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Joseph Crane on Definitions & Foundations
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Mark
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Posted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 10:00 am    Post subject: Joseph Crane on Definitions & Foundations Reply with quote

I have been reading Joseph Crane's review of Robert Schmidt's translation of the Antiochus material entitled Definitions and Foundations

http://www.skyscript.co.uk/rev_df.html

I just want to correct one misunderstanding Joseph Crane seems to have about Robert Schmidts views on the antiquity of the Antiochus text.

In particular when he states:

Quote:
Who was Antiochus? James Holden'sA History of Horoscopic Astrology and a previous translation by Project Hindsight reflect a common understanding: the author is an Antiochus of Athens from the second century. Schmidt thinks that this could be actually Antiochus of Ascalon, founder of the Platonic Middle Academy in the second century B.C.E. This is a very interesting conjecture and a potential bombshell.

No writings by the philosopher Antiochus of Ascalon survive. As Schmidt notes in a CD accompanying this book, it would be indeed ironic if the surviving writings by this philosopher were astrological. However tantalizing this possibility may be, there is only circumstantial support: the authorities Antiochus cites are all before the Christian era, and there is some material in Antiochus that has a Platonic spin. Valid evidence of a link between this work and Antiochus of Ascalon would be an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the transmission of the philosophy and the astrology in the Hellenistic era


In fact I raised this particular point some time ago in a question to Robert Schmidt on the ACT Astrology forum. I was aware Robert Schmidt was suggesting a probable earlier date than David Pingree for the Antiochus material. I was therefore curious if Schmidt subscribed to the view of the historian Franz Cumont that this Antiochus was in fact Antiochus of Ascalon. I got the following reply on that specific point:

Quote:
As for Cumont's speculation that our Antiochus may have been Antiochus of Ascalon, sometimes regarded as the founder of the Middle Platonic Academy, I do not see how that speculation could ever be confirmed, although at this point I would be willing to bet that the material in the lost Antiochus original came directly from the Platonic academy.


So although Schmidt is not stating definitively that the Antiochus material was from Antiochus of Ascalon he is making the quite significant claim that he believes early hellenistic astrology emerged out of the Middle Academy. Shocked

Robert Schmidt has elaborated on this point in a further reply:

Quote:
My views on the philosophical background of Hellenistic astrology are more extreme than I have perhaps let on hitherto. At the risk of sounding like a madman, or at least in the interest of provoking discussion (smiley face in order here), I do not contend that Hellenistic astrology was simply influenced by the Platonic Academy, but rather that it was a product of the Middle Academy itself. I now regard Hellenistic astrology in its original form as "applied Platonic metaphysics". Furthermore, I believe that the original Hellenistic astrology had far more influence on later philosophical developments in Platonism than it was in turn influenced by them in subsequent centuries. I include Neo-Platonism in this assessment.

It is only within the past year or so that I have finally and fullly convinced myself of this, so you will not find such an extreme claim (or its justifications) in my earlier publications, although I have been laying the groundwork for quite some time. You will only find it in a very muted form in the Antiochus translation itself, because I do not believe that such claims are appropriate in the translations themselves--at least not as yet with only the first volume available.


Mark
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Chris Brennan



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Posted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 1:46 am    Post subject: Re: Joseph Crane on Definitions & Foundations Reply with quote

MarkC wrote:
I have been reading Joseph Crane's review of Robert Schmidt's translation of the Antiochus material entitled Definitions and Foundations

http://www.skyscript.co.uk/rev_df.html

I just want to correct one misunderstanding Joseph Crane seems to have about Robert Schmidts views on the antiquity of the Antiochus text.





I'm not sure that this is a misunderstanding on Crane's part so much as it is something that Schmidt has alluded to heavily but isn't invested in enough to fully argue for as a historical fact. Schmidt does give the impression that he is trying to link Antiochus the astrologer and Antiochus of Ascalon in a number of his recently recordings though. If you listen to the end of the first lecture on the talking tour this is made quite explicit.

