As readers of GM/BM at the old site know, one of the things that I love to shred is trashy numerology. I also have a great dislike for the tendency of many modern pseudo-researchers to insist that ancient people were hopelessly naive or stupid.
I’ve found a delightful little article about Stonehenge that combines these two themes.
Stonehenge is quite an interesting construct. To the best of our knowledge, it was a sort of observatory: the patterns of stones and their arrangement are structured to allow a number of astronomical observations and predictions of astronomical events. This is a very cool thing.
Altie pseudo-researchers consistently insist that the people who lived around stonehenge when it was constructed could not possibly have built it. This is built on that naivety assumption that I mentioned above. For example, from the linked article:
Research has revealed that before the Sarsen Circle of upright stones was erected, a 285 foot diameter circle of 56 chalk holes, 3 feet in diameter, was created. (These are called the Aubrey Holes, in honor of John Aubrey).
A CBS TV program in the 1960’s ran a computer analysis of the Aubrey circle. They declared that Stonehenge’s location–latitude 51 degrees 11 minutes, was a very special location for eclipses of the moon. This location produces moon eclipses in the repeating sequence of 19 years, 19 years, and 18 years.
Adding 19+19+18=56. Thus if the white 3 foot diameter chalk holes were covered by a black stone, that was moved around the circle in synch with the passage of moon cycles, the black stone would arrive at the heal stone position, on the exact day when a moon eclipse would occur. (Eclipse computer.) (S.I.D.)
How could this stone computer have been created without the precise knowledge of the celestial mechanics of this unique geographic location? Certainly this was not the work of the early tribes that lived on this Salisbury Plain, thousands of years ago.
And why could it not have been the work of the people who lived there? Why, because it would have required careful observation of the skies by primitive people, and the recognition of simple arithmetical patterns in the repetitions of astronomical events. And obviously, things like repeated observations and arithmetic were clearly beyond the abilities of “early tribes”.
But there’s also something else quite interesting in the quote above – something that demonstrates the fundamental cluelessness of the writer. The author is corect that the geographic location of stonehenge is important. If you move it 100 miles north, it doesn’t work so well anymore as an instrument of observation or prediction.
There are two ways that a location of an artifact like Stonehenge could have been selected. One is the approach that the author of the linked article takes: we believe that someone wanted an artifact that could observe and predict astronomical events; and so therefore, they computed the perfect position for making those observations. Doing that computation to select the location where the artifact should be placed would require a lot of knowledge, and some reasonably complicated math.
But there’s another way that the location could have been chosen. Suppose you have a large number of people living on a relatively small island. Astronomical events like eclipses are very important to them. There is a location on the island where the pattern of events is clearest. Go north; things become less regular. Go south, things become less regular. But at the right location, you get the strongest pattern.
Now: add in a tradition where the people who do the astronomical observations/predictions are travellers.
Will the observers notice the pattern of astronomical events? Will they notice that in a certain location, the pattern becomes most regular?
If you don’t assume that people a thousand or two years ago were stupid, of course so!
This S.I.D. (Stored Information Device) clearly displays enormous information about planet Earth’s celestial relationships with the Sun, the Moon and the rotational speed of our planet.
Yes, that’s true. Does that necessarily imply that the people who built it knew about the real structure of the solar system, and the sizes, distances, and velocities of the bodies in our solar system? No. It means that they were aware of relationships. As they point out, lunar eclipses occur in a regular pattern at this location. This fact is an implication of the relationships of the positions and motions of celestial bodies. But you don’t need to know the positions and velocities of the bodies: you need to know the observable relationships between their motions. And that is something that is easily observable.
To give a simple example of this kind of thing: There’s a right triangle whose sides have lengths 1, 2, and the square root of three. To draw a 1,2,sqrt(3) right triangle, you could start with a horizontal line 1 inch long, and then draw a vertical line whose height is sqrt(3) inches, and then draw the hypotenuse. To do this, you need to be able to compute the square root of three, which is not the easiest thing to do. You clearly need to be able to do something beyond simple arithmetic to be able to compute and measure the square root of three without using a geometric relationship. On the other hand, you could draw a horizontal line of length 1; then draw a long vertical line from its endpoint; and then take a ruler, and rotate it until the distance from the endpoint of the horizontal line to an intersection with the vertical line was 2 inches. The second way doesn’t require you to be able to compute roots.
Following the stone computer, came the erection of the 30 upright stones that formed the Sarsen Circle, 100 feet in diameter. (My question was why 30? I divided 360 degrees by 30 and discovered the number 12. The number 12 is one of the most important numbers in the Anunnaki civilization…their Pantheon consisted of the Twelve Great Anunnaki gods, they declared 12 months in one year-2 twelve hour parts of each day, they created the 12 signs of the Zodiac. These Sarsen uprights are harder than granite and weigh 25 tons each. They were quarried at Marlborough Downs using tools not locally available at that time, and then transported these huge stones over 20 miles to this site.
And now we get the trashy numerology.
Why are there twelve months in a year in pretty much every calendar we know of? Why is the number of months equal to the number of signs of the zodiac? Could it be, perhaps, that the moon goes around the earth pretty darned close to twelve times a year? You know, the moon? That thing that’s the most obvious thing in the night sky? That thing that’s perfectly correlated with the tides?
No. Not that. Couldn’t be. Must be aliens.