Monday, September 1, 2014

Gog Magog

Gog and Magog – Prophesied Imposter of Israel

Gog Magog
Gog and Magog according to Hebrew Bible is the prophesied imposter of Israel and the land from where he comes or in the Christian Scriptures – New Testament, evil forces against the people of God. Though the reference to Gog and Magog in biblical reference is quite less, it holds an importance place in apocalyptic literature as well as medieval legend which are also discussed in the Quran.

Gog is considered as a descendant of the prophet Joel in 1 Chronicles 5:4 and in Ezekiel 38-39 wherein he is the chief prince of the tribes of Meshech and Tubal in the land of Magog. He has been appointed by God to conquer the land of Israel and Gog with his entire army and with great coalition of forces from all across the world will invade Israel `like a cloud covering the earth, and plunder and rob the cities. However, God will send dreadful calamities which would destroy Gog as well as his forces and this defeat of Gog will portray the greatness and the holiness of God, restoring good relations between God and his people.

The names of Gog and Magog are related to evil forces, in the book of Revelation to John, who will join with Satan in the great struggle at the end times. After Satan is taken captive and bound with chains for 1,000 years, he will be released and rise against God and go about deceiving the nations of the world.

Jewish Historian Claim Gog and Magog as Scythians

Gog Magog
Gog and Magog would be gathering a great numbers to attack the saints and the city of Jerusalem, a city which God loves very much. God will then send fire from heaven to destroy them and then the Last Judgement will take place where the whole of mankind will be judged and rewarded or punished according to their performances of their lives on earth.

Modern scholars have identified Gog with Gyges, which is a 7th century BC king of Lydia and along with Akkadian god Gaga it has been debated that the name Magog has been derived from Akkadian word which means the land of Gyges. The Jewish historian, Josephus, in the first century BC, claimed that Gog and Magog were Scythians who were held to be Huns in the fifth and sixth century and were equated with the Magyars in the tenth century with the whole of the Muslim world led by Muhammad and Saladin during the Middle Age.

Identified with Ten Lost Tribes of Israel

Gog Magog
They were also identified with the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel in both Jewish as well as Christian apocalyptic writings and other works.Gog and Magog, in the medieval legends of Antichrist and the Last Emperor, were supporters of the armies of Satan and in several prophetic texts; Gog and Magog were active in the persecutions carried out by Antichrist, preceded Antichrist as an indication of his coming following the defeat of Antichrist in the struggle before the Last Judgement.

According to a Calabrian abbot and theologian, Joachim of Fiore, Gog is considered as the final antichrist and in his view, Gog will be coming prior to the Last Judgement but only after the earlier antichrist is defeated and a period of millennial peace prevails.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Brahmi Script – Modern Name to Oldest Writing

Brahmi Script
Brahmi is a modern name which is given to one of the oldest writing that had been used in the Indian subcontinent as well as in Asia at the time of the last centuries BCE and the early centuries CE. It represented some of the earliest post Indus corpus of texts together with some of the early historical inscriptions which were found in India and was the ancestor to many of the scripts which were found in South, Southeast and East Asia.

Tamil Script
Some of the best known Brahmi inscriptions are the rock cut edicts of Ashoka found in north central India which dates back to 250 – 232 BCE deciphered by archaeologist, philologist and official of the East India Company, James Prinsep, in 1837. Much debate has been going on about the origin of the script with current Western academic opinion generally agreeing that the Brahmi was the result from or at least influenced by one or several contemporary Semitic scripts though current opinion in India preferred the idea that it was connected to the older and yet to be deciphered Indus script.

The script appeared by the 5th century BCE in India and several local variants in the early texts indicated that its origin was way back in time and that there were several theories based on the origin of the Brahmi script.

Different Theories on Brahmi

Brahmi Script
The first theory was that Brahmi has a West Semitic origin and the symbol for ‘a’for instance resembles Semitic letter `alif’. So also `dha, tha, la’ and `ra’ also appear more or less close to their Semitic counterparts.

Another theory proposes a Southern Semitic origin and the third theory holds that the Brahmi script was from Indus script.The 5th century of the Gupta script is at times called `late Brahmi’, which is diversified into various local variants and have been classified as the Brahmic scripts. Several of the modern scripts that have been used across South Asia have come from Brahmi which has made it one of the world’s influential traditions in writing.

 Some of the earliest Ashoka inscriptions were found all over India besides the Kharoshti writing in northwest which are highly uniform. Regional variants had begun to develop towards the late 3rd century because of the difference in the material used for writing as well as to the structures of the language that was used. 