While he does dismiss Cumont's arguments, as well as Pingree's arguments, he then still makes a number of positive statements about how the text could have been written by Antiochus the Middle Platonist, and how it would be ironic of this was the only surviving text of that particular philosopher. It is somewhat unfortunate that he rejects Cumont's arguments so readily though, since the only evidence that he is really able to adduce for the Neoplatonic influence is his dimensionality argument, which falls somewhat short of establishing the direct link between Platonism and Hellenistic astrology that he has always sought.

What do people think of Crane's review besides that though? I thought that he was being pretty soft in the first half of it, and he kept qualifying his endorsements with statements like "if this holds up...", but then he kind of came out swinging in the second half, and ended making a few good points. It is interesting because this is the first analysis of the book in print at this point, as far as I know, and I haven't seen much critical discussion about it yet.
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GR



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Posted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Joseph Crane on Definitions & Foundations Reply with quote

Chris Brennan wrote:

I'm not sure that this is a misunderstanding on Crane's part so much as it is something that Schmidt has alluded to heavily but isn't invested in enough to fully argue for as a historical fact. Schmidt does give the impression that he is trying to link Antiochus the astrologer and Antiochus of Ascalon in a number of his recently recordings though. If you listen to the end of the first lecture on the talking tour this is made quite explicit.


If there was an astrological system produced by the Platonic Academy of the Middle period, as Robert Schmidt believes is quite likely, then it makes sense to match up certain notable and essentially anoymous authors to members in this group, if possible. Antiochus is merely the most obvious one to start with, and has the benefit of previous speculation.

Chris Brennan wrote:

since the only evidence that he is really able to adduce for the Neoplatonic influence is his dimensionality argument


Well, the one bit of reasoning that he has publicly talked about recently, yes. And it's more Middle Platonism then Neo-Platonism, but that in itself is a subject of further analysis.

Chris Brennan wrote:

What do people think of Crane's review besides that though?


Most I got out of it was "Complex sentences are hard to read" and "More footnotes, please". The first I can accept if one doesn't have English as a first language, otherwise, read slowly is my sagacious advice. The second is frankly silly, as Robert Schmidt's process of research often is as follows:

    1. Reading many, many texts, in their original language(s).
    2. Thinking about them in great detail.
    3. Publishing or discussing his conclusions at the time.


How does one footnote this?
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Chris Brennan



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Posted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 8:39 am    Post subject: Re: Joseph Crane on Definitions & Foundations Reply with quote

GR wrote:

If there was an astrological system produced by the Platonic Academy of the Middle period, as Robert Schmidt believes is quite likely, then it makes sense to match up certain notable and essentially anoymous authors to members in this group, if possible. Antiochus is merely the most obvious one to start with, and has the benefit of previous speculation.




Schmidt's (unexplained) rejection of Cumont's arguments negates any benefit from there being previous speculation, and in point of fact Antiochus isn't even necessarily the most obvious candidate for Schmidt's argument. The strange thing about Schmidt's attempt to implicate Antiochus of Ascalon is that the philosopher's known Stoicising tendencies run in direct opposition to Schmidt's rather knee-jerk rejection against all things Stoic. It seems a bit odd for Schmidt to attempt to insinuate a link between the astrologer and a philosopher who Cicero criticized as never deviating very far from Chrysippus, especially when Schmidt himself completely rejects that Stoicism had almost any formative influence on Hellenistic astrology at all.




GR wrote:

Most I got out of it was "Complex sentences are hard to read" and "More footnotes, please". The first I can accept if one doesn't have English as a first language, otherwise, read slowly is my sagacious advice. The second is frankly silly, as Robert Schmidt's process of research often is as follows:

    1. Reading many, many texts, in their original language(s).
    2. Thinking about them in great detail.
    3. Publishing or discussing his conclusions at the time.


How does one footnote this?




So, your response to the question of why doesn't Schmidt use footnotes in his latest publication is something to the effect of "Schmidt reads and thinks too much to use footnotes"? Really?
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Adam



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Posted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello!

