Third Study Session: Part Two

Well, it will just have to bloody well wait! Find Science In History! Find it! Find it! Just to prove that the ancient Greeks knew a thing or two. But it's always the case, rubbish info comes easily to hand but the good stuff hides away!

Lizzie hasn't moved any books. So it's just got to be here! Just to satisfy a need to open my eyes to the fact that a golden thread of technical achievement was around even in ancient times. It helps to soften the blank wall of conjecture. There's something on catapults. So what will it get us? Nothing save immediate satisfaction, So, why the hell are we doing this?


Hang about - Kill We! This is all my doing and I have dragged my poor helpful Mouse into it, and most of our friends have had to suffer - and I'm not even getting paid for it!
And why do I need catapults? Silly bugger!

But to a curious person surrounded by mystery, that curious person strives to solve his measure of discontent. OK, so where am I at?

I mean - mathematics is pure reason, proofs and science. There is still in existence a cube root extractor designed by some unknown Greek engineer of the third or possibly fourth century BC, a simple right-angle tool of bronze with a parallel slide bar which, when properly aligned, will yield approximately correct results for design of a stone-throwing catapult. Quite clearly then these ancient engineers surrounded by mystery were probing into a domain where world knowledge had not yet penetrated. The reason we know about this fascinating minutia is simply because of ancient libraries, the texts of which are still preserved and available. And it must have been nice to know that science could knock down your enemy's wall with five shots at three hundred yards range! And the range depends on the weight of the missile, right! So, I must find the effin' book.

An urgent knock sounds. I bet this means trubble at t' mill!

"Can't find Dad!"

Dad with his daughter and two grandchildren are in Paloma Beach. Dad went out for a walk along that stony beach behind that funny building. He shouldn't have gone alone - not at his age!

Well, he's not that old but has been subject to a minor stroke. Hopefully his insurance will cover it otherwise it means the green hospital and a bill.

So it's down tools and start looking. Lizzie and Dad's daughter search the top path behind the beach. This area is being turned into an open-air club with a band stand, tables and a car park. Lots of wild shrubbery is being cleared away and we are fearful of the noise, with masses of cars parked in our quiet location. I take the stony beach by the Costamar building, good for smooth stones perfect for door stops and paper weights. I'm not really looking for poor old Dad but spying out likely raw material. Thankfully a knowing shout reaches me and I turn back. Ambling along, surprised at our devoted interest, Dad reassures us he was not lost.

A friendly warning - don't let him have the keys!

Problem solved: where was I?

"Why don't we ask Lori?" Petal suggests, "Or Josef?"

Well, of course. Lori doesn't know much about homeland stuff, evacuated with an aunt's family in South America, spending an early adulthood as a crewman with the British India Steamship Company and far away from civil strife. But we might learn something from Josef, though he's a bit tight-lipped about his father's doings in the civil war period. In those days men and women who tongued the Silbo got beaten up by the police who were all Franco's men. Recollections from Josef's father might lead him into trouble; he did once say, somewhat reluctantly: "The Menceys (kings) have gone. There is no history, only men of virtue who say nothing and keep the peace."

"But you Briddish have got such a history!" as our California cousins tell us. "Agreed! but we sort of wear it, we don't wave it about."

Are we really such smug buggers? British nonchalance doesn't wear too well in The Golden State. It doesn't wear too well with the Irish and the Scots either, as I was once reminded by the father of Sexy Legs whose voice derives from north of the border!

Anyway, artefacts discovered here that show Arab and Balearic influences are the closest we can get to a start point. Fancy! After all this argy-bargy and we're still at the start point!

Petalmost has a serious face, so today she is Chairman Mouse, and she agrees: "You can make omelettes out of eggs but you can't make eggs out of omelettes!"

"Eggs-actly! Still wonder, though. What a turn up if we actually found the Atlanteans beneath all this. The unobtainium obtained, so to speak."

"Too far gone, ground into dust by now. There must be millions of artifacts that now are just part of the earth. You probably tread on them without knowing. Is it worth another coffee?"

Is this a new potem or the remainder of the old? For I've forgotten where we're at - I mean where I'm at!

A knock, a gentle knock... Not another client! I stiffen with horror. Can't be Mrs Mouthpiece, she's not due out till September!

"Well, hi, Bob! Have a good trip?"

Broad smiling face. Yes, he's had a good trip, heard from the Booths. Marjorie is much better. And what are we doing now?

