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Odysseus's Return From the Trojan War Dated

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the how-oddyssey dept.

Science 160

srothroc writes "Scientists have used astronomical data from the Odyssey to attempt to pinpoint the time of Odysseus's return from his eponymous journey after the Trojan War. From the article: 'The scientists then searched for potential dates that satisfied all these astronomical references close to the fall of Troy, which has over the centuries been estimated to have occurred between roughly 1250 to 1115 B.C. From these 135 years, they found just one date that satisfied all the references — April 16, 1178 B.C., the same date as the proposed eclipse.""

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phew.. (5, Funny)

agendi (684385) | more than 6 years ago | (#23912921)

I can sleep at night now.

Re:phew.. (5, Insightful)

srothroc (733160) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913067)

Well, I thought it was interesting, considering the whole "mythical" quality of the story. Don't forget that people doubted Troy was real, let alone the Trojan War, until relatively recently. With the additional verification of other (astronomical) elements of the epic as well as the phenomenon that marked his return, it lends more credence to the story as a whole as well as the existence of Odysseus himself.

What other "myths" could be somewhat verified in this manner?

As far as other myths go, don't forget that a lot of people claim that Jesus was an actual person, but in an era that had an extensive bureaucratic system and census, no record was ever made of him, and he was much, much more recent than Odysseus...

Re:phew.. (5, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913139)

Well, I thought it was interesting, considering the whole "mythical" quality of the story.


If you want to be accurate, the Trojan War is a legend, not a myth. A legend starts as a true story handed down by word of mouth, and gradually gathers additional details, incidents and other accretions before finally being written down. Behind every legend is a core of truth if you can but find it. The Voyage of the Golden Fleece, as an example, probably started out as the story of a trading and raiding expedition to the Black Sea.

A myth is an invented story created to explain how things came to be, or illustrate a moral or religious point. Thus, the myth of Persephone having to spend six months out of every year in the Underworld was an attempt to explain the changing of the seasons.

Re:phew.. (4, Insightful)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913271)

If you want to be accurate, the Trojan War is a legend, not a myth. A legend starts as a true story handed down by word of mouth, and gradually gathers additional details, incidents and other accretions before finally being written down. Behind every legend is a core of truth if you can but find it. The Voyage of the Golden Fleece, as an example, probably started out as the story of a trading and raiding expedition to the Black Sea.
Bunk. Behind every legend is a core of truth if you can but find it. -- is that supposed to be like "Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur" (that which is said in Latin sounds profound).

There is a reason the stories--myths and legends--of ancient greece are collectively called "Greek Mythology"--they are so intertwined as to be one. The distinction is largely meaningless.

I mean, by your standard, what do you do, go through each story and take a stab in the dark the story was based on something real or not? You hypothesis that Jason and the Argonauts is based on actual events while Persephone was just made up is a fine one--it's interesting, but it's a total guess, thousands of years after the fact at that!

What about myths about Heracles? Fighting with Gods, doing impossible things, yet possibly based on a real person, so is that a myth or a legend? You state that a myth is "an invented story created to explain how things came to be." Pillars of Hercules? The myth goes that massive land structures were put into place by Hercules. Is heracles a myth or legend? Or he is both?

No, there is not a "core" of truth behind every legend. Sure, some stories might be based upon actual events, some myths too. All--no.

A myth is an invented story created to explain how things came to be, or illustrate a moral or religious point. Thus, the myth of Persephone having to spend six months out of every year in the Underworld was an attempt to explain the changing of the seasons.
Completely arbitrary ... If the people telling and hearing the stories believes in all of their realities, your point is irrelevant. Do you think during the high classical age that your average hellene sat around saying "Ah, well I'll pray to Heracles for xyz, realizing that the stories of his accomplishments are based upon real events, and I'm also fully aware that Zeus is just made up to explain thunder" (or whatever).

Re:phew.. (5, Informative)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913331)

As far as the Argonauts go, I based my comments on the Afterword of Hercules, My Shipmate, by Robert Graves. He had come to the conclusion that there was a basis of fact behind the story, and wrote a fascinating book based on the idea that all the major events of the book could have happened, although not exactly in the form we know them now. (As an example, the harpies were really carrion birds, and the queen simply told her blind husband that they were supernatural creatures.) In the case of Hercules, or Herakles (I think it's spelled) to give it the Greek form, I gather that scholars now think that there were at least a dozen different men with that name who's adventures were combined. Not sure of the exact number, or of any of the details, but that's what I've heard. Just because it's called "Greek Mythology" doesn't mean that every single one of the stories is a myth; it's just a way to lump them together in one convenient group.

Technical terminology (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916281)

No, there is not a "core" of truth behind every legend. Sure, some stories might be based upon actual events, some myths too. All--no.
Very nice comment. Nonetheless scholars like to make distinction and both the words "myth" and "legend" refer to different concepts and have different meanings.

"myth" as the OP said is used to describe a story that was made up to explain why the world is the way it is.
"legend" is stories spoken (or more exactly sung) about past history. They're (very strongly) embellished retelling of (long forgotten) historical facts.

Common use doesn't make the distinction, scholars do.

It's exactly the same as the words "hypothesis" and "theory" have very specific meanings when used by a scientist, as opposed to when used by some random guy (specially if the random guy is a proponent of the "intelligent design" and "evolution is only a theory" ideologies)

Re:phew.. (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916537)

Based on the post you were replying to, it would only be a legend _if_ there were in fact a core of truth to it, otherwise it would be a myth. I believe you are looking at the argument backwards. No one is saying that a particular event must be true because it is called a legend, or not true because it is called a myth.

Finding proof that there is truth in an old myth or legend is the interesting bit. But that still says nothing about the rest of a given myth or legend, or any other myth or legend for that matter. Maybe Heracles is based in truth, maybe not. As it stands, we view it as a myth. Who knows, some day maybe information will come to light that show that it is actually based in truthful events that have become legendary over time.

Further, none of this pertains to what or why people believe certain things about these myths and legends, it simply does not matter. Where a story derives from and how it is later consumed are not necessarily directly dependent upon each other. It's also odd that you suggest that people would only ever worship something that was most assuredly _not_ based upon real events. That's overtly rational when discussing faith of any sort. Fact and faith do not have to be mutually exclusive, they can certainly occupy the same space.

