The Origin of Writing

by John Barclay-Morton


Something Unusual That Immediately Caught My Passing Eye

Circular pattern on 3 Feather Chief stone

Something in particular caught my eye when I happened upon the first example of anametric image writing that I found: a circular pattern of marks arranged around a central point. That might not seem like much; but, it was unusual enough to catch my attention and cause me to ask: Why was such a regular pattern evident in what should have been a completely random arrangement of stone grain?
I now realize that this pattern is not random; it was re-marked into this rock through the selective removal of stone: the removal of parts of the white quartz matrix, to reveal more of the black grains; and the removal of sections of black grain, to show more of the white matrix.
Over time, it became apparent to me that this stone was entirely re-marked with anametric image composites; but my first question, as to why such a circular pattern had been created, remained unanswered. Eventually, as I began to find and examine more and more examples of anametric image writing, a very interesting answer finally emerged.
After much study, I began to realize that the placement of image composites in the circular pattern seemed to be consistent with seasonal changes that would be noted in animal behavior — and hence, with the availability of food sources. There was very, very much more to this story than I had originally suspected...

Suggestions of a System for Survey and Mapping

As I began to find and examine more intricately remarked examples of anametric image writing, I began to notice that circular patterns of marks were so very common as to suggest that this be part of an underlying metrical consistency, which was functioning as a grammatological support for the composite patterns found in anametric image writing.

It made perfect sense to me that the metrical properties of random stone grain might end up being decentered into anametric image patterns; but, while that did seem a solid working hypothesis for my ongoing analysis, it also seemed that there might be something else going on here. Upon finding a particularly intricate example of anametric image writing (pictured below, on the left); and then, eventually, finding other graphemically associated examples in places which appeared to correlate with positions on this stone in such a way as to suggest this might be a map of geographic locations on the Northwest Coast — I began to wonder: could there have been a system for accurately mapping territory that was in use at the same time as anametric image writing?

This idea seemed at first to be a bit of a stretch of my imagination; and yet, it was not long before I had found other, similarly intricate examples that also exhibited such underlying patterns of circular organization. The example below on the left is from the NorthWest Coast of North America; and the example below on the right is from the Ottawa region, in Eastern Ontario. There are definitely differences between the grammatological structures informing each of these examples of anametric image writing; but at the same time, there are definite similarities in the use of an underlying pattern of interconnected circles. I am getting ahead of myself here to suggest that comparing such differences and similarities might give some idea of how the First Nations moved out from the Northwest Coast to populate all of North America, but I will mention that very real possibility in passing.

Circular patterns on stones from mapping technique

One thing we can say for certain: regardless of the negligible degree of utility exhibited by anametric image writing in capturing phonetic patterns of speech — something it obviously is not designed to do — if it were instead coupled with a system for accurately mapping territory, then anametric image writing would have an entirely different kind of pragmatic value. A system for mapping newly encountered territory would have been of immeasurable value to the people who were the first to spread out across an otherwise uninhabited land; and an ability to convey to others what had been encountered throughout newly explored territories would similarly have been of great value.

Indeed, such a system of survey and accurate mapping would be so valuable that it would serve as a vector carrying anametric image writing far and wide. Such a technology for accurate survey and mapping would in fact move faster than the people who used it — it would be passed along to any other groups encountered, and would travel more quickly through exchange than the people who initially used it could move as a group. Anametric image writing would have been carried far and wide through a knowledge-based trade in territorial mapping techniques and observations.

Such a scenario would be entirely consistent with what we have seen in the Middle Eastern origin of writing: for there, we noted that writing seemed to arise from a basis in numerical systems of measure (in that case, accounting); and to be associated with populations who travelled (in conducting trade). Here, we have writing's origin localized in a system of survey and mapping, which would have had to be in essence a matter of measure; and from the pragmatic application of such a system, in its utility for directing travel by semi-nomadic populations between seasonally available sources of food.

But, where would such a system of survey and mapping come from? How would it work? We know that, as with any concept, it must come from somewhere — it must have component elements we can localize to examples existing in the surrounding world.

On Connected Ground

As it turns out, there is a model for this kind of interconnected pattern of circles. It occurs naturally, in exactly the kind of terrain that would have been traversed by the First People who arrived in North America; and it is singular enough in appearance to have been a matter of great curiosity (and probably speculation) for those who first encountered it.

I am referring to a phenomenon known as "Patterned Ground": the purely mechanical tendency for permafrost terrains to push rocks to the surface and sort them into patterns of interconnected circles.

Patterned ground

We can only speculate on how the First People arriving in North America viewed these fields of stones arranged in circular patterns: did they associate them with the fire pits they used? Did they seem to correspond with the arrangements of stones they used to anchor portable shelters made of animal hides? Did these First People erroneously think that, somewhere there was a very large population of other people already settled in these lands — and then set out in an attempt to find them? We may never know the answers to such questions. But, by starting from the examples of anametric image writing we have, which seem to indicate the use of a system of survey and mapping based upon grids of interconnected circles; and, working back toward the actually existing example of patterned ground, we might be able to work out how such a system of survey and mapping functioned: because, as Edmund Husserl noted...

"By itself alone, then, a static analysis could a priori and rigorously recall for us that the protogeometer always already had at his disposal anexact spatiotemporal shapes and essentially "vague" morphological types, which can always give rise to a pregeometrical descriptive science. This could be called geography."
Jacques Derrida, "Edmund Husserl's 'Origin of Geometry': An Introduction"; page 123.

Diagram illustrating multiple lines of sight

Before the principles which define geometry as a coherent body of knowledge are assembled together as such, they exist as scattered applications of functional procedures — in a form best described as geography. This brings to our attention a number of significant matters: 1) the principles of geometry are the same for everyone, everywhere: they do not vary by location, by practitioner, or by pragmatic application; 2) geometry as a non-subjective transcendental field of knowledge arises out of principles applied through geographic contexts; 3) when we are working with non-subjective approaches to producing conceptual structures, we are engaged in what can be termed geophilosophy — as an "in-between" in its own right that is best described by neither the objects of its application nor the subjects who apply it; 4) if the origin of geometry, as a non-subjective transcendental field of shared knowledge, can be taken as paradigmatic then we should have little issue with the idea that writing might arise out of essentially geographic issues and practices.

The probability of our being able to establish that a system of survey and mapping was integral to anametric image writing seems quite high; and what we are therefore looking to find, are those geometric principles and axioms which would have facilitated the use of interconnected grids of circles for the survey and mapping of territory.

This will constitute (at least in part) the "prephilosophical plane of immanence (philosophy) lays out" — and will move us a major step forward in understanding how anametric image writing functions.

It also indicates to us that, wherever anametric image writing arose — in Asia, or in North America — it did so in a very cold location. This could have been the Arctic; or it could have been an alpine area; or it could be a combination of both: but it definitely wasn't in an equatorial region with a climate similar to the Middle East.

