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The surprisingly modern origins of myths

The new TV series Britannia, that has won plaudits as heralding a new generation of British folk-horror, is obviously not meant to be strictly historic. Instead director Jez Butterworth provides us a graphic re-imagining of Britain on the eve of the Roman conquest. Despite its violence and insanity, this is a society bound together by ritual below the head Druid (played Mackenzie Crook). But where does this notion of pre-conquest British beliefs come from?

Contemporary resources of this period are extremely thin on the ground and were mostly written by Britain’s Roman conquerors. No classical text gives a systematic account of Druidical ritual or perception. In reality, little was written at length for centuries before William Camden, John Aubrey and John Toland took up the topic in the 1500s and 1600s. But it took later antiquarians, such as William Stukeley writing in 1740, and William Borlase in 1754 and Richard Polwhele in 1797, to completely develop their thinking.

Popular notions of pre-Roman Britain now derive from the intricate Druidical theories: the bearded Druid, possessor of arcane knowledge, the stone circles, the ritualistic use of dew, mistletoe and oak leaves in dark, wooded groves, and the ultimate terror of human sacrifice and the bacchanalia which followed.

Ancient disputes

The antiquarians were a disputatious lot and their disagreements can seem baffling, however underpinning them were basic questions regarding the very first settlement of the British Isles and its spiritual history. In specific, the antiquarians inquired if historical Britons were monotheistic, practising a “natural” religion anticipating Christian “revelation”, or even polytheistic idolaters who worshipped many false gods.

The answer for this question determined how the antiquarians understood the monumental stone structures made by this past culture. Were Stonehenge, Avebury or the antiquarian wealth of Devon and Cornwall not just relics of idolatry and irreligion but also signs of the supposed grip the Celts formerly had over the territory? Conversely, when the stone circles and other relics were signs of the struggle by an ancient people to make sense of the sole authentic God before Roman Catholicism tainted their faith (recall these antiquarians were Protestant thinkers), then a God-fearing Englishman might claim them as part of his heritage.

Stukeley thought Britain’s initial settlers were eastern Mediterranean seafarers — the so-called Phoenicians — and they brought Abrahamic religion with them. In research of Stonehenge (1740) and Avebury (1743), he argued that the early peoples descended from these first settlers lost sight of these beliefs but kept a core grasp of the basic “unity of the Divine Being”. This has been represented in rock circles, therefore “expressive of the nature of the deity with no beginning or end”.

By this reading, Druidical veneration of celestial bodies, the Earth along with the four components wasn’t polytheism but the worship of the very extraordinary manifestations of this single deity. Moreover, that this worship was conducted in the vernacular and relied upon the evolution of a teaching caste intended to inform the people meant that Druidical faith was the forerunner of Protestantism.
Borlase, surveying Cornwall’s antiquities, rejected much of this. He scoffed at Stukeley’s Phoenician concepts, stating it was foolish that Britain’s primary folks were foreign traders, and he argued that Druidism was a British invention that crossed the channel to Gaul. By drawing ancient, Biblical and modern sources, Borlase developed an elaborate accounts of the Druids as an idolatrous priesthood who exploited the ignorance of the followers by producing a sinister atmosphere of mystery.
According into Borlase, Druidical ritual was bloody, decadent, immoral stuffed with lots of sex and booze, and only persuasive in atmospheric all-natural settings. Druidical power rested fear and Borlase indicated that Catholic priests, with their use of incense, devotion to the Latin mass and superstitious belief in transubstantiation, used exactly the very same methods as the Druids to preserve power over their followers.

Going over old ground

Poems for example William Mason’s Caractatus (1759) helped popularise the concept that the Druids directed British resistance to the invading Romans — but from the 1790s sophisticated metropolitan observers treated this stuff with scorn. Despite this, Druidical theories preserved considerably influence, particularly in south-east England.

Most significant were the “many Druidical vestiges” centred in the village of Drewsteignton, whose title he thought has been derived from “Druids, upon the Teign”. The cromlech, called Spinsters’ Rock, in local Shilstone Farm encouraged much speculation, as did the exact result attained by the “fantastic scenery” of the steep-sided Teign valley.

Spinsters’ Rock, Dartmoor.

