THEOSOPHY, Vol. 39, No. 2, December, 1950
(Pages 65-68; Size: 13K)
(Number 9 of an 11-part series)



THE world was startled at the close of the eighteenth century by the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum which exposed the ruins of those ancient cities, destroyed by earthquake and the eruption of Vesuvius A.D. 79. As The Secret Doctrine points out, the existence of these places had long been denied, and attributed to mere fairy legends: "Yet Schliemann proved that Troy had really existed, and the two cities, though buried for long ages under the Vesuvian lava, have had their resurrection day, and live again on the surface of the earth." (S.D. II, 236.) Strikingly, the chief result of their discovery was not found in a greater willingness on the part of archaeologists and the public to accept antiquity as anything more than a field of primitive survivals. Rather, it inaugurated the artistic and architectural pleasures of the Adams period in England, characterized by lightness and grace, the tendency towards straight lines and subdued colour-tones, just as Chandler's Antiquities of Ionia, published in 1769, is said to have had a similar effect upon Colonial architecture in New England and the Southern States. Many interesting discoveries have been made in various parts of the world since the unearthing of Pompeii and Herculaneum; but, in the main, it is still true to say that reluctance to admit the claims of ancient peoples to cultural values is a marked feature of contemporary thought. Yet drops of water wear away the hardest stone, and further discoveries being made at Magdalensberg, the 1,000-metre peak some 10 miles north-east of Klagenfurt, the modern capital of Carinthia, deserve to be put on record. Experts of the Austrian Institute of Archaeology who are in charge of the excavations are confident that when their work has been completed, only Pompeii itself will rival the Magdalensberg city in extent, and possibly not even Pompeii in interest.

Preliminary exploration of the site has proved that long before Noricum became a Roman province under Caesar Augustus in 15 B.C., there was a large and prosperous town which covered the whole of the upper slopes of the mountain. Traces of Roman merchant adventurers indicate that they were having profitable dealings with the Celtic inhabitants throughout the first century before Christ and even earlier. The Vienna correspondent of the London Times reports (January 3, 1950) that "pre-Roman as well as Roman gravestones have been discovered showing native Celts wearing the Roman toga while their wives were still wearing a native dress which bears a marked resemblance to the modern Austrian dirndl." He goes on to say:

As far back as 1908 the foundations of a Roman temple had been discovered some 600 ft. from the summit of the mountain. Within a few yards of this discovery there was found in 1949, almost intact except for the roof, a building which was evidently a parliamentary assembly hall. This structure had walls over 30 ft. high and bears evidence of the fact that Roman builders used iron rods as reinforcement for concrete. The floors and parts of the walls are covered with mosaics and wall paintings.... It is hoped to restore the hall, except the roof, almost exactly as it used to be with its heating system and a warmed couch-like recess which was clearly reserved for the nobles who attended the meetings.
The ancients have a way of coming into their own, and, in the Times account of the Magdalensberg discoveries, we find Plutarch (A.D. 46-120) has been justified in a historical reference. We quote:
A small trial excavation in the area has disclosed what is believed to be the first confirmation in Continental Europe of the statement in Plutarch's Questiones Conviviales "that clever people had found out how to keep food cold during the summer." There can at any rate be no doubt that the well-like structure built into the wall of a shed about A.D. 100 is a cold storage chamber. It is about seven feet deep and the sides are grooved to hold a food container. It was probably surrounded with an ice-pack prepared during the winter and kept from melting by some form of wood insulation, possibly lined with hay as in the modern haybox.
So far, the soil of the site has hardly been scratched, and it will take many years and much money before the whole place is cleared. We are reminded by the accounts of explorations in recent years of H. P. Blavatsky's remark (S.D. II, 236): "How many more cities and localities called 'fabulous' are on the list of future discoveries ... those alone can tell who read the decrees of Fate in the astral light."

