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Ancient Navigators

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« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2007, 01:25:29 pm »

Wise Navigating Through Change: A Meditative Perspective by Steven Smith

A Talk at a September 1998 Mindfulness Retreat, Fetzer Institute, Kalamazoo, Michigan

One of the very profound understandings that unfold in mindfulness practice, through direct connection with our experience, is the understanding of change; that all of life is nothing but change.
We may learn how to cope with changing experience, changing circumstances. But coping is often not as deep as the empowerment and liberation we truly seek. Coping is not the same as unqualified and unconditional peace, which is not dependent on external circumstance and which arises precisely because of our ability to see that there is only change. So we practice mindfulness to make our minds wide, like a valley.
Being born and raised in the Hawaiian Islands, I have been deeply inspired and spiritually shaped by the immense valleys flowing dramatically from the sea to mountain summit. Bioregional land divisions in ancient Hawai'i, known as ahupua'a, were often bordered by ocean, streams, gulches, valleys. They ran from shore to mountain ridge rich in life-sustaining biota. Ancient Hawaiians living within an ahupua'a were caretakers of the abundant ocean and freshwater stream resources, lowland crops such as sweet potatoes, coconut, banana and irrigated taro terraces. Hala trees provided kapa cloth and thatch, and from milo and kou trees were crafted calabashes, cups and platters. Up the valleys were lush upland gardens, and rising to cloud-line slopes were koa tree forests for canoes, mamane for tools and toys, ohi'a for house posts, spears and gunwales of canoes. Highland herbs and shrubs such as the ohelo berry, sacred to the goddess Pele topped off the cornucopia of hunting and gathering resources. Standing before the serene expanse of a valley ahupua'a, a profound sense of interconnectedness and oneness with the land arises. One stands before the whole world on this island universe.
In the seventies and eighties, between practicing meditation in Burma and teaching retreats, I spent time exploring the rural reaches of the Hawaiian Islands with an archaeologist friend. I came to deeply appreciate and respect the extraordinary knowledge of the land and sea of ancient Polynesians. Shaman-like navigators guided the first people here. Such skills of the sea were nearly lost, when in the late sixties a resurgence of interest was seeded in Micronesia. A man named Mau Piailug, who learned the ways of ancient navigation from his ancestors, appeared on the Polynesian renaissance horizon. He had the old knowledge of how to sail without instruments through the vast blue wilderness of the Pacific, the largest wilderness on the planet. He could access knowledge of how to be in the midst of all things with a balanced mind, using all the senses, including intuition. So through him, Hawaiians began to renew the great art of non-instrument navigation and provide a better mapping of the great Polynesian migrations. In 1976 Hawaiians sailed the first reconstructed traditional double-hulled sailing canoe in 600 years from Hawaii down to the Marquesas Islands and back. They have continued to sail this way on voyages of rediscovery, both on the great seas and further, an inner journey.
One of the great navigation students of our time is a Hawaiian man, Nainoa Thompson. Nainoa has made the study and understanding of the ancient navigators, the migration of Polynesians and environmental education a significant part of his life. He has studied extensively with the navigator Mau Piailug. It is hard to comprehend how they do this, but there are parallels with the modern concept of chaos theory, the understanding that behind turbulent systems there are patterns, natural rhythms to the universe. This is what these ancient shaman-navigators discerned, because they were in the midst of nothing but change, only change; massive, turbulent systems of cloud formations, storm systems, ocean swells, currents, and wind patterns. They learned the language of the elements, which provided them a map of where they were in the midst of change. Attuned to and one with the naked elements of nature, they sailed for centuries somewhere between their homelands and the extraordinary discoveries of new islands in the sea.
These ancient metaphors are not extinct by any means, literally or figuratively, but have powerful modern applications. They teach us how to navigate through the storms of life. These navigators saw the stars in a unique way, as cycles, points of light in migration across the cosmos from east to west, mirrored in the map of the mind. The starry sky is not experienced conceptually as "out there" or "up there;" the attuned navigator experiences his or her visual field as right here, as an extension of mind. The wayfarer of the sea is not separate from the universe, rather at one with it and in a seamless dynamic interconnectedness with it.
When the old navigators couldn't see the current of stars for the storms, they would rely on their perception of other currents; cloud currents, wind currents, sea currents. The whole world is a flow of currents. The great Pacific Ocean is nothing but changing currents, prevailing and contra-currents. Masking the currents is a seeming chaos of waves. A dominant ocean swell generated from storms and trade winds thousands of miles distant can be masked by surface waves created by local variable wind conditions. The skilled navigator can read by the shape of the swell the nature, direction and strength of the current beneath it. There can be a half dozen simultaneous, multidirectional waves and swells creating a chaotic system which these navigators read as a language of symmetry and balance, as the pattern or the story of that seascape. Seaweed flowing down current, floating driftwood carried along by a wind current, were clear direction finders for land. A "shadow" pattern left by an ocean swell wrapping aroud an island is imprinted with a map of the island's location. Thermal air currents rising above an island creates a particular kind of cloud pack. Sun and moon light bouncing off island lagoons and green forests reflecting on the belly of clouds are a compass to a distant island. It is said that some wizard navigators could tell by the taste and scent of the sea and the feel of the current what island group they were near. Think of the possibility of navigating through life by attuning to our own senses, the currents of our life. Nainoa once shared with me his experience of the first time he was doing a solo navigation. He and his crew were caught in a severe storm. The navigator is the guiding light of the sailing canoe. His presence, his strength, and his knowledge are the source of inspiration, energy, and dedication for the crew. Nainoa said that, lost in this storm, in the darkness of night, he was unable to see the moon, the cycles of stars, of clouds, or sense the currents. It was all wildness and chaos. He could not discern the language of these mixed, wild currents. He could only turn within. All he had now was his intuition. He tried hard to feel where he was, where the moon was.
What Hawaiians call piko or center of being is located at the navel. It is here one finds focus, finds his or her sense of place. The navigator can locate the canoe at the piko and find strength and direction. One who attunes mindfully to the silence within can "see" and understand where they are and which direction they need to go.
Nainoa on his first solo was trying, struggling, but he was unable to connect with his intuitive knowledge, his center of being. He felt frustrated and entrapped, that he was letting his crew down. They were wearing wet weather gear that kept them dry but not warm. He said that as he kept trying to figure out where he was, he just came to the end of his strength, and, finally exhausted, he went back to the stern of the canoe. He propped his elbows up on the gunnel and put up the hood of his wet weather gear, so that his crew couldn't see him. He held himself up to sustain the presence and inspiration, but inside he collapsed. His eyes closed. He said he completely let go of trying to know anything. "And then," he said, "I don't know how this happened, all of a sudden, I just knew." The young navigator felt right in the center of things, right in the center of this storm. And he knew where the moon was. Sure, sudden and clear this knowledge arose from his depths. From his intuitive knowledge of the canoe's celestial-oceanic position, he guided their course in the correct direction.
Just completely letting go and trusting--this is a great, generous part of our practice. It comes out of mindfulness, being able to be in the midst of what is happening. This is a way to be with change, not to avoid it. The opposite is the reactive mind, grasping to "get it," grasping to know, grasping to have. Or, the opposite, pushing away, avoiding, rejecting, denying. We practice to learn this ability to be right in the center of things, in a place of calm, a place of strength like these ancient navigators. We all have the capacity to access timeless wisdom, the indigenous mind that resides within us. We discover a powerful sense of place, the center of our being. It is just long forgotten, unpracticed, unexercised. This is the place we long to live from, not from the brain or intellect.
When we start to develop mindfulness, we are able to extend the sense of our domain beyond the seeming limitations of our body, of our immediate space. Try to understand that for most of human history, we have lived in larger spaces, like the ahupua’a, wide valleys that occupy great physical space. We have the capacity to hear, see, smell, and taste and to know intuitively. We lived as communities. And it has been only a very short time that we have cut ourselves off from that, that we have lived in little separate boxes and have a very narrow sense of our mission and ourselves. We all still long for that connection. We all still yearn to have that more expansive sense of belonging and anchoring, spaciousness and connectedness.
It is not that difficult to create. In the meditation retreats, we create a sacred space, and the longer we abide in it, the more those old powerful urges and natural states of being emerge in us. And we begin to understand the nature of things and of change on a refined and profound level.
Everything is in continuous change. Not for a moment does the body or mind stay the same. The velocity with which things appear and disappear gives the illusion of permanence and continuity, but really it is all breaking up moment to moment. When we are quiet enough to see, feel, and hear the real universe, we experience this change. The direct, intuitive understanding of this ever-changing, process nature of life gradually loosens our grasping to life and circumstance; one feels a profound sense of release and deep interconnectedness with the universe. Such understanding reveals the truth of things and with it comes clarity of mind, and compassion of heart. There is nothing to do. This is what happens in moments where we see things as they are. When we connect deeply with the momentary nature of all things, we expand our capacity to deal with changing circumstances in our lives.
Intellectually, we know the conditions of change--the earth moving around the sun, the seasons, day and night. But when we look closely and glimpse the ephemeral nature of momentary change, then we expand our capacity for receiving sudden, unexpected change in our lives and our ability to be in the midst of that, not be swept away by it, not reactive, not be caught by it. In fact, we learn to use the force of change as a launching force--a trajectory toward a new, unknown direction or being right where we are, but in a new marvelously mysterious way. We cultivate a readiness for the unknown.
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« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2007, 01:26:17 pm »

