Monday, July 21, 2014

Stone Ships

Stone Ships – Early Burials – Bronze/Iron Age

Stone Ships
Stone ships were a kind of early burial that was used, during the bronze and iron ages, as well as during the Viking period.

Their shapes were in the form of acute oval stones circles and could have been used to frame graves that were within the sides of the ship though they could also be considered as memorials for the deceased. They could be early burial customs of the Scandinavian which are also found in Northern Germany as well as the Baltic states.

These cremation or grave burial seems to be surrounded by loosely of tightly fit stones or slabs in the outline of a ship and are found in grave areas but which are at time far away from other archaeological remains.

It is not known why the wealthy Vikings were buried in this way but there is a belief that the stone ship portrays a boat which was intended to carry the deceased to the land of the dead since they discovered bones and urns on excavation of the sites.

There are various sizes of ship setting, some of monumental proportions and the largest known stone of such likeness existed in Jelling, which was a gigantic stone ship 354 meters long and the stone ship is the oldestof its kind, the Jelling stone ship in Denmark from the Viking age.

South Mound/Gorm’s Mound

Stone Ships
In Sweden, the size range from 67 meters to a few meters and the orientation also tend to vary. They can be cobbled or filled with stones on the inside or just have raised stones in position of masts and the illusion of them being ships has been reinforced by the use of larger stones towards the end.

 Harold Bluetooth took the stone ship as his beginning point when he erected the two gigantic mounds and part of the stone ship was covered by the south Mound or Gorm’s Mound, Remaining of the oldest Jelling stone ship from the Viking age are traced here, In 1861, while excavating the South Mound, King Gorm’s grave was not discovered but various other monoliths were traced but due to the narrow galleries it seemed hard to get to know what they were like.

Monoliths Surfaced 

Stone Ships
Monoliths also appeared during the excavation of the North Mound that same year which were placed across the gallery and had to be blown away by engineers.

In 1941, another excavation was carried out on the South Mound and they decided to dig down from the top of the mound though they did not succeed in locating a grave but few of the monoliths surfaced which stood in two rows around two meters apart from each other forming an acute angle.

 Through the center of the South Mound, Harold Bluetooth’s large runic stone and the barrow in the North Mound, a line is drawn in the middle of this angle. New examinations and measurements were done in 1992 at the South Mound and it was discovered that the monoliths had been put up in two slightly curved courses,

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Plain Jars – Laos, Most Mysterious

The Plain Jars
The Plain of Jars in central Laos is one of the Southeast Asia’s most mysterious sites on Earth which is a misunderstood prehistoric place. It is shrouded in myth and mystery fascinating both archaeologist as well as scientists since its discovery in 1930s.

End numbers of large stone jars each weighing several tones, of unknown ancient originhave been found scattered around the Xieng Khouang plain in Laos forming one of the most awesome archaeological collections which appear in clusters and range from a single jar to several in number, on the lower foothills which surround the central plain and the upland valleys.

The Xieng Khouang Plateau is situated at the northern area of the Annamese Cordillera, which is the main mountain range of Indochina. Research done in early 1930 of the Plain of Jars claimed that the stone jars were associated with prehistoric burial activities.

Excavations carried out by Japanese archaeologist together with Lao in the intervening year, have also supported the interpretation with the discovery of human remains, burial goods and ceramics round the stone jars.

Fascinating Sites for Study of Southeast Asian Prehistory

The Plain Jars
The Plain of Jars date back to the Iron Age from 500 BC to 500 AD and is one of those fascinating sites for studying Southeast Asian prehistory.

 It also has the potential to enlighten on the relationship between the complex societies as well as the megalithic structures providing an understanding in the social organisation of Iron Age Southeast Asia’s communities.

There are over ninety sites within the province of Xieng Khouang with each site ranging from 1 up to 400 stone jars where the jars vary in diameter and height between 1 and 3 meters. These have been hewn out of rock and their shape is cylindrical with the bottom being wider than the top.

