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No. 19: Jan-Feb 1982

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The Diffusion Of Science In Prehistoric Times

In contrast to many archeologists who tend to play down the intelligence of prehistoric humans, B.A. Frolov insists that these "primitive hunters" constucted surprisingly sophisticated models of the natural world, especially the motions of celestial bodies. Many of these models seem to have been non-utilitarian; that is, built only to satisfy intellectual curiosity. Furthermore, some scientific notions were widespread geographically, indicating perhaps long lines of communication. To illustrate, Frolov cites the similar astronomical sophistication revealed by the Lake Onega petroglyphs in Russia and those at Stonehenge. He also points out that the aborigines of North America, Australia, and Siberia all called the Pleiades the "Seven Sisters." Coincidence is very unlikely here, he says. This and other notions must have existed before Australia and North America were peopled. The absence of writing as we know it would not have deterred ancient humans from developing and communicating mathematical and scientific skills and accumulating knowledge, possibly in the form of myth.

(Frolov, B.A.; "On Astronomy in the Stone Age," Current Anthropology, 22: 585, 1981.)

Comment. A passing thought: may not writing as well as today's omnipresent computers be crutches that permit our memories and mental skills to deteriorate? In our Handbook The Unfathomed Mind, we present many cases of remarkable memory and information-processing ability. Such skills could be common today but suppressed by technology. In ancient humans, they may have been well-used and common.

From Science Frontiers #19, JAN-FEB 1982. 1982-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

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  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987