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Why It Took So Long to Invent the Wheel [ s/b, why wheels haven't survived in strata ]
Scientific American ^ | March 6, 2012 | Natalie Wolchover

Posted on 03/12/2012 9:01:18 PM PDT by SunkenCiv

Wheels are the archetype of a primitive, caveman-level technology. But in fact, they're so ingenious that it took until 3500 B.C. for someone to invent them. By that time -- it was the Bronze Age -- humans were already casting metal alloys, constructing canals and sailboats, and even designing complex musical instruments such as harps.

The tricky thing about the wheel is not conceiving of a cylinder rolling on its edge. It's figuring out how to connect a stable, stationary platform to that cylinder.

"The stroke of brilliance was the wheel-and-axle concept," said David Anthony, a professor of anthropology at Hartwick College and author of "The Horse, the Wheel, and Language"... "But then making it was also difficult."

To make a fixed axle with revolving wheels, Anthony explained, the ends of the axle had to be nearly perfectly smooth and round, as did the holes in the center of the wheels; otherwise, there would be too much friction for the wheels to turn. Furthermore, the axles had to fit snugly inside the wheels' holes, but not too snugly -- they had to be free to rotate. [What Makes Wheels Appear to Spin Backward?]

The success of the whole structure was extremely sensitive to the size of the axle. While a narrow one would reduce the amount of friction, it would also be too weak to support a load. Meanwhile, a thick axle would hugely increase the amount of friction. "They solved this problem by making the earliest wagons quite narrow, so they could have short axles, which made it possible to have an axle that wasn't very thick," Anthony told Life's Little Mysteries.

The sensitivity of the wheel-and-axle system to all these factors meant that it could not have been developed in phases, he said. It was an all-or-nothing structure.

(Excerpt) Read more at scientificamerican.com ...


TOPICS: History; Science; Travel
KEYWORDS: godsgravesglyphs; wheel
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WHEELS OF WONDER: A wheeled figurine from the New World, probably made in Veracruz between 100 B.C. and 800 A.D. Image: madman2001 | Creative Commons

Why It Took So Long to Invent the Wheel [ s/b, why wheels havent survived in strata ]

1 posted on 03/12/2012 9:01:27 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
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The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World The Horse, the Wheel, and Language:
How Bronze-Age Riders from
the Eurasian Steppes
Shaped the Modern World

by David W. Anthony

Kindle Edition
Paperback
Unknown Binding


2 posted on 03/12/2012 9:04:28 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him)
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To: SunkenCiv

The invention of Beer was critical in the invention of the wheel. After inventing Beer, primitive man needed the wheel to transport the Beer to the pig roast.


3 posted on 03/12/2012 9:04:52 PM PDT by Grizzled Bear (No More RINOS!)
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To: StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; decimon; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; ...

 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
No one doubts the plow is extremely old, with the earliest known (unadjusted, so older yet) RC date for cultivated grain being 14,000 years old -- and yet the plow must not have yet been invented because no one's ever found one that old. Wheels were repaired when needed, until they plain wore out and went into the fire on a cold night.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


4 posted on 03/12/2012 9:05:06 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him)
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To: Grizzled Bear

;’) Kegs are pretty heavy, so I have no doubt you’re onto something.


5 posted on 03/12/2012 9:06:53 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him)
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To: Grizzled Bear

;-)


6 posted on 03/12/2012 9:07:49 PM PDT by unixfox (Abolish Slavery, Repeal The 16th Amendment!)
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To: SunkenCiv

But why did the people found living in what is now called North America when Europeans arrived in significant numbers, beginning in the 1300s or thereabouts (pick your own century), seemingly not know about the wheel?


7 posted on 03/12/2012 9:09:56 PM PDT by Elsiejay (in)
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To: Grizzled Bear

“The invention of Beer was critical in the invention of the wheel. After inventing Beer, primitive man needed the wheel to transport the Beer to the pig roast.”

Absolutely correct! Primitive man was a dumbass electing libtards into office: thus our problems.


8 posted on 03/12/2012 9:13:39 PM PDT by Carthego delenda est
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To: SunkenCiv

But why did the people found living in what is now called North America when Europeans arrived in significant numbers, beginning in the 1300s or thereabouts (pick your own century), seemingly not know about the wheel?


