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Mysteries

The Mysterious Celestial Spheres of the Ancient Mughal Empire

by Martin J. Clemens, The Daily Grail

Before the advent of Google Earth, when one wanted to see what the planet looked like, or to find a certain faraway place without actually travelling to it, one would consult a map – and you’ll recall that they didn’t always fit in your phone. We’ve made maps for millennia. It’s an art form unto itself, and as anyone with a love for antique maps can tell you, the variation in form and artistic style is both immense and awe inspiring.

Of course, there are different kinds of maps. From a technical perspective, there are topological and topographical maps, navigational maps, population maps, faction maps, marine maps, even wind maps. Most are concerned with demonstrating relative locations on Earth, but people have been making maps of the stars for almost as long as they’ve been giving each other badly drawn directions to the corner store. Celestial maps, as they’re called, offer a standardised view of constellations and individual stars, along with their relative position compared to specific points on Earth.

One of the problems with celestial maps, and actually with all maps, is the two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional object or space. In order to accurately plot locations and show a realistic measure of their position relative to all others, the cartographer must distort the actual shape of either the Earth or the heavens. This, obviously, can cause some problems when one wants to clearly understand the actual relationship between two locations. The answer? Globes!

Globes too, are split into two categories, terrestrial and celestial. The earliest known terrestrial globes date to ancient Greece (6th to 3rd century BCE), though no examples have survived the ravages of time. Celestial globes may have gotten a start much later, possibly as late as 2nd century CE, as a part of the Farnese Atlas, which is a Roman replica of the classical Hellenistic sculpture of Atlas, but depicting him holding up the heavens, rather than the world. Though, since no examples or records of celestial spheres have been found (yet) prior to this point, it’s not known when or who exactly started the trend. Antique celestial globes are most often made out of metal, usually bronze, and are usually hollow, but are also found in marble and other sculpting mediums.

In the realm of celestial globes, also known as celestial spheres, there are some spectacular surviving examples, and among those gems are hidden one of history’s most vexing puzzles.

In the 1980s, a Smithsonian historian of science, Emilie Savage-Smith, embarked on a journey throughout the middle-east, with the purpose of finding and studying celestial spheres from antiquity. She found a bounty of them, some of the most incredible works of cartographic art and engineering ever made by human hands.

Among those she found there were two distinct types; seamed and seamless spheres. Seamed spheres are, or were, made by moulding two halves of the sphere separately and then soldering them together, ultimately buffing the soldered seam to make a smooth sphere. Then artisans and astronomers would engrave the surface according to whatever specific element of the skies they wanted to depict.

Seamless spheres, however, were another thing entirely; something Emilie Savage-Smith discovered quite unexpectedly.

Up until Savage-Smith made her discovery, it was thought by virtually the entirety of the academic community and by metallurgists the world over, that all examples of hollow metal celestial spheres in existence were of the seamed type. This was owing to the long held belief that creating seamless hollow metal spheres is impossible. It turns out, that isn’t true.

One of the earliest examples of a seamless celestial sphere found by Savage-Smith, was found to be from a workshop in Lahore, Pakistan, though she soon found that the technique, described as ‘secret wax casting’ was widely known by metal craftsmen in Northern India from at least as early as the late 16th century and coming from the Mughal Empire. In fact, some of the workshops identified continued to use the technique up until the 19th century. Though it has apparently now been lost to modern manufacturing techniques.

According to some, the best surviving example of a hollow, seamless celestial sphere is one made by a Mughal metallurgical master and astronomer named Muhammad Salih Tahtawi in 1631. The sphere, known as the celestial globe of Muhammad Salih Tahtawi, is a massive bronze globe adorned with ornate engraving in both Arabic and Persian, as well as numerous pictographic representations of celestial bodies. Its manufacture would have been an immense undertaking, though Salih Tahtawi surely succeeded in creating a masterpiece unparalleled before or since.

A detailed portrait of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir holding a globe
The existence of the spheres, which are commonly known as Islamicate Celestial Globes, isn’t without controversy though. Aside from the obvious resistance among modern metallurgists to the idea that these objects were created as Savage-Smith asserts, there exists a good deal of misinformation about these spheres, stemming from what appears to be a reluctance to attribute such mastery to the Muslim ruled Mughal Empire. Several people have asserted that the existence of both Arabic and Persian language on many of the surviving examples is explained simply by the suggestion that those features were added long after the spheres were made. Presumably implying that the spheres themselves were made by a much older culture, perhaps even in a different area of the world.

Bronze casting techniques similar to that which may have been used to create these spheres, such as lost-wax casting, originated approximately 5700 years ago in Israel, but there is no evidence thus far to substantiate such a claim.

Circumstantially, it is a well-established fact that Arab and Muslim cultures were responsible for a great many technological and scientific advances throughout the middle-ages and long before. There seems to be no valid reason to deny that this particular innovation also came from their masters.

Unfortunately, the subject of seamless celestial spheres is little known in mainstream culture, and as such, in the few places it is discussed, the facts are often distorted or even completely made up. There are those who would like to claim that these magnificent examples of our history are actually OOP-ART (out-of-place-artefacts), suggesting that their origin is related to either a lost pre-historic human culture or aliens. Though as with most such arguments, there isn’t enough information at present to really dive into the discussion.

In any event, once again we are awed by the sophisticated and masterful creations of our forefathers, and once again, our steady march toward modernity has cost us the wisdom of the ages.

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Mysteries

Discovered mysterious giant objects on the Giza plateau, near the famous Egyptian pyramids

It would seem that near the famous pyramids in Egypt, everything has long been known. But, thanks to new technologies and clear high-quality images from space, new details began to be discovered.

