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.

Velikovsky and the "Bonds" of Saturn

One of Velikovsky's more intriguing assertions about Saturn is the claim that the ancient peoples were aware of the planet's rings - a feature not discovered in modern times until the seventeenth century. Velikovsky was able to quote at least a dozen ancient authors - mostly from classical antiquity but also from other cultures - who asserted that Saturn, or Kronos, had been placed in 'bonds' by Jupiter or by the other gods. This, he held, was very probably a reference to Saturn's distinctive rings. These latter, he said, must have appeared around the planet in the wake of the cataclysmic supernova-type explosion that had brought the Flood.

A fascinating claim, yet it begs several questions. First that springs to mind is this: How could the ancients possibly have seen the rings? Saturn is the faintest of the planets visible to the naked eye. For inhabitants of the earth to see its rings without the aid of a telescope, the planet would need to navigate a solar orbit millions of miles closer to the sun. Indeed, it would need to be very much closer than Jupiter is. Either that, or the earth would need to be moved many millions of miles farther away from the sun - a move which would surely render life on our planet impossible. Aware of these problems, Velikovsky mentioned the possiblility that some of the ancients possessed magnifying lenses and basic telescopes. This is not impossible; indeed it is distinctly possible, yet even with a good telescope Saturn's rings are not, to the untrained eye, necessarily interpreted as rings. Galileo, who first noticed them, believed them to be orbiting satllites.

Where then does that leave the legend of Saturn's bonds?

It is impossible of course to give a definitive answer to all of this. Perhaps Velikovsky is right; perhaps the ancients did observe the planet Saturn newly-surrounded by rings or bonds. However, we should note that many ancient gods and demigods were believed to have been subdued and 'bound' in one way or another. Many were confined to Tartarus, the underworld. This was the case, for example with the titan Briareos, as well as with serpent-dragon Typhon. Prometheus too was 'bound', either in Tartarus or to the Caucasus Mountains. Even in Christian imagery Satan is depicted as 'bound' (or will be). In many myths the dragon, the very symbol of chaos and evil, is considered to have been bound in one way or another. This was case with the Egyptian serpent-dragon Apep, who was confined and bound in the underworld. And the frequent occurrence of the dragon-serpent in these kinds of stories makes us wonder whether the 'binding' of these ancient demigods refers to their removal as a threat to the earth. Velikovsky himself claimed that the 'casting down' of Lucifer from heaven, mentioned by the prophet Isaiah, referred to the removal of the great comet, the cosmic serpent, as a threat to humanity. Being a demigod, the Cosmic Serpent was ultimately immortal, so could not really be killed, only confined for a long period of time.

This then is a possible answer to Velikovsky's point. Another possibility is that Saturn, moving very slowly across the firmament, may have been seen by the ancients as being confined in some way or hampered in some way in his movement. Either of these could be correct, or they could both be wrong. Perhaps, as I said, Velikovsky is right. Perhaps the ancients did observe Saturn's rings and see them as proof that the formerly dominant planet in the system had been overthown and bound. Yet if this is the case, we need to explain how early man could have observed such things in a planet so far away.

 

 

Cavalry and Chronology

First ever Egyptian portrayal of a mounted man, from Horemheb's Memphis tomb, late 18th Dynasty. This depiction is supposedly five hundred years older than the cavalrymen portrayed on the monuments of Ashurnasirpal II - even though it is evident that the idea of cavalry was novel to the Assyrians at that time.

Cavalry of Ashurnasirpal II, showing the extremely awkward deployment of two men riding side by side with one holding both sets of reins. This confirms that in Ashurnasirpal II's time the use of cavalry was new and still in an experimental stage. Yet the Egyptians portrayed Asiatic cavalrymen deployed in a similar manner, supposedly 500 years earlier.

Historians and archaeologists use the various expressions of culture in order to date a site or epoch. Art and technology constantly evolve, and the stage reached in any of the various branches of the latter two can provide a very accurate marker as to where an artefact or item belongs. Military technology, in particular, went through a very definite progression in the ancient world, with new innovations eagerly seized upon by the rulers of kingdoms and empires. One of the most telling military innovations, from the point of view of Near Eastern chronology, was the use of cavalry.

In the Bible and in various other ancient sources the Assyrians are regarded as horsemen par excellence, and sure enough, in the 19th century archaeologists in Mesopotamia were able to confirm that cavalry, as opposed to chariotry, made their first appearance in history in Assyria, where they are portrayed on the monuments of Ashurnasirpal II (conventionally 9th century B.C.). The cavalry of this monarch are clearly the first ever depolyed in Assyria, for their method of operation is clumsy in the extreme. Typically, two horsemen ride alongside each other, one firing arrows at the enemy, his companion holding the reins of his own and the other's horse. Neither horseman has a saddle, and is compelled to try and grip his mount by holding his knees hard against the horse's flank. So unwieldy is the equipping and deploying of these men that their inexperience is obvious, and no historian questions that these are the first ever cavalrymen of the ancient world. (A literary reference to cavalry is also found in documents of Ashurnasirpal's father, Tukulti-Ninurta II, but it is not doubted that this is the very beginning of horsemanship in Mesopotamia).

This being the case, and the Assyrians in any case being regarded as the great horsemen of the ancient Near East, how surprising then to find that the Egyptians knew of horsemanship and cavalry five hundred years before Ashurnasirpal II.

The first ever Egyptian portrayal of a mounted man comes from the Memphis tomb of Horemheb. Here we find a bare-backed rider who looks decidedly un-Egyptian, atop a prancing horse, a horse depicted in a way apparently characteristic of Assyrian art. Within a decade or so of this depiction, the Egyptians again show cavalrymen on a bas-relief in Seti I's hypostyle hall at Karnak. Here the mounted men are deployed exactly as are the cavalrymen of Ashurnasirpal II, supposedly five centuries later: they are bare-backed archers fighting alongside of and in support of the Hittite chariotry. (Incidentally, the chief allies of the Hittites in these wars against the Egyptians were the people of Naharim - the land of Assyra).

So, conventional history expects us to believe that the Assyrians of Ashurnasirpal II's time (9th century B.C.) were struggling with the novel concept of horsemanship, whilst five hundred years earlier, the Hittites and their Assyrian allies had already reached the same stage - or a slightly more advanced one - in the mastery of horse-riding. This fact alone, by itself, proves conclusively that the conventional history of Egypt and Assyria, as encountered in the textbooks, is an utter fabrication. Either the chronology of Egypt is wrong, or the chronology of Assyria is wrong, or they are both wrong. The final of these options, I hold, is the correct one. Cavalry first came into use in Assyria in the second half of the seventh century B.C., where Ashurnasirpal belongs. They were portrayed in Egypt during the reigns of Horemheb and Seti I in the early sixth century B.C. And the Greeks too, ever eager to adopt new and effective military techniques, also began deploying cavalry in the early sixth century, when they make their first appearance in Greek artwork.

Before leaving this topic, the above facts also refutes David Rohl's chronology, for he too would place Horemheb and Seti I, and their cavalry depictions, long before Ashurnasirpal II. In his case 150 years before; not as great a discrepancy as that of mainstream chronology, but nonetheless a major chronological anomaly.

 

New Chronologies, King-lists and Confusion

The confusion of ancient history began in ancient times and indeed has always existed. No accurate history of pre-classical antiquity has ever been written. The Greek historians, beginning with Herodotus, were the first to attempt a comprehensive chronicling of events from the founding of the great civilizations down to their time. For this they had to rely on the information given to them by Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Syrian scribes. The result was a broad outline of Mesopotamian history which lacked precise dates and which also lacked synchronisms with Egyptian history. The general picture presented by the Greeks was this: The first civilization of Mesopotamia, which appeared after a great Deluge, was that of the Chaldaeans. How long this early culture endured was uncertain. At some stage however the Chaldaeans were overcome by the Assyrians under their first great ruler Ninos, for whom Nineveh was named. Some sources declared that the Assyrians dominated Mesopotamia (and surrounding regions) for several centuries. In any event, around 150 years before the rise of Persia, the Assyrians were overthrown by the Medes, an Iranian people from the east. The Medes controlled much of the Near East from (presumably) the early seventh century until they in turn were conquered by a related people, the Persians. This latter conquest occurred in what we now call the sixth century B.C. From that point onwards, the history of the Near East was closely entwined with that of Greece, and we possess a reasonably accurate account of it from the Hellenic historians. 

The general outline of history as presented by the Greeks is - as Gunnar Heinsohn emphasized on many occasions - almost certainly the correct one. The problem has been trying to fit this outline into the plethora of kings, dynasties and cultures that came to light in Mesopotamia after the beginning of systematic archaeological investigation in the early 19th century. Scholars quickly abandoned the scheme provided by the Greeks as they announced the discovery of several "lost civilizations" and "lost empires" in the mud and clay of Iraq. Accompanying these "lost civilizations" scholars uncovered a dizzying array of kings and dynasties whose reigns seemed to reach back into the remotest antiquity. Amongst the most confusing of these were those of Assyria. Instead of one Assyrian Empire, scholars now spoke of three Assyrian empires - the Old Assyrians, the Middle Assyrians and the Neo (or New) Assyrians. The 'Middle Assyrians' in particular proved to be a fertile source of confusion and disagreement. Various king lists and so-called 'eponym lists' seemed to record the existence of scores of these monarchs, who, historians claimed, had ruled the land of Assyria between the fourteenth and ninth centuries B.C. The same small group of names (Adad-Nirari, Shamshi-Adad, Shalmaneser, and Ashur-Dan) seemed to reoccur again and again, with the result that historians came to list three, or four, or even five, of the above named rulers.

