Skip to comments.Ancient Navigators Could Have Measured Longitude -- in Egypt in 232 B.C. !
Posted on 01/12/2003 11:19:24 AM PST by ex-Texan
Ancient Navigators Could Have Measured Longitude -- in Egypt in 232 B.C. !
by Rick Sanders
Around the year 232 B.C., Captain Rata and Navigator Maui set out with a flotilla of ships from Egypt in an attempt to circumnavigate the Earth. On the night of August 6-7, 2001, between the hours of 11 PM and 3 AM, this writer, and fellow amateur astronomer Bert Cooper, proved in principle that Captain Rata and Navigator Maui could have known and charted their location, by longitude, most of the time during that voyage.
The Maui expedition was under the guidance of Eratosthenes, the great scientist who was also the chief librarian of the library at Alexandria. Could this voyage have demonstrated Eratosthenes' theorem that the world was round, and measured approximately 24,500 miles in circumference? One of the navigational instruments which Maui had with him was a strange looking "calculator" that he called a tanawa; such an instrument was known, in 1492, as a torquetum.
Intrigued by a photograph of the cave drawing of that tanawa in Irian Jaya, western New Guinea, I speculated that Maui must have been looking at the ecliptic to measure "lunar distance," in order to find his longitude. Maui's tanawa was of such importance, that he drew it on the cave wall with the inscription, deciphered in the 1970s by epigrapher Barry Fell: "The Earth is tilted. Therefore, the signs of half of the ecliptic watch over the south, the other (half) rise in the ascendant. This is the calculator of Maui."
Eratosthenes had just measured the circumference of the Earth, and the circumference of a sphere is the same in all directions. We know that Maui was thinking about this, because his cave drawings also include a proof of Eratosthenes' experiment to measure the Earth's circumference.
To test the hypotheses, we built a wooden torquetum and used a simplified version of it to measure the change in angular distance between the Moon and the star Altair, in the constellation Aquila (the Eagle). This success proves official dogma wrong, and proves that, in principle, Navigator Maui, during his voyage could have used tables brought from Alexandria, drawn up by Eratosthenes or his collaborators, compared those lunar distances with the distances that he measured, and come up with a good estimate of his longitude.
It is important to note that we are not claiming here that we know everything about the torquetum. We simplified our device for the proof-of-principle experiment, but we will carry out and report on more experiments, using the full instrument.
The torquetum's value, as an analogue calculator, must have been immense, because, once a planet or the Moon are not on the meridian, all "straight lines" become curvesso that calculations are difficult, even with a modern calculator. However, the 23.5-degree plane on the torquetum allows one to directly read the longitude and latitude of a planet or the Moon, relative to the ecliptic, without calculation. These data would be invaluable for predicting eclipses and occultations of various stars or planets by the Moon.
The Inspiration for the Experiment
This was intriguing! What was this "tanawa" for? Why the 23.5-degree plane, characteristic of the torquetum? It could only mean that Maui was looking at the ecliptic, the Moon, and the planets, the "wandering stars."
Of the two torquetums surviving in the world, one belonged to Nicholas of Cusa, and the other to Regiomontanus, both of whom were involved in calendar reform, including setting the date of Easter, which, along with some other religious festivals, is dated by the interaction of the lunar and solar calendars.
But what could Maui have been doing? Trying to determine longitude? The very thought was heretical. To take things out of the realm of speculation, the only solution was to build a torquetum, and see if longitude could be determined by using sightings of the Moon, with simple backyard equipment; if this succeeded, then Navigator Maui could have also succeeded.
PROBABLE ROUTE OF THE EGYPTIAN VOYAGE IN 232 B.C.
Deciphered rock and cave inscriptions from the Pacific islands, western New Guinea, and Santiago, Chile, tell of an Egyptian flotilla that set sail around 232 B.C., during the reign of Ptolemy III, on a mission to circumnavigate the globe. The six ships sailed under the direction of Captain Rata and Navigator Maui, a friend of the astronomer Eratosthenes (ca. 275-194 B.C.), who headed the famous library at Alexandria. Maui's inscriptions, as deciphered in the 1970s by epigrapher Barry Fell, indicated that this was a proof-of-principle voyage, to demonstrate Eratosthenes' theorem that the world was round, and approximately 24,500 miles in circumference.
You cannot tell longitude from the stars alone, because their daily motion is purely apparent, caused by the rotation of the Earth. At 8 PM (solar apparent time), any star, seen from anywhere, whether Ferrara, Paris, or Cairo, will have the same azimuth as it does in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Sioux Falls, S.D., Seattle, or anywhere else. The Moon shares in this apparent motion to the west, but it also has its own independent, real motion.