These stone jars are not decorated with the exception of one jar at Site 1 which has a human bas relief that has been carved on its exterior. China is drawn parallel between `frogman’ at Site 1 and the rock painting at Huashan in Guangxi. The paintings depict large full frontal humans with arms that have been raised and the knees bent which date back to 500 BC-200 BC.

Stone Markers to Mark Grave

The Plain Jars
Most of the jars have lip rims presuming that all stone jars supported lids though few stone lids have been recorded indicating that the bulk of lids could be fashioned from perishable material and hence no trace of them.

Stone lids with animal have been observed at some of the sites like Ban Phakeo while the bas relief animals are presumed to be monkeys, frogs and tigers.

The Plain Jars
Besides the stone lids there are also stone discs which have one flat side and are grave markers placed on the surface to either cover or mark a burial pit and these grave markers are found more infrequently than stone jars and in close proximity.

Besides these, there are other stone markers which are not worked upon but have been placed intentionally to mark a grave.

 Towards north of Xieng Khouang one will find an extensive network of intentionally placed largely unworked stones which mark elaborate burial pits while the chambers are known as standing stones of Huaphan. On observation it indicated that they belonged to the Bronze Age.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lost city of Dwaraka Where Sri Krishna Lived

Dwaraka City – Archaeological finding of underwater structures

Dwaraka is a city as well as a municipality of Devbhoomi Dwaraka district in Gujarat state of India and is one of the foremost Chardham four sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites. It is also one of the Sapta Puri, seven most ancient religious sites in the country.

This city is mostly identified with the Dwaraka Kingdom which was the ancient kingdom of Krishna and is believed to be the first capital of Gujarat. The lost city of Dwaraka is evidence that plasma mythology as well as electric universe catastrophe took place with further evidence that the ancient stories of awe and shock in the skies and solar systems were based on true incidents.

Archaeological discoveries have led to findings of underwater stone structures which indicated settlement during proto historic period with evidence of stone block with Gujarati script. The stone that are dressed showed that dowels had been used and on close examination of anchors that were found on the site, indicate that the harbour site dates to historical times along with the underwater structure being of late medieval period. The cause of the destruction of the ancient port could be the coastal erosion which probably took place during that time.

Dwaraka – State where Sri Krishna Lived 

Dwaraka, according to Vishnu Purana, got submerged by the sea after the death of Lord Krishna and was regarded as a great metaphor and a part of a story which was accompanied with great myths.

 Towards early eighties, an important archaeological site was discovered at Dwaraka, in India which was the legendary site of Lord Krishna. Recent discovery has led to believe that the whole coast of western India sank by about 40 feet around 1500 BC.

The earliest historical record of the lost city dates back 574 AD and occurred in the Palitana Plates of Samanta Simhaditya while the inscription is referred to Dwaraka being the capital of the western coast of Saurashtra, the important state in which Sri Krishna lived.

Archaeological Discoveries by Dr. Rao 

Recent archaeological discoveries by the pioneering team which was led by Dr. S. R, Rao, are the structures found under the sea bed off the coast of Dwaraka in Gujarat.

Dr. Rao, one of India’s respected archaeologists and an emeritus scientist at the marine archaeology unit of the National Institute of Oceanography, had excavated a large number of Harappan sites inclusive of the port city of Lothal in Gujarat.

The archaeological site discovered underwater at the Bay of Combat near Dwaraka dates back to 7500 BC and the oldest sites of ancient civilization.

The excavation done by Dr. S. R, Rao at Dwaraka site indicate that the descriptions that are found in the texts are not to be regarded as fanciful but to be treated as true events as seen by the authors.

The architecture of the old Dwaraka city of Shri Krishna is also considered to be majestic and amazing and this wonderful discovery has perplexed all those who had been speculating over the years that Vedas and Puranas were products of imagination and not just mythical stories.

