Array (  => stdClass Object ( [ID] => 8862 [post_author] => 3589 [post_date] => 2014-03-01 06:34:50 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-03-01 06:34:50 [post_content] => Twenty thousand years ago, during the depth of the last ice age when sea levels were as much as 130 meters lower than the present, the current Java Sea was not a sea at all, but fertile land. Here lay plains and forests bounded by the mountains of Java to the south and the mountains of Borneo to the north, and through this land a major river system ran from west to east. With the rise of sea levels at the end of the last ice age, the land was overtaken by ocean water. Was Atlantis located here? Was it part of the very ancient heritage of the Nusantara civilization? (Nusantara—archipelago—refers to the Indonesian identity.) Indonesian geologist Dr. Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology) in his book Plato Never Lied: Atlantis is in Indonesia (Jakarta: Booknesia, 2013) makes just such a claim. This now inundated area was the southern portion of the ancient subcontinent known to geologists as Sundaland. It may have been rather paradisiacal, as described by: “The scientific facts on the natural conditions of Sundaland in the glacial age give [a] vivid description, illustrating a very beautiful nature with a convenient climate and its extraordinary natural supports . . . the low lands in Sundaland which now have been inundated, turning into the Java and Karimata sea, were picturesque lands flowed [fed] by rivers as big as the Nile with the temperature of only 25 to 20 centigrade [77 to 68 Fahrenheit], surrounded by the mountain ranges with active volcanoes. Furthermore, the research on fossils and the DNA mitochondrial mapping reveals that the colonization of modern human[s] in Nusantara and most parts of the world had begun since [by] 60,000-50,000 years ago.” (Plato Never Lied, pp. 123-124). What about the ancient people who inhabited this land? Who were they, and what happened to them as their territories sank beneath the waves? Dr. Stephen Oppenheimer (Eden in the East: The Drowned Continent of Southeast Asia, 1998) has argued, based on a variety of geological, archaeological, genetic, linguistic, and other data, that populations spread out from Sundaland as the area was inundated at the end of the last ice age. Dr. Hilman Natawidjaja and the group of scientists he is working with may have identified genuine physical structures created by the Sundaland people: A megalithic site on Java, known as Gunung Padang, dating back to the late ice age, 12,000 and more years ago! I had heard about Gunung Padang and read a few brief articles describing the site, some of which dismissed it as either a natural feature misinterpreted as human-made, or accepted that it was an artificial construct but estimated its age at no more than a few centuries to a few millennia. Unexpectedly in early November 2013, I received an email from Dr. Hilman Natawidjaja. Having read my book Forgotten Civilization (2012), he knew of my work developing evidence that pushes back the origins of civilization to a time before the end of the last ice age (that is, before circa 9700 BCE). Dr. Hilman Natawidjaja invited me to participate in a professional fieldtrip to Gunung Padang, followed by a conference devoted largely to discussing the site. On 3 December 2013 my wife Katie (Catherine Ulissey) and I left for Jakarta. We toured Gunung Padang on 5 December and the next day I spoke at the International Cultural Conference and Festival, GotraSawala 2013 (held at the Savoy Homann Bidakara Hotel, Bandung, West Java). Gunung Padang, which can be translated rather literally as Mount Padang, or Mount “Meadow/Field,” is also said to connote in Sundanese “Mountain of Light” or “Mountain of Enlightenment.” Today many local people consider it a sacred area, a tradition that may stretch back to antiquity. The site is located in Cianjur Regency, West Java province, about 65 kilometers [40 miles] west of Bandung and about 80 kilometers [50 miles] south of Jakarta (6° 57’ S; 107° 1’ E) on the top of Mt. Padang at a height of approximately 885 meters [2,903 feet] above sea level (the top of the site is about 110 meters [361 feet] above the modern road and parking lot at the base). Java is a land of earthquakes and active as well as dormant volcanoes; Gunung Padang fits into the latter category. The mountain is composed of igneous andesite lava rocks, which formed some millions to tens of millions of years ago. As the lava cooled, it created structures known as columnar joints, and this is the key to understanding Gunung Padang. Columnar jointing forms as lava cools, contracts; and cracks propagate through the rock. This results in columns, which are tightly packed together and generally roughly hexagonal in cross-section (quadrilaterals, pentagons, heptagons, and octagons are also found). A key point is that these natural columns form vertically, and that is how they remain if not rearranged by humans or tilted en masse by geological processes. In some well-documented cases, such as Nan Madol on the island of Pohnpei, Micronesia, similar natural rock columns were used to build