Monday, March 19, 2007

Flight of the Navigator Part VI

Cue music: Dem Bones

Toe bone connected to the foot bone
Foot bone connected to the leg bone
Leg bone connected to the knee bone..
From Wikipedia

Dem Bones or Dry Bones or Dem Dry Bones is a well-known traditional spiritual, often used to teach basic anatomy to children (although its description is far from anatomically correct). The melody was written by James Weldon Johnson [1]. Two versions of this traditional song are widely used, the second an abridgement of the first. The lyrics are based on Ezekiel 37:14, where the prophet visits the Valley of Dry Bones[1] and brings them to life by mentioning God's name.

Sticks and stones

In the previous installment, I listed several classes of evidence that suggest very strongly that cultural exchange, commerce, and genetic material crossed the oceans long before Columbus did. One of the classes I mentioned was skeletal. Funny thing about bones, a forensic pathologist or forensic anthropologist can discern many things about dead people's bones, including what ethnicity the living person was.

Enter Kennewick Man, The Power of First Impressions

James C. Chatters was the first person to conduct a scientific examination of the skeletal remains that became known as Kennewick Man. The following is quoted from the web page at the Smithsonian Institute linked at Mr. Chatters' name


"On July 28, 1996 two young men encountered a human skull in the Columbia River at Kennewick, Washington. That evening I was contacted by Coroner Floyd Johnson, for whom I conduct skeletal forensics. I joined him at the site and helped police recover much of the skeleton. During the next month, under an ARPA permit issued by the Walla Walla District Corps of Engineers, I recovered more wave-scattered bones from the reservoir mud. Throughout the process, I maintained contact with the Corps, which interacted with two local Indian Tribes.

"The completeness and unusually good condition of the skeleton, presence of caucasoid traits, lack of definitive Native-American characteristics, and the association with an early homestead led me to suspect that the bones represented a European settler."

That first impression was most likely correct. Kennewick Man probably was what Mr. Chatters surmised, but several millenia before there should have been a white European along the Columbia River.

What first tipped off James Chatters to the skull's possible European traits was how the nose projected. As the forensic anthropologist looked closer, he found other clues: how the face itself projected between the eyes and upper lip and how narrow the face was; the delicate lower jaw; the long, narrow cranium; and the absence of flaring cheekbones. Photograph by James Chatters/Applied Paleoscience.

Healed Over

A leaf shaped projectile point was detected embedded in the pelvis of Kennewick Man's skeleton. This was Mr. Chatters' first clue that the skeleton in question was not a settler in historic times. Calcification around the projectile indicated that it was not the wound that killed KM, but it certainly was evidence that KM was probably much older than the historic settler era of that region of Washington. The projectile design and manufacture was common and consistent to those found in the Columbia River basin.
"I first began to question this when I detected a gray object partially healed within the right ilium. CT scans revealed the 20 by 54 mm base of a leaf-shaped, serrated Cascade projectile point typical of Southern Plateau assemblages from 8500 B.P. to 4500 B.P. However, similar styles were in use elsewhere in western North America and Australia into the nineteenth century."

Then the story of KM starts getting weird. Perhaps even a little bit sinister. Remember, Chatters was in regular communications to the coroner, through him to the Army Corps of Engineers, and through them to the tribes.

"We either had an ancient individual with physical characteristics unlike later native peoples' or a trapper/explorer who'd had difficulties with "stone-age" peoples during his travels. To resolve this issue, the Coroner ordered radiocarbon and DNA analyses."

That's when the remains became controversial. The radiocarbon dating showed that KM died 8410 +/- 60 B.P (conducted late summer 1996). With that age of the bones verified by accepted dating techniques, how could KM have been anything other than a native American and thus subject to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA)?

Without reiterating all the gory details of that dogfight, multiple lawsuits ensued about who would have custody of those remains. Would KM be reburied by one of the tribes, be studied by scientists, or even be honored as a European ancestor by American Pagan groups?

The Federal Government pulled out all stops to get the bones into the hands of the tribes for reburial in a secret location that would halt all further efforts that might result in KM being proven anything other than a Native American, all under the auspices of NAGPRA.

