Vedicarcheologicaldiscoveries's Weblog

About discoveries that confirm the Vedic view of history

Prehistoric art hints at lost Indian civilization

Posted by Stephen Knapp on October 25, 2018

The discovery of rock carvings believed to be tens of thousands of years old in India’s western state of Maharashtra has greatly excited archaeologists who believe they hold clues to a previously unknown civilisation, BBC Marathi’s Mayuresh Konnur reports.

The rock carvings – known as petroglyphs – have been discovered in their thousands atop hillocks in the Konkan region of western Maharashtra.

Mostly discovered in the Ratnagiri and Rajapur areas, a majority of the images etched on the rocky, flat hilltops remained unnoticed for thousands of years.

Image copyright BBC Marathi

Most of them were hidden beneath layers of soil and mud. But a few were in the open – these were considered holy and worshipped by locals in some areas.

The sheer variety of the rock carvings have stunned experts – animals, birds, human figures and geometrical designs are all depicted.

The way the petroglyphs have been drawn, and their similarity to those found in other parts of the world, have led experts to believe that they were created in prehistoric times and are possibly among the oldest ever discovered.

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Petroglyph in India May Be Oldest Known Sky Chart and Supernova Depiction

Posted by Stephen Knapp on October 25, 2018

Archaeological investigators from India claim their in-depth research of historical night sky charts backs a theory that ancient rock art that depicts an astronomical event. Experts suggest the find may be the oldest star chart ever discovered, as well as the very first portrayal of a supernova.

Mysterious Rock Art Puzzles Scientists

As International Business Times reports , the peculiar rock art dates back to between 2100 and 4100 BC and was found at the Burzahom Neolithic site in the Kashmir region of Asia in Northern India. According to the archaeologists, it portrays a sky with two glaring objects in it and figures of humans and animals below. At first sight, both the animals and humans appeared to be part of a hunting scene, but after detailed examination, scientists have concluded that the figures depict star patterns and the two bright objects are a sun or moon and a supernova.

Left, photograph of the petroglyphs. Right, a sketch of it. (Image: IGNCA)

Left, photograph of the petroglyphs. Right, a sketch of it. (Image: IGNCA)

“We reinterpret the picture with emphasis on the two extremely bright celestial bodies shown in the picture. There is clear indication that the two celestial objects drawn are very bright. One of the objects is either the Sun or bright Moon and second object is relatively close to the first. They cannot be Sun and Moon since, with such proximity to the Sun, the Moon would be in a partial phase around the new and hence not very bright. We investigate the possibility that the observed object is not a star pair as even in other prehistoric drawings from European caves, stars are never shown as large disks,” scientists theorize in a paper that was published in the December issue of the Indian Journal of History of Science .

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Mahendraparvata, 1,200-Year-Old Lost Medieval City In Cambodia, Unearthed By Archaeologists

Posted by Stephen Knapp on June 15, 2013

A lost medieval city that thrived on a mist-shrouded Cambodian mountain 1,200 years ago has been discovered by archaeologists using revolutionary airborne laser technology, a report said.
In what it called a world exclusive, the Sydney Morning Herald said the city, Mahendraparvata, included temples hidden by jungle for centuries, many of which have not been looted.

A journalist and photographer from the newspaper accompanied the “Indiana Jones-style” expedition, led by a French-born archaeologist, through landmine-strewn jungle in the Siem Reap region where Angkor Wat, the largest Hindi temple complex in the world, is located.

The expedition used an instrument called Lidar — light detection and ranging data — which was strapped to a helicopter that criss-crossed a mountain north of Angkor Wat for seven days, providing data that matched years of ground research by archaeologists.

It effectively peeled away the jungle canopy using billions of laser pulses, allowing archaeologists to see structures that were in perfect squares, completing a map of the city which years of painstaking ground research had been unable to achieve, the report said.

It helped reveal the city that reportedly founded the Angkor Empire in 802 AD, uncovering more than two dozen previously unrecorded temples and evidence of ancient canals, dykes and roads using satellite navigation coordinates gathered from the instrument’s data.

Jean-Baptiste Chevance, director of the Archaeology and Development Foundation in London who led the expedition, told the newspaper it was known from ancient scriptures that a great warrior, Jayavarman II, had a mountain capital, “but we didn’t know how all the dots fitted, exactly how it all came together”.

“We now know from the new data the city was for sure connected by roads, canals and dykes,” he said.

The discovery is set to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.

Damian Evans, director of the University of Sydney’s archaeological research centre in Cambodia, which played a key part in developing the Lidar technology, said there might be important implications for today’s society.

“We see from the imagery that the landscape was completely devoid of vegetation,” Evans, a co-expedition leader, said.

“One theory we are looking at is that the severe environmental impact of deforestation and the dependence on water management led to the demise of the civilisation … perhaps it became too successful to the point of becoming unmanageable.”

The Herald said the trek to the ruins involved traversing rutted goat tracks and knee-deep bogs after travelling high into the mountains on motorbikes.

Everyone involved was sworn to secrecy until the findings were peer-reviewed.

Evans said it was not known how large Mahendraparvata was because the search had so far only covered a limited area, with more funds needed to broaden it out.

“Maybe what we see was not the central part of the city, so there is a lot of work to be done to discover the extent of this civilisation,” he said.

“We need to preserve the area because it’s the origin of our culture,” secretary of state at Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture, Chuch Phoeun, told AFP.

Angkor Wat was at one time the largest pre-industrial city in the world, and is considered one of the ancient wonders of the world.

It was constructed from the early to mid 1100s by King Suryavarman II at the height of the Khmer Empire’s political and military power.

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Human Skull with World’s Oldest Successful Brain Surgery discovered in India

Posted by Stephen Knapp on May 16, 2013

May 14, 2013
        Scientists have discovered the world’s oldest known case of a successful human brain surgery after unearthing a 4300 year old skull from the site of the ancient Harappan Civilization site in India. This discovery was done by the scientists from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) who found evidence pointing this to be the oldest known case of Trephination in the world meant to treat a skull injury.

       Trephination is the process of drilling holes in the damaged skull to remove shattered bits of bone from a fractured skull and clean out the blood that often pools under the skull after a blow to the head.

The 4,300 year old Skull which underwent brain surgery. Image Courtesy: Current Science

Around 40 years ago similar skull evidences discovered in nearby locations had indicated towards trephination being performed during the times of the ancient Indian Civilization. However, the current discovery gives a concrete proof about this being a case of a successful brain surgery. The damages to the skull which looks like was caused by a strong blow on the head, and the areas of the surgical incursions performed with healing skull structures clearly show that the person survived the surgery for a considerable time after the brain operation.

Much older Trephination cases have been found across the world. However, this one clearly points towards a case where the person who underwent the surgery had survived the drilling of his skull.