“The Sky Could Send You”

Tonight in the shadow of alien green,

The dark around us breathing,

A man points out the obvious

Stars. I stand beside him under the cosmic mess.

Clutter, I whisper, you could connect anything

Join any dots to form a dipper or belt.

My eyes cannot find any cluster twice.

It is very clear, the man beside me is saying,

But I am lost. I see nothing.

Night looks like a broken thing,

As though an enormous lamp had shattered

Scattering pieces of itself throughout the dark.

Oh how I have wanted things to be clear:

Love, promises, the random dark.

Beneath the curved horn of a dead moon

I think, listen to him, watch, this might be faith,

That the names name. This might be hope

Or delusion, and maybe I do see the beginnings

Of a handle, there, just there,

Where the lights are slightly brighter.

Donna Masini
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« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2007, 01:27:09 pm »

Pytheas: The Explorer (330 B.C.)
By John B. Farmakides

In 1893, Sir Clement Markham, the noted British historian, published an article entitled "Pytheas, the Discoverer of Britain." The article attracted world-wide interest because, based on ancient writings, it claimed that a Greek navigator from the colony of Massalia (today's Marseilles) had circumnavigated Britain in the Fourth Century B.C., had "traveled all over it on foot" and had written a detailed account of his travels. Furthermore, Pytheas reported sailing northwest of the British Isles for six days until "an ocean of slush ice and fog so thick one could not sail through" forced him to turn back. During those six days, aided by the west-flowing off shore currents, could he have gone beyond Iceland to the shores of Greenland? During the reign of Alexander the Great?

Contrary to the stories told during the dark ages, the doctrine of a spherical earth was common knowledge among the educated Greeks of the time of Pytheas; and even earlier, among the Babylonians. Around 532 BC, Pythagoras was one of the first to record that both the earth and its universe are spherical in shape. Later Aristotle, during the time of Pytheas, stated that the earth's mass is spherical in shape and pointed out: "... those mathematicians who try to compute the circumference of the Earth say that it is about 400,000 stadia."

Polybius, a Greek historian writing a century after Pytheas, noted that Pytheas, not a wealthy man, must have depended on the patronage of a wealthy Greek merchant to acquire, outfit and provision his ship. That merchant was undoubtedly interested in tin ("kassiteros" in Greek) which, when blended with copper, produced the highly prized and valuable "bronze:" the metal of choice in those years. Used to make all types of tools, coins and ornaments, it was especially prized for the production of effective weapons that were highly prized by foot soldiers and their leaders.

For centuries, the Kasiterides Islands (British Isles) were well known to the Phoenicians as a principal source of tin. Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian (484-425BC) had reported that their boats sailed through the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar), then north along the coast of Gaut to an area now known as Cornwall, England. Pytheas decided to find these islands on his own, to locate the fabled sources of tin and to search for new deposits. While, ostensibly, his purpose was to bring back a load of tin for profit, Pytheas had the heart and mind of a true explorer. He was curious, he, wanted to see and visit the islands of which he had heard rumors, to explore what lay beyond and to return and tell the world of his findings.

As history will be served, two additional attributes played an immense role. First and foremost, because of his training as a mathematician and astronomer, Pytheas had acquired the important discipline of observing and recording his findings. Second, as a ships navigator, he had mastered the use of the "Gnomon," an instrument described by Herodotus, borrowed from the Phoenicians, and brought to Greece during the sixth century (about 575 B.C.) by one named Anaximander.

With it, the ancient navigators were able to navigate away from the sight of land and to perform the astounding calculations about which we marvel today. In fact, Pytheas was the first person we know by name to have used it to calculate the latitude of Massalia, which he found to be 43' 1 I' North, almost matching the true figure of 43' 18'North for modern day Marseilles. The ability to record the precise location of different sites along his travels proved invaluable to him, helped him to establish the accuracy of his log, and provided the proof needed for modern day historians to confirm his writings.

In order to avoid the Phoenicians, Pytheas reported sailing, slowly and carefully, for five full days from Massalia to the Pillars of Hercules before turning north to the Kasiterides Isles. He stopped at many points along the way to explore the area and to refresh the boat's water and provisions. He often traveled inland with his crew, recorded geographical features and reported the customs and habits of the inhabitants in such detail that it led Sir Clement Markham to declare that Phyteas was, indeed, the discoverer of Great Britain.

All types of events and strange stories were reported by Pytheas. One such "incredible" story, which he reported, told him by the inhabitants of northern Scotland, was about the presence of a place to the north where there were only two or three hours of night during parts of the year, and another place even further north where the sun shone all night long. Another, was the practice of people living in log and clay houses, storing their grain underground because of the cold, and thrashing their grain in barns or covered structures rather than on the open fields as was common in the warmer lands bordering the Mediterranean. Common knowledge today, these stories were considered fantasy in those years.

Traveling north from Scotland, Pytheas encountered a cluster of small islands where he reported seeing large, boat-size fish, lazily swimming on the surface and loudly blowing out sprays of water. Incredibly as this may have been to Pytheas and his crew, who had probably never seen a whale before, such pods of whales are common to those waters. He reported sailing six days northwest towards Iceland (Thule) where he encountered dense fog described as so thick and eerily quiet that the ship and the sea seemed suspended in a void. He recorded the presence of water and slush ice that "binds all together, and can be traveled neither on foot nor by boat". This condition would not permit him to go further and forced him to turn back.

It is significant to remember that the Gulf Stream brings a tremendous current of warm water from the Caribbean across the Atlantic Ocean in a northeasterly direction until it meets the colder air and flow of the Arctic Sea, at which point it starts its circle back to the west. It seems clear that the relatively short distance northwest from Scotland to Iceland, compared to the much longer distance from Massalia to the Straits of Gibraltar, prompts one to speculate as to the distance Pytheas could have sailed beyond Iceland. The five days of slow, cautious sailing from his home port of Massalia to the southern tip of Spain, covering a distance of about 600 nautical miles, when compared to his longer sail of six days, northwest, towards Iceland (approximately 500 nautical miles) at a rate of approximately 240 nautical miles per day, would have placed him far beyond Iceland. When one factors in the push he would have received from the west flowing currents of the Gulf Stream and the additional benefit of not having to worry about the Phoenicians, we can reasonably surmise that he was close to the shores of Greenland before the fog and slush ice turned him back. On a clear day he would have been able to see the mountains of Greenland, to wonder about its inhabitants, and, perhaps, to speculate on the presence of tin. Not until the beginning of the 20th century and to Arctic explorers like Fridtjof Nansen and Vilhjalmur Stefansson were we able to explain and confirm his descriptions of the many strange and fascinating accounts he had experienced including the strange mixture of fog, air, ice and water in those wild, windy and frigid seas.

