Unravelling the mystery of disease in ancient Mesopotamia

Unravelling the mystery of disease in ancient Mesopotamia


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Despite intensive research over many decades on one of the most famous kingdoms of the ancient world , scientists still know little about the diseases which plagued the people of Mesopotamia. An analysis of thousands of cuneiform texts has only revealed 44 publications mentioning traces of disease. This either suggests that the population was incredibly healthy, or that the study of diseases was very poorly developed in comparison with Egypt and Europe.

Arkadiusz Sołtysiak of the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw decided to fill this gap and collected all previously published reports of anthropologists who examined human remains in the area of Mesopotamia. His research has focused on excavations in towns and settlements, as well as on the analysis of ancient texts.

Sołtysiak found that information about disease in the ancient kingdom was scarce for a number of reasons. First, human remains in the area are poorly preserved due to the moist winters and hot summers, making the bones fragile and unsuitable for detailed analysis. In addition, the unstable political situation in the region has discouraged scientists from travelling to the area. But the absence of references to disease in ancient text is surprising, considering that so much was recorded about the civilisations of the Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians, just a few of the civilisations in the area of Mesopotamia.

The analysis conducted by the University of Warsaw, which concerned the skeletal remains from all eras, enabled the researchers to capture an overall view of the health status of residents of Mesopotamia at different times. They found some evidence for osteoarthritis in the Neolithic period, probably caused by frequent heavy lifting, but this had reduced by the Bronze Age, the “heyday of farming communities”. After the Bronze Age, there was an economic and agricultural collapse seen in the Iron Age. During this period, there was evidence of a gradual increase in tooth disease, which persisted all the way up until the Middle Ages, probably associated with the spread of date palms growing and changing eating habits. Nevertheless, Sołtysiak concluded that there is little evidence of significant health concerns in the region and that “the communities of Mesopotamia were quite healthy”.

In ancient times, Mesopotamian diseases were often blamed on pre-existing spirits: gods, ghosts, etc., and each spirit was held responsible for only one disease in any one part of the body. Ancient mythologies tell stories of diseases that were put in the world by supernatural forces. One such figure was Lamashtu the daughter of the supreme god Anu, a terrible she-demon of disease and death.

The bulk of the tablets that mention medical practices have survived from cuneiform texts in the library of Asshurbanipal at Nineveh (668 BC) Assyria. The vast majority of these tablets are prescriptions, but there are a few series of tablets that have been labelled "treatises". One of the oldest and the largest collections is known as "Treatise of Medical Diagnosis and Prognoses." Although the oldest surviving copy of this treatise dates to around 1600 BC, the information contained in the text is an amalgamation of several centuries of Mesopotamian medical knowledge. The diagnostic treatise is organized in head to toe order with separate subsections covering convulsive disorders, gynaecology and paediatrics. To the non-specialist they sound like magic and sorcery. However, the descriptions of diseases demonstrate accurate observation skills.

Featured image: The skeleton of a man with an amputated leg who lived in Mesopotamia. Photo credit: A. Sołtysiak


    A number of ancient cultures believed in a Cycle of World Ages in which we gradually descend from a state of spiritual perfection and material abundance to one of ignorance and scarcity. In ancient India, this was called the Yuga Cycle. The Yuga Cycle doctrine tells us that we are now living in the Kali Yuga the age of darkness, when moral virtue and mental capabilities reach their lowest point in the cycle.

    The Mahabharata describes the Kali Yuga as the period when the &ldquoWorld Soul&rdquo is Black in hue only one quarter of virtue remains, which slowly dwindles to zero at the end of the Kali Yuga. Men turn to wickedness disease, lethargy, anger, natural calamities, anguish and fear of scarcity dominate. Penance, sacrifices and religious observances fall into disuse. All creatures degenerate. Change passes over all things, without exception.

    The Kali Yuga (Iron Age) was preceded by three other Yugas: Satya or Krita Yuga (Golden Age), Treta Yuga (Silver Age) and the Dwapara Yuga (Bronze Age). In the Mahabharata, Hanuman gives the following description of the Yuga Cycle to the Pandava prince Bhima:

    The Krita Yuga was so named because there was but one religion, and all men were saintly: therefore they were not required to perform religious ceremonies&hellip Men neither bought nor sold there were no poor and no rich there was no need to labour, because all that men required was obtained by the power of will&hellip The Krita Yuga was without disease there was no lessening with the years there was no hatred, or vanity, or evil thought whatsoever no sorrow, no fear. All mankind could attain to supreme blessedness. The universal soul was White&hellip the identification of self with the universal soul was the whole religion of the Perfect Age. In the Treta Yuga sacrifices began, and the World Soul became Red virtue lessened a quarter. Mankind sought truth and performed religious ceremonies they obtained what they desired by giving and by doing. In the Dwapara Yuga the aspect of the World Soul was Yellow: religion lessened one-half. The Veda was divided into four parts, and although some had knowledge of the four Vedas, others knew but three or one. Mind lessened, Truth declined, and there came desire and diseases and calamities because of these men had to undergo penances. It was a decadent Age by reason of the prevalence of sin.1

    Now we are living in the dark times of the Kali Yuga, when goodness and virtue has all but disappeared from the world. When did the Kali Yuga begin, and when does it end?

    In spite of the elaborate theological framework of the Yuga Cycle, the start and end dates of the Kali Yuga remain shrouded in mystery. The popularly accepted date for the beginning of the Kali Yuga is 3102 BCE, thirty-five years after the conclusion of the battle of the Mahabharata. This date is believed to be based on a statement made by the noted astronomer Aryabhatta in the Sanskrit text Aryabhatiya, where he writes that:

    When sixty times sixty years (i.e. 3,600 years) and three quarter Yugas had elapsed, twenty-three years had then passed since my birth.2

    This means that Aryabhatta had composed the text when he was 23 years old and 3,600 years of the current Yuga had elapsed. The problem here is that we do not know when Aryabhatta was born, or when he composed the Aryabhatiya. He does not even mention the Kali Yuga by name, and simply states that 3,600 years of the Yuga had elapsed. Scholars generally assume that the Kali Yuga had started in 3102 BCE, and then use this statement to justify that the Aryabhatiya was composed in 499 CE. However, we cannot use the reverse logic, i.e. we cannot say that the Kali Yuga must have started in 3102 BCE since the Aryabhatiya was composed in 499 CE, for we do not know when Aryabhatta lived or completed his work.

    Another important source is the Aihole inscription of Pulakesin II of Badami, which was incised on the expiry of 3,735 years after the Bharata war and 556 years of the Saka kings.3 If we take the beginning of the Saka Era as 78 CE, then the Bharata War took place in 3102 BCE, then the Kali Yuga, which started 35 years after the Bharata War, began on 3067 BCE. But we must remember there is an Old Saka Era as well, whose beginning date is disputed, and for which various dates have been proposed by scholars ranging from 83 BCE &ndash 383 BCE.4 If the Aihole inscription refers to the Old Saka Era, then the Kali Era starts a few hundred years before 3102 BCE.

    The truth is that there is no text or inscription which gives us an unambiguous date for the beginning of the Kali Yuga. Although the popularly accepted date is 3102 BCE, there is no astronomical basis for it. There is a claim that the computation was based on the conjunction of the five &lsquogeocentric planets&rsquo (i.e. the planets visible to the naked eye) &ndash Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn &ndash at 0° Aries at the beginning of the Kali Yuga as mentioned in the Surya Siddhanta. But the Surya Siddhanta explicitly states that this conjunction of planets at 0° Aries takes place at the end of the Golden Age.5 Besides, modern simulations indicate that on 17/18 February 3102 BCE, the five geocentric planets occupied an arc of roughly 42° in the sky, which cannot be considered as a conjunction by any means. Therefore, neither is there any astronomical basis for the start date, nor do we have any evidence that Aryabhatta or any other astronomer had calculated the date. Before the 6th century CE, the date does not occur in any Sanskrit text or inscription. It could have been invented by later day astronomers or adopted from some other calendar. The vagueness surrounding the origin of this very important chronological marker makes its validity highly suspect.

    The task of figuring out the start date of the Kali Yuga from the ancient Sanskrit texts, however, is fraught with difficulties, since a number of inaccuracies have crept into the Yuga Cycle information contained within them. In many Sanskrit texts the 12,000-year duration of the Yuga Cycle was artificially inflated to an abnormally high value of 4,320,000 years by introducing a multiplication factor of 360, which was represented as the number of &lsquohuman years&rsquo which constitutes a &lsquodivine year&rsquo. In the book, The Arctic Home in the Vedas (1903), B.G. Tilak wrote that:

    The writers of the Puranas, many of which appear to have been written during the first few centuries of the Christian, era, were naturally unwilling to believe that the Kali Yuga had passed away&hellip An attempt was, therefore, made to extend the duration of the Kali Yuga by converting 1,000 (or 1,200) ordinary human years thereof into as many divine years, a single divine year, or a year of the gods, being equal to 360 human years&hellip this solution of the difficulty was universally adopted, and a Kali of 1,200 ordinary years was at once changed, by this ingenious artifice, into a magnificent cycle of as many divine, or 360 × 1200 = 432,000 ordinary years.6

    Yuga Cycle of 24,000 Years

    However, certain important Sanskrit texts such as the Mahabharata7 and the Laws of Manu,8 which scholars believe were composed earlier than the Puranas, still retain the original value of the Yuga Cycle as 12,000 years. The Mahabharata explicitly mentions that the Yuga Cycle duration is based on the days and nights of human beings. The Zoroastrians also believed in a Cycle of the Ages of 12,000 years&rsquo duration. The Great Year or Perfect Year of the Greeks was variously represented as being of 12,954 years (Cicero) or 10,800 years (Heraclitus) duration. Surely, the Yuga Cycle cannot be of different durations for different cultures.

    In the book The Holy Science (1894)Sri Yukteswar clarified that a complete Yuga Cycle takes 24,000 years, and is comprised of an ascending cycle of 12,000 years when virtue gradually increases and a descending cycle of another 12,000 years, in which virtue gradually decreases. Hence, after we complete a 12,000-year descending cycle from Satya Yuga -> Kali Yuga, the sequence reverses itself, and an ascending cycle of 12,000 years begins which goes from Kali Yuga -> Satya Yuga. Yukteswar states that, &ldquoEach of these periods of 12,000 years brings a complete change, both externally in the material world, and internally in the intellectual or electric world, and is called one of the Daiva Yugas or Electric Couple.&rdquo9

    The 24,000-year duration of the complete Yuga Cycle closely approximates the Precessional Year of 25,765 years, which is the time taken by the sun to &lsquoprecess&rsquo, i.e. move backwards, through the 12 Zodiac constellations. Interestingly, the Surya Siddhanta specifies a value of 54 arc seconds per year for precession, as against the current value of 50.29 arc seconds per year. This translates into a Precessional Year of exactly 24,000 years! This means that the current observed value of precession may simply be a temporary deviation from the mean.

    The concept of an ascending and descending cycle of Yugas is still prevalent among the Buddhists and Jains. The Jains believe that a complete Time Cycle (Kalachakra) has a progressive and a regressive half. During the progressive half of the cycle (Utsarpini), there is a gradual increase in knowledge, happiness, health, ethics, and spirituality, while during the regressive half of the cycle (Avasarpini) there is a gradual reduction in these qualities. These two half cycles follow each other in an unbroken succession for eternity, just like the cycles of day and night or the waxing and waning of the moon.

    The ancient Greeks also appear to have believed in an ascending and descending Cycle of Ages. The Greek poet Hesiod (c. 750 BCE &ndash 650 BCE) had given an account of the World Ages in Works and Days, in which he inserted a fifth age called the &lsquoAge of Heroes&rsquo, between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. In Hesiod&rsquos Cosmos, Jenny Strauss Clay writes:

    Drawing on the myth in Plato&rsquos Statesman, Vernant also claimed that the temporal framework of Hesiodic myth, that is, the succession of races, is not linear but cyclical at the end of the age of iron, which he divides into two, the cycle of races starts again with a new golden age or, more likely, a new age of heroes, as the sequence reverses itself&hellipVernant himself offers a solution when he remarks that &ldquothere is not in reality one age of iron but two types of human existence.&rdquo10

    This is very interesting. Jean-Pierre Vernant, who is a highly-acclaimed specialist in ancient Greek culture, believes that the Cycle of the Ages reverses itself as per Hesiod&rsquos account. Not only that, he states the Iron Age has two parts, which corresponds to Yukteswar&rsquos interpretation in which the descending Kali Yuga is followed by the ascending Kali Yuga. We can surmise, in this context, that the &lsquoAge of Heroes&rsquo, which immediately followed the Bronze Age in Hesiod&rsquos account, must be the name ascribed by Hesiod to the descending Kali Yuga.

    The evidence from different sources supports the notion of a complete Yuga Cycle of 24,000 years, comprised of an ascending and descending cycle of 12,000 years each. This brings us to the question of the relative durations of the different Yugas in the Yuga Cycle, and the transitional periods, which occur at the beginning and end of each Yuga, and are known as Sandhya (dawn) and Sandhyansa (twilight) respectively. The values in the following table are provided in the Sanskrit texts for the duration of the Yugas and their respective dawns and twilights:

    Since so many inaccuracies crept into the Yuga Cycle doctrine, as pointed out by Yukteswar and Tilak, we also need to question the accuracy of the relative durations of the Yugas mentioned in the Sanskrit texts. Although the Yuga Cycle is mentioned in the mythic accounts of around thirty ancient cultures, as described by Giorgio de Santillana, professor of the history of science at MIT, in the book Hamlet&rsquos Mill (1969), we find very little information regarding the relative durations of the different ages within this cycle.

    In the few accounts where the durations of the Yugas are specified, we find that each age in the Yuga Cycle is of the same duration. For instance, the Zoroastrians believe that the world lasts for 12,000 years, which is divided into four equal ages of 3,000 years each. A Mexican source known as the Codex Rios (also referred to as Codex 3738 and Codex Vaticanus A) states that each age lasts for 4,008, 4,010, 4,801 and 5,042 years respectively for a total of 17,861 years. We can see that in this case also the duration of each age is nearly the same.

    Therefore, the durations of the four Yugas mentioned in the Sanskrit texts (i.e. 4,800, 3,600, 2,400, and 1,200 years) deviate from the norm. The duration of each Yuga, in this sequence, decreases by 1,200 years from the previous one. This is an arithmetic progression which is rarely, if ever, found in natural cycles. Could it be that the Yuga durations were deliberately altered at some point in the past in order to give the impression that the duration of each Yuga decreases in tandem with the decrease in virtue from one Yuga to the next?

    Here is the most startling fact: Two of the most famous astronomers of ancient India, Aryabhatta and Paulisa, believed that the Yuga Cycle is comprised of Yugas of equal duration! In the 11th century, the medieval scholar Al-Beruni had compiled a comprehensive commentary on Indian philosophy, sciences and culture titled Alberuni&rsquos India, in which he mentions that the Yuga Cycle doctrine was based on the derivations of the Indian astronomer Brahmagupta, who in turn derived his knowledge from the Sanskrit Smriti texts. He makes an interesting statement in this regard:

    Further, Brahmagupta says that &ldquoAryabhatta considers the four yugas as the four equal parts of the caturyuga (Yuga Cycle). Thus he differs from the doctrine of the book Smriti, just mentioned, and he who differs from us is an opponent.&rdquo11

    The fact that Aryabhatta believed the four Yugas to be of equal duration is extremely pertinent! Al-Beruni reasserts this in no uncertain terms: &ldquoTherefore, according to Aryabhatta, the Kali Yuga has 3,000 divya years&hellip. each two yugas has 6,000 divya years&hellip each three years has 9,000 divya years.&rdquo Why would Aryabhatta subscribe to such a belief? Did he have access to sources of information that are lost to us now?

    Paulisa, another celebrated astronomer of ancient India, also subscribed to the idea of Yugas of equal duration. Alberuni says that, while presenting the calculations for the duration of a kalpa, &ldquohe (Pulisa) has not changed the caturyugas into exact yugas, but simply changed them into fourth parts, and multiplied these fourth parts by the number of years of a single fourth part.&rdquo12

    Thus, two of the most respected astronomers of ancient India, Aryabhatta and Paulisa, believed in a Yuga Cycle that comprised of 4 Yugas of equal duration of 3,000 divine-years each. However, their opinion was overshadowed by the contradictory view held by Brahmagupta. He railed against Aryabhatta and the other astronomers who held differing opinions, and even abused them. Al-Beruni says about Brahmagupta:

    He is rude enough to compare Aryabhatta to a worm which, eating the wood, by chance describes certain characters in it without understanding them and without intending to draw them. &ldquoHe, however, who knows these things thoroughly, stands opposed to Aryabhatta, Srishena, and Vishnucandra like the lion against gazelles. They are not capable of letting him see their faces.&rdquo In such offensive terms he attacks Aryabhatta and maltreats him.13

    We can now understand why Brahmagupta&rsquos opinion finally prevailed over that of the other astronomers of his time, and it certainly did not have anything to do with the inherent soundness of his logic, or the authenticity of his sources.

