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John Michell, Explorer My name is John Neal, most often called Nosh.

No one of academic or literary consequence would know who I am but for the influence of John Michell. He was a polymath with the most eclectic range of interests possible. This enabled him to both to relate to and to converse knowledgably with anybody he met, within minutes of meeting he was a close friend.

John and me in a crop circle c 2002, I am the short one.

We met in 1967 during the acid revolution. All of the youth at that time came from a background of wartime austerity, rigid short-back-and-sides conventionality and Lords Day Observance type orthodoxies. Suddenly we were having visions and pigging into every powder, pill and mind expanding substance we could lay our hands on. Things would never be the same again and the world was irrevocably altered, consciousness, art, fashion, music and more subtly the sciences, entered new dimensions. At this time, worldwide, there was an extraordinary amount of UFO activity, this was something that I experienced very vividly and my companion at the time was a gentle giant of a man, a bass guitarist called Honk, from Cardiff. He knew John and that he had recently written a book on the UFOs; we therefore hied off pell-mell to Johns house in Powis Terrace where he introduced me to the man who would become the greatest influence on the remainder of my life. The Flying Saucer Vision had come into being in typical John fashion, he had lost the complete manuscript on a train and it had to be entirely rewritten. He may have been the smartest man in the world but he could out ding-bat the best of them. Our interest in heavenly phenomena we realised was to remain a mystery; but it was the parallel works of others that made us look downwards instead. One in particular, Aim Michel had written about something he called orthotenies and these were straight lines across the landscape along which there had been UFO sightings; they connected prehistoric sites, he claimed. Now, this was something we could get our 1

teeth into, archaeology and landscape geometry, bliss. John was already familiar with the works of Alfred Watkins, principally The Old Straight Track wherein he had proposed that sites of antiquity were connected by straight lines that he termed leys and old roads and tracks followed these alignments. Another major influence on John at that time was The Canon by William Stirling. This is a work written c 1897 that concerns the cabbala and the expression of canonical numbers that are codified in ancient religious texts through the structure of the words and phrases the Hebrew letters being numbers as well. John understood ancient Greek and saw parallels in the Greek texts of the Christian scriptures, the science known to their Gnostic authors as gematria. Out of these studies arose his most influential work The View over Atlantis which was the book that inspired our generation of (not so gullible as you may think) youth. Although shot through with woeful inaccuracies which precluded serious academic acceptance, the main thrust of the book kept its integrity of purpose. The existence of the leys was substantiated by a follow-up work The Old Stones of Lands End during the research period he took along to Cornwall some of his raggedy-arsed mates. The research material that was gathered was submitted to statisticians of the Royal College who concluded that such alignments were not coincidental (so there! he said).

Gaby Nasmith, John, Christopher Rudman, Jake Hemming, Linda Wroth, John Neal and Lizzie Benzimra at Boscawen-un stone circle, Cornwall 1971

Now into his stride, one sublime work followed another City of Revelation, Dimensions of Paradise, Twelve Tribe Nations, At the Centre of the World (my favourite), Who Wrote Shakespeare and these are just the principal ones. Countless others, many smaller works, articles, his regular column in the Oldie, pamphlets and reviews; charming, witty, endlessly humorous, a veritable cascade of enthusiasm and inspiration. In addition there was his huge volume of artwork, poetry, magazine and publishing ventures, yet you never saw the bugger doing it. He loved company and would stay up as long as whoever could last the course, drink glass for glass, smoke joint for joint and stick anything put before him up his nose. When his company staggered off into the night or pitched forward onto his table (with luck), then he would get to work. In another age he would have been be burned for witchcraft for his mysterious production.

