Friday, May 26, 2023

Part 2 We are Not the First...The Blacksmith of Olympus ...The Forgotten Art of Gold Making ... The Caduceus of Hermes ... From Temples and Forums to Atomic Reactors

We are Not the First 
by Andrew Tomas
Chapter 4: 
The Blacksmith of Olympus 
Technology began with Hephaestus, or Vulcan, the world's first metallurgist, according to Greek mythology. His workshop - a sparkling dwelling of bronze - was on Mount Olympus. But eventually he settled in Sicily on Mount Etna, and legends affirm that the smoke from the crater comes from the furnaces of the god. Although the author has seen this smoke from Taormina, he could not confirm whether Hephaestus was still at his anvil. 

Greek myths speak of the four ages of man. First came the Golden Age, followed by the Silver Age, after which arrived the Bronze Age. The last epoch is the Iron Age in which we live today. Although iron is more plentiful than copper or gold, it is more difficult to melt and forge. Thus the ancient Greeks told us about the progress of metallurgy by this simple tale of how it had started with soft metals and ended with hard iron. 

The Stone Age, which had lasted for a long time, was followed by the Chalcolithic Age, when the old perfected stone implements were mainly used but copper tools and weapons were also making their appearance as luxuries. 

Then came bronze, a hard alloy made of copper with the addition of one tenth part of tin. The Third Millenium B.C.E. in Sumeria and Egypt is predominantly the Copper and Bronze Age. No clear picture is available of where and how the bronze first appeared. To combine copper which came from Sinai, Crete, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal or other parts of the Mediterranean with rare tin from Etruria, Gaul, Spain, Cornwall and Bohemia, it would have been necessary to have organized transport, skilled labour and furnaces with temperatures well over 1000 ° C. 

Bronze, a mixture of copper and tin, is strong and durable. It should have taken long ages to discover that the addition of one-tenth part of tin to copper creates a better metal. Yet strangely enough, copper artifacts in our museums are few. Bronze seems to have appeared suddenly and spread far and wide in great profusion. The similarity of bronze articles found in different parts of Europe compels us to conclude that they came from one manufacturing centre or school of technology. 

The history of bronze in Central and South America is similar. The alloy appears quite suddenly. Was the discovery made by experimentation or by chance? The discovery of bronze was not simultaneous in the Old World and the New. Copper, which is a component of bronze, was mined in Mesopotamia about 3500 B.C.E. but not before 2000 B.C.E. in Peru (iron was unknown to the Incas until after the arrival of Pizarro). 

Certain achievements of the South Americans in metallurgy are enigmatic. Ornaments of platinum were found in Ecuador. This poses a provoking question; how could Native Americans produce the temperature of over 1770° C. necessary to melt it. It should be borne in mind here that the melting of platinum in Europe was achieved only two centuries ago. 

In testing an alloy from a prehistoric artifact the United States Bureau of Standards ascertained that the original dwellers of America had furnaces capable of producing a temperature of 8000° C. seven thousand years ago. No satisfactory explanation has yet been given of how such a technical feat was possible at all at so remote a date as 5000 B.C.E. 

The tomb of the Chinese general Chow Chu (A.D. 265 - 316) presents a mystery. When analysed by the spectroscope, a metal girdle showed 10% copper, 5% manganese and 85% aluminium. But according to the history of science, aluminium was obtained for the first time by Oerstead in 1825 by a chemical method. To satisfy industrial demands, electrolysis was later introduced into the manufacturing process. Needless to say, an ornament made of aluminium, whether chemically or electrolytically produced, seems out of place in a 3rd-century grave in China. It is hardly reasonable to think that this aluminium article was the only one manufactured in China.
The famous Qutb Minar iron pillar in Delhi weighs 6 tons and is about 7.5 metres high. For fifteen centuries it has withstood the tropical sunshine of India plus the heavy downpours during the monsoons. It shows surprisingly few signs of rust formation, and provides proof of the superior metallurgical skill of ancient India. Aside from the mystery of the corrosion-resistant metal of which the column is made, the task of forging so large a pillar could not have been achieved anywhere in the world until recent times. The production of this type of iron is possible today due to our high technology but it is surprising to find such an achievement in the year A.D. 415. The pillar stands as a mute witness to the scientific tradition preserved by the people of antiquity in all parts of the world. Men whom time has forgotten, held the answers to these riddles of the history of science. Contents 

Chapter 5: 
The Forgotten Art of Gold Making 
Alchemy was modern chemistry in ancient garb. But it was also the art of transmutation of base metals into precious ones. For many centuries scholars thought that chemical elements were stable and could not be transformed. This is why the alchemists were regarded as dreamers, charlatans or idiots. But in the year 1919 the great English physicist Rutherford sided with the alchemists and transmuted nitrogen into oxygen and hydrogen by bombarding it with helium. That was the day of the vindication of the alchemical doctrine of transmutation. 

Alchemy, as a controlled transformation of one element into another, was the subject of prolonged study by the Orient as well as the Occident, gradually giving birth to modern chemistry. There are extant mediaeval manuscripts which describe in detail the equipment of the alchemists comprised of retorts, glass vessels, distilling stills, furnaces and other things necessary for the Great Work. The cost of an average alchemical laboratory must have been considerable. 

It is absurd to suppose that all these goldmakers parted with their coin to sweat for months and years near their furnaces without a hope of getting some tangible results from their work. Although there were individuals who abandoned alchemy after having failed to transmute cheap metals into gold, the number of people who persevered in this art throughout their lives was surprisingly great. 

In view of the costly laboratory equipment and materials required for transmutation work, how could they afford it without reaping a profit of some kind? Down through the centuries alchemists have claimed they could perform transmutations of mercury, tin or lead into gold. Those who believe that anything the ancients could do, we can do better, will naturally express doubt as to the ability of the alchemists to accomplish this scientific feat. Wasn't alchemy a charlatanry of some sort? History mentions the names of men who tried to commercialize on the credulity and greed of their contemporaries. On the other hand, there are historical documents dating back many centuries which demonstrate that rulers often considered alchemists to be a menace to the economy of the state. 

The Roman emperor Diocletian issued an edict in Egypt around the year 300 of our era, demanding that all books on 'the art of making gold and silver' be burned. The decree shows that the Roman government was certain that such an art of transmutation of metals had existed. It would surely have been unnecessary to issue decrees banning this craft unless it were known to have been practised. 

This same emperor signed an order to destroy all secret and open places of Christian worship as well as Christian books. All the Christians were removed from official posts in the Roman Empire. Rome meant exactly what it had stated in the government proclamation. 

The decree against alchemy and its practitioners was of the same type, and presumably the existence of artificially produced gold was taken for granted as was the presence of Christians. The Roman emperor wanted to withdraw all written records of this secret art from circulation. It is not difficult to ascertain the motives of Diocletian. He realized that gold was power. An alchemist capable of making it cheaply, could become a threat to the state. Such a man could buy territories or officials. 

It is worthwhile citing the earlier case of the Praetorian Guard Didius Marcus, a Roman millionaire, who bought the whole Roman Empire for the equivalent of about thirty-five million dollars. However, he was soon beheaded by Emperor Septimus. This historical episode was still fresh in the minds of the Roman citizens when Diocletian issued the prohibition against alchemy. 

According to the alchemist Zosimus (AJ). 300), the temple of Ptah at Memphis had furnaces, and this god was revered as the patron of the alchemists. The words chemistry and alchemy are derived from the name of Egypt - Khemt. Thus even today a very ancient tradition is perpetuated by the use of the words alchemy, chemistry, chemist or chemical. 

In the 8th century the Arab Jabir (Geber) systematized alchemical knowledge from the Egyptian source, and he is justly called the father of this science. Jabir was a practising alchemist who described not only the equipment of a laboratory required for transmutation but also the mental and moral prerequisites of an apprentice. 

"The artificer of this work ought to be well skilled and perfected in the sciences of natural philosophy," wrote the Arab scholar. Considering the time and labours involved in discovering the secret of transmutation, Jabir advised the disciple not to be extravagant "least he happen not to find the art, and be left in misery". 

It goes without saying that the Arab adept spoke of very concrete things - a chemical laboratory and patient efforts which would not pay dividends for years to come. But he assured the students that "copper may be changed into gold" and "by our artifice we easily make silver". These statements can not be easily dismissed as Jabir's name figures in the history of modern chemistry. 

One of the peculiarities of alchemy was its extensiveness. Alchemy was known in China as early as 133 B.C.E. The story of Chia and the alchemist Chen mentions that whenever Chia wanted money, his friend the alchemist would rub a black stone on a tile or a brick and transform these commonplace articles into precious silver. That was an easy way to make money. 

The biography of Chang Tao-Ling who studied at the Imperial Academy in Peking, makes reference to the Treatise of the Elixir refined in nine Cauldrons which he found in a cavern and whose author was allegedly the Yellow Emperor (26th century B.C.E.). The basic ingredient of Chinese alchemy was cinnabar or mercuric sulphide used in transmutation as well as preparation of 'gold-juice', the elixir of youth. 

"You may transmute cinnabar into pure gold," assures the historical record Shih Chi written in the 1st century B.C.E. The opinion current among the practitioners of the alchemical art in China, India, Egypt and Western Europe that mercury and sulphur had unusual properties for transmutation, is somewhat baffling. After all, it was a long way from Peking to Alexandria, and from Benares to mediaeval Paris. What was the primary source of this doctrine? 

A law was enacted in China against the practice of counterfeiting gold by alchemical methods in 175 B.C.E. This fact proves two things - firstly, alchemy must have existed in China for many centuries before becoming a problem to the Celestial Empire, and secondly, the output of gold by the alchemists was sufficiently large to be felt by the state. 

India had alchemy, too. The Hindu expositors of the art also thought that mercury and sulphur were primary elements. But unlike Chinese and European alchemists they attributed positive polarity to mercury and negative to sulphur. They also tried to discover the elixir of immortality and the secret of gold making. In view of the fact that the art of transmutation and the production of gold placed its adepts in a dangerous position because of envy, malice, possible robbery and even loss of life, to say nothing of the suspicion of the authorities, the alchemists used carefully coded texts and enigmatic charts. This is particularly true of European countries where the Inquisition was busy tracking down and liquidating anyone guilty of practising the 'magical sciences' from the heathen East. 

The question as to whether gold had been produced by alchemical processes in the past, can be hotly debated. But certain decrees and documents imply that the rulers of many nations did not have any doubts about the possibility of the transmutation of metals. This is good evidence of the reality of alchemy in olden times. During the 13th and early 14th century alchemy must have been widespread as it attracted the attention of the Vatican. The science was forbidden by a bull of Pope John XXII in the year 1317. This document entitled Spondent Pariter condemned the alchemists to exile and established heavy fines against swindlers commercializing on transmutation. 

All these prohibitions of alchemy are very bewildering. A No Smoking sign in a train is put up because people have cigarettes in their pockets. What was the reason for these No Gold making orders? If there were no cases of illegal transmutation, it surely would not have been worthwhile wasting expensive parchment on long, sternly worded decrees. Henry IV of England issued an act in 1404 declaring that the multiplying of metals was a crime against the Crown. This was during the time of the Hundred Years' War and the Peasants' Revolt. A King of England was not likely to sign a decree, against a mythical menace while waging a very real war in France, and fighting angry serfs at home. Apparently, the appearance of gold from an unknown source began to worry the English government. 