When Immanuel Velikovsky sought to cut through the Gordion Knot of Near Eastern history, he did not deal directly with the land of Assyria. Nonetheless, it was clear from the very beginning that his new chronology, as presented in Ages in Chaos (1952), demanded a dramatic shortening of Assyrian history, as well as the abolition of dozens of Middle Assyrian kings. In the above-mentioned volume he made Akhnaton, of Egypt's 18th Dynasty, a contemporary of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III. This meant that all the 'Middle Assyrian' kings whom conventional history dates between Akhnaton and Shalmaneser III, had to be effaced from the textbooks.

By the late 1970s it became clear that major problems existed for Velikovksy's chronology, and one by one most of his supprters dropped away. Nonetheless, Velikovsky had demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that there was a lack of archaeology for the period stretching between the end of the Late Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age. Several centuries needed to be removed, but how many? The attention of many researchers became focused on the Assyrian king lists - particularly on the monarchs said to have reigned between the 13th/14th century B.C. and the 9th century B.C. The 9th century B.C., when a renewed Neo-Assyrian kingdom rose to prominence, was well-represented by finds in the ground, as was the Middle Assyrian kingdom which came to an end in the 14th or 13th century B.C. There seemed to be little or nothing in between.

In the early 1980s, English scholar David Rohl noticed that Ashurnasipal II, the Assyrian king who re-established Assyria's hegemony in the 9th century B.C., had a father named Tukulti-Ninurta (II), a man with exactly the same name as the last great king of the Middle Assyrian age, Tukulti-Ninurta I. Could it be, thought Rohl, that Tukulti-Ninurta I was the same person as Tukulti-Ninurta II, and that he was the father of Ashurnasirpal II? If so, this would mean reducing the date of the Middle Assyrian kingdom (and with it Egypt's New Kingdom, with which it was contemporary), by 350 years. This was a much more modest reduction than the 500 years demanded by Velikovsky, but a substial figure nonetheless. From this beginning Rohl went on to produce a detailed and ingenious chronology which gained, over the next thirty years, widespread publicity and popular acclaim.

Notwithstading the popularity of Rohl's system, it always had its own problems. Not least among these was that all the compelling and attractive synchronisms identified by Velikovsky between the histories of Israel and Egypt had to be abandoned. So, Hatshepsut was not the Queen of Sheba; Punt, the 'Holy Land', was not Israel; Thutmose III, who plundered the great temple of Kadesh, was not Shishak, who plundered the great temple of Jerusalem (Al Kuds); Amenhotep II, who called himself User-aa (Zerah) and who seems to have suffered a major defeat in Palestine, was not Zerah the Ethiopian who suffered a major defeat in Palestine at the hands of Asa of Judah. These, and a thousand other compelling links identified by Velikovsky and others of his school, had all to be jettisoned if David Rohl was right.

The work of Gunnar Heinsohn, which demanded an even more radical reduction in Near Eastern timescales than proposed even by Velikovsky, began to make an impact in the early 1990s. By 1991 Heinsohn's take on Assyria boiled down to this: The Old Assyrians were the Empire Assyrians of the 8th century B.C., mentioned by the Greeks; the Middle Assyrians were the Mede conquerors of Assyria, who took on Assyrian royal titles; and the Neo-Assyrians were the Persian conquerors of the Medes, who also took on Assyrian royal titles. I am in complete agreement with this system, but how does it impact the detailed reconstructions proposed by Velikovsky and Rohl?

The Mitanni Great Kings, who rose to power simultaneously with Egypt's 18th Dynasty, immediately adopted Assyrian royal titles and styled themselves kings of Assyria. The first and most important of these was Shaushattra, who adopted the Assyrian name Shamshi-Adad. All the Mitanni kings who followed did the same, and the last of these, Tushratta, also called himself Tukulti-Ninurta. Both Tushratta and Tukulti-Ninurta were murdered by a son; Tushratta by Shattiwaza (or Mattiwaza) and Tukulti-Ninurta by Ashurnasirpal. The latter ruler, who is one and the same as Ashurnasirpal II, 'refounded' the Assyrian kingdom and is regarded as the first Neo-Assyrian ruler. However, he was in fact a Mede who merely inaugurated a new epoch of Mitanni/Mede power. All of the 'Neo-Assyrian' kings who followed Ashurnasirpal adopted typically 'Middle Assyrian' names - Shlamaneser, Shamshi-Adad, Adad-Nirari, Ashur-Dan, etc. These kings were contemporaries of the pharaohs of Egypt's 19th Dynasty, with whom they corresponded. They were also contemporaries of the Hittite Empire, with whom they also corresponded. Yet because of the similarity in names it has now become received wisdom that it was Middle Assyrian kings who were contemporaries of the 19th Dynasty and the Hittites.

A host of detailed archaeological finds prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was the early Neo-Assyrians who came after Ashurnasirpal - and not the Middle Assyrians - who were contemporary with the late 18th and the 19th Dynasties of Egypt. As an example of this, consider the following: When he assumed power, Ashurnasirpal began building the city of Calah (Kalhu) as his new capital. In the palaces, temples and forts he raised, he placed scarabs of the pharaoh then in power in the foundations. This was standard practice in the Near East and was designed specifically as a dating-marker. Which pharaoh's scarabs went into the buildings of Ashurnasirpal II? Those of Amenhotep III.

The latter fact proves beyond reasonable doubt that Ashurnasirpal (II) was a contemporary of Amenhotep III and Akhnaton, and that it must have been he who penned several arrogant missives to the latter pharaoh under the name of Ashuruballit.   

 

Velikovsky was Wrong about Saturn

The Narmer Palette, dating from the start of Egypt's First Dynasty, showing clear images of the horned goddess Hathor (Venus). This was long before the Exodus.

In Worlds in Collision (1950) Velikovsky catalogued in a most thorough way how traditions from all parts of the globe identified the god(dess) and planet Venus as the harbinger of destruction and the cause of a terrible catastrophe which had, in an early age, almost exterminated the human race. In the same place he demonstrated how Venus was regarded as a child of Jupiter, the 'Father of the Gods', and how the planet was believed, at one time, to have possessed a tail and to have had the characteristics of a comet. In all or most of the traditions cited by Velikovsky, Venus was unequivocally associated with a great flood or deluge. Strange as it may seem however he himself did not believe Venus to be responsible for the event known in the Bible as the Deluge. On the contrary, he held that Venus had brought a much less severe catastrophe, at a much more recent time in history. This was the planet, he said, which caused the upheaval known to the Bible as the Exodus. The Great Flood, by contrast, was placed one and a half to two thousand years earlier, and was caused, he said, by the planet Saturn.

It is here that I part company with Velikovsky, and in the present article I wish to explain why he got it wrong and how he came to identify Saturn as the planet of the Flood.

In Worlds in Collision, Velikovsky hinted that the biblical Deluge was caused by a supernova-like explosion of the planet Saturn. Hydrogen gas from the erupting mini-star spread throughout the solar system, with some of it reaching the earth where it combined with oxygen in our planet's atmosphere and fell as rain. In his unpublished In the Beginning (now accessible on the internet) he elaborates on this thesis. Much of the material from Saturn, Velikovsky claimed, reached Jupiter, where the increased mass caused the latter planet's core to undergo nuclear fusion. The result was a colossal explosion from which erupted a ball of white-hot matter - the planet Venus. 

Velikovsky justified this cosmology mainly by referencing ancient myths, which apparently spoke of some kind of conflict between Saturn (or Kronos) and Jupiter (Zeus). He also mentioned several myths which seemed to connect Saturn to a disaster on the earth - though very few that specifically connected the latter deity to the great Deluge. He could point to several ancient texts which connected Saturn with rainfall and cold, but little more than that. 

It may be that in some remote period the planet Saturn was involved in natural disturbances on the earth, but it was most definitely not the cause of the Deluge - the tremendous cataclysm which ended the Pleistocene and raised the level of the oceans by 120 meters. This can be demonstrated in a number of ways.

First and foremost, the end of the Pleistocene - which Velikovsky himself did not date earlier than 4,000 years ago (see Earth in Upheaval) - was marked by immense and devastating tectonic activity throughout the globe. This speaks of another cosmic body of planet-size in relatively close proximity to the earth. Not even Velikovsky claimed that Saturn and the earth were ever near neighbours.

Secondly, and more importantly, the god(dess) and planet Venus was associated with the great Deluge in all the world's mythologies - and these references long predate the Exodus. (Note: In Worlds in Collision, Velikovsky claimed that the newly-born planet Venus had brought about the Exodus catastrophe). The very earliest myths of Mesopotamia attribute the Flood to Ishtar or Inanna, whilst the Egyptians spoke of Hathor, an admitted Venus-deity, being charged by Ra with the destruction of the earth - which task she very nearly accomplished. Images of Isthar/Inanna/Hathor are found in Mesopotamia and Egypt from the very earliest stages of those cultures. Velikovsky was of course aware of this, and suggested somewhat lamely that Venus may have existed for several centuries before the devastating events of the Exodus, though without having caused any major disruption on our planet. But this cannot be the case. Venus would hardly have occupied the prominent position she did in the earliest ancient myths without having had a major impact upon our world.

Thirdly, and importantly, notwithstanding Velikovsky's attempts to associate Venus with the Exodus, there is no doubt whatsoever that the real god of the Exodus was Mars. This is made very clear by the prominence in the story of Michael - the dragon-slaying Mars (or Hercules) figure par excellence. Why Velikovsky should try to equate Michael with Venus is curious and comes from his unquestioning acceptance of biblical chronology.

Fourthly, although Old World mythology mentions early events involving Saturn/Kronos and Jupiter/Zeus, the mythology of the New World makes no such references. On the contrary, the peoples of the New World unequivocally identify Venus as the cause of the great Flood and retain no real memory of any major events before that time. This suggests that Old World references to rivalries between Saturn and Jupiter were allegories or were references to cosmic events that preceded the Flood. However, if such be the case, it makes us wonder how they could have been recalled in human tradition, since ancient peoples would only have taken note of events that directly affected themselves. The very worship of the planets, for example, is inexplicable without reference to past catastrophes of the kind described by Velikovsky. But if no such catastrophes had occurred earlier than the Deluge, it is unlikely that human beings would have taken note of interactions between Saturn and Jupiter. And the fact that there was no memory of catastrophes preceding the Deluge is suggested by the complete lack of interest in the stars and planets displayed by the Palaeolithic peoples - whose artwork consists mainly of portraying the animals they hunted and the worship of a Fertility Goddess. 

