the images and found his fame in them. His name was Richard Hoagland, and he was to become the most ardent proponent of the Face on Mars. He described the pyramids as a buried city, and the Face as a crumbling monument akin to the Sphinx in Egypt.

There was no new data on these features for some time. No new missions were greenlit until Mars Observer, which ended in disaster when the probe suddenly ceased transmitting shortly before orbital insertion. It wasn’t until September 12, 1997, that a new spacecraft arrived at Mars: Mars Global Surveyor. It eventually imaged both Elysium and Cydonia, and the results were disappointing for anyone hoping to find evidence of life, although many refused to give up the faith. Mars Odyssey 2001, Mars Express, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have mapped the planet in ever increasing detail, and the features have proven to be disappointingly natural.

Elysium pyramid, photographed by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

It does look like a pyramid, doesn’t it? Even if there aren’t really alien-built structures on its surface, Mars still conceals a lot of mysteries. It boasts the largest volcanoes in the solar system by a huge margin, and also the largest canyon. It is smaller than Earth, but has the same land surface area as Earth’s continents. It has weather, including dust devils and gigantic dust storms. It has ice caps made of a mixture of water ice and frozen carbon dioxide, and water not only flowed in the past, but appears to be sometimes able to flow in the present as well. And who knows? Perhaps by the end of the century, some of us will be living there. And then we can build our own pyramids!

Via: MentalFloss

Cattle Mutilations

On October 9, 1967, the Associated Press carried an item that told of the possible role of UFOs in the killing of Snippy, a three-year-old gelding. The carcass was discovered about a quarter of a mile from the ranch house of Harry King in the desolate mountain country near Alamosa, Colorado. King notified the horse’s owners, Mr. and Mrs. Burl Lewis, who were disturbed by the condition of the carcass, which suggested that something out of the ordinary had been responsible for their horse’s demise.

A pathologist admitted bewilderment when he found the horse’s abdominal, brain, and spinal cavities to be empty. All flesh had been stripped from the horse’s head and neck, but the rest of the animal was untouched except for the openings left by the mysterious surgery. Although the carcass had lain exposed for several days, it was not unduly decomposed, nor had it begun to smell. Even more unusual is the fact that no predators, vultures, or buzzards had approached the carcass.

UFO investigators stated that they had noted a high radiation count around Snippy’s remains and reported finding areas where the Chico Brush had been squashed to within 10 inches of the ground. Fifteen circular exhaust marks were found 100 yards from the carcass of the horse. Six identical holes, each two inches wide and four inches deep, were found in a nearby area. In addition, the investigators said that they found the imprint of a circle 75 feet in diameter, and a number of smaller areas where the Chico Brush had been flattened in circles 15 feet in diameter.

Reports of Snippy’s supposed death at the hands of alien specimen collectors received elaborate play and bold headlines across the nation. The official word was that Snippy had been killed by lightning, but UFO investigators quickly denounced such an analysis and the enigma of animal mutilations has continued into the twenty-first century.

Cattle are the most frequent victims of these mysterious mutilations, and according to forensic pathologists who have examined many of these animals, traditional surgical instruments were not used—but the incisions appear to be the result of an advanced laser technology. Most investigators have eliminated the possibility that predators or scavengers could so neatly incise and remove select organs from their victims. And the obvious problem with blaming predators and scavengers is the fact that all the rest of the animal remains intact. A number of veterinarians and forensic scientists who have investigated the mysterious mutilations have described the blood as appearing to have been drained with no resultant vascular collapse. The known technology that could process such an accomplishment does not exist, and if it did, it would seem to have to be big and heavy to manipulate some animals weighing well over 1,500 pounds.

According to most accounts, tracks or markings of a conventional nature, such as tire imprints or human or animal tracks, have never been found near a mutilated carcass, but many farmers and ranchers have reported the indentations of a tripod nearby. And there have been numerous reports of UFOs seen in the area and in the immediate vicinity of a cattle mutilation.