On the other hand, King Henry VI granted permits to John Cobbe and John Mistelden to practise "the philosophic art of the conversion of metals", and these licences were duly approved by Parliament. This alchemically-made gold was used in coinage which makes it clear that the Crown did not mind the manufacture of alchemical gold provided His Majesty's Mint received it in the end. 

But much more significant than Henry IV's ban on alchemy was its official repeal by William and Mary of England in 1688 which reads: "And whereas, since the making of the said statute, divers persons have by their study, industry and learning, arrived to great skill and perfection in the art of melting and refining of metals, and otherwise improving and multiplying them." 

The act of Repeal states that from the reign of Henry IV many Englishmen went to foreign countries "to exercise the said art" to the great detriment of the kingdom. The new decree announced that "all the gold and silver that shall be extracted by the aforesaid art be turned over to Their Majesties Mint in the Tower of London where the precious metals would be bought at the full market value, and no questions asked." 

After this change of policy the King and Queen even made a declaration concerning the desirability of studying alchemy. These historic facts are most extraordinary because alchemically-made gold might be stacked in ingots in the vaults of the Bank of England today. It is important to note that, as far as we know, England has always received its gold supplies from foreign countries only. It is apparent that the sovereigns of England realized that there were advantages in controlling gold reserves rather than permitting this gold from an unknown source to dominate the economy of the realm. This repeal Act clearly states that artificially-manufactured gold was actually produced in England and also that its intake was centralized at Their Majesties Mint. 

This possibility of artificial gold having been produced in England is well substantiated by a specimen of alchemical gold which the author has personally examined in the Department of Coins and Medals of the British Museum in London. It is in the form of a bullet, which is understandable as that is what it was before the transmutation. The register of the Museum contains the following brief entry concerning this golden bullet: "Gold made by an alchemist from a leaden bullet in the presence of Colonel MacDonald and Doctor Colquhoun at Bupora in the month of October, 1814."

Although the information about the actual transmutation is lacking, the fact remains that this is officially recognized as a rare specimen of alchemical gold, preserved in one of the world's greatest museums. Johann Helvetius (1625-1709), physician to the Prince of Orange, was known to have accomplished alchemical transmutations of base metals into gold. Once Porelius, the Inspector-General of the Mint in Holland, came to Helvetius' laboratory to watch his alchemical work. Then Porelius went to see the jeweller Brechtel and asked him to make an analysis of Helvetius' gold. After a rigid test the gold was found to have five more grains than before the test.

Now what is transmutation? Plutonium, an element which is non-existent on earth, can be created by nuclear physics - that is a case of transmutation. A hypothetical transmutation of mercury into gold would involve changing the atomic structure of mercury. The number of electrons, their orbits and the organization of protons determines the element. It is noteworthy that, according to ancient alchemy, gold was made from mercury or lead. In the periodic table of elements the atomic number of Gold is 79, that of Mercury 80, and of Lead 82 - in other words, they are neighbours. It was Mendeleyeff who in 1879 first formulated a table of the elements and arranged them in order of increasing weight according to their atomic structure. The question is - had the alchemists discovered this table before Mendeleyeff?

Arab scholars such as Jabir, Al Razi, Farabi and Avicenna who lived between the 8th and 11th centuries, brought the science of alchemy to Western Europe. Costly handwritten books were carried from city to city. They contained ciphered writings and mysterious diagrams which few could read and fewer understand. Some of these manuscripts and tracts embodied true chemistry and alchemy, others but distorted versions of ancient formulas and methods of no practical value.

The alchemists drifted from place to place, practicing their art in secret. It was dangerous to declare one's proficiency in transmuting cheaper metals into gold because sovereigns often subjected talkative men to torture in order to obtain the alchemists' formulas. In the Compound of Alchemy (1471) Sir George Ripley advised the students and practitioners of the art "to keep thy secrets in store unto thyself for wise men say store is no sore".

The pioneers of modern science such as Albertus Magnus (1206-1280) who wrote voluminously on astronomy and chemistry, not only believed in the reality of alchemical transmutation but even made rules on how to practise the art. He advised "to carefully avoid association with princes and nobles and to cultivate discretion and silence"

Roger Bacon (c. 1214 - 1294) left a ciphered manuscript which Professor Wm. R. Newbold has allegedly decoded. It contains a formula for making copper. In the Library of the University of Pennsylvania there is a retort and the following certificate dated December 1, 1926: "This retort contains metallic copper made according to a secret formula of Roger Bacon." 

The great Doctor Paracelsus (1493-1541) discovered zinc and was the first to identify hydrogen. Paracelsus' fame as an alchemist was so great that his tomb in Salzburg was opened because of rumours that alchemical secrets and great treasures had been buried with the physician. However, nothing was found in the coffin. His famous sword whose hilt contained the so-called Philosopher's Stone, had also vanished without a trace. 

Nicolas Flamel (1330-1418), a Paris notary, was another great alchemist. In his business of illuminating documents and manuscripts he came into contact with bookdealers. In his Hieroglyphical Figures he related that a very ancient Book of Abraham Eliazar, written in an unknown language, was offered to him for sale by a stranger for a reasonable amount, and that he bought it. It took Flamel and his wife Pernelle many years to come to the conclusion that the book was a work on ancient alchemy.

Using the text Nicolas Flamel was able to perform his first transmutation of one-half pound of mercury into pure silver on January 17, 1382, when he was 52 years old. On April 25 he succeeded in making his first alchemical gold. The citizens of 14th-century Paris were less skeptical about Flamel's ability to manufacture gold than the Parisians of today. But they had good reason - the alchemist built many hospitals and churches in Paris during the thirty-six years of his profitable alchemical work. This fact he admitted himself: 

"In the year 1413 after the transition of my faithful companion whom I will miss for the rest of my life, she and I had already founded and endowed fourteen hospitals in this city of Paris besides three completely new chapels, decorated with handsome gifts and having good incomes, seven churches with numerous repairs done to their cemeteries, as well what we ourselves had done in Boulogne, which is hardly less than what we did here."

Nicolas Flamel wrote that on some of his churches he "caused to be depicted marks or signs from the Book of Abraham Eliazar". They could actually be seen two hundred years ago in such places as the Cimetiere des Innocents, the church of St. Jacques de la Boucheries and St. Nicolas des Champs. The Musee Cluny contains Flamel's tombstone. 

The Book of Abraham Eliazar is probably not fictitious as it was listed in the Catalogus Zibrorum philosophicorum hermeticorum issued by Dr. Pierre Borelli in 1654. Borelli was obviously no ordinary savant as he was farsighted enough to imagine 'aerial ships' as the means "whereby one can learn the pure truth concerning the plurality of worlds". 

According to Dr. Borelli, Cardinal Richelieu ordered a search for alchemical books in Flamel's house and churches which must have been successful because at one time the cardinal was seen reading the Book of Abraham Eliazar with annotations by Flamel in the margins.

The case of George Ripley, an English alchemist of the 15th century, was equally spectacular. Elias Ashmole the English scholar of the 17th century, who left a collection at Oxford known as the Ashmolean Museum, mentioned a document in Malta citing a record of contributions of £100,000 each year made by Sir George Ripley to the Order of St. ]ohn of Jerusalem at Rhodes to help Rhodes fight the Turks. It should be stressed that the value of the pound was immensely higher five hundred years ago than it is today (a 14th century gold florin may be worth as much as five dollars today).

Other alchemists were evidently making so much gold that one of them offered to finance the Crusades, and another to pay off the national debt of his country. With the monetary crises of today and deficits piling up yearly, finance ministers might do well to try calling alchemy to the rescue to build up gold reserves. [ As shady as these people are I have no doubt that the majority of the gold on the Earth is made gold at this time, the author is correct there would be no need for a ban, if it was not already being done, and at a lose as we see to the controlling interests. Very telling fact about The English bankers, most famous for their fiat trick of creating money out of thin air, and their relationship with gold and the international community. d.c. ]

Pope John XXII who issued a bull against the alchemists,developed an interest in the art himself! It is quite possible that after having perused numerous confiscated documents on alchemy, he decided to experiment in the science of transmutation. In fact, he wrote an alchemical work, Ars Transmutatoria, in which he related how he had worked on the Philosopher's Stone in Avignon, and how he had alchemically manufactured two hundred bars of gold, each weighing one quintal, or one hundred kilograms. After his death in 1334, twenty-five million florins were found in the Pope's treasure vault! The source of this vast fortune could never be satisfactorily explained, because in this era of wars and the ecclesiastical conflict between Avignon and the Vatican, the papal revenues were small.

The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna contains extraordinary evidence of the practice of alchemy in past centuries. It is catalogued as an Alchemistische Medaillon - an oval medal 40 by 37 centimetres in size weighing seven kilograms. Except for the one-third upper part of the disc which is silver, the lower two-thirds are solid gold. 

This medal has an exciting story to tell. In an Augustine monastery in Austria there was a young monk in the 16th century whose name was Wenzel Seiler. He was bored with life in the abbey but without riches there was no way of his getting out. An old friar who patronized Wenzel had told him of a treasure buried in the monastery, so they decided to look for it.

After a long search they found an old copper chest under a column. It contained a parchment with strange signs and letters, and four jars of reddish powder. Seiler expected to find gold coins in the box and was so disappointed that he thought of throwing out the contents. But the old monk became interested in the document and insisted that the powder be preserved.

The aged friar finally came to the conclusion that the red powder could be the precious transmuting compound of the alchemists. Then Wenzel Seiler stole an old tin plate from the abbey's kitchen and after covering it with the red powder the plate was heated in the fire. As if by magic, the tin plate shortly became solid gold!

Seiler was so happy with the results of the experiment that he went to town to sell the gold. He received twenty ducats for it but the old friar did not think it was a wise thing for a young monk to sell gold. The old man became sick and died soon after, leaving young friar Wenzel the sole possessor of the gold making powder. Realizing that he was unable to exploit his discovery and escape from the monastery without assistance, he confided his secret to Francis Preyhausen, another young monk, and they made plans to leave the abbey in the spring.

With his ducats Wenzel bought wine and enjoyed the visits of his young cousin Anastasio from Vienna. Rumours about the stolen plate, twenty ducats obtained from a jeweller and the empty wine bottles reached the abbot who summoned Seiler for questioning. Then the abbot with the older friars went to Wenzel Seiler's cell. They unlocked the door and saw naked Anastasio on Wenzel's bed. Seeing his anatomy, it suddenly dawned upon the aged monks that Anastasio was Anastasia! After a few embarrassing moments during which the girl had time to wrap herself in a cape, the men of God gave her a sermon on the dangers facing her soul.

But young Wenzel was flogged and bolted in his cell. The four precious jars with the red powder were surreptitiously handed through the bars of the window to Francis who was waiting outside. Then Wenzel Seiler was transferred to a prison cell and the future began to look very dark. However, Francis Preyhausen was not idle and he arranged their escape. During an adventurous journey the young monks understood how dangerous their life could become with the gold making powder in their hands. But Francis was more intelligent than Wenzel and he hid the powder.

