Thursday, December 10, 2009

Official Google Blog: Seeing the forest through the cloud

Official Google Blog: Seeing the forest through the cloud

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

United Kingdom Ordnance Survey for the Masses: UK map data to be free at last : Consequences for the Internet

As written by Martin Bryant:

"The UK government has announced that it is to explore ways of making huge amounts of public data freely available for the first time....

Until now, the official Ordnance Survey maps of the entire UK have been only available to people willing to pay...."

See
UK map data free at last – what it means for the web

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cartography of the Heavens in the Neolithic Era : The Tanum Petroglyphs of Sweden and (formerly) Norway as a Stellar Planisphere

This posting is not about modern law but about ancient law. It was the ancient ordering of the stars of the heavens, which, according to Bertrand Russell, gave men their first conceptions of natural law.

We have been successful - so we allege - in deciphering the entire complex of Scandinavian rock drawings at the World Heritage Site of Tanum, now in Sweden, and formerly in Norway (until the year 1658 - see the Treaty of Roskilde).

Our decipherment shows that the more than 1500 petroglyphs (rock drawings) at Tanum and its rock art affiliate locations form an enormous ca. 70 square kilometer planisphere (sky map of the heavens).

The graphic presentation of the decipherment is found below:

Tanum petroglyphs rock drawings art deciphered by andis kaulins

The Decipherment of the Tanum Petroglyphs by Andis Kaulins 2007

This sky map forms a shape of the stars along the Milky Way which was probably intended by its makers to represent a heavenly boat of the ancient Nordic seafarers. We have drawn in the line of the Milky Way to show this, but it is not, as far as we know, actually drawn on the ground.

As we shall be presenting a paper on this topic in May of this year in Horn / Bad Meinberg, Germany, at the Machalett Conference on Preshistory and Early History, this posting just contains the basics of our discovery.

It was 30 years ago in the year 1977 that this author first visited the petroglyphs (rock drawings) of Tanum, located in Tanumshede, Västra Götaland (historically Bohuslän), about a two-hour drive north of Göteborg (Gothenburg). Tanum was not well known internationally in 1977, in spite of over 1500, in part gigantic, rock drawings.

Tanum includes the following petroglyphic locations covering many square kilometers of countryside: Vitlycke (where the museum is located), Tanum, Tegneby, Aspeberget, Gerum, Ryland, Oppen, Slänge, Varlös, Fossum, Lycke, Hoghem, Västerby, Ljungby, Tuvene, Litsleby, Kyrkoryk, Orrekläpp, Rungstung, Satetorp, Ryk, Tyft, Hovtorp, Björneröd, Bergslycke, Kalleby and Trättelanda.

One key to our decipherment was the Tanum rock drawing location map found at the World Heritage Site for Tanum. Without such a complete overview of the area, such a decipherment as ours would be impossible, since it is the entire complex of petroglyphs which builds the secret to this enormous site. All of these petroglyphs as a whole represent the stars of the heavens, with multiple petroglyphs in clusters representing constellations of stars known to us today. Many of these along the ecliptic of course form our modern Zodiac.

One cannot escape the feeling at Tanum that we are witnessing the birth of modern astronomy among the ancient seafarers, whose need for a knowledge of star orientation in sea navigation is beyond dispute.

These ancient men formed these constellations primarily for practical purposes and not, as mainstream archaeology persists in advocating regarding these petroglyphs, for unproven rites and rituals, which may have been a part of the complex of the ancient world, but certainly not as its moving force.

It is in fact little wonder that there are so many boats (ancient ships) represented in the petroglyphic figures. To the seafaring ancients, the night sky was a sea of stars. We think it possible that this might be the location at which our modern stellar constellations were initially "grouped" by European man - for purposes of navigation in seafaring travel.

There are other proofs - beyond the evidence of the rock drawings themselves - that this astronomical decipherment is correct, e.g. the names of locations at which the rock drawings are found, but these proofs will first be discussed in a paper in German to be presented to the 41st Conference of the Machalett Study Group on Prehistory and Early History in May of this year.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mapping Civilizations : Cartographia

We are a bit late on this, but Cartographia: Mapping Civilisations by Vincent Virga and the Library of Congress is a "Must Have Book" for your library shelves. For example, it features the Waldseemüller Map, the first map to ever use the term "America":
"Waldseemüller map is the first map to include the name "America" and the first to depict the Americas as separate from Asia. There is only one surviving copy of the map, which was purchased by the Library of Congress in 2001 for $10 million."
We show this map below from Wikimedia Commons but see also LOC:


You can view 16 of the maps in small images at NPR.