Matthew Kelly, Author supplied

Polwhele’s influence has been felt in Samuel Rowe’s A Perambulation of Dartmoor (1848), the first large topographical description of the moor. Many Victorians first encountered Dartmoor during Rowe’s writings however the conversation of those texts in my history of modern Dartmoor reveals a new generation of preservationists and amateur archaeologists didn’t take Druidical theories quite seriously.

For the overdue Victorian members of these Devonshire Association along with the Dartmoor Preservation Association, scepticism has been a indication of sophistication. If a previous generation had discovered Druidical traces in most Dartmoor’s natural and human features, these people were more likely to view signs of agriculture and domesticity. Grimspound, once a Druidical temple, was believed to be a cattle pound.

Despite Protestant expects during the Reformation that superstitious beliefs linked with landscape features could be banished, the concept that the landscape retains religious mysteries we know but can’t explain, or the stone circles of antiquity excite these feelings, remains common enough. Indeed, Protestantism came to terms with those feelings as well as the Romantics saw the beauties of the British landscape as the supreme manifestation of God’s handiwork.

But Butterworth is working according to an older tradition. Rather like his antiquarian predecessors, he’s made a mostly imagined universe from a scattered classical references along with a whole lot of accumulated legend and myth. Whether Britannia will re-enchant the British landscape for a new generation of television audiences is not possible to state, but my hunch is that those lonely stones around the moors, like the Grey Wethers or Scorhill on Dartmoor, are likely to entice a fresh cohort of visitors.

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Ancient

The Book of the Giants: Text with 2,000 years of Antiquity describes the Nephilim

More than 60 years ago, excavations at the Qumran Caves (Dead Sea) revealed almost a thousand ancient scrolls that offered important glimpses of humanity’s past.

Archaeologists were surprised to find so many unusual texts and among them, a roll of paper that offers clues about the Nephilim.

It’s called The Book of the Giants. Let’s review the ancient stories about these beings.

The Bible makes several references to the Nephilim and most can be found in the book of Genesis. Most of the information concerning these giants of antiquity come from the apocryphal book of Enoch. This ancient Jewish religious work is attributed to Noah’s great-grandfather, although some scholars date parts of it to around 300 BC.

Enoch is a disconcerting character. The book of Genesis tells us that he lived on Earth for 365 years, before being taken by God; “He walked with God, and he was gone; because God took him. “During his time here, our planet was also inhabited by” angels “who interacted freely with humans, and eventually crossed paths with the” daughters of men “and gave birth to a race of abnormally strong hybrids and giant called Nephilim.

The origin of the word Nephilim is not fully understood, but scholars have proposed several etymologies: “The fallen”, “apostate”, or “these that cause others to fall.” Regardless of their name, the Nephilim have always been a synonym for giants.

The Book of Giants found in the Qumran caves offer a different perspective from that of the Enoch book. Although incomplete, the fragments of the scrolls paint a grim picture: the Nephilim became aware that, as a result of their violent and deviant forms, they faced imminent destruction, and that it scared them enough to ask Enoch to speak in his name before God.

The text begins by detailing how the Nephilim plagued the Earth and everything that lived in it. But once everyone begins to receive the prophetic dreams of fate, fear seeps into their hearts. The first to have these dreams was Mahway, the titan son of the angel Baraquel. In his dream, he saw a tablet being submerged in the water. When the tablet emerged, all but three names had been removed. This symbolizes the flood and subsequent destruction of all, except the children of Noah.

At that time, this fact had not become evident to the Nephilim so they debated the meaning of Mahway’s dream, but they were not successful in interpreting the signs. Soon after, two more giants, Ohya and Hahya, the children of the fallen angel Shemihaza began to have similar dreams; They dreamed of a tree being uprooted except for three of its roots.

After this, the rest of the group of giants began to have apocalyptic dreams:

Then two of them had dreams and the dream of their eyes had fled before them, and getting up, he came to [… and told him] his dreams, and told him in the assembly of [his companions] the monsters [… En] my dream I was seeing this night [and there was a garden …] the gardeners and those who were watering [… two hundred trees and] great buds came out from its root […] all the water, and the fire burned all [the garden … ] They found the giants to tell them the dream … ”

The giants have realized the prophetic nature of their dreams and sought the help of Enoch. Unfortunately, Enoch had already disappeared from the face of the Earth so the chosen Nephilim, one of its members, made a cosmic journey in order to find it.