In Vienna they secured the patronage of Count Peter Paar, a friend of Emperor Leopold I of Germany, Hungary and Bohemia (1640-1705) as the noble was an ardent student of alchemy. An audience was arranged with the emperor who was also interested in the ancient art.

In the presence of Leopold I, Father Spies and Dr. Joachim Becher, ex-friar Wenzel Seiler transmuted an ounce of tin into pure gold in the course of a quarter of an hour. A written declaration to that effect was signed by the witnesses. However, Count von Paar's friendship was not as sincere as it had first seemed. With pistol in hand he forced Wenzel to part with a portion of the red powder. Fortunately for Wenzel and Francis, the nobleman died soon after the incident.

Emperor Leopold I then became Seiler's protector. With Count von Waldstein, the captain of the Bodyguard, the emperor himself made alchemical gold with Wenzel Seiler's red powder. In 1675 a special ducat was struck with the image of Leopold I from the gold alchemically produced by the sovereign. On the reverse side was the following inscription: 

With Wenzel Seiler's powder was I transformed from tin into gold. 

Successful experiments in alchemy were conducted by Seiler at the Palace of the Knights of St. John in the Karntnerstrasse in Vienna, and a gold chain was made from this alchemical gold on the orders of Count Von Waldstein. 

On September 16, 1676, the emperor knighted the alchemist-monk von Rheinburg, which was the maiden name of Seiler's aristocratic mother (as his father was a commoner), and appointed him Court Chemist. With the Red Tincture almost gone, Wenzel Seiler and Leopold I concentrated their efforts on multiplying the powder but without any results. In 1677 a large silver medal was dipped into the transmuting compound and its lower part turned into gold. A photograph of the medal is featured in this book, and the only remark that has to be made about it concerns the four notches on its edge. 

These were made on request of Professor A. Bauer of Vienna in 1883 in order to analyse the content of the disc. Two-thirds were found to be solid gold, so there was no question of any gold-plating. This case of alchemy is recorded in history and offers strong evidence in support of the reality of alchemical transmutation in former times.

There is a 19th-century painting by the Polish artist Matejko which portrays dramatically an actual alchemical transmutation by Michael Sendivogius in Cracow before King Sigismund III of Poland, early in the 17th century. Alchemy was not confined to making gold alone as some alchemists claimed they could produce gems. If so, they must have been the first synthetic stone makers. 

Modern science can transform a lump of anthracite into an expensive diamond but the process is costly. Dr. Willard Libby, Nobel Prize winner, created diamonds by sandwiching a block of graphite between two nuclear devices in 1969. Dr. E. O. Lawrence of U.S.A. effected transmutations of a number of elements during the forties.

In 1897 Dr. Stephen H. Emmens, a British physician in New York, claimed that he had discovered a method to transmute silver into gold. Between April, 1897 and August, 1898 more than $10,000 worth of gold was sold by him to the U.S. Assay Office in Wall Street. The New York Herald printed the following headlines about Dr. Emmens at the time: THIS MAN MAKES GOLD AND SELLS IT TO THE UNITED STATE MINT. The Assay Office admitted buying the gold but at the same time raised the question: "Did he manufacture it out of silver as he claimed?

It is of little consequence whether or not the alchemists could actually transmute silver, tin or lead into gold. What is more significant is the fact of their thinking that one chemical element could be transformed into another. Until Curie and Rutherford science excluded this possibility. In brief, the alchemists anticipated our modern scientific concepts regarding the essence of matter. In his Interpretation of Radium published in 1909, Dr. Frederick Soddy, Nobel Prize, who coined the word 'isotope' and pioneered nuclear physics, did not deride alchemy: 

"It is curious to reflect, for example, upon the remarkable legend of the Philosopher's Stone, one of the oldest and most universal beliefs, the origin of which, however far back we penetrate into the records of the past, we do not probably trace its real source. The Philosopher's Stone was accredited the power not only of transmuting the metals but of acting as the elixir of life. Now, whatever the origin of this apparently meaningless jumble of ideas may have been, it is really a perfect and very slightly allegorical expression of the actual present views we hold today." 

Egyptian tradition pointed to Thoth, Hermes or Mercury, the culture-bearer who had revealed to mankind the Hermetic Arts, one of which was alchemy. Hermes or Mercury was also the founder of Medicine. It is upon the rock of Hermetic Science that modern medicine is built. It is fascinating to trace the stream of Medical Science from prehistoric medicine man, herbalist, magician, priest to the pharmacist and doctor of contemporary life.

Chapter 6: 
The Caduceus of Hermes 
Doctors' cars usually carry an emblem - a staff with two snakes and a winged hat. This is the Caduceus of Hermes and by this ancient symbol modern medicine acknowledges its debt to the sages of antiquity. 

A recent archaeological expedition to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt excavated a number of mummies. Many of the jaws had bridges and artificial teeth which looked surprisingly like the product of a modern dentist. Few scientists had expected to find evidence of such skill in dentistry in ancient Egypt so many thousands of years ago. 

Mayan skulls dug up on the coast of jaina in Campeche, Mexico, also show astonishing proficiency in dental surgery. The crowns and fillings are still in place after many centuries! The drilling and setting of inlays was done by men who always respected the vital part of the tooth. The adhesives used are as yet unknown but they must have been of high quality if the fillings are still intact. 

The pre-Inca surgeons performed delicate operations on the brain 2,500 years ago. Trepanation is a new technique in modern surgery, so it was more than surprising to find thousands of skulls in Peru with marks of successful trephining. The instruments used were obsidian arrow-heads, scalpels, bronze knives, pincers and needles for sutures. According to the history of medicine, the same operation performed at the Hétel Dieu in Paris in 1786 was invariably fatal. 

Amputations were likewise executed in South America. The Inca doctors used gauze for dressings; and possibly cocaine as an anaesthetic. The Incas discovered important drugs such as quinine, cocaine and belladonna. 

In ancient Babylon there was a peculiar method of treating the sick. Herodotus describes the way the sufferers were brought out into the street. It was the moral duty of passers-by to enquire about their complaints. From their own experiences the sympathizers suggested remedies which they had heard were effective or had used themselves. By experimenting with different medicines the patients found out which were best for them. This mass experimentation formed the basis of pharmacopoeia and diagnosis in the centuries to, follow. 

Our wonder drugs like penicillin, aureomycin or terramycin had their origin in ancient Egypt. A medical papyrus of the 11th dynasty speaks of a certain type of fungus growing on still water which is prescribed for the treatment of wounds and open sores. Did they have penicillin 4,000 years before Fleming? 

Antibiotics were not unknown to the ancients. Warm soil and soy-bean curd, which have antibiotic properties, were employed by the ancient Greeks and Chinese respectively; to heal wounds and to eradicate boils and even carbuncles. 

The Egyptians made use of an unknown mineral drug for anaesthesia in operations. They were also aware of the relationship between the nervous system and movements of our limbs, and therefore understood the causes of paralysis. The Smith Papyrus contains forty-eight clinical cases. The ancient peoples of the Nile practiced hygiene and, generally speaking, their medicine was far superior to that practised so much later in Europe during the Middle Ages - yet another example of the withering of knowledge. 

The physicians of the land of the pyramids were aware of the functions of the heart and arteries, and how to count the pulse. Imhotep (4500 B.C.E.), the architect of Zoser Pyramid, is considered to be the first recorded physician in history. 

Ancient India possessed advanced medical knowledge. 

Her doctors knew about metabolism, the circulatory system, genetics and the nervous system as well as the transmission of specific characteristics by heredity. Vedic physicians understood medical methods to counteract the effects of poison gas, performed Caesarean sections, brain operations, and used anaesthetics. Sushruta (5th century B.C.E.) listed the diagnosis of 1120 diseases. He described 121 surgical instruments and was the first to experiment in plastic surgery. 

The Sactya Grantham, a Brahmin book compiled about 1500 B.C.E., contains the following passage giving instructions on smallpox vaccination: "Take on the tip of a knife the contents of the inflammation, inject it into the arm of a man, mixing it with his blood. A fever will follow but the malady will pass very easily and will create no complications." Edward Jenner (1749-1823) is credited with the discovery of vaccination but it appears that ancient India has prior claim! 

The United Kingdom and other countries have medical aid programmes supported by the state. But the physicians of the Inca Empire and the Land of the Pharaohs also received their remuneration from the government and medical aid was free to all. Truly, there seems to be nothing new under the sun. 

The Chinese Emperor Tsin-Shi (259-210 B.C.E.) possessed a 'magic mirror' which could 'illuminate the bones of the body'. Xray in ancient China? It was located in the palace of Hien-Yang in Shensi in 206 B.C. When a patient stood before this rectangular mirror which was 1.76 by 1.22 metres in size, the image seemed to be reversed but all the organs and bones were visible exactly as on our fluoroscopes. That mirror was used for the very same purpose - to diagnose disease. 

It is little known that a Chinese surgeon by the name of Hua T'o carried out operations under anaesthetics over eighteen centuries ago. The chronicle Hou Han Shu of the later Han Dynasty (25-220 C.E.) reminds one of a report from a modern medical journal: 

He first made the patient swallow hemp bubble powder mixed with wine, and as soon as intoxication and unconsciousness supervened, he made an incision in the belly or the back and cut out any morbid growth. If the stomach or intestine was the part affected, he thoroughly cleansed these organs after the use of the knife, and removed the contaminating matter which had caused the infection. He would then stitch up the wound, and apply a marvellous ointment which caused it to heal in four or five days, and within a month the patient was completely restored to health. 

The Lester Institute of Shanghai founded by a British magnate in the thirties, has established scientific basis for old Chinese remedies. Every medicine, even as odd as donkey's skin, dog's brains, sheep's eyeballs, pig's liver or seaweeds, has been found by Dr. Bernard Reed to possess a chemical reason for its effectiveness. 

While blood transfusion was introduced into Western medicine in the 17th century, it has been practised by the Australian aborigines for thousands of years. Our method is similar to one that he uses in that he takes blood either from a vein in the middle of the arm or from one in the inner arm by means of a hollow reed. Blood transference is also done by mouth but the technique of this method, though shown to various investigators, remains unfathomable. 

Seemingly, the Australian medicine man is still heir to ancient knowledge. He is perfectly aware of the proper vein from which the blood should be taken. Uncannily, he also chooses the fitting donor. Blood transfusion is practised not only in critical cases of injury and illness but also to give vitality to the aged. 

When threatened by an impending drought or other calamity with the menace of food shortage, the aborigines have used oral contraceptives for centuries. Resin from a particular plant is rolled into pills to be taken by women. 

Not only are these facts astonishing but it is also a pity that because of detribalization and lack of interest on the part of the medical profession, the herbal medicines of the Australian aborigines are almost forgotten. The natives do not cultivate the medicinal plants any longer and are in the process of losing their valuable heritage. 

Chapter 7: 
From Temples and Forums to Atomic Reactors 
The so-called Emerald Tables of Hermes are of great interest to the student of the history of science. Although often considered as a document from the Middle Ages, its style and a total absence of mediaeval alchemical terms raises the possibility of its more ancient origin. Actually, on the basis of his research Dr. Sigismund Bacstrom, an 18th-century scholar, traced the Emerald Tables to about 2500 B.C.E. 

