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Hamlet's Mill: An Essay Investigating the Origins of Human Knowledge & Its Transmission Through Myth

4.29  ·  Rating Details  ·  343 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
Ever since the Greeks coined the language we commonly use for scientific description, mythology & science have developed separately. But what came before the Greeks? What if we could prove that all myths have one common origin in a celestial cosmology? What if the gods, the places they lived & what they did are but ciphers for celestial activity, a language for the ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published December 1st 2014 by Nonpareil Book from David R. Godine Publisher (first published 1969)
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Hamlet by William ShakespeareOphelia by Lisa M. KleinRosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom StoppardThe Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David WroblewskiMr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies by William Shakespeare
Hamlet: The Play's the Thing!
76th out of 78 books — 28 voters
Memories, Dreams, Reflections by C.G. JungThe Golden Compass by Philip PullmanHamlet's Mill by Giorgio De SantillanaTwelve castles in the sky! by Ruthz S.B.High Heels and Train Wrecks by Carolyn Reynolds
Non-Astrology for Astrologers
2nd out of 12 books — 5 voters

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Community Reviews

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Sep 28, 2011 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
Utterly brilliant, groundbreaking, necessary book, which overturns many flawed and biased assumptions about the "primitive" past. The mere 450 pages are so densely packed that it took me almost three stinkin' weeks to read, but it was worth every frustrating minute.

The fundamental narrative structures of popular stories are clearly derivative and based not on a convergence of psychological archetypes but rather on older forms which have been widely diffused throughout seemingly-unrelated ancien
Clay Kallam
May 06, 2013 Clay Kallam rated it really liked it
I read this book long ago, and just as with Calazzo's "The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony", it made a lot more sense when I read it the second time. (Thus inspired, I will soon try Robert Graves' "The White Goddess" again.)

There is really no way to summarize this book, as Giorgio de Santillana wants to tease out how preliterate human beings viewed the universe. One of his basic assumptions (which is hard to argue with) is that a human being from 20,000 years ago had the potential to be just as i
Feb 25, 2009 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that reminds me of the mythological discourses by Joseph Campbell. It is an anthropological detective story that traces the origins of myths throughout the world and finds common elements in their origins. One finding is that the geography of myth is not that of the earth but rather is celestial. For anyone who is familiar with Greek mythology this is not a surprise, but we find here again that mythological language transcends cultural and geographic boundaries. The author explore ...more
John Henry
Oct 08, 2008 John Henry rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ANYONE
This book is essential for anyone wishing to learn about the links between mythology, zodiac, precessional cycles, and transmission and creation of knowlegde in pre-industrial and ancicent civilizations. An absolute classic and opus magnus of the archaeo-astrology and mythology genres.
David Montaigne
Apr 18, 2013 David Montaigne rated it it was amazing
This is a dense analysis of ancient mythology in which the authors explain that most myth is not about the adventures of historical human characters but of astronomical bodies. There are similar stories and themes in myths around the world, not necessarily because there was an Atlantis providing a cultural heritage for everyone on earth, but because everyone observes the same skies. The sun always appears to make the same annual journey through the background stars, and ancient cultures were als ...more
Phred Padgett
Jul 26, 2008 Phred Padgett rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Patrick
Recommended to Phred by: Many references to it in other works.
This is my favorite book of all time. An essay on worldwide myth and legend. He is an MIT professor; 2/3 of the essay is his, the last 1/3 is the appendix by Hertha von Dechend, Hamburg U. I used two bookmarks and always read her remarks. Simply boggles the mind that ancient stories could be so similar while so geographically distant from one another. The "Mill" of the title represents the earth's wobble, which takes nearly 26,000 years to complete, and the ancients knew this. How could they? Th ...more
Jul 18, 2012 Jönathan rated it it was amazing
I would give this book six stars if that were possible.
Jan 15, 2014 Christy rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2013
Fascinating, if somewhat dizzyingly presented and unsystematic. The project is to show that mythic ideas about cyclical time, world ages, their characteristics and dominant players, were actually based in close observation of the heavens and the complex apparent movements of planets and constellations, and particularly the precession of the equinoxes. Since the whole universe was thought to be ruled by the same living, volitional forces, it was by no means a simple “primitive” or childlike fanta ...more
Anne Hamilton
Six stars at times. One star at others.

Brilliant but so discursive. Full of shining gems of thought, encrusted with all but impenetrable allusions. Without a knowledge background in half a dozen different mythologies, there are many sections here so difficult to understand. There are paragraphs with references to five different myths (for example, American Indian, Finnish, Hindu, Greek and Egyptian) and, although I have a passing acquaintance with some, I was often lost.

It's like walking in on a
the Skrauss
Sep 10, 2015 the Skrauss rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
It's all connected! In more ways than one. Myth continues to open its vastness to me, yet withholds its secrets. Why are all myths all over the world so similar? Because they contain astronomical and mathematical knowledge and are the vehicles used to transmit this knowledge to the future.