At first glance, it seems to be nothing ordinary – pyramids, like pyramids …

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But this is only at first glance. If you enlarge the details of this image, then you can find the barely guessed outlines of giant, clearly artificial rectangular formations that are located opposite the famous pyramids.

For example, at the pyramid of Mikerinos:

At the pyramid of Khafre:

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What are these incomprehensible huge geometric objects protruding through the sand dunes?

It may well be that in the thickness of the limestone plateau, ancient artificial underground structures of the disappeared Egyptian civilization of the pharaohs are hidden from prying eyes.

We are sure that the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt is well aware of these objects. Therefore, permits for archaeological work are issued only in strictly designated places and not at all free of charge, and the more promising such a site is in terms of finds, the larger the contributions (and the contributions, judging by a number of publications, are not at all weak). In addition, excavations at a number of sites are generally prohibited.

So the Egyptian land will keep its secrets and mysteries for a long time from ordinary inhabitants – you and us.

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Mysteries

The origin of gold turned out to be a cosmic mystery

Astronomers calculated the origin of all chemical elements and wondered: where is there so much gold in the universe? The fact is that there are not enough known processes to explain the observed abundance of this precious metal.

Details are set out in a scientific article published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Astronomers believe that the earliest atomic nuclei appeared in the era of primordial nucleosynthesis, which began in the first seconds after the Big Bang and lasted several tens of minutes. At the same time, almost all the hydrogen available in the Universe was formed, a significant part of helium, a certain amount of lithium and an insignificant amount of beryllium and boron. All these chemical elements are light and are located at the very beginning of the periodic table.

The appearance of all the other atomic nuclei is somehow connected with the stars. New nuclei are formed in the bowels of all the stars without exception, as well as in the atmospheres of red giants, during supernova explosions and collisions of neutron stars.

What contribution does each of these processes make to the formation of certain chemical elements? This remains a matter of controversy.

The authors of the new study were the first to calculate the process of formation of all stable nuclei from carbon to uranium from first principles. This means that they solved the equations of nuclear physics in all their complexity, without resorting to simplifying assumptions.

These calculations made it possible to find out how much of this or that element is formed in a typical small star, in one supernova explosion, and so on. Based on this, scientists calculated the role of various celestial bodies and the events occurring with them in the huge chemical complex of the Universe.

The origin of various chemical elements in the periodic table according to a new study.  Illustration by Chiaki Kobayashi et al., Sahm Keily.

It turned out, for example, that small stars that do not explode like supernovae produce half of all carbon in the universe. The second half falls on massive luminaries that end their lives in a supernova explosion.

It is supernovae, according to the authors, that supply the universe with iron. Moreover, half of it falls on explosions of massive stars, and another half – on type Ia supernovae, that is thermonuclear explosions of white dwarfs .

However, the most unusual result concerns gold. In previous studies, the origin of the noble metal was attributed to collisions of neutron stars. Now scientists have questioned this.

“Even the most optimistic estimates of the neutron-star collision rate simply cannot explain the apparent abundance of this element in the universe,” says co-author Amanda Karakas of Monash University in Australia. “It came as a surprise.”

However, astronomers already have their own version of the origin of gold. They speculate that the problem is in supernovae of an unusual type. Explosions of very massive stars with strong magnetic fields could provide space with the observed amount of gold, experts say.

At the same time, the authors do not deny the contribution of collisions of neutron stars to the synthesis of other chemical elements .

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Mysteries

Mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi desert

Is this part of China’s classified space program or another Chinese surprise?

For the first time, mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi Desert, which is located in China, near the border with Mongolia, were seen in 2011. Seen, as is often the case in this century, using Google Earth. The program does not comment on the signs in any way, and no official reports from the Chinese government about exercises or tests in the Gobi Desert have followed.

There are several mysterious patterns, and each next one is even more mysterious than the previous one. Judge for yourself.

City models?

These two patterns resemble streets, only without houses, cars and shawarma stalls – in general, without everything that we are used to on the streets. Perhaps these street models were made in order to test weapons “in the city”. Then why not build houses? Or have the weapons already been tested, and this is all that remains of the “cities”?

Photo # 1 - Mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi Desert
Photo # 2 - Mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi Desert

Destroyed car park?

In this picture, those with an inquisitive mind and keen eyesight will make out destroyed cars. But why are they here? Perhaps they participated in weapons tests. Or is it just a warehouse of disused vehicles? But then why do we need large squares in the picture?

Photo # 3 - Mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi Desert

Runways?

Of course, this is the first thing that comes to mind. And the most logical thing, even if there is no hint of airplanes in this picture. Okay, let’s say these are really runways. But why then is the right stripe so defiantly glowing?

Photo # 4 - Mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi Desert

Chinese Stonehenge?

The most mysterious pattern of all. A circular one, consisting of stones or small structures, in the center of the pattern at the time of shooting there are three planes. Anyone who has flown an airplane at least once cannot help but wonder: where is the runway? Indeed, if this is a kind of air base, then where is the runway?

After the images were released, The Telegraph spoke with defense expert Tim Ripley. He authoritatively stated that the circular pattern resembles a test site for jet weapons, something similar he saw at Area 51 in Nevada.

Photo # 5 - Mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi Desert

Since the images with the mysterious signs were published, the Chinese government has not bothered to reveal the purpose of these objects. (It did work to block Google Earth in China, but it did not work.) Moreover, in 2018, another mysterious pattern was discovered not far from the patterns listed above.

The new pattern was studied in detail in a video with the explanatory title “No one can still explain what was found in the Gobi Desert.” This time we are talking about cross “runways” surrounded by incomprehensible glowing circles, vaguely resembling an infinity sign.

Photo # 6 - Mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi Desert

According to the author of the video, if these are runways, then they have never been used. In addition, there are several dozen structures next to the runway that look abandoned. And here is the video itself:

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