9 posted on 03/12/2012 9:13:55 PM PDT by Elsiejay (in)
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To: SunkenCiv

Uh...no.

Wheels existed in the subcontinent of India long before 3500 bc.

Archaeology just ignores India. Indian archaeologists insist that humans go back at least a million years. This is not popular with western academics who have their “professional reputations” to protect.


10 posted on 03/12/2012 9:14:15 PM PDT by SatinDoll (No Foreign Nationals as our President!)
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To: SunkenCiv

Any excuse to post this pic will do.


11 posted on 03/12/2012 9:16:38 PM PDT by I see my hands (It's time to.. KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHER FREEPERS!)
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To: SunkenCiv
I always thought the 'wheel' would be an intuitive kind of thing... just watching rocks rolling down hill. It was putting two of them together via an axle that was the stroke of genius.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to that caveman who conceived the axle. Nice job dude!

12 posted on 03/12/2012 9:17:56 PM PDT by Ditto (Nov 2, 2010 -- Partial cleaning accomplished. More trash to remove in 2012)
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To: SunkenCiv
Any farm boy knows an oak tree trunk or limb have naturally hollowed centers that the squirrels run up n down. All you gotta do is break off the limb or saw the trunk in 2 places and stick another branch between `em both and voila!

from Scientific American below:
``Whoever invented it must have had access to wide slabs of wood from thick-trunked trees in order to carve large, round wheels.``

Well duhh, Professor Anthony — trees are naturally ROUND, you idiot!

13 posted on 03/12/2012 9:18:59 PM PDT by bunkerhill7 (tree trunks round??? ?? Who knew?)
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To: Ditto
We all owe a debt of gratitude to that caveman who conceived the axle. Nice job dude!

Early life

Rose was born William Bruce Rose, Jr. in Lafayette, Indiana, the oldest child of Sharon E. (née Lintner), then 16 years old, and William Bruce Rose, then 20 years old.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axl_Rose

14 posted on 03/12/2012 9:24:28 PM PDT by Ezekiel (The Obama-nation began with the Inauguration of Desolation.)
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To: SunkenCiv

I thought the real genius was putting the wheel on its side, jamming a pole in it and watching the cave hootchies pole dance.

Perhaps that was a later era.


15 posted on 03/12/2012 9:26:19 PM PDT by occamrzr06
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To: SunkenCiv

I think they may be way off in their estimation of the origin of the wheel. The reason being that even in the very ancient world, there was a lot of engineering aptitude far beyond what people today imagine.

For example, years ago, scientists at the Smithsonian figured out a simple, low tech way the ancient Egyptians could have built the 138 known pyramids of Egypt, in a fraction of the time, with far less manpower than assumed.

Based on a naturally occurring pyramid-shaped geological formation, that likely gave them the idea. The earliest of these were built around 2630 BC, and there can be seen an engineering evolution from that primitive pyramid, to the great pyramids of Giza, about 2560 BC, just 70 years later, which were much more complex and finished.

The scientists at the Smithsonian figured out that with just 8 pieces of wood, held together with pegs, the giant stones could essentially be turned into cylinders. When combined with the dirt ramp technology they had mastered, as well as boats to take the great stones from the quarry to the construction site, labor was just fractional to what it would have had to have been to muscle around giant, rectangular cubes.

Just keep increasing the ramp, and when the capstone is put on top, take away the dirt leaving the fully formed pyramid.

But according to the article, the wheel and axle was invented just a thousand years earlier than that.


16 posted on 03/12/2012 9:27:25 PM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy
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To: Ditto
No one was happier than the guys who had to keep moving the logs back up to the front.


17 posted on 03/12/2012 9:33:17 PM PDT by TigersEye (Life is about choices. Your choices. Make good ones.)
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To: SunkenCiv

How disappointing. Not one mention of Fred Flintstone in that article.


18 posted on 03/12/2012 9:38:38 PM PDT by Rocky (REPEAL IT!)
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To: TigersEye
See that dude riding the rock?

He was armenian!