How devastated he must have been when he returned to Massalia to report these wondrous findings only to be greeted with disbelief and scorn. The writers and historians were content in their dated knowledge that since the ocean ceases being liquid at such far northern latitudes, there is no way anyone can sail north of Scotland, unless he had an ice boat. Yet, we know today that he was describing the conditions of that region and the inhabitants of those lands.

Most people argue that it was the Norseman, Lief Ericson, or the Genoese, Christopher Columbus, who should be given credit for first probing the shores of the "new world." But perhaps it was a much earlier explorer-many, many centuries earlier-narned Pytheas who deserves the honor. We do not know. But we do know, categorically, that Pytheas, the intrepid Greek sailor and navigator from Massalia, deserves to join the ranks of Columbus, Ericson and the other great explorers of history. As for myself, I am convinced that Pytheas traveled to the edge of the "new world" during the time of Alexander the Great!}

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« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2007, 01:28:13 pm »

Secrets of Ancient Navigation
by Peter Tyson

Oak and triple bronze must have girded the breast of him
who first committed his frail bark to the angry sea
--Horace, Odes
"Aye, mate." One can almost hear the weary assent of countless a hoary sailor upon hearing these words of Horace, almost see the rheumy eye staring distantly as if at some ghost ship on the horizon that only he can see. For the old poet's words ring only too true. In the three or four millennia of seafaring before John Harrison came along, how could mariners know where they were going? The sea is literally without landmarks to guide by, a vast, featureless emptiness ready and more than willing to swallow up the lost and unlucky, leaving no trace save the awful memories of those who survived them.

The first seafarers kept in sight of land; that was the first trick of navigation. Follow the coast. To find an old fishing ground or the way through a shoal, one could line up landmarks, such as a near rock against a distant point on land; doing that in two directions at once gave a more or less precise geometric location on the surface of the sea. Sounding using a lead and line also helped. "When you get 11 fathoms and ooze on the lead, you are a day's journey out from Alexandria," wrote Herodotus in the fourth century B.C. The Greeks even learned to navigate from one island to the next in their archipelago, a Greek word meaning "preëminent sea." They may have followed clouds (which form over land) or odors (which can carry far out to sea).

But what if land were nowhere nearby? The Phoenicians looked to the heavens. The sun moving across the commonly cloudless Mediterranean sky gave them their direction and quarter. The quarters we know today as east and west the Phoenicians knew as Asu (sunrise) and Ereb (sunset), labels that live today in the names Asia and Europe. At night, they steered by the stars. At any one time in the year at any one point on the globe, the sun and stars are found above the horizon at certain fixed "heights" -- a distance that mariners can measure with as simple an instrument as one's fingers, laid horizontally atop one another and held at arm's length. The philosopher Thales of Miletos, as the Alexandrian poet Kallimachos recorded, taught Ionian sailors to navigate by the Little Bear constellation fully 600 years before the birth of Christ:
Now to Miletos he steered his course
That was the teaching of old Thales
Who in bygone days gauged the stars
Of the Little Bear by which the Phoenicians
Steered across the seas
The Norsemen had to have other navigational means at their disposal, for in summer the stars effectively do not appear for months on end in the high latitudes. One method they relied on was watching the behavior of birds. A sailor wondering which way land lay could do worse than spying an auk flying past. If the beak of this seabird is full, sea dogs know, it's heading towards its rookery; if empty, it's heading out to sea to fill that beak. One of the first Norwegian sailors to hazard the voyage to Iceland was a man known as Raven-Floki for his habit of keeping ravens aboard his vessel. When he thought he was nearing land, Raven-Floki released the ravens, which he had deliberately starved. Often as not, they flew "as the crow flies" directly toward land, which Raven-Floki would reach simply by following their lead.

Heeding the flightpaths of birds was just one of numerous haven-finding methods employed by the Polynesians, whose navigational feats arguably have never been surpassed. The Polynesians traveled over thousands of miles of trackless ocean to people remote islands throughout the southern Pacific. Modern navigators still scratch their heads in amazement at their accomplishment. Like Eskimos study the snow, the Polynesians watched the waves, whose direction and type relinquished useful navigational secrets. They followed the faint gleam cast on the horizon by tiny islets still out of sight below the rim of the world. Seafarers of the Marshall Islands built elaborate maps out of palm twigs and cowrie shells. These ingenious charts, which exist today only in museums, denoted everything from the position of islands to the prevailing direction of the swell.

Statue of Ptolemy.

Charts have aided mariners ever since the Alexandrian astronomer Ptolemy created the first world atlas in the second century A.D. The redoubtable Ptolemy even plotted latitude and longitude lines on his atlas's 27 maps, though the farther one got from the known world centered on the Mediterranean, the dangerously less reliable they became. Even before Ptolemy, there were sailing directions -- the Greeks called them periplus or "circumnavigation" -- that were compiled from information collected from sailors far and wide. One of these, The Periplus of the Eritrean Sea, a document written in the first century by a Greek merchant living in Alexandria, described trading routes as far east as India. By the 10th century, Italian-made portolans supplied detailed directions, distances, depths, and coastal descriptions, and by the 13th century, sea maps with scale and bearings began to appear.

The greatest advance in navigation came with the compass. The Chinese apparently knew about the powers of magnetism as early as the third millennium B.C., when, historians tell us, one army defeated another after the battlefield had become enveloped in dense fog by using a device known as a "point-south carriage." This was a standard carriage for carrying royalty with a small, rotating figure mounted on the front, which by magnetism always pointed south. (The Chinese chose to have the arrow point south rather than north.) But no one seems to have manipulated the lodestone for sea navigation until early in the present millennium. The first mention of the compass in the West comes from the Englishman Alexander Neckham, who wrote in 1187 that "sailors use a magnetic needle which swings on a point and shows the direction of the north when the weather is overcast." Despite its usefulness, the compass took a long time to come into wide use, as many seamen thought it operated by black magic. (Hence the invention of the binnacle, in which sea captains could hide their recondite instrument from the suspicious eyes of the crew.) In the meantime, sailors relied on natural forces they could readily comprehend.

One of these was currents. From time immemorial, journeys have been made or broken by these undersea winds. The western-trending currents of the Indian Ocean, for one, are likely responsible for the Indonesian-based race of Madagascar, an African island 4,000 miles from the nearest bit of Indonesia. Similarly, the clockwise currents in the North Atlantic helped doom one of the greatest land scams in history: Erik the Red's colonization scheme for the island he cleverly dubbed "Greenland." Of the 25 ships that sailed west from Norway in the year 990, only 14 arrived. The father of those North Atlantic currents -- the Gulf Stream -- was named by none other than Benjamin Franklin. While deputy Postmaster-General of Great Britain in the 18th century, Franklin noticed that his mail ships to the American colonies took longer than whaling ships. Questioning whalers, he learned of a powerful current originating from the Gulf of Mexico -- hence his name for it -- and sweeping northeast into the North Atlantic (and, incidentally, giving the British Isles a climate positively balmy for such a northern latitude).

Like currents, trade winds have always been important to mariners. Those blowing heads on yellowed old maps were not mere decoration. In the Indian Ocean, for example, Indian traders over the ages have ridden the northeast monsoon to Africa in the cool, dry winter and taken the southwest monsoon back to the subcontinent in the hot, wet summer. To make their annual voyages from Tahiti to Hawaii, a journey of several thousand miles, the Polynesians hitched a ride on the prevailing south-easterly wind, setting a starboard tack and sailing northeast.

The crossbar

For millennia, as sailors from the Phoenicians to the Polynesians knew, the heavens remained the best way to find one's north-south position. Increasingly sophisticated devices were designed over the centuries to measure the height of the sun and stars over the horizon. The gnomon or sun-shadow disk operated like a sundial, enabling the user to determine his latitude by the length of the sun's shadow cast on a disk floating level in water. The Arabian kamal was a rectangular plate that one moved closer or farther from one's face until the distance between the North star and the horizon exactly corresponded to the plate's upper and lower edges. The distance the plate lay away from the face -- measured by a string tied to the center of the plate and held at the other end to the tip of the nose -- determined the latitude.