The original Library of Congress press release stated:
"September 26, 2007

Library's Map Treasures Are Highlighted in "Cartographia"

New Publication to Be Subject of Program and Book Signing on Oct. 23

Maps are a visual record of human endeavor, each with a tale to tell. In their various forms, maps are models of time, diaries of political maneuverings and works of art that provide a unique vision of how the world evolved.

Drawn from the world’s largest cartographic collection, housed in the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress, "Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations," by Vincent Virga, has been published by the Library in association with Little, Brown and Company.

Comprising more than 250 maps, "Cartographia" celebrates the work of those who have charted the world from the dawn of civilization to the present. Among the rare gems included in the book are the 1507 Waldseemüller world map, the first to include the designation "America"; Orelius’s "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum" of 1570, considered to be the first modern atlas; rare maps from Africa, Asia and Oceania that challenge traditional Western perspectives; William Faulkner’s hand-drawn 1936 map of the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Miss.; and a map of the human genome.

Vincent Virga is the author of "Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States," which was a main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and the History Book Club.

Virga and co-author Ron Grim will discuss "Cartographia" as part of the Library’s Books & Beyond author series at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23, in the Montpelier Room, located on the sixth floor of the Library’s James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The program, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored jointly by the Center for the Book, the Geography and Map Division and the Publishing Office. For more information, contact the Center for the Book at (202) 707-5221.

"Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations," a 272-page hardcover book with more than 250 color maps and illustrations, is available for $60 from major bookstores nationwide and from the Library of Congress Sales Shop, Washington, D.C. 20540-4985. Credit card orders are taken at (888) 682-3557. Online orders can be placed at www.loc.gov/shop.

# # #

PR 07-192
09/26/07
ISSN 0731-3527"

GPS Coordinate Systems : Google Earth : WGS84 : Ordnance Survey : GEOTRANS : UTM : ED50 : Problems and Conversions

The prime meridian of GPS and Google Earth, which uses WGS84 (1984), runs 102.5 meters east of the Prime Meridian of 1884 at Greenwich. This is not an "error". Read at the Flamsteed Astronomy Society why that is so.

Determining just where we are or where a given place is located is not as simple as it may initially seem to anyone who uses GPS for navigation of their car. Large discrepancies exist between various existing coordinate and mapping systems, so that awareness of conversion problems is necessary, for example, in archaeological and archaeoastronomical work as also for water navigation.

GPS (Global Positioning System) operates by means of satellites which determine the position of your GPS receiver. If we define a particular located position as "X", then position X must be a given a value within some kind of a specific coordinate system, and in the case of GPS that position X is given in terms of latitude and longitude, as calculated by WGS84 (World Geodetic System 1984), a standard which was revised by the geopotential model EGM96 (Earth Gravity Model 1996 ) and is in future revision in 2008 as EGM2008 (initially EGM06).

There are numerous other survey systems used for mapping and cartography around the globe and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency offers the program Geographic Translator (GEOTRANS) for conversion of "twenty-five different coordinate systems, map projections, grids, and coding schemes, and over two hundred different datums...."

The Universal Transverse Mercator Coordinate System is used for mapping the world, now based on WGS84.

A different survey system is ED50, which is used in mapping Western Europe, excluding Britain, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland, who have their own mapping systems. ED50 can differ by as much as 100 meters west and south from WGS84, i.e. GPS.

Similarly large up to 100-meter+ differences from WGS84 can also be found in the mapping coordinate systems used by Great Britain and Ireland.

For Great Britian, beside GPS, the major mapping system in use is:
OSGB36 - Ordinance Survey Great Britain 1936-1962 - The British national grid reference system.

For Ireland, the major mapping system besides GPS in use is The Irish grid reference system (which also includes Northern Ireland).

Coordinate conversion viz. transformation forms for both the British and Irish coordinate systems are available at the nearby.org.uk Coordinate Converter and also at the Ordnance Survey Coordinate Transformer.