Many investigators are openly skeptical about blaming cattle mutilations on aliens. In the opinion of many veterinarians, livestock association officials, forensic pathologists, chemists, and a host of county, state, and federal officers and agents, such alleged mutilations are simply the result of Mother Nature fulfilling one of her primary responsibilities of keeping the countryside clean. The true perpetrators of the mystery of animal mutilations, according to these investigators, are predators and scavengers. All the tales of bloodless carcasses, organs removed with surgical precision, and so forth, are the work of sensationalist journalists, excitable ranchers, and paranoid UFO conspiracy theorists.

Regardless of a great deal of official skepticism toward the subject of cattle mutilations, it does appear to comprise a genuine mystery. And every time that a mutilated cow is found with its tongue, eyes, ears, anus, udder, and genitalia removed without apparently shedding a drop of blood and without the culprits leaving any tracks whatsoever, aliens, satanic cultists, and crews of unmarked black helicopters are named as the suspects. One of the favorite theories of the alien/government conspiracy buffs is that a branch of the secret government made a deal with the aliens that would enable them to sustain themselves on Earth by ingesting a particular enzyme, or hormonal secretion, most readily obtained from the tongues and throats of cattle. Further, it seems that this same type of animal mutilation occurs worldwide with the same kinds of animals every time.

Reports from Argentina in July 2002, stated that beginning with the first detected mutilation in April, more than 200 cattle had been found with their blood drained, their tongues, organs, flesh, and skin removed by angular, nearly curved, cuts. Although the official explanation centered on a carnivorous mouse, no one, from ranchers and veterinarians to biologists specializing in rodents have ever seen mice feed upon cow carcasses. Crews from UFOs were most often named by ranchers as the most likely mutilators of their cattle herds.

The most prominent researcher in the bizarre field of animal mutilations is Linda Moulton Howe, author of Glimpses of Other Realities (1998). Howe has documented hundreds of abnormal, inexplicable deaths of animals, mostly cattle and horses on the open range—all of which died because of bloodless excisions and the removal of eyes, organs, and genitals.

When she began her intensive research in the fall of 1979, Howe suspected that there was some sort of contamination in the environment, and that some government agency was secretly harvesting tissue and fluids for examination. But she could not fathom why any government agency working in secrecy would be so careless as to leave the carcasses of the cattle lying in the fields or ranges, thereby creating alarm and anger among the owners of the animals. Howe’s early interviews were with ranchers and law enforcement officers, who reluctantly informed her of the sightings of glowing disks in the vicinity of the cattle mutilations. Some witnesses even told her of having seen nonhuman entities at the scene. Her continuing research has convinced her that something very strange is going on, which may, indeed, involve alien experimentation with Earth’s animals.

Via: UnexplainedStuff

Operation Majestic-12

According to UFO researcher and documentary filmmaker Jamie Shandera, in December 1984, he received an anonymous packet in the mail containing two rolls of undeveloped 35mm film. The film, once developed, revealed what appeared to be a briefing report to President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower, which had been prepared by a group of 12 prestigious and top-secret investigators who worked under the code name of “Operation Majestic-12” (MJ-12). The document, which appeared to be authentic, described details of the recovery, analysis, and official cover-up of the 1947, UFO crash outside of Roswell, New Mexico. The report also described the recovery of the bodies of four humanlike beings that had been found near the wreckage of the downed extraterrestrial spacecraft.

According to these documents, all four of the entities were dead, and their corpses had been mutilated by desert scavengers and were badly decomposed due to exposure to the elements. Although the creatures were human-like in appearance, the secret report stated that the biological and evolutionary processes responsible for their development had apparently been quite different from those of humankind.

On June 14, 1987, at the 24th Annual National UFO Conference in Burbank, California, Shandera, together with Stanton Friedman and William Moore—the two prominent UFO researchers Shandera had enlisted to help him test the truth of the MJ-12 documents—made public their investigations into what purported to be documentary proof of a government cover-up of UFOs that began in 1947.