"What is above is like what is below, and what is below is like what is above to effect the wonders of one and the same work," reads the opening sentence of the Tables. These words can be interpreted as the mirror-like similarity between the world of the atom, with electrons whirling around protons as planets around the suns, and the macrocosm of stars and galaxies. 

This idea of the Oneness of the universe and the unity of matter is stressed again in another passage: "All things owe their existence to the Only One, so all things owe their origin to the One Only Thing." 

"Separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, carefully and skillfully. This substance ascends from the earth to the sky, and descends again on the earth and thus the superior and the inferior are increased in power." This paragraph might well be interpreted as the process of splitting the atom and the dangers connected with it. 

"This is the potent power of all forces for it will overcome all that is fine and penetrate all that is coarse because in this manner was the world created," says another paragraph in the Emerald Tables. It indicates the belief of the ancients in the vibratory character of matter, and the waves and rays which penetrate all substances. 

Democritus was the first to formulate the atomic theory. Anticipating the views of modern physicists, he said almost two and a half thousand years ago: "In reality there is nothing but atoms and space." Moschus, the Phoenician, communicated to the Greek philosopher this primordial knowledge, and in fact, Moschus concept of the structure of the atom was nearer to the truth because he emphasized its divisibility. His version of the atomic theory is being corroborated as new atomic particles are discovered all the time. 

Greek philosophers claimed that there was no distinction in kind between the stellar bodies and the earth. The teaching of Hermes must have been accepted as an axiom by the Hellenic thinkers. Leucippus (5th century B.C.E.) as well as Epicurus (341-270 B.C.E.) also favoured the atomic theory. Lucretius (1st century B.C.E.), a Roman scholar, wrote about atoms "rushing everlastingly throughout all space". They undergo "miriad changes under the disturbing impact of collisions". 

It is impossible to see the atoms because they are too small, he asserted. These classic writers and philosophers command respect and admiration for their advanced thinking as they had anticipated modern science and have contributed to its development. But we still do not know what led them to believe in invisible atoms. 

In his On the Nature of the Universe Lucretius expresses an opinion that "there can be no centre in infinity". This thesis is the cornerstone of the Theory of Relativity of Einstein. Heraclitus (5th century B.C.E.) must have likewise had relativist ideas because once he said: "The way up and the way down, are one and the same." 

Zeno of Elea (5th century B.C.E.) demonstrated the relativity of motion and time by his paradoxical problems. "If the flying arrow is at every instant of its flight at rest in a space equal to its length, when does it move?" he asked. In his famous problem of the chariots Zeno even attempted to prove the time shrinkage of bodies in motion which Einstein dealt with more fully in his formulas. 

Nicolaus, Cardinal of Cusa, a 15th-century scholar, wrote of a "universe without a centre", thus giving another preview of the Theory of Relativity. 

Lao Tse (6th-5th century B.C.E.), the founder of Taoism, taught that everything in the universe is made according to a natural law, or Tao, which controls the world. All creation is the result of the interplay of two cosmic principles - the male Yen and the female Yin, promulgated Lao Tse. Scientifically, this is true because positive and negative charges in the nuclear world determine all manifestations in nature. 

Ancient sages realized the dangers of revealing knowledge to those who could use it for destructive aims. "It would be the greatest of sins to disclose the mysteries of your art to soldiers," wrote a Chinese alchemist a thousand years ago. Are modern nuclear alchemists guilty of this sin? 

The atomic structure of matter is mentioned in the Brahmin treatises Vaisesika and Nyaya. The Yoga Vasishta says: "There are vast worlds within the hollows of each atom, multifarious as the specks in a sunbeam." The Indian sage Uluka proposed a hypothesis over 2,500 years ago that all material objects were made of paramanu, or seeds of matter. He was then nicknamed Ktmada, or the swallower of grains. 

The sacred writings of ancient India contain descriptions of weapons which resembled atomic bombs. The Mausola Parva speaks of a thunderbolt - "a gigantic messenger of death" which reduced to ashes whole armies, and caused the hair and nails of the survivors to fall out. Pottery broke without any cause and the birds turned white. After a few hours all foodstuffs were poisoned. The ghastly picture of Hiroshima comes to mind when one reads this ancient text from India. 

"A blazing missile possessed of the radiance of smokeless fire was discharged. A thick gloom suddenly encompassed the heavens. Clouds roared into the higher air, showering blood. The world, scorched by the heat of that weapon, seemed to be in fever," thus describes the Drona Parva a page of the unknown past of mankind. One can almost visualize the mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb explosion and atomic radiation. Another passage compares the detonation with a flare-up of ten thousand suns. 

The physicist Frederick Soddy evidently did not take these ancient records as fable. In the Interpretation of Radium (1909) he wrote these lines: "Can we not read into them some justification for the belief that some former forgotten race of men attained not only to the knowledge we have so recently won, but also to the power that is not yet ours?" When Dr. Soddy wrote the book, the atom-box of Pandora had not yet been opened. 

A radioactive skeleton has been found in India. Its radioactivity was fifty times above the normal level. Perhaps the Sanskrit texts about atomic warfare in proto-history are true. 

The surface of the Gobi Desert near Lob Nor Lake is covered with vitreous sand which is the result of Red China's atomic tests. But the desert has certain areas of similar glassy sand which had been present for thousands of years before Chairman Mao! What was the source of heat which melted that sand in prehistory? 

The Brahmin books contain a curious division of time. For instance, the Siddhanta-Siromani subdivides the hour until it arrives at the final unit - tmti, equivalent to 0.33750 of a second. Sanskrit scholars have no idea why such a small fraction of a second was necessary at all in antiquity. And no one knows how it could have been measured without precision instruments. 

According to Pundit Kanniah Yogi of Ambattur, Madras whom I met in India in 1966, the original time measurement of the Brahmins was sexagesimal, and he quoted the Brihath Sathaka and other Sanskrit sources. In ancient times the day was divided into 60 kala, each equal to 24 minutes, subdivided into 60 vikala, each equivalent to 24 seconds. Then followed a further sixtyfold subdivision of time into para, tatpara, vitatpara, ima and finally, kashta - or 1/300 millionth of a second. The Hindus have never been in a hurry and one wonders what use the Brahmins made of these fractions of the microsecond. 

While in India the author was told that the learned Brahmins were obliged to preserve this tradition from hoary antiquity but they themselves did not understand it. Is this reckoning of time a folk memory from a highly technological civilization? Without sensitive instruments kashta, as 1/300 millionth of a second, would be absolutely meaningless. It is significant that the kashta is very close to the life spans of certain mesons and hyperons. This fact supports the bold hypothesis that the science of nuclear physics is not new. 

The Varahamihira Table dated c. 550, indicates even the size of the atom. The mathematical figure is fairly comparable with the actual size of the hydrogen atom. It appears fantastic that this ancient science recognized the atomic structure of matter and realized how small is its ultimate particle. Nothing of this kind has ever been attempted in the West until the 20th century. 

Philolaus (5th century B.C.E.) had a strange notion about an 'antichthon' or 'anti earth', an invisible body in our solar system. It is only recently that the concept of anti-matter, anti world and anti planets has been introduced into science. In nuclear physics, the positron is sometimes hypothesized as an electron travelling from the future into the past. 

This time-direction reversal in the atomic world is a new discovery. But Plato wrote in the Statesman about an oscillating universe periodically reversing its time-arrow and sometimes moving from the future into the past. We know now that sub-atomic particles can travel backwards in time but it seems that the idea was not unfamiliar to the great Plato. 

While atomic knowledge in ancient times was fragmentary in character, we can not say the same thing about astronomy. With its deep roots and constant practice over a period of millennia, the science of the stars reached a high level in antique times.

Sages under the Heavenly Vault

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Sunday, May 21, 2023

Part 1 We are Not the First ...The Days and Nights of Knowledge ... Novelties in Antiquity ... Discoveries create Problems

We are Not the First 
by Andrew Tomas
Hundreds of intellects, past and present, played a part in this book. The author acted merely as an orchestra conductor. His musicians comprised classic writers, priests of old Egypt, Babylon, India and Mexico, philosophers of ancient Greece and China, scholars of the Middle Ages, and lastly modern scientists. The theme of this composition is the Genesis of Knowledge and its periodic crescendos and diminuendos in history. 

Three aims are set in this work: 

● To show that in former eras people possessed many scientific notions that we have today. 

● To demonstrate that the technical skills of the men of antiquity and prehistory have been greatly under-estimated. 

● To prove that certain advanced ideas of the ancients on science and technology came from an unknown outside source. 

"Civilization is older than we suppose," is the principal thesis of this treatise. With the advance of science the concept of the size and age of the universe has been radically changed in the last four hundred years. Farseeing men such as Bruno, Galileo or Darwin defied their narrow-minded contemporaries and argued that the world was greater and more ancient than men had believed. 

Two hundred years ago the French naturalist Bufion estimated the age of the earth. He thought that our planet had cooled down 35,000 years ago, and that life had appeared about 15,000 years ago. This chronology of the French scholar was certainly more rational than the general belief in England at the time of the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837 that the earth and man were created in 4004 B.C.E. 

But geology and Darwinism exploded this mediaeval concept and twenty five years later, Lord Kelvin added ten million years to the terrestrial age. Thanks to perfected techniques the age of the crust has been determined to be 3.3 billion years while that of the planet itself 4.6 billion years. In only two hundred years the age of the earth's crust was raised from 35,000 to 3,300,000,000 years! A few decades ago man was considered to be about 600,000 years old. New finds in South, and East Africa extended the life span of homo sapiens to two million years. The discovery of anthropoid teeth and jaws in southern Ethiopia by the Chicago anthropologist F. Clark Howell confirmed the figure as early as 1969. 

A tendency to move back the origin of civilization has been noticeable in the field of history as well. Before Schliemann, no savant in Europe could conceive of Troy existing as early as 2800 B.C.E. Before the excavations of Evans in Crete, no historian had the audacity to imagine a Minoan culture 2,500 years before our era. Four decades ago there was not a scholar in the world who could envisage a high civilization in the Indus Valley co-existing with the early dynasties of Egypt. How many scientists were there a quarter of a century ago who could accept the idea of Central American civilizations having had an uninterrupted existence for 4,000 years? Yet the ruins of the city of Dzibilchaltun in Yucatan are a mute witness to this truth. 

The rationale of the conclusion that the origin of man and the appearance of civilization might be less recent than accepted at present, can clearly be seen from the above examples. The mass of historical data presented in this work demonstrates the presence of an archaic science in the past. But who were the teachers of the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and Greeks from whom we ourselves received a store of knowledge through the Arabs? 

Surrounded by the marvels of our technology and science, we are losing contact with the people of former epochs to whom we owe so much. Man is civilized only when he remembers his yesterday and dreams about tomorrow. The primate began to leave the animal kingdom by developing a superior brain and upright posture. He became a true 'man' when he ventured into the domain of abstract thought - religion, mathematics, art and music. The true criterion of man's growth was his ability to soar in the world of ideals; to appreciate beauty, to distinguish between right and wrong, to form abstractions. Until he reached that state, man was still a link between the quadrupeds and the bipeds. 

