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According to Giorgio de Santillana, professor of the history of science at MIT, and student of mythology, the sampo and the world pillar both refer to the precession of the equinox.
In Hamlet's Mill, co-authored with Hertha von Deschend, the authors find that the sampo or precession process was believed to grind out different world ages, from dark age to golden age and back again over the long precession cycle.

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