If we plug in e.g. SU123422 (the grid reference for Stonehenge), nearby.org.uk converts this to
51.178904N Long: 1.825418W
which is very close to latitudinal and longitudinal values found online
51.178816N Longitude: 1.826563W (Megalithic Portal)
51.178381, -1.824018, Stonehenge (Stone Search)
51°10′44″N, 1°49′34″W (Wikipedia)

For megalithic sites specifically:

Stone Search:
1) generates GPS-suitable output as a comma-separated-variable (CSV) format with the fields latitude, longitude, site name

or at the standard search form
2) generates the British or Irish grid reference

Other Specialized Converters are:

GPS Coordinate Converter with MAP feature showing location (we entered WGS84 data 51.178381, -1.824018 for Stonehenge and received GPS N 51 10.703 W 1 49.441 and latitude and longitude in degrees minutes and seconds N51 10 42W1 49 26)
Coordinate Converter Latitude, Longitude <=> UTM (with choice of Datum)
Geographic/UTM Coordinate Converter
JEEEP.com (Translate coordinates WGS-84, NAD-83, and NAD-27 to and from Latitude/Longitude and UTM)
UK Street Map Coordinate Converter
Archaeoptics (Easting Northing)
Map Window GIS (Open Source Programmable Geographic Information System Tools)
Latitude Longitude Converter
Find Out Where You Are (latitude & longitude, national grid references (NGR), Maidenhad locators (QRA)

Ancient Mariners and Ancient Seafaring : Navigation and Maps : Stars and Megaliths

In an article at Yahoo News titled "Ancient mariner tools found near Cyprus", George Psyllides, AP writer, reports on new archaeological finds on the island of Cyprus which suggest that ancient seafaring was more far-reaching and much older than previously thought by the mainstream scientific community.

Psyllides quotes
Colgate University's Albert J. Ammerman, the survey's director, as follows:

"These are the people who are the pioneers....
All of what we see on the land is just a tip of the iceberg of what is in the water...."

Psyllides writes further:


"The archaeologists believe that tools found at the two sites were used by seafaring foragers who frequented the island well over 10,000 years ago — before the first permanent settlers arrived around 8,200 B.C.

They are thought to have sailed from present-day Syria and Turkey, at least 46 miles north and east of the island.

The dawn of seafaring in the region has been put at around 9,500 B.C. from evidence found 20 years ago at Aetokremnos, on Cyprus' southern Akrotiri peninsula.

The finds indicate these early wanderers traveled more widely, and more frequently, than was previously believed, outside experts say.

"This just shows there is a lot more activity than was originally thought," said Tom Davis, an archaeologist and director of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute.... "We're looking at repeated visits around the island."

"These would be people stopping deliberately, coming to the island to use resources, setting themselves with a clear understanding of the landscape," Davis said."

And if that is true, then they must have had means of navigation at sea, and this could only have been navigation by the stars - with megalithic markers as terrestrial and hermetic cartographic points - as above, so below.

Where is the Equator : Quito : Ecuador

Ecuador takes its name from the Spanish word meaning Equator, which Ecuador in fact straddles. But just where is that real equator located?

In a posting entitled "something interesting", Mickey at the blog 3 Old Men Building Things in the Woods does a superb job of describing the factual situation, accompanied by several easily understandable cartographical maps from Google Earth .

The situation is essentially this. In the year 1736 the French (see Louis Godin, Pierre Bouguer , Charles Marie de la Condamine) measured the exact location of the Equator - something which in those days was not easy to do because the equatorial regions consist primarily of ocean, other waters, swamps and jungle. Finding "hard ground" to measure the Equator led the French to Ecuador and the region north of the city of Quito, where the point of La Mitad del Mundo (The Middle of the World) was established, where it still exists today as the Equator Line Monument, which was built 200 years later in 1936 over the old French point to commemorate its original measurement, and is today the leading tourist attraction in Ecuador .

[For our German members, this French historical measurement of the earth has been described by Daniele Jörg in Ecuador – Armes reiches Land, Stipendien-Aufenthalt in Ecuador, 25. März bis 06. Mai 2004, "Die Vermessung der Erde".]