Look at what Amerigo Vespucci, himself at the frontiers of post-Dark-Ages navigational astronomy, said of this in 1502, in Letter IV:
". . . I maintain that I learned [my longitude] . . . by the eclipses and conjunctions of the Moon with the planets; and I have lost many nights of sleep in reconciling my calculations with the precepts of those sages who have devised the manuals and written of the movements, conjunctions, aspects, and eclipses of the two luminaries and of the wandering stars, such as the wise King Don Alfonso in his Tables, Johannes Regiomontanus in his Almanac, and Blanchinus, and the Rabbi Zacuto in his almanac, which is perpetual; and these were composed in different meridians: King Don Alfonso's book in the meridian of Toledo, and Johannes Regiomontanus's in that of Ferrara, and the other two in that of Salamanca."2 The best "clock" to use for reference, is the stars. In the roughly 27.3 solar days of a lunar orbit, the Moon moves a full 360 degrees around the sky, returning to its old position among the stars. This is 13 degrees per day, or just over 0.5 degree per hour. So, while the rotation of the Earth causes the stars and the Moon to appear to move from east to west across the night sky, the Moon, because of its own orbit around the Earth, fights back against this apparent motion, and seems to move eastward (or retrograde) by about 0.5 degree per hour. In other words, the Moon "moves" west only 11.5 degrees per hour.
A brass model of Maui's tanawa, constructed by Dr. Sentiel Rommel. The base (A) in the plane of the observer's horizon, is oriented so that the axis of symmetry is parallel to the meridian. (B) is the equatorial plane. (C) is the ecliptic plane (viewed from one side in Maui's drawing, hence appearing as a line). Drawing by Matt Makowski in The Epigraphic Society Occasional Publications, Vol. 32, No. 29, Feb. 1975
Thus, if a known star is in a given position on the celestial sphere (measured by azimuth and right ascension), a table could be drawn up at a given location for each night, showing how distant the Moon appears to be from that star.
For example: If a ship sailed west out of a port, and its new longitude were now 15 degrees west (one hour) of that port, and those on the ship could see the Moon and the reference star, the Moon would appear to be 0.5 degree east of where the table would show it to be for the port of departure. There is nothing here that navigator Maui in 232 B.C. could not have known. The only question would be whether his instruments could measure an angular difference on the order of 0.5 degree.
Our observational experiment showed that a simplified torquetum could do it. In the time that Altair had moved 41.8 degrees west along the equatorial plane, the Moon had moved only 40.25 degrees, a difference of 1.55 degrees. Because the Moon should retrograde about 0.5 degree/hour, the calculated regression would equal 1.39 degrees. This error of less than 1/6th (or 0.166) of a degree is well within our instrument limitations, which can be read only to 0.25 of a degree.
1. For the story of the Rata-Maui Expedition, see "The Decipherment and Discovery of a Voyage to America in 232 B.C.," by Marjorie Mazel Hecht, 21st Century, Winter 1998-1999, p. 62; "Indian Inscriptions from the Cordilleras in Chile" found by Karl Stolp in 1885, 21st Century, Winter 1998-1999, p. 66; "On Eratosthenes, Maui's Voyage of Discovery, and Reviving the Principle of Discovery Today," by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., 21st Century, Spring 1999, p. 24; "Eratosthenes' Instruments Guided Maui's 3rd Century B.C. Voyage," by Marjorie Mazel Hecht, 21st Century, Spring 1999, p. 74; and "Maui's Tanawa: A Torquetum of 232 B.C.," by Sentiel Rommel, Ph.D., 21st Century, Spring 1999, p. 75.
2. Cited in Letters From A New World, 1992. Ed. Luciano Formisano (New York: Marsilio Publishers), pp. 38-39.
21st Century, P.O. Box 16285, Washington, D.C. 20041
Copyright © 2003 21st Century Science Associates. All rights reserved.
(Excerpt) Read more at 21stcenturysciencetech.com ...
The Egyptian scientists were nearly 1,700 years ahead of everybody else .... Except, perhaps, the ancient Chinese. So why are they so backward today?
Oh, the answer is found in their Islamic faith. Silly me.
Click the excerpt link above to see very intriguing diagrams, ancient charts and photos.
So, the question is, who destroyed Egypt and all it's skills and knowledge? Was it the Greeks, the Romans, the Christians, the Moslems?
Gen 1:14 . . . lights in the firmament . . . let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
Whoever translated this dropped an extra comma into his parallel construction and nearly destroyed it, but the intent could be that the stars and planets were intended to be used to tell time, and were so used many years B.C. at the time the Books of Moses were written.
I'm reading a great new book entitled Decipher by Stel Pavlou ... It is simply an amazing book. Filled with science, language puzzles, myth, legend and physics and it explores the mystery of the ancient pyramids found all over the world. Underlying all of that is the End of Times Mystery and the Book of Revelations. Oh, and the Golem legend of the Jewish People. Very scary stuff but a very good read .... Pavlou is a talented writer and wrote the script for the movie hit 'Formula 51' which starred Samuel L. Jackson .... Think I see another great film on the way.
