How Much of What We Believe About Ancient History is Really True? Thinking Critically about Myths and Legends
A legend is a tale regarded as historical even though it has not been proven, and the term “myth” can refer to common yet false ideas. Many myths and legends describe our history, but they are often treated skeptically. This is because many of them, while explaining a phenomenon, involve divine or supernatural beings. However, despite the fact that many disbelieve such stories, they do not disappear; they are passed down to future generations. Some parents tell their children that the stories are true. Others explain that they are likely untrue but important. And for human beings, they are significant.
Needing to Know
Psychologically, humans despise ignorance, even though they do not know much about planetary history. Nevertheless, due to this psychological need, historical accounts (which function in the same manner as myths) are filled with what the top minds (at the time) believe are the most logical course of events, and then their suppositions are treated as facts and taught to children. This leads to children believing that certain hypotheses are facts, and if a teacher who can think critically questions those facts, the students often have a psychological aversion to the topic. They need to “know” what occurred. If history textbooks contained empty sections in which the author stated, “We are not certain what occurred during this time,” students would likely be insecure because “knowing” what happened provides security. Myths and legends fill in knowledge gaps. People want to know what they do not know, and myths thereby provide comfort. They are happier on a calm sea than an agitated one. However, people’s reliance on myths have distorted their historical views, and such myths are so much a part of their psychological makeups that questioning them is threatening; they will lash out and do anything they can to stop their beliefs from shattering.
The caravan of Marco Polo traveling towards the Indies. Illustration c. 1375 (Public Domain)
Mention that an individual named Marco Polo who went to China in the 1200s likely did not exist and people will get angry. They will lie and use deceit to try to prove he existed, even though outside of one book written by the fiction author Rustichello da Pisa, there is no evidence of his existence. What is it about people that makes his existence important? It is the desire to “know” history, and because of this need, willful blindness appears.
Similarly, evidence exists that suggests human beings are millions of years old, but since this is not the history most people learned in school, they are generally opposed to it. Because of such opposition, views of history are distorted, likely untrue, and ethnocentric. How could Christopher Columbus have discovered the Americas if there were already millions of people there? Most students don’t even know what he was called (Colón), despite the fact that some countries’ money is named after him (colónes).
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- The Life and Adventures of Marco Polo
Landing of Columbus (12 October 1492) (Public Domain)
Similarly, students will learn some basic information about Chinggis or Genghis Khan but never learn his name (Temujin). These are just some basic examples of a much more widespread problem: history is misleading and, quite literally, chosen for inclusion in history books. Facts that do not support the widespread view of historical events on this planet are discarded and even ridiculed. Some archaeologists have even publicly stated that if the evidence does not fit the established theory, it must be discarded.
The Truth of History
As a result, the majority of citizens are stuck in a rut, and they find it difficult to consider alternative historical possibilities. The only way to fix this problem is for people to assume that many historical events are distorted, even unknown, and then try to see things anew. The great Dao De Jing informs us that when great people perceive the truth (or Way), they will study it and never stop. Mediocre people will pursue it for a bit and then forget it, while inferior people, upon hearing about the truth, will laugh aloud, and if they did not laugh, it would not be the truth.
Astounding Ancient Engineering in Egypt
The following historical accounts should be seriously reconsidered to establish a more accurate view of planetary history: Numerous megalithic sites defy mainstream explanations. Human beings created such structures, and today, even with our modern technological advances we cannot duplicate their achievements. Such structures include the Great Pyramid in Egypt, insofar as its creation and precision.
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The Great Pyramid of Giza. (Mgiganteus1/CC BY-SA 3.0)
Between 2.3 and 2.6 million white limestone blocks weighing between two and 15 tons each were moved across great distances and cut with laser-like precision. They were then stacked to create a highly polished, shiny pyramid. Moving such weights more than 100 feet into the air would prove difficult and dangerous today, yet the pyramid’s builders were able to do so with astonishing precision and (if the Egyptologists’ consensus of a 20-year building process is correct) speed. If workers labored 10 hours every day, yearly, without a single day’s break, and provided that there were no errors or accidents that set them back, they would have to move 31 perfectly-cut blocks into the mathematically precise positions every hour. This is not possible today, so we have no idea what technology was used in its creation. We also do not understand how the blocks were moved and lifted, because every theory involving ramps and cranes is discredited if weights and numbers alone are considered.