19 posted on 03/12/2012 9:51:46 PM PDT by going hot (Happiness is a momma deuce)
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To: TigersEye
I guess that log rolling thing was the first axle --- high reliability but pretty heavy overhead with all the employees needed to keep the logs rolling. ~;))

And I'd bet OSHA would have some problems with that today. Just guessing they would work a deal with the International Federation of Log Rollers in return for the appropriate campaign contributions while they work on Pharaoh Obama's Pyramid.

20 posted on 03/12/2012 10:02:52 PM PDT by Ditto (Nov 2, 2010 -- Partial cleaning accomplished. More trash to remove in 2012)
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To: Elsiejay

The earliest known wheels, according to the article, date from ca. 3500 BC.

The last in-migration from Asia over the Bering land bridge occurred around 9000 BC. Other theories postulate other in-migrations, but these were also from places and times that didn’t have the wheel.

Of course, the Vikings might have brought the wheel ca. 1000 AD, but I haven’t heard of any evidence for that.


21 posted on 03/12/2012 10:12:44 PM PDT by Erasmus (BHO: New supreme leader of the homey rollin' empire.)
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To: Ditto
I never thought of it before but the log is both the axle and the wheel there.

Let's see, they built the first pyramids about 5,000 years ago. If it were an AFLCIO job under OSHA regulations they would still be working on it.

22 posted on 03/12/2012 10:15:23 PM PDT by TigersEye (Life is about choices. Your choices. Make good ones.)
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To: Elsiejay

The Theory is that they didn’t have any animals that could pull a wagon or cart. The horse was native to North America but didn’t survive the ice age.

The bigger question is why they didn’t develop metal tools and weapons. At least in meso-america and S. American they had some pretty advanced skills,but mostly used them for artwork.


23 posted on 03/12/2012 10:17:29 PM PDT by desertfreedom765
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To: SunkenCiv
For the last time, it wasn't because I accidentally deliberately perhaps destroyed the first prototype! That's a vicious, baseless rumor!
24 posted on 03/12/2012 10:21:01 PM PDT by Altariel ("Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!")
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To: Grizzled Bear

25 posted on 03/12/2012 10:25:15 PM PDT by Darth Reardon (No offense to drunken sailors)
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To: SatinDoll

“Archaeology just ignores India. Indian archaeologists insist that humans go back at least a million years.”

I’m not sure what you’re driving at here (hey, no pun intended!)

Could you elucidate a little more?

How long do “western” scientists say humans go back, for one thing?

(I know they are mostly atheistic communists, I know that part already!)


26 posted on 03/12/2012 10:28:20 PM PDT by jocon307
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To: going hot

It’s OK. He had a green card.


27 posted on 03/12/2012 10:35:43 PM PDT by TigersEye (Life is about choices. Your choices. Make good ones.)
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To: TigersEye

They didn’t have green cards back then.

They had green steles.


28 posted on 03/12/2012 10:56:37 PM PDT by Erasmus (BHO: New supreme leader of the homey rollin' empire.)
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To: Elsiejay
But why did the people found living in what is now called North America when Europeans arrived in significant numbers, beginning in the 1300s or thereabouts (pick your own century), seemingly not know about the wheel?

They lived in prehistoric societies isolated from the continents where all the action was.

29 posted on 03/12/2012 11:02:24 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (If my candidate doesn't win the nomination I'm going to kick my feet, cry like a baby, and stay home)
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To: desertfreedom765
The bigger question is why they didn’t develop metal tools and weapons. At least in meso-america and S. American they had some pretty advanced skills,but mostly used them for artwork.

In the case of Meso-America, bountiful sources of obsidian negated the necessity of metals for tools and weaponry. Obsidian takes, and holds a better edge than either copper, or bronze, so these were not developed by the local peoples.

In the case of South America, there was some usage of copper in weaponry prior to the arrival of the Spanish, and had they not arrived when they did, bronze, and perhaps even iron would have eventually been utilized. We will never know for certain, though, as the natural progression was interrupted.

The civilizations of Meso and South America during the 1500's AD was closely equivalent to Sumer, and early Egypt, and had they reamined isolated would have progressed, and expanded. The nomadic, and semi-nomadic tribal cultures of North America were essentially doomed any way you care to look at it. If it were not the Europeans, it would have been the Islamics, or Asians, or even the civilizations to their south which would have displaced them, simply because they could not effectively hold the resources they posessed with the manpower and technology available to them...

the infowarrior

30 posted on 03/12/2012 11:06:02 PM PDT by infowarrior
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To: jocon307

During the ice age, much of northern Europe and Asia, including the Himalyas, and North America were under sheets of ice.

