MISCELLANEOUS

The articles listed on this page, which will be regularly updated, will cover a wide variety of topics, from history through to mythology, natural history and the philosophy of science.

Heliopolis, the Phoenix Bird, and the Great Pyramid

Pyramid capstone, or benben, of Amenemhet, showing very clearly that the phoenix or benu-bird was originally a winged solar disc.

The Giza plateau stood adjacent to the ancient city of Heliopolis (On), the City of the Sun. Heliopolis was associated with one of the most peculiar legends of antiquity, the Legend of the Phoenix. According to the Greek authors, who are our main source, the Phoenix was a magical bird, the only one of its kind, which returned to Heliopolis every thousand years (or in some sources fifteen hundred years as well as various other estimates), constructed a nest which promptly burst into flames, consuming the bird - from whose ashes another phoenix arose.

Scholars have long agreed that the Phoenix story refers in some way or other to the sun and the solar cult - though they are at a loss to explain the unusual features of the tale. It is however generally surmised that the Phoenix represents the sun-god "reborn" every morning after spending the night in the underworld beneath the earth, where it faced the danger of being devoured by the terrible dragon-serpent Apop. This explanation however fails to account for the fact that the Phoenix's death occurred in the legend after very long intervals, rather than every night. Nonetheless, it is clear that the phoenix does in some way or other represnt the sun, this fact being very clear from a number of pointers. For one, the story is associated with Heliopolis, the City of the Sun. Again, the Egyptians seem to have portrayed the phoenix, which they called the benu-bird, with the winged disc of the sun. This is graphically illustrated by pyramid capstones (named benbens), which show the winged disc of the sun. Evidently the benben was a symbolic representation of the benu-bird itself.

Akhnaton's Mysterious Wife and Co-regent Neferneferuaten

Akhnaton, with a mysterious female co-regent, apparently Neferneferuaten. Both monarchs wear a pharaoh's crown and both are naked.

Towards the end of his reign Akhnaton, the so-called heretic pharaoh, appointed one of his wives as co-regent. This woman, named Neferneferuaten ("Beauty of beauties of the Aten"), has caused heated debate amongst historians. For a while, it was believed that Neferneferuaten was another name for Nefertiti, Akhanton's Chief Wife early in his career. Nefertiti virtually disappears after year 12 of Akhanton and for a long time it was thought that she had either died or was renamed Neferneferuaten. However, it is now certain that Nefertiti neither died nor took on another name, for an inscription of hers, dated to year 16 of Akhnaton, has recently been discovered. This has simply deepened the mystery of Neferneferuaten.

Everything about Neferneferuaten is strange. First and foremost, it was quite unprecedented for a pharaoh to name a wife as co-regent. Sons were made co-regents, not wives. Secondly, this female co-regent appears wearing a pharaoh's crown. No woman since Hatshepsut had dared to do such a thing. Thirdly, and perhaps strangest of all, Neferneferuaten is portrayed naked along with Akhanton in an affectionate embrace.

At one time, it was suggested by some that Akhnaton's mysterious new queen, who had usurped the beautiful Nefertiti, might have been a man - Smenkhare, one of Akhanton's sons, was suggested - a man with whom Akhnaton was having a homosexual relationship. However, it was later discovered that Neferneferuaten was unquestionably a woman and unquestionably not the same person as Smenkhare. But this only further deepened the mystery of her identity.

In his 1962 book Oedipus and Akhanton, Velikovsky argued that Akhnaton was one and the same person as Oedipus, the legenedary king of Thebes in Greece, who had killed his father and married his mother. Velikovsky could not show that Akhnaton, the king of Thebes in Egypt, had literally killed his father, but he could show that he defaced his father's monuments and obliterated his father's name, an action that was, for the Egyptians, virtually equivalent to murder. Velikovsky also showed that Akhnaton had a close and probably intimate relationship with his mother, Queen Tiye. In a relief, dated to year 13 of Akhnaton, the pharaoh is shown seated with his mother, Tiye, who is mentioned by name. There she is described as the "Great Royal Wife". Beside Tiye and Akhnaton is shown one of Akhnaton's daughters, Beketaten, who is also, apparently, the daughter of Tiye. If so, then Beketaten was the result of an incestuous union between the pharaoh and his mother.

It would appear that, shortly after this, Akhnaton took his relationship with his mother one step further, changing her name to the royal title of Neferneferuaten and associating her with himself on the throne.

If this was the case, it is easy to understand the outrage this would have caused. Incest between brothers and sisters was common, and even the rule, in the Egyptian royal family, but such a relationship between son and mother would have been viewed as blasphemous, and would certainly have given the ousted priesthood of Amon an opening they could exploit in order to remove Akhnaton from the throne and restore the old order. This would have been all the easier in view of the resentment Akhnaton's relationship with his mother would have provoked amongst the children of the ousted Nefertiti, amongst whom we should probably count Smenkhare and Tutankhamun. These two, together with the elderly courtier Ay, the general Horemheb, the seer Amenhotep son of Hapu, and the priesthood of Amon, seem to have acted in concert at the end of Akhnaton's sixteenth year in order to remove him from the throne.

The deposed pharaoh, along with a substantial entourage of Aton-worshipping loyalists, then seem to have fled south to Nubia.

When was Atlantis Destroyed?

The Azores microplate, a chunk of continental material underneath the Azores, as envisaged by geologists. This mini-continental plate formed a roughly triangular island about the size of Ireland, an island which seems to have sunk during a terrific natural catastrophe at the end of the Early Bronze epoch.

According to Plato, the Egyptian priest who narrated the story of Atlantis to Solon told him that Atlantis had sunk in one 'terrible day and night' of earthquakes 9,000 years before their time, and this figure has been taken at face value by Atlantis researchers over the past century or so. In his Atlantis, the Antediluvian World, Ignatius Donnelly argued that the date given by the priest accords well with the date now given by geologists for the end of the Ice Age, and this idea has since then gained almost universal support among Atlantis researchers. Yet anyone who has read Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision and Earth in Upheaval will be aware of the enormous amount of evidence proving that immense natural catastrophes occurred within the period of recorded human history and that the end of the Pleistocene, for example, should be placed between three and four thousand years ago, rather than eleven thousand years ago.

That the chronology provided by the Egyptian priests should be ignored is evidenced by the fact that a hundred years or so after Solon other Egyptian priests told Herodotus that they could count 345 generations of pharaohs before their time. This would place the start of Egyptian history around 11000 B.C.! The Mesopotmians too had little idea of chronology and their chronicles refer to kings and dynasties living 50,000 and 100,000 years ago.  

Leaving numbers aside, the priests told Solon many other things which help us provide a far more accurate timescale for Atlantis. For one thing, the Atlantic power was contemporary with early Egypt, as well as with early Athens, both of which it waged war against. Secondly, the type of civilization attributed to the Atlanteans is clearly one that belongs in the Bronze Age. There is a bull-cult and bull-sacrifice; Poseidon is worshipped in a great temple; the Atlanteans are capable seamen with a large fleet of sailing ships, etc. All of these factors, taken together, would strongly suggest an Atlantis in the Bronze Age - probably the Early Bronze Age; this being suggested by the fact that in Solon's time the whole story was placed in the distant past and was largely fogotten. But is it possible to be more precise than this? I believe it is.

If we examine the stratigraphy of ancient sites throughout the Middle East we find clear evidence of a series of immense natural catastrophes which struck vast areas simultaneously. In Mesopotamia, these events are marked as a series of "flood layers", which began in the Neolithic or Chalcolithic Age and continued right through to the end of the Early Dynastic epoch - an epoch which ended just a century or so before the rise of the Akkadian Empire under Sargon I. The Early Dynastic epoch of Mesopotamia was contemporary with that of Egypt, which ended with the Third Dynasty. And the Early Dynstic epochs of Egypt and Mesopotamia were contemporary with the Early Helladic period in Greece and the Early Minoan period in Crete, both of which also ended in an immense natural catastrophe. 

The Early Bronze epoch was a period of rich culture with evidence of widespread commerce undertaken by sea. Gold objects found in the tomb of pharaoh Khasekhemwy of Dynasty 2 were found to be made from ore mined in Transylvania, whilst tin for bronze-making, evidently from either Spain or Britain, found its way to the Aegean at this time. Yet this was also a time of war and danger - evidently from the sea. Early Helladic settlements in Greece are often found at the coast and are invariably provided with impressive defensive walls.

Taking all this into account, it would seem clear that Atlantis was destroyed at the termination of the Early Bronze Age. But when exactly did this occur?

I am in agreement with Immanuel Velikovsky that the Pleistocene epoch - the age of the mammoths - ended in a cosmically-induced catastrophe, a catastrophe associated with the god and planet Venus; a catastrophe which must have occurred sometime in the middle of the second millennium B.C. At one time I was tempted to down-date this event (as per Gunnar Heinsohn) to around 1300 B.C., but now, for various reasons, am inclined to back-date to 1550 or even 1600 B.C. I have a number of reasons for this, the major one being that a cataclysm of the type which annihilated the Pleistocene world would have taken several centuries to recover from. The art and culture which appears after the Pleistocene/Palaeolithic - Mesolithic - is in many ways inferior to it, and it is evident that human beings are struggling to rebuild. The Mesolithic, then, and the Neolithic which follows, must have endured several centuries at the very least. The beginnings of literate civilization, which commence with the Copper or Early Bronze Age, I have, in accordance with the stratigraphic and written evidence from Mesopotamia and Egypt, dated to around 1200 B.C. It was then that sailing boats make their first appearance in ancient art. And it must have been then too that the high point of Atlantean culture began.

 

  

Seafaring Abilities of Ancient Atlantic Islanders

One of the small pyramids on the Azorean island of Pico. These monuments are very similar to pyramids found on the Canaries and must have been raised by a related group. The culture is Neolithic/Early Bronze Age.

One of the most important objections to the whole concept of Atlantis is the idea that the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age peoples of North-West Africa or Western Europe could have navigated across large stretches of the Atlantic Ocean. Yet there exists abundant proofs that Neolithic peoples did indeed sail between the islands of the North Atlantic.

When the Portuguese and Spaniards reached the Canary Islands in the 14th century they found the archipelago inhabited by native peoples who spoke various dialects of a Berber language. These peoples, collectively known now as 'Guanches', possessed a Neolithic culture, a culture lacking any knowledge or use of metals. It is often claimed that Phoenician, Greek and Roman mariners occasionally put in at the Canaries and interacted with the natives. This may be true, but if it is, these later visitors made no major impact upon the culture of the Guanches which was, and remained, at a Neolithic level. Inevitably, this means that during the Neolithic period people from the Atlas region of North-West Africa sailed in the Atlantic.

It may be argued, however, that the Canaries are not too far distant from the African coast. The Azores, the presumed location of the sunken island of Atlantis, is much farther out. Could Neolithic people of the Atlas and Spain have travelled so far?

They could have, and they did.

Conventional textbooks and encyclopaedias tell us that prior to the Portuguese colonization of the Azores in the fifteenth century the archipelago was uninhabited and had always been so. True, it is admitted, there is some evidence that the Phoenicians and perhaps also the Greeks and Romans visited the archipelago occasionally. Yet neither these nor any other groups, it is said, ever settled the islands.