According to the documents leaked to Shandera, the members of Majestic-12 consisted of the following individuals:

Lloyd V. Berkner, known for scientific achievements in the fields of physics and electronics, special assistant to the secretary of state in charge of the Military Assistance Program, executive secretary of what is now known as the Research and Development Board of the National Military Establishment.

Detlev W. Bronk, a physiologist and biophysicist of international repute, chairman of the National Research Council, and a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Atomic Energy Commission.

Vannevar Bush, a brilliant scientist who was, from 1947, to 1948, chairman of Research and Development for the National Military Establishment.

Gordon Gray, three times elected to the North Carolina Senate, succeeded Kenneth Royall as secretary of the Army in June 1949.

Dr. Jerome C. Hunsaker, an innovative aeronautical scientist and design engineer, who served as chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

Robert M. Montague, Sandia base commander, Albuquerque, New Mexico, from July 1947, to February 1951.

General Nathan F. Twining, commander of the B-29 superfortresses that dropped the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In December 1945, he was named commanding general of the Air Material Command headquartered at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. In October 1947, he was appointed commander in chief of the Alaskan Command, remaining in that position until May 1950, when he became acting deputy chief of staff for personnel at U.S. Air Force headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Donald H. Menzel, director of the Harvard Observatory at Cambridge, Massachusetts, a leading authority on the solar chromosphere, formulated (with Dr. Winfield W. Salisbury) the initial calculations that led to the first radio contact with the Moon in 1946.

James V. Forrestal served first as undersecretary, then secretary of the U.S. Navy for seven years. In September 1947, he became secretary of defense, responsible for coordinating the activities of all U.S. Armed Forces.

Sidney W. Souers, a rear admiral, who became deputy chief of Naval Intelligence before organizing the Central Intelligence Office in January 1946.

Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a much-decorated U.S. Air Force officer, rose to the rank of commanding general of the Ninth U.S. Air Force in France before he was named assistant chief of staff of G-2 (Intelligence) in 1946. In June 1946, he was appointed the director of Central Intelligence.

Rear Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter was summoned from the post of naval attache at the American Embassy in Paris to become the first director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), serving from May 1947, to September 1950.

Many UFO researchers agreed upon seeing the list of MJ-12s alleged personnel that if a UFO had crashed and been recovered in Roswell in 1947, this would have been the kind of panel that could have accomplished a thorough investigation of the craft. Each of these individuals had been at the top in their respective areas of expertise during the late 1940s, and had the added benefit of government experience behind them.

The more skeptical investigators agreed that “Document A,” which purported to be a letter dated September 24, 1947, from President Harry S Truman to Secretary of Defense Forrestal, appeared to be genuine; but even though Truman did refer to “Operation Majestic Twelve” in the letter, there was nothing clearly stated that linked the group to UFO investigations.

Others questioned why Hillenkoetter, head of the CIA, listed as the briefing officer on the MJ-12 document, would remain quiet about the crashed flying saucer and the alien bodies when he became active in civilian UFO research in 1957.

The biggest shocker to longtime UFO researchers was the discovery of the name of Donald Menzel, the Harvard astronomer, on the MJ-12 list. Menzel was well known as a passionate debunker of flying saucers and the author of three anti-UFO books.

In spite of its defenders in the UFO research field, the authenticity of the MJ-12 documents remains highly controversial. Skeptical researchers have labeled the documents as clearly false and fraudulent, pointing out that a thorough search of the records of the Truman administration reveals no executive order for such a UFO investigative group as MJ-12. Researchers who have served in the military have stated that the clearest indication of a hoax lies in the many incorrect military terms and language used in these alleged “official” documents, suggesting that the creators of the hoax have never served in the military.

Via: UnexplainedStuff


Winter Solstice

The December or Winter Solstice occurs when the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. In other words, it’s when the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun. Depending on the Gregorian calendar, the winter solstice occurs annually on a day between December 20th and December 23rd. On this date, all places above a latitude of 66.5 degrees north (Arctic Polar Circle) are now in darkness, while locations below a latitude of 66.5 degrees south (Antarctic Polar Circle) receive 24 hours of daylight.You can use the Sunrise and Sunset calculator to find the number of daylight hours during the winter solstice in cities worldwide.

