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HORUS VOL I. Issue 1


Myths, Monuments, and Mnemonics
by David Griffard

The Pyramids at Gizeh have drawn many visitors in both ancient and modern times - a genuine "Wonder of the World". Unfortunately time has blurred our knowledge of their meaning or purpose. Changes in language and culture sometimes separated by dark-ages many centuries long have fragmented and confused Egypt's history. Physical damage to the Pyramids by natural and human causes has obscured the original grandeur and has erased any symbols that may have been carved or painted on the finished facing-stone. The timeless mystery of the Pyramids remains.

The most common story is that they were royal tombs built by great Pharaohs as personal memorials. Because of the technical skills required to build them and their apparent astronomical orientations, others argue that ancient knowledge and sophistication in geometry, measurement, and astronomical observation were enshrined for posterity. Still others have proposed a more mystical meaning- "pyramid power" or symbolic links to Biblical prophecies, for example. Finally there are those who believe that early Egyptians were visited by extraterrestrials who taught them knowledge and directed the construction of the Pyramids.

And so, modern explanations range from the ordinary to the mystical and imaginative. People believe easily that powerful kings lavished their nation's wealth and enslaved tens-of-thousands merely to erect personal mountain-tombs. Relatively few, on the other hand, believe in mystical powers or that space-visitors were involved. But surprisingly few accept the middle ground that such structures embody ancient, elegantly coded knowledge in numbers, geometry, and astronomical observation.

This same attitude has been extended generally to the archaeological record of other ancient cultures as well. Those who specialize in studies of ancient knowledge and achievement have had difficulty convincing others about their discoveries. Anthony Aveni, a leading archaeoastronomer, has noted for example, that people generally are "quite reluctant to believe ancient man's knowledge of astronomy."

HORUS seeks to avoid this class of prejudice. Too much evidence for ancient complex systems of geometry, measurement, and astronomical observation has come to fight in recent years to be ignored. Whether from the Near or Far East, Europe, or the Americas, the message in the archaeological and historical record is clear - ancient people were little different from ourselves in native intelligence and creativity, though these were expressed through different levels of technology and many cultural forms. As more evidence accumulates, just how wrong we've been in our concept of the ancestral mind becomes ever more pointed.

But why should anyone have resisted the idea in the first place? Why does the concept of advanced intellectual achievement three or four thousand years ago seem strange and unacceptable to so many people? There may be other reasons but one seems to stand clearly as the most general source for this prejudice - the long-standing "caveman" image of the first fully human beings.

When the remains of the earliest people biologically the same as ourselves were discovered, the remote time of their origins, their apparent use of crude stone tools, and assumptions about the nature of their psychological and spiritual characteristics contributed to the scientific description which emerged. It was an unflattering picture.

[*!* Image: The Observatory at Chichen Itza, Yucatan]

Because the new species evolved from a lower form, it was presumed that fully human qualities of mind and spirit had not yet developed. Whether illustrated and described in science texts, caricatured in cartoons, or portrayed in movies, the first human sojourners have been depicted generally as more brute than brain. They lacked true language and their social order was governed by animal instincts and motives. They dressed in animal skins, hunted big game for food, and used natural shelters in caves and rock formations.

From these humble beginnings our remote ancestors slowly acquired speech and humanized social organization. Relatively little progress was made in the technology of tools and weapons for thousands of years. Writing and numbers came late in development as did learning the techniques for controlled agriculture. Spiritual concepts remained at a primitive level of animal worship and superstition and were carried with little change into full civilization.

This picture has been present in the minds of scientists, scholars, and teachers for decades and, over the years, has become the general stereotype of early humanity. It is little wonder, then, that evidence for complex knowledge in ancient times has been met with

resistance by scholars or that it has inspired the imagination of help from space-visitors. How could minds fresh from the stone-age, steeped in superstition and magic, have grappled with the rigors of solid geometry, have discovered mathematical constants, or have measured celestial cycles with great precision?