Re:phew.. (5, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913839)

Actually, IIRC, there are Hittite records of a town called "steep Wilusa", which was supposed to be in western Anatolia, sounding strangely similar to "steep Ilios" from Homer's Iliad. On top of that, one recorded ruler of Wilusa had a name suprisingly similar to "Priam", and another one called "Alaksandu", which "by coincidence" nicely matches "Alexander", another name of Paris.

Strange coincidences, huh? I should probably read more of what professor Calvert Watkins has to say on this. But even now it seems that there might be some factual truth in Homer's work, even though the historical core will never lessen the "legend" part of the tale. And of course, we will probably never know whether Achilles really looked like Brad Pitt.

Re:phew.. (1)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915207)

A myth is an invented story created to explain how things came to be, or illustrate a moral or religious point. Thus, the myth of Persephone having to spend six months out of every year in the Underworld was an attempt to explain the changing of the seasons.

How dare you call my religious beliefs mythology! What's next? You're going to tell me that Apollo didn't speak to us through the Pythia?

Shame on you! May you feel the thunderbolt for your hubris!

The way I heard it... (3, Funny)

SeePage87 (923251) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916559)

The way I heard it is that memories become legend, legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.

Golden Fleece (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917391)

People -- most notably Edmund Burke -- have theorized that the Golden Fleece was sheepskin used in sluicing operations to catch gold dust, and the story is about a raid on a neighboring civilization to capture their mineral recovery technology.

Re:phew.. (5, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913233)

As far as other myths go, don't forget that a lot of people claim that Jesus was an actual person, but in an era that had an extensive bureaucratic system and census, no record was ever made of him

Wait, you forgot about the record of the execution by hanging of a guy named vaguely like him about a decade after his presumed death for wizardry. Not to mention the extensive writings of his life all written at least a couple of generations after his presumed death! I mean with evidence like that who could reasonably doubt that Jesus ever existed, son of God or not? It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to think that all (except a few heretics) of modern scholars and historians accept his historicity as a fact!

Re:phew.. (4, Informative)

AdminGamer (967203) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914997)

I love how popular it is to doubt Christianity among the geek community, as if it somehow further proves your superior intelligence over the rest of the world. Unfortunately, when you choose an argument such as this "he never existed," you're disregarding your beloved wikipedia which you'd normally jump to for a link instantly when it fit your needs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus [wikipedia.org]

It's a choice of faith whether you believe that he was anything more than a Jewish teacher.... But if you're willing to believe most of what we know of history from that period, many elements of which was gleaned from only a single source of archaeological evidence, denying his existence is a bit absurd.

Re:phew.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915333)

"denying his existence is a bit absurd"

Why so? There are absolutely no uncontested sources of Jesus' existence. On the contrary, the fact that christian writers felt it was needed to falsify the works they copied to include references to Jesus is suspect.

Re:phew.. (1)

andphi (899406) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915853)

Irony: In a post making a claim discussing historical sources and their reliability, you don't cite any sources.

Re:phew.. (1)

wazoox (1129681) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915765)

There isn't any solid evidence, period. Even the Bible doesn't make it clear, just read it, not the comments...

Re:phew.. (1)

AdminGamer (967203) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916019)

Where's your proof that any ancient historical event actually occurred? :)

We have reasonable *belief* that Julius Cesar ruled Rome. We have belief that Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, and all the others from history existed and did what we have been taught they did.

Do we have *proof*? No. No one living is witness to these people or the events they participated in.

Do we have proof the Great Pyramids were built? Why yes, we do. I'm sure more than a few people on Slashdot can personally vouch that they exist.

Discussing proof of ancient events is a tricky thing. As a Christian, I respect your right not to believe, to doubt, to challenge... I even embrace it. Unfortunately, yes, this separates me from a vast majority of those I share this faith with, and I humbly apologize for their behavior.

But if we're going to disagree, let us understand that the study of ancient history takes a lot of faith, even from the most ardent atheist. :)

Re:phew.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915145)

Wait, you forgot about the record of the execution by hanging of a guy named vaguely like him about a decade after his presumed death for wizardry. Not to mention the extensive writings of his life all written at least a couple of generations after his presumed death! I mean with evidence like that who could reasonably doubt that Jesus ever existed, son of God or not? It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to think that all (except a few heretics) of modern scholars and historians accept his historicity as a fact!

Actually there is extensive evidence in Roman writings of both his existence in life and death by crucifixion.
If you discount evidence for other historical figures in the same manner you are that of Jesus, then there is no credible evidence for the existence of Julius Ceasar or Nero, amongst a host of others.

Re:phew.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916039)


Actually there is extensive evidence in Roman writings of both his existence in life and death by crucifixion.

Nonsense. There is exactly one record about a man named something similar to "Jesus" being executed for dabbling in witchcraft. That is all. This from a culture from which tax records from simple bakers and cobblers still exist. Yet no real mention of a real menace to society like Jesus?

It was all made up years after his supposed "death".

IAARHP (I Am A Roman History Professor)

Re:phew.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916739)

IAARHP (I Am A Roman History Professor)
If you have to explain what it means, why use a one-off abbreviation? Just say it.

Re:phew.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915505)

The primary question, when assessing the historicity of Jesus, isn't whether or not the New Testament is accurate, because it probably isn't. The problem is explaining why the New Testament exists in its current form. Could it be a fraud, a deception? The fact is that there is no explanation for the New Testament which is as simple and compelling as the existence of Jesus. Occam's Razor applies.

Re:phew.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915885)

They did the same thing with the crucifixion of Jesus; they used clues from the New Testament regarding astronomical events (there was a new moon the night He died), along with Jewish Holidays mentioned, to pinpoint the exact date of Christ's crucifixion.

Re:phew.. (5, Funny)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913387)

I don't know much about verifying myths, but I have to go feed my minotaur now. He gets grumpy when adventurers don't stumble into my labyrinth.

Re:phew.. (4, Funny)

liquiddark (719647) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914945)

Is...is that a euphemism?

Re:phew.. (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915857)

I don't know much about verifying myths, but I have to go feed my minotaur now. He gets grumpy when adventurers don't stumble into my labyrinth.


Is...is that a euphemism?


Yes. And trust me, you don't want to know what "adventurers ... stumble into my labyrinth" is referencing.

Re:phew.. (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918453)

A great adventure is waiting for you ahead.