stone structures, rather like building a log cabin, but in this case the “logs” are stone. At Gunung Padang I observed the same building techniques. Rock columns had been carefully separated from each other and used to build a structure that overall appears to be a rough step pyramid, referred to in Indonesian as a “punden berundak” building. Very telling, and in my opinion, definitively demonstrating that this is genuinely a human-made structure, is that many of the rock columns are arranged horizontally as walls and also apparently as roofs over chambers that have been detected inside the structure. In my short reconnaissance of the site, I did not find any rock columns in their original natural positions. Where did the stone columns come from? Were they transported to the site to build the structure? I suspect not. Rather, the rock columns found at Gunung Padang may have originated from this site. The natural lava columns may have been disassembled on the spot and then reassembled to build the punden berundak. Presently the structure on Gunung Padang consists of five distinct levels, or terraces. Via a modern path, first constructed in the 1980s, one climbs a series of stairs on the northern face of the mountain to reach the structures. The five terraces together cover an area about 150 meters [492 feet] long by 40 meters [131 feet] wide and the long axis of the terraces is oriented approximately N 17° W, pointing north in the direction of Gunung (Mount) Gede, a mountain 30 kilometers [18.6 miles] away that many local people consider a sacred spot. Since 2011 Dr. Hilman Natawidjaja and his colleagues have carried out noninvasive geophysical studies (ground penetrating radar, electrical resistivity, and low energy seismic analyses) and core drilling (boreholes) at Gunung Padang. Using these combined techniques, below the surface the group has identified various layers of rock and sediment that may represent distinct human building phases and various natural and man-made surface topographies. Within Gunung Padang cavities, chambers, or voids, have been identified using the geophysical techniques. These may be natural lava tubes in the volcanic rock, but they may also have been modified and used by ancient humans (on Easter Island I have observed natural lava tubes which were artificially modified and used). A major chamber appears to lie about 20 to 30 meters [66 to 98 feet] under the top of the mountain; as seen in the geophysical cross-sections, it has a length of roughly 15 meters [49 feet] and a height of roughly 10 meters [33 feet]. It may be flanked by smaller cavities. There is evidence of an entrance to the cavity or chamber from one of the deeper layers (labeled Layer 3 by Dr. Hilman Natawidjaja and his group), which was subsequently covered over or buried by later layers, and also evidence of collapsed constructions within this deeper layer. What are the ages of the various layers, and thus the dating of the structures and human activity, at Gunung Padang? Dr. Hilman Natawidjaja and his group have collected a number of samples taken from the boreholes and preliminary archaeological excavations, which they have used to obtain radiocarbon dates. Dates from the site range from about 1000 to 500 BCE in shallow archaeological excavations, to dates going back to the range of 20,000 BCE in the boreholes at depths below about 11.2 meters [36.7 feet] —the latter dates placing Gunung Padang well into the last ice age. Some particularly relevant evidence, in my opinion, includes a date of 7820 to 7600 BCE obtained in a borehole at a depth of 3.9 meters [12.8 feet], a date of circa 11,600 BCE obtained at a depth of 8 to 10 meters [26 to 33 feet], a date of 14,840 to 14,690 BCE at a depth of 11.15 meters [36.6 feet], and a date of 21,630 BCE at a depth of 11.3 meters [37.1 feet]. How so we interpret these dates? The first important observation is that they indicate that the site of Gunung Padang goes back to before the end of the last ice age, circa 9700 BCE. Based on the evidence, I believe that human use of the site began by circa 14,700 BCE. Possibly the earliest use of the site goes back to circa 22,000 BCE or even earlier—we just do not know. In my assessment, Layer 3 (some 4 to 10 meters [13.1 to 32.8 feet] or so below the surface) includes the period of the very end of the last ice age, circa 10,000 to 9500 BCE, when major climatic changes took place, with dramatic global warming, rising sea levels, torrential rains, increased earthquake and volcanic activity, widespread wildfires, penetrating radiation due to solar outbursts, and other catastrophes occurring across the surface of Earth. I believe these changes were initiated by solar activity; and in particular at the end of the last ice age, our Sun went through a period of major, but sporadic, solar outbursts that would have affected the entire globe. The best place to seek refuge would have been in caves and underground shelters, and Layer 3 at Gunung Padang appears to correspond to the use (as evidenced by an entrance) of the chamber found within the mountain. Remember, too, that there is evidence of collapsed structures in Layer 3, possibly the result of the tumultuous