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Lost Technology of the Ancients: The Crystal Sun: By ROBERT TEMPLE
The ancient Greek Pythagoreans of the 5th century BC believed that the sun was a gigantic crystal ball larger than the earth, which gathered the ambient light of the surrounding cosmos and refracted it to earth, acting as a giant lens.
A giant lens? In the 5th century BC? Perhaps it was because nobody until now has been willing to recognise that lenses existed in antiquity, and that the crystal sun idea was overlooked, and has never been described in any books on the history of science or philosophy. However, it appears in my book The Crystal Sun.
What, then, is all this about ancient lenses? Surely some mistake?!
The fact is that I have located more than 450 ancient lenses in museums all round the world, and I even own a Greek crystal lens of the 6th century BC myself. Photos of many of these ancient lenses appear in my book. Anyone interested in full details of the actual lenses themselves should obtain the hardback edition of my book, because ten appendices full of such detailed information have been omitted from the paperback because the book was too thick.
Ancient lenses! Well, how far back do they go? The earliest actual lenses which I have located are crystal ones dating from the 4th Dynasty of Old Kingdom Egypt, circa 2500 BC. These are to be found in the Cairo Museum and two are in the Louvre in Paris. But archaeological evidence showing that they must have been around at least 700 years earlier has recently been excavated at Abydos in Upper Egypt. A tomb of a Pre-Dynastic king there has yielded an ivory knife handle bearing a microscopic carving which could only have been done under considerable magnification (and of course can only be seen with a strong magnifying glass today). Thus, we know that magnification technology was in use in Egypt in 3300 BC. I reproduce both photos and drawings of this crucial evidence.
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