The sun is directly overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere during the December solstice. It also marks the longest day of the year in terms of daylight hours for those living South of the equator. Those living or traveling South from the Antarctic Circle towards the South Pole will see the midnight sun during this time of the year.

On the contrary, for an observer in the Northern Hemisphere, the December solstice marks the day of the year with the least hours of daylight. Those living or traveling North of the Arctic Circle towards the North Pole will not be able to see the sun during this time of the year.

December 20th and December 23rd solstices occur less frequently than December 21st or December 22nd solstices in the Gregorian calendar. The last December 23rd solstice occurred in 1903, and will not occur again until the year 2303. A December 20th solstice has occurred very rarely, with the next one occurring in the year 2080.


The Dropa Stones

On the border of China and Tibet in the remote mountains of Bayan-Kara-Ula a truly amazing discovery was made in the 1930’s during the exploration of  the interlinked tunnels. A team lead by Chinese archaeologist, Professor Chu Pu Tei had been exploring the caves when they came upon a series of very unusual but neatly arranged burial sites containing the skeletons of creatures with spindly bodies and disproportionally huge skulls and were originally thought to have been the remains of the a Tibetan Ape. But that explanation was quickly ruled out by the fact that Ape’s do not bury their dead. After further more modern techniques of  testing, it has led experts to believe that these skeletal remains belong to an ancient unknown race of a humanoids.

They also went on to find cave paintings portraying beings wearing round helmets along with the Sun, Moon, Earth and stars all being connected by small dots. It became quickly obvious the paintings were some sort of map, undoubtedly made by intelligent beings. The carbon dating tests reviled that the findings were around 12,000 years old and the fact that the cranial cavity of these beings were so large would indicate that these beings were extremely intelligent and had very large brains but the skeletons were a little more than three feet tall.

This is where the mystery just begins. In addition to finding a new species of humanoid unknown to the world, while examining the surrounding caves Yei and his men also discovered what might be the most incredible, tangible artifacts in human history. 716 stone disks ranging anywhere from 9 inches to 3 feet in diameter and 3/4 to 3 inches thick with an engraved spiral going from the outside edge to the hole in the center of the disk. After close examination of the disks it was realized that the engraved spirals were actually code for something, a type of language unknown to any one on the planet. The disks came to be known as The Dropa Stones.

The strange new unknown written language dates back to 10,000 BC. Our earliest written language that’s recorded in the history books dates back to 3500 BC in Sumeria and the first Chinese inscriptions date to about 1200 BC.

The Dropa Stones were sent to a variety of scholars for investigation. One of them, Professor Tsum Um Nui of the Beijing Academy for Ancient Studies, found that the spiral grooves were actually a line of characters written in an unknown language. In 1962, he announced that he had managed to translate the language. For a long time, the Peking Academy of Prehistory forbade the professor from publishing anything about the Dropa Stones. However, after many years of debate he published his hypothesis.

Here is one of the translations made by Nui:

An alien spacecraft crashed in the Bayan Har Shan region 12,000 years ago. The occupants were aliens called Dropa or Dzopa. The Dropa could not repair their craft, so they tried to adapt to the conditions on Earth. Meanwhile, the local Ham tribesmen hunted down and killed most of the aliens. Supposedly, the aliens had intermarried with the locals, making identification of the origins of the skeletons more difficult.

Another translation described how the Ham tribe showed remorse and regret that their spaceship crash-landed in such a remote mountain range having no way to repair their ship and that the Dropa would be stuck on earth forever never being able to return to their home planet. Since this incredible discovery, archeologists and anthropologists have learned much more then what was known about the isolated Bayan-Kara-Ula mountains and the people that inhabited them. An old legend still told by locals speak of small, gaunt, yellow faced men who came from the stars, long, long ago.