The above assertion, repeated in all the academic and popular literature, is quite simply false - and it has been known to be false for quite a long time. The truth is, the Azores were colonized and inhabited during the Neolithic or perhaps Early Bronze Age, and these settlers left numerous monuments on the islands.

Over the past decade archaeologists have begun to examine a series of pyramids and  other megalithic-stye monuments located mainly on the island of Pico, though similar structures occur on other islands of the archipelago. The existence of these monuments has been known since the early days of European colonization, but have been completely ignored by the academic world until very recent times. Why should this be the case? Personally, I can only conclude that the idea of a Neolithic or Early Bronze Age people capable of reaching the Azores was so unthinkable to conventional academia that the evidence staring them in the face was simply ignored. Even now, some historians still claim that the Azores structures were built by Portuguese settlers in the fifteenth or sixteenth century, though this claim is now heard less frequently. Professor Felix Rodrigues, of the University of the Azores, who has been examining the buildings since 2013, has reported that most of the pyramids are aligned to the rising sun, which points to some form of solar cult. In the vicinity of the monuments Professor Rodrigues has unearthed a variety of ancient artifacts, icluding tools and pottery.

The evidence then, astonishing to establishment thinking as it may be, is that early humans of the Neolithic or Early Bronze Ages travelled as far not only as the Canaries but the Azores, where they settled and raised religious structures. Surprising this may be, yet it should not have been. For the simple fact is that the peoples of the Atlantic region were noted for their seafaring abilities many centuries before the Christian era. The earliest written account comes from the pen of Carthaginian writer Himilco, who is said to have lived sometime in the sixth century B.C. Himilco apparently left a detailed record of a voyage into the North Atlantic, a record unfortunately lost in antiquity. Nevertheless, the gist of what he said is preserved in a fragment from Rufius Festus Avienus, a fourth century A.D. Roman administrator, who composed poetry using material from Himilco and other ancient writers: 

"Here is the city of Gadir, formerly called Tartessus; here are the Pillars of Stubborn Hercules, Abila and Calpe ... they groan under the hard north wind, but stand fixed in their place. And here rises the head of the mountain chain (an older age called it Oestrymnis) whose whole lofty and rocky mass runs chiefly towards the warm south wind. Under the head of this range the Oestrymnic gulf opens before the inhabitants, in which stand the Oestrymnic islands, wide scattered, and rich in materials, tin and lead. Here is a vigorous people, proud in spirit, and skillful at their work. Zeal for business displays itself on all the hills, and in their famous skiffs they sail widely over the turbid gulf, and the abyss of the monster-infested ocean. These people have no knowledge of building ships of pine ... but - a thing to marvel at - they always construct their ships of skins sewn together. ... From thence it is a two-days' voyage to the Sacred Island (so the ancients called it). This lies amid the waves, abounding in verdure, and the race of the Hierni dwell there, wide spread. Next after it extends the island of the Albiones. The Tartessi were accustomed to trade as far as the limits of the Oestrymnides, as were the Carthaginian colonists, and a multitude, sailing between the Pillars of Hercules, used to visit these waters."  

In the above account, the Oestrymnic Gulf is without question the Bay of Biscay, whilst Himilco's description of the vessels used by the natives of the region - ships made of animal skins - is known to be completely accurate. Vessels made of the same material were used in the West of Ireland even into the latter half of the 20th century.

The Kingdom of Tartessus, mentioned by Himilco, was a native Iberian culture which rose to prominence in the 8th century B.C. and which traded heavily with the Phoenicians. Tartessus has long been seen as a surviving cultural offshoot of Atlantis.

It would appear that, after the sinking of the main Atlantic Island, probably in the latter years of the tenth century B.C., surviving branches of the civilization continued their seafaring traditions based in Spain and North Africa. Within a short time groups of explorers revisited the Atlantic Island - to find only a remnant of islands remaining above water (the Azores). These were re-settled sometime in the ninth century B.C., but were eventually abandoned altogether, possibly after a renewed spate of volcanic activity provoked fears of further cataclysms. The Canaries, also reoccupied at this time, remained settled, though the inhabitants gradually lost the knowledge of seamanship, possibly because of lack of materials for shipbuilding (either not enough wood or not enough animal skins).

How long did the Azores settlers remain on the islands before abandoning them? It is impossible to say. One thing however is clear: they were accomplished seamen in the mould of their Atlantean forebears. If they could reach the Azores they could also have reached the Americas - a landmass whose existence they knew about and which is clearly mentioned in Plato's account. Some contact with the Americas was therefore re-established, and it must have been these seafarers who conveyed the "sacred" intoxicants cocaine and tobacco to Egypt - two ingredients found in the mummies of Ramses II and others of the New Kingdom. This factor alone suggests that the Azorean colonies survived into the sixth and even the fifth centuries B.C.

The Kingdom of Tartessos

Treasure of Tartessos, dated between the eighth and sixth centuries B.C.

According to Plato, that part of the Atlantean kingdom which controlled the region nearest the Pillars of Hercules was named Gadeirus, which he (or his source) translated into Greek as Eumelos. Himilco of Carthage, writing in the sixth or perhaps fifth century B.C., tells us that Gadir was earlier called Tartessos. The Tartessians, he asserts, were accomplished and daring seamen and entrepreneurs; men who, before the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, had sailed widely in the Atlantic Ocean. The Bible too mentiones a region called Tarshish with which the navy of Solomon and his ally King Hiram of Tyre traded extensively. Tarshish has, naturally, been equated with Tartessos.

Given such statements the Tartessians have long been viewed either as Atlanteans or descendants of the Atlanteans. This belief is not mistaken.

Over the past century archaeologists have uncovered in the region around the lower reaches of the Guadalquivir River, just to the north of Gibralter, a rich and powerful culture, one that traded intensively with the Phoenicians and which became greatly influenced by them. Yet these Tartessians - as they are now admitted to be - were not Phoenicians: their culture was native to Spain, and their written script, although deriving from the Phoenician alphabet, reveals a language which has not yet been fully deciphered, though a Berber influence has been detected. Archaeologists date this Tartessian culture between the ninth and fifth or fourth centuries B.C., and this accords completely with the historical reconstruction as proposed on this website. According to the radical downdating of events as per Ages in Alignment, the Early Bronze Age culture of the original Atlantis would have ended catastrophically in the early ninth or perhaps late tenth century B.C. The survivors of this catastrophe on mainland Europe and North Africa would have lost none of their seafaring skills and would soon have re-established trading relations with the peoples of Britain, for tin and gold, was well as with the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean. 

It seems highly probable then, given ancient testimonies such as that of Himilco as well as recent archaeological discoveries, that the Tartessians were a major seafaring power between the ninth and fifth or fourth centuries B.C., and that it was their people who made their homes in the Azores, from which staging post they made the final jump to the "opposite continent", America, which Plato says lay beyond the island of Atlantis. Such contact would have been intermittent and infrequent, owing to the large stretch of ocean separating the Azores from America. Nonetheless, they brought back from those shores some of the sacred plants used by the Native Americans in their religious rituals, such as tobacco and cocaine, and these they traded with the Egyptians, who used them in the mummification process and possibly in other religious rites. It would have been from the Tartessians too or possibly from Phoenician intermediaries that the Egyptians learned the story of Atlantis, which the priests of Neith carved on their temple wall in the city of Tanis - an account which they read to Solon sometime in the sixth century B.C. In that account the ancient Atlanteans are portrayed as a Late Bronze Age or Iron Age people, complete with triremes, horses, chariots and stadiums: things which the Neolithic/Early Bronze Age Atlanteans could not possibly have possessed. Yet such anachronistic interpolation is absolutely normal in traditional histories. We see it in medieval accounts of King Arthur, who is there portrayed as a medieval king, complete with jousting contests, castles etc. And we see it in the biblical portrayal of Abraham, who is said to have travelled around the Fertile Crescent on camels - a creature not domesticated until centuries later.

The Azorean colonies were remote, even for the Tartessians. They must have occupied almost the same position as the Greenland colonies in the Middle Ages: they were known about, but infrequently visited and largely ignored. Eventually they were abandoned. The journey to the Americas, for which the Azores were of primary importance, was just too far and too dangerous to be commerically viable. 

Bull-fighting and the Atlantean Bull Cult

Hercules stealing the sacred cattle of Geryon which dwelt on the island of Erytheia, to the west of Spain.

In his Critias, where he provides a fairly detailed description of Atlantis, Plato speaks of a bull-cult on the island. In the same place we are told that the Atlanteans controlled western Europe as far as Tyrrhenia (Italy). Spain, or rather Iberia, was a central portion of the Atlantean realm, as was North Africa and the islands of the Mediterraean possibly as far east as Crete. 

It is a curious fact that all of the above territories had bull-cults of one sort or another in ancient times, and one of them, Spain, is the center of a practice involving bulls dating back to remote antiquity: bull-fighting.

It is generally agreed that bull-fighting had its origins in ancient pagan ritual. This in fact is true of most sports - even such apparently innocent ones as football or hockey. The gladiator contests of ancient Rome were originally a form of human sacrifice, one which later degenerated into a simple blood sport. There is no question at all that bull-fighting had similar roots, though in this case it is normally claimed that the intended sacrificial victim was the bull. I disagree on this point, and suggest that, as in early Crete, it was the human participant who was originally the victim. Only later, in Roman times, were the human actors provided with weapons and given a chance to kill the bull.

Archaeology has proved beyond reasonable doubt that a bull-cult of sorts existed from the earliest times in Spain and in the opposite shores of North Africa. Cattle and bulls figure prominently in the art and iconography of Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age Spain. And an echo of this seems to be found in Greek tradition where we hear that Hercules' Tenth Labour was to steal the sacred cattle of Geryon, a fearsome three-headed (or in some accounts, three-bodied) giant who dwelt on an island named Erytheia ("Red") to the west of Spain. Geryon was said to have been the grandson of the Titan Oceanus, who was king of the city of Tartessus in Spain. In Plato's Critias, the kings of Atlantis also possessed sacred cattle: a herd of bulls that dwelt in the Temple of Poseidon in the centre of the island. Every five or six years, we hear, the ten kings who ruled the Atlantean realms would meet and hunt one of the bulls. The hunt was conducted without weapons - only ropes and lassoos being permitted. The captured bull was subsequently sacrificed and its blood poured on a sacred pillar upon which was inscribed the Laws of Atlantis.

The evidence then, admittedly circumstantial, is that some form of Bull-cult was of great importance to the peoples of Spain, North Africa, and the Mediterranean islands, from the very earliest epoch of civilization, and that this bull-cult has a close link to the sunken island west of Spain.

Over the past few decades numerous authors, including professional historians and archaeologists, have suggested that Crete, or perhaps nearby Thera in the Cyclades, was the original Atlantis, and that Plato or his sources became confused as to its original location. This was suggested by the volcanic nature of Thera, which was indeed devastated by a large volcanic eruption in Late Bronze Age times, and by the close cultural parallels observed between Minoan/Cycladic civilization and Atlantean civilization as described by Plato. Most important in the latter regard was the bull-cult common to both cultures.