Hurry onward Lemmiwinks, for you will soon be dead.

The journey before you may be long and filled with woe.

[etc.]

Re:phew.. (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913451)

What other "myths" could be somewhat verified in this manner?

What's more interesting is the "facts" that can be disproved by proper analysis. For example, one event that millions take for granted and consider true, the birth of Jesus on a Dec 25th, is easily disproved since shepherds wouldn't have been out in their fields in December. Many other religious "facts", regardless of the religion, are similarly easy to dismiss, yet a sizeable portion of humanity still considers them to be true and base their belief system on them.

Re:phew.. (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914019)

The bible actually states that his birth wasn't December 25th. It was durring the feast of tabernacles which makes if around September 22-29th. That date is actually a date that early Christians took in his name because Christianity was outlawed at the time and they could hide the celebrations in with other festivities of the time. About 300 or so years later, some pope made it the official date because of a number of things namely the traditional hiding of his birth. Some people claim that because Luke says that Elizabeth was 6 month pregnant when Gabriel visited Mary, it would have been during Chanukkah which took place in December meaning that the conception created Jesus's soul which is also tied to reasoning behind the Christian beliefs against abortion.

Anyways, This is already explained. The Christian religion doesn't celebrate Jesus the man but yahawe emanuel (god with us) or Jesus Christ, god incarnated.

It is actually an interesting read. Although it does require a read of the bible and the ability to carry over information that you actually understand from one book to another.

Re:phew.. (0, Flamebait)

grub (11606) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914871)


Although it does require a read of the bible and the ability to carry over information that you actually understand from one book to another.

Much like how "Green Eggs and Ham" sounds like some made up stories until you carry over information from "Hop on Pop".
R

Re:phew.. (0, Troll)

aurispector (530273) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915393)

NO NO NO!!! It's from "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish"!!!

Actually, it all comes down to a matter of faith doesn't it?

Re:phew.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915603)


+1, Carlin Insightful

Re:phew.. (2, Informative)

Phroggy (441) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914069)

What's more interesting is the "facts" that can be disproved by proper analysis. For example, one event that millions take for granted and consider true, the birth of Jesus on a Dec 25th, is easily disproved since shepherds wouldn't have been out in their fields in December. Many other religious "facts", regardless of the religion, are similarly easy to dismiss, yet a sizeable portion of humanity still considers them to be true and base their belief system on them.
Note that none of the millions of people who believe Jesus was born on December 25th are well versed in what the Bible actually says, since it most definitely does not say that. In fact, nothing in the Bible suggests that we should observe Christmas as any sort of holiday at all, on any date.

Millions of people also believe that three wise men appeared alongside the shepherds in Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born. On the contrary, the Bible doesn't say how many wise men there were (only that they brought three gifts), and they didn't arrive until almost two years later.

Of course you may not believe any of this actually happened, but just because the popular story is ridiculous doesn't mean the events actually recorded in the Bible are untrue.

Re:phew.. (2, Interesting)

lilomar (1072448) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915667)

the Bible doesn't say how many wise men there were (only that they brought three gifts), and they didn't arrive until almost two years later.
Actually, the Bible lists three types of gifts, and it doesn't say that there weren't any others.
Most of the assumptions about there being three wisemen are due to the carol We Three Kings.

Re:phew.. (5, Interesting)

CNeb96 (60366) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913521)

I'm not aware of any group which denies Jesus was a real person. They may not all agree on "who" he was or the meaning of his teachings, but they agree he existed.

Here are a few resources for this
http://www.carm.org/bible/extrabiblical_accounts.htm [carm.org]

>>What other "myths" could be somewhat verified in this manner?

Like the day Jesus was crucified?

"... because with Kepler's equations we can determine exactly when historical eclipses occurred. Perhaps it will not surprise you to learn that only one Passover lunar eclipse was visible from Jerusalem while Pilate was in office (30). It occurred on April 3, 33 AD, the Day of the Cross...."

http://www.bethlehemstar.net/day/day.htm [bethlehemstar.net]

The earth quakes which occurred during Jesus's Crucifixion?

http://www.bethlehemstar.net/day/day.htm [bethlehemstar.net]

"The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood..." The gospels do recount that the sun was darkened on the day of the crucifixion from noon until 3 in the afternoon (29). Ancient non-Biblical sources confirm this. Phlegon Trallianus records in his history, Olympiades (41):

        "In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad [AD 32-33], a failure of the Sun took place greater than any previously known, and night came on at the sixth hour of the day [noon], so that stars actually appeared in the sky; and a great earthquake took place in Bithynia and overthrew the greater part of Niceaea," obviously not a simple astronomical event. (42)

Or the Star of Bethlehem? A conjunction of Jupiter and the star Regulas in 2 BC which fulfills all 9 Biblical requirements of the star of Bethlehem?

http://www.bethlehemstar.net/dance/dance.htm [bethlehemstar.net]

QUOTE
      1. It signified birth.
      2. It signified kingship.
      3. It had a connection with the Jewish nation.

      4. It rose in the east, like other stars.
      5. It appeared at a precise time.
      6. Herod didn't know when it appeared.
      7. It endured over time.
      8. It was ahead of the Magi as they went south from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.
      9. It stopped over Bethlehem. (Retrograde motion)

One point in contention is when Herod died. This theory depends on Herod dying in 1 BC, but most historians believe he died 4 BC. There is evidence for this theory but it isn't widely accepted. See the link for more details.

http://www.bethlehemstar.net/stage/stage.htm [bethlehemstar.net]

Re:phew.. (1)

CNeb96 (60366) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913633)

For the Bethlehem star research the creator of the website http://www.bethlehemstar.net/ [bethlehemstar.net] used the starry night software.

It shows the sky from any place on earth from any point in history. This should VERY useful for this type of research for only a few dollars.

http://www.starrynightstore.com/ [starrynightstore.com]

Re:phew.. (0, Flamebait)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915783)

I'm not aware of any group which denies Jesus was a real person.

That is because you, like most christians, simply deny anything that does not support your false god.

You live with your head buried in the sand so you can not hear that which disproves your bible.

Now, take your pseudo-science elsewhere.

Re:phew.. (1)

CNeb96 (60366) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917139)

>>That is because you, like most christians, simply deny anything that does not support your false god.

I made a historical argument he existed. I don't think athesists or any one else disagree with that. If you know of serious arguments on the topic which disagree with my statement post a link.