Brahmi Written from Left to Right

Tamil Script
In South India, the earliest evidence of Brahmi script is from Bhattiprolu in Andhra Pradhes which was written on an urn containing Buddhist relics probably in Prakrit and old Telegu where twenty three letters were identified.

While letters like ga and sa seems same to Mauryan Brahmi, bha and da resemble the modern Telugu script. It is observed that Brahmi is written from left to right and is an abugida which means that each of the letters represents a consonant and the vowels are often written with obligatory diacritics known as matras in Sanskrit except whenever the vowel begins with a word.

 Whenever no vowel is written the /a/ vowel is understood and this default short a” is a characteristic which is shared with Kharoshthi though the vowels may differ in other respects. Vowels which follow a consonant are written or are inherent by diacritics though initial vowels tend to have dedicated letters. The three vowels in Brahmi are /a/, /i/, /u/ and long vowels come from the letters for short vowels though there are only five vowels diacritics as short /a/ is comprehended if no vowel is written.

Special Conjunct Consonants Used

Indus Script
Special conjunct consonants are also used to write consonant clusters like /pr/ or /rv/ and in modern Devanagari, the components of a conjunct is written from left to right whenever possible, while in Brahmi, the characters seems to be joined vertically downwards.It has been observed that the basic system of vowels are common to Brahmi and Kharosthi wherein every consonant is understood, followed by a vowel and this was well suited to Prakrit though Brahmi adapted other languages, a special notation known as the `virama’ was introduced to mark the omission of the final vowel.

During the early Brahmi period, the punctuation marks was not very popular and letter had to be written independently with some space between edicts and words at times. During the middle era, the system seemed to be progressing and the use of a dash together with a curved horizontal line was found while a flower mark was considered to mark the end and a circular mark indicated a full stop with varieties of full stop.

Towards the later period, the system of inter-punctuation marks got somewhat complicated, where for instance, there are four types of vertically slanted double dashes which resemble `//’ to mark the end of the composition. The signs remain a bit simple in the inscription inspite of all the decorative signs which were available at the time of the late period.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation Bias
Confirmation Bias – Cognitive/Tendency to Search/Interpret

Confirmation bias, also known as `myside bias’ is a kind of cognitive bias or tendency to search for, or interpret information which confirms the previous existing beliefs or hypotheses. This bias is displayed when people collect or recall information selectively or when they interpret the information in a biased manner and this effect is much stronger in emotionally charged issues as well as deeply affected beliefs.

For instance if a person is of the belief that left handed people are likely to be more creative than right handed people and when they encounter these individuals, they tend to place more importance on this piece of evidence which supports their already existing belief. Confirmation biases also have an impact on how people obtain information though they also influence how it is interpreted and remember information.

It is human tendency that when people who support or oppose a given issue will seek our information which may support their belief, while they will also tend to interpret and weave new stories which would in a way support their existing belief as well as remember other things which further reinforces these attitudes. The impact is stronger for emotionally charged matters and deeply established position.

Impacts – Process of Information

Confirmation Bias
Confirmation biases are impacts in the process of information which may differ from the behavioral confirmation effects also known as self-fulfilling prophecy, wherein behavior that tends to get influenced by expectation may result in the expectations to be true.

Confirmation bias is often used by some psychologist in referring to the tendency to refrain from rejecting beliefs while looking for evidence and interpreting or recalling them from memory while others restrict the term to certain collection of evidence.

It takes place when individual seek out potentially useful opinions and facts which do not coincide with their preconceived beliefs that tends to affect their perceptions as well as decisions in in all respects of lives causing less than an optimal choice. It would be helpful in seeking people and publication of varied opinions, than our own in overcoming confirmation bias withwell informed decisions.

Wishful Thinking – Limited Human Capacity

Series of researches conduction in the 1960s indicated that people were biased in confirming their existing beliefs and later re-interpreted that these results as tendencies to test ideas in one sided track focusing on one possibility while overlooking the alternatives and in some it can bias people’s conclusions.

 For the observed biases, the explanations would include wishful thinking accompanied with limited human capacity in processing information while another explanation indicates that people show confirmation bias since they are weighed up of being wrong instead of investigating in a scientific and neutral manner. It could also contribute to over confidence in personal beliefs which would strengthen beliefs with regards to contrary evidence.

Due to these decisions, poor decisions have been found in organizational and political sectors. Confirmation bias could also create problems for investors while researching an investment, they may tend to look for information which would support their beliefs on investment and overlook information which would present a better insight.