In 1968, a Russian scientist named W. Saitsew published a paper on the subject of extraterrestrials visiting earth throughout story and some of the information was gathered from the works of Nui. The Russians became very interested in the stone disks and later had some of the disks examined in a Moscow laboratory where two extraordinary discoveries were made. One, is that the disks contained traces of metal, mostly cobalt. Two, is the fact that when the disks were placed on a special turntable, they hummed in a very unusual rhythm as if they had an electrical charge going through them.

After that, nothing was heard of the disk for years, until a Austrian engineer by the name of Ernst Wegener in 1974, spotted the disks in Xian at the Banpo Museum, although the director of the museum could tell him nothing about the disks, he was aloud to take some photographs and hold them in his hands. All he had was a Polaroid camera and many of the photo’s circulating today are the one’s Wegner took.

Hartwig Hausdorf who is author of many book covering UFO’s, the Chinese Pyramids and other X-file conspiracy’s, once he heard the disks went to the museum in Xian he decided to examine the disks for himself in 1994.  When he contacted the director of the museum, he was told that the disks had disappeared with no explanation to their whereabouts.

Then in 1995 a special news report was released by Chinese government:

“In the province of Sichuan, which lies on the eastern border of the Baian-Kara-Ula mountains, 120 people of a previously ethnologically unclassified tribe have been discovered. The most important aspect of this new tribe is the size of its people: No taller than 3 ft. 10 in., the smallest adult measuring only 2 ft. 1 in! This discovery might be the first hard evidence on the existence of the Dropa/Dzopa – a people whose predecessors are said to have come from the stars.”

These two tribes still exist today in the isolated area between Tibet and China, though the two tribes now live in harmony with each other. Anthropologists have been unable to categorize either tribe into any known race of humans.  These tribes are neither Chinese nor Tibetan. These people are of pygmy stature with adults measuring between 3’6″ and 4’7″ with an average height of 4’2″, and an average body weight of 40 pounds. Their skin is a pale yellow, their body’s are very thin and their head’s are disproportionately large. Directly corresponding with the skeletal remains found in the caves back in the 1930’s. Oddly enough the Dropa and the Han tribe’s people have very little hair on their bodies if any, very large blue eyes, which is not at all common in that area of the world.

One other interesting fact is the similarity’s between the Dropa stones and the UFO’s that NASA caught on tape during their tether incident back in 96′. Many people have challenged these claims and Tsum Um Nui was forced to resign from the Beijing Academy. The Dropa Stones have been rapidly disappearing all over the world and are currently not available for public viewing at any museum. However, pictures of the artifacts do exist.

The Space Shuttle Through the Decades

As we say farewell to the marvel of human engineering that was the space shuttle, it is time to reflect on the achievements of the missions that the shuttle undertook. Over three decades, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour flew more than 100 missions. NPR takes a look back at some of the momentous video that came out of NASA’s space shuttle program. Thanks for the memories!

The Timeless Mystery of Stonehenge

The more we dig, the more the mystery seems to deepen,” said William Hawley (1851–1941), the official archaeologist of Stonehenge following World War I. He was reporting to the press about his underfunded historical project that seemed to be languishing. Hawley wasn’t able to make much progress in understanding Stonehenge by the time he wearily gave up the task around 1925. Since then, many others have tried, and much information has been gained. Still, old legends and theories about Stonehenge seem to carry as much validity as information based on careful tests performed with the best in modern equipment. As Hawley observed, each new discovery seems to broaden the sublime aura of Stonehenge.

Located on Salisbury Plain in England, Stonehenge is a site of concentric rings of stone, an avenue, and paths leading to nearby burial sites. The stone circles are situated on a henge, an area enclosed by a bank and ditch; the surrounding circular ditch is 340 feet in diameter and five feet deep. There are four stone alignments—two are circles and two others are horseshoe-shaped patterns. The outer circle is about 100 feet in diameter and originally consisted of 30 upright stones (17 still stand), weighing an average of 25 tons and linked on top by a ring of stones. The stones, composed of Sarsen, a kind of sandstone, average about 26 feet in height. Pairs of standing stones are topped by a series of lintels—a term that describes an object that rests across two pillars, similar to the top part of a doorway. Such pairs of standing stones with a third horizontal lintel joining them at the top are called trilithons. All the stones were smoothed and shaped. The lintels are locked in place by sculpted, dovetail joints, and the edges were smoothed to maintain a gentle curving appearance.

