Hickson and Parker Abduction

One of the most electrifying UFO contact cases occurred on October 11, 1973, to two fishermen in Pascagoula, Mississippi. On that evening, Calvin Parker, 19, and Charles Hickson, 42 sat in their favorite fishing spot near an old shipyard. Hickson had just caught a fish when they both heard a weird “zipping sound” coming from behind, then it landed in a clearing about 35 yards behind them. Turning around, they saw a 30-foot-long football shaped object with two portholes. Suddenly, a door opened and a bright white light streamed out. Seconds later, three five-foot-tall figures glided out of the craft and floated toward the two frightened fishermen.

It was instantly obvious that these figures were not human. The odd-appearing beings were gray-colored with wrinkled bodies and clawlike hands..Says Hickson, “If they had a more human likeness, it would not have shocked me so. The head seemed to come directly to the shoulders, no neck, and something resembling a nose came out to a point about two inches long. On each side of the head, about where ears would be, was something similar to the nose. Directly under the nose was a slit resembling a mouth. The arms were something like human arms, but long in proportion to the body; the hands resembled a mitten—there was a thumb attached. The legs remained together and the feet looked something like elephant’s feet. The entire body was wrinkled and had a grayish color. There could have been eyes, but the area above the nose was so wrinkled, I couldn’t tell.”

Both the men had the impression that the figures were actually robots. Calvin Parker was so frightened that he fainted. Two of the entities grabbed Hickson by the arms, and the man felt himself becoming paralyzed. The third picked up Parker, and together the group moved back into the craft. Charles Hickson, however, had been in the Korean War and knew what intense fear was like. This experience, he said, was far scarier. He found himself in a room with white, rounded walls, floating and unable to move. They were each taken to separate rooms.

Next, a bright light with an eye-shaped lens came out of the wall and circled around his body as if it was examining him. The E.T.s left for a moment. Hickson called out for his friend, but got no response. Moments later, the E.T.s returned and floated Hickson back into the first room and then outside the craft. Calvin was also there, shaking with fear.

The E.T.s then returned to their craft and took off. As they left Hickson received a strong message through telepathy from the E.T.s: “We are peaceful; we meant you no harm.” The two men raced to the police station to report their encounter. To see if they were lying, the sheriff hid a tape recorder inside his desk and left the men alone. He knew that if they were lying, they would probably talk about it. But when he reviewed the tape, the men stuck to their story. Parker even broke down crying.

Further investigation revealed that several police officers in the area had also seen UFOs around the same time. The case soon became hugely famous. Both men later underwent hypnosis and lie detector tests. No evidence of hoaxing was ever found. Hickson later had further encounters involving much of his family.

Mysteries, Legends, and Unexplained Phenomena: “UFOs and Aliens” by Preston Dennett;
UFOs and Popular Culture: “An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Myth” by James R. Lewis

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According to self-professed spirit channeler J.Z. Knight of Tacoma, Washington, Ramtha is a thirty-five-thousand-year-old warrior who Knight says speaks through her whenever she is in a trance. Knight began channeling Ramtha in 1977, and when she is supposedly possessed by his spirit, she walks with a swagger and speaks in a husky voice. As channeled by Knight, Ramtha says he comes from the lost civilization of Atlantis by way of Lemuria, which was itself a highly advanced civilization that, according to Ramtha, sank into the Pacific Ocean thousands of years ago.

From 1977 to 1979, Ramtha supposedly taught Knight a variety of advanced scientific and theological concepts, as well as how to have out-of-body experiences and how to heal people with prayer and touch alone. Knight then decided to share Ramtha with the public, and she began holding Ramtha seminars—in which she goes into a trance and allows Ramtha to speak—before paying audiences, charging more than one thousand dollars per appearance.

JZ. Knight
She also sells books and tapes of Ramtha’s talks through an organization known as the Ramtha School of Enlightenment. Since then, JZ Knight/Ramtha has been having private sessions with students of Ramtha's teachings, which were called "dialogues". The dialogues were held in 24 cities between 1979 and 1988 (including Seattle, Honolulu, New York and Denver), when she decided to found Ramtha's School of Enlightenment, on land which was previously a ranch. By 1995 she had expanded her tours to include other countries in the world, such as Australia, Italy, Japan and South Africa. It is now a place where students can travel to and attend the more systematically organized lessons, usually staying there over the course of several days, called “retreats”.