The Greeks and Romans certainly asserted that in an earlier age Saturn had been the principal god and that he had been usurped and overthrown by Jupiter, yet it is perfectly probable that the conventional explanation for this is the correct one: Namely that the sluggish movement of Saturn through the firmament suggested old age to the ancient astologers. We should note too that Saturn's Greek name, Kronos, is very similar to the Greek for 'time' - Khronos - and we know that the Greeks themsleves confused and associated the two.  

Taking everything into account then we can say the following: The great Flood was an event caused by the comet/proto-planet Venus, an event which seems to have occurred roughly between 1800 and 2000 B.C. Venus' birth was apparently witnessed by human beings, who recall a vast eruption on Jupiter. How long this was before the onset of the Flood and Venus' encounter with the earth is unkown. Finally, human beings probably retain no authentic memories or traditions from before this time.

The Cosmogonic Meaning of the Osiris/Tammuz Myth

Osiris, lord of the dead, attended by Anubis and Horus.

In his In the Beginning, Velikovsky claimed to identify the primeval resurrection gods Osiris and Tammuz with Saturn. The myth of Osiris, which concerned the latter god's combat with the evil Set, referred, according to Velikovsky, to a celestial conflict between Saturn and Jupiter, a conflict which ended with the "death" of Saturn, followed by his "resurrection". In Velikovsky's reconstruction, Saturn had been the most prominent body in the sky prior to the Flood, but had disappeared from the firmament after undergoing a supernova type explosion. Years later, however, mankind had rediscovered the hitherto prominent planet as a faint and slowly-moving body in the farther reaches of the firmament. Hence his association with the kingdom of the dead. 

This, I believe, represents a complete misinterpretation of the Osiris legend, though it is correct about one thing: the story does indeed refer to the events of the great Deluge.

In order to understand the Osiris myth, it is necessary to first present a brief summary. Basically, Osiris was a benevolent god-king, son of Geb, god of the earth, who had in primeval times reigned over the earth (or Egypt, which to the Egyptians was one and the same thing). He had a wicked brother named Set who plotted against him. Eventually Set murdered his brother, dismembered him, and placed the pieces in a casket which floated down the Nile and was eventually washed ahore at Byblos. There the casket became embedded in the trunk of a tamarisk tree, which grew up around it. Some time later, the king of Byblos had the tree cut down and made into a pillar for his palace, with the chest still inside. Meanwhile, Osiris' faithful wife Isis searched far and wide for her husband's body, eventually cutting his corpse from the pillar in Byblos and bringing it back to Egypt. She now had all the parts except the penis, which was eaten by fish. This she had to reconstruct magically. By means of Osiris' reconstructed body, Isis manages to impregnate herself and give birth to Horus, the son and heir who would eventually depose Set and restore order in the universe.

Plutarch, whose retelling of this story is the most complete version that we possess, gives the name of Typhon to Set. Typhon is well-recognised in ancient sources as (to quote Pliny) a "terrible" comet that had, in an early age, devastated the earth. As such, Set's identification with the Cosmic Serpent or Dragon that brought the Flood is hardly open to question. Set is portrayed as the personification of chaos and destruction and his reign over the earth a time when maat, or cosmic order, is overthrown.

The essential nature of Osiris is equally clear. He is the very personification of order; he is a vegetation god who is portrayed with a green body; he is the god of death and resurrection who welcomes the dead into his kingdom of bliss. From this it is fairly evident that Osiris represents the earth in its pre-Flood, paradisiacal state. His death represents the death of the old earth, of mankind's innocence, a death occasioned by the arrival on the scene of the Cosmic Serpent, Set.

Yet Osiris is also a phallic deity - though he only acquires this nature after his death. We recall at this stage how in the wake of the great Deluge a plasma or electro-magnetic "pillar" appeared at the North Pole - a wonderful multi-coloured phenomenon which shone with a crystalline brilliance and which seemed to re-establish contact with heaven and to offer traumatised mankind some kind of assurance that there would be no repeat of the destruction by water that the earth had so recently endured. This was the pillar, or tower, or world tree, that was "destroyed" or disappeared in the wake of a second catastrophe some centuries after the Deluge.

There seems little doubt then that Osiris was, like his father Geb, originally the god of the earth, who was destroyed or killed by the Dragon monster Set and whose magical penis or pillar appeared afterwards at the Northern Pole. (Geb too was portrayed with an erect penis, often copulating with the sky-goddess Nut, who leans over him). In this context Isis, Osiris' wife, would be the primeval mother-goddess and Horus, their son, would be Mars, or Hercules, the deity who would eventually combat and overcome the Serpent Monster Set/Apep and restore order or maat to the universe. (Note. In other contexts Isis herself came to be associated with the Cosmic Serpent, as was her alter-ego Hathor. It should not be forgotten that ancient myths were fantastic and imaginative retellings of natural events in which actors often switched roles and personalities. These are not scientific records in any sense of the word).  

The Revised Chronology

A fragment of Herodotus' Histories. Herodotus, who is known as the 'Father of History', was the first to critically examine events of the past, rather than just chronicle them in sequence.

The 'Ages in Alignment' scheme proposes a radical reduction in the length of human and natural history. It also proposes, in line with the principles laid out by Immanuel Velikovsky, that the earth's history was punctuated by great natural catastrophes involving other members of the solar system. The last of these, recalled in human tradition, involved the inner planets and led to the catastrophic events known in the Bible as the Deluge, the destruction of the Tower of Babel, and the Exodus.

As can be imagined, placing the above events in a precise chronological timescale is extremely difficult. However, using various methods it is, I believe, possible to give a fairly accurate estimate as to when they occurred.

The Deluge, or Great Flood, is an event recalled in virtually all of the world's mythologies and legends. It is also indicated in the geological and palaeontological record - though the latter fact has been effectively censored from modern textbooks and academic forums. The record however clearly shows that the Pleistocene (corresponding to the Palaeolithic Age) epoch came to an end in a catastrophic manner. Evidence of vast tectonic activity at the time is found throughout the globe, whilst the sudden extinction of the very well-adapted Pleistocene megafauna speaks of the same thing. But when did this happen?

Evidence of various types, outlined in Velikovsky's Earth in Upheaval (1956), would indicate that the Pleistocene came to an end between 3,500 and 4,000 years ago. For various reasons, I would suggest that we can narrow this down to the two centuries between 1800 and 2000 B.C.

The Flood which terminated the Pleistocene was associated in all of mankind's traditions with the god (usually goddess) and planet Venus. She occurs prominently in ancient mythology variously as Ishtar, Inanna, Isis, Athena, Quetzalcoatl, etc., and is often linked to a dragon-deity or cosmic serpent, which is equally associated with the Deluge. This event killed the great majority of the earth's population and caused the extinction of many species - and not just the megafauna. The cultural epoch which followed, generally called the Mesolithic, shows a marked decline from the Palaeolithic, and it is evident that people are struggling to rebuild. However, rapid progress is made and we find, for the first time, evidence of the domestication of certain animals, such as the dog. Technology also advances and we now find hunters using the bow. And progress was continuous. Within no more than a couple of centuries, advancements in knowledge of husbandry led to the invention of agriculture and the arrival of the Neolithic (New Stone Age), with humans living in settled village communities and raising temple-like structures upon which they worshipped the sun, moon and planets. We find also the first tentative use of metals such as copper and the production of pottery.

This was the stage reached in Mesopotamia with the so-called 'Ubaid culture, a culture dramatically terminated by a second natural catastrophe - a catastrophe marked in the Land of the Two Rivers by a 'flood' layer, but elsewhere - as in Syria - marked by a 'great fire'. When did this occur?

Because the culture which succeeded 'Ubaid, named Uruk or Jamdat Nasr, spread as far as Egypt, where it gave rise to the First Dynasty of that country, it is possible to calculate fairly precisely the date at which 'Ubaid culture was terminated - around 1250 B.C. This was the event known from the Bible as the destruction of the Tower of Babel. Immediately after the catastrophe, the inhabitants of Mesopotamia and Egypt begin to produce artwork showing intertwining serpents around a central pillar - the original caduceus of Mercury/Hermes - and it seems that the disaster of the time was associated with that deity. Hermes was a phallic god (hence the 'pillar') and was worshipped in ancient times around erect standing stones. The most prominent deity in Egypt of the period, Min, was shown with an erect penis, and it was he who initiated the custom of circumcision.

The Early Dynastic epoch of Egypt, consisting of Dynasties 1 to 3, endured for about three hundred years, ending around 920 B.C. in another natural catastrophe. This was the event spoken of in the Bible as the Exodus, and it is marked in Mesopotamia by a final 'flood layer' at all the major sites.

Following this final world-wide catastrophe, Egypt entered what is known as the 'Pyramid Age', Dynasties 4 to 6, which saw the raising of some of the most iconic monuments in existence. In Mesopotamia, the same period saw the rise of the Akkadian or Old Assyrian Empire under its greatest kings, Sargon I and Naram Sin. The Akkadians conquered most of the Near East, including Egypt, where they established a cadet line of rulers, now known as the 6th Dynasty. These kings, with names like Pepi I and Pepi II, were identical to the 'Hyksos' Asiatic kings of Dynasty 15, whose most important kings were called Apepi I and Apepi II. (Note, there was no standardized spelling in Egypt, just as there was none in England unti the latter 18th century, and different scribal colleges spelled the names of pharaohs differently).

