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Gerald Hawkins

2 March 2014

Gerald Hawkins, who recently died, generally had a bad press in mainstream. They never liked the theory in his book 'Stonehenge Decoded' and neither am I saying it was or that it had anything to do with an eclipse predictor, a most unlikely effort for such a humdrum event. In 1974 Hawkins surveyed the Karnak Temple alignment, following on from Norman Lockyer in the early 20th century. He found it was aligned precisely with the rising of midwinter Sun when it was built (or rebuilt) by Thutmose III (which must imply an alignment that agreed with the consensus date for that pharaoh). This was published in The Transactions of the Royal Society in London, Series A ; Mathematical and Phyisical Science, volume 276 number 1257, 'The Place of Astronomy in the Ancient World' (May 2nd, 1974) pages 157-167. He was no slouch. Curious how bad reputations are built up – even when the foundation is strong. We may also note that the Royal Society, in the 1960s, rejected Dodwell's manuscript on astronomical 'investigations of the obliquity of the ecliptic' which revolved around the idea the axis of rotation had moved as recently as 2350BC. The odd thing about this date of Dodwell is that it is now the date of a significant low growth tree ring event, and coincided with the collapse of Early Bronze III culture in western Asia.

Dodwell spent 43 years in his career, most of it as the government astronomer for South Australia, and yet his paper was rejected, and that of Hawkins was published – and yet Dodwell made use of the Karnak alignment in his theory. The difference of course is that Hawkins was following in the footsteps of Lockyer but Dodwell was digging up new ground. Perhaps the idea of a shift in the axis of the Earth was not palatable at the time – a view too far. If that is true it would indicate the Royal Society has always had a strong political angle to what it chooses to support, or ignore, and this is not something peculiar to modern day climate science and the doomsaying agenda that is so popular amongst hedge fund managers and dealers in large numbers of shares on the international money market.

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