Is Archeological evidence necessary before we accept outcome of Astronomy evidence?

I receive numerous emails which essentially state and re-state the following, with some variations:

“Your Archeo-astronomy work is great (or ok) but we can not accept the conclusions derived from it unless we have some ‘SOLID’ evidence from Archeology.”


———
We certainly want evidence of any and all kinds that we can find, not just Archeology.

Those who understand how logic of scientific discovery works, and are looking at evidence (of past in case of Historical Sciences or new outcome from specially designed experiments in case of testing of new theory in science) know that any specific evidence may allow one to either ‘FALSIFY‘ a given theory or ‘CORRBORATE‘ a given theory, but NEVER to ‘PROVE‘ a specific theory.

So, do we NEED archeological evidence before we accept conclusions derived from archeo-astronomy evidence?

NOT AT ALL.

Remember, all conclusions, derived based on any evidence – archeology, archeo-astronomy, genetics, geology, etc., are always TENTATIVE and can be FALSFIED in the future.

But there is additional issue of what evidence is truly telling us. This is often misunderstood and the reason for confusion expressed in emails I receive.

For example, If say ‘iron’ artifacts are found at some archeological dig which were dated to say 1000 BCE, all it simply imply is that whoever living at that place around 1000 BCE appear to have used ‘iron’ tools.

It does not say anything if prior to 1000 BCE, if these same communities or others occupying that area, ever used ‘iron’ tools prior to 1000 BCE or not!

There may not be any people living there prior to 1000 BCE or after 1000 BCE. And if someone lived there prior to 1000 BCE, say in 2000 BCE, 5000 BCE, 10,000 BCE, 20,000 BCE, they may or may not have used ‘iron’ tools.

——-
We want to find as much evidence as we can find and from as many diverse and independent fields as possible (e.g. Astronomy, Archeology, Geology, Climatology, Genetics, Inscriptions, ancient literature). There is no one field (e.g. Archeology) that holds sway for ‘HIGHER CORRBORATION’.

In addition, it is very critical for researchers and also laypeople to comprehend what a given piece of evidence is truly implying.

We should neither extract ‘less’ (that would be very inefficient use of evidence) nor extract ‘more’ (this is dangerous and misleading, and also illogical) than what a given piece of evidence is telling us.

Thus, any evidence (even Archeological) is welcome in understanding our past history, however, it is neither a MUST nor is NECESSARY.


Reader may find it useful to ask the question the other way…

“Is astronomy evidence must (or necessary) before one accepts the conclusions of Archeology?”

In fact this question can be asked by replacing ‘Archeology’ and ‘Arecho-astronomy’ with any other two independent fields of evidence and still answer would not change.

For example, evidence from two independent fields (say Archeology and Astronomy, or Astronomy and Genetics) leading to contradictory conclusions would simply force us to go back to background assumptions (validity of astronomy simulations and their background assumptions/formule, genetic interpretations for ad-mixture or timing of ad-mixture, etc.)and question them.

This would be indeed a welcome development (although depressing and unsettling to those who are always looking for secure theories and insist of justifying their own creations – theories and proposals, for rest of their lives). And resolution of such conflicts, if it could be found, would lead to further progress/growth in our knowledge of our history (or new laws of science).

Thus, one must understand and appreciate, desire (and even insistence) for corroborative evidence to come from independent fields of research. However one must recognize that this has nothing to do with blind insistence on evidence from a specific field of research to be more reliable than others.

In fact one can make a case for such a claim, but then it won’t be for ‘Archeology‘.

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Is Archeological evidence necessary before we accept outcome of Astronomy evidence?

  1. Love your scientific scepticism. True Nyaya Shastric Hinduism. We re-affirm Shri Popper.

    But ‘archaelogy’, ‘botany’ are Necessary Corroborations of any paleoastronomically derived DATE. Because hat same text specifies local climatic conditions, and botany. There has to be rakta-chandana, Bel, lotuses, teak and Tal palms as specified. The different Kusha and rice variants (golden rice).

    • If by ‘necessary’, you mean ‘desired’, you and I are on the same page.

      On the other hand, by ‘necessary’, you mean a ‘must’ in the sense that ….astronomy corroborations can not be accepted until and unless the ‘outcome’ also corroborated by ‘Archaelogy’, ‘botany’ and such, then we are not on the same page.

      We are always at the merci of evidence and/or technology available to us in seeking corroborations for the consequences of a theory. In addition, in order to corroborate evidence from one field, we need some reference (e.g. timeline) corroborated/proposed via another field.

      Of course, ample evidence, specifically derived from distinctly independent fields (e.g. Archeology, Genetics, astronomy, Geology, etc.) is much prized and much desired.