The Akkadian/Assyrian/Hyksos kings were expelled from Egypt around 730 B.C., just as their empire in Mesopotamia and Syria was being overrun by the Mitanni - the 'Mighty Medes'. The 18th Dynasty rulers of Egypt, who overthrew the Hyksos, were from the very beginning, friends and allies of the Medes; and the latter people selected officials from the their ruling class - the mariyanna - to administer many of the towns and cities of Syria that had recently been liberated from the Assyrians/Hyksos. Many of these Iranian-named mariyanna are encountered in the Amarna texts, written in the time of Amenhotep III and Akhnaton.

The 18th Dynasty of Egypt was also initially allied to the kingdom of Israel, under its first monarchs Samuel, David and Solomon, who were their allies in the war against the Hyksos - a people encountered in the Bible under the name of 'Amalekites'.

Egypt's Imperial 18th and 19th Dynasties held power roughly between 730 and 500 B.C., at which point the country was invaded by the Persians under Cambyses. (Note, the Persian Invasion is normally dated to 525 B.C., but I contend that the Hellenistic epoch is too long by about 25 years, so that all established dates before the time of Ptolemy VI need to reduced by 25 years). Egypt regained her independence around 400 B.C. and maintained it until circa 335 B.C., when the country was reconquered by Artaxerxes III, a man who also called himself Nebuchadrezzar. It was the latter king who carried off the people to Judah into captivity in Babylon.

The Persians were expelled from Egypt by Alexander around 310 B.C. and the Ptolemaic Dynasty was established around 290 B.C., shortly after the death of Alexander. This date also marks the beginning of the Seleucid epoch in Mesopotamia. The captive Jews were freed by the Seleucids but could not return to Judea until the reign of Antiochus III, for the region of Palestine was controlled by the Ptolemies until his time. Immediately upon returning to Judea the Jews began the construction of the Second Temple, around 190 B.C.   

 

 

The Deluge and the End of the Pleistocene

A typical house of the so-called 'pre-Flood' ('Ubaid) epoch in Mesopotamia. In reality, the 'Ubaid epoch cannot have been pre-Flood and contemporary with the Pleistocene. It was a typical post-Flood culture.

Anyone familiar with my work will be aware that I regard the cataclysm which ended the Pleistocene epoch - the Age of the Mammoths - as identical to the event known to human tradition as the Flood or the Deluge. The termination of the Pleistocene saw massive tectonic upheavals as well as a rise in ocean levels of 120 metres. It also saw the extinction of the megafauna of the time and the end of the Palaeolithic Age, the period of the wonderfully creative Magdalenian and Clovis cultures in Europe and America. The precise date of this event is unknown, due to the fact that all the methods used in such calculations, whether traditional (such as the generations listed in the Bible) or scientific (such as radiocarbon or dendrachronological dating) are flawed and basically unreliable. However, as Velikovsky demonstrated in Earth in Upheaval (1956) it is possible, using calculations derived from the process of the salination of lakes and the erosion of water channels at great cataracts such as Niagara Falls to come to a rough estimate, and invariably this evidence points us to somewhere between three and four thousand years before the present, with the weight of data pointing closer to four thousand years.

The most famous account of the Deluge we possess is of course that of the Bible, and after the translation of Mesopotamia's cuneiform script in the 19th century it was discovered that the biblical story closely paralleled traditional accounts from that region - an occurrence which was expected, given the fact that the Hebrews, by their own testimony, were a people originating in that part of the world. The accounts of the Flood in the legends of Mesopotamia were apparently dramatically cofirmed by the discovery in 1927 of a three-metre deep flood layer underneath the city of Ur in southern Iraq. The excavator, Leonard Woolley, had initially believed the clay silt which he found below the Early Bronze Age layers to be virgin soil with nothing beneath, but was shocked to discover, almost ten feet down, evidence of further human occupation. Asking his wife what it could mean, he was informed by her that it had to be "the Flood".

For some time I was inclined to believe that the Flood Layer at Ur was contemporary with the biblical Deluge which elsewhere in the world terminated the Pleistocene. However, I no longer consider this to be the case. Instead, the Flood of Ur was an event which occurred several centuries after the great Deluge, and was identical to an event known in biblical tradition as the destruction of the Tower of Babel. 

Several factors prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Flood of Ur cannot have occurred at the end of the Pleistocene.

First and foremost, the culture found beneath the Flood layer at Ur, commonly known as 'Ubaid, can in no way be regarded as contemporary with the Palaeolithic. The 'Ubaid people of Mesopotamia, unlike folk of the Palaeolithic Age, practised agriculture and lived in settled communities so large they can rightly be described as towns. They also, to some degree, worked in metals - and this is particularly the case in Upper Mesopotamia. Most notably of all however they built temples or shrines and show evidence of star and planet worship. This clearly marks them as a post-catastrophic culture. None of the Palaeolithic peoples of the world, whether in Europe or in the Americas, display any evidence of star or planet worship; and indeed the inauguration of the age of the 'sky gods' is clearly a result of the heaven-borne catastrophe which the earth endured at the end of the Palaeolithic. If therefore we find a culture which honours the sky gods then we are clearly dealing with a culture which arose after the Great Flood. 

Another reason for dissociating the Flood of Ur from the Great Flood lies in the depth of water-borne strata. At Ur itself the silt deposit is three metres deep. However, this is an anomaly. The silt deposit occurs at other sites in Mesopotamia, though in these it rarely exceeds half a metre in depth. Clearly a world-wide deluge, as described in literature and evidenced by deep water-borne strata in various parts of the world, would have left a far greater marker.

The Ur 'flood' did leave its footprint outside of Mesopotamia and was clearly a world-wide event, yet it was evidently not the Deluge. At Ugarit, for example, on the Mediterranean coast of Syria, Claude Schaeffer found that the 'Ubaid-period settlement was destroyed by a "great conflagration" which left a layer of ash almost four metres in depth. (Incidentally, Schaeffer's 'Ubaid settlement at Ugarit is decreed to be Early Bronze Age, whilst Woolley's 'Ubaid settlement at Ur is decreed to be Chalcolithic, and dated a thousand years earlier - thereby exposing a major disconnect and contradiction in the dating-terminology applied to Mesopotamia vis a vis Syria. This contradiction has major chronological implications). So, the catastrophe of Ur was a major world-wide event, but it was not the Deluge and it was not primarily a water-borne disaster. What kind of disaster was it, then?

In biblical tradition, and in legends from throughout the globe, we are told that in the generations after the Flood men (or gods, or giants) sought to reopen communication with heaven by erecting an enormous Tower of Pillar. In Greek tradition, this is represented as the Giants' Revolt, when the Titans piled mountains one on top of another to construct an enormous tower by which they sought to reach the gods and overthrow them. In Norse mythology it is the Frost Giants who pile heaps of clay into a giant human effigy with the intention of using this to assault Asgard. The legend is indeed universal. Among the Celts the war is fought between Fomorian giants and the divine Tuatha De Dannan at the Plain of the Tower. Such traditions are found also in the New World, as well as in the Far East.

Much debate has gone into the nature of this tower or pillar, with most in the Velikovskian camp concurring that it was not a human construct but some form of electro-magnetic phenomenon which appeared at the North Pole (and also the South Pole) in the wake of the Deluge. (The very idea of a "Pole" at the earth's axes commemorates the phenomenon). This Tower or Pillar often changed shape, emitting electrical filaments and appearing occasionally like a giant luminous tree - hence the World Tree or Tree of Life.

The appearance of this Pillar or Tree after the Deluge was seen by humans as a divine manifestation and generally viewed as a sign of hope - almost as a promise against the recurrence of another Deluge. It was regarded as a tangible link between heaven and earth. (In this respect, it would seem that it was the luminous Tree of Life and not the rainbow that was a sign of this promise and that the writers of Genesis got the two things confused, and it should be noted, in this regard, that Norse mythology has a rainbow bridge connecting heaven and earth). In any event, another cataclysm did occur and the Pillar or Tree of Life disappeared or was lost, and this 'destruction' was popularly seen as the work of malevolent giants or the forces of evil. A new age of uncertainty in the cosmos was inaugurated, and men began to construct their own towers or pillars (the first pyramids) upon which to offer sacrifice to the vengeful and unpredictable sky deities. This was the Uruk or Jamdat Nasr period in Mesopotamia, the epoch which saw the raising of the first ziggurats.

The previous age, the time during which the Tower or Tree of Life was visible - the 'Ubaid epoch - had come to an end. But how long did it last? The textbooks tell us that the 'Ubaid era lasted almost 3,000 years, though there is little explanation as to how this figure was arrived at. The depth of strata would indicate no more than a couple of centuries. The same is suggested of the various Mesolithic and Neolithic cultures which preceded 'Ubaid. Taking everything into account, including the evidence for the end of the Pleistocene outlined by Velikovsky in Earth in Upheaval, I would suggest that the latter epoch ended catastrophically sometime between 2000 and 1800 B.C. In the six or seven centuries which followed human beings recovered and established the first settled agricultural and urban communities in Mesopotamia, as well as in Syria/Palestine, Europe, India, China and the Americas. Around 1250 B.C. another catastrophe struck the earth, described in myth as the 'Battle of the Tower'. This was followed, in Mesopotamia and elsewhere, by the construction of the first pyramids and mound-structures, as well as by the inauguration of blood-sacrifice cults. It was during this time that immigrants from Mesopotamia brought the basics of literate civilization to Egypt - an event commemorated in the Abraham story. This was the second great heaven-sent cataclysm in human experience, but it was not to be the last.

In the three centuries that followed, the earth was struck by at least another two major upheavals of nature, the last of which, commemorated in the Book of Exodus, occurred around 920 B.C. and saw the termination of Egypt's Third Dynasty and Early Dynastic epoch. After this, humanity was confident that the age of cataclysms was over. Great monuments, built of gigantic blocks of stone (to be earthquake-proof) were raised everywhere in thanksgiving and human sacrifice was gradually abolished. (Commemorated in the fact that Cheops, builder of the Great Pyramid, was said to have closed the nation's temples). This too was the age of Moses' Ten Commandments, which forbade the taking of human life.