Having had the privilege of a classical education, that invariably stands its recipient in good stead, he absorbed much of the Platonic logic that so profoundly affected his well-informed point of view. However, in his management of situations it was Socrates he most resembled. When people confronted him for an opinion on, or an explanation of something he had claimed, he would craftily turn the tables and first elicit what was their opinion, then take issue with them. As well mannered and mild as he was, if he felt affronted he could deliver the most lethal retort. Once, when a publisher had foolishly sent him a highly illustrated book to review, in the text the author had been scathingly contemptuous in his references to Johns own considered views. His reply to them was the most withering invective that I have ever witnessed the final sentence of which read: I sincerely hope that your contemptible little book moulders upon the shelf and is a reproach to you in your old age. Thats my boy. Often enough we were separated for very long periods and enormous distances and, incredibly, always seemed to be quite independently struggling to resolve the same historical enigmas. How many people do you know who put in hundreds of man hours in trying to resolve the precise length of the royal Egyptian cubit? With neither one of us knowing the other was similarly engaged. The problem for both of us was that there was nobody to consult, it is lost knowledge. My own tentative solution to the problem had to be abandoned when we were reunited, about 1980, after four years absence in America. It concerned the linkage of time periods with linear units and is of no concern here but this was the pivotal point for us both although it took another ten years to come anywhere near full resolution. This concerns what John considered to be his to a lesser extent, our- greatest discovery. Indeed, once in the late hours after a long struggle resolving a knotty metrological puzzle concerning temple dimensions, when the blindingly obvious answer came to us he threw down the calculator and exclaimed Christ Nosh, do you realise what we have here? It beats hollow any discovery ever made in any field of archaeology. I am inclined to agree with him, but I would, wouldnt I? We were ideally suited to collaborate. He soared on the wings of almost divine inspiration and I am the pragmatic sceptic with a state of the art built in bullshit meter. Between us we resolved the enigmas that had been puzzled over by towering intellects of the past namely the structure of ancient metrology. The first and most important breakthrough came with his 1981 publication Ancient Metrology. This

rather small book for the first time in history precisely indentified the lengths of certain units and elaborated upon the reasons for the subtle differences in these

individual units. I tried to elicit from him exactly how he had come to his conclusions but he simply did not remember. My own methods, on the other hand, require that each piece of data is first regarded as hypothetical, enough corroboratory pieces of the same nature is then regarded as a proposition. Enough mutually supportive propositions may only then be regarded as the general theory. However, if the correct answer is initially arrived at through inspiration, it only needs to be verified. After all, inspiration is precisely how Dmitri Mendeleev arrived at the arrangement of the periodic table. Right dear reader steel yourself that was the easy bit. If the nature of Johns great discovery is to be understood, we must delve into the realm of number. This is where most people fade away, John and I always sought our third man and when we thought we had him, he never stayed the course. This is why I published under the logos of The Secret Academy and the motto is We cant give it away. This epithet became part of our personal language that was mostly numerical. Whenever we discovered a juicy and pertinent fact concerning our studies we would finish our explanation with cant give it away. The problem is that although the subject is complex in the extreme, it obeys simple rules it is therefore not complicated. Exactly like music which is the art it most resembles, from a finite series of data points there is a seemingly infinite number of arrangements. Additionally, academic acceptance of the system is precluded because of the source of the information; academe is very stuffy and hates anything that originates from beyond its closed doors. The vast majority of conservative academics also abhor, anything termed a discovery especially in historical studies. In the case of John, he is branded as a dreamy mystic. This is a case of give a dog a bad name, rather like the man who takes a pee and is charged with indecent exposure. Whatever his magnificent accomplishments may be, it is all that people remember him for. Prior to Johns discovery no ancient measuring unit had ever been precisely defined, all had to be expressed between plus minus parameters. This is because of the variations that they are all subject to, and had erstwhile been regarded as either slackness in their maintenance or belief that the historic systems had been arbitrary. This had led to a general averaging of the units by historians; which practise further cloaked the astonishing beauty of the complete structure of metrology. The variations are deliberate. Taken from Johns Ancient Metrology the following list of units in two values of each has been simplified down to the foot values expressed in English feet: Tropical Northern Roman .96768 .9732096 Polar .987428 .993071 Greek 1.008 1.01376 Royal Egyptian 1.145454 1.152 Sacred Jewish 1.3824 1.390299 He termed the lesser values Tropical because they were regular fractions of the geographic degree of the earth at 10 and the longer values were termed Northern because they were compatible with the degree at 51. The difference between the two values is the regular unit fraction 175 to 176.