Scott L Malcomson wrote a brilliantly insightful and in-depth article for the New York Times as to why it was important for the government to pursue that course of action and he interviewed the other interested parties (no interviews with government officials were granted). It boils down to racial issues and related laws. Mr. Malcomson also acquired a new appreciation for the natural beauty of both that part of the country and of the people who live there. As did I, just by reading his article.

As to Mr. Chatters, he has become somewhat resentful of some of the attention. Before the discovery of KM, he enjoyed a truly good, friendly relationship with the tribes in that area (where he lives and whom his business supports). Since the discovery, some tribe members are cool towards him and his work. He misses them as friends, but he stands by that first impression that KM does not have the skeletal features usually attributed to Native Americans.

James Chatters: The forensic anthropologist who sparked the controversy. Photograph by Eve Fowler for The New York Times.

Patrick Stewart Face

Jim Chatters also undertook a reconstruction of KM's face using accepted techniques. You can find a Quicktime (c) 3D view here.


And then there is the DNA evidence. Or rather, the lack of it. Examination of the reports of this testing seem to indicate that no matter how many times they repeated the test, the results were unacceptable -- always showing caucasoid origins. So they blamed it on contamination of the tools by one or more of the investigators. These reports are, of course, prepared by the agencies of the Federal Government.

In reality, contamination of samples is a very real problem in the type of DNA testing used. The replication of sequencing tends to "grab" any foreign genetic material and replicate it in the billions while doing the same for the test sample. It's just the nature of the process.

However, in reading those reports, and in my related research regarding lab techniques as reported, it seems these were very careful, professional people conducting these tests. The whole contamination issue seems very reminiscent of the arguments involved in the so-called "cocaine mummies", and those arguments still sound lame to me for both cases.

Why all the hubbub, Bub?

As Mr. Malcomson so aptly stated it, if KM is caucasian (or anything other than American Indian), then the implications affect many current social, cultural, and legal points and ultimately upsets the status quo. KM's ethnicity can even throw into question the validity of current recognition of tribal rights and national legal status.

Furthermore, KM as Caucasian upsets all the archeaological, historical, anthropological, and even "right of discovery" applecarts.

Even among the more adventurous scientists in the field, the consensus is holding, for now, that all or most pre-Columbian Americans came from northern Asia and, at the outside, Southeast Asia. However, the public imagination, and to a degree the scientific imagination, has tended to fasten on the possibility of ancient Europeans reaching America prior to the ancestors of Native Americans. Within the scientific literature, ancient European migration is in a contest with African migration for last place. Nevertheless, when the lead plaintiff in the scientists' lawsuit, Robson Bonnichsen, tried to explain in a court affidavit why Kennewick Man deserved careful study, he said current science suggests "that the earliest inhabitants of this continent may have no modern descendants. . . . Multiple colonizing groups appear to be represented and many of the oldest studied skeletons have strong Caucasian skeletal features."

That's a lawyer explaining to a judge on behalf of a bunch of scientists what all us lay diffusion people knew all along. He uses virtually the same language that Dr. Myron Paine uses to describe his "Many Model"; Many peoples, at many times, from many places. And his arguments were successful. KM is now an object of scientific study rather than filling an unmarked grave. Stay tuned. This story won't end here. The best we can hope for is that KM gets the respect and attention that the scientific community payed towards "Otzi", the 5,000 year old "iceman" discovered in the Alps. From the point of view of forensics, the two sets of remains had suffered arguably similar physical injuries. Otzi, however, never suffered the same indignities.

Dr. Paine will be my guest on the radio show on March 29th


Links to the latest shows on the Oopa Loopa Cafe on,

Interveiw w/ Fred Rydholm of AAAPF

Visit w/ Judy Johnson of AAAPF

Ancient Navigation Tools
w/ William Smith or THOR group

What the Heck is an Oopa Loopa Cafe?


Spring Equinox!! But it's too cloudy here for me to do any sightings...


Holy Stone Soup, Batman!! Who are all these big rocks telling us?

Tune in next time to here that message.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Flight of the Navigator, Part V

Cue music: Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, 'Money'
"Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash."

I closed the last post with "
Holy signposts, Batman, how will we know they were here?"