 

The Cosmic Origins of Gold

Jason steals the Golden Fleece from the dragon of Colchis. From Greek vase of 4th century B.C.

In his unpublished In the Beginning (now available at the Velikovsky Archive - www.varchive.org) Velikovsky claimed that gold deposits found in gold-bearing gravels had only recently reached the earth from elsewhere in the solar system. He supports this contention mainly by quotes from several of the Greek authors who told how Zeus (Jupiter) had rained down gold onto Rhodes, thereby enriching the island's inhabitants. Homer, for example, had said that, "upon them [the Rhodians] wondrous wealth was shed by the son of Cronus [Zeus]." Strabo, after quoting Homer, states that other writers "say that gold rained on the island the time when Athena was born from the head of Zeus."

In Velikovsky's scheme, Athena was another name for the Great Comet, or Cosmic Serpent, which brought the Deluge and devastated the earth. This comet, he argued, had erupted from Jupiter in a titanic explosion witnessed by the overawed inhabitants of the world. The latter event was recorded in Greek myth as the birth of Athena, who sprang fully armed from the head of Zeus.

Another tradition quoted in Velikovsky's manuscript is that of Perseus, whose mother Danae was impregnated by Zeus who descended upon her as a shower of gold. Such Greek legends find echoes in many parts of the globe: The Incas, for example, described gold as the 'tears of the sun', whilst Chinese chronicles spoke of rains of gold. Again, the Scythians are said by Herodotus to have venerated certain golden objects which they claimed had fallen from the heavens in early times. (Herod. IV). To these can be added stories from all over the world that connect dragons, or the Cosmic Serpent, with water (e.g. the 'hydra') and with gold hoards or treasures (such as for example the dragon of Colchis which guarded the Golden Fleece).

Could it be that the Great Comet which brought the Deluge also showered the earth with particles of gold which were attached to its tail?

 A point stressed by Velikovsky was the fact that gold seems only to appear in relatively recent strata. In a footnote we read:

"It is a remarkable fact that gold appears only in very recent geological formations. Sir Roderick Impey Murchison dedicated chapter XVII of his geological opus Siluria to this phenomenon: 'On the Original Formation of Gold and Its Subsequent Diffusion in Debris over Parts of the Earth's Surface'. He argued, on the basis of his field observations in northern Russia, that gold is of recent origin:

'Whatever may have been the date when the rock was first rendered auriferous [gold-bearing], the date of this great superficial distribution of gold is clearly indicated. For it contains in many places the same remains of extinct fossil quadrupeds that are found in the coarse drift-gravel of Western Europe. The elephas primogenius, or Mammoth, bos aurochs, rhinoceros techorrhinus, gigantic stags, and many other species, including large carnivores, were unquestionably before that period of destruction [end of the Pleistocene] the denizens of Europe and Siberia.'

No sign of gold was found in these older strata.

'Nowhere does it [the Permian debris] contain visible traces of gold or platinum. Had these metals then existed in the Ural mountains, in the quantities which now prevail, many remnants of them must have been washed down together with the other rocks and minerals and have formed part of the old Permian conglomerates. On the other hand, when the much more modern debacles, that destroyed the great animals [of the Pleistocene], and heaped up the piles of gravel above described, proceeded from this chain, then the debris became largely auriferous. It is manifest therefore that the principal impregnation of the rocks with gold—i.e., when the lumps and strings of it were formed—took place in the intervening time.'"

 

 

Were the Clovis Folk of ancient America of European Origin?

Catlin's portrait of a Mandan girl, 1834. Catlin, along with previous explorers, was struck by the apparently European features of many of the Mandan, as well as the blond hair and blue eyes common in the tribe. It has now emerged that the Mandan, along with other 'white Indian' groups such as the Ojibwa, do indeed have a lot of apparently European DNA.

The Palaeolithic culture of the Americas is known as the the Clovis culture. It was the Clovis folk who shared the New World with the mammoth, mastodon, and the other megafauna of the Pleistocene - creatures they hunted and were sometimes hunted by. The Clovis people, like their contemporaries in Western Europe, were a gifted and ingenious group. The tools and weapons they crafted, from flint and other materials, were of the highest quality, and their artwork, whilst not quite in the same league as the wonderful creations of the Magdalenian people of Western Europe, was nonetheless impressive. Even more impressive was the fact that the Clovis people seem, in some fields, to have surpassed their European contemporaries; for it is now known that they created fine quality pottery vessels and wove fabrics into cloth.

From the very beginning, America's Palaeolithic population generated controversy. This was due to the striking parallels observed between the contemporary cultures of America and Europe. As early as 1881 archaeologists such as C. C. Abbott, H. W. Haynes and G. F. Wright were suggesting a close link between the Old Stone Age of America and that of Europe. (See eg. Abbott, Haynes and Wright, The Palaeolothic Implements of the Valley of the Delaware (1881)) 

Although Abbott and co's arguments were generally overlooked by mainstream academics, the discoveries they made were real enough and the questions did not go away. Thus W. H. Holmes, although rejecting Abbott's theory of European settlement in America, included Europeans in his 1912 multiple waves theory to account for numerous shared cultural traits. (See Holmes, B. Willis, F. E. Wright, and C. N. Fenner, "Early Man in South America," Bulletin of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 52 (1912)) N. C. Nelson, curator of Prehistoric Archaeology and the American Museum of Natural History, specifically linked the European Solutrean (Palaeolithic) culture with the American Palaeolithic in 1919.

During the late 1930s Frank Hibben found a series of spear points of Palaeolithic age in a celebrated cave north-east of Albuquerque, and recognized their striking relationship with Solutrean points in the collection of Grant MacCurdy, but could not "bridge Asiatic gaps of awe-inspiring magnitude." (Hibben believed the European influences to have reached the Americas via the Bering Strait and could not even contemplate the idea that they had reached the Americas by way of the Atlantic Ocean. Yet neither could he explain Europeans travelling thousands of miles across Asia and Siberia without leaving any trace in those regions). In 1952 John Witthoft saw a series of fluted points excavated from eleven hunting camps in western New York and eastern Pennsylvania as representatives of European Upper Palaeolithic blade industry.

In 1963 British anthropologist E. F. Greenman took the debate a stage further in an article for Current Anthropology, where he proposed a route why which the European influences could have reached North America. During the Pleistocene, he theorized, the North Atlantic may have been largely frozen, and European hunters could have "hopped" across the ocean from ice-floe to ice-floe in kayak-like canoes. The tone of his article was pedestrian, merely reiterating what archaeologists had noted again and again over the previous century:

"There are many trait parallels between the Upper Palaeolithic of southwestern Europe and North America. They are present in the latter in four main areas: that of the Eskimo culture, Newfoundland, the St. Lawrence drainage and the Greater Southwest. Among the more important North American parallels are certain boats and house-types, bone pendants, design motifs, and representations of animals. These resemble paintings in Upper Palaeolithic caves or actual objects from Upper Palaeolithic sites in the Biscayan area and farther north, as well as in two caves on the southeast coast of Spain." (Greenman, "The Upper Paleolithic and the New World," Current Anthropology, 4 (1963))

Greenman's idea of Palaeolithic influences crossing an iceberg-strewn North Atlantic did not convince, and though his work caused some comment during the 1960s, it was not until the latter 1990s that the debate was reignited.

The trigger for that reignition was the fall of the Soviet Union and the opening of Russian scientific and academic literature to Western specialists. Whilst striking parallels between the European and American Palaeolithic had long been accepted, it was generally assumed that the Palaeolithic culture of eastern Siberia - the presumed ancestral homeland of all the ancient inhabitants of the Americas - would likewise display strong parallels with the American Palaeolithic. Astonishingly however, this was not the case. Instead of the elegantly wrought bifacial blades characteristic of the Clovis culture, the peoples of Siberia at that time created tools and weapons from microliths, small flint blades, sharpened at one side, and glued side by side onto bone or ivory shafts in order to create working tools or weapons. So great was the contrast with America that two of the most prominent specialists in the field, Dennis Stanford and Bruce Bradley, nailed their colours to the mast and declared that the Clovis culture must have had its origin in the Solutrean culture of Europe. This idea, known as the Solutrean hypothesis, presupposes that the Palaeolithic folk of Western Europe must have had some seafaring abilities, though Stanford and Bradley stress that the Atlantic Ocean was considerably smaller in Palaeolithic times (the oceans were shallower by 120 metres) and that, just as Greenman claimed in the 1960s, the Europeans could have been helped across the ocean by ice-floes in the North Atlantic.

The one feature common to both Solutrean and Clovis blades, and shared by no others in the world, is that they were prepared using what is known as the outrepasse technique. This method requires a great deal of skill and can easily result in a broken and ruined blade. If successful, however, it produces and a thin and elegant weapon or tool. The occurrence of outrepasse work on the Clovis and Solutrean points was perhaps the feature which most convinced Stanford and Bradley of the necessity of an ancient transatlantic link.

It was just in the 1990s that yet another scientific discipline entered the debate: that of DNA analysis. In 1998 a team of geneticists, led by Michael D. Brown of Emory University, published an article in the American Journal of Human Genetics. The article, entitled, "mtDNA Haplogroup X: An Ancient Link between Europe/Western Asia and North America?", made a sensational assertion which created a storm of controversy that has not yet abated. In it, Brown and his associates claimed that, whilst the great majority of Native American mitochondrial DNA (DNA inherited from the mother) subtypes can be traced to Siberia, a small group, designated Haplogroup X, cannot be so traced. Haplogroup X, it was found, is present in western Eurasia and Mediterranean North Africa, as well as in various Native American groups - especially those of north-eastern Canada and the United States - and nowhere else in the world.