A second ring consists of bluestones, a smaller-sized stone. Within that circle are five linteled pairs of Sarsen stones in a horseshoe shape. Another horseshoe, consisting of blue-stones, is at the center. An avenue outlined with parallel banks and ditches 40 feet apart leads into the henge. A single standing stone, called the Heel Stone, is positioned in the center of the avenue just outside the outer circular ditch.

Several of the upright stones were toppled during the Roman occupation of Britain between 55 B.C.E. and 410 C.E. Two upright stones and a lintel fell in 1797, and two more in 1900. The five stones that fell since 1797 were put back in place in 1958 to restore the look Stonehenge had between 400 and 1797.

Several theories have emerged about when Stonehenge was erected and the purposes it served. Stonehenge begins being mentioned in recorded history during the twelfth century, most notably by Geoffrey of Monmouth (c. 1100–1154) in his History of the Kings of Britain. Geoffrey’s history freely mixes documented events with folklore and contains many chronological inaccuracies. Still, his fanciful story of how Stonehenge was erected on Salisbury Plain remained popular for centuries. Geoffrey credited Stonehenge to Merlin, a wizard most often associated with the legendary King Arthur. In Geoffrey’s account, Merlin was asked by Ambrosius Aurelianus, brother of Uther Pendragon and uncle of King Arthur, to erect a monument to commemorate the site where several hundred British nobles were murdered by Saxons. Merlin used magic to transport the stones from Ireland, where they had been erected in the form of Stonehenge after having been brought from Africa by giants. The formation of stones was called the Giants Dance.

Later theories emerged to overshadow Geoffrey’s tale. Stonehenge was credited as the work of the Mycenae, a civilization that thrived in the Aegean Sea area of the eastern Mediterranean region before the rise of Greece in the first millennium B.C.E. The Mycenae connection fit together with a theory that prevailed into the twentieth century that ancient megaliths throughout western Europe were designed and erected by members of eastern Mediterranean cultures, from which modern languages, histories, and other forms of culture emerged. In the second half of the twentieth century, however, advanced techniques for dating ancient objects showed that Stonehenge actually preceded the rise of Mycenean cuture.

The most popular modern theory connects Stonehenge with Celtic culture that thrived in Britain before the Romans came. A priestly order among the Celts called the Druids were believed to have supervised construction of Stonehenge and other stone circles in the region. Druids were keepers of lore and leaders of ceremonial rites among Celts. They have been associated with magic powers, human sacrifice, and various mystical rites, but many of those attributes were bestowed on them by non-Celtic historians and are, therefore, suspect. As Christianity spread through Great Britain by the fourth century, Celtic culture and the Druids were eventually overwhelmed.

Under the supervision of Druids, the theory goes, Stonehenge was a sacred ceremonial site. The famous Slaughter Stone at Stonehenge, which shows traces of red after a rain, was believed to have been an altar where Druids performed human sacrifices. It was subsequently discovered that the redness derives from iron minerals in the Slaughter Stone.

William Stukeley (1687–1765) perpetuated the Druid link to Stonehenge in the 1740s with his book, Stonehenge: A Temple Restor’d to the British Druids (1740). Stukeley identified the avenue leading into Stonehenge as a procession route. Back during the 1720s, he had discovered parallel lines of banks and ditches near Stonehenge. He called the phenomenon a cursus, a Latin word for racetrack, since he thought the lines were joined at the ends to form an oval.

Stukeley contributed to a growing trend in Great Britain to recognize ancient Britons, especially Druids, as “bards” (poets) living in communion with nature. Stukeley himself “went Druid” and joined an order that practiced secret Druidic rites, and he assumed the name of Chyndonax after a fabled French Druid priest.

