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Archive for the ‘Antiquities’ Category

The First Canoe

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Excerpt from Man Upon the Sea by Frank B Goodrich – 1858

Man upon the Sea – Obtaining Motion upon the Water

The first object for obtaining motion upon the water must evidently have been to enable the navigator to cross a river, not to ascend or descend it; as it is apparent he would not seek the means of following or stemming its current while the same purpose could be more easily served by walking along the shore.  It is not difficult to suppose that the oar was suggested by the legs of a frog or the fins of a fish.  The early navigator, seated in his hollow tree, might at first seek to propel himself with his hands, and might then artificially lengthen them by a piece of wood fashioned in imitation of the hand and arm, a long pole terminating in a thin fiat blade.  Here was the origin of the modern row-boat, one of the most graceful inventions of man.

From the oar to the rudder the transition was easy, for the oar is in itself a rudder, and was for a long time used as one.  It must have been observed at an early day that a canoe in motion was diverted from its direct course by plunging an oar into the water and suffering it to remain there.  It must have been observed, too, that an oar in or towards the stern was more effective in giving a new direction to the canoe than an oar in any other place.  It was a natural suggestion of prudence, then, to assign this duty to one particular oarsman, and to place him altogether at the stern.

The sail is not so easily accounted for. An ancient tradition relates that a fisherman and his sweetheart, allured from the shore in the hope of discovering an island, and surprised by a tempest, were in imminent danger of destruction. Their only oar was wrenched from the grasp of the fisherman, and the frail bark was thus left to the mercy of the waves. The maiden raised her white veil to protect herself and her lover from the storm; the wind, inflating this fragile garment, impelled them slowly but surely towards the coast. Their aged sire, the tradition continues, suddenly seized with prophetic inspiration, exclaimed,

“The future is unfolded to my view! Art is advancing to perfection!  My children, you have discovered a powerful agent in navigation.  All nations will cover the ocean with their fleets and wander to distant regions.  Men, differing in their manners and separated by seas, will disembark upon peaceful shores, and import their foreign science, superfluities, and art.  Then shall the mariner fearlessly cruise over the immense abyss and discover new lands and unknown seas!”

Though we may admire the foresight of this patriarch, we cannot applaud him for choosing a moment so inopportune for exercising his peculiar gift: it would certainly have been more natural to afford some comfort to his weather-beaten children.  The legend even goes on to state that he at once fixed a pole in the middle of the canoe, and, attaching to it a piece of cloth, invented the first sail-boat.

Mythology assigns a different, though similar, origin to the invention:  Iris, seeking her son in a bark which she impelled by oars, perceived that the wind inflated her garments and gently forced her in the direction in which she was going.  No research would bring the investigator to conclusions more satisfactory than these.

Excerpt from Man Upon the Sea by Frank B Goodrich – 1858

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Further Reading and External Links

Navigation on Wikipedia

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Napoleon and the Institute of Egypt – 1798

 

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The Institute of Egypt formed by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798, capitalised on the work of scholars and technical experts to support the French expeditionary force. It was burnt down on 17th December 2011 – thousands of historical documents were lost in the fire.  Below is an excerpt from 1898 – published in the Westminster review detailing Napoleons involvement.  Here is a recent news article about the fire

 Napoleon and the Institute of Egypt – 1798

NapoleonThe Institute of Egypt must not be passed over.  Composed of the savants of the expedition, Napoleon himself figuring in it as a mathematician, it had four sections, like its Paris prototype; mathematics, physics, political economy, literature and art.  Monge was president, Napoleon vice-president.

It met twice a week, and busied itself with the manufacture of saltpetre, the erection of windmills, hydraulic machines for supplying cisterns, bread-making, substitutes for wine, dyes, ophthalmia, the fauna, flora, and antiquities of the country.  The ornamental was mingled with the useful.  Perseval de Grandmaison recited translations of Tasso and Camoens, and Marcel turned passages of the Koran into French verse.  Napoleon was a regular attendant, and read a paper on the Cairo rate of mortality.  At one sitting Monge explained the mirage. Two commissions were sent out to Upper Egypt to report on its monuments, and these were attended with considerable risk, for even an escort, though indispensable, did not always ensure safety.

The library was open to all comers.  So also were Berthollet’s chemical experiments, which the natives, however, took for alchemy.