In some groups of the American northeast, such as the Ojibwa, Haplogroup X was present in 25% of the population.

To say that scientists were surprised by this finding is almost an understatement. It went against all they had expected and all they had been led to believe about the histories of the Old and New Worlds. As might be expected, Brown's paper met with skepticism amongst the wider academic community, which tends to be notoriously resistent to radically new ideas. In time, it was suggested that the X group reached the New World from western Siberia, where the X-gene was also found in an Indo-European people named the Tocharians (a Scythian group). However, the Tocharians' presence in Siberia can only be dated from the Bronze Age - long after the end of the Pleistocene, and there is no evidence that they penetrated any further east than the Altai Mountains, in the north-east of Kazakstan. This is about four thousand miles distant from the Bering Strait.

Since the 1990s, it has emerged that another typically west Eurasian DNA group, R1b, is also present in the native populations of the Americas, and, once again, most prevalent in the peoples of north-east North America. Once again, R1b is absent from present-day Siberian populations.

The apparent confluence of the archaeological and the DNA evidence convinced some of the more enthusiastic supporters of the 'Solutrean Hypothesis' that the creators of the Clovis culture were indeed immigrants from Europe, and that these Solutrean settlers reached the Americas before Asiatic groups from Siberia crossed the Bering Strait, or Bering Land Bridge, as it then was. However, it has now become clear that this cannot be the case. Two new pieces of evidence have recently emerged which make such an interpretation impossible. Firstly, it has become clear that human beings existed in the Americas before the Clovis period, and it has become equally clear that some at least of these people came from eastern Asia. Thus for example a series of smallish spear-points from west coast North America, and predating the Clovis culture, look exactly like spear points used in Japan and the Aleutian Islands during the Pleistocene. Secondly, and even more importantly, DNA results from several Clovis skeletons have now been obtained, and it is clear that the Clovis folk were genetically almost identical to modern North American Indians. Importantly, however, these also contained the typically "European" genetic markers, such as haplogroup X and R1b, already identified in modern Native Americans. This was the case, for example, in the Windover burials from Florida and Kennewick Man from Oregon, and proves conclusively that these "European" genes were not the result of recent intermarriage with Europeans (as had been argued).

Where then does all this leave us? Taking everything into consideration it would appear that there was some transatlantic contact between Europe and North America during the Pleistocene, and that small groups of European hunters/explorers brought their unique culture and technology to the region. However, they did not enter a completely uninhabited continent. Groups of east Asians had already crossed the Bering Land Bridge. In time, the two groups intermingled, and the advanced flint-knapping techniques of the Solutreans were adapted and evolved into the Clovis culture, a culture which then spread throughout the entire continent.

The European element was there, but it was very much a minority element in the general population of North America, a situation still evidenced in the DNA makeup of modern Native Americans. This explains the blond hair and blue eyes reported amongst some Native American groups from the very earliest times by European travellers - and it should be noted that the groups most associated with "whiteness", such as the Mandan and the Ojibwa, are the very groups showing the highest concentrations of European DNA, the X haplogroup and R1b.

But how then did Palaeolithic Europeans make it across the North Atlantic?

First and foremost, it should be noted that the Atlantic was a good deal smaller than now. Sea levels were around 400 feet lower. The Grand Banks off Newfoundland was then part of the American continent, whilst the British Isles were part of Europe. This is accepted by mainstream academia, which however claims that the lower sea-level was due to an "Ice Age" which trapped a colossal amount of the earth's water as ice in the Polar regions. As a student of Velikovsky, I reject this notion, and hold that the extra water precipitated in the earth's atmosphere during the cataclysm which terminated the Pleistocene. Hydrogen from the tail of the Great Comet combined (in the midst of electrical discharges) with oxygen in the earth's atmosphere and fell as rain. But the Comet also unleashed terrific seismic forces throughout the planet, and the world's tectonic plates went into convulsions. In some regions, mountains rose hundreds or even thousands of feet, in others landmasses sank into the depths of the ocean. This was the case for example in the middle of the Atlantic, where evidence shows that the now submerged Mid-Atlantic Ridge was then an above sea-level mountain range that ran down the middle of the ocean. If this was the case, Solutrean hunters/fishers (who employed barbed harpoons and portrayed deep sea fish in their art) could easily have reached the eastern coasts of North America.

The true and frankly astonishing history of our planet is only now beginning to emerge.

 

 

The Foundations of Egyptian Chronology

Joseph Scaliger (1540 - 1609), who utilised the Bible and Manetho's system on dynasties in order to formulate the system which still forms the basis of textbook Egyptian chronology.

The young student of Egyptology will be provided with a chronology of Egypt's history which his tutor will assure him is accurate down to the year, or at least to the decade. He or she will be further assured that this chronology rests on the firmest of academic and scientific foundations and that it is not to be questioned. Yet such assurances are false, for Egypt's chronology was established long before the age of scientific and academic rigour and was based - believe it or not - on the age of the world and the lifetime of Adam as provided in the Old Testament. 

The discipline of Egyptology was established by Jean-Francois Champollion (with a great deal of help from Thomas Young) in 1822, when the young Frenchman read the first lines of Egyptian hieroglyphics from the Rosetta Stone. Yet the new discipline was not born into a vacuum; a chronology and history of Egypt already existed, and none of the new discoveries made subsequent to 1822 were able to uproot the established system. Consider the following: In 1798, just before the Battle of the Pyramids, Napoleon pointed to the Great Pyramid and exhorted his men with the words: "Forty centuries look down on you". The French commander thus placed the age of the monument somewhere around 2200 B.C. - not too far from the date still provided in the textbooks (2550 B.C.). Even stranger, in 1801 a Scottish physician named Prichard published an article in which he gave the date of the accession of Ramses III as 1149 B.C. Astonishingly, this is just forty years out from the date still given in the textbooks (1186 B.C.). Where then did Prichard and Napoleon, two decades before the founding of Egyptology as a discipline, get their astonishingly accurate dates?

The answer is the traditional chronology of Egypt found in the textbooks of their time. This chronology went back to Jewish scholars in Alexandria in the second century B.C., who sought to 'tie-in' the history of Egypt with that of the Bible. These scholars had good reason to do this, because the Jewish population in Egypt at the time faced discrimination. The Egyptian historian Manetho had earlier equated the hated Hyksos with the Jews and had claimed that they were chased out of Egypt by a pharaoh named Thummosis (now identified as Thutmose III). This idea the Jewish academics sought to counter, and to provide their own links between biblical and Egyptian history. The first link they established was to be a momentous one: they identified Adam, the first man, with Menes, the first pharaoh. This therefore placed the beginning of Egyptian history somewhere between 5500 and 4000 B.C. (Since Genesis is by no means clear when one generation of patriarchs begins and ends, various computations were possible).

The system established in Alexandria was further refined by the Christian bishop Eusebius (fourth century A.D.), who utilised Manetho's dynasties by anchoring specific pharaohs to biblical events. Thus the great Ramses, Ramses II, was made to be the pharaoh of the Exodus, on the sole ground that a city named "Ramses" was buit - according to the Book of Exodus - by the enslaved Israelites. Since biblical chronology placed the Exodus around 1450 B.C., that is where Eusebius placed him.

Medieval scholars showed little interest in Egypt's history, but things changed during the Renaissance. Joseph Scaliger, a polymath of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, made a detailed study of Eusebius and established his own chronology for Egypt based on him. Further 'refinements' to the system were made over the next hundred years by men like Helvicius, Anderson, Usher, Petavius, and even Isaac Newton.

The end result of all this was that by the eighteenth century, the age of Napoleon, a firm chronology of Egypt was already established - and it was a chronology remarkably similar to that now encountered in the textbooks. In short, our Egyptian chronology is based on the Bible - and a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible at that. Even after the decipherment of the hieroglyphs and the establishment of Egyptology as a supposedly tight academic discipline, most of the scholars who entered the field were committed Christians who never doubted the literal truth of the entire Old Testment. As a result, their efforts were directed more to fine-tuning the chronology of Eusebius and Scaliger rather than questioning the fundamentals. True, they sought to establish their system on a more scientific ground than simple reliance on the Bible, and to this end they proposed an astronomical framework - the so-called 'Sothic Calendar'. 

In his 1977 book Peoples of the Sea, Velikovsky wrote a devastating critique of the Sothic dating system, one which I propose merely to summarize here.

As with so many other things, the idea that Egyptian history might be astronomically dated was first mooted by Scaliger, and this concept was revived in the 19th century after the translation of the hieroglyphs. Eduard Meyer and Ludwig Borchardt were the figures most associated with the proposal. It was suggested that certain references to a 'Great Year' and to a 'Sothic Calendar' in a number of Roman and early Christian writers might provide the basis for fine-tuning the already established Egyptian chronology. What then was this 'Great Year' and 'Sothic calendar'?

The Egyptians, in common with other ancient peoples, employed a calendar of 365 days. This of course is not the true length of the year, which is just short of 365.25 days. A calendar of 365 days meant that annual festivals did not stay put, but moved gradually through the year, as an error of a quarter of a day was added every year. The problem is solved by adding an extra day every four years, the so-called leap year. In Rome, the leap year was only adopted officially in the reign of Augustus, whilst a few years later, in 26 B.C., it was adopted in Alexandria.

A simple calculation reveals that a quarter of a day each year accumulates to a full year in 1461 years of 365 days. Censorinus, a lesser-known Roman author, wrote in his Liber de Die Natali that the Egyptians, who had earlier resisted an attempt by Ptolemy III (the famous Canopus Decree) to reform the calendar, specially marked the one thousand four hundred and sixty-first year of the Great Year, which they called the 'Year of the God' because it was then that harmony was restored between their calendar and the solar calendar. Censorinus explained that the Egyptians marked the commencement of a 'Great Year' with the heliacal rising (ie. the appearance in the east just before the sun) of the star Sothis over Egypt. He further explained that Sothis was the Egyptian name for Sirius, and that in the one hundredth year before he wrote his work a new Sothic period had begun. Since Censorinus wrote his book in 238 A.D., this meant that the new Sothic period had begun in 139 A.D., which meant in turn that the previous Sothic period must have started in 1322 B.C. This date was seized upon by Borchardt and Meyer as the keystone of Egyptian chronology.

