Hi, thank you for your informative thoughts on the AoM feature, and by virtue of that the new book by Greg Little and I entitled Denisovan Origins.
Greg and I hope to cover many of the topics you explore already here. But just for starters, a few answers.
Nope, never done LSD, and probably never will. It would just be too much for me. I panic easily. I took mushrooms when they were legal in the UK, and they gave me some extraordinary insights into out relationship to the cosmos, the end result of which was The Cygnus Mystery from 2006. Plenty on the impact of hallucinogens in there. Strangely, the book was written at the same time as Graham Hancock's Supernatural.
There are no real mentions of hallucinogens in Denisovan Origins simply because no hard evidence has yet been found to link them with them. The closest we come to this was the announcement recently that the ancestors of the cannabis plant derive from a wild variety that thrives to this day in the Qinghai Lake region of western China, on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. This is close to Xiahe, where the Denisovan mandible was found in a cave as far back as 1980. Plus, traces of cannabis pollen have been found in a Denisovan layer inside the Denisova Cave in southern Siberia.
To some this has raised the question of whether the Denisovans might have been the first to cultivate and even use cannabis.
This is certainly a possibility, but we shall have to wait for further news in this respect.
I think the Denisovan mindset might well have been guided by thought processes different to those of modern humans. The discovery in the Altai Denisovan genome of two genes associated in mutated forms with autism in modern populations offers the thought that they might well have functioned differently on a day to day basis. More importantly, it allows us to speculate on whether some Denisovans might have possessed savant abilities in mathematical calculation or calendar counting, music, arts, and creative construction.
It is the calendar counting I am most interested in right now as this could imply that Denisovans were the first to record the cyclic movement of the sun, moon and stars, creating as a result a system of calculation that would go on to produce the very long cyclic numbers found in many cultures around the world, most obviously in Hindu and Buddhist cultures, and also in Mesopotamia and China. I talk of the importance of numbers like 54, 72, 108, 216, 432 and multiples thereof. These numbers seem to be generated by a combination of the Triple Saros eclipse cycle combined with precessional periods of 72 years. Some element of this system is found in the series of spiralling peck marks on the 24,000-year-old Mal'ta plate found at the site of this name west of Lake Baikal in southern-central Siberia. Similar Upper Paleolithic sites south of Lake Baikal in what is today northern Mongolia are where archaeologists now speculate think that our own most distant ancestors first came into contact with Siberian Denisovans as much as 45,000 years ago. In the same region is still a shamanic based calendar that also utilises these same numbers to calculate cycles of time.
So did the Denisovan's unique mindset influence not only the emergence of cyclic time and cosmic numbers, but also the advanced behaviour required to create the earliest rudiments of civilization? Were these passed on to the earliest modern humans to reach places like southern Siberia and northern Mongolia, and were these technologies then carried out into other parts of the ancient world including eastern Asia, the Russian Far East, and, of course, Europe.
The prospect of Denisovans being on the Tibetan Plateau as well conjures all sorts of visions of how they might have affected the foundations of Tibetan cosmology and cosmogony. However, that must remain pure speculation at this time.