I was just tooling around the Interwebs trying as usual to find something interesting to post and I kept coming up blank on some topics due to the
lack of evidence. Now I know for a fact that Museums, Private collectors, Religious organizations and or Governments have certain Relics/Ancient
documents locked away from the General public for various reasons known only but to them.
This isn't about them however. [We all know how unfortunate that story is] I'm talking about the loss of great works of art, Historical records and
simply put mans collective greed which has robbed modern mans rightful knowledge of historical events and context. Let me begin by saying I'm not
trying to single out any one group. This is a travesty which has been perpetrated on humankind by all comers. Either due to Religious, Political and
or Cultural bias.
I'm sure many of you have your own favorite historical pet peeves. I'll take aim at a few main ones on my proverbial fecal matter list.
Let's begin with the sacking and destruction of the Library of Alexandria...
Library of Alexandria
The Alexandrian library and museum were founded and maintained by the long succession of Ptolemies in Egypt from the beginning of the 3rd century
bc. The library’s initial organization was the work of Demetrius of Phaleron, who was familiar with the achievements of the library at Athens. Both
the museum and the library were organized in faculties, with a president-priest at the head and the salaries of the staff paid by the Egyptian king. A
subsidiary “daughter library” was established about 235 bc by Ptolemy III (Euergetes) in the Temple of Serapis
There is just no telling the amount of ancient historic documents and art that were lost by the time the whole destructive process ended. We can sit
around and discuss the main culprits but that wont solve a thing. The fact remains history and mankind lost some of the greatest sources on ancient
knowledge and wisdom IMO. The total sum lost will never be recovered. The other day I was sitting with an older friend of mine. Enjoying a cup of
coffee. He is a Doctor of internal medicine soon to be retired. We both enjoy the topic of ancient and early man. He has scheduled a world tour to see
many of the places I've only read about. Yes, I am envious.
He and I rarely see eye to eye on many topics but on this occasion he relented and said...
"I was thinking about what you said the other day about the loss of ancient knowledge due to wars, natural disaster and sheer ignorance. You are right
when you said that the modern world has a hard enough time trying to gain an accurate understanding of the last 2,000 years not to mention the
preceding 4 to 6 thousand years before that."
What the Doctor and I were debating/discussing was the question of just how accurate our historical records are? Sure, they are perceived as being
closely accurate but as many of us know. The victor often writes the history of events. But what happens when all we are left with are tattered
remnants? The Library of Alexander was built to warehouse the knowledge and works [Among other things] of what they perceived as being "Ancient" in
the 3rd century BC. Now, stop and think about that for a second.
We have Maps and other ancient artifacts that have survived through mostly blind luck to the present day. However, what isn't widely known is that
when a ship or travelers pulled into port. Oftentimes their maps and documents were confiscated and copied. Most of the originals taken from them were
kept as Library property and the [Lower Quality and less accurate] copies were then returned to the ships/rightful owners. Which brings us to the
modern era. Sure, Our two thousand year old documents are old I wonder how many of those are simply inaccurate copies of copies etc. AND how much
older and more accurate were those lost documents from the Library which are no longer with us were?
The next Item on my hit list are the destroyed Pre-Colombian Codex/Codecs of Central America...
l and Aztec Codex
Aztec codices were less pictorially complex than Mixtec manuscripts, even though the Aztecs had learned bookmaking from the Mixtecs. No original
Aztec manuscript has survived that does not show European influence. The Codex Borbonicus is thought to be the only one whose style matches the
pre-Conquest Náhuatl style, nevertheless it is considered to be a colonial copy.
Aztec codices were burned by the Spaniards for their pagan religious content, and by Aztec kings in an effort to rewrite their history. The codices
dealt with divination, ceremonies, the ritual calendar, and speculations about the gods and the universe. The sacred books were painted on deerskin or
agave-fiber paper using a combination of pictography, ideograms, and phonetic symbols. Later colonial codices influenced by the Spanish depict
chronicles of native Mexicans with Latin script either in Náhuatl or in Spanish.
Here again we have a destruction of irreplaceable knowledge and wisdom but this time IMO it is worse. This was done to a people and their history who
were supposedly not influenced by the old world. [Some would debate that] they had their own unique language, view of the world and of history. Lost
forever. We only have a precious few survive to this day. I wish I could have understood the writing and had access to what their perception of the
world, History and of sciences were etc.