In the Middle Ages, sailors relied on the astrolabe, a disc of metal that one held suspended by a small ring. The disc had a scale with degrees and a ruler for measuring the height of an astronomical body. Other medieval mariners preferred the cross-staff, a T-shaped device whose base was held up to the eye. One measured the sun's height by pulling the slidable top of the T toward one's eye until the sun lay at the top and the horizon at the bottom. Since blindness resulted from frequent use, the explorer John Davis invented the back-staff in 1595, which enabled one to get the same measurement with one's back to the sun. The sextant was the most advanced of these devices, allowing users to determine their latitude to within a sea mile or two, even from a swaying deck.

The sextant

In the years after the sextant was invented in 1731, many held out hope that it would aid in east-west navigation as well -- that is, in finding longitude. Sailors could employ the sextant to figure longitude using the lunar-distance method, but with the astronomical tables of the 18th century, the process could take several hours to work out one's position -- not remotely good enough for sea travel. In the end, it was the dogged clockmaker, John Harrison, who solved the longitude problem with his chronometers. And today, the precocious step-child of these highly accurate clocks, the Global Positioning System, has finally proved the Roman dramatist Seneca right, when he wrote in the first century that
There will come an age in the far-off years
When Ocean shall unloose the bonds of things,
When the whole broad earth shall be revealed . . . .

Peter Tyson is Online Producer of NOVA.
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« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2007, 01:29:07 pm »

Was the Antikythera an Ancient Instrument for Longitude Determination?
by Richard Sanders

(Reprinted in full from 21st Century, Spring 2003)


For more on ancient navigation devices, see "Ancient Navigators Could Have Measured Longitude!" by Richard Sanders, and "Building and Using Maui's Tanawa," by Bertram Cooper.
In the wake of our work on the torquetum,1 there has been renewed interest in ancient, or not so ancent, astronomical instruments. Henry Aujard in France recently brought to our attention one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th Century (or perhaps of modern times): a very intricate, bronze, geared instrument, known as an antikythera, which dates from around 80 B.C. Fragments of the instrument were found in a large shipwreck on the sea floor off the coast of Greece in 1900, by sponge fishers. (See Figure 1.) It is unlike anything else that has been passed down to us, in terms of the intricacy of its more than 30 gears. (We do have a geared astrolabe, but it is from about 1,000 years later!).

The antikythera was studied over the years, but the breakthrough came when Derek de Solla Price, a professor of the history of science at Yale University, was able to use gamma-radiography in 1972 to look at the fragments in intricate detail. He presented his analysis in a 1974 article published by the American Philosophical Society,2 whose study we have just begun. We are writing this communication to urge others to also study the 1974 work.

Figure 1

Location of the wreck, near an island between Kythera and Crete, from which the antikythera fragments were salvaged.

Source: Derek de Solla Price, "Gears from the Greeks," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society (New Series), Volume 64, Part 7, 1974, Figure 1.

De Solla Price must be commended for his scrupulous attempts to decipher the significance of the ratios of the gears, as involving the relative motions of the Sun and the Moon, including the Metonic cycle (in which 19 solar years correspond exactly with 235 lunations). But the outstanding question that, to our knowledge (and we hope to be wrong), no one has asked is: Why would anyone want to fool with the Moon? It is the same question which we confronted in our hypotheses about the torquetum.

So, let us exclude Moon worshippers and religious rituals as explanation. Otherwise, the Moon is useful for tidal information, and for telling fishermen when the fish are biting, but such information does not justify a "Mount Palomar" instrument such as the antikythera, which, after all, was being carried on a ship.

Figure 2

De Solla Price’s diagram of the antikythera’s complete gearing system.

Source: Derek de Solla Price, "Gears from the Greeks," 2ransactions of the American Philosophical Society (New Series), Volume 64, Part 7, 1974, Figure 33.

The only reasons for a sailor/navigator to mess with the Moon is to predict eclipses (for finding longitude), and to forecast lunar distances (to find longitude). As we pointed out in the article on the torquetum, if you are using the Moon to determine longitude, you must have with you a book of tables, in which the position of the Moon (for a point of reference), would be given relative to various stars, preferably over 19 years.

The advantage of a geared mechanism, which would have to be set, or be settable, for a given longitude (that is, reference place), would be that you could dispense with the tables. All you would have to do is crank the handle for the number of days since you left port, and that would give you the longitude of the Moon for that day, for your home base, or place of reference. Then, you could measure the Moon’s position relative to some appropriate bright star, and you would know your longitude.

We are putting out this communication to provoke discussion.

1. See Rick Sanders, "Ancient Navigators Could Have Measured Longitude!" and Bertram Cooper, "Building and Using Maui’s Tanawa, 21st Century, Fall 2001, pp. 58-65.

2. "Gears from the Greeks," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society (New Series), Volume 64, Part 7, 1974, pp. 1-70.
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« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2007, 01:30:29 pm »

De Solla Price on ‘Gears from the Greeks’

Excerpted, with permission, from Derek de Solla Price, "Gears from the Greeks," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society (New Series), Volume 64, Part 7, 1974.

"It seems that the function of the turntable must be to take these two rates of revolution, one annual and the other approximately monthly, and compound them either as a sum or a difference. The two obvious and almost inescapable astronomical choices would be associated with the fact that the synodic motion of the Moon–the cycle of the phases from New Moon to Full Moon–is the difference between the sidereal motions of the Sun and of the Moon against the backdrop of the fixed stars. The Sun appears to rotate through the stars of the zodiac in about 365 days, while the Moon changes place in a period of about 27-1/3 days, and changes through its cycle of phases in about 29-1/2 days.

"Either the differential turntable adds the revolutions of the Sun to those of the synodic phenomena, to produce the revolutions of the Moon, or it subtracts the revolutions of the Sun from those of the Moon to produce the cycles of the synodic months. From the fact that B3 and B4 rotate in opposite directions (and so therefore do E1 and E2) it follows that it is the latter case which applies. This is confirmed by the gear ratios . . . which introduce numbers compatible with the classical Greek calendrical device of the Metonic cycle, in which 19 solar years are made to correspond exactly with 235 lunations, and therefore with 254 sidereal revolutions of the Moon. The gearing contains wheels that correspond very well with the prime numbers 19 and 127 which are needed to mechanize the Metonic cycle. We have in fact 64/383 48/243 127/32 = 254/19, so that the differential gear is fed with 254 revolutions of E2 and 19 reverse revolutions of E1. For every 19 (direct) turns of the main drive wheel; this produces 2,356/2 revolutions of the whole differential turntable and all the gears mounted upon it."
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« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2007, 01:31:37 pm »

Iranians, the Pioneers of Navigation in the Persian Gulf--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By: Hossein Nourbakhsh

Abstract: According to the writings of the ancient Greek, including Herodotus, and to the allusions made in the Aristotle's book on politics, ancient Iranians were the first great navigators of the world. They not only discovered and marked the sea routes from estuary of Sind river up to the Persian Gulf, but, as is testified by the Greeks' writings, the first person who embarked on an exploratory voyage round Africa, was an Iranian navigator by the name of Sataspes. In this article, reference is made to the existing documents and evidence regarding pioneering role of Iranians in navigation and to the rejection of Westerners' role according to which this enterprise is attributed to Alexander.

After conquering the territories on the banks of Sind river in India, Alexander from Macedonia wished to cross Sind through sea and reached Oman Sea and Persian Sea, and perhaps toyed with the idea of conquering territories of Arabia, Yemen and Africa. That is he ordered Ne'arak, his commander and admiral, to embark on what he thought to be an exploratory voyage with enough soldiers and sailing ships, and to go from Sind river to Hormuz Strait, hence to Persian Gulf waters and then join his army in Abadan. Perhaps imitating Darius, Alexander intended that when Ne'arak had covered this route, to send him to Red Sea and Africa along the same route that had been covered by Scylax Cariana, the Darius' commander. It should be mentioned here that according to many researchers, Alexander from Macedonia had never traveled to Iran.