A printing office was under the same roof, and the garden behind was converted into a botanic garden, an observatory being also erected in it.  Napoleon, by the way, who occupied Ibrahim’s palace, had the spacious garden, an Oriental thicket, cut up into avenues and adorned with fountains.  Two newspapers in French were published by Desgenettes, one scientific, the other political, but the file of the latter is disappointing. European news naturally fills a large part of it, and the Egyptian information is meagre.  It was carried on from August [1798] to June [1801].

Napoleon, of course, visited the Pyramids and Suez.  On reaching the foot of the first pyramid, he set his savants to run a race in scrambling to the top, while he remained behind, laughing boisterously and spurring them on.  Monge, though by no means the youngest, for he was fifty-two, won the race. It is not easy to imagine the “great unamusable,” as Talleyrand styled him, indulging in merriment, but Napoleon was then under thirty, and had not yet felt the cares of empire.

Excerpt from The Westminster Review – Volume 150 – 1898

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Further Reading and External Links

Saving Egypts Precious Fire-Bombed Books 

National Geographic – Temple of Knowledge Article

Greek & Roman Mythology – The Eleusinian Mysteries

 

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Oracles and Mysteries: Mankind has been the victims of oracles and mysteries, and preteneded conjurors, and what they have chosen to call ‘wise men’ from the beginning of time.

Excerpt from from The Covenant Volume 2 by James  Ridgely published in 1843

The Eleusinian Mysteries

The mysteries of Isis, and the Eleusinian mysteries, were kept up by subterranean caverns, so constructed as to throw strange images before the eyes of the initiated, by means of moveable lights, and by tubes conveying strange sounds, when they were in darkness, to frighten them. Every one can tell how busy the imagination is when we are a little alarmed for our safety. These strange sounds, persons accompanying those about to be initiated, were allowed to hear, and sometimes they saw flashes of strange lights. There can be no doubt but that some of these ceremonies were awfully imposing. The higher orders unquestionably understood the whole thing, but the lower did not.

From the whole concurrent testimony of ancient history, we must believe that the Eleusinian mysteries were used for good purposes, for there is not an instance on record that the honour of an initiation was ever obtained by a very bad man. The hierophants; the higher priests of the order; were always exemplary in their morals, and became sanctified in the eyes of the people. The high-priesthood of this order in Greece was continued in one family, the Eumolpidae, for ages. In this they resembled both the egyptians and the Jews.

The Eleusinian mysteries in Rome took another form, and were called the rites of Bona Dea; but she was the same Ceres that was worshipped in Greece. All the distinguished Roman authors speak of these rites, and in terms of profound respect. Horace denounces the wretch who should attempt to reveal the secrets of these rites; Virgil mentions these mysteries with great respect; and Cicero alludes to them with a greater reverence than either of the poets we have named. Both the Greeks and Romans punished any insult offered to these mysteries with the most persevering vindictiveness. Alcibiades was charged with insulting these religious rites; and although the proof of his offence was quite doubtful, yet he suffered for it for years in exile and misery; and it must be allowed that he was the most popular man of his age.

These mysteries were continued until some time after the days of Constantine, in the sixth century, when they were prohibited. Sad stories have been conjured up to give importance to the Egyptian mysteries, but no one has attempted to throw any dark shade over those of Greece or Rome. The philosopher will readily believe that there was nothing supernatural in any of their mysteries; and all may set it down as a fact, that the initiated never pretended to any thing like a commerce with the inhabitants of the invisible world. They unquestionably often assumed to possess wondrous powers and great secrets; but this was only a means of keeping knowledge from becoming too common; and this was an error which lasted for ages, even down to our times.

Excerpt from from The Covenant Volume 2 by James  Ridgely published in 1843

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Further Reading and External Links

www.eleusinianmysteries.org/

 

Greek & Roman Mythology – Zeus or Jupiter

Here we cover the Greek God Zeus one of the deities of the highest order, other postings examine the religious belief of the Greeks and Romans, with descriptions of the gods individually.  Below is an excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray published 1897.  The entire book is in our library in individual chapters – and you can begin reading it here.