Posted in Indus Valley, Vedic Archeology Discoveries | 1 Comment »

Indus Valley 2,000 years older than thought

Posted by Stephen Knapp on November 4, 2012

Indus Valley 2,000 years older than thought

Nivedita Khandekar ,
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 04, 2012

The beginning of India’s history has been pushed back by more than 2,000 years, making it older than that
of Egypt and Babylon. Latest research has put the date of the origin of the Indus Valley Civilisation at 6,000 years before Christ, which contests the current theory that the settlements around the Indus began around 3750

Ever since the excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the early 1920s, the civilisation was considered almost as old as those of Egypt and Mesopotamia.

The finding was announced at the “International Conference on Harappan Archaeology”, recently organised by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in Chandigarh.

Based on their research, BR Mani, ASI joint director general, and KN Dikshit, former ASI joint director general, said in a presentation: “The preliminary results of the data from early sites of the Indo-Pak subcontinent suggest that the Indian civilisation emerged in the 8th millennium BC in the Ghaggar-Hakra and Baluchistan area.”

“On the basis of radio-metric dates from Bhirrana (Haryana), the cultural remains of the pre-early Harappan horizon go back to 7380 BC to 6201 BC.”

Excavations had been carried out at two sites in Pakistan and Bhirrana, Kunal, Rakhigarhi and Baror in India.

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The Out of Africa Theory Verses the Vedic View

Posted by Stephen Knapp on July 17, 2012

The Out of Africa Theory Verses the Vedic View

By Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana dasa)

Many geneticists view that modern man developed and came out of Africa where they migrated across lands to settle in ancient India. From there they spread out in all directions, even into Europe. This is called the “Out of Africa” theory. This certainly helps contradict the Aryan Invasion Theory, which proposes that the Vedic Aryans were not indigenous to the region of India, but came from the Caucasus Mountains, bringing their culture into India. However, over the past several years, an increasing number of finds have been made that suggest modern humans also lived in other regions besides Africa, and at older dates. This is giving rise to the “Multi-Regional Theory,” putting into question the “Out of Africa” theory. This also gives rise to the “Simultaneous Multi-Species” view, in which different species of human-like beings existed at the same times. These two later theories seem to be much closer to the Vedic version as well. So let us take a closer look at this.


Modern views of evolution place the first appearance of apelike beings on the planet during the Oligocene period, from about 38 million years ago. The first apes considered to be in line with humans are said to have appeared in the Miocene period, which is about 5 to 25 million years ago. The first hominids or erect walking humanlike primates appeared in the Pliocene period, which is said to have started about 5 million years ago. The earliest hominid is the Australopithecus, the southern ape, which dates back about 4 million years ago. This near human is said to have stood about 4 to 5 feet tall with a cranial brain capacity of 300 to 600 cubic centimeters. The head appeared somewhat ape-like, while from the neck down appeared more human-like. Once this brain capacity enlarged, it is said to have developed the branch known as the Homo habilis around 2 million years ago. This gave rise to the Homo erectus around 1.5 million years ago, and stood 5 to 6 feet tall with a cranial capacity of 700 to 1300 cubic centimeters, appearing more like modern humans, but the forehead slanted back behind massive eye brow ridges, with large jaws and teeth, and no chin. It is this Homo erectus which is said to have lived in Africa, Asia, and then Europe until about 200,000 years ago (some say 500,000 years ago). It is from this Homo erectus that modern humans, or Homo sapiens sapiens emerged gradually, first appearing around 300,000 to 400,000 years ago. These early Homo sapiens sapiens still had lesser degree of receding forehead from large brow ridges. Examples of this have been found in Swanscombe in England, Steinheim in Germany, and Fontechevade and Arago in France. These are classified as pre-Neanderthals.

It is these classic Western European Neanderthals from the last glacial period which are considered the direct ancestors of modern humans. The faces and jaws were much larger, with low foreheads, and large eyebrow ridges. Remains of Neanderthals have been found in Pleistocene deposits from 30,000 to 150,000 years ago. However, finding remains of early Homo sapiens in deposits far older than 150,000 years effectively removed the Western Neanderthals from the direct line of descent leading from Homo erectus to modern humans.

The Cro-Magnon appeared in Europe around 30,000 years ago, and look anatomically modern. Scientists used to say that modern humans appeared first around 40,000 years ago, but many have changed that view after the findings in South Africa and other places to 100,000 years or more. Thus, again the views are always changing based on new discoveries of fossils. 1

Only gradually, based on increasing evidence, did a consensus grow in the scientific community to accept that possibly modern human beings had existed as far back as the Pliocene and Miocene periods (5 to 25 million years ago), or even earlier. Anthropologist Frank Spencer admitted in 1984: “From accumulating skeletal evidence it appeared as if the modern human skeleton extended far back in time, an apparent fact which led many workers to either abandon or modify their views on human evolution.” 2


Most scientists today think that modern human beings, Homo sapiens sapiens, appeared first on earth in Africa between 200,000 and 500,000 years ago. They first became fully developed in Africa, and then about 80,000 to 125,000 years ago began to expand and migrate out of the continent to the northeast and into the Middle East and to India. As they grew, they out-competed and replaced all other species of humans, such as the Homo erectus, Neanderthal, and archaic humans with no or very little interbreeding.

The Homo erectus supposedly came into existence about 1.8 million years ago and existed up to about 300,000 years ago. At least this is what evidence from the fossils seem to tell us, along with DNA analysis, although the estimation of the time when Homo sapiens sapiens appeared and when the Homo erectus disappeared keeps changing with every new discovery that takes place.

It is explained that some of the oldest known fossils of modern humans had been discovered in Herto, Ethiopia. An international team let by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, found the skulls of two adults and a child dating from 160,000 years ago, 40,000 years earlier than the previous oldest remains of Homo sapiens. The discovery as described in Nature, fills a gap in the human fossil record; the absence of accurately dated hominid remains in Africa between 120,000 and 300,000 years ago. As related by Clark Howell of UC of Berkeley, “The fossils are unmistakably non Neanderthal and show that (modern) humans had evolved in Africa long before the European Neanderthals disappeared. They demonstrate conclusively that there was never a Neanderthal stage in human evolution.” 3

This leads to some serious controversy because not everyone accepts this analysis. Others feel that the Neanderthals were a separate species of humans, and, for the most part, did not interbreed with other species. They evolved through time in a particular direction, distinct from modern humans, but separated about 400,000 years ago from the human lineage, with a separate evolutionary history, and, as many suggest, became extinct about 30,000 years ago.

