Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Ancient Code

Archaeosophia is very honoured to have been invited to submit an article for the up-coming book, "The Ancient Code" to accompany the film of the same name.

Continuing the theme of the film, the book contains contributions written by many authors expressing their opinions on subjects such as history and ancient cultures, society, materialism, spirituality and our own unique connection to nature and how we have possibly missed the point and gone too far into a materialistic society which is doing our individual psyches no good.

Edited by best selling author, TV chat show-host and award winning film-maker, Philip Gardiner, the book promises to be a diverse collection of works by such luminaries as Prof Hugh Montgomery, John Jay Harper, Brad Steiger , Dr Tim Wallace-Murphy and others.

For more details on the film and book, please visit
The Ancient Code Website
Gardiner's World
Phil Gardiner's Blog

Ancient Code.com: The Quest For Truth

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Ivory sculpture in Germany could be world's oldest

A 35,000-year-old ivory carving of a busty woman found in a German cave was unveiled Wednesday by archaeologists who believe it is the oldest known sculpture of the human form.

The carving found in six fragments in Germany's Hohle Fels cave depicts a woman with a swollen belly, wide-set thighs and large, protruding breasts.

"It's very sexually charged," said University of Tuebingen archaeologist Nicholas Conard, whose team discovered the figure in September.

Carbon dating suggests it was carved at least 35,000 years ago, according to the researchers' findings, which are being published Thursday in the scientific journal Nature.

It's the oldest known piece of figurative sculpture in the world," said Jill Cook, a curator of Paleolithic and Mesolithic material at the British Museum in London.

Stones in Israel and Africa almost twice as old are believed to have been collected by ancient humans because they resembled people, but they were not carved independently.

The Hohle Fels cave discovery suggests the humans, who are believed to have come to Europe around 40,000 years ago, had the intelligence to create symbols and think abstractly in a way that matches the modern human, Conard said.

"It's 100 percent certain that, by the time we get to 40,000 years ago in Swabia, we're dealing with people just like you and me," Conard told The Associated Press, referring to the southern German region where the sculpture was recovered along with other prehistoric artifacts.

Conard believes the 2.4-inch-tall (6-centimeter) figure may have been hung on the end of a string. The left arm is missing, but Conard said he hopes to find it by sifting through material from the cave.

The Hohle Fels sculpture is curvaceous and has neither feet nor a head, like some of the roughly 150 so-called Venus figurines found in a range from the Pyrenees mountains to southern Russia and dating back about 25,000-29,000 years.

But Cook warned against trying to draw any connections between the Venuses and the Hohle Fels figure, saying that would be like comparing Picasso to a classical sculptor -- too much time had passed.

"I wonder whether at this point we're looking at figures which are unique within themselves and unique within the cultures that they're arising in," she said.

Archaeologist Paul Mellars, of the University of Cambridge, suggested a clearer continuum.

"We now have evidence of that sort of artistic tradition of Venus figurines going back 6,000 years earlier than anybody ever guessed," he said.

Neanderthals also lived in Europe around the time the sculpture was carved, and frequented the Hohle Fels cave. But Mellars said layered deposits left by both species over thousands of years prove the sculpture was crafted by humans.

"Nothing within a million miles of this has ever been found in a Neanderthal layer," Mellars said.

The archaeologists agreed the sculpture's age and features invite speculation about its purpose and the preoccupations of the culture that produced it.

Cook suggested it could be symbol of fertility, perhaps even portrayed in the act of giving birth.

Mellars suggested a more basic motivation for the carving: "These people were obsessed with sex."

Conard said the differing opinions reinforced the connection between the ancient artist and modern viewer.

"How we interpret it tells us just as much about ourselves as about people 40,000 years ago," he said.

UK government decides to improve Stonehenge site

The British government Wednesday announced plans for major improvements at Stonehenge to be completed ahead of the 2012 Olympics, when hordes of visitors are expected.

The hotly debated plans call for one of the roads near the prehistoric monument to be closed and grassed over to make the site more tranquil and to link the mysterious stone circle to the rest of the site.

In addition, the antiquated visitor's center right next to the site will be shut down and replaced by a modern reception center about 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) away from the stones. Visitors will be able to use the center and then take a bus to the site, officials said .

The plan is expected to cost about 25 million pounds ($37.5 million), officials said.

"This will lead to a pragmatic and affordable scheme which will make significant and vitally needed improvements to what we have now," said Barry Cunliffe, chairman of English Heritage, which oversees the site and many other landmarks.

Stonehenge is a World Heritage Site that is one of the most visited monuments in Britain, but the visitor experience has long been hampered by the presence of two heavily traveled roads that go quite near the stone circle.

"Stonehenge is of international importance, but the setting for the monument is very inappropriate," said Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge project director for English Heritage. "This will be a significant improvement."

One of those roads will now be closed. Heritage planners had hoped to use a tunnel to take traffic on the other road away from the monument, but that expensive proposal has been rejected.

Knowles said Stonehenge will remain open to visitors while the construction work is done.