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Author Topic:   Research for a book - Survey of various dating methods
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 1 of 82 (595692)
12-09-2010 9:55 PM


I'm doing research for a book on the origin of civilization, and I'd like some assistance on what dating techniques I should cover in summary in my book. Let me explain what I need.

After being raised by two parents who are both Christian but come from completely different perspectives (one is Catholic and the other one is part of a Sabbath-keeping group), I've come to the conclusion that just because someone says they're right, doesn't make them right. One of the main issues I've questioned over the years is the fundamentalist view that the earth is 6,000 years old, or the common alternative that there was a worldwide flood 6,000 years ago, before which the dinosaurs existed.

Because of my background, and because I've done a LOT of research into ancient history and comparative religion, I've come to the conclusion that Genesis 1-3 was never meant to be literal. (Other creation literature wasn't meant to be taken literally either, such as the creation literature of ancient Egypt or Sumer/Babylon.) I have a very good idea of what it *was* supposed to mean, but that's a topic for a different forum and another time.

My book is intended to take modern social issues, like terrorism and peace in the Middle East, etc., and look at them from the perspective of 6,000 years ago, at the dawn of civilization, and before the concept of the monotheistic god got split up into the three main monotheistic religions -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The first thing I'll discuss about in my book is what Genesis 1-3 actually meant. But then I want to go on to explore what happened *before* Genesis, in order to give a good, solid background for exploring the two contemporary cultures that existed at the time of the Garden of Eden: Sumer and Egypt. Afterwards, I'll tie it all together and examine the social issues I started off the book with, in the context of a very simple but profound view of God and of ethical behavior vs. moral confusion, as espoused by the biblical Creation story.

In any case, in order to do this second part of the book justice, I need to be able to briefly address the issues that YECs have with the various dating methods commonly used.

One of the aspects I'd like to cover is how astronomy and astronomical events/synchronisms can be used for dating purposes. For instance, according to "The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes" by Richard Firestone, Allen West, and Simon Warwick-Smith, there's abundant evidence for a supernova that exploded only about 200 light years from earth around 41,000 years ago. This event caused major damage and both directly and indirectly affected life on earth, climate, etc., when the initial radiation burst hit around 41,000 years ago, again when the shock wave hit around 33,000 years ago, and finally when the debris cloud from the supernova hit the solar system around 13,000 years ago. I'd like to explore synchronizing astronomical events like this one to more common dating methods like radiocarbon dating.

I've already looked through some of the material that's already been written on this forum to explain how C-14 dating works, dendrochronology, varves, etc., and it's all really good stuff. My question isn't so much *how* each dating method works (although that will eventually be helpful as well), but rather *what* would be best to cover.

Finally, my hope is that my book will be able to bridge the gap between those of a religious perspective (mainly geared towards the monotheistic religions, though) and those of a scientific perspective, as I think science and religion have been needlessly set against one another when there are much more important issues to focus on.

{I've used the [blockcolor=white] code to white out a big chuck of text. This material is pretty much all background information that I believe to be outside of the real topic theme. Certainly, read that whited out material via highlighting it (dragging your mouse cursor across it), but be very cautious about commenting on that content. - Adminnemooseus}

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Added the "Research for a book -" part to the topic title. Also [blockcolor=white]ed a big chunk of material and added related comment.


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by Adminnemooseus, posted 12-09-2010 11:16 PM damoncasale has not yet responded
 Message 4 by Coyote, posted 12-10-2010 12:16 AM damoncasale has responded
 Message 6 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-10-2010 12:54 AM damoncasale has responded

  
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 5 of 82 (595703)
12-10-2010 12:31 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Coyote
12-10-2010 12:16 AM


Re: Radiocarbon dating
Although this is helpful, I had already come across similar material that had already been posted on the forum.

Again, what I'm mainly looking for isn't so much *how* these dating methods work, but *which* dating methods I should focus on, since I'm quite prepared to do the research into the "how" for my book. (And including radiocarbon dating is a given, of course.) I've read about quite a number of them (thermoluminescence, archaeomagnetic dating, amino acid dating, etc.) but my question is actually more about which dating methods would give a good general sampling of what's out there. I don't know what's commonly used, what dating methods only have specific applications, etc. I'm ordering a book on different dating methods through interlibrary loan (see link below), but I'd rather not just rely on one source.

http://www.amazon.com/...al-Science/dp/0306457156/ref=sr_1_1

Does my question make more sense now?