When Christopher Dunn explored the Temple of Amun Mut Khonsu he noticed that all the statues of Ramses were identical: the faces’ left sides were exactly the same as the right ones. After using computer graphics and drafting tools, he wrote, “It becomes clear that the statues must have been cut with the assistance of mechanical devices that caused the cutting tool to move along predetermined boundaries to produce an accurate representation in granite of the specific design”. Their very creation makes them out-of-place artifacts: they do not neatly fit into the mainstream historical record. Therefore, a new history should be considered: one that takes into account all anomalous finds.
Statue of Ramses II at Luxor Temple, Egypt. (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Other structures in Egypt, including the Sphinx, which has tantalized archaeologists and historians for years, were likely built c. 10,500 BCE even though no historical texts used in schools would ever suggest that fact. According to what has occurred in modern Egyptology, if evidence supports established theories, it will be accepted, but if it undermines them, it will be rejected.
Mysterious Ancient Builders of Peru
Another amazing site is Sacsayhuaman in Cusco, Peru, which the Incans claim they did not build but mainstream archaeologists and anthropologists insist that they did. When the fortress walls were built, giant boulders weighing more than 200 tons were quarried from a site 1,500 miles (2400 km) away, maneuvered over mountains, and then carved on site to fit perfectly with other megalithic stones in a puzzle-like interlocking pattern.
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Sacsayhuamán, situated to the north of Cusco, Peru. (Public Domain)
Some of the blocks weigh more than 360 tons. Today, such-sized stones could be moved by heavy-lift cranes, but not up and down mountains without roads. Another inexplicable oddity about the stones is that the ones at the fortress have perfectly consistent textures with no imperfections or micro-skeletons, despite the fact that others at the quarry from which they came do have such imperfections, as do most sedimentary rocks. Finally, the stones show evidence that they were once subjected to temperatures as high as 1100 degrees centigrade (Hancock, 2015). This perhaps leads some credence to the Incan and European accounts that the stones were actually liquefied and then poured into molds: an ancient form of concrete.
Unbelievable Ancient Feats in Lebanon
The ancients’ similar skills are seen in the construction techniques of other megalithic sites, including the Temple of Jupiter in Lebanon. Three particular stones weigh approximately 1,200 tons. Moving them today would require 21 heavy-lift cranes working in unison. Of course, there is no way to maneuver 21 of them around the same object with the necessary counterweights and yet have them all work together and move in the same direction. Yet, the ancients seemingly had no problem accomplishing such feats.
The incredible columns of the Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek, Lebanon. (CC BY-SA 2.5)
Ralph Ellis stands on the largest quarried stone at Baalbek, Lebanon. (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Early European Colonies Dispute Columbus Story
Consider megalithic structural designs and historical accounts and it becomes clear that something is missing in our perception of history. Returning to Christopher Columbus and how he could not have discovered the New World because they were already millions of people there, someone might argue that his appellation is apt because he was the first European to arrive, but to make such an assertion, such people have to disregard evidence that contradicts their view: evidence that Europeans were in North America in the 1300s and that Templar colonies were also there. One such colony was most likely in Newport, Rhode Island.
More evidence that history is ethnocentric is found just by looking at history books. How many American History texts are based on Native Americans? (They generally center upon the Europeans who came to the Americas instead.) And how many people know that Native Americans traveled by boats to Europe at approximately the same time Europeans first traveled to America? Similarly, cocaine and hashish were found in ancient Egyptian mummies, and recent tests demonstrate that the substances were ingested. Since mainstream historical accounts hold that Egyptians did not go to America and the Americans did not travel to Egypt, it is a dangling, inconvenient fact that they have not yet been able to comprehend. Doesn’t intercultural communication on a worldwide scale in the ancient world make more sense?
Going Forward by Questioning Historical Myths
Think critically and keep an open mind about history, myth and legend. (CC BY 2.0)
The only thing people should do to think critically is to keep an open mind and stop (mentally) discarding historical finds. This is difficult, as non-conforming ideas are typically discouraged. In classrooms, students are rarely presented with contradictory information or alternative historical accounts. They do not generally read, for example, accounts of Columbus in which he is depicted as a slave trader, or accounts of the Hiroshima holocaust written by Japanese survivors. This is because such inquiry threatens the established social order. Hufford wrote, “A teacher should be encouraged to doubt, to recognize and build upon discontent, and to actively question, rather than passively accept, officially-sanctioned, transmitted knowledge”. Such questioning might be considered radical, but it can lead to forward progress. Let’s charge ahead!
By Ken Jeremiah
Top image: Open Book Photo – Public Domain
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