However, it is clear that an equally important bull-cult existed in the far west of the Mediterraean and this ties in too with Plato's statement that the Atlantean realms extended as far eastwards as the borders of Egypt and the Aegean (Athens was attacked by them). If this is correct, it would mean that Crete, along with all the Mediterraean islands westwards, were part of an Atlantean cultural area. But why, if this is the case, do we find no trace of the elaborate and richly-decorated palaces and temples we might expect of this great civilization? Such things do indeed occur in Crete, but no farther west.

The answer to that is fairly straighforward: The palaces, temples and dwellings which remain from the Minoan and Cylcadic civilizations all date from the Late Bronze Age. The Atlantean culture belonged to a much earlier epoch. If we seek material remains for this civilization we need to examine the Neolithic and Early Bronze Ages in Spain and the Mediterranean, for the final natural catastrophe of the Bronze Age occurred at the termination of the Early Dynastic epoch in Egypt - and this catastrophe must have been the one that ruined the Atlantean civilization and sank the Atlantic island. In the Early Dynastic Age men did not construct giant temples, tombs and palaces as they did in later times. What they built, both in Egypt, Mesopotamia and elsewhere, was on a much more modest scale. The Pyramid and Temple of Djoser in Egypt was the first important structure in cut stone raised anywhere in the world - and even these monuments, as they still stand, are largely reconstructions of later epochs. Yet in this time men were indeed civilized. We know that a huge trading network, conducted by land and sea, brought goods and products from far and wide. Gold found in the tomb of Pharaoh Khasekhemwy of Dynasty 2 came from the mountains of Transylvania; a piece of nephrite (white jade) found in Early bronze Age Troy (Troy II) came from the Kunlun Mountains in China; tin bronze and amber found in Early Helladic sites in Greece speak of trade with Spain, Britain and Scandinavia. (And Early Helladic settlements, it should be noted, featured huge defensive fortifications on the coasts, evidently designed to repel seabrone attack).

The Mesolithic to Early Bronze Ages in Spain and North-West Africa were periods of rich cultural innovation. Greek tradtion told how the Libyans - the peoples of the Atlas region - were the inventors of numerous arts and crafts - including the art of seamanship. I would suggest that it was immigrants from this region who established the earliest Minoan and Cycladic civilizations, and that the language of the earliest Cretans - the Eteocretans - so far undeciphered, will be found to be a dialect of Berber. 

The Island of the Blessed: A Folk-memory of Atlantis

The Hesperides, the "Daughters of Evening", also known as Atlantides, who guarded the sacred tree in the far west.

One of the most ubiquitous myths of antiquity was that of the Island of the Blessed, a mysterious land situated in the Western Ocean, inhabited by demigods and visited only by the privileged few. The legend of the magical island of the West is found in virtually every culture of ancient Europe and the Middle East. The Greeks spoke variously of the Garden of the Hesperides ("Daughters of the Evening"), of the island of Calypso (the semi-divine daughter of Atlas), of the isle of Geryon, etc. Among the Celts, the legendary lost island had many names. For the Irish, it was Tir na nOg (the "Land of Youth") or Hy Brasil (Irish Ui Breasail), which was said to appear above the ocean once every seven years, before sinking again. Similar tales are told among the Bretons and the British/Welsh, where the mythical land is named Avalon, the "Island of Apples" a region guarded by nine priestesses. The Spanish and Portuguese spoke of the (Ilha Verde, the "Green Isle") as did the Berbers of Morocco and Algeria. The original inhabitants of the Canary Islands, the Guanches, were said to have possessed a similar story. 

Conventional historians and mythographers regard these traditions as allegories of the Underworld, the kingdom of the dead. The ancients, we know, believed that the sun descended into the Underworld, or Hades, when it set in the West in the evening. After a journey through the Kingdom of the Dead each night, it was reborn as it rose in the morning. 

There is no question that early peoples did have this view, and that is why the Egyptians, for example, buried their dead on the west bank of the Nile - nearer to Hades or Osiris' kingdom. And there is no question too that the Island of the Blessed idea did incorporate some notions of the Other World. Certainly in the stories that have come down to us the mythical islands all seem to possess a faery or otherworldly quality: The island rises from the ocean periodically and sinks again; it is inhabited by a group of immortal priestesses or goddesses; its inhabitants are eternally young; in many cases the Tree of Life or World Tree grows there. Yet granting that, there still remains the question of why the Otherworld or Kingdom of the Dead should appear as an island in the ocean, an island which periodically sinks - catastrophically at times, as we shall see. If the Otherworld was viewed as underneath the earth, why was it not always put there? Why should it be located on an island? And why do we never encounter any of the spirits of the dead on these islands? Gods and demigods, yes, but never dead human beings.

The earliest written account we have of the Island of the Blessed legend comes from Egypt, the famous 'Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor'. This story we know from a papyrus dated to Egypt's Middle Kingdom, an epoch normally placed in the first half of the second millennium B.C. Those who have followed my work will however realise that I see the Middle Kingdom as contemporary with the early New Kingdom - with the Eighteenth Dynasty, to be precise. And since I place the Eighteenth Dynasty in the latter eighth and seventh centuries B.C., that is where the story of the Shipwrecked Sailor belongs. Even with this down-dating however this remains by far the earliest written account of the Isle of the Blessed legend we possess.

The Shipwrecked Sailor of the tale is a court official who recounts his adventure to another sailor who has just returned from a failed expedition abroad commissioned by the pharaoh. According to the official, he too had been on a failed voyage. He was shipwrecked and washed ashore on an island, the lone survivor of the crew. On the island, he had found all the necessities of life, but is then alarmed by a terrible thunder and shaking of the earth, after which a giant serpent appears. The serpent asks him three times why he has come to the island. When the sailor cannot answer, the creature takes him to its abode and repeats his questioning. The sailor tells his story, asserting that he was on a mission for pharaoh. The serpent tells him not to fear; that God has let him live and brought him to the island, and that after four months he will be rescued by sailors he knows and will return home. The serpent then relates a tragedy that had happened to him, saying that he had been on the island with seventy-four of his kin plus a daughter, and that a star fell from the sky and "they went up in flames through it". In some translations, the daughter survives; in others, she perishes with the rest. The serpent advises the sailor to be brave and to control his heart; if he does so, he will return to his family.

The sailor now promises the serpent that he will tell the king of the serpent's power and will send the serpent many valuable gifts, including myrrh and other incense. Laughing at him, the serpent says that the sailor is not rich, but that he (the serpent) is Lord of Punt; that the island is rich in incense, and that when the sailor leaves he will not see the island again as it will become water (sink). The ship arrives and the serpent asks him to "make me a good name in your town" and gives him many precious gifts including spices, incense, elephants' tusks, greyhounds and baboons. The sailor returns home and gives pharaoh the gifts he took from the island, after which he is appointed a royal attendant and given servants. The tale ends with the master telling the narrator, "Do not make the excellent (that is, do not act arrogant) my friend; why give water to a goose (literally, bird) at dawn before its slaughtering in the morning?"

Anyone familiar with Velikovsky's ideas will immediately recognize obvious cataclysmic imagery in the above story. First and foremost, the Great Serpent is clearly the 'Cosmic Seprent' or comet-deity; the thunder and earthquake when the serpent appears also point to catastrophic upheaval, as does the star falling from heaven, which kills all the crew, and the island disappearing under the ocean at the end of the tale. Greek versions of the Lost Island story also contained much catastrophic imagery. So, for example, Hercules' theft of the golden apples from the Hesperides (who are Atlantides, or 'daughters of Atlas') is fairly obviously a reference to some form of reordering of the heavens and the constellations, as the Hesperides are just that, a constellation. The Twelve Labours of Heracles, incidentally, are widely viewed as reference to a general cosmic reordering, with the establishment of a new calendar - the Twelve Labours being the twelve months. And the cataclysmic nature of this event is seen in Hercules' pushing apart of the twin rock pillars which stood at the entrance to the Mediterranean, which henceforth bear his name; also in his holding up the sky for Atlas; his theft of the Golden Bowl of the Sun (clearly reference to some form of unnatural darkness eneveloping the earth); as well as the numerous topographical changes he initiates - including ripping Siciliy apart from Italy.

I see the Labours of Hercules as the final act in a cosmic drama which had commenced with the Great Flood and ended in the event marked in the Bible by the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Thus the Exodus would be contemporary with the catastrophic actions of the deity Hercules, which initiates the Greek Heroic Age. I place the final destruction of the Atlantic Island at the same time - an event which must have occurred in the first half of the ninth century B.C.  

In terms of Egyptian history, the above cataclym would have terminated the Third Dynasty and initiated the great climate shift which turned the Sahara into a desert - an event also recalled in the Greek tale of Phaeton.

The Location of Atlantis

Typical scene from the Azores, the location identified by Plato as that of Atlantis.

The precise location of Atlantis, the legendary sunken island, is not and never has been, a mystery. Yet to judge from theories contained in the plethora of books, articles and documentaries that appear every year by the thousand, one would imagine that it was. Plato, our earliest and most comprehensive source, makes it very clear that the island of Atlantis (whose dimensions make it about the size of Ireland) was "in front of" the Pillars of Hercules (the Straits of Gibralter). In front of must mean due west, so that the lost island can only have been situated in the region of the Azores, a small volcanic archipelago about 1200 miles west of Gibralter.

In view of the very clear location given by Plato, why is it that over the past fifty years researchers have looked almost everywhere except where he placed it?

The answer to that question is straightforward: According to "expert" opinion, as stated in countless textbooks, enclopaedias and dictionaries, the region of the Azores, though volcanic, could not possibly have ever harbored a large island. In this "expert" summation, the Azores, as part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, are actually rising from the ocean, and the small islands which comprise the archipelago are larger now than they have ever been. In short, the Azores and the sourrounding seafloor are composed entirely of relatively new volcanic rock, and the islands of the archipelago have only recently, in geological terms, risen from the ocean floor.

This view, stated ad nauseam in establishment publications, is quite simply untrue; and the suppression of the facts regarding these islands constitutes one of the most egregious examples of academic disinformation ever to appear. For the truth is, the Azores sit on a mini-continental tectonic plate known as the Azores Microplate (of which there is a huge amount of material on the internet), and this plate, torn off from Europe in the distant past, is composed of granite, the foundation material of all continents. Furthermore, numerous oceanic surveys have found abundant proofs that, in the relatively recent past, a substantial island existed on the spot. This evidence is of several varieties and is mentioned in all scientific papers dealing with the islands' geology.

Some of the most dramatic evidence appeared in a report by Professor Maurice Ewing of Columbia University, published in the National Geographic in 1949. The report, entitled "New Discoveries on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge", highlighted a series of "new scientific puzzles" which had come to light during a recent geological survey of the Atlantic led by Professor Ewing. Chief among these discoveries was "prehistoric beach sand" around the Azores archipelago. These deposits were found to be sorted by surf action into the usual pattern of shoreline beaches familiar to geologists. Some of these sunken shorelines were very deep under the ocean, others were far closer to the present shoreline, indicating that the sunken landmass had descended in several stages into the ocean.