BTW, anyone who wants to comment on the whited out portion of the post can message me privately. Well, either that or start another thread in the appropriate forum.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Coyote, posted 12-10-2010 12:16 AM Coyote has not yet responded

  
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 8 of 82 (595744)
12-10-2010 8:44 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Dr Adequate
12-10-2010 12:54 AM


For instance, according to "The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes" by Richard Firestone, Allen West, and Simon Warwick-Smith, there's abundant evidence for a supernova that exploded only about 200 light years from earth around 41,000 years ago. This event caused major damage and both directly and indirectly affected life on earth, climate, etc., when the initial radiation burst hit around 41,000 years ago, again when the shock wave hit around 33,000 years ago, and finally when the debris cloud from the supernova hit the solar system around 13,000 years ago.

The trouble is that this has garnered nothing but disdain from the wider scientific community. In fact it's hard to find anyone who likes this idea except the people who thought of it.

I've already responded to this via PM, but in an attempt to stay on topic in the forum, let me ask this. What astronomical dating methods -- if any -- do scientists normally use for purposes of dating?

I already know that astronomical synchronisms are generally out. For example, attempts to date the Great Pyramid of Giza using astronomical alignments with stars have resulted in construction dates of 4370 BC and 2430 BC, to name two that I can remember offhand. (Sorry, don't have sources handy, but I read one in a magazine recently.) Unless we know beforehand what star the builders of whatever structure, menhir, or whatever meant to align it to, then this is a completely unreliable dating method. But are there any reliable ones, even ones that only have applications to specific situations?

Damon
PS. Is there a "reply with quote" feature on this forum, or do I just have to manually copy and paste the pseudo-HTML from a previous post and edit it for quotation?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-10-2010 12:54 AM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-10-2010 9:06 AM damoncasale has responded
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 Message 34 by Taq, posted 12-10-2010 1:12 PM damoncasale has responded

  
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 12 of 82 (595752)
12-10-2010 9:31 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Dr Adequate
12-10-2010 9:06 AM


Ah, yes, Hancock's method.

(1) Assume without proof that the builders of ancient monuments were trying to build star maps.
(2) Assume without proof that they did so correctly.
(3) Conclude that therefore they built correct star maps.
(4) Observe that they did not build star maps that are correct for any time within the last 100,000 years.
(5) Conclude that they built them more than 100,000 years ago.
(6) Observe that they wouldn't have been correct even then.
(7) Conclude that they weren't building correct star maps, so that's not a problem.

Umm...have you heard of the planisphere that was discovered in Mesopotamia? (Tablet K8538 in the British Museum in London.) It basically showed that ancient peoples were using constellations to represent places on Earth. So having Orion represent Egypt -- however accurately or inaccurately the pyramids were built to match the stars of Orion -- isn't exactly far-fetched.

Willem Zitman, in his book "Egypt: Image of Heaven" posited that the ancient Egyptians used astronomical symbolism in their Creation mythology to explain where it was they had originally come from. Tracing the evidence back, Zitman arrives at a site in northeastern Africa, at paleo lake Chad, where pottery shards carbon-dated to 8500 BC (!) were found, along with rock art which seems to correspond to predynastic Egyptian motifs.

I don't want to diverge too far from the topic at hand, but I was planning on including this material in my book, as part of the investigation of what happened prior to Genesis 1-3. Nevertheless, I'm still looking for any kind of archaeo-astronomical dating methods that might possibly be used to date prehistoric artifacts and events. (Things like the eclipse observations of ancient Babylon, I already know about, but those don't really help me to understand the time period in question -- from roughly 3500 BC back to the end of the last Ice Age, and even before if it's had an impact on later human civilization.)

