Saturday, June 20, 2009

O sermão no sopé das pirâmides - V: Fjordman sobre Ciência

O inestimável Fjordman começa do seguinte modo o seu primeiro artigo dedicado ao infame discurso do Cairo do presidente dos EUA:
«US President Barack Hussein Obama’s speech delivered at Cairo University in Egypt on June 4 2009 contained so many half-truths, distortions or plain lies that it is almost impossible to deal with all of them adequately in a single essay. I will concentrate on the science part in particular here.»
Após fazer esta constatação, Fordman percorre algumas das supostas contribuições do Islão para a ciência e para a cultura universal.
Em jeito de continuação do postal anterior, citemos apenas o que Fjorman diz acerca do estudo dos idiomas, da história, em suma, das civilizações pré-islâmicas após a imposição do Islão, começando pela questão dos idiomas:

«European scholars not only translated texts from Greek, and later from Persian and Sanskrit; they proceeded to explore and explain how these languages came into existence in the first place, which was far beyond what any Muslim scholar had even contemplated doing. Greek shares a common history with Persian and Sanskrit: They are all Indo-European languages, as are Germanic languages such as English. The Indo-European family is the largest and most influential language family in human history, and it all traces back to a single, hypothetical Proto-Indo-European language which must have existed thousands of years ago.

Between 1600-1200 BC you could find horse-drawn chariots in use throughout Eurasia, from the border regions of Shang Dynasty China via Egypt and Anatolia to Northern Europe. This corresponds to the period of the ancient Vedas and the emergence of Vedic Sanskrit in India. Peoples speaking Indo-European languages played a vital role in the diffusion of wheeled vehicles. The Proto-Indo-European language which has been reconstructed by leading European and Western linguists over the past two centuries contains words for a technological package which probably did not exist before 4000 BC, possible not even before 3500 BC. PIE must accordingly in all likelihood have been a living language in the fourth millennium BC.

It is likely that a very early form of PIE existed before 4000 BC and a very late form slightly after 3000 BC. Before 3000 BC, PIE was rapidly expanding geographically, probably aided by early forms of wheeled vehicles, and gradually broke apart into what would soon emerge as different Indo-European branches. Scholars J. P. Mallory and D. Q. Adams tell the tale in The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World:

“[I]ndividual Indo-European groups are attested by c. 2000 BC. One might then place a notional date of c. 4500-2500 BC on Proto-Indo-European. The linguist will note that the presumed dates for the existence of Proto-Indo-European arrived at by this method are congruent with those established by linguists' 'informed estimation'. The two dating techniques, linguistic and archaeological, are at least independent and congruent with one another. If one reviews discussions of the dates by which the various Indo-European groups first emerged, we find an interesting and somewhat disturbing phenomenon. By c. 2000 BC we have traces of Anatolian, and hence linguists are willing to place the emergence of Proto-Anatolian to c. 2500 BC or considerably earlier. We have already differentiated Indo-Aryan in the Mitanni treaty by c. 1500 BC so undifferentiated Proto-Indo-Iranian must be earlier, and dates on the order of 2500-2000 BC are often suggested. Mycenaean Greek, the language of the Linear B tablets, is known by c. 1300 BC if not somewhat earlier and is different enough from its Bronze Age contemporaries (Indo-Iranian or Anatolian) and from reconstructed PIE to predispose a linguist to place a date of c. 2000 BC or earlier for Proto-Greek itself.”

Before Islam, Greek was still a major language throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond, including in Anatolia or Asia Minor, now occupied by Turkish-speaking Muslims and called “Turkey.” Muslims have spent 1400 years wiping out Greek-speaking communities throughout the entire region, a process that has continued into the twenty-first century at the island of Cyprus, yet they now want credit for “preserving the Greek cultural heritage.” When the Ottoman Turks gradually conquered the Greek heartland, the Balkans and the Near East, they showed no serious interest in studying the culture and history of their new subjects.»

E prosseguindo para os estudos arqueológicos, ou para a sua inexistência, no Islão:
«As Bruce G. Trigger writes in A History of Archaeological Thought, second edition, “Serious archaeological work did not begin in Greece, however, until after that country’s independence from Turkey in the early nineteenth century.” Ibn Warraq explains in his well-researched book Defending the West why archaeology was invented by Europeans in the post-Enlightenment period. Muslims, despite the fact that they controlled the cradles of the most ancient civilizations on the planet, were indifferent or actively hostile to their remains. Austen Henry Layard, who was active in Mesopotamia (Iraq) in the mid-nineteenth century, recounts this story of Claudius Rich, a pioneer of field archaeology and British Resident in Baghdad:

“Rich learnt from the inhabitants of Mosul that, some time previous to his visit, a sculpture, representing various forms of men and animals, had been dug up in a mound forming part of the great inclosure. This strange object had been the cause of general wonder, and the whole population had issued from the walls to gaze upon it. The ulema [religious scholars] having at length pronounced that these figures were idols of the infidels, the Mohammedans, like obedient disciples, so completely destroyed them, that Mr. Rich was unable to obtain even a fragment.”

Following the brief Napoleonic expedition to Egypt around 1800, a new fad for ancient Egypt began in nineteenth century Europe. This took the local Muslims completely by surprise, as they could not understand why anybody would be interested in worthless infidel stones. The lavishly illustrated book Egyptian Treasures from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo elaborates:

“Initially the Egyptians were unaware of the motives behind the Westerners’ interest in what for them were simply stones emerging from the ground. A rumor then began to circulate that these stones concealed untold treasures. The inhabitants of the villages in the vicinity of archaeological sites began to attack statues, tombs, and temples in the vain hope of extracting jewels and precious objects. Soon, however, Egyptians came to realize that the foreigners were interested in the stones themselves rather than anything they were rumored to contain. While they did not themselves see the attraction of a lump of carved rock, they became masters in the search for and discovery of antiquities. When they were short of authentic relics they had no hesitation in producing fakes, so well made as to fool even the Egyptologists of the era.”

The French expedition to Egypt in 1798-1801 brought many scholars to catalogue the ancient monuments, thus founding modern Egyptology. The trilingual Rosetta Stone, discovered in 1799, was employed by the great French philologist Jean-François Champollion to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs in 1822. He made use of the Coptic language to achieve this. Arab and Turkish Muslims had controlled Egypt for more than a thousand years, yet had apparently never managed to decipher the hieroglyphs nor for the most part displayed much interest in doing so. Europeans did so in a single generation after they reappeared in force in Egypt, and they did so with the help of the liturgical language of the Copts, the Egyptian Christians, a direct link to ancient Egypt that the Arab invaders hadn't managed to completely eradicate.»

Voltaremos a este texto a propósito de um aspecto cultural específico, já aflorado nesta série: a música.

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