Thursday, May 27, 2021

Leading American Crackpot: Ignatius Donnelly

There are a lot of falsehoods about the Atlantis tale.  In fact, there are two or three falsehoods about Atlantis that seem to underlay most of the nutty history we all loathe.  

Three recent videos at YouTube discuss the main source of the disinformation, which is the American writer and politician Ignatius Donnelly, who wrote the book called Atlantis, The Antediluvian World that appeared in 1882.  

Donnelly's work postulates an advanced technical society that was destroyed 12k years ago. He argues that survivors of the cataclysm founded all of the world's great civilizations.  

Neither of those ideas are found in Plato.  He did not say that Atlantis was advanced -- his Atlanteans are on the same level of culture as the people around them.  In addition, Plato did not mention or discuss Atlantean survivors.  So, both of those story elements are additions from later writers, probably from Donnelly.  

Donnelly's work is central to pretty much all of the crackpottery that has come after him. He truly is a king of the crackpots, and an Ur crackpot in American history. This connection between Donnelly and other kinds of crackpottery, from Ancient Aliens to Q Anon, is nicely explained in the first film below, beginning around 9:10 to 16:40. The bio of Donnelly begins around 20:25.  He was a Lincoln supporter and Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota (1860-63), and a congressman from Minnesota (1863-69).  So, he moved from the state house to federal office during the civil war.  

This second film is very informative. I enjoyed the discussion of Plato (7:30 - 16:30). The opening seven minutes contain a nice outline of Donnelly's main claims.  The final minutes treat the idea of a comet impact that Donnelly and other crackpots appeal to.  The notion that there was an advanced prehistoric culture is pure poison, and yet it is believed by more than half of Americans. 

This third video works on the distinction between science and pseudo-science, with special attention to the work of Donnelly.  

Monday, May 17, 2021

New Pics of Ancient Troy

One of the most pressing questions about the plain of Troy is simply who did all of this? 

Who cut through the coast line across from Hissarlik? Who did the massive earthworks west of Kalafat? Who built a flood survivable city in the plain? Who built the famous acropolis on Hissarlik? 

We all want to say that the Trojans did this stuff.  And of course, we are right to say it.  But when we call the city Troy and its inhabitants Trojans we are speaking as the Greeks taught us, not as the people who lived there taught us. 

The Hittites may have called this place Wilusa, or Tauruisa, or Assuwa, or Ahhiyawa.  But again, those are Hittite words.  

In addition, the cut through the coastline, the manmade mounds west of Kalafat and the city in the plain form no part of the familiar story about Troy.  Most of what I discuss on this blog has never been part of the meaning of the words Troy and Trojan.  

I hope to see the meaning of those terms deepen, to include not only the geography and archeology of the plain, but also the voices of the people who lived there.  May writing be found one day in the mound!  

Wouldn't it be nice to know who these people were and how they thought about their world including how they thought about the Greeks and Hittites?  What did they call the Hittites? What did they call the Greeks? And what did they call themselves?  

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

An Unexplained Structure in the Plain of Troy

I have spotted a structure in the plain.  It is inside the baseball field shaped marsh SW of the city, in the SW corner of the marsh.  

I have no idea what that is.  It is on both sides of the road and canal.  For all I know, it is modern.  But it could be ancient.  

Friday, May 7, 2021

Yet another tell in the Troad?

Spotted what could be a settlement site in the Troad.  This one is about 35 miles NE of Hissarlik, near the town of Lapseki.  

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Critiquing A Picture of Ancient Troy

This is my favorite picture of Ancient Troy.  I can stare at it for hours.  It is an artist's impression from the Luwian Studies website.  There is a cut through the coastal ridge at Troy, and the picture below looks almost due east across the cut in the ridge toward the walled city in the plain and its acropolis on the hillside above.  There is a boat being pulled through the cut into an inland basin.  Coming out toward the cut is a gated avenue.  The city also has at least one navigable canal going through it from side to side.  There are straight, well-defined canals on both sides of the plain going all the way up the hill.  The waterway between the city and the coastal ridge is navigable and has a bridge across it.  There are three inland basins and an angular harbor. There are villages on the coastal ridge and in the hills around the plain.  