The campus is located on a property owned by J.Z. Knight, under the umbrella of JZK, Inc. (a corporation by J.Z. Knight). The School's 80-acre (320,000 m2) fenced compounds are open only to staff members and students and are not open to the public.

Knight has been making immense profits from the School's activities, and from sale of books, tapes, CDs and DVDs, and in 2007 Knight had reportedly made a profit of $2.6 million in sales alone.

In 2004, various Ramtha school leaders (including James Flick, her current husband) joined community groups to strongly oppose a proposed 75,000-seat NASCAR racetrack in Yelm. However, the proposal was withdrawn.

In 2008, lessons were given to the public in more than 20 countries, including the Czech Republic, Romania and Chile for the first time.

A further controversial issue regarding Ramtha's teachings involve the so-called "endtimes", which were prophesized catastrophes. Instructions from Ramtha were given to the students, telling them to leave their friends behind if they resisted or disagreed with them. He taught that "your government is an illusion", which encouraged some students to engage in tax evasion, and he also directed students to build and prepare individual underground shelters to protect themselves against an imminent invasion of Chinese Communist soldiers from Mexico, planning to invade Seattle and the surrounding areas. Other prophesies include a holocaust would take place in 1988, the USA's involvement in a major war in 1985, a discovery in Turkey would reveal a big hidden pyramid which would reach to the center of the Earth, or that cities would be obliterated by diseases.

The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena by Patricia D. Netzley;
06:39 | 0 komentar

Palenque Image

Palenque Image is an ancient Mexican artifact—the lid of a sarcophagus found in a pre-Columbian temple in Palenque—has given rise to considerable speculation regarding the possibility of humanity’s contact with ancient astronauts in the distant past. This coffin cover is decorated with an elaborate design that appears to show a person piloting some sort of mechanical craft, perhaps even a spacecraft. Erich von Däniken and many other writers in the ancient-astronaut school of thought have referred to it as one among many anomalies that resist explanation in terms of our current understanding of the human past.

In 1935 a stone relief that very probably represents the god Kukumatz was found in Palenque (Old Kingdom). The mysterious image was carved on the lid of the tomb of K'inich Janaab' Pakal.

K'inich Janaab' Pakal was ruler of the Maya polity of Palenque in the Late Classic period of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican chronology. During a long reign of some 68 years Pakal was responsible for the construction or extension of some of Palenque's most notable surviving inscriptions and monumental architecture. Pakal ascended the throne at age 12 on July 29, 615, and lived to the age of 80. The name pakal means "shield" in the Maya language. 
Pakal’s tomb has been the focus of attention by some "ancient astronaut" enthusiasts, a genuinely unprejudiced look at the picture would make even the most die-hard sceptic stop and think. According to Erich von Däniken: There sits a human being, with the upper part of his body bent forward like a racing motorcyclist; today any child would identify his vehicle as a rocket. It is pointed at the front, then changes to strangely grooved indentations like inlet ports, widens out and terminates at the tail in a darting flame. The crouching being himself is manipulating a number of undefinable controls and has the heel of his left foot on a kind of pedal. His clothing is appropriate: short trousers with a broad belt, a jacket with a modern Japanese opening at the neck and closely fitting bands at arms and legs. With our knowledge of similar pictures, we should be surprised if the complicated headgear were missing. And there it is with the usual indentations and tubes, and something like antennae on top. He is clearly depicted as space traveller—is not only bent forward tensely, he is also looking intently at an apparatus hanging in front of his face. The astronaut's front seat is separated by struts from the rear portion of the vehicle, in which symmetrically arranged boxes, circles, points and spirals can be seen.

However the widely accepted interpretation of the sarcophagus lid is that Pakal is descending into Xibalba, the Maya underworld. Around the edges of the lid are glyphs representing the Sun, the Moon, Venus, and various constellations, locating this event in the nighttime sky. Below him is the Maya water god, who guards the underworld. Beneath Pakal are the "unfolded" jaws of a dragon or serpent, which Pakal is escaping from, ascending towards the world tree. This is a common iconographic representation of the entrance to the underworld.

Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Däniken;
UFOs and Popular Culture: “An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Myth” by James R. Lewis;

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UFOs and Popular Culture: “An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Myth” by James R. Lewis page 234
07:08 | 0 komentar

Campden Mysteries

The Campden Mysteries is an event when a man (William Harrison) thought murdered from Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire return to England. In 1660, William Harrison, was steward to the Viscountess Campden, in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, a single-streeted town among the Cotswold hills. The lady did not live in Campden House, whose owner burned it in the Great Rebellion, to spite the rebels; as Castle Tirrim was burned by its Jacobite lord in the 1615. Harrison inhabited a portion of the building which had escaped destruction. He had been for fifty years a servant of the Hickeses and Campdens, his age was seventy (which deepens the mystery), he was married, and had offspring, including Edward, his eldest son.
On a market day, in 1659, Mr. Harrison's house was broken into, at high noon, while he and his whole family were 'at the Lecture,' in church, a Puritan form of edification. A ladder had been placed against the wall, the bars of a window on the second story had been wrenched away with a ploughshare (which was left in the room), and the Lady Campden's money were stolen. The robber was never discovered--a curious fact in a small and lonely village. The times, however, were disturbed, and a wandering Cavalier or Roundhead soldier may have 'cracked the crib.' 
Not many weeks later, Harrison's servant, Perry, was heard crying for help in the garden. He showed a 'sheep-pick,' with a hacked handle, and declared that he had been set upon by two men in white, with naked swords, and had defended himself with his rustic tool. It is curious that Mr. John Paget, a writer of great acuteness, and for many years police magistrate at Hammersmith, says nothing of the robbery of 1659, and of Perry's crazy conduct in the garden. Perry's behaviour there, and his hysterical invention of the two armed men in white, give the key to his character. The two men in white were never traced, but, later, there was three men not less flagitious, and even more mysterious. They appear to have been three 'men in buckram.'

On August 16, 1660. Harrison left his house in the morning and walked the two miles to Charringworth to collect his lady's rents. The autumn day closed in, and between eight and nine o'clock old Mrs. Harrison sent the servant, John Perry, to meet his master on the way home. Lights were also left burning in Harrison's window. That night neither master nor man returned, and it is odd that the younger Harrison, Edward, did not seek for his father till very early next morning: he had the convenience, for nocturnal search, of a moon which rose late. In the morning, Edward went out and met Perry, returning alone: he had not found his master. The pair walked to Ebrington, a village half way between Campden and Charringworth, and learned that Harrison had called, on the previous evening, as he moved home through Ebrington, at the house of one Daniel.

The hour is not given, but Harrison certainly disappeared when just beyond Ebrington, within less than a mile from Campden. Edward and Perry next heard that a poor woman had picked up on the highway, beyond Ebrington, near some whins or furze, a hat, band, and comb, which were Harrison's; they were found within about half a mile of his own house. The band was bloody, the hat and comb were hacked and cut. Please observe the precise words of Sir Thomas Overbury, the justice who took the preliminary examinations:

'The Hat and Comb being hacked and cut, and the Band bloody, but nothing more could there be found.'

Therefore the hat and comb were not on Harrison's head when they were hacked and cut: otherwise they must have been blood-stained; the band worn about the throat was bloody, but there was no trace of blood on the road. This passage contains the key to the puzzle.

On hearing of the discovery of these objects all the people rushed to hunt for Harrison's corpse, which they did not find. An old man like Harrison was not likely to stay at Charringworth very late, but it seems that whatever occurred on the highway happened after twilight. Suspicion fell on John Perry, who was haled before the narrator, Sir Thomas Overbury, J.P. Perry said that after starting for Charringworth to seek his master on the previous evening, about 8.45 P.M., he met by the way William Reed of Campden, and explained to him that as he was timid in the dark he would go back and take Edward Harrison's horse and return. Perry did as he had said, and Reed left him 'at Mr. Harrison's Court gate.' Perry dallied there till one Pierce came past, and with Pierce (he did not say why) 'he went a bow's shot into the fields,' and so back once more to Harrison's gate. He now lay for an hour in a hen house, he rose at midnight, and again--the moon having now risen and dispelled his fears--he started for Charringworth. He lost his way in a mist, slept by the road-side, proceeded in the dawn to Charringworth, and found that Harrison had been there on the previous day. Then he came back and met Edward Harrison on his way to seek his father at Charringworth.