What could have caused this cataclysmic sinking? Near the Azores, Professor Ewing's team found an uncharted submarine mountain, 8,000 feet high, with "many layers of volcanic ash", and further on, a great chasm dropping down 1,809 fathoms (10,854 feet), "as if a volcano had caved in there at some time in the past." This speaks of a cataclysmic volcanic explosion, unlike anything in modern experience, though the foundation rocks of the region were not volcanic - contrary to everything we are told in the popular textbook literature; for, "In a depth of 3,600 feet (600 fathoms) we found rocks that tell an interesting story about the past history of the Atlantic Ocean ... granite and sedimentary rocks of types which must originally have been part of a continent."

These latter rocks, it is now known, form a roughly triangular sunken mini-continent around the Azores, a formation a little larger than Ireland. This mini-continent "fits" into the shoreline of Europe and Africa at the Straits of Gibralter and clearly broke off from that region in deep antiquity, when tectonic forces began the process of separating the Old World from the New and forming the Atlantic Ocean.

A little explanation is here called for. Granite is classed by geologists as sial (rocks rich in silicates and aluminium), the basic building-blocks of continents. It is lighter than the rock of the ocean-floor, known as sima, which is composed of basalt. Geologists see the lighter granite sial as sitting, or even floating, on the heavier sima, much like icebergs floating upon the ocean. And just like icebergs, the granite continents protrude only a little above the oceans, with over 90 percent of their volume rooted deep in the basalt of the earth's mantle. Thus, finding granite beneath the Azores (as well as sedimentary rock) was a sure sign that continental land had once existed on the spot.

But when did the Azores microplate, or the Atlantic Island, as we should rightly call it, sink? Professor Ewing was quick to dissociate his discoveries with the Atlantis legend, and claimed that the vulcanism and shoreline-sinking he had detected had occurred in the distant past, long before the coming of humanity. Other researchers however, mainly from Russia and Scandinavia, have begged to differ. Thus for example in 1944 Swedish oceanographer Hans Pettersson wrote: "The topmost of ... two volcanic strata [on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge] is found above the topmost glacial stratum, which indicates that this volcanic catastrophe or catstrophes occurred in postglacial times. ... It can therefore not be entirely ruled out that the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the sample originated, was above sea level up to about ten thousand years ago and did not subside to its present depth until later." (Pettersson, Atlantis och Atlanten (Stockholm, 1944). 

In 1957 Dr Rene Malaise of the Riks Museum in Stockholm announced that a colleague, Dr R. W. Kolbe, had found definitive proof of the geologically recent subsidence of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Azores. Dr Kolbe, of the Swedish Museum of Natural History, had been commissioned to investigate diatoms (tiny freshwater creatures) found in deep sea cores obtained during a 1948 oceanic expedition from Sweden headed by Dr Otto Mellis. Although the expedition included a globe-encircling study, only those cores taken from the Azores and Mid-Atlantic Ridge yielded the following: Multitudinous shells of freshwater diatoms and fossilized remains of terrestrial plants. (See R. W. Kolbe, "Fresh-Water Diatoms from Atlantic Deep-Sea Sediments," Science, 126 (November, 1957)). So compelling was the evidence that by 1975 the British journal New Scientist could produce a headline which read, "Concrete Evidence of Atlantis?" Commenting upon a recent oceanographic expedition, the magazine noted that, "Although they make no such fanciful claim from their results as to have discovered the mythical mid-Atlantic landmass, an international group of oceanographers has now convincingly confirmed preliminary findings that a sunken block of continent lies in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean." (New Scientist, 1975)

Wthin a short time of this article's appearance however the establishment closed ranks again and virtually all discussion of the Azores Microplate and its recent sinking was quietly dropped in British and American academic journals. Such however was not the case in Russia, where a whole scholarly literature on the topic developed. Thus in 1963 Russian chemist Nikolai Zhirov collated all the evidence up to that point, in a publication aimed at putting the Atlantis debate on a scientific footing. (Nikolai Zhirov, Atlantis: Atlantology, Basic Problems (English ed. 1968). He quoted not five or ten but literally scores of geologists, oceanographers, palaeontologists, and biologists, many of them from the Soviet Union, who were of the opinion that the region round the Azores, as well as large sections of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, had stood above the water as recently as the end of the last Ice Age and even later - even into the Neolithic and Early Bronze Ages. Amongst those holding this opinion were geologist D. I. Mushketov, geologist A. N. Mazarovich, marine geologist Professor M. V. Klenova, world-famous geologist and Fellow of the Moscow Academy, Vladimir Obruchev, as well as scores of other specialists from the Soviet Union and elsewhere. 

All well and good, yet a couple of important questions spring to mind. Firstly: What made the Russian and Scandinavian scientists so certain that the subsidence of the Azores landmass was so recent, and secondly: Why is it that researchers and fishermen do not regularly trawl up human artifacts and animal remains from around the Azores, as they do in the Doggarland region of the North Sea?

Both questions have strightforward answers.

(1) The recentness of the Azores Microplate's subsidence was suggested by the fact that the plant and animal life recovered from core drillings were all of young species - either Pleistocene or Holocene (modern). Furthermore, it was found that foraminifera (plankton) from the Pleistocene epoch found on the sea-bed differed dramatically on either side of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. That on the western side was warmth-loving and that on the eastern side cold-loving, suggesting that during the Pleistocene a land barrier had halted the warm Gulf Stream in mid-ocean, leaving warm-climate plankton on the west side of the barrier and cold-climate plankton on the east.

(2) Fishermen and scientists do not regularly dredge up animal and human remains from around the Azores because the sea adjacent to the islands is much deeper than the North Sea and in addition all the evidence suggests that the Azores Plate sank catastrophically, amidst vast volcanic activity. Any human and animal remains will be discovered deep under layers of volcanic ash and lava, but since scientists use narrow core drills, the chances of bringing these up are a little like finding a needle in a haystack. Nonetheless, if some day a Neolithic axe or spear-head is dredged from the sea around the Azores we should not count it a miracle; just good luck.

 

 

The Strange Truth about the Sphinx

The Sphinx at Giza, showing heavy erosion on the body, which was carved from very soft limestone. The head, however, was carved from an upper stratum of much harder limestone and so is better preserved.

Few ancient monuments are as iconic as the Sphinx of Giza - and few have generated as much controversy. Every year hundreds of books, documentaries, and articles appear which claim astonishing new revelations about the monument. Indeed a kind of alternative history consensus has now developed which holds that the Sphinx is much older than the nearby pyramids and that water erosion on the walls of the pit from which the statue was carved prove that the figure must have been fashioned up to ten thousand years ago, by a lost civilization.

Another theory, usually going in tandem with the above, claims that beneath the monument there exists a "Hall of Records" containing all the accumulated wisdom of the aforesaid lost civilization.

Yet the truth is that the Sphinx does hold an incredible secret, one however that is rarely if ever mentioned in the popular "alternative" literature. The sphinx appears in Egyptian myth, and its role there is very instructive. According to the ancient account of the war between Horus and Set, the sphinx (known to the Egyptians as Harmachis or Har-em-akhet, 'Horus of the Horizon), as an ally of Horus, proceeded along the Nile Valley from Memphis, slaughtering the warriors of Set with his mighty claws. As such, the Sphinx played a pivotal role in the great cosmic battle between good and evil, between order and chaos. Small wonder then that the beast was habitually placed as a guardian in front of temples and other sacred places.

Those readers who have followed my work will know that I see all ancient accounts of "Cosmic Wars" as symbolic representation of cosmic catastrophes involving destructive encounters between the earth and other celestial bodies. Such readers will also know that I see the last of these cosmic upheavals as marking the event known to the Hebrews as the Exodus, an event I place sometime in the mid- to early-ninth century B.C. - probably around 870 B.C. It was in the aftermath of this cosmic catastrophe that the Great Pyramid was constructed at Giza, in celebration of the 'rebirth' of the sun-god after the terrible 'days of darkness'. The construction of the Great Pyramid at Heliopolis, with its golden capstone (benben), was closely connected to the myth of the Phoenix (benu-bird), which was burned alive at Heliopolis and emerged reborn from the ashes. The Phoenix was a symbolic representation of the death and rebirth of the sun-god at the end of every World Age.

The 'death' of the sun involved a terrible battle against the forces of evil and chaos - Set and the dragon-serpent Apop. The sphinx had played a pivotal role in the victory of the sun and of the light and so a representation of him was placed at the forefront of the pyramid-complex on the Giza Plateau. As such, the statue we see now cannot have been erected before the reign of Khufu or his father Sneferu. Why then, it might be asked, does the enclosing pit display clear signs of water-erosion?

The answer to this question is in two parts: First and foremost, when the Sphinx was carved, Egypt's climate was a good deal wetter than now. Until the catastrophe which terminated the Third Dynasty and the Early Dynastic epoch, the entire Sahara Desert was a well-watered savannah, supporting all the wild-life typical of Africa - giraffes, zebras, lions, rhinoceros, etc. The catastrophic end of the epoch began the process of the Saharah's desertification - but this was a gradual and long-lasting process. By the end of Khufu's reign, rainfall in Egypt and North Africa had decreased substantially from earlier epochs, but it was still greater than in modern times. Heavy seasonal rains during the Fourth Dynasty and afterwards could easily have produced the water-erosion visible around the Sphinx.

And this brings us to the second part of the answer: The limestone which comprises the body of the Sphinx is much softer than the limestone which comprises the head, and this adequately explains the comparative lack of erosion on the head. As a geologist, Robert Schoch and others who have pushed the 'vastly ancient Sphinx' myth should be well aware of this. (Schoch et al. believe that the Sphinx's head was also badly eroded and recarved in dynastic Egyptian times in typical Egyptian form). Limestone - like all other stones - varies greatly in hardness. An extremely hard layer can sit on top of a layer little harder than clay. Such is the case at Giza. The body, as well as the paws of the Sphinx, are eroded not only by water but by wind and frost. So eroded were they indeed that even in antiquity they were in need of repair - repair in the form of carved blocks encasing the paws and tail.

There remains one other question about the Sphinx: The Hall of Records. From antiquity the Sphinx was believed to harbor a riddle or a mystery, and this belief was rekindled and reinforced by the claims of mystic/psychic Edgar Cayce, who claimed to have 'seen' a "Hall of Records" hidden beneath the Sphinx, a repository of ancient and arcane wisdom. It is impossible, barring deep and intrusive excavation into the rock beneath the Sphinx, to ascertain with certainty what lies beneath. It is certainly possible that hidden chambers - either natural or man-made - may be discovered, since the entire Plateau is of porous limestone and has already been shown to harbor a network of tunnels and passageways. If a hidden chamber or chambers are found underneath the Sphinx they may contain treasures of Egypt, but they will most certainly not contain secrets of any 'Lost Civilization'.

The "Palace" of Knossos in Crete was a Necropolis and a Theater for Human Sacrifice

Fresco from Knossos showing the so-called "Bull-vaulting Game". According to experienced Spanish matadors, such a 'game' is impossible; the man on the bull's back, they aver, has been tossed by the creature, and the woman at the front is being impaled on its horns.

One of the strangest and most popular of Greek legends was that of Theseus, the Athenian hero who entered the dreaded labyrinth in Knossos and slew the bull-headed monster who dwelt there, the Minotaur. The Minotaur (the "bull of Minos"), it was said, was the offspring of the unnatural union between the Cretan queen Pasiphae and a majestic bull. In order to assuage the creature's blood-lust, it was said that every year Minos the King of Crete demanded the Athenians deliver to him seven youths and seven maidens, who were sent into the twisted corridors of the Labyrinth and there devoured by the Minotaur.

