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Moon United Kingdom Science

Oldest Lunar Calendar Found In Scotland 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the saving-dates dept.
First time accepted submitter eionmac writes "The BBC reports that Archaeologists believe they have discovered the world's oldest lunar 'calendar' in an Aberdeenshire field. Excavations of a field at Crathes Castle found a series of 12 pits which appear to mimic the phases of the moon and track lunar months. A team led by the University of Birmingham suggests the ancient monument was created by hunter-gatherers about 10,000 years ago. The pit alignment, at Warren Field, was first excavated in 2004. The experts who analyzed the pits said they may have contained a wooden post. The Mesolithic calendar is thousands of years older than previous known formal time-measuring monuments created in Mesopotamia. The analysis has been published in the journal Internet Archaeology."
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Oldest Lunar Calendar Found In Scotland

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  • ahem (Score:5, Funny)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Monday July 15, 2013 @12:43PM (#44285959)

    The experts who analyzed the pits said they may have contained a wooden post.

    So, first moon post?

    Thanks, I'll be here all week. Try the filet mignon.

  • Now we'll know exactly how long the whiskey has been aging.

  • Something else Invented In Scotland, then?

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Something else Invented In Scotland, then?

      Or something even older but more widespread than we've liked to believe.

      There's, what, 100K years or more before what we call 'civilization' happened -- for all we know, this was common knowledge a very very long time ago.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday July 15, 2013 @12:58PM (#44286149) Homepage

    The more they realize that there was a lot more known by pre-historic people than we've suspected.

    Mankind had many thousands of years to try to do things before we had a written history, and everyone likes to believe those cultures were oblivious.

    But it seems the more they look at this, the more things like agriculture, building, and some understanding of astronomy was a lot more widespread.

    It didn't just suddenly start with the Egyptians.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Or they're applying today's understanding to something that looks similar and claiming it's ancient knowledge. Coincidence is the first thing to be discarded when you want more grant money. When something is dated several millenia before the birth of civilization, you're going to need more than a few holes in the ground to have real evidence for extraordinary claims.

      • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday July 15, 2013 @01:37PM (#44286701) Homepage

        When something is dated several millenia before the birth of civilization

        See, the problem is 10,000 years ago isn't before the birth of civilization, it's just before civilization as we know it and have historically understood it.

        People have tended to believe the Sumerians and Babylonians were the first civilizations, but there's mounting evidence that there were things going on that predates that by quite a bit.

        The whole point is the more they discover, they more they are pushing back the 'birth of civilization'.

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          The oldest known written texts are quite sophisticated and describe great cities and long ocean voyages, possibly based on events 14,000 years ago [wikipedia.org].

          This great new discovery is younger than that. Is it really so surprising that lunar calenders existed in 10000BC, even in 'barbaric' places? We know that even the barbarians traveled quite widely and were exposed to other cultures.

          • The wikipedia link you posted suggests that the Trojan War as in the 12th Century BC, which would put it at 3200 years ago, NOT 14,000 years ago and significantly more recent than the above discovery.
      • by icebike (68054)

        Or they're applying today's understanding to something that looks similar and claiming it's ancient knowledge. Coincidence is the first thing to be discarded when you want more grant money. When something is dated several millenia before the birth of civilization, you're going to need more than a few holes in the ground to have real evidence for extraordinary claims.

        There is a lot of truth to what you say. Far too often ancient things are re-interpreted in the light of modern knowledge to be things that would have been completely un-necessary to the ancients.

        The study took "yaahrs", but it never occurred to them that this area was heavily forested before roman times, and their pits and polls would not have been able to be used to measure sun or moon rise. Hunter gatherer societies weren't very good at clearing the land.

        The phase of the moon is not particularly import

    • by PmanAce (1679902) on Monday July 15, 2013 @01:23PM (#44286487) Homepage
      Who is claiming everything started with the Egyptians?
    • by steelfood (895457) on Monday July 15, 2013 @01:57PM (#44286919)

      Duh?

      Most people are surprised by how intelligent ancient humans were because in their mind, they begin with the fallacy that people today (i.e. themselves) are more intelligent than people ten, twelve, fifteen thousand years ago. This in and of itself is an extrapolation from the certainty that they are smarter than their parents and grandparents.

      • by yusing (216625)

        Some people dispose of that fallacy by the time they reach 40 or 50 - once they learn enough history to realize that we keep repeating it as if determined to prove that 'smarter than' is a fallacy.

