A Reply to the Minx
"A question arises, if we had manufactured this device, surely there must have been more of them, and why haven't we found others? [...] These mechanisms weren't needed by the masses because we already had timepieces and complex astronomical devices. [...] I see the similarities in world Mythologies and religions and realize...these stories are CLOCKS."I agree that nobody in the ancient world really needed accurate clocks. But that doesn't explain why the Ancient Greek clockwork devices didn't become more popular -- for two reasons.
- The Greek devices used clockwork, but they weren't clocks: they were astronomical simulators cranked by hand.
- People in the High Middle Ages didn't need clocks for any practical purpose: they became popular because of an irrational monastic culture where monks had to pray at certain hours every day.
"People already knew the movement of the stars and their sense of time was much more profound and integrated in their lives than the universe is in most of our lives. [...] They knew more about the movements of the heavens and it's importance to everyday life than a grad student in astronomy does today."I don't know why Candy Minx thinks so. The historical and archaeological record rather suggests that detailed astronomical knowledge was cultivated only within the educated castes of certain highly differentiated civilisations, such as those of Mesopotamia or Greece. Nobody else was very interested since the knowledge wasn't of much practical use and education was a rare luxury. The Greek philosophers prided themselves on performing investigations for their own sake: they certainly didn't want to be seen as engineers.
So the basic difference between Candy's view of the past and mine seems to be that while she feels that there was an almost forgotten order and meaning to much of what happened, I believe that human history has largely been a haphazard, bumbling and meaningless process where nobody really understood much of what was going on.
Finally, two small corrections. Latin did not grow out of Sanskrit: both descended from a lost Indo-European root language. The names Christ and Krishna are not cognates: christós means "anointed" in Greek and krishna means "black" in Sanskrit.
[More blog entries about astronomy, history, archaeology; astronomi, historia, arkeologi.]