Category Archives: Pre-history

Persistent Mythologies; Part 1


I have a number of interests, many of which I have shared on this blog. Yet I have one secret passion which has lasted for many years

Dragons.

The real dragon. The one which was able to travel from Wales to Japan, slaying knights, stealing maidens and sowing fear and evil from the Basque country to the Isles of Japan. Except that the Dragons of the Far East suddenly appeared to be quite benign. Something had happened during their journey. Just where had their travels begun?
After a decade away from tracing their paths I am again drawn back to the search. The initial questions were asked four decades ago. During my research I found a need to ask further questions. Dragons are still a passion yet the other questions seem to take up more of my time because they need to be answered before I can make definite statements about the Origins of the Dragons.

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How Old Can A Myth Be?

By its very nature a myth has its origins in the times before writing. In the oral traditions of pre-literate peoples.

One such story is from what is now the Port Philip Bay area of Victoria.

As told on the blog “Wilddogroad” comes a tale of the last major sea rise some 10,000 years ago and handed down in an unbroken oral tradition.

Bunjil is an Aboriginal god of creation

“Many years ago this land that we now call Melbourne extended right out to the ocean. Port Phillip Bay was then a large flat plain where Boonerwrung hunted kangaroos and cultivated their yam daisy.

But one day there came a time of chaos and crises. The Boonerwrung and the other Kulin nations were in conflict. They argued and fought. They neglected their children. They neglected their land. The native yam was neglected. The animals were killed but not always eaten. The fish were caught during their spawning season. As this chaos grew the sea became angry and began to rise until it covered their plain and threatened to flood the whole of their country.

The people went to Bunjil, their creator and spiritual leader. They asked Bunjil to stop the sea from rising. Bunjil told his people that they would have to change their ways if they wanted to save their land. The people thought about what they had been doing and made a promise to follow Bunjil. Bunjil walked out to the sea, raised his spear and directed the sea to stop rising. Bunjil then made the Boonerwrung promise that they would respect the laws.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology, on its website, tells of the climate of Australia in the time of human habitation.

During the time-span of Aboriginal settlement in Australia, there have been great changes in the climate of the continent.

The main weather event of this era consisted of an ice age which arrived about 20,000 years ago and lasted for some 5,000 years, during which time the average temperatures fell by some 10 degrees, rainfall decreased, and cold, dry winds blew across the land.

What was previously a place of plenty, with ample water supplies and bountiful game, became a stark and inhospitable countryside which threatened the very survival of the Aboriginal people. It has been suggested that up to 80% of the entire population may have perished during this extended period of cold and dry weather.

The Bureau’s website goes on to say;

The Bibbulum people of the southwest Western Australia talk of a far off time when it was not as warm and congenial as it is today. Stories of this time begin with “In the nyitting times…” which translated means “In the icy cold times of long, long ago….”.

The implications are interesting. Aboriginal society was completely non-literate until European settlement yet they were able to keep folk memories of the Ice Age and its ending alive for around 10,000 to 15,000 years. Australia’s indigenous people keep much of their mythology hidden within “Secret Men’s Business” and “Secret Women’s Business”.  Information which is reserved for initiated elders. With the loss of Indigenous culture, most, if not all, of these myths will disappear.

Elsewhere in the world, there have been similar situations where the myths and stories of cultures have been destroyed along with the culture. Where there was no form of literature then the loss is irretrievable.

There is one obvious culture which was able to leave its myths and legends behind in a written form. Mesopotamia. The early Middle-Eastern cultures. Ranging through the Euphrates/Tigris valleys a series of villages transformed into towns and cities with rulers, agriculture, secondary industry and record keeping. The record keeping gradually developed into a written language and for the first time the oral history of the people living in those towns and cities were written down.

Some of those stories have been saved, either through the original stone tablet or a translation into another written language. Some of those stories have been returned to the oral tradition and rewritten. The tales they tell seem to be confusing, sometimes contradictory and down-right impossible. Yet beneath the stories of Gods and world-changing or creating events I believe there is a core of reality.