The warmest places for humans was around the equator - present day India, much of Africa, the Amazon River Basin and southeast Asia. It is only now that those places are being explored for early human civilizations, and in the case of India and Indonesia, most of that will have to be via marine archaeology. The important stuff is underwater.

The problem with archaeology is it was birthed as a scientific endeavor during the 19th century in Europe, when everyone expected the first humans to look like modern Victorian ladies and gentlemen.


31 posted on 03/12/2012 11:21:01 PM PDT by SatinDoll (No Foreign Nationals as our President!)
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To: infowarrior
Obsidian takes, and holds a better edge than either copper, or bronze,

Better than some steels also. Some surgeons use obsidian blades on their scalpels because they are sharper than steel blades. Fact.

32 posted on 03/12/2012 11:32:31 PM PDT by calex59
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To: Erasmus

I remember reading that one of the greatest “inventions” of early man was the wheelbarrow. Somehow it seems intuitive, but someone had to come up with the concept I guess.


33 posted on 03/12/2012 11:38:01 PM PDT by boop (I hate hippies and dopeheads. Just hate them. ...Ernest Borgnine)
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To: calex59
Better than some steels also. Some surgeons use obsidian blades on their scalpels because they are sharper than steel blades. Fact.

I was unaware of that, but don't find it surprising at all...

the infowarrior

34 posted on 03/12/2012 11:42:43 PM PDT by infowarrior
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To: SunkenCiv

Interesting article.

Anyone know which came first - the wheel, or the building arch?

Seems like one could be readily deduced from the other.

I’ve always been surprised that there is no evidence that New World natives used stone wheels for grinding or for food processing.

As the Southern societies grew in size, it seems almost essential to have that kind of labor saving device.

I’m also surprised the Southern New World never figured out the water wheel, which could have dramatically improved productivity in cutting and shaping structural stone and lumber.


35 posted on 03/13/2012 2:04:54 AM PDT by zeestephen
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To: SunkenCiv
Speaking of Wheels..... 285 micrometer racecar, "printed" at the Vienna University of Technology, using "two-photon lithography." Read entire article at ScienceDaily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120312101918.htm
36 posted on 03/13/2012 3:09:54 AM PDT by zeestephen
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To: Elsiejay
But why did the people found living in what is now called North America when Europeans arrived in significant numbers, beginning in the 1300s or thereabouts (pick your own century), seemingly not know about the wheel?
Indigenous North Americans were in the Stone Age - they didn’t do metal, let alone the wheel. And the point of this article is that the wheel itself isn’t the big deal - it is the bearing which allows the wheel to turn which is the real deal. And you can’t make efficient, durable bearings out of wood or stone. In fact, ball and roller bearings are made of very high quality steel - anything less breaks down in a hurry under the concentrated, cyclic loads involved - and a damaged ball bearing produces more friction, not less, than a simple sliding bearing.

37 posted on 03/13/2012 3:23:32 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (DRAFT PALIN)
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To: Elsiejay; Erasmus; desertfreedom765; Jeff Chandler

The photo example is PreColumbian, as a matter of fact. :’) The presence of the wheel is known, but the wheel was not observed to be in use when the Spanish and Portuguese, French, English, and Dutch got here. Even the use of metals was mostly limited to decoration. OTOH, in Tiahuanaco there was metal smelting and some use of metal in construction.


38 posted on 03/13/2012 3:31:22 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him)
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To: infowarrior; zeestephen

Whoops, missed ya.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/2858260/posts?page=38#38


39 posted on 03/13/2012 3:33:49 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him)
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To: I see my hands

So, it was all facilitated by short skirts and red hair. That does make sense...


40 posted on 03/13/2012 3:35:18 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him)
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To: Carthego delenda est; Ditto; bunkerhill7; Ezekiel; occamrzr06; TigersEye; Rocky; going hot; ...

