Lost World

Civilization erased by Christian piety, fanaticism and ambition

Jesus Never Existed – The Criminal History of the Christian Church

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Kenneth Humphreys



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Rome's most enduring legacy


More than 50,000 miles of all-weather roads united an empire.

In the 1st century AD Hero of Alexandria ('On the dioptra') described theodolites and the principles of surveying.



















We've Been Robbed!

"Were it not for religious persecution and oppression of science, mankind might have landed on the moon in the year 650. Cancer may have been eradicated forever by the year 800. And heart disease may, today, be unknown."

– David Mills (Science Shams & Bible Bloopers, p362)














































































































An Ancient Mechanic

Other devices described in Hero's 'Automata and Balancings' include a windmill-driven pipe organ;

a steam boiler, later adapted for the Roman baths;

the 'candelaria' – a self-trimming lamp, in which the heat of candle-flames span a hoop from which were suspended small figures;

and the 'Hydria' – a water-driven clock.















Disastrously, in the late 4th century, the fate of the Roman Empire fell into the hands of Christian fanatic Theodosius and his progeny. By the second half of the 5th century the simple division of the empire had become a fragmentation, even of the very language itself.

Bilingualism – of Greek and Latin – which had characterised the early empire, became increasingly rare. The Greek language – and with it, an understanding of Hellenic culture, disappeared entirely in the west, followed by a decline in the Latin tongue, until only the clergy used it in a bastardised form. The end of a common language signalled the abandonment of an international cultural legacy which had created Roman civilization. With geographic insularity came xenophobia, racism, and bizarre beliefs about alien peoples in the now 'distant' lands. Life became parochial, simpler, impoverished and brutal.


Communication by Land and Sea



"The Imperial Roman army could construct almost anything – roads, bridges, tunnels, forts, walls, canals and even buildings for purely peaceful use such as markets and bath-houses.

It had its own potters, its own blacksmiths, its own carpenters and its own masons – a vast reserve of skilled labour, and in many of the Empire's outer provinces the only supply of skilled labour available."

– N. Sitwell (Roman Roads of Europe, p24)


The earliest all-weather Roman road was the Via Appia, built in 312 BC. By the end of the 3rd century BC a network of paved roads covered Italy.

In 147 BC the first provincial road, Via Egnatia, was built in Macedonia. By the close of the 3rd century AD, and the end of Roman road building, 53,000 miles of road spanned the empire, from Scotland to the Euphrates.

Typically a Roman road was 16' to 20' wide and over a metre thick – twice that of many modern roads!

More than a means of moving troops, the road network made possible a first-rate postal system, the 'cursus publicus' established by Augustus early in the 1st century .

Horses, mules and oxen, stabled at post-houses, moved officials and government freight, and also enabled scholars to exchanged ideas across the empire.



With the ruin of the Legions (replaced by mercenaries on horseback and the imperial 'mobile field army') road-making skills were lost and the vast network of roads went unmaintained by the Christian empire.

In the 4th century, Christian 'theorists', taking advantage of official free travel, overwhelmed the posts, justifying their endless excursions by the convening of church councils:

"The highways were covered with troops of bishops galloping from every side to the assemblies, which they call synods; and while they laboured to reduce the whole sect to their own particular opinions, the public establishment of the posts was almost ruined by their hasty and repeated journeys."

– Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae

As the decline continued, unpaid post-house keepers deserted, and the roads, beset by outlaws and slave-traders, were shunned rather than used. Such travellers as there were learned to travel in groups for mutual protection.

Christian Europe built no new roads until the 18th century, when France – like Rome 1500 years earlier – wanted to move rapidly its standing army.







The pagan Claudius Ptolemy's 2nd century map of the known world speaks for itself.


500 years after Ptolemy, Isodore, Bishop of Seville, came up with this beauty, a world map derived from scripture, not knowledge.





Roman vessels travelled as far as east Africa and Sri Lanka, Syrian textiles were traded in Boulogne, amber from the Baltic sold in Rome, furs and silks from Asia could be bought in Constantinople.

The typical Roman merchant ship had a length-to-breadth ratio of 2:1 and a capacity of around 500 tons. The larger grain ships had capacities of as much as 1300 tons.