conditions at that time. Visiting Gunung Padang, pondering the dates and evidence of collapse and rebuilding that may have occurred here, I could not help but think about another major site—representing very ancient civilization—that spans the end of the last ice age, namely Göbekli Tepe in southeastern Turkey. I have made the case that the circle of megalithic stones at Göbekli Tepe known as Enclosure D dates back to at least circa 10,000 BCE (see Forgotten Civilization). Dr. Klaus Schmidt, the lead archaeologist at Göbekli Tepe, has stated he believes portions of Göbekli Tepe, as yet not fully excavated, may date back 14,000 years—that is, to circa 12,000 BCE, some two thousand years before the end of the last ice age (comment by Schmidt as relayed by Graham Hancock in a posting on Facebook, 10 September 2013). At Göbekli Tepe there is evidence of fallen and broken pillars that were re-erected, hastily built walls between the pillars that may have served as protective shelters, and Dr. Schmidt has reported that there is a cave associated with Göbekli Tepe (Schmidt, Göbekli Tepe: A Stone Age Sanctuary in South-Eastern Anatolia. Şanlıurfa,Turkey: ArchaeNova, 2012, p. 103.), which was entered and apparently used by the ancient inhabitants of the site. This activity at Göbekli Tepe was occurring at the same time, as best we can determine, as the possible use of the cave or chamber at Gunung Padang. The evidence of catastrophe at Göbekli Tepe (collapsed pillars and crude reinforcement walls) appears to correlate with the collapsed structures of Layer 3 at Gunung Padang. I also think of Egypt and my own work on re-dating the Great Sphinx. The extreme weathering and erosion seen on the proto-Sphinx (the head was re-carved and the monument reused during dynastic times), caused by torrential rains, could have been a result of the extreme climatic changes at the end of the last ice age. Furthermore, there is a chamber in the bedrock under the Sphinx. Putting together the evidence of Gunung Padang with that derived from Göbekli Tepe, the Sphinx of Egypt, and other sites and lines of data from around the world, I believe we are coming closer to understanding the cataclysmic times and events at the end of the last ice age. Genuine civilizations of a sophisticated nature existed prior to circa 9700 BCE, which were devastated by the events that brought the last ice age to a close (in my opinion, caused ultimately by major solar outbursts orders of magnitude more powerful than anything seen in the last few thousand years). In modern times Gunung Padang was rediscovered and recorded in a 1914 report on the antiquities of the area. But it was effectively forgotten again until 1979 when local farmers once more rediscovered the punden berundak on Mount Padang. Since 1979, Gunung Padang has become a modern pilgrimage area and tourist site. Some consider it a sacred area and use it for ritualistic purposes; accompanied by a “juru kunci” (caretaker or “key master”), the devotees first purify themselves at a natural spring found at the base of the stairs before making the holy ascent to the mountaintop. At the top of the site, I watched as visitors rapped or pounded with their knuckles and fists on an andesite column that lay on the surface. I had to try it myself—the column rang like a bell. Similar “musical rocks” are found at other ancient sites, such as a famous partial obelisk at Karnak in Egypt which more than a few tourists have hit with their fists to make it sing. Gunung Padang is fast being regarded as part of the very ancient heritage of the Nusantara civilization, a source of nationalistic pride. Various local authorities and members of the public are actively promoting the site. A banner placed across the road welcomed us to Gunung Padang, and upon our arrival, we were met by local dignitaries who were eager to have us visit. Dr. Hilman Natawidjaja and his group hope to continue researching Gunung Padang, including carrying out detailed archaeological excavations at the site. But not everyone agrees or approves. On my way to Gunung Padang, I saw a large banner posted by the side of the road reading “Stop …!!! Penelitian Gunung Padang” (“Stop Research on Gunung Padang”). Some believe that the site should be left undisturbed, either out of respect for the past or because they simply do not want to face new knowledge that might upset their current worldview—for the implications of advanced civilization in Indonesia before the end of the last ice age force us to rethink what we believe we know about the origins of civilization. Gunung Padang is further evidence that the standard story concerning the rise and trajectory of sophisticated culture needs to be rewritten. Robert M. Schoch, a full-time faculty member at Boston University, earned his Ph.D. in geology and geophysics at Yale University. His most recent book is Forgotten Civilization: The Role of Solar Outbursts in Our Past and Future (Inner Traditions, 2012). Website: RobertSchoch.com. [post_title] => Journey to Gunung Padang [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => journey-to-gunung-padang [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-02-09 