I like this man, he doesn't make me feel like a pleb talking to a prince. "Searching for truth, Bob. These people are good at hiding it."

No. I'm not going to draw him into historical speculation, myths and legends. Leave the poor bloke to enjoy his holiday, for next week the Booths will be here in PB 132 and we won't get Bob on his tod till we wave goodbye on their way to the departure lounge. However, he still surrenders to charm: Lizzie nets him as a by-catch and he reveals an interest in gastronomy that goes back much further than the Welsh valleys and brings him an invitation to dinner at Cristimar: "Enough for an uncultivated mind from the land of the Druids," as he puts it, "though we have actually heard about bay leaves."

We joke about Welsh rarebit, known world-wide but not widely hailed in gastronomic circles, but Lizzie has charm enough to keep him with us across the veranda table and launch into Tenerife's wild and myth-ridden history with good coffee and some of her shortbread biscuits; and Miss Mimi - down from her perch to investigate our visitor - wows a welcome.

Bob picks up our former topic of Atlantis, speculates the few brave souls who managed to escape, who braved the huge waves that followed its sinking many thousands of years ago, as unproved but entirely feasible.

Well, yes, legend frequently hides truth, and it's truth that we're looking for. OK, so we go back 9400 years to meet these Atlanteans, their co-existance with the Minoan culture of Crete where the golden snake represented the soul of he deceased: and yet, of many artifacts discovered in Crete there are no rewarding artifacts of similar nature found to represent a co-existent Atlantean culture, so these two cultures do not appear to be linked and the whole mythical mirage thing is wide open. The huge island referred to by Plato in his Dialogues was sited in front of the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, or the Pillars of Hercules, as they were then known. Various researches of the sea bed around this sunken site have discovered no artifacts of sufficient interest to promote further study.

The Minoans were allegedly ruled by the Atlantean nation who were said to be a huge naval power, conquering many parts of Europe and the Mediterranean as far as Egypt. Atlanteans must have known the Minoan culture on Crete and probably raided them for slaves although we have it that Minoans themselves were not a slave-based community. However, in the fatal days of the sinking of Atlantis it is falsely alleged that some of the few who escaped drowning found a route to the seven islands that were sacred to Persephone and there landed.


Tutored in higher forms of behaviour, some parts of their parent culture must have remained when refugee Atlanteans began to form a community here. Despite the overlay of escaped humanity from mainland Africa, the ruling underlay of Atlantean proto-democracy remained, which may explain the eloquent "noble savage" tag that so impressed Queen Isabella la Catolica and Father Espinosa in the early years of Christian dominance of the seven islands at the end of the 15th century.

Yes, but, it crosses swords with the natural course of history if, according to legend, the Atlanteans had already conquered parts of Europe - which must have included the local Canary Islands - so the parent Atlantean culture must have already been established here, well before Atlantis sank! In which case why are there no great buildings, no roads, no fortifications in Canaria?

Not a sausage!

"My view is that there is not enough meat on the Atlantean bones to even begin compiling a saga. The closeness of the Canary Islands to the north-west corner of continental Africa hints at exploration of the Islands by nearby mainland communities including Arab and Balearic explorers."

"Agreed. Reason is on our side, let's stick with our eco-friendly Berbers.

His finger raised,squat and muscular, unlike Lizzie's slender and much raised digit: "OK. The remains of Roman toys have been found, wooden swords copied from Juba's expeditions here. Stilts were brought in by Juba's men, clay figures of gods, a few parade masks. The Romans in Britain used parade masks to discourage the natives from following them. Only scary stuff, just a few ugly masks specially made to stop native curiosity. You can picture the sensibilities of primitive people being warned that the Evil One would snap up anyone who proceeded past the stopping place."

"Are there any wise and weighty matters in history, my friend? Wise and weighty stuff won't stand the test of time, sinks to the commonplace, propaganda for the masses."

"Why yes! the essential matters of history are not what actually happens but how hindsight directs people's opinions. Consider Nelson's fumbling failure at Santa Cruz, the overbearing kindness of the Spanish governor was possibly hiding disdain or even contempt for the little English admiral - but we see it as a cowed Spanish garrison compelled to provide the English with renewal and repairs. And do we have much to thank Father Espinosa for his work converting the primitive Guanches into primitive Christians? Queen Isabella decreed that such noble and beautiful people who became Christian should not be slaves. Yet, when her back was turned, the noble Spanish enslaved the noble Guanche, deported them to mainland Spain and to other islands to work on farms belonging to Spanish settlers. Only hindsight maintains the nobility of a primitive island race and the shame of the Spanish." He rises: "Got to unpack. Must go."

