Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2006.07.02
Dietrich on Afonasin on Thomas K. Dietrich, The Origin of Culture and Civilization. Response to 2006.06.32
Response by Thomas K. Dietrich (Eartholder@aol.com)
First of all, I would like to thank the Bryn Mawr Classical Review and Professor Afonasin for handling my interpretation of the subject material. The review by Afonasin was very candid and complete. However, it failed to recognize the ground-breaking achievement of anyone ever even attempting to cover the subject of "the cosmological viewpoint of the ancient people". In this respect, I feel grievously under-appreciated.
A disproportionately large amount of all classical literature is devoted to mythology and astrology. It might, therefore, be auspicious to try to fathom the ancient fascination with these subjects; and to try to enter into the ancient worldview in order to understand their interpretation of these subjects.
Jean Baptist Biot, Charles Piazzi Smyth, Sir Norman Lockyer, Alexander Thom, and others have pioneered the discipline of Archaeoastronomy. This department is still in its infancy, yet every archaeological site under investigation is currently vetted for astronomical alignments. I think that the excellent presentation of the astronomical complexity of the Chaco Canyon site by PBS-has popularized this movement. All ancient people believed in the concept of the heavens as an instrument of terrestrial events -- "on earth as it is in heaven". The Origin of Culture has attempted to serve as a primer on Classical Astrology (via Ptolemy, Manilius, etc.) as a function of the ancient Cosmological Viewpoint. These people were enamored with the universe as a religio-scientific context. Of course, their viewpoint is anathema to modern thinking -- but, I cannot help feeling that my book has tried to express their concept in a responsible and intelligent format. This is an invaluable guide to better explore and understand the antiquities.
The reconstruction of the ancient idea that historical cycles of Culture and Civilization are connected to known astronomical cycles is without a doubt a feature of ancient belief. The worldview of current cosmological science is pedestrian in comparison to the advances that the ancient people have already made. For example: Our current academic science does not generally teach the revolution of our solar system around the Milky Way Galaxy. Our present day science does not coordinate celestial and terrestrial maps under one system of longitude and latitude. Our current Geographic Prime Meridian is not based upon cosmological science -- but rather, upon the modern historical-political ascendancy of Britain. It is therefore quite difficult for the general public to fathom ideas that they have not been presented with in school. I have tried to present the ancient cosmological viewpoint in the simplest terms possible. I know that when I am presented with a new idea that I need to read it over twice, or even three times.
Professor Afonasin avers that my Atlantic-Mediterranean Cultural progression is "without any justification of a rational or historical nature". I feel that I have presented a valuable compendium of mythological and early historical material actually written down in ancient sources which admits that Mediterranean cultures have their roots along the Atlantic seaboard, and especially in Morocco.
I was sorry to see that Professor Afonasin felt compelled to trespass into the regions of unkindness when he presumed that I regarded "all previous research in the field ... now obsolete." In truth, I find it remarkable that Greek-Egyptian mythology presents such a cogent record of distinct past ages of intelligent humankind. This pattern of ages has helped me understand many of the riddles of Mesoamerican mythology, which I hope to examine in a new work hopefully coming out in 2007.
Astrology, as it is understood today, and occultism do not interest me in the slightest. My motivation was to explore the worldview behind the voluminous tomes about classical astrology and mythology -- in order to discover if their roots were based upon fact and science.
Attempts to dig hard ground in academia often result in blunted tools and the exhaustion and disappointment of the researcher -- yet sometimes the most arduous excavations are the most rewarding. I do thank Bryn Mawr Classical Review and Professor Eugene V. Afonasin for stimulating my drive for further investigations.