Well I have read both the review and the text itself several times. I think the implied question of Chris is what we think of the text itself, as speaking about the review without relating to the Summary is not possible. So I take the liberty and try to sum up my thoughts.

The review itself is good insofar it points out key characteristics of Schmidt's approach to the text, yet a glimmer of hope shines through the clouds set up by the Summary and Schmidt himself; while Crane does realize that the achievement is notable, he does also notice the difficulties that we as readers and interpreters have.

When I first read the text, I had the feeling that Schmidt is reading too much into the whole thing, and there were such subtle notions in some definitions, (like among the various versions of aspect doctrine) that I said, this can't be it. Schmidt seems to go a long way in ensuring the "holistic" philosophical view of the text, and of the Hellenistic astrology itself, but it just not feels natural. Yes, he gives us plausible explanations, but it's up to us whether we are satisfied with them.
To be totally honest, when I'm reading the text, I still can't get Nietzsche out of my head:"If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you". Somehow in some places the whole thing seems just forced. While I do not know enough to argue about Hellenistic astrology, I can still relate to it this way. And it's the only way I can relate to it. Yet I hope that Schmidt is right, and this is where I can follow Crane's arguments. The text is hard to understand. Schmidt is hard to understand too sometimes. He might be right, perhaps he is right. But how could we know? Either more people take on the tedious task and start reading and translating Hellenistic texts, or we test the system itself (this step is always necessary). And here are my doubts again. I just can't see at this point, how this could be used. While in theory, these concepts are great. Philosophical, deep. But are they usable? I don't know.

Cheers,
Adam
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CJ



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Posted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's maybe worth noting that the Sassanid and early Abbasid astrologers were in similar situations. They had a belief that some ancient Persian astrology had been scattered into neighbouring countries after Alexander and this motivated their translation projects (the book The Arabic Hermes goes into the background in more detail, they also had a doctrine of a separate Egyptian, Chaldean and antediluvian Hermes). But if they could not find much more than Valens, Ptolemy, Dorotheus and the Indian astrology how likely is it there is still some unknown surviving untranslated text explaining it all (Abu Mashar by the way seems to have adopted the Indian aspect strength doctrine in his solar revolutions, but with Ptolemaic aspects).

Perhaps it's also worth noting that in the Demotic/Egyptian horoscopes preceding Valens that have been found (Neugebauer) not even the Part of Fortune is mentioned (instead some unique angles). One wonders why they don't adhere more rigorously to the alleged "Nechepso-Petosiris" doctrine at least in this respect.
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GR



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Posted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 4:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Joseph Crane on Definitions & Foundations Reply with quote

Chris Brennan wrote:

... and in point of fact Antiochus isn't even necessarily the most obvious candidate for Schmidt's argument.


Odd that someone named Antiochus isn't the most likely candidate for someone named Antiochus, but I can see the plausibility that it could be a pseudonym.
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Estebon_Duarte



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Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2009 1:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I enjoyed Crane's review. I am a subscriber to Project Hindsight and enjoy their medieval translation track very much. I was however somewhat disappointed with the Definitions and Foundations, I realize it is part of a larger work to yet be released, but it is definitely more an attempt at creating a "new", "old" Astrology than being merely a translation series.
That by itself is fine if that were the stated purpose. My biggest beef is with the unbending dedication to changing Astrological language. I completely understand his argument, I just have a hard time believing a word like "circumambulations" is making things clearer. Of course this is how Crane's summed up my frustrations,

Quote:
If your approach is closer to Anglo-American nominalism, Schmidt's translations will drive you absolutely nuts.


I think over time the Hellenistic track will have merit, but I have yet to see delineations using any of these techniques, let alone predictions.
I found this part of Crane's review interesting,

Quote:
On the other hand, it may also invite one to force-fit some things together, ignore parts of the tradition that vary with preconceptions, divide Hellenistic astrology into the "authentic" and the "deviant" and misrepresent the nature of astrology as part of syncretic Hellenistic philosophy and culture.