Dwarkadhish Temple/Island of Bet Dwaraka

From all the temples at Dwaraka, which have been dedicated to Lord Krishna, two are of importance here, the first being the majestic and huge Dwarkadhish Temple also known as Jagatmandir and its sanctum also known as Nijmandira which has a shikhara of its own.

 It belongs to the 12th-13th century AD while the grand edifice inclusive of the five storeyed mahamadapa stands on 72 carved pillars belongs to the 15th century AD. The second is the `island of Bet Dwaraka’, which is said to be the pleasure resort of Krishna where his consorts Satyabhama and Jambavati seemed to have resided here.

Besides this, the island is also known as Sankhodhar or Sankoddhara due to the large quantity of conch shell found in this place. There is also a story behind this in the Padma Purana, where Sankodhara made attempts to steal or destroy the Vedas wherein Vishnu intending to kill him took the form of a fish. The Gargya Samhita on the other hand has a different version regarding Sankhodhara.

 Dwaraka earlier, according to mythology, had been known as Kushasthali which had been abandoned by King Revata after the town had been attacked repeatedly and when Revata returned he had found Kushasthali who had settled by the Yadava in what is known as Dwaraka. King Revata later on married his daughter to Balarama.

Mythology and History 

Mythology and history are intertwined so deeply in Hindi epics such as the Mahabharata, the Puranas and the Ramayana that it tends to get difficult in identifying fact from fiction. Mahabharata is called history or itihaasa and while most scholars tend to agree that the incidents related in the Mahabharata or the Ramayana are based on historical or factual, there is a lot of speculation over the extend of the details and additions that could have taken place over the years.

For instance, Mahabharata relates that a billion people had died in the war at Kurukshetra, which could be an exaggeration on the number which conveys the huge loss of lifethat occurred within the eighteen days of battle at Kurukshetra while on the other hands, scholars are speculating that the modern day towns and places like Kurukshetra, Indraprastha, Mathura etc. seem to be the same as those mentioned in Mahabharata.

The city of Dwaraka which was founded by Shri Krishna and whose destruction he foresaw remained submerged for many years. Krishna was responsible in influencing the course and evolution of Hinduism more than Rama and it is natural to expect sociologist, archaeologist and historian together with religious scholars to take deep interest in this town and its history.

Underwater Cultural Heritages Needs Protection 

Recently more than two hundred experts from around eighty four countries had gathered under the aegis of UNESCO in Paris and examined a draft convention on the submerged city and unanimously agreed that the underwater cultural heritages needed protection from destruction as well as pillaging in Dwaraka. Krishna had built a mighty empire on a site which was selected for him by Vishnu’s learned `vahan’, Garud where the city he built was supposed to have extended over 104 kms.

The city was surrounded by a moat and well-fortified, spanned by bridges which were removed when attacked by enemies. Archaeological excavations have discovered artifacts which indicate that modern Dwaraka is the sixth settlement on this site while the earlier cities at various times had been washed by the sea.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Saturn Theory Else Saturn Configuration

Saturn Theory – Saturn Model/Saturn Myth/Saturn Configuration

 Saturn Configuration
The Saturn theory, also known as Saturn Model, Saturn Myth as well as Saturn Configuration, besides presenting a comprehensive example of ancient myth also offers different approach to understand the recent history of the solar system.

 The theory indicates that the neighbouring planets had settled only recently into their present orbits where the earth had previously been involved in a planetary configuration of different sorts along with Saturn, Venus and Mars.

Saturn Theory
It is an idea which is based on comparative mythology that the Earth had been in close proximity or even a satellite of the planet Saturn that seemed like a sun, though this idea met up with several criticisms on political as well as mythological grounds.

Several researchers suggested that according to mythology, Saturn could at times be referred to as a night sun and could have gone through a nova like phase.

It is claimed that Immanuel Velikovsky who theorizedthe solar system’s configuration found it different in human history that was recorded into various myths though he was not the first one to come up with these theories but just the first to make a start.

Ancient Worship – Saturn, Lord of the Sky

Polar Configuration
With regards to the solar system, it is certain that it did not look the same always and it became an indisputable fact.