Not only a core of reality but a core of history stretching back into the unknown reaches of pre-history. History is only possible with written permanency. Anything which happened before writing is, by definition, pre-history. Just how far back can this oral, mythological form of history extend? In the instance of the Australian Aboriginal we can see a time line back to the end of the last ice age. A time of at least 15,000 years.

In the case of the early Middle Eastern civilizations, where writing was invented around 3,000bce, if we take 15,000 years as a reasonable time for an event to be handed down in an oral tradition, then we can add 5,000 years to the Australian example.

What events could we reasonably expect to find in the written myths of Mesopotamia? Possibly the entire human history of the Eurasian landmass. From before the beginning of the Holocene at the end of the last Ice Age some 13,000 years ago. Perhaps it may be possible to find traces of life during the last Ice Age in Europe and Asia. The cave paintings of Lascaux date to between 15 and 17,000 years before the present while Chauvet is dated at 32,000 years old.

Could a study of myth and legend take us back to the people who painted those caves? Could those tales take us back even further, to the humans who lived at the end of the middle palaeolithic? Is this all simply a pipe dream?

I have researched some myths and will write more as I assemble it into an approachable form. Somewhere in that mass of information are my dragons.

Dangers of Drink


In pre-Columbian Mexico being drunk was a privilege of men over 70.

If a younger man was found drunk his head was shaved and his house destroyed.

If he was found drunk a second time he was killed.

A man who died of an excess of drink was often eaten.

Thus was the value of marinading discovered.

From “Eating your Auntie is wrong” by Stephen Arnott

LOLthulhu


It had to happen.

The LOLcats have had their souls eaten.

LOLthulhu is here. With his own blog.

Visit the rest at the now totally insane LOLthulhu

An Evolving God and Evolutionary Genetics


I have been having a discussion with Cliff Burns from Beautiful Desolation about the evolution of God and the role of God in human society.

Cliff is a very intelligent man, and a fellow curmudgeon, so I knew that a discussion with him would force me to think deeply on the subject. We approach God from two different directions.

He from a position of belief and I from a position of disbelief.

I attempted to comment on his suggestion that “By having a sense of greater power all around us, humans are humbled…and believe me, as a species, we need a lot of humbling. When we dispense with God, you’re right, we get Mao, we get Pol Pot, Stalin (I just posted an essay that brushes on this). Without God, we’re lost…”

My reply became convoluted yet I felt there were valid points which maybe needed expansion and so here is a new posting on the subject of evolution and rulership, God and genetics. It is based around my reply to the above. I apologise for any duplication of thoughts.

Cliff, I agree that we, as a species, have a social habit of following a leader, corporeal or incorporeal. As you say, our arts and customs are based on this habit. Could it be that in order to have a civilisation, or even a small grouping of people, it was better to have a few leaders and many followers, These genetic traits could have been concentrated in successful societies.

A successful tribe in the hunter-gatherer days of mankind needed a strong and successful leader. A failure in leadership would lead to either a change of leader or the demise of the tribe. As mankind settled and developed agriculture and pastoralism, leadership was again required, both to deal with the feeding of the embryonic civilisation and to help protect it from marauding animals and acquisitive neighbours. Good leaders need followers and those who would not follow had been weeded out back in the tribal days. As villages grew into cities the leader became much more of a ruler.

It was known that there was a realm of magic which decreed the seasons and the Ruler was close to this realm. His pronouncements and decisions were for the over-all good, even if it meant some individuals had to be sacrificed. Figuratively or literally! The magic realm slowly developed into a supernatural realm.

A recent news story I found suggested that it seems that radical and conservative politics attract different genetic types. Could it be that there is also a “Leadership” gene and a “Follower” gene which could be traced back to the original tribal organisation in pre-village life. Having that leadership in the hands of a human individual or, in the hands of a representative of whichever Deity the society condones, doesn’t seem to matter.