A geopage by Olivier Auverlau at the University of California at Berkeley provides panorama photos of the Middle of the World Monument as well as the orange line marking the Equator in Ecuador. Take a look. The photography is quite impressive.

With the arrival of satellite-driven GPS technology, scientists discovered to everyone's surprise, however, that the 1736 French measurement was not quite accurate, being off by about 300 meters. The correct line of the Equator turned out to run straight through the middle of a nearby pre-Inca ruin, Catequilla. See photo and cartographic map marking at the blog of the 3 Old Men, who comment this development as follows:

"A group in Ecuador has found all sorts of alignments with other ruins suggesting that the Ancients knew a lot more about how to find the Equator than the French scientists...."

At the site of the Mexican Jaguars a detailed article is found which we definitely recommend as important background reading material:

It is an article about Catequilla written December 22, 2005 by a writer in Ecuador who discusses the AMAZING DISCOVERIES at EARTH'S EQUATOR (we include only excerpts here - be sure to read the original article):

"... In 1936 ... a monument was constructed near Ecuador's capital, Quito ... at the line reckoned by the 18th century French scientists to be zero degrees latitude ....

Recent findings have slightly relocated the equator.... in 1997 the seemingly insignificant ruins of a semicircular wall were discovered on top of Mount Catequilla, which lies a little to the north of Quito. Using ... the Global Positioning System (GPS), investigator Cristobal Cobo discovered that one end of this wall was located precisely on the equator. (On the other hand, GPS places the famous Middle of the World monument some 1,000 feet to the south of the true equator).

[A] line connecting the two ends of the wall creates a 23.5-degree angle to the equator ... almost precisely the angle at which earth's axis is tilted.... Further, one end of the connecting line points to the rising of the sun on the solstice in December; and the other end, to the setting of the sun on the solstice in June....

As more astronomical alignments were plotted on a map, a figure began to emerge --an eight-pointed star....

The Quitsa-to Project, directed by Cobo, is amassing compelling evidence of the astronomical acumen of the early natives. ('Quitsa-to' comes from the language of the Tsachila Indians and means 'Middle of the World.' Some believe that Quito is a name derived from this term.) More than a dozen archaeological sites and many ancient towns have been found to line up perfectly along the astronomical star figure when it is superimposed over the equator with Catequilla at its center...."

The website Exploring Ecuador writes about Cristóbal Cobo, the driving force behind this research, as follows :

"Cristóbal Cobo is an Ecuadorian scientist who has engaged in extensive studies about pre-Incan astronomical wisdom. His theories have already led to the discovery of several archeological sites in and around Quito, dating back to 1500 BC. Cobo holds that all the pre-Incan archeological sites in Quito and its surroundings are either in line with or parallel to the ecliptic and solstices axes running through Catequilla. He believes all these complexes are the work of the Quitus-Caras, a culture of which very little is known ...."I believe that Catequilla was the middle of the world for the Quitus-Caras, the point where their cosmological and spiritual belief systems came together." (Geographical, September 2002).

Cobo also discovered that several colonial churches in Quito, built over antique pre Incan sites, are aligned with the sunrays of the solstices....

Cristóbal Cobo is the director of the scientific research project Quitsa-to (Quitsa-to is the original name of the city, meaning "middle of the world"). His research findings are displayed at the "Solar Culture Museum" close to the Middle of the World Monument. He may be reached at cristocobo@hotmail.com or at his cell phone 099-701-133. Contact him to learn about activities programmed for December 22nd."

This research is having its public impact. Sailariel.com writes in their sailing log book:

"We spent one day in Quito adjusting to the high altitude which at 9200 feet was necessary for our sea level adapted bodies. Just outside Quito at La Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world) where the equator passes through, we found a scientific research project exploring this past discovery using GPS.... It is now known that the monument is in fact 300 meters away from the equator but that a pre-Inca site on a nearby hill was built exactly on the equator proving this ancient civilization had more accurate calculations. In old town Quito there are a cluster of about 15 churches all built on top of ancient pre-Inca solar sites. On the solstices and equinox the sun shines in on the faces of the Christ above the altars. Much of the Indian weaving seen in the markets depict the layout of these sites in their designs."

These discoveries support work we have published in Stars Stones and Scholars.

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