        *sigh* can't tell these kids today anything

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Recorded history begins with Egyptians because they were the first ones to record history in an enduring medium still readable after 5000 years. Chinese might have recorded history but it was probably lost. Indians don't have the habit of recording much. Most of Indian history comes from the records of Greeks [wikipedia.org] Chinese [wikipedia.org] or fragmentary stone inscriptions on temples and carved pillars.

      But before recorded history we have some reconstructed history from artifacts. Tracing the histories of domesticated plant

      • The Sumerians of Mesopotamia called and said you're wrong, their cuneiform writing predates Egyptian hieroglyphs

        ....and also to tell those pyramid building bastards to suck it.
        • No, it doesn't. Look at the phonetically written toponyms discovered by Günter Dreyer in the tomb designated as U-j in Abydos in 1998.
          • Yes, it does. Dreyer's text was dated between 3200 and 3300BC, Mesopotamian writing came several hundred years earlier and was based on record keeping dating back to 8000BC.

            ...but thanks for playing and please accept a copy of our home game.
        • Oh, yeah. Forgotten the Sumerians. Their cuneiform tablets are older than Egyptian hieroglyphs. Bonus aside: Cartoon of an archaeologist in an excavation pit shouting to another one standing above the rim: "This must be their government office, everything here is in triplicate".
          • Oh, yeah. Forgotten the Sumerians.

            There were several regions developing written language around that time (within a few hundred years of one another). It's possible that they all descended from Sumerian writing (since it's the oldest that's been found, and the other regions aren't too far away, Egypt and India) but obviously no one knows for sure, we just know what we've found. There is some evidence for even older scripts in Africa but not enough artifacts have survived to say what's a symbol and what's a

    • Mankind had many thousands of years to try to do things before we had a written history, and everyone likes to believe those cultures were oblivious.

      Oblivious means "lacking all memory; forgetful".

      Insofar as such cultures lacked writing, they are indeed "oblivious", notwithstanding some form of oral transmission of knowledge such as "Thirty days hath September..."

      • by icebike (68054)

        notwithstanding some form of oral transmission of knowledge

        That a pretty big thing to simply dismiss out of hand.

        Oral traditions can extend back thousands of years. They are the first thing extinguished when writing arrives, and the next war, fire, flood, removes them from human knowledge.

    • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday July 15, 2013 @02:24PM (#44287229) Journal

      I've found that people today are generally very dismissive of early cultures, as if 'primitive' was synonymous with stupid.

      Personally, in terms of raw horsepower (and conceding that these early people would likely have much more broadly suffered early childhood illnesses, malnutrition, and such that would generally impair higher functions) I suspect early peoples were generally much MORE intelligent than we are today.

      Of course, it could be that they weren't so constantly distracted. I'd think about this more, but I think someone just texted me.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Something to be said for that theory.

        But the intelligence was probably more focused on survival skills. What plants you could eat, where/when to hunt, how to avoid predators and enemy tribes, sources for workable stones, skins, etc. Much of this was oral knowledge.

        They may well have had their share of imbeciles and morons. There is probably no consistency in how these were handled in all early civilizations, but I suspect more than a few were drowned or sacrificed.

        On the other hand they probably did not p

        • by dryeo (100693)

          Banishment was often an option for dealing with anti-social nut-jobs. Imbeciles and other people that were plain old different often were accepted and even considered holy.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday July 15, 2013 @01:07PM (#44286271) Homepage

    The Scots must be lunatics!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Scots must be lunatics!

      Wir no aw lunies ye ken.
      Frae the screed ye'll see yon curcle was in Aeberdeenshire. As ye'll nae doobt ken, thay're aw sheep shaggers tae a gadgie up in 'ooisiebuits ceety' laund, so they needit to ken when the muin wisnae oot, so's they be able tae bewave an smook up on yon puir wyteless yowes..

    • The Scots must be lunatics!

      So that's why they were mooning at the English in Braveheart?

  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Monday July 15, 2013 @01:55PM (#44286887)
    All the amazing accomplishments by ancient civilizations can be easily explained.

    Nothing good on TV.
  • Thinking about Hollywood, this Calendar has some end of times on it? Can we make a movie about it?
  • ... the First Post!

    Late, I know. But someone had to do it.

  • They're also known for their shadow melds and healing moon pools.

  • This discovery comes just in the nick of time as the myth of Nessie dies out and tourism is plummeting.

  • I have always wondered why people build stone circles for astronomical measurements. You could do a lot better by picking some distant landmark - the pass in this case - and moving sideways until the sun or moon appears aligned. Better still, pick something that is above you, so you are looking slightly upwards - if you were trying to mark the position where the sun sets over the sea, there is a lot of atmosphere that may contain clouds and stop the reading, and a lot of distortion. This uses a valley, and

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