Re:phew.. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918007)

Personally, I'm waiting for DaveV2.0 to show up, but here is a relatively serious argument against a historical Jesus:

http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/jesus_myth_history.htm [rationalrevolution.net]

Blather about that article here:

http://www.reddit.com/info/1dnsg/comments [reddit.com]

Re:phew.. (-1, Flamebait)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918719)

Yeah, because you are my only little mod-stalker aren't you.

You must have one sad, pathetic life down there in your mom's basement.

Re:phew.. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23920187)

I comment far too often to get mod points.

But this is exactly the sort of thing I am talking about, you really need to relax a little.

Re:phew.. (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#23920647)

Yeah, I will relax when I don't get messages with down mods on old articles, and I do months old, not days old.

Re:phew.. (1)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917597)

So, what does the question of "did a person named Jesus exist" have to do with true or false god. That's a historical question, not a religious one.
Compared to most known "facts" from that time the new testament is actually a rather well documented piece of history, not much writing of that time was copied that much and that early. I think the oldest existing fragments date from 100 CE. As for cross-references with other writers from the relevant time period, other then the events of the last week in Jerusalem we mainly seem to deal with a guy who runs through the countryside with maybe a dozen followers. Not something that would come to notice of the typical historian of the time. And anything written later is naturally suspect due to the religious connections of the writers.

Re:phew.. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916469)

Wouldn't it be expected for a ginned up account of a fake guy to include events from real history? I mean, if you are writing a neat story and the sky gets all dark, you might think it would be neat to include that in your story.

I'm not trying real hard to argue yes or no about whether he existed, I am pointing out that the historical accuracy of parts of the Bible does little to establish its legitimacy.

Re:phew.. (1)

CNeb96 (60366) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916907)

>I'm not trying real hard to argue yes or no about whether he existed, I am pointing out that the historical accuracy of parts of the Bible does little to establish its legitimacy.

What would? I used the same line of reasoning as the article itself and no one went out of their way to argue against the article.

Re:phew.. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917549)

The article doesn't make any claims about the legitimacy of the Iliad or the Odyssey as historical documents. It simply states that there are depictions in the books that can be matched to history.

Re:phew.. (1)

ricegf (1059658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914471)

...don't forget that a lot of people claim that Jesus was an actual person...

Nobody important like you, just most historians. Per Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] : "Most scholars in the fields of biblical studies and history agree that Jesus was a Jewish teacher from Galilee who was regarded as a healer, was baptized by John the Baptist, was accused of sedition against the Roman Empire, and on the orders of Roman Governor Pontius Pilate was sentenced to death by crucifixion."

To be entirely fair, though (5, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914967)

As far as other myths go, don't forget that a lot of people claim that Jesus was an actual person, but in an era that had an extensive bureaucratic system and census, no record was ever made of him, and he was much, much more recent than Odysseus...

To be entirely fair, though:

1. Jesus seemed to have been a pretty common name back then. So basically it's like having a myth in the USA about a guy called John or in Russia about a guy called Ivan. There were plenty of Jesuses around and there are a few mentions of some unrelated ones in the chronicles. Whether one was actually the son of God or not, is a completely other issue.

2. A lot of records from that era don't exist any more, or are incomplete. Seriously, we're left scratching our heads even when it comes to such issues of state interest as what the strength of the roman legions were, at almost any given point, or what were their generals.

So assuming that you can just find out about some John Doe (for the Romans, Jesus was just another nutter executed for speaking against the emperor, not anyone special in any way,) and that you can take lack of a signal as confirmation that such a person existed, is kind of ignorant. Again, even from Rome itself we don't actually have the records of everyone they executed, and we _can't_ say that, for example, someone called Bigus Dickus never existed because we didn't find his records.

Plus that area had some bloody revolts, very soon thereafter, and some very brutal and devastating roman retaliation, followed by pretty much forced exodus at sword point. There are more than enough records that were lost in that chaos.

3. There seems to have been an interesting early sect, namely the Ebionites [wikipedia.org] , which actually had a bunch of people who knew Jesus and supposedly _relatives_ of Jesus. They actually insisted that the leadership of the church should go to the relatives of Jesus, not to Peter, which wouldn't make sense if they didn't have such among them.

The interesting thing is that they seem to have had a very different view of Christianity and Jesus than what the apostles mangled it into, and even more so than what the Byzantines later decided it should be. What we inherited as Christianity is a long series of deviations, starting with Paul who basically insisted to throw away half the old Judaism (i.e., of the Old Testament) to make the new religion more palatable to non-jews and thus easier to proselitize. The Ebionites actually called Paul an apostate.

At any rate, these guys had a much more... down to earth view of it all, and viewed Jesus as just, you know, a human. A prophet and divinely inspired, to be sure. But not the divine "superuser" that later Christianity made him into. And while a lot of information about them is lost, from what the mainstream christians said about them, it seems that these guys thought Mary was _not_ a virgin at birth, Jesus _didn't_ come back from the dead, etc. The bugger just died on the cross, like everyone else, and stayed dead.

At any rate, I'd say that a sect based on a group of his friends and relatives makes no sense at all, if he didn't exist. Or let me qualify that better: if _a_ Jesus didn't exist.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you should be a christian or anything. Note that, going by the views of, you know, those who actually knew him and didn't have to embelish the story to proselitise, he was just a guy. Maybe divinely inspired, if you want to believe that, or maybe he just got a sunstroke there in the desert or ate some funny mushrooms and had visions of what didn't actually exist, if you want to take the skeptical view. Take your pick.

I'm only saying that _a_ guy called Jesus _might_ have actually have existed and started the whole madness. Of course, we don't know for sure, but it's not too ludicrious a hypothesis, even if the evidence is less than bullet-proof. On the other hand, exactly what he was, and if he's even vaguely like what your local pastor claims, that's another story.

Re:To be entirely fair, though (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916081)

Heretic! Follow the shoe!

Re:To be entirely fair, though (1)

Hellpop (451893) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918585)

Go out and read "Behold The Man" by Michael Moorcock. A classic sci-fi novella that explores the whole "Was Christ a real man or a myth" theme. The most blasphemous thing I have ever read. I absolutely love it!

Re:To be entirely fair, though (2, Funny)

Sunshinerat (1114191) | more than 6 years ago | (#23920277)

1. Jesus seemed to have been a pretty common name back then.

Jesus... Jesus? His name is Brian...

