Threesology Research Journal
Sun Rays Influenced Pyramid design?
page 2...

(The Study of Threes)

While the previous page focused primarily on the idea of the Pyramid design having been influenced by the Sun's rays, let us now continue with James Nasmyth's Autobiography concerning the origin of the Arrow-head or Cuneiform Character:

Next, with respect to the Cuneiform Character.

When I first went to reside in London, in 1829, I often visited the British Museum. It was the most instructive and interesting of all the public institutions which I have yet seen. I eagerly seized every opportunity I could spare to spend as many hours as possible in wandering through its extensive galleries, especially those which contained the Assyrian, Egyptian, and Greek antiquities. By careful and repeated examination of the objects arranged in them, I acquired many ideas that afforded me subjects for thought and reflection.

Fig.1, Single cuneiform character

Amongst these objects, I was specially impressed and interested with the so-called "Arrow-head" or "Cuneiform Inscriptions" in the Assyrian Department. These remarkable inscriptions were on large tablets of burnt clay. They formed the chief portion of the then comparatively limited collection of Assyrian antiquities in the British Museum.  I was particularly impressed with the precision and simple beauty of these cuneiform inscriptions, -- especially with the strikingly distinctive nature of what I may term the fundamental or elementary wedge-like form, of which the vast variety of letters or words of these inscriptions were composed. The triangular or three-sided indentation will be observed in the above engraving (Fig. 1).

Fig.2, A bunch of cuneiform characters

This elementary form, placed in various positions with respect to each other, appeared to be capable of yielding an infinite variety of letters and words, as seen in Fig. 2.  I may here mention that I entered upon this interesting subject with no pretensions as a linguist, nor with any idea of investigating the meaning of these remarkable inscriptions; but only as a Mechanic, to ascertain the manner in which the striking characters were produced, so as to convey words and ideas through their variety of combinations.  I soon perceived that the simple but distinctive characters shown in the above representations were essentially connected with the employment of plastic clay; this being the material most suitable for their impression, by means of a three-sided instrument or stylus. The angular extremity of this instrument, when depressed into the surface of a tablet of plastic clay in different positions and directions, would leave these cuneiform impressions in all their beautifully distinct and characteristic forms. And thus, after the tablets had been subjected to fire and made into hard brick, the impressions have come down to us, after the lapse of thousands of years, as fresh and distinct as if they had been produced but yesterday!

I was so fortunate as to have my conjectures confirmed with respect to the exact form of the instrument by which these remarkable characters are produced, observing, in what appeared to be a hastily-formed inscription on the edge of a large brick, that the inscriber had apparently used rather more pressure on his stylus than was requisite. In consequence of which, the end of it had been so deeply depressed into the soft clay as to leave an exact counterpart of its size and form. I secured a cast of this over-deep impression of the stylus, from which Fig. 3 is taken, after a photograph.

Fig.3, Dark images of cuneiform impressions

Fig.4, Cuneiform characters with stylus

In order further to illustrate the simple mode of producing inscriptions on tablets of clay, I give in Fig. 4 a tablet inscription produced by means of the stylus which is seen laid over the tablet.

The next illustration (Fig.5) is intended to convey an idea of the manner in  Fig.5, Hand holding stylus making impressions which the stylus was held and applied to the surface of the clay when a cuneiform inscription was being produced. The upper, flat, or third side of the stylus enabled the inscriber to keep it in correct relative position in respect to the tablet, yielding at the same time a convenient flat surface upon which to rest the end of his finger when indenting the angular end into the clay.

Refer back to Fig. 2, and it will be found that any variety in the size of the cuneiform inscriptions may be produced by the same stylus, by simply depressing the angular end of it to a greater or less depth into the surface of the clay. In many of the most elaborate inscriptions, a certain lob-sidedness of the cuneiform character may be observed. This is due to the inscriber having held his stylus somewhat askew, as we do a pen in ordinary writing.

Fig.6, Edge of brick indention on clay

Referring to my remark that the distinctive shape of the cuneiform character was essentially due to the use of plastic clay as the most suitable material for its production, I think it highly probable that the origin of these inscriptions took its rise not only from the facility with which the characters could be indented on the material, but from the abundance of plastic mud which forms the natural soil of the lands adjoining the great Assyrian rivers. This when made into bricks, became the chief building material of the energetic people of Babylon and the other great cities of the Tigris and Euphrates valleys. The laborious work of brickmaking was generally assigned to captives as taskwork, and it appears to me highly probable that "the tale" of the brickmaker or his taskmaster might be most readily marked by simply indenting the side of the soft tale brick with the corner angle of a dry one; and that thus the strikingly peculiar character of the cuneiform character was produced (see Fig. 6).a

In course of time the elementary form was expanded into this most beautifully simple mode of communicating ideas through the agency of conventional signs or letters; being also especially suited for making historical or other records on tablets of moist clay, which, when "fired", became absolutely indestructible, so far as time is concerned.

Fig.7, A bunch of cuneiform characters

This is abundantly proved by those marvelously perfect burnt clay tablets, covered with exquisitely minute and perfect inscriptions, which, after having remained hid in mounds of rubbish for thousands of years, among the ruins of the Assyrian cities, are brought to light as fresh and perfect as on the day on which they were executed. These tablets now excite the wonder and admiration of all who are able to appreciate the beauty of the inscriptions, as well as of those who are speculatively curious as to the origin of written language. This attempt to explain the probable origin of the cuneiform character may to some appear fanciful. But whether or not, it is certain that this simple and impressive character can be readily produced by the primitive means which I have ventured to suggest. I give a cuneiform inscription (Fig. 7), which I have produced by simply employing the corner angle of an ordinary brick as the stylus for indenting the inscription on the tablet of soft clay. This might have been extended to any length, in longer as well as minuter impressions.