:’D


41 posted on 03/13/2012 3:39:22 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him)
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To: SatinDoll; yefragetuwrabrumuy; jocon307; Ditto; bunkerhill7; TigersEye; infowarrior; calex59; ...

Indian archaeologists don’t all insist that, just the viciously nationalistic ones do. They also ridiculously claim that there was never an Aryan migration into India, even though the vintage literature says so, and records things that have been documented only in ancient sites in Central Asia. The same jokers have never shown even one site that exceeds 5K or 6K, other than run of the mill Neolithic sites, and even the earliest cities are mostly nameless, having not survived either in local tradition (because the population isn’t descended from the earlier occupants) or in the ancient literature.

There are small pyramid sites in Greece that are of early classical times, but some nutjobs insist on the entirely baseless claim that they are 20,000 years old.

For most of the past two million years, the continental shelf has been exposed during glaciation, while the interiors have been covered with ice. Hence, much if not most of what our ancestors did and where they lived is covered by water now.

This topic has generated the level of discussion I’d hoped it would; clearly the wheel is so obvious that it was independently invented a number of times, and used where needed and when appropriate. And sometimes lost or discarded, or declining into trivial uses.


42 posted on 03/13/2012 3:54:17 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/2858260/posts?page=39#39


43 posted on 03/13/2012 3:55:19 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him)
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To: SunkenCiv

Pre-Columbian Wheels

http://www.precolumbianwheels.com/


44 posted on 03/13/2012 5:36:53 AM PDT by Gatún(CraigIsaMangoTreeLawyer)
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To: SunkenCiv; Rocky; I see my hands
Uh...have you guys seen this?. It was a fossil video discovered in Ukraine a few years ago...
45 posted on 03/13/2012 5:38:03 AM PDT by Pharmboy (She turned me into a Newt...)
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To: SunkenCiv
not observed to be in use

What causes societies to retrograde or stabilize at subsistence level for centuries?

46 posted on 03/13/2012 7:06:16 AM PDT by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: desertfreedom765
The horse was native to North America but didn’t survive the ice age.

Actually, the horse, the camel and a whole bunch of other large (and a few small) mammals survived the (most recent) ice age and all went extinct in a very short period (possibly only a century or two) after the ice age ended.

A popular theory for why this occurred is that this is the period when humans first entered the New World and we wiped all these species out.

Unfortunately for the cool theory, there is increasing evidence men had been banging around America for thousands of years at this point. Possibly ten thousand or more. It also doesn't explain how horses, camels and other animals that went extinct after the ice age in America survived just fine in Eurasia, where they'd been hunted for much longer.

OTOH, we have excellent evidence of similar extinctions when humans first arrived in various Pacific islands, New Zealand, Madagascar and possibly Australia.

47 posted on 03/13/2012 7:07:01 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: SatinDoll

Do you have some links on this subject?

I’ve not paid much attention to these sometimes hyperbolic claims, I admit. They smack a little of Afro-centric (blacks invented everything!) and Russian commie (Russians invented everything!) “history” to me.

But I’m always willing to be convinced otherwise and the enthusiasm and axe to grind of some of the proponents does not invalidate evidence if it exists.

And I agree Indian history, for a variety of reasons, has been slighted in the standard histories.


48 posted on 03/13/2012 7:12:32 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Elsiejay

different societies invented different things at different points in time. Case in point the Jarawas in the Andaman island haven’t yet discovered how to start fire.


49 posted on 03/13/2012 7:45:44 AM PDT by Cronos (Party like it's 12 20, 2012)
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy

Seems to me that if the idea was used, the major problem of exact placement would reman.

I wonder how the idea works with megatonage stone blocks - mass is mass and the effort needed, while less than hauling, would still be conciderable.

The ramp theory is another weakness since to get to the top, a properly sloped ramp would have to be so long as to exceed the space available on the plateau.

Until someone actually builds a full-sized, exact replica of a late pyramid, I continue to hold that there is no way to prove that the Egyptians were actually building new structures rather than repairing existing ones. Ancient Egyptians propaganda aside, an older non-local civiliztion from the First Time may have built them.

Just speculating.


50 posted on 03/13/2012 8:35:30 AM PDT by PIF (They came for me and mine ... now it is your turn ...)
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