One wonders what stories they told and what if any prehistoric tales that were originally passed down via word of mouth through their ancient oral
traditions which later may have made it into Codex as a form of what they then perceived as a permanent record. Which was later tossed so carelessly
into a fire. Lost for all eternity. We do have some idea of how they lived, who or what they worshiped etc. But again. How accurate are we?
The point here is that we will never know with 100% accuracy what exactly was lost! If we are to learn from our mistakes we should keep accurate
records so as not to repeat those mistakes. Yes, it is as simple as that.
Another one that gets under my skin is the lost treasure of the New world...
Pre-Columbian (Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico)
Pre-Columbian gold is the broad description for gold ornaments made in Central and South America prior to Columbus' discovery of the New World in
1492. Actually, it embraces the work of many cultures in the region over a period of almost three thousand years from 1500 BC to 1500 AD. Thus, the
Chavin, Nasca, Sican, Chimú and Inca cultures in Peru, the Canar in Ecuador, the Calima, Tolima, Muisca and Zenu in Colombia, the Cocle in Panama and
the Diquis in Costa Rica, all produced gold treasures at different or overlapping dates. Even the Mixtec people in Mexico, although not always listed
with Pre-Columbian, made wonderful ornaments. Everywhere they were made with reverence for the metal; gold was 'the sweat of the sun', while silver
was 'the tears of the moon'. The craftsmanship of working gold was highly valued.
What unites Pre-Columbian ornaments is the distinctive verve and style with which they were made by the ancient goldsmiths of the Americas. They
fashioned birds (delightful owls with hooded eyes), fish, frogs, turtles, alligators, shells, lizards, armadillos, monkeys, deer, jaguars, mosquitoes,
and flowers. Their human figures were of musicians or women with children in their arms or a man with a drum in one hand and what might be the tail of
a snake clenched between his teeth. Head-dresses had golden feathers to which real birds' plumage was attached. Gold masks of great expressiveness
were sculpted. The goldsmiths' understanding of a sophisticated metal-working embraced the technologies of alloys, filigree, granulation, lost-wax
casting and gold plating, all developed independently in almost parallel timescale with the Mediterranean world and Asia. Indeed, what Pre-Columbian
gold demonstrates is how goldsmiths on different continents, with no knowledge of each other, evolved the same techniques for working gold.
The tragedy is that much of the gold went into the melting pot once the Spanish conquered the region after 1500, for they had little concern for
ornaments of what they saw as pagan people. But enough treasures have survived, and are still excavated from ancient graves even today, to give us a
glimpse of the way it was.
In this case it's in the form of Gold. We have all heard and read stories of Spanish galleons going down in a storm forever losing their booty of Gold
and Silver to the sea etc...
But here again. I stop and think about where a large percentage of that Gold and Silver came from. Sure, there were gold and silver mines that were
later mined when more was demanded. It's important to note that the earliest shipments of Gold and Silver however came from the melting down of
ancient artifacts that were presented as both Gifts and Bribes from the indigenous peoples of the new world to the invading Spaniards and those who
followed in their search for wealth.
If what is left to us now in museums are only a small sampling of their talents/knowledge one cant help but think about all the great craftsmanship
that may have gone into others that were simply melted down and poured into Gold coins and or Bars for easy transportation and later commerce.
Theoretically speaking anyone of you who are reading this and wearing a wedding band or Gold/Silver jewelry etc are possibly wearing a tiny remnant of
pre-columbian Inca/Mayan/Aztec Gold.
So how about you? Have anything in our collective history you wish you knew more about but doubt we'll ever find out? I wish I could travel back in
time and watch how the Great pyramids were built and ask why?
Keep in mind that this isn't just a "New World vs Old World" issue. Need I remind the reader of how the Taliban blew up the Ancient Buddha statue
fairly recently because it simply didn't fit with their current version of Islam? I wonder how many "Rosetta-stone" types of archeological finds have
been destroyed through ignorance that we may never know of? How about when we do decipher some ancient writings how many of those are scoffed at as
simply being fanciful "Stories and or ancient fiction" instead of a possibly accurate historical record of ancient knowledge and or events?
Modern man should IMHO be a bit more humble, modest and open minded about a possible unknown and or lost history.
It was possibly all there at one time in those now lost/destroyed historical records and or artifacts.
Having read this, You don't suppose that man could have once upon a time
once upon a time
once upon a time...
edit on 9-6-2011 by SLAYER69 because: (no reason given)