I have noticed a habit of dismissal by Hellenistic astrologers of those things deemed "deviant", some of which are central to the medieval and renaissance traditions (which have been proven).

In all I think Crane's review was fair and good for someone to gain insight who isn't familiar with the background and intention of the PHASE series.
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Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"It's maybe worth noting that the Sassanid and early Abbasid astrologers were in similar situations. They had a belief that some ancient Persian astrology had been scattered into neighbouring countries after Alexander and this motivated their translation projects (the book The Arabic Hermes goes into the background in more detail, they also had a doctrine of a separate Egyptian, Chaldean and antediluvian Hermes). But if they could not find much more than Valens, Ptolemy, Dorotheus and the Indian astrology how likely is it there is still some unknown surviving untranslated text explaining it all (Abu Mashar by the way seems to have adopted the Indian aspect strength doctrine in his solar revolutions, but with Ptolemaic aspects). "

I'm quoting CJ mostly for a springboard from which to dive into my thoughts.

I believe one can find the katarche of Hellenistic astrology in Herodotus.

Note that the Magi -- the sacerdotal tribe of Medes -- prior to the Persian conquest of Babylon, attended sacrifices which were not effective without a Magian priest. But after the conquest of Babylon & Cyrus -- thanks to Daniel, captive priest astrologer of the Babylonian who left open the gates (this is kind of obvious if you read Herodotus & the relevant OT books -- Ezekial, Daniel, Nehemiah and the same time for a real mind blowing experience) and within context of the 70 weeks of astrology established the day for a year concept -- the 490 days of those 70 weeks are a Pl/Ne cycle -- and Daniel (via some fundy parsing of the text) predicted Christ.

However, the Magi which accompanied Xerxes had learned the Babylonian art of astrology -- why do you think Cyrus made Daniel Chief Magus???? -- the Magiian astrology as recorded by Herodotus -- well, it is very interesting -- the Magis eclipses interpretations were provably pandering to Xerxes hopes and dreams.,

That, the first Persian/Magiian historic interface with the Greeks culminated at the Pl/Ne opposition with Alexander, and was the katarche -- the fertilized seed -- of Hellenistic astrology -- which Alexander victorious march through Persepolis and consequent further interfaces with Persian modes of Babylonian arts henceforth flowered

Pingree gives the Magi/Persians short shrift. He states that the only contribution of Aryan astrology was the Ju/Sa 20 year cycle -- and incidentally, that is why the Magi were in Bethlethem observing their Star. -- parenthetically it is not magnetically fascinating that Ahmanidinijad is of Jewish ancestry -- changed his name. Sometimes Pingree cops to many Brahmin 'tudes ... I believe the Maga Brahmins were (are) of Magiian descent, which implies to me -- that, pre Jyotisa period, I think there was an interface between the Magiian astrologers and the Vedic, but the palm leaves have disintegrated. I also posit that this has something to do with the Solar and Lunar Dynasties of the Puranas.

I do not hold that Hellenistic astrology was the ultimate invention of one person, and suggest that Schmidt read and translate those passages of Herodotus.

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Posted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A couple of things - the history as given in Daniel doesn't match history going outside the Tanach, so Daniel may have been an allegory about the dangers of assimilating too much into Greek society, using Babylon as the example. That one could help your case in a way I suppose, if you're looking to link Chaldean-Hebrew-Greek transmission. Except for Daniel ever being in Chaldea, but there was certainly a Babylonian captivity.

Second, the fundy timing parsing is way off if you go back to the Hebrew - everyone who translated (to the best of my knowledge), left out a nifty little punctuation mark, and ran the two weeks of years periods together when they were separate in the Hebrew. The first period of weeks of years predicted Cyrus as a messiah (which he was, Hebrew concept messiah anyway, not Greek concept messiah), and the second predicted Titus, afaik, or someone equally evil - which doesn't disqualify one from messiah-hood. That second part was all bad. No Greek messiahs to be found in any of those texts, at least not in the Hebrew.