Damon


This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-10-2010 9:06 AM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by jar, posted 12-10-2010 9:50 AM damoncasale has responded
 Message 19 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-10-2010 10:41 AM damoncasale has not yet responded
 Message 21 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-10-2010 10:52 AM damoncasale has responded
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damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 14 of 82 (595757)
12-10-2010 10:07 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by jar
12-10-2010 9:50 AM


The Dendara Zodiac happens to be in a temple that was not even built until the Ptolemaic period, most likely around 50BC, maybe even later, so the pyramid building was a least 3000 years earlier.

Um...we're talking about two completely different things. The planisphere is a clay tablet, found in *Mesopotamia* (not Egypt), that divided the constellations into eight different sections and labeled them with various place names on Earth.

Damon


This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by jar, posted 12-10-2010 9:50 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by jar, posted 12-10-2010 10:09 AM damoncasale has responded

  
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 16 of 82 (595759)
12-10-2010 10:23 AM
Reply to: Message 15 by jar
12-10-2010 10:09 AM


Don't know where to find it on the web, but you can read about it in "Egypt: Image of Heaven" by Willem Zitman.

http://www.amazon.com/...ere-Cradle/dp/1931882541/ref=sr_1_1

Used copies of it are apparently quite cheap.

Damon


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 Message 15 by jar, posted 12-10-2010 10:09 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
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damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 23 of 82 (595776)
12-10-2010 11:04 AM
Reply to: Message 18 by PurpleYouko
12-10-2010 10:36 AM


Hmm. Hadn't heard of the Sodom and Gomorrah asteroid impact hypothesis, and I'd rather not even pursue that line of inquiry.

But the scientists' mention that Sumerian astronomy wasn't advanced is laughable. Astronomical knowledge and observation techniques has *declined* from roughly 3500 BC onwards. It's only gotten worse, not better.

There is a book titled "Civilization One" by Christopher Knight and Alan Butler which discusses the way that ancient peoples were able to create standardized units of weight, measurement time, etc., based on astronomical measurements. They understood that the earth was a sphere and somehow knew how to calculate latitude and even longitude (using lunar eclipses, apparently).

Creating such standardized units is easy:

1) Draw a large circle on the ground, subdivided into 366 parts (easy to do with twine laid out along the circumference, then folded until you get down to a 366th of the original length).
2) Place wooden poles at two neighboring points along this subdivided circle, at opposite ends of one of the subdivisions.
3) Wait for a star to pass in front of one pole.
4) Take a weighted pendulum (pebble on a string, or whatever simple equivalent available to ancient peoples) and measure how many full swings it takes for the star to reach the second pole.
5) Adjust your string length and repeat this process until you get exactly 366 swings.

Congratulations, your pendulum string length is equal to half of a megalithic "yard". From that one standardized unit of measurement, you can create other standardized units, from time, to weight, to volume, etc.

Astronomy was hugely important to ancient peoples, most likely because it was a survival trait for prehistoric peoples to use to try to predict climate changes.

Damon


This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by PurpleYouko, posted 12-10-2010 10:36 AM PurpleYouko has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
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damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 24 of 82 (595780)
12-10-2010 11:14 AM
Reply to: Message 21 by Dr Adequate
12-10-2010 10:52 AM


Yes, well, there may be no archaeo-astronomical dating methods that will help you in that respect. Just because it would be way cool if there were doesn't mean that you should leap at any flimsy ill-evidenced story that there are.

So archaeo-astronomy is basically unverifiable, is that what you're saying?

That's fine if that's the case. I just didn't know one way or the other. What I do know is that it's now generally accepted that Stonehenge was originally a prehistoric observatory, whereas that theory sent shock waves through the establishment when it was first presented. So I do know that ancient peoples were commonly making astronomical observations (since stone circles like this one, aligned to solstices, able to predict lunar eclipses, etc.) are very common. But other than that, I'm very unfamiliar with what's accepted and what's not.

As far as Dr. Adequate's assessment of Graham Hancock's theories, yes, that's exactly why I *don't* think astronomical synchronisms are at all reliable methods of dating.