Science, the empirical observation of the world around us, and philosophy, the formulation of generalizations, have helped man to arrive at more correct views concerning the universe. The history of civilization is the story of the ascent of man in the mental World. It was William Prescott, the great Americanologist, who said: "A nation may pass away and leave only the memory of its existence, but the stories of science it has gathered up will endure forever." 

Have you, like the author, walked around the pyramids of Giza awed by the giant size of the stones and amazed by the thinness of the joints between them? Have you stood in Mexico City before the paintings of Quetzalcoatl flying in a winged ship, startled by this prehistoric notion of aviation? Have you seen canoes with stabilizers in the Pacific and admired the islanders who have made ocean voyages for thousands of years? 

Have you strolled through the slumbering city of Pompeii and examined the bricks with in crusted gravel, like modern concrete, which the Roman slaves made? Have you visited the shrine inside the colossal bronze Buddha in Kamakura, Japan, and marveled at the skill of Japanese metallurgists seven hundred years ago? Have you walked around the megaliths of Stonehenge and tried to solve a riddle - how men wearing skins could have designed and erected this computer in stone? 

If you have, then you would want to follow the author on a sight-seeing trip to the land of the past. This book is about real people, actual places and authentic events. What is more, it is about the things our predecessors thought and dreamed about a long time ago. During the past three or four hundred years science has been rediscovered rather than discovered. Babylon, India, Egypt, Greece and China were the cradle of science. 

"The old devices have been re-invented; the old experiments have been tried once more," said Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone. This book is about penicillin before Fleming, about aeroplanes before the Wright Brothers, about the moons of Jupiter before Galileo, about voyages to the moon before Apollo probes, about the atomic theory centuries before Rutherford, about electric batteries before Volta, about computers before Wiener, about science before this Scientific Age. 

A fragmentary account of the adventures of ancient man in the scientific realm is not a history of science. But this sketch will reveal unorthodox historical facts of educational value, provoke speculation as to the reasons for the presence of advanced scientific and technological concepts in early civilizations, or at least entertain the reader by a story stranger than fiction. 

Chapter 1: 
The Days and Nights of Knowledge 
The world is rectangular, stretching from Iberia (Spain) to India, and from Africa to Scythia (Russia). Its four sides are formed by high mountains on which rests the celestial vault. The earth is but a chest of giant dimensions, and on the flat bottom of this coffer are all the seas and lands known to man. The sky is the lid of this trunk and the mountains are its walls. 

This rather naive image of the earth was drawn by Cosmas Indicopleustes, a scholar-explorer of the 6th Century in his Christian Topography. However, a thousand years before Cosmas' book, philosophers had a different and much more accurate idea of the shape of the earth. Pythagoras (6th century B.C.E.) taught at his school in Crotona that the earth was a sphere. Aristarchus of Samos (3rd century B.C.E.) deduced that it revolved around the sun. Eratosthenes, the librarian of Alexandria (3rd century B.C.E.), computed the circumference of our planet. 

Oddly enough, the peoples further back in time had greater scientific knowledge than the nations of later historical periods. Until the second part of the 19th century scholars and clerics of the West thought that the earth was but a few thousand years old. Yet ancient Brahmin books estimated the Day of Brahma, the life span of our planet, to be 4,320 billion years. This figure is close to that of our astronomers who calculate it to be about 4.543 billion years. It is fairly obvious that knowledge has had its days and nights. Science emerged from mediaeval darkness during the Renaissance. By studying classic sources savants rediscovered truths which had been known to ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, Hindus or Greeks for many centuries. 

These waves of progress can be followed back over seven or eight thousand years - the frontiers of history. They can be explained by changes in ideology, a new economic or political system as well as by the impact of great minds on society. However, the presence of certain scientific knowledge in ancient times can not be easily accounted for unless it is assumed that the skills and knowledge of the ancients have been drastically underestimated. Even then a certain number of riddles will remain, calling for a reappraisal of the history of science. The presentation of these problems constitutes one of the aims of this book. 

In 1600, the Dominican monk Giordano Bruno was burnt alive at the Piazza del Fiore in Rome after having been convicted as a heretic. In one of his books he stated that there are an infinite number of suns in the universe and planets which revolve around them. Some of these worlds might be populated, he said. 

This brilliant speculation of Bruno, though four hundred years ahead of his era, actually preceded him by two thousand years, because ancient Greek philosophers had believed in the plurality of inhabited worlds. Anaximenes told a disappointed Alexander the Great that he had conquered but one earth whereas there were many others in infinite space. In the third century before our era Metrodotus did not think that our earth was the only populated planet. Anaxagoras (5th century B.C.E.) wrote about 'other earths' in the universe. 

Until Descartes and Leibnitz the Europeans had no concept of the million in mathematics. But the ancient Hindus, Babylonians and Egyptians had hieroglyphs for one million, and manipulated astronomical figures in their records. The Egyptians had an apt symbol for the million; an amazed man with raised hands. We owe everything in mathematics and science to ancient India for the most important and yet cheapest gift to the world - the zero. 

Mediaeval cities of France, Germany, England and other countries were usually built by accident without any planning. The streets were narrow, irregular, with no sewage facilities. Because of unsanitary conditions epidemics devastated these crowded towns. Yet around 2500 B.C.E. the cities of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa, in what is now Pakistan, were as carefully planned as Paris or Washington. Efficient water supply, drainage and rubbish chutes were provided. Besides public swimming pools many homes had private bathrooms. Let us recollect that until the end of the last century this was a luxury in Europe and America. 

Before the latter part of the 16th century Europeans had neither spoons nor forks on their tables - they used only knives and fingers. Yet the people of Central America had these one thousand years before the appearance of Cortes. In fact, the ancient Egyptians had used spoons even earlier - in 3000 B.C.E. This historical detail puts things in the proper perspective to the shame of the Europeans. 

The Aztecs were living in a Golden Age when the conquistadors invaded Mexico: Montezuma literally walked on gold because his sandals had soft- gold soles. There was also a Golden Age in the Land of the Incas when the Spaniards came - the temples of Pachacamac near Lima were fastened with golden nails that were found to weigh a ton, when removed. There was a Silver Age in Peru in the days of Pizarro - his soldiers shod their horses with silver. 

To show how the expansion of Europe was conducted at the expense of the Golden Age races of the Americas, let us examine the gold reserves of European nations in the year 1492 when Columbus set sail on his voyage to the New World. The total amount of gold in Europe at the time was ninety tons. After robbing the empires of Mexico and Peru, the gold reserves of Europe increased eight times, just one hundred years later! 

But was there a Golden Age of Science? Did the priests of Peru, Mexico, India, Egypt, Babylon, China and the thinkers of Greece endeavour to preserve its memory? Our science has only rediscovered and perfected old ideas. Step by step, it has demonstrated that the world is more ancient and vaster than it was thought only a few generations ago. In the last one hundred and fifty years the Space-Time frontiers of the universe have been pushed far back. 

In the fluctuations of scientific knowledge down through the ages a curious fact becomes evident - the possession of information which could not have been obtained without instrumentation. Occasionally, knowledge has appeared as if out of nowhere. These problems require an unbiased approach. 

One of the greatest handicaps that the historian is confronted with is lack of evidence. If it were not for the burning of libraries in antiquity, history would not have had so many missing pages. The past of many a former civilization would look different without these blank spots. 

Firstly, let us review this destruction of cultural records. 

The famous collection of Pisistratus in Athens (6th century B.C.E.) was ravaged. Fortunately, the poems of Homer edited by the Greek leader's literati, somehow survived. The papyri of the library of the Temple of Ptah in Memphis were totally destroyed, the same fate befell the library of Pergamum in Asia Minor containing 200,000 volumes. The city of Carthage, razed to the ground by the Romans in a seventeen-day fire in 146 B.C.E, was said to possess a library with half a million volumes. 

However, the greatest blow to history was the burning of the Alexandrian Library in the Egyptian campaign of Julius Caesar during which 700,000 priceless scrolls were irretrievably lost. The Bruchion contained 400,000 books and the Serapeum 300,000. There was a complete catalogue of authors in 120 volumes with a brief biography of each author. 

The Alexandrian Library was also a university and research institute. The university had faculties of medicine, mathematics, astronomy, literature, as well as other subjects. A chemical laboratory, astronomical observatory, anatomical theatre for operations and dissections, and a botanical and zoological garden were some of the facilities of this educational institution where 14,000 pupils studied, laying the foundation of modern science. 

The Roman conqueror was also responsible for the loss of thousands of scrolls in the Bibractis Druid College at what is now Autun, France. Numerous treatises on philosophy, medicine, astronomy and other sciences perished there. The fate of libraries was no better in Asia, as Emperor Tsin Shi Hwang-ti issued an edict whereby innumerable books were burned in China in 213 B.C.E. 

Leo Isaurus was another arch-enemy of culture as 300,000 books went to the incendiary in Constantinople in the 8th century. The number of manuscripts annihilated by the Inquisition at autos-de-fe in the Middle Ages can hardly be estimated. Because of these tragedies we have to depend on disconnected fragments, casual passages and meagre accounts. Our distant past is a vacuum filled at random with tablets, parchments, statues, paintings and various artifacts. The history of science would appear totally different were the book collection of Alexandria intact today. 

Losses of priceless documents have occurred in modern history. Once there was a fire in the harem of the sultan of the Ottoman Empire. A young secretary of the French Embassy drifted with the crowds nearby and saw looters carry vases, curtains and other objects from the burning palace. The Frenchman noticed a man with a thick volume of Titus Livius' History of Rome, considered lost for centuries. He immediately stopped the Turk, offering him a goodly sum for the book. Unfortunately, his purse contained only a few coins and he promised to pay the balance at his residence to which the Turk agreed. Suddenly, they were separated by the mob before introducing themselves. This is how an irreplaceable document vanished after nearly having been retrieved. 

On the other hand, unexpected discoveries which filled gaps in ancient history, have been made. About one hundred and fifty years ago the great French Egyptologist Champollion visited the Turin Museum. In a storeroom he came across a box with pieces of papyri. 

"What's in it?" he asked. 

"Useless rubbish, sir," answered the attendant. 

Champollion was not satisfied with the answer and began to put the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle. This 'rubbish' turned out to be the only extant list of Egyptian dynasties with the names of the pharaohs and the dates of their reigns! It was a revelation. One can imagine how our views on antiquity will change if more chronicles of this type are found. 

The sensational find of the Dead Sea Scrolls disclosed the fact that this older version of the Bible (2nd century B.C.E.) agreed reasonably well with the Masoretic Text (7th century C.E.). From an historical and religious standpoint the Dead Sea Scrolls were a tremendously important acquisition. Apropos, the credit for this momentous archaeological discovery is attributed to a young Bedouin shepherd who one day, while chasing a goat, found the cave in which the scrolls were hidden in jars. 

In 1549 a young, overzealous monk, Diego de Landa discovered a large library of Maya codices in Mexico. "We burned them all because they contained nothing except superstition and machinations of the devil," he wrote. How could he possibly know what the books were about? With all the brilliant philologists and electronic brains we have today, the three miraculously surviving manuscripts of the Mayas still remain largely undeciphered. 