Perry's story is does not make sense at all, but Reed, Pierce, and two men at Charringworth corroborated as far as their knowledge went. Certainly Perry had been in company with Reed and Pierce, say between nine and ten on the previous night. Now, if evil had befallen Harrison it must have been before ten at night; he would not stay so late, if sober, at Charringworth. Was he usually sober? The cool way in which his wife and son took his absence suggests that he was a late-wandering old boy. They may have expected Perry to find him in his cups and tuck him up comfortably at Charringworth or at Ebrington.

Till August 24 Perry was detained in prison, or, odd to say, at the inn! He told various tales; a tinker or a servant had murdered his master and hidden him in a bean-rick, where, on search being made. Harrison, and the rents he had collected, were vanished in the azure. Perry now declared that he would tell all to Overbury, and to no other man. To him Perry averred that his mother and brother, Joan and Richard Perry, had murdered Harrison! It was his brother who, by John Perry's advice and connivance, had robbed the house in the previous year, while John 'had an alibi,' being at church. The brother, said John, buried the money in the garden. It was sought for, but was not found. His story of the 'two men in white,' who had previously attacked him in the garden, was a lie, he said.

He went on with his fables. His mother and brother, he declared, had often asked him to tell them when his master went to collect rents. He had done so after Harrison started for Charringworth on the morning of August 16. John Perry next gave an account of his expedition with his brother in the evening of the fatal day, an account which was incompatible with his previous tale of his doings and with the authentic evidence of Reed and Pierce. Their honest version destroyed Perry's new falsehood. He declared that Richard Perry and he had dogged Harrison, as he came home at night, into Lady Campden's grounds; Harrison had used a key to the private gate. Richard followed him into the grounds; John Perry, after a brief stroll, joined him there and found his mother (how did she come thither?) and Richard standing over the prostrate Harrison, whom Richard incontinently strangled. They seized Harrison's money and meant to put his body 'in the great sink by Wallington's Mill.'

John Perry left them, and knew not whether the body was actually thrown into the sink. In fact in the sink, any more than in the bean-rick. John next introduced his meeting with Pierce, but quite forgot that he had also met Reed, and did not account for that part of his first story, which Reed and Pierce had both corroborated. The hat, comb, and band John said that he himself had carried away from Harrison's body, had cut them with his knife, and thrown them into the highway. Whence the blood on the band came he neglected to say.

On the strength of this impossible farrago of insane falsehoods, Joan and Richard Perry were arrested and brought before Overbury. Not only the 'sink' but the Campden fish-pools and the ruinous parts of the house were vainly searched in quest of Harrison's body.

On August 25 the three Perrys were examined by Overbury, and Richard and the mother denied all that John laid to their charge. John persisted in his story, and Richard admitted that he and John had spoken together on the morning of the day when Harrison vanished, 'but nothing passed between them to that purpose.'

As the three were being brought back from Overbury's house to Campden an unfortunate thing happened. John was going foremost when Richard, a good way behind, dropped 'a ball of inkle from his pocket.' One of his guards picked it up, and Richard said that it 'was only his wife's hair-lace.' At one end, however, was a slip-knot. The finder took it to John, who, being a good way in front, had not seen his brother drop it. On being shown the string John shook his head, and said that 'to his sorrow he knew it, for that was the string his brother strangled his master with.' To this circumstance John swore at the ensuing trial.

The Assizes were held in September, and the Perrys were indicted both for the robbery in 1659 and the murder in 1660. They pleaded 'Guilty' to the first charge, as some one in court whispered to them to do, for the crime was covered by the Act of Pardon and Oblivion passed by Charles II at his happy Restoration. If they were innocent of the robbery, as probably they were, they acted foolishly in pleading guilty. There was no evidence against them for the robbery, except John's confession, which was evidence perhaps against John, but was none against them. They thus damaged their case, for if they were really guilty of the robbery from Harrison's house, they were the most likely people in the neighbourhood to have robbed him again and murdered him. Very probably they tied the rope round their own necks by taking advantage of the good King's indemnity.