This initial exploration of historical measurement is important on many grounds. The principal reasons are that this is the first time related measurements have been grouped into a single classification terminology. Secondly absolute and exact values are established. Thirdly a geodetic, or earth related, relationship is proposed. This means that just as the decimal or modern standard units were devised through the medium of a detailed survey of the globe so must the ancient standards have been created. As preposterous as this may sound to modern thought processes which looks upon our ancestors with a patronising attitude, there is in fact nothing outlandish in this statement. All of the instrumentation necessary to conduct just such a survey was available in the very remote past. Although Ancient Metrology was a small book much important information was packed into its slender form, including how the measurements made sense of the dimensions of monuments such as Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid. At Stonehenge for example he established that the vitally important width of the lintel stones was 3.4757485ft and for want of a name, termed this a sacred rod (because we are talking exact values numerically arrived at it is permissible to use such large numbers of otherwise meaningless decimal points). He also instituted such essential geodetic data as the ancient establishment of the vital earth polar and mean radii; polar radius as 20854491ft and mean as 20901888ft. The polar is ten million sacred Jewish cubits, for example, and the mean is another unit fraction at 441 to 440 of the polar. Although all this was new and vital information, John had barely scratched the surface but there the subject became stymied for around twelve years. When I researched the matter, with slowly increasing intensity over these intervening years, I was struck by the way in which John had reached his conclusions from such a small data base and limited reference field. Such was the mans inspired genius that he had made more headway than respected and established scholars who had devoted a lifetimes work to such ends. It became obvious that John was correct in his assumptions; it also became obvious that his Ancient Metrology was merely the tip of the iceberg. After wearing out a few calculators, when the subject began to crack it all unfolded with heart stopping suddenness. It was like seeing glory, waking up with a precious jewel, looking straight into the holy of holies at the heart of the temple. It was as though John had found the key to the door and with his customary good manners let me enter first, and we couldnt give it away. Starting with Johns brief list I noticed that the royal Egyptian values were out of line with measures that they were more compatible with; such as the Greek foot of value 1.008ft is the unit fraction 7 to 8 of the royal Egyptian 1.152ft. Not only was this a more correct arrangement but the new reduced column could be extended to all of the national values and the blank left by the movement of the royal Egyptian in the Northern column could be similarly filled by an increased value and be a further verified value. Each column is separated by the fraction 175 to 176. Tropical Northern Roman .9621818 .96768 .9732096 Polar .9818181 .987428 .993071 Greek 1.002272 1.008 1.01376 Royal Egyptian 1.145454 1.152 1.1585829 Sacred Jewish 1.1374545 1.3824 1.390299

Several pertinent facts concerning metrology in general became immediately apparent with this rearrangement; they must be briefly outlined, sorry, I know this bit hurts like hell. Firstly, I saw that this method of viewing the data showed a fractional integration across national systems that had been missed by researchers. It had been missed because they had used the wrong classifications in their comparisons. This unit fraction expression is exactly how the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans conducted their day to day calculations. They could not express a fraction such as say, five eighths, because only one eighth could occupy the eighth position. It would have to be expressed as one half, plus one eighth. It is well known that the Roman measures relate to the Greek as 24 to 25 and the Roman to the vanquished Belgic peoples measure was 8 to 9, now I was looking at the previously unknown integration of the Greek to the Egyptian as 7 to 8. Secondly, it enabled correct identification of the modules that John had invented terminology for. The module he termed polar was in fact common Egyptian measure because the common is six to seven of the royal Egyptian and this becomes apparent with the corrected column placement. Also the measure he had found at Stonehenge of 3.4757485ft and termed a sacred rod was in fact the more prosaic three royal Egyptian feet. Thirdly, the values he had claimed for the Jewish sacred feet were far too long to fit the description foot. The error came in dividing the sacred cubit of 2.0736 feet by the conventional one and a half which is the cubit length. This sacred cubit is a two-foot cubit, or dupondia, and when so divided is a foot length of 1.0368ft and is then immediately identifiable, usually called a common Greek foot (36 to 35 of the regular Greek values). Ok, you can relax a bit now, not much more of all that. With my vastly increased data base to that that had been used by John, the discoveries along this route of unit fraction integration piled in almost as fast as I could record them. I isolated what were the distinct feet measures of twelve national systems and saw that this was a general rule and all of them showed the same level of integration and the same variations in their measures. In other words, throughout the world the people, from remote antiquity, had all used the identical system. This terminology, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Assyrian, Sumerian, Aztec, Japanese etc was redundant. All these national terms were merely those measures the bureaucrats had selected from a wide choice of values to be the national standard for social regulation. It must date from the far mists of time, because in historical times these disparate people were not even aware of each others existence; yet they used the identical measurement systems. From the long distance, or itinerary measures of leagues and miles, the intermediary furlongs and stadia, the standard modules of fathoms, paces, yards, cubits and feet right down to the sub divisions of digits and inches, exactly the same methodology. From the early days of Johns researches he said to me of these cultural similarities (that did not relate at that time to measurements as such): They had perfected standardisation of culture which enabled them to endure for perhaps thousands of years. It was accomplished by reference to the canon of order and that canon governed all of their stylistic artefacts, architecture and arts for example. The differences in the various cultures, Chinese, Egyptian etc are merely differences in style, all referred to the identical canon.