Regarding Jar and Theodoric's posts, look, I haven't been able to find further documentation on this myself. If you guys are going to complain that it "sounds suspicious" or whatever, go ahead...but I'm not interested in discussing that. If you want to read Zitman's book and see what he says about it, fine, but I'm not about to excerpt massive parts of his book on this forum. I'm not in the mood to do your research for you, sorry. If you can find other *scientific* research or analysis into this tablet and can post what you find, I'd be interested in that, but otherwise, let's move on please.

Damon


This message is a reply to:
 Message 21 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-10-2010 10:52 AM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 27 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-10-2010 11:58 AM damoncasale has responded

  
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 26 of 82 (595787)
12-10-2010 11:47 AM
Reply to: Message 25 by Theodoric
12-10-2010 11:36 AM


Re: Really?
So you are proposing that astronomical knowledge and observation techniques were more advanced in 3500 BCE than they are now?

Possibly to some degree, but I was referring to ancient astronomy, not modern astronomy.

This has nothing to do with the topic, but it shows us clearly where you are coming from. You have no interest in actual history or science. Your intended book will just be another tome of new age woo.

I call personal attack. Discussion over.

Hopefully it has been obvious *to others* that I'm actually interested in science and not "new age woo." Especially as I accept when others in this thread have mentioned things that were unreliable or unverifiable and I've accepted such.

Damon


This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by Theodoric, posted 12-10-2010 11:36 AM Theodoric has responded

Replies to this message:
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damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 28 of 82 (595789)
12-10-2010 12:04 PM
Reply to: Message 27 by Dr Adequate
12-10-2010 11:58 AM


Why would you think that I meant to say that the ancient Britons discovered these things by building Stonehenge? Of course there were wooden pegs and string originally.

Damon


This message is a reply to:
 Message 27 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-10-2010 11:58 AM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 30 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-10-2010 12:10 PM damoncasale has responded

  
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 31 of 82 (595792)
12-10-2010 12:14 PM
Reply to: Message 30 by Dr Adequate
12-10-2010 12:10 PM


We can see things twelve billion light years away and can measure the distance to the Moon so accurately that we can say that it's receding from the Earth at a rate of 38 millimeters per year. The Sumerians didn't even know how many planets there were and were geocentrists.

See one of my later posts. I wasn't referring to modern astronomy, but rather ancient astronomy. It's declined since 3500 BC onwards, at least as far as the Middle Ages, from what I've read.

Why would you think that I meant to say that the ancient Britons discovered these things by building Stonehenge?

Because you called it an "observatory". Which is a place where you discover truths about astronomy.

I think we're misunderstanding one another. I meant that Stonehenge was used to "observe" solstices and lunar eclipses. Why would you *reasonably* think I meant anything else, given how I've responded to your other comments in this thread?

Damon


This message is a reply to:
 Message 30 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-10-2010 12:10 PM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
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damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 36 of 82 (595820)
12-10-2010 3:18 PM
Reply to: Message 34 by Taq
12-10-2010 1:12 PM


This may not be exactly what you are looking for, but many have argued that the Milankovitch cycles are responsible for the cyclic nature of global climate. So there is a possible linkage between the temperature proxies in polar ice layers and the changes in Earth's tilt and orbit.

Yes, I'm familiar with Milankovitch cycles through "Climate Change in Prehistory" by William Burroughs. Excellent book. And good idea to include mentioning those in the book I'm writing, thanks.

Damon


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 Message 37 by Percy, posted 12-10-2010 4:08 PM damoncasale has responded

  
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 39 of 82 (595849)
12-10-2010 5:06 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Percy
12-10-2010 4:08 PM


You seem to be catching a lot of flak, and I think it's because you accept many things as true or likely true that have not yet been established with any certainty. Famous authors who have taken a similar cavalier attitude toward the need for strong supporting evidence are Erich von Däniken and Immanuel Velikovsky, and you've already mentioned a number of less famous authors who follow in the same vein.