06:36:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-02-09 06:36:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://atlantisrisingmagazine.com/?p=8862 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => stdClass Object ( [ID] => 8856 [post_author] => 3589 [post_date] => 2014-03-01 06:30:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-03-01 06:30:03 [post_content] => The achievement of Pythagoras is hard to grasp and, once grasped, hard to believe. He ranks with Einstein and Newton as one of the three great thinkers who completely changed the way we look at the world in which we live. This sixth century BCE mathematician-mystic was the first to say that number is the primordial substance of the universe—that is, so to speak, that God, or the Nature of the Universe, thinks in numbers. To this Pythagoras added the discovery of the musical scale and the correspondences between it and simple numerical ratios. Aristotle summed it all up: “Pythagoras thought . . . that the whole cosmos is a scale and a number.” Both discoveries left their mark upon the world, even to today. Yet if Pythagoras was one of the greatest scientific minds of all time, he also professed beliefs that seem to some of us to be outlandish, at best incomprehensible, and no more than the residue of the archaic world of myth, ritual, and terror of the night out of which Pythagoras, taken as a whole, made a mighty leap forward for mankind—or at least such has been the standard belief. Nothing seems to demonstrate better the archaic nature of a part of the Pythagorean endeavor than the way in which the Master met his death. The second century Roman writer Diogenes Laertius tells that, in fleeing his enemies, Pythagoras “got as far as a certain field of beans where he stopped, saying he would be captured rather than cross it, and be killed rather than prate about his doctrines; and so his pursuers cut his throat.” It was the well-known Pythagorean interdiction against eating beans or harming them in any way that had stopped its formulator in his tracks and brought about his death. His strange choice—provided the story is true—was as bewildering to his contemporaries as it is to us today. Diogenes lamented: “Woe! Woe! Whence, Pythagoras, this deep reverence for beans? Why did he fall in the midst of his disciples? A bean field there was he durst not cross; sooner than trample on it, he endured to be slain at the crossroads.” This interdiction against eating beans is somehow an integral part of the high strangeness of the Pythagorean endeavor, which also included the achievement of the discovery of the unchanging matrix of number and music underlying the visible universe. Can we make any sense of the former in the whole context of Pythagoras’s life? By all accounts Pythagoras was an individual of superb gifts. Diogenes Laertius tells us that his students believed he was the god Apollo come back to Earth. Plutarch says he taught an eagle to come at his command and swoop down to him in flight. Pythagoras could talk to the animals (he once made a bear swear to stop marauding the countryside, and the bear kept its word) and could talk to rivers: the Neo-Platonist commentator Iamblichus records that, “once, passing over the river Nessus with many of his associates, he spoke to it, and the river in a distinct and clear voice, in the hearing of all his followers, answered, Hail Pythagoras!” Pythagoras was a master of bilocation; his contemporaries asserted confidently that in one and the same day he conversed with his disciples at Metapontum in Italy and those in Tauromenium in Sicily “though these cities are separated from each other by many stadia both by land and sea.” Pythagoras was personally captivating; the poet Timon speaks of him as “inclined to witching works and ways, Man-snarer, fond of noble [subtle words].” The tremendous efflorescence of being that was Pythagoras expressed itself throughout a lifetime that began on the island of Samos, in Ionia, Greece, in 570 BCE, and ended near a bean field in Croton, Sicily, in 495 BCE. (Perhaps; there is another version of Pythagoras’s death, as we will see.) Pythagoras spent nearly all his 20s and 30s in Egypt, Chaldea, and Phoenicia, a Foreign Student Abroad imbibing the essence of mystery religions so old (or so it was thought) that their first rites had been carried out by the gods themselves. He returned to Samos in time to flee to the Greek colony of Croton in Sicily in the face of the advance of the Persian army into Asia Minor. Here he set up a school, or, more accurately, a mystical fellowship, which included women (not least Pythagoras’s wife, Theano, who was a philosopher in her own right) and adhered to the rule of communal ownership. Such was the power of Pythagoras’s mind and soul that he almost immediately attracted 500 followers. He taught reincarnation and claimed to remember 22 of his past lives. This magician-mathematician enjoined his students to harm nothing living, eat only vegetables, say little, and strive for salvation through assimilation to and the knowledge of God. A modern commentator tells us that Pythagoras was even “reputed to cure diseases and modify passions through the power