In the book "Mer'at-ul-Baldan," Sani-ul-Dowlah writes that Alexander, by sending Ne'arak to this Sea voyage, intended to accurately study the coasts of Baluchestan, Kerman and Fars, and to see whether or not it was possible to establish trade relations with Iran and India through Egypt. Perhaps, Alexander intended to accurately know the countries he had conquered and their borders that had extended as far as the sea. In any case, Ne'arak began his voyage on October 2, 326 BC, coinciding with 11th year of the reign of Alexander, with 32 big vessels and several small ships for carrying provisions, as well as 2000 soldiers and after 146 days of adventurous journey docked in Karoon river in Ahwaz. Of course Ne'arak has written a description of his sea voyage in a travel diary. Its original is destroyed, and its summary has remained in a book entitled "Alexander's mobilization," written by a Greek historian in one century BC, compiled from Ne'arak's writings.

Foreign writers always introduce Alexander from Macedonia, as a pioneer in identification of waterways from Sind river as far as Persian Gulf, and consider his commander and admiral Ne'arak as the discoverer of these ways. But as regards the views expressed by foreigners, a contemporary researcher of our country writes: "This group of political historians, i.e., Lord Curyon, Arnold Wilson, Belgrave and Francis Arskin Lock have included historical falsehoods so tactfully and so cleverly among their writings that even some fair-minded researcher as John Marlow are led astray, because he says that Alexander from Macedonia was the first person who embarked on sea exploration and identification of Pars Sea."

It is surprising that Arnold Wilson, when discussing pioneers and discoverers of waterways of Persian Gulf is suffering from a kind of amnesia, and points out that the first person who has identified the unknown ways of Persian Gulf was Alexander from Macedonia.

Marking of Seas by Iranians

The route followed or, so to speak, discovered by Nesark in Persian Gulf, as alleged by foreign writers, had been followed and marked by Iranians two hundred years before his entry in Persian Gulf. The evidence in support of this claim is that centuries before Nesark's entry in Persian Gulf, Iranians had installed some marks along the coasts and ports and in the islands of the Persian Gulf to guide ships and boats and particularly, to prevent floating objects from being drowned at night. These marks proved highly effective in protecting buoys and floating objects and preventing pirates and enemies' surprise attacks on coasts. It is unjust to say that a nation which was pioneer among other countries in the matter of navigation, and which had covered from Hormuz Strait up to Abadan by means of big wooden poles and lighthouses did not know its own waterways, and was waiting for Alexander's admiral to come from the other part of the world and recognize its waterways which the nation itself sailed every day by means of ships and boat and where it searched for pearls and caught fish! The fact is that centuries before the entry of Nesark or any other colonialist in waters of our country, Iranian navigators and fishermen knew Persian Gulf just as well as they knew their own palms, and had identified and discovered waters of their own territories.

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« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2007, 01:32:14 pm »

Four Pioneering Navigators

While describing rare events and happenings of five centuries BC, historians mention four daring and pioneering navigators, none of whom were geographers but were, in fact, tourist explorers and adventurists. According to George Sarten, the purpose of their journey was political and economic problems, but the results obtained increased man's knowledge about the surface of the earth. The existence of the four navigators and the purpose of their journey seem to be plausible, but it is not certain whether or not the voyage has actually taken place. Then the writer introduces four ancient navigators. Two of them by the names of Scylax and Sataspes were Iranians, and the other two called Hannon and Himilcon were from Cartage, who were allies of Iran and acted against Greece. That is because there were fierce competitions over colonies of the Mediterranean Sea between the Greek on the one hand and Phoenicians and Cartagians on the other.

Carindian Scylax, the Most Ancient Iranian Navigator

Herodotus, the famous historian, who lived during the period 325-484 BC, has, before other historians, made some interesting remarks about the exploratory voyage of Carindian Scylax, the commander of Darius, the Great, that had been effected in 512, that is two centuries before Nesark entered the Persian Gulf, Herodotus' remarks nullify the confusing statements made by foreign writers about Nesark's sea explorations in the Persian Gulf. According to Herodotus, the major part of the continent of Asia was discovered during the reign of Darius, the Achaemenian king. Professor Hadi Hassan, the Indian scholar quotes Herodotus' saying as follows:

"The major part of Asia was discovered under the rule of Darius. Wishing to know where Sind river joins the sea, Darius sent two of his trusted friends whose reports he could rely on, to sea voyage together with Scylax from Carindia. They started from Kaspatirus and Baktis territory and after crossing the river set out for sea. In the sea they turned toward the west and after 30 months reach the Suez Canal where the king of Egypt had dispatched Phoenicians to explore around Libya. Upon their return Darius triumphed over Indians and began to travel and move along the sea."

Herodotus' writings which have been translated into Persian by Iranian researchers show that 200 years prior to Nesark's entry in Persian Gulf, Darius had issued the order for investigation of waterways from estuary of Sind river to the Persian Gulf, and from this sea to Suez Canal and finally round Africa. Two centuries after Darius, Alexander assigned Nesark with the task of investigating the region with due regard to the route taken by Scylax, the commander of Darius; it is certain that the path covered and the time spent on this exploratory voyage are several times more than the path and the time spent by Nesark, the commander of Alexander; on covering the route from the estuary of Sind river to Karoon river, George Sarten's saying about Scylax' voyage can be understood from Darius' inscription which is installed at the Suez Canal at the time of digging of the canal. The inscription indicates that Darius had a canal dug between the Nile river and Red Sea, so that Iranian ships could pass through it. Hence Scylax' trip to that region seems to be logical.

It is to be remembered that there used to be doubts about Herodotus' writing and Scylax' trip, and it was believed that such a trip had not been undertaken and there was nobody by this name. Later, with due regard to Aristotle's view in "Politics," doubts were dispelled. It is said in the book "Ancient Iran" that it was imagined that the first person to send a mission for sea research was Alexander. But later the veracity of Herodotus' narration was proved, because it came to be known that Scylax has written his travel diary, and Aristotle has referred to it. According to Herodotus, it should be said that this mission passed through Sind river, the border of Baluchestan and Mokran of today, then, from the border of Arabia and Bab-ul-Mandab, they entered the Red Sea, then on to the lower Egypt through a canal dug by the order of Darius, and from there to the Maghreb (western) Sea.

Professor Grischman, the French archaeologist, who headed the mission of archaeologist excavators in Susa and Chogazanbil and Persepolis for years and who made valuable discoveries, believes that the Persian Gulf waterway had been recognized for years. Achaemenians knew this way very well, and Scylax who was in the service of Darius, built a lighthouse on Sind river and was assigned with the task of finding the way to Egypt through the Red Sea. He fulfilled this mission by 30 months navigation, and the great task was accomplished by means of digging of Suez Canal
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« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2007, 01:32:53 pm »

A Seaman Called Sataspes

After the legendary trip of Scylax, an Iranian, which had begun two centuries before Nesark, Alexander's commander began his journey. The second Iranian navigator who started his journey courageously round Africa, was Sataspes, the Achaemenian. According to Herodotus' narrative, Sataspes, which is the Greek pronunciation of the Persian word "hundred horses," was Darius' nephew. As he had kidnapped the daughter of a nobleman, so he was condemned to death. But his mother implored Xerxes to change his punishment and instead to sentence him to another one which she considered heavier, and force him to go round Africa on to Persian Gulf. Xerxes accepted this suggestion, and Sataspes went to Egypt, took some ships and seamen from Egyptians, set sail, and after a length of time of navigation, turned round to African cape of Soloeis and sailed southward, and after several months when he had still a long way to go, returned to Egypt.

Upon his return from the trip, he reported to Xerxes that he had seen some dwarfs who made their clothes out of palm leaves and that whenever he and his men went ashore, they fled to mountains. He also reported that when he and his men went on shore, they did not do any injustice, and only took whatever they needed from the natives. Yet Xerxes had him killed because he had not completed his task.