My Guess is that Captain Rata and Navigator Maui got eaten at New Guinea...
It wasn't the Greeks, Romans, or Christians that burned the contents of the Library of Alexandria.
Oh really? http://www.bede.org.uk/library.htm
The entire collection was used to feed the fires of the heating furnaces.
Thanks for posting this article.
The pyramids (combined with other monuments in Egypt) are a recreation of the constellation Orion. The pyramids themselves are Orion's belt.
Oh, good grief! No one "destroyed" Egypt and/or its skills and knowledge. It didn't ended like a brick through a plate glass window; it was more like the life cycle of some ancient tree.
Or blew the nose off the Sphnix--- with that new weapon of mass destruction: the cannon -- in an attempt to destroy the "heathen idol". (It proved to be a lot more difficult then expected, which is why we have what is left. Had it been easier to destroy, or the Muslims better armed, you can rest assured it most certainly would have been.)
IMHO, Islam will have a good deal to answer for when it is called before the bar of History.
Doggonit, read some of the authoritative references provided by some of the other Freepers.
Now, who blew the nose off the Sphinx. That'd probably be Imhotep - in fact, he erased the original face!
Islam and the Turks do not have to answer for the nose which is believed to have originally been that of a lion!
Yes, he came up with 24,500 miles -- not bad!! He also determined that the Earth's oceans were interconnected and calculated that a ship launched westward across the Atlantic could reach India. This was about 1600 years before there's a record of Columbus trying it -- much too long for such a theory to go untested IMO. Check out the links at: http://ce.eng.usf.edu/pharos/Alexandria/links.html
As for the Sphinx's nose, the defacement occurred much earlier, probably as the result of a Muslim invasion around 1378 a.d. Napoleon's troops have been blamed for doing it with a cannon but that story appears to be untrue. Quite a few people had a crack at it. Defacement of statues of other cultures' deities has been a popular pastime throughout history.
It was indeed Christians in another of their unlimited series of internecine squabbles.
The museum and library survived for many centuries but were destroyed in the civil war that occurred under the Roman emperor Aurelian in the late 3rd century AD; the daughter library was destroyed by Christians in AD 391.
This was a product of Greek science, not Egyptian. Egyptian culture was entirely stagnant during the Hellenistic period, but for thousands of years prior to this, it lead the world, along with the Babylonian/Sumerian civilization.
Notice, you Islam-bashers and Christian chauvinists, that these Greeks, Egyptians, Babylonians, and Sumerians, were all pagan. And they had the most advanced sciences and arts and culture of the world during their time. Islam also once lead the world in science, culture, and the arts. The West is now on top, but that is not gauranteed to last forever, and has little to do with Christianity - the West having hardly anything to do with Christianity anymore.
In other words, the wheel turns.
All you gloaters are the same in every age: ignorant fools, taking credit for things not of your own doing, living off the seed corn that was laid in store by your more energetic and foresighted ancestors.
Blame Napoleon. His cannoneers used the Sphinx for target practice, blowing off its nose.
The museum and library survived for many centuries but were destroyed in the civil war that occurred under the Roman emperor Aurelian in the late 3rd century AD....
In the East, [Aurelian] defeated Zenobia's troops easily and occupied Palmyra in 272. Shortly afterward, an uprising broke out in Egypt under the instigation of a rich merchant, who, like a great part of the population, was a partisan of the Palmyrene queen.In response, Aurelian undertook a second campaign, plundering Palmyra and subjugating Alexandria. These troubles, however, along with the devastation of the great caravan city, were to set back Roman trade seriously in the East. Later, rounding back on the Gallic empire of Postumus' successors, he easily defeated Tetricus , a peaceful man not very willing to fight, near Cabillonum. The unity of the empire was restored, and Aurelian celebrated a splendid triumph in Rome. He also reestablished discipline in the state, sternly quelled a riot of artisans in the mints of Rome, organized the provisioning of the city by militarizing several corporations (the bakers, the pork merchants), and tried to stop the inflation by minting an antoninianus of sounder value. His religious policy was original: in order to strengthen the moral unity of the empire and his own power, he declared himself to be the protégé of the Sol Invictus (the Invincible Sun) and built a magnificent temple for this god with the Palmyrene spoils. Aurelian was also sometimes officially called dominus et deus: the principate had definitely been succeeded by the dominate. In 275 Aurelian was murdered by certain officers who mistakenly believed that their lives were in danger.
If I have seen further than other men, it was because I was standing on their glasses....
(No, I didn't make that up. Don't remember the proper attribution.)
My son gave me the book "ZERO" The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, by Charles Seife.
Try it, you'll like it!!
Wow, that's a reference you don't hear that often. I've long considered Tours to be the most significant turning event in western culture. Most folks don't even know what it is. Just imagine what the world would be like without the hammer.