When it comes to DNA analysis, humans and all mammals have two sets of DNA which do not recombine; the male sex chromosomes Y, which is passed from father to son and never recombines with its partner the X chromosome (X chromosomes do recombine in women, so these are less useful), and mitochondrial DNA; DNA found outside the nucleus in organelles called mitochondria, and which are always inherited through the female line. It is therefore easy to assess the rate at which these chromosomes have accumulated mutations, making them a prime target for scientists interested in tracing the divergence of human populations.

When scientists examined the X chromosome they came to the conclusion that all humans had a common female ancestor approximately 160,000 years ago. This hypothetical female ancestor is sometimes known as the ‘Mitochondrial Eve’. The Y-chromosomal DNA yielded even more surprising evidence, all male humans apparently shared a single male ancestor 60,000 years ago, sometimes called the ‘Y-chromosomal Adam’.

This was not the end of the DNA story. Scientists were also able to analyze the entire human genome to look for diversity within different groups. By analyzing the DNA of thousands of volunteers from around the world it was possible to build up a rough family tree for humanity. This suggested that the greatest human diversity was found within African populations – all non-African populations, no matter what they look like – are comparatively closely related to one-another.

When we combine the strong belief in Darwin’s evolutionary theories with paleontology, we get a bias that accepts all fossil evidence as proof of mankind’s evolutionary development. And this is basically what the “Out of Africa” theory provides.

However, when depending on nothing but fossils, we have to take something into consideration, and that is that fossils alone may not be a sure way of determining the past, or an evolutionary process of mankind’s development. As Bernard Heuvelmans stated in a letter (April 15, 1986) to researcher Stephen Bernath, who was working for Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson; “Do not overestimate the importance of the fossil record. Fossilization is a very rare, exceptional phenomenon, and the fossil record cannot thus give us an exact image of life on earth during the past geological periods. The fossil record of primates is particularly poor because very intelligent and cautious animals can avoid more easily the very conditions of fossilization–such as sinking in mud or peat, for instance.”

In this way, the most advanced or intelligent beings are the most likely not to be found as fossils. Furthermore, in the Vedic civilization, the common way to deal with the dead was through ritual cremation. Therefore, fossils of humanlike beings from that society is least likely, though there have been some buried bodies that have been found. Nonetheless, when we put all of the evidence together, including whatever fossils have been found from ancient layers of earth, and recent sightings of humanlike beings that wander in the wilderness, the conclusion is that many species of humanlike creatures have been simultaneously existing throughout the world in various environments for millions of years, rather than displaying a sequential pattern of evolution from one type of body or species to the next. We will discuss this more as we proceed through this article.


The fact is that up till a few years ago, the “Out of Africa” theory was generally accepted by most scientists. But from 2007 onwards, there have been an increasing number of discoveries that are putting that theory into question. Recently, for example, discoveries of early human remains in China and Spain have done just that. As reported in December of 2010 in England’s The Daily Mail, archeologists from Tel Aviv University say that eight human-like teeth found in the Qesem cave near Rosh Ha’Ayin, 10 miles from Israel’s international airport, are 400,000 years old, from the Middle Pleistocene age, making them the earliest remains of Homo sapiens yet discovered anywhere in the world. The size and shape of the teeth are very similar to those of modern man. Until now, the earliest examples found were in Africa, dating back to 200,000 years. Other scientists have argued that human beings originated in Africa before moving to other regions 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. Previously, Homo sapiens discovered in Middle Awash, Ethiopia, from 160,000 years ago, were believed to be the oldest ‘modern’ human beings.

Therefore, the findings of Professor Avi Gopher and Dr. Ran Barkai of the Institute of Archeology at Tel Aviv University, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in early December, 2010, suggest that modern man did not originate in Africa as previously believed, but in the Middle East. The Qesem Cave was discovered in 2000 and has been the focus of intense study ever since. Along with the teeth–the parts of the human skeleton that survive the longest–the researchers found evidence of a sophisticated early human society that used sharpened flakes of stone to cut, along with other impressive prehistoric tools.

The Israeli scientists said the remains found in the cave suggested the systematic production of flint blades, the habitual use of fire, evidence of hunting, cutting and sharing of food, and mining raw materials to produce flint tools from rocks below ground. Thick-edged blades, shaped through retouch, were used for scraping semi-hard materials such as wood or hide, whereas blades with straight, sharp working edges were used to cut soft tissues. Thus, a rather developed society is indicated by the findings in the cave, where they expect to continue their research for additional evidence. 4

In the scientific journal called Nature, there was the news that humans seemed to have organized sea journeys as far back as 800,000–880,000 years ago. The evidence was the finding of stone tools on the island of Flores, 340 miles east of Bali. The intricacies of organizing such trips from South Asia would have required the use of language way back then to make it possible. 5

It was previously considered that the first major sea journey took place around 40,000–60,000 years ago, when anatomically modern humans are said to have arrived at Australia from eastern Indonesia.

Another example is that a news item on January 9, 2012, relates that Australian scientists had analyzed the oldest DNA ever taken from human remains, and that the results challenge the theory that humans developed only in Africa. Researchers at Australian National University said they had analyzed DNA taken from remains unearthed in 1974 at Lake Mungo in the state of New South Wales. Dating them in May 1999 put the age of the skeleton at between 56,000 and 68,000 years old. ANU anthropologist Alan Thorne said that neither “Mungo Man’s” completely modern skeleton nor its DNA had any links with human ancestors from Africa found in other parts of the world. Thorne said that there are modern humans in Australia that have nothing to do with Africa at all. These findings, as reported in The Australian newspaper, challenge the prevailing “Out of Africa” theory because “Mungo Man” has a genetic line which has vanished yet his skeleton is completely modern.

The previously oldest human DNA tested from the area came from the Neanderthal remains–a 45,000-year-old specimen in western Germany and 28,000-year-old from Croatia. ANU evolutionary geneticist Simon Easteal told Reuters, “If he [Mungo Man] was part of a wave of modern people that had come out of Africa and spread, eventually reaching Australia, then his mitochondrial DNA would reflect that.” Thorne also said that dating Mungo Man meant that there was no doubt that ancestors of Australia’s Aborigines came to the continent from Asia about 70,000 years ago–some 30,000 years earlier than thought. “There’s no question that somewhere in southeast Asia is where watercraft got invented. The first oceanic crossings were to Australia.” 6

For the evolutionists, this means that at least one group of Homo erectus descendants evolved outside of Africa. It could also mean that modern man was a completely separate species who had already been evolved and traveled the globe, remnants of which we are only now discovering. And that ancient India was indeed where watercraft was invented and from where came the earliest residents of Australia.

What this seems to indicate is that modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, have been wandering the earth for quite some time, meaning many hundreds of thousands of years. Many instances of proof can be supplied that can help verify that.