Although Herodotus describes the historical trip of Sataspes, the Achaemenian briefly, yet in George Sarten's opinion, the account quoted by Herodotus contains interesting points. Firstly, that Sataspes' mother talks explicitly about navigation round Africa and considers it to be difficult; secondly, according to this anecdote, Sataspes took ships and seamen from Egypt or Phoenicians, as at that time there were trade relations between these two nations, and Phoenician vessels had sailed along the Nile since the time of Totmus; the third point is how far Sataspes advanced along west coast of Africa. It seems that after passing through Soloeis he advanced for several months till he reached a point that ships could not go any farther, and stopped there. Had he reached a windless equatorial region at the same latitude as the Green Cape, or that the warm winds and the northward sea current on the coast of Guinea stopped him? One of the reasons that supports the thesis that he had reached the coast of Guinea is his saying that there were some dwarfs whose clothes were palm leaves. In any case even if he had advanced farther than this point, for instance up to the latitude of 10 degrees north, he was still far from his destination. It is certain, however, that our predecessors could not fathom the grandeur of the continent of Africa, as it is.

It should be said that George Sarten, at the end of his account of the navigation and travels of Hannon, the Cartagian, and comparing it with that of Sataspes of Iran, refers to a very important point as follows: "Hannon has covered almost up to 2600 miles of west coast of Africa, and has perhaps gone as far as Palmas. Has Hannon gone farther southward than Sataspes did? This is possible, but not much importance should be attached to it. In any case both these navigators or at least one of them could recognize the coasts of north west Africa. In order to understand the importance of their feats, it should be remembered that Portuguese navigators accomplished this task in the middle of fifteenth century, and no one has exceeded the limits of these two ancient navigators."

The Iranian Sataspes' Treatment of the Natives

Although Herodotus sometimes deviates from truth or suffers from prejudice, yet he should be praised for having written an account about the Iranian Scylax and Sataspes. The little account he has left behind, is the source of pride of Iranians among other nations, and by recounting the voyages of these two great Iranian navigators, he has both made his name eternal among navigators of the world, and has also honored and exalted Iranians for having such great navigators.

As is inferred from writings and memories of navigators of the centuries after the birth of Jesus Christ, the brave Iranian navigators sailed in Persian seas and the Indian Ocean and reached the lowest points in east Africa.

On the other hand, the same Iranian navigators, with their handmade sail ships, traveled to coasts of Pakistan, India and China and returned safely. It may have often happened that they had covered longer distances than those covered by Scylax and Sataspes and returned safely, without having left behind any memories and writings about those trips. But one interesting point about Herodotus' account, which is more or less overlooked in accounts of George Sarten and others, is the chivalry and good treatment of "hundred horses", the ancient Iranian navigator, which is seldom seen in the accounts concerning Nesark and other foreign navigators. Regarding the time when Sataspes and his companions reached the coast of Guinea, and encountered native dwarfs, Herodotus writes: "Whenever Sataspes and his men approached the coast, the people used to flee to mountains, but when he and his men landed they did not do any injustice, and only they took food they needed from the natives." But as regards Nesark's encounter with natives, a historian writes quoting Nesark: "When we got to the mouth of Tomirus river, the inhabitants upon seeing our ships, took up arms, were mobilized and waited for the war to begin. When I noticed this boldness I kept away my ships far from the shore out of their reach, and ordered the soldiers to land. When they landed, they attacked the natives. I showed the same treatment toward Baluchis, killed some of them and captured others." Nesark's memoirs about the trip to coasts and ports are also full of such unchivalrous killings, plunders and kidnapping.
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« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2007, 01:33:30 pm »


The Pacific is the world's largest ocean with a surface area greater than the total land area of the world itself. It was this ocean that was first crossed, hundreds of years ago, by ancient navigators. They had no maps to plot their routes and no instruments for navigation, yet they went on to discover and settle nearly all the land that was to be found in the Pacific.

Polynesian traditional deep water canoes were large, fast and safe. Every island group had its own design. Canoes in Polynesia generally had two hulls whilst those in other places had one hull with an outrigger. They were made of wooden planks sewn together and could be 20 metres long. In good conditions these canoes could reach speeds of eight knots and average a hundred sea miles over 24 hours.

The great skill of the ancient navigators was their ability to read the sky. By day they would read the state of the sea, sun, and clouds and the movements of birds. By night, their eyes would have been fixed on the stars. The rising and setting points of bright stars and planets and their relationships to islands were memorised. This acted as a star compass that guided navigators around the ocean as surely as any road map.

When the sky was overcast, navigators would use other aids. The Pacific Ocean has prevailing winds that push up swells in a constant direction for most of the year. Canoes would be kept at a particular angle to these swells so any change in the motion or sound of waves on the vessel would signal a change of direction.

Major voyages were timed for different seasons. Navigators had a great knowledge of the changing winds and currents throughout the year and would plan their voyages to coincide with preferred weather patterns. For generations the direction of expansion was against the prevailing winds. In the tropics, trade winds came from the east but Polynesian settlers sailed from the west. It is thought they travelled into the wind to look for land so they had the option of sailing downwind to get home.

Many long voyages would have been made via intermediary islands that acted as stepping stones. This is probably how New Zealand was discovered. The explorers would have used stepping stones such as Norfolk and Kermadec Islands which display evidence of having once being settled, then abandoned.

Intermediary islands were important for maintaining communications and trading posts and were fundamental for return voyages to Polynesia. It is likely that Maori used them when sailing back into the Pacific once they had found New Zealand.
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« Reply #25 on: November 01, 2007, 01:34:07 pm »

Red Sea timbers provide a raft of knowledge
Archaeology Notebook by Norman Hammond, Archaeology Correspondent

THE oldest known remains of seafaring ships have been identified in a series of cave stores on the Red Sea coast of Egypt. Built of cedar and acacia wood, the ships had been attacked by marine worms, and the site seems to have been a shipbreaker’s yard dating to the middle of the second millennium BC.

The discovery, at Wadi Gawasis near the modern port of Sa***a, also yielded boxes which give vital clues on Egyptian contact with the mysterious kingdom of Punt (The Times, January 31). The ship timbers there suggest that parts of pharaonic seagoing vessels were fabricated in the Nile Valley and transported overland for assembly on the coast, according to Cheryl Ward of Florida State University.

River vessels for use on the Nile have long been known, including the ceremonial boats from the Great Pyramid at Giza, dating to around 2,500BC, and four others of the reign of Senwosret III from Dashur not far to the south.

“The presence of extensive damage to planks and fastenings by the shipworm or marine borer provides irrefutable evidence of seafaring,” Dr Ward said. “Most of the timbers were in contexts that indicate their reuse in ramps and walkways, and many were significantly reworked.”

Some of the timbers were marked in red paint, applied, Ward believes, during “an aggressive careening and rotremoval process” that has yielded thousands of timber fragments. One of the caves also yielded neatly arranged coils of rope, used for rigging and “left for the next expedition, one that never came”, she said.

The rope bundles each contain at least 20m (65ft) of rope and perhaps half as much again. They have not been touched for some 3,500 years and need urgent conservation, Ward said. “The rope, probably made from half grass, looks stable, but thousands of tiny fragments around each bundle show internal decay: the extreme dryness promotes brittleness.”

The timbers include planks from the hull, marked by the presence of gribble (shipworm damage), and mortise-andtenon joints. Some planks had marks which may have been to facilitate assembly, which Ward said is “logical in considering how ships built at a Nile shipyard could be easily reassembled on the Red Sea shore”. The Great Pyramid boats of the Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops) had similar shipwrights’ marks.

The blades of two steering oars and a stanchion were also found. Overall, Ward said, “the technology and dimensions of hull components are consistent with what might be expected of seagoing ships in the Middle Kingdom” — similar to the Nile boats, but sturdier.

The primary activity outside the caves was shipbreaking, while inside there is evidence of damaged wood being removed from planks before their reuse. “It is likely that once ships returned from their voyage, they were examined by shipwrights who marked unsatisfactory timbers with red paint. Workers then began to remove planks from the hulls by prying seams apart and sawing or chiselling through the tenons,” Ward said.

The Wadi Gawasis finds add to “our understanding not only of the role of shipbuilding technology, but of the vast administrative and bureaucratic nature of Middle Kingdom contacts with the world beyond Egypt’s borders”.