There are a considerable number of whole classes of evidence that might serve as those signposts:
  • Dolmens
  • DNA
  • Fortresses, harbors, or other structures
  • OOPAs, particularly those found in or around mounds, caves, mines, or mine tailings
  • Epigraphic or pictographic evidence
  • Lithic, bronze or iron works and items of old World styles in New World
  • Skeletal remains
  • Lingual evidence
  • Clothing, arms, armor, fabrics or furs unique to the Old World found in New World or vice verse
  • OOP animals
  • OOP Coins
For this installment, I want to concentrate on the latter: Ancient Old World coins found in the Americas. The late Gloria Farley was a prolific and careful researcher who cataloged several OOPAs during her career. Her book In Plain Sight is very highly recommended reading. Gloria wrote,

"The problem of the provenance of ancient coins can be summarized in one paragraph of a letter I wrote to Tom Lee, an anthropologist in Quebec:

'I agree with you that it is too bad that ancient coins are found by treasure hunters and amateurs (and housewives and children and chickens) instead of by scholars, but who else is going to find them? If they are authentic, they just are where they are, and found by accident. It is not at all logical to think that a professional archaeologist or anthropologist or numismatist or historian could set out to find one and succeed. Where in God's millions of square miles would he pick to hunt? And if by chance he did find one, then who would say he did not plant it?' "

Gloria and her research partners cataloged at least seven OOPA Carthaginian coins, several other Mediterranean coins of similar age, and Norse coins, all found from Maine to Nebraska. Other researchers have tallied no less than forty such ancient coins (Epstein).

Other OOPA or anomalous coin finds abound along the river systems of the eastern United States. Many of these were found in comparatively excellent condition. What would most people do if they found an ancient, out of place coin? Most people finding themselves in this position would go to the State Archaeologist, and, under general interpretation of current law, one must.

Such a find occurred near the Falls of the Ohio during construction of the Interstate 64 bridge in 1963. Only this wasn't just one out of place coin, it was a horde of coins!

Two of the coins from this cache were donated to the Museum of the Falls of the Ohio. Troy McCormick, former manager of the museum, put the coins on display.

Image credit: Troy McCormick

"For several years, the Falls of the Ohio Museum had an exhibit about the find that displayed several casts of both sides of the two originals, so as to reflect the approximate number of coins originally in the hoard. The two original coins, depicted above, are in storage and were not on public display. McCormick has informed me that the exhibit has recently been removed from public display, because the Museum belongs to the state of Indiana, and the exhibit conflicted with the state's archaeological policy that there is no documented evidence of pre-Columbian contacts."
In other words, following the intent of the law will get you no satisfaction should you come across any out of place artifact that would be evidence of pre-Columbian contact and take it to your State's archaeologist. Digging up native American pottery is a felony (UNLESS you are that State archaeologist). Digging up Old World coins is not policy.

So, does the presence of 3rd and 4th century AD Roman coins in southern Indiana clearly indicate that the Romans were here? Well, no. Although the coins were clearly of Roman origin, they could have been in the possession of peoples from anywhere in Europe, North Africa, the British Isles, all the way to India. Given the other pre-Columbian evidence in the same area, and putting it all into context, it seems very likely to me that peoples from the British Isles found their way to the Falls of the Ohio in ancient times, perhaps more than once.

More conventional scholars would brush aside such evidence and conclusions because the Romans left us no historical records of such excursions. There is a simple explanation for that: The Romans were kept out of that loop. Rome ruled from afar. Even the taxation or tribute was generally collected through native officials, messengers, and intermediaries. The Roman leaders often maintained spies within their government, but were often woefully unaware of what was happening in the far-flung territories. And the histories were written around the Roman government with mention of the territories only when the leaders went there or sent representatives. The historians (much as today) concentrated on the affairs of state, not the affairs of man.

I picked up two of the new Washington one dollar coins at the bank the other day. I think I'm going to "lose" one of them under a rock (with the help of a friend of mine) in northern Norway, just to throw a ringer into future archeology...


The Oopa Loopa Cafe on blogtalkradio this week featured William Smith of the THOR (The Hunters Ohio Rock) group. He reviewed the work of the group on the "rock" and other artifacts the group investigates.

