Thread: Ancient Aliens
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Old November 18 2012, 08:42 PM   #416
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Re: Ancient Aliens

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
In that case, he would be an ABOVE AVERAGE archeologists.
Yep, this is true; the best kind IMHO.

Better question: what makes you think ancient diagrams or blueprints -- if they even ARE that -- would bear any resemblance to modern ones?
I don’t, in fact’ that’s my point. I was just using that as one example among many of the types of “documents” (which haven’t been recovered yet in any case) to illustrate the possible technical intricacies which might be encountered by archeologists for which they would be ill-equipped to handle.
But still, technical assistance during and after translation by an engineer or architect would help in correctly interpreting such “documents”.

Most of those descriptions are more likely to be pure text in a manuscript or an inscription than an actual diagram, and may involve measurements, units or allusions that you would have to know their cultural context to even understand.
Agreed, but the thing to remember in such cases is there’s a “chicken and egg” conundrum here; that is, what should come first? Was the cultural context used to interpret the evidence, or was the evidence used to establish the cultural context?

Since you brought up units of measure, and at the risk of opening another can of worms, let’s take Metrology as case in point;

Archeologists have generally assumed that because various ancient cultures used measures were named after parts of the human body such as “foot” and “inch” and so forth, that these measures were based on the literal length of some local kings royal foot or thumb etc. and this, supposedly, explains why there are so many different lengths for ancient measures called “foot” and “inch” etc. This made sense to Archeologists because that’s exactly the sort of thing people in that “cultural context” would do.

Metrologists -the ones most qualified to study such evidence- on the other hand, working both independently and jointly, actually studied the evidence and came to a different conclusion. They showed how all these different ancient “feet” etc, were not only related to each other by various mathematic ratios, but were also related to the circumference of the Earth!

What’s more, they found that the different lengths of “feet” and other measures were precisely related to the length of a degree of longitude in the region of the globe (North or South) in which that culture, which used that particular length of “foot”, resided. Therefore the reason why these measures are named after parts of the body is because the ancients saw the human body as a microcosm which reflected the macrocosm, in this case, the Earth; and used the average length of human appendages as a handy “rule of thumb” in ordinary everyday circumstances.

Now, who are we to believe; Archeologists, who imposed their “interpretive context” on ancient cultures and based their conclusion on little more than a “guess”, and which is perfectly immune being tested, verified, or refuted? A guess moreover, based only on an “interpretive context” which Archeologists were taught to apply in their training?

Or Metrologists; whose conclusions are based on math and known quantities such as the size of the Earth and the length of these ancient measures etc. and which anyone today, specialist or not, can therefore verify (or attempt to refute)? IOW, in this case, either the shoe fits “the foot” or it doesn’t.

Then an archeologist trained in engineering and/or reverse engineering would be an ideal candidate for that study.

The PURSUIT of those records is an important goal, though, since it yields information in the most directly available format.
True enough, I won’t bother to split the hairs or pick the nits on this.

What, then, IS it conducive to?
That IS the question, isn’t it? And it’s not likely to be answered by archeologists or archeology alone, IMHO.

I'm not able to find a post where I claimed that the pyramids "must have" been anything.
Not in so many words, but when you say things like “it's not really clear what else the pyramids could have been used for OTHER than that.” it leads me to understand that this is your position on the matter.

And in particular, the way you made comparisons with your family mausoleum –without batting an eye, as it were- leads me to conclude that you’re not thinking in any other terms?

In fact I'm pretty sure I suggested that the pyramids may have been part of Egyptian succession rituals and/or transfer of power issues.
Yes, I presume you’re referring to this; “…including some rather outlandish theories about Pharaoh's using them to fake their own deaths and/or pretend to be reincarnated in the personages of their offspring”, and this; “…Not much evidence for that, but I've heard that theory floating around before.”, When you put it like that, it reads as if you’re dismissing the idea?

When they themselves are the ones SUGGESTING alternate possibilities? That makes sense to you?
That’s your position, not mine, and you haven’t convinced me yet that they are!

Besides, even the relatively “benign” possibilities such as public work projects and the succession rituals you spoke of etc. were originally pitched by non-Egyptologists. So unless you want to cite at least one example, even an anecdotal one, in support of your contention, I’ll remain un-swayed from my position that they're not the ones suggesting alternatives, which is based on both direct and indirect evidence.

