From Chapter 1. Worlds Before Our Own
The search for the physical evidence of humanity’s first great civilization will take us on a veritable journey of discovery around the world. Some of the sites discussed in this book will be certainly familiar to most readers - places like the Great Pyramid of Egypt, the ruins of Tiwanaku in Bolivia, and the citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru. Others sites perhaps less famous or only recently brought to the attention of the general public will nevertheless hold equally important clues to the true history of the human race.
What will emerge from this journey is the realization of a pattern of sacred sites and places of power established thousands of years ago by people with a very peculiar mission to accomplish - to resurrect the primeval world of the Gods and initiate a new Golden Age.
In this book, we will work to demonstrate that a fundamental episode of civilization occurred more than 10,000 years ago. This civilization, which we may call Atlantis, left its mark over the traditions of nearly every culture on the planet that either directly or indirectly derived from it.
While this will sound like far-fetched speculation to many, those used to thinking in terms of a purely linear progression and evolution of human societies, evidence is mounting both within and outside of the scientific community for a radical reassessment of our views of prehistory and the origin of civilization.
Far from being unsophisticated cave dwellers, our remote ancestors do not cease to surprise us with the level of their scientific and cultural achievements. To show that these were not mere isolated sparkles of genius in the long night of prehistory but the legacy of a much greater and far older civilization will be the purpose of this book.
One does not need to go much further than the South of France to find evidence of this prehistoric genius already 40,000 years ago. Truly, the art of the Chauvet and Lascaux caves has nothing primitive to it, but strikes us with its sophistication and complexity. It is often quoted that, upon exiting the cave of Lascaux in Dordogne - often called the Sistine Chapel of cave art - an awed Pablo Picasso declared: “we have learned nothing in twelve thousand years.”1 On one thing, however, Picasso was wrong: the stunning depictions of bulls, horses, aurochs and other ice age fauna that grace the walls and ceilings of the Lascaux cave are at least 17,300 years old. The equally impressive Chauvet cave in Ardeche is even older, at almost 32,000 years.2
Yet for centuries cave art was ignored, even dismissed as a clever prank. Its subtlety and refinement was believed impossible for such an early age. Today, new findings keep pushing back in time the beginnings of abstract thought and artistic expression.
More intriguing still is the possibility that Ice-Age man may have possessed more than a passing interest in astronomy. Prof. Michael Rappenglueck of the University of Munich has gone so far as to suggest that the Lascaux paintings contain accurate prehistoric star charts, with some of the larger animal figures correlating with the position of the constellations of Taurus, Orion, and the Pleiades in the sky.3 He also noticed that the main cave opening points to the sunset on the summer solstice - a natural coincidence perhaps, yet significant enough for Paleolithic men to deliberately incorporate it in their art.
Another example of this paradigm shift, which has taken the world of archaeology by storm in recent years, is the discovery of the megalithic temple of Göbekli Tepe in Turkey.
Predating Stonehenge by over 6,000 years, Göbekli Tepe is a site that truly upends the conventional views of the rise of civilization.4 Not only is Göbekli Tepe an incredible feat of engineering in and of itself, consisting of multiple circles of over 200 T-shaped pillars, each weighing as many as 20 tons, but is also the oldest known temple at a staggering 11,000 years old. Yet Göbekli Tepe was virtually unknown until 1996: A previous 1960 expedition by the University of Chicago had in fact dismissed it as a medieval cemetery. It is only thanks to the perseverance of the late German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt that we now know more about it.
Göbekli Tepe proves that our ancestors were capable of creating complex megalithic architecture thousands of years before what archaeologists believed possible, and to do so on a scale and level of complexity that would not be seen again for another 6,000 years. What is more, a project like Göbekli Tepe would have certainly required hundreds of workers, under the direction of a sophisticated priestly or shamanic elite. Just how ancient and how advanced was this elite?
The true paradox of Göbekli Tepe is that the earliest layers are also the largest and most sophisticated.5 New rings were continually added on top of the older ones, becoming however increasingly smaller and cruder. To quote author Charles C. Mann, it is “as if the people at Göbekli Tepe got steadily worse at temple building”; until, suddenly, about 8,200 BC, all construction ceased: “Göbekli Tepe was all fall and no rise.”6
If Göbekli Tepe was the work of an elite, where did these people come from, and where did they go? Perhaps it is no chance that, although no trace of agriculture or plant domestication has been found at Göbekli Tepe, another site located less than 50 miles away called Nevali Çori has provided the earliest evidence of wheat domestication in 7,200 BC.7
Göbekli Tepe is certainly at the forefront of an archaeological revolution that is shattering many of our most widely held beliefs regarding the origins of civilization and the evolution of early human societies. And it is not alone.
Another megalithic complex in Southeast Asia threatens to push back the beginnings of monumental stone architecture even further, to 24,000 years BC. Gunung Padang, located in Indonesia’s West Java province, is a massive pyramid standing over 100 meters high and covering an area of 25 hectares. According to Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, the geologist in charge of the site’s excavations, the pyramid is actually five different structures, each built on top of the other over several thousands of years. The uppermost layer, which consists of thousands of prismatic blocks of basalt, has been recently dated to 5,200 BC - a full 2,000 years older than Stonehenge. Yet the oldest layers may be as many as 26,000 years old, including a possible chamber located 25 meters below the pyramid.8
The conventional dating of other well-known monuments, like the Pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza, has similarly been challenged in recent years. When, in the early 1990s, renowned geologist Robert Schoch first publicized his views that the great Sphinx of Giza had suffered thousands of years of water erosion well before its supposed date of construction in 2,500 BC, he started a debate that threatened to undermine the very foundations of the discipline of Egyptology.9
According to Schoch, the erosion marks visible on the body of the Sphinx can only have been the result of intense rain erosion that occurred at a time when North Africa was not yet a desert, between 9,000 and 3,000 BC.10 Furthermore, evidence shows that the head of the Sphinx was most certainly recarved during Old Kingdom times (2649-2150 BC), and may have been originally that of a lion, as proven by its apparent disproportion with the rest of the body and its lack of significant signs of water erosion.
If Schoch’s hypothesis is correct, the history of the Giza plateau could be rewritten. In fact, not only the Great Sphinx, but also portions of the pyramids’ lower stone courses show similar erosion patterns.11 We may now look with less skepticism at the claims of those researchers who have similarly argued in favor of a much greater antiquity of such mysterious monuments as the Osireion of Abydos or the ancient city of Tiwanaku in Bolivia.
More puzzling still is the evidence of ancient high technology, including stone vitrification, high-speed drilling and machining, which is also found in these same sites.
How then could an entire society, clearly very advanced in the arts of civilization, vanish altogether form the historical and archaeological record? Maybe, to use the words of author Graham Hancock, we truly are a species with amnesia.12 So much of the evidence of ancient advanced civilizations is now slowly beginning to emerge from beyond the veil of history: It will be one of the great scientific endeavors of our age to map the true extent of the vast ruin within which we all live - the legacy of our seemingly super-human ancestors. This book wishes to be but a small contribution in that direction.