As soon as the capability of the cuneiform impression was adopted as the Assyrian character, it was in due time employed for inscriptions on stone or other materials, such as marble or alabaster. The chisel was then substituted for the stylus; but the characters remained in a great measure the same. In some cases a slight modification was observable, being naturally due to the change of material and the method of carving it; but in most respects the departure from the clay prototype is very slight, and the original is adhered to with remarkable integrity.

Fig.8, A, T, Y Greek inscriptions

When examining some early Greek inscriptions in marble, in the British Museum, in the year 1837, I was much interested to observe the appearance of a cuneiform element in the limbs of several Greek letters, especially in the terminals, as illustrated in Fig. 8, each limb of the letter being in itself a perfect cuneiform; and as such the terminal of each limb is at right angles to the axis, and not as now (in our modern capital letters) parallel to the line of inscription.

Fig.9 letter T inscriptions

This apparent presence of the cuneiform element in these early Greek inscriptions suggests some very interesting historic causes which led to their introduction, and so passed from the Greek into the Roman, and eventually into the capital letters of our own alphabet. To give one instance,-- though many might be cited, -- take the capital letter T, and it will be found that it went from the Cuneiform into the Greek, then into the Roman, and lastly into our own letter, thus presenting a remarkable instance of the survival of a form from remote antiquity down to the present day.

The letters A K H I K M N Y X have the distinct remains of their Babylonian origin in the top and bottom stroke, which is nothing more nor less than a corruption of the original or primitive arrow-headed impression of the stylus in the moist clay, begun thousands of years ago.

In a lecture which I gave at the Royal Institution in London, in 1839, and in another at the British Association at Cheltenham, in 1856, I referred to this presence of the cuneiform element in the Greek letters, illustrating the subject by actual casts from the inscriptions themselves. At Cheltenham the question gave rise to a most animated and interesting discussion, in which Dr. Whewell and Sir Thomas Phillips (the great antiquarian) took a prominent part. I understood that Sir Thomas Phillips assigned that the intermixture of cuneiform with the Greek alphabet proceeded from the Samaritans, who were originally an Assyrian colony. I find that many Greek inscriptions exhibit the cuneiform element in nearly all the letters composing them. This is a subject well worthy of the attention of our antiquarian Greek scholars, as pointing to an intimate intercourse with the Assyrians at some remote age. The distinctive character of the cuneiform in the Greek inscriptional letters could not have arisen from chance. Some intercommunication with the Assyrians must have taken place.

This subject is all the more interesting, as the cuneiform element appears to have passed from the Greek inscriptional letters into those of the Romans, and from thence into our own capital letters. This affords a very remarkable instance of the "survival" of a form, which, however naturally due to the plastic material in connection with which it originated, nevertheless led to its use for ages after the circumstances which led to its adoption had passed away. This tendency in mankind to cling to shapes and forms through mere traditional influences is widely observable, especially in connection with architectural forms, arrangements, and decorative details. It offers a subject of great interest to those who have a natural aptitude to investigate what I may term the etymology of form, a subject of the most attractive nature, especially to those who enjoy thinking and reflecting upon what they have specially observed.

Fig.10, Assyrian roller-seal

Before concluding this subject I may mention that the Assyrians employed a cylindrical roller-seal in order to produce impressions in a wholesale way. This is exemplified in the above engraving. The mechanical principles inherent in this beautifully simple form of roller-seal, indicate a high order of ingenuity, well worthy of the originators of the arrow-headed character. In fact it is the prototype not only of the modern system of calico-printing but of the Waiter Printing Press, by which the Times and many other newspapers are now printed -- a remarkable instance of the survival or restoration of a very old method of impression.

In searching for information about the Engineer James Nasmyth (1808 - 1890) and his origin theories, I came across an interesting correlation with respect to the person who is said to have originated Basketball.  It seems that the originator was a Dr. James Naismith (1861-1939).  The similarity in their last names may suggest to some readers a type of genetically (?) transferred "origin" focus, since there are many people who think it is not only physical attributes that can be transferred from one generation to the next, but also characteristics of personality, interests, occupations, accidents, fortunes, discoveries, ideas, etc...

Here is one link which describes the origin of basketball:

--- Chapter III: Origin of Basketball ---

Some readers may be wondering what the discussions by James Nasmyth have to do with "Threes." Specifically, they are an aside reference to the influence of the Sun on human ideas. The Sun's influence, if you can agree that it can make an "impression" on the human mind (psyche), will help you to more readily consider the possibility that the Sun's three "moments" known as Dawn-Noon-Dusk, over the duration of evolutionary development (with the Earth rotation faster in the past, etc.,), may well have influenced the triplet codon system in DNA, physiological patterns-of-three, as well as other ideas that are symbolic representations of the Sun's three-patterned influence that is changing... thus reflecting a change in the Sun's influence as it gradually enlarges towards its eventual burnout.

Your Questions, Comments or Additional Information are welcomed:
Herb O. Buckland