"Honestly, Mike, when I do a google search for "malta cart ruts", I see few differences in texture between the tracks vs. outside the tracks. And when we get to other geographic locations such as Turkey, I see far less evidence of any activity between the tracks. So I'm not sure what you mean by "intellectually honest on this point". All I'm doing is looking at the images and reporting what I see.
For those few images that do show clear depressions between the ruts, how can you be so sure that those ruts depressions weren't created by humans walking between the ruts as faux road markers that were already ancient?
In my intellectually honest assessment, the evidence is far too inconsistent to automatically lump all ruts into indicating wheeled carts that were drawn by animals when only a minority of ruts show clear evidence of such depressions between them and it's not possible to age the ruts or those broader depressions.
Meanwhile, I'm still waiting to hear your explanation of how thousands of cart runs could possibly follow exactly the same path from the very first pass along a given stretch of bedrock in order to create such sharply defined ruts. How can an animal be trained to follow such a precise path each and every time? For that matter, WHY would an animal be trained to do that? Respectfully, I would assume that your engineering background allows you to recognize the problematic nature of such deep ruts in stone with a consistent width that would cause wheels to sieze on a curved path. I cannot see how anyone that's "intellectually honest" can fathom a pragmatic scenario where such a thing would happen even once, let alone the many dozens (hundreds?) of ruts we see not only in Malta but other places on the planet."
I just said that considering only Clapham Junction it was intellectually honest to conclude that the case is inconclusive due to the local messy terrain totally eroded, with so many random bumps, holes and cracks that as you said there are "few differences in texture between the tracks vs. outside the tracks".
Now, outside Clapham and in Malta, I said there are objectively a minority of ruts pairs with traces inside and a majority without, but they exist anyway.(See book "Cart-Ruts and their impact on the Maltese landscape, page 10).It asks question but does not allow to reject totally the solution of oxcarts, whereas in the same time it requires to imagine other solutions. Moreover in some places there are both types in the same area, with and without traces inside, so what? (same book, pages 34-35).
I do not pretend all cart ruts in the world were created by repeated passages of neolithic oxcarts. I just don't know. I just speak about a place I visited, Clapham Junction, seeming to have been a quarry, and exposing just some opinions about this place. Elswhere I admit I don't know.
And in the case of Clapham Junction, I do think that tracks were defined to optimize quarry work and were first created shallow to initiate paths, then became deeper and deeper after usage.
It seem to me possible to consider that the cutting benches I saw were not deeply cut, maybe only one layer so that after a series of blocks transported down along one track (with brake system and no oxen here), a second one was created parallel for next blocks series and so on.
At Clapham it seem to me possible to imagine that the tracks may have been used laden downhill and unladen uphill.
(Excellent overall twofold photo of Clapham Junction in same book pages 28-29, network of crossing benches and tracks is clearly visible, if not a solution for you, would you have another explanation? A neolithic racing place with random traces never reused?)
As for the impossibilty you see in creating such tracks by respecting precise repeated passages, it is exactly what youn can see on some roman tracks and this is exactly what people do when driving 4x4 on dirt tracks.
This being said, it is obvious that many tracks we see in Malta would require so large diameter wheels that they would generate important efforts of friction on the wheel rim in contact with the edges of rail in a little squeezed curves, leading to blocking and break, then accident. That is clear. This may explain why many ruts pairs may have been decomissioned when becoming too deep and replaced by new ones created parallel beside, which, in some places, could be reached from former ones when needed by communication nodes, so numerous in this island. That could be an explanation.
On the other hand, carts running once in very soft material can print a slightly too deep track with frictions in edges of wheel without preventing the rotation. Ok.
But why running so numerous carts or other system on soft muddy soil? Which activity could justify this hazardous transport? Catastrophe? Which one? When? Starting point, End point? It is relatively easy to concentrate on a specific technical explanation when you keep out of any connection from the historical context of the place. Please expose your global scenario, why so many people would run once along random paths on muddy soil in Malta and when?
Therefore the intellectual trap I can see here is to focus on only one solution that rules out all the others, leading us in an arbitrary dead end. I always try to avoid this situation and try to keep eyes and mind wide open. It is very difficult to build a set of mutually compatible solutions, but often, the truth may emerge from this state of mind.
Are you satisfied with these answers? I do hope, but I just can't say more and do not want to come in hard useless discussion blocking everyone on it's view without further exchanges. After all your view maybe better. Or mine. Who knows?
Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 29-Nov-17 19:26 by Mike D.