Brilliant thesis. It raises the question, why do we stop looking? Why stop there? Where ever "there" happens to be, it is not the final answer and ceasing investigation stifles human growth. Yet here we are be
Gavin White
Dec 15, 2013 Gavin White rated it really liked it
Shelves: cosmology
This is one you have to work at. The second time I read it I started to understand the thesis and the mode of argument. It presents an important thesis - that ancient cultures encoded the skies in their mythologies.
The book is dense, has endless digressions, and doesn't quite prove its case. However it presents enough of the picture to show that the heavens and their architecture are fundamental aspects of traditional lore. In this it provides a valuable alternative to the ideas of Carl Jung an
A. J. McMahon
Aug 21, 2015 A. J. McMahon rated it it was amazing
I should make clear straight away, given the five star rating I have given this book, that Hamlet's Mill is actually not all that well written. Santillana and Dechend write tortuous sentences that are difficult to follow; the material, which is often complex and detailed, is often poorly presented and their points are not always obvious. A page turner it is not. However, their thesis is so radical and their scholarship so thorough, that it has undeniable claims to be one of the Great Books of Hi ...more
May 10, 2009 Rochelle rated it liked it
I was probably too young when my dad recommended this book to me as a "must-read." Slogged through diligently only to feel deflated and relieved that it had come to an end. Although, who knows, it may have altered my brain, and thus explain my current obsession with Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces, and other such books. I am wary of recommending it to others.
May 29, 2008 Frank rated it liked it
The subject matter was very dry reading until I started seeing the linkages,. The basic idea is that our pre-history is recorded in the myths and legends passed down to present day, and further that all cultures are passing down the same historical information.
It is fascinating book if you are interested in the material and an impossible read for those who are not.
Robert Snow
May 24, 2013 Robert Snow rated it really liked it
Giorgio de Santillana a Professor at MIT looks at mythology, astronomy, precession of the axis and of the Zodiacal stages of precession. Now... take all this and maybe the ancient myths have been misconstrued. I found it interesting but somewhat dry and laborious. This is along the notions of Joseph Campbell's works.
George Mills
May 23, 2013 George Mills rated it really liked it
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.
Jase Woods
Apr 18, 2015 Jase Woods rated it it was amazing
Brilliant! This is not an easy book to read and understand. it requires thought and study...really understand it we need to look outsude our normal way of understanding earth and how it works. And when we understand what the author is pointing at, it requires acceptance of something that is difficult to accept. Every 26,000 years, earth's climate and ways of operating are changed by cycles of time that threaten human existence and earth's other life forms with extinction. It isn't wr ...more
Mar 02, 2014 Jeff rated it it was amazing
I only understood about a quarter of this book, but I found it fascinating and remarkable.
Jan 07, 2015 Manda marked it as to-read
Shelves: books-on-my-desk
I might have done some trick-sy things to obtain a personal copy of this book. Yet, every time i sit down to read it i can't focus. I guess its cursed =/ I promise i will get through it eventually. For now, i wait.
David R. Godine
Dec 24, 2008 David R. Godine rated it it was amazing
"A book wonderful to read and startling to contemplate. If this theory is correct, both the history of science and the reinterpretation of myths have been enriched immensely."
Washington Post Book World
Jun 10, 2008 Mary rated it really liked it
An intense overview of the common origins of science and myth. One example being the European myth of Hamlets (Ahmlodhi's) Mill and the scientific concept of the precession of the equinoxes. A facinating read.
Allora, io ci ho provato, non una ma diverse volte, risultato:
non ci capisco un tubo.
Forse, chissà, se schivo la demenza fisiologica o l'Alzheimer eventuale fra qualche anno ci riprovo.
Aug 13, 2007 Peggy rated it it was ok
difficult to rate this book.. The subject matter is well researched and fascinating, but all the references and footnotes made it difficult at best
Geoff Sebesta
Nov 29, 2015 Geoff Sebesta rated it it was amazing
Finally finished it!

Inspiring, exhausting, exhilarating and impenetrable, after twelve years of trying in this way or that to get through it, I found an excellent reading by a youtube user named "Culain ruled by Venus." After all, it's a book about the truths and verities behind the deep oral tradition of humanity. It's better to hear these strange old stories spoken aloud.

Plus, when you're reading it, there's a tendency to try to memorize all the names of all the various international deities.
Sep 05, 2009 J rated it liked it
The inspiration for Fingerprints of the Gods.
Difficult read. I skimmed it while reading F of the G's.
Trevor Luke
Jul 21, 2008 Trevor Luke rated it liked it
A thesis that is ultimately dubious, but a fascinating read.
Jan 26, 2008 Sally rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, mythology
Fascinating account of the relation of mythology to astronomy.
Sep 21, 2008 Dave rated it really liked it
Recommended to Dave by: Geary
Full of ideas I have not encountered anywhere else.
Nathan Miller
May 26, 2011 Nathan Miller rated it liked it
This one took me about two years to read.
Mar 26, 2008 Arefin added it
A study of human imagination beyond the science
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