It has long been understood that the legend refers to an annual human sacrifice of mainland Greeks by the Cretans, who seem to have ruled the sea lanes of the Aegean in early times. In a much later age the Aztecs took a similar human tax from their neighbors for the same reason.  

The discovery of rich ruins at Knossos by the English archaeologist Arthur Evans, from 1900 onwards, seemed to cast the ancient Cretans in a different and much brighter light. Here the diggers uncovered a rich 'palace', complete with brightly-painted frescoes which seemed to take a delight in nature and in life. Everywhere were found images of bare-breasted queens or goddesses, as well as scenes from nature - trees, flowers, sea-life, and cavorting youths. Some of the most spectacular images portrayed what Evans decreed to be a "bull-vaulting" game. A massive charging bull was shown, with a youth apparently somersaulting over its back, and a maiden clutching its horns - apparently ready also to somersault over the beast. Evans recognized that the Bull-vaulting Game was probably the inspiration for the story of the Minotaur, but decreed that the Greeks had portrayed the Cretans in an altogether far too dark a manner: They were not sadists sacrificing youths and maidens to a horrific beast, but spirited people enjoying an extremely dangerous sport.

Perhaps because of the tendency to project one's own attitudes onto people in the past, Evans' interpretation of the "Palace" at Knossos and the "Bull-vaulting Game" was universally accepted, and indeed the apparently humane and matriarchal culture of the island was even compared favourably to that of mainland Greece. As a matter of fact, the "Matriarchal" culture of Minoan Crete was to become a cornerstone of a central myth of the 20th century, namely that of the Primeval Matriarchy: the notion that all societies throughout the world were originlly dominated by women and worshipped a great Mother Goddess and that this epoch was a time of peace, with war virtually unknown. The Matriarchy Myth had first appeared in the late 19th century but only became really important in the 20th century when the conclusions of Evans and other archaeologists such as Marija Gimbutas accorded it a level of academic respectability. How ironic then that it was just in the heyday of the burgeoning feminist movement that the feminist/matriarchal interpretation of Minoan civilization would receive a major challenge.

In the early 1970s a German geologist named Hans Georg Wunderlich visited Knossos and was immediately puzzled by many things he saw there. The first problem centered round the stone used in the building, which he identified as a rather soft form of gypsum, which he said would not really be suitable for flooring a busy palace. The wear and tear on the stone was hardly what he would have expected. And there were other problems: Many rooms, for example, had no source of light; corridors led nowhere, and some rooms were totally inaccessible. As such, he claimed that the Palace was far more likely to have been a necropolis which, like many other ancient tomb-structures, was built in imitation of actual dwellings. But another conclusion of Wunderlich's, which appeared in his 1972 book Wohin der Stier Europa trug? ("Where did the bull carry Europa?", later published in English as The Secret of Crete) was even more disturbing. Experienced Spanish matadors, whom Wunderlich approached, scoffed at the idea of a game involving participants somersaulting over the horns of an onrushing bull. Such a manoeuvre, they declared, was impossible, and would inevitably result in the death or serious injury of the athlete. The only conclusion possible, from this, was that the "Bull-vaulting Game" was not a game at all, but a particularly brutal form of human sacrifice. And this, declared Wunderlich, was the only interpretation that made sense of the Minotaur legend.

Although Wunderlich's thesis never received the attention it deserved, subsequent discoveries in Crete proved that human sacrifice was indeed an essential feature of Minoan culture and that the romantic picture painted by Evans and lauded by so many during the 20th century was nothing more than a myth.

Human sacrifice, as anyone who is familiar with my work will realize, was practiced by all ancient cultures and the custom survived much longer in some than in others. The Roman blood sports, including gladiator contests and immolation of people by wild beasts, had their origin in human sacrifice. These spectacles, viewed by thousands in Roman amphitheatres, were the direct descendants of the human sacrifices practiced in Crete in the central court of the "Palace" of Knossos. 

 

Duration of the Hellenistic Epoch

Alexander the Great, whose life marked the beginning of what is known as the Hellenistic Age.

There is much evidence to suggest that the Hellenistic epoch - the period from the conquests of Alexander the Great to the rise of the Roman Empire - needs to be reduced by around 20 years, with the death of Alexander for example occurring in 303 B.C. or even a bit later, rather than 323 B.C., as conventional chronology asserts.

One of the most telling clues comes in the Book of Maccabees, which asserts that Antiochus IV, who waged a bitter war against the Jews, came to power in the "one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks." (I Maccabees, 11). This would apparently place Alexander's conquest of the Persian Empire in 312 B.C., since the beginning of Antiochus IV's reign is fairly reliably dated to 175 B.C. However, in case anyone might believe this referred to Alexander's epoch, bibles and other texts usually contain a footnote to explain that the "one hundred and thirty-seventh year" refers not to the reign of Alexander but to that of Seleucus Nicator, founder of the Seleucid dynasty. Yet aside from rescuing conventional chronology, there is little reason to accept this explanation. If the "one hundred and thirty-seventh year" of the Greek kingdom dates from Alexander's conquest, as seems likely, then we need to lop off around twenty years from the Hellenistic past. 

The Battle of Gaugamela, normally placed in the year 331 B.C., is considered the decisive encounter in Alexander's conquest of Persia, and if any event can be considered as marking Alexander's effective reign over the Persian world, then that is it. But if the Book of Maccabees is correct, then the beginning of the 'Kingdom of the Greeks' began twenty-one years later, in 312 B.C. So, if the Battle of Gaugamela occurred in the latter year, then Alexander would have died not in 323 B.C., but in 303 B.C. 

This means shortening the Hellenistic epoch by twenty years.

Other evidence for this comes in the chronology of the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt. Several of these had reigns which seem improbably long, especially for ancient times, where the average life expectancy was much shorter than in modern times. So, for example, we are told that Ptolemy VI (Philometor) and his brother Ptolemy VIII (Euergetes) had a combined reign of 64 years, with Ptolemy VI reigning from 180 B.C. to 145 B.C. and Ptolemy VIII reigning in two intervals, in the first instance from 170 B.C. to 163 B.C. and then from 145 B.C. to 116 B.C.

It is of course not impossible that two siblings could share the throne of Egypt for such a length of time, but when we combine this with the fact that several other monarchs of the Hellenistic age also had improbbly long reigns, then we begin to suspect that some lifespans have been 'stretched' by chroniclers in order to fit a preconceived chronology. For example, Ptolemy II (Philadelphus) is said to have reigned from 283 B.C. to 246 B.C., almost forty years. And the entire span of time between Ptolemy II and his great-grandson Ptolemy V (Epiphanes) is almost one hundred years (Ptolemy V is said to have died in 180 B.C.) Again, it is not impossible that four generations of monarchs would reign a hundred years, but very improbable in ancient times, when reigns were usually much shorter.

The precise duration of the Hellenistic Age is not of crucial importance to our understanding of the ancient past, and any error is minimal compared to the colossal chronological errors detected by Velikovsky, Heinsohn, and Illig in other areas of ancient history. However, it is instructive to note that even a period such as the Hellenistic, so long regarded as fully understood and documented, leaves cause for questions to be asked. We need to realize that very often our knowledge of a particular reign or epoch comes from a single source, and when more than one source is available there is usually disagreement between the two, not only with regard to chronology and dates, but also with regard to the sequence of events. Over the centuries historians have juggled with these conflicting accounts, trying as best they could to determine which was the more accurate, but very often relying on little more than guesswork. These educated guesses in time worked their way into textbooks, where they are now generally assumed to be almost written in stone.

What Happened to Akhnaton?

The heretic pharaoh Akhnaton, shown with his wife Nefertiti and three of their children. Shortly after this, Nefertiti disappears from the historical record.

Egyptologists profess to know nothing of the eventual fate of Akhnaton, the heretic pharaoh who was the father of Tutankhamun. Nonetheless, there exists fairly conclusive evidence to suggest that towards the end of his reign he fled to Nubia, where he died in exile.

Akhnaton was one of the most extraordinary characters ever to sit on the throne of Egypt: He abandoned the worship of Egypt's gods in favor of a single deity, the sun-god Aton; he moved the court from Thebes to a new city dedicated to the Aton hundreds of miles to the north; he abolished Egypt's artistic conventions and ordered painters and sculptors to portray him as he really was - and he was apparently somewhat deformed; he openly engaged in unusual sexual liaisons, including, it seems, with his own mother.

Such a person, so extraordinary in every way, could scarcely have been forgotten by the Egyptians. His name, it is true, was never afterwards written on any monument or official document. When he was referred to he was simply called "the criminal of Akhet-Aton" (Akhet-Aton being the new capital he designed for himself). Yet very little, or nothing at all, was mentioned in the hieroglyphic records of his life or reign. Nonetheless, Akhnaton was not forgotten in folk tradition, and several legends recorded by authors of the classical age refer to the memorable events of his life and reign.

Altogether, Akhnaton is remembered in three traditions. The first and most important of these is the Greek legend of Oedipus, the king of Thebes who solved the riddle of the sphinx and married his mother. That this story belongs in Egyptian Thebes and not its Greek namesake is a proposition argued in great detail by Velikovsky; and if anyone wishes to examine the evidence in detail Velikovsky's Oedipus and Akhnaton (1960) is the place to look. Briefly, the story of Oedipus, the king with the swollen feet or legs, tells us how an impious ruler of Thebes married his own mother, was punished by the gods with blindness, and went into exile abroad, where he died.

The next tradition, in order of importance, is that recorded by the Ptolemaic scholar Manetho in his great history of Egypt, the Aegyptiaca. The latter was lost during the Middle Ages, but we possess several segments in the writings of Josephus and others. According to Josephus, Manetho told of a king named Amenophis who sought to "see the gods". A seer of that time, also named Amenophis, and described as the 'son of Papis', informs his royal master that in order to communicate with the gods as he wished, he would need to expel certain 'polluted wretches' from the country. The 'polluted' persons are then rounded up and put to work in quarries. After these events the seer has pangs of conscience, realizing that the cruel treatment of the 'polluted' persons would bring retribution from heaven. After preparing a letter, in which he warned the king that the country was destined to be invaded and that he would be driven into exile in Ethiopia, the seer commits suicide.

Even mainstream academics admit that the story of Amenophis and the "polluted wretches" refers to Amenhotep IV (Akhnaton) and his epoch. A famous seer named Amenhotep, son of Hapu, was indeed active during the time of Akhnaton. Furthermore, the 'polluted' persons are clearly those associated with the Atenist heresy. Nonetheless, Egyptologists profess to be puzzled by the story's reference to foreign invasion and a king being driven into exile.

Although the sequence of events in the story of the "polluted wretches" is confused, it would seem apparent that the pharaoh who wished to 'see the gods' was Akhnaton and that, at some stage, he was deposed and forced to flee the country.

The last tradition referring to Akhnaton comes from Herodotus, who was told of a king named Anysis, who lived in a town of the same name. This pharaoh, Herodotus informs us, was blind and was driven into exile by the Ethiopian king Sabakos.