Sir J. Norman Lockyer
(1836–1920), who was once director of the Solar Physics Observatory in London and the founder of the journal Nature, published The Dawn of Astronomy in 1894. The book argued that ancient temples in Egypt were aligned for stellar observations and as calendars—to determine the summer solstice, for instance. His findings were controversial, but they helped spur further studies of the astronomical interests of ancient societies. Lockyer came to the same conclusion about ancient Britons as he had of Egyptians after studying Stonehenge and nearby pre-historic, megalithic structures. Lockyer believed that Stonehenge served as a calendar. It was known that Celts had divided their year into eight parts. According to Lockyer, Stonehenge and other megalithic sites were used to determine key points of the year, such as the coming of warm weather for planting. Lockyer viewed Druids, the keepers of Celtic lore and knowledge, as astronomer priests responsible for devising the megalithic calendars.

The astronomical orientation of Stonehenge, meanwhile, was largely ignored by archaeologists. However, it received a tremendous boost during the 1960s and 1970s when Boston University astronomer Gerald Hawkins studied the site and used a computer to compare historical solar and lunar alignments with vantage points in Stonehenge. He published his findings in 1963 in Nature, then in an expanded version in a book, Stonehenge Decoded (1965), which offered the most convincing scientific evidence yet that Stonehenge served as an astronomical observatory, specifically as a calendar.

When one stands in the middle of Stonehenge and looks through the entrance of the avenue on the morning of the summer solstice, for example, the Sun will rise above the Heel Stone, which is set on the avenue. If one stands in the entrance and looks into the circle at dusk of that day, the Sun will set between a trilithon. According to Hawkins, the use of Stonehenge as a calendar probably evolved from painstaking trial and error experiments with wooden poles to a permanent form with the standing stones. Hawkins’s work was greeted with great interest and much skepticism. Nevertheless, along with other studies around the same time, it helped spur a trend for greater scientific research into Stonehenge and confirmed a new discipline, archaeoastronomy, the study of the use of astronomy among ancient societies.

Credit for Stonehenge to the Celts continued until the 1950s, when radiocarbon testing determined that Stonehenge dated from about 3000 B.C.E. and that work was begun on the site even before the Celts migrated into Britain from the European continent. Subsequent studies have revealed that Stonehenge was built in waves of construction spanning several centuries. Smaller stones were brought to the site around 2600 B.C.E. and the largest stones arrived around 2100 B.C.E. The last work on the site dates from around 1800 B.C.E.

Though information has come forth about when Stonehenge was erected, the identity of its builders remains unknown—and where the stones came from and how they were moved into place, are yet other matters to be investigated. The Sarcens likely came from Marlborough Downs, a quarry site about 18 miles northeast of Stonehenge. How the stones could be moved from by a prehistoric people without the aid of the wheel or a pulley system is not known. The most common theory of how prehistoric people moved megaliths has them creating a track of logs on which the large stones were rolled along.

Another megalith transport theory involves the use of a type of sleigh running on a track greased with animal fat. Such an experiment with a sleigh carrying a 40-ton slab of stone was successful near Stonehenge in 1995. A dedicated team of more than 100 workers managed to push and pull the slab along the 18-mile journey from Marlborough Downs.

To erect the slab, the group dug a hole. The slab was pushed over the hole until it fell in. Then, a team pushed while another pulled by rope to make the slab stand upright. The hole was filled after the process was repeated with a second slab. The lintel stone that forms the top of the trilithon was pushed up a ramp and then maneuvered into place on top of the two pillars. Engineers at the test site believed that levers may have been used to raise the lintel stone, and timber put underneath; the process was repeated until the lintel stone rested on timber at the necessary height to push it in place to complete the trilithon.

Whether such methods were actually used during the construction is not known. Still, human sweat and ingenuity were shown as a legitimate alternative to Merlin’s magic and other theories about how Stonehenge was erected.

