Revising History (Again?) – Evidence of an Even Older Civilization in India

The theory that civilization developed in India as the result of the migration of Aryans from the north had to be revised after the discovery of the Indus Valley Civilization in the 1920s. In 1999-2000, a marine archaeological survey found the remains of an ancient civilization beneath the Gulf of Cambay. The similarity of structures submerged for more than 10,000 years to those in Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, and other Indus Valley cities that are thought to have been built in the 3rdmillennium BCE raised the question of whether or not an even earlier civilization once existed in this part of the world.

Comparison of side-scan sonar image of submerged structures in the Gulf of Cambay with an aerial photo over Mohenjo-daro. Photos courtesy National Institute of Ocean Technology/Government of India/Harappa.com

This article presents new evidence suggesting that certain sites in the Indus Valley and in other parts of India were first established during and possibly even before the last ice age based on their alignments to previous locations of the North Pole.

Click here to read the full paper.

Indus Valley Sites

The Nile and Tigris-Euphrates valleys were once regarded as the birthplace of modern civilization. Excavations of the ancient cities at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the 1920s offered the first hint that another equally advanced, contemporaneous civilization once existed in the Indus Valley.

Harappa

The first excavations at Harappa were led by Daya Ram Sahni who uncovered as many as eight levels of construction within the ancient city. Dales and Kenoyer (1991) describe the lowest levels:

Beneath these latest Harappan structures are earlier mud-brick platforms that overlay a series of eroded and reconstructed platforms. The mud-brick platforms and retaining wall appear to have been strengthened by a baked brick revetment or facing. Traces of this baked brick revetment have been found to the west of the mud-brick revetment wall. This structure was about 2 meters wide at the base, with a sloping exterior face. Based on calculations of toppled courses of brick, it is estimated that this baked brick facing stood some 3 to 4 meters high from natural soil to the crest of the mound…

Wanzke (1984) notes that structures at Harappa are misaligned with respect to the cardinal directions. Detailed drawings (Dales and Kenoyer 1991) show that extended sections of brick walls and platforms within Mound E are rotated approximately 14° west of north. Kak (2010) discusses Harappan (i.e., Indus Valley Civilization) astronomy but does not comment on the alignment of the ancient city itself. As shown below this direction is toward the previous location of the North Pole near Hudson Bay. Based on its alignment to the Hudson Bay pole, Harappa may be as old as the structures beneath the Gulf of Cambay.

Alignment of baked brick pavements and retaining walls within Mound E at Harappa to the Hudson Bay pole. Site plan courtesy Meadow (1991).

Mohenjo-daro

According to Jansen (1984), the goal of the excavations at Mohenjo-Daro was to reach “virgin soil.” He states

Since virgin soil was never reached through vertical diggings the full horizontal extent of the site beyond the mounds visible at present, which were normally regarded as being the outer limits of the former site, remains unknown.

Archaeologists date Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, and other Indus Valley cities to around 2600 BCE. The results of several deep digs at Mohenjo-daro suggest that it could be much older. Drilling reports at what is known as the “old site” found bricks and pottery down as far as 70 feet below the surface. An early report from 1931 stated: “The excavation revealed the existence superimposed one above the other of structural remains belonging to the three latest cities and remains of other structures underneath them.” An attempt in 1950 to find the bottom-most level of the site was unsuccessful. It can be argued that if archaeologists cannot find the bottom-most layer of a site they cannot state with any certainty its age.

Structures atop the “acropolis” at Mohenjo-daro are aligned in the direction of the winter solstice sunrise/summer solstice sunset relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Click here to compare to the alignment of Gunar Tepe in Central Asia. Apple Maps.

Aerial imagery over Mohenjo-daro clearly shows the site is not aligned to the cardinal directions. Wanzke (1984) made detailed measurements of the site that he was unable to explain. The figure above shows the stupa, bath, grainary and other structures atop the acropolis are aligned in solstice directions relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Similar alignments can be found throughout the ancient city. What is particularly interesting is that these alignments are identical to those found at Merv and Gonur Tepe in Central Asia (Carlotto 2020). We thus hypothesize that based on its alignment, Mohenjo-daro like these other places were first established at least 18,000 years ago when the North Pole was in Hudson Bay.

Kalibangan archaeological site is aligned to the Hudson Bay pole. Apple Maps.

