JUST IN: New Finding Depicts Evidence how Modern Science and Ancient Text Unite

Physicists and astronomers from the University of Texas at Arlington have used advanced astronomical software to accurately date  and translate ancient Greek poet Sappho’s, “Midnight Poem” which describes the night sky over Greece more than 2,500 years ago.

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Scientists are now coming out supporting their interest and research into ancient text as it relates to recent discoveries (new findings over last 5 years). Believe me, this is a new revelation. Of the multitude of scientists I have interviewed over the last 25 years, their ambition of ancient text was only whispered to me “off air.”

Sappho's -Midnight Poem- Describes Star Cluster

The scientific teams research was published yesterday in the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage. Martin George, former president of the International Planetarium Society, now at the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, also participated in the work.

science and ancient text unite

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“This is an example of where the scientific community can make a contribution to knowledge described in important ancient texts, “ said Manfred Cuntz, physics professor and lead author of the study. ” Estimations had been made for the timing of this poem in the past, but we were able to scientifically confirm the season that corresponds to her specific descriptions of the night sky in the year 570 B.C.”

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Sappho’s “Midnight Poem” describes a star cluster known as the Pleiades having set at around midnight, when supposedly observed by her from the Greek island of Lesbos.

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Cuntz and co-author and astronomer Levent Gurdemir, director of the Planetarium at UTA, used advanced software called Starry Night version 7.3, to identify the earliest date that the Pleiades would have set at midnight or earlier in local time in 570 B.C. The Planetarium system Digistar 5 also allows creating the night sky of ancient Greece for Sappho’s place and time.

“Use of Planetarium software permits us to simulate the night sky more accurately on any date, past or future, at any location,” said Levent Gurdemir.”This is an example of how we are opening up the Planetarium to research into disciplines beyond astronomy, including geosciences, biology, chemistry, art, literature, architecture, history and even medicine.”

pleiades chart

The Starry Night software demonstrated that in 570 B.C., the Pleiades set at midnight on Jan. 25, which would be the earliest date the poem could be related. As the year progressed, the Pleiades set progressively earlier.

“The timing question is complex as at that time they did not have accurate mechanical clocks as we do, only perhaps water clocks” said Cuntz. “For that reason, we also identified the latest date on which the Pleiades would have been visible to Sappho from that location on different dates some time during the evening.”

The researchers also determined that the last date that the Pleiades would have been seen at the end of astronomical twilight – the moment when the Sun’s altitude is -18 degrees and the sky is regarded as perfectly dark – was March 31.

“From there, we were able to accurately seasonally date this poem to mid-winter and early spring, scientifically confirming earlier estimations by other scholars,” Cuntz said.

Sappho was the leading female poet of her time and closely rivaled Homer. Her interest in astronomy was not restricted to the “Midnight Poem.” Other examples of her work make references to the Sun, the Moon, and planet Venus.

“Sappho should be considered an informal contributor to early Greek astronomy as well as to Greek society at large,” Cuntz added. “Not many ancient poets comment on astronomical observations as clearly as she does.”

Morteza Khaledi, dean of UTA’s College of Science, congratulated the researchers on their work, which forms part of UTA’s strategic focus on data-driven discovery within the Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact.

“This research helps to break down the traditional silos between science and the liberal arts, by using high-precision technology to accurate date ancient poetry,” Khaledi said. “It also demonstrates that the Planetarium’s reach can go way beyond astronomy into multiple fields of research.”

Dr. Manfred Cuntz is a professor of physics at UTA and active researcher in solar and stellar astrophysics, as well as astrobiology. In recent years he has focused on extra-solar planets, including stellar habitable zones and orbital stability analyses. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, in 1988.

Levent Gurdemir received his master’s of science degree in physics from UTA and is the current director of the university’s Planetarium. UTA uses the facility for research, teaching and community outreach, serving large numbers of K-12 students and the public at this local facility.

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BREAKING NEWS: Examination of Ancient Text Reveals Details of Supernova

German researches have uncovered evidence of the Arabic scholar Ibn Sina’s sighting of supernova 1006 (SN 1006). The new evidence will sit alongside that of others around that globe that reported details of what has been described as the brightest stellar event ever recorded by human beings.

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Ibn Sina was a Persian scientist and philosopher, who as part of his observations, traveled a lot and wrote about what he saw, along with his interpretations of subjects ranging from medicine to astronomy. One of the texts named Kitab al-Shifa, related to physics, meteorology, and especially astronomy that caught the attention of the researchers. A section of particular note described a bright object appearing in the sky in the year 1006. The section had been studied before, but the account had been attributed to a discussion of a comet.

ibn-Sina in al-Shifa

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In their recorded paper, German researchers Ralph Neuhaeuser, Carl Ehrig-Eggert and Paul Kunitzsch present the translation of ancient skygazer Ibn Sina’s text, describe an object that was very bright and that changed color over time before fading away – even noting at one point the object threw out sparks. The researchers suggest the description was actually that of SN 1006.