What had been found in the measurements was mirrored in the monuments that had first attracted us to research the megaliths and the ley system. It is universal, there are no national boundaries. The leys were stripped of their sloppy energy lines, man image that had precluded serious academic consideration. The remnants of the great culture that had inspired us from the beginning were very obviously mark points, the remains of the great global survey. Obvious, if you have long distance alignments, you must first survey them. The forgoing has been much condensed and there is vastly more corroboratory evidence for these claims.

John measuring the Greek marble at the Ashmolean

It is small wonder that such high concepts are hard to communicate; strangely enough it was John who proved quite resistant in his acceptance of this vastly expanded system that was initially his own discovery. I had to perform a confusing mutation from pupil to teacher (only in the realm of metrology), and at times be quite firm with him, giving him bollockings that he took with very bad grace. I thought I was being forward proposing just two variations of each measure, now we have eight, oh dear, dear me and so forth. He clung to the narrow paradigm of his own limited field and had to be prised out of it with the most surprising difficulty. The above picture of John in the Ashmolean, for example, we took it in turns to measure both the foot length and attempt to assess the overall fathom of the outstretched arms. As the anatomical foot is one seventh of the overall height, there had to be a harmonic in the two measures. The differences in the individual foot measures are far too small to be certain of, but the harmonic must be the correct one. He insisted that the value of the foot was his .96768ft but this throws out the final solution, shown below.

It took a very long time for him to fully absorb the expanded metrology but when he finally did, circa 2003, he attacked the delicious problems it throws up with all his old relish and enthusiasm. He gave it its final form by devising the most thorough 7

integrated table using a progressive series of unit fractions that embraced all of the measures both known and potential. When I did the classification on this table many of the modules had to be marked as unidentified but in the fullness of time with much additional research, all were found to be valid. There are nineteen separate feet, anything less than the least is a half cubit, and anything greater than the largest moves into other modules (remen, palimpes, cubit etc). It is important because as John stated in his introduction to Ancient Metrology: A tradition which has been accredited by many learned men over the centuries is that the ancients encoded their knowledge of the world in the dimensions of their sacred monuments. If that is so, any attempt to elicit that knowledge must be preceded by study of ancient metrology, for to interpret any set of dimensions it is of course necessary to establish the lengths of the units of measure in which they were originally framed. Knowledge of metrology adds a whole new dimension to archaeology. His greatest discovery is indeed the measurement system that was there since the foundation of the world. The whole subject, because of the necessity for a different mental attitude that it is vital to adopt, is very difficult to communicate and it may take a very long time to be acknowledged and generally embraced. But if it is ever accepted it will be his most lasting memorial and the one that he was proudest of as an accomplishment.

John Neal, London July 2009

John Neal. Born 1941 studied agriculture and grew fascinated with the old systems of measurements then still in everyday use. Keenly interested in archaeology and at an early age read Maud Cunningtons account of the digs at Woodhenge wherein she claimed to have deduced a regular unit of measurement not dissimilar to the English foot; regarded ancient forgotten people as highly civilised thereafter. Author of All Done With Mirrors, Measuring the Megaliths, The Structure of Metrology.

Photograph by Palden Jenkins