The outcome would be a one sided view of the situation and thus cause investors in making poor decision in their choice of investments of buying or selling options.

The Twelve Labours of Hercules

The Twelve Labours of Hercules
Labours of Hercules – Greatest Hero of Greek Mythology

Hercules was the strongest man on the earth and the greatest of all heroes in Greek mythology. He had tremendous physical strength, great self-confidence and considered himself to be equal to the gods. Called by the Greeks as Heracles, he was not blessed with much intelligence but his bravery made up for the lack of it.

He would get easily angered with sudden outburst of rage which often affected the innocent people and when his anger would die down, he would be filled with sorrow and guilt for his offences and would be ready to make up for it by accepting any form of punishment for his misdeeds. Hercules was the son of Zeus and Alcmena, the wife of Amphitryon who was a distinguished Greek warrior and heir to the throne of Tiryns.

While her husband was away, one night Zeus disguised as her husband took advantage of her. When Amphitryon returned the next day and did not seem to remember anything about the previous night, Alcmena seemed concerned and consulted the blind prophet Tiresias who informed them that Alcmena would conceive a son from Zeus who would become a great hero. Alcmena later on bore twin boys, Hercules, the son of Zeus and Iphicles, the son of Amphitryon.

Grief/Guilt – Atonement for His Guilt

When the goddess Hera came to know that Zeus had fathered Hercules, she was very furious and being fiercely jealous of Zeus lovers as well as his children, she would harm them mercilessly. She tried to kill Hercules one night by placing two poisonous snakes in his crib but Hera was not successful in her plan since Hercules had grabbed the snakes and strangled them.

Hera continued to torment Hercules who faced many events leading him to great suffering and punishment. Hercules, while he was still young, fought the Minyans, a people who had been forcing Thebes to pay tribute and he conquered them. As a reward, the king of Thebes gave him his daughter, Megara in marriage and Hercules was very devoted to her and his children that she bore him. It was one of those days while he returned home from a journey, that Hera attacked him with a fit of madness in which he killed his children and his wife.

 When he realised his mistake, Hercules was filled with grief and guilt and went to the oracle at Delphi for atonement of his guilt who in turn told him to go to King Eurystheus of Tiryns and accept any punishments given to him. Moreover, the oracle also informed him that if the tasks would be completed, he would become immortal.

The Twelve Labours of Hercules 

The King gave Hercules a series of twelve difficult as well as dangerous tasks to perform which were known as the Twelve Labours of Hercules and his most famous feats.

Hercules and Nemean Lion
His first task was to kill the Nemean Lion, a monstrous beast which terrorized the countryside and which no weapon could kill it. Hercules strangled the beast with his bare hands and made its skin into a cloak.

 Hercules and Lernaean Hydra
His second task was to kill the Lernaean Hydra, a creature having nine heads which lived in a swamp and one of its head was immortal while the others grew back when cut off. Hercules with the aid of his friend Iolaus, cut off the beast’s all eight heads and burnt each would which prevented new heads growing back and since he could not cut off the ninth head, he buried the creature under a mighty rock.

Hercules and Cerynean Hind
The third task was to capture the Cerynean Hind, a golden horned deer which was sacred to the goddess Artemis. Hunting the animal for a year, Hercules managed to trap it and as he was taking it to Tiryns; Artemis prevented him, demanding that he return the deer. Hercules on promising her that the sacred deer would meet no harm was permitted to continue his journey.

Hercules and Erymanthian Boar
The fourth task was to seize the Erymanthian Boar, a monstrous animal which ravaged the land surrounding Mount Eryman-thus. Hercules after forcing the animal from its lair chased it until it became exhausted that he managed to catch it with ease.

The fifth task was to clean the Augean Stables in a day and King Augeas, the son of the sun god Helios had many herds of cattle where the stables had not been cleaned for several years. Hercules managed this task by diverting rivers through the filthy stables.

The sixth task involved driving the Stymphalian Birds, which were a flock of birds with claws, beaks and wings of iron which ate humans and were frightening the countryside. Hercules with the help of goddess Athena forced the birds from their nest and shot them with his bow and arrow.

The seventh task was to capture the Cretan Bull which was kept by King Minos of Crete that was said to be insane and would breathe fire. Hercules wrestled with the insane beast bringing it to the ground and brought it back to King Eurystheus but the king set it free and it roamed in Greece causing a lot of terror wherever it went.

capture the Mares of Diomedes
The eighth task was to capture the Mares of Diomedes, a herd of horses which belonged to King Diomedes of Thrace which ate humans. Hercules completed this task by killing Diomedes and let the mares feed on his flesh. Thereafter he tamed the horses and brought them back to Eurystheus.

