A Disease?


History, even ancient history, brings us stories about disease. Since recorded history we have been able to look back at many outbreaks of various virulent diseases. The records of such things in really ancient history are much scarcer. In fact, the field is narrowed considerably by the time we reach c2000 BCE. Most of these stories come from religious texts, where we can read about all sorts of afflictions which hit various people at different times. These events are generally put down to, God’s wrath.

Some of them have been looked at carefully by experts. One army seems to have been decimated through their contact with mice. The experts think that the place they were camped at was over run by mice, and that the soldiers picked up a deadly disease because of it. But this incidence was interpreted in the religious text as God’s wrath. Obviously no one knew just exactly what happened, other than the enemy’s army was practically wiped out. Must have been God’s wrath, said the recorders of this event. We can forgive their ignorance since the answer was quite technical and needed a microscope among other things. But it could always be argued that the mice were God’s wrath.

There’s a story in the Irish mythologies which also tells of one group of people who died “all in the space of one day”. No doubt a bit of an exaggeration, but the point being that the people became ill and died soon after. All of them, which is likely also an exaggeration, but obviously took a large percentage of the population. After all, if they all died, who would be left to tell the tale? This story comes to us through Fintan, the Ancient White One. He recounts the history of the different groups of people who went to Ireland in ancient times. One whole group of people became ill and died. God’s wrath didn’t come into it at all, not even the monks added that. In fact, no reason for their illness is given at all. There was no moralizing about their life style, nor anything negative connected to the story of these people. This is also about the only time that you read about such a thing happening in the Irish mythologies. Obviously a large event which made a lasting impression.

The question is, would rulers of city states in ancient times have allowed their scribes to record such events, or did they just stick to recording religious rites, trade, battles, treaties, marriages, deaths, etc.? It wouldn’t be good for trade if you let on there was a problem. No ruler was going to admit publicly, that he was out of favour with God or the gods. The population would make up its own mind about that. For instance, did the Egyptians record the various things which befell them during the time of Moses? It would seem not, since the experts still don’t know whether Moses really existed , never mind which Pharaoh was ruler at that supposed time. So far there has been nothing found in Egyptian records about these events.

Most ancient societies seem to have been heavily influenced by their belief in God or the gods. Any city-state or country to suffer a great loss of life through disease would have been believed to have been cursed by God or the gods. It’s not likely that the rulers of such places would record such a thing. Anyone among the educated and craftsmen would have abandoned the place if they could. No one would want to live in a place that was cursed. No one would want to live in a place where people were dying wholesale of a disease. The peasants and poor would have been left behind and likely died. This is what has always happened throughout history. It was always the educated, affluent and talented that were  the most mobile, the poor generally stayed in place.

It isn’t likely that the people leaving would tell their sorry tale when they got to wherever they were going. If they settled in a new community, it isn’t likely that they would tell people that they had come from a place that was cursed. Nor would they have mentioned disease and people dying of that disease. They would have been shunned by the people in their new chosen community. If this new group of people had found out what had happened, and anything bad happened in their territory, the new comers would have been blamed. It wouldn’t matter if the disease was different or if it was the sheep that were ill and dying, the newcomers would still have been blamed. It isn’t that long ago that there were actual witch hunts. Sometimes over nothing more than a bad crop or a sick cow.

After reading a great deal of history, it became  obvious that something quite out of the ordinary happened c3200 BCE. Something which seems to have changed a great many things. It has been estimated that Mesopotamia lost about sixty thousand of its citizens. Uruk was the only city to gain in population, but all the other big cities like Ur and Eridu, as well as the countryside, seem to have lost people. Some have attributed this sudden decline in population to the dispersal after the Tower of Babel incident. No famine, weather or war details seem to account for this. Suddenly, all sorts of new constructions in many different places took place. Civilizations, fully functional, with every sort of craft, astronomers, priests, kings, scribes, smiths, architects, farmers, etc. pops up in places which saw nothing but hunter- gatherers and homestead farmers before that. All of them under unexplained circumstances, leaving us wondering, why then? What caused this sudden explosion of seeming knowledge of building, etc.? Why does there seem to have been mass movements of people? Apart from the Tower of Babel, disease could be the answer.

