Von Daniken and The Sports Fixtures Calendar

Strangely post on August 3rd, 2008
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I had a little titter to myself recently when several things collided.  Like many people who grew up in the seventies, I bought and read Eric von Daniken‘s book, Chariots of the Gods, and other similar rubbish on razor blade-sharpening pyramids and megalithic yards….

I’d completely and conveniently forgotten about all that despite living close to the hippy and Carlsberg Special drinking and toot-smoking paradise that is Glastonbury, when two things popped up in the news.

  • Last month, on TV we had the debunking of the wonderful self-promotion exercise that was Anna Le Guillon Mitchell-Hedges.  Even without commentary it was marvellous to see how her story changed over time.  Anyway, that was the Crystal Skull, nearly all of which (at least the big ones) have been proven to be of modern manufacture using modern tools and materials.
  • Also, we had the revelation in Nature, reported here, say,  Olympic link to early ‘computer’, about the Antikythera mechanism.   Apparently, it’s not a computer left by aliens on Earth as von Daniken claimed.  Some dude has now looked very, very carefully at it and found that there are actually words written on the side.  The upshot of it all is that as well as being a neat general calendar for keeping track of the sun and moon stuff that was very important to people then (as they didn’t watch much telly ;-) ), it also was a calendar to keep track of which Olympics were next….  (In Ancient Greece, the Olympics weren’t like now, every four years;  no, apparently there was a sequence with about one every year but with a different mix of sports each time.  They had a different name for each one…).

In other words, the Antikythera Mechanism was a Sports Fixtures Calendar!

This is somewhat at variance with the aliens-from-space story of multiplied-convicted fraudster von Daniken.    But it was a laugh for a time, and set me off thinking and investigating our world and history so that within a few months I had my own personal proofs that it was hokum.

Given the prominence that the Premiership has in UK life nowadays, superseding all forms of intellectual  discourse in the popular hostelries in my area, then this must have been an important piece of kit.

As an afterthought, it’s a shame that we don’t mark footballers for artistic merit each time they do a dive.  Maybe there should be two competitions in parallel – one for goals and one for diving & acting.

It’s a funny old world.

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