"The theory that the Americas were populated by humans crossing from Siberia to Alaska across a land bridge was first proposed as far back as 1590, and has been generally accepted since the 1930s.

"But genetic evidence shows there is no direct ancestral link between the people of ancient East Asia and modern Native Americans. A comparison of DNA from 600 modern Native Americans with ancient DNA recovered from a late Stone Age human skeleton from Mal'ta near Lake Baikal in southern Siberia shows that Native Americans diverged genetically from their Asian ancestors around 25,000 years ago, just as the last ice age was reaching its peak.

"Based on archaeological evidence, humans did not survive the last ice age’s peak in northeastern Siberia, and yet there is no evidence they had reached Alaska or the rest of the New World either. While there is evidence to suggest northeast Siberia was inhabited during a warm period about 30,000 years ago before the last ice age peaked, after this the archaeological record goes silent, and only returns 15,000 years ago, after the last ice age ended.

"So where did the ancestors of the Native Americans go for 15,000 years, after they split from the rest of their Asian relatives?"
Scott Armstrong Elias
"First Americans Lived on Land Bridge for Thousands of Years, Genetics Study Suggests"
in "The Conversation," February 28, 2014
Read more at: Beringian Standstill and Spread of Native American Founders

Looking At Mountains

What would be needed to turn a grid of interconnected circles into a fully functional system for surveying territory, and creating maps? Well, not very much; certainly, nothing that does not already exist within the context we are examining.

If we have three people, each standing in circles set at an appreciable distance from each other in a field of patterned ground, then any one will be able to determine the distance that the other two are from each other by their angular displacement along the circumference of what has become a sighting circle.

Comparing these readings of angular displacement from any two sites will produce the relative distances between each site. The more positions surveyed, the more accurate the resulting map of the territory traversed between these survey points will be.

That's pretty simple; but it isn't very useful, because it really only works within a closed field of interconnected circles defined by line-of-sight proximity. To be a practical system that is actually useful, it would need to work for positions far beyond any possibility of direct reference through line-of-sight connectivity. So, how would that work?

Again, the solution is fairly straightforward. All that is needed to relativize two discrete positions are shared points of direct reference. We can use common points upon a visual horizon — distant mountain peaks, easily recognized and designated as shared reference points (as "sacred mountains," for instance). Again, using more than one point-of-reference, and multiple sighting positions, greatly increases the accuracy of the survey system in its ability to map territory. And there is one other, absolute point of reference in common for all possible sighting positions: the sun at midday, which is always due south.

Further, on the equinoxes, the sun rises due east and sets due west — regardless of where an observer is located. At noon on an equinox, the height of the sun subtracted from 90 degrees gives the latitude of the position. But one can find due south at any time, if one can draw a line that runs directly east and west. Such a line can be drawn on any day of the year, simply by placing a stick in the ground, and marking the tip of the stick's shadow (with small stones) as the sun moves across the sky. The line formed by the small stones will run directly east-west: and any line perpendicular to that will run north-south. It is thus possible to find due south from any location, as long as the sun is evident; and since that point will always be due south, it will then be possible to know when midday has arrived on any day.

Since we can easily determine the angular displacement from due south for any line-of-sight position on the horizon, all we need to create an accurate map using such a system of survey is an established series of sighting circles (we can call them "medicine wheels"). By comparing the angular displacement from due south for established points on the visual horizon that are common to a number of different Medicine Wheels scattered across a territory, it is possible to accurately map that territory — and to use those maps to (for instance) determine distances, directions, and harvest times for the various medicinal plants that grow under different conditions throughout that territory.

Note that such a system of mapping is going be contingent upon the sharing of survey information from across great distances, using common points of reference. This strongly suggests a high volume of very peaceful exchanges of information between widely separated groups; and once again, we find that historic necessity is wildly divergent from the narratives held in place by Western European culture. It is very difficult to reconcile evidence that points toward highly literate societies sharing detailed geographic information for their mutual benefit, with the Western European narrative of a primitive culture made up of fragmented societies in a near-constant state of animosity toward (and open warfare with) each other.

All of which is very nice in theory; but what actual evidence is there that anything of this nature existed? What traces can we find of, at the very least, the necessary components for such a system of survey and mapping? We obviously are not going to find such evidence documented within the archives of Western European academia; so let's look at the most logical place where evidence of this kind might be found: within the archives of anametric image writing.

If mountains were used as common sighting points for this postulated system of survey and mapping, then we would expect images of mountains to occur with some degree of regularity within anametric image writing — as indeed they do. And, as noted earlier by Goodale and Milner, we humans are hardwired for visually processing images of "Places" (as we are "Faces" and "Objects" also); so we can all expect to be able to identify the form of mountains, if their images were created by other humans.

In the composite photograph below, I have placed together a number of images depicting mountains, as they occur in various examples of anametric image writing. I have placed these images in more or less chronological order (I'll discuss that a little later); and by doing so, I note a few salient features here:

Multiple images of volcanoes and mointains

Earlier examples seem to indicate that very active volcanos were evident. Now, volcanos sighted in any era would always be noted; but these ones are of particular interest. The volcanos, and the location in which these examples were found, seem to indicate that Mount Hood and/or Mount Rainier might have been the volcanos that were depicted. The problem is, these are clearly very early examples of imagery that long predate the final phase of anametric image writing — which, at the onset of that final phase, still showed examples of animals that went extinct ~11,500 BCE. The latest eruption cycle of these volcanos began about 11,000 years ago; and the eruption cycle that preceded that ran from about 40,000 to 15,000 years ago.

It seems we are going to have more than a little difficulty in reconciling the evidence presented by anametric image writing, with, the timeline for the arrival of the First People in North America that is currently favored by modern anthropological and archaeological theories. The images left by the First Peoples to arrive in North America seem to indicate that they were here long before 15,000 years ago.

Examples from the middle period of image writing development — when anametric image writing was emerging as such — show some very beautiful images of rugged, sharply defined mountain ranges. As anyone who has climbed in the mountains of Coastal British Columbia can tell you, the mountains there do not look like this now: they are instead much more rounded, having been worn down by the glaciers of the last ice age. There are a few very sharp peaks still in evidence, and one can easily spot them if one climbs up to the where the glaciers are still found: those are the few and far between mountain peaks that were tall enough to rise above the glaciers during the last ice age; and they are the only ones to retain anything of their original rugged, sharply defined outline.

In other words, there are depictions of volcanoes and mountains here that appear to have been created in a time before the peak of the last period of glaciation. This is consistent with observations drawn from both genetic studies and analyses of linguistic diversity — IF one allows that the First People to arrive in North America DID NOT spend 15,000 years trapped on the Beringian Land Bridge, but instead utilized watercraft to hop between the scattered, isolated biological refugia that pocketed the NorthWest Coast.