It would appear that Anysis and his namesake city were Akhnaton and Akhet-Aton, and that the story's reference to the king's exile and his encounter with the Ethiopians (Nubians) is a garbled and confused memory of what actually happened to Akhnaton.

Drawing on the evidence of all three traditions we can say the following: Towards the end of his reign, Akhnaton went blind; this affliction being attributed by the seer Amenhotep son of Hapu to the pharaoh's impious actions. After this, a coup d'etat was organized against him, and he fled, with a substantial portion of his court, to Ethiopia (Nubia). 

The above conclusion is strikingly confirmed by the survival of the Aton-cult in Nubia until the time of Shabaka and Tirhaka, of the 25th Dynasty. The latter mentions Gem-Aton, the cult center of Aton-worship founded by Akhnaton, on several occasions. And the mention of Gem-Aton by Tirhaka is viewed by historians as proof that the Nubian 25th Dynasty was founded by refugees fleeing Egypt at the end of Akhnaton's reign - though they are amazed that the Aton-cult should have survived so long after the extinction of the heresy in Egypt, believing as they do that well over six centuries separate its demise in Egypt from the next mention of it by Tirhaka. However, from the perspective of the revised chronology proposed here, we find that only a century or so separates Akhnaton's reign from the Nubian epoch.

Stone Carving Technology in Early Egypt

Diorite statue of Khephren, son of Cheops. Diorite is one of the hardest of stones, and impossible to carve in such fine detail without good quality steel tools.

There has been much discussion in recent years, especially on the internet, on the question of how the Egyptians of the Old Kingdom and even the Early Dynastic Age were able to carve stones such as basalt, granite and diorite. The latter in particular is extremely hard and can only be worked using either good quality steel or a cutting tool tipped with either a diamond or other hard gemstone. Yet the early Egyptians fashioned diorite into ornate vases and magnificent statues.

The problem of Egyptian stone-carving is made all the more intractible by textbook chronology, which places the Early Dynastic and Pyramid Ages in the third millennium B.C. Since neither iron nor diamonds are believed to have been known to the Egyptians of that period, the question of granite and diorite carving becomes acute and has, not surprisingly, led to much outlandish speculation about supposed "Lost Civilizations" etc.

The problem becomes slightly less serious when the revised 'Ages in Alignment' chronology is adopted. Now the Early Dynastic and Pyramid Ages are placed between the eleventh and ninth centuries B.C. - much closer to what is generally termed the 'Iron Age'. Yet even this dramatic chronological readjustment does not fully resolve the issue. If by the Iron Age we mean the time at which iron, or rather steel, replaces bronze as the metal of weapon-manufacture, then the Iron Age proper must be placed in the seventh century B.C. The first evidence of widespread use of steel weaponry comes from the Neo-Assyrian epoch of Ashurnasirpal II and Shalmaneser III. These two are normally placed in the ninth century B.C., but following the chronological scheme outlined here, they are actually Mede kings who reigned in the seventh century B.C.

This means, among other things, that the epoch of the pyramid-builders - the ninth century B.C. - was still part of what is termed the 'Bronze Age'. How then, it will be asked, did they carve granite and diorite?

Before going a step further, we need to clear up the whole issue of 'Bronze' and 'Iron' Ages. Textbooks invariably convey the impression that these were neatly defined epochs during which folk used only the metal associated with the term. But this is a total fallacy. In fact, for many centuries people throughout Europe, North Africa and Asia used stone, bronze and iron implements simultaneously. It needs to be understood that all metals were extremely expensive during the early epochs of civilization. As a matter of fact, they remained expensive throughout the Middle Ages and even up to the time of the Industrial Revolution. Whilst kings, princes, and nobles might be armed with bronze armour and steel weapons, peasant farmers continued to employ stone implements for everyday tasks around the homestead.

Not surprisingly, then, flint and other stone implements regularly occur in archaeological sites otherwise dated to the Bronze and Iron Ages - though this is rarely mentioned in textbooks.

The other point that needs clarification is one of technology: The simple truth is that once a society has mastered the technology of copper smelting (ie. the charcoal furnace), it already possesses the means to smelt iron. Copper melts at 1,085 degrees Centigrade, whilst iron melts at the slightly higher temperature of 1,149 degrees, but the furnaces used in antiquity for smelting both were essentially the same.

The real problem with iron production centered round the acquisition of good quality ore. Copper ore tends to be much more easily separated from impurities and reduced to a pure form. The smelting of iron ore, however, initially produces little more than a useless slag which has to be worked repeatedly in order to extract any usable iron. In short, iron production is extremely labor intensive. The Egyptians of the Pyramid Age were acquainted with iron; a fact confirmed both by archaeological discovery and by numerous literary references. In the Pyramid Texts, for example, Osiris is said to sit on a throne of iron, whilst the sun god is said to hold the earth in his grasp by means of iron chains. The Greek writer Herodotus mentions in passing that the Egyptians used iron tools in constructing the Great Pyramid. And these statements have been confirmed archaeologically by the discovery of an iron plate deep in the masonry of the Great Pyramid by the Englishman R. W. H. Vyse in 1837 and by the subsequent discovery of a series of iron tools dating to the Fifth Dynasty by Flinders Petrie. These finds are generally ignored in mainstream publications and when they do get mentioned there is usually an attempt to cast doubt on their authenticity. Nonetheless, iron artefacts have also been recovered from Mesopotamian sites contemporary with Old Kingdom Egypt, whilst in Greece Heinrich Schliemann recovered several iron objects from the Shaft Graves at Mycenae.

In addition, the carving of finely detailed diorite statues - such as the famous seated figure of Cheops' son Chephren - could only have been executed by good quality steel tools. Diorite can certainly be smoothed and polished by sand abrasion, but the fine lines of the Chephren statue, particlarly the eyes, nose and ears of the portrait, can surely only be explained by the use of a high carbon steel chisel. That certainly is the conclusion of all modern engineers and artisans who have examined the figure.

Where then did the Egyptians procure such tools?

We know that there was never - not even in the late pharaohnic period - any substantial iron industry in Egypt. The quality of iron ore available in the Nile Kingdom was just too poor to allow it. No amount of refining would permit the extraction of iron from Egyptian ore, using the primitive smelting techniques available in early times. But other regions of the Near East, particulalry Anatolia, had access to far better quality ore. And there is no doubt that a substantial iron-smelting industry existed in the Hittite Land at a very early period. This was the land of the biblical Tubalcain. It would appear that, using the most primitive methods, the Hittite iron-smiths were able, from the eleventh century B.C. onwards, to produce small quantities of smelted iron. The cast- or pig-iron taken from the furnace was re-heated and hammered repeatedly, often over many days, to remove impurities and thereby produce a small quantity of pure or wrought iron.

This precious material was far more valuable than gold and was invariably used for highly specialized tools. But of course the finished tools were not of iron; they were of steel. Once pig-iron is refined into pure or wrought iron, it is then almost child's play to produce steel. The iron tool is simply heated and then plunged into a trough of powdered charcoal, or wrapped in an animal skin. Carbon in the charcoal or skin migrates into the red-hot iron, producing a layer of steel. The carbon in the steel can be increased by simply repeating the process.

It would appear that the Hittite smiths exported finished steel tools such as chisels and saws throughout the Near East and that some of these reached Egypt, where they were employed by the pyramid-builders. At this early stage however steel was rarely used for weapons, as its expense was prohibitive. Only in the seventh century B.C., when more efficient methods of iron-smelting were discovered in the Hittite Land, did steel first come to be used on a large scale for weaponry.

Catastrophobia

The suppression of Velikovsky's work by the academic establishment constitutes one of the most disreputable episodes in the entire history of science. In terms of intellectual dishonesty even the suppression of Galileo pales into insignificance; for whilst Galileo was anathematized for a few decades, even his opponents accepted his findings once the evidence became clear-cut and irrefutable. By constrast, in spite of Velikovsky's main findings being rock-solid and beyond reasonable question,  his work remains anathematized and his name never mentioned - except in derision.

Whole books and academic theses have been written about this quite unprecedented suppression, a phenomenon which has come to be known as the "Velikovsky Affair". A book of that very title, published in 1976, presented a series of essays examining the topic. The general conclusion was that Velikovsky's radical theory seriously undermined the reputation of too many establishment thinkers in too many fields. Hence the blacklisting of him and his work.

There is no question that academic egos and reputations were indeed a factor, but, I would suggest, there was something else; something much more visceral.

Velikovsky himself touched on the whole problem in his posthumously-published Mankind in Amnesia. Here he looked not so much at the suppression of his work as at the suppression of the whole idea of catastrophes and catastrophism throughout history. According to him, cosmic catastrophes were so destructive and so shocking that, from the earliest times, men sought to 'reinterpret' as allegory myths and legends which spoke in clear and unequivocal terms of such events. 

Mankind in Amnesia is a rich book which presents the broad sweep of human history through the lens of the psychologist and psychoanalyst. Here we meet once again Velikovsky the polymath; Velikovsky the Renaissance man whose knowledge verges on the encyclopaedic; a man comfortable and competent in a dizzying number of fields of knowledge. And yet, for all we might say in the book's favor, there is one glaring oversight. The myths and legends which tell of cosmic catastrophes have indeed been reinterpreted as allegory - but only by modern man. This is a fact which Velikovsky ignores and even denies in the above-mentioned book. The catastrophes described so vividly in the Old Testament were never denied or allegorized until modern times. Until the early 19th century no one ever claimed that these events had not occurred. And indeed when ancient and medieval Europeans considered the catastrophes described in Greek and other non-biblical sources they understood these to refer to the same events as those described in the Jewish Scriptures.

There is no question that all peoples and all civilizations invariably viewed these catastrophes as punishment sent by God or the gods, and there is no doubt that they tended to push them back into a slightly remoter age than that to which they truly belonged; but no one before the 19th century ever doubted that these events had occurred and that they had occurred within the span of recorded human history. Some philosophers, such as Aristotle, insisted that the universe was a stable mechanism designed to be so by the divine Architect (a fact stressed by Velikovsky), but neither Aristotle nor any of the other ancient or medieval writers doubted that catastrophes had occurred when the Divine Will decreed them. It was left for the secularists of the 19th century to take that momentous step - a fact curiously overlooked by Velikovsky in all his commentaries.

The denial of catastrophes was in fact closely tied to the rise of Darwinism; yet Darwinism itself was a product of an earlier 18th/19th century concept: Progress. Before the Age of Enlightenment the word "progress" meant simply movement towards the completion of a task or goal - a meaning the word still possesses. However, by the middle of the 18th century "progress" took on an entirely different meaning in the writings of the philosophers and thinkers of the time. They began to speak of "Progress" as a never-ending process which would eventually (mainly through science) deliver to mankind something like a paradise on earth; a veritable utopia. So enamoured was 18th century man of science that this view gained immense popularity and quickly became the default mode of thought among a large class of intellectuals.

It goes without saying that Progress understood in these terms is utterly incompatible with Christianity or indeed with any form of religion. And it was this almost Faustian belief in man's mastery of nature and of his own fate that prepared the way philosophically for Darwinism. 