They later withdrew their confession, and probably were innocent of the theft in 1659. On the charge of murder they were not tried in September. Sir Christopher Turner would not proceed 'because the body of Harrison was not found.' There was no evidence that Harrison was really dead.

In 1662, Harrison returned to England aboard a ship from Lisbon bearing a remarkable story. He claimed to have been abducted from England by pirates and taken abroad. He was transferred to a Turkish ship and sold into slavery near Smyrna in Anatolia (Turkey). Harrison said that after about a year and three quarters his master died. He then went to a port and stowed away on a Portuguese ship, finally returning to Dover by way of Lisbon.

Whether or not Harrison's marvelous tale was in fact true, it certainly disproved John Perry's claims that Harrison had been murdered in August 1660. It thus posed a mystery: what made John Perry make such claims?

The Project Gutenberg of Historical Mysteries by Andrew Lang;
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Guest Post: John Williams and a Ghost at the Tanglewood Music Festival

This article is written by Rob Marsh as a Guest Post writer, who should be getting back to serious stuff about now!  His site is dscomic.com

For a large part of my life I've been a huge fan of film composer John Williams, the man who has single-handedly crafted some of the greatest, and most memorable, music ever, ranging from music for the Star Wars films, Superman, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and countless other films.  And while Williams' music is generally an incredible compliment for the film, even isolated from the movie the music is an incredible experience. Ok, enough gushing praise and on with the article...

Years ago I remember reading a peculiar headline that caught my attention, namely because being the John Williams fan that I was back then, I was surprised to see his name in the news article for a somewhat strange reason.  I recall the headline: "Music-loving ghost reported around Tanglewood", and scanning the article, discovered that film-composer John Williams was mentioned in the article!  Very strange indeed!

John Williams
The story, reported back in the summer of 1992, had to do with John Williams and some others doing an imprompt ghost hunt, tracking down a music-loving ghost haunting rooms at the Tanglewood music festival, the summer home of the Boston Pops orchestra.  The reports described a ghost that apparently made noise, opened doors, turned on faucets, and even caressed someone's hair (that freaks me out thinking about it).  The ghost even supposedly spooked Leonard Bernstein shortly before his death.  Apparently the story is that Bernstein (another legendary conductor/composer) was sitting at a bay window two months before his death in 1990.  Marcia Duncan, the house manager who was with him at the time, said that he "flew out of that window seat" and "threw his arms towards the sky, saying, 'What is it that's here?  Who is it?'"  Shortly after he left the house.


Williams took part in the investigation with some others, was intrigued by the visit to the house, but had to depart for a national tour after his Tanglewood performance with the Boston Pops, and he was not available for comments after this incident. The house at Tanglewood, a three-story Victorian house, is known as Highwood Manor.  The exact age that it was built is unknown. The 58-year old Tanglewood festival decided to purchase it in 1986.  Another interesting detail of the mystery, that happened around the time people started talking about the ghost, was recorded by groundskeeper Jim Mooney, is that apparently his grounds workers moved a stone memorial from a site a couple hundred yards from the house.  The 4-foot high memorial, in the style of an old-fashioned tombstone, marked a spot where a 37-year old Oreb Andrews died in 1822 when a tree fell on him.  The memorial at the time was moved and propped against a wall of a shed, where it had been relocated to make room for a parking lot (isn't that the type of thing that you do in the movies that generally turns out bad?)

Perhaps, but my own theory is this: it's just a ghost with a great taste in music, but also a penchant for bugging people.  When I die, I have every intention to go on to meet my Maker.  But in a ghostly form, if I personally had the chance to pop in, before I left, to listen to just a little bit of John Williams' music before my spirit moved on, I think I'd take up that opportunity as well.  Its just a ghost with an exceptionally good taste in music!