    It is time for us to stop standing in opposition to Aryabhatta, Paulisa, Srishena, Vishnucandra and others like the &ldquolion against gazelles,&rdquo and instead take cognizance of the very real possibility that the Yugas in the Yuga Cycle are of equal duration, and the 4:3:2:1 sequence of the Yugas may have been a mathematical manipulation that crept into the Yuga Cycle doctrine sometime prior to 500 CE. It is possible this manipulation was introduced because people were inclined to believe that the duration of a Yuga should decrease in tandem with the decrease in virtue and human longevity from one Yuga to the next. A neat formula was devised in which the total duration of the Yugas added up to 12,000 years. However, there was one problem. If the Kali Yuga is of 1,200 years duration, then it should have been completed many times over, since its proposed beginning in 3102 BCE. In order to circumvent this potentially embarrassing situation, another complexity was introduced. Each &lsquoyear&rsquo of the Yuga Cycle became a &lsquodivine year&rsquo comprised of 360 human years. The Yuga Cycle became inflated to 4,320,000 years (12,000×360) and the Kali Yuga became equal to 432,000 years (1,200×360). Humanity became consigned to an interminable duration of darkness.

    Original Yuga Cycle Encoded into Saptarshi Calendar

    The original Yuga Cycle doctrine appears to have been very simple: A Yuga Cycle duration of 12,000 years, with each Yuga lasting for 3,000 years. This cycle is encoded in the Saptarshi Calendar which has been used in India for thousands of years. It was used extensively during the Maurya period in the 4th century BCE, and is still in use in some parts of India. The term Saptarshi refers to the &lsquoSeven Rishis&rsquo or the &lsquoSeven Sages&rsquo representing the seven stars of the Great Bear constellation (Ursa Major). They are regarded as the enlightened rishis who appear at the beginning of every Yuga to spread the laws of civilisation. The Saptarshi Calendar used in India had a cycle of 2,700 years it is said that the Great Bear constellation stays for 100 years in each of the 27 Nakshatras (lunar asterisms) which adds up to a cycle of 2,700 years.14 The 2,700-year cycle was also referred to as a Saptarshi Era or a Saptarshi Yuga.

    The Great Bear constellation (Ursa Major) is clearly visible in the northern sky throughout the year. The seven prominent stars represent the Seven Sages (Saptarshi), each one depicted in the painting.

    If the 2,700 year cycle of the Saptarshi Calendar represents the actual duration of a Yuga, then the remaining 300 years out of the total Yuga duration of 3,000 years automatically represents the &lsquotransitional period&rsquo, before the qualities of the subsequent Yuga are fully manifested. The total duration of the Yuga Cycle, excluding the transitional periods, is equal to (2,700×4), i.e. 10,800 years, the same as the duration of the &lsquoGreat Year of Heraclitus&rsquo in Hellenic tradition! This clearly indicates the underlying basis of the Cycle of the World Ages in both India and Greece was the 2,700 year Saptarshi Cycle.

    It is agreed by historians that the Saptarshi Calendar, in use during the Maurya period in the 4th century BCE, started in 6676 BCE. In the book Traditions of the Seven Rsis, Dr. J.E. Mitchiner confirms this:

    We may conclude that the older and original version of the Era of the Seven Rsis commenced with the Seven Rsis in Krttika in 6676 BCE&hellip This version was in use in northern India from at least the 4th century BCE, as witnessed by the statements of Greek and Roman writers it was also the version used by Vrddha Garga, at around the start of the Christian era.15

    In fact, the recorded chronology of Indian kings goes back further than 6676 BCE as documented by the Greek and Roman historians Pliny and Arrian. Pliny states that, &ldquoFrom Father Liber [Roman Bacchus or Greek Dionysus] to Alexander the Great (d. 323 BCE), Indians reckon 154 kings, and they reckon (the time as) 6,451 years and 3 months.&rdquo16 Arrian puts 153 kings and 6,462 years between Dionysus and Sandrokottos (Chandragupta Maurya), to whose court a Greek embassy was sent in 314 BCE.17 Both indications add up to a date of roughly c.6776 BCE, which is a 100 years prior to the beginning of the Saptarshi Calendar in 6676 BCE.

    It is obvious from the accounts of Pliny and Arrian that they must have identified a specific king in the Indian kings list who corresponded to the Greek Dionysus or Roman Bacchus, and whose reign had ended at around c.6776 BCE. Who could that have been? According to the renowned scholar and Orientalist Sir William Jones, Dionysus or Bacchus was none other than the Indian monarch Rama. In his essay &ldquoOn the Gods of Greece, Italy and India&rdquo (1784), Sir William Jones

    deems Rama to be the same as the Grecian Dionysos, who is said to have conquered India with an army of satyrs, commanded by Pan and Rama was also a mighty conqueror, and had an army of large monkeys or satyrs, commanded by Maruty (Hanuman), son of Pavan. Rama is also found, in other points, to resemble the Indian Bacchus.18

    Sir William Jones also points out that,

    Meros is said by the Greeks to have been a mountain of India, on which their Dionysus was born, and that Meru is also a mountain near the city of Naishada, or Nysa, called by the Grecian geographers Dionysopolis, and universally celebrated in the Sanskrit poems.19

    The identification of Dionysus with Rama provides us with fresh perspectives. According to the Indian tradition, Rama lived towards the end of the Treta Yuga (Silver Age), and the Dwapara Yuga (Bronze Age) had started soon after his demise. This implies that the 6676 BCE date for the beginning of the Saptarshi Calendar, which is 100 years after Dionysus, i.e. Rama, indicates the beginning of the Dwapara Yuga in the descending cycle.

    A later Saptarshi Calendar, still in use in India, began from 3076 BCE. But, as Dr. Subhash Kak points out, &ldquothe new count that goes back to 3076 BCE was started later to make it as close to the start of the Kali era as possible.&rdquo20 In the book Traditions of the Seven Rsis, Dr. Mitchiner says that the Saptarshi Calendar for the Kali Yuga (the Kashmir Laukika Abda) started when the Saptarshis were in Rohini. Since the Saptarshis were in Rohini in 3676 BCE, it implies the Kali Yuga cycle must have commenced in 3676 BCE.

    Tracking Down the True End Date of Current Kali Yuga

    Now this is where it gets interesting. A Saptarshi Era began in 6676 BCE, and another cycle started exactly 3,000 years later in 3676 BCE. But the Saptarshi Cycle is of 2,700 years&rsquo duration. Why did the Saptarshi Era for the Kali Yuga start 3,000 years after the previous cycle? This means a 300-year &lsquotransitional period&rsquo must have been added to the end of the previous cycle! It clearly proves the hypothesis that the 2,700 year Saptarshi Cycle, along with a 300-year transitional period, was the original calendrical basis of the Yuga Cycle.

    If we use the 6676 BCE date as the beginning of the Dwapara Yuga in the descending cycle, and the 2,700 year Saptarshi Cycle along with a 300-year transitional period as the basis for the Yuga Cycle, then the entire timeline of the Yuga Cycle is unravelled.

    This Yuga Cycle timeline takes the beginning of the Golden Age to 12676 BCE, more than 14,500 years before present, when the Great Bear was in the Shravana nakshatra (the Great Bear will advance by 3 nakshatras in every Yuga because of the 300-year transitional period). This agrees very well with the Indian tradition, since the Mahabharata mentions that in the ancient tradition the Shravana nakshatra was given the first place in the nakshatra cycle.

    Yuga Cycle timeline based on the Saptarshi Calendar. According to this interpretation, the Kali Yuga ends in 2025, to be followed by a 300 year transitional period leading up to the Ascending Dwapara Yuga.

    The timeline also indicates that the ascending Kali Yuga, which is the current epoch in which we are living, will end in 2025 CE. The full manifestation of the next Yuga &ndash the ascending Dwapara &ndash will take place in 2325 CE, after a transitional period of 300 years. The ascending Dwapara Yuga will then be followed by two more Yugas: the ascending Treta Yuga and the ascending Satya Yuga, which completes the 12,000 year ascending cycle.

    The Sanskrit text Brahma-vaivarta Purana describes a dialogue between Lord Krishna and the Goddess Ganges. Here, Krishna says that after 5,000 years of Kali Yuga there will be a dawn of a new Golden Age that lasts for 10,000 years (Text 50, 59). This can be immediately understood in the context of the Yuga Cycle timeline described here. We are now ending the Kali Yuga, nearly 5,700 years since its beginning in 3676 BCE. And the end of the Kali Yuga will be followed by three more Yugas spanning 9,000 years, before the ascending cycle ends.

    Archaeological & historical evidence

    According to the Yuga Cycle doctrine, the transitional periods between the Yugas are associated with a collapse of civilisations and environmental catastrophes (pralaya), which wipe out virtually every trace of any human civilisation. The new civilisation that emerges in the new Yuga is guided by a few survivors of the cataclysm, who carry with them the technical and spiritual knowledge of the previous epoch. Many ancient sources tell us of the enigmatic group of &lsquoSeven Sages&rsquo (&lsquoSaptarshi&rsquo) who are said to appear at the beginning of every Yuga and promulgate the arts of civilisation. We find them in myths across the world &ndash in Sumeria, India, Polynesia, South America and North America. They possessed infinite wisdom and power, could travel over land and water, and took on various forms at will. The Saptarshi Calendar of ancient India appears to have been based on their periodic appearance at the beginning of every Yuga.

    As we shall see, the Yuga Cycle timeline proposed here correlates very strongly with the major cataclysmic events that periodically impact our planet, and with a number of important dates recorded in various ancient calendars and scriptures.

    The planet was subjected to sudden and destructive, deep-water, oceanic comet impacts during the 300-year transitional period at the end of the last Golden Age, circa 9600 BCE.

    The first transitional period in the 12,000-year descending Yuga Cycle is the 300-year period at the end of the Golden Age from 9976 BCE &ndash 9676 BCE. This is the time when the last Ice Age came to a sudden end the climate became very warm quite abruptly, and there was a catastrophic global flooding. Many ancient legends refer to this time period. In the Timaeus, Plato tells us of the mythical island of Atlantis which was swallowed up by the sea in a &ldquosingle day and night of misfortune&rdquo in c.9600 BCE. The Zoroastrians believe the world was created by Ahura Mazda at around 9600 BCE, (i.e. 9,000 years before the birth of their prophet Zoroaster in c.600 BCE).

    This event has also been recorded in the flood myths of many ancient cultures, which almost uniformly talk of enormous walls of water that submerged the entire land to the highest mountain tops, along with heavy rain, fireballs from the sky, intense cold and long periods of darkness. Archaeologist Bruce Masse of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico examined a sample of 175 flood myths from different cultures around the world and concluded that the environmental aspects described in these events, which is also consistent with the archaeological and geophysical data, could have only been precipitated by a destructive, deep-water, oceanic comet impact.21

    In recent years, a team of international scientists found compelling evidence that the Earth was bombarded by multiple fragments of a giant comet nearly 12,800 years ago, triggering the start of a rapid and intense cooling period called Younger Dryas, which lasted for nearly 1,200 years till c.9700 BCE. The force of the comet impact, combined with the vicious cold snap that followed, brought about the extinction of a large number of North American megafauna including woolly mammoths and giant ground sloths, and ended a prehistoric civilisation called the Clovis culture &ndash the first human inhabitants of the New World.22

    This temperature graph shows the sudden cooling at the beginning of the Younger Dryas and an equally sudden warming at the end of the Younger Dryas.

    The Younger Dryas ended as abruptly as it started, for reasons not fully understood. Geologists from the Niels Bohr Institute (NBI) in Copenhagen studied the Greenland ice core data and concluded that the Ice Age ended exactly in 9703 BCE. Researcher Jorgen Peder Steffensen said that, &ldquoin the transition from the ice age to our current warm, interglacial period the climate shift is so sudden that it is as if a button was pressed.&rdquo23 The 9703 BCE date for the sudden climate shift falls within the 300-year transitional period at the end of the Golden Age from 9976 BCE &ndash 9676 BCE, and as such it provides the first important validation of the Yuga Cycle timeline identified here.

    Black Sea Catastrophe & Global Floods

    The 300-year transitional period between the Treta Yuga (Silver Age) and the Dwapara Yuga (Bronze Age) from 6976 BCE &ndash 6676 BCE also coincides with a significant environmental event &ndash the Black Sea Catastrophe &ndash recently dated to 6700 BCE. The Black Sea once used to be a freshwater lake. That is, until the Mediterranean Sea, swollen with melted glacial waters, breached a natural dam, and cut through the narrow Bosphorous Strait, catastrophically flooding the Black Sea. This raised the water levels of the Black Sea by several hundred feet, flooded more than 60,000 square miles of land, and significantly expanded the Black Sea shoreline (by around 30%).24 This event fundamentally changed the course of civilisation in Southeastern Europe and western Anatolia. Geologists Bill Ryan and Walter Pitman of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, who first proposed the Black Sea Catastrophe hypothesis, have gone to the extent of comparing it to Noah&rsquos Flood.

    The Black Sea catastrophe, before and after. The water from the Aegean Sea cut through a narrow Gorge (Bosphorous Strait) and plunged into the Black Sea creating a gigantic waterfall.

    Similar major flooding events took place in many parts of the world, as massive glacial lakes, swelled by the waters of the melting ice, breached their ice barriers, and rushed into the surrounding areas. Sometime between 6900 BCE &ndash 6200 BCE the Laurentide ice-sheet disintegrated in the Hudson Bay and an enormous quantity of glacial waters from the inland Lake Agassiz/Ojibway discharged into the Labrador Sea. This was possibly the &ldquosingle largest flood of the Quaternary Period,&rdquo which may have single-handedly raised the global sea level by half a meter.25 The period between 7000 BCE &ndash 6000 BCE was also characterised by the occurrences of gigantic earthquakes in Europe. In northern Sweden, some of these earthquakes caused &lsquowaves on the ground&rsquo, 10 metres high, referred to as &lsquorock tsunamis&rsquo. It is possible that the global chain of cataclysmic events during this transitional period may have been triggered by a single underlying cause, which we are yet to find out.

    The transitional period between the Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga, from 3976 BCE &ndash 3676 BCE, was again marked by a series of environmental cataclysms, whose exact nature remains a mystery. It is referred to in geology as the 5.9 kiloyear event, and is considered one of the most intense aridification events during the Holocene period. It occurred around 3900 BCE, ending the Neolithic Sub-pluvial and initiated the most recent desiccation of the Sahara Desert. At the same time, between 4000 BCE &ndash 3500 BCE, the coastal plains of Sumer experienced severe flooding, which &ldquowas the local effect of a worldwide episode of rapid, relatively short-term flooding known as the Flandrian Transgression &ndash which had a significant impact not only along the shores of the Gulf but in many other parts of Asia as well.&rdquo26 This catastrophic flooding event led to the end of the Ubaid period in Mesopotamia, and triggered a worldwide migration to river valleys. Soon afterwards, we find the emergence of the first river valley settlements in Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley in c. 3500 BCE.

    This transitional period between the Yugas is also recorded in ancient calendars. For a very long time there was a prevalent belief in the Western world that the world was created in 4004 BCE. This date comes to us from the genealogies of the Old Testament. The date is just 28 years prior to the end of the Dwapara and the beginning of the transitional period. The year of world creation in the Jewish religious calendar is 3761 BCE, which is in the middle of the transitional period.

    Greek Dark Ages & Great Upheavals

    As per the ancient traditions, the descending Kali Yuga, which was referred to by Hesiod as the &lsquoAge of Heroes&rsquo, came to an end with the battle fought on the plains of Troy. The Yuga Cycle timeline indicates that the 300-year intervening period between the descending and ascending Kali Yuga extended from 976 BCE &ndash 676 BCE and very interestingly, this overlaps with the 300-year period from 1100 BCE to 800 BCE which is referred to by historians as the Greek Dark Ages!

    Historians regard the Greek Dark Ages as a period of transition from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age. Robert Drews writes that:

    Within a period of forty to fifty years at the end of the thirteenth and the beginning of the twelfth century (c.1200 &ndash 1100 BCE) almost every significant city in the eastern Mediterranean world was destroyed, many of them never to be occupied again.27

    Map of the Late Bronze Age collapse in the Eastern Mediterranean along with movements of people.

    This sudden and violent disruption plunged the entire Near East, North Africa, Caucasus, Aegean, and Balkan regions into a Dark Age that lasted for three hundred years, and was characterised by great upheavals, famine, depopulation, and mass movements of people. Almost every city between Pylos and Gaza was violently destroyed, and many abandoned. The palace economies of Mycenae and Anatolia collapsed, and people lived in isolated, small settlements.

    In Egypt, the period from 1070 BCE &ndash 664 BCE is known as the &lsquoThird Intermediate Period&rsquo during which time Egypt was overrun by foreign rulers. There was political and social disintegration and chaos, accompanied by a series of crippling droughts. In India, the Indus Valley civilisation finally ended around 1000 BCE, and after a gap of nearly 400 years we see the emergence of the 16 Great Kingdoms (Mahajanapadas) in the Gangetic Plains at around 600 BCE. Catastrophe also struck the Olmec civilisation of Mesoamerica at this time. A wholesale destruction of many San Lorenzo monuments occurred in c.950 BCE and the site was abandoned in c.900 BCE. Scholars believe drastic environmental changes may have been responsible for this shift in Olmec centres, with certain important rivers changing course.

