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Cosmologies and visualisations of the world

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Carcharodon View Drop Down
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    Posted: 15 Jun 2010 at 21:09
Its always interesting to study the cosmologies and the views and visualisations of the world in different times and cultures. Many of the old mythologies had rather imaginative ways of trying to explain the nature of the universe. For example we have the idea of a giant tree, carrying the worlds, as in Norse mythology, or ideas about enormous tortoises or turtles that carries the world on its back and so on. We have ideas of different varieties of a flat earth, and we have also ideas of a spheric earth. Also we have notions about geocentric and heliocentric universes.

One peculiar idea was the tabernacle world, thought up by the greek traveller and later monk Cosmas Indicopleustes in the 6th century. It was a return to the thought of a flat Earth, since the idea of a round Earth had already existed for a long time. Schoolars had even figured out the circumference of the Earth in ancient times (for example Erathostenes in the third century BC). But Cosmas had his own view of the world, as is seen in a modern reconstruction of his tabernacle world, illustrated here:


Someone who has some other good examples of interesting cosmologies or visualisations of the world and universe?
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Carcharodon View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2010 at 02:27
This is a nice one, it is from Hindu cosmology and shows the world-turtle, Chukwa, carrying the elephants that carries the earth upon their backs. Chukwa swims in the primordial ocean of milk, Ksheera Sagara. In another Hindu cosmology, the turtle is Akupara and carries the earth upon his back. 

  
 


Edited by Carcharodon - 16 Jun 2010 at 19:50
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2010 at 07:37
A question related to ancient cosmologies may be about the role of experience and observation (I think experiments may perhaps have played a minor rople untill some hundred years ago, "the early modern age" but experience and observation may have been important from the earlieast ages?).
One may either view the ideas of peoples like the ancient greeks as "speculative" and result of pure intellectual activities or wonder if there was some more "down to earth" observations behind much of it. After all the Greeks over 2000 years ago may have been the peoples that travelled, knew and even colonised more of the earth than perhaps any other of the era, from Spain and even northwestern Europe to India. Perhaps Alexander "the Greats" (and his followers) attempts to Conquer the world inspired and motivated the curions minds to find out what this world that was to be conquered was like and the size of it?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2010 at 23:27
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

A question related to ancient cosmologies may be about the role of experience and observation (I think experiments may perhaps have played a minor rople untill some hundred years ago, "the early modern age" but experience and observation may have been important from the earlieast ages?).
One may either view the ideas of peoples like the ancient greeks as "speculative" and result of pure intellectual activities or wonder if there was some more "down to earth" observations behind much of it. After all the Greeks over 2000 years ago may have been the peoples that travelled, knew and even colonised more of the earth than perhaps any other of the era, from Spain and even northwestern Europe to India. Perhaps Alexander "the Greats" (and his followers) attempts to Conquer the world inspired and motivated the curions minds to find out what this world that was to be conquered was like and the size of it?

In the greek case it was probably a combination of down to earth observations and intellectual speculations that lead to some of the world views different greek authors demonstrate in their books. The observations were recorded and learned people speculated about them. Also ordinary people speculated about the nature of things, and also some of these speculations reached the books. These speculations were then elaborated in different ways.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2010 at 06:11
Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:


In the greek case it was probably a combination of down to earth observations and intellectual speculations that lead to some of the world views different greek authors demonstrate in their books. The observations were recorded and learned people speculated about them. Also ordinary people speculated about the nature of things, and also some of these speculations reached the books. These speculations were then elaborated in different ways.
We could ask how the "conditions for life and environment ciontributed to differences in cosmology of different peoples. While most other of the famous ancient civilisations were very much based on agriculture in fertile river valleys, for the greeks seamanship may have been relatively more important and to a large extend vital. Perhaps the most famous of the earliest litterary works of the greeks, the Illiad and Oddyssey, have the sea and itrs gods and goddesses as a very central motive. Suc a culture may have other priorities than river - agricultural ones (though perhaps the phoinicians and carthagians may have had some of the same view of the world?). Knowledge about the seas, the different shores and landmarks and navigation by celestial objects become vital disciplines for the navigator, what may be a great stimulus to theories somehow based upon observations.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2010 at 06:56
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

We could ask how the "conditions for life and environment ciontributed to differences in cosmology of different peoples. While most other of the famous ancient civilisations were very much based on agriculture in fertile river valleys, for the greeks seamanship may have been relatively more important and to a large extend vital. Perhaps the most famous of the earliest litterary works of the greeks, the Illiad and Oddyssey, have the sea and itrs gods and goddesses as a very central motive. Suc a culture may have other priorities than river - agricultural ones (though perhaps the phoinicians and carthagians may have had some of the same view of the world?). Knowledge about the seas, the different shores and landmarks and navigation by celestial objects become vital disciplines for the navigator, what may be a great stimulus to theories somehow based upon observations.

Yes, the sea has obviously in several cultures inspired many myths, stories and views of the world. One can imagine that also sailors that came from a riverine civilisation could have developed their own mythology and view of the world based on the things they observed when out at sea. 
And as you say, seafaring and trading peoples like the greeks would have been rather influenced by it. Also peoples like Polynesians and ancient viking age Scandinavians (especially those who lived close to the sea) would have developed world views that was inspired by marine and celestial phenomena.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Mar 2020 at 15:31
Recently the connection between the Egyptian creation story, the stars and the Great Pyramid at Giza
has been proved.
The three stars on the belt of Orion, Zeta, Epsilon and Delta were in the sky opposite the star Thuban of the constellation Draco over the Pyramids at Giza 10500 BC. This had been disputed because the computer programs didn't produce a date where this alignment existed when the building was going on. 
Until recently.

Early Egyptians impressions of the night sky formulated into various myths which then later became the core of Egyptian religion. Since its principal deities were heavenly bodies, a great deal of effort was made by the priesthood to calculate and predict the time and place of their god's appearances. Because the sun god, Ra, was the pre-eminent god, the annual solar motion along the horizon was a key astronomical observation for the Egyptians. The timing and position of the northernmost and southernmost turning points, the solstices, ultimately fixed the mythology of Egyptian cosmology. Egyptian legend declares that the sky goddess Nut gives birth to Ra once a year, catalysing both calendar development and the concept of divine royalty plus the matrilineal inheritance of the throne.

Nut is often portrayed as a naked female stretched across the sky. The Sun (Ra) is shown entering her mouth, passing through her star speckled body and emerging from her birth canal nine months later (from the spring equinox to the winter solstice). Thus, Ra becomes a self-creating god, i.e. the Universe is self-creating and eternal.


Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate. (J. R. R. Tolkien)
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