The timelines (they were separate) went in weeks of years because of the controversy over keeping the shemittah year.
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Posted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Daniel, captive priest astrologer of the Babylonian

I'm not sure if I can agree with this. Perhaps there is another source but I don't know of any other source about DaniŽl than the book DaniŽl and there no indication is given for DaniŽl being an astrologer.

More than that, DaniŽl 1:17 says that while all four men were given wisdom through books, God gave DaniŽl wisdom through dreams. In DaniŽl 2 this is confirmed by the story of Nebuchadnezzar's repeating dream but which he forgot when awake.

I think that this illustrates the biblical view (which actually can't be called pro astrological) that divine knowledge received of God about the future and about man's unknown to others thoughts supercedes that of astrology and other types of Babylonian divinatory methods. From a biblical point of view one can say that the Old Testament prophets did predict, but not through astrology.
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Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schmidt's argument is that some people were tinkering with astrological ideas within the middle academy in opposition to the Athenian School and possibly publishing under assumed names such as Nechepso, Petosirius, etc. Given that it is very rare for anyone in their lifetime to have an original thought that wasn't thought by someone else first, this is not that surprising, but finding dates and names to go with this will be next to impossible. The only proof that can be found is in the way the texts were constructed and the systematic nature of how they fit within the chart of the world (Thema Mundi). That there would have been a systematic approach should not be surprising either because what authority would orchestrate chaos and expect order as a result? The numerological punning in the Antiochus text is proof enough that there was a hidden level to this material that needs a closer look.

The texts that remain are as close to these "founders" as we can get and since well over 90% of everything that has ever been written has been lost, we cannot assume that what remains is a representative sample of what was actually practiced. What you have to do is check sources and see if there are common citations. These would be the authorities that those texts thought were the most important of their time for who wastes their time citing irrelevant sources?

For those of you who doubt Schmidt, you should come up with an alternative reasoning that makes sense. For instance, some say that Hellenistic astrology is Stoic as if there was not a thread of logic from other areas of philosophy. Philosophy has a way of influencing the thinking of later generations without them even being aware of it. For example when I say that my flat tire caused me to run off the road, we tend to think in terms of efficient causation according to Aristotle, but a material cause might have been weak rubber. These things do not enter the mind of those not so trained and the result is that we are stuck with a pattern of thought that can potentially enslave us to a particular view. The same is the case with astrological thought. Why call something an aspect? Why use the word testimony (marturiea)? Why use the term "the line equivalent to a side"? They are all clues about what concepts these authors were holding in their minds. When you erase the distinctions, you lose the original thought.

Hellenistic astrology is not Stoic, simply, but involves many levels of thought when you take the clues about their exact phrasing seriously. For instance, time lord methods are known as "aphesis" methods and the method of circumambulation was called "peripetasis". Now if I circumambulate the Moon through the bounds and it happens to be the bound of Venus it takes on the accusations (categoriea) of Venus and then through aphesis (releasing) it becomes acquitted of these charges. This is Aristotelian thinking as he was known for setting up the categoriea of oppositions, genus, species, etc. To top it off Schmidt says that the method was called "Peripetasis" which "means walking in circles" which is an overt hint that the one who wrote this was poking fun at Aristotle pacing outside the gate and likening this to planets pacing around the zodiac circle.

Schmidt says that the encounter of the rays using the same method would be Stoic logic because of the prepositional (if then) cases and that this was used in the encounter of rays because the planets don't have to remain in a particular location (which requires the if clause). If I encounter the square ray of Venus, I'll get married... and so on.

If there is to be any intelligent criticism of Schmidt's work, you must become experts on Platonic philosophy, or you will be wasting your time.

Lastly, it is not just the case that there were some writing in a mysterious manner as Valens puts it, but there is strong evidence outside of the astrological field of a suppression of knowledge by the clergy of the esoteric nature of the Bible on hidden astrological teachings. Most here would not deny there there is strong astrological symbolism in both the new and old testaments. The question is why, especially since the church goes out of it's way to make astrology a "sin".