    When the ascending Kali Yuga began in 676 BCE, much of the knowledge, traditions, and skills from the descending Kali Yuga were forgotten. Possibly in response to this grave social crisis, a number of philosophers and prophets appeared at this time, trying to re-discover the lost wisdom, and spread it amongst the ignorant masses. Among them were Buddha (623 BCE), Thales (624 BCE), Pythagoras (570 BCE), Confucius (551 BCE), Zoroaster (600 BCE), and Mahavir Jain (599 BCE). But much sacred knowledge was irretrievably lost. For instance, the original Vedas were comprised of 1,180 sakhas (i.e. branches), of which only 7 or 8 sakhas (less than 1%) are remembered now. Various errors, omissions, and interpolations also crept into the ancient texts as they were being revised and written down. The mistakes in the Yuga Cycle doctrine were some of them.

    The Yuga Cycle timelines proposed here accurately mirrors the worldwide environmental catastrophes that accompany transitional periods between Yugas. Every 2,700 years our planet is impacted by a series of cataclysmic events for a period of a few hundred years, which brings about a total or near total collapse of civilisations across the world. In every case, however, civilisation restarts immediately after the period of destruction. The four key transitional periods, since the end of the Golden Age, are summarised in the above table.

    It is evident that the Yuga Cycle used to be tracked using the Saptarshi Calendar. It was of 12,000 years duration, comprised of four Yugas of equal duration of 2,700 years each, separated by transitional periods of 300 years. The complete Yuga Cycle of 24,000 years was comprised of an ascending and descending Yuga cycle, which followed each other for eternity like the cycles of day and night. For the past 2,700 years we have been passing through the ascending Kali Yuga, and this Yuga is coming to an end in 2025.

    The Transitional Periods between Yugas

    In accordance with convention, the 300-year transitional period following 2025 can be broken into two periods of 150 years each. The first 150-year period &ndash the &lsquoTwilight of Kali&rsquo &ndash is when the Kali Yuga structures may collapse due to a combination of wars, environmental catastrophes, and cosmic changes, while the second 150-year period &ndash the &lsquoDawn of Dwapara&rsquo &ndash is the time when the spiritually evolved systems and philosophies of the Dwapara Yuga may begin to emerge. It is likely, though, that the twin processes of collapse and emergence will progress simultaneously throughout the entire 300-year transitional period, albeit at different intensities.

    The current upswing in tectonic activities and extreme weather phenomena on one hand, and the initial signs of the awakening of a higher consciousness amongst humanity on the other, may be indicative of the fact that the effects of the transitional period are already underway. We need to be aware of these greater cycles of time that govern human civilisation, and the changes that are looming in the horizon.


    1. Introduction

    Doctors are called on to deal with many states of affairs. Not all of them, on any theory, are diseases. A doctor who prescribes contraceptives or performs an abortion, for example, is not treating a disease. Some women cannot risk pregnancy for health reasons, and historically both pregnancy and childbirth have been major killers. Nevertheless,they are not disease states, and modern women typically use contraception or abortion in the service of autonomy and control over their lives. In addition, it is very difficult to find a philosophically or scientifically interesting cleavage between diseases and other complaints (Reznek 1987, 71&ndash73).

    One dominant strand in modern medicine sees a disease as essentially a process that recurs across individuals in slightly different forms: a disease is an abstract kind that is realized in different ways (Carter 2003: Whitbeck 1977). But since a disease is a biological insult, distinguishing it from injury is very difficult. Perhaps injuries are not processes in the relevant sense but events. This essay assumes that the conceptual issues raised by illnesses, injuries and other medical conditions are similar enough to let us put this demarcation problem aside. Disability is another important and neglected topic in health and well-being. It will be addressed here only slightly, since the contemporary debates on disease and disability tend to go on in isolation from each other. Only rarely do authors such as Glackin (2010) tackle both. It is worth noting, though, that the disability debate is typically framed in a way that closely resembles the debate over disease. Medical model adherents judge disability to be the product of a functional impairment or failure in human physiology. This resembles what will be called below the naturalistic model of disease, at least as regards assessment of bodily impairment. It contends that people with disabilities, like people with diseases, are rendered worse off in virtue of these functional impairments, and the explanatory burden of their disadvantage is borne chiefly by the failure of their physiology or psychology to perform a natural function. A concept of disability as dysfunction has been resisted by rival pictures of disability that have made headway in recent decades.

    According to the rival &ldquosocial model&rdquo, disability is not a departure from normal or healthy human functioning which makes an atypical condition a &ldquobad difference&rdquo from the norm rather it is a &ldquomere difference&rdquo (Barnes 2016). Although disabilities may make people worse off in general, this is due to the way society is set up, rather than any physical impairment. Disability in itself is just variation, analogous to features like sexuality, gender and race. The social model was pushed by disability activists who defined disability as &ldquothe disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by a contemporary social organisation which takes little or no account of people who have physical impairments and thus excludes them from participation in the mainstream of social activities&rdquo (UPIAS 1975, quoted in Shakespeare 2010). The scientific basis for this position appeals to the idea that &ldquothe partitioning of human variation into the normal versus the abnormal has no firmer footing than the partitioning into races. Diversity of function is a fact of biology&rdquo (Amundson 2000, p. 34). The resulting partition, it is held, is a reflection of social norms rather than underlying physical impairments. This position resembles what will here be termed the constructivist position with regard to health.

    Health has received less philosophical attention than disease, and this essay will correspondingly have less to say about it. The conceptual terrain in the case of health is a little more complex than that of disease one way of thinking about health says that it is just the absence of disease, so if disease is biological malfunction or abnormality, it follows that a healthy person is someone whose biological systems are all in order. But another way of looking at health insists that it is not just the absence of disease but the presence of something more a positive state. The constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO) defines health &ldquoa state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity&rdquo (WHO 1948). According to views like this, we should think in terms not of health and disease alone, but in terms of health, disease and normality. This essay will look at theories of health after first discussing disease. The focus throughout is on individuals, although some theorists (e.g. Inkpen 2019) have argued for a seeing humans and their associated microbiomes as part of an ecosystem that can be evaluated, like other ecosystems, as healthy or not.


    Early life and education

    Stephen Hawking, the first born child of his parents, was born on January 8, 1942, in Oxford, England. Unbeknownst to many people, the acclaimed cosmologist took immense pride in the fact that he was born on the 300 th anniversary of the death of Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei (1564-1642).

    Hawking was born at a time when Europe was blighted by World War II. His parents were Frank and Isobel Hawking, both Oxford University graduates. His father Frank Hawking worked as a medical researcher in London. Due to his father’s specialty in medical research, he was encouraged to study medicine however, Stephen Hawking set his mind on the cosmos and unravelling the mysteries of the universe.

    Stephen Hawking attended St. Albans School, Hertfordshire, where he was surprisingly a below-average student, often finishing bottom of his class. Although a very bright young man, Hawking was probably frustrated by the slow-paced nature of the curricula. It has been stated that he and his friends took to making their own board games and building some sort of computer out of scraps they found in the junk yard. They built those devices to help them solve a bunch of mathematical problems and equations.

    In 1959, he enrolled at the University of Oxford. The 17-year-old wanted to study mathematics however, he ended up in the physics department as Oxford wasn’t offering any degree program in mathematics at the time. He was not exactly a hardworking student at Oxford as academic life on campus appeared extremely easy for him. After graduating with honors from Oxford in 1962, Hawking proceeded to the University of Cambridge for a Ph.D. in general relativity cosmology.

    In 1968, the prestigious Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge honored him as its newest member. From then onward, Hawking began making waves in the field of cosmology. For example, in 1973, Hawking co-authored (with G.F.R. Ellis) a critically acclaimed book titled The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time.

    Perhaps the biggest honor he received in the 1970s came when he was appointed the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, one of the most distinguished academic positions in Cambridge. He also received numerous awards in that decade, including the Heineman Prize (1976), the Hughes Medal (1976), Albert Einstein Medal (1979), and Eddington Medal (1975).


    Goddess Names A-Z

    Aine  (Celtic) – Goddess of love, growth, cattle and light. Her name means bright. She is linked to Midsummer’s Eve. The name Anya comes from this Goddess.

    Amphitrite  (Greek) - Ancient Goddess of the sea and consort of the God Poseidon.

    Aphrodite  (Greek) - The beautiful Goddess of love and fertility. No man could resist Aphrodite when she wore her magic girdle.  Her name means foam born or raised from foam as she was birthed from the churning sea.

    Arianrhod  (Celtic) - Goddess of fertility, rebirth and the weaving of cosmic time and fate. The last aspect of her nature is contained within her name which means “silver wheel” or “round wheel,” suggesting her importance in the cycles of life. Other common spellings of her name are Aranhod and Arianrod.

    Artemis  (Greek) - An independent spirit, she is Goddess is of the hunt, nature and birth. There are several different theories about the origin of her name, one school of thought says it comes from an ancient word for “safe” and another argues that it means “strong limbed.” Either way the suggestion is that this maiden Goddess has the strength and ability to protect herself from any unwanted attention.

    Asteria  (Greek) - Goddess of the stars, she escaped the advances of Zeus by changing into a quail. She is also mother of Hecate the Goddess associated with witches and magic.

    Atalanta  (Greek) - A very competitive warrior Goddess, adventurous and amazing runner who could not be beaten by a man. She was turned into a lion by the jealous Aphrodite. Other spellings of this name also include Atlanta.

    Athena  (Greek) - Goddess of war and wisdom and domestic crafts. Plato believed her name meant "mind of God" whilst others suggest it comes an ancient word meaning “sharp.”  Both these words point to Athena's great intellectual ability to see the true nature of a situation and to develop successful strategies.

    Badb  (Celtic) - A shape-shifting, warrior goddess who symbolises life and death, wisdom and inspiration. She represents an aspect of Morrigan.

    Bast  (Egyptian) - The famous cat Goddess, she protected pregnant woman and children. Bast was a very sensual Goddess who enjoyed music, dance and perfume. Her name comes from the bas jars used to store perfumes and ointments. Other versions of this Goddess names include: Bastet, Baset, Ubasti and Pasht.

    Baubo  (Greek) - A bawdy, crone Goddess who lifted her skirt in front of Demeter.

    Blodeewedd  (Celtic) – She was created by magic, from nine blossoms to break a curse that prevented Llew Llaw from a human wife.

    Branwen  (Celtic) – The Welsh goddess of love. Her name means “blessed raven.” Bronwyn is a modern day version of this name.

    Cailleach Bheur  (Celtic) – The hag, destroyer goddess who ruled over disease, death, wisdom, seasonal rites and weather magic. She was known as Cally Berry in Ireland which means “old gloomy woman” in Irish

    Ceres  (Roman) - This Goddess of agriculture and grains name comes from the Indo European word root, “ker” meaning “to grow.” In turn her name has become the origin of our modern word cereal.

    Cerridwen  (Celtic) - Goddess of moon, magic, agriculture, nature, poetry language, music, art, science and astrology. She was also keeper of the cauldron. Her name means “chiding love.” Ceridwen, Caridwen, Kerritwen, Keridwen, Kyrridwen are other variations of her name.

    Clemencia (Roman) – Goddess of forgiveness and mercy. Our modern word clemency stems from the ideals this Goddess represents. Names related to this include Clementine and Clemence.

    Coventina  (Celtic) – Goddess of the sacred waters, her shrine is found in Northumberland.

    Danu  (Celtic) – Her name means “knowledge.” From her flowed all of life. She is also linked to fairy hills and a tribe of ancient deities known as Tuatha de Danaan.

    Demeter  (Greek) - Goddess of the harvest who possessed great knowledge of the best way to grow, preserve and harvest grain. She was also the devoted mother of Persephone. Her name reflects her nurturing personality as it means “earth mother” in Greek.

    Diana  (Roman) - Goddess of the hunt and wild animals.  She later took over from Luna as the Roman Goddess of the moon, responsible for fertility and childbirth. The name Diana means "heavenly divine," reflecting her celestial role.

    Dike  (Greek) - Goddess of judgement and justice.

    Discordia (Roman) – Goddess of discord and strife. This word is still used in modern Italian to signify a quarrel or disagreement. Discordia (Roman) – Goddess of discord and strife. This word is still used in modern Italian to signify a quarrel or disagreement.

    Eirene  (Greek) - This Greek Goddess name means peace in her native language, expressing her diplomatic nature. Her name also often appears as Irene.

    Elen  (Celtic) – Known as Elen of the ways she appears in the the Mabinogion. Here she magically built highways for her soldiers to protect the country against invaders.

    Eos  (Greek) - A sunny natured Goddess whose name means dawn.

    Epona  (Celtic) - Protector of horses, donkeys, and mules.  She was also an ancient fertility Goddess. Epona's Goddess name comes from the Gaullist word “epos” meaning "great mare."

    Ereshkigal  (Sumerian) - Goddess of Attalu, the land of the dead and ancestral memories. Her name translates as "great lady under the earth."  Irkalla is an alternative name by which this Goddess is identified.

    Eris  (Greek) - This Goddess personifies the energies of strife, discord, contention and rivalry.

    Flidais  (Celtic) – The woodland goddess, protectoress of wild animals and cattle. 

    Flora (Roman) – Goddess of flowers. Today the word "flora" is used to indicate all plantlife.

    Freya  (Nordic) - Goddess of love, beauty, fertility, war, wealth, divination and magic. Her name comes from the ancient Norse word for lady or mistress. There are several variations of the spellings of this Goddess name including: Freyja, Freyr and Freyja.

    Frigg  (Nordic) - Goddess of marriage, childbirth, motherhood, wisdom, household management and weaving and spinning. Her name means "beloved" in ancient Norse and is derived from “fri” meaning “to love."  She is also known as Frige, Friia, Frija and Frea.

    Gaia  (Greek) - Goddess of the Earth and prophecy. She is the primordial mother and a personification of Mother Earth. She gave birth to the Titans. Her name is also spelt Gaeo.

    Hathor  Egyptian) - This heavenly cow's areas of influence included music, dancing, joy and fertility. Her name translates as "house of Horus". Alternative names for this Goddess are Het-Hert, Hetheru, Mehturt, Mehurt, Mehet-Weret, and Mehet-uret.

    Hebe  (Greek) – Hebe’s name literally means youth or in the prime of life. She was one of the daughters of Zeus and Hera. Her role was to serve the nectar and ambrosia to the Gods and Goddesses that prevented them from aging.

    Hekate  (Greek) - Goddess of the wild places, childbirth and the crossroads. She is closely associated with magic and witchcraft. Her name is said to be derived from the Greek word hekas meaning "far off" describing her unworldly, shamanic nature. This Goddess’s name is also spelt, Hecate.

    Hella  (Nordic) - The fearsome Goddess of the Nordic realm of the dead. Her name is derived from the word kel, meaning "to conceal." There are numerous spellings of her name including Halje Hell, Hel, Helle, Hela and Holle.

    Hemera  (Greek) - The Primordial Goddess of daylight.

    Henwen  (Celtic) – A fertility goddess whilst in the form of a magical sow, birthed strange litters. Her name translates as “old white.”

    Hera  (Greek) - Queen of the Olympians and Goddess of marriage and birth. The meaning of her Goddess name has been lost.  One historian claims her name could be connected to the Greek word for seasons “hora,” suggesting she is ripe for marriage.

    Hestia  (Greek) - The domestic Goddess of the Greek Pantheon, she rules over the hearth and home. Her name comes from the Greek word “estia” meaning "she that dwells or tarries." This reflects the importance of the role that the ancient Greeks attributed to this Goddess in sacrificing her position as an Olympian to guard the fire and maintain a happy home.

    Hygieia  (Greek) - Goddess of health, cleanliness and sanitation. There are beautiful statues of this Goddess in Kos, the home of Hippocrates who is considered the “father of modern medicine. Her name also forms part of the word, hygiene.

    Inanna  (Sumerian) - Goddess of love, war, and fertility. Inanna was the personification of the morning and evening star.  Her beautiful name means "lady of the sky." This Goddess is closely linked to Ishtar and Nin-anna.

    Indunn  (Nordic) - Goddess of youth and springtime. Her name means she who renews and has several alternative spellings including Indun, Iduna and Idhunna.

    Iris  (Greek) - Goddess of the rainbow and messenger to the Gods. Her name means rainbow in her native language.

    Isis  (Egyptian) - This famous Goddess has so many different aspects, her most important roles are as Goddess of life and magic. Isis’s name comes from the Egyptian word “asset” which means "she of throne" in other words the Queen of the Goddesses. Many other Goddess names have been lost as Isis took over their roles and titles.

