Friday, July 25, 2008

Highlands News today: The oldest man-made structure on earth?

Last Thursday co-authors Johan Heine and Michael Tellinger launched their book Adam's Calendar: Discovering the Oldest Man-made Structure on Earth at Salvadors in Kaapsehoop.

It focuses on a remarkable stone structure on the edge of the escarpment near Kaapsehoop, that the authors say resembles but predates Stonehenge "by many thousands of years".

Not only is Adam's Calendar along the same longitudinal line as Great Zimbabwe and the Great Pyramid, but the author's maintain that it "takes us further back in time closer to the emergence of Homo Sapiens than any other structure ever found to date".

"It's also aligned with the rise of Orion's belt when it rose horizontally on the horizon some 75,000 years ago," says Tellinger.

Adam's Calendar could also play a key role in understanding the extensive stone walled settlements and stone circles that abound 'inland' from the escarpment, especially in the Carolina, Machadodorp, Waterval-Boven and Leydenburg districts.  

Tellinger, also the author of the controversial Slave Species of god, is already writing a follow-up to Adam's Calendar, which from what I can glean will focus more on these settlements and so-called 'stone circles'.

Tongue-in-cheek Tellinger refers to these stone circles as "very clever cattle kraals," spoofing common held opinions (even in academic circles) that these were little more than cattle pens.

Heine and Tellinger's astonishing claims are undeniably controversial and have potential to cause a stir in the scientific world.

The reaction of Amanda Esterhuysen, a Wits University academic from the geography, archaeology and environmental sciences department has already been reported in the media.

"These guys are talking nonsense. We are doing extensive research in Mpumalanga and these sites are fairly well known," Esterhuysen said.

"While we don't dispute that structures like this are man-made, there is no way it is 75 000 years old. The type of science they use to date these sites is highly questionable," she added.

But the authors aren't shy of controversy: "This discovery will force historians and archaeologists to reconsider ancient human activity and consciousness," they say.

Tellinger, originally from Johannesburg, has recently relocated to Waterval-Boven - to be in the heart of what he believes to be a region of international importance historically and archaeologically.

He is currently setting up a tourism centre in Waterval-Boven, which he expects to be operational by end August.  From here he'll be overseeing and operating tours to Kaapsehoop and other related destinations in the immediate vicinity.

The centre will operate under the auspices of the Makomati Foundation, a section 21 non-profit organisation registered in 2003 and inspired by the extensive research of Dr. Cyril Hromnik among others.

The foundation aims "to protect, maintain and promote the ancient ruins of Mpumalanga, which includes sustainable and responsible tourism to selected sites".

It also wants to see, among others, sustainable research and publication of results, fund raising, the responsible promotion of Mpumalanga's stone ruin heritage as a major tourist attraction.

It also argues for the benefiting and uplifting the rural communities - including the training of guides. And, interestingly, it wants to see an application for World Heritage status.

Whatever the controversy around Adam's Calendar, it will undoubtedly draw extensive attention to our little neck of the woods, possibly even major international media.

 "Once the world begins to hear of Adam's Calendar, SA could become the new Egypt, where archaeologists and astrologers will come to do research into a whole new period of human development," says Tellinger.

Either way we'll have many more cameras, dollars and yen appreciating the Mpumalanga Highlands. And our locals might finally stop taking for granted what's literally in many of their backyards... and might have been for thousands of years?

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