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Zeus, or Jupiter

Zeus or JupiterThird and last on the throne of the highest god sat Zeus. The fertile imagination of early times had, as we have seen, placed his abode on Mount Olympus in Thessaly. But a later and more practical age usually conceived him as inhabiting a region above the sky, where the source of all light was supposed to be. He was god of the broad light of day, as his name implies, had control of all the phenomena of the heavens, and accordingly sudden changes of weather, the gathering of clouds, and, more than all, the burst of a thunder-storm made his presence felt as a supernatural being interested in the affairs of mankind. Hence such titles as “cloud-gatherer,” “god of the murky cloud,” “thunderer,” and “mighty thunderer,” were those by which he was most frequently invoked. On the other hand, the serenity and boundless extent of the sky, over which he ruled, combined with the never-failing recurrence of day, led him to be regarded as an everlasting god: “Zeus who was and is and shall be.” To indicate this feature of his character he was styled Cronides or Cronion, a title which, though apparently derived from his father Cronus, must have assumed even at a very early time a special significance; otherwise we should expect to find it applied also to his two brothers, Poseidon (Neptune) and Hades (Pluto).

The eagle soaring beyond vision seemed to benefit by its approach to Zeus, and came to be looked on as sacred to him. Similarly high mountain peaks derived a sanctity from their nearness to the region of light, and were everywhere in Greece associated with his worship, many of them furnishing titles by which he was locally known as, for instance, Aetnaeus, a title derived from Mount Aetna in Sicily, or Atabyrius, from a mountain in Rhodes.  Altars to him and even temples were erected on hill tops, to reach which by long toiling, and then to see the earth spread out small beneath, was perhaps the best preparation for approaching him in a proper spirit.

Excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray – 1897

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Further Reading and External Links

Greek God Zeus 

Zeus family tree

Greek Mythology – Rhea

 

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Here we cover the Greek God Rhea, other postings examine the religious belief of the Greeks and Romans, with descriptions of the gods individually.  Below is an excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray published 1897.  The entire book is in our library in individual chapters – and you can begin reading it here.

Mountain Goddess – RHEA

Greek God RheaAs Uranus, the representative of the fertilizing force in nature, was superseded by Cronus, the representative of a ripening force, so Gaea, the primitive goddess of the earth with its productive plains, gave way to Rhea, a goddess of the earth with its mountains and forests. Gaea had been the mother of the powerful Titans. Rhea was the mother of gods less given to feats of strength, but more highly gifted: Pluto, Poseidon (Neptune), and Zeus (Jupiter), Hera (Juno), Demeter (Ceres), and Hestia (Vesta). Her titles as, for example, Dindymene and Berecynthia were derived for the most part from the names of mountains in Asia Minor, particularly those of Phrygia and Lydia, her worship having been intimately associated with the early civilization of these countries. There her name was Cybele or Cybebe, which also, from its being employed to designate her sanctuaries (Cybela) in caves or mountain sides, points to her character as a mountain goddess.

The lofty hills of Asia Minor, while sheltering on their cavernous sides wild animals, such as the panther and lion, which it was her delight to tame, also looked down on many flourishing cities which it was her duty to protect. In this latter capacity she wore a mural crown, and was styled Mater turrita. But though herself identified with peaceful civilization, her worship was always distinguished by wild and fantastic excitement, her priests and devotees rushing through the woods at night with torches burning, maiming and wounding each other, and producing all the din that was possible from the clashing of cymbals, the shrill notes of pipes, and the frantic voice of song.

To account for this peculiarity of her worship, which must have been intended to commemorate some great sorrow, the story was told of how she had loved the young Phrygian shepherd, Attis, whose extraordinary beauty had also won the heart of the king’s daughter of Pessinus; how he was destined to marry the princess, and how the goddess, suddenly appearing, spread terror and consternation among the marriage guests. Attis escaped to the mountains, maimed himself, and died beside a pine tree, into which his soul trans migrated, while from his blood sprang violets like a wreath round the tree.

The goddess implored Zeus to restore her lover. This could not be. But so much was granted that his body should never decay, that his hair should always grow, and that his little finger should always move. The pine was a symbol of winter and sadness, the violet of spring and its hopeful beauty.

There is a charm in the name of ancient Greece; there is glory in every page of her history; there is a fascination in the remains of her literature, and a sense of unapproachable beauty in her works of art; there is a spell in her climate still, and a strange attraction in her ruins.

Excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray – 1897

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Further Reading and External Links

Rhea – Titan Queen

Rhea

 

Greek & Roman Mythology – Poseidon or Neptune

 

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Here we cover the Greek God Poseidon, other postings examine
the religious belief of the Greeks and Romans, with descriptions of the gods individually.  Below is an excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray published 1897.  The entire book is in our library in individual chapters – and you can begin reading it here.