For example, the Ph. D. degree holding geologist Dr. Virginia Steen McIntyre was a fellow of the United States Geology Survey. When in Mexico she carefully presented research conclusions about the stone tools found at Hueyatlaco that dated back to 250,000 years BCE. Then, while using four different methods of dating the material, two other USGS certified members agreed with her. This went drastically against the notion that humans that made stone tools did not appear until 100,000 years ago in Africa.

Another item of January 11, 2012 reports that scientists from Germany, Bulgaria and France discovered a hominid pre-molar tooth near the Bulgarian town of Chirpan, which is estimated to be seven million years old. This means that great apes survived in the area two million years longer than previously estimated. It had been thought that they could not have survived because of a lack of food. However, alongside the hominid tooth, scientists found the remains of animals typical of a savannah environment with seasonal changes, such as several species of elephant, giraffes, antelopes, rhinos, and saber-toothed cats. The implication is that hominids had adopted efficiently to the area. They said the discovery may cast doubt on the “Out of Africa” theory. Professor Madelaine Bohme of the University of Tubingen related, “We now also need to rethink where the origin of humans took place. There is increasing evidence… that a significant part of human evolution happened outside Africa, in Europe and Western Asia.”

This brings about what some people call the multi regional theory, meaning that various human species have been developing and existing in many areas of the world at the same time.


The Multi-Regional Theory postulates that various species of humans spread around the globe about 2 million years ago, and that these separate species evolved into modern races of humans, possibly by interbreeding. For example, the Homo erectus has been found in a range that includes eastern Africa, Georgia in southeast Europe, Turkey, India, China, Vietnam, and Java, which is a wide range of territory, though not all scientists accept that all these specimens belonged to the same species. Nonetheless, it would give evidence that not all modern humans may have developed in Africa directly.

For example, in April of 2007 it was reported that the ancient remains of an early modern human found near Beijing, in the Tianyuan Cave in Zhoukoudian in 2003. This suggests that the “Out of Africa” theory may be more complex than first thought. A fossilized remains dated to 38,000 to 42,000 years old makes it the oldest modern human skeleton from eastern Eurasia.

The specimen is basically a modern human, but with a few archaic characteristics in the teeth and hand bone. It is this discovery that casts further doubts on the longstanding “Out of Africa” theory which holds that when modern Homo sapiens spread eastwards from the sub-Saharan Africa to Eurasia about 65,000 to 25,000 years ago, they simply replaced the native late archaic humans, as explained by anthropologist Erik Trinkaus of Washington University. This leads to the growing idea, with respect to western Eurasia, that modern humans interbred with local archaic humans before becoming fully developed. 7

What this also means is one of two things: 1. That it is likely that they interbred to develop the Homo sapien species, or 2. That they were already two separate species that interbred at various places which produced these fossils that display both modern human and Homo erectus characteristics in one skeleton.

In November of 2009, an article submitted by Michael Kan, “110,000-year-old Chinese Fossil Poses Challenge to ‘Out of Africa’ Theory” explains that China’s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology announced the discovery of a human jawbone fragment, found a year previous in southern China’s Guangxi province. Jin Changshu, a researcher with the institute, said the find of the 110,000-year-old jawbone was especially important since very few human fossils from this evolutionary period have been found in China. He added that the jawbone is that of an early modern human, but also bears the traits of our more primitive ancestors.

Wu Xinzhi, a professor with the institute, said he believes the discovery presents evidence to challenge the “Out of Africa” hypothesis. He says that if the “Out of Africa” theory is true, then in China, they should not be able to find a mandible (jaw) of a fossil with modern features older than 60,000 years. “But this Guangxi mandible is 110,000 years old. This means that this ‘Out of Africa’ theory is not true, at least not for China.”

Instead, Wu said the fossil find lends support for another theory called the multi-regional hypothesis. Under this scenario, humanity’s ancestors from Africa spread themselves across other continents and developed locally, and possibly interbred with earlier forms of humans, such as the Homo erectus, which gives the reason for the blend of characteristics in the fossil found in China. However, other scholars disagreed that such conclusions could be made from a mere jawbone to determine if it was really a Homo sapien. Still, the discovery presents a challenge to present theories.

However, now a much younger date, possibly as recent as 35,000 years ago, has been suggested for the Solo River site. The Homo erectus species of humanity, which many think became extinct about 200,000 to 500,000 years ago, appears to have survived in Indonesia until about 35,000 to 50,000 years ago at the site of Ngandong on the Solo River. This means that these Homo erectus would have shared the environment with early members of Homo sapiens, who are said to have arrived in Indonesia about 40,000 years ago. This means that they may have been two separate species, not necessarily an outgrowth of one from the other. 8

The existence of the two species in the same area simultaneously has important implications, one of which is that they were indeed separate species and not a sequential development of one from the other.

However, another piece of evidence outdates the above Solo River findings. In June 30 of 2011, in an article written by Daniel Smith, and to show how fast things change in this field of study, it claims that an ancestor of modern humans, the Homo erectus, widely considered a direct ancestor of Homo sapiens, migrated out of Africa 1.8 million years ago. The article claims that by around 500,000 years ago it had vanished from Africa and much of Asia, but until now was thought to have co-existed with their ancestors. The new research suggests this assumption was wrong, and Homo erectus disappeared long before the arrival of Homo sapiens in Asia.

New excavations and dating analysis indicate that Homo erectus was extinct by at least 143,000 years ago, and perhaps more than 550,000 years ago. If this is the case, it challenges the widely accepted “Out of Africa” hypothesis which holds that modern humans became fully evolved in Africa before emigrating to other parts of the world. The model presupposes an overlap between Homo sapiens and the older species of humans they replaced outside Africa. This late survival of Homo erectus in Indonesia had previously been held up as evidence supporting this theory.

Dr. Etty Indriati, from Gadjah Mada university in Indonesia, who co-led the investigations at two sites on Indonesia’s Solo river, said “Homo erectus probably did not share habitats with modern humans.” In this way, a “Multi-Regional” hypothesis proposes that modern humans evolved from ancestor species in Africa, Asia and Europe. Thus, Africa was not the only place where modern humans developed.

However, here we can also see that the evolutionary idea of Darwin, along with the “Out of Africa” theory, is still itself evolving through many ideas and proposals as time goes by. My prediction is that the “Out of Africa” theory will itself change or even be thrown out as more investigations and discoveries take place.

“In the early 1950s, Thomas E. Lee of the National Museum of Canada found advanced stone tools in glacial deposits at Sheguiandah, on Manitoulin Island in norther Lake Huron. Geologist John Stanford of Wayne State University argued that the oldest Sheguiandah tools were at least 65,000 years old and might be as much as 125,000 years old. For those adhering to standard views on North American Prehistory, such ages were unacceptable. Humans supposedly first entered North America from Siberia only about 12,000 years ago.” 9

This was the standard view, that waves of hunter gatherers crossed into America over the Bering Straights about 12,000 years ago, but now some authorities are willing to place that date back to 30,000 or even 65,00 or more years ago, while a growing few are willing to place that entrance into America back to Pleistocene time frame, beyond 2 million years ago. For humans to reach America that far back in time certainly places the “Out of Africa” theory in doubt that it can continue to hold up under the pressure of newer and newer discoveries.