The Feudal System came to a crashing halt after the plague took hold of Europe. If there is little recorded history of those times in five thousand years, will archaeologists be left scratching their heads then also? What will they make of the remains in the plague pits were people were buried by the hundreds? Will they think disease or massacre? Such mass graves exist also. Or will they come across a few records mentioning this disease, and then think the masses of dead were victims of human sacrifice? Knowing what we know makes this sound illogical, but if you had nothing to go by but a few scraps of paper here and  there, if any survived, and then you found one of those plague pits…………………? One of the current ideas is that Stonehenge was a Temple of death, will archaeologists think that of Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s Cathedral? After all, there are a great many people buried within them.

We can only see through a glass darkly in the field of ancient history. Our knowledge of them is miniscule compared to the vibrant life such city states must have embodied.   All that is left are fragments of cities, bones, weapons, pottery and some spectacular treasures, by which these places have been dated. Experts debate about the meaning of carvings, wall paintings, sculpture,  ancient religions, etc. There are more opinions out there than there are artefacts. Opinions also change, some of what was believed in the 1800s is now considered archaic.

The Mold Gold Cape is one of the most outstanding sheet gold artefacts which has been found. It is unique, in a class of its own, and nothing like it has been found anywhere else in the world. It was hammered out of one ingot of gold. Found broken and in fragments at Bryn yr Ellylon near Mold, Flintshire, Wales in 1830, it was first thought to have been a corselet or breast-plate which passed under the arms. In 1904 the British Museum was presenting it as a chest ornament for a pony. It wasn’t until 1950 that its form suggested that it was a cape, and it wasn’t until 2002 that all the missing pieces were put together, proving that it was a cape. It is dated 1900-1600 BCE, and it is not known whether this was buried with a man or a woman. However, since it is only 18 inches wide, it is thought to have been a woman. Some 200 to 300 hundred amber beads were also found, presumably part of the decoration of the cape. Only one bead remains in the British Museum.

Although we can admire the amazing artistry which went into creating this cape, it tells us next to nothing about the society this person lived in, except that there was a certain amount of wealth, and that it was likely connected to the Great Orme copper mine. It tells us nothing about the person who wore this cape, only that she must have been important. How then can we try to interpret these people’s motives for doing certain things? Like seemingly abandoning one area of the globe, after which ‘civilization’ comes fully formed in other parts, when there is no concrete evidence to show us why this occurred.

Ancestor by Susan Seddon Boulet

The Mold Gold Cape, The British Museum

The Golden Barrow Treasures

The Golden Barrow or Upton Lovell G2e was near the River Wylye, slightly South West of Stonehenge. Since its excavation in 1803, it has been destroyed. This barrow contained as  many costly and interesting treasures as the Bush Barrow. There was more than one cremation found in this barrow, but the treasures only seem to have been with one person. It isn’t known whether this was a man or a woman, since necklaces may have been worn by anyone. On the other hand, the Wessex lord in the Bush Barrow had no necklaces with him, nor did the Amesbury Archer, nor his family member, who may have been his son. He also had gold ‘hair tresses’. Perhaps this particular person was a woman.

William Cunnington had the following to say about this barrow.