of his singing and playing on the lyre, instrumental skills he possessed because of his unparalleled knowledge of harmony in nature.” Pythagoras encouraged asceticism and, beyond any doubt, abstention from eating beans—and the more we learn about this strange interdiction, the stranger the story gets. Iamblichus tells us that, while walking along the road one day, Pythagoras espied an ox eating beans in a pasture. He admonished the herdsman to tell the ox not to eat this forbidden fruit. The herdsman laughed in Pythagoras’s face and said he didn’t speak ox-language. The seer went up to the ox himself, whispered in its ear, and went away; the bovine never ate beans again. “He survived many years near Hera’s temple at Tarentum, until very old,” writes Iamblichus, “being called the sacred ox, and eating any food given him.” Another incident regarding Pythagoras and beans, one taking place directly after Pythagoras chose death over trampling down a bean field, is equally enigmatic but not humorous at all. The man behind the killing of Pythagoras was a wealthy and tyrannical Crotonian noble named Cylon, who was furious because the seer had refused to admit him to the Pythagorean fellowship. Cylon’s guards set fire to Pythagoras’s school, then chased the fleeing Pythagoreans and slaughtered them all, including the Master, in the vicinity of the bean field. Or, not quite all. Two of Pythagoras’s followers, Myllias and his wife Timycha, had lagged behind the fleeing band of acolytes because Timycha was six months pregnant. They escaped notice at first but were finally rounded up and taken before Cylon. The tyrant told them that if they didn’t explain to him why the Pythagoreans put such stock in beans, he would have them killed. If they explained, he would reward them. Myllias refused, declaring that he would rather trample down a bean field than reveal the secret. Cylon had him taken away, believing that if he put Timycha to the torture, she, a mere woman, pregnant, and suddenly without her husband, would quickly weaken and talk. But Cylon was wrong. Iamblichus tells us: “The heroic woman, however, grinding her tongue with her teeth, bit it off, and spit it at the tyrant; evincing by this, that though her sex being vanquished by the torments might be compelled to disclose something which ought to be concealed in silence, yet the member subservient to the development of it, should be entirely cut off.” Can this story be true? It seems incredible to us that someone would mutilate herself in this way just so she wouldn’t have to explain why the religious group she belonged to held beans in the greatest respect. Are we missing something? Given Pythagoras’s godlike brilliance, attested to by all his contemporaries, mustn’t there have been some profound and important reason (which was not be revealed to outsiders) why this particular plant should not be harmed in any way? Fava beans have cropped up here and there throughout history as objects of veneration. Herodotus tells us that some Egyptians weren’t allowed to eat beans and some weren’t even allowed to look at them. Researcher Layla Eplett writes in Scientific American that, “Pharaoh Ramses III offered 11,998 jars of fava beans to the god of the Nile.” In medieval Sicily, she says, “a drought kept the plants from coming up and forced Sicilians to pray to Saint Joseph for rain. It came; but the only crop to come up was hearty fava beans. This was enough to keep the populace from starving, and ever since Sicilians have included in their Saint Joseph’s Day celebrations the reverent placing of fava beans on church altars.” Moreover, on All Souls Day, cakes called fave dei morti (“beans of the dead”) are baked in the shape of fava beans to honor those souls. Pythagoras’s injunction to abstain from eating beans exercised the mind of many an ancient thinker. Aristotle came up with several explanations. He wondered if, since fava beans were sometimes used in casting votes, it wasn’t all just a hidden injunction against getting involved in politics. Aristotle suggests enigmatically that the Pythagoreans didn’t eat beans “because they are destructive.” Was he referring to a hereditary disease, called favism, which is found worldwide but most often in the Mediterranean region, and which causes an allergic-like reaction when individuals lacking G6PD (an enzyme needed to break down peptide glutathione) are exposed to fava beans? One modern commentator has gone so far as to suggest that Pythagoras’s renowned school was simply a hospital specializing in the treatment of sufferers from favism. It may be, though, that Aristotle was referring to the reason given by Plato, and summed up in the first book of Cicero’s work On Divination, as follows: “Plato therefore bids us go to our sleep in such bodily condition that there may be nothing to cause delusion and disturbance in our minds. It is thought to be for that reason too that the Pythagoreans were forbidden to eat beans, a food that produces great flatulence, which is disturbing to those who seek mental calm.” Aristotle also put forth the opinion that the Pythagoreans didn’t eat beans “because they are like genitals.” Not to eat them was to pay symbolic