These ideas seem very unlikely when seen from the traditional view of humankind's early capabilities. Yet contemporary scientific evidence clearly shows the existence of complex systems of knowledge in very early times. Something obviously has been wrong with the picture our ancestors so long in use and should be corrected. As noted, it seems most directly to be the prejudice that early civilized people, descendants of the "caveman", could not have progressed very far intellectually, however impressive their stonework.

With this error corrected by present evidence, a very different picture of the human past comes into view. The time when language, counting, and a form of writing first appeared has been pushed back to the dawn of the species. Controlled agriculture and established trade routes developed earlier than had been expected. The measurement of time and the seasons by astronomical cycles and some form of astral worship also seem to have remote prehistoric roots. The flowering to full civilization was not the sudden process it has been perceived to be. The basic form and practices of early civilization were in progress thousands of years before the first pyramids were built.

Gone is the image of grunting ancestors in the caves. In their place stand people fully humanized with complex speech and formal culture. This is a significant head-start for the race compared to the earlier view. It suggests that the great monumental civilizations of the past were the culmination of thirty thousand years or so of complex, intelligent human development rather than the dim beginnings of abstract knowledge in the stone-age mind.

[*!* Image: The Acropolis at Athens - Greece]

With this in mind the monuments of Egypt, the megaliths of Britain and Ireland, the ceremonial cities of ancient Mexico, and other such sites around the world all acquire a new dimension. Not only religious symbolism but clues to sophisticated understanding of numbers, geometry, and astronomical cycles may be encoded in their design and structure. They stand as timeless engrams in the collective human memory - great mnemonics frozen in stone to preserve some message for future generations.

[*!* Image: The Pyramid of the Magician - Uxmal]

There is another bias involved which is less obvious and, in a sense, is a greater

obstacle to a better scientific understanding of human heritage. In the history of science, the theory of biological evolution developed in direct relation to geological theory. In this theory the Earth's rate of geological change was too slow to be observed. Mountains rose, canyons opened, seas became deserts, and whole continents wandered across the globe at a pace marked off in millions-of-years.

Accordingly, the human race and its history has been free of cataclysm on any scale greater than those we experience in our own time. Volcanoes, earthquakes, tidal waves, and other catastrophes are localized events that do not register on the minds of the race as a whole. From the traditional scientific point of view, the human race has never experienced cataclysm on a global scale.

The problem lies in ancient concepts to the contrary. The Maya, for example, were passionately concerned that the carefully measured cycles of the Sun, planets, and stars would not become unstable as had happened in the past, causing great cataclysms on the Earth. Tim cosmologies of other ancient cultures, great and small, contain the same general ideas and much of their ceremony and ritual practice is in direct relation to these. The Judeo-Christian tradition itself is grounded in the concept of great cataclysms in nature including that prophesied for the final days of the Earth itself. There is secular history and tradition as weft that the Earth has undergone violent global episodes of natural disruption.

How to account for such ideas in the minds of a race that never experienced catastrophe on a global scale? To this point, such concepts have been treated with the same basic disbelief as the idea of ancient intellectual achievements. Early accounts of great cataclysms generally have been considered to be products of primitive superstitious thought and imagination rather than reflections of actual events.

As with the revised image of the "caveman", so too the concept of undisturbed nature in the history of civilization. Research now spanning over three decades has revitalized the case for global catastrophes in the Earth's natural history. Some, from the works of Velikovsky to catastrophism in more recent scientific thought, argues for the occurrence of major cataclysms within the period of human history. To study this issue objectively we must abandon not only our "cave-man" prejudice but must also question whether ancient nightmarish visions of global calamity are more fact than fantasy.

[*!* Image: Delphi - Greece]

The legacy of ancient genius and its implications for our own understanding of past and present must be reexamined from many perspectives. In doing so the traditional biases against the ancient intellect and its sense of reality must be put aside, to be replaced by a more humanized view of early civilizations.

HORUS invites its readers to share this viewpoint and enjoy the excitement that comes from new insights into the art, science, and cosmology of the Ancients.

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