Bob has reached the hall passageway followed by Mimi, and talking about ancient Welsh justice and Merlin the Great Wizard who influenced the great Welsh kings - Arthur and Huw Llwyd and the use of bay leaves by witches ...

"Watch it Bob!"

He pauses before falling over the kitchen stool. Now he is gone.

Now this potem is still trotting loose. Let's bring it to heel before it starts jumping on the furniture. Down potem! The flat of the hand while I search for a paperweight!

"I've got a book on Welsh dishes!"

"OK, my petal. I hope it is in English! The Guanche didn't have books but they were law-abiding. They were also said to be excellent fishermen, so where does their alleged fear of the sea fit in? Well, let's assume that like most primitive people they were a superstitious lot, fear of the sea might have been fear of the gods that ruled it. Majec was the Guanche supreme god. Let us remember primitive people had gods right, left and bloody centre! Offend the mighty Majec and he might just sink your ship! Bring his hand down... SPLAT... Got you, you buggers! So maybe they fished in tidal pools or in the barrancas. I wonder what they thought of the clay models of Roman gods that King Juba's men left here?"

"The Welsh used sea-bass quite a bit, but I don't aim to do fish for a main course." Petalmost is pushing her dinner party forward. "With Lori around there are bound to be tales of the sea and ships."

"Yes, but we've heard all these tales before, sweet mouse. Just fix your smile somewhere between interest and boredom and push the cake stand under his nose. The tsunami that sank Atlantis must also have devastated the Canary Islands - but it didn't, because there was no tsunami."

"I think we can forget Atlantis. Atlantis is a myth; once out of the equation there is no longer a problem. Save it for our Welsh wizard to cast a spell."

I am only too willing to agree. Guanche family life seems to have gone almost unrecorded where children are concerned. I knew it was a bad word but never understood what Pederasty meant until I looked it up recently. Overpopulation may have been a problem with waves of refugees from the terrors of the African mainlands and these factors must have had a bearing on the games children played. In ancient Greece a woman's relationships with her husband was frequently sterile. Hesiod the poet who lived in the eighth century BC argued that marriage was only required to give a man support during his old age with children - without enduring the miseries that women bring upon men - is the ideal state.

OK, but conversely the Guanches treated their women with proper respect; women had a place in their insular society. Children's games, though still gender specific, would reflect this equality, boys into games of strength and competition, girls into games of house and domesticity.

What was it like in other cultures? I wrote down what Manfred had said about parallel cultures: Petalmost thought I was writing a shopping list, she asked "Are we out of sugar?" Jokingly she queries: "Did the Guanches have celebrations - like dinner parties?"

Whoops! I find it, scribbled on a tiny scrap of paper actually on the back of an old shopping list: are we inhab. of earth the only source of intell-life among millions upon millions of stars with planets circling - can we claim sole rights to intelligent life? In parallel or in series we are small part of a much greater life force how can we--- - sod it! Lost the last bit.

The account of Father Espinosa states: "...the war that the Spanish made on the natives of these islands ... was unjust because these people neither owned Christian lands, nor passed over their limits and boundaries to invade or disturb others. The Gospel should have been brought by means of preaching ... And not with the drum and banner...".

Father Espinosa writing

The Guanche were also noted for their generosity and mercy shown to their enemies when taking them prisoner. Guanche law differed island to island; on Tenerife, the last of the seven islands to be conquered by the Spanish, there was no death penalty among the nine kingdoms although punishment for offenders was harsh. Bob reached the door talking about ancient Welsh justice and Merlin the Great Wizard who influenced the great Welsh kings - Arthur and Huw Llwyd and the use of bay leaves by witches wrapped in folk legend he nearly fell over the kitchen stool. Is the mighty Bob Gethin a social scientist or a mystic lost in Welsh wizardry?

"Probably both, my man. He'd be very interesting at a dinner party. I think he's lovely! And I shall invite him."

"Well,yes. He's very interesting, his outlook is not limited nor gender specific. We ought to get him here with our sauerkraut socialist. I mean Manny says if the Guanche had General von Moltke in charge they would have defeated the Spanish, no messing!"