For the past century and a half, visitors to Pompeii have had to trek into Naples to see one of the Roman city’s most famous relics: since 1843 the Alexander Mosaic has hung on the walls of the National Museum there. Now a full-sized replica has been installed in the House of the Faun, where the mosaic was discovered, recreating the sumptuous impression once experienced by guests at one of Pompeii’s richest villas.
“I want visitors to have the impression they are entering the same luxurious house in which the ancient Pompeian owners lived before it was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79,” Pietro Giovanni Guzzo, superintendent of Pompeii, says in Archaeology.
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« Reply #26 on: November 01, 2007, 01:34:40 pm »

The mosaic, 5.5m (18ft) by 2.75m, was recognised as a masterpiece as soon as it was uncovered in 1831: Goethe admired it, and the German scholar Ludwig Curtius called it “the most royal picture in the world”. It depicts the bare headed and wild-eyed Alexander the Great on his horse, Bucephalus, facing the Persian ruler Darius in battle as the latter swings his chariot round to flee. Darius has his right arm extended towards Alexander in an unfathomable gesture as the two men ’s eyes meet across the mêleé of fallen men and horses.
The event in question has been disputed, some favouring the Battle of Issus on the Turkish coast in 333BC, others the decisive conflict at Gaugamela near Mosul in Iraq two years later. But the virtuosity of its portrayal is undoubted; more than two million tiny stone tesserae have been employed in making the replica.

The work was carried out by a team of eight from the International Centre for the Study and Teaching of Mosaic (CISIM) in Ravenna, under the direction of Severo Bignami. While the original coloured marbles came from across the Roman Empire, notably from Egypt, Bignami’s team were able to find equivalent or similar tones in local stone.

A full-size photograph of the original was traced on to tissue paper, which was impressed into soft clay in moulds to create “a kind of tattoo of the outlines of the mosaic”, the report says. The moulds were divided into 44 sections for ease of handling; the tesserae were inserted into the clay, kept damp by water sprays, and when each section was complete it was covered with a layer of gauze and glue to hold it together and rolled up.

The sections were then assembled on a permanent concrete base and installed in the House of the Faun after 16,000 hours’ work and at a cost of about £125,000.

Archaeology Vol. 59 No. 1: 36-40,,61-2071279_2,00.html
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« Reply #27 on: November 01, 2007, 01:35:17 pm »

Earliest Americans may have come from Polynesia...NAVIGATORS!!!

The Kennewick Man's history emerges

In 1996 the skull of the 9,000-year-old Kennewick Man was found along a river near Kennewick, Wash., but only now is light being shed on the remains.

Scientists were prevented from examining the bones by a legal battle with Northwest U.S. Indian tribes, who claimed the remains were protected by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. That dispute ended in 2004, when a court allowed scientists to begin examining the remains, accordng to an article in the current issue of Time magazine.

So far the forensic scientists have determined:

-- The Kennewick Man was about 5 feet 9 inches tall and was right-handed.

-- His muscles were so well developed some of his bones were bent; the result, scientists speculate, of a lifetime of hunting and spear fishing.

-- He suffered some non-crippling arthritis and suffered some non-fatal trauma, including fractures of his forehead and ribs.

-- He was not Caucasian, but most likely Polynesian or Ainu.

The examination of the remains has, so far, overturned some long-held beliefs about the colonization of North America, Time said, with a picture emerging that suggests a much more complex and older migration -- including people from Europe, Australia and Africa -- pre-dating the Asian ancestors of American Indians.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International ww
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« Reply #28 on: November 01, 2007, 01:36:10 pm »

Ancient Asian Trade Routes


The ancient Buddhist and Brahmanical texts use the expression Dakshinpatha as a name for both the southern high road and for the region lying south of Majjhimdesa or Mid India.

The first reference to Dakshinapatha occurs in the Rig-Veda where it refers to the region where the exile goes on being turned out. In the opinion of several scholars, this means the South beyond the limits of the Saptasindhu-- the then recognised Aryan world.

Dakshinapatha is found in Panini (IV.2.98). Baudhyana mentions Dakshinapatha or Dakshinatya in association with Saurashtra. Jataka and Vinaya Pitaka attest name Dakshinapatha coupled with Avanti as in Avantidakshinapatha where it seems to refer to Janapada of Avanti and implies its location in Dakshinapatha.

In Mahabharata, Dakshinapatha is placed beyond Avanti and Vindhyas and to south of the kingdom of Vidarbhas and southern Kosalas, the latter being located on the banks of Wardha and Mahanadi.
The epic hero Rama who had set out from Ayodhya into voluntary exile had taken a route which extended from Ayodhya into Dakshinapatha or the southern direction.

The Sutta Nipata Commentary seems to explain Dakshinapatha as the road leading to the Dakshinajanapada, the latter name referring to a Janapada located to south of Ganges. In the same Sutta Nipata, the name Dakshinapatha also refers to a remote Aryan settlement located on the banks of the upper Godavari. A Kossalan Brahmin named Bavari had left Savathi (capital of Kosala) to set up his hermitage at the junction of river Mula and Godavari, midway between the kingdoms of Assaka and Mulaka (in modern Maharashtra), which place has been noted as lying in Dakshinapatha.

In Dighvijayaparva of Mahabharata, Dakshinpatha is distinguished from Pandyan realm in the southernmost tip of the Madras. According to Puranic accounts, the Janapadas of Asmakas, Mulakas, Vaidarbhas, Kalingas, Andhras, Pundras, Pulindas, Dandakas, Kuntalas, Keralas, Pandyas, Cholas etc lied in the Dakshinapatha.

In the Petavatthu commentary, the Damila i.e Dravida country is included in the Dakhinápatha.
On their way to Rajagriha, the pupils of ascetic Bavari from Dakshinapatha (Godavari) had followed a route which led them through Pratisthana (Paithan), Mahesvar, Ujjaini, Gonaddha (Gond country), Bhilsa (Bhil country), Kosam, Saketa (Fyzabad), Savathi, Setavya, Kapilavastu, Kusinara, Pava, Bhoganagar, Vaisali and then to Rajagriha (in Magadha).

It is stated that Dakshinapatha was originally the name of the high road which led southwards, and the Aryan settlement at the end of this high road on the banks of the Godavari, being also called Dakshinapatha. At later time, this southern high road (Dakshinapatha) lent its name to the whole region through which it passed (See: Geography of Early Buddhism). Thus, initially, Dakshinapatha, as high road, ran between Rajgriha and Pratisthana (Paithan). Later, on expansion of Aryan culture deep into southern India, it also extended further into the south running parellel to west-coast and following probably through Bijapur, Bengalore and Madura to Setu, the southern tip of India.

In Gupta period, Dakshinaptha as a region extended from the land of the Kosalas to the kingdom of Kanchi. In later times however, it had embraced the whole of Trans-Vindhya India from Setu (Adam's Bridge) to Narmada.

Ancient Dakshinapatha later gave its name to modern Deccan or Dekkan. The Dakshinapatha was famous in literature as the birthplace of strong bullocks. It also held a home to large number of ascetics. From notices made above, it is clear that, in the earlier literature at any rate, the word Dakshinapatha did not mean it initially comprised the whole country in the modern word Dekkhan or Deccan.

Like Dakshinapatha, Uttarapatha was initially the name of northern high road which ran from Tamraliptika or Tamluk located in west Bengal through Pataliputra, Vaisali, Kusinara, Kapilvastu, Savathi, Hastinapura, through Panjab, Taxila, Puskaravati (Pushkalavati) and Kabol up to Zariaspa (Balkh) in Bactria. Later, Uttarapatha was also the name lent to the region of Indian sub-continent through which this high road passed. One early Medieval era Brahmanical text attests the Uttarapatha as the region lying to the west of Prithudaka (modern Pehoa near Thaneswar in Haryana). The Uttarpatha had formed the northern division of Puranic Jambudvipa.
The philosophies of the easterners were disseminated precisely by the intercourse that went on along the Uttarapatha and the Dakshinpatha high routes. These were also the high roads which the horse-dealers from Kamboja of Uttarapatha had followed for trading horses with southern India and Sri Lanka.
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« Reply #29 on: November 01, 2007, 03:04:23 pm »


Ancient Buddhist and Brahmanical texts reveal that Uttarapatha was the name of northern division of Jambudvipa of ancient Indian traditions.