On a manuscript of Theon of Alexandria, an author of the fourth century A.D., an annotation remarked that "since Menophres and till the end of the era of Augustus, or the beginning of the era of Diocletian, there were 1605 years." The last year of the era of Augustus was 283 or 284 A.D. Subtracting 1605 years from this, we arrive at 1321 B.C. - almost exactly the same year indicated by Censorinus as marking the beginning of a Sothic period. The coincidence seemed too great to be the result of chance, and it was assumed (though Theon himself made no such claim) that the reign of Menophres must have marked the beginning of the previous Sothic period.

Borchardt and Meyer, along with other scholars of the age, concentrated their efforts in identifying Menophres from the hieroglyphic records. The immediate consensus was that he represented Ramses I (Men-neferre), founder of the Nineteenth Dynasty. Thus the year 1321 B.C. was fixed as the year that Ramses I mounted the throne. However, a number of other possibilities were suggested for Menophres, and one scholar at least suggested - with very good reason - that the name represented not a king at all but the city of Memphis (Men-nefer). Since the heliacal rising of Sothis (supposedly Sirius) is of central importance in marking the inauguration of a Sothic period, and since Sirius rises at different dates depending on the latitude (one degree north adds roughly a day), scholars have always wondered at precisely which point in its appearance over Egypt a Sothic period began. Did it begin when the star appeared in the far north of the country, or did it begin a few days earlier, when it rose first in the south of the country? A comment from Olympiodorus, a Greek writer of the fifth century A.D., may throw light on the subject: for he states that the date of the rising of the star at Memphis was accepted at Alexandria.

From this, it looks that the Sothic period associated with the name Menophres does not refer to a king at all, but to the city of Memphis. As such, the reference is utterly worthless from a chronological point of view.

But there are even more serious objections to the entire system, of which more will be said presently. For the moment, we should note the ease with which Borchardt and Meyer accepted 'Menophres' as a pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty, a pharaoh they were happy to position in the 14th century B.C. This was because they already believed another 19th Dynasty pharaoh - Ramses II - was the pharaoh of the Exodus, an event the Bible placed in the 14th or 15th century B.C. Thus the astronomical data seemed to reinforce the biblical chronology. Yet in doing this they were quite willing to ignore the testimony of Manetho, Diodorus Siculus, and various other ancient writers, who clearly made the Ramesside pharaohs of the 19th Dynasty contemporary with the Empire of the Medes, an empire of the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. 

 

Egyptology's Fake Dating System

Wolfgang Helck, one of the greatest Egyptologists of the 20th century, who in 1985 admitted that the Sothic dating system needed to be abandoned.

The chronology of Egypt proudly presented in textbooks and encyclopedias as scholarly and scientific is nothing but a farrago, a crude and ridiculous attempt by nineteenth century scholars to give a scientific justification for their preconceived Bible-based chronology. The so-called 'Sothic Calendar' was based on a couple of off-the-cuff remarks by two late and relatively unimportant Roman authors about a 'Great Year' which the Egyptians supposedly marked every 1,460 years. What these scholars did not tell their readers was that no mention of any 'Great Year' or Sothic Calendar was ever found in the writings of the Egyptians themselves.

Even well-respected Roman authors were given to expounding clearly outrageous statements about Egypt and her history as a matter of course. Take for example a comment by Tacitus, one of the most renowned and respected of Roman authors:

"In the consulate of Paulus Fabius and Lucius Vitellus [in the reign of Tiberius], after a long period of ages, the bird known as the phoenix visited Egypt, and supplied the learned of that country and of Greece with the material for long disquisitions on the miracle. ... As to the term of years [between two visits of the bird], the tradition varies. The generally received number is five hundred, but there are some who assert that its visits fall at intervals of 1,461 years, and that it was in the reigns, first of Sesostris, then of Amasis, and finally of Ptolemy, that the three earlier phoenixes flew to the city called Heliopolis with a great escort of common birds." (Annals of Imerial Rome, vi, 28)

Pliny, another of the greats in Roman literature, wrote in a similar vein, "... the period of the Great Year coincides with the life of the bird [the phoenix], and the same indications of the seasons and the stars return again." (Natural History, x, 2)

Commenting upon such statements, Veliovsky noted how, "Censorinus and Theon [upon whose statements the Sothic Dating system is based] are among those writers of late antiquity who seem to consider it legitimate to retroject a 1,460 year period into the Egyptian past. But no such Sothic period is ever mentioned by the Egyptians themselves." (Peoples of the Sea, p. 225) And this is of crucial importance: Try as they might, Egyptologists could find no mention of the Great Year or a Sothic period in the whole of Egyptian literature. Even the identity the star Sothis is uncertain, for it too makes no appearance in the hieroglyphic literature.

Such then is the "scientific" basis for Egyptian chronology, a system which was in 1961 described by one of Britain's foremost archaeologists as little more than a "collection of rags and tatters." (A. Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs (1961), p. 53) Since that time the entire Sothic system has been formally abandoned, at least in some quarters. Thus in 1985 Wolfgang Helck, the doyen of Egyptology at Hamburg University, editor of Lexicon der Aegyptologie, and widely regarded as one of the greatest Egyptologists of the 20th century, announced that, "Work on chronology has clearly arrived at a crisis. The reason for this is in part the adoption of dogmatic scientific facts without testing their applicability to Egyptian material and the serviceability of this material." (Helck in S. Schoske, ed. 4 Internationalner Aegyptologenkongress: Proceedings (Munich, 1985), p. 95) Whilst a rearguard attempt has since been made to save the Sothic (and Bible-based) chronology, it is apparent that the credibility of the entire system, even amongst top-ranking members of the Egyptological establishment, is now in question.

Menes and Abraham

Handle of knife from Gebel el-Araq in Egypt, dating from the beginning of the First Dynasty and showing clear Mesopotamian influence.

Nothing better illustrates the fictitious nature of textbook Egyptian chronology than the striking parallels that can be observed between Menes, the first pharaoh, and Abraham, the founding father of the Israelite nation. These parallels are detailed and precise and are observed both in the literary and the archaeological data. The problem, of course, is that according to the textbooks Menes should have reigned sometime around 3200 B.C. and Abraham should have lived around 2000 B.C.

Before addressing chronology however, let's have a look at some of the evidence bringing together these two characters and their epochs.

To begin with, both Menes and Abraham were said to have lived in a time of great natural catastrophes. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, by fire and brimstone from the sky, is one of the key events of the Abraham story. From Manetho we learn that in Menes' time a great chasm opened in Middle Egypt and the pharaoh himself was devoured by a hippopotamus. The hippopotamus, as well as the crocodile, were symbols of chaos and the destruction of order. Secondly, both men were said to be culture-givers. The Roman writer Pliny credited Menes with inventing writing, whilst Abraham, according to Jewish tradition, was the person responsible for delivering the art of mathematics and astronomy, as well as various other skills, to the Egyptians. Upon entering Egypt the father of the Jews, according to Josephus Flavius, was given leave by pharaoh to,

"... enter into conversation with the most learned of the Egyptians: from which conversation his virtue and his reputation became more conspicuous than they had been before.

"For whereas the Egyptians were formerly addicted to different customs, and despised one another's sacred and accustomed rites, and were very angry with one another on that account; Abram conferred with each of them, and confuting the reasonings they made use of, every one for their own practices, he demonstrated that such reasonings were vain and void of truth; whereupon he was admired by them in these great conferences as a very wise man, and one of great sagacity. He communicated to them arithmetic, and delivered to them the science of astronomy; for, before Abram came into Egypt they were unaccustomed with these parts of learning." (Jewish Antiquities, Book 1, 155-7)

Josephus therefore brings Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia into Egypt at the very dawn of her history and moreover makes the Hebrew patriarch the source of Egypt's culture and learning. Other Jewish traditions, as quoted by Ginsberg, also make Abraham's soujourn in Egypt contemporary with the reign of her first pharaoh.

As well as reigning during natural catastrophes and being civilizers, both Abraham and Menes were also associated with the custom of circumcision. This is stated explicitly of Abraham, who begins the practice shortly after his departure from Ur, and it is strongly suggested of Menes; for circumcision is attested in Egypt from the start of the First Dynasty, and the most prominent god in Egypt at the time was Min, who was a phallic deity closely associated with circumcision. In addition, it would appear that Menes himself was named in honour of Min, further emphasizing the connection (Herodotus actually names the first pharaoh Min).

So much for the literary evidence; the archaeological evidence is equally explicit and it fully supports the literary testimony. For just as the Jews claimed that their founding patriarch, a native of Mesopotamia, had established civilized life in the Land of the Nile, so excavations have proven beyond all question that a migration from Mesopotamia, at the very beginning of the First Dynasty, was intrumental in fostering literate civilization in Egypt. The sources here are numerous. Flinders Petrie was the first to note the "striking" Mesopotamian influence at the start of the First Dynasty, and his findings have been fully confirmed by subsequent discoveries. Consider for example the words of I. E. S. Edwards in the 1971 edition of The Cambridge Ancient History: "Foremost among the indications of early contact between Egypt and Mesopotamia," he says, "must be counted the occurrence in both countries of a small group of remarkably similar designs, mostly embodying animals." The artistic parallels are detailed and striking: "Both on the Narmer palette and on the seals, the necks of the monsters are interlaced - a well-attested motif in Mesopotamian art, to which the interlaced serpents found on three protodynastic knife handles may be an additional artistic parallel." Some Egyptian work of the period looks as if it was actually produced in Mesopotamia. A famous ivory knife-handle, for example, found at Gebel el-Araq, "portrays in finely carved relief a bearded man clothed in Sumerian costume and holding apart two fierce lions." In Edwards' words, "... so close does the composition of this scene resemble the so-called Gilgamesh motif, frequently represented on Mesopotamian seals, that the source of the inspiration can hardly be question."