[Mahway] poured into the air like strong winds, and flew with his hands like eagles [… left behind] the inhabited world and passed over desolation, the great desert […] and Enoch saw it and greeted it, and Mahway said to him […] here and there for the second time for Mahway […] the giants await his words, and all the monsters of the Earth. If it has been taken […] from the days of […] its and that would be added […] we would like to hear from you its meaning […] two hundred trees that came down from heaven … ”

Unfortunately, parts of the rolls were damaged without possibility of repair, but the description of the text is obvious. One of the Nephilim traveled off the Earth in search of Enoch and his powers of vision-interpretation. The text becomes very interesting if we substitute some terms and consider it not as an allegorical story, but as the description of an actual event whose meaning became confused in time.

If we consider flying “hands like eagles” a metaphor, can we hypothesize that Mahway took off from Earth in a spaceship? In this case, does “desolation, the great desert” refer to interstellar space? It depends on how far we are willing to interpret a fragment of a 2,000-year-old scroll.

Enoch sends Mahway back from where he came from, promising that he will speak to God on his behalf. Unfortunately for the Nephilim, the Enoch tablets sent to them did not bring them good news:

The Enoch scribe […] a copy of the second tablet that [Enoch] sent in the same part of Enoch the scribe observed [… In the name of God the great] and a saint, for Shemihaza and all his companions […]

Let it be known that you have not […] and the things you have done, and that your wives […] them with your children and the wives of [your children] for your debauchery on Earth, and there has been over you […] and the earth is crying out] and they complain that you and your children’s acts […] the harm you have done to him.

[…] Until Raphael appears, behold, the destruction [is approaching, a great flood, and will destroy all living beings] and what is in the deserts and the seas. And the meaning of matter […] about you as evil. But now, untie the bonds [that tie you to evil …] and pray. ”

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1000 Pillar Temple – Impossible Ancient Technology Found

Today we are going to look at one of the strangest ancient sites in India – this is the Thousand Pillar Temple which is at least 750 years old. On first sight, it looks like a regular temple, but there is something fundamentally different about this temple, because there are no visible joints at all between the stone blocks in the walls of this temple.

This is a large temple, but look carefully as I go from the ground to the top, do you see any joints? This makes people wonder if this entire temple is made of one solid rock, like the Kailasa Temple, but archeologists confirm that it is in fact made of many many blocks of stone.

In 1300 A.D , an army of the Muslim King Allauddin Khalji tried to demolish this temple, and they took out many of the stone blocks from the ground and the ceiling, because it was easier to dismantle them, but they could not dismantle the blocks on the walls. If you look at the floor, these are newer stone slabs placed by the Archeology department, and you can see how these blocks are loosely connected.

If you compare the modern day stone masonry with the ancient technique, modern technology appears quite primitive, because you can clearly see the joints. The archeology department has been trying to restore the temple from the destruction and graffiti by Allauddin Khalji’s army.

Now, why is this temple called ‘The thousand pillar temple’? Most visitors wonder why this is known as the thousand pillar temple because it doesn’t have a thousand pillars. It is called so because it is made of one thousand blocks of stone, this is the actual reason why this name is used. But even in most sophisticated temples like the Lepakshi temple, we can see clear evidence of joints between the blocks, but in this temple, the joints are not visible.

What is fascinating is that there was no cement, mortar, or glue used to join these blocks. How did ancient builders achieve such an extraordinary level of jointing, many centuries ago? What kind of technology existed and how was such a temple built?

The underlying technology is this:
Ancient builders created a complex interlocking system with at least a dozen different cuts in each stone block. These complex cuts maximize the amount of surface area shared by the connecting blocks, and will create an extremely tight fit.

This is hard enough to do between 2 stone blocks, but imagine using several stone blocks on all sides and how many cuts would have been needed to connect 4 or 5 blocks together. I mean, this is just an extraordinary technology. This can be done on wood, but how did they manage to make these cuts on large stone blocks many centuries ago? Making these cuts is one thing, but the level of precision, to make these joints invisible can be achieved only with advanced machines.

