Monday, April 05, 2010

My Comment Reply to a "bad archaeology" posting at Bad Archaeology by anonymous posters about my book Stars Stones and Scholars

This is my comment to a libelous posting at Bad Archaeology by bad archaeologists about me and my book, Stars Stones and Scholars - they only post anonymously themselves about others but of course do not allow anonymous comments about THEM, so that they of course "moderate" any criticism of themselves -- hence, I do not know if they will post this text, nor do I care -- and that is why I reproduce it here for the record. Here is what I wrote:

" "Bullies" in my view are people who libel people online under the cloak of anonymity. The bullies are not, as you have alleged, those who post under their true identities to the Internet and who then try to defend their reputations against unseen foes.

Bad Archaeology writes:
"Looking through the book, we can see that he accepts untenable ideas about the past, such as the existence of ley lines, a fantasy dreamed up in the 1920s by Alfred Watkins."

In reply, the truth is:
In fact, the term "ley lines" is not mentioned once in the whole book, not even in the index, and the term "ley line" is mentioned only twice in the entire book as part of the general source material on megaliths covered in 420 pages - I just ran a Word search of the final .doc manuscript to be sure. I have NEVER "accepted" the traditional view of ley lines, dowsing lines, or whatever other people or you may think them to be - and there is no such statement in my book. I do not discuss ley lines at all in my book. My book discusses megalithic sites and alleges that many of these are land survey markers sited by ancient astronomy. That hypothesis is actually quite simple.

Conclusion: your first criticism of my book is simply false on the facts.

Bad Archaeology writes:
"He finds cup-and-ring marks on stones that depict constellations in the southern hemisphere (such as Musca) that were not defined until the sixteenth century: remember that constellations have no objective reality in the sky, that they are arbitrary groupings of unrelated stars and that different cultures make different groupings."

In reply, the truth is: You are imputing that I do not know the history of Musca, which is unfortunate, given what I have actually written in my book. As I wrote at page 88 of my book, Stars Stones and Scholars:
"Allen [Richard Hinckley Allen’s, Star Names, Dover Publications, N.Y., 1963, p. 104, ISBN 0-486-21079-0] cites Manilius, and Al Biruni (who repeats Sanskrit legend) and the Anglo-Saxon Manual in this regard. Hinckley writes:

'Before the observations of the navigators of the 15th and 16th centuries the singular belief prevailed that the southern heavens contained a constellation near the pole similar to our Bear or Wain; indeed, it is said to have been represented on an early map or globe....

[A]t one time in the history of the Creation an attempt was made by Visvamitra to form a southern heavenly home for the body of the dead king, the pious Somadatta; and this work was not abandoned till a southern pole and another Bear had been located in positions corresponding to the northern, this pole passing through the island Lunka, or Vadavamukha (Ceylon). The Anglo-Saxon Manual made distinct mention of this duplicate constellation ‘which we can never see.’...' "
Given the assumption that there were ancient seagoing vessels in the Southern hemisphere in the pre-Christian era, something which is very likely documented at least for the Pharaonic era -- http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/timelines/topics/exploration.htm -- which speaks of a journey around Africa, and given the evidence of sea-caapable vessels at Abydos dating to ca. 3000 BC, the major constellations of the northern skies thus may well have had their comparable models in the southern skies, already very long ago. We have no reason to conclude that the ancient tales of Southern constellations are necessarily wrong. Hence, the megalith makers as seafarers may very well have known such constellations -- or even created them.

Hence, at p. 292-294 of my book in discussing the Temples of Malta as representing various star groups, I wrote:
"Not all of the representations of stars at Malta find comparables in our modern constellations...."
The stars at the position of the Southern Musca -- there also used to be a Northern Musca -- have a definite shape which lent itself to being seen as a bee or a fly in the modern era of navigation. I even suggested it might be a chicken at Malta, full well realizing that these stars -- which also existed prior to the modern era -- may have had another identity to stellar observers millennia ago."

Conclusion: your second criticism of my book is simply false on the facts. I am aware of the history of the stellar constellations -- and I know them far better than most, thank you.

Bad Archaeology writes:
"His mangling of linguistics allows him to state that the name of Merlin – who is identified as a genius behind megalithic carvings that no-one else has yet recognised! – can be derived from a root “MER- meaning “measure, survey” in ancient Indo-European” when it comes from Welsh Myrddin, probably derived from the Brittonic placename Moridunon, now Carmarthen (Caerfyrddin in Welsh), meaning “sea fort”."


In reply, the truth is, as currently written at the Wikipedia, open for all to read:
 "The Welsh name Myrddin (Welsh pronunciation: [ˈmərðɪn]) is usually explained as deriving from a (mistaken) folk etymology of the toponym Moridunum, the Roman era name of modern Carmarthen...."
Conclusion: your third and last criticism of my book is simply false on the facts. Myrddin has absolutely nothing to do with "sea fort", as you allege. That is a "folk etymology". Obviously, the etymological origin of the name for Merlin will always remain speculative since there is no agreement even about his actual identity, or his actual time of existence, much less about the origin of his name. What I actually did in the book was to write a couple of  fun paragraphs about Merlin and it is quite clear that I do not mean "the Merlin" that people are always trying to place in the modern era and I specifically refer to "a legendary name". What I actually wrote was:
"A number of megaliths show a singular sculpting style of absolute genius, perhaps from one artist, who we call Merlin, presumably residing anciently at Kents Cavern. We equate Merlin with the legendary physician Aesculapius of the fabled Argo of Jason and the Argonauts (argos=earth) whose Minyans we hold to be the first men to ever conduct a geodetic survey of Earth by astronomy.... Merlin” as a legendary name perhaps goes back to the root MER- meaning “measure, survey” in ancient Indo-European...."
As for my challenge to Egyptology and Astronomy, the U of Chicago has moved its list from the given link -- I am not responsible for that -- and that challenge is in fact easily found through Google at http://lexiline.blogspot.com/2005_10_01_archive.html.

It may be - as you write - that the U of Chicago now has people who have criticized some of my work, but when I applied to law school there years ago, that university offered me a full scholarship - tuition plus room and board, which is rather rare. I do not think they were wrong....even though I ultimately chose Stanford. Chicago is a great university - not everyone there is going to agree with me, nor should they. That is what academic dialogue is all about."

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