As we can plainly see, the dates for the development of modern man continue to go further and further back in time. For those of us who are familiar with the Vedic view and its ancient time frame in which it presents on when the creation of the cosmos took place and the development of modern man, this is not all surprising. The ancient Sanskrit texts of India, along with other ancient traditions, agree that humans have existed for many millions of years, going back to the very beginnings of creation, the very beginning of time. I have described the basics of the Vedic view of the process of universal creation in my book, How the Universe was Created and Our Purpose In It, which everyone can read to gain further insights into the Vedic view of this.

Furthermore, in light of the question of whether mankind had sequentially developed or evolved from apes, or whether there were many separate species of human-like beings, the Vedic texts, such as the Padma Purana, explain that there are 8,400,000 species of life throughout the multi-dimensions of the universe. Out of all these, it says there are 400,000 species of humans. What this means is that what are presently called modern humans, or Homo sapiens sapiens, have existed for millions of years along with other types or branches of humans on this planet, though paleontologists and others may call them by so many names.

The Vedic view also includes the premise that evolution does take place, but that living beings evolve through the different species of life that are created in order to acquire the best species or body (a set of senses) that suites the consciousness of that particular living being. Thus, as the living entity grows in consciousness, he or she naturally climbs the ladder of higher and higher species of life to be able to express oneself more appropriately, but to also have the intellect to accommodate the person’s natural search for his real spiritual identity, and to not only understand it, but to actually realize and perceive it. Then the person can live on that level of understanding and reality, and, thus, attain the spiritual dimension wherein there is freedom from any further existence in the material world or material bodies. (I have written much more about this in my books, such as The Secret Teachings of the Vedas, and others.)


The Vedic texts say that the source of humanity, and all life, is a matter of devolving from higher dimensions, namely from the spiritual dimension. All living beings are not only physical, but also the subtle body of mind, intelligence, ego, and, ultimately, the spiritual soul which is beyond everything else. Therefore, living beings have not evolved out of matter, or evolved up from the apes, but are only traveling through matter and the various forms that nature provides, each form or species based on our level of consciousness. This is to acquire all the experiences that this three-dimensional world can provide, and that our consciousness deems necessary for our own growth. Then, once we are finished with this material realm of existence by regaining our spiritual identity and acting on that level, we make our way back to the spiritual domain.

Furthermore, the Vedic philosophy explains that the universal or material creation is a matter of Divine arrangement, not that it merely happened by chance and here we are. There was and is a plan behind everything, which means there was also an original plan-maker. Therefore, the Vedic texts point out that though species can change to some small degrees, all species of life were planned and created at the beginning of time, and only now have we been discovering, through the excavation of fossil remains, some of the forms of these species that have existed before, thus confirming the Vedic view. Plus, though we may call them as Homo erectus, or Neanderthal, etc., and consider them to be extinct, they may still be existing around the world in various environments, though they may not be so well known or observable at present, such as the wildmen, Sasquatch, Almas, etc., which we will discuss next.


Combining the Vedic view with the evidence for the various forms of human and human-like beings, there is also the idea of the simultaneous multi-species view, which means that not only were all species originated at the beginning of creation, but they have all been existing together in various environments at the same time. And we can find further evidence for this in other areas of research, for example, as described by Michael Cremo:

“If we look back into the history of hominid paleontology, we find that Louis Leakey rejected Homo erectus and the Neanderthals (and Australopithecus) as human ancestors, just because of their strangely nonhuman brow ridges. He explains in his book Adam’s Ancestors (1960, p. 164): ‘The brow-ridge over each eye is made up of two component parts in Homo sapiens. One part in each case starts just above the nose and extends sideways and slightly upwards to overlap that second part, which on either side, starts at the extreme edge to the right and left of the eye-socket respectively, and extends inwards and slightly downwards. Thus, above the center of each eye-socket, there is an overlap of the two elements.’ The quite different single horizontal bar of bone found in the Homo erectus ‘suggested not an ancestral stage of human evolution, but a side branch that has become more specialized, in this respect, than any Homo sapiens type.’ Leakey thought it exceedingly unlikely that evolution should take the ancestors through a phase where they had no bar-like brow ridge to a phase where they had a massive bar-like brow ridge, and then back again to a phase with no massive bar-like brow ridge. I think Leakey was correct.” 10

This would indicate that this is a separate species of human-like beings that existed that were not merely an evolving form of humans. Not only were separate species of humanity existing at the same time, but they existed with ancient creatures as well, as explained:

“For example, Dr. J. D. Whitney, in his book The Auriferous Gravels of the Sierra Nevada of California (1880) published by Harvard University, details numerous discoveries of anatomically modern human bones and artifacts in layers of rock up to 50 million years old. One human skull fragment, which was sent to the Museum of Natural History in Boston, was found by Col. Paul K. Hubbs in the Valentine Mine shaft at Table Mountain, 180 feet below the surface in gold-bearing deposits, next to fossil bones of mastodons. The fossil-bearing layers were sealed off from the surface by thick layers of volcanic deposits at least 9 million years old. Whitney wrote (1880 p. 265): ‘The essential facts are, that the Valentine Shaft was vertical, that it was boarded up to the top, so that nothing could have fallen in from the surface during the working under ground, which was carried on in the gravel channel exclusively, after the shaft had been sunk. There can be no doubt that the specimen came from the drift [gold-bearing gravels] in the channel under Table Mountain, as affirmed by Mr. Hubbs.’ And reports of human skeletal remains go even further back than that. In the December 1862 edition of The Geologist, we find a report that a complete anatomically modern human skeleton was found ninety feet below the surface of the ground in Macoupin County, Illinois, in deposits about 300 million years old.” 11

“In 1979, researchers at the Laetoli, Tanzania site in East Africa discovered footprints in volcanic ash deposits that were over 3.6 million years old. Mary Leakey and others said the prints were indistinguishable from those of modern humans. To these scientists, this meant only that the human ancestors of 3.6 million years ago had remarkably modern feet. But according to other scientists, such as physical anthropologist R. H. Tuttle of the University of Chicago, fossil foot bones of the known australopithecines of 3.6 million years ago show they had feet that were distinctly apelike. Hence they were incompatible with the Laetoli prints. However, in an article in the March 1990 issue of Natural History, Tuttle confessed that ‘we are left with somewhat of a mystery.’ It seems possible, therefore, to consider a point that neither Tuttle nor Leakey mentioned–that creatures with anatomically modern human bodies to match their anatomically modern human feet existed some 3.6 million years ago in East Africa. Perhaps they coexisted with more apelike creatures.” 12