    Juno  (Roman) - Goddess of marriage, pregnancy and childbirth. She protected the finances of the citizens of Rome. Her name is a mystery it speaks of a contradictory role for this Goddess, before her alignment to the matronly, Greek Goddess, Hera. Juno's name is derived from the root “yeu” meaning "vital force" indicating a more youthful, maiden Goddess.

    Juventas (Roman) – She is the maiden Goddess associated with rejuvenation and the protection of young men during their rites of passage into adulthood. Her name derives from the Latin word iuventas meaning youth.

    Kali  (Hindu) - The fearsome demon destroying Goddess who represents death and rebirth. Her name means the "black one."

    Lakshmi  (Hindu) - Goddess of abundance of material and spiritual wealth. Her name is derived from the Sanskrit word “laksya” meaning aim or goal.

    Leto  (Greek) - Mother of the twin Olympians, Apollo and Artemis.

    Luna (Roman) – A beautiful Goddess of the moon, her name still has links to this celestial body today, we need only think of the word lunar. J.K Rowling named one of Harry Potter’s friends after this Goddess.

    Maat  (Egyptian) - Goddess of truth, justice and balance.  She prevented the creation from reverting to chaos and judged the deeds of the dead with her feather. This Goddess name stems from the word Mayet meaning “straight.” This reflects her unbending nature, upholding what is right and just.

    Mabb (Celtic) – As Queen Mabb, she was midwife to the fairfolk.

    Macha  (Celtic) – A wild goddess who battles on behalf of woman and children against injustice.

    Maeve  (Celtic) – A great, Irish, warrior queen.

    Maia  (Greek) - Spring Goddess and the eldest and considered the most beautiful of Atlas's seven daughters. She is also the name of one of the stars that make-up the constellation known as the Pleiades.

    Metis  (Greek) - Ancient, Goddess of wisdom and prudence.  

    Minerva  (Roman) - Goddess of wisdom, medicine and crafts.  Her name is linked to the Latin word “mens” which means "intellect," suggesting the intelligence and inventiveness of this ancient Goddess.

    Mnemosyne  (Greek) - The Goddess linked to memory and the mother of the Muses.

    Morrigan  (Celtic) - The terrifying crow Goddess associated with war and death on the battlefield.  She was queen of phantoms, demons, shape-shifters and patroness of priestesses and Witches. Her name means "great queen" in the old Irish language. Morrigan was also known as Morgane, Morrigu, Morrighan, Mor-Rioghain and Morrigna.

    Nephthys  (Egyptian) - Goddess of death, decay and the unseen.  Her name speaks of her priestess role as it means "lady of the temple enclosure." Other variations of her title include Nebet-het and Nebt-het.

    Nike  (Greek) - This Greek Goddess name means victory, she represented success especially in the sporting arena which is why her name was chosen for a famous brand of sportswear. 

    Olwen  (Celtic) – The golden sun goddess who survived thirteen different trials to win her true love. Her name translates as “white footprint” as white clovers spring-up wherever she treads.

    Ostara  (Germanic) - The spring Goddess whose name is linked to the East and the dawn. The early Christians took her fertility symbols of eggs and hares and incorporated them into the Easter celebrations.

    Parvarti  (Hindu) – Goddess of love and devotion, her name means “she of the mountain.”

    Pax (Roman) – Her name means “peace” in Latin she is often depicted with an olive branch. We still use the metaphor “offering an olive branch,” today.  

    Persephone  (Greek) - Daughter of Demeter and Queen of the Underworld.  She was also none as Kore reflecting the Maiden aspect of this Goddess. Other variations of her name include Persephoneia, Persephassa, Persephatta and Pherepapha

    Phoebe  (Greek) - her name means “bright” or “shining one.” Phoebe is linked to the oracle of Delphi. This has become one of the most popular goddess names after it was used as a name for a character in the sitcom, “Friends.”

    Pomona  (Roman) –Protected fruiting trees and gardens.  Her name is derived from the Latin word pomus, meaning “fruit tree.”

    Rhea  (Greek) - The ancient Titan Earth Goddess, responsible for the fertility of the soil and women. The name is most likely a form of the word era meaning "earth", although it has also been linked to “rheos” the Greek term for “stream.”

    Rhiannon  (Celtic) –A Celtic Goddesses of fertility, linked with the moon, night and death. Her name means “night queen.” This is one of the Goddess names that are experiencing a resurgence in popularity.

    Saraswati  (Hindu) - The Goddess of knowledge, language and the arts. She is the one who through wisdom, brings order out of chaos.

    Selene  (Greek) – Selene was the Titan personification of the moon, unsurprising then that her name means moon in Greek.  

    Seshat  (Egyptian) - The great scribe and librarian Goddess who was responsible for accounting, architecture, astronomy, historical records and mathematics.  Her name means "she who scribes."  It is also one of the Goddess names that has numerous different spellings including: Safkhet, Sashet, Seshata, Sesat, Sesheta and Sheshat. 

    Theia  (Greek) - Ancient Goddess of sight and the bright sky. She was mother Helios, Selene and Eos. Her name itself means Goddess. Thea is the anglicised version of this name.

    Themis  (Greek) - Goddess of divine justice, order and customs.  She also had the gift of prophecy. This name simply means "law of nature" or "divine nature."

    Venus  (Roman) - Goddess and love and beauty.  Her Goddess name has become synonymous with her role as the woman who all men desire.

    Vesta   (Roman) - Guardian of the sacred Flame. Vesta’s name and function is derived from the Greek Goddess Hestia.

    I have found expanding this list of Goddess names  fascinating. It has reminded me of similar themes and reoccurring archetypal figures that are incorporated across the word's myths and legends. 


    Primary Source Connection

    The germ-theory explanation of the greatest modern disease pandemic, AIDS, is denied by fringe groups and a few pop-culture heroes, despite conclusions from expert scientists who have spent years doing specialized research on the HIV virus and AIDS.

    FOO FIGHTERS, HIV DENIERS

    A platinum-selling alt-rock group may be endangering their fans by promoting a dangerous myth.

    Some rock stars want to free Tibet. Others want to save Mumia. The Foo Fighters, on the other hand, want their fans to ignore accepted medical wisdom about AIDS.

    The multimillion-album-selling alternative rock outfit has thrown its weight behind Alive and Well, an “alternative AIDS information group” that denies any link between HIV and AIDS. In January, Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel helped organize a sold-out concert in Hollywood to benefit the group. Foo fans were treated to a speech by Alive and Well founder Christine Maggiore, who believes AIDS may be caused by HIV-related medications, anal sex, stress, and drug use, and implies that people should not get tested for HIV nor take medications to counter the virus. Free copies of Maggiore's self-published book, “What If Everything You Thought You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong?,” in which she declares “there is no proof that HIV causes AIDS,” were also passed out to the concert-goers.

    HIV experts are alarmed by the possible impact of the Foo Fighters' embrace of Maggiore's theories on their potentially gullible young fans.

    “Clearly, more research is needed on the factors that contribute to HIV infection and the development of AIDS,” says Dorcus Crumbley of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention. “However, the conclusions of more than two decades of epidemiologic, virologic, and medical research are that HIV infection is transmissible through sexual contact, injecting drug use, perinatally, and from receiving blood or blood products … (and) the scientific evidence is overwhelming that HIV is the cause of AIDS.”

    Adds Crumbley: “The myth that HIV is not the primarycause of AIDS … could cause (HIV-positive people) to reject treatment critical for their own health and for preventing transmission to others.”

    “When it comes to such a complex health topic, it behooves the band to have really researched what they are endorsing,” says Diane Tanaka, an attending physician at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, where she works with a large population of high-risk and HIV-infected low-income youth. “(The Foo Fighters) have a big responsibility in terms of (their) public role and the impact that they can have on young people. Is this band willing to take responsibility for a young person engaging in risky, unprotected sex because of information they've gotten from the (Foo Fighters) or from Alive and Well?”

    Alive and Well is one of several fringe groups that deny a link between HIV and AIDS. Similar theories have been put forth over the years by various far-right groups and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists, and other so-called “HIV-refuseniks.”

    “Your risk of being hit by lightning is greater than that of contracting HIV through a one-time random sexual contact with someone you don't know here in America,” says Maggiore, an HIV-positive Southern California resident with no formal training in medicine or the sciences. “And if (a young person) were to get a positive diagnosis, that does not mean they've been infected withHIV.” The HIV-AIDS connection, maintains Maggiore, has been promoted by greedy drug companies. Mendel says he was won over by Maggiore's book, and passed it around to the rest of the band, which includes former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl. Mendel says that he would steer anyone considering an HIV antibody test toward Maggiore's group.

    “If you test positive, you are pretty much given a bleak outlook and told to take toxic drugs to possibly ward off new infections,” says Mendel.

    With the other band members on board, Mendel aims to use the Foo Fighters' celebrity to get the message out to a broad audience. The Foo Fighters plan additional benefit shows, and have placed a banner ad on their Web site linking to Alive and Well. Mendel says that he does not have HIV, nor does he have any friends with HIV besides Maggiore, who has remained asymptomatic.

    The most recent numbers from the Joint United Nations' HIV/AIDS Program estimate that 16.3 million people worldwide have died of AIDS-related causes since 1981. Medical research in the United States indicates that as many as 25 percent of the nation's estimated 40,000 annual HIV infections occur among 13- to 21-year-olds. Maggiore, however, maintains that worldwide HIV infections and AIDS deaths are exaggerated by the CDC and the World Health Organization, even in regions like sub-Saharan Africa, where two-thirds of the world's HIV-infected people live.

    Maggiore's message has apparently penetrated the minds of at least some Foo aficionados. She says she has heard from many Foo fans since the show—one of whom, she says, now works at the Alive and Well office.

    “AIDS is a toxic disease caused by either long-term recreational drug abuse or short-term anti-HIV medications,” writes a 22-year-old member of the Alive and Well-affiliated Students Reappraising AIDS on the Foo Fighters' Web-based message board. “HIV is not spread sexually, nor is it the cause of any disease.”

    Other fans are less impressed. Damian Purdy, a 21-year-old Winnipeg, Canada resident and devoted Foo Fighters fan, is outraged by the band's position. “By supporting this, the Foo Fighters have entered an arena that they have no business being in. The truth is that a rock concert is not the appropriate platform for these views to be expressed. I think the Foo Fighters have more influence than they realize,” he says.

    For his part, Mendel remains convinced that the media and the medical establishment are keeping the truth about HIV and AIDS from the public. The Foo Fighters, he insists, will continue to use their celebrity to bring “light to the issue.”

    Is he worried that the group might be endangering the lives of some of its listeners?

    “I'm absolutely confident that I'm doing the right thing,” Mendel answers. “No, I wouldn't feel responsible for possibly harming somebody. I (feel) I'm doing the opposite.”

    talvi, silja j.a. “foo fighters, hiv deniers : a platinum-selling alt-rock group may be endangering their fans by promoting a dangerous myth,” mother jones (february 25, 2000).

    Alibek, Kenneth, and Stephen Handelman. Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World—Told from Inside by the Man Who Ran It. New York: Random House, 1999.

    Bäumler, Ernst. Paul Ehrlich: Scientist for Life. Translated by G. Edwards. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1983.

    Brock, Thomas D. Robert Koch: A Life in Medicine and Bacteriology. Madison, WI: Science Tech Publishers, 1988.

    Conrad, Lawrence I., and Dominik Wujastyk, eds. Contagion: Perspectives from Pre-modern Societies. Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 2000.

    Debré, Patrice. Louis Pasteur. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

    Drexler, Madeline. Secret Agents: The Menace of Emerging Infections. New York: Penguin Books, 2002.

    Dubos, René. Pasteur and Modern Science. Madison, WI: Science Tech Publishers, 1988.

    Farley, John. The Spontaneous Generation Controversy from Descartes to Oparin. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977.

    Fenner, F., and A. Gibbs, eds. Portraits of Viruses: A History of Virology. Basel: Karger, 1988.

    Foster, W.D. History of Medical Bacteriology and Immunology. London: William Heineman, 1979.

    Garrett, Laurie. Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health. New York: Hyperion, 2000.

    Geison, Gerald L. The Private Science of Louis Pasteur. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.

    Hughes, S.S. The Virus: A History of the Concept. New York: Science History Publications, 1977.

    Koch, Robert. Essays of Robert Koch. Translated by K. Codell Carter. New York: Greenwood Press, 1987.

    Lechevalier, Hubert A., and Morris Solotorovsky. Three Centuries of Microbiology. New York: Dover, 1974.

    Magner, Lois N. A History of Medicine. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2005.

    Morse, Stephen S., ed. Emerging Viruses. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

    Sagan, Dorion, and Lynn Margulis. The Garden of Microbial Delights. A Practical Guide to the Subvisible World. New York: Harcourt, 1988.

    Silverstein, Arthur M. A History of Immunology. New York: Academic Press, 1989.

    Tomes, Nancy. The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.

    Vandervliet, G. Microbiology and the Spontaneous Generation Debate During the 1870s. Lawrence, KS: Coronado University Press, 1971.


    Pros And Cons Of Genetic Counseling

    Family nursing requires knowledge in many different areas of study. One of these functions requires the family nurse to have a basic knowledge relating to genetic disorders in order to provide essential information, to patients and their families, regarding risks and complexities that could arise to couples when starting a family. In this discussion board post, I will discuss a scenario for a couple inquiring about the possibilities of a genetic disorder if they choose to have children. I will discuss the different services that patients can be provided during genetic counseling and how I would assess their family history for potential genetic problems in their children. I will also discuss recommendations for testing and why there are advantages and disadvantages to genetic testing. Furthermore, I will also discuss how I would personally.

    Huntington’s Disease is autosomal dominant, which means that if one parent carries the gene, then each child they may decide to have has a 50% chance of also inheriting the gene (Andersson, Juth, Petersen, Graff, & Edberg, 2012). However, since both parents have the gene, the chances of a children inheriting this gene also increases to 75%. Everyone has two genes. If they have Huntington’s disease, the person will have one good gene and one bad gene, which will be the mutant gene with the disease. If both parents have the disease, they will each have a bad gene that could pass along. It only takes one bad gene for the disease to pass along to the next generation. With these disease, the carrier of the gene will always develop the disease. However, one thing to consider with this gene is that it is a disease that usually presents itself between the age of 30-50 years old (Andersson et al., 2012). If a parent with this disease happen to pass away prior to being diagnosed, it is possible that the gene has been passed on without.


    RIELPOLITIK

    – Easter Sunday is a festival and holiday celebrated by millions of people around the world who honour the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred three days after his crucifixion at Calvary. It is also the day that children excitedly wait for the Easter bunny to arrive and deliver their treats of chocolate eggs. Easter is a ‘movable feast’ which is chosen to correspond with the first Sunday following the full moon after the March equinox, and occurs on different dates around the world since western churches use the Gregorian calendar, while eastern churches use the Julian calendar. So where did this ‘movable feast’ begin, and what are the origins of the traditions and customs celebrated on this important day around the world?

    Christian’s today celebrate Easter Sunday as the resurrection of Jesus. Image source.

    Most historians, including Biblical scholars, agree that Easter was originally a pagan festival. According to the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary says: “The word Easter is of Saxon origin, Eastra, the goddess of spring, in whose honour sacrifices were offered about Passover time each year. By the eighth century Anglo–Saxons had adopted the name to designate the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.” However, even among those who maintain that Easter has pagan roots, there is some disagreement over which pagan tradition the festival emerged from. Here we will explore some of those perspectives.

    Resurrection as a symbol of rebirth

    One theory that has been put forward is that the Easter story of crucifixion and resurrection is symbolic of rebirth and renewal and retells the cycle of the seasons, the death and return of the sun.

    According to some scholars, such as Dr. Tony Nugent, teacher of Theology and Religious Studies at Seattle University, and Presbyterian minister, the Easter story comes from the Sumerian legend of Damuzi (Tammuz) and his wife Inanna (Ishtar), an epic myth called “The Descent of Inanna” found inscribed on cuneiform clay tablets dating back to 2100 BC. When Tammuz dies, Ishtar is grief–stricken and follows him to the underworld. In the underworld, she enters through seven gates, and her worldly attire is removed. “Naked and bowed low” she is judged, killed, and then hung on display. In her absence, the earth loses its fertility, crops cease to grow and animals stop reproducing. Unless something is done, all life on earth will end.

    After Inanna has been missing for three days her assistant goes to other gods for help. Finally one of them Enki, creates two creatures who carry the plant of life and water of life down to the Underworld, sprinkling them on Inanna and Damuzi, resurrecting them, and giving them the power to return to the earth as the light of the sun for six months. After the six months are up, Tammuz returns to the underworld of the dead, remaining there for another six months, and Ishtar pursues him, prompting the water god to rescue them both. Thus were the cycles of winter death and spring life.

    Dr Nugent is quick to point out that drawing parallels between the story of Jesus and the epic of Inanna “doesn’t necessarily mean that there wasn’t a real person, Jesus, who was crucified, but rather that, if there was, the story about it is structured and embellished in accordance with a pattern that was very ancient and widespread.”

