The Mystery in Our History
History is written by the victors—a truism if I ever heard one, often attributed to Winston Churchill. However, the origins of this quote are sketchy. It has also been suggested that it is a derivation of Hermann Göring’s quote: “We will go down in history either as the world’s greatest statesmen or its worst villains.” The problem is: historical recounts are nothing more than moments in time recorded by someone from an individual perspective. Another quote I am very fond of sums this up nicely: “We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.” You can attribute that to whom you like.
But what if it’s not just a quote? What if, as an archaeologist, you find something in the middle of a dig that is not in keeping with the rest of the site? You can choose to consider whether it fits with the other artifacts, and thus challenge you knowledge of that culture; or you can dismiss it as out of place and perhaps merely a contamination. This requires you, the archaeologist, to use your knowledge of said culture you are studying—and since you are an archaeologist, the likelihood is you are basing your knowledge on the writings of that culture or those who knew of it. Stories, translations, misinterpretations. Of course, this is a massive oversimplification. But you get the idea. It also leads to another question: what if the histories you have studied are purposeful lies?
Imagine one culture physically strong, but not very intelligent, conquers another that is weaker but intellectually superior. Do you as the victor write in the history books about the fine things built and produced by the vanquished culture, or do you write that these things were made by your people? It’s as human a problem as any.
Let’s consider a real example: the Great Pyramids of Egypt of the Giza Plateau. Who built them? The Egyptians, I hear you cry. Oh, I say. And when were they built? Well, during the Fourth dynasty period (3rd millennium BC), you reply. Is that so?
Much evidence would point to your knowledge as truth. King Khufu himself had his name inscribed on the outside of the largest pyramid. His signature, if you will. However, not everything is as it seems. In 1983, Robert Bauval made a connection between the layout of the three main stars in Orion’s belt and the layout of the three main pyramids in the Giza necropolis. He published this idea in 1989 in the journal Discussions in Egyptology. The basis of this theory suggests that the relative positions of three main Egyptian pyramids are, by design, correlated with the relative positions of the three stars that make up Orion’s Belt, a constellation in the northern sky. The interesting piece of this story is that, according to the calculations, this alignment only works if one considers the position of the stars of Orion’s belt as they appeared in the night sky more than 12,000 years ago (10,000 BC)—many thousands of years before the Egyptians claim to have built the monuments.
You parry with: what about the Sphinx? It was built in the same period, and it even looks like a pharaoh. The latter part, I would agree with. Sort of. The Great Sphinx of Giza (or “The Terrifying One,” if directly translated from its Arabic name) is a limestone statue of a couchant sphinx that stands on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile and is commonly believed to have been built by the ancient Egyptians of the Old Kingdom (circa 2558–2532 BC).
However, several strange phenomena regarding the sphinx have been observed by various scholars and enthusiasts. For instance, given that the Egyptians were able to construct the pyramids and other structures in proportion, it seems a little odd that the head of the Sphinx is entirely too small for the body—as if it were carved from something larger. Alternate historians Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval suggest this monument once pointed directly at the constellation of Leo, but where this group of stars would have sat in our sky around 10,500 BC. Logically, it therefore makes sense that the original monument may in fact have been a lion (or lion like creature) and that Egyptians merely modified the existing statue. Of course, these are all theories. What we learn as fact will depend on whom you ask.
Thus, dear reader, I ask you: what will the history books say about you? Will it be a perfect rendition of your life and thoughts? Or will someone else read a eulogy, based on a personal impression of you? History is a story. A wonderful, one-sided, story.