Even now, after reviewing the fossil hominids of China, there has been signs that humans may have coexisted with more apelike hominids throughout the Pleistocene era. Even today this may be the case when we consider the ongoing sighting of what would appear to be Homo erectus or other humanlike beings around the world. What follows are a few description of these:

“Over the past century, scientists have accumulated evidence suggesting that humanlike creatures resembling Gigantopithecus, Australopithecus, Homo erectus, and the Neanderthals are living in various wilderness areas of the world. In North America these creatures are known as Sasquatch. In Central Asia, they are called Almas. In Africa, China, Southeast Asia, Central America, and South America, they are known by other names. Some researchers use the general term ‘wildmen’ to include them all. Scientists and physicians have reported seeing live wildmen, dead wildmen, and footprints. They have also catalogued thousands of reports from ordinary people who have seen such wildmen, as well as similar reports from historical records. 13

Let us review a few of the cases that are provided in the book, Hidden History of the Human Race:

On June 10, 1982, Paul Freeman, a U. S. Forest Service patrolman tracking elk in the Walla Walla district of Washington State observed a hairy biped around 8 feet tall, standing about 60 yards from him. After 30 seconds, the large animal walked away. Gover S. Krants, an anthropologist at Washington State University, studied casts of the creature’s footprints and found dermal ridges, sweat pores, and other features in the proper places for large primate feet. Detailed skin impressions on the side walls of the prints indicated the presence of a flexible sole pad. 14

The reason why many anthropologists keep quiet about such sightings, or about working with such information, is that they are scared for their reputations or their jobs. Working outside of the mainstream standards of information or accepted theories can cost a person the respect of their peers, even though studying such mysteries is what the business should be in order to get to the truth of such matters.

Nonetheless, another documented example took place in 1963 when Ivan Ivlov, a Russian pediatrician. He was traveling through the Altai mountains in the southern part of Mongolia and saw several humanlike creatures standing on a mountain slope. They appeared to be a family of a male, female, and a child. After watching them with his binoculars until they moved out of his field of vision, his Mongolian driver, who also saw them, said that they were common in that area. Then Ivan talked to the local children in the region, feeling that they may be more open about it than some adults. The children did indeed provide many reports about the Almas, one saying that when he and other children were swimming in a stream, he saw a male Almas carry a child Almas across it. 15

Another most interesting case was when in 1941, V. S. Karapetyam, a lieutenant colonel in the medical service of the Soviet Army, performed a direct physical examination of a living wildman captured in the Dagestan autonomous republic, just north of the Caucasus mountains. He said that he was taken to a shed by two members of the local authorities, and could see the creature before him, barefoot and naked. Its entire shape was human, but the chest, back and shoulders were covered with shaggy hair, one inch in length. The fur was thinner and softer below the chest, and the palms and soles of the feet were free of hair. The hair on its head reached to its shoulders, and was rough to the touch. His face was covered with a light growth of hair but without beard or moustache. Its height was about 5 feet 11 inches, considerably bigger than local inhabitants. He was quite large, and had thick and strong fingers. But his eyes were dull and empty. Such reports like this have led scientists such as British anthropologist Myra Shackley to conclude that the Almas may represent surviving Neanderthals or perhaps even Homo erectus that still live amongst us. It is reported that the Soviet captors shot the creature when they were forced to retreat before the advancing German army. 16

Additional reports similar to this are documented in The Hidden History of the Human Race, and many other books as well, citing such incidents from areas of China, Malaysia, Indonesia, South America, the Himalayas, and Africa. The standard view is that the australopithecines perished more than 750,000 years ago, and the Homo erectus died out around 200,000 years ago, while the Neanderthals vanished about 35,000 years ago. Since that time, only modern humans are said to have populated the earth. However, with sightings like these all over the world, this view may be strongly contested. Some other and older species of humanlike beings still remain amongst us.

Of course, how can science take this seriously when it goes so much against the theories of the day? Nonetheless, there are numerous such incidents that have happened to counter the idea that modern man is but a recent evolutionary development, and that fossils are only of ancient beings that no longer exist.


Considering this evidence we have to admit that regardless of whether you call the various species of humans or human-like beings Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus robustus, Australopithecus boisei, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Neanderthals, Cro Magnons, or Homo sapiens sapiens, and designate and catalogue them according to whatever changes there may be in their physique, whether great or small, the conclusion is that we are only discovering the great varieties of humans and humanlike beings that have existed, or even continue to exist, and that anatomically modern humans have been here for many millions of years, along with the other variations of primates, and have co-existed with each other for tens of millions of years. This also coincides with the Vedic view, regardless of whether evolutionists can ever accept this or not.


1. The Hidden History of the Human Race, by Michael Cremo and Richard A. Thompson, Govardhan Hill Publishing, Badger, CA, 1994, pp. 4-6.

2. Ibid., p. 155.

3. Http://


5. Fission-track ages of stone tools and fossils on the east Indonesian island of Flores, M. J. Morwood, Nature 392, March 12, 1998.

6. Http://


8. New York University, June 29, 2011,

9. The Hidden History of the Human Race, by Michael Cremo and Richard A. Thompson, Govardhan Hill Publishing, Badger, CA, 1994, p.xviii.

10. The Forbidden Archeologist, by Michael Cremo, Torchlight Publishing, 2010, p. 48-49.

11. Ibid., p. 49-50.

12. The Hidden History of the Human Race, by Michael Cremo and Richard A. Thompson, Govardhan Hill Publishing, Badger, CA, 1994, p.xvii.

13. Ibid., p.xix.

14. Ibid., pp.219-220.

15. Ibid., p.225.

16. Ibid., p.227.

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Ancient Idol of Lord Vishnu found during excavation in an old village in Russia’s Volga Region

Posted by Stephen Knapp on May 27, 2012

Ancient Idol of Lord Vishnu found during excavation in an old village in Russiaâ’s Volga Region

MOSCOW: An ancient Vishnu idol has been found during excavation in an old village in Russia’s Volga region, raising questions about the prevalent view on the origin of ancient Russia. The idol found in Staraya (old) Maina village dates back to VII-X century AD. Staraya Maina village in Ulyanovsk region was a highly populated city 1700 years ago, much older than Kiev, so far believed to be the mother of all Russian cities.

“We may consider it incredible, but we have ground to assert that Middle-Volga region was the original land of Ancient Rus. This is a hypothesis, but a hypothesis, which requires thorough research,” Reader of Ulyanovsk State Universityâ’s archaeology department Dr Alexander Kozhevin told state-run television Vesti .

Dr Kozhevin, who has been conducting excavation in Staraya Maina for last seven years, said that every single square metre of the surroundings of the ancient town situated on the banks of Samara, a tributary of Volga, is studded with antiques.