 Girdle of Hippolyte
The ninth task was to obtain the Girdle of Hippolyte, the queen of the Amazons who greeted Hercules warmly and was prepared to give him the girdle. Hera here caused trouble by making the Amazons think that Hercules had plans to kidnap the queen. They attacked and Hercules killed the queen taking the girdle with him.

The tenth task was to capture the Cattle of Geryon, a monster with three bodies which lived in the far west of the island Erythia. After following a difficult journey by sea and through the desert, Hercules managed to kill Geryon, a herdsman and a big guard dog. He then took the cattle and returned with them to Tiryns.

The eleventh labour was to bring back the golden Apples of the Hesperides, a group of nymphs which lived in the far west and Hercules sought help from Hesperides’ father, the giant Atlas who held up the sky. He offered to take the place of Atlas under the sky in exchange to get the apples from his daughters and Atlas agreed and brought the apples though he refused to take back the sky. Hercules requested Atlas to hold the sky for only a moment to get a pad to ease the burden on his shoulder to which Atlas agreed. No sooner Atlas took the sky back; Hercules grabbed the apples and fled away.

The twelfth and the final task of Hercules was one of the most difficult and dangerous one. He had to go down to the kingdom of Hades and capture Cerberus, the fierce three headed dog which guarded the gates to the underworld. Hades informed Hercules that he could take Cerberus without the use of any weapons to overcome the beast and he wrestled Cerberus into submission or gave him drugged food and thus carried him to Eurystheus.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Phantom Time Hypothesis

Phantom Time Hypothesis – A Revisionist History & Conspiracy Theory

Phantom time hypothesis is a revisionist history and conspiracy theory developed in the years 1980 and 1990 by Heribert Illig, German historian and publisher which states that European history from 614 to 911 is a forgery by the Roman Catholic Church.

The theory was suggested by him in 1991 which was expanded by the other theorists. The theory proposes that the period of history that of Europe during the Early Middle Ages which is also known as the Dark Age was either dated wrongly or it did not take place at all and that there has been a systematic way to cover up the fact. Illig’s belief was that this was achieved by way of alteration, forgery and misrepresentation of documentary as well as physical evidence.

The original claim behind the theory was that when the Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582, there was difference between it and the old Julian calendar had a defect wherein the Julian year was roughly 11 minutes too long and the new calendar was created to correct the discrepancy, making up for 10 days which had gradually slipped through the years between 1 – 1582 AD. According to Illig, the Julian calendar should have showed a discrepancy of 13 days rather than 10 days over the span of time and it was his conclusion that roughly, three centuries could have been added to the calendar which had never existed.

Carolingian & Luminous figure of Charlemagne

Phantom time hypothesis
He was keen to run with the notion of the slackcalendar and gather more evidence. The only period to trace through was the most obscure one, the Dark Ages. Architectural historians and byzantinists were the ones who were responsible in giving us the period from C 600 -900 from which nothing is known about urban or cultural development.

This has given rise to debates regarding this issue. The Carolingian and the luminous figure of Charlemagne herehad reigned from 768 to 814 and Illig focuses on the polymath qualities of Charlemagne which is recorded in several texts making him an architect, astronomer, philologist, educator, folklorist, lawmaker and much more.

According to Illig, the conclusion was simple and far too much to be ascribed to one person. Illig also claimed that archaeological discoveries which are reliably dated to the era of 7th-10th centuries were scarce and debated that Romanesque architecture could not have come as late as five centuries after the downfall of the Roman Empire which took place in the 5th century AD.

Byzantine Empire – Extensive Government Reform

Phantom time hypothesis
His conclusion was that the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III conspired with Pope Sylvester II to invent the entire Carolingian dynasty which included Charlemagne. His purpose was to support Otto’s royal claims while at the same time to prolong the Christian traditions and claim superiority over the emerging Islam. However no attempts were documented to synchronize this theory with alternative calendars like the Chinese calendar or the Islamic calendar.

Dr Hans-Ulrich Niemitz , fellow historian colleague of Illig and Phantom Time Hypothesis believer stated in a 1995 research document, various examples of evidence which according to him proved that 614 to 917 AD never occurred and the Chapel of Aachen probably built in 800 AD had architecture which were identical to chapels which were constructed over 200 years thereafter. The Byzantine Empire at that time went through extensive government reform though no historical evidence exists with regards to the assumed reform of this period.