Welcome to the Chronognostic Research FoundationWhen the Chronognostic Research Foundation was established in 2004, we envisioned our mission as a kind of time travel: we planned to 'go back in time' to investigate certain subjects, people and events. But we made our version of time travel infinitely more complicated than simply assembling facts already known: we?re seeking out those elements of history that are unknown, uncertain, or inadequately described.
This means that information will be scanty at best. The following quotation from an essay on historiography from the Department of History of Concordia University, Wisconsin, will give you some idea of the difficulty of this type of historical research:
Except for special circumstances in which historians record events they themselves have witnessed, historical facts can only be known through intermediary sources?testimony of living witnesses, narrative records, such as previous histories, memoirs, letters, and imaginative literature; the legal and financial records of courts, legislatures, religious institutions, or businesses; and the unwritten information derived from the physical remains of past civilizations, such as architecture, arts and crafts, burial grounds, and cultivated land. All these sources of information provide the evidence from which the historian deciphers historical facts. The relation between evidence and fact, however, is rarely simple and direct. The evidence may be biased or mistaken, fragmentary, or nearly unintelligible after long periods of cultural or linguistic change. Historians, therefore, have to assess their information with a critical eye....The historian must respect the facts, avoid ignorance and error as far as possible, and create a convincing, intellectually satisfying interpretation. (emphasis added, from www.cuw.edu/Academics/programs/history/historiography.html )
Today, we have advanced tools to help us uncover facts. Archaeology uncovers "physical remains". Geophysics provides maps of underground anomalies so that archaeologists have some idea of where to dig. Carbon-14 dating allows the assignment of quite accurate dates to organic materials such as bone and pottery. Dendrochronology uses tree rings to date wooden house beams and ships' timbers. Oceanography and underwater archaeology allow us to plumb the depths of the seas in search of old shipwrecks and deep-sea ecosystems.
The Internet allows you to read this page, and gives us the chance to travel around the world to view windmills, lighthouses, cathedrals, castles, towers, and landscapes. The Internet also gives us access to out-of-print books in many languages, by earlier writers who often drew their information from sources now lost to us.
We've used many of these tools on our first project: the search for more information on the origin of the Newport Tower in Newport, Rhode Island. In our Projects, On Location and Resources sections, you'll find paper trails through libraries and historical societies, maps and charts, reference lists, translations of older works, and web links to the many good people who provided us with clues to the puzzle and support for the project.
In 2006, 2007, and 2008, we were given the signal privilege by the Newport, Rhode Island City Council to conduct archaeological investigations in Touro Park, which surrounds the Newport Tower. Also in 2008 (on the Summer Solstice!) we were honored to take part in the dedication of U-Haul International's new Rhode Island truck, which features the Newport Tower. Our blog pages contains diaries and photos from the three digs and the dedication.
We embarked on a long voyage and are still at sea somewhere between Present and Past, but we feel that, in the past year, we've sailed closer to the Past and the answers that it holds.
Another analogy comes to mind: the Newport Tower stands proud behind its fence, intriguing and still mute. But it seems to have begun to clear its throat, as if to speak.