We can clearly see that building a massive temple with no visible joints is impossible with primitive tools. Did ancient builders use cutting, drilling and polishing tools, just like today? If so, do we have any evidence of these tools in the temple itself?

How about these carvings which resemble modern drilling and polishing tools? In most temples, we usually see carvings of Gods, but in this temple, we can see these tool like carvings, with a conical, striated top with a long shaft, which is remarkably similar to modern day tool bits.
Just compare these carvings with today’s tool bits side by side. You have to admit there is an uncanny similarity. Is this a coincidence, or did ancient builders use tool bits just like us, to make these precise interlocking system?

The pillars in the temple confirm that drilling machines were in fact used. There are very tiny holes drilled on these pillars. My friend is struggling to send a thread through the small holes, but these holes are too small even for a thread. The priest is happy to help us, he picks up something thinner than a thread and inserts it successfully through these holes.

If you think these carvings are not drill bits, how do you explain such tiny holes carved on the pillars? How do you explain the construction of an entire temple with no visible joints? Were they created with advanced machines, or with simple tools like chisels and hammers?

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1,000-Year-Old Mammoth Bone Pendant With A Mysterious Message In Turkic Runes Discovered In Yakutia

An 11-year-old boy in the village of Yakutia has discovered a 1,000-year-old message on a pendant that was carved into a mammoth bone with Turkic runic inscriptions.

The four mysterious words are believed to be in the Orkhon-Yenisei type script. Such writings are normally found in rock art in Yakutia, also known as Sakha Republic, the world’s coldest region.

Academic Ninel Malysheva said: ‘Runes rarely occur on such things as talismans and amulets. ‘If it is confirmed that this bone found in Namsky district is genuine, it will be a great scientific discovery for the republic.  ‘A comprehensive study is now required involving paleontologists, archaeologists and Turkologist. Studies on exact dating and decoding the inscription are underway at the Museum of Writing, part of the North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU).

Photo © Michil Yakovlev (Image Source)

Photo ©Michil Yakovlev (Image Source)

Interesting fact:

One of the earliest recorded Turkic language is in the form of a script called “Turkic Runes”, found in Russia’s southern Siberia and the Xinjiang uygur Autonomous Region of China (a region not surprisingly also known as Chinese Turkestan) beginning at around the 8th century CE.

Example of Turkic runes. “Irk Bitig Fal Kitabı” page 7. 9th century. ©The International Dunhuang Project (Image Source)

What are the four mysterious words?

One theory is that the words express ‘good wishes’, but scientists hope to find the exact meaning.

Village where the ancient pendant was discovered is some 100 kilometres north of Yakutsk, the regional capital, and the world’s coldest city. Another example of Turkic runes in Yaktutia is the so-called Petrov inscription. It is a writing made using ocher some 200 km from Yakutsk. It is known as the most northerly rune inscription in the world.

Researchers in the middle of the last century believed that the inscription indicated the location of medieval treasure.

A literal translation is said to read: ‘Pearls of the tribe Az.’ Scientists claim such Turkic scripts date back 1,000 years or more.

The Old Turkic script – also known as variously Göktürk script, Orkhon script, Orkhon-Yenisei script –  is the alphabet used by the Göktürks and other early Turkic khanates during the 8th to 10th centuries.

The script is named after the Orkhon Valley in Mongolia where early 8th century inscriptions were discovered in an 1889 expedition by Nikolai Yadrintsev. These Orkhon inscriptions were published by Vasily Radlov and deciphered by the Danish philologist Vilhelm Thomsen in 1893. This writing system was later used within the Uyghur Khaganate.

Additionally, a Siberian variant is known from 9th century Yenisei Kirghiz inscriptions, and it has likely cousins in the Talas Valley of Turkestan and the Old Hungarian alphabet of the 10th century. Words were usually written from right to left.

Yakut runic letters are the least studied in Siberia. They provoke heated discussions among the linguists and Turkologists. But most new finds of inscriptions are made in Yakutia. Now the total number all Yakutian finds is close to 90. Most runic inscriptions of Yakutia have not yet been deciphered.

Source: siberiantimes

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