Genius of Ancient Man Book & Blog

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Genius of Ancient Man book cover

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Originally published October, 2013, still relevant, their blog has just gotten way bigger!

One of the most exciting things to learn about is just how smart and talented our earliest forefathers actually were.

I just started a book with my six year old on people around the world and right at the beginning they had the usual “people slowly developed from ape-like animals” story. They tell kids with all the confidence in the world how fire was accidentally discovered and then another accident inspired them to continue dropping their meat into the warming blaze.

It would be really interesting to see their sources for such statements

With my older kids I’ve been reading about inventions that changed the world. They start out with the same kinds of stories. “Accidentally”, “perhaps” a million, or “approximately” 50,000 years ago, things like the wheel and cooking were discovered, revolutionizing the poor things’ lives.

Now, the dates they give starting at about 50,000 years ago are based on actual discoveries. To find out what’s going on and how trustworthy such statements are, check out my article on Carbon Dating. But these story lines also have to ignore a huge amount of discoveries we have made about our ancestors.

Farming terraces on the eastern side of the vi...

Chinese Farming Terraces

On this blog I collected some of the cool findings I ran into over the past few years. You can check them out under the categories Ancient Technology and Ancient Civilizations. My favorite posts are the ones on Farming Terraces and the Sewers from ancient times. Not only are they really cool, they also have nothing to do with idolatry!

Recently, I haven’t been adding any more articles to these categories. Not because I lost interest, but because I haven’t been running into any more discoveries, plus….

Another Creationist group is specializing in presenting these findings in a Christ-honoring light!

Last Autumn I was thrilled to buy a copy of the new book The Genius of Ancient Man published by Master Books, but I never bothered to tell you all about it because there was very little new info (for a student of the ancients) in it. It is, however, worth having in your family library for the worldview training alone and the pictures are cool.

So, when I found Jackson Hole Bible College was continuing their research and sharing with a blog I was ecstatic! This time my excitement has been justified. Every week or so the Alumni of the school post an article about some new place, artifact, or finding illustrating our forefather’s brain power.

Even better is the manner of presentation. They are careful to use credible sources, always have a couple good pictures, and best of all, they point people to Jesus. Some of the cultures and practices of the ancients were completely sold out to sin. That didn’t mean they lost their brain power right away, it meant everything they did was corrupted.

The Genius of Ancient Man blog provides us a safe environment to learn the truth about our past

They also continue to expand their worldview training. For example, they’ve recently posted about brain power not having to be connected to technology. This will be a relief to all of us who struggle to learn computer skills others already designed let alone create new things!

Squeeze Toy Alien guarding chemicals

(Photo credit: jepoirrier)

They’ve also just taken on the popular fascination with aliens. If you (or your kids) know someone interested in the new TV series, or who just feels drawn by this subject, these articles are for you. Ancient Aliens: Part One and Part Two.

You can easily sign up to receive updates about new posts on their blog and, if you’re on facebook, follow their page. It takes a while for the new articles to show up there, but it makes it super easy to share with your friends.

Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; Deuteronomy 7:9

Pyramids of Giza, Wikimedia

Ancient Optics

Nazca Lines - Spider

Nazca Lines – Spider (Photo credit: CB Photography)

One of the very cool things I’ve learned in the past year or so is just how small of things that the ancients could see.  The first time I heard about this ability was when I learned about the Nazca Lines of Peru.  These are actually huge, shallow ditches carved out of the desert plain.  The pictures we can still see are of a sorts of things including a monkey, condor and this spider.It’s impossible to see on the picture I found for my post, but if you click on the spider picture I got from the the Wikipedia page, you will see that one leg has a long bend that extends far beyond the carefully carved legs on the rest of the drawing.  Continue reading

Ancient Technology in the Bible: Hezekiah’s Tunnel

Hezekiah's Tunnel, photo credit: Tamar Hayardeni

Hezekiah’s Tunnel נקבת השילוח see the clear water he’s wading through? photo credit: Tamar Hayardeni

And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? II Kings 20:20

When I was a girl I heard that they had found the “conduit” this verse talks about under the old city of Jerusalem.  My mom told me how they found a plaque at the point where the diggers had met in the middle.

Just a couple of years ago there was a lengthy article about this tunnel in the Biblical Archeology Review magazine (not run by Christians, but way cool anyway!).  Since I can’t mail you all copies of the article, this webpage  with responses from BAR (the important bits are the responses by Ayreh Shimron) which is pretty interesting and give you the basic idea.