Proof that our history has been tampered with comes from the work of Anatoly Fomenko; a Russian statistician who has proven strong correlations between large sections of pre-renaissance history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatoly_Fomenko

Was there some sort of cover up led by the Church to erase history and replace it with something less threatening? I suspect that the same was the case with lots of the old astrological texts that no longer survive. Library burning was a favorite pastime of despots. Nowadays, they call it "dis-information" and make you swim in a sea of lies and half truths so that you can't think straight.
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margherita



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Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

zoidsoft wrote:
The question is why, especially since the church goes out of it's way to make astrology a "sin".

Proof that our history has been tampered with comes from the work of Anatoly Fomenko; a Russian statistician who has proven strong correlations between large sections of pre-renaissance history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatoly_Fomenko

Was there some sort of cover up led by the Church to erase history and replace it with something less threatening? I suspect that the same was the case with lots of the old astrological texts that no longer survive. Library burning was a favorite pastime of despots. Nowadays, they call it "dis-information" and make you swim in a sea of lies and half truths so that you can't think straight.


From Wikipedia:
"He asserts from this that all of ancient history (including the history of Greece, Rome, and Egypt) is just a reflection of events that occurred in the Middle Ages and that all of Chinese and Arab history are fabrications of 17th and 18th century Jesuits."

But we are sure of what your Russian "scientist" is saying? Here we are full of Russian "scholars" who have not even the knowledge of a student of our secondary school.... (I saw with my eyes)

I read with interest all the thread, but if this can be at support of what you say, I don't understand, sorry.

Church can have done many mistakes, burning Giordano Bruno and organising Inquisition, yes but building the Colosseum is too much- especially when one considers in which crisis was Europe in Middle Ages after the Fall of Roman Empire.

p.s in this interesting book of Fomenko you will find the true story of Schifanoia salon of decans in Ferrara, enjoy,

http://bit.ly/7qjiqT

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zoidsoft



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Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gjiada wrote:


But we are sure of what your Russian "scientist" is saying? Here we are full of Russian "scholars" who have not even the knowledge of a student of our secondary school.... (I saw with my eyes)

I read with interest all the thread, but if this can be at support of what you say, I don't understand, sorry.


One can easily get chaos in statistical analysis, but to accidentally get order in the results is like expecting your random actions to line up all of the sides of a Rubic's cube that was once a mess. This would be highly improbable. The fact that he found sequences of 720, 960 years and other intervals, but that no such correlation exists after the onset of the renaissance is a sure sign that something is wrong. So either the Russians completely fabricated our history just for the purpose of this study or our history has been rewritten centuries ago to fit some purpose.

Some of these intervals even have correlates in astrological cycles, but Fomenko has no interest in astrology. Because the correlation breaks down after the renaissance, we can't say that astrology was the cause for the ordered results in the history.

Fomenko's own explanation is that our pre-renaissance history is really the same history written from several different perspectives and that there is only 720 years of this history and that it is fabricated. Understandably this is a hard pill to swallow in academia... But Fomenko comes from academia! He was one of the top statisticians in the world before he took on this subject.

There are problems though... the dating of Neuguebauer's Greek Horoscopes being one of them.
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margherita



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Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zoidsoft wrote:
But Fomenko comes from academia! He was one of the top statisticians in the world before he took on this subject.


World is full of successful researchers in some field that invent in others.
Just give a short look about Fomenko site and his books, Jesus came from Crimea and so on.... Just a case of Russian mysticism mixed with their national myth of the third Rome.

Quote:
There are problems though... the dating of Neuguebauer's Greek Horoscopes being one of them.

the point is this field is full of uncertainty. Scholars quarrel without finding an agreement. Evidently there is not a real and definitive evidence because if it was like that everybody would agree.
Just quoting someone like Fomenko does not help, in my opinion.

Come here in Rome, we have plenty of Roman relics, we see them with our eyes every day while we go to work or at school. There is no falsification, believe me.

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