Ludington Daily News - Jul 29, 1992 (via news.google.com)
Sun Journal - Jul 30, 1992 (via news.google.com)
The Telegraph - Jul 29, 1992 (via news.google.com)
09:57 | 0 komentar

The Lost Dialogues of Aristotle

Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher who lived from 384 BCE to 322 BCE. He studied under Plato, tutored and advised Alexander the Great and founded the Lyceum (a sort of ancient university). Along with Plato, he is today regarded as one of the two colossi of ancient Greek thought, and is seen by many as the single most important influence on the intellectual history of the West. Yet his surviving writings constitute only a fraction of his original output (as little as one-fifth according to traditional sources), and those that we possess are often fragmentary, cobbled together by later editors from what were effectively Aristotle’s lecture notes.Which of his writings are missing, how were they lost, and might they still be recovered?

Many works of antiquity are known to us today only via passing mentions and odd quotes. Aristotle was one of the most important thinkers of antiquity, so his missing body of work is correspondingly significant, but it also stands as an exemplar of all the other blank spots in the history of classical Western literature, from Homer’s lost epics and the missing verses of Sappho to the absent plays of Aeschylus.

Aristotle was a prolific writer who remains famous for the breadth of his intellectual scope (he has been described as one of the first polymaths). He covered subjects from metaphysics, logic, poetry and ethics to zoology, meteorology and economics. His work can be divided into two main groups. His acroatic writings, meaning those taught orally, by word of mouth, and now known as treatises, were mainly composed as study and lecture notes for use in his school (the Lyceum) and as such were not written as ‘books’ per se and not intended for publication. They were not in a polished literary style and can be difficult to read, self-contradictory and obscure,much as a modern lecturer’s course notes for him/herself might be. Some may even be notes taken by Aristotle’s students rather than his own work. Ironically, these are the only writings that survive. In classical times they were collected into some 30 works (or ‘books’), known as the Corpus Aristotelicum.

The traditional story of what happened to Aristotle’s literary estate after his death is derived from the ancient writers Strabo and Plutarch. According to their accounts, Aristotle left his writings to his successor at the Lyceum, and when he died they passed into the hands of Neleus of Scepsis.Neleus’ family later consigned the material to a cellar or pit to avoid the attentions of the royal book collectors, where it languished for decades in less than perfect conditions. In the 1st century BCE the writings were sold to a scholar who took them to Athens, where, in 86 BCE, they were snaffled up by the conquering Roman General Sulla, dispatched back to Rome and sold to Tyrannion the grammarian. Not until 70 BCE, some 250 years after the great man’s death, did they come into the possession of Andronicus of Rhodes, who compiled the scattered acroatic material into systematically organised books for the first time. It is these versions we know today. This is almost certainly not the whole story. Some of Aristotle’s works would have been available during this time –particularly his Dialogues, which had been published as books during his lifetime – and the account does not explain what happened to the majority of them subsequently.

Presumably the fate that befell the majority of Aristotle’s oeuvre was similar to that which afflicted so much other ancient literature. Although we speak of ‘books’ being ‘published’, ancient literature was handwritten on expensive papyrus (from reeds) or parchment or vellum (made from animal skin). Few copies would have been produced, and the lending and copying process was fraught with problems, including the still familiar issue of borrowers failing to return material. Since copying was difficult and expensive, only popular/in-demand books would have multiplied.

Many parchment and vellum documents were reused as palimpsests, which involved scraping off the top layer so that the new material could be written on the same surface – early medieval Christian scribes were particularly guilty of destroying antique literature in this fashion.

From the 3rd century CE the fragile, vulnerable scroll form preferred by the ancient Greeks and Romans was superseded by the sturdier codex form, which more closely resembles today’s book. Not all works successfully made this transition, again due to expense. Hungarian scientist Béla Lukács theorises that the teachers at the Lyceum, who were the main guardians of Aristotle’s literary inheritance, might have spent their scant budget on transcribing to codex form only those works they used most in their day-to-day teaching – namely the acroatic texts of the Corpus Aristotelicum.