Since these words were written, things have moved on substantially, with Egyptologist Michael Rice listing in 1990 at least a dozen areas of protodynastic Egyptian culture that display very specific Mesopotamian parallels (Egypt's Making (1990)), whilst in 1998 David Rohl went even further, showing a profound Mesopotamian influence in terms of religion, architecture, technology, and even to some degree language.

So, it is not doubted that an immigrant group from Mesopotamia, just before the start of the First Dynasty, was responsible for communicating a very large number of cultural and technical ideas to the natives of the Nile Valley - ideas including writing, that were fundamental to the formation of Egyptian civilization. However, this culture-bearing migration is never associated with the Abraham legend, even though Abraham shares precise parallels with the first pharoah and Jewish tradition specifically states that it was he, an immigrant from Mesopotamia, who taught the Egyptians the rudiments of civilized life. Historians could not make the connection between Abraham and Menes because to do so would have overturned textbook chronology in its entirety - and that was something they shied away from even contemplating. Yet evidence is evidence and facts are facts: either Egyptian chronology is wrong by over a thousand years, or Jewish chronology is wrong by the same margin - or both are wrong. 

Of the above three options, an overwhelming body of evidence suggests that the third is the correct one. In fact, Egyptian dynastic civilization arose around 1200 B.C., whilst the Abraham migration, the migration that brought literate civilization to Egypt, occurred at the same time. Egypt's chronology is wrong by 2,000 years and Israel's by just less than 1,000. (Note: It should go without saying that I do not regard either Menes or Abraham as historical characters in the strict sense of the word. They are both euhemerized phallic deities who came to be associated with the epoch which saw the founding of the first literate civiliations and witnessed the great culture-bearing migration from Mesopotamia to Egypt).

 

Egypt's "Pessimistic" Texts refer to the Interregnum between the Third and Fourth Dynasties

Ostrakon with a fragment of the Prophecy of Neferti

In his Ages in Chaos (1952), Immanuel Velikovsky identified a series of texts from Egypt, collectively known as the 'Pessimistic Texts', as Egyptian references to the catastrophic events described in the Book of Exodus. Velikovsky focused particularly on a document named the "Admonitions of Ipuwer" and provided fairly detailed proofs that virtually everything described by Ipuwer had a precise parallel in the biblical account of the Exodus. Ipuwer for example talked of "darkness over the land", of "plague" among beasts and men, of "the river" (ie. the Nile) being turned to blood, of slaves in revolt, etc. 

Attempts to date the Ipuwer papyrus and the wider genre of "Pessimistic" documents has proved difficult and inconclusive. For fairly obvious reasons it is generally assumed that they must have been composed during a period of political chaos and general breakdown of centralized authority, and for this reason a sort of consensus has arisen that they were composed at the end of the Old Kingdom, in a period of fractured political control known as the First Intermediate Period. This latter epoch is generally dated roughly between 2100 and 1900 B.C. Some of the Pessimistic documents actually name kings and potentates associated with the ephemeral dynasties of the First Intermediate Age, men with names such as Akheti (Akhthoes) and Antef (also read Inyotef). Velikovsky placed the Pessimistic texts rather later, during what is called the Second Intermediate Period, an epoch generally dated around 1700 to 1600 B.C. and directly predating the rise of the Eighteenth Dynasty. But there exist very strong reasons for placing the composition of all these texts to the interregnum between the Third and Fourth Dynasties.

One of the most important of the Pessimistic documents, one barely mentioned by Velikovsky, is the so-called "Prophecy of Neferti". Neferti, the author, is described as a "lector-priest" during the reign of Sneferu, first pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty. In the Prophecy, Neferty goes through the general stock-in-trade list of evils of all Pessimistic documents. We hear that the "great one" (the pharaoh) is "overthrown"; the land is "utterly ruined"; the sun, we hear, "is veiled and will not shine"; the "river of Egypt is dry"; "all good things" we hear, "have passed away" and Asiatics have invaded the country. But, says, Neferti, a leader from the south, named Ameny, will arise and restore order, expelling the Asiatics.

Neferti's Prophecy is placed before Ipuwer's Admonitions, on the strength of the language used, but it is generally agreed that neither document was written in the time it purports to speak of. Because of the mention of a "saviour" named Ameny, it is assumed that Neferti's text was actually a piece of propaganda composed during the reign of one of the Amenemhet pharaohs of the Twelfth Dynasty, whilst the language used in the Ipuwer papyrus places it in the Nineteenth Dynasty. Other Pessimistic documents however, especially those from the time of the Akheti kings, are regarded as contemporary with the events they describe. One of these, generally dated to the reign of Akheti III, describes Egypt as a "sandbank of Hell", with the pharaoh claiming to have rescued those who came to him in need on the "Day of Shedyetshya", or Day of Terror.

Interestingly, Manetho the Ptolemaic Age historian, speaks of an Akhthoes king who was devoured by a crocodile - a fairly clear reference to some form of catastrophic upheaval in the land.

Pharaoh Huni, the last ruler of the Third Dynasty, was also known as Ka-nefer-ra, and he appears to be identical to pharaoh Khenephres, whom Artapanus of Alexandria names as the pharaoh who oppressed the Israelites and who was drowned in the Sea of Passage, or Red Sea. A legend told how, immediately after the reign of Huni/Khenephres, in the time of Sneferu, a magician parted the waters of a sacred lake or stretch of water.

It would appear that the great natural catastrophe which archaeologists have traced at the end of the Early Bronze Age throughout the Middle East and the Fertile Crescent also struck Egypt and that it temporarily dissolved royal authority in the Land of the Nile. (It should be noted that by Early Bronze Age I mean Early Dynastic Age. The Egyptian Fourth to Sixth Dynasties, currently deemed belonging in the "Eary Bronze Age" should rightly be placed in the Middle Bronze Age. The last catastrophic flood in Mesopotamia ended the Early Dynastic Age there and also in Egypt). Local princes and potentates, such as the Akheti and Inyotef kings in Middle and Upper Egypt, sought to restore order in their localities, whilst Egypt's moment of weakness was exploited by nomads from west and east, who invaded and plundered the country. In the midst of this chaos a member of a minor branch of the royal family, Sneferu, seized control of events and restored order; for which action he was ever afterwards honoured and praised. Indeed, Sneferu was to become the most beloved of all pharaohs and his reign viewed as a Golden Age. He had a cult and priesthood dedicated to him and was praised as a saviour of his country.

Neither the Prophecy of Neferti nor the Admonitions of Ipuwer was composed in the time of Sneferu, but the fact that one of them claimed to date from his reign shows that his lifetime was in some way or other connected with a period of chaos and disaster. The above two documents were written centuries after Sneferu's time, but their writers used traditions about his age, as well as surviving texts. The language was updated, but that the events described actually happened was implicitly accepted. 

Heliopolis, the Phoenix Bird, and the Great Pyramid

Pyramid capstone, or benben, of Amenemhet III, 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.

The idea of a dying and rejuvenated sun is actually found in many parts of the world. The Mayas of Central America, for example, spoke of four suns, which had successively died in a series of great cataclysms and been "reborn" afterwards. It would appear that the phoenix legend referred to the same idea.

Historians have long believed that pyramid-building was in some way or other related to sun-worship. The pyramids of Giza were originally topped with a benben covered in gold leaf, so that the first rays of the sun in the morning would be reflected in a dazzling display that would quite literally light up the still darkened land of Egypt. Could it be then that the whole pyramid-building mania, as manifested in the immense effort needed to raise the structures on the Giza plateau, was the result of a recently-experienced cosmic catastrophe - a solar "death" and "rebirth" which the Egyptians felt constrained to mark and commemorate? Egyptian tradition, as reflected in stories told by the Copts, certainly seems to agree. Consider for example a tradition about the Great Pyramid related by the Arab historian Al-Masudi, a tradition evidently drawing on Coptic legend:

"Surid, Ben Shaluk, Ben Sermuni, Ben Termidun, Ben Tedresan, Ben Sal, one of the kings of Egypt before the flood, built two great pyramids; and, notwithstanding, they were subsequently named after a person called Shaddan Ben Ad ... they were not built by the Adites, who could not conquer Egypt, on account of their powers, which the Egyptians possessed by means of enchantment ... the reason for the building of the pyramid was the following dream, which happened to Surid three hundred years previous to the flood. It appeared to him that the earth was overthrown, and that the inhabitants were laid prostrate upon it, that the stars wandered confusedly from their courses, and clashed together with tremendous noise. The king though greatly affected by this vision, did not disclose it to anyone, but was conscious that some great event was about to take place." (Cited from Leonard Cottrell, The Mountains of Pharaoh (London, 1956)).

That the Fourth Dynasty arose in the aftermath of a momentous natural catastrophe is a topic I have already argued in some detail, both on this website and in various books and articles. Sneferu, the father of Cheops, who began the construction of immense, smooth-sided pyramids, was reputed to have lived during an event which saw a miraculous parting of the waters of a sacred lake or sea, and it must have been he who restored order in the land after the catastrophe known to the Bible as the Exodus. In the Pyramid Texts, which cover the inner chambers of the pyramids of the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties, we hear of how, amidst cataclysmic events on earth and in the cosmos, the sun-god was attacked and almost devoured by the dragon-serpent Apop, and how he was "reborn" afterwards.

The Great Pyramid then was built both to commemorate and celebrate the rebirth of the sun after this recent upheaval; and the effort to raise the monument was itself a gift to the sun to ensure his continued blessings on the land. 

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 it to somewhere between 1800 and 2000 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 late tenth to early-ninth century B.C. - probably around 920 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.