Poseidon or Neptune

It has already been told how, when all resources had failed which the Titans could bring to bear for the restoration of Cronus to the throne, the government of the world was divided by lot among his three sons, Zeus, Poseidon, Hades.

To Zeus fell, besides a general supremacy, the control of the heavens; and we have seen how he and his consort Hera, representing the phenomena of that region, were conceived as divine persons possessed of a character and performing actions such as were suggested by those phenomena. To Poseidon (Neptune) fell the control of the element of water, and he in like manner was conceived as a god, in whose character and actions were reflected the phenomena of that clement, whether as the broad navigable sea, or as the cloud which gives fertility to the earth, growth to the grain and vine, or as the fountain which refreshes man, cattle, and horses.

A suitable symbol of his power, therefore, was the horse, admirably adapted as it is both for labor and battle, whilst its swift springing movement compares finely with the advance of a foaming wave of the sea. “He yokes to the chariot,” sings Homer in the Iliad, “his swift steeds, with feet of brass and manes of gold, and himself clad in gold, drives over the waves. The beasts of the sea sport around him, leaving their lurking places, for they know him to be their lord. The sea rejoices and makes way for him. His horses speed lightly, and never a drop touches the brazen axle.”

It may have been to illustrate a tendency of the sea to encroach in many places on the coast, as well as to show the importance attached to a good supply of water, that the myth originated which tells us of the dispute between Poseidon and Athene for the sovereignty of the soil of Attica. To settle the dispute, it was agreed by the gods that whichever of the two should perform the greatest wonder, and at the same time confer the most useful gift on the land, should be entitled to rule over it. With a stroke of his trident Poseidon caused a brackish spring to well up on the Acropolis of Athens, a rock 400 feet high, and previously altogether without water. But Athene in her turn caused the first olive tree to grow from the same bare rock, and since that was deemed the greatest benefit that could be bestowed, obtained for all time sovereignty of the land, which Poseidon thereupon spitefully inundated.

There is a charm in the name of ancient Greece; there is glory in every page of her history; there is a fascination in the remains of her literature, and a sense of unapproachable beauty in her works of art; there is a spell in her climate still, and a strange attraction in her ruins.

Excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray – 1897

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Further Reading and External Links

Neptune – God of the Sea 

Myths and the God Neptune

Navigation of the Phoenicians – 1700 BC

 

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Changing the pace a bit today, we’re covering an article all about early maritime navigation and its history.  The article below is an extract from one of the earlier books in our library called Man Upon the Sea by Frank B Goodrich published in 1858.

Navigation of the Phoenicians

It is now generally conceded that the date of the maritime enterprises which rendered the Phoenicians famous in antiquity must he fixed between the years 1700 and 1100 before Christ. The renowned city of Sidon was the centre from which their expeditions were sent forth. What was the specific object of these excursions, or in what order of time they took place, is but imperfectly known: it would appear, however, that their adventurers traded at first with Cyprus and Rhodes, then with Greece, Sardinia, Sicily, Gaul, and the coast of Spain upon the Mediterranean.

About 1250 B.C., their ships ventured cautiously beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, and founded Cadiz upon a coast washed by the Atlantic. A little later they founded establishments upon the western coast of Africa. Homer asserts that at the Trojan War, 1194 B.C., the Phoenicians furnished the belligerents with many articles of luxury and convenience; and we are told by Scripture that their ships brought gold to Solomon from Ophir, in 1000 B.C. Tyre seems now to have superseded Sidon, though at what period is not known. It had become a flourishing mart before 600 B.C.; for Ezekiel, who lived at that time, has left a glowing and picturesque description of its wealth, which must have proceeded from a long established commerce.

He enumerates, among the articles used in building the Tyrian ships, the fir-trees of Senir, the cedars of Lebanon, the oaks of Bashan, the ivory of the Indies, the linen of Egypt, and the purple of the Isles of Elishah. He mentions, as brought to the great emporium from Syria, Damascus, Greece, and Arabia, siiver, tin, lead, and vessels of brass; slaves, horses, mules; carpets, ebony, ivory, pearls, and silk; wheat, balm, honey, oil, and gum; wine, wool, and iron. It is about this periods – 600 B.C – that the Phoenicians, though under Egyptian commanders, appear to have performed a voyage which, if authentic, may justly be regarded as the most important in their annals, a circumnavigation of Africa.

Excerpt from Man Upon the Sea by Frank B Goodrich – 1858

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Further Reading and External Links

Phoenician Ships, Navigation and Commerce

The Phoenicians