Stonehenge at Summer Solstice


Powerful image.  Do we “really” know details about how the original builders/users of Stonehenge “thought” and “calculated”, to make these structures oriented to our solar system? What was their mind-set to make them so BIG?  “Gigantism” seemed to have been a common drive in antiquity (and today with our mania for growth). Did they have experimental little structures, which they manipulated, and then transferred “measurements” to construct the big structures? In contrast, the Anasazi in Arizona used spiral carving in rocks where shadow positions heralded solstices and equinoxes. “Measurements before Numbers” calls for study.

Humans obviously have technological insight – there is DNA for innovation.  Has it increased – as distributed in the population and for the range of competencies, including raising top levels? Or might our hitech accomplishments be simply from accumulation; insight building on insight? Also, enabled and constrained by other social factors. At each point in history and culture, what was the knowledge base which supported their technology?

This knowledge base need not have been what we today call Science.  Science and technology are sibling disciplines. The objective of Science is to Explain. The objective of Technology is to Make. Both use empirical processes and mathematics. But, technology is NOT applied science, although the two disciplines are entangled. I came to this insight from reading Eric Drexler on EXPLORATORY ENGINEERING.  “Engineering” is the practice of technology.

Imagine yourself looking at this scene at Stonehenge many millennia ago.  What would you then have not known scientifically about reality? What might they have “known” which we, today, don’t know?  Yet, at each time and culture there was “closure” as to understanding reality (a status quo).  We don’t experience “holes in reality”, but have many cognitive “blindspots”.

I was awestruck a while back viewing a video documentary of the technology of isolated, indigenous tribes in the Amazon. The chemistry of making poisons and the skills of making accurate blow tubes and darts was very HI-TECH, given their resources. Indigenous knowledge of a tribe’s biome (for the collection and use of plants and animals) and weather lore is truly astounding. How this knowledge and know-how was organized and shared/communicated is hopefully still being studied. The query here is whether (and how much) we have truly advanced in our basic techniques of exploration/learning, vs how much our “advances” have simply been the result of mechanical accumulation. To what extent has humankind meta advanced over our social/societal evolution?

Our flashy technological sheen often masks the deeper natures of humankind. I am currently exploring a speculation that technological and engineering practices with human systems (systems where humans are primary components) HAVE NOT ADVANCED in millennia. They are different today, because they can use non-human systems which HAVE ADVANCED over millennia. It is wrong to judge ancient human systems by contemporary “standards”, when these same standards are not applied in evaluation our contemporary human systems.  ALL evaluations of contemporary human systems are dominated by deep ideologies and contaminated by the selection/exclusion of “facts”. From what I learned in the scientific study of science as a human endeavor: All facts are theory laden, and all theories are culture laden. “Self-Evaluation” is a process needing more study, because linear logic doesn’t apply.

CAUTION.  Contemporary humankind may be seriously ill (dysfunctional in many dimensions) in ways that are not indicative of our levels of potential functioning were we not ill. Our illness may be societal systemic and not due to intrinsic flaws in our biology. “Civilization” may be a chronic illness for the whole of humankind. Human induced Earth Changes may not be the only tragedy. Human induced Humankind Dysfunction may be the core concern.

All the above, was in response to a single visual image!  This has become a habitual behavior.  This behavior diverts me from constructing strategies, more traditional dialog, and other relevant ventures. My composing docs to post online (my blog or as comments in others’ blogs) employs the same habitual behavior. I have spurts of explication in response to select passages, some that I had previously written. My outputs are webs, not organized documents. The vast majority of my online output is email response or blog comment. Only a few do I later post in my blog – which are not followed by anyone. My audience is very limited. In practice, I am irrelevant, yet I believe I have much to contribute. Time is short.

The above was initially an email sent to a short list. There was one response, by Helene Finidori, who included a url to an article about a 11,000 year old sacred city in Turkey that featured circles of standing stones as in Stonehenge, 6,000 years before Stonehenge. These builders were pre-metal use, pre-pottery use, and pre-agriculture; although all three emerged “shortly” after. It is hypothesized as a sacred site for hunter-gatherers, reversing the established order for stable gatherings sites: celebration -to-agriculture instead of agriculture-to-cebration.  It is interesting that the sandstone site was the source of the stones, and which were not transported to the site. There were multiple stone circles. Once a circle was constructed, it was covered by dirt, possibly for burial. Chaco Canyon in Arizona is also viewed as primarily a celebration site, with “facilities” for visitors.

OUR EMERGENCE NARRATIVE emerges, always fascinating. It is far from complete. In 2010 I presented a rapid read-formated “script” of a paper titled SPECULATIONS ON THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS at a conference in Tucson. A much longer, and richer (but harder to read) mind-storming outline proceeded.  A time-line I constructed for this narrative is available.

In this I make two new speculations:

  • The African Galapagos Hypothesis. For a few millennia humanoids evolved in relative isolation and security on islands in the flooded Rift Valley, where many of the unique characteristics of humankind were incubated. We had two unique environments, aquatic and arboreal, and a secure site to innovate child raising.
  • That “conscious experience” first emerged for dreams and hallucinations, while our perceptional world employed mammalian perception.

ANCIENT TECHNOLOGIES fascinate many of the youth today. Hyper critical of adult worlds and both criticizing/adapting “science-technology”, they devour wild speculations of ancient energy & transportation technologies and alien interference. They extrapolate on many “difficult to explain” features of the ancient world. I propose that had there been such powerful technologies and/or alien interference, there would be a much more substantial record [unless it was erased]. While accepting a low probability for these speculations, I tend towards exploring a powerful social technology of human management of temporarily long and technology/labor intensive projects.

For me, the pyramids and other massive structures are not as mysterious as the more recent design/construction of major cathedrals and other architectural creations in the last millennium. Both enterprises, truly ancient and simply long ago, required highly organized human labor. Was Mumford correct in viewing the city as the first machine – and that city metaphors are used in talking about mechanical systems?

I recently read of research claiming that the only gender neutral societies were hunter-gatherer. I speculate that the only systems/processes to achieve what the “ancients” achieved, required class structured societies and “civilization” with elites/bureaucracies/masses and “control/exploitation”.

Our future HUMANITY requires full acknowledgement and attention to the vast diversity of humankind. There are TWO diversities. (1) POSITIVE: in the vast field of expanding competencies there is a diversity pushing many complementary relationships. (2) NEGATIVE: within each competency there is a range; in many situations, those in the “lower part of each competency range” should not be asked to participate in activities that require that competency. EVERYONE will be excused from some tasks, which we will gladly accept.

It is probably futile (but possibly entertaining) to speculate WHAT IF?. What might we have achieved, as we have, without humans exploiting humans? Probably not much (in the domains we currently value) in this short time frame – and the time frame may be significant as to longer term survival/thrival. See NU GENESIS  .





Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.