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SN 1006 was noted and described by others around the world, from places such as Morocco, Japan, Yemen and China, but none of those descriptions included information about the object changing colors. Sina wrote the object started out as faint greenish-yellow, that it twinkled especially at its brightest, and then became whitish before it disappeared altogether.

2 white dwarfs colliding

Most modern astronomers believe that SN 1006 was not just a Ia supernova (which occur when a white dwarf is pulled into another star causing it to blow up due to the overabundance of matter), but that it was the result of two white dwarfs colliding. This new information from an ancient part-time astronomer, the researchers suggest, may help to better understand an event that occurred over a thousand years ago.

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Bullet Indicates Lawrence of Arabia Accurate Recall

A bullet fired by Lawrence of Arabia during one of his most famous acts of guerrilla warfare has been discovered in the Arabian Desert by a team of archaeologists, led by the University of Bristol, confirming the accuracy of Lawrence’s own account of the attack in his war memoir Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

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The spent bullet was found at the site of the 1917 Hallat Ammar train ambush – immortalized in a scene in David Lean’s Oscar-winning biopic Lawrence of Arabia – during fieldwork by Bristol’s Professor Nicholas Saunders and Dr Neil Faulkner, and colleagues, as part of the Great Arab Revolt Project (GARP).

The project has excavated dozens of sites across the Arabian Desert associated with the 1916-1918 revolt by Arab forces against the Ottoman Turks, then allied to Germany.  T.E. Lawrence – later known as Lawrence of Arabia – served as a liaison officer with the rebel forces, an experience he described in Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

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Professor Nicholas Saunders said: “The bullet we found came from a Colt automatic pistol, the type of gun known to be carried by Lawrence and almost certainly not used by any of the ambush’s other participants.”

While several of Lawrence’s biographers have accused him of embellishing his stories, nothing the archaeologists found at any of the sites they excavated supports this view.

Lawrence and the Bedouin

Dr Neil Faulkner said: “Lawrence has something of a reputation as a teller of tall tales, but this bullet – and the other archaeological evidence we unearthed during ten years of fieldwork – indicates how reliable his account of the Arab Revolt in Seven Pillars of Wisdom is.”

In an unlikely coincidence, just two months ago, another Hallat Ammar connection appeared when a Hejaz Railway engine nameplate came to light after being ‘lost’ for almost 80 years.  Lawrence had given it to the family of his friend, Vyvyan Richards, for safekeeping in 1933 but never retrieved it before his death in 1935.  The inscription is in Ottoman Turkish written in Arabic script and translates as ‘iron road’, that is ‘Hejaz Railway’.

The family tradition records that it was ‘souvenired’ by Lawrence from one of the trains he attacked.  Many of these raids were on bridges and tracks rather than on locomotives, and, when they were, there was little time to safely hang around and take souvenirs.

The best documented example of such an opportunity is the ambush at Hallat Ammar, where the Turkish train had two locomotives not one, and there was ample time to lever off a nameplate.  The ambush was so spectacularly successful that it probably meant more to Lawrence than his other railway attacks, and so could have merited this souvenir.

“It is extraordinary,” Professor Saunders added, “that after 100 years new discoveries like this are still being made, casting new light on a guerrilla war which helped reshape the Middle East after 1918 – the consequences of which we are still living with today.”

The Principle of Ascension and Easter

During this time of year I turn my attention to themes of spirit. As many of you know my religious faith originates with Catholicism which remains at the core of my beliefs. However, I actively sought and embrace several spiritual beliefs, or perhaps better put ‘spiritual understandings’. One can ‘believe’ – but not ‘understand’. This is often referred to as “faith”. On the other hand — one can understand but not believe. This is called “choice”. So it is with choice and understanding that I formulate principles of faith in my life; and nothing grabs my attention more than the principle of Easter.

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I say “principle” of Easter to broaden the message and meaning as it relates to spiritual evolution. I would suggest this ‘principle’ of ascension is not tied only to Christians or Catholics. In fact, history suggests Christianity is really the ‘new kid on the block’. Our ancestors have known of the principle of spiritual evolution for centuries. Some might say it is the foundation of our being. This is where you might hear the popular saying: “we are not human beings seeking a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings seeking a human experience.” If this is true, then our journey is more about “remembering” rather than “finding”.

science_and_spirituality

One of my most favorite biblical writings is a time when after the most loyal of Jesus’ followers – better known as his “disciples” – would repeatedly ask Jesus for his guidance and wanting him to make every single decision for them as if they were in a never ending loop of indecision and helplessness. Then on this one day Jesus turned to his disciples and said: (paraphrase) “Stop following (mimic) me. It is not for me to be your idol of worship. I am not the one who has the only power. The power dwells within each of you. I am the way, the giver of life (renewal), in my name I make all things holy. God is my father, I am the Son, and you are my brothers and sisters.”

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I believe Jesus was wanting to instill the knowledge and principle of resurrection; the principle of “ascension”. The understanding of what we Catholics know as the “Holy Trinity”.

holy_trinity

The ‘Trinity’ is made up of the uniting of three.