Prior to unearthing of the Vishnu idol, Dr Kozhevin has already found ancient coins, pendants, rings and fragments of weapons.

He believes that todayâ’s Staraya Maina, a town of eight thousand, was ten times more populated in the ancient times. It is from here that people started moving to the Don and Dneiper rivers around the time ancient Russy built the city of Kiev, now the capital of Ukraine. An international conference is being organised later this year to study the legacy of the ancient village, which can radically change the history of ancient Russia.

Some Conclusions by others:

The discovery of an ancient Vishnu idol in an excavation in Russia only confirms certain ideas I have always had about the Vedic ancient and glorious land and culture.

The report says that the area in which the idol was found is called Staraya Maina. In the Rig Veda, there is a passage that goes, Itham ascati pasyat syantham, ekam starayath mainaa-kaalam. This translates into Staraya Maina is the name of the land of the 45 rivers (on whose banks the noble Rishis conducted the famous Horse Sacrifices), where the sun god descends into one fifty two forty seven. While the first line identifies a location, the second line talks about the exact latitude and longitude at which the solar spectrum produces interference lines at one, fifty two, and forty seven. The extreme precision of the calculations show the advanced science of the Vedic period, and also a thorough knowledge of SI units (it has been conclusively proven that French scientists stole the system from the Indians.

The discovery of the idol confirms the location in Russia, identified in the Rig Veda as rus soviath sapthamahanagaratham (the ancient and holy land of the 722 flying vehicles). The ancient connections between the Russians and the Indians has been unequivocally confirmed. In Russian orthodox Christianity, worship is conducted very much like in Vishnu temples. The Russians refer to the feast of Vizhnyir Ekoratsya Vikhunh, directly corresponding with Vaikhunda Ekhadasi.

The Russian language also owes a lot to Sanskrit, whose origins 50,000 years ago roughly correspond with the language of the people of the Smritzyi archaeological site, along the banks of the now-dried up Vernstokhlin (Varnasatyakhalini) river system.

It is common knowledge in the archaeological community that the Parashurama Sutra, the basis of all government policy in the erstwhile Kerala kingdom of Vaazhappazhaa, contains the lines Sthulyam Kaamyunishancha kalanam brighahaha. The links between the ancient Russians and Indians almost certainly aided by the 60,00 odd scholars of the University of Vexalate (Sk. Vekhshalatha, Ru. Vekholotsla), in modern-day Central Afghanistan, in the 17th Century BCE, is said to have transferred political ideas through the land of the Vanga (Ru. Vangnya) in modern-day West Bengal.

The Vishnu idol is depicted with a hammer in one left hand while the deconglated seventh arm on the right side holds a reticulated sickle. This hammer and sickle imagery is also found in the Parashurama Sutra, conclusively placing the origin of great and popular Russian political ideology in Vedic India.

The Bringdunthaladeena Upanishad also mentions Kaamyunishcham in its list of land sacrifices, where under the directions of the King, all the land in the country was donated to the performance of sacrifices where Brahmins continuously tickled horny silk-rats (Gandharvamooshicam) until they collapsed in orgiastic exhaustion. The text also clearly identifies a group of scholars referred to as the Paalita Buryam, who oversaw the functioning of the King.

For years, western historical study dominated by Greco-Capitalists, has sought to undermine the Vedic Indian contributions to what came to be 19th and 20th Century world politics. The Greco-Capitalists also attributed the ideology of Communism to the work done by Karl Marx, one of their own. It has been well documented that Marx indeed visited Kerala and West Bengal, and had thorough understanding of the Parashurama Sutra, a copy of which he picked up in the old-book-stall near the Cochin airport. Later on, as part of the larger Greco-centric Capitalist conspiracy, Marx took all the credit himself.

In 1952 in Soviet Russia, an archaeologist, Prof. Varely Smirzkoff of Odessa University found artefacts near the ancient Belarussian town of Kozhikodz. He was the first to speculate that the ruling political ideology of his country could well have had its origins in Vedic India rather than Modern Europe. Stalin funded Smirzkoffâ’s research until Smirrzkoff was suddenly found to have stolen over 500,000 paper clips from work over the course of his tenure at Odessa University. He was sent to Siberia, and with him went almost all academic proof that would have certainly brought Russia and India closer together.

This recent discovery should resurrect the pioneering work started by Prof. Varely Smirzkoff, who died of Contracted Poloniumitis of the nose, in 1964.

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Bihar stupa could contain Buddha relics

Posted by Stephen Knapp on February 11, 2012

February 11, 2012

Patna : The Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) is set to begin excavation of a newly-found ancient stupa that was badly damaged and has been lying neglected for centuries in Bihar’s Begusarai district, an official said Saturday.
The Patna circle of the ASI has identified the location of the stupa at Harsai near Garhpura village. Archeaologists here believe that it could be one of the eight original stupas built to house the relics of Lord Buddha.
“Going by the physical appearance of the stupa and the use of mud lumps denotes that it could be one of the eight original stupas housing the Buddha’s corporeal relics. But that can be determined only after excavation,” the superintending archaeologist of ASI (Patna circle) S K Manjul said.
According to ancient scriptures, after the Buddha was cremated, there was a disagreement over the division of his remains. They were then divided into eight parts and distributed among the eight powerful kingdoms and republics, which laid claim over them. All of them buried their share of relics in stupas specially built to serve as markers of the physical presence of the Buddha and his teachings.
Till date archaeologists have identified six of them. “If this stupa turned to be seventh, it can be the ASI’s biggest discovery,” he said.
Manjul said the ASI plans to start the excavation in the next few months this year. “The ASI’s central advisory board of archaeology has already granted an excavation license to an archeaologist of ASI’s Patna circle to undertake the work,” Manjul said.
According to ASI officials here, the stupa may also turn out to be the only one, which emperor Ashoka could not open to take out the relics for distribution over the Indian sub-continent.
This stupa is made of sun-dried clay lumps and fixed with mud mortars and later strengthened with layers of gravel and burnt bricks. It is currently in a bad shape. The stupa is threatened by local resident, who are minning it for clay.
“Some local people have damaged a part of it to extend the agriculture fields.The stupa is lying neglected as it is unprotected till date,” he said.

  • HARSAI STUPA (Herson)

    20 Kms North from Begusarai district headquarters.
    Archaeological Site
    Only one smaller Stupa of southern part seems to be intact due to thick vegetation cover. The main stupa has been cut almost to half.
    Diameter – 110 m
It consist of four stupas having the largest in the centre and there equidistant smaller in three directions, one each in the west, north and south. The completely clay built stupa use to have a hard outer most surface built by bricks-dust etc. (surkhi)This Bajralepit’ stupa consists of a three strate architectures. ‘Mahavansh’ has reference of such stupas. The finding of such remarkable stupa is significant for the history of the region. It must be seen in the contexet of Buddha’s visit to Anguttarap as referred in the “Majjhim Nikaya”.

