This site author knows David Talbott very
well, and considers him to be the foremost mythologist in the world, if not
the foremost scholar. He is a polymath of extremely high intelligence and
integration capability. More importantly, in scholarship his integrity and
valuation of the truth is at the highest level. The genius of David Talbott as a
mythologist is that he has made a science out
of the comparative method to winnow out identifications and historical
and he has identified the acid tests to support or falsify the proposals.
Ground Rules for Reconstructing Ancient Events
By David Talbott
We must now take up the matter of cross-cultural comparison and
the use of evidence drawn from the patterns of human memory.
"Ancient testimony is not credible unless it is supported by
science" –in one form or another, I've heard that remark again
and again. But there is a telling fallacy hidden in that
assertion. It ignores the possibility–however remote this
possibility may seem–that our ancestors witnessed things
unknown to science, events that could force a revision in
As a rule, mainstream science is unfamiliar with the more ancient
patterns of memory, and almost all modern perspectives are
conditioned by a profound distrust of the ancient world. For
centuries, in fact, it has been the mission of science to
overcome the "myth and superstition" with which it associates our
But we are challenging this common supposition, and we have
claimed that a quite different perspective on the past is
possible. In an earlier submission, we addressed the principle
of converging testimony. We noted that the more unusual and
specific the points of agreement between independent witnesses,
the more confident we can be in these discrete memories. The
principle was illustrated in the story of "The Unfortunate Peter
Smith". Here we used an extreme example, in which the witnesses
were prone, respectively, to hallucination, lying, and dyslexia.
In this case the convergence was so precise and so out of the
ordinary that - despite the general unreliability of the
witnesses–the conclusion could not be doubted.
In fact, we affirm this principle in our judicial processes all
the time, and do not hesitate to employ it even when the life of
the accused is at stake and no other body of evidence is
In relation to the proposed Saturnian reconstruction, here is a
way you might approach the issue of evidence. Try an experiment.
Just for the fun of it, simply grant the claims of the theory!
No need to believe anything, not even to believe that the
hypothesized planetary configuration is "possible". This is only
an experiment, designed to throw light on the question, WHAT
COUNTS AS EVIDENCE?
If you are unfamiliar with the general details of the theory, I
suggest you let a single "snapshot" of the Saturnian
configuration suffice for now. You will find an example on the
Go to the Saturn Theory page (it's listed on the menu to the
left), and note the image on the top of the page. Though a
snapshot of this sort cannot convey the more dynamic components
of the story–including both stable and unstable phases of an
evolving configuration–it is a useful starting point for an
illustration of methodology.
Imagine those planetary forms towering above us; three celestial
spheres of much different sizes, juxtaposed in the sky, very
close to the Earth. The largest of the spheres is the planet
Saturn prior to acquisition of any rings. Within that sphere
(i.e., in front of Saturn) appears a much smaller, highly
luminous orb, the planet Venus, from which brilliant streamers
radiate visually across the face of Saturn. And within Venus
rests a still smaller reddish body, the planet Mars.
Now imagine human communities obsessed with this spectacle in the
sky, responding with a mixture of veneration and terror. And
observe how, in the wake of the configuration's devastating
collapse, human imagination exploded as well, cultures around the
world striving relentlessly to remember and to re-enact those
events in pictures and words and ritual practices.
In this envisioned condition many different "mythical"
interpretations would arise. But these interpretations could not
fail to reflect the natural drama which inspired them. So you
ask the question. If such a world existed, what would be the
value of ancient testimony–of all those cultural records
celebrating the dominating forms in the sky, or re-enacting those
terrifying events? And would you not expect to find a vast
range of words and symbols consistently pointing to the SAME
celestial forms, no longer present?
Or let us put it another way. In evaluating a new theory, does
it make any sense to exclude what would clearly be the most
crucial source of evidence if the theory is either correct, or on
the right track?
I know it will be easy for some to hear these words as a
dismissal of conventional science, though this is not my intent.
One does not have to draw any conclusions in order to see the
dangers of circular reasoning when new possibilities arise. I am
only suggesting that historical evidence must be allowed to speak
for itself. If the evidence is weak, then it will be easily
overruled by contrary opinions of science. If the conclusions
are well supported by the evidence cited, then there is a basis
for re-considering contrary scientific opinion. And if some of
the conclusions are INESCAPABLE, as I believe some are, then one
can be confident that there will be no conflict with physical
facts as the specialists comes to interpret the facts correctly.
By all means, let the scientists among us express every doubt.
As we've said many times, the remembered events could not have
occurred without leaving a vast trail of physical evidence. (I
intend to suggest several lines of inquiry in the present
series.) But all true explorers, whatever their background, will
welcome a rigorous investigation of cultural memories from a new
vantage point. They do not need to be told that the scientific
mainstream has not always gotten the picture right.