One of the things I spotted on that page was that portions of the tunnel is “karstic.”  Three months ago my eyes would have glazed over and it would have been a mystery.  Now we know what Karst is, so we know what they’re talking about!

The rock in those sections is Limestone that the water had been wearing away.  This might have been how David had gotten into the city to take it long before.  Have a look at this verse:

And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter [a hollow water space], and smiteth the Jebusites,… he shall be chief and captain.
9  So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward.  II Samuel 5:8a,9
If you blink (or yawn), you would miss that detail, but it’s interesting to know that there was already a waterway running through the hilltop of Jerusalem.

English: Hezekiah's Tunnel map, photo credit: Tamar Hayardeni  עברית: מפת נקבת...

Hezekiah’s Tunnel map (blue line=tunnel, brown=elevation) photo credit: Tamar Hayardeni

Now we come 300 years later and Hezekiah is trying to make sure his people will have water even if the Assyrians lay siege to the city.  So he has two groups of miners bring all the water from the spring of Gihon through the tunnel and down into a pool around the corner of the city.   One starting from the spring and the other starting at the pool of the Siloam (which was already fed by the old channel).

We still don’t understand all the details, but we can follow the path straight west where it was a good 50m [164ft] below ground level.  Besides having some effective tools to help guide them in the direction and level they wanted to dig in, there are people who think they probably used some sounds to guide them.

The theory goes like this.  People on the surface would tap at a point in front of the miners who would listen for the general direction they were to head in.  Shimron suggests this is why they decided to head back to a point closer to the surface to continue their diggings.

Things didn’t go perfectly for the diggers.  There are several points in the tunnel where they dug in one direction and then backed up about 2m [6ft] to continue in another direction.

Some people consider the extra length of the tunnel as proof that the miners weren’t too smart.  But we have yet to figure out how the two teams of diggers were able to meet with the precision that they showed at the join.

To honor this accomplishment, they carved a memorial that was found in 1880 by a boy exploring the tunnel.  Now this plaque has been removed and is at the Istanbul Archeological Museum, but it’s real!  Here’s the translation:

English: Siloam Inscription from Hezekiah's Tu...

Original Inscription at the Istanbul Archeological Museum (you can see why there are so many dots in the translation)

… the tunnel … and this is the story [the thing – “dvar”] of the tunnel while … the axes were against each other and while three cubits [were left] to cut? …the voice of a man … called to his fellow, for there was a through-passage [“Zedah”] in the rock, from the right … and on the day of the tunnel [being finished] the tone hewers struck [literally “hit”] each man towards his fellow, ax against [literally: “on”] ax, and the water went from the source to the pool for two hundred and a thousand cubits. and one hundred (?) cubits was the height over the head of the stone hewers.

BTW this tunnel ended at the Pool of Siloam that was only rediscovered with its original location and size  in 2005.

 He took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him.
So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?

This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works. II Chronicles 32:3,4,30

For more, see the Quotes post.

Ancient Irrigation: Oman’s Aflaj

English: Falaj in Misfah (Oman) Français : Fal...

Falaj in Misfah (Oman)

Yesterday I was reading the book Window on the World to my kids about the country of Oman.  Although this book is almost 20 years old, it still has a lot of good info on people that you don’t usually hear about.  Much to my surprise, I learned that this country is still using irrigation systems with complex tunnels that are 1,000s of years old!

It fit right in with my post on ancient sewer/water systems, so I had to find out more.  Today I spent a little time finding out more about them.  To understand the whole concept, Wikipedia has some good info and I like their long list of countries that have systems similar to Oman’s.  I found a really good Saudi page which says that Aflaj is the plural and Falaj is the singular Arabic name for these water systems.  If you want to study more about them, check out their page (I didn’t notice anything objectionable).   That page tells how the tunnels date back to before the time of King Sargon II of Assyria (c.727BC) since he mentions having destroyed some of them!

Yet again, we see that people way back were smart, strong and knew how to use the resources that God had given them!English: A cross section of a typical quanat.The Middle East wasn’t the only area to use these tunnels. Western China uses them, too.

