An Archeological Mystery Exposed!

on October 13, 2013 in Misc

For the remainder of 2013, my posts will be from Layla Daltry’s perspective. She’s the hero of The Compass Master, a daring antiquities hunter, and while on the trail of a rare, precious artifact is living undercover in Denver as Helena Soister. Here are the latest details of her mission…

I was stunned the moment I saw the photograph and read the online news story.

In an instant, my brain made the connection.  I could create a firestorm in the world of archeology, was my reaction.  One that just might blow my cover as I lay low here in Colorado.

According to the article, my friend, Larisa Vodolazhskaya (gad, those long Russian names!), a study researcher at the Archaeoastronomical Research Center in Russia, has rendered her judgment on some Bronze Age petroglyphs.

They had been carved on a slab of stone discovered by archeologists in 2011 in a burial mound in the Ukraine.  The mound has been dated to the 12th or 13th century B.C.   After studying the angles of the carvings and making calculations, Larisa has now concluded that the slab was likely used to mark the hours in the day at that particular latitude.  In short, it was a sundial, perhaps the most ancient sundial ever discovered.

All well and good.  But it was the photograph that took my breath away, and for good reason.

On the left is the Ukrainian sundial.

And here’s this one…

It’s a photo of a stone petroglyph in Crack Cave in southeastern Colorado.  On only two days of the year—the spring and autumn equinox—they are illuminated when the sun’s rays can reach into the cave at dawn.  Some scientists argue that this Colorado petroglyph is made up of Ogham words from the ancient Celts, likely Irish Christian monks who may have explored a stretch of the Arkansas River, perhaps around 500 to 800 A.D., and left their Ogham writings over an area stretching from Oklahoma into Colorado along the Arkansas River.  The theory is controversial.

These two photos confound me.  Why are these upper and lower vertical grooves transected by a horizontal one so similar in both?  Why are there small “circular depressions” around the Ukrainian sundial, but also a few on the Colorado petroglyph?  Depressions Larisa describes as “hour marks of an analemmatic sundial” that reveal a sophisticated grasp of geometry.

Yes, the native Americans had their own astronomical calendars, but none of them match the style of this Colorado one.  The Celtic connection remains.  But is there now an even more ancient Ukrainian one?

And is the Colorado petroglyph slightly different from the Ukrainian one to account for the change in latitude?

I suspect the scientists are wrong about Crack Cave’s “Ogham” markings.  Yes, it was likely Dark Ages Celtic monks who carved them, but instead of Ogham letters they are the calculations of a sundial.  And these monks learned this astronomical tradition from fellow Europeans who had been using it as far away as the Ukrainian steppes and since at least 1000 B.C.

But how was this knowledge passed down? How did these far-flung cultures meet and exchange their mathematics and sciences?

I hope the answers are not lost in the mists of time.  I hope to make my own discoveries soon.  And then the firestorm of controversy will begin.

11 Responses to “An Archeological Mystery Exposed!”

  1. How did they meet since an ocean separates them?
    She’s going to blow her cover…

  2. I sometimes ask the same kinds of questions. The other day, I was looking at a picture of a Mayan pyramid and thought, “I think it’s interesting that two cultures that never interacted made buildings in roughly the same shape and that they both used stairs that are essentially the same no matter where you go in the world.”

    I guess it just shows you that in science, there is an answer to what is best. Stairs are a result from pondering the question, how can we make climbing a slope easier? I’m sure there were many designs, but the fact that people who had no communication arrived at “steps” and that they are essentially within a margin of error to being utilitarian for an adult human is just proof of this premise.

    Maybe it’s the same with tracking time. I haven’t spent studying it, but it seems logical that people might arrive at the same conclusion over and over when trying to answer the question: what is best? without outside stimulation. Rain and snow come from the sky so primitive peoples learned that a roof over one’s head was best to handle this (as an example).

    What befuddles me somewhat is that some civilizations failed to invent the wheel. I guess I just don’t understand, because even I have kicked a rock down the road and can see that something that rolls is better than something that doesn’t. Maybe they just didn’t ask the right questions.

  3. Helena says:

    Alex – Historians are also discovering that there was much more ocean-crossin pre-Columbus than they realized.

  4. Helena says:

    Michael — I’d like to read Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs and Steel,” which looks at why people in different parts of the world developed differently and how their environment was the main cause. But I also looked up Egyptian and Mayan pyramids, and if you’re interested here’s a piece that appeared in Psychology Today. I like the theories that ancient people may have crossed the Atlantic, but there’s also mention of how people have the same needs everywhere.

  5. Thanks for the articles, Helena. I will check it out.

  6. I love discoveries like this. They usually fire up my imagination because they’re simply loaded with what-ifs. The markings look like the skeleton of a fish to me. Good thing I’m not an archaeologist.

  7. Helena says:

    Carol – You’re right, they both look like fish bones.

  8. Old Kitty says:

    The Archaeoastronomical Research Centre!!!! Now that’s a mouthful – imagine that in Russian!! Lovely Layla – what have you got there? Trust you to stir things up though – but I bet you’re onto something!! Good luck! Take care

  9. I like her voice in this one — and those Russian names… I still have trouble with one of my students this year!

  10. Helena says:

    Old Kitty — Between Archaeoastronomical and the tongue-twister names, Layla was seriously challenged in this case. At least Ogham is only two syllables.

  11. Helena says:

    Milo – Maybe this is one reason we writers give our characters shorter, punchier names. Except for those Russian writers.