Darwinism as such was an extremely poor scientific theory. Nonetheless, it was a genuine theory; it was falsifiable and indeed it was quickly falsified. Critics of Darwin, including the great Lord Kelvin, pointed out that if nature could produce new species by selective breeding ("natural selection"), why had farmers and stock-breeders (who could proceed much more quickly than nature) failed to produce a single new species in all the thousands of years they had been selectively breeding cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, dogs, etc.? Yet in spite of Darwinism's shaky grounds, it was quickly embraced by the intellectual establishment of the day. The philosophical ground had been prepared. The intelligentsia of Europe and America was looking for an explanation of life that excluded the need for a Divine Intelligence, and Darwin, flawed though he was, was what they wanted.

It will be easily understood that Progress, the notion of a man-made Utopia created by human intelligence through mastery of Nature and nature's laws, would have no time at all  for the idea of cosmic catastrophes: Random mass destructions of the earth's surface over which human beings have no control whatsoever. For Science to produce its Utopia the world needs to be calm and ordered - for hundreds of thousands or even millions of years. After all, if what the ancient myths and legends (and Velikovsky as well as other catastrophists such as Donnelly and Spence) said was true, all the efforts of human science and culture could be wiped off the face of the earth in the twinkling of an eye. Such an idea had to be suppressed. And it was suppressed. And it remains suppressed to this day. The new secularist religion of Progress demanded it and the new religion got what it wanted. Yet what a terrible price the world has paid. The belief in a perfectable world, a world devoid of a Divine Creator, paved the way for the murderous utopian ideologies of Communism and Fascism which devastated the earth throughout the 20th century and which continue their malevolent work to this day.

Solomon's Jerusalem

Archaeologists date the material remains of the ancient Middle East into various stages of what is known as the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages. Because these nomeclatures are tied to a fictitious chronology, discoveries in the ground rarely correspond to what the ancient authors and histories spoke of. So, for example, the Jerusalem of King Solomon, who supposedly reigned in the tenth century B.C., is sought in what is termed Iron Age strata. But the latter reveals only a small and relatively impovished settlement. The spade of the archaeologist has in fact revealed no grand city at Jersualem until the time of Antiochus III and the Maccabees - with one exception: that exception being the last stage of the city during what is called the Middle Bronze Age.

In Palestine/Syria the so-called Middle Bronze Age is associated with the period of the Hyksos, the Asiatic dynasty which dominated Egypt for many generations. However, in Syria/Palestine the term Middle Bronze is also applied to the first few decades of what in Egypt is termed the Late Bronze Age - the epoch of the Eighteenth Dynasty. This is confirmed by the following comment from archaeologist Aaron Burke: "It is generally agreed that it was Egypt's Eighteenth Dynasty that was responsible for the demise of Canaan's defences at the close of the Middle Bronze Age." (Burke, "Canaan under Siege: The History and Archaeology of Egypt's War in Canaan during the Early Eighteenth Dynasty," in J. Vidal (ed.) Studies on War in the Ancient Near East (Munster, 2010), p. 47) Burke speaks here specifically of Thutmose III's invasion and conquest of Canaan at the start of his reign, and it was this event that brought Canaan's "Middle Bronze" cultural epoch to an end.

Recent discoveries have demonstrated that Jerusalem was a mighty stronghold at this time. In 2009 archaeologists reported the discovery of an enormous fortification wall close to the Temple Mount. Reports spoke of a "Massive ancient wall," which, "Standing 8 meters (26 feet) high," the wall was of "of huge cut stones and a marvel to archaeologists." ("'Massive' ancient wall uncovered in Jerusalem," CNN News, September 4, 2009, www.cnn.com) All of the boulders of comprising this structure weigh between four and five tons, and the section uncovered was 24 meters (79 feet) long. "However, it is thought that the fortification is much longer because it continues west beyond the part that was exposed," the Israel Antiquities Authority reported. A joint statement by the leaders of the dig announced that, "this is the most massive wall that has ever been uncovered in the City of David," and marks the first time that "such a massive construction that predates the Herodian period has been discovered in Jerusalem." They also stated that, "Despite the fact that so many have excavated on this hill, there is a very good chance that extremely large and well-preserved architectural elements are still hidden in it and waiting to be uncovered." 

These discoveries confirmed what archaeologists had suspected for some time: that the latter part of the Middle Bronze Age marked a peak of power and prosperity at Jerusalem never again attained until the time of the Maccabees. 

According to Velikovsky, Hatshepsut, the predecessor of Thutmose III, visited Jerusalem, and the mighty citadel now revealed by archaeology is the one which Hatshepsut would have seen. In short, this was the Jerusalem of Solomon. Velikovsky first made Hatshepsut and Solomon contemporaries in his 1953 book Ages in Chaos, and at that time nothing was known of the discoveries mentioned above. As such, these constitute a stunning confirmation of his overall reconstruction.

Thutmose III commemorated his conquests in Canaan with a great structure at Karnak, where he listed the cities of the region. A metropolis named Kadesh stands at the head of the list, and is followed by towns such as Megiddo, Ashdod, Jaffa, Gaza, etc. It is not doubted that the rest of these are in Palestine, though historians claim that Kadesh, the chief city of the list, lay much further to the north, in Syria. It is also claimed that Kadesh was not actually conquered by Thutmose III.

The improbability of the above position - that of mainstream scholarship - hardly needs to be emphasized. It is clear that Kadesh must have been in Palestine and that it must have been the most important town in the region. It is clear too that Thutmose III must have conquered it. As Velikovsky poitned out, Jerusalem is named 'kadesh' - "holy", repeatedly throughout the Scriptures, and is still called by this name (Al Kuds) in modern Arabic. And we now find that Jerusalem was by far the greatest citadel in the whole region at the time, making it absolutely impossible that it could have been ignored by Thutmose III.

Lot and the Crystal Pillar

Readers of this website and other publications of mine will be aware that I regard the Abraham legend as referring to a remote epoch. The context of the story places it at the beginning of literate civilization and refers specifically to a cosmic catastrophe at the end of the Jamdat Nasr period; a catastrophe which was followed by a great culture-bearing migration out of Mesopotamia which touched all the lands of the fertile crescent and reached Egypt. Indeed, it was migrants from Mesopotamia, the 'Abraham tribe', which at that moment laid the foundations of Egyptian civilization. This epochal event was recalled by the Egyptians themselves, as well as by the Hebrews and the Phoenicians.  

There are numerous clues to all of this in the character of Abraham as defined in the Book of Genesis, not least of which are his phallic associations: His very name means "father of many", whilst he initiates the custom of circumcision (with a flint knife, be it noted). The apparently ritual homosexuality of the city of Sodom is another clue.

In all of this Abraham is clearly cognate with the Egyptian phallic deity Min, whose prominence at the beginning of the First Dynasty was emphasized by Flinders Petrie. Very many representations of Min from this period have come to light. It would appear that Min was the initiator of circumcision in Egypt, a custom attested from the beginning of the First Dynasty; whilst Min also appears to be identical to the legendary first pharaoh Menes, or Mena.

Now Egyptian tradition also emphasized that the first ruler of Egypt was the god Osiris, and there exists a great deal of evidence to show that Min and Osiris were initially one and the same deity. Osiris too was a phallic god, whose erect penis impreganted Isis after his death - an occurrence which led to the birth of Horus. Osiris, as David Rohl proved in some detail, was, like many other Egyptian gods (such as Isis/Ishtar) originally a Mesopotamian deity; Asir. The Egyptians themselves were specific that Osiris and his cult originated in the east; in the Land of Punt. Indeed, Osiris was always closely connected to Punt; a connection emphasized in very many ways. For example, the word "god", netjer, was a term peculiarly associated with Osiris, since Osiris, as the first mummy, was enveloped in natron salt; and the Egyptian word natron (natrin) is related to the word netjer, "god". Punt was known as Ta Netjer ("God's Land") and, as Siegfried Morenz noted, the term was used almost as a pun, implying that Punt was the "Land of Osiris".

Whilst there is a good deal of debate regarding the location of Punt, it is generally agreed that Ta Netjer, the Divine Land, is often - or usually - associated with the region of Syria/Palestine. In any case, other evidence entirely connects Osiris with the same territory. So, for example, Egyptian tradition told how, after being murdered by his brother Set, Osiris' body was placed in a casket which floated down the Nile and out to sea, after which it was washed ashore at Byblos - where it grew into the trunk of a tamarisk tree. The King of Byblos had this tree felled and carved into a wonderful pillar or column, which he placed in his palace. From this alone, it is very clear that Osiris had an especially close relationship to the Palestine/Phoenicia region.

A host of evidence indicates that Punt, and the Divine Land, the Land of Osiris, was one and the same as Jordan/Dead Sea Valley. It was here, in the extremely warm climate of the deepest depression on earth, that frankincense was anciently cultivated; a crop for which the region was famous. This territory was especially associated with Osiris and was regarded as sacred not only on account of the incense (used in temple ritual), but also because here was found two of the essential ingredients of mummification: Bitumen and natron salt. The latter in particular is of interest. The Egyptians, we know, associated Osiris with a sacred column or pillar (the one created by the King of Byblos) known as the Djed Pillar. This latter object was believed to represent the spine of Osiris, and was believed to be encased in a coating of natron salt. The Djed Pillar was, in effect, a Pillar of Salt.

At this stage we need to return briefly to the Book of Genesis. Around the shores of the Dead Sea stand strange-looking salt pillars; natural features that are believed to have been the inspiration for the incident in Genesis, where the wife of Abraham's nephew Lot is transformed into a pillar of salt after looking back at the destruction of Sodom. It would appear that the Djed Pillar and Lot's wife are one and the same. 

Extra-biblical Hebrew tradition, as mentioned in Ginzberg's Legends of the Jews, specifically states that it was Abraham who first brought the arts of civilization to Egypt, and this stands in agreement with Egyptian tradition, which states that Osiris was the founder of civilized life in the country. All this is further reinforced by Phoenician tradition, as recorded by Sanchoniathon, who states that it was Misor, a Phoenician prince, who first taught the Egyptians the arts of civilization. (Misor, or Wisor, was evidently one and the same as Osiris).

The evidence, taken together, would suggest the following:

(a) Abraham is mythically identical to the phallic god Min, who is also the same as Osiris.

(b) The migration of the "Abraham tribe" from Mesopotamia to Syria/Palestine and Egypt is a memory of the culture-bearing migration which brought Mesopotamian culture to Egypt at the start of the First Dynasty.

(c) This migration followed a cosmic catastrophe involving some form of "Tower" structure, and the whose epoch was punctuated by repeat cosmic upheavals.

In Genesis, the story of the Tower immediately precedes that of Abraham. As I have argued in detail in several places, this "Tower", which was apparently some kind of electro-magnetic feature emanating from the magnetic pole, occurs in mythology from all parts of the globe. Invariably, it is viewed as an attempt by the gods, or titans, or tyrant kings, to re-establish contact with heaven after it had been terminated by the Flood. The Tower seems to have generally appeared shining like a pillar of crystal. It also altered its shape, on occasion putting out large filaments which looked like branches of a tree. Occasionally it appeared in almost human form, with branches appearing like enormous arms. It also appeared like a very large phallus; and the entire phallic cult of this epoch was derived from this.