Listen to the archive here

Visit the THOR site here

Holy boneyards, Batman! Who was this guy?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Flight of the Navigator, Part IV

And now back to our somewhat irregularly scheduled programming.

Cue music:
Procol Harum
"We skipped the light fandango, turned cartwheels 'cross the floor,"


The circumference of a circle is the basis of many forms of measurement of both time and distance (and, as a byproduct, speed). The odometer and speedometer in a vehicle use it. Navigators and cartographers use it, too. So do engineers, architects, and rocket scientists.

So did the ancients.

More Archemedes
(from Wikipedia)

Archimedes exceeded any other European mathematician prior to the European Renaissance. In a civilization with an awkward numeral system and a language in which "a myriad" (literally "ten thousand") meant "infinity", he invented a positional numeral system and used it to write numbers up to 1064. He devised a heuristic method based on statistics to do private calculations that we would classify today as integral calculus, but then presented rigorous geometric proofs for his results. To what extent he actually had a correct version of integral calculus is debatable. He proved that the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter is the same as the ratio of the circle's area to the square of the radius. He did not call this ratio pi but he gave a procedure to approximate it to arbitrary accuracy and gave an approximation of it as between 3 + 10/71 (approximately 3.1408) and 3 + 1/7 (approximately 3.1429).

Apart from general physics, he was also an astronomer, and Cicero writes that the Roman consul Marcellus brought two devices back to Rome from the ransacked city of Syracuse. One device mapped the sky on a sphere and the other predicted the motions of the sun and the moon and the planets (i.e., an orrery). He credits Thales and Eudoxus for constructing these devices. For some time this was assumed to be a legend of doubtful nature, but the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism has changed the view of this issue, and it is indeed probable that Archimedes possessed and constructed such devices. Pappus of Alexandria writes that Archimedes had written a practical book on the construction of such spheres entitled On Sphere-Making.

Archimedes's works were not widely recognized, even in antiquity. He and his contemporaries probably constitute the peak of Greek mathematical rigour. During the Middle Ages the mathematicians who could understand Archimedes's work were few and far between. Many of his works were lost when the library of Alexandria was burnt (twice) and survived only in Latin or Arabic translations. As a result, his mechanical method was lost until around 1900, after the arithmetization of analysis had been carried out successfully. We can only speculate about the effect that the "method" would have had on the development of calculus had it been known in the 16th to the 17th centuries.

In other words, Archemedes understood the motions of celestial bodies (having learned from his father) and invented his own math to describe it. A feat unmatched until Newton the better part of two millennia later. But more to the point, Archemedes also developed instruments that other, simpler minded folks could use to predict those motions.

Also germane to this discussion, Archemedes was a contributing and respected member of the royal house of the greatest maritime power of that period in antiquity, Carthage. He designed ships, too. One of his designs that was actually commissioned, built and sailed, the Syracusia, was the largest ship seen on the Med in antiquity, dwarfing all others by several to one. One tale has it that Archemedes' screw (a type of water pump) was developed to remove bilge water from this immense vessel. However, Archemedes received his education at Alexandria and he referred to the device as the "Egyptian screw", so one may speculate that he didn't invent it at all, but merely adapted it to a different use, having seen it in use for irrigation in Egypt.

So there we have one man who had a background in astronomy, shipbuilding, instrument making, had travelled much of the then known world, developed calculus from scratch, and had the resources of one of the major ruling houses of antiquity. Is it such a stretch to speculate that he could have adapted his astronomical instruments to maritime navigation?

On to slightly less esoteric navigation / surveying aids:
Plumb bobs

Two out of those three are the basis of the most common symbol of Freemasonry.

Cue music:

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me

The Old Rugged Cross," one of the world's best loved hymns, was composed in Albion, Michigan in 1912 by the Reverend George Bennard (1873-1958)

Adding to the list

Last time I talked about the "Antikythera Device" and the Kimal. This time I want to discuss more devices, the Celtic or "wheel" cross and the "Coba" device (not to be confused with Cabo Wabo), and the gold chain.