More importantly, much like the Ancient Aliens thing: it's one thing to have an alternate theory, but it's another entirely to have corroborating evidence. Do YOU have a specific theory about what the pyramids were really for, and if so, what is the basis for it?
Yes I do, or at least a working hypothesis, which fits the evidence better than the “tombs and tombs only” theory and others besides, IMHO.

But what difference would it make to you, since you’ve already decided I’m not a specialist and therefore not, as per your previously stated opinion, qualified to gather or interpret the evidence?

Have you ever actually MET Hawass and Lehner and spoken with them on the issue?
What difference does that make? Their positions are a matter of public record, why would they say one thing publicly, and the opposite thing privately?

I think it’s a safe bet they really believe what they say publicly. Are you suggesting otherwise?

If so, let me turn the table on you then, and ask; have you talked to them on this issue, did they tell you something different?

How many archeologists have you actually discussed this issue with?
A few, both personally and via internet correspondence.

Because I can say, despite the fact that a solid third of them really ARE just a bunch of closed-minded assholes in the habit of shouting down anyone with a different opinion, this does not appear to be the MAJORITY disposition.
Where are you getting your statistical data from to conclude a “solid third” are like this, if your going to throw out specifics like that, you better be prepared to back it up.

And just for the record, I never said every last archeologists to the last man and woman was like this, what I am suggesting is that, for all practical purposes, it’s the “official” stance of mainstream Egyptology that the pyramids were tombs and nothing else.

The most that is allowed, it seems to me, is that their construction may have had additional practical benefits, such as a public works project to help unify the country in a “team effort” of sorts. But nothing much beyond this is considered tenable.

And "several thousand years" is significantly too short of a timescale for a geologist to be able to pinpoint it with any degree of precision. We'd be talking hundreds of thousands to millions of years, at the very least.
NO, it’s NOT too short a time scale in this particular instance! and NO we’re NOT talking hundreds of thousands of years! You are wrong on this.

Please, if you’re going to take an opposing position in a debate, at least try to know what it is whereof you speak.

The region around North Africa and Egypt is a very unique environment; paleo-climatologist can show with a fair degree of certainty that there was a relatively abrupt and fairly rapid change from a period of abundant rainfall to the arid desert conditions that now prevail. And yes, Paleo-anthropology also helps with this determination.

By the time Khafre was supposed to have had the Sphinx/enclosure carved/built it is known that Egypt was already in desert conditions. Everybody is pretty much in agreement on this.

Geologist, (such as Schoch and other colleagues) can, by looking at erosion patterns on both natural and artificial objects, determine if there has been weathering by rain or wind (and accompanying desert sand), thereby dating these to either before or after the rather recent and sudden (in geological terms) climate shift.

The sphinx and its enclosure show unmistakable (to a geologist) evidence that it was eroded by significant amounts of rainfall since the time it was made. Therefore it could only have been made before the desertification of Upper Egypt!

Which, as I said, would put it at a bare minimum, several thousand years earlier than Egyptologist claim, but it could be upwards of ten thousand or more years older; though the jury is still out on his last part.

IOW, the rain erosion issue isn't all that informative unless it tells us that the Sphinx enclosure is GEOLOGICALLY ancient, like "built by early humans during their genocidal war against the neanderthals" ancient. Geology is otherwise not precise enough of a science to determine regional climate data with anything close to that kind of accuracy.
The geology of the rocks only comes into play in regards to the type of rock and its hardness etc. and this was taken into account by Schoch and other geologists. If you still disagree, then you’re not disagreeing with me –the messenger, but with trained geologists, so perhaps you should take it up with them?

More to the point, unless you are a geologist yourself, then by your own criteria, you are not qualified to refute their conclusions on the matter. IOW, it doesn’t take an expert to accept the conclusions of specialists in their respective fields, but it does help to be one if you’re going to contest them.

The salient point is, Upper Egypt had already become a desert by the time Egyptologist say the sphinx was carved and its enclosure built, therefore no significant rainfall (enough to account for the weathering evident thereon) could have occurred, and the only weathering we should see, if it was built when Egyptologists say it was, would be from wind and sand, which is not the case. Therefore it had to be built during the wetter period of pre-history; it’s a no-brainer really.

I don't know of many archeologists OR astronomers who make that claim.
I know of some who do. In fact the possible (even probable?) alignment of the sphinx to certain stars at certain epochs is routinely dismissed, based not on the amount or quality of the evidence, but by stating words to the effect that “people of that time were too primitive and disorganized to do anything like that”.

