Ancient Mysteries

I love writing fiction in my spare time.  You can see some of my work and ideas here. My latest interest has been ancient civilizations and the mysteries that surround their existence and accomplishments.  Archaeology has recently unearthed evidence of “advanced” civilizations dating back to the prehistoric era (when we were supposed to be only hunter/gatherers living in caves). We have also studied ancient structures with little understanding of how and why they were constructed.  New discoveries can literally change our ancient history.

Angkor Wat

I enjoy using imagination to fill the holes of the unknown about our ancient ancestors for my fiction stories.

On this blog, I will post examples of these ancient mysteries and why I’m so fascinated in their secrets.

Denisovans

In 2010 scientists found evidence (only a finger bone) in Siberia of a new species of humans.  The DNA was different than both homo sapiens (modern humans) and neanderthals and was dated around 41,000 years ago.

This is fascinating to me because it is now evident that there were multiple species of humans living together in prehistoric times as apposed to the theory that modern humans were descendants of, or linear ancestors to either of these species.  We were separate species living among each other in the remote past.   It is believed that all three of these species interbred in ancient times.

“Approximately 4% of the DNA of non-African modern humans is shared with Neanderthals, suggesting interbreeding. Tests comparing the Denisova hominin genome with those of six modern humans – aǃKung from South Africa, a Nigerian, a Frenchman, a Papua New Guinean, aBougainville Islander and a Han Chinese – showed that between 4% and 6% of the genome of Melanesians (represented by the Papua New Guinean and Bougainville Islander) derives from a Denisovan population.” Learn more here.

What were these “people” like?  How advanced of a species were they?  We have recently discovered cave art by neanderthals proving they were more advanced than we previously thought since we assumed only modern day humans could understand and implement symbolism.  Now that we know there was a third human species in prehistoric times, it will be amazing to learn more about when they emerged, what they knew and how civilized they were.  I expect scientists will discover more which will answer some questions, but probably create more.

Akhenaten

Akhenaten ruled ancient Egypt for 17 years and was thought to have died in the 1330s B.C. He is known for ruling with the religious belief in one God (like many modern day religions) as apposed to worshiping multiple pagan-type Gods as was typical during the ancient world.  It is still under debate, but it is thought that his belief in the Aten (or sun God) was not actually the belief in a deity, but the power of nature of the universe as the creator of life.  Eventually, the ancient Egyptians disregarded his belief and returned to polytheism decades after his death.

Interestingly, he was the husband of Nefertit and was recently proven by DNA evidence to be the father of the famous child-King Tutankhamun (King Tut).

Why Akhenaten interests me so much?  Not only was his religious beliefs “radical” for his time, but his image depicted in statues and sculptures does not resemble those of earlier or later ancient Egyptians.  Notably his elongated head (remember my last post?) and strange physique (especially for a pharaoh) makes him an interesting figure in ancient history.

His emergence in the timeline makes for fantastic historical fiction that I plan on running with in my latest work.

akhentaten sculpture

Elongated Skulls

This is probably the strangest of my favorite historical mysteries.  There have been hundreds of elongated skulls found all over the world. The accepted theory is “artificial cranium deformation”, where ancient people would bind their babies heads to deform the skull.  Some argue there is no physical evidence of this.  Others claim the volume of the elongated skulls is much greater than a normal skull, which would not occur by binding. And some even claim these must be alien or a different humanoid species.

What I find most interesting is that even if the binding theory is correct, why did all these cultures separated by thousands of miles and hundreds of years (thousands if you include the ancient egyptians; see Akhenaten) practice the same strange custom of binding baby skulls?  History says these cultures across the continents had no contact with each other in the ancient world, but they were found in South America, Africa, Europe and even the Australian Aborigines.

Is it just a very strange coincidence?

Russian-Elongated-Skull

 

Puma Punku

Puma Punku is located near the Tiwanaku site in Bolivia and is at an elevation of over 12,800 feet. Like many other ancient sites the date of construction is under debate, but many believe it was built around 400 B.C.  Not only are the stones some of the largest in the ancient world, but the method of the intricate carvings cannot be explained by any experts.  The amazing right angles of the cuts and the tiny “drill” holes in some of the stones are astounding.  We have no idea how or why the site was constructed.

Take a look at the masonry of Puma Punku and see if you can explain how these ancient people moved these gigantic stones into place and how they cut them so precisely with the basic tools in the ancient “tool box” that we believe existed during the time.

puma1

Notice the tiny “drill” holes on the right

puma2

What were these holes for?

puma3

Huge solid stones carved with precision

puma4

Perfect right angles

Derinkuyu

Derinkuyu is another one of my favorite sites. It is located in the central Cappadocia region of Turkey and is referred to as the underground city. It was constructed 90 feet below ground, consists of 18 stories and was thought to house over 20,000 people and livestock. Scientists are unable to definitively date the site since they believe it was expanded by later civilizations and rock cannot be carbon dated. There have been artifacts found that date to at least the 5th century A.D. They also have not been able to determine who built Derinkuyu or why they built it.