Re:phew.. (1)

ThaReetLad (538112) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916391)

How much evidence would you expect to find for the existence of a specific first century carpenter, given his ministry was only about 3 years long? It's remarkable there is as much evidence as there is.

Re:phew.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23917093)

When you say a lot of people are you referring to the 33% of the entire world that believe in Jesus? (around 2.1 Billion) Yeah, there is no document of him. The best selling book ever written says nothing of him at all.

Re:phew.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23917847)

As far as other myths go, don't forget that a lot of people claim that Jesus was an actual person, but in an era that had an extensive bureaucratic system and census, no record was ever made of him, and he was much, much more recent than Odysseus...

You do realize that roughly 99.999999% of Roman records have not survived, don't you? The only Roman records that we have are bits and pieces collected from the sands of Egypt, considering mostly the operation of local military units. No administrative records outside of Egypt have been preserved.

Re:phew.. (1)

sgorch (632610) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919527)

>>>a lot of people claim that Jesus was an actual person, but in an era that had an extensive bureaucratic system and census, no record was ever made of him

No record, that is, other than dozens of contemporary books and letters (epistles), many of which are contained in the most published book in all of history (that would be The Bible). Many other contemporary records exist that aren't included in The Bible, including the records of Josephus and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

You can question the religion of Christianity, but to deny the existence of "records" of Jesus shows your bias and blind ignorance.

Re:phew.. (1)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913113)

And this was the first thing I read after stumbling out of bed at 2 AM cause I couldn't fall asleep.

Re:phew.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913299)

me too. wow. I feel so common.

Hummm... (1)

chaoticgeek (874438) | more than 6 years ago | (#23912931)

That is actually a cool article to read. I found it quite an interesting read.

Re:Hummm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913319)

The article? You read it?

You must be new here...

Re:Hummm... (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914381)

If you're interested in that sort of thing, try "History: Fiction or Science?" by Anatoly Fumenko.

It's a very interesting analysis of historical dating methods and how reliable (or not) they might be. Of course you have to take the book with a large pinch of salt - his theory is nothing less than all of history before about 1500 has been wrongly dated, with the result that events we consider "ancient" today actually happened in what we think of as medieval times.

He spends a lot of time taking apart eclipse dating. In particular he points out that eclipses have recurring solutions - most historical events "proven" to occur in a specific year could actually have also occurred in mediaeval times but this solution is always discarded as being obviously wrong (as it defies the conventional wisdom as to dating). Then he shows how most other historical dating methods like radiocarbon dating, tree-ring dating etc are all calibrated against each other and ultimately, against the common consensus of when things happened.

The language is a bit overly fancy but if you're interested in ancient history (or is it?) and like a good, well argued conspiracy theory, you could do worse than read this book.

what I figured! (4, Funny)

themushroom (197365) | more than 6 years ago | (#23912995)

That's how I've always felt (as an English minor)... that the stories of Homer were dated. :-D

Re:what I figured! (1)

Nasajin (967925) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913053)

Yeah, I doubt Penelope is looking much better 3 millenia down the track...

Re:what I figured! (5, Funny)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913133)

That's how I've always felt (as an English minor)... that the stories of Homer were dated.

As an English Major, it's worth pointing out that Homer's contributions to ... ah, fuckit. Just read the Derivative Works [wikipedia.org] section in the Odyssey Wiki article. You'll find everything from Dante to James Joyce to Stargate and Sponge Bob there.

For the rest of the kids, the funny word ("eponymous") used in the submission means "giving one's name to", as in Romulus gave his name to Rome. Romulus, of course was ... ah fuck that too. It happened a long time ago, before Star Trek the original TV series, even.

Re:what I figured! (3, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915529)

For the rest of the kids, the funny word ("eponymous") used in the submission means "giving one's name to", as in Romulus gave his name to Rome. Romulus, of course was ... ah fuck that too. It happened a long time ago, before Star Trek the original TV series, even.
Look, there's no need to Remus a new one over this.

pertinent quote (1)

gwniobombux (941420) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914949)

Homère est nouveau ce matin et rien n'est peut-être aussi vieux que le journal d'aujourd'hui.
(Homer is fresh this morning, and nothing is perhaps as stale as today's newspaper.)
-- Charles Péguy [wikipedia.org]

Multiple suitors are trying to marry my wife?? (1, Funny)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913039)

"Is ol' Odysseus gonna have to smack a bitch???"

Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (5, Informative)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913065)

Here's another scientist's perspective on the historicity of the Odyssey:

You will find the scene of the wanderings of Odysseus when you find the cobbler who sewed up the bag of the winds.
-- Eratosthenes

Speaking as someone who works on ancient Greek literature for a living (no, there's not all that many of us), I look forward to this group's publication of their discoveries of exactly which island the Cyclops lived on, the chemical make-up of the drug in the lotus that kept the Lotus-Eaters somnolent, and details on the god Poseidon's dietary habits.

Myths do, occasionally, have a historical basis; rarely, and only ever in a very distorted fashion; but, very occasionally, it happens. For example, discoveries in Hittite textual archives over the last few decades now have a number of people seriously contemplating the possibility that some kind of "Trojan War" may, in some distorted sense, actually have actually happened. But for a story to have its roots in an event from which it is separated by several centuries in which there was no such thing as writing ... well, why not just announce that you've found Atlantis? That kind of announcement would have pretty much the same relationship between myth and historicity.

In addition, the "darkening of the sky" bit that they quote comes in the middle of an episode where a seer is having a vision of blood running down the walls. If you're going to look for historically verifiable events, why not look at events that the poem describes as actually happening? -- a hallucination isn't really a very convincing candidate.

Plutarch suggested the prophecy of Theoclymenus referred to a solar eclipse.

Plutarch also thought that Odysseus visited a goddess named Calypso who lived on an island in the Atlantic Ocean, in the middle of a sea enclosed by a horseshoe-shaped continent. It's just not easy to have much confidence in him when he's talking about subjects about which he clearly doesn't have a clue.

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913109)

The darkening of the sky bit is dubious, yes, but if you look at the article, they used other references to astronomical phenomenon to narrow it down, rather than going from that one dubious interpretation. It seems telling (to me, at least), that all of those phenomenon PLUS an eclipse can be dated to a time that fits when the story is guessed to have taken place.