A voyage from Ostia to Alexandria took 3 weeks.


Navis oneraria

One Roman author proposed a paddle boat, driven by oxen in a treadmill.


Wreck of early 2nd century working boat (46' x 20'), Pisa. Capsized but in good nick.


Caligula's Giant Ship

1st century AD – and the pagan Caligula builds a ship 95 metres (312') long and 21 metres (69') wide, a 1300 ton monster.

It was recovered from Lake Nemi in the 1920s/30s and then, sadly, completely destroyed by fire during WWII.

Caligula's Behemoth in 1934 (that's a man circled).

A similar vessel brought an obelisk from Egypt to stand in Caligula's circus (and subsequently, St Peter's Square!)



With complex differential gearing the astronomical calculator found in a wreck off Antikythera is the most sophisticated piece of machinery yet found from the ancient world. The simpler astrolabe was widespread from the 2nd century BC.

Antikythera "computer."


The new port built at Ostia by Emperor Claudius in the 1st century, using marine concrete.





Christian sea-faring: desperately small craft and piracy affecting every sea lane.

The Irish 'coracle' – in use from the 6th to the 20th century – was a construction of basket work and skin.









In comparison to Caligula's giant barge, 1500 years later, Defender of the Faith Henry VIII, built the pride of his fleet, the Mary Rose – a minnow of 32 metres and 700 tons.

Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar in 1805 was only 69m and weighed in at 2162 tons.





Myopic raiders

Not until late in the 16th century could Christian Europe assemble a navigational aid comparable to the astrolabe of the ancient world.

As a consequence, only when Henry the Navigator explored the northwest coast of Africa in the 15th century, did Christian Europeans again venture beyond the Mediterranean.

In contrast, the pagan Vikings had established colonies as far as central Asia and North America in the 9th century, guided by their own simple navigational devices.

When Europeans once again entered the Indian Ocean, after an absence of 1200 years, it was aboard a Portuguese Man of War – and a flourishing coastal civilization in east Africa was brutally extinguished.






Industry and Technology

In the 5th and 6th centuries, particularly after the arrival of the plague, the Roman Empire no longer had a limitless supply of slaves. It was precisely the circumstance that would have favoured an industrial revolution – but for the fact the Empire had lurched into a theocratic tyranny.



Ctesibius' Pump, from Roman mine, Valverde Huelva, Spain



In the 2nd century BC Ctesibius's devised a force pump.

On each side was a piston raised by a rocking handle, which sucked water into a cylinder through a one-way valve. By pushing the piston down, the water was forced into the outlet pipe.

The Romans adapted the device to drain bilges, extinguish fires and feed fountains.



A Christian View of Science ...

"There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger.  This is the disease of curiosity...

It is this which drives us to try to discover the secrets of nature, those secrets beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which men should not wish to learn..."

- St. Augustine


Archimedes was one of the first scholars to apply theories of motion to mechanical devices.

Among the discoveries he described were the lever and – an extension of the same principle – the "Archimedes screw," a hand cranked device for lifting water.

Used extensively throughout the ancient world.


The next step ...

The screw could be adapted to push, rather than pull. It made possible screw-driven ships – but that realisation came only in the 18th century!

In 1838 the first purpose-built propeller-driven ship was called "Archimedes."


Cloth-press from Pompeii (79 AD)

Printing? How Close?

The Romans used the screw-press extensively on olives and grapes.

The printing press would surely have followed – but for Christianity's hostility to pagan knowledge.

When the printing press saw the light of day in the 15th century the Catholic hierarchy opposed its introduction, fearing copies of Scripture would fall into the wrong hands and lead to criticism of 'God's Word.'

How right they were!

15th century: Gutenberg brings together existing technologies: movable type, paper, oil-based ink and the screw-press familiar to the ancient Romans. Printing is born.



4th Roman water-driven flour mill, Barbegal, France

Mass production:

Mill Power

Undershot and overshot waterwheels were common in the Roman world.

Power to drive the millstones at Barbegal came from 16 waterwheels, arranged in two parallel rows of 8 on either side of the milling chambers. A spur from the local aqueduct fed the mill with water.

