Thread: Ancient Aliens
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Old November 19 2012, 09:33 PM   #418
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Ancient Aliens

TIN_MAN wrote: View Post
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.
My position is that the pyramids were used as tombs, for one reason or another, and there isn't much to indicate what else they would have been used for OTHER than glorious monuments to the king and/or his family. Remember, the conventional wisdom isn't merely that they're tombs, but that the Egyptians believed their monarchs were almost gods themselves and that upon their death they actually ascended to become supernatural beings themselves; in that case, the Pyramids wouldn't be merely the TOMBS of the Kings, but their eternal dwelling places, where the people can go and venerate and worship them centuries after their deaths. In theory, all the later generations of a single dynasty would expect to be buried there and share in the deity, but even in archeology, forty years is a long time, the practice may not have held up as well the builders intended.

Like I said, there are plenty of other possibilities and archeologists have suggested a few. My favorite by far is that it's actually a giant landing pad for space ships, but the evidence doesn't seem to favor any of those theories.

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?
I'm skeptical, again for the lack of corroborating evidence. In particular, there are some archeologists who believe that various pharaohs actually impersonated their parents to provide the illusion that the old king was actually still alive and running the country in a sort of "Dread Pirate Roberts" scheme. That makes sense on its face, but it strikes me as too specific a claim to make without some powerful evidence to back it up.

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.
That's news to me, but I suppose it's possible. Egyptology, however, is a niche field in archeology and I DO begrudge Egyptologists a monopoly on that particular subject.

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?
Because if I was looking for an EXPERT opinion, I'd be down at the public library looking for books or trolling my old professors over at UIC. Which I probably will, sooner or later, depending on how interesting this thread becomes.

But this IS a thread on a discussion board... why are ANY of us here?

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?
Reality is weird like that. Not everything is as cut and dried as can be expressed in a short news article or an excerpt from a book. Most intellectuals tend to be more nuanced than that.

Some of them aren't, of course. I do not rule out the possibility that they're a couple of assholes clinging to their own pet theory... but it's just as possible that they, perhaps, know something you don't, and have information that they haven't made public or that you haven't seen or heard of cited elsewhere.

I think it’s a safe bet they really believe what they say publicly. Are you suggesting otherwise?
I'm suggesting that your understanding of their positions may differ slightly from their actual positions. Hell, you and I have been corresponding for more than a week and you barely understand MY position.

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 depending on who you ask, you'll get one of three responses:
1) Derision and mockery a la "I've spent X number of years in this field, I know what I'm talking about, come back when you've got a degree"
2) There are other possibilities, but they're unlikely and here's why (insert brief archeology/egyptology lecture here)
3) There are other possibilities, and here's some evidence for them (insert brief archeology/egyptology lecture here).

NO, it’s NOT too short a time scale in this particular instance!
As I said, to short a timescale to be that precise.

See below.

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...
And have, perchance, paleo-anthropologists come to a consensus about the average yearly rainfall in the Giza region during Khafre's reign?

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.
First of all, "Recent and sudden" in geologic terms is on the order of hundreds of thousands or millions of years, at least.

Secondly, Egypt may be a desert, but that doesn't mean it never rains.

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.
Geologically speaking, I think Schoch is taking the piss if he dates those structures at anything less than a few dozen millennia. Regional climate just doesn't shift fast enough to be statistically measurable on such short timescales.

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.
You opened by contesting the conclusion that the Pyramids are "tombs and tombs only." You've yet to explain why. And since nobody in this thread has any expert background, that "why" is all we really have.

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).
Recognizing precession necessarily requires some fairly precise observational tools (e.g. telescopes) and a complex mathematical system for detecting deviations from a previous pattern of observed movement (e.g. calculus or something similar). It's not exactly willful ignorance to claim the Egyptians probably hadn't developed calculus or telescopes, so I'm with the Establishment on this one.

To say they lined up their monuments with their best reckoning of the stars or their patterns of movement, though, is not a possibility many would discard (in fact, some openly tout that theory even now). You don't have to be highly sophisticated to study astronomy, but some subjects in astronomy are highly sophisticated.

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.
There IS a protocol for that. It's called "professionalism." You will notice that almost every instance of "missing the forest for the trees" usually derives from a part or the entirety of the team sliding into unprofessional behaviors, like pitching their own pet theory to the exclusions of all others, playing favorites among team members, or using the team's work to score political points and/or personal points for his own career.

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.
So why is Robert Schoch -- a geologist -- not deferring to the expertise of the Egyptologists who dispute his theory?

You're making the direct implication here that a geologist/geophysicist is correct when all the archeologists in the same field are wrong. Why? Because as a geologist he sees something everyone else is missing or doesn't understand or doesn't want to know about? And you discard the possibility that it could be going in the OPPOSITE direction, that Schoch simply doesn't know enough about archeology to understand why his theory is flawed?

