I have to respond to something in particular that you talked about. (It goes far afield from the subject of this group, but your comparison to Egyptian stone cutting needs to be addressed and not given a pass).
You said:This just is not so. Read up on the calculations done by Christopher Dunn about how much time it takes to remove granite (at least some of the basaltic Costa Rican stones are close to granite in hardness). See http://www.gizapower.com/, his web site. Chris is, besides being a good friend of mine, THE man who has brought attention to the SILLINESS of the archaeologists' idea of dropping stone balls as a means of 'machining' stone. The stone removal rate is SO freaking small that to make one of the obelisks such as the large one in Aswan (see this picture of the one Chris did calculations on: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lostempires/obelisk/images/cuttingslide02.jpg) would take 80+ years with people working as close together as possible, round the clock.
For stonecarvers of such skill, it was childsplay to make a reasonably round rock. In fact, they probably employed child labor to get a lot of the roughing out done. The techniques are the same used in Egypt, Rapa Nui, India and Bolivia. You take a rounded river "pebble" the size of a large cantelope and start dropping it in a controlled, turning motion against the larger one to be rounded.
Also there is this (Chris is the man in the green shirt) http://www.gizapower.com/Articles/gyp_037.jpg (a modern attempt to make a sarcophagus at Memphis by this method, which attempt was done for TV, and which is a CHEAT). NOTE THAT THE MATERIAL IS NOT GRANITE, BUT LIMESTONE, a far easier stone to cut. Why didn't they try it on granite? Because they knew it wouldn't work worth a diddly damn.
Until Chris challenged them, the Egyptologists told lay people that the granite and diorite was cut with copper tools. Copper tools, being far softer than granite, have had - since the beginning of the Earth - absolutely ZERO chance of cutting granite, and those eons include that time period when the arkies were selling that argument, thinking that lay people were stupid.
NOW they have changed their tune, but only to the extent of the pathetic crude attempts to cut stone in this manner - the wrong stone even - and the results even with limestone are completely abysmal.
To see what kind of cutting WAS possible in Egypt, see Chris' link at http://www.gizapower.com/pma/index.htm which shows photos of VERY LARGE DIAMETER SAW CUTS and what can only be SONICALLY DRILLED HOLES.
I won't even go into the precision that exists in Egyptian stonecutting. Being a mechanical engineer, I (less so than Chris, who has been both a Master Machinist AND a Chief Engineer) know that precision is dependent on controlling the position and motions of both the object being cut and the cutting tool and also accounting for wear of the cutting tool edge.
Chris acknowledges that a few artifacts in Egypt show evidence of being made by the method you describe and as touted by Nova producers and Egyptologists, but those artifacts are pale, horrible examples of Egyptian capabilities.
ONLY CHRIS has any explanation at all for the absolutely beautiful and precise cutting of hieroglyphs in granite and diorite that I have seen. These hieroglyphs are absolutely amazing in their consistency of their draft angles, their - for all intents and purposes - dead sharp edges, and the flatness of the flat surfaces, even down in the small recesses. The symbols are cut approximately 3/8" deep, and are sometimes only 1/4" wide (my estimates based on long ago memories). DO go to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo some day and see these for yourself, or traipse around the Giza plateau, or travel down to Karnak, Aswan, Thebes, Memphis or Saqqara.
I can't pretend to be an expert on the waterways and pre-Columbian sites here, but I know Egyptian stuff quite well. Take it from me as a knowledgeable opinion: The Egyptians did NOT (with a few bad exceptions) cut stone in the fashion that Nova puts forward. They are simply wrong, in my very humble opinion. So why do they put forward such a theory? Simple: They are clutching at straws. There is simply no other option - except Chris Dunn's explanation, that the Egyptians could and did machine stone with some POWER to drive the cutting that we have not yet identified, AND with locational control far, far in excess of what our "modern" world in its hubris thinks is possible for people that long ago.
(Remember that their kind has only just in the last decade been brought kicking and screaming to CONSIDERING the view point that the people then could pilot boats well enough to reach the Americas. MANY of them still fight the idea. ONLY the vetting of the Monte Verde site FINALLY shot down their holy of holies, the Clovis Barrier. They function on such antiquated paradigms and resist nearly to their last breath anything approaching Diffusionism. How likely are they in our lifetime to admit that people 4,000 to 10,000 years ago had better technology than western Europe and America had in the 1800s? They are so sold on the superiority of western science and technology that only very heavy hammers will bust through their thick skulls.)
Back to the stone balls, to imagine that the indigenous peoples held - under control - the large stone balls, simultaneously turning them - under control of both rate of rotation and consistent direction - while some other person or persons - in some magically coordinated dance - had the ability to time their cantaloupe-sized stone dropping precisely to that rotation in 3-dimensions - all of this is a figment of the imagination. The coordination is superhuman and clearly impossible. The ball would come out oblate, 1,000,000 times out of 1,000,000. Which is more impossible - that they could coordinate that well, or that they had machining capabilities.
In the crystal skull show on network TV the other night the chief skeptic, the lady from the Smithsonian who also wrote a skeptical article in Discover Magazine this month about them, had as her SOLE argument about their validity that they showed machining markings. Her hubris? That no one before our time could machine anything. Therefore machining marks = fraud. It is simple for her, a case of black and white.
BUT SHE IS WRONG.
They MAY still be hoaxes, yes. But not for the reasons she claims. Machining WAS done long, long ago.
All of archeology accepts that as an impossibility. Hence, their own fraud against the people of the world, in trying to convince them that Egyptians cut stone with stone balls.
And they are wrong.
Look at Chris' site.
- - - - Steve