The mill supplied the port of Arelate (modern-day Arles) 12 km away with enough flour to meet the daily flour needs of an estimated 80,000 people – about 10 tons per day.

There is also evidence of Roman mass production of standardised pottery, armaments and large-scale mining.


With cities declining through neglect by the local elite and heavy taxation, industry reverted to supplying a local trade.

Factories deteriorated and were cannibalised but never repaired or replaced.

The technology that gave rise to them was lost.



Christian Science

“The Byzantines invented clockwork, of a kind – and how did they use it? To levitate the emperor in order to dazzle the ambassadors of barbarian Europe.”

– Hugh Trevor Roper (The Rise of Christian Europe, p24)


Roman emerald mine, Eastern Desert, Egypt


A huge Roman iron factory, unearthed near Brayford, north Devon, revealed furnaces, equipment and a massive dump of iron slag over 3 metres deep.

The factory would have been used to smelt hundreds of tonnes of iron in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, most for export.

This industrial complex was greater than similar 19th century iron working in the area.

Gold was mined widely: Dolaucothi, Wales; Rosia Montana, Romania; El Bierzo, Spain.


Metallurgy lost

In the world of Christendom, mines were abandoned, and metal production dropped.

Reliable coinage, especially gold, grew scarce, and people found themselves in a nearly 'money less' economy, bartering goods or paying with their labours.

"It is a rather astonishing fact that from the days of classical antiquity to the end of the 19th century only one new metal came into general use. This exception was aluminium, but even in 1900 world production was no more than 10,000 tonnes."

– T. Williams (The Triumph of Invention, p181)



Only in the 15th century, with the development of crystal glass on the island of Murano (Venice) was the quality of Roman glassware again approached.


Wall painting of fruit in glass bowl – 1st century Oplontis near Pompeii

Glass Manufacture

About 1st century BC glass-blowing began to replace glass casting in Syria.

Roman versatility with glass has never been equalled.

Roman glassware


Turbine, 1st century AD. (Alexandria)


The Steam Turbine?

Hero's 'Pneumatica,' a two-volume work, detailed many machines worked by air, steam or water pressure.

"The aeolipile was a hollow sphere mounted so that it could turn on a pair of hollow tubes that provided steam to the sphere from a cauldron. The steam escaped from the sphere from one or more bent tubes projecting from its equator, causing the sphere to revolve. The aeolipile is the first known device to transform steam into rotary motion."

– Hero, The Pneumatica


Without the dead hand of Christianity strangling scientific development a low-pressure beam engine might easily have been developed.


The next step ...

The Beam engine. Driven by a low-pressure boiler the rocking beam began the industrial revolution – but not until the 18th century.

Hero of Alexandria also invented or described a variety of devices which appear at first glance to have been whimsical – such as 'robot statues' that mixed and poured drinks or 'sang' (via compressed air).

They almost certainly were used by Hero to teach scientific principles.




Road Vehicles?

In 19th century Europe, powered road vehicles were held back by lack of roads (and hence the railways developed first).

Ironically, the Roman world had developed a fine network of roads.

But for the disaster of Christianity, we might have had a 5th century Henry Ford!

Cugnot's steam-wagon (1769) – within the skills of Roman engineers.




Lost World – Civilization Erased by Piety and Fanaticism (Part One)


K.D. White, Greek & Roman Technology (Thames & Hudson, 1984)
Trevor Williams, The Triumph of Invention (Macdonald Orbis, 1987)
Thomas Crump, A Brief History of Science (Robinson, 2001)
John Gribbin, Science, A History (Penguin, 2003)
Lisa Rosner(Ed.), Chronology of Science (Helicon, 1999)
F. G. Bratton, A History of the Bible (Robert Hale 1961)
Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization (Doubleday, 1995)
N. Sitwell, Roman Roads of Europe (Cassell, 1981)
Frank Delaney, A Walk in the Dark Ages (Fontana, 1988)
Henri Pirenne, Medieval Cities (Princeton, 1952)



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Copyright © 2004 by Kenneth Humphreys.
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