“TUMULUS XX (AW 98) Copy of a letter to H. P. Wyndham Esq July 28th 1803

Sir I have this day opened a barrow in Upton Lovell it is situated in the meads a few yards north of the river Wylye. As the discoveries in this barrow are more important in their nature than any other ever yet made I hasten to inform you the particulars. This Barrow of a pyramidal form or rather like the common houses, pointing East to West, is in the base 52 by 32 feet, the slope 22 feet, the length on top 22 feet. The North side of the barrow is extremely ? the south side is much mutilated. On making a section lengthways of the barrow, at about two feet deep we found in a very shallow cist human burnt bones piled in a little heap, and at a foots distance a considerable quantity of ashes, which also contained small fragments of human bones, upon which and at two feet distant from the bones were found the following articles of pure gold, which are neatly wrought and highly polished, viz about ten gold beads* made in the form of a drum ? two ends to ……off and perforated in the sides…see Plate XI fig 5…….. a thin plate of the same metal…….nearly 9 inches by 6 inches long, this is very neatly ornamented as you will see by plate XI fig ?………by a beautiful Bulla of conical form, see figure 3 in the same plate- and inside this is a solid cone of wood, the gold which completely covered it is very thin, at the base are two holes for a thread or wire by which it was suspended see fig 4. near the above were found of four gold articles viz.. two of which that appeared once to have covered the ends of staffs (some of my friends say they are small boxes. see plate XI fig 1 and 2. Among the gold ornaments lay several flat pieces of amber, about the eighth of an inch in thickness, and about an inch wide, -they were all perforated lengthways but were sadly broken in getting out. ( see plate two fig 2 when joined they were the exact form of those found in Deverell Barrow only bigger). What is very extraordinary there were also nearly one thousand  amber beads of different sizes see Plat X fig 2. – Close to the pile of ashes we found a very small urn see Plate X fig 1. Also a lance head of brass and a pin of the same metal-see the same plate. The urn is of very extraordinary form, appearing as though it had been studded all over with small black grapes. In this barrow, contrary to the usual custom of interment on the Downs, which is generally on, or in the native soil we found the cist nearly on top of the barrow and this deviation was probably occasioned by the wetness of the soil, the barrow being near the river. We find in other respects a similar method of internment to what we find in many other barrows, the small urn, lance head of brass, brass pin etc are common. From the profusion of valuable ornaments, for valuable they must have been at the period of their internment, we might naturally conclude this barrow to have been the sepulchre of a great chief of the Belgic + Britons. +Mr. Coxe objects to the word Belgic, suppose we say British chief near the time of Caesars invasion.” (1)

Shale and amber beads, and the shale core of the gold covered  button

William Cunnington was a wee bit off with his dates, since it is now thought that the cremation dates 1900-1600 BCE, but like Bush Barrow, it could be older.  The gold artefacts from both barrows do look as if the same person made them. At the Wiltshire Heritage Museum, the bronze lance head is listed as a knife dagger, and the bronze pin is listed as an awl. The above amber and shale beads are believed to have been a necklace.

The gold beads, which were drum shaped, approximately 1/2 an inch long, had ends which could be screwed off, they were small containers, and could be opened even while being worn, perhaps as part of a bracelet, with the gold button used as a fastener. The button would have been on the outside of the arm. This fancy button is gold  foil over shale, named a Bulla by William Cunnington, and has holes drilled in a shallow V shape in the bottom. The measurements given for the gold cover are 47 mm in diameter and 43 mm in height.

Gold beads from the Golden Barrow

Gold Button showing top and undersideHow the bracelet may have looked and the method of tying it together.

Once the ends of the cord went through the button, it wouldn’t have to be removed again. It would be untied and loosened when removing it from your arm, but the end of the cord would stay through both holes. These ends may have been decorated with long hair from a cow’s tail, feathers or perhaps some of the amber beads which were found. Bracelets of this general form were commonly seen on the carvings of rulers from Sumer, Babylon, and Assyria. The ones from the area of the Fertile Crescent, usually had a flower on them. The button has the same triangle or zigzag decoration as was found on the large gold lozenge from the Bush Barrow. But the button has an extra surprise. On the bottom the design is the same as the central part of the Clandon Barrow lozenge, which was another device connected to mathematical coding as shown by Martin Doutré. This lozenge must also have been made by the same person.

The Clandon Barrow lozenge construction as drawn by Anthony Johnson

These mathematical codes were quite complicated, and were connected to astronomy, surveying, navigation, calendar keeping, weights, measures and volumes. The various articles which were inscribed with these codes, would have been used as memory devices. A question from a fellow blogger, made me investigate the Rillaton and Ringlemere cups a little closer. These were found at two different places and not with the Golden Barrow treasure.

The Rillaton cup (left) is 9 cm high, and the Ringlemere cup (right) is 11 cm high. One of my measuring cups looks to be about the same size as the Rillaton cup, only a little taller. 9 cm up the side of my cup gives me one pint. These cups may not have been for drinking beverages, instead they may have been measuring cups for some other purpose. The Ringlemere cup may have a pint capacity at the top of the corrugations, and perhaps another measurement when full. It may have held three cups when full. The corrugations likely indicated different measures, both dry and liquid.