    The Sumerian goddess Inanna is known outside of Mesopotamia by her Babylonian name, “Ishtar”. In ancient Canaan Ishtar is known as Astarte, and her counterparts in the Greek and Roman pantheons are known as Aphrodite and Venus. In the 4th Century, when Christians identified the exact site in Jerusalem where the empty tomb of Jesus had been located, they selected the spot where a temple of Aphrodite (Astarte/Ishtar/Inanna) stood. The temple was torn down and the So Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built, the holiest church in the Christian world.

    Dr Nugent points out that the story of Inanna and Damuzi is just one of a number of accounts of dying and rising gods that represent the cycle of the seasons and the stars. For example, the resurrection of Egyptian Horus the story of Mithras, who was worshipped at Springtime and the tale of Dionysus, resurrected by his grandmother. Among these stories are prevailing themes of fertility, conception, renewal, descent into darkness, and the triumph of light over darkness or good over evil.

    Easter as a celebration of the Goddess of Spring

    A related perspective is that, rather than being a representation of the story of Ishtar, Easter was originally a celebration of Eostre, goddess of Spring, otherwise known as Ostara, Austra, and Eastre. One of the most revered aspects of Ostara for both ancient and modern observers is a spirit of renewal.

    Celebrated at Spring Equinox on March 21, Ostara marks the day when light is equal to darkness, and will continue to grow. As the bringer of light after a long dark winter, the goddess was often depicted with the hare, an animal that represents the arrival of spring as well as the fertility of the season.

    According to Jacob Grimm’s Deutsche Mythologie, the idea of resurrection was ingrained within the celebration of Ostara: “Ostara, Eástre seems therefore to have been the divinity of the radiant dawn, of upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing, whose meaning could be easily adapted by the resurrection-day of the christian’s God.”

    Most analyses of the origin of the word ‘Easter’ maintain that it was named after a goddess mentioned by the 7th to 8th-century English monk Bede, who wrote that Ēosturmōnaþ (Old English ‘Month of Ēostre’, translated in Bede’s time as “Paschal month”) was an English month, corresponding to April, which he says “was once called after a goddess of theirs named Ēostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month”.

    The origins of Easter customs

    The most widely-practiced customs on Easter Sunday relate to the symbol of the rabbit (‘Easter bunny’) and the egg. As outlined previously, the rabbit was a symbol associated with Eostre, representing the beginning of Springtime. Likewise, the egg has come to represent Spring, fertility and renewal. In Germanic mythology, it is said that Ostara healed a wounded bird she found in the woods by changing it into a hare. Still partially a bird, the hare showed its gratitude to the goddess by laying eggs as gifts.

    The Encyclopedia Britannica clearly explains the pagan traditions associated with the egg: “The egg as a symbol of fertility and of renewed life goes back to the ancient Egyptians and Persians, who had also the custom of colouring and eating eggs during their spring festival.” In ancient Egypt, an egg symbolised the sun, while for the Babylonians, the egg represents the hatching of the Venus Ishtar, who fell from heaven to the Euphrates.

    Relief with Phanes, c. 2nd century A.D. Orphic god Phanes emerging from the cosmic egg, surrounded by the zodiac. Image source.

    In many Christian traditions, the custom of giving eggs at Easter celebrates new life. Christians remember that Jesus, after dying on the cross, rose from the dead, showing that life could win over death. For Christians the egg is a symbol of Jesus’ resurrection, as when they are cracked open, they stand for the empty tomb.

    Regardless of the very ancient origins of the symbol of the egg, most people agree that nothing symbolises renewal more perfectly than the egg – round, endless, and full of the promise of life.

    While many of the pagan customs associated with the celebration of Spring were at one stage practised alongside Christian Easter traditions, they eventually came to be absorbed within Christianity, as symbols of the resurrection of Jesus. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March equinox.

    Whether it is observed as a religious holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, or a time for families in the northern hemisphere to enjoy the coming of Spring and celebrate with egg decorating and Easter bunnies, the celebration of Easter still retains the same spirit of rebirth and renewal, as it has for thousands of years.

    Featured image: Main: ‘A Hare in the Forest by Hans Hoffmann (public domain). Inset: Ostara (1884) by Johannes Gehrts (public domain)


    Studying Ancient DNA to Understand Contemporary Disease

    The study of DNA and genetics has always been a large mystery to many scientists. The current Ancient DNA (aDNA) research on human history is more complex than what can be inferred from modern DNA research. Scientists and researchers are constantly using modern day populations, and modern DNA to make inferences about past populations (Haber et al., 2016). With the new technologies available in ancient DNA, the study of past diseases and populations is more easily conducted with little to no contamination. Studying aDNA does not only tell us about current and past disease, but can also shed light on the theories of human origins (Haber et al., 2016). For instance, there is lots research done surrounding the out of Africa hypothesis and more recently the leaky replacement model (Haber et al., 2016). These are some of the new research ideas that are being introduced from aDNA studies. Ancient DNA research is changing the views of human origins by displaying one that is more complex through looking for evidence from aDNA and interpreting with modern day genetics (Haber et al., 2016).

    In addition to using aDNA for discoveries about human origins, it is also used for inferences on the spread of new diseases based on ancient evidence. Ancient DNA can be used to study ancient diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria. Microbial DNA is the main component that will be interpreted in terms of aDNA. Due to external factors such as contamination, the ability to distinguish between ancient and modern DNA makes it difficult to determine disease origins and susceptibility (Haber et al., 2016). This paper will look at microbial DNA and how it can be used to make inferences on past and present diseases, ancient DNA and malaria, tuberculosis and lactose gene mutation. Issues with using aDNA will be addressed because they play a fundamental role in understanding aDNA extraction and analysis methods. These are some of the many components in aDNA that will be looked at because it sheds light on how it plays a role on disease past and present. Disease patterns using aDNA are fundamental and this can allow for the understanding of origins and further disease patterns.

    Ancient Egypt and Malaria

    Plasmodium falciparum (P.falciparium) is also known as malaria and is caused by the single cell parasite known as plasmodium. In modern times, malaria is endemic in the African continent due to climate and environmental changes. With evidence of malaria presence in Ancient Egypt and Greece it origins can be traced, thus this can provide an insight on modern patterns in endemic countries (Nerlich et al., 2008). Plasmodium falciparum is an infection caused by mosquitoes, which causes clinical infection (Nerlich et al., 2008). The others include, plasmodium malariae, plasmodium Vivax and plasmodium ovale (Nerlich et al., 2008). These types of malaria infections lead to different symptoms thus rendering them different from the well-known malaria.

    The study done by Nerlich et al., (2008) states that the identification of aDNA for P.falciparium can be found in the tissue of an ancient mummy dating back to approximately 4000 years ago. Bone tissue samples were collected from 91 mummies and skeletons from Ancient Egypt. The samples were analyzed using PCR for direct sequencing of P.falciparium. The results showed that 2 of the 91 individuals had the fragment of P.falciparium, which are 134 base pairs (bp) (Figure1). This fragment has a 99% accordance ultimately allowing for the identification of this by using aDNA (Nerlich et al., 2008). In addition, the samples from the individuals showed that they originated in different tomb areas in different kingdoms ranging from the Pre-dynastic to Early Dynastic or Middle kingdom (Nerlich et al., 2008). The result of this study is a representation of how aDNA can be used to trace disease origins and gain in depth information on a disease (Nerlich et al., 2008). This study also outlines the difference of using immunological tests versus aDNA. This is significant because a fault of previous immunological tests have mislabelled chronic anemia has positive for P.falciparium thus rendering aDNA testing to be more superior.

    Figure 1: 134bp fragment from ancient DNA of Plasmodium falciparum extracted from ancient Egyptian mummies: (Nerlich et al., 2008: Figure 1 pg. 318)

    Moreover, building from the notion of the presence of P.falciparium in Ancient Egypt Lalremruata et al., (2013) conducted a study that looked at the co-infection of TB and malaria. Ancient DNA in this case can be used to identify multiple cases of diseases, which can provide a greater insight into disease progression and origins. Lalremruata et al., (2013) conducted a study that looked at ancient DNA and P.falciparium in mummies from 1500-500 BC which included 18 th Dynasty. The 196 bp AMA1, MSP1 and MTB complex were looked for 6 mummies for the identification of P.falciparium (Lalremruata et al., 2013). These were used to determine the presence of TB and P.falciparium. Out of the 6 mummies that were analyzed, two had cases of single malaria infections and the remaining four had representations of malaria and TB confection (Lalremruata et al., 2013).

    Lalremruata et al., (2013) argue that the Fayum was an area that was more susceptible to malaria than it is today. Fayum has undergone drastic changes throughout antiquity from how its was described by Herodotus in Ancient Greek, to the Ptolemies and ancient Rome. Studies have showed that cultivation of land by humans lead to swamps that are ideal breeding grounds for Anopheles mosquitos the vector of P.falciparium (Lalremruata et al., 2013). It can be inferred that ancient populations (1500-500 BC) of Fayum might have been at an increased risk of malaria due to the reclamation of land that was caused by cultivation (Lalremruata et al., 2013). Studies using molecular identification cannot only give us information about past incidence of disease but also the environmental influences.

    Ancient DNA and Tuberculosis

    Ancient DNA has allowed information to be obtained in real-time rather than using molecular calculations that rely on a molecular clock that uses mutation rates (Donoghue et al., 2004). In addition, as seen with malaria, aDNA can provide information about early agricultural practices and health status in relation to disease and diet (Donoghue et al., 2004). More importantly, when using aDNA to study contemporary diseases, contamination is an important concern that needs to be addressed in order to produce accurate results.

    The first finding of tuberculosis was in 1993 using aDNA in a human microbial pathogen (Donoghue et al., 2004). In the first report of aDNA of tuberculosis 11 specimens were analyzed and four dated to age from 300-1400 years ago tested positive for M.tuberculosis (Donoghue et al., 2004) .The target sites for these specimens were IS6110 for tuberculosis DNA. In order to identify tuberculosis in ancient specimens bimolecular evidence from mycolic acids and DNA were used (Donoghue et al., 2004). The reason that this is used to identify tuberculosis DNA is because point mutations of the DNA are rare and thus a reliable source. In addition, independent variation can be used to detect different target sequences on the tuberculosis genome. For example, a study done by Fletcher et al., (2003) 168 individuals from the 18 th century Hungry were analyzed due to their preservation in mummy form. DNA extraction was done using IS6110 bp analysis and the presence of the MTB complex. Out of the 168 individuals, 93 had the target sequences for M. tuberculosis (Figure 2) (Fletcher et al., 2003). In addition 27 individuals were radiographed and 14/27 had potential lesions and 11/14 that had lesions has chest examinations were positive for MTB. The two methods of DNA extraction and radiographic examination work together to aid in the identification of tuberculosis. The DNA found in the was well preserved and can highlight the molecular epidemiology of infection on this community which can allow for comparison with MTB strains that exist in the current time (Fletcher et al., 2003)

    Figure 2: Mummified body from Vac Hungry. DNA from the chest detected M. tuberculosis was positive. (Originally from Fletcher et al., 2003): (Donoghue et al., 2004: Figure 4)

    In addition to looking at the genomic markers to identify tuberculosis, osteological evidence can provide valuable insight to the long-term trends of the disease. In some cases tuberculosis can cause manifestation on bone, which is seen in the spine known as Pott&rsquos Disease (Gernaey et al., 2001). Gernaey et al., (2001) conducted a study on medieval individuals where mycolic acids were used as the biomarkers for the identification of tuberculosis as opposed to the mycobacterium tuberculosis complex and the IS6110 fragments. Their reasoning is that the target is not as specific and not always present in modern strains (Gernaey et al., 2001). Mycolic acids are long chain lipids, and in the case of tuberculosis are 3 hydroxy fatty acids that are substituted into the 2-position with a long aliphatic chain (Gernaey et al., 2001). Mycolic acid along with DNA evidence can effectively be used to confirm the osteological evidence of TB in bone (Gernaey et al., 2001). Also, mycolic acids are important because it allows for the comparison with ancient DNA and younger specimens because it can screen biomarkers in individuals younger than 250 years.

    In the study conducted by Gernaey et al., (2001) ribs were used for the identification of tuberculosis because they are most preserved as compared to other parts of the skeleton. Samples were taken from 30 skeletons dating back to approximately1000 years old (Medival) and are from Addingham, West Yorkshire. To determine the presence of tuberculosis, three tests were conducted that used IS6110 and mycobacterium tuberculosis complex mycolic acids. Three of the skeletons were used, specimen A134 was a male that had Pott&rsquos disease and new bone formation on the ribs Two mid shaft fragments were taken and ground to powder for DNA extraction. Specimen A223 had no lesions of TB in the spinious process but had lesions on the ribs that were possibly caused by pulmonary TB. Two mid shaft fragments were also selected and ground into powder. The third specimen A162 had no lesions of TB. This specimen was used as the control comparison (Gernaey et al., 2001). Mycolic acid extraction, chromatography separation and DNA analysis where the methods that were used to look at the osteological evidence of TB.

    The results of the study showed only one of the specimens, A134, had positive identification of IS6110 primers (Figure 3). The other two did not produce any bands associated with the target mycobacterium complex. The other two specimens showed evidence of mycolic acids. This study provides evidence that there are other methods using osteology that can provide information on TB. For instance this study did not look at straight radiological evidence but DNA and mycolic acids, which is a reliable form of ancient TB diagnosis than 1S6110 (Gernaey et al., 2001). What can also be inferred is that mycolic acids can survive for more than 1000 years as seen in the medieval specimens (Gernaey et al., 2001). This study provides valuable evidence that looks at TB through a paleoepidemiological perspective because it provides evidence of the presence of TB and the ability to trace it back to antiquity.

    Figure 3: Amplification of 181 bp product of the target IS6110. Positive result only from one rib sample from one individual (Gernaey et al., 2001: Figure 1)

    Potts disease- Physical Representation of Tuberculosis

    When analyzing osteological evidence for tuberculosis, Pott&rsquos disease is most looked at because it has the most manifestation on bone. Manifestation on a bone is indicative of the presence of disease. Crubézy et al., (1998) conducted a study that attempted to extract and recover DNA from a 5400-year-old skeleton from Pre-dynastic Egypt. This individual suffered from spinal deformity, which is secondary tuberculosis identification on the vertebrae. Parts of the skeleton that were used for DNA analysis include collapsed vertebral bodies from the eighth to tenth thoracic vertebrae, and a proximal eighth left rib that have periosteal new bone formation (Crubézy et al., 1998). For the DNA extraction/amplification of the IS6110, insertion element was conducted, which is the isolation of the insertion sequence IS in this cause 6110 (Crubézy et al., 1998). In addition, mycobacterium DNA variation phylogenetic tree was constructed to determine the ancestral sequence and mutational events.

    The results of the study showed the morphology of the vertebral lesions are similar to modern day skeletons that have spinal tuberculosis. The pre-dynastic specimens had fusion of vertebrae, remodelling of the inferior articular surfaces of the apophyses indicate tuberculosis and long-term disease presence. The specimens also exhibited periosteal new bone formation, which indicates terminal infection, which is usually a response to injury or stimuli. This is indicative of disease because it shows evidence of trauma, which could be from Potts disease. Crubézy et al.,(1998) argue that there is unusual diversity of their DNA sequence, which could be due to the large amount of damage in the ancient DNA and or the origins of the disease. For instance, the authors speculate that the agent of human tuberculosis arose from the cattle pathogen M.bovis. This could have resulted from damage to the DNA causing the human form of the disease. Also, the authors speculate that at this time there was long evolution of the disease due to the healed cases of bone, which could have resulted from an immunised population (Crubézy et al.,1998). Based on the periosteal new bone formation, there is evidence of healing due to previous exposure to TB. This would mean that the population would have has a chance to be naturally immune because of their encounter with the disease as seen on the specimens. Crubézy et al., (1998) cannot agree if the lesions on the individual were from M.tuberculosis or from M.bovis or an ancient mycobacterium that is similar to the two pathogens. The authors conclude that tuberculosis in humans cannot be less than 15000 years old.

    Ancient DNA and Lactase Gene Mutation

    In contrast to studying the genetic components of contemporary disease in ancient context, it is also important to understand gene mutations and how it has played a role in modern disease and dietary practices. This section will look at the human genome to study gene mutations such as lactose intolerance. More specifically, analyzing the lactase gene will allow a more thorough understanding of the origins of lactose intolerance. In a study done by Myles et al., (2005) pastoralism was analysed as a potential cause of the spread of lactase gene mutation in the Neolithic. This was explored through three North African Berber populations. The underlying notion is that the expansion of pastoralism from the Middle East into North Africa would have been the cause of the spread of lactose intolerance (Myles et al., 2005).

