Archive for May, 2009

I’m as bemused as anybody by the frenzy over “Ida,” the 47 million year old proto-primate whose fossil remains have became an instant global obsession.

However, an entry at Not Exactly Rocket Science, which attempts to debunk the ongoing hysteria through extreme exaggeration, may paradoxically provide some useful hints as to what is actually going on.

“The creature has been named Darwinius masillae, but also goes by Ida, the Link, the Chosen One and She Who Will Save Us All,” writes Ed Yong. “The new fossil is remarkably complete and well-preserved, although the media glossed over these facts in favour of the creature’s ability to cure swine flu. … Businesses around the world are also hoping that demand for Ida merchandise will stimulate an ailing global economy out of recession.”

She Who Will Save Us All?

Of course. It becomes clear now.

It is obvious from various accounts that the wonder-working Ida is simultaneously perceived as (1) a little girl who died at the age of nine months, (2) the mother of all humankind, and (3) a being of unimaginable antiquity.

Clearly, then, she must be an incarnation of Robert Graves’ Triple Goddess — simultaneously maiden, mother, and crone.

If the point needed any further confirmation, “Ida” is also the name of a mountain in Crete where the god Zeus is said to have been born.

I still don’t altogether understand the extent of the frenzy — but it seems undeniable that we are witnessing a modern theogony in progress.


A listing of all my posts on higher knowledge can be found here.

A general overview of the areas of interest covered at this blog can be found here.

A chronological listing of all entries at this blog, with brief descriptions, can be found here.

According to a story at Wired this week, “Researchers who reverse-engineered an ancient superglue have found that Stone Age people were smarter than we thought. Making the glue, originally used on 70,000-year-old composite tools, clearly required high-level cognitive powers.”

That’s pretty neat in itself — even though this whole “smarter than we thought” business does tend to inspire kind of a “What You Mean ‘We,’ Kimosabe” reaction.

But the really interesting part is how this superglue was created. It seems that when the researchers tried to use acacia gum — of which they’d found traces on the ancient stone tools — to attach their replicas to wooden handles, it didn’t work. It wasn’t until they added in the iron-rich pigment of which they’d also found traces that everything held together.

“Making the glue required much more than simple mixing,” the Wired article continues. “It demanded careful and sustained attention. Keeping the fire at the right temperature required certain types of wood, with a certain degree of moisture content. If glues were mixed too close to the fire, they contained air bubbles. If too dry, they weren’t cohesive; if too wet, they were weak. The Sibudu Cave’s Stone Age inhabitants, wrote the researchers, were ‘competent chemists, alchemists and pyrotechnologists.’”

Yeah — alchemists. Their word, not mine. But it was very aptly chosen.

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