A pint is an interesting measure since it can be found in both dry and liquid Imperial measure. Liquid measure: 4 gills = 1 pint; 2 pints = 1 quart; 4 quarts = 1 gallon; 1 gallon = 231 cubic inches. Dry measure: 2 pints = 1 quart; 8 quarts = 1 peck; 4 pecks = 1 bushel; 10 pecks or 2 1/2 bushels = 1 barrel; 1 bushel = 2150.42 cubic inches. Thinking of the other mathematical codes found in the other gold objects, makes me wonder what measurements could be found in each groove of the corrugations. I don’t suppose the British Museum would allow me to conduct an investigation, unfortunately.

The handles on these cups are held to the body by lozenge-shaped rivets. The way they are attached makes them look like small Squares of Enlightenment. These lozenges, zigzags, and triangles are all little signatures of a highly evolved system of weights and measures. All these systems stem from astronomy, and do seem to have been around for thousands of years before we see the proof of such things in the UK and Ireland. However, these people may have used wood, stone, pottery or some other material for their original measuring devices. A piece of simple cord could have had knots tied in it at the appropriate places. It would be small, light and easy to carry around, but such things in the UK and Ireland would have decayed long ago. It’s obvious that whoever made these gold artefacts, had some sort of measuring device, and knew all the mathematical coding. The people using them would also have understood the coding, which means that we are looking at some very well educated people. The mathematics involved are really quite astounding.

Because these artefacts do all seem to be connected to measures of all sorts, based originally on the circumference of the Earth, it is quite possible that the cups, the Clandon Barrow treasure, the Bush Barrow Treasure, and the Golden Barrow treasure were all made by the same craftsman. I don’t imagine there were that many goldsmiths running about in those days who would have all this knowledge. In ancient times smiths were considered holy because they used the four ancient elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water to make their artistic creations. In Egypt they were a priesthood, they were the magicians who could turn a solid substance into a liquid, and then reshape the hardened metal into whatever shape they wanted. The biggest percentage of the population would still have been using stone tools, so these ‘ornaments’ must have been mind-boggling for anyone who saw them. The Amesbury Archer being the foremost candidate as craftsman, since he had the gold ‘hair tresses’, the metal working kit, and the ‘wrist guards’ which were actually measuring devices. Perhaps the hair tresses were a sign of their profession.

Getting back to these interesting gold beads, they had me wondering what was kept in the containers. What were they for? What use did they have? They were strung together through two holes in the sides rather than two holes through the ends, which would have made it possible to separate one from its companions to be able to undo one of the lids, but why? I had several thoughts about this. Perhaps special powders were kept in them for creating green smoke, red smoke or sparkles when applied to a fire. Done on the sly of course, the peasants wouldn’t have known that there were special powders hiding in the bracelet. Such things were generally done after dark, so the only light may have been the fire.

But then I thought perhaps this person was keeping track of different women’s pregnancies. One container per person, and after each month went by, you would add a grain seed or perhaps a small piece of gravel. Questions would have been asked to determine which phase of the Moon, and how long ago this person thought they became pregnant. However, it is also possible that they were keeping track of different weights belonging to various systems. Wheat seeds were once at the root of weight measures. This is why we still have, grains, as a weight measure. Among the Hebrew desert weight (light) measures  can be found 131.25 grains. Having some wheat seed on hand, I did a little experiment. Each one of these gold containers could hold 12 wheat seeds, making a total of 132 if all the containers held 12 each. This bracelet now becomes a great deal more than just jewellery. The button likely had measures in its size and decorations. Drawing a triangle with base 47 cm and height 43 cm, pretty much gives you an equilateral triangle. The central mathematical codes of the Clandon Barrow lozenge are also on the bottom of the button. Considering what else has been discovered, coloured smoke seems rather lame. But who knows? These people were into dual purpose things.