In H.P.B.'s day the archaeologists were trying to dwarf antiquity and ancient Wisdom, by tampering with chronology (S.D. I, 676). The earlier men of science jeered even at the famous Schliemann (1822-1890), pioneer of the scientific investigation of ancient Greek sites, and discoverer of the buried city of Mycenae, chiefly because they knew that all his life up to middle age had been spent in business pursuits. But although the manners of scholars may have improved somewhat since his day, chronological myopia remains. Mr. Stanly Casson, for instance, in The Discovery of Man (1940), referring to the remarkable excavations at Mohenjo-Daro in the Indus Valley (the opening of the site was due to the acumen of Mr. R. D. Banerji), suggests that the civilization thus disclosed is "one more to add to the growing list of primitive successes of man in his struggle to achieve communal organization" (p. 306). He even goes so far as to suppose that the whole culture derives from the West, and this notwithstanding his own statement in another place that "here was a civilization in an extraordinarily advanced stage of development," with a very approximate date fixed at the third millennium B.C. Work began at Mohenjo-Daro in 1924. It has just been reported that the Archaeological Department of Pakistan, less than three years old, has completed a successful first season's excavation there with funds made available by the Pakistan Government and the British Academy.

The London Times (May 10, 1950) gives an account of the position today at this important site. There is a scattering of partly excavated mounds having a circuit of three miles and dominated by a citadel which rises as an artificial platform 30 feet above the plain and includes a series of notable religious and administrative buildings. Among these is a building which, on emerging from the soil, looked like a fortress:

But its primary function is now seen to have been the provision of a massive platform, 150 ft. long and later twice enlarged, to carry the great granary of the citadel. At its summit the platform is intersected by air-ducts to ventilate the floor of the actual storehouse, which was almost certainly of timber. Along the northern side was a loading-platform, preserved nearly to its original height with an alcove near the outer end for hauling up supplies. An interesting structural feature is the incorporation of timber bonds in the brickwork, both superficially and in the internal mass. This constitutes a new feature in Indus Civilization architecture, though it has analogies in other places and periods and may here represent a reinforced mud-brick prototype. The inclusion of this large granary in the citadel recalls the presence of 12 small granaries in a regimented compound within the shadow of the citadel of the sister-city of Harappa in the Punjab, and implies a regulated grain-supply under the immediate control of the citadel authorities. The new discovery thus has the double distinction of providing at the same time the best-preserved building at present known from the Indus cities and a significant new document for our reconstruction of their economy.
It appears, too, that while the main work was in progress a secondary excavation disclosed a cluster of rectangular bastions, the earliest of them timber-bonded like the granary.
The deposit of alluvium through the centuries has so raised the water-table of the Indus valley that the earlier phases of Mohenjo-Daro are now engulfed and have never been reached by the archaeologist. During the past month digging was carried for the first time to a depth of 10 ft. below the present water-level, but at that depth evidences of occupation were still encountered and the problem of the origin of the city is still unsolved.
So many things remain unsolved in archaeological research. A hint as to the Indus Valley civilization is in the S.D. (II, 417):
...the river "Ethiops" (referred to by Aeschylus in Prometheus Bound) is certainly the Indus, and it is also the Nil or Nila. It is the river born on the Kailas (heaven) mountain, the mansion of the gods -- 22,000 ft. above the level of the sea. It was the Ethiops river -- and was so called by the Greeks, long before the days of Alexander -- because its banks, from Attock down to Sind, were peopled by tribes generally referred to as the Eastern Ethiopians. India and Egypt were two kindred nations, and the Eastern Ethiopians -- the mighty builders -- have come from India,...
Would that more scholars followed the suggestion of Schweigger, in his Introduction to Mythology through Natural History, that there is a lost natural philosophy of antiquity (Isis Unveiled, I, 235).H. P. Blavatsky proved the fact in her published works, and afforded many a clue to the puzzled archaeologist, amongst others. Alas, like Schliemann, she was derided, for her academic qualifications were nil, and, what is worse, she was a woman! Also, like Schliemann, her reputation will remain secure, and, in this field of archaeology, she will yet be shown to have revealed a new continent of thought.

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(1) NOTE.--H. P. Blavatsky took pains to extend the "theosophical view" as far into the literature, the culture, the science, and the scholarship of the time as impartial investigations in the various fields would permit. Other corroborative testimony appears as new avenues of thought are opened by modern thinkers, and "Extensions of Evidence" aims to scan common grounds whereon the theosophist may meet the race mind. --Editors THEOSOPHY.
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