I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.
By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.
By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.
I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.  Proverbs 8:12-18

Atlatl Painting: WikiCommons

Ancient Technology: Atlatl, Super Weapon

Poised to launch a dart from an atlatl

[pick your favorite pronunciation: at-lah-t’l, ott-lottle,  or atl-atl from the Aztec]

It’s been 200 years since your family returned to dry land and started repopulating the world. The dragons, elephants, and other really big animals have been busy having babies as well. Your clan is travelling to some pleasantly lonely location where you plan to settle down and name a city after yourself.  But for right now, you just want to find something tasty for supper and that mammoth over the ridge sure looks good. So you pull out your trusty atlatl that Grandpapa Noah himself helped you carve along with the dart your sweetheart fletched for you and call your strapping older boys to help catch some grub.

One of the many exciting things I learned about researching for this blog was the weapon I’m going to talk about today. I’d never even heard of this thing before! Yet, as I study this out, quite a few of our ancestors would be shocked that we could have so nearly forgotten what helped them survive and thrive after the Flood.

Paleolithic spear-thrower showing an Ibex.

Paleolithic spear-thrower showing an Ibex.

According to Evolutionary timelines, the Atlatl or Spear Thrower has been in use for 40,000 years with evidence dating to 25,000 years ago. Basically, we have examples going as far back as we can find evidence of people living all around the world as it now is. Here are some of the early examples of Spear Throwers:

I tried to find early samples from Africa because many sites will tell you that is where they were first used.  But I couldn’t find any. Turns out some other people completely disagree with this assumption (see more in my Quotes article). Does this make them change their story to the public? Not likely.

Atlatl Throw

Atlatl Throw (Photo credit: Kordite)

So why were our early forefathers so fond of this strange seeming thing? Although the Atlatl comes in many forms and sizes, the thing they all share is leverage and spring action. The actual flying part of the weapon is known as a “dart” although it is longer than an arrow and even more flexible. A grown man using a reproduction Atlatl is capable of sending a dart accurately at speeds of 90mph [145kph] over distances of more than 656ft [200m]. The penetration into a target is far better than modern bullets, so they could strike deep into a large animal’s flesh.

Flexing Dart

Flexing Dart (Photo credit: Buzz Hoffman)

When early archeologists found some of these things, they tried recreating them using stiff spears as the flying weapon. It was a miserable failure. So, they figured they’d got it all wrong and kept trying different missiles, right? No, being Evolutionary in their thinking, they figured these ancient people were numbskulls who couldn’t do any better and felt superior. Finally in the 1980s a man named Bob Perkins figured out that they were using the wrong missile. This guy has been studying more and more about how amazing these first weapons really were.

If you look at the links I’ve listed, you will see that the Atlatl comes in a lot of different versions. One of the more interesting variations is the stone weight that was often strapped to it in the eastern US areas.  There are a number of theories about their purpose including, ” balance weights, sound silencers, performance enhancers, and…” the favorite catchall for unknown objects “charmstones.” Personally, I like Atlatl Bob’s idea of them being silencers.

For lots more check out my Quotes of the Day.

The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.
Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.
The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.
He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.  Psalm 145:15-19

There are several modern manufacturers for the Atlatl, this one has some cool pictures and recreations.

Pyramids of Giza, Wikimedia

The Ancients Liked to Play Ball?

Stone spheres in the courtyard of the National...

Stone spheres in the courtyard of the National Museum of Costa Rica (Photo credit: Mordac)

I ran into a page on the Stone Balls of Costa Rica a few weeks ago and thought they were really cool.  It is so much fun studying these things out with you!  Even Wikipedia has a nice page on these rocks, so it’s not just the UFO and Bible fanatics who know these things are real!  The rocks found in Costa Rica range in size from just a few inches/centimeters to some that are over 2m [6 1/2ft] diameter weighing about 15 tons!

There is no way to tell how old a carving really is on these rocks, and most of the 300 or so that we’ve found aren’t where they were originally put, like the ones that have been moved to the National Museum. I did find an interesting page on these stones at World Mysteries. When people first started rediscovering them in the 1940s, a number of them were found on mounds, arranged in lines or geometrical shapes.  One group of four made a line pointing to Magnetic North.

English: Potbelly sculpture from Monte Alto in...This reminded me of something else I’d read about recently.