When de Landa had become older and received the title of bishop, he realized what a barbarian crime he had committed. He made a search for Mayan scripts but without success. A tradition exists that the fifty-two golden tablets preserved in a temple, containing a history of Central America, had been carefully concealed by the Aztec priests before the greedy conquistadors reached Tenochtitlan. Diego de Landa wrote a work on the Mayas but his contribution towards decoding their hieroglyphics was utterly negligible. Had someone requested the Madrid Library one hundred years ago for the First New Chronicle and Good Government, by Felipe Huaman Poma de Ayala, with the date of 1565, the librarian would have been extremely puzzled. 

Neither the Madrid librarian nor any scholar in the world at that time knew anything about this history of the Incas. The manuscript lay in obscurity for centuries until it turned up, of all places, in the Royal Library at Copenhagen in 1908. It was published for the first time in 1927, and is now considered to be as good a source as Garcilaso de la Vega or Pedro de Cieza de Leon. This is the story of just one lost book, but how many others may still be concealed in the most unexpected places? 

Until these documents from bygone epochs are located can the only sacred texts, classic writings and myths we know of now, be considered as reliable material for reconstructing the picture of the past? Sacred scriptures as well as the works of Greek and Roman authors can safely be used for this purpose. This contention will be supported later by interesting episodes from ancient history. Mythology and folklore are thought-fossils depicting the story of vanished cultures in symbols and allegories. By separating fancy from fact, a reasonably correct image of past events, people and places can be recreated from legends. 

The city of Ur, referred to in the Bible as the town from which Abraham had come, was afforded little if any geographical or historical significance by the sages of the 19th century. Actually, until recent times few historians have taken the Bible seriously as a source of historical data. But after Sir Leonard Woolley had discovered the ancient city of Ur in Mesopotamia, the situation began to change. 

One hundred years ago no scholar took the Iliad or Odyssey of Homer as history. But Heinrich Schliemann put faith in it and discovered the legendary city of Troy. Then he followed the homeward route of Odysseus and excavated the graves of Mycenae in search of the loot which the Greeks took from Troy. He read in the Iliad Homer's description of a cup decorated with doves which Odysseus used. In a deep shaft Schliemann found that 3,600 year-old cup! 

Legends can therefore be interpreted as fanciful records of actual happenings. Thus, for instance, the legend of the goddess Demeter, who is usually depicted with a sickle and sheaves of wheat, portrays the introduction of wheat into Greece, where up to that time there had been only beans, poppy seeds and acorns. The goddess taught Triptolemus the art of agriculture and then he traveled throughout Greece instructing the people how to grow wheat and bake bread. 

The myth of the birth of Zeus in Crete points to the Cretan origin of the ancient Greek culture. It is interesting to note that with the exception of a few legends, the Greeks themselves knew nothing of the advanced Minoan civilization in Crete which had preceded their own. But as we can see, folklore preserves history in the guise of colourful tales. Until 1952 when Michael Ventris decoded the Linear B script of Crete - and ascertained to his amazement that it was early Greek, no one in ancient or modern times had taken this Zeus myth seriously. 

In his Dialogues, Plato made a reference to an archaic form of the Greek language. Naturally, his contemporaries had never heard of this lost dialect. But late in the 19th century an old script was found which, when deciphered in the fifties, turned out to be pre-classic Greek. Consequently, do we have the right to distrust the words of antique writers or legends, unless and until they can be proven wrong? 

In the Critias, Plato tells the story of Solon to whom the priests of Sais in Egypt confided in 550 B.C.E. that 10,000 years before their time, Greece had been covered with fertile soil. In comparison to what was then, "there remain in small islets only the bones of the wasted body, as they may be called, all the richer and softer parts of the soil having fallen away," according to the Egyptian sages. 

Now that information is scientifically correct because the soil of Greece was rich a few thousand years ago. In that remote period the Sahara was a steppe where abundant vegetation grew. This is but one example of the climatic changes which have taken place in the Mediterranean basin. But how could Plato, Solon or the priests of Sais have known about soil erosion in Greece for so long a period unless accurate records had been kept for 10,000 years by the Egyptian priesthood? 

In describing the far north of Scythia (modern Russia), Plutarch (1st century) spoke of a night which prevailed for six months in those regions, with a continuous snowfall. He remarked that "this is utterly incredible". But his portrayal of the arctic winter was surprisingly true. Plutarch also wrote a story concerning a Phoenician fleet in the service of Pharaoh Necho. The ships sailed from the Red Sea into the Indian Ocean and circled Africa via the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Gibraltar. The voyage was accomplished in the course of two years. 

"These men made a statement," writes Plutarch, "which I do not myself believe, though others may, to the effect that as they sailed on a westerly course around the southern end of Africa, they had the sun on their right - to northward of them". No ancient Greek could imagine the sun shining in the north. The critical attitude of Plutarch to his own story adds even more weight to his writings. After all, his report is accurate as the sun does shine in the north in South Africa. 

Ptolemy's Almagest lists all the geographical data available in the second century. The astronomer describes equatorial Africa, the Upper Nile and mountain ranges in the heart of the continent. Clearly, this savant of antiquity had more knowledge about Africa than his European colleagues in the first half of the 19th century. 

When the exploration of central Africa in the last century disclosed the existence of snow capped ranges, and reports to that effect were submitted to the Royal Geographical Society in London, the learned members found them a source of merriment. Snow on the equator? Sheer nonsense! The weapon of scepticism is dangerous - in the past many an over-sceptical scientist discredited himself by rash condemnation and lack of imagination. 

In explaining the causes of the flooding of the Nile, Herodotus (5th century B.C.E.) listed several theories current at the time. One of them, "the most plausible" in his words, but nonetheless impossible in his opinion, was that "the water of the Nile comes from melting snow". So once again it is seen how the curve of knowledge plunges on the chart of world progress. It is not difficult to prove the superiority of Greek thought over scholastic philosophy in the Dark Ages. Born in antiquity, eclipsed in the Mediaeval era, science was rediscovered by the Arabs, restored in the Renaissance and developed by the scientific men of modern times. 

But long ago there were other ebbs and flows of cultural progress. The rock paintings of aurochs, horses, stags and other beasts in the caves of Altamira, Lascaux, Ribadasella and others, are masterpieces not only of prehistoric art but of art in any period. Ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and Greeks painted stylized bulls. But the bisons or horses of Altamira or Lascaux look as if they might have been painted by a Leonardo or Picasso. The realism and beauty of these cave paintings makes them immensely superior to the paintings of animals in Egypt, Babylon or Greece. 

Sketches and trial-pieces have been discovered in the caves, suggesting the existence of art schools over 15,000 years ago. The rock paintings of the Cro-Magnon are more than 10,000 years older than the artistic productions of ancient civilizations. This is yet another example of the way a wave reaches a peak in the curve of civilization and then goes down. 

Recently we have been rediscovering a forgotten science. Three hundred and fifty years ago the great German astronomer Johann Kepler correctly attributed the cause of tides to the influence of the moon. However, he immediately became a target for persecution. Yet, as early as the second century B.C.E., the Babylonian astronomer Seleucus spoke about the attraction which the moon exercises on our oceans. Posidonius (135-50 B.C.E.) made a study of the tides and rightly concluded that they were connected with the revolution of the moon around the earth. 

The eclipse of science in the intervening eighteen centuries is only too obvious. During the course of fourteen centuries - from Ptolemy to Copernicus, not a single contribution to astronomy was made. Even in Ptolemy's time thinkers looked back to former centuries for knowledge as if there had been a Golden Age of Science in the past. 

The ancient Indian astronomical text Surya Siddhanta recorded that the earth is 'a globe in space'. In the book Huang Ti-Ping King Su Wen the learned Chi-Po tells the Yellow Emperor (2697-2597 B.C.E.) that "the earth floats in space". Only four hundred years ago Galileo was condemned by the ecclesiastical authorities for teaching this very concept. Diogenes of Apollonia (5th century B.C.E.) affirmed that meteors "move in space and frequently fall to the earth". Yet the 18th century pillar of science Lavoisier thought otherwise: "It is impossible for stones to fall from the sky because there are no stones in the sky." We know now who was right. 

Two thousand five hundred years ago the great philosopher Democritus said that the Milky Way "consists of very small stars, closely huddled together". In the 18th century the English astronomer Ferguson wrote that the Milky Way "was formerly thought to be owing to a vast number of very small stars therein; but the telescope shows it to be quite otherwise". Without a telescope Democritus was certainly a better astronomer than Ferguson. It was a case of "a large telescope but a small mind" against "a great mind without a telescope". 

When Marco Polo, his father and uncle returned to Venice from the Far East in their dusty, outlandish caftans, they were not recognized at first. Because of Marco Polo's stories of the fabulous riches of China and Japan, he was immediately nicknamed Messer Millione or ("Mister Million"). A dinner served by the Polos' relatives, was attended by the notables of Venice. Then unexpectedly the Polos cut the lining of their heavy coats. Cascades of precious gems flowed on to the table. The Venetians could only gasp - Marco was telling the truth after all. There were rich empires in the Far East and these diamonds, rubies, sapphires, jades and emeralds were a spectacular corroboration of its existence! 

The next chapter presents a number of curiosities from the history of science. They are like the jewels of Marco Polo - tangible evidence of a distant source of science.

Chapter 2: 
Novelties in Antiquity 
The achievements of modern science are phenomenal but with our background of space shuttles, skyscrapers, wonder drugs and atomic reactors we are apt to minimize the scientific accomplishments of the ancients. The people of former eras had many of the problems which confront us today, and they sometimes solved them in almost the same manner. For instance, the ancient Romans would change some street arteries to one-way traffic during peak hours. The city of Pompeii used arm-waving traffic policemen to cope with the congestion. 

Street signs were used in Babylon more than 2,500 years ago, with curious names as, for example, The Street on Which May No Enemy Ever Tread. At Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, the following No Parking signs were displayed: Royal Road - let no man obstruct it. The signs were certainly more effective than ours, as instead of a parking ticket the chariot owner received a death warrant! 

The ancient city of Antioch was the site of the first street lighting known in history. The Aztecs set a permanent coloured strip directly into the paved road in order to divide the two lines of traffic. Our streets and highways usually have only painted lines to separate the lanes of traffic. 

Heron, an engineer of Alexandria, built a steam engine which embodied the principles of both the turbine and jet propulsion. If it were not for the repeated burnings of the Alexandrian Library, we might have had a story about a steam-chariot in Egypt. At least we do know that Heron invented a speedometer registering the distance travelled by a vehicle. 

Excavations at Mohenjo Daro, Harappa and Kalibanga in Pakistan and India have disclosed the surprising fact that a system of town-planning was in operation 4,500 years ago. The streets of these ancient cities were straight and the blocks rectangular. A superior water supply and drainage system were also discovered. 

The bricks with which these cities were built are kiln-fired. Because of their strength they were used by the British in the construction of the railroad bed on the Karachi-Lahore line more than one hundred years ago. It is also remarkable that bricks manufactured today in the area of Mohenjo Daro are made according to prototypes from the ruins. This demonstrates that technology had reached a high peak in the distant and unsuspected past of India, and then for some reason progressed no further. From then on everything was done in imitation of the old techniques. 