Examples from the last period of development for anametric image writing — such as the last example shown above — clearly show rounded contours of mountains that have been subjected to the grinding action of thick, heavy ice sheets. This would be consistent with the date range for now-extinct species that still appear in the the final developmental period for anametric image writing: mammoth, North American lions, and so on.

Objections can be raised for each of these points outlined above; but they are not the same objection for every case, they do not provide a consistent critique of the evidence presented by anametric image writing. The preponderance of evidence indicating an arrival time for the First Peoples in North America of perhaps 30,000 to 40,000 years ago (at the least) is beginning to mount.

As an operant hypothesis, it seems we are much further ahead working with the idea that the First People to arrive in North America quite possibly did so at least 30,000 years ago. To assume otherwise and insist upon a much later date of ~15,000 years ago is to exclude the possibility of a wealth of information we might otherwise access.

We can debate later the implications of seeing such information excluded from the "official record" accepted by the mainstream of archaeological and anthropological academics; for now, our primary goal must be to get some sense of what this excluded information might entail, and how best to go about accessing it.

In any case, we always return to one certainty here: that we know all humans have visual neurology which inclines them toward seeing, in particular: faces; objects; and, PLACES.

A Stone Astrolabe for Determining the Seasonal Availability of Food Sources

Images of Africam lions

There is a saying, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." We must ask, then: What indications do we have that members of the First Nations engaged, at the very least, in practices that would have supported these processes of survey and mapping?

In 1997-98, I found myself again doing field work on the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. As was my ongoing habit, I made a point of informing members of First Nations' organizations about where I was, and what I was doing. One day, I was visiting a narrow, stoney beach that I frequented. The tide was fully out; and on a flat shelf of smooth rock extending into the water, I noticed a single loose stone sitting by itself. Waves were already lapping gently against it; the tide was turning, and I had a choice: to pick up this anomalous item, or, to leave it where the sea would claim it forever.

I was, of course, under no obligation to pick it up — at no point has any member of the First Nations placed me under any obligation in my endeavor to document their traditional form of image writing. So although I had by that point in time seen more than enough examples of anametric image writing to recognize that this was an exceptional example, the manner of its appearance in that place was so unusual (and the object itself so unique) that I decided to leave this stone there on the beach — after I had placed it up high, in the roots of a large driftwood log well above the high tide line.

I waited a week before I took this stone into my safekeeping.

One of the first things I noticed about this stone — even before I finally took it from that beach — was its shape: that of a North American Lion's ear. There is even a black line, or stripe, such as is found upon some lions' ears (although it appears most noticeably on the front rather than the back, where it would actually be — due, no doubt, to the substrate's material contingencies).

What I later noticed about this stone — and this is quite amazing — is that it is a functional astrolabe. It was made in such a way that, the midday sun will highlight different glyphic image areas upon its concave surface — depending upon the height of the sun and therefore the time of year. This suggests that such a device would have been used to indicate the availability of seasonal food sources — knowledge vital to the survival of a semi-nomadic people during an ice age, when available resources were scattered across isolated biological refugia pocketing the coastline and islands of the Pacific Northwest.

The front of a stone astrolabe

This astrolabe is quite ingenious in its functionality. Readings are obtained simply by pointing the leading edge toward the sun at midday; and as the sun tracks across the leading edge, the shadow cast by that edge recedes into the recessed surface on the astrolabe's front — highlighting specific image areas in the process.

I do not doubt for one second that those who used this stone astrolabe knew exactly what images they were waiting to see highlighted upon its surface by the sun. I also realize that I will never have a full grasp of what these images might be; but someday, perhaps there will be an inventory of the glyphic resources highlighted by this artifact.

When in use, the astrolabe is aligned by positioning its leading edge toward the sun, in such a way that the shadow cast by the leading edge initially falls along a sighting target toward the bottom front of the astrolabe. This alignment is set into position through a sighting notch at the top center of the astrolabe. If the astrolabe is first set pointing due south (an easy task at any established site), the sighting target and notch can be used to fine-tune the astrolabe's placement.

Sighting notch and sighting target on the stone astrolabe

There are also faint traces of angles etched into the face of the astrolabe, which could reasonably be construed as corresponding with the height of the sun at various times of the year. However, the variance of these lines is not what one would expect to see for a single location.

It would seem that, when in use, this astrolabe was deployed (at least one time, in each case) at: the mouth of the Columbia River, during winter solstice; in the Clayoquot Sound area of Vancouver Island, at an equinox; and at the mouth of the Skeena River (or possibly, the islands of Haida Gwaii — which were never fully glaciated during the last ice age) at the midsummer solstice.

(This is a very tentative observation: there are many contingencies involved, each of which contribute variables to the overall equation. There are many angular lines of this nature on the face of the astrolabe: I chose those I thought to be most distinct. Each line itself presents some degree of variance: they are etched into an irregular stone surface, not drawn on paper with a straight edge; and their purpose was to accentuate glyphic image composites, not to directly measure an angle of declination. Although the angular degree between lines can be more or less accurately determined — and there is yet more variability in play with this — setting the baseline for a neutral horizon is again problematic. I had to assume that the most pronounced angles would be representative of the sun's height at midday during the solstices and equinoxes; but that again is conjecture. On top of all this, if the astrolabe is as old as it seems, then the inclination of the earth's poles becomes a factor: currently at 23.5 degrees, this varies between 22.1 degrees and 24.5 degrees over a 40,000 year cycle. A difference in one degree of declination for the sun relative to the horizon corresponds to a very large distance on the ground, since it equals one degree of latitude. So all and all, I can really just establish a tentative correspondence here between the angles inscribed on the face of the astrolabe, and possible locations on the ground. Above all, I can only look for relative positions that are consistent with the apparent degrees of difference found between the most pronounced of these angles).

I must also note here that the image composites apparent on this artifact are not characteristic of the last phase in the development of image writing; rather, they are indicative of the latter part of the second, intermediary stage in this form of writing's evolution. This strongly suggests that, long before animals depicted in the last developmental phase became extinct (~12,000 years ago), members of the First Nations were regularly and seasonally traveling along the length of the Northwest Coast; they were doing so in large sea-going canoes (images of which abound on this artifact); and that they were in possession of such advanced cultural tools as: an established knowledge of astronomical patterns; a survey system, used in mapping; and an established (yet still developing) tradition of writing with images.

Sunlight on the stone astrolabe

Examples of artifacts from this ancient time period are rare enough that I have only found a few others (each apparently older than this one); but thankfully, this one was kept safely enough (and I can only image for how long — probably, through tens of thousands of years of direct cultural continuity) that the details of the images on its surface are in excellent condition.

Which is not to say the image details are not somewhat worn — this is, after all, very, very old — but rather to observe that any degree of depth to an image on its surface has afforded that image enough protection to preserve an exquisite degree of detail.