Rulers tended to breed within their own group. A Ruler would marry a neighbouring Ruler’s daughter. Over generations, if there is a “Ruling gene” then it became concentrated within certain family groupings. Leaving the rest of the population to follow. For if you did not follow, you were either dealt with or became a ruler yourself. Rulers do have a habit of spreading their genes around. Many individuals, such as the illegitemate son of Rollo and “the Tanner’s daughter” who grew up to become William the Conqueror, would be given half a set of ruling genes at birth. Excellent foremen and sergeants. And occasionally, successful rebels.

So successful societies were led by successful leaders. The long lasting civilisations had, as history shows, not only a human leader, but important supernatural support. A priestly class, probably well endowed with “ruler genes” was a way to carry the wisdom of a successful style of rulership across generations. Where there was not a strong God-belief in a tribe or civilisation, as with Ghengis Khan or Atilla the Hun and other one generational conquerors the civilisation and the tribe died with its ruler or was absorbed into a new culture.

Whether human or divine, it is the fact of leadership within a population grouping which is important. Sometimes it seems that a divine leadership is safer for the general population because there are not generational leadership contests. Too often a human God can go mad as happened with Stalin, Pol Pot and now Mugabe. A God can evolve within a stable community but to change a God requires a macro-shift in exterior conditions. A major drought, food disease, global climate change or innovative change any one of which could lead to population or influence movement where one group wins and another loses.

To a good follower class, and as explained above, every successful society needs good followers, it matters little from where leadership originates. God and the King are almost inseparable. In ancient Egypt and in Rome, the Pharaohs and Caesers were God and there were Priestly dynasties to ensure intergenerational continuity of the God-ship.

In our modern world we have seen Hitler (Godwin preserve me), Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and now Mugabe remove the “old” religion and take on their own shoulders the mantle of divine abilities. Their kingdoms are doomed. There is no continuing supernatural presence within those cultures. The possible exception in this group is China where Rulership is codified in a Committee which could become immortal.
While such leader/follower dynamics are necessary for a successful and relatively stable civilisation, often it is the free-thinkers or atheists who create the conditions for progress as opposed to simple change.

The new theory on the genetics of radical and conservative politics is not proven, yet there is some data which indicates that it may be a viable theory. Could it be that millenia of civilisation has also created a “Belief” gene pool? Separate from, but similar to the postulated political gene.That civilisation has grown to need a God. Not that I am being specific here because it is obvious that there are a number of successful civilisations around the world which each have their own God. The similarity is that they HAVE a God.

PZ Myers has written on his blog that he believes the New Atheist should aim at the destruction of all religious belief. While I admire his aim, I fear for the result.

As civilised men and women we, or most of us, have had bred into our genes a belief in the supernatural. A belief in magic and superstition. It is the major glue which holds our civilisation together. It doesn’t matter whether there is a supernatural realm or not. The belief is what matters and is what enables us, as a group, to live together. Mostly. And that group over there in the next valley or on the next continent is a danger to us and our belief.

Despite being on the same side of the belief fence as PZ I find I agree with Cliff and disagree with PZ. We need religion.

As an atheist, I see my role as looking outside the square. Finding new ways of doing or looking at things. Developing new thinking systems because those who believe are followers and those who rule are natural conservatives.
It is from my actions that God evolves.

101 Uses For A John Howard #72


It seems quite appropriate that another of the crew of fossils which happen to have the reins of government in their dead hands should be relegated to the museum.

Kudelka has done it with class. As he always does.

For millions of years, John Howard roamed the earth, then, tragically, the times stopped suiting him. Some say it was a small, neat meteorite that finally killed him off, others suggest that after all that time he simply ran out of places to bury his dung, however it is certain that a change in the climate didn’t help.

