Along with UFO sightings, crop circle formations dating back to ancient times have since gained public popularity during the 20th century. The earliest known circle reports come from an 815CE account from archbishop of Lyon demanding ransom on behalf of the Magonians for flattening crops. Lyon also banned pagans from taking seeds from crop circle formations for fertility rituals. Pagan interest in seeds from crop circles may be related to the grain goddess legend, or the grain miracle, which speaks of a female saint given safe passage and returning the favor of plentiful harvest; with the ritual being remembrance of this event.
Years later, a 1678 CE woodcut showing the devil mowing a field into patterns. Apparently the farmer refused to pay the cutting fee and swore to have the devil do it instead. A lot of time elapsed between the ninth and seventeenth century reports and further reports like these have yet to be uncovered. Close, although not quite the same are the early twelfth century reports of circular mushroom patterns. Better known as fairy rings, these natural circular formations are the result of mycelium growing underground in outward circles. Fungi circles are normally found on the forest floor or in open grassy areas. It may be possible for fairy rings to exist in farm fields, except formations in that sense would be very primitive. Fungus does not seem to answer many complex designs witnessed today.
A few hoaxers have stepped forward and claimed to have created some of the more intricate designs using a board and ropes overnight. They were put to the test with live sessions, given a formation drawing and asked to replicate it as accurate as possible. With credit due, they did obtain a very close rendition, but they were not able to obtain the level of precision found in some of the more complex designs. Many of the remaining formations still cannot be explained by conventional means and logic. One famous example is the overnight Milk Hill circle in Wiltshire, a composition of 409 circles fit into a perfect spiral formation 244 meters in diameter.
Research into crop circle formation, composition, and mathematics reveals levels of precision and engineering currently unknown in the scientific field. Certain fields do provide biological evidence supporting changes in soil composition and alterations to the DNA found in affected plant materials. There are also fields that have provided physical evidence in the form of tiny, almost microscopic iron shavings scattered throughout the soil and embedded into parts of the crop. With well over 10,000 reported crop mysteries it's understandable to have several fields reported to show no change to the biological makeup of the crops and soil affected. Organizations like the international crop circle database are working to catalog circle formations with reports dating back to the 1940s, in an effort to decipher the phenomenon by working with as much data as possible. Genuine crop circles, those believed not to have originated by a human, have slowly been on the decline over the past decade. Theorists are unsure what this means in the overall picture. Perhaps the quiet time is a calm before the storm, or the original intended message is believed to have been received.
There are other factors which differentiate hoaxed circles from those that are truly unknown. For example, the complexity of some formations is suggested to be far too mathematically precise to be achieved by humans walking around fields on tethered planks. It may be possible some crop circles are naturally formed due to atmospheric conditions and pressure changes, similar to how snow flakes get their shape, by means of fractal geometry commonly found in nature. Meaning that given the right conditions, these formation patterns may literally appear out of thin air.
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