If the front of this astrolabe can best be described as "functional," then the other side might be termed "instructional." Certainly, there is much to be learned from the wide range of image composites found on that slightly convex surface.

For example: more or less centered in the lower right quadrant, there is an image of a person. Radiating from this image, there are numerous lines extending outward, toward seemingly primary directions and around the edges of the astrolabe. Following any one line, one inevitably comes across other points where additional lines radiate in different directions. It isn't difficult to find images of mountains here; often, they occur at the intersection of these lines: and it is also quite easy to find faces placed somewhere along (and often at the ends of) these lines — as if they were images of people sighting along clearly defined lines.

What is particularly interesting in this, is that the images of people do not appear to be of people from a single tribal group: they appear to be each of someone from a different group — and each seems to be an individual, rather than a generic signifier that stands for the action of sighting.

All of the above observations are consistent with an interpretive hypothesis that proposes a system of survey and mapping that was initially based upon the example afforded by patterned ground — and, consistency is a core principle of philosophy. Which is not to say that these examples "prove" that hypothesis; indeed, such a "proof" is not intended here. All I am attempting to do is to tease out information, identify consistencies across examples, and compose a coherent body of knowledge which would indicate what else might be found here — as well as where, and how, to look. In other words, I am attempting to map concepts; and in doing so, to discern their components in such a way as to be able to postulate new compositional configurations that can be sought — or at least, realized if and when encountered.

Inconsistencies, of course, usually indicate flaws in theory construction (often due to some inadequacy in component selection during the creation of concepts) — not to be confused with anomalous configurations, which often lead to new discoveries of unimagined consistencies. This is where philosophy comes alive: in respecting the apparent inclusion of select components into conceptual formations; adjusting conceptual structures in accordance with such inclusions; and then mapping whatever configurations result — as they are when encountered, not as they might otherwise be expected to configure. As we progress in this ongoing analysis, then, we can expect to continue with piecing together new ideas — which may or may not reveal supporting consistencies among the contingencies of the real we encounter as we proceed. Tracing in this way the contours of new concepts as they form, we do not know what we will find — often, sitting as previously unrecognized, in plain sight.

But that, to my my mind, is what makes post-structural philosophy so interesting — as interesting as anametric image writing.

Glypj of person on the instructional side of the stone astrolabe

To continue: In the image details pictured below, taken from the back of the astrolabe, one can find some very distinct aspects that, in light our operant hypothesis, one could logically expect to find in evidence (given the functional nature of the astrolabe's front side). One can find a very specific kind of image composite: images that show people engaged in sighting along distinct lines — images and lines that are highlighted when the sun hits them at just the right angle.

In other words, all the aspects involved when functionally using the astrolabe's front side — for indicating the seasonal availability of food resources — are also incorporated in the image patterns on the back (or more "instructional") side.

That images of people sighting along distinct lines are so common on this device — to the point of being thematic — clearly shows this activity was readily undertaken, and occurred regularly. Given that the action of sighting is implicit on both sides of the astrolabe, we also see this occurring in a direct contextual association with seasonally distinctive readings, taken from the height of the sun — a process that can be directly related to latitude, and geographic location.

These are all components that would need to be in place, if there were the kind of survey and mapping system in use that was postulated earlier; and here, we see these components incorporated directly into a device not directly related to mapping per say: a device that maps events in time, rather than objects in space. In the context of geophilosophy, we must say that this stone astrolabe was directly involved with processes of active territorialization — in conceptual patterns that motivated both the movement toward and away from specific areas of territory.

There is a great deal of information that can be discerned from the image composites presented through this artifact, aided all the more by the simple fact that the axioms of geometry are consistent regardless of who discovers and employs them. And one other important consistency comes into play here: the sun is so much larger than the earth, and so far from the earth, that the light reaching the earth's surface does so for all intents and purposes in parallel rays, rather than as a radiating wavefront. All shadows thrown by the sun fall parallel to each other, with the only variance coming from the curvature of the earth's surface and other such physical irregularities; so any angular displacement for a common point of reference, measured relative to due south in one position, will be coherent with similar readings taken from any other position. Once again, the inherent value of consistency asserts itself.

Images of people using sighting lines on the instructional side of the stone astrolabe

Detail of a circular pattern on the stone astrolabe

There is one aspect of the underlying hypothesis being employed here, which is so far absent from our analysis of the stone astrolabe: that of the sighting circles from which degrees of angular deviation are determined, in relation to due south and relative to shared landmarks upon a common visual horizon. If this postulated system of survey and mapping is based upon a model derived from the example of patterned ground; and if later examples of anametric image writing demonstrate a very evident pattern of interconnected circles serving as a grammatological support for this form of image writing: then we should expect that, at the very least, singular circles would appear within the images presented upon this astrolabe. Indeed, if this object does date between the earliest and the latest stages in the developmental evolution of anametric image writing, then the absence of such sighting circles from the images upon this astrolabe would call core aspects of our analysis into question.

We should not be surprised to find, then, that such sighting circles do exist as images upon the stone astrolabe; but, they are not overtly apparent. We can see a pattern of concentric circles around and above the head of the figure from whom the radial lines extend, as shown in the first images from the back of the astrolabe, above. As it turns out (interestingly enough), this concentric pattern also has much to do with the material substrate itself — and with the developmental stage which characterizes this intermediary phase in the evolution of anametric image writing. This is a matter we can consider in greater depth a little later; but for now, we can note in passing that this congruence of material substrate and metrical design pattern very nicely demarcates a point where the metrics which underly the grammatological substrates of anametric image writing emerge from material conditions into linguistic patterns. We will examine the importance of this a little later.

All of which is not to say the circular patterns we might expect to see are not in evidence — that is very much not the case. They are indeed here, but they appear somewhat different than in later examples of anametric image writing. On the right (immediately above) is one such example of a circular pattern found on this astrolabe; and again, we find it occurring with some image elements we might expect — as well as some we might not. Of great interest is the fact that here, we see a singular point of black marks, surrounded by a circular array of more black marks (of varying shapes) — the same configuration we saw in the first example considered in this section, the first example of anametric image writing I found. This implies that there is a high degree of continuity that can be demonstrated between the middle period of development for anametric image writing, and the final developmental period.

There are also quite a few images here of North American Lion faces — which are not unexpected, given that the overall shape of this astrolabe is of a lion's ear. Here we have indications of continuity between the earliest people to arrive in North America, and those who much later created this stone astrolabe. I'm not going to point these lions out — they vary in size, and in the degree of their detail — but I am going to point out that the outline of a mountain is shown, above the central point but below the top encircling marks, in this circular configuration. So here we see, presented together: a circular Medicine Wheel; a mountain; and North American lions. This we may take as a conceptual composite that directly implies a very specific form of conceptual persona: that of a First Nations' "navigator" — although this term is misleading, since much more must have defined this person's role in society than simply getting from point A to point B.