Early pretenders to his ecological niche were the Sabre-Toothed Latham, which unfortunately kept biting itself in the bum, and the Giant Woolly Beazley which baffles political palaeontologists by popping up in various epochs but finally turned out to be an evolutionary dead end.

The remarkable rise of the quite unremarkable-looking Nerd-Faced Rudd seems to coincide with the decline of the Howardsaur, with fossil records popping up seemingly everywhere in an extremely short time. Some suggest that he was better able to cope with the change in climate due to an ability to regulate his own body temperature, but the jury is still out on whether he was truly warm-blooded.

One group asserts that he may in fact have been a direct evolutionary offshoot from the Howardsaur due to some striking similarities, and other less kind scientists suggest that he was in fact the direct evolutionary precursor to the Drover’s Dog.

While current indicators point to the Rudd being the cause of the Howardsaur’s demise, further study is required. What can be said is that evidence of the Howardsaur’s reign will continue to be turned up for years to come in the form of enormous coprolites buried throughout the political landscape.

P!nk Unicorn


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Double-Nosed Dogs, an Organ and a Meteorite


Yesterday I was puzzled.

This is a normal state for my mind, yet this time there was a specific reason for my puzzlement.

Way back in the middle of March I read of a modern day adventurer who was going to take a church organ into the Bolivian jungle.

Colonel Blashford-Snell was setting out to research what is possibly the most recent big meteorite crater on Earth.

He was taking the organ as a thank-you gift for the people of the village which was going to help him and the rest of the expedition.

There was an aside to the expedition. They were also intending to see if rumours of the cryptozoologic “Double-Nosed Andean Tiger Hound” were true. It had been reported in 1912 and another report from 2005, with photographic evidence, seemed to supply proof of, at least, a deformity.

Despite the interesting details about both the organ and the crater, I compiled a post about this dog, a pointer, and found a similar dog breed in Portugal and another in Turkey. I posted what I had found.

There was a small amount of interest, much in keeping with every other posting I make.

Then yesterday there was a sudden rush of visitors to this old, obscure post. Here was the cause of my puzzlement.

This morning I found where the interest had originated.

The BBC has reported on the Colonel’s return from the deepest jungles of Bolivia.

According to Colonel Blashford-Snell, he has now found evidence that this was caused by a giant meteorite, which struck the Bolivian Amazon Basin up to 30,000 years ago.

He says he has found evidence of human habitation within 50 miles of the blast zone, and believes these people were wiped out as a result of the meteor’s impact.

While I have doubts about human habitation on the South American continent that far in the past, it is still an interesting tale and the impact date is uncertain and could be as recent as 5,000 years. This would put it into recorded human history. I wonder if there is anything in the Sumerian Cuneiform writings.

The Iturralde Crater is situated (for those with Google Earth) at 12.35.16S, 67.40.21W.

The strange thing is, everyone seems to have picked up on the dog story.

According to Colonel Blashford-Snell, the dog is not very prepossessing but it is interesting that its best friend is a pig and that the two of them rule the other animals of the village.

Lots of internetters and bloggers looked for more information .

And my stats took an unexpected up-turn yesterday.

The Trojan Lego Man


Flotsam and Jetsam. Stuff that is washed up on beaches.

Or perhaps there may be something more sinister behind this story.

Think Troy, think giant wooden horse, think invasion.

This giant, smiling Lego man has been washed up onto the beach at the Dutch resort of Zandvoort.

Workers at a drinks stall rescued the 2.5-metre tall model, which had a yellow head and blue torso.

“We saw something bobbing about in the sea and we decided to take it out of the water,” said a stall worker. “It was a life-sized Lego toy.”  A woman nearby added: “I saw the Lego toy floating towards the beach from the direction of England.

The toy was later placed in front of the drinks stall. There is no report of a guard being placed on it overnight. The same mistake Priam made in Troy.

It has been over 70 years since England invaded Europe. Is this the start of the overthrow of the European Union?

