Monday, August 12, 2013

An Ultimate Article on Making Modern Online Maps and Cartography via Crowdsourcing: Google MapMaker Open Street Map

For a wide-ranging report on modern online map portals and cartography via crowdsourcing see Katie Collins and Uncharted territory: amateur cartographers fight to put their communities on the map (Wired UK).

Friday, July 5, 2013

Göbekli Tepe Groundplan Map and Interpretation

Decipherment of Gobekli Tepe (Göbekli Tepe) as Land Survey by Astronomy, Marking the Stars of Cancer, Which Stood at the Vernal Equinox ca. 7400 B.C.

I am posting here two maps:

MAP 1 and MAP 2
of my decipherment of Gobekli Tepe
as marking the stars of Cancer,
which marked the Vernal Equinox in ca. 7400 B.C.

No text beyond that. It is not necessary, beyond the observation that M44, the Beehive Cluster is marked by the two neighboring small "cloud shapes" at Göbekli Tepe. The "pillars" and "rooms" otherwise mark specific stars or star groups of Cancer.



Land Survey of the Ancient World

An interesting map of "the ancient world" is found in a May 31, 2013 posting at Dienekes' Anthropology Blog titled Origins of the Maykop phenomenon.

Based on an analysis of that map, using basic land survey principles found at my site at and at the LexiLine group, and also in view of my own previous work on the dolmens of the Caucasus, I suggest (see Figure 1) that the majority of those ancient Mesopotamian and Persian sites of the Fertile Crescent of the Old World were located by the ancients via land survey principles guided by astronomical observation, using nature's ready-made "map" of the brightest stars in the sky as the blueprint for mapping landmarks on Earth via "cities", temples, megaliths and tumuli. The analysis below has allowed me to decipher Göbekli Tepe as astronomy, a decipherment which follows in the next posting.

FIGURE 1: The Land Survey of the Ancient World by Astronomy ca. 3800 B.C. with earlier precursors (primarily at Gobekli Tepe)

Archaeologists greatly underestimate the importance of land survey in ancient civilizations. In days before GPS or maps of paper, parchment, papyrus or other materials, people nonetheless had to know where they were, how they were to get from place to place, and which territory belonged to whom.

As explained in detail at, to solve this problem, the ancients turned to the sky. Anyone who knew the fixed positions of the stars could be oriented on earth by referring to landmarks intentionally placed according to the heavenly model. The ancients made their major geographic landmark locations correspond to the brightest stars and star groupings in the sky -- surely not "exactly" identical to today's stellar constellations -- but true to the hermetic principle: "as above, so below", which the ancients meant literally.

The astronomical interpretation and stellar identification in Figure 1 is corroborated by the positions of the tumuli (mounds) at Sé Girdan (Figure 2). These tumuli in my analysis clearly represent the stars of Auriga at Menkalinan, which (together with Warka, viz. Uruk (Auriga) at El Nath) marked the Vernal Equinox in ca. 3800 B.C. Some tumuli may also have been used as tombs for royalty or other important personages, but these tumuli were placed nevertheless according to astronomical principles, some perhaps in other eras.

FIGURE 2: The Tumuli at SÉ GIRDAN as Marking Stars of Auriga near Menkalinan, which marked the Vernal Equinox in ca. 3800 B.C.

Approximate positions of the tumuli at Sé Girdan are based on a map figure at the recently published (June 3, 2013) book by Oscar White Muscarella, Archaeology, Artifacts and Antiquities of the Ancient Near East: Sites, Cultures and Proveniences, Part I, Sites and Excavations, Section 1, Iran, Chapter 1, The Tumuli at Sé Girdan: A Preliminary Report, Figure 2, page 12, Culture & History of the Ancient Near East, Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands, 2013. ISBN 9789004236660 and 9789004236691.

There are said to be 11 tumuli, but I have been able to find the position of only eight of them in the sources, so three are missing from my analysis. Their position may, or may not, corroborate my findings, presuming they were part of the original system of astronomically-based placement.

See as regards the dating of Sé Girdan: Viktor Trifonov, Maikop Type Tumuli in Northwest Iran (towards a more precise dating of the tumuli at Se Girdan), where he writes:
"In 1968 and 1970 participants of the Hasanlu Project, under the joint sponsorship of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the University of Pennsylvania, excavated six tumuli of eleven at Se Girdan situated in the Ushnu valley in northwest Iran.

The tumuli, reported by O. Muscarella, were originally thought without reliable argument to be of an Iron III [era] creation, "perhaps seventh or sixth century B.C." (Muscarella, 1971) but re-examination of the date threw more light on their cultural identity and date. The evidence provided by the Maikop culture tumuli in the northern Caucasus (encircling stone revetment, rubble overlay covering tomb, pebble floor in the tomb, orientation, skeleton position, red ochre, set and types of grave-goods etc.) points to a series of similarities between the Caucasian kurgans and the tumuli at Se Girdan.

