Friday, November 12, 2010

Archeology...without the bullwhip

Given the state of mind of much of humanity today, I'm surprised we're not wrecking more of our past as we are our future.   
"There's an ancient Sumerian city under that expanse of land?  Fuck it.  We need a strip mall and condos.  Start digging, Achmed."  Thankfully, we have done a rather serviceable job for the most part of protecting ancient archeological heritage.  One obvious and famous example of this is the Sphinx of Egypt.  This monument of ancient sculpture and stonework has literally been fascinating people for centuries.  What is it?  Why was it built?  Everyone from ancient astronaut theorists to legitimate Egyptologists have wondered those very things and the answers that have been formulated, e.g. it was a tribute to a pharaoh, are rather sketchy when it comes down to brass tacks.

One archeologist has formulated a few challenging notions.  Dr. Robert Schoch of Boston University estimates the oldest parts of the monument to date back to about 5,000 to 7,000 BCE.  That's at least three or more thousand years older than established academia has accepted.  Schoch bases these estimates on the amount of water erosion and runoff demonstrated on areas of the Sphinx.  The last time there was enough rain to cause that kind of erosion in Egypt was prior to 3,000 BCE.  He goes on to suggest that the face depicted on the monument is not Khufu or anyone we would traditionally associate as "Egyptian," but rather a Nubian or African...and a woman to boot.  
Schoch has undertaken seismic studies of the ground on which the Sphinx rests and there does seem to be evidence that supports a fabled "secret chamber" beneath the left paw of the Sphinx.  Egyptians were said to have had a variety of different secret storage places, libraries that would preserve their knowledge from antiquity.  New Agers will tell you that the secret to Atlantis lies in one of these chambers, or solid evidence that the ancients did indeed have advanced technologies.  Or it could just be evidence that conclusively proves ancient Egyptians knew how to carve stone really really well.
Schoch is still trying to locate an entrance to said chamber, but there does appear to be a tunnel that runs the length of the Sphinx.
But is he right about any of this?  Who knows.  But that's how archeology works.  We can't go back and see what the Egyptians did, so we take the evidence we can find and extrapolate from there.  Only time and further research will tell if Dr. Schoch's theories are complete enough to hold water.  That said, I think what he is doing is important.  For one thing, I believe every field of research, whether it is ufology, English composition theory, or chemists trying to find better bleach additives, needs mavericks.  Guys who will shake things up, ask questions that no one else is willing to, and provoke open minds to think while annoying closed minds to no end.
Secondly, I support anyone who does research into our past.  No Dylan and Brittany, the world was not cut out of whole cloth fifteen years ago.  We cannot hope to move forward if we do not know where we have been.

Do Americans know that?


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