Octopus Discovers Koryo Pottery


Is it mere happenstance that while the evil Spawn of Cthulhu lies dreaming in R’yleh Vancouver, there are those among educated and fearful men who have been disturbed by recent happenings in the Far East.

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

So wrote HP Lovecraft and here, from the world’s press,  is one more item which science is adding to that terrible “Piecing together”

The online English version of Chosun News reports that;

Kim Yong-chul, a 58-year-old fisherman from Taean, South Chungcheong Province, dreamed of swimming before going to work on May 18, which is believed to bring luck. To catch webfoot octopus, which like to hide in shells, he had scattered hundreds of spiny turban shell bait on the shore the day before. When he pulled in the bait, he found some pottery pieces stuck to the suckers of webfoot octopus. One animal was attached to a plate dating to the Koryo period.

Kim reported the find to authorities, and the National Maritime Museum conducted an urgent excavation. Around the spot where the octopus was caught, they found 30 pieces of 12th century Koryo pottery with chrysanthemum or vine patterns.

The museum plans to start a full excavation at the beginning of July and assumes that the wreck will be found nearby.

One can only hope that the wreck itself is found and not some ruined masonry of unearthy angled construction.

Is it just coincidence that several earthquakes have shaken the foundations of the region in the past month or two?

Perhaps there is more beneath these waves than we wish or need to know.

Cthulhu Lies Dreaming Of?


Every Elder God needs at least one girlfriend. And every blog needs something Cthulhu-ish on a regular basis to keep the hits rising.

It helps keep those other-dimensional beings occupied and puts off their plans to take over the world and steal the souls of every living, and not so living being.

The fact that Cthulhu is also kept happy is a pleasant by-product.

Here is Cthulhu’s Girlfriend.

And finally the eons-old question is answered.

We all know that “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” (“In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”) But of what has he been dreaming?

Cthulhu Porn, of course!

This piece was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft with an extra healthy dose of squid and crab thrown in for good measure. She is painted with an iridescent 3 tone paint job, with clear urethane tentacles and spines.

There are more images of this statue available

A Shoggoth on the Roof


There are some things man was not meant to adapt to musical theatre...

And one of them is the Cthulhu Mythos! (For those who came in late, this is a history researched by the arcane academic, HP Lovecraft, in that quiet space between the two world wars of the previous century and retold by him as gothic horror fiction.)

Some blasphemers have created an unnatural marriage between The Deep Old Ones and Fiddler on the Roof. (For those who came in late, “Fiddler on the Roof” was a musical production which first saw the light of day in that quiet space between the beginning and the end of the Vietnam war.)

As I clicked on the source of this unspeakable horror I felt a moment of absolute despair while I was transported to a maze of unhuman masonry where I heard, to the tune of “If I Were A Rich Man”:

If I were a Deep One
blub blub blub blub, blub blub blub blub
blub blub blub blub, blub blub blub
all day long I’d swim beneath the sea
if I were a Dee-eep One
terrify the tourists
blub blub blub blub, blub blub blub blub
blub blub blub blub, blub blub blub
if I were an icky icky fish
scaly slippery frog-eyed kind of man

Then, to my everlasting terror, I found additional sound-bytic horrors and even a chance to purchase the entire CD!

No matter how amusing you may find this work, never forget the warning given by HP Lovecraft himself;

“We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction have hitherto harmed us little; but someday the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

Other Cthulhu related posts on this blog may be found here, here, here, here, here, here,
here,
here and here.

Assigning Sex


Many languages descended from the original Indo-European determined that all objects (nouns) had gender. This was a remnant of the original animism of the Indo-Europeans where all objects had souls.

This is proof that English is by far the most advanced language because it has allowed the creation of a “third gender”. The It gender of non-animal nouns. Oh, alright, the Germans did it too but not as well as English speakers have done. The assassination queue of upset Germanic speakers forms on the right!

In the early days of the WWW, back in the dark ages of the 1990’s, there was a newspaper competition to determine the gender of a number of English nouns.

