Just Interesting

The “glossy magazine” category. Nothing too deep.

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A darkly poignant human story of lost knowledge and cruelty, connecting prehistory to today.

This picture is a comparison between ancient Harappan script and Easter island Rongorongo characters. They are unmistakably related. This is a bit of a mind fuck because they are about as far apart as possible both on the surface of the earth and over the length of human time. 1

The (Indus valley) Harappan culture was astoundingly advanced and sophisticated (I’ll explore how advanced in a later post).  It began and flowered ~8 thousand years ago 2 during the eye-blink brevity of the neolithic agricultural transformation of humanity from the old stone age to new. 3 We still cannot understand the script but apparently, it WAS understood by the priestly caste on Easter island, where it was considered sacred.

In the 1800’s Peru took half the Easter island population as slaves including everyone who knew how to interpret the symbols. The survivors took to obsessively copying the characters onto scraps of wood. They wanted to keep the language alive but it was now only an empty, outward form, cut off from meaning. It drifted into mere decoration and when the missionaries arrived, they pressured the survivors to burn all the old writing and make a clean start with Jesus.

 

1 It also correlates strongly to proto- Chinese! 

2 Even if we chop a couple of thousand years off this timeline to correct for exaggeration or error, the continuation of this alphabet/symbol system from Mohenjo-Daro to Rapa-Nui is the longest cultural transmission ever: comparable to modern Egyptians using hieroglyphics. 

We lived “Paleolithically” for two hundred thousand years…then took just three thousand years to drop our life strategy as a whole species and throw a new one together. OK, not as a whole species, but the dribs and drabs of hunter-gatherer humanity that carried on are the microscopic exception to the new rule. 

 

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“Many items from Kha and Merit’s daily lives were buried with them as well. The collection includes the beds they slept on, the chairs they sat in, the board games they played, and even Merit’s box of cosmetics. One jar, for example, still has Merit’s black eyeliner and application wand inside, while another still smells of her favorite perfume.” – William Newton

Lidded glass vase decorated with wave patterns and two duck heads. Found alongside several other items in the beauty case of Merit, buried in the same tomb as her husband, Kha. Egypt (Deir el-Medina), 18th Dynasty, 1425 to 1353 BC.

The vase alongside other items found in the same box

The deceased Kha and his wife Merit worship Osiris, lord of the afterlife. Papyrus from Book of the Dead, from the funerary chamber of architect Kha. New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty

Kha and Merit lived around 1400 B.C., in a village near the Valley of the Kings which later became known as Deir el-Medina. Kha was an architect and oversaw the work on the royal tombs being constructed nearby, while Merit was his wife and the mother of his four children. Because of his position, Kha provided his family with a good living, and the family enjoyed a more comfortable lifestyle than most. Their tomb in the hills overlooking the village had somehow been missed by grave robbers, so when it was discovered in 1906, everything was still in place, exactly as it had been left when it was sealed.

 

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Buddha on an ancient gold coin…in Greek

Europeans became increasingly interested in the cultures and religions of the Middle East and Asia, or what they later called ‘the Orient’, as a result of trade relations throughout the first millennium CE. Images of Buddha with the Greek lettering ΒΟΔΔΟ (‘Boddo’ for Buddha) were found on gold coins from the Kushan empire dating back to the second century CE.

Buddha was mentioned in a Greek source, ‘Stromateis’, by Clement of Alexandria as early as around 200 CE, and another reference to Buddha is found in St Jerome’s ‘Adversus Jovinianum’ written in 393 CE. A religious legend inspired by the narrative of the ‘Life of Buddha’ was well known in the Judaeo-Persian tradition and early versions in Persian, Arabic, Hebrew, Armenian and Georgian have been discovered.
The story became commonly known as ‘Barlaam and Josaphat’ in medieval Europe. The name Josaphat, in Persian and Arabic, spelled variously Budasf, Budasaf, Yudasaf or Iosaph, is a corruption of the title Bodhisattva which stands for ‘Buddha-to-be’, referring to Prince Siddhartha who became Gotama Buddha with his enlightenment.

More at the source…

Asian and African studies blog

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Euler’s disk, (pronounced ‘Oiler’) which can spin for an absurdly long time, and seemingly defy gravity by increasing its axial precession as it decreases its azimuthal rotation. It appears to break physical laws (it doesn’t) but it truly shatters expectations.

 

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