It provides sufficient reason to date the tumuli at Se Girdan back to ca. 3500-3200 B.C. that is to the period of the Early Bronze Age in the Caucasus and the period of "the Uruk expansion" in ancient Near East."
Of special significance here is the FORSCHUNGSPLAN DES DEUTSCHEN ARCHÄOLOGISCHEN INSTITUTS FÜR DIE JAHRE 2009 - 2012, page 324, calling attention to the archaeological situation in the 4th millennium B.C., and noting that the available probative evidence suggests a previously unlikely connection between the cultures and/or rulers at both Maikop and Se Girdan:
"Das Inventar dieser Plätze deutet außerdem Beziehungen zu den chalkolithischen Kulturen Nordmesopotamiens an. Aufgrund von langlebigen Traditionen der Keramiktechnologie nimmt man außerdem an, dass es eine Verbindung zu den im 4. Jt. v. Chr. sich neu formierenden stratifizierten Gesellschaften gibt, deren Eliten sich zwischen Majkop im Nordkaukasus und Se Girdan in Nordwestiran in der Anlage aufwendiger Grabanlagen
But what was that unlikely connection?

My research indicates that initial astronomical calculations for land survey purposes appear to have been made earlier than 3800 B.C. at Gobekli Tepe (Göbekli Tepe), marking the Vernal Equinox ca. 7400 B.C. at Cancer, whereby a triangulation on the ground can then be drawn between Gobekli Tepe and the position of the Vernal Equinox ca. 3600 years later in Auriga on a line running from Sé Girdan (Menkalinan) to Warka viz. Uruk (El Nath). (Figure 3)


The rest is more or less "obvious" in an astronomical context. But of course, you have to LOOK to be able to see that context.


The area of Figure 1 assigned to Aries was known in ancient times as Aria.

In Figure 1, Triangulum is marked by Shahr-i Sokhta, with the Shahr element very similar to Hebrew Shalish as the name for this triangular constellation. Indeed, the animated sequence on an earthen bowl from Shahr-i Sokhta could easily be read SA-LU-SA (i.e. presumably "Shalish" as the name of the city) according to my book Ancient Signs: The Alphabet & The Origins of Writing.

Ancient Persia e.g. corresponds generally to the stars of the similarly named Perseus. That is quite clear from Figure 1, where the correspondence is eminently obvious. One of the corroborating discoveries, at least in my view, was the finding that the site of Tal-i Iblis, which I now claim marked the famed "Demon Star" Algol, derives from the term "Iblis" meaning "Satan" and was known as the "Devil's Mound". To me, that particular match suggested that I was on the right track in my astronomical approach to the geography. Indeed, what other reason could there be to so name an old tell.

Auriga was marked in part by the similarly-named city-state Warka viz. Uruk, which marked the star Elnath (El Nath). Auriga is the ancient Sumerian SHU.GI which Hunger & Pingree in MUL.APIN incorrectly assigned to Perseus, whereas, of course, as I posted long ago at LexiLine, it is correctly in Auriga.

The ancient connection of this system to the star El Nath is clearly evidenced in ancient sources which refer to the "middle-placed city" of Anah (Figure 3) as Hanat or Anat viz. Anatho. Indeed, there is also some correspondence in Figure 1 between star names and the names of the geographic locations.

Gemini was marked by the locations today known as Tepe Gawra and Tell Brak (Brak=Pollux), the latter site perhaps having "rooms" (similar to the Temples of Malta) that mirror the stars in this part of the sky, as the ancients saw them in those days. See the photo of Tell Brak at the Wikimedia Commons.

Gemini in the broader geographic context of "hollow ways" corresponds here to the Jaghjagh catchment. See in this regard the discussion of hollow way systems and the man-made geometric patterns affiliated with them at Tony J. Wilkinson, Ancient Near Eastern Route Systems: From the Ground Up, Durham University, Department of Archaeology, Nov. 2007 where he writes:
"Hollow way systems in the Fertile Crescent are generated, in part, by movement of sheep, side-by-side. Humans walking to their fields as well as wheeled vehicles also contribute to their development. They are accentuated by fluvial erosion, usually, but not necessarily, from local catchments. Part of a nodal pattern of movement around focal points of long duration (such as tells) Parallels occur from UK to Africa. Note, the nodal structure determines pattern and processes influence scale."
Found at Tell Brak have also been also been several "twin" figurines, which could have perhaps marked Gemini as "the Twins" in ancient sculpture.

Cancer was marked by Göbekli Tepe (maps in the next posting!). Cancer marked the Vernal Equinox ca. 7400 B.C., a date that very much corresponds to radiocarbon dating at Göbekli Tepe, a dating that I have long rejected because there were too many thousands of years after that with apparently no megalithic activity in the Ancient Near East, which seemed impossible.

After an "early-dated" Göbekli Tepe, one expected to find a seamless record of later megaliths and dolmens serving as land survey markers, as calculated by prehistoric astronomy and oriented to the stars and to the cardinal points of the astronomical seasons. That is now perhaps a reality. Whether the actual megaliths at Göbekli Tepe date clear back to ca. 7400 B.C. still raises doubts, however. The site may be that old, but the megaliths there need not be.

My decipherment now shows that early precursor sites such as Göbekli Tepe in fact had megalithic followers in an identifiable astronomical and land survey system in Mesopotamia, so that the early date can now be viewed as "possible", at least from my point of view, since the technology continued and did not simply vanish into thin air, which was an unacceptable conclusion.

Much still remains to be researched here about how and why the megalithic development took the slow course that it took in the Ancient Near East, presuming it was already so well developed at such an early date as 7400 B.C.

The Göbekli Tepe decipherment is found in the next posting.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Mathematics of Surveying

AMS (American Mathematical Society) has two postings on the mathematics of surveying.

The Mathematics of Surveying Part I by Tony Phillips of Stony Brook University.

The Mathematics of Surveying: Part II. The Planimeter by Bill Casselman
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

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