Here, from an old Usenet list, are some of the best entries.

Detective Novel — f., because you’re not supposed to peek at its end the minute you pick it up.
Swiss Army Knife — m., because even though it appears useful for a wide variety of work, it spends most of its time just opening bottles.
Kidneys — f., because they always go to the bathroom in pairs.
Penlight — m., because it can be turned on very easily, but isn’t very bright.
Hammer — m., because it hasn’t evolved much over the last 5,000 years  – but it’s handy to have around and is good for killing spiders.
Tire — m., because it goes bald and often is over-inflated.
Hot air balloon — m., because to get it to go anywhere you have to light a fire under it. And, of course, there’s the hot air part.
Web page — f., because it is always getting hit on.
Web page — m., because you have to wait for it to reload.
Shoe — m., because it is usually unpolished, with its tongue hanging out.
Copier — f., because once turned off, it takes a while to warm up. Because it is an effective reproductive device when the right buttons are pushed. Because it can wreak havoc when the wrong buttons are pushed.
Magic 8 Ball — m., because it gives monosyllabic answers that usually indicate it did not pay attention to your question.
Ziploc bags — m., because they hold everything in, but you can always see right through them.
Sponges — f., because they are soft and squeezable and retain water.
Critic — f. What, this needs to be explained?
Subway — m., because it uses the same old lines to pick up people.
Hourglass — f., because over time, the weight shifts to the bottom.
Cars — f., most of the time they’re ok, but if you mistreat them or don’t service them often enough, they soon break down and/or turn into a wreck.

Cthulhu, Rising?


Here is a treat for all who find in HP Lovecraft, a comfort.

For his tales of unspeakable horrors sunk in the deepest of oceans. Of vindictive and soul-hungry Cthulhu lying dead but dreaming in sunken R’lyeh of the unearthly angles awaiting the time when the stars are right before awaking and wreaking havoc upon the world of men. Of his mis-shapen minions and their mindless chanting of the horrible prayer, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn“. Of the Necronomicon of the Mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred. Even of Howard’s Unaussprechlichen Kulten. All the horrors a diseased human mind may invent.

Yes, Lovecraft brought us all comfort with his words for nothing as inimical as the subject of his writings could possibly exist in this reality.

Still, on May 5th, 2000, the planets aligned respected and knowledgeable scientists told us that we had nothing to fear.

And yet.

In the years since, the Mad Arabs have arisen and brought terror to our countries, our cities and our homes. Even the leader of our world, living in the ancient architecture of his Alabaster Mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue has advisers who have been to the Middle East. Who can say whether or not they have been inculcated into the insane writings of the original Mad Arab? Have they secretly joined one of the “Unaussprechlichen Kulten”?

In the past half decade, the sceptre of Global Warming has come to haunt us. Still there are many scientists who do not believe the warming is caused by carbon emissions and the accumulation of Greenhouse Gasses in the atmosphere. Could it be that the perceived warming of the oceans is coming from below? From the stirrings of something unspeakably obscene?

Of course not. It is all a fiction.

Isn’t it?

Relax, it is only a fiction. Isn't it?

This may well have been blogged elsewhere before but I must have blocked the image from my mind in a saner moment.


For more Cthulhu posts

Blogging Degree


Presented with a dodgy and not very scroll-like degree along with some highly inelegant HTML coding, raincoaster foisted it on the rest of the blogging world.

Here is my poor post-graduate effort.

The moon also rises with vegemite.

The University of Miskatonia

Presents to

Ærchie

An Honorary

Bachelor of

Cthulhucide

Majoring in

Non Sequiturs

Signed
Dr. GoQuiz.com
®

Blogging Degree
From Go-Quiz.com

I have my moments but the washing is nearly dry.

Old Technology


 A part of the old Perth Power Station and Gas Supply. Now being renovated and turned into a museum. While not an original idea, it is a great opportunity to showcase some of the artifacts from this State’s history

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