"You're quoting from notes, my man. The last of the Hitler Youth has a lot of influence still - as a socialist. He says that in one personality there are good and evil standing side by side. As one of the Hitler Youth he was trained to believe that the Aryan race were superior human beings, other races were subservient. Yet he risked being executed if it ever got out that he was helping these subservient races across the border into Spain."

"His views on warfare are quite contrary to current belief."

"Some might think Manny's views are semi-barbaric! OK, yet the Guanche on Tenerife had rule by law: a murderer was banished from the kingdom, had all his possessions taken away from him and given as compensation to the victim's family; lack of respect towards women led to imprisonment; and in social matters any man could become a knight or noble on his personal merits if he had never acted improperly or taken on women's tasks or ever taken the property of others for himself. What I can't get to the bottom of is why does their criminal and civil law vary so much between these seven islands?"

"Like the kind Spanish governor of Tenerife was nice to the poor little British admiral who tried to take Santa Cruz. Maybe a sort of folk memory inherited from the Guanche!"

"Maybe a sort of folk memory had something to do with it, for there is a sort of sameness between all of these islands.

"Yes, sort of. They were in fear of the sea. And yes, communication island to island was limited, the only other practice that doesn't vary throughout the seven islands was mummification of the dead. Maybe folk memory works from birth to death - they brought this practice with them when they migrated from their parent Berber community in Africa!"

"Yes, but, ah-ha!" - Lizzie raises a finger: "Did they have mummification of the dead on Atlantis? It's damned unlikely that migrants would carry this practice forward having disassociated themselves from all other shreds of native culture. You said yourself: some scholarly voices dispute the location of Atlantis - right! Poor old Plato's account is said to be nothing more than a rendition of Solon's story heard on his visit to Egypt in the 6th century BC, and is just a yarn taken with a pinch of salt."

"Hang about! We've killed Atlantis!"

"Well yes. Let's forget the whole damn thing! But before we do that, let's take a tiny look at Plato's comments. I've got them right here!"

"My man, how on earth do you find anything amongst all those bits of paper?"

"I'll ignore that, my good woman! Now then: 'For it is related in our records how once upon a time Athens stayed the course of a mighty host, which, starting from a distant point in the Atlantic ocean, began to attack the whole of Europe and Asia... This distant point was Atlantis, a huge land that had many kings...' OK, so where was it - this Never Never Land that exists only in the minds of childish historians? No trace of it has ever been found.

Lizzie speaks with the same forefinger. "I think Atlantis existed in the minds of travellers of the time. If there were any substance in the tales we would have found traces of them in the Canaries. Instead we have native Canarians with none of the skills of their alleged Atlantean forefathers."

"Dead right, Petal. We've killed Atlantis!"

"Would be the sensible thing, my sweet man! Would clear the air. Might even see the other side of the equation. I mean, we have 12,000 UFO sightings reported every year and it can't be just electronic disturbance and marsh gas causing all the uproar. All this stuff we got! And we don't even have a squeak about Atlantis, not a single artefact nor even a ripple on the surface, no fingerprint, footprint or admissible evidence that would stand up in court!"

"I know, I know. Figments from ancient minds. Prehistoric propaganda! Yet the world is dead curious about visitors from outer space. I mean, do they have tongues to taste with? Do they get brown in the sun? Do they have pets? Are the males polite to females? Do they use shoe polish? I mean my dad made sure we cleaned our shoes before we were allowed out. I mean you could go on for evermore. I mean how do you recognise one if you saw one?"

"I mean like you mean - Meanie! I mean, it's impossible to even guess! What if our Aliens get really curious and start tour guides along Playa beach just to see how the natives live! Or maybe they watch us from the wall at Medano! All this stuff in the realms of fantasy, my dear sweet Meanie-person. But I know with over twelve thousand reported UFO sightings every year, and possibly , they could be electronic disturbances or even flickering marsh gas, but I know which is most appealing. There's speculative hope for the future in Aliens but nothing of value on offer in the Atlantis myth which is just dead and gone. I mean, it was no random error in genetics that produced a special race of Canarian Guanche, just isolation, random myth, folk-tales and descent from the Berber race of mainland Africa."

"Hang about! What speculative hope lies in bloody Aliens? They could kill us all off and treat our poor little planet as an adventure playground!"

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