    The study looked at a 105 Berber samples that were from three different groups in Morocco and Algeria. To determine the lactase tolerance in the population, haplotype frequencies from 11 polymorphic sites were extracted and compared to other populations worldwide (Myles et al., 2005). The two polymorphic sites that were most causal for lactose tolerance were the -13910T allele and the -22018A allele (Myles et al., 2005). The findings show that individuals that carry the -13910T always carry the -22018A but not vice versa. From this knowledge individuals who carry the -22018A allele are lactose intolerant but allele does not affect the lactase promoter. The likely causal allele is -13910T, which was the main focus for the analysis of lactose tolerance. The allele -13910T is important when looking at the origins of the dairy culture (Myles et al., 2005). In previous studies it has been used to predict the frequency of lactose tolerance in Northern Europeans but not in Sub-Saharan countries due to the migration of populations. Myles et al., (2005) propose that the presence of the -13910T allele is related to lactose tolerance in Eurasian and Berber populations but absent from sub-Saharan African populations supports the hypothesis that there is shared dairying origins (Myles et al., 2005).

    Figure 4: Correlation between the frequency of lactose tolerance measured by a lactose test and lactose tolerance predicted by the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. The graph has abbreviations, which were explained as follows NE (Northern Europe), US (United States), IR (Ireland), FI (Finland), FR (France), IN (Northern India), SI (Sindi, Pakistan) and many more global populations (Myles et al., 2005: Figure 2).

    The above graph is a representation of the frequency of lactose tolerance represented by the frequency of the -13910T allele in Berber and Eurasian populations. The diagonal line is a representation of a perfect correlation, which is not expected by the authors because the data was collected from different sources of genotypic data. This graph is important when looking at the origins of the gene mutation of lactase because it allows inferences on the origins of the mutation. This is done looking at small population groups and their genetic history. The lactase mutation is important in understanding human evolution because it provides insight in to the behavioural patterns of past populations.

    The analysis of the -13910T allele with its presence or lack of on the A haplotype can provide evidence for the origins of a population&rsquos dairying pattern. The A haplogroup was observed on populations that were Europeans and was observed in eight of the studied individuals. The data can infer that -13910T is a young mutation and was not widely geographically spread (Myles et al., 2005). The direct causal influence of lactose tolerance is not definite but is believed to be associated with the domestication of ovicaprids (sheep and goats) (Myles et al., 2005). It is also believed that the change in pastoralism and dairying patterns was abrupt in North Africa. Myles et al., (2005) suggest that the proto-speaking Berber ovicaprid pastoralists were the cause of the introduction of the -13910T allele, ultimately causing lactose tolerance. This suggests that there was a genetic input from the Eurasian populations causing lacto. Looking at the lactase gene mutation can shed light on why there are so many individuals today who are both lactose tolerant or intolerant and how it potentially occurred.

    Lactase and Prehistoric Populations

    Moreover, while its important to look at modern populations when analyzing lactase gene mutation, prehistoric populations can provide insight on the interactions of genes and culture. Malmström et al., (2010) looked a Neolithic hunter-gather population in Northern Europe and the frequency of lactose intolerance as opposed to the ability to digest milk sugar lactose after childhood. The population is known as the Pitted-Ware culture (PWC) and were thought to be present in Scandinavia 5400-4300 years before present time (Malmström et al., 2010). The authors found in this study that a genetic component affecting the ability to digest milk as an adult would have resulted from the replacement of the population with an agricultural based population. This would have resulted from changing to a population that used cultivation and farming as opposed to hunter-gather group.

    This study looked at samples of teeth and bone from 14 prehistoric individuals. These individuals had originated from 36 individuals from the Gotland site in mainland Sweden and were chosen because of the large amounts of preserved mitochondrial DNA. To identify the gene mutations the polymorphism of the -13910T allele was amplified (Figure 5) (Malmström et al., 2010). The results showed that the frequency of the derived T allele is associated with the ability to digest unprocessed milk in adulthood (Malmström et al., 2010). Figure 5 shows that the PWC population had a significant -13910T frequency than the extent Swedish population (Malmström et al., 2010). This difference can be explained by genetic drift, which causes the changes in allele frequency of the same population separated by a large amount. There is also evidence of strong gene selection for the T gene that allows for lactose tolerance (Malmström et al., 2010). As seen from the analysis genetic drift and the switch to agricultural diet plays a role on lactose intolerance.

    Figure 5: Frequency of the -13910T allele in the lactase gene in three different populations, Swedish extant, Swedish Neolithic hunter-gatherer and the negative controls.

    Culture practices of the Scandinavian population played a role in the presentation of the -13910 allele. For instance, before the population practiced dairy farming, the allele frequency would have not been affected (Malmström et al., 2010). Also, the introduction of milk in Northern Europe would have heavily influenced the -13910T allele and this would have played a role in modern day culture, which is heavily influenced by dairy products. This could have resulted from the cross interaction of genes and culture (Malmström et al., 2010).

    Problems with DNA Analysis

    This section of the paper will focus on interpretation of ancient DNA and how we use it to understand human evolution. It will also be used to access the problems with ancient DNA and some of the challenges that are associated with it. Ancient DNA provides fundamental information on past disease pattern, geography and evolution. With every methodology such as aDNA there are always problems and thus it is important to explore the strengths and limitations.

    Interpretation of Microbial Ancient DNA

    One of the most recent developments when using aDNA is that authentication cannot be done using only nucleotide sequences from ancient samples. Rollo et al., (1999) argues that sequence analysis should be the last step because there are large ranges of problems that are associated with this. For instance, contamination of specimens can occur through the introduction of modern microorganism to the ancient specimens. Although there is methodologies in place that limit the amount of contamination, it can still take part due to human error and other external factors.

    Rollo et al., (1999) statues that contamination can effect the ability to distinguish between DNA of ancient specimens and the DNA of microorganisms that have potentially colonized the remains. An example is seen through the reconstruction of the body of King Ramses II (1290-1224 BC). His body was so heavily colonized that when a sample was taken from his tissues 370 colonies were present and 89 different fungal species were isolated. Rollo et al., (1999) suggest that the solution would be to check the basis of the DNA sequence with present environmental characteristics from where the specimen originates. This methodology is important because it allows correct distinction of species that may be colonizing the ancient specimen.

    Extraction of specimens is important when preparing for DNA analysis. For instance in a study done by Rollo et al., (1999) a Neolithic herdsman hunter known as the Ice Man was excavated and microbial DNA was taken from the skin and the muscle to determine taphonomic history (Rollo et al., 1999). The specimen was swabbed with phenol, which removed any trace of ancient microbial colonization (Rollo et al., 1999). Without a viable sample, valuable information is lost and in turn also lost is the ability to understand disease origins and progression.

    Another issue faced by analysis to interpret ancient DNA, includes the ability to have DNA sequences that are conclusive for study. Problems with the DNA sequences can arise through post-mortem degradation of DNA from miscoding lesions or physical destruction of the molecule. The problems with the DNA sequence has led to major errors in studies that question the accuracy of disease origins and past population behaviour. Gilbert et al., (2005) proposes the nine criteria for authenticity (Figure 6). As seen from figure 6, the nine authenticity criteria involve: isolation from work areas, negative control extraction and amplification, appropriate molecular behaviour, reproducibility, cloning of products, independent replication, biochemical preservation, quantification and associated remains.

    The lack of compliance with the nine criteria can greatly affect the reliability and authenticity of the results. An issue with this list is that strict adherence does not mean full authenticity and can appear to be problematic. Ancient DNA studies are important when looking at modern diseases but the authenticity of molecular DNA strands is important when making inferences. This criterion is important to address when looking at the diseases because it plays a fundamental role in our understanding of disease origins and progression (Gilbert et al., 2005)

    Figure 6: Nine criteria for authenticity to determine the reliability of ancient DNA samples (Rollo et al., 1990: Box 1)

    These criteria have rarely been taken up completely in the field because there are instances there is lack of funding, and some believe there to be no contamination (Gilbert et al., 2005). As argued by Gilbert et al., (2005) it is important to implement these nine criteria because they assist in assessing ancient DNA studies more accurately. This is a growing field and thus new criteria and methodologies will be created to better handle ancient DNA specimens.

    Disease and Human Evolution

    When analyzing disease using aDNA it is important to look at it through the context of human evolution. For instance, population genetic models can be used in an evolutionary aspect to predict the disease progression and susceptibility (Quintana-Murci et al., 2016). Ancient DNA samples in tangent with modern genomes gives the ability to reconstruct the genetic history of species that can shed light on disease. Firstly, the removal of deleterious mutations is important to understand the building blocks of human disease. Purifying selection is one of the most common forms of selection, which is the removal of select alleles that are highly associated with Mendelian disorders, or to maintain low population frequencies. The removal of deleterious alleles is fundamental when studying genetic disorders because it gives insight on population genetics and genetic drift. This can allow a human evolutionary perspective on DNA through its recreation of past populations while providing information on disease (Quintana-Murci et al., 2016).

    In continuation with human evolution and disease, rare variants provide valuable information on human disease. The recent study involving the 1000 genomes project revealed that there were a large number of rare variants (Quintana-Murci et al., 2016). Rare variants are genetic variants that alter gene function and play a role in Mendelian conditions. Although the direct contribution of rare variants are not finite, there presence in populations may cause underling early onset of disease and increase the susceptibility to common disease. Also, rare variants that are specific to a population cause more deleterious effects than common variants (Fig 7) (Quintana-Murci et al., 2016). Understanding rare variants in populations is important in aspects of human populations because it optimizes population sampling and identifying the rare variants that are disease causing (Quintana-Murci et al., 2016). This changed the way that DNA and ancient DNA are used to study common and rare disease.

    Figure 7: Demography in history that affects the proportion of deleterious variants on human population (Quintana-Murci et al., 2016: Figure 2)

    Figure 7 shows how demographic history affects deleterious and common variants differently. The proportion of variants is affected by the segregation on the populations, which is influenced by past demographics. The drawing illustrates the general demographic history of modern human populations, which include Africans, Europeans and French Canadians. The figure above does not represent change in population size but the deleterious variants in human population (Quintana-Murci et al., 2016).

    In terms of ancient DNA, the ability to recognize mutation through population genetics can assist in understanding human disease. Ancient DNA has made it possible to recognize the frequency of mutation in a population. Studies have shown that through the admixture of archaic variants and the genomes of modern humans, there have been improved adaptation and survival. Furthermore, deep sequencing is a new concept in aDNA studies that allows the sequencing of many different samples or populations changing the framework of aDNA analysis. Quintana-Murci et al., (2016) looked at a study of 230 human samples from West Eurasia that dates back to between 8500 and 2300 years ago. In the results of the study, they found 12 loci containing variants that changed through increasing positive selection. The variants included diet, genes encoding proteins involved in fatty acid metabolism, vitamin D, celiac disease and skin pigmentation (Quintana-Murci et al., 2016). Also, in this study it was found there was a positive selection for immunity related genes that are responsible for immune responses. This is important in aDNA studies because it can help to shed light on past human lifestyles and what selective events increased or decreased the frequency of certain alleles that are related to specific traits or disease (Quintana-Murci et al., 2016). Ancient DNA is fundamental when looking at the progression or incidence of disease because it can give insight into modern disease and rare or common diseases.

    Moreover, population genetics and human evolution are important components of ancient DNA studies because they are fundamental in studying disease. They provide insight into identification of alleles that are disease risk and the disease phenotypes (Quintana-Murci et al., 2016). Rare and deleterious variants are seen in both recent and ancient populations and how they have changed population frequencies and in turn effect survival (Quintana-Murci et al., 2016). More research needs to be conducted into looking at the entire human genome of current and past humans to ultimately determine the risk of disease on a molecular level. Ancient DNA and molecular phenotypic studies can be advantageous when looking at the relationship between genes, evolution and disease.

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, studies of ancient DNA play a fundamental role in understanding disease patterns, disease progression and disease origins. As seen through the analysis of diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, aDNA allows us to understand its origins and how it effected past populations. With this knowledge we are able to make inferences on modern populations and how disease will be affected on a population level. Looking at malaria has allowed for the understanding of the history of the disease through the analysis of Egyptian mummies and medieval individuals (Nerlich et al., 2008). Retrospective studies of malaria have allowed insight on future disease patterns. More specifically, the ability to identify Plasmodium falciparum on ancient specimen has allowed for dating and more insight on how it affects the human genome. Conversely, tuberculosis and Pott&rsquos disease and identification through osteological evidence has allowed for a more in-depth understanding of the disease and its genome (Gernaey et al., 2001).

    This paper also looked at gene mutation in detail by analysing human evolution and lactose tolerance through the lactase gene. This has allowed for the identification of the T gene (-13910T) which is ultimately the cause of lactose intolerance (Myles et al., 2005). Gene mutation has allowed the understanding of culture and genetics to cross to provide an in-depth analysis on the disease. Gene mutation sheds light on how historical populations have affected modern day disease though the ability to consume milk and milk products.

    Lastly, this paper discussed the limitation of ancient DNA and its solutions. The nine criteria presented by Rollo et al., (1990) has allowed for authentication of studies to take place by having a test form contamination of DNA samples. Also, the study of human genomes through time can provide insight into disease. For instance, population genetics has allowed for the discovery of rare and deleterious variants (Quintana-Murci et al., 2016). In terms of ancient DNA, new deep sequencing methodologies allows analysis of multiple specimens and populations at once providing insight and comparison of disease (Quintana-Murci et al., 2016). Overall, aDNA is an important tool in anthropology and biology that can assist in disease diagnosis and predict the future of disease. Ancient DNA studies continue to grow and will allow for more in-depth accurate studies that will change the way modern diseases are viewed.

    References

    Donoghue, H. D., Spigelman, M., Greenblatt, C. L., Lev-Maor, G., Bar-Gal, G. K., Matheson, C., . & Zink, A. R. (2004). Tuberculosis: from prehistory to Robert Koch, as revealed by ancient DNA.The Lancet infectious diseases,4(9), 584-592.

    Fletcher HA, Donoghue HD, Holton J, Pap I, Spigelman M. Widespread occurrence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis DNA from 18th&ndash19th century Hungarians. Am J Phys Anthropol 2003 120: 144&ndash52.

    Gernaey, A. M., Minnikin, D. E., Copley, M. S., Dixon, R. A., Middleton, J. C., & Roberts, C. A. (2001). Mycolic acids and ancient DNA confirm an osteological diagnosis of tuberculosis.Tuberculosis,81(4), 259-265.

    Gilbert, M. T. P., Bandelt, H. J., Hofreiter, M., & Barnes, I. (2005). Assessing ancient DNA studies.Trends in ecology & evolution,20(10), 541-544.

    Haber, M., Mezzavilla, M., Xue, Y., & Tyler-Smith, C. (2016). Ancient DNA and the rewriting of human history: be sparing with Occam&rsquos razor. Genome Biology, 17(1).

    Lalremruata, A., Ball, M., Bianucci, R., Welte, B., Nerlich, A. G., Kun, J. F., & Pusch, C. M. (2013). Molecular identification of falciparum malaria and human tuberculosis co-infections in mummies from the Fayum depression (Lower Egypt).PLoS One,8(4), e60307

    Malmström, H., Linderholm, A., Lidén, K., Storå, J., Molnar, P., Holmlund, G., . & Götherström, A. (2010). High frequency of lactose intolerance in a prehistoric hunter-gatherer population in northern Europe.BMC evolutionary biology,10(1), 89.

    Myles, S., Bouzekri, N., Haverfield, E., Cherkaoui, M., Dugoujon, J. M., & Ward, R. (2005). Genetic evidence in support of a shared Eurasian-North African dairying origin.Human genetics,117(1), 34-42.

    Nerlich, A. G., Schraut, B., Dittrich, S., Jelinek, T., & Zink, A. R. (2008). Plasmodium falciparum in ancient Egypt.Emerging infectious diseases,14(8), 1317.

    Quintana-Murci, L. (2016). Understanding rare and common diseases in the context of human evolution.Genome biology,17(1), 225.

    Rollo, F., & Marota, I. (1999). How microbial ancient DNA, found in association with human remains, can be interpreted.Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences,354(1379), 111-119.

    Donoghue, H. D., Spigelman, M., Greenblatt, C. L., Lev-Maor, G., Bar-Gal, G. K., Matheson, C., . & Zink, A. R. (2004). Tuberculosis: from prehistory to Robert Koch, as revealed by ancient DNA.The Lancet infectious diseases,4(9), 584-592.

    Fletcher HA, Donoghue HD, Holton J, Pap I, Spigelman M. Widespread occurrence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis DNA from 18th&ndash19th century Hungarians. Am J Phys Anthropol 2003 120: 144&ndash52.

    Gernaey, A. M., Minnikin, D. E., Copley, M. S., Dixon, R. A., Middleton, J. C., & Roberts, C. A. (2001). Mycolic acids and ancient DNA confirm an osteological diagnosis of tuberculosis.Tuberculosis,81(4), 259-265.

    Gilbert, M. T. P., Bandelt, H. J., Hofreiter, M., & Barnes, I. (2005). Assessing ancient DNA studies.Trends in ecology & evolution,20(10), 541-544.

    Haber, M., Mezzavilla, M., Xue, Y., & Tyler-Smith, C. (2016). Ancient DNA and the rewriting of human history: be sparing with Occam&rsquos razor. Genome Biology, 17(1).