When this isn’t done, it can, and often does, lead to important clues and facts being misinterpreted, or completely ignored.
Who is more likely to miss or misinterpret important clues? A geologist at an archeological site... or an archeologist?

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.
That's a LOT of question begging for a handful of paragraphs. In particular, this is literally a juxtaposition of empirical vs. indirect evidence. The mason says "there's no way they used copper chisels" based on his own experience; he's already projecting his own values and judgements onto an ancient culture he knows nothing about. His objection to the diorite is based on his first assumption, which is simply this: "That would be really hard to do with ancient tools."

Same again for the engineer, projecting his own experience into a context he knows nothing about and makes reaching assumptions based on his own paradigm. A flawed assumption is the basis for new assumptions which are themselves equally flawed.

What you need is someone who specializes in ANCIENT construction techniques, someone who is actually familiar with the tools the Egyptians had and understands how they would have used them. Someone who doesn't simply cluck his tongue and say "There's no way they used copper chisels," but sits and asks himself, "If I had to do a job like this using only copper tools, how would I do it? What would the tools look like, and what kind of techniques would I use to keep them from wearing out?" Same for the engineer: instead of saying "This must have been made with a high-speed tubular drill!" the operative question is "What kind of tool would have been available to them to make these kinds of tool marks?" In both cases, if you don't have direct evidence for what was used, then you file that away in the books under "Things to look for at the next dig site" or even research into previous sites, looking for objects that were cataloged but not identified.

That was my point in saying that an archeologist trained in reverse engineering is better off than a simple archeologist. In his case, he's using his secondary skills to make his job easier; it helps him find clues to discover the truth.
This is far, FAR different from a mason, a geologist and an engineer moonlighting as archeologists and pitching bad guesses based on relatively limited background.

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.
And whether you like it or not, what we are debating here is whether or not the people most qualified to examine that evidence are people INSIDE or OUTSIDE of that field. You imply that people outside the field of archeology -- really, ANYONE outside of it -- would be better qualified to answer those questions. I, on the other hand, assert that even an engineer would need to expand his expertise to include archeology first before his engineering knowledge will be of any use to archeologists.

In other words, outsiders really AREN'T better at answering these kinds of questions. You're better off looking for an insider with a secondary degree or a diverse background in other fields that can help to broaden his horizons.

But how would “experimentation” relate to what archeologists do?
Generally it wouldn't, not unless the archeologists cannot obtain empirical evidence directly. The few exceptions would be the example I mentioned above -- one that has become increasingly common over the years -- where archeologists experiment with ancient tools and ancient building techniques to figure out which ones would most likely have been employed in a particular undertaking; in the case we're discsussing, that would involve a team of archeologists using various types of stone chisels and ramps to actually build their own pyramid and recording their observations about what techniques worked, what techniques didn't work, their perception of the process, etc. This would require a lot more time and energy than most archeologists are prepared to devote to any particular experiment, though, so it would have to be extremely well-funded and heavily staffed.

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!
Never seen that special, but that seems more like Television Fail than science fail. Realistically, that kind of project would take a team of several thousand people a number of years just to build something a quarter the size of the Giza pyramid.

Keep in mind, if simple tools and manpower are not up to the task of building even a small pyramid with small blocks...
They ARE up to the task, actually. That much is not really in dispute, considering the level of technology that went into the Great Wall of China.

It really isn't a question of IF the Egyptians used primitive technology to build the pyramids. Everyone's pretty sure that they did, not for any particular reason except that it's usually safe to assume that old technology is less advanced than new technology (e.g. nobody seriously wonders if that ancient Chinese emperor who strapped some rockets to his throne really made it to the moon). It's a question of HOW did they do it, how did they figure it out, and how much did it cost?

Which begs the question, did Egyptologist learn anything from these experiments that “falsify” their theories, like good empirical scientists should?
Yes they did. It was "The Great Pyramids were definitely NOT built by archeologists."

So you’re saying that just because archeologists can measure stones and bones that makes it an empirical discipline?
Pretty much, yes.

This is actually more like what Archeologists do
Only when empirical data is not available, which is distressingly often. They PREFER empirical data, obviously, but you make due with what you have.

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
Then you no longer have that evidence and cannot show it to anyone. Someone else can testify that you did have the evidence, but then it's no longer empirical, it's indirect.

Of course, if you lose the evidence but still have the UFO, then the UFO is your evidence, even though you no longer have any data on it (until you measure it, that is). That can become troublesome if shortly after capturing the UFO and losing your measurements and photos, the entire object suddenly transforms into a blue police call box with a perfectly wooden door you can't figure out how to open. Now your empirical evidence is less direct, though in this case it is still empirical evidence.

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?
As I said earlier, I'd guess about 30%.
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