The circular pattern presented here is quite small — it would fit on a small fingernail — and it is also more worn than other images on this astrolabe, as it is located along an exposed outside edge. But next, we will look at a much larger circle, also directly associated with mountains and sighting lines — one large enough to easily spot using Google Earth.

A Medicine Wheel for Surveying Coordinates Used In Mapping Territory

In 2012, a First Nations newsfeed I subscribe to carried a story about an interesting stone circle that had been documented in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia. Originally appearing in a major daily newspaper, the primary source for the story was an article in a scholarly journal that described this stone circle in terms of the geological processes supposed to have formed it.

The circle itself was of particular note because it was large enough to be easily distinguished using Google Maps. Intrigued by the sight of a large white circle of stone on a remote mountain slope, I began gathering all the information I could concerning this interesting object.

You can see it for yourself, Here.

I tracked down the journal where the article appeared, and downloaded the PDF. After reading the article, I did an online search for any other information I could find. Sorting through what I gathered, and weighing that against what I knew from my own research, I came to a disturbing conclusion — that the true nature of this site was being grossly misrepresented.

You can download that article, Here.

Of course, I am not alone in this conclusion: there seems to be a certain segment of the online community that has convinced itself this stone circle could only be a landing pad for UFOs (I guess, because they are both round).

My own suspicion was that this stone circle was in fact a Medicine Wheel of the sort used by the First Nations for surveying and mapping their traditional territories; but of course, this would naturally be my initial hypothesis, since that conclusion would integrate so well with my own research. Still, this seemed to be a valid hypothesis that needed to be investigated further — particularly since the authors of the article showed no intention of pursuing any such line of inquiry themselves.

In the aforementioned article, it was concluded that this circle of white stone was produced when a large boulder fell onto a sheet of ice, was carried to that spot by the ice, broke apart on top of the ice, and was then deposited in a circle as it slid off the ice; whereupon, the ice melted. There is evidence that this can happen, and that a large rock on top of a mass of ice will protect the ice below it from melting, until the rock is somehow removed. This does seem to be something that could conceivably happen; but, is it what actually happened in this case? I don’t think so.

There are a number of problems with the theory put forth in the article; such as, the placement of one anomalous type of stone in a distinct circle, with no other apparent traces of a similar type of stone being carried there at the same time — or any kind of anomalous stone being deposited within the circle itself.

This is also a fairly large volume of stone, that was presumably sitting on top of a column of ice as the stone broke apart from the freeze/thaw cycle of frost. However, the stone circle is located on an exposed, southern-facing slope; wouldn’t the ice below the stone have melted from that side first, rather than being protected by a large rock sitting on top of it? The sun would definitely not be shining down on the protective stone from directly above.

The more I thought about it, the less sense the article seemed to make: it was possible that could have happened, but, it didn’t seem likely. My own explanation — that this was a Medicine Wheel, used for surveying and mapping territory, constructed by the First Nations — was somewhat suspiciously discounted in the article from the outset, which said:

"Given the absence of similar lithologic units in the region and no obvious symbolic purpose for such a feature, an anthropogenic origin for the circle is improbable."

"Circular features are quite common in nature but frequently spark much discussion as to whether they are natural or anthropogenic. In this case, an anthropogenic origin was dismissed since there is no evidence of stacking of the clasts and large clasts seem to overly smaller stones. The largest clast (3.5 m long) would probably weigh 10 tonnes or more and would be unlikely to have been moved into its present location from a distant outcrop if smaller clasts were available. The harsh climate and absence of sustenance at 2000 m elevation in post-glacial times likely discouraged occupation or even travel in the region, and no obvious astronomic or spiritual reason for such a structure can be imagined, even if a supply of unique stones was available in the immediate area."
Michael Czajkowski and Andrew V. Okulitch,
“An Unusual Stone Circle, Chilcotin Range, British Columbia, Canada.”

I could not help but note that the article's authors were discounting a "symbolic" role for the stone circle; where I, of course, would be postulating a functional role. Interestingly, it is the distinction between "meaning" (as found in semiology) and "functionality" (as employed in grammatology) that distinguishes linguistics as a science, within a post-structural context. I might agree that this stone circle did not have a meaning — it does not signify anything, it does not stand in the place of anything else; however, I would insist that it did have a pragmatic function. It is the functional nature of such a structure which in the final analysis would allow the results gathered from its use to serve as an underlying organizational principle informing the compositional structure of anametric image writing.

And I am not sure what kind of "symbolic purpose" the authors are discounting here: what does that even mean? What are they suggesting? That something of this nature would only have been created by members of the First Nations if they were in essence "copying" something else? That the First Nations were only capable of representational thinking, rather than creative production? It is a disconcerting statement, infused with distasteful suppositions, and implying some deeply disturbing sentiments.

I also find the authors' statement that "no...spiritual reason for such a structure can be imagined" deeply disturbing: apparently, precedence is given here to the authors' imaginative processes — while at the same time any sense of imagination is denied to the members of the First Nations. And why are the authors even relying upon their imagination in this, instead of consulting with members of the First Nations directly? The authors do not seem to be particularly well versed in matters of First Nations spirituality, and are unconscionably ready to assume that their imaginations might supersede the First Nations' cultural realities.

After dismissing out-of-hand any possibility of a human origin for this stone circle, the article's authors add a curious note about other Medicine Wheels in the area:

"However, smaller stone rings and human artifacts have been reported to the west at undisclosed locations (G. Woodsworth, personal communication, 2010)."
Michael Czajkowski and Andrew V. Okulitch,
“An Unusual Stone Circle, Chilcotin Range, British Columbia, Canada.”

At no point do the authors of this article mention having consulted with members of the First Nations in the area. G. J. Woodsworth, who was consulted, appears to be a geologist working for the Geological Survey of Canada; he is listed as a contributor for a geological survey that includes this area.

And of course a third, hybrid explanation remains unexamined by the article's authors: that the rock which composes this stone circle might have been moved into the area of this site by the action of glaciers — but was then placed into this circular configuration by members of the First Nations intentionally, for a distinct purpose. Indeed, if the circle were first outlined with smaller stones before being finalized with larger, boulder-sized rocks, then exactly the configurational arrangement of stones found by the authors would be evident. It would make no sense for a few individuals to place very large stones to mark the site first, before involving a larger group to place smaller stones on top of the larger ones — as the article's authors imagine, for some unexamined reason, would be the case. Exactly the opposite would most probably have happened: a small group of people would have outlined the location for the stone circle, before a larger group assembled to make the site a permanent fixture.

Google Maps image of a stone circle in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia

However, the question then arises: Why would anyone go to the effort of placing such a structure in this inhospitable place? Well, if the hypothesis that this stone circle might have been a surveying device used for mapping territory is correct, then there should be something about the surrounding territory that makes it worth mapping; and, there is indeed.