Plutarch may have thought some nutty things, but he also thought some good things. I'm sure you can say that about anyone. For a specific and more recent example, look no further than the article on Bucknminster Fuller that was linked the other day.

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (3, Insightful)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913191)

That is true; I had seen another article earlier today, which didn't mention the bit about the fact that it was a new moon. So that part of the story is new to me, and it does mitigate my annoyance quite a bit.

I'm not very convinced, though. The other references they draw on are much more problematic: it has been known for a loooong time that the internal chronology of the Odyssey is a complete mess. For that reason I wouldn't put any stock in the bit about

Odysseus is told to watch the Pleiades and late-setting Bootes and keep the Great Bear to his left. Next, five days before the supposed eclipse, Odysseus arrives in Ithaca as the Star of Dawn -- that is, Venus -- rises ahead of the sun.

Still, the new moon thing is of interest. Not enough to convince me, but enough to get me to actually pay attention to their findings if I ever manage to find out where they're publishing them.

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (1)

turtledawn (149719) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917787)

June 23, 2008 online proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (American, presumably). Authors are Marcelo O. Magnasco, Rockefeller University New York and Constantino Baikouzis, Astronomical Observatory, La Plata, Argentina.

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23918771)

Well, it states where they were published at the end of the article: "Magnasco and Baikouzis detailed their findings online June 23 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

The abstract is here [pnas.org] , but you (or your academic institution) will need a subscription to access the full text.

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (2, Insightful)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913153)

But for a story to have its roots in an event from which it is separated by several centuries in which there was no such thing as writing ... well, why not just announce that you've found Atlantis? That kind of announcement would have pretty much the same relationship between myth and historicity.
Oh, come on, that's not fair. The Mycenaean and Hellenic peoples were two ends of the same culture, and the Greek Dark Age was only, what, four or five centuries long? It's really not that implausible that the story could have been preserved that long (at the most, remember - no telling when in the dark age Homer composed), especially given that it was regularly memorized in its entirety by students in the Hellenic period. Atlantis is a random children's story that got lost, then blown out of proportion. Not the same thing.

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (4, Interesting)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913277)

Oh, come on, that's not fair. The Mycenaean and Hellenic peoples were two ends of the same culture, and the Greek Dark Age was only, what, four or five centuries long? It's really not that implausible that the story could have been preserved that long (at the most, remember - no telling when in the dark age Homer composed),

It's possible, but it can't be the default position. Present-day oral traditions observed (and recorded) "in the wild" show that retellings of stories change drastically from generation to generation, not just from century to century. It's possible for isolated historical references to survive that kind of dilution, to be sure, and there are plenty of cases in Homer (though almost all in the Iliad); but they tend to get overwhelmed by the changes introduced by storytellers desire to (a) innovate, (b) keep their audiences in suspense, (c) cater to a specific audience (if you're a bard in an Athenian court, you're not going to tell stories that reflect badly on Theseus), and (d) several other factors which slip my mind right now but which you can read about in e.g. the anthropologist Walter Ong's book Orality and Literacy (not very up-to-date, but a popular one).

The upshot of that is that you don't scour literary texts with an agenda. As with any scientific enterprise, you keep your eyes open for out-of-the-ordinary correlations and then investigate. Solar eclipses in conjunction with a new moon are possibly enough to make it worth investigating this one, as I've admitted in a post above.

especially given that it was regularly memorized in its entirety by students in the Hellenic period.

(I'd better interrupt to state for the record that it is known for certain that memorising Homer could only have become part of aristocratic Athenian education around 500 BCE at the earliest.)

Atlantis is a random children's story that got lost, then blown out of proportion. Not the same thing.

Not really. The Atlantis story is one told by a late-Classical-Period author (Plato), with explicit claims that it is derived from a millennia-old tradition preserved by Egyptian texts. If anything, the Atlantis story has more extrinsic plausibility than this one!

In view of the conjunction with a new moon I'll retract some of my earlier scorn, but I'll still side with Eratosthenes when it comes to euhemerising myths. Which is really what these folks are doing: they're modern-day euhemerists [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (1)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913391)

It's possible, but it can't be the default position.
It's not the default position, though. Schliemann was laughed at, and people didn't give the idea of a historical Trojan War serious credence until the independent evidence from the Hittite tablets. Only then did scholars start looking for serious correlating evidence from other Mycenaean sites.

Disclaimer: A majority of my knowledge of this subject is from a single source: Michael Wood's In Search of the Trojan War (which I don't remember perfectly anymore).

Present-day oral traditions observed (and recorded) "in the wild" show that retellings of stories change drastically from generation to generation, not just from century to century.
I don't doubt that you know much more about this than me, but isn't it different with poetry? Poems can't be easily changed in the retelling except by a poet, without damaging the meter.

Not really. The Atlantis story is one told by a late-Classical-Period author (Plato), with explicit claims that it is derived from a millennia-old tradition preserved by Egyptian texts. If anything, the Atlantis story has more extrinsic plausibility than this one!
Yes, well... that's what I meant to type. It just came out wrong.

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (5, Interesting)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913541)

It's not the default position, though. Schliemann was laughed at, and people didn't give the idea of a historical Trojan War serious credence until the independent evidence from the Hittite tablets. Only then did scholars start looking for serious correlating evidence from other Mycenaean sites.

There was still a lot of scepticism around until relatively recently, yes -- heck, there's still a lot even now (among historians; not so much scepticism among archaeologists). Plenty of people accepted Schliemann's discovery as the finding of Troy, mind you. But it's worth remembering that Schliemann thought Troy II was "Homeric" Troy -- it's now known that that archaeological layer is about 2000 years too early. That doesn't diminish the importance of the find, but it does show that Schliemann himself was a bit over-eager with his own agenda. The question of burden of proof can be a tricky one sometimes, though.

I don't doubt that you know much more about this than me, but isn't it different with poetry? Poems can't be easily changed in the retelling except by a poet, without damaging the meter.

Question of the century -- literally. Actually it turns out that narrative poems are particularly prone to certain types of changes, because -- at least in pre-classical Greece -- they're not recited by rote. There's overwhelming evidence that early Greek epics were re-told using an enormous set of conventions (formulaic language, typical scenes, typical plot elements); so stories were driven partly by how the story is known to go, partly by the individual storyteller's creative imagination, and partly by these conventions. Basically, what we now refer to as "poetry" was for an early Greek poet "the special kind of language that you use for telling certain stories and which happens to come out in good meter almost automatically". This was one of the big discoveries of the 20th century about Homer, though a lot of people are still bewildered at the implications.