The artwork of the Early Dynastic epoch reflects all of this. Again and again we see images of a pillar or tower, often intertwined with serpents and long-necked beasts. Later this would be superseded by a simple pillar with two rampant felines. The magic wand of Hermes/Mercury, the caduceus, was modelled on this pillar.

The Tower or Pillar or Tree of Life was invariably placed at the North Pole. In Greek legend it was guarded by a dragon/serpent named Ladon, who was the same as Latona. This latter was identical to the Phoenician dragon Lotan (Leviathan of the Bible). Intriguingly however, in their ancient voyages to Britain in search of tin, the Phoenicians brought the name there. Thus in the Arthurian legend the tyrant king Vortigern's attempt to build a great Tower was associated with a dragon-deity named Loth or Ludd, which dwelt at the base of the tower. This creature lived in the far north and his name is preserved in the Scottish region of Lothian, though he was also associated with the tower-like features of the far northern Orkney islands.

The same habit of localizing cosmic events on the earth occurred at the Dead Sea, where Lot's or Lotan's tower was later associated with one of the crystal pillars on the Dead Sea's shores.

Egypt's non-existent "Middle Kingdom"

If the scheme of things presented in the Ages in Alignment reconstruction is correct, where Egypt's Eighteenth Dynasty comes immediately after the Sixth (with the Pepi/Apepi pharaohs), it will be obvious that all the dynasties listed in the textbooks between those two - i.e. the Seventh through to the Seventeenth - cannot have existed in the places they have been assigned to and most certainly cannot constitute a separate historical epoch, the epoch known in the textbooks as the 'Middle Kingdom'.

Even conventional scholarship agrees that the majority of these 'dynasties', most especially the Seventh through to the Tenth, are 'ephemeral'; which is basically academic talk for 'lacking much or any proof of existence'. The Eleventh and Seventeenth Dynasties I will deal with presently. The Fifteenth and Sixteenth were Hyksos - i.e. one and the same as the Sixth. The two main dynasties of the Middle Kingdom, the ones which have left fairly substantial archaeology, are the Twelfth and Thirteenth, with the Twelfth Dynasty in particular well represented thus. Where then are these two dynasties to be placed?

Before going a step further, it needs to be stated that nowhere are artefacts of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Dynasties found underneath those of the Eighteenth - as they should be if they came before. On the contrary, material of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Dynasties is invariably found in the same strata as that of the Eighteenth. For example, during excavations at Ugarit in northern Syria, Claude Schaeffer found a basalt sphinx of Twelfth Dynasty pharaoh Amenemhet III in the same stratum as an archive of cuneiform documents belonging to King Nikmed, a contemporary of the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaohs Amenhotep III and Akhnaton. 

Like the Eighteenth Dynasty rulers, the pharaohs of the Twelfth Dynasty were great devotees of the god Amen. Indeed, their primary role seems to have consisted of offering sacrifice to this deity. None of the Twelfth Dynasty pharaohs is mentioned in regard to military matters or such like. Religion seems to have been their speciality. All of which seems to suggest that they were a line of priest-kings who "reigned" alongside the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaohs. Dynasties of priest-kings are well attested from other epochs of Egypt's history; and this would go some way to explain the extraordinary reign-lengths of these pharaohs: like other priest-kings, their "reigns" began with their birth, not later in life, as with normal monarchs.

The Twelfth Dynasty was directly preceded by a Theban line of kings who are numbered as the Eleventh Dynasty. This latter family fought a bitter war against Asiatics based in the north of the country, and in this they precisely parallel the Seventeenth Dynasty, another line of Theban monarchs who made war upon Asiatics based in the north. In fact, the parallels between the Eleventh Dynasty and the Seventeenth are precise and utterly inexplicable from the point of view of conventional chronology. Both lines of kings had family members named Inyotef and both were allied with a subordinate princely line of rulers named Sebekhotep. Furthermore, the art and culture of the Eleventh Dynasty is almost indistinguishable from that of the Seventeenth, and this similiarity ran into the time of the early Eighteenth Dynasty. So, for example, at Deir el-Bahri to the west of Thebes, the wonderful temple of Hatshepsut has a very clear counterpart in the adjacent temple of Mentuhotep III, of the Eleventh Dynasty. These two temples, one of the Eleventh Dynasty and one of the Eighteenth, are of a kind unique in Egypt, and have no parallels elsewhere in the country.

We can say then that the entire "Middle Kingdom" is a fictition. The Eleventh Dynasty rulers of Thebes were nothing but alter-egos of the Seventeenth Dynasty, also of Thebes, who were the direct predecessors of the Eighteenth Dynasty. As for the Twelfth Dynasty, they were a line of priest-kings based in Middle Egypt who 'reigned' alongside the Eighteenth Dynasty. Gunnar Heinsohn has suggested they were of Mitannian (Mede) ethnic origin, and this would certainly explain the distinctly non-Egyptian appearance of these kings as recorded in their portraits. That a Mede family should have been accorded such honor in Egypt is explained by the assistance given Egypt by the Medes in the recent war against the Hyksos/Assyrians.

The Babylonian Exile and the Second Temple

It is a strange fact that the Persian epoch, as well as the first century of the Hellenistic epoch, is entirely missing from the archaeological record in Jerusalem. This was not expected, given the fact that, according to the Old Testament, the Persian and Hellenistic ages were extremely lively periods in the history of the city. We are told that, after the Babylonian sack of the city and the deportation of its population to Mesopotamia around 580 B.C., the town was resettled by Judeans following the decree of Artaxerxes I in 438 B.C. It was then that a vibrant period of the city’s history began, with the rebuilding of the walls and the erection of the Second Temple. How strange then that none of this appears to be reflected in the archaeology. What excavators have found is evidence of a vibrant metropolitan life during the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian age, with then a complete settlement gap until shortly after 200 B.C. Indeed, the first evidence of any life at the city occurs with the building work of the Seleucid king Antiochus III, who seems to have promoted a major reconstruction of the city around 190 B.C.

 From an archaeological point of view then Jerusalem is an uninhabited ruin between circa 580 and 190 B.C. – three hundred and eighty years during which written history assures us was a vibrant epoch throughout the Near East.

 The absence of the Persian Age in archaeological terms is not confined to Jerusalem. On the contrary, the entire Fertile Crescent, from southern Mesopotamia through to the southern reaches of Palestine presents a virtual blank to the excavator seeking evidence of architecture and commerce during the Persian epoch. Those who have followed my work on this site as well as in my various publications will be aware that the Persian Age disappearing act is explained by the fact that the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian kings – who are represented abundantly in the archaeology of the region – were nothing other than alter-egos of the Persian Great Kings. And so, for example, it was Artaxerxes III – one and the same person as Nebuchadrezzar – who carried the people of Judah off to captivity in Babylon; not indeed in 580 B.C., but around 320 B.C. (Artaxerxes III is normally believed to have died around 338 B.C., but I believe there are good grounds for down-dating the whole of the Hellenistic and Persian epochs by around 20 years. In this way, Alexander would have conquered the Persian Empire between 314 and 310 B.C., and would have died sometime around 303 B.C.)

In the scheme of things presented in my Ages in Alignment series, it was therefore the Persian kings who deported the Hebrews, both of the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, and it was the Greeks who permitted the return of the latter folk to Jerusalem. But when exactly did this occur?

 There is little archaeological evidence from Palestine during the first hundred years of the Hellenistic epoch. During that time, the region was controlled by the Ptolemies, though the Seleucids, who were based in Mesopotamia, made repeated efforts to wrest control of it from the Ptolemies. What little evidence we do have of the region at the time comes from the so-called Zenon archive, a collection of third century papyri from the Faiyum region of Egypt. There is absolutely nothing in the latter archive that would suggest any substantial Jewish life in Palestine at the time (i.e. circa 260 - 230 B.C.). 

In Book 12 of his Jewish Antiquities, Josephus outlines the history of the Jewish people during the Hellenistic epoch. He records how the Jews sided with Antiochus III against Ptolemy during the Seleucid struggle for possession of Palestine. After his victory, Antiochus sent several letters, quoted by Josephus, which announced the privileges he accorded the Jews in gratitude for their help against the Egyptians. Antiquities, 12, 138-144 is a copy of one of these, in which Antiochus grants the Jews help for rebuilding their temple, tax reductions for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, an allowance for sacrifices, and various other privileges. Though there has been considerable debate about the authenticity of this and the other two letters, it is now generally accepted that these are indeed the texts of actual letters from the Seleucid king.

The letters of Antiochus seem to imply that Jersualem was then in the process of reconstruction and resettlement. This is especially striking with regard to the reference to "rebuilding" the temple. Yet according to conventional ideas, the temple in Jerusalem had been rebuilt in the fifth century B.C., almost three hundred years before the time of Antiochus III. But the testimony of the letters stands in complete accord with that of archaeology, which cannot find any evidence of settlement in Jerusalem during the periods of Persian or Ptolemaic domination. 

Conventional scholarship claims that the High Priest Ezra, who was instrumental in resettling Jerusalem and rebuilding the Temple, was a contemporary of the Persian King Artaxerxes I, and indeed a King Artaxerxes is mentioned several times in the Books of Ezra. However the First Book of Maccabees also mentions a High Priest named Ezra who, like the Ezra of the Book of Ezra, reads to the people from the sacred books. The Maccabee-era Ezra would have flourished around the first half of the second century B.C. - precisely when archaeology finds a rebuilt and reoccupied Jerusalem, and precisely when Antiochus III sanctioned the resettlement of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple. Could it be then that Anthiochus III was the same person as Artaxerxes mentioned in the Book of Ezra, and that the Ezra of the latter Book was the same person as the Ezra of the Book of Maccabees?

The evidence, both textual and archaeological, answers the above question in the affirmative. It would appear that Antiochus III ordered the rebuilding and repeopling of Jerusalem with the aim of establishing a bulwark against any further encroachment from the south by the Ptolemies. The Jews had assisted Antiochus against the Egyptian King and were evidently seen by the Seleucid monarch as reliable allies to place on his Egyptian frontier. His aims in this direction were of course to be dramatically overturned just a generation later when the newly-settled Jews rebelled against their estwhile allies and benefactors, during the reign of Antiochus IV.

Why then, it might be asked, does the Book of Ezra mention a "King Artaxerxes" as the great benefactor of the Jews? Assuming that there was no deliberate deception involved (by no means impossible), it seems likely that Antiochus III also used the name Artaxerxes. It is known that the Macedonians began to adopt Persian customs and manners immediately after Alexander's conquest, and the Seleucids, who inherited the Persian heartland, were especially susceptible to the process of Iranization. The name Artaxerxes was popular (in the form Ardashir) in later epochs of Iranian and Mesopotamian history, but is there any evidence that Seleucid monarchs adopted the title?

Evidence for such does exist.

Historians accept that Antiochus III consciously adopted Persian royal nomerclature, calling himself, for example, Basileus Megas ("Great King"), the title borne by all Achaemenid rulers. His son, Antiochus IV, was given the birth-name Mithradates, in honour of the Iranian god Mithras. According to the Babylonian Chronicle, Antiochus III himself had a birth-name which began with the letter "L" (the rest of the word is missing). However, since in Greek the letters 'A' and 'L' resemble each other closely, I would suggest that Antiochus' birth name began with 'A' and that is was Artaxerxes.