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‘First astro observatory’ of Harappan Civilisation found in Kutch

Posted by Stephen Knapp on February 10, 2012

Tue Feb 07 2012, 01:57 hrs

Mumbai : A group of scientists has identified two circular structures at Dholavira in Kutch district of Gujarat, which they say is the first identification of a structure used for observational astronomy during the Harappan Civilisation. The discovery by M N Vahia from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and Srikumar Menon from Manipal School of Architecture and Planning (Karnataka) is crucial, say scientists, as it is the first direct indication of intellectual capacity of people in the context of the civilisation and their relation to astronomy.“It is highly implausible that such an intellectually advanced civilisation did not have any knowledge of positional astronomy. These (structures) would have been useful for calendrical (including time of the day, time of the night, seasons, years and possibly even longer periods) and navigational purposes apart from providing intellectual challenge to understanding the movement of the heavens,” said the paper titled ‘A possible astronomical observatory at Dholavira’ to be published in the forthcoming edition of Man and Environment.

Vahia said Dholavira, assumed to be an island at that time, is almost exactly on the Tropic of Cancer and was an important centre of trade. “Hence, keeping track of time would be crucial to the city. So far, there had been no positive identification of any astronomy-related structure in any of the 1,500-odd sites of the Harappan Civilisation known today. The two structures identified by us seem to have celestial orientations inbuilt into their design. So, we have concluded that the two rooms in the structure were meant for observations of the sun,” he said.

He said the discovery will enable scientists to measure the intellectual growth of people of the Harappan Civilisation. It could give valuable insights on how the mentalities of the civilisation developed, in what ways they used the astronomical data to conduct business, farming and other activities.

The scientists simulated, what is now left of the two rooms, for response to solar observations and have concluded that important days of the solar calendar could easily be identified by analysing the image inside the room.

The simulations were conducted for summer and winter solstice. The study says the narrow beam of light from the entrances would also enhance the perception of the movement of the sun over a year.

“The interplay of image and its surrounding structures seem to suggest that the structure is consistent with it being a solar observatory to mark time. The west-facing circle has two flanking walls outside the exit, whose shadow touches the entrance on winter and summer solstice. The two square well-like structures at the southern end would provide an excellent location to observe zenith transiting stars even in the presence of city lights,” says the study.

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An Angkoran Ruin in Laos

Posted by Stephen Knapp on October 26, 2011

An Angkoran Ruin in Laos

 Vat Phou temple’s ancient history

October 19th, 2011

In the fifth century, Champasak was thought to be the centre of the Laotian universe. Today it’s a drowsy one-car village clutching the western bank of the Mekong River in southern Laos and home to the tiny Hindu-built Vat Phou, which some archaeologists believe may have been the first Angkor temple ever built.

At a glance, Vat Phou doesn’t seem like the kind of structure that would initiate an empire. A tiny prayer hall at the top of a precarious stone stairway, with two reception halls on the plains below, Vat Phou lacks the jaw-dropping awesomeness of temples in Cambodia’s Angkor Archaeological Park. But as with the Angkor temples, its symbolism is extraordinary.

Tucked under the phallic-shaped mountain peak of Phu Kao – thought to represent Mount Meru, the sacred mountain at the centre of the Hindu cosmology – Vat Phou was worshipped as the embodiment of Shiva. The spring nearby was associated with Shiva’s wife, the goddess Parvati. Water runs underground from Phu Kao’s peak, rising through Parvati. From here, passing a series of barays (man-made dams) and linga (phallic statues), water flows into the Mekong, blessing everything on its journey south.

UNDER THREAT: The ruins of Vat Phou in southern Laos hold secrets that are being destroyed by development.

In the fifth century, Champasak was thought to be the centre of the Laotian universe. Today it’s a drowsy one-car village clutching the western bank of the Mekong River in southern Laos and home to the tiny Hindu-built Vat Phou, which some archaeologists believe may have been the first Angkor temple ever built.

At a glance, Vat Phou doesn’t seem like the kind of structure that would initiate an empire. A tiny prayer hall at the top of a precarious stone stairway, with two reception halls on the plains below, Vat Phou lacks the jaw-dropping awesomeness of temples in Cambodia’s Angkor Archaeological Park. But as with the Angkor temples, its symbolism is extraordinary.

Tucked under the phallic-shaped mountain peak of Phu Kao – thought to represent Mount Meru, the sacred mountain at the centre of the Hindu cosmology – Vat Phou was worshipped as the embodiment of Shiva. The spring nearby was associated with Shiva’s wife, the goddess Parvati. Water runs underground from Phu Kao’s peak, rising through Parvati. From here, passing a series of barays (man-made dams) and linga (phallic statues), water flows into the Mekong, blessing everything on its journey south.

I learn this while poring over a satellite map with Daniel Davenport, an articulate but debated Australian archaeologist working in Champasak and author of the Vat Phou Guide: Following in the Footsteps of Angkor’s Pilgrims, a tourist compendium on the area that Davenport is self publishing.

“Vat Phou could quite well have been the first, the pre-eminent, Angkor temple,” he says, explaining that early worshippers took a piece of Vat Phou stone and placed it under every subsequent temple they built.

On the map, Davenport points out a well-defined line leading from one of the reception halls at Vat Phou to the temple of Angkor Wat. “This used to be a pilgrims’ road during the Khmer Empire,” he says, referring to the kingdom that reigned over much of south-east Asia between the ninth and thirteenth centuries and used the Angkor Archaelogical Park as the capital. “They had roadhouses every six miles (nine kilometres) with accommodation, food, shelter for the animals and hospitals; six miles being the average distance a bullock cart could travel in a day.”

However, archaeologists at Vat Phou know a lot less than they would like to. “We have excavated about 5 per cent of the area,” says Laurent Delfour, a French architect who has been working with UNESCO to manage the site for the past three-and-a-half years. “That translates as 5 per cent knowledge on the area. We believe that Vat Phou marked the beginning of the Angkor Empire but nothing is certain.”

What is certain is the race against time Champasak’s hidden treasures face. A new highway linking the town with the regional capital of Pakse and the Thai border post of Chong Mek, has already disturbed six ancient temples beneath the ground. Champasak was designated a World Heritage zone in 2001; building without assessments, and approval, is not permitted.

“The Laos Ministry of Information and Culture did a little research into the area where the road was going,” says a long-term Champasak resident who requested anonymity. “But the findings were just pushed aside and work on the road accelerated.”

The local government is hoping the road, which will extend to the Cambodian border, will bring in busloads of tourists.  Full story here.

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