The 1,000+ pound doors found in the site suggest it was built to protect from invaders, but there is no evidence of that. Others believe it was built to survive against the last ice age over 12,000 years ago. Ventilation shafts are found throughout the city, as well as wine and oil presses, stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories and chapels.

Regardless of how or why our ancestors built the underground city, its construction defies our understanding of what our ancestors were able to construct.

Why this fascinates me:

1. There is a VERY specific reason these people built such an amazing structure underground.  What were they afraid of? Was this built during the last ice age?

2. We are not totally certain who built Derinkuyu or when it was built.  These could be another case of an ancient site much older than we think. Did another civilization in the 5th century A.D. find and settle Derinkuyu?

3. An ancient underground fortress?  Fantastic material for fiction writing!

Derinkuyu

Derinkuyu

20,000 people were thought to live underground

Wine and oil presses, stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, and chapels.

Wine and oil presses, stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, and chapels.

Göbekli Tepe

Göbekli Tepe is probably my favorite ancient site.  It is located in the Southeastern region in Turkey and excavations have been going on since 1996. Less than 5% of the site has been excavated and scientists have dated the site to at least 9,000 B.C.  You can find more details about the site here.

There are multiple reasons why I find this site so fascinating.  First, its dating makes it the oldest construction site this advanced. The building skills and carvings found on the site suggests we were more than just simple nomadic hunter/gathers during that period as previously thought.  We didn’t think we were able to build something this significant until we started harvesting crops, settled in one place and had the time and resources for such achievements. The Sumer civilization in Mesopotamia, often considered the “cradle of civilization”, was said to be established in 6,500 B.C., however Gobleki Tepe is older by thousands of years and this clearly shows “civilization”. Also, we must have known how to build such structures way before Göbekli Tepe was built. We had to have learned these skills much earlier, but where and when?

Gobekli1

One of the many “T-pilars” found with strange animal carvings; animals that were not known to exist in the area at that time.

Second, we have no idea who built Göbekli Tepe or why they built it.  Since so little has been excavated, the site is huge and when (or if) it is entirely excavated we may find more evidence that continues to challenge what we think we know of “prehistoric” civilizations. Scientists think we gathered here to share food, ideas and maybe even started to think about “religion”.

And finally, it is thought that Göbekli Tepe was intentionally buried by the last inhabitants.  It’s one thing to abandon the site once agriculture took hold, but why take all the time and energy to bury it?

For me, this proves there is a lost history of man that we know very little about. We evolved very little for millions of years and then within 12,000 years we went from simple farmers to sending a man to the moon. Something had to gradually make us a more advanced

and Göbekli Tepe is just one clue as to what that was.

Only 5% of the size has been excavated

Only 5% of the site has been excavated

Here is a great video to learn more about the fascinating site of Gobekli Tepe.

The Great Flood

Most people have heard of the great flood from the Bible when Noah saved two of every animal by building a giant ark to protect them from the rising ocean engulfing the entire earth.  What many people do not know is that the bible flood myth is simply the latest story about a global flood that has been told in over 70 cultures, thousands of years before the bible was written.

In Plato’s dialogues called the Timaeus and Critias he describes “the great deluge of all” that occurred 9,000 years before his time (around 11,500 B.C.). We now know, during that time, we were in an ice age and the sea levels were 400 feet lower than they are today.  Something caused a rapid melt, ending the ice age and eventually creating modern day sea levels. We have also discovered ancient sites hundreds of feet below sea level off the shore of Japan.

Ice Age Sea Levels. Notice the landmasses near Indonesia, North America and Europe.

Ice Age Sea Levels

Modern Day Sea Levels

Modern Day Sea Levels

Why this fascinates me:

1. There are too many stories, from all across the world that date back thousands of years to only be a myth (the flood, not the Noah story).

2. A natural catastrophe, such as a meteor landing in the Indian Ocean, could easily wipe out most of mankind at the time, as tsunamis would destroy the coasts.

3. Something caused the mile high glaciers to melt relatively quickly. All that coastline during the last ice age is now underwater.

4. An “advanced” civilization that existed before the ice age makes for great fiction stories!

Was there really an event, such as a meteor crash or epic earthquake, that caused global tidal waves leading to a rapid end to the ice age?

Yonaguni - underwater monument off the coast of Japan

Yonaguni – underwater monument off the coast of Japan