The Fat Boys and other stone sculptures of Guatamala. These round figures of people’s heads or whole bodies often have something very odd about them: they are naturally magnetic. This wouldn’t be something to write home about, except that we can tell the sculptors knew the rocks were magnetic. Every time they carved one, they made sure the north pole of the rock was by the right side of the forehead, or by the belly button of the body. We can’t figure out why they bothered with this, but we know they knew what they
were doing!

English: A Carved Stone Ball from Towie in Abe...

Back to stone spheres. Wikipedia also had some pages talking about some that I’d never heard of before. Scotland has some very strange looking stone carvings. They aren’t smooth balls to roll around, but have odd knobs like the one in this drawing. I found a webpage with a whole bunch of photos talking about these rocks. They were first rediscovered loose in farm fields and other odd places, but a few have been found in a collection that show they were made by the earliest settlers on the island.

Although many of these stones are rough and unpolished, they have careful proportions that show the sculptors were smart people.  Some of these stones show the shapes of the five “Platonic Solids” which certainly show that these were not brainless “primitives.”

Nobody can figure what the ancients used these tennis ball sized orbs for.  One archeology student thinks they might have helped roll the megaliths for their stone circles into place!  It works pretty well, and is a good guess anyway!

O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.  Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?  Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The LORD.  Jeremiah 16:19-21

For more information, see my Quotes of the Day and check these pages out:

Bosnian Stone Spheres I’d have your parents watching if you want to explore the rest of that site.  There’s only one (small book sized) webpage on these stones written by a member of the scientific community (I wonder why?).   They are made of volcanic rocks like the Costa Rica ones that no one questions anymore, though.  What do you think?

Strange Attraction:  The Mystery of Magnetism A long article by the archeologist whose student discovered the Fat Boys’ magnetic properties

Article with pictures of Costa Rica stones in their original locations (this one mentions the idea of Space Aliens having made a galactic map with them)

CelticNZ technical article with the science behind the arrangement of the Costa Rica Stones

Wikipedia: Grave Orbs showing more ancient fascination with round rocks

An Architect’s take on the Scottish Orbs

Ancient Astronomy

Rekonstruktion der Himmelsscheibe von Nebra

Nebra Sky Disk

Ancient technology Friday!!I know how much we all love to hear about how smart our great, great great…. grandparents actually were, so here’s today’s installment.

I was looking around for something else and ran into this page with excellent pictures of intact crystal eyes on Egyptian statues.  Scroll down to the close-ups to see just how lifelike they are.  Here’s another guy, carved of sycamore wood with his eyes intact.  This goes along with my post on Ancient Optics.

And here’s a long page on ancient telescopes which covers basically the same info I’d already mentioned.  They also had something I hadn’t known showing how a large concave mirror can be used as a very effective telescope.

I also found more info on Nero’s eyeglass.  Turns out it was actually a monocle made of beryl, which is the bigger gem family that the emerald is a part of.  Most sites want to claim this is the first time someone used a vision corrector, but does that seem likely to you?

There are two things about the Ancients that make it hard for me to post much about them.  They were obsessed with the heavens and they were terribly into idol worship.  Of course, those two things are connected.  Although they used their observations of the movements in space to find their way around the world, they mostly used this knowledge to decide the best times to worship their gods.

You could go to dozens of webpages that talk about these things, but quite a number of them are by people with the same mindset.  Astrology is sadly still very popular.  I’ve checked each of these pages, but I don’t recommend wandering their sites without a grown up!  This one sticks to the facts and shows how common it is for most of the ancient monuments we’ve found to be aligned to the heavens.  Here’s one location they missed in Heath, Massachusetts.  Turns out it is aligned to the heavens too (check out that page for all the other structures people were building in New England back then!).  [I first heard about these places at s8int.com, the Christian site.]

Ancient people did more than make lenses to study the stars directly and build important monuments in alignment with the heavens.  Some of the most ancient pieces of artwork we have are really little moon and star maps.  It’s anyone’s guess what they were all used for.  I’ve seen someone who thought that one calendar would have helped a new mom figure out when her baby was due!  What we do know for sure was that the stars and heavenly movements were of great importance to people very soon after the Flood. If only they had remembered to honor the Creator God who maintains all these things for His own glory.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. Psalm 33:6 

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.  And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.  And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:14-18

Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: Isaiah 66:1a

The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.  Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces? Jeremiah 7:18,19

For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts. Malachi 1:11

Another page on the Nebra Star Map that’s worth studying.