      • Thank for you quick response, O Jedi!
        The prediction should not violate specified covariates. You cant have sediments showing sheets of ice or desert, where lush forests with specific plants are described at some time point.

        So some of these corroborations are required by the hypothesis. ‘Necessary’ more than ‘desired’.

  2. Aniran,

    You have to be more specific before I understand what exactly you are driving at. Specific problem, specific theory (you are proposed and/or you are objecting to). If you have contradictory evidence for any of the timeline I have proposed (Ramayana or Mahabharata), I would very much appreciate the details. There is need and room to explore our ancient history via multiple streams…astronomy, archeology, genetics, paleo river courses, paleo-botany, paleo-zoology, sea levels/land levels relative to sea levels, earth crust displacements and tactotic displacements. Any area you can explore would be a great help.

    Thanks

  3. Not picking any disagreement (yet). Passionate about Holocene India and Itihas. Loved what haplogroup cladistics is accomplishing and really looking forward to epigenetic markers as the next big tool. I am in that business.

    Have been paying attention to the field of palynology for a while. Here is an nice introduction section http://www.ias.ac.in/jess/aug2012/1093.pdf
    Hopefully this approach can be used elsewhere in India.

    This is some LR Burdak’s first shot at the trees/plants of the Ramayana http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flora_of_the_Indian_epic_period

    We ‘should’ find appropriate pollen in the appropriate time layers in lake beds, varves , and other sediments at Chitrakoot, Pampa etc. Naturally, if null these could disprove (but never prove textual authenticity).

    To do that we have to find something unexpected. Something that was there then but is no longer, or even some sort of a time series where specified elements are only present together at one time.

    What do we do with text that doesn’t make sense, (yet), like fly-jumping Vanaras? We cant take some text as factual and not others.

    Just sharpening my own thoughts. My lab has this kind of microscopy. Probably need to collaborate with guys in India if I want to pursue further.

    • If you could explore ‘flowring’ of Ashoka trees… their timing, if they flower multiple times a year, would be all helpful with Ramayana research. I have collected some info, but most of it is hearsay. It would be good to find references.. .(in academic literature).

      Thanks and Regards,

      Nilesh

      • What a delightful coincidence!  I just bought your Ramayana book yesterday to read on my vacation.  Leaving for India in a few days.

        Very intriguing idea. Thanks, would be happy to participate.  I love the Saraca and have dug a bit into the ethnobotany.  I do not recall their flowering habits.   Will explore after May when my big grant is due. Anirban Banerjee

    • Yes Butea is one problematical entity, as it is often regarded as typical of end-stage forest. That is difficult to reconcile with ancient India with lush forests and rainfall. Nevertheless I am off to visiting my home town of Jamshedpur, SInghbhum,  where the Flame of the Forest grows freely. Early spring bloom is currently in Phalgun whereas in RAmayanic times it would have been month of Chaitra?, or much later.  As a kid there, some 50 years ago, I grew up on a heavy diet of Rabindra Sangeet, where Kimshuka and Palash play prominently.

      Looking forward to reading your book (have not started yet). Saving it in anticipation and curious to see how you may date the seasons back then.   We really need to chat about Pushpak.

      Thanks for communicating. God bless your vim, vigour and focus.

  4. As usual, it was a heartfelt trip. Made more enjoyable as I cruised through Ch 16 of your book on Ramayaan. It was a most befitting companion on this vacation. Until I lost my Kindle on the plane back.

    Evidently, Palash blooms in only in spring, not after rains. It seems also quite sensitive to moisture. A few miles East from the western borders of Bengal I saw that it mostly disappeared. Lovely drive.

    The book is superb. Pedantic at places, but I suppose because the audience has to be educated on the scientific method, falsifiability etc. However, great punchy reading and intricate. Your treatment of luni-Soli calndars in Indian names, and precession was clear, (and reassured your general scientific credibility). Very engaging.

    But I was distressed by failure to meet the exaltation criteria. The vedanga, Jyotish, is not only Astronomy but also Astrology. The notions of ‘cruel’ planets (Sun, Mars); ‘aspecting’ 1, 7, 4, 10 houses, the ideas of a nakshatra lagna, etc. bespeak astrology. Thus Ram is epitome, sin qua non of 5 exalted planets (in the positions you included) as prescribed in Jyotish.. Even Krishna is not believed to have that many exalted planets. (Many born in 1955 do).
    The suggestion of “all in the sky” is unsatisfying. Are there really any such dates (ie 5 exalted planets) in that era?

    Thanks
    Anirban

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s