1) the Father (God, Creator, Great Spirit)
2)
the Son (Jesus and all his brothers and sisters. In other words…all of us)
3) 
the Holy Spirit (some might call this the soul, or life force energy)

Some describe the ‘ascension’ process as raising our vibration to a higher frequency. This is certainly one area I step beyond the structure of the Catholic Church and venture into several more metaphysical realms. Some believe in the principle of “Christ Consciousness”. This idea would suggest the higher levels of spiritual knowingness is described as the “Christ”. Hence the term Jesus the Christ, which of course is different than Jesus Christ…or is it?

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The idea of rising into a higher state of being is an exciting premise I so well remember during Easter. Not the punishment, not the sacrifice, but the renewal and ascension back to a place of which we began.

Blessings to all, Mitch

New Finding Indicates Humans in Ireland 12,500 Years Ago

For decades, the earliest evidence of human life in Ireland dated from 8,000 BC. But radiocarbon dating of a bear’s knee bone indicated it had been butchered by a human in about 10,500 BC – some 12,500 years ago and far earlier than the previous date.

ireland palaeolithic period caves

“This find adds a new chapter to the human history of Ireland,” said Marion Dowd, an archaeologist at the Institute of Technology Sligo who made the discovery along with Ruth Carden, a research associate with the National Museum of Ireland.

The knee bone, which is marked by cuts from a sharp tool, was one of thousands of bones first found in 1903 in a cave in County Clare on the west coast of Ireland.

It was stored in the National Museum of Ireland since the 1920s, until Carden and Dowd re-examined it and applied for funding to have it radiocarbon dated – a technique developed in the 1940s – by Queen’s University Belfast.

The team sent a second sample to the University of Oxford to double-check the result. Both tests indicated the bear had been cut up by a human about 12,500 years ago.

The new date means there was human activity in Ireland in the Stone Age or Palaeolithic period, whereas previously, scientists only had evidence of humans in Ireland in the later Mesolithic period.

“Archaeologists have been searching for the Irish Palaeolithic since the 19th century, and now, finally, the first piece of the jigsaw has been revealed,” Dowd said.

Three experts further confirmed that the cut marks on the bone had been made when the bone was fresh, confirming they dated from the same time as the bone.

The results were revealed in a paper published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.

As well as pushing back the date of human history in Ireland, the find may have important implications for zoology, as scientists have not previously considered that humans could have influenced extinctions of species in Ireland so long ago.

“From a zoological point of view, this is very exciting,” Carden said. “This paper should generate a lot of discussion within the zoological research world and it’s time to start thinking outside the box… or even dismantling it entirely!”

The National Museum of Ireland noted that approximately two million more specimens are held in its collections and could reveal more secrets.

“All are available for research and we never know what may emerge,” said Nigel Monaghan, keeper of the natural history division of the National Museum of Ireland.

Amateur Metal Detector Finds Ancient Crucifix – May Change Historical Record

An amateur metal detector has made a discovery that experts think could change our understanding of Christianity in Denmark.

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Dennis Fabricius Holm was enjoying an afternoon off work when he found a Birka crucifix pendant in a field near the town of Aunslev, Østfyn.

“I got off early on Friday, so I took just a few hours, I went around with my metal detector and then I came suddenly on something,” Mr Holm told DK.

“Since I cleared the mud and saw the jewelry, I have not been able to think of anything else.”

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On posting the find to social media, other users encouraged him to take it to a museum.

Malene Refshauge Beck, curator and archaeologist at Østfyns Museum said: “It is an absolutely sensational discovery that is from the first half of the 900s [10th century].”

“There is found an almost identical figure in Sweden, which has been dated to just this period.”

However, this specimen is in especially good condition and one of the most well preserved Christian artifacts found in Denmark.

Weighing just 13.2 grams and 4.1cm in length, the figure is made of finely articulated goldthreads and tiny filigree pellets.

It is smooth on the reverse side but has a small eye at the top for a chain.

It was probably worn by a Viking woman.

The dating of the crucifix, estimated at being from 900 – 950AD, is significant because it would indicate Danes embraced Christianity earlier than previously thought.

At the moment, the Jelling Stones – two large rune-stones erected in 965AD in Jutland – are thought to be the oldest known representation of Jesus on a cross in Denmark.

The stones, in the town of Jelling, commemorate Harald Bluetooth’s conversion of the Danes to Christianity.

Christian missionaries had been present in the country for around two hundred years before then, but had failed to convert the Vikings.

However, pressures from Christian trade partners to convert, and in particular, influence from the Kingdom of Germany to the south, meant that most Danes were Christian by the end of the Viking period in 1050.

“The figure can therefore help to advance the time when one considers that the Danes really were Christians,” said Ms Beck.

“Simply because one can say that the person who carried it here no doubt embraced the Christian faith.”

The impact of the find is such that the historical record of the country will need to be adjusted.

“This is a subject that certainly will have to appear in the history books in the future,” said Ms Beck.

“In recent years there has been more and more signs that Christianity was widespread earlier than previously thought – and here the clearest evidence so far.”