Central or hot-water heating was invented by Bonnemain at the end of the 17th century, and perfected by Duvoir. Yet 4,000 years before these European inventors wealthy Koreans had Spring Rooms warmed by hot air which circulated in vents under the floors. The ancient Romans used heating of a similar kind. During the Middle Ages the scientific devices of antiquity were forgotten, and the people of Europe had to shiver for many a century. The prehistoric city of Catal Huyuk in Turkey is over 8,500 years old. Pieces of carpet have been found in the ruins which were of so high a quality that they compare favourably with the most beautiful ones woven today. No savant in the last century would have attributed such an age to these carpets. 

The beautiful head of the Sumerian Queen Shub-ad displayed in the British Museum shows that a long time ago people were very much like us. The lovely young lady wears an amazingly modern wig, large ear-rings and necklace. The sophisticated girl who used cosmetics, wig and expensive jewellery, died in a ritual suicide in 2900 B.C.E. - 2,150 years before the foundation of Rome and 2,000 years before Moses started his writings. 

For some reason the workmanship level of jewellery as well as architecture in ancient Egypt was higher in earlier periods. Rings, necklaces, ear-rings, diadems and crowns of the 5th-12th dynasties displayed in Cairo Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of New York, are more perfectly made and more beautiful than those of latter dynasties. 

Among the pyramids in Egypt, the first structures are superior in workmanship. The wave of progress markedly starts downward in Egypt about 1600 B.C.E. Strange to say, the lowest strata of Mohenjo Daro produced implements of higher quality and jewellery of greater refinement than did the upper layers. 

Because of the political situation in the Middle East, the Suez Canal is closed at present. It is little known that the canal is not new. Its construction was commenced in Pharaoh Necho's reign (609-593 B.C.E.) and completed by the Persian conqueror Darius after the Egyptian ruler's death. In the course of centuries, the sands of Arabia From about 2500 B.C.E to 1800 B.C.E. filled the canal. However, the Arabs had it dredged and opened for navigation in the 7th century of our era. Because of the lack of maintenance it was soon blocked by sands once more, and all communication between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea cut off until 1869. 

Like the story of the Suez Canal, the history of navigation has had a number of interesting pages. Modern Italian shipping companies must have got the idea of luxury liners from the ancient Romans. Two Roman ships found in the twenties at the bottom of Lake Nemi in Italy were restored between 1927 and 1932. The vessels were large and wide with four rows of oars. Accommodation was provided for one hundred and twenty passengers in thirty cabins with four berths in each, as well as quarters for the crew. The boats were richly decorated with mosaic floors depicting scenes from The Iliad, walls of cypress panelling, paintings in the lounge and a library. A sun dial in the ceiling showed the time, and it is thought that a small orchestra entertained the passengers in the salon. The stern contained a large restaurant and kitchen. The passengers enjoyed freshly baked bread for their breakfasts and the menus of the meals must have been comparable with the richness of the dining-room decoration. 

Certain finds came as a complete surprise - copper heaters provided hot water for the baths and plumbing was absolutely modern, particularly the bronze pipes and taps. Centuries later Columbus or Magellan would not have dreamt of such ships. The Roman patricians sailing on pleasure cruises in the Mediterranean certainly enjoyed the dolce vita. By a strange whim of fate these two Roman ships were destroyed - not by Carthage but by German bombers in the final stages of World War II. Evidently, their realistic contours tricked experienced pilots into believing that they were flying over barges under construction. 

According to Chinese chronicles the Buddhist scholar Fa-hien returned from India around 400 C.E. He sailed from Ceylon directly to java and then to North China across the China Sea. The ship carried more than two hundred passengers and crew, and was larger than the vessels of Vasco da Gama crossing the Indian Ocean over one thousand years later. 

In a document called Fusang which was part of the annals of the Chinese Empire for 499 C.E., the Chinese Buddhist priest Hoei-shin related the story of his travels to distant lands. This country, where the monk landed after crossing the Pacific, is thought to have been Central America. As a matter of fact, in the course of the last century, a Chinese pirate junk reached California. It used to be displayed at the Catalina Island near Los Angeles. In 1815 a Japanese junk was found near Santa Barbara, California, which had drifted in the Pacific Ocean for seventeen months. By a miracle, one sailor survived. After all, the story of Hoei-shin could be true. 

The Great Wall of China is the longest wall that has ever been built on the face of the earth. It was constructed by three million workers in thirty-seven years about twenty-two centuries ago. The Wall's length is 21,196 kilometres and it rises from 6 metres to 15 metres above the ground. The wall is wide enough to allow a lane of cars in each direction. In 3100 B.C.E King Menes of Egypt carried out a vast engineering scheme of diverting the course of the Nile in order to build his capital of Memphis. No nation had ever attempted to execute so gigantic a project as this. 

Although porcelain flush-toilets are not necessarily a mark of a high culture, they do prove the presence of a developed technology and sanitation. Only two hundred years ago they were conspicuous by their complete absence. Yet 4,000 years ago private toilets with a central system of stone drains and ceramic pipes were common in the city of Knossos, Crete. The rooms of the Palace of Minos were ventilated through air shafts. With its air-conditioned chambers, excellent bathrooms and toilets, the palace was not only 'modern' but large - as large as Buckingham Palace. 

Pipes for hot and cold water have been found in tiled bathrooms at Chan Chan, the capital of Chimu Empire in South America which flourished in the 11th -15th centuries. This technological achievement was non-existent in Europe during the period of Richard Coeur de Lion or Jeanne d'Arc. Ancient epics of India describe scientific accomplishments of the early people of the land of the Ganges. These tales cease to be legends once we realize the ingenuity of Oriental artificers. 

The cave paintings of Ajanta near Bombay are admired by foreign tourists and Indian visitors alike. A great deal has been written about the excellence of these works of art but little has been said about the luminous paints of these murals. In one of the 6th century catacombs there is a picture portraying a group of women carrying gifts. When the electric light is on, the beautiful painting lacks depth. But then the guide switches off the lights and the onlookers remain in darkness for a few minutes until their eyes become accustomed to it. Gradually, the figures on the wall appear to be three dimensional as if they were made of marble. This fantastic effect was obtained by the ancient artist by the clever employment of luminous paints, the secret of which has been lost forever. 

A number of soapstone columns stand in a 12th-century temple in Halebid, Mysore. There are polished strips on one of these rough-finish stone pillars. When a person looks into the mirror-like surface, he sees two reflections at the same time - himself both in an upright and upside-down position. The unknown craftsman must have studied optics in order to have created so extraordinary an effect. 

In the city of Ahmadabad, Hujerat, there are two 11th -century minarets in front of which stands an arch with a laconic inscription: 'Swinging towers. Secret unknown.' The height of the minarets is 23 metres and the distance between them 8 metres. When a group of visitors reaches the top of one tower, the guide climbs to the balcony of the other, grips the railing and begins to swing his minaret. Immediately the other tower commences to sway to the amusement or alarm of the guests. These remarkable facts show that the roots of science are buried deep in time. 

In the House of the Four Styles in the ruins of Pompeii an ivory statuette of the Indian goddess Lakshmi was discovered in 1938, which implied that commercial and cultural ties with India must have been maintained by Rome. If, as the author has, you have travelled and seen the shops of Madras and Bombay, full of colourful saris, you may be surprised to find out that during the reigns of Vespasian and Diocletian textiles from India were on sale in Rome. But only the very rich could afford them. For silks, brocades, muslins and cloth of gold bought in India, Rome remitted annually a considerable sum - possibly an equivalent of forty million dollars. Silk, produced in China since the year 2640 B.C.E, was imported into ancient Rome in - the first century of our era. Because of the long distance and risks involved in transport, it was sold for an astronomical price in Rome. 

One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was the 135 metre high Alexandrian Lighthouse on the island of Pharos, built of white marble. The tower had a movable mirror which at night projected its light so that it could be seen 400 kilometres away. Sunlight was used during the day, and fire during the night. The lighthouse stood from 250 B.C.E. until 1326 when an earthquake finally brought it down. 

These achievements of the people of antiquity were not surpassed in later centuries. In the Dark Ages mankind experienced a fall in scientific progress, and it is only during the last three hundred years that science began to pick up again. 

No race had ever built 5,000 kilometre highways as the Peruvians did. They crossed canyons and pierced mountains with tunnels that are still in use today. The first cart and the first boat were built by the Sumerians in the fourth millenium before our era. The next big leap in means of transport came only in 1802 when the steam vessel was constructed, and the first train followed in 1825. This acceleration in technology and transport was climaxed by the invention of the aeroplane in 1903 and the first manned flight in a spaceship in 1961. 

After the voyage of Apollo 8 to the moon, the New York Times gave the real credit for this historic feat to "men of many countries and centuries - Euclid, Archimedes, Newton, Kepler, Copernicus, Tsiolkovsky, Oberth, Goddard and many others". It is wise to see our achievements in this light because behind our atomic scientists stands Democritus. Our aviation and astronautics engineers had a predecessor in antiquity - Heron with his jet. Back of our cyberneticians hovers Daedalus with his automatons and robots. The source of modern science lies far away in time.

Chapter 3: 
Discoveries create Problems 
Paleontologists and archaeologists have produced a number of curious finds which still await a logical explanation. The story of man will appear in a different light if the answers are ever found. If the following facts are well founded, civilization might have had a much earlier source. 

In excavations at Choukou-tien near Peking, Dr. F. Weidenreich discovered a number of skulls and skeletons in 1933. One skull belonged to an old European, another to a young woman with a narrow head, typically Melanesian in character. A third skull was identified as belonging to a young woman with the distinctive traits of an Inuit. A male European, a girl from the tropics and another from the Arctic Circle uncovered on a Chinese hillside! But how, in the first place, did they get to China some 30,000 years ago? This episode out of prehistory is a mystery. 

Did man in the last Ice Age possess enough technical facilities to straighten out a giant hooked mammoth tusk? Until the discovery of spears made of mammoth tusks by Dr. O.N. Bader near Vladimir, U.S.S.R., no scientist suspected that prehistoric man had possessed the ability to transform a hooked tusk into a number of straight bone spears. On the same site the Russian archaeologists found a bone needle - a replica of our own steel needle. Like the spears it was 27,000 years old. The fact of the making of such artifacts by the Ice Age man was completely unexpected, and it entailed a revaluation of views on technology in the Glacial Age. 

The famous Jericho skulls filled in with clay and shell, depict exquisite Egyptian-like faces. They have been dated to about 6500 B.C.E., which is roughly some 1,500 years before the beginning of Egyptian civilization. This discovery poses many questions. Were their mummified faces the outcome of a desire to immortalize man? If so, it provides evidence of the existence of religion in a very early period. But abstract thinking does not come to man overnight - it is a long process. From what source did the Jericho people receive it? 

Professor Luther S. Cressman of the University of Oregon came across two hundred pairs of woven fibre sandals in Lamos Cave in east Nevada. Skilfully made by an artisan they might be taken for modern beach sandals worn in St. Tropez or Miami. When a carbon-14 test was made, their age was shown to be well over 9,000 years. 