I wrote about that cut through the coastal ridge in my last post.  It is one of the five contemporary declivities in the plain of Troy that need to be explained.  I have been thinking that it was used to drain a marsh on the inside of the ridge.  However, it is much wider than would be necessary for that purpose.  The only other purpose for it that I have come across is the one depicted here, where it functions as a dry slipway for ships.  I have not thought up another.  Sailing into the mouth of the Dardanelle straights may have been so difficult for bronze age mariners that something like that dry slipway was extremely useful, if not necessary.  

Below is a Spratt map turned sideways to mirror the eastward orientation of the picture above.  At the bottom of the map is an area marked Lisgar Marsh.  Beyond the coast are the words Artificial Cut.  In the cut is the abbreviation "Fount" which is short for Fountain, by which Spratt means a spring.  There is another along the creek north of Kalifat and 3 more on the north side of Hissarlik. There are a lot of springs in the plain, and there was one either in or near the great cut in Spratt's time. 

Going back now to the topmost picture, I already noted the gated avenue coming out toward the cut in the coastline. Now I want to draw your attention to the avenue to the right of that, on the south end of the city.  It is angled toward another cut in the coastline, one which I did not address in my last post, but did address in an earlier post.  This is the canal at Besik Bay (Besik means Cradle).  The avenue pointing toward Besik Bay looks navigable in the picture.  

In the map from Spratt, there is a canal in approximately the position of the artist's avenue pointing at Besik Bay.  It ends at Kalifat.  

West of Kalifat the map shows a "Deep Bed".  Going north from that bed is an arc of marshy areas that lead to a branch labeled Swampy Hollows.  That arc of low spots in the plain corresponds rather well with the arc of the outer city wall in the topmost picture above.  

Finally, in the Spratt map, there is a strip of low, marshy land extending from the branch marked Swampy Hollows east to the creek below Hissarlik.  This line corresponds nicely with the northernmost wall in the artist's impression above. Note their relative positions in relation to the valley north of Hissarlik.  

I suspect that the artist's impression was based on the Spratt maps.  The artist places the southernmost avenue over the canal leading to Kalifat depicted by Spratt.  It arcs around Hissarlik like the arc of marshes Spratt drew.  The placement of its northern wall seems to be inspired by Spratt as well.  Because it harmonizes so nicely with the Spratt maps the picture deserves extra praise, imho.  It is one of my favorite things on the internet.  Nevertheless, I shall point out some of its weaknesses.  

1. In the artist's rendering, the city in the plain is a lot wider than the empty area outlined on the Spratt maps. Look at the distance between the gate on the gated avenue and the coastal ridge. It has barely enough space for the navigable canal. Then look at the space on the Spratt map between the arc of marshy areas and the coastal ridge.  Spratt shows lots of space, enough to farm the area between the river and the marshes.  So, the artist's city comes out from Hissarlik toward the coast too far to be a match with the Spratt map.  

2. The picture includes a lot more water than the actual plain does.  There are are no navigable waterways in the plain of Troy. There are mere mountain streams and drainage canals in the plain.  Even the biggest of them, the Scamander, is shallow and not very wide in summer.  

3. The artist depicts a bay of Troy that comes a quarter of the way into the valley of the Simois.  Meanwhile, the entire stream of the Simois has been diverted to the top of Hissarlik.  The water then circles the citadel knoll, and my question is, what happens to the water after that?   Where does the excess water go? 

4. I think the city in the picture will not survive floods.  Imagine the entire plain above the city in knee deep water from side to side.  Flood waters would hit the uphill wall at a 90 degree angle.  That wall  reaches out over half way into the plain, so it would be holding back over half the water in the plain, and it would eventually give way.  Remember, this is mud brick construction on top of stone foundations.  

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Another Tell in the Troad?

I have spotted what looks like a buried settlement just north of the city of Biga, in Canakkale province, Turkey.  

The hill is shaped a bit like the mound in front of Hissarlik insofar as it is tapered on one end.  It is around 55 miles NE of Hissarlik. 

In the second photo, the city at the bottom of the picture is Biga.  

I was surprised to discover that this one is not on the list of Anatolian settlement sites at Luwian Studies. They actually show surprisingly few sites in the Troad.  

There may be a companion site there.  

On Atlantis, Graham Hancock and Ignatius Donnelly

Perhaps the most pernicious habit of Atlantis interpreters is the one pointed out by Dr Miano on Youtube: The typical Atlantis interpreter ...