Via: UnexplainedStuff

Summer Solstice 2011

Today, June 21, is the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, which means it’s the longest day of the year in 2011. The summer solstice occurs when the sun is the farthest north in the sky, directly above the Tropic of Cancer. According to USA Today, the exact moment of the solstice today will occur at 1:16 p.m. ET.

While some consider the summer solstice as the beginning of summer, many actually regard it as midsummer, though the definition varies between different regions and cultures. In the Southern Hemisphere, today actually marks the 2011 winter solstice. These seasons will again be flipped between the hemispheres on December 22, when the second solstice of the year occurs (winter for Northern Hemisphere, and summer for Southern Hemisphere).

Scientifically speaking, the two solstices in a year are the days during which the earth’s tilt towards the sun is the most extreme.  For the solstice in June today, the tilt is towards in the sun in the Northern Hemisphere (summer solstice) and away from the sun in the Southern Hemisphere (winter solstice).

The Orion Alignments of the Giza Pyramids

Scott Creighton may have discovered a new dimension to the alignment between the pyramids at Giza and the constellation Orion.

According to Creighton the so-called queens’ pyramids, two sets of three small pyramids each, next to the largest and smallest of the main Giza pyramids, are aligned with the three belt stars of Orion at two precise points in time exactly 12,960 years apart. The group to the south of Menkaure’s pyramid were aligned, he says, with the belt stars in 10,948 B.C. and the other queens’ pyramids to the east of the Great pyramid will be aligned with those same stars in 2012 A.D. Interestingly enough the alignment of the two sets of small pyramids, in relation to each other, is exactly perpendicular.

Researchers Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert caused quite a stir in the mid-nineties with their book, The Orion Mystery, which argued that Giza was an attempt to reflect on earth the image of the constellation Orion. If Creighton is right, the arrangement would also seem to point to times important to the builders of the Giza complex. By suggesting that the pyramids of Giza also act as a kind of clock, tracking the progress of Orion through the heavens toward the 2012 date, a year to which the Mayan calendar and other ancient indicators also point, Creighton is calling attention to another indication of the astonishing ancient advancement on display at Giza.

To see an animation of Creighton’s Greater Orion Correlation Theory go to:

Via: Old Maps, Expeditions and Explorations

A Golden Message to the Extraterrestrials

In 1977, two space probes — the Voyager 1 and 2 — were launched to explore the outer planets of our solar system. After sending some of the most spectacular images and information of those bodies beyond Mars, including snapshots full of beauty and meaning like the “Family Portrait“ that contained the “Pale Blue Dot” upon which we all live, the Voyagers kept going “where no man has gone before”.

Today, along with the Pioneer probes launched shortly before, they are the farthest human artifacts from Earth. And they are still traveling, like bottles released on the sea of the cosmos, because they contain a message addressed to the improbable, but just possible event that an intelligent alien being may find them.

On the Voyagers, those messages are encoded on a golden plated record, like the old vinyl records. Correctly decoded, with the instruments attached and following the instructions engraved on its face, the disc will reveal several sounds and even images about the civilization of naked apes that built the gadget.

Clicking on the image above you can check a nice multimedia website with most of those sound and images, going from salutations in Chinese to rock and roll: it includes “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry. A small touch by late astronomer Carl Sagan, who motivated and coordinated the creation of this message.

And speaking of rock, you may also watch a videoclip by the Strokes for “You Only Live Once“, which mix Kubrick’s Space Odyssey and the Voyager golden disc: At the beginning of the videoclip there’s a nuclear Armageddon. And by seeing the images and sound launched in 1977, we cannot help but to feel one of the main concerns behind it. It was actually a message to ourselves.

This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours“, then president Carter addressed the extraterrestrials, expressing the real fear that the message may long outlive our own civilization.

The last part of Carter’s message, “so we may live into yours“, is implicitly, though certainly unintentionally, threatening, which would be used in a nice science fiction story. Though the chances the golden disc may be retrieved and decoded by intelligent alien beings is remote, it surely can and must be decoded by intelligent terrestrial beings.

Via: Forgetomori