But these sandals are young indeed when compared with the shoeprint discovered in a coal seam in the Fisher Canyon, Pershing County, also in Nevada. The imprint of the sole is so clear that traces of a strong thread are visible. The age of this footprint was estimated to be over 15 million years. But man did not appear for another 13 million years. 

In other words, according to current opinion, primitive man appeared some two million years ago, but he only began to wear shoes 25,000 years ago! Whose footstep can it be? Dr. Chow Ming Chen made a similar discovery in the Gobi Desert in 1959. It was a perfect impression of a ribbed sole on sandstone, and was calculated to be millions of years old. The expedition could not explain it. 

The Brandberg rock paintings in South-West Africa depict Bushmen together with white women. Their perfectly European profiles are painted with a light tint, and the hair shown in red or yellow. The girls wear jewellery and an elaborate head-dress of shells or stones. The attractive young huntresses carry bows and water bags on their chests. They are wearing shoes while the Bushmen are not. Some archaeologists consider these young women to be brave travellers who must have come from Crete or Egypt 3,500 years. ago. However, there is something peculiar about these white girls. They look like Capsians from north Africa who lived over 12,000 years ago. Both have the same long torsos, bows, head-dress and garter-like crossbands on their legs. 

The White Lady of Brandberg studied by the Abbe Henri Breuil, is a masterpiece. Because of her costume and a flower in her hand, she resembles a girl-bullfighter of Crete. But for some reason no leopards or hippopotami are painted in this art gallery. These beasts were non-existent in that part of Africa a long time ago, whereas they are quite common now. This circumstance opens a possibility that the epoch of the white Amazons in Africa may be more remote. 

On a rocky cliff west of Alice Springs, in the heart of Australia, Michael Terry discovered a carving of the extinct Nototherium mitchelli in 1962. This rhinoceros-type animal had disappeared some 2,500 years ago. In the same place he also found six carvings of what looked like rams' heads; they brought to his mind Assyrian pictures of the ram. 

A human being about two metres tall was among the intriguing rock images. The full legs and thighs and a mitre, resembling those worn by Pharaohs, made the figure totally unlike the more stylized representations of the human form drawn by the Australian aborigines. Though the figure is in a horizontal position, it is standing as if walking down a wall. 

So here we have another mystery - carvings of the extinct Australian rhinoceros, the ram, unknown in Australia until the arrival of the English, and a non-Australian man in a Babylonian or Egyptian tiara. Signs of erosion of the rock carvings speak for their great age. Did men from the Near East or Asia reach Central Australia in antiquity, and if so, by what means? It seems that our views on the extent of the travels of ancient man should be amended. 

As man is a recent evolutionary development (approximately two million years old), his co-existence with monsters which lived thousands or even millions of years ago, is considered by science to be impossible. However, Professor Denis Saurat of France has identified the heads of animals in the calendar of Tiahuanaco in South America as those at toxodons, prehistoric animals which lived in the Tertiary period, many millions. of years ago? According to American writer and archaeologist A. Hyatt Verrill, the Cocle ceramics of Panama depict a flying lizard which looks very much like the pterodactyl that lived eons before man. 

In 1924 the Doheny Scientific Expedition discovered in Hava Supai canyon, in northern Arizona, a rock carving which looked amazingly like the extinct tyrannosaurus standing on its hind legs. In another rock image in Big Sandy River in Oregon, the prehistoric sculptor left a portrait of a stegosaurus, a creature which lived before the appearance of man on this planet. 

The drawings, made by scratching red sandstone with a flint, show signs of great age. The existence of the artists must have been contemporaneous with that of the prehistoric monsters, otherwise how could primitive man draw beasts which he had never seen? Naturally, these impossible facts menace the whole structure of anthropology. 

About 1920 Professor Julio Tello found vases in the Nasca district near Pisco, Peru. He was struck by the figures of llamas painted on the vessels as the animals are shown with five toes. At the present time, the llama has only two toes but in an early evolutionary stage, tens of thousands of years ago, it did have five. This is not a mere conjecture because skeletons of the prehistoric llama with five toes have been excavated in the same region. 

The discovery of megalithic sculptures in Marcahuasi by Dr. Daniel Ruzo in 1952 was a momentous one. Marcahuasi, about 80 kilometres north-east of Lima, Peru is a plateau at an altitude of 4,000 metres, where the air is cold and hardly anything grows amidst the granite rocks. 

Standing in an amphitheatre of rock, Ruzo found himself confronted by the enormous figures of people and animals carved out of stone. Caucasian, African and Semitic faces looked at him. Lions, cows, elephants and camels which had never lived in the Americas, surrounded Dr. Ruzo. He spotted the amphichelydia, an extinct ancestor of the turtle known only through its fossilized remains. 

Sculptures of the horse posed a burning question: was the carver a contemporary of the American horse? Since the horse died out in the Americas about 9,000 years ago, this gave an approximate date to these ancient works of sculpture. The horse reappeared in the New World only in the 16th century when the conquistadors brought it from Spain. 

By analysing the white dioritic porphyry from which the heads were carved, geologists arrived at the conclusion that the stone would have needed at least 10,000 years to take on the grey tint it now shows in the cuts. The mysterious sculptors of these giant monuments were aware of the laws of perspective and optics. Some figures can be seen at noon, others at other times, vanishing as the shadows move. 

To find a 10,000 year-old museum exhibiting animals which either never lived in South America or had been extinct for tens of thousands of years, as well as sculptured portraits of the Africans and the Caucasians who came to the New World within the last five hundred years, was a challenge to orthodox science. Dr. Daniel Ruzo has lectured at the Sorbonne University and other scientific institutions. Although official circles, having seen the photographs of these sculptures, could hardly deny the fact of this amazing discovery, they questioned Ruzo's theory that peoples other than the Pre-Columbian had lived in South America. However, whoever the rock sculptors were, their co-existence with extinct animals can not be doubted. 

A strange discovery was made in Costa Rica, also in the fifties. Hundreds of perfectly shaped spheres made of volcanic rock were scattered in the jungle. Their sizes ranged from 2 metres to a few centimetres. A number of the larger ones weighed as much as sixteen tons. Similar globes are also located in Guatemala and Mexico but nowhere else in the world! These balls have raised many questions. What ancient race could have carved and polished them so perfectly? The technical difficulties in making these spheres and transporting them to the sites would have been enormous. 

What was the purpose of the stone balls? Or are they natural geological formations as some scientists believe? Some of the balls rest on stone platforms which seems to indicate that they were placed there for some reason. Many globes are arranged in clusters, straight lines or in a north-south direction. There is an indication of a geometrical pattern because some groups form triangles, squares or circles. It has been suggested that these megalithic markers might have some astronomical significance. It would be interesting to draw a complete map showing the location of these globes and then to see whether there is any resemblance to the constellations on a star chart. However there is the alternative theory that the stone balls were used for astronomical observation in the manner of the Stonehenge megaliths. 

The giant stone heads of the Olmecs found in La Venta, Tres Zapotes and other sites in Mexico can be classed as artifacts of a similar type. These colossal heads carved of black basalt are from 1.5 to 3 metres high, weighing from 5 to 40 tons. They are placed on stone stands just as the globes described above. The nearest basalt quarries are 50 to 100 kilometres away. How could a people without wheeled vehicles or pack animals bring these masses of rock across swamps and jungles to the erection sites? These immense faces of La Venta and San Lorenzo have been dated 1200 B.C.E. - another surprise for the historians of science. 

But let us put these stone heads aside and speak of real skulls. On the ground floor of the Museum of Natural History in London, a human skull is displayed. It comes from a cavern in Northern Rhodesia, and has a perfectly round hole on the left side. There are no radial cracks which are usually present if an injury is caused by a cold weapon. The right side of the skull is shattered. The skulls of soldiers killed by rifle bullets have an identical appearance. The cranium belongs to a man who lived over 40,000 years ago at a time when no guns were made. An arrow could not have produced such a perfectly round hole on the left side of the skull and shattered the right side as well. 

The Paleontological Museum of U.S.S.R. has a skull of an auroch which is hundreds of thousands of years old. It shows a clear round hole on its frontal part and scientific evidence has proven that although the skull was pierced, the brain was not injured and the beast's wound healed. In that distant past, our ancestors were supposedly armed only with clubs. The perfectly round hole without radial lines looks very much like one made by a bullet. The question is - who shot the auroch? 

A meteorite of an unusual shape found near Eaton, Colorado, created a riddle. An analysis by an American expert on meteorics H. H. Nininger indicated that the meteorite was composed of an alloy of copper, lead and zinc; that is brass, which does not exist in nature. The meteorite could not have been 'space garbage' because it fell in 1931. 

In the 16th century the Spanish conquistadors came across an 18 centimetre iron nail solidly encrusted in rock in a Peruvian mine. The rock was estimated to be tens of thousands of years old. Since iron was unknown to the American Indian until the Conquest, one wonders whose nail it was. The Spanish Viceroy Don Francisco de Toledo kept the mysterious nail in his study as a souvenir. 

According to the London Times of December 24, 1851, a Mr. Hiram de Witt found a piece of auriferous quartz in California. When he dropped it accidentally, an iron nail with a perfect head was found to be inside the quartz. About the same time Sir David Brewster made a report to the British Association for the Advancement of Science which created a sensation. A block of stone from Kingoodie Quarry in north Britain contained a nail, the end of which was corroded. But at least an inch of it, including the head, lay embedded in the rock. Because of the great age of the geological strata where these three iron nails were found, the identity of their makers remains a mystery. 

In 1885 in the foundry of Isidor Braun of Vöcklabruck, Austria, a block of coal was broken and a small steel cube, 67 mm x 47 mm fell out. A deep incision ran around it and the edges were rounded on two faces. Only human hands could have made these. The son of Braun took the article to the Linz Museum but in the course of decades it was lost. However, a cast of the cube has been kept by the Linz Museum. Contemporary magazines such as Nature (London, November, 1886) or L'Astronome (Paris, 1887) had articles about this strange find. Some scientists endeavoured to explain it as a meteorite from the Tertiary coal period. Others wanted an explanation for the groove around the cube, its perfect form and the rounded edges, and claimed that it had an artificial origin. The debate has never been closed. 

These perplexities can not be cleared up unless a re-appraisal of prehistory is made. The facts assembled here point to the existence of a technology at what we have imagined to be the dawn of mankind. Two theories can explain the artifacts described in this chapter - either there was some kind of technological civilization in a bygone era, or the Earth has been visited by unknown intelligences. 

The true significance of many museum exhibits may have evaded our comprehension. These cryptograms in marble, stone, wood or bronze, may carry a significant message. In 1946 the Carnegie Institution reported an archaeological find in Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala - a peculiar 32 centimetre figurine of a mushroom with a human face, with widely opened eyes, at the root. The meaning of the object was obscure. But when Spanish records of the sacred mushrooms and their use by the Mexican priests had been studied, experimenters decided to try these mushrooms. A state of narcotic trance with psychedelic visions was produced. The figurine gives the whole story symbolically. 

The birth of metallurgy, chemistry, medicine, physics, astronomy, technology and other wonderful accomplishments of the ancients will be outlined in the following chapters.

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