There are some who say that this is one of the best examples of encoded knowledge in human folklore
. Why specifically 72?
Interestingly, it takes 72 years for the Earth to precess (the slow rotation of the earth's axis) a degree of arc.
It is widely believed by mainstream historians that ancient man had no knowledge of the Earth's precession, as it takes detailed astronomical observation over a period of many years to determine that the axis of the Earth moves. This assumption is attacked by a recent development of a school of iconoclastic thought that believes that ancient man was more sophisticated than we allow.
Part of the evidence supporting the belief that ancient man knew more than we admit are numbers like the one here appearing all over folklore and myth. Here are other examples of this curious number from widely separate sources, and in each it is obvious that the number 72 was used for a reason other than making sense in the context used:
Nimrod came, which was a wicked man and cursed in his works, and began to make the tower of Babel which was great and high. And at the making of this tower, God changed the languages, in such wise that no man understood other. For tofore the building of that tower was but one manner speech in all the world, and there were made seventy-two speeches.
In the Osiris Legend, Osiris was induced by his wicked brother Set to lie down in a magnificent coffer under the pretext of a game at a banquet. Set and his seventy-two conspirators immediately closed the lid and threw the coffer into the Nile.
There are other numbers, but this is one that everyone knows so is easy to use in a discussion. It is always interesting to see the look on someone's face when you point out the link between virgins in paradise and the Earth's precession.
This all started with a book I picked up during an office sale. As a tech magazine, we get all kinds of book submissions for review, and the book Fingerprints of the Gods was one of them. I picked it up out of curiousity spawned by my original reading of Chariots of the Gods, and I was hooked. The point is not that the new theory answers anything, but that it recognizes that questions exist.