Pondering the South African Memesphere – Looking for the Good in Everything header image 2

Discussion: Bones, Rocks and Stars

July 28th, 2009 · Posted by Hugo · 7 Comments

How about we discuss things one chapter at a time, but on the same blog post? We can kick off a new post after some chapters if the discussion actually takes off.

The first six chapters and the dating techniques they introduce during their investigation (give me a shout if I miss something):

  • Chapter 1: The ever-changing calendar the origins and complications of our calendar systems.
  • Chapter 2. A hero in a dark age – reconstructing history, in the light of the search for King Arthur.
  • Chapter 3. The forged cloth of Turin – radiocarbon dating.
  • Chapter 4. The pyramids and the bear’s groin – star-gazing
  • Chapter 5. The volcano that shook Europe – pottery (typology), tree-ring dating.
  • Chapter 6. The Mandate from Heaven – dendrochronology (advanced tree-ring pattern dating) and some more ice core dating.

Can I suggest we use a consistent style for marking what we are responding to? Based on what we had in the past: @Hugo #14 for replying to Hugo and the 14th comment, when not responding to a comment, just the topic you’re starting a new thread on, e.g.: @Chapter1. This will encourage me to fix the imported old comment threads when I get around to implementing the threaded comment system I’m dreaming about. 😉 (No need to be too strict though, e.g. marking unneeded when replying directly to the comment above. Import will have to have human-oversight anyway.)

Categories: Religion and Science
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7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hugo // Jul 29, 2009 at 12:12 am


    I quite enjoyed this chapter. I thought it was a lovely overview of the Roman origins of our calendar system. Some obscure little notes I made:

    First section…

    Commodus renamed December to Amazonius after his obsession for the warriors of this name, from which I realised the Amazons couldn’t be named after the Amazon, considering South America hadn’t been discovered yet. (The naming must have been the other way round then…?) Wikipedia’s first paragraph:

    The Amazons (Greek:Ἀμαζόνες) are a nation of all-female warriors in Classical and Greek mythology. Herodotus placed them in a region bordering Scythia in Sarmatia (modern territory of Ukraine). Other historiographers place them in Asia Minor or Libya.

    Babylon’s calendar system had the day starting in the evening, like the Hebrew Bible (aka Old Testament). I guess it became the general Middle-Eastern way of measuring time, but anyway, scholars say Genesis 1 was written during Babylonian exile. It made me wonder about the rest of the Pentateuch. (They had laws around e.g. Jubilee years every 49 or 50 years, i.e. every 7 cycles of 7 years.)

    The second section answered one of my questions: they used to use a lunar-based calendar like the Babylonians (the Gospels were written according to it). One of the things that had to be decided at the council of Nicea in AD325 was when Easter would be celebrated on the Julian calendar (Roman, 365 days per year). The decision was:

    The first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox

    Joy! A wonderfully complicated combination of lunar and solar calendars, to confuse many a generation about the date of Easter.

    Enough from me for now. I’m past half-way through my ‘lil notes on the first chapter. I really enjoyed this chapter, and took nearly as many notes as I did for chapters 2 to 6 combined. 😉

    Ben’Jammin, and anyone else that’s read this chapter (already, or in a few weeks’ time), comments?

  • 2 Ben-Jammin' // Jul 29, 2009 at 6:25 am

    I have to go find my copy and refresh my memory to comment. Tomorrow or the day after. 🙂

  • 3 Die piesangverkoper // Jul 29, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Is dit nie alles al weerlê op Answers in Genesis nie?

  • 4 Hugo // Jul 29, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    (He asks, “isn’t all this already …debunked/disproven/something-softer… by Answers in Genesis?”)


    Actually an interesting question as to how AiG’s deceptions generalise. I would like to argue that they typically don’t deny the scientific techniques, but mostly operate with ignorance of the evidence… but that isn’t true. They do also deny the validity of some scientific techniques. (Basically it seems they deny whatever they have to deny in order to make things fit into their worldview.)

    It could be interesting or worthwhile to keep AiG-type arguments in mind in the process of discussing the material. Or even interesting if some AiG-fan were to share his/her impressions of the book, should they actually read it. Could be tough to balance though, it feels like discussions with too many AiG articles thrown in willy-nilly tend to also get derailed into inanities.

    If we get spammed by too much AiG material, I would probably try to frame discussions about this book in terms of “let’s see what science says, make sure we understand what it says and why it says it”, and deal with AiG in other posts or discussions – in which I’d take a broader picture view and summarise general AiG tactics, illustrated by some more in-depth examples, but first getting AiG proponents to commit to sticking to the articles they’re pushing, rather than hopping from one to another every time they realise their article is starting to sink…

  • 5 Kenneth Oberlander // Jul 31, 2009 at 11:38 am


    If we get spammed by too much AiG material,

    Do you have reason to believe we will?

  • 6 Hugo // Jul 31, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Actually no, not really, not for this “book reading exercise”. I do have reason to believe I’ll run into such material again though, though chances are these reasons will only strike next year. (I’m too busy, progress here is too slow.)

  • 7 Hugo // Aug 5, 2009 at 1:22 am

    @Hugo #1: (continuing)

    We finally got our current calendar (with leap years every 4 years, but not every 100 years, but every 400 years, resulting in an accuracy of 1-day-per-2880-years) due to Pope Gregory XIII: he asked the astronomers in 1582 for advice, as had been done in the past.

    At that point, they reverted back to the Nicean epoch. Basically, because the year wasn’t the right length, the calendar had been drifting. The year and the seasons weren’t aligned as they used to be, and they had to choose some fixed point from which to align. Instead of coming up with a “new arbitrary point of reference” (such as: continuing with the shifted calendar, tuned to not shift any further), the calendar year was shifted back to what it would have been had we been using the Gregorian Calendar since the Council of Nicea. And Belgium had no Christmas in 1582 due to the timing of the calendar switch in that country. 😉

    Remarkable and interesting to me was the time it took until “everyone” shifted to the Gregorian calendar. The Protestant Reformation was kicked off by Luther and his piece of paper in Wittenberg in 1517, the schism resulting in the Protestant countries being slow to switch. Britain switched in 1752, with riots and deaths with people complaining about the loss of 11 days. Bankers refused to pay tax on the traditional March 25th as it was “11 days too early”, thereby shifting the UK tax year’s start to 6 April, as they still have it today.

    Greece only switched as recently as 1924, Turkey 1926, China 1949. The Eastern Orthodox church still uses a variation of the Julian calendar, and apparently Ethiopia as well. The Islamic calendar is still based on the moon (thereby swapping summer and winter every 17 years). And of course, the whole world celebrated the millennium a year early (2000) 😉

    Oh yea, rewinding a bit: the Roman pontifices (a priestly class) abused the power they got from having the task to add days during the year (to keep the years in sync with the seasons)… shows how important it is for people to understand how the system works — no-one did, except them, so they could choose days to benefit themselves or whoever they wanted to have in power longer.

    So that’s chapter 1. I found it *really* fascinating. I’ll wait a bit more for other comments / impressions of the first chapter before I move on to chapter 2.

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