One implication, though, is that there are at least two forces at work that are actively pressuring changes in each re-telling of a story. One is the poet's creative imagination. Another is the very conventions of the poetic language. Suppose Odysseus meets a young woman on his way to someone's house; well, it so happens that that's an element in one kind of conventional story episode. That puts a tiny amount of temptation in the storyteller's way to put in the next conventional element, which happens to be encountering a dog or dogs at the entrance of the house. The pressure may be minuscule, but if you've got centuries of iterations ...

If you're interested in finding out more I recommend Albert Lord's book The Singer of Tales. A good fictional spin on the subject is a novel by the Albanian writer Ismail Kadare called The File on H. They're both good reads.

(Before I sign off I'd better correct something I put in my earlier post -- memorising Homer could have been part of Athenian education as early as 550 BCE.)

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23914385)

Actually it turns out that narrative poems are particularly prone to certain types of changes, because -- at least in pre-classical Greece -- they're not recited by rote. There's overwhelming evidence that early Greek epics were re-told using an enormous set of conventions (formulaic language, typical scenes, typical plot elements); so stories were driven partly by how the story is known to go, partly by the individual storyteller's creative imagination, and partly by these conventions. Basically, what we now refer to as "poetry" was for an early Greek poet "the special kind of language that you use for telling certain stories and which happens to come out in good meter almost automatically".

The poets were professionals who went from house to house, village to village, to entertain people. They were paid for exciting stories. The poetic form helped the poets memorize the long stories but didn't prevent them from adding new verses for better pay.

This is stated directly in the
introductory poem [sacred-texts.com] of the Finnish epic the Kalevala:

Let me sing an old-time legend,

That shall echo forth the praises

Of the beer that I have tasted,

Of the sparkling beer of barley.

Bring to me a foaming goblet

Of the barley of my fathers,

Lest my singing grow too weary,

Singing from the water only.

Bring me too a cup of strong-beer,

It will add to our enchantment,

To the pleasure of the evening,

Northland's long and dreary evening,

For the beauty of the day-dawn,

For the pleasure of the morning,

The beginning of the new-day.

The Finnish original is even more direct: the better you feed me, the longer the story.

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (1)

hey hey hey (659173) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918739)

There's overwhelming evidence that early Greek epics were re-told using an enormous set of conventions

While I believe you, can you tell us what this overwhelming evidence is? I'm actually curious where we get evidence of social and commercial interaction that doesn't leave a physical by-product from 3,000 years ago.

Have we found instruction books? Fragments of private notes? Historians describing how storytellers attracted customers in their towns? Other things? How do we weigh what the evidence seems to say (say a book of instructions for young storytellers) versus reality (the books might have been ignored)? Thanks,

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23914917)

Hmm, Atlantis has always puzzled me as a concept...

Namely because everytime I hear about it I immediately think about old Mexico City... Maybe I've only seen the kid's versions of these stories...

~Jorophose (haha I forgot my password)

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (5, Informative)

sfsp (655361) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914953)

Petrushka opined,

"Solar eclipses in conjunction with a new moon are possibly enough to make it worth investigating this one..."

No, not really. Solar eclipses ALWAYS happen at the same time as the new moon. However, the fact that Mercury went retrograde 34 days before, as mentioned in the text of the poem; at the same season that Bootes is setting and the Pleiades are visible, as mentioned in the text of the poem; and that Venus is visible in the morning, as mentioned in the text of the poem; and that the sun is eclipsed, as mentioned in the text of the poem; and it ALL JUST HAPPENS to occur around the most probable estimate of the historical date of the events--THAT is what makes this worth investigating.

There is evidence of significant historical details being preserved in oral tradition. This might be one example.

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (2, Insightful)

nicomachus (185745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916139)

sfsp said:

"There is evidence of significant historical details being preserved in oral tradition. This might be one example."

Maybe, but I'd like to see exactly what texts in the Odyssey the authors get their numbers of days from. For example, Homer most certainly does not say "Mercury was in retrograde motion 34 days before" or anything like it. The authors instead rely on a story about the god Hermes (= Roman Mercury, but of course identified by the Greeks with the planet Mercury) going from west to east and then back from east to west. We need to supply a lot of interpretation to see this as a reference to an episode of retrograde motion (i.e. relative east-to-west motion with respect to the background of fixed stars).

For the inner planets, and especially Mercury, you can't directly observe an entire east-to-west (or west-to-east) swing, since in the middle the planet's too close to the sun to be observed. What you actually see is (1) planet visible in the morning, before the sun, (2) planet appears closer to sun on successive mornings, (3) planet no longer visible for a succession of days, (4) planet visible in the evening, just before sunset, (5) planet moves farther from the sun on successive evenings, (6) planet moves back towards the sun on successive evenings, (7) planet no longer visible for a while, (8) planet visible in the morning just before the sun, (9) repeat. To get a reference to this out of a story about Hermes delivering a message to someone in the west and then coming back requires some genuine interpretive argument.

It may well be that the authors of the article (i.e. Magnasco and Baikouzis, the authors of the article discussed in the MSNBC article linked to this current thread) have supplied enough argument to make their case for this. However, I can't tell, because their article isn't available to me (it's in PNAS [pnas.org] for June 23, and my institution's online subscription only shows the June 17 issue as available. I'll check it out when it goes online.

Incidentally, the MSNBC summary appears to have been written by someone with little familiarity with naked-eye astronomy. And as others have pointed out, there's absolutely nothing surprising about a solar eclipse happening at the time of the new moon, since that's the only time it could possibly happen (but the fact that the proposed eclipse is located at new moon in the Odyssey may be evidence that, at the very least, someone somewhere along the line of transmission had actually seen a solar eclipse and remembered that it happened at the time of a new moon--a natural thing to remember for ancient Mediterranean societies, which used the moon as a short-range calendar).

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916993)

Petrushka opined,

"Solar eclipses in conjunction with a new moon are possibly enough to make it worth investigating this one..."