    Lalremruata, A., Ball, M., Bianucci, R., Welte, B., Nerlich, A. G., Kun, J. F., & Pusch, C. M. (2013). Molecular identification of falciparum malaria and human tuberculosis co-infections in mummies from the Fayum depression (Lower Egypt).PLoS One,8(4), e60307

    Malmström, H., Linderholm, A., Lidén, K., Storå, J., Molnar, P., Holmlund, G., . & Götherström, A. (2010). High frequency of lactose intolerance in a prehistoric hunter-gatherer population in northern Europe.BMC evolutionary biology,10(1), 89.

    Myles, S., Bouzekri, N., Haverfield, E., Cherkaoui, M., Dugoujon, J. M., & Ward, R. (2005). Genetic evidence in support of a shared Eurasian-North African dairying origin.Human genetics,117(1), 34-42.

    Nerlich, A. G., Schraut, B., Dittrich, S., Jelinek, T., & Zink, A. R. (2008). Plasmodium falciparum in ancient Egypt.Emerging infectious diseases,14(8), 1317.

    Quintana-Murci, L. (2016). Understanding rare and common diseases in the context of human evolution.Genome biology,17(1), 225.

    Rollo, F., & Marota, I. (1999). How microbial ancient DNA, found in association with human remains, can be interpreted.Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences,354(1379), 111-119.

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    The End Of The Kali Yuga In 2025: Unravelling The Mysteries Of The Yuga Cycle


    A number of ancient cultures believed in a Cycle of World Ages in which we gradually descend from a state of spiritual perfection and material abundance to one of ignorance and scarcity. In ancient India, this was called the Yuga Cycle. The Yuga Cycle doctrine tells us that we are now living in the Kali Yuga the age of darkness, when moral virtue and mental capabilities reach their lowest point in the cycle.

    The Mahabharata describes the Kali Yuga as the period when the “World Soul” is Black in hue only one quarter of virtue remains, which slowly dwindles to zero at the end of the Kali Yuga. Men turn to wickedness disease, lethargy, anger, natural calamities, anguish and fear of scarcity dominate. Penance, sacrifices and religious observances fall into disuse. All creatures degenerate. Change passes over all things, without exception.

    The Kali Yuga (Iron Age) was preceded by three other Yugas: Satya or Krita Yuga (Golden Age), Treta Yuga (Silver Age) and the Dwapara Yuga (Bronze Age). In the Mahabharata, Hanuman gives the following description of the Yuga Cycle to the Pandava prince Bhima:

    The Krita Yuga was so named because there was but one religion, and all men were saintly: therefore they were not required to perform religious ceremonies… Men neither bought nor sold there were no poor and no rich there was no need to labour, because all that men required was obtained by the power of will… The Krita Yuga was without disease there was no lessening with the years there was no hatred, or vanity, or evil thought whatsoever no sorrow, no fear. All mankind could attain to supreme blessedness. The universal soul was White… the identification of self with the universal soul was the whole religion of the Perfect Age. In the Treta Yuga sacrifices began, and the World Soul became Red virtue lessened a quarter. Mankind sought truth and performed religious ceremonies they obtained what they desired by giving and by doing. In the Dwapara Yuga the aspect of the World Soul was Yellow: religion lessened one-half. The Veda was divided into four parts, and although some had knowledge of the four Vedas, others knew but three or one. Mind lessened, Truth declined, and there came desire and diseases and calamities because of these men had to undergo penances. It was a decadent Age by reason of the prevalence of sin. 1

    Now we are living in the dark times of the Kali Yuga, when goodness and virtue has all but disappeared from the world. When did the Kali Yuga begin, and when does it end?

    In spite of the elaborate theological framework of the Yuga Cycle, the start and end dates of the Kali Yuga remain shrouded in mystery. The popularly accepted date for the beginning of the Kali Yuga is 3102 BCE, thirty-five years after the conclusion of the battle of the Mahabharata. This date is believed to be based on a statement made by the noted astronomer Aryabhatta in the Sanskrit text Aryabhatiya, where he writes that:

    When sixty times sixty years (i.e. 3,600 years) and three quarter Yugas had elapsed, twenty-three years had then passed since my birth. 2

    This means that Aryabhatta had composed the text when he was 23 years old and 3,600 years of the current Yuga had elapsed. The problem here is that we do not know when Aryabhatta was born, or when he composed the Aryabhatiya. He does not even mention the Kali Yuga by name, and simply states that 3,600 years of the Yuga had elapsed. Scholars generally assume that the Kali Yuga had started in 3102 BCE, and then use this statement to justify that the Aryabhatiya was composed in 499 CE. However, we cannot use the reverse logic, i.e. we cannot say that the Kali Yuga must have started in 3102 BCE since the Aryabhatiya was composed in 499 CE, for we do not know when Aryabhatta lived or completed his work.

    Another important source is the Aihole inscription of Pulakesin II of Badami, which was incised on the expiry of 3,735 years after the Bharata war and 556 years of the Saka kings. 3 If we take the beginning of the Saka Era as 78 CE, then the Bharata War took place in 3102 BCE, then the Kali Yuga, which started 35 years after the Bharata War, began on 3067 BCE. But we must remember there is an Old Saka Era as well, whose beginning date is disputed, and for which various dates have been proposed by scholars ranging from 83 BCE – 383 BCE. 4 If the Aihole inscription refers to the Old Saka Era, then the Kali Era starts a few hundred years before 3102 BCE.

    The truth is that there is no text or inscription which gives us an unambiguous date for the beginning of the Kali Yuga. Although the popularly accepted date is 3102 BCE, there is no astronomical basis for it. There is a claim that the computation was based on the conjunction of the five ‘geocentric planets’ (i.e. the planets visible to the naked eye) – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – at 0° Aries at the beginning of the Kali Yuga as mentioned in the Surya Siddhanta. But the Surya Siddhanta explicitly states that this conjunction of planets at 0° Aries takes place at the end of the Golden Age. 5 Besides, modern simulations indicate that on 17/18 February 3102 BCE, the five geocentric planets occupied an arc of roughly 42° in the sky, which cannot be considered as a conjunction by any means. Therefore, neither is there any astronomical basis for the start date, nor do we have any evidence that Aryabhatta or any other astronomer had calculated the date. Before the 6 th century CE, the date does not occur in any Sanskrit text or inscription. It could have been invented by later day astronomers or adopted from some other calendar. The vagueness surrounding the origin of this very important chronological marker makes its validity highly suspect.

    The task of figuring out the start date of the Kali Yuga from the ancient Sanskrit texts, however, is fraught with difficulties, since a number of inaccuracies have crept into the Yuga Cycle information contained within them. In many Sanskrit texts the 12,000-year duration of the Yuga Cycle was artificially inflated to an abnormally high value of 4,320,000 years by introducing a multiplication factor of 360, which was represented as the number of ‘human years’ which constitutes a ‘divine year’. In the book, The Arctic Home in the Vedas (1903), B.G. Tilak wrote that:

    The writers of the Puranas, many of which appear to have been written during the first few centuries of the Christian, era, were naturally unwilling to believe that the Kali Yuga had passed away… An attempt was, therefore, made to extend the duration of the Kali Yuga by converting 1,000 (or 1,200) ordinary human years thereof into as many divine years, a single divine year, or a year of the gods, being equal to 360 human years… this solution of the difficulty was universally adopted, and a Kali of 1,200 ordinary years was at once changed, by this ingenious artifice, into a magnificent cycle of as many divine, or 360 × 1200 = 432,000 ordinary years. 6

    Yuga Cycle of 24,000 Years

    However, certain important Sanskrit texts such as the Mahabharata 7 and the Laws of Manu, 8 which scholars believe were composed earlier than the Puranas, still retain the original value of the Yuga Cycle as 12,000 years. The Mahabharata explicitly mentions that the Yuga Cycle duration is based on the days and nights of human beings. The Zoroastrians also believed in a Cycle of the Ages of 12,000 years’ duration. The Great Year or Perfect Year of the Greeks was variously represented as being of 12,954 years (Cicero) or 10,800 years (Heraclitus) duration. Surely, the Yuga Cycle cannot be of different durations for different cultures.

    In the book The Holy Science (1894)Sri Yukteswar clarified that a complete Yuga Cycle takes 24,000 years, and is comprised of an ascending cycle of 12,000 years when virtue gradually increases and a descending cycle of another 12,000 years, in which virtue gradually decreases. Hence, after we complete a 12,000-year descending cycle from Satya Yuga -> Kali Yuga, the sequence reverses itself, and an ascending cycle of 12,000 years begins which goes from Kali Yuga -> Satya Yuga. Yukteswar states that, “Each of these periods of 12,000 years brings a complete change, both externally in the material world, and internally in the intellectual or electric world, and is called one of the Daiva Yugas or Electric Couple.” 9

    The 24,000-year duration of the complete Yuga Cycle closely approximates the Precessional Year of 25,765 years, which is the time taken by the sun to ‘precess’, i.e. move backwards, through the 12 Zodiac constellations. Interestingly, the Surya Siddhanta specifies a value of 54 arc seconds per year for precession, as against the current value of 50.29 arc seconds per year. This translates into a Precessional Year of exactly 24,000 years! This means that the current observed value of precession may simply be a temporary deviation from the mean.

    The concept of an ascending and descending cycle of Yugas is still prevalent among the Buddhists and Jains. The Jains believe that a complete Time Cycle (Kalachakra) has a progressive and a regressive half. During the progressive half of the cycle (Utsarpini), there is a gradual increase in knowledge, happiness, health, ethics, and spirituality, while during the regressive half of the cycle (Avasarpini) there is a gradual reduction in these qualities. These two half cycles follow each other in an unbroken succession for eternity, just like the cycles of day and night or the waxing and waning of the moon.

    The ancient Greeks also appear to have believed in an ascending and descending Cycle of Ages. The Greek poet Hesiod (c. 750 BCE – 650 BCE) had given an account of the World Ages in Works and Days, in which he inserted a fifth age called the ‘Age of Heroes’, between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. In Hesiod’s Cosmos, Jenny Strauss Clay writes:

    Drawing on the myth in Plato’s Statesman, Vernant also claimed that the temporal framework of Hesiodic myth, that is, the succession of races, is not linear but cyclical at the end of the age of iron, which he divides into two, the cycle of races starts again with a new golden age or, more likely, a new age of heroes, as the sequence reverses itself…Vernant himself offers a solution when he remarks that “there is not in reality one age of iron but two types of human existence.” 10

    This is very interesting. Jean-Pierre Vernant, who is a highly-acclaimed specialist in ancient Greek culture, believes that the Cycle of the Ages reverses itself as per Hesiod’s account. Not only that, he states the Iron Age has two parts, which corresponds to Yukteswar’s interpretation in which the descending Kali Yuga is followed by the ascending Kali Yuga. We can surmise, in this context, that the ‘Age of Heroes’, which immediately followed the Bronze Age in Hesiod’s account, must be the name ascribed by Hesiod to the descending Kali Yuga.

    The evidence from different sources supports the notion of a complete Yuga Cycle of 24,000 years, comprised of an ascending and descending cycle of 12,000 years each. This brings us to the question of the relative durations of the different Yugas in the Yuga Cycle, and the transitional periods, which occur at the beginning and end of each Yuga, and are known as Sandhya (dawn) and Sandhyansa (twilight) respectively. The values in the following table are provided in the Sanskrit texts for the duration of the Yugas and their respective dawns and twilights:

    Since so many inaccuracies crept into the Yuga Cycle doctrine, as pointed out by Yukteswar and Tilak, we also need to question the accuracy of the relative durations of the Yugas mentioned in the Sanskrit texts. Although the Yuga Cycle is mentioned in the mythic accounts of around thirty ancient cultures, as described by Giorgio de Santillana, professor of the history of science at MIT, in the book Hamlet’s Mill (1969), we find very little information regarding the relative durations of the different ages within this cycle.

    In the few accounts where the durations of the Yugas are specified, we find that each age in the Yuga Cycle is of the same duration. For instance, the Zoroastrians believe that the world lasts for 12,000 years, which is divided into four equal ages of 3,000 years each. A Mexican source known as the Codex Rios (also referred to as Codex 3738 and Codex Vaticanus A) states that each age lasts for 4,008, 4,010, 4,801 and 5,042 years respectively for a total of 17,861 years. We can see that in this case also the duration of each age is nearly the same.

    Therefore, the durations of the four Yugas mentioned in the Sanskrit texts (i.e. 4,800, 3,600, 2,400, and 1,200 years) deviate from the norm. The duration of each Yuga, in this sequence, decreases by 1,200 years from the previous one. This is an arithmetic progression which is rarely, if ever, found in natural cycles. Could it be that the Yuga durations were deliberately altered at some point in the past in order to give the impression that the duration of each Yuga decreases in tandem with the decrease in virtue from one Yuga to the next?

    Here is the most startling fact: Two of the most famous astronomers of ancient India, Aryabhatta and Paulisa, believed that the Yuga Cycle is comprised of Yugas of equal duration! In the 11 th century, the medieval scholar Al-Beruni had compiled a comprehensive commentary on Indian philosophy, sciences and culture titled Alberuni’s India, in which he mentions that the Yuga Cycle doctrine was based on the derivations of the Indian astronomer Brahmagupta, who in turn derived his knowledge from the Sanskrit Smriti texts. He makes an interesting statement in this regard:

    Further, Brahmagupta says that “Aryabhatta considers the four yugas as the four equal parts of the caturyuga (Yuga Cycle). Thus he differs from the doctrine of the book Smriti, just mentioned, and he who differs from us is an opponent.” 11

    The fact that Aryabhatta believed the four Yugas to be of equal duration is extremely pertinent! Al-Beruni reasserts this in no uncertain terms: “Therefore, according to Aryabhatta, the Kali Yuga has 3,000 divya years…. each two yugas has 6,000 divya years… each three years has 9,000 divya years.” Why would Aryabhatta subscribe to such a belief? Did he have access to sources of information that are lost to us now?

    Paulisa, another celebrated astronomer of ancient India, also subscribed to the idea of Yugas of equal duration. Alberuni says that, while presenting the calculations for the duration of a kalpa, “he (Pulisa) has not changed the caturyugas into exact yugas, but simply changed them into fourth parts, and multiplied these fourth parts by the number of years of a single fourth part.” 12

    Thus, two of the most respected astronomers of ancient India, Aryabhatta and Paulisa, believed in a Yuga Cycle that comprised of 4 Yugas of equal duration of 3,000 divine-years each. However, their opinion was overshadowed by the contradictory view held by Brahmagupta. He railed against Aryabhatta and the other astronomers who held differing opinions, and even abused them. Al-Beruni says about Brahmagupta:

    He is rude enough to compare Aryabhatta to a worm which, eating the wood, by chance describes certain characters in it without understanding them and without intending to draw them. “He, however, who knows these things thoroughly, stands opposed to Aryabhatta, Srishena, and Vishnucandra like the lion against gazelles. They are not capable of letting him see their faces.” In such offensive terms he attacks Aryabhatta and maltreats him. 13

    We can now understand why Brahmagupta’s opinion finally prevailed over that of the other astronomers of his time, and it certainly did not have anything to do with the inherent soundness of his logic, or the authenticity of his sources.

    It is time for us to stop standing in opposition to Aryabhatta, Paulisa, Srishena, Vishnucandra and others like the “lion against gazelles,” and instead take cognizance of the very real possibility that the Yugas in the Yuga Cycle are of equal duration, and the 4:3:2:1 sequence of the Yugas may have been a mathematical manipulation that crept into the Yuga Cycle doctrine sometime prior to 500 CE. It is possible this manipulation was introduced because people were inclined to believe that the duration of a Yuga should decrease in tandem with the decrease in virtue and human longevity from one Yuga to the next. A neat formula was devised in which the total duration of the Yugas added up to 12,000 years. However, there was one problem. If the Kali Yuga is of 1,200 years duration, then it should have been completed many times over, since its proposed beginning in 3102 BCE. In order to circumvent this potentially embarrassing situation, another complexity was introduced. Each ‘year’ of the Yuga Cycle became a ‘divine year’ comprised of 360 human years. The Yuga Cycle became inflated to 4,320,000 years (12,000𴥀) and the Kali Yuga became equal to 432,000 years (1,200𴥀). Humanity became consigned to an interminable duration of darkness.

    Original Yuga Cycle Encoded into Saptarshi Calendar

    The original Yuga Cycle doctrine appears to have been very simple: A Yuga Cycle duration of 12,000 years, with each Yuga lasting for 3,000 years. This cycle is encoded in the Saptarshi Calendar which has been used in India for thousands of years. It was used extensively during the Maurya period in the 4 th century BCE, and is still in use in some parts of India. The term Saptarshi refers to the ‘Seven Rishis’ or the ‘Seven Sages’ representing the seven stars of the Great Bear constellation (Ursa Major). They are regarded as the enlightened rishis who appear at the beginning of every Yuga to spread the laws of civilisation. The Saptarshi Calendar used in India had a cycle of 2,700 years it is said that the Great Bear constellation stays for 100 years in each of the 27 Nakshatras (lunar asterisms) which adds up to a cycle of 2,700 years. 14 The 2,700-year cycle was also referred to as a Saptarshi Era or a Saptarshi Yuga.

