Monday, September 6, 2010

Who made the pyramids? -or- Giving credit where credit is due

Carpentry is a little beyond me.  The thought of tearing down a wall, replacing a window, or adding a room make me feel nervous.  I know it's possible, and it's all be done millions of times, but it's so far beyond my skill set that it might as well be magic.

Back in the day, thousands of years before we had circular saws or drills, they were doing even crazier things with stone.  The pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge, Pumapunku.  There are a lot of very old structures made of very large blocks that, according to our understanding of archaeology, should not have been possible to create by the people of that time.  Some of them should not be possible to create by people of our time.  How do you explain such a mystery?

Well, if you've read this blog for as long as I have (ha ha) you already know my answer.  You don't.  There's no need to explain away every mystery before you have all the facts.  This is a sin that skeptics and believers alike, who are just looking for the punchline, commit as often as envy, or gluttony.

So, if you must have an explanation now, because mysteries are like little stones sitting on the mind, then there's always aliens.  The hypothesis of "ancient astronauts" is a wide-ranging idea that reaches into the history of human evolution, religion, astronomy, technology, archaeology, and a number of other things.  I may go into it in more detail in the future, but suffice it to say for now that it's how many people explain how such buildings were made.  Alien technology.

This is crop circles all over again.  And my sentiment is basically the same.  Who are you to say what human beings are or aren't capable of?  We tend to think that humans of ancient civilizations as being less intelligent than us, but keep in mind that they were the exact same clever reasoning animals that we are.  The didn't have iPads, but they probably knew more about stone than the masons of today.  That was their high-technology.  If they wanted a pyramid made, or a stonehenge, or a Pumapunku, and a few people put their heads together, I think they could find a way to do it.  That's really all there is to it, as far as I'm concerned.

"But Cal," someone says, "Even with our high technology, we could not make these structures today."  That may be true, but you have to keep in mind that higher technology doesn't always mean a better product.  There are classic video games that will always surpass the modern graphical wonders.  There are many novels that are much more engaging than today's special-effects blockbusters.  And those are just ink on paper.

The more powerful the tools are, the less powerful the mind behind them has to be.  A great mind with great tools is a force to be reckoned with, but so is a great mind with a chisel and mallet.  So let's not project our self-imposed limitations onto the ancient past, and cheapen the achievements of people who may very well have been our intellectual superiors.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Technology gets forgotten a lot quicker than people think. I used to work for EMI in the archives. As a gift for the chairman who was leaving, people decided to make a shellac 78rpm record from scratch. Unfortunately, no record of the exact recipe remained, and their attempts were too brittle. In the end, they made it by melting down old 78rpm records to make the new one.

  2. Ha!

    Yeah, we don't have to look too far back to see how good we are at forgetting history.