Heritage from a distant past
Studying the ancient civilisations, we are often confronted with capabilities and knowledge that are difficult to explain on the base of the scientific and technological level of that time, to the point that we are induced to hypothesise that they were inherited from a previous unknown civilisation, of a much more advanced level.
For example the existence of Renaissance maps and medieval planispheres (Piri Reis,
Oronteus Finnaeus, Mercator, etc) with longitude precisions impossible at their time and the representation of Antarctica as it appeared at the end of Pleistocene, was so inexplicable as to force a scientist like Charles Hapgood to postulate the existence, sometime before 8,000 years ago, of an unknown civilisation with the capability of charting the whole world with extreme precision.
But it is not necessary to look for challenging knowledge and capabilities in order to find evidence of that kind. Knowledge and data used today in everyday life can also provide straightforward evidence that they have been originated in a very old time by an unknown civilisation whose technological level was much more advanced than that of all known past civilisations.
This is the case for something apparently insignificant and devoid of any hidden meaning like the actual unit of time: the second. It's a unit used universally in the world, which characterizes every instant of our life and is fundamental for the description of any physical phenomenon. We can hardly underestimate its importance, and yet we ignore what is the origin and the meaning of this unit, which we have inherited with no indication whatsoever about the author, the epoch and the reasons that determined the choice of its magnitude.
The general opinion is that it was originated by the ancient Sumerians because of their sexagesimal system of counting. It looks reasonable. In fact 86,400 is a number clearly connected to that system, as it can be divided in 24 hours of 60 minutes, each of them made up by 60 seconds. Same origin can be hypothesised for the habit of dividing the circle in 360 degrees, each of 60 minutes of 60 seconds of arch.
The problem is that we don't have the faintest idea how and why the Sumerian sexagesimal system was originated. It might be that on the contrary, it was that particular unit of time that originated such out of proportion, almost absurd, accounting system (we should expect a decimal system for both, the accounting and the division of days and arches).
And in any case, we don't know what the value of the unit of time represents. Was it a casual choice or instead a length of time with a meaningful connection to some particular astronomical magnitude? And was it invented by the Sumerians or instead inherited by the Sumerians from a previous civilisation, as we did from them ?