 The planets Mars and Earth have similar axial tilt to Saturn and Neptune and the Greeks seemed to be aware of the Saturn’s rings though the telescope was not invented for centuries, Saturn was emphasized as being the lord of the sky in ancient worship even though Saturn was a slow moving pin point of light which was of less impressive nature when compared to Venus and Jupiter.

The words Sol and Helios were used to refer to Saturn. Saturn is a winged disc and there isvarious winged disc imagery, like the sun boat arch which looks more like a crescent one would see on a planet, moon phase.

The Nebra sky disk has additional ark which seem like Saturn’s rings. There are several myths related to celestial catastrophe like a rainbow which is seen in the sky after the rain.

Morning/Evening Star Myths

Saturn Theory
Besides, the morning star and the evening star myths were the two suns and not two phases of the planet Venus and the Sumerians related them to Enlil and Ea and when they went down they were referred to a big, though dim lighted star called Nibiru.

Saturn theorist thought there was a polar configuration because the sun was described as rising and setting in the same place and the Sumerian made it sound like a big star that crossed the sky.

Evening Star

It is also believed according to the ancients that Saturn ruled the sky at some point of time in the distant past.

There are also other stories like, Christmas is the remnant of the ancient Saturnalia festivals and one can find evidence that Helios and Kronos are one and the same and that Helios or sun was the name that was given to Saturn in the past.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cheomseongdae – Stone Astronomical Observatory

Cheomseongdae is a stone astronomical observatory in Gyeongju in South Korea which means star gazing tower in Korean. It is the oldest surviving observatory in East Asia which dates back to the 7th century during the time of the Kingdom of Silla with its capital in Gyeongju.

The Korean government designated Cheomseongdae as the country’s 31st national treasures of South Korea, on 20th December, 1962. It is also seen as symbols on Korean coins and in travel literature. From early history, Koreans were known for their fascination with the stars and believed that influences from the stars could dictate the happenings in the universe, society, history as well as the life of a person.

This view originated from China, who considered that the heavenly bodies determined the course of people’s live and history and the difference between astronomy and astrology is at times not clear. Inspite of this, the Korean’s interest in nature and the movement of the heavenly bodies for over 2000 year, has given rise to a large amount of astronomical knowledge.

And the Cheomseongdae had become a fitting national symbol since the observatory represents the Korean’s quest for scientific as well as philosophical knowledge. According to some scholars, they were of the opinion that Cheomseongdae’s design was influenced by Buddisim due to the similarities in its design with that of Mount Sumeru, the centre of the world, according to the Buddhist mythology.

Cylindrical in Shape, Resembling the Upper Part of a Milk Bottle

Cheomseongda is 5.7 metres wide at the base, 9.4 tall and cylindrical in shape, resembling the upper part of a milk bottle. Half way up the structure, an opening is constructed and it is presumed that the astronomer gained entry into the tower through this opening with the use of a ladder.

Presently the upkeep of the tower is not maintained and dirt has filled the tower to the opening level. Archaeologists were of the belief that the star gazer would reach the top of the structure through another ladder from inside. There are eight rectangular stones, eight by six feet, resting on top of the tower, which are positioned to form two squares.

From the opening inside the tower, are two sets of stone bars positioned parallel to the top of the opening which according to the archaeologists supported the stairway to the top.

Constructed out of 362 Cut Granite

The tower was constructed out of 362 pieces of cut granite which represented the 362 days of the lunar year. The window area was framed with three stone tiers which made a total of twenty seven circular layers of stones. Cheomseongdae was constructed by Silla engineers in 647 CE in honour of the Queen Seondeok who was the 27th ruler of Silla.

 Twelve of the layers were placed below the window level while twelve were placed above where some debated that those twelve tiers represented the twelve signs of the Korean zodiac or the twelve months of the year. Besides these, there were twelve large base stone which were set in a square along with three stones on each side which represented the twelve months of the year along with the four seasons.