Actually, I have been reminded by researchers in BOTH fields that astronomy was an essential survival skill in the eons before humans developed maps; even ancient hunter-gatherers supposedly navigated by following the stars (this is based on the realization that isolated African and aboriginal tribes STILL navigate this way in the absence of other landmarks).
Sure, it’s accepted that certain bright stars were used by the ancients in this way.

But what I’m talking about is their knowledge of precession and their ability to track it and make predictions/calendars etc. or build monuments that not only demonstrate their architectural and engineering prowess, but are made even more sophisticated by being built and rebuilt (or added to) over long periods of time, maintaining alignment with specific stars as they slowly “shift”, such that the builders could not have avoided noticing precession, even if they didn’t know about it in the first place (when they or their ancestors first began building these monuments).

...ten archeologists working together will get a more accurate picture than a single one working alone. Add an astronomer and a translator to their team and that helps even more.

You know what WOULDN'T be helpful? If the one astronomer on the team goes off and puts together a NEW team consisting of a physicist, an historian, a folklorist and five grad undergrads with a lot of free time on their hands and tells them "I was on a dig with a bunch of other archeologists that one time and I saw lots of evidence that Atlantis exists! Let's go find it!"
Whatever; but I doubt an archeological dig would produce “lots of evidence” for Atlantis’ existence; maybe underwater archeology though?

The process we have right now works well enough: researchers share data in public, toss ideas back and forth, new ideas form, new evidence comes to light, rinse and repeat.
I realize there’s a lot of sharing of data, but disagree that it works “well enough”, besides my point is that there’s no systematic protocol for overseeing the collection, coordination and interpretation of data that spans multiple disciplines. It's a matter of missing the forrest for the trees.

The issue we're discussing is whether or not people OUTSIDE the discipline are really better equipped to researching a particular subject than the people INSIDE of it.
Uh, no we’re not? You may want to try to make it about that though?

I whole heartedly agree that people inside a particular discipline are best equipped to study that particular discipline, I never said different.

What we’re discussing, and I’m suggesting, is there are times when a specialist’s area of expertise overlaps with that of another, and this is when they should defer to the expertise of the other specialist, because that person and their discipline is best qualified to examine the evidence in such cases.

When this isn’t done, it can, and often does, lead to important clues and facts being misinterpreted, or completely ignored.

Perhaps an example will help to illustrate: the overarching paradigm, or at least guiding principle, in archeology has been Social Darwinism and the idea of infinite progress, which are not proven facts mind you, but just postulates, or “The myth of the given” as it’s been called.

Consequently, all data collected by archeologists is analyzed through that “lens”, and when it comes to ancient megalithic structures, archeologists tacitly assume that because they, as modern enlightened human beings, are so much smarter than the people and the cultures of the past that they study, then surely they reason, they should be able to figure out how these monuments were built, using the primitive methods that “they know” the ancients only had recourse to.

It never occurs to them to consult an engineer or architect about this because, “obviously” the ancients had no sophisticated methods or tools like the specialists in the above fields have today, therefore it wouldn’t be much help, and besides, how hard could it be?

So archeologists hypothesize about how granite blocks were cut with only copper chisels they found laying around, or pounded out with diorite balls (supposedly because its harder than granite and makes a good hammer stone), or how the ascending passage of the Great Pyramid was sealed only after the king was buried -by sliding a giant “plug” stone down the passage- since obviously, if the stone had been built “in situ” as the “tomb” was built, no one be able to enter to bury the king?

Then along comes a stone mason and says…
“There’s no way they cut granite with copper chisels, I use hardened steel in my work with granite and even these wear out in a short time” and diorite balls? How did they cut and carve the diorite in the first place when they wouldn’t even have been able to cut the (slightly) softer granite with the tools they supposedly had?”

Then along comes an engineer who adds…

“I see evidence that high-speed tubular drills and huge high-speed circular saws must have been used; see the marks on the stones left by the tools? These are just like what I see in my profession and it’s the tale-tell sign of what type of tool was used.

Oh, and that granite plug stone, it’s almost the same size as the ascending passage itself, In fact I measured it with my precision tools and there isn’t enough clearance for it to slide down the passage, so it must have been put there as the pyramid was being built to serve some unknown purpose? At the very least, this casts serious doubt that it was built as a tomb.”