The Celtic cross has been examined off and on for many decades as to possible meanings beyond Christian burial markers. Some very in-depth research was conducted by Crichton Miller. Adaptations and transmutations of the original meanings have become symbols for various groups and political activists, but Mr. Miller has concentrated on the ancient meanings and has hypothesized a purpose of the device, as a practical navigational tool. His case was compelling enough to win a British patent on his claim for a simple wheeled cross to act as a tool for navigation with an accuracy of 3 arc minutes of longitude.

The patent does not prove that the ancients used this tool or some form of it to navigate the high seas, but it does prove that they could have. For the "how it works" details, please see Crichton's website.

No slight to Crichton or anybody, but most other folks in the British Isles have stumbled around these things for some 1200 or 1300 years and never made that connection definitively. Though several others speculated that it might somehow be related to measuring angles, only Crichton, to my knowledge, has proven it as a practical device and supported the claim.

Another person who has devoted much time, travel, and effort in researching evidence of ancient navigation is William "Mark" Smith from south western Ohio. He and his Yahoo group, THOR, of which I am a member, have investigated and continue to investigate various ancient artifacts and discuss the possible use in navigation or mapping. Mr. Smith is a retired engineer in the automotive industry and applies a lifetime of engineering tools and skills towards these riddles. Several "classes" of artifacts have been identified as probable navigation aids. The one I want to spotlight here is the "Coba device" and how William (and I)
interpreted it.

But first, a little background on the actual artifact: The actual inscribed stone panels with the depiction of the "device", found near Coba, Mexico in the late twenties or early thirties disappeared in Germany during or shortly after the second World War. All we have to go on is one black and white photograph. From that, William built a model and tested it. It works.

I will let William explain it and other devices in greater detail during the Blogtalkradio Oopa Loopa Cafe program coming up on March 1st.

The last device I want to describe in this post is the chain. More specifically, the engineer's chain. Although nowadays, engineers' apulets depict gears, they once were represented by a chain (somewhat similar to the emblem of the International Order of Odd Fellows). Also, the "chief engineer" is called the "cheng" in print, but it is most often pronounced "chain". Some in the engine room might sometimes refer to that officer as "ball and chain", but not the good engineers.

Naval traditions die hardest. Why would the engineer be identified by a chain? Because sighting through the links of a chain is a quick, reliable means of measuring lunar distances. The link diameter is matched to the diameter of the moon when the chain is held at arms length. The engineer centers one link on the moon, slides the other hand to hold a different link in line with the other celestial body chosen for that sighting, then merely counts the links. Comparing this distance against the almanac allows the engineer to calculate the angular displacement (longitude) from the prime meridian. It also enables derivation of local time (Luna as chronometer).

I can't direct you to any website that discusses this application of chains as navigation aids because I haven't set one up and I don't think anybody else has considered this. However, an example of lunar distances measurement using cell phone cams then counting pixels can be found by registering at If you do that, you can see the basis of my hypothesis regarding engineers' chains.

Last item for this post

February 22, this coming Thursday, at 6 Central, will mark the first podcast of Oopa Loopa Cafe on

This call-in talk show centers on the evidence supporting
pre-Columbian contact, ancient technologies and sciences, and diffusion.
This show and will feature scheduled guests with predefined subject
matter and a family listening environment. It will be a companion to the written blog -- where I intend to
recap shows. Also, all the shows will be archived for later listening.

The first show will "air" on 22 Feb. '07 at 7 pm Eastern, 6 Central.
CORRECTION: 02/21/07 8PM
Got a call from the nice folks at this evening. They requested and I agreed to move back tomorrow's show one hour. So now it starts at 8 eastern, 7 central. So far, the March 1st and subsequent shows are still scheduled for 7 eastern and 6 central. If any of this changes, I will post again.


Find it at

or go to

type "Oopa" in the search box and it will take you to my host page.
Scroll down to the show description for segment details. The call in
number is near the top of the page for guests and listeners to call in.
When the show is on live, there is an icon next to the segment description
("Listen Live" or similar). Afterwards, listeners can click on the
archived shows, but there are none yet.

Holy signposts, Batman, how will we know they were here?

Tune in next time to find out.