Initially, the term Uttarapatha referred to the northern high road, the main trade route that followed along the river Ganges, crossed the Indo-Gangetic watershed, ran through the Punjab to Taxila (Gandhara) and further to Zariaspa or Balkh (Bactria) in Central Asia. The eastern terminus of the Uttarapatha was Tamraliptika or Tamluk located at the mouth of Ganges in west Bengal. It was the longest ancient land route which had become very popular due to increasing maritime contacts with the sea-ports on the eastern coast of India during the Mauryan rule.
Later, Uttarapatha was the name lent to the vast expanse of region which the Uttarapatha or the northern high road traversed.

The boundaries of Uttarapatha, as a region, are nowhere precisely defined in the Buddhist or any other ancient Indian source. According to some writers, the Uttarapatha included the whole of Northern India, from Anga in the east to Gandhara in the north-west, and from the Himalaya in the north to the Vindhya in the south.

The Jambudvipa region to the south of Uttarapatha was known as Majjhimadesa (or the Middle Country) in Buddhist texts and Madhyadesa in Puranic texts.
According to Buddhist texts, the Kamboja and Gandhara, two of the sixteen Mahajanapadas or great nations referred to in the Anguttara Nikaya and Chulla-Niddesa belonged to the Uttarapatha.
The Buddhist texts include the remaining fourteen of the Mahajanapadas viz Kasi, Kosala, Anga, Magadha, Vajji, Malla, Chedi, Vamsa (or Vatsa), Kuru, Panchala, Machcha (or Mattsya), Surasena, Avanti and Assaka in the Majjhimadesa division.
Numerous Puranic literature terms the Bahlikas, Pahlavas, Sakas, Paradas, Ramathas, Kambojas, Daradas, Tushars, Chinas, Barbaras, Keikayas, Abhiras, Sindhus, Soviras etc as the tribes of Uttarapatha (Kirfel list of the Uttarapatha countries of the Bhuvanakosa).

According to Puranic geography (Bhuvanakosa list of ancient countries), the Kamboja and Gandhara Mahajanapadas of the Buddhist traditions fell in the Udichya (northern), the Assaka in Dakshinapatha, Avanti in Aparanta (western), the Vajji, Malla, Anga and Magadha in Prachya ( eastern) and the remaining eight of the Mahajanapadas in the Madhyadesa division.
A medieval era Brahmanical text Kavyamimamsa by Pandit Rajshekhara attests that Uttarapatha lied to the west of Prithudaka (modern Pehoa near Thaneswar in Haryana. The Kavyamimamsa further lists the Sakas, Vokkanas, Hunas, Kambojas, Keikayas, Bahlikas (Bactrians), Pahlavas, Lampakas, Kulutas, Tanganas, Tusharas, Turushakas (Turks), Barbaras etc as the tribes of Uttarapatha (Kavyamimamsa Chapter 17).

Mahabharata, at several places, also notifies that the Kambojas, Sakas, Gandharas, Yavanas, Darunas, Barbaras and Khashas were the tribes of Uttarapatha. (MBH 12/201/40; 5/159/20)
The Uttarapatha division probably included the territories of greater Panjab, Sindhu, Sovira, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Bactria and parts of Central Asia.

The ancient Trans-Oxian nations of Central Asia including the Uttarakuru, Uttaramadra, Param-Kamboja and parts of Saka-dvipa were also located in the Uttarapatha.

According to Dr S. M. Ali, Uttarapatha or northern division of Jambudvipa covers a very vast area from the Urals and the Caspain to the Yenisei River and from the Turkistan, Tien Shan ranges to the Arctic. The Ramayana, and Puranas portray the topography of the whole land very accurately and in some cases picturesquely.
Uttarapatha was famous from very early times for its fine breed of horses and the horse-dealers. There are ancient references to an ongoing trade between the nations of Uttarapatha and the states of East India. Buddhist as well as Puranic sources attest that the merchants and horse-dealers from Uttarapatha would bring horses and other goods for sale down to eastern Indian places like Savatthi (Kosala), Benares (Kasi), Pataliputra (Magadha), Pragjyotisha (Assam) and Tamarlipitka (in Bengal).

Documentation exists that the nations from the Uttarapatha like Kamboja, Gandhara, Bactria, Kashmira were actively engaged in commercial intercourse not only with the states of Gangetic valley but also with Myanmar, Suvarnabhumi, south-west China and other nations in the Southeast Asia. When the Chinese envoy Chang Kien was in Bactria (circa c 127 BCE), he had found to his great surprise that Bamboos and textiles from south-western China were sold in the local markets in Bactria. On personal enquiry, he learnt that these goods were brought to eastern India (Bengal) through Yunnan, Burma and then carried all the way from eastern India to Bactria across India and Afghanistan along the Uttarapatha or the northern high road.

The ancient Pali literature reveals that merchants from the nations of Uttarapatha were engaged in international trade following the well-known Kamboja-Dvaravati Caravan Route. Merchants from Kamboja, Gandhara, Sovira, Sindhu etc used to sail from ports of Bharukaccha (modern Bharoch) and Supparaka Pattana (modern Nalla-Sopara, near Mumbai) for trade with Southern India, Sri Lanka and nations of Southeast Asia. Huge trade ships sailed from there directly to south Myanmar. This trade had been going on for hundreds of years before the Buddha.

Some merchants from northern India had settled in Myanmar, in the ports and towns located at the mouths of Irrawati (Irrawaddy), Citranga (Sittang) and Salavana (Salween) rivers. The case in point is of two merchant brothers Tapassu and Bhallika from Pokkharavati (present Carasadda) in Gandhara-Kamboja region who had their settlement in Myanmar (Ref: Vipassana Newsletter Vol. 7, No. 10 Dec 97). Also name Irrawaddy for the chief river of Burma (Myanmar) was copied from river Irrawati (Ravi) of north Panjab

Evidence exists that horse-dealers from Kamboja in the Uttarapatha were trading horses as far as Sri Lanka. Dr Don Martino notes that the merchants from north-west Kamboja had been conducting horse-trade with Sri Lanka following the west coast of India since remote antiquity (Epigraphia Zeylanka, Vol II, No 13, p 76).
Several ancient cave inscriptions found in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka powerfully attest the existence of a Kamboja Goshatha or Samgha (Gote Kabojhiana) and a Grand Kamboja Trade Guild (Kabojiya Mahapughyanam) in ancient Sinhala. The terms Kaboja and Kabojiya are the ancient Sinhalese forms of the Uttarapatha Kamboja.
A Pali text Sihalavatthu of fourth century specifically attests a group of people known as Kambojas living in Rohana in Sri Lanka.
A regular horse-trade between the nations of Uttarapatha and those of eastern, western and southern India is attested to have been going on as late as the medieval ages. King Devapala (810-850 CE)) of Bengal, King Vishnuvardhana Hoysala (1106 – 1152 CE) of Mysore and King Valabhi Deva of Valbhi/Saurashtra (1185 CE) had powerful fleets of Kamboja horses in their cavalries.

There is also good archeological evidence of Roman trade (0 C.E. to 200 CE) coming into Gandhara/Kamboja and Bactria region in Uttarapatha through the Gujarati peninsula. The Roman gold coins imported from Rome into Gandhara were usually melted into bullion in these regions.
Like Uttarapatha, the Dakshinapatha was the name of southern high road which originated from Rajagriha in Magadha, followed through Ujjaini and Narmada valley to Pratisthana (Paithan) in the Mahajanapada of Ashmaka (in modern Maharashtra), onwards to the western coast of India and running in the southern direction. Later, Dakshinapatha was also the name lent to the region of India lying to the south of Vindya through which the Dakshinapatha passed.
Name Deccan for the southern part of India has originated from this ancient Dakshinapatha.

The philosophies of the easterners were disseminated precisely by the intercourse that went on along the Uttarapatha and the Dakishinpatha.

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