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Poor Hanno

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Intelligence and Happiness?

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Buried by the Sea

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Cycling Two Abreast

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Indoors / Outdoors (Defuse)

A talk given by The Inquisition at Defuse, on Wednesday 7th November 2012, as part of Designweek in Dublin, Ireland

Nürnburg’s Extra Bombs

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Law & Morality

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Foy – The Bodiless Head

A bodiless head is revered as being Saint Foy, who died a cruel death.

Coffee Haters

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False Flags 2

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Plastic 55 Years Ago

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Cesare Borgia’s Party

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Marriage – A Potted History

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Blinking Morse

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Synecdoche is a powerful, expressive linguistic device

The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Contents Page
The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Semper Quarens - Always Looking

American Wheels

Photography Copyright Justin Kerr

Photography Copyright Justin Kerr

Pre-Columbian wheels are a divisive thing. To those living on the American continent it is a given that they did not exist. To those living in the Old World (a ridiculous thing to call Europe, Asia and Africa, but sure there you go) it has not even occurred to most that wheels may not have gained common currency before some Iberians raped and pillaged the locals into a semblance of civilisation.

To most people the wheel is the very paradigm of early invention. It serves as an icon of being civilised, as though we stepped out of our caves and into a brave new, wheeled, world. How many times have we heard something referred to as the greatest invention since the wheel? In tandem with its revered genius, colloquialy we imply great antiquity by saying something is as old as the wheel. It is so intrinsic to us that it is nearly impossible to conceive of a world without wheels.

Is the wheel a prerequisite to building a large and vibrant civilisation? What about civilisations that progessed to great lengths without wheeled assistance?

Worldwide, there are several indigenous peoples and entire civilisations for whom the wheel had little or no relevance. After all, what use is a wheel when crossing snow and ice to hunt seals? What about civilisations that could have benefitted from it but for some reason chose not to?


The idea that Inca and Mayan civilisations did not have wheeled technology is a flawed one. The archaeological record shows this to be untrue. The fascinating part of this is that the wheels they did have were on, what appear to be, carefully crafted children’s toys but seemingly never went beyond this to offer any practical benefits.


These wheeled animals may or may not have toys, in the modern sense, but nonetheless they displayed the possibilities of horizontal wheeled transportation. Here were a people who on a regular basis saw their children playing with exquisite toys and never saw the potential of them. It would be like us sending fighter pilots into the sky untutored on virtual reality simulators, as if these simulators were for kids only.

Of course there may be several reasons for this massive oversight ranging from wheels being protected sacred technology, to the thoroughfares being unsuitable to a lack of ingenuity for the associated technologies (lubrication, animals for pulling the carts, axles etc). It should be borne in mind that this is not the only historical case of technological advances being overlooked. The Inquisition just can’t think of any others right now.

The Problem for Mormons

‘Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots.’
2 Ne. 12: 7

The Mormons believe they are the descendents of ancient people who populated the American continent before the Indians. To any sane person, then, the mention of chariots on this continent in a pre-Columbian context would ring alarm bells. Not so with the Mormons.

The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies has assured their conscientious followers not to fear and not to to let factual history compromise their holy texts. Where their sacred book talks of chariots it actually means log sledges and when they say horses they actually mean tapirs which would drag these sledges. Therefore the Nephite cavalry in full flight must have been something quite astounding to behold – lumbering beasts loaded down with logs would strike a cold fear into the hearts of anyone.

Anyway, we shouldn’t really pay serious consideration to the concerns of people who follow the writings of a 19th Century fraudster (Joseph Smith Jr made his living by hiring himself out to land-owners to seek buried treasure on their land by looking into an upturned top hat at some ‘seer-stones’).

Prehistory, Colin Renfrew, Phoenix, 2007
The Story of Archaeology, Justin Pollard, Quercus, 2007
In Search of Ancient Mysteries, A & S Landsburg, Corgi, 1974
Tim McGuinness PhD
Museum photography by Justin Kerr
Information on Joseph Smith

This article was posted by on Friday, August 14th, 2009 at 03:50.
It is archived in America, Culture, History, Myth and tagged , , , , , , , .

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