Time to rewrite history?

Published 11:39 am Thursday, September 28, 2023

Well, you know I love this stuff so how could I ignore the catchy headline of an article in The Jerusalem Post detailing a fascinating carving in a temple in India? It appears that the carving is of a mustached man, wearing traditional Indian garb, riding a bicycle.

Oh, and the temple is 2,000 years old.

I’ll wait while you google.

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Exactly. While the wheel was invented during the Copper Age roughly 6,000 years ago, the first bicycle wasn’t documented until being displayed in Paris in 1818, and the chain-drive model did not appear until 1885. I followed the link in the article to its corresponding YouTube video to take a gander at this gentleman on his bike, to see if it truly looked like a bicycle, or could be explained away as a horse, or something. Nope. Beyond any reasonable doubt, the carving, done in a raised, ‘relief’ style clearly shows a man on a bicycle. The wheels have spokes and his hands are holding each end of a handlebar. Astonishingly, it has to be chain-driven because his feet are also distinctly resting on pedals. 

My eyes flickered to the seat. Intriguingly, it was not the banana seat every kid hoped would be a part of a long-wished-for Huffy beneath the Christmas tree. Instead this saddle, looking comfortably wide enough to support one’s bum, limply fell forward and down. The bicycle also is connected by a straight bar from the steering column: definitely a boy’s bike.

So what is going on? As the video narrator suggested, is this suppressed history? After all, the documentation of the bicycle in 1818 is Euro-centric documentation. Were bicycles in use 2,000 years ago across Asia? Or, as one commenter posted, has modern man not really invented anything, just dusting off old technologies already created? According to the narrator, there is no documentation whatsoever of any refurbishments done in the temple over the last 200 years in which a sculptor might have snuck in this carving. It is also so elaborate and labor-intensive that such a hoax would have required the planning of a complete ancient wall. 

Add to this another carving nearby showing a man peering through a telescope which is 800 years old. Again, our European history gives credit to Dutchman Hans Lippershey for inventing the first telescope in 1608. The carving tells us that at least the idea of it as shown in the carving, was sometime around 1200— again, in India.

All of this begs the question: What happened to those bikes? Or were there just a couple built? It would have after all been a heck of a mechanical feat to build one 2,000 years ago—imagine just trying to create a chain, much less a deck of playing cards to stick in the spokes. And this telescope— was the inventor threatened, like Galileo, by church and state to recant his celestial observations, as the public had seemed perfectly happy (not to mention easily controlled) believing that the earth was the center of the universe and everything revolved around it? How dare he proclaim that the moon wasn’t smooth surfaced but had craters and mountains! And what’s this nonsense about the Milky Way not being just a misty pale light but instead being made up of thousands and thousands of individual stars? How incredibly frustrating for Galileo to have seen the truth, known the truth and yet be banned from sharing the truth. He’s probably still spinning in his grave. Right along with Harper Lee.

One can’t help but wonder what else might be discovered in the years to come that may prove to be much older than any of us ever thought: leaf blowers, perpetual motion machines, even rocket ships! And if we are indeed today not inventing anything new, just tacking on to existing technology, then one can only hope somebody finds a carving of someone using broadband.

Because even ancient civilizations wouldn’t put up with ‘buffering…’