Allowing ancient civilisations to tell their tales

The lamentation by an Egyptian sage about the disaster which befell his country, recorded in the Papyrus Ipuwer, matched those in the Book of Exodus. So said Velikovsky, referring to the fall of stones (hail) and ‘burning pitch.’ He also noted in the Book of Joshua that a shower of meteorites preceded the Sun’s ‘standing still.’ That would imply that the rotation of Earth had been suspended. What does it take to have that effect?

I recall reading many years ago about an ancient Chinese claim that the sun did not set for days; and that, in Central America (on the opposite side of the globe), the sun had not risen for days. Why shouldn’t these reports be regarded as credible? Another recollection of mine is that a Chinese emperor had sent someone (Yu?) to locate the cardinal points, because the extended period of darkness (another catastrophe?) which had overtaken the land had thereby denied the sighting of the sun (where is the east?).

Then there is the issue of Venus. Against the standard view of Venus as planet, Velikovsky claimed that it had been a comet. That was because of ‘what ancient people actually said about Venus. They said that Venus was a comet. They called Venus the long-haired star, the bearded star, and the witch star. They said Venus … was a fierce dragon who attacked the world.’ (Steve Parsons in The perils of planetary amnesia in Forbidden history, edited by Douglas Kenyon.) If Venus had always been a planet, what had dislodged it?

Parsons also states ‘… the traditional theory cannot account for the invisible remnant of a comet-like tail extending forty-five million kilometres into space. The Venusian tail was detected by the Earth-orbiting SOHO satellite and reported in the 1997 issue of New Scientist. So, the ancients were not wrong!

Wallace Thornhill, a physicist, states (quoted by Parsons) ‘You have to observe what nature actually does, not what you think it should do.’ Thornhill’s approach does allow ancient human testimony to count as credible evidence. As Parson says ‘Fables, legends and myths don’t prove Thornhill’s ideas, but they provide ideas.’