No, not really. Solar eclipses ALWAYS happen at the same time as the new moon. However, the fact that Mercury went retrograde 34 days before, as mentioned in the text of the poem; at the same season that Bootes is setting and the Pleiades are visible, as mentioned in the text of the poem; and that Venus is visible in the morning, as mentioned in the text of the poem; and that the sun is eclipsed, as mentioned in the text of the poem; and it ALL JUST HAPPENS to occur around the most probable estimate of the historical date of the events--THAT is what makes this worth investigating.

There is evidence of significant historical details being preserved in oral tradition. This might be one example.

Those things were only mentioned in the Odyssey as much as WWII and George Bush were mentioned in Nostradamus. The authors take extreme liberty in interpreting the Odyssey in order to make their "prediction" work. This is nothing that numerologists, astrologers, and psychics don't do every day. The Odyssey doesn't mention Mercury going retrograde, nor does it imply that an eclipse happened outside of a vision.

Let's just throw this on the trash-heap of art/science theories that only appeal to the ignorant, along with all the eye-doctor-written "myopia is the only reason XXX impressionist wasn't a realist" papers.

about Atlantis - Thera/Santorini eruption (2, Interesting)

vlad_petric (94134) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913165)

I thought that the Thera/Santorini epic eruption is a cataclysm that could well be associated with the fall of Atlantis (after all, it marked the beginning of the end for the Minoan civilization).

It was a couple of times larger than Krakatoa/1883 (albeit smaller than Tambora/1815)

Re:about Atlantis - Thera/Santorini eruption (2, Informative)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913295)

The main issue with the Atlantis story is that (a) Plato invented it himself, and (b) he dates it to about 9400 BCE if I recall correctly -- which would be around about the same time that we first see Neolithic humans in Greece. (I'm sure there's a standard excuse Atlantis-hunters use to explain the latter point, though.)

Re:about Atlantis - Thera/Santorini eruption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913971)

I'm sure there's a standard excuse Atlantis-hunters use to explain the latter point, though.
"Plato's just testing our faith!"

Uh, they've already found Atlantis (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913665)

Hey, with ample funding from the Cyprus Tourism Organization, you'd find Atlantis [discoveryofatlantis.com] too!

Speaking as someone who works on ancient Greek literature for a living (no, there's not all that many of us)...

And there won't be that many of you if you keep replying to /. instead of working on that dissertation. And I question whether "Actually have actually happened" is an appropriate rendition. I'm guessing the original had some form of wordplay on entelecheia/energeia that's not been rendered properly.

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915349)

There's at least 5 of us on Slashdot, by my count. I think one of them was Ross Scaife, though, so that may now be 4.

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (1)

nanoakron (234907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916367)

Hmm...somnolence after ingesting a drug from a plant that looks like a lotus?

Could that possibly be opium? Growing freely in the fields of the near and middle east and certainly within trading range of the ancient peoples of Egypt and Greece?

Horseshoe-shaped continent a couple of thousand years ago? Could that be a misinterpretation of the mediterranean coast's geography at the time?

And just for kicks, I'm not going to end on an ad hominem.

Re:Are they going to look for Atlantis next? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919879)

Well the Gulf of Mexico is pretty horseshoe shaped, and there's lots of islands in the horseshoe.

I can't be the first person to notice this -- someone saw fit to name the national music of Trinidad & Tabago "Calypso". There's a lot of stories about seafarers getting lost in storms and most of those that show some semblance of a reference to the Americas have realistic timescale for travelling the trade winds across the Atlantic.

How long was Ulysses away from home...?

HAL

What we really want to know is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913075)

Have these same scientists found Aeaea or Mt. Olympus? I'd really love to make the acquaintance of Circe or Aphrodite.

Re:What we really want to know is (4, Informative)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913157)

Ummm, you know, Mount Olympos is a real mountain. It's right here [google.co.nz] ...

As for Circe, in Italian myth (by which I guess I mean Etruscan myth) she was thought to live on a cape on the west coast of Italy, about halfway between Rome and Naples, which is still called Monte Circeo [google.co.nz] . I think Circe may have left by now, though.

Re:What we really want to know is (2, Informative)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913161)

Have these same scientists found Aeaea or Mt. Olympus?


I don't know about Aeaea, but I do know that Mt. Olympus [wikipedia.org] is a real mountain, and the highest one in Greece.

Next Step (1, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913077)

With all this new info, perhaps now they can finally find his fossilized poop.

Totally undecided: (0, Redundant)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913095)

Part of me wants to make a snide comment about the usefulness of this, part of me thinks that it is pretty cool that they could find this sort of stuff out and "discover" it so long after it had been written and the times and dates were erased into history.

Overall, I guess it's quite cool - even if it doesn't have a direct impact on my life.

Damn (2, Funny)

MrCreosote (34188) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913147)

I had March 25th in the sweep.

Gondor New Year? (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916791)

Is that a hidden Lord of the Rings joke?

In the year 5028... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913327)

Resurrection of Dinosaurs Dated. Scientists have thoroughly examined the fashion styles of individuals in the documentary Jurassic Park, and have dated the first reincarnations of dinosaurs to approximately 1700 A.D.

Re:In the year 5028... (1)

tpz (1137081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916711)

Funny yes, but should be modded even higher still as Insightful. This tiny AC post puts the entire article into far more context than any of the longer posts rated higher than this and/or as Insightful.

The events that resulted in the calculated date of April 16, 1178 B.C. may very well have happened and been handed down accurately over the ages during the telling of the story, but that fact couldn't even be used to reliably date the origin of the story, let alone make it any more factual than the events in Jurassic Park.

Decade AFTER (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913783)

From TFA:
"about noon on April 16, 1178 B.C., and would have coincided roughly a decade before the most often cited estimate for the sack of Troy â" about 1190 B.C."

Isn't 1178 BC about a decade AFTER 1190 BC??? And thus making the scientists not look like fools...

Re:Decade AFTER (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918411)

Yeah, the reporter is bad at math and/or communication skills.

Also, Homer did not live 100 years after the Trojan War, unless they've totally altered the chronology since I took Greek Archeology in college (8 years ago). It was more like 500 or 600 years.

my birthday! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913973)

c'mon guys you think im going to fall for the 'ol it happened on my birthday routine. not that much ever happens on April 16th.

Ha ha (0, Flamebait)

grub (11606) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914855)


They still haven't found a shred of evidence for Jesus or his magic tricks but much older things? No problem.

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