Well, it depends. I've read many books espousing the commonly accepted scientific views (such as Climate Change in Prehistory) as well as many others that are more controversial. As I mentioned in a PM to Dr. Adequate, I don't *need* the controversial theories in order to make my book work. In fact, I plan to have a chapter called "False Starts" which compares theories that are easily falsifiable -- such as Graham Hancock's theory that Antarctica was once unglaciated and once contained an advanced civilization; theories that are controversial but may contain useful evidence nonetheless -- such as the comet impact theory in the Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes, for which no adequate explanation has been found for the magnetic/radioactive grains found in the Clovis boundary layer, even though other evidence they discussed could very well have another explanation (such as the nanodiamonds they found); and finally the theories that find a large percentage of acceptance like the one that extreme climate variability was the main reason that agriculture wasn't "discovered" until after the end of the last Ice Age (discussed in Climate Change in Prehistory by Burroughs).

I'm very familiar with authors like Erich von Daniken, and lump him in with Graham Hancock as having theories that are easily falsifiable. On the other hand, I'm also careful to not dismiss certain evidence, just because the ones bringing forth that evidence have a bias and an agenda (like Christopher Knight in Civilization One). I feel that it's important to be able to sift the wheat from the chaff, rather than to just stick with what's commonly accepted. It's those critical thinking skills that I mainly want to get across in the chapter in my book on dating methods, because those are what are sorely lacking among the religious fundamentalists that this book hopes to be able to adequately answer.

And FYI, I absolutely do NOT take a cavalier attitude towards the need for strong supporting evidence. I have a long history of dealing with various *religious* issues (since I have two parents with completely different religious backgrounds, who ended up divorcing partly for religious reasons) and really questioning what constitutes proof and what constitutes sufficient evidence. I intend to take the same careful approach with the book I'm writing. (And moderator, that was why I mentioned this background in my first post, in the whited-out section.)

Damon


This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by Percy, posted 12-10-2010 4:08 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 40 by Percy, posted 12-10-2010 8:44 PM damoncasale has responded

  
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 41 of 82 (595875)
12-10-2010 9:34 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by Percy
12-10-2010 8:44 PM


Let me clarify, since there seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding, here.

#1, I actually *have* talked about things with strong supporting evidence. I mentioned one of them above. From what I've read, William Burroughs was one of the most respected climatologists around. He passed away recently, though.

#2, the reason why I'm discussing these other things is because they tie into what I'm researching. I've spent over 10 years attempting to figure out how to bridge the gap between science and religion, with my major focus being on ancient history, culture, and comparative religion. I've got a ton of books on my bookshelf that deal with the history of Egypt, Sumer, Ebla, the Maya, a comparison of kingship among ancient cultures by Henri Frankfort, stuff by Joseph Campbell, Samuel Noah Kramer, etc., etc. So it's not like I'm unfamiliar with the standard fare.

More recently, I've begun to expand that focus, as I've realized that in order to give a firm grounding for my treatment of the cultures of Egypt and Sumer in the book that I'm writing, I need to delve into prehistory and explain what happened prior to "creation". So I've been voraciously devouring all sorts of books which deal with various aspects of prehistory, both the scientifically grounded and the speculative, along with everything in between.

Why? Because in order to give a good answer to religious fundamentalists, I need to show exactly what is, and is not, good evidence for a particular theory. And so I'm setting out to very carefully examine various theories that deal with man's prehistory.

Damon


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 Message 40 by Percy, posted 12-10-2010 8:44 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 42 by Percy, posted 12-11-2010 7:57 AM damoncasale has responded

  
damoncasale
Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 41
From: Seffner, FL, USA
Joined: 12-09-2010


Message 43 of 82 (595948)
12-11-2010 1:00 PM
Reply to: Message 42 by Percy
12-11-2010 7:57 AM


I think you misread what I wrote. I described three types of theories in that post. Ones that garner a majority of acceptance (of which I included Burroughs' theory regarding climate variability), ones that are controversial, and ones that are easily falsifiable.

Anyway, browsing around at the bookstore today, I ran across a very well-balanced article on the theory of a comet impact at the end of the Clovis period in the current issue of American Archaeology. If a respected publication can give a balanced approach on such a theory, why can't I?

Damon


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 Message 42 by Percy, posted 12-11-2010 7:57 AM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 44 by Percy, posted 12-11-2010 1:46 PM damoncasale has responded

  
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