Descending to the valley below, a clear route opens toward the northeast; and this brings us directly to Charlotte Lake. From there, traveling to the northwest in the direction of Kappan Mountain will quickly lead to the Bella Coola River Valley, and then to the Pacific Ocean, above the northern tip of Vancouver Island. This is the area where the mainland and Vancouver Island are in closest proximity. To the east of Charlotte Lake, one finds the inland plateau of the Chilcotin Valley — and the Fraser River, the largest river in British Columbia. The valley of the Fraser River divides the Coast mountains from the Interior Mountains, which extend to the north; and the Rocky Mountains, which dominate to the east and extend to the Great Plains. To the south, the Fraser Rive also connects to the Cascade Mountains, which define the drainage basin of the Columbia River.

One could also travel south from this stone circle toward Cloverleaf Mountain, turning west toward Migma Mountain and, crossing the Knot Lakes before passing south of that peak, travel north on the west side of Pandemonium Peak — to again reach the Bella Coola River Valley and the Pacific Ocean. Thus, prior to European contact, this particular area would have been pivotal for travel between the interior of British Columbia, Vancouver Island, any points farther north along the coast, and the islands of the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and the mainland. The position where the stone circle is placed is a virtual transportation hub that connects the ocean with the interior.

Location of the stone circle in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia

This alone would be reason enough to survey the surrounding territory: in order to map routes connecting these far-flung regions. However, there is another compelling purpose in mapping the territory surrounding this stone circle: to clearly determine where NOT to travel. Traveling farther to the south, into the rugged terrain beyond Cloverleaf Mountain and Wilderness Mountain, one finds Mount Waddington rising (which is visible from the stone circle). One might think that area would provide a more direct route between Vancouver Island and the Fraser River in the interior, since the northern end of Vancouver Island most closely approaches the mainland there; but, this is not the case. Wikipedia (very accurately) notes:

“It is not so far north as its extreme Arctic-like conditions might indicate and Mount Waddington and its attendant peaks pose some of the most serious expedition mountaineering to be had in North America — and some of the most extreme relief and spectacular mountain scenery.

“From Waddington's 13,186 ft fang to sea level at the heads of Bute and Knight Inlets is only a few miles; across the 10,000-foot-deep (3,000 m) gorges of the Homathko and the Klinaklini Rivers stand mountains almost as high, and icefields even vaster and whiter, only a few aerial miles away, with a maw deeper than the Grand Canyon, comparable in relief to the Himalayas (to which the terrain of British Columbia was compared by colonial-era travelers).”

No easier route between the Interior of British Columbia and Vancouver Island exists anywhere along the Northwest Coast than in the immediate vicinity of this Medicine Wheel. The next most direct route route lies at the mouth of the Fraser River, at the southern tip of Vancouver Island; and there, the distance across open sea between the Island and the Mainland is considerably greater than at the northern tip of the Island, near where the stone circle of this Medicine Wheel is located.

It would be best, were we able to easily visit this location, to see for ourselves the lay of the land surrounding the stone circle; but, that is not an immediately practical option. We can of course gain an overview of the site using Google Earth; but this does not convey to us the view experienced by anyone who might have visited this Medicine Wheel in the past. A few photographs are included in the published article — one of which, looking south, is included below — but, again, this does not convey the full sweep of the surrounding horizon.

Luckily — because we have the site's coordinates from Google Earth — we can somewhat simulate the experience of visiting this site, through the online app "Peak Finder". Upon entering the appropriate coordinates, we are supplied with a point-of-view display that provides an accurate presentation of the surrounding elevations for the visible horizon.

You can visit Peak Finder yourself, to try this out; but I will also include screen shots to illustrate the alignments one would find were one to visit this site in person.

You can access Peak Finder, Here.

Examining the view due south, we find that Mount Waddington is clearly visible from this location. This in itself is somewhat significant, since this mountain is the highest one located entirely within the province of British Columbia. The only taller mountains, on the northern border of British Columbia, are in the St. Elias Range — where the tallest mountains in North America are located, within what is the highest coastal mountain range in the world.

I think it safe to assume that Mount Waddington is also visible from a wide range of other places throughout this region, and that it would serve as an excellent positional reference when used as a common sighting point for uniting numerous visual horizons.

Looking due south from the stone circle in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia

Although Mount Waddington is a very important visual reference point that can be seen from this site, there is no particularly outstanding visual reference apparent through Google Earth's maps immediately to the south of the stone circle. This is where a direct observation from the site would be invaluable, because there is some indication that the contours of the facing slope due south from this site might be illuminated in a significant fashion at high noon. Comparing the site overview from Google for the point directly south of the stone circle, with, the elevation contours for a topographic map of the area (both shown below), we can see that there is a very significant cirque cut into the opposite slope that directly faces the stone circle's position. It would be very interesting to see how sunlight at high noon falls into that area — all the more so, since we have seen the functional significance of noontime shadows, as cast by the stone astrolabe. Would some alignment of the shadows that fall into the concave structure of that mountain cirque indicate clearly the moment when high noon arrives? That seems a possibility worth investigating.

Terrain due south of the stone circle in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia

Upon turning our attention to the east, we immediately find a very distinct and significant alignment. It is readily apparent that, on either equinox, the sun rises exactly at a very distinct notch in the visual horizon. This is a major astronomical alignment: the equinoxes signal the end of winter and the end of summer. The point on the horizon where the sun rises on an equinox is also always due east, everywhere; in cultures around the world, this point has special — often spiritual — significance. Again, the pronouncement by the authors of the article in question — that there is no astronomical or spiritual significance to this stone circle — proves to be entirely false.

Further, that a point due east can be reliably determined from this Medicine Wheel also means that all the other cardinal points can also be reliably located. And this isn't the only alignment apparent from the Medicine Wheel.

Looking due east from the stone circle in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia

If we then look due west from the stone circle, we find that on the equinoxes the sun sets precisely at the bottom of a very distinct slope on the visual horizon. This gives us two major astronomical alignments for the position of this stone circle — due east and due west on the equinoxes — and possibly a third, depending on how the light falls at midday on the elevations of the facing slope due south of this location. At this point, it becomes apparent that this "stone circle" is most probably a Medicine Wheel which was indeed used to survey the surrounding territory, for the purpose of mapping the terrain.

The position of this Medicine Wheel is clearly intentional; and the chances of any place having three cardinal alignments, with each localized at an easily spotted position on the visual horizon, is small enough that we can certainly see why the placement of this Medicine Wheel was important enough to warrant whatever effort was required in placing the stones it is composed from at such a remote and inhospitable location.

