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

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  612 ratings  ·  69 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 perpetu ...more
Paperback, 450 pages
Published March 24th 2015 by Nonpareil Books (first published 1969)
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Jeremy Orbe-Smith
Sep 28, 2011 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
Jul 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, history
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
This book was interesting, but the authors went a bit further than evidence permits in theorizing astrological underpinnings for numerous world myths. I would certainly be willing to acknowledge an astrological influence in some of the myths they explore, just not in all of them.

The discussion of the myths themselves was certainly engaging. I was not aware that Shakespeare had been influenced by an earlier Scandinavian myth revolving around a person named Amleth. Other discussions like that on
John Henry
Oct 08, 2008 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.
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I would give this book six stars if that were possible.
David Montaigne
Apr 18, 2013 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
James Henderson
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
Aug 15, 2013 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
Erik Graff
Aug 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: archeoastronomers, mythologists
Recommended to Erik by: john McGough
Shelves: sciences
This is a difficult, demanding work which basically asserts that the ancients, some of them, knew more astrophysics than is commonly recognized and that this knowledge is reflected in myths throughout the world, many of which can be read both as simple fantasies and for their esoteric meaning. Most commonly, the authors assert that these myths, while seeming to refer to the earth or to the underworld, actually refer to astronomical phenomena such as the precession of the equinox.
This book range
Sep 05, 2009 rated it liked it
The inspiration for Fingerprints of the Gods.
Difficult read. I skimmed it while reading F of the G's.
Mar 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This text is extremely dense and was definitely not read in one sitting. In fact, it was not even read within one year.

This book is groundbreaking because it was both pioneering in the subject matter, and written by individuals with the necessary credentials to present the subject matter. Traditionally, individuals who are strongly opposed to alternative theories of ANYTHING choose to pick apart the education of anyone who brings forth a new idea. And yet, in this case, both authors are highly
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
Phred Padgett
Jul 26, 2008 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
Gavin White
Dec 15, 2013 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
George Mills
May 23, 2013 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.
Nathan Miller
Oct 18, 2010 rated it liked it
This one took me about two years to read.
A.J. McMahon
Aug 21, 2015 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
Jase Woods
Apr 17, 2015 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
the Skrauss
Feb 12, 2013 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
Mar 12, 2008 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.
May 10, 2009 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.
Robert Snow
May 24, 2013 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. ...more
Jun 10, 2008 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. ...more
Godine Publisher & Black Sparrow Press
"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
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
An academic perspective on myths and legends and their sources. After reading you will no longer see Shakespeare as the primary source of some of his plays. A great book interested in deep patterns of myth and archetypes.
Jan 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, mythology
Fascinating account of the relation of mythology to astronomy.
Mar 26, 2008 added it
A study of human imagination beyond the science
Trevor Luke
Jul 21, 2008 rated it liked it
A thesis that is ultimately dubious, but a fascinating read.
Giorgio Comel
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
brilliant writing, very interesting thesis accurately proven. a bit lengthy, but always deeply magnificent.
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I only understood about a quarter of this book, but I found it fascinating and remarkable.
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Giorgio Diaz de Santillana (30 May 1902 – 1974) was an Italian-American philosopher and historian of science, and Professor of the History of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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