The next piece is a gold plaque 144 mm by 68 mm, according to the Wiltshire Heritage Museum. It once had a wood back as did the two large gold lozenges. I’ve been stringing lines on it out of curiosity. The large lozenge has angles of 80° and 100°, these are the same as the large gold lozenge from the Bush Barrow. This area may have been connected to Solar/Lunar measurements. The tiny lozenges in the net at each end of the plaque have angles of 60° and 120°, which is what the small gold lozenge from the Bush Barrow had. This net is reminiscent of the lozenges I strung across England, which had to do with surveying. As a final bonus it has cording around the edge, the measuring cord. If the museum’s measurements are correct, then the circumference of the plaque would be 424 mm or 42.4 cm. 10 cm = 4 inches. So the circumference would be 16.96 inches. Dividing 16.96 by the magic number of hidden secrets, 4, I get 4.24 inches, which is a reflection and progression of 424 mm and 42.4 cm. This is the magic of metrology, all numbers in all systems are interconnected, having stemmed from one source, the Great Pyramid, which many consider to be much older than Khufu, who is supposed to have had it built.

Although I am not a mathematician, I’d say this gold plaque is likely full of mathematical coding, just like the gold lozenges. Seems these gold artefacts were more than mere jewellery, they were memory devices covering a wide range of measurements of all types. Being made of gold, they wouldn’t rot, their hidden knowledge has been there all the time, but few people have recognized their significance, thinking of them just as ornaments instead. Considering their function, they may be much older than Bush Barrow or Golden Barrow. They could well have been heirlooms when they were finally buried, possibly dating back to before 2300 BCE.  These articles may have been the ‘gold standard’, literally, of measurements in England at that time. They may have been used by the elite to keep an eye on the merchants’ measures, to make sure they were not short-changing the common folk. The Bell Beakers may have become so popular because they may have held a certain capacity or capacities, and became a common man’s measuring device all over Europe.

Two conical bosses and two flat pommels were found also. These were first interpreted by Sir Richard Colt-Hoare as small boxes, but William Cunnington found them several inches apart, suggesting they were the ends of two wooden sceptres. Unfortunately it doesn’t tell us how long these sceptres may have been. They may have been measuring rods, rather than just sceptres. This would be in keeping with the other measuring devices.

This last piece is quite fascinating. It is thought to have been an incense burner. Although several incense burners have been found in various barrows, this one is unique. There are 108 small knobs, which seem to have been applied to the pottery one by one. There were holes drilled into the pottery between these nodules. It’s rather made like a net.

All in all, these treasures are quite amazing, particularly all the mathematical coding found in these pieces. They must have been incredibly costly at that stage in history. Such gold instruments would be extremely costly now, even the lunula shaped amber necklace would cost a fortune today. Who were the people who owned these items? Have we stumbled upon the people named the Tuatha Danann? Were they the people of the goddess Anu, D’Anu, or should that be the god Anu, or his wife Antu? The Abantu of South Africa are Ab Antu, the children of Antu. D’Anu in Sumerian would mean, of Anu. This puts us back with Anu’s White Temple and Inanna’s Temple in Uruk. The artefacts from England that we have been looking at had the same design elements as the cone mosaics at Inanna’s Temple.  It’s all those names, Danann, Manannan, Inanna. The earliest form of Bran the Blessed’s name was Uran, which became Vran, and then Bran. Uran from Ur or Uruk? I am not through investigating these gold artefacts, and am making further enquiries regarding these. I will post my findings at a later date……….I hope.

References and pictures

For anyone interested in the mathematics which has been found at Stonehenge and on the Bush Barrow and Clandon Barrow lozenges, see Martin Doutré’s work at Ancient Celtic New Zealand, and D. P. Gregg’s, The Stonehenge Codes, which is in PDF form, so you can download it and read it at your leisure, it will take a while. For other measurements of various landmarks, megaliths, and ancient constructions in many countries, see Ancient-wisdom.co.uk. This is an excellent site with clear concise facts and plenty of detail and great pictures.

(1) William Cunnington, Manuscript Letters, Vol., p.35-6

Wiltshire Heritage Museum, articles and pictures of the Golden Barrow treasures, listed as Upton Lovell G2e.

British Museum, the Rillaton and Ringlemere cups

Drawing of the Clandon Barrow lozenge construction method, Anthony Johnson, at Wikipedia entitled Clandon Barrow.

Drawings of the amber and shale necklace, and the gold bracelet, J. Rankin