Clearly, the authors of this article are simply stating an unsubstantiated opinion when they say that " obvious astronomic or spiritual reason for such a structure can be imagined..." It is painfully obvious that not even the slightest effort was made by the authors to determine if any significant astronomical alignments were evident from this site.

Looking due west from the stone circle in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia

A Question of Motivation

I would like to think that the authors of this article were so quick to discount the possibility of a human origin for this Medicine Wheel, simply out of their enthusiasm over providing a feasible geological explanation for an apparent anomaly within their chosen profession; but, I am not altogether certain this is the whole story.

In researching the news story that covered the article's publication, I discovered something unsettling: the sister of one of the article's authors owned a wilderness lodge in the immediate vicinity of this Medicine Wheel; and, she was trying to sell this property at the time of the article's publication — a seemingly suspicious coincidence.

Returning to the issue of this Medicine Wheel in 2016, I found much of great importance had happened. On a lesser note, the sister of the article's author did indeed sell her wilderness lodge — in 2012. A little research on the Internet reveals a fuller story:

"The Nuk Tessli Wilderness Experience was created in 1988 by Chris Czakowski, who hiked alone for a day and a half, through mostly trackless and un-named mountains, to a spot picked out from a map. It would become her home for the next 23 years. It was at a high altitude, with magnificent views of British Columbia’s Coast Range , but still large enough for a float plane to land on. Heavy supplies and future clients could be flown to the door.

"Working single-handedly, Chris built the first two cabins. Having no road or heavy machinery, she had to fall, peel, haul, and raise all the logs using ropes, a block and tackle, and a come-along. She lived in a tent until the first roof was positioned (although that cabin was far from finished) and gradually completed the task. It took three years; when she started, she was 41 years old.

"She would make the long trek on foot to the nearest post office at Nimpo Lake about once a month in summer, and about every six weeks in winter. The arduous snowshoe trip sometimes took 4 days each way. During the long winters, when little building could be done in the deep snow and sub zero temperatures, she began her writing career. Letters about her wilderness experiences, sent to a Canadian national radio program, became the basis of her first best-selling book. She has now published her tenth wilderness story. Some have been translated into German.

"Although she made the decision to part with Nuk Tessli in 2012, she has not moved far away. She is now building her final dream home on an abandoned homestead close to Nuk Tessli’s mountains. She continues to write, draw, paint, take photographs, and generally be creative."
You can access the Nuk Tessli site, Here.

I don't imagine anyone would live in that area for such a long period of time without being on good terms with the First Nations who have always lived there. Chris Czakowski sounds like a very talented, dedicated, determined, resourceful, and independent woman; and my experience with the First Nations has always been that they treat each person as the individual who they are, and do not prejudge others.

There are, however, a few points that need to be raised, in the context of this issue regarding the Medicine Wheel (or "stone circle") we have been considering.

The first is the fact that almost all of the land in British Columbia is unceded First Nations territory. Ownership was never divested by the First Nations, nor constrained by treaties (for the most part, with a few very limited exceptions), nor willfully abandoned. This means the land upon which the lodge in question sits never legally belonged to the person who sold it in 2012.

There is, however, a "Homestead Act" in British Columbia's legal history; and so there is legal precedent for people moving onto land without first acquiring a registered title, and taking possession through clearing that land and building structures.

If the land upon which this lodge was built rightfully belonged to a First Nation, the question naturally arises as to which First Nation would be claiming that territory. That question had not been answered in 2012; but, it was in the process of being answered: in 2012, the Tsilhqot'in Nation were contesting an earlier lower court ruling, previously decided against their claim to their traditional lands, before the British Columbia Court of Appeal.

In 2014, they finally won a major victory when the Supreme Court of Canada formally recognized the Tsilhqot'in's Aboriginal title claim to the 1,750 square kilometers (680 sq. mi) region they had historically occupied. This is a major victory for all the First Nations in Canada; for this is the first time that the Supreme Court of Canada recognized a First Nations' legal ownership of a specific area of territory.

You can read about that decision, Here; — And some of the aftermath, Here.

The stone circle and the wilderness lodge are not within the primary territory defined through this land claim; but they are both encompassed by an area recognized as within the traditional territorial boundaries of the Tsilhqot'in Nation. So, the question that arises is: Would establishing this stone circle as a Medicine Wheel that was traditionally used in the mapping of Tsilhqot'in territory have influenced the extent of the boundaries set by the Supreme Court of Canada in defining that territory? Would that have affected the market value of the Wilderness Lodge previously owned by the sister of the person who authored a scientific paper “proving” that this site was nothing more than a geological curiosity? Would the owner of the lodge have been able to sell that property at all, if prospective buyers had thought it was in an area that was being specifically included within a major court case over an ongoing land claim?

Map location of the stone circle in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia

This is the heart of the issue raised by the peer reviewed article that attributes this Medicine Wheel to purely mechanical geological processes — and at the same time, discounts any involvement by the First Nations in its construction or subsequent use: any trace of the First Nations has disappeared from this discourse, just as surely as the ice column that forms the central pillar of the theory has melted away, never to be seen again. The historical reality of the First Nations is not just denied, or discounted: it is totally erased, and not even considered for a moment. And of course, the authors of the article — the geologists who do this — are presumed to be "expert" enough to pronounce upon the historical reality of the First Nations in this area — simply because they are educated white men with degrees from accredited universities.

Of course, that is exactly the sort of thing that philosophy has always busied itself with investigating within itself: What any particular group of concepts were made from, and what thoughts get left out in the process — whatever that process may have been. So, yeah: as a matter of fact, this is my business.

As we can see, questions about the historical presence of the First Nations in North America often revolve around one issue: Just whose history we are considering? The "established" historical record, such as it appears in academic contexts, is never one of "neutral truth": decisions were made all along the way as to what would be included, and what would be left out. Often, the people making those decisions were not the people whose history was being "documented"; and often, those who were deciding what would be officially accepted as the historical record had very distinct biases informing the decisions they made.

An all too familiar scenario arises in this context: that of "scientific experts" who testify that industrial scale developments undertaken within the traditional territories of the First Nations, without their consent, are "perfectly safe" and pose an acceptable degree of danger to the surrounding environment. The view of those actually living in areas earmarked for industrial development — peoples who have traditionally occupied for uncounted millennia lands suddenly slated for devastating changes — will often be a very different one: that their way of life, in harmony with the land, invariably will be extinguished with the onset of unchecked development. In such circumstances, we again often find the lived realities of the First Nations completely excluded, displaced by the "authoritative testimony" of industry-sponsored experts who are paid to paint potential developments in bright, positive colors that look good on the surface but hide what is really happening beyond the hype.

Let's pause to consider this for a moment, as we again recall the words published by Michael Czajkowski and Andrew V. Okulitch:

"The harsh climate and absence of sustenance at 2000 m elevation in post-glacial times likely discouraged occupation or even travel in the region, and no obvious astronomic or spiritual reason for such a structure can be imagined, even if a supply of unique stones was available in the immediate area."