The more widely held theory, first proposed by German classicist Werner Jaeger, is that Aristotle’s Dialogues are part of his early, less mature work – his juvenilia, which were effectively superseded by his later writings. This could explain why they were not copied as much. More recently, a historian A.P Bos has argued that it was more a matter of the changing philosophical-literary fashions of antiquity. In his reconstruction of the lost works, the themes and arguments Aristotle uses are mature but the way heillustrates them is through the use of myths and mythical narratives, a mode that went out of style from the 3rd century BCE.

Accordingly, later scholars only concerned themselves with Aristotle’s later writings. Whatever the reasons, the consensus appears to be that the rule for ancient literature was ‘multiply or die’, and Aristotle’s early works fell foul of this rule. By the time the Roman Empire collapsed and the Dark Ages swept over Europe, there were simply too few copies of the Dialogues, and of his other lost works, to survive the long roll of book-destroying calamities.

In the late 19th century, the discovery of ancient papyri in Egypt gave fresh hope to Aristotelian scholars. In 1880 fragments of a copy of a lost work of Aristotle, The Constitution of Athens, the most important of a series of 158 treatises on the constitutions of Greek states written by the great man and some of his pupils, were discovered in Egypt and purchased by the Egyptian Museum at Berlin. Then, in 1890, a group of four papyri with a complete copy of the same work was discovered by an American missionary in Egypt and purchased by the British Museum.

Inspired by this discovery, two young archaeologists from Oxford University, Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt, began to excavate rubbish mounds at Oxyrhynchus, to the south-west of Cairo in Egypt. Oxyrhynchus, which derives its name from the ‘sharp-nosed fish’ of Egyptian myth that was venerated by the inhabitants, was the capital of a province of Ptolemaic (Greek), and later Roman, Egypt. For over a thousand years it was a centre of administration and bureaucracy, as well as a typical, bustling market town with all the comings and goings of daily life. The inhabitants, and particularly the bureaucrats, made liberal use of papyrus to record everything from tax returns and accounts to school work and love letters. When a papyrus was finished with, it was dumped with the rest of the garbage on mounds outside town. Fortunately for posterity, conditions combined to preserve this material to the present day – the location is far enough from the Nile to have escaped the annual inundations, while the mounds themselves were above the water table, and were eventually covered up by hot, dry sand.

Grenfell and Hunt employed teams of labourers to unearth thousands and thousands of papyri from the rubbish mounds, more or less inventing a new discipline known as papyrology in their efforts to decipher the ancient texts. Keen students of classicism, they nurtured the hope that they would find all the lost works of antiquity. Although they were disappointed to discover mainly tax records, accounts and suchlike, they and their successors (for the project continues to this day) did uncover a wide range of previously unknown ancient literature, including poems of Pindar and Sappho, most of the works of Menander, some Sophocles and some early Christian gospels, including fragments of the ‘Sayings of Jesus’ (aka the ‘Gospel of Thomas’).

Lost works of Aristotle do not seem to have been among the treasures, but recent advances in imaging techniques are now revolutionising the science of papyrology, so new discoveries may yet be made from the Oxyrhynchus scrolls or from other finds. At present there seems to be no specific prospect of uncovering the lost Dialogues of Aristotle, but the hope remains that somewhere in the world there may exist an as-yet untapped cache of ancient scrolls or codices that has somehow survived millennia of neglect and strife. The most obvious candidates in Europe and the Near East are ancient monasteries, where books were collected from late antiquity onwards, and where the flame of scholarship continued to burn during the Dark Ages. The hope of discovering a lost Aristotle in some hidden library forms the plot of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, in which a Franciscan monk discovers Aristotle’s lost work On Comedy in the concealed library of a Benedictine Abbey in Italy in 1327. Eco’s plot echoes the widespread belief in conspiracy circles that the Catholic Church is concealing a huge cache of material in the Secret Vatican Archives, a real library of material deemed too controversial, sensitive or heretical to be made widely available.

It seems unlikely that there could be a European monastery with hitherto undiscovered chambers, and even if there were the climate is unlikely to have favoured the survival of delicate manuscripts. But perhaps there are monasteries yet to be properly explored/surveyed by modern methods in the Islamic world, which may also have a more conducive climate – for instance, where Egypt, Libya and the Levant were major centres of early Christianity and early monasticism.

Lost Histories: “Exploring the World’s Most Famous Mysteries” by Joel Levy;

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