homage to human life and generation. The Pythagoreans imagined they saw correlations between beans and human beings. A modern commentator sums up that, for them, “A chewed bean placed in the sun smells of human semen or of murderously spilt human blood; beans and men arose together from within the primeval earth; and a bean or bean blossom put into a container and buried is eventually transformed into blood or a human head.” The intimation of a mystical connection between beans and human generation leads on to the beguiling notion, emphasized by Aristotle and other commentators, that the Pythagorean injunction against eating beans was somehow bound up with the process of reincarnation. Pythagoras placed great store in this process. He told his students that, before he was born, Apollo had given him the choice of reincarnating with the memory of his past lives or becoming immortal in this lifetime; Pythagoras chose the former. (Readers interested in the subject of reincarnation will find Pythagoras’s lives spelled out by a dwarf named Nano in Elizabethan playwright Ben Jonson’s play Volpone. Nano believes he is the modern-day [i.e., Elizabethan] incarnation of Pythagoras; the lives he lists include the Homeric warrior Euphorbus who was killed by Achilles’ boon companion Patrocles during the Trojan War.) Crucial to establishing a link between reincarnation and fava beans is the nature of the bean stock itself. The stem of this plant is not only hollow but also undifferentiated, that is, without segments—an attribute not belonging to any other plant. Hades (the abode of the dead) was thought by ancient peoples to be at the center of the earth; Aristotle speculated that, since the Pythagoreans believed in reincarnation, and since they declared that fava bean plants were “like the gates of Hades,” then they must believe that reincarnating souls passed up to new life in the sunlight through the stems of these plants. This, opined Aristotle, was perhaps why the Pythagoreans made the extraordinary statement that “eating beans is the same as eating the heads of one’s parents.” Aristotle speculated that the Pythagoreans might have feared they might be eating the reincarnating soul (or some part of the essence thereof) of their father or mother, or one of their relatives, or of a friend—or just any human being. They therefore regarded eating beans as a sort of psycho-cannibalism—something totally inimical to the totally pacifistic beliefs of the Pythagoreans. A modern commentator has remarked that, once beans are looked at in this way, “the primary concern for believers in reincarnation would not be about what beans might do to us, but rather about what we might do to them, or to the souls of the departed in them.” This explains why Pythagoras admonished an ox not to eat beans—and perhaps whispered in the bovine’s ear that all animals are included in the cycle of reincarnation and that the ox must then beware of eating the soul of his mother or brother. And this, of course, is why Pythagoras didn’t want to run across a bean field: It would have caused the wholesale slaughter of a troupe of rising souls. Pythagoras, a man of the highest respect for life and the strictest morals, would have drawn back from committing so evil an act. Perhaps all the talk of souls reincarnating through bean stocks was only a metaphor, or a symbol, for something the Pythagoreans intuited on a much deeper level but couldn’t find words for themselves. We should not forget that, however outlandish some of the applications of the mystical ideas of the Pythagoreans seem to us today, these ancient savants were sometimes able to come to extraordinarily prescient conclusions using these applications. The second generation of Pythagoreans, led by Philolaus, was, for example, the first thinkers to displace the earth from its location at the center of the universe. They did not replace it with the sun, but rather with a “central fire,” around which the sun and the earth orbited. Still, they were the first to get on this futuristic track—and they based their conclusions not on observation, or rational deduction as we know it today, but by deciding that: fire was the most precious object in the universe; the center was the most precious location in the universe; the most precious object should be in the most precious location; and therefore fire was at the center of the universe. Pythagoras may never have been faced with the cruel decision of whether to kill a field of souls and therefore lose his own (as he saw it), or lose his life and save his soul. Some sources suggest he died in quite another way, declaring that his death was due to “grief at the loss of all his friends who, when the house in which they were gathered was burned, in order to make a way for their Master, they threw themselves into the flames, to make a bridge of safety for him, whereby indeed he escaped.” These two different versions of the end of his life only compound our sense of wonder at this astonishing man, for whom the mysteries of beans were as compellingly important as the mysteries of the unchanging numbers that hold up the universe. 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