Hamlet's Mill : A Essay Investigating the Origins of Human Knowledge and Its Transmission Through Myth, Paperback

Hamlet's Mill : A Essay Investigating the Origins of Human Knowledge and Its Transmission Through Myth Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


A truly seminal and original thesis, this is a book that should be read by anyone interested in science, myth, and the interactions between the two.

In this classic work of scientific and philosophical inquiry, the authors track world myths to a common origin in early man's descriptions of cosmological activity, arguing that these remnants of ancient astronomy, suppressed by the Greeks and Romans and then forgotten, were really a form of pre-literate science.

Myth became the synapse by which science was transmitted.

Their truly original thesis challenges basic assumptions of Western science and theories about the transmission of knowledge.




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This extraordinary book is subtitled: "An Essay Investigating the Origins of Human Knowledge and its Transmission Through Myth".This is what the book is about, more or less, but it is hard to tell. This essay is both virtually unreadable and amazingly erudite. There is scarcely any document more than 1000 years old that these scholars have not read. What we get is a digested compendium of their knowledge.From a welter of literary reference an astonishing thesis slowly emerges. It may have helped if the authors had explicitly advanced it at some point, but they give no sign of wishing to make any kind of case at all, merely letting their knowledge speak for itself.The major lesson we learn here is that vast swathes of ancient literature displayed an obsession with an astronomical phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes. There is not space here to explain precession and my thoughts on why the ancients found it so important are speculative. However, their interest in this matter convinces me that their scientific knowledge was vastly more advanced than most are prepared to credit.Fascinating stuff if you can bear it. Best skimmed through quickly and dipped into randomly later.

Review by

Amazing scholarship combined with exceptional thought and analysis make this an essential work. The book is marred however by the lack of an hypothesis as to the reasons why our ancestors went to so much pain to pass on the knowledge encoded in the myths. It uncovers many mysteries but it does not offer any answers.

Also by Giorgio De Santillana