To which an archeologists shrugs and says…

“Tsk tsk, if you were a properly trained archeologists you would “know” that your theories can’t possibly be right because the ancients didn’t have the technology you, in your ignorance of archeology, ascribe to them.

The foregoing is not meant to be “true to life” in every respect and in all cases, but does contain factual examples of real exchanges between archeologists and researchers in other fields; I use it merely to illustrate generally what I believe has happened and is happening in archeology and Egyptology.

The evidence has often been interpreted in the context of the paradigm rather than letting the evidence speak for itself. And in order for the evidence “to speak for itself” it needs to be examined by the experts most qualified to do so. Just because something is old and dug out of the ground, doesn’t mean archeology is automatically the only discipline that need apply.

And more to the point, sometimes it takes an ‘outsider” to see that “the emperor has no clothes”.

Which is fine to say, except that without an alternative source of information we're left with Herodotus whether we like him or not.
I didn’t say I didn’t like him, just that he’s not all that reliable in this particular instance, but who knows, he might be right after all?

Lack of contradictory evidence leaves us unable to determine to what extent the account is accurate, exaggerated, fictionalized or just plain wrong.
I disagree, there’s quite a bit of contradictory evidence to help determine to what extent the account is exaggerated, fictionalized and just plain wrong, we just need to avail ourselves of it.

Data obtained by either observation of experimentation.
But how would “experimentation” relate to what archeologists do? I know Nova once did an episode documenting Egyptologists attempt to construct a small pyramid with small blocks, in an effort to “educate the public” that it could be done with the primitive tools and techniques they believe were used.

They failed; and it’s perhaps telling that they didn’t have the intellectual honesty to admit this on camera, but instead, pretended as if they had actually succeeded, which they did in a way, but only after bringing in modern construction equipment to finish the job! The episode ended with Lehner stating (and I’m paraphrasing) “This just goes to show what the ancients were capable of with just simple tools and manpower” or words to that effect.

Keep in mind, if simple tools and manpower are not up to the task of building even a small pyramid with small blocks, how much harder would it be to build the Great Pyramid with its huge multi-ton blocks in this way?

This experiment was (independently) repeated by a Japanese company intent on making a documentary entitled “How the pyramids were built”. They too failed, and also had to resort to modern equipment to finish the job, but at least in this case, they were honest enough to rename their documentary “How the pyramids were not built”!

Which begs the question, did Egyptologist learn anything from these experiments that “falsify” their theories, like good empirical scientists should? Apparently not, since they still trot out the same old party line whenever the occasion calls for it.

For example: I put a measuring tape next to my son and I see that he is three feet seven inches tall. That's empirical data set (observed/measured data).
So you’re saying that just because archeologists can measure stones and bones that makes it an empirical discipline?

Contrast with a calculation in which I take my son's body weight, his shoe size, his displacement in water and then CALCULATE his height based on a model I devised; I would call that indirect evidence or just a calculation/theory/etc.
This is actually more like what Archeologists do, especially the "devised model" aspect.

Empirical data doesn't need to be "repeatable" as such. I can count the number of bones in a human body three seconds before I stuff that body in a woodchipper and grind him into pulp; no one else will be able to collect that data ever again, but I still have it and I still obtained it by observation.
Sure, but why should anyone else believe you? The whole point of repeatability is that everyone should be able to obtain the same results and compare data, allowing a consensus to be reached; otherwise its just hearsay.

Going by your logic, I could say a UFO landed in my backyard and I measured it, weighed, took pictures of it, and everything, but then the Men in Black came and chased it away and confiscated all my evidence, but nonetheless, you should accept this evidence anyway because I obtained it “empirically”.

And by your definition, you would. it's clear you haven't begun to think the matter through.

Archeologists tend to strive for the ideal. Not all of them -- or even most of them -- fall that far short of it. Plenty do, but this is not the majority.
I‘m sure they do, but many are guilty of unconscious bias and therefore practice “Quasi Science” not true empirical science.

What percentage though? Who knows? Unless you and I are prepared to compile and compare statistics to resolve the issue, this will remain a matter of personal experience and opinion for both of us.

I tend to think it's the other way around, personally, especially since anthropologists more often study cultures that PRESENTLY exist than ancient ones that no longer do.
Fair enough, and I meant to say “Paleo-Anthropology” which is more in line with what archeologists do, I suppose.

Last edited by TIN_MAN; November 19 2012 at 05:18 AM.
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