Sunday, May 21, 2006


Archeologists working high in the Peruvian Andes have discovered the oldest known celestial observatory in the Americas - a 4,200-year-old structure marking the summer and winter solstices. The observatory was built on the top of a 33-foot-tall pyramid with precise alignments and sightlines that provide an astronomical calendar for agriculture, archaeologist Robert Benfer of the University of Missouri said.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I was very taken with the May/June 2006 issue of the Skeptical Inquirer that has some excellent articles on "SETI and Astrobiology: Four Views."

The quote from Jill Tarter, Director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View CA is probably why I love to follow the search, that is SETI (The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) .

Her quote: "I was lucky to live in the first generation of humans capable of attempting to do a scientific experiment to answer the question that thousands of previous generations had been able to address only to their priests and philosophers. [her undertaking] this was, and is, the most important scientific exploration humanity can undertake.... poetically phrased by Philip Morrison, who said, 'SETI is the archaeology of the future.'"


We all are aware of the plethora of archaeological remains in Jerusalem but it is rare to find a concentration of ancient stone tools. Recently, Israeli archaeolgists discovered just that.

The stone tools date to the Middle Paleolithic Period ranging from 50,000 to 200,000 years ago. The reason for the stone age settlement on the southeastern rim of the city was apparently for its proximity to an outcrop of rock that provided excellent raw materials for stone tools, according to Omri Barzilai and Michal Birkenfeld, the two archaeologists heading the dig.

Interestingly, despite the history-rich finds in Jerusalem from the Biblical period onwards, archaeologists have found only two other sites in the city that date to such an early period -- near Mount Scopus and on Emek Refaim Street.


The discovery of the oldest known art and agriculture calendar in the New World was recently announced by Professor Robert Benfer of the University of Missouri-Columbia. The 2200 BC Temple of the Fox in Buena Vista, Peru, is "1,000 years older than anything of its kind found before. It's also significant because it suggests people organized their lives around Andean constellations and provides evidence of the beginning of flood-plain agriculture," said Benfer.

It's dubbed The Temple of the Fox because Benfer unearthed a mural of a fox incised inside a painted llama at its entrance. The fox was significant in Andean myth and astronomy and, in their myths, taught the ancient Andean civilizations how to cultivate and irrigate plants.

While excavating the temple and sculptures within, Benfer discovered several astronomical alignments at the Buena Vista site that suggests Andeans used astronomical signs and constellations for agricultural acitivies. The lines incorporate points at the temple entrance, at the offering chamber, on sculptures and on surrouding ridges that align with the rising and setting sun on days of astronomical significance such as the equinox and solstices.

In the past looters had come within one inch of statuary while seraching for gold and silver in the ancient temple. But the Andeans constructed offering chambers, used them for ceremonies and then built new chambers above the old that protected the Buena Vista site from the looters.

For further details see:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


A new giant picture on the Nazca Plateau in Peru has been discovered by a team of Japanese researchers. Remember, this is the area that is famous for giant patterns that can be seen from the air. (The pseudo scientist Van Daniken proposed they were made by creatures from outer space but archaeologists have traced their origins to the indigenous people of the area.)

The newly-found image is 65 meters long and appears to be an animal with horns. Interestingly, there are no similar patterns on the desert. Although the part of the picture that appears to be horns bears a close resemblnce to those on Nazca earthenware dating from 100 BCE to 600 CE.

It's the first time since the 1980s that a picture, other than a geometrical pattern, has been found on the Nazca Plateau. There is evidence that vehicles had driven in the area so part of the picture has been destroyed.