Thursday, June 11, 2009

Do we KNOW anything?

Perhaps it's the latent Indiana Jones in me, but I have always been fascinated by ancients sites throughout the world. Stonehenge leaves me speechless, and one of my life goals is to some day see the Easter Island monoliths. Naturally, my more pragmatic bride, sees hokum in everyone of them. Locally, are a number of ancient burial mounds which have been here for a thousand years or more.

Unsurprisingly, the catholic church worked overtime to build on top of them, when they could.

I bring this up as a follow up to the darling Meg, of PigTown Design post today on recent monuments. They reminded me of ancient runes.

Runes are a Norse version of Kilroy was here. Nordic explorers would engrave stones along their journeys to leave behind a record of their exploits. Most naturally are in Britain and Ireland, but surprisingly a number have been discovered in North America.

The most famous, The Kensington Stone, was uncovered in the 1890's by a Swedish bachelor farmer pulling tree stumps from his field near Kensington, Minnesota. Researchers will forever dispute the authenticity of the stone, but it tells an incredible story.

"Eight Goths and 22 Norwegians on a journey of exploration from Vinland very far west. We had camp by two rocky islands one day's journey north from this stone. We were out fishing one day. After we came home we found ten men red with blood and dead. AVM save from evil. Have ten men by the sea to look after our ships fourteen days' journey from this island. Year 1362"

Scientists believe the men died of bubonic plague brought with them from Europe. AVM refers to Ave Maria.

Another 6 stones, somewhat older, have been located in Oklahoma.

So say they are authentic. Imagine the skill set required, after returning from a hunt, and finding 10 men dead, the boss asks Olaf, to do a little stone carving. Olaf finds a suitable rock, and begins chiseling. Try it, you won't like it.

Stories like this keep me up nights wondering about how little we really know.



Anonymous said...

FYI --

Martha said...

How interesting --

I've been to Stonehenge and it is awesome -- the best part was the one time we went in the snow -- those huge dark rocks and everything else white!


Sartre said...

My wife and I honeymooned in Ireland. The country literally is peppered with stone circles, stone tombs, dolmens, etc. Nothing quite on the order of magnitude of Stonehenge, but more fun: You park the rental, hop a fence, pay the farmer a pound, and walk around till your heart's content. Very spooky.

On a more serious note: With respect to the limits of human knowledge, I am very much under the influence of the novelist Robertson Davies. Davies did not believe that human knowledge is a sort of linear progression in which we build on knowledge of the past. Instead, he believed that we see different parts of the whole at different parts of history. He explained it better than I did, but I am attracted to the notion as it doesn't require us to chuck out what's been learned and believed before.


Toad said...

Anon, thank yoiu that is a really cool site, I look forward to having my afternoon free, so I can spend some time there.

Sartre: glad you're well mon ami. Any recommendations on where to start with Mr. Davies?

Sartre said...

I like all of his stuff. That said, The Rebel Angels is my favorite.

Davies wrote three loosely structured trilogies, The Deptford Trilogy, The Salterton Trilogy, and The Cornish Trilogy. If you must invest in one of these (sometimes the individual volumes are harder to come by), go for Cornish, which starts with The Rebel Angels.

I also like The Cunning Man, his last book.

Pigtown-Design said...

i couldn't help but think that the memorials i posted about would be 3000 a.d.'s stonehenge. who? why? and what do they mean?