    If the 2,700 year cycle of the Saptarshi Calendar represents the actual duration of a Yuga, then the remaining 300 years out of the total Yuga duration of 3,000 years automatically represents the ‘transitional period’, before the qualities of the subsequent Yuga are fully manifested. The total duration of the Yuga Cycle, excluding the transitional periods, is equal to (2,700ࡪ), i.e. 10,800 years, the same as the duration of the ‘Great Year of Heraclitus’ in Hellenic tradition! This clearly indicates the underlying basis of the Cycle of the World Ages in both India and Greece was the 2,700 year Saptarshi Cycle.

    It is agreed by historians that the Saptarshi Calendar, in use during the Maurya period in the 4 th century BCE, started in 6676 BCE. In the book Traditions of the Seven Rsis, Dr. J.E. Mitchiner confirms this:

    We may conclude that the older and original version of the Era of the Seven Rsis commenced with the Seven Rsis in Krttika in 6676 BCE… This version was in use in northern India from at least the 4 th century BCE, as witnessed by the statements of Greek and Roman writers it was also the version used by Vrddha Garga, at around the start of the Christian era. 15

    In fact, the recorded chronology of Indian kings goes back further than 6676 BCE as documented by the Greek and Roman historians Pliny and Arrian. Pliny states that, “From Father Liber [Roman Bacchus or Greek Dionysus] to Alexander the Great (d. 323 BCE), Indians reckon 154 kings, and they reckon (the time as) 6,451 years and 3 months.” 16 Arrian puts 153 kings and 6,462 years between Dionysus and Sandrokottos (Chandragupta Maurya), to whose court a Greek embassy was sent in 314 BCE. 17 Both indications add up to a date of roughly c.6776 BCE, which is a 100 years prior to the beginning of the Saptarshi Calendar in 6676 BCE.

    It is obvious from the accounts of Pliny and Arrian that they must have identified a specific king in the Indian kings list who corresponded to the Greek Dionysus or Roman Bacchus, and whose reign had ended at around c.6776 BCE. Who could that have been? According to the renowned scholar and Orientalist Sir William Jones, Dionysus or Bacchus was none other than the Indian monarch Rama. In his essay “On the Gods of Greece, Italy and India” (1784), Sir William Jones

    deems Rama to be the same as the Grecian Dionysos, who is said to have conquered India with an army of satyrs, commanded by Pan and Rama was also a mighty conqueror, and had an army of large monkeys or satyrs, commanded by Maruty (Hanuman), son of Pavan. Rama is also found, in other points, to resemble the Indian Bacchus. 18

    Sir William Jones also points out that,

    Meros is said by the Greeks to have been a mountain of India, on which their Dionysus was born, and that Meru is also a mountain near the city of Naishada, or Nysa, called by the Grecian geographers Dionysopolis, and universally celebrated in the Sanskrit poems. 19

    The identification of Dionysus with Rama provides us with fresh perspectives. According to the Indian tradition, Rama lived towards the end of the Treta Yuga (Silver Age), and the Dwapara Yuga (Bronze Age) had started soon after his demise. This implies that the 6676 BCE date for the beginning of the Saptarshi Calendar, which is 100 years after Dionysus, i.e. Rama, indicates the beginning of the Dwapara Yuga in the descending cycle.

    A later Saptarshi Calendar, still in use in India, began from 3076 BCE. But, as Dr. Subhash Kak points out, “the new count that goes back to 3076 BCE was started later to make it as close to the start of the Kali era as possible.” 20 In the book Traditions of the Seven Rsis, Dr. Mitchiner says that the Saptarshi Calendar for the Kali Yuga (the Kashmir Laukika Abda) started when the Saptarshis were in Rohini. Since the Saptarshis were in Rohini in 3676 BCE, it implies the Kali Yuga cycle must have commenced in 3676 BCE.

    Tracking Down the True End Date of Current Kali Yuga

    Now this is where it gets interesting. A Saptarshi Era began in 6676 BCE, and another cycle started exactly 3,000 years later in 3676 BCE. But the Saptarshi Cycle is of 2,700 years’ duration. Why did the Saptarshi Era for the Kali Yuga start 3,000 years after the previous cycle? This means a 300-year ‘transitional period’ must have been added to the end of the previous cycle! It clearly proves the hypothesis that the 2,700 year Saptarshi Cycle, along with a 300-year transitional period, was the original calendrical basis of the Yuga Cycle.

    If we use the 6676 BCE date as the beginning of the Dwapara Yuga in the descending cycle, and the 2,700 year Saptarshi Cycle along with a 300-year transitional period as the basis for the Yuga Cycle, then the entire timeline of the Yuga Cycle is unravelled.

    This Yuga Cycle timeline takes the beginning of the Golden Age to 12676 BCE, more than 14,500 years before present, when the Great Bear was in the Shravana nakshatra (the Great Bear will advance by 3 nakshatras in every Yuga because of the 300-year transitional period). This agrees very well with the Indian tradition, since the Mahabharata mentions that in the ancient tradition the Shravana nakshatra was given the first place in the nakshatra cycle.


    Yuga Cycle timeline based on the Saptarshi Calendar. According to this interpretation, the Kali Yuga ends in 2025, to be followed by a 300 year transitional period leading up to the Ascending Dwapara Yuga.

    The timeline also indicates that the ascending Kali Yuga, which is the current epoch in which we are living, will end in 2025 CE. The full manifestation of the next Yuga – the ascending Dwapara – will take place in 2325 CE, after a transitional period of 300 years. The ascending Dwapara Yuga will then be followed by two more Yugas: the ascending Treta Yuga and the ascending Satya Yuga, which completes the 12,000 year ascending cycle.

    The Sanskrit text Brahma-vaivarta Purana describes a dialogue between Lord Krishna and the Goddess Ganges. Here, Krishna says that after 5,000 years of Kali Yuga there will be a dawn of a new Golden Age that lasts for 10,000 years (Text 50, 59). This can be immediately understood in the context of the Yuga Cycle timeline described here. We are now ending the Kali Yuga, nearly 5,700 years since its beginning in 3676 BCE. And the end of the Kali Yuga will be followed by three more Yugas spanning 9,000 years, before the ascending cycle ends.

    Archaeological and historical evidence

    According to the Yuga Cycle doctrine, the transitional periods between the Yugas are associated with a collapse of civilisations and environmental catastrophes (pralaya), which wipe out virtually every trace of any human civilisation. The new civilisation that emerges in the new Yuga is guided by a few survivors of the cataclysm, who carry with them the technical and spiritual knowledge of the previous epoch. Many ancient sources tell us of the enigmatic group of ‘Seven Sages’ (‘Saptarshi’) who are said to appear at the beginning of every Yuga and promulgate the arts of civilisation. We find them in myths across the world – in Sumeria, India, Polynesia, South America and North America. They possessed infinite wisdom and power, could travel over land and water, and took on various forms at will. The Saptarshi Calendar of ancient India appears to have been based on their periodic appearance at the beginning of every Yuga.

    As we shall see, the Yuga Cycle timeline proposed here correlates very strongly with the major cataclysmic events that periodically impact our planet, and with a number of important dates recorded in various ancient calendars and scriptures.

    The first transitional period in the 12,000-year descending Yuga Cycle is the 300-year period at the end of the Golden Age from 9976 BCE – 9676 BCE. This is the time when the last Ice Age came to a sudden end the climate became very warm quite abruptly, and there was a catastrophic global flooding. Many ancient legends refer to this time period. In the Timaeus, Plato tells us of the mythical island of Atlantis which was swallowed up by the sea in a “single day and night of misfortune” in c.9600 BCE. The Zoroastrians believe the world was created by Ahura Mazda at around 9600 BCE, (i.e. 9,000 years before the birth of their prophet Zoroaster in c.600 BCE).

    This event has also been recorded in the flood myths of many ancient cultures, which almost uniformly talk of enormous walls of water that submerged the entire land to the highest mountain tops, along with heavy rain, fireballs from the sky, intense cold and long periods of darkness. Archaeologist Bruce Masse of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico examined a sample of 175 flood myths from different cultures around the world and concluded that the environmental aspects described in these events, which is also consistent with the archaeological and geophysical data, could have only been precipitated by a destructive, deep-water, oceanic comet impact. 21

    In recent years, a team of international scientists found compelling evidence that the Earth was bombarded by multiple fragments of a giant comet nearly 12,800 years ago, triggering the start of a rapid and intense cooling period called Younger Dryas, which lasted for nearly 1,200 years till c.9700 BCE. The force of the comet impact, combined with the vicious cold snap that followed, brought about the extinction of a large number of North American megafauna including woolly mammoths and giant ground sloths, and ended a prehistoric civilisation called the Clovis culture – the first human inhabitants of the New World. 22


    This temperature graph shows the sudden cooling at the beginning of the Younger Dryas and an equally sudden warming at the end of the Younger Dryas.

    The Younger Dryas ended as abruptly as it started, for reasons not fully understood. Geologists from the Niels Bohr Institute (NBI) in Copenhagen studied the Greenland ice core data and concluded that the Ice Age ended exactly in 9703 BCE. Researcher Jorgen Peder Steffensen said that, “in the transition from the ice age to our current warm, interglacial period the climate shift is so sudden that it is as if a button was pressed.” 23 The 9703 BCE date for the sudden climate shift falls within the 300-year transitional period at the end of the Golden Age from 9976 BCE – 9676 BCE, and as such it provides the first important validation of the Yuga Cycle timeline identified here.

    Black Sea Catastrophe and Global Floods

    The 300-year transitional period between the Treta Yuga (Silver Age) and the Dwapara Yuga (Bronze Age) from 6976 BCE – 6676 BCE also coincides with a significant environmental event – the Black Sea Catastrophe – recently dated to 6700 BCE. The Black Sea once used to be a freshwater lake. That is, until the Mediterranean Sea, swollen with melted glacial waters, breached a natural dam, and cut through the narrow Bosphorous Strait, catastrophically flooding the Black Sea. This raised the water levels of the Black Sea by several hundred feet, flooded more than 60,000 square miles of land, and significantly expanded the Black Sea shoreline (by around 30%). 24 This event fundamentally changed the course of civilisation in Southeastern Europe and western Anatolia. Geologists Bill Ryan and Walter Pitman of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, who first proposed the Black Sea Catastrophe hypothesis, have gone to the extent of comparing it to Noah’s Flood.

    Similar major flooding events took place in many parts of the world, as massive glacial lakes, swelled by the waters of the melting ice, breached their ice barriers, and rushed into the surrounding areas. Sometime between 6900 BCE – 6200 BCE the Laurentide ice-sheet disintegrated in the Hudson Bay and an enormous quantity of glacial waters from the inland Lake Agassiz/Ojibway discharged into the Labrador Sea. This was possibly the “single largest flood of the Quaternary Period,” which may have single-handedly raised the global sea level by half a meter. 25 The period between 7000 BCE – 6000 BCE was also characterised by the occurrences of gigantic earthquakes in Europe. In northern Sweden, some of these earthquakes caused ‘waves on the ground’, 10 metres high, referred to as ‘rock tsunamis’. It is possible that the global chain of cataclysmic events during this transitional period may have been triggered by a single underlying cause, which we are yet to find out.

    The transitional period between the Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga, from 3976 BCE – 3676 BCE, was again marked by a series of environmental cataclysms, whose exact nature remains a mystery. It is referred to in geology as the 5.9 kiloyear event, and is considered one of the most intense aridification events during the Holocene period. It occurred around 3900 BCE, ending the Neolithic Sub-pluvial and initiated the most recent desiccation of the Sahara Desert. At the same time, between 4000 BCE – 3500 BCE, the coastal plains of Sumer experienced severe flooding, which “was the local effect of a worldwide episode of rapid, relatively short-term flooding known as the Flandrian Transgression – which had a significant impact not only along the shores of the Gulf but in many other parts of Asia as well.” 26 This catastrophic flooding event led to the end of the Ubaid period in Mesopotamia, and triggered a worldwide migration to river valleys. Soon afterwards, we find the emergence of the first river valley settlements in Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley in c. 3500 BCE.

    This transitional period between the Yugas is also recorded in ancient calendars. For a very long time there was a prevalent belief in the Western world that the world was created in 4004 BCE. This date comes to us from the genealogies of the Old Testament. The date is just 28 years prior to the end of the Dwapara and the beginning of the transitional period. The year of world creation in the Jewish religious calendar is 3761 BCE, which is in the middle of the transitional period.

    Greek Dark Ages and Great Upheavals

    As per the ancient traditions, the descending Kali Yuga, which was referred to by Hesiod as the ‘Age of Heroes’, came to an end with the battle fought on the plains of Troy. The Yuga Cycle timeline indicates that the 300-year intervening period between the descending and ascending Kali Yuga extended from 976 BCE – 676 BCE and very interestingly, this overlaps with the 300-year period from 1100 BCE to 800 BCE which is referred to by historians as the Greek Dark Ages!

    Historians regard the Greek Dark Ages as a period of transition from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age. Robert Drews writes that:

    Within a period of forty to fifty years at the end of the thirteenth and the beginning of the twelfth century (c.1200 – 1100 BCE) almost every significant city in the eastern Mediterranean world was destroyed, many of them never to be occupied again. 27

    Map of the Late Bronze Age collapse in the Eastern Mediterranean along with movements of people.

    This sudden and violent disruption plunged the entire Near East, North Africa, Caucasus, Aegean, and Balkan regions into a Dark Age that lasted for three hundred years, and was characterised by great upheavals, famine, depopulation, and mass movements of people. Almost every city between Pylos and Gaza was violently destroyed, and many abandoned. The palace economies of Mycenae and Anatolia collapsed, and people lived in isolated, small settlements.

    In Egypt, the period from 1070 BCE – 664 BCE is known as the ‘Third Intermediate Period’ during which time Egypt was overrun by foreign rulers. There was political and social disintegration and chaos, accompanied by a series of crippling droughts. In India, the Indus Valley civilisation finally ended around 1000 BCE, and after a gap of nearly 400 years we see the emergence of the 16 Great Kingdoms (Mahajanapadas) in the Gangetic Plains at around 600 BCE. Catastrophe also struck the Olmec civilisation of Mesoamerica at this time. A wholesale destruction of many San Lorenzo monuments occurred in c.950 BCE and the site was abandoned in c.900 BCE. Scholars believe drastic environmental changes may have been responsible for this shift in Olmec centres, with certain important rivers changing course.

    When the ascending Kali Yuga began in 676 BCE, much of the knowledge, traditions, and skills from the descending Kali Yuga were forgotten. Possibly in response to this grave social crisis, a number of philosophers and prophets appeared at this time, trying to re-discover the lost wisdom, and spread it amongst the ignorant masses. Among them were Buddha (623 BCE), Thales (624 BCE), Pythagoras (570 BCE), Confucius (551 BCE), Zoroaster (600 BCE), and Mahavir Jain (599 BCE). But much sacred knowledge was irretrievably lost. For instance, the original Vedas were comprised of 1,180 sakhas (i.e. branches), of which only 7 or 8 sakhas (less than 1%) are remembered now. Various errors, omissions, and interpolations also crept into the ancient texts as they were being revised and written down. The mistakes in the Yuga Cycle doctrine were some of them.

    The Yuga Cycle timelines proposed here accurately mirrors the worldwide environmental catastrophes that accompany transitional periods between Yugas. Every 2,700 years our planet is impacted by a series of cataclysmic events for a period of a few hundred years, which brings about a total or near total collapse of civilisations across the world. In every case, however, civilisation restarts immediately after the period of destruction. The four key transitional periods, since the end of the Golden Age, are summarised in the above table.

    It is evident that the Yuga Cycle used to be tracked using the Saptarshi Calendar. It was of 12,000 years duration, comprised of four Yugas of equal duration of 2,700 years each, separated by transitional periods of 300 years. The complete Yuga Cycle of 24,000 years was comprised of an ascending and descending Yuga cycle, which followed each other for eternity like the cycles of day and night. For the past 2,700 years we have been passing through the ascending Kali Yuga, and this Yuga is coming to an end in 2025.


    The Transitional Periods between Yugas

    In accordance with convention, the 300-year transitional period following 2025 can be broken into two periods of 150 years each. The first 150-year period – the ‘Twilight of Kali’ – is when the Kali Yuga structures may collapse due to a combination of wars, environmental catastrophes, and cosmic changes, while the second 150-year period – the ‘Dawn of Dwapara’ – is the time when the spiritually evolved systems and philosophies of the Dwapara Yuga may begin to emerge. It is likely, though, that the twin processes of collapse and emergence will progress simultaneously throughout the entire 300-year transitional period, albeit at different intensities.

    The current upswing in tectonic activities and extreme weather phenomena on one hand, and the initial signs of the awakening of a higher consciousness amongst humanity on the other, may be indicative of the fact that the effects of the transitional period are already underway. We need to be aware of these greater cycles of time that govern human civilisation, and the changes that are looming in the horizon.


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