Recently an “early Ptolomaic” tomb was discovered similar in themes to the famous Egyptian Books of the Dead (Middle Kingdom). Normally written on papyrus, they feature multiple tableau of Osiris judging the dead and other scenes. Osiris is a long lasting and perhaps supreme god whose cult was present throughout 3000 years of Dynastic history. I have previously interpreted his throne through drawings but, in the new tomb, he is painted on the walls at least twice and the design of his throne looks like layers of “eggs”. Below is one of the press pictures taken from the Guardian, and the headline is Mummified mice found in ‘beautiful, colourful’ Egyptian tomb.
Osiris could have been seen as a/the god of Harmony and below I explain why harmony may have been thought technically significant at the dawn of our earliest texts, then found in Sumeria 900 miles to the East. The reason I believe musical ratios were significant at the dawn of history because they had naturally emerged from measuring the lunar and solar year and comparing these with the time between loops of the outer planets Jupiter and Saturn.
Gurdjieff first presented his ideas to groups in pre-revolutionary Russia. Amongst his carefully chosen students it was the habit to reconstruct talks and diagrams as much as possible, an endeavour that gave us a textbook of Gurdjieff’s ideas called In Search of the Miraculous (P.D. Ouspensky, 1950). This early form of the teaching wasradically revised and extended by Gurdjieff, now as an author, during the 1920s, producing All and Everything whose part one was Beelzebub’sTales to his Grandson (G.I. Gurdjieff, 1950). Prior to drawing this diagram just after February 1917, Gurdjieff had been presenting ideas about transformation of energies, human and cosmic, using the musical theory surrounding the octave of eight notes. The Diagram of Everything Living was “still another system of classification… in an altogether different ratio of octaves… [that] leads us beyond the limits of what we call ‘living beings’ both higher [and lower] than living beings. It deals not with individuals but with classes in a very wide sense.”
When understanding the origins of human knowledge, we tend not to look into the everyday aspects of life such as the calendar, our numbering systems and how these could have developed. However, these components of everyday life hold surprising clues to the past.
An example is the seven day week which we all slavishly follow today. It has been said that seven makes a good number of days for a week and this convenience argument often given for the existence of weeks.
Having a week allows one to know what day of the week it is for the purposes of markets and religious observances. It is an informal method of counting based on names rather than numbers. Beyond this however, a useful week length should fit well with the organisation of the year (i.e. the Sun), or the month (i.e. the Moon) or other significant celestial or seasonal cycle. But the seven day week does not fit in with the Sun and the Moon.
Though megalithic astronomers could look at the
sky, their measurement methods were only accurate using horizon events. Horizon
observations of solstice sunrise/set each year, lunar extreme moonrises or settings
(over 18.6 years) allowed them to establish the geometrical ratios between
these and other time periods, including the eclipse cycles. In contrast, the
synod of Jupiter is measured between its loops in the sky, upon the backdrop of
stars, in which Jupiter heads backwards each year as the earth passes between
itself and the Sun. That is, Jupiter goes retrograde relative to
general planetary direction towards the east. Since such retrograde movement
occurs over 120 days, Jupiter will set 120 times whilst moving retrograde. This
allowed megalithic astronomy to study the retrograde Jupiter, but only when the
moon is conjunct with Jupiter in the night sky and hence will set with Jupiter
at its own setting.
How can an immortal god die? Especially Zeus who was not just a god but head of the Olympians, a new breed of gods that had replaced the Titans and their “despotic” ruler, Chronos. A Rome holding to Zeus/Jupiter perhaps rejected the Cretan tradition of the god’s death with the well-broadcast adage “All Cretans are liars”.
But we all should
know that mythology uses contradictory, or at least inconsistent, versions
of the same story, to express alternative perspectives and to transmit more
knowledge in the process, rather than “a lie”.
of the death of Zeus is that the story emerges exactly from that point in time
and cultural transformation in which Zeus is also born and at that time it was
familiar for a vegetative god, representing nature blooming in spring and dying
in autumn, to die and be re-born within the immortality of the eternal round of
the year or yearly daemon.
There were other
norms too, including the birth of men and their world of form, out of the Earth
and from within The Cave, as a natural sacred space created by the Mother or
earth goddess. Directly symbolic of her womb, form emerges as shapes in
formation like dreams, travelling towards the definite order found on the
Only two type-D stone circles (see figure 3) are
known to exist, called Roughtor (in Cornwall) and Seascale (in Cumbria). Seascale
is assessed below, for the potential this type of flattened circle had to
provide megalithic astronomers with a calendrical observatory. Seascale could also
have modelled the harmonic ratios of the visible outer planets relative to the
lunar year. Flattened to the north, Seascale now faces Sellafield nuclear
reprocessing plant (figure 1).
Stone Age astronomical monuments went through a
series of evolutionary phases: in Britain c. 3000 BC, stone circles became
widespread until the Late Bronze Age c. 1500 BC. These stone circles manifest
aspects of Late Stone Age art (10,000 – 4500 BC) seen in some of its geometrical
and symbolic forms, in particular as calendrical day tallies scored on bones.
In pre-literate societies, visual art takes on an objective technical function,
especially when focussed upon time and the cyclic phenomena observed within
time. The precedent for Britain’s stone circle culture is that of Brittany,
around Carnac in the south, from where Megalithic Ireland, England and Wales probably
got their own megalithic culture.