One very handy tool available online that I often use is The Photographer's Ephemeris. With this, one can pick any point in the world and find line-of-sight references for sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset — for any day of the year. Entering the coordinates for this Medicine Wheel, and setting the date at the Midwinter Solstice, we are given the exact coordinates for the rising and setting sun — which we can then use in Peak Finder, to see if there might be any significant alignments on the visible horizon at the Midwinter Solstice for this Medicine Wheel.

There are; and, they are even more pronounced that those noted for the equinoxes. Evidently, members of the First Nations placed this Medicine Wheel where they did because it had multiple significant alignments here — including one for the Midwinter Solstice, which would have required them to attend this location during the shortest days of the year. This would seem to make no sense to the authors of the article in question, but, it would of course make perfect sense to members of the First Nations on the Northwest Coast: because Midwinter is a time for gathering, and celebration, and communal activities — things not undertaken in the same way during the busy peak of summer, when there is so much to do while the weather is at its best. Indeed, there do not seem to be any significant alignments for this Medicine Wheel at Midsummer's Solstice, suggesting that this would not have been a pressing concern for those who created it.

Indeed, it may well prove that any solar alignment at midday on the slope with the cirque directly south of the Medicine Wheel would be most evident at midday on the Winter Solstice, when the sun is lowest in the sky and any shadows on that slope are at their longest; but this is something only on-site observations could establish.

Lines of sight for solar alignments at midwinter solstice as seen from the stone circle in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia

Some Similar Developments in Adjacent Cultures

We noted earlier the apparent similarities between anametric image writing, and the glyphic writing systems used in Asia and Central America. Having noted that a system for the survey and mapping of territory seems to ground anametric image writing, it would logically follow that some similar sort of system also be apparent in Asiatic and Central American cultures.

Which, of course, is precisely the case.

Chinese and Mayan examples of approaches to surveying and mapping

Pictured above, on the left, is a Chinese compass used for Geomancy. On the right is an Aztek Calendar Wheel pictured below El Caracol, "the Observatory," a pre-Columbian building dedicated toward astronomical observations that is located in Chichen Itza, on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico.

I must stress again that I am not offering these examples as "proof" of anything: that is not my purpose here. I am simply surveying the empirical contingencies of what can be directly demonstrated, to gauge the degree of consistency holding between the hypothesis advanced here and the available evidence already established as common knowledge. In this, I am asking: Is this hypothesis contradicted by any direct evidence? As it is, will what we already know fit into the hypothetical space of this interpretive framework? Once presuppositions are striped from any available evidence, would that find a place within this new hypothetical framework without changing the basic postulates of the hypothesis, or, without excluding evidentiary date that has already been collected?

Looking at evidence from Asia and Central America, we find some very interesting consistencies becoming apparent.

Geomancy — popularized as "feng shui" — is an ancient Chinese art for harmonizing an individual's place in the world. Note that we are not talking about harmonizing the individual, as a subject; or the place, as an object: we are "harmonizing the individual's place in the world" — which is the same non-subjective approach we noted being established with geophilosophy. In this, we would be justified to consider feng shui as a non-subjective transcendental field of knowledge; and indeed, geomancy is all about "laying out a prephilosophical plane of immanence" and "creating concepts of consistency" — both of which then contribute to establishing "harmonized conceptual personae."

Geomancy is a characteristically Taoist art form; and while I am not a practitioner of feng shui, I have been immersed in Taoist martial arts and meditative practices since 1983; so, I do have enough background knowledge to orient myself in this area. I can also, without very much difficulty, connect with others who have extensive knowledge of these matters.

From its neolithic origins, feng shui was concerned with orienting placement between the astronomical heavens and the physical ground of the earth. Between the two, the human dimension unfolds — along with the winds, weather, water, animals, and plants. Feng shui directs itself to localizing events in time through auspicious placement. The four cardinal points of the compass are primary to such placement; but before the compass was invented, this was determined through astronomical alignments. In the most traditional form of feng shui, the shape of the surrounding physical environment is then considered; and of course, all of this is duly noted and analyzed using the Chinese writing system of glyphic characters. There is much more that comes into play at this point: the Five Elements system of conceptual survey; various associations through animal affiliations to dynamic attributes of energy patterns; and so on. Naturally, we would not expect to find a direct cultural correlation with the system of surveying and mapping which underlies anametric image writing; but we don't see any glaring divergences which would signal a complete historical isolation of these two cultural developments, either. Indeed, the similarities are strong enough that we must suspect the shamanic roots of Taoism might have held some ancestry in common with North American's First Nations.

Given that we know more about traditional Chinese geomancy at this point in time than we do about the First Nations traditional form of surveying and mapping, we might glean from geomancy some insights into this much earlier approach to mapping territory. A very general insight we should consider, is that geomancy is all about auspicious energy patterns. But, what does that even mean? How would we even begin to investigate that within the context of First Nations culture tens of thousands of years ago? Well, we will consider this matter in greater detail in the next section, which (finally) deals with anametric image writing specifically (and I mean that literally — "by species").

The Mayan civilization of Central America, and the Azteks of Mexico, are well known for their intricate astronomical observations and calculations. These endeavors might well be described as "mapping time." The calendar system used by these cultures is quite well understood, and is well documented by elaborately carved calendar wheels uncovered from archaeological sites in Central America.

Of particular interest is the system of interacting cycles that defines the passage of time by using such calendars. In addition to numbers, names of animals and objects are used to designate placements in time; and again, this would be a developmental direction which would be consistent with a point of origin in the system for survey and mapping which underlies anametric image writing: there is not a great conceptual distance between using a stone astrolabe to indicate seasonally available food sources, and designating points in time with the names of animals. Interestingly, some examples of Mayan architecture did incorporate a high level of interactivity with the sun: with shadows casting undulating snake patterns that cascade down the sides of pyramid staircases at summer solstice, for instance.

Whether there might also have been a similar system for survey and mapping territory employed in Central America is unknown at this point; but it is not unreasonable to think that, if there had been such a system in widespread use, then eventually towering pyramids might have been erected as sighting points for surveying the territorial expanses of city states (where mountains for that purpose were lacking).

What I find most fascinating in all of this is that, if these aspects of Chinese and Central American culture did diverge from a common ancestry in First Nations culture, then the nature of the divergence is most telling: subsequent developments in Asia were directed toward territorial mapping, which would be consistent with knowledge that had travelled as an aid to navigation; and future developments in Central America were directed toward mapping time, which would be consistent with a more directly continuous cultural heritage. Once again, we find an intriguing degree of consistency between what we have postulated using artifacts from a very early period of First Nations culture, and what we can find regarding cultural developments in the two geographical regions directly adjacent to the First Nations traditional territories.