Kalibangan

A significant find at Kalibangan was the discovery of a pre-Harappan (i.e., pre-Indus Valley Civilization) settlement below the remains of the Harappan citadel (Thepar 2015) that is described as follows:

The occupation endured through five structural phases, rising to a height of 1.6 m. above the natural soil, when it was brought to a close by a catastrophe (perhaps seismic), as evidenced by the occurrence of displaced (faulted ?) strata and subsided walls in different parts of the excavated area. Thereafter, the site seems to have been abandoned, though only temporarily, and a thin layer of sand, largely infertile and wind blown, accumulated over the ruins. During this period the peripheral portions of the mound, particularly on the east and west, seem to have been badly eroded and gullied.

Also organized in a grid pattern, Kalibangan, like Harappa, appears to be aligned to the Hudson Bay pole. Thepar estimates the earlier settlement existed perhaps a century or two before the Harappan city. We propose the earlier settlement was built over even older structures that were aligned to the Hudson Bay pole.

Three temples in Dwarka are aligned to the Hudson Bay pole: the Dwarkadhish Temple, the Samudra Narayan Temple at the confluence of the river Gomti and the Arabian Sea, and Nageshvara Jyotirling Temple. Google Earth.

Sacred Sites

Dwarka is in the province of Gujarat, south of the Indus Valley. The search for underwater ruins off the coast of India was inspired in the 1960s at Dwarka by the discovery of pottery shards that were once underwater and later buried in the sand for two thousand years. In the cleared remains of a building next to the Dwarkadhish Temple, Rao (1990) discovered three temples built over one another with the oldest dated to the middle of the second millennium BCE. These discoveries led to the realization that Dwarka had been rebuilt many times over as a result of sea-level rise. Thought to be the Dwarka of the Mahabarata the possibility that an even older city lies submerged off the coast of modern-day Dwarka led to a series of expeditions in the 1980s (Gaur et al 2004) including those further south in the Gulf of Cambay (Badrinaryan 2010).

Benaras

According to a famous quote by Mark Twain, “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” Artifacts at several sites in Benaras, also known as Varanasi or Kashi, have been dated to 1800 BCE. Benaras is located in north-central India and like Mohenjo-daro, which is more than 1500 kilometers to the west, the orientation of one of the sites  is aligned in solstice directions relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Approximately two miles east of this site is the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The temple, which is located just west of the Ganges does not face the river but is aligned in the direction of the Hudson Bay pole.

Five of twelve Jyotirlinga temples face previous locations of the North Pole in Hudson Bay (magenta) and Greenland (green). Google Earth.

The Twelve Jyotirlinga Temples

The Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Benaras and the Nageshvara Jyotirling Temple in Dwarka are two of twelve Jyotirlinga, which are devotional temples and shrines devoted to Shiva. In examining the alignments of all twelve Jyotirlinga, which are located throughout India, three are aligned to the cardinal directions, one to solstices, and five to previous locations of the North Pole in Hudson Bay and Greenland (see above figure). The Nageshvara Jyotirling is aligned in the same direction as the two other temples in Dwarka discussed above. The alignment of these temples to previous locations of the North Pole suggests the possibility that the original sites were established tens of thousands of years before becoming Hindu temples.

Buddhist stupas of Sanchi including the Great Stupa are aligned in the direction of the winter solstice sunrise/summer solstice sunset relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Apple Maps.

Sanchi Stupas

The Great Stupa at Sanchi in central India is believed to be one of the oldest stone structures in India, built under the rule of Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE. Rao (1992) proposes that the Buddhist stupas of Sanchi including the Great Stupa were oriented towards moonrise and sunset on the day of Buddha Purnima when they are thought to have been built, around 2nd century BCE. Like Mohenjo-daro and Benaras, its alignment to solstices relative to the Hudson Bay pole suggests another possibility – that the original site was first established tens of thousands of years when the North Pole was in Hudson Bay and later co-opted by Ashoka as a sacred site. A similar argument has been proposed to explain the orientation of the Parthenon and other structures atop the Acropolis in Athens relative to the Greenland pole as an alternative to the existing explanation that the Parthenon was aligned in the direction of sunrise on the date of Athena’s birthday (Carlotto 1999b). If Athena’s birthday was established based on the pre-existing alignment of the Acropolis to the Greenland pole then perhaps the date of Buddha Purnima was similarly established based on pre-existing alignments at Sanchi.

Coastal areas around the Arabian Sea now and 18,000 BCE when sea levels were more than 120 meters below current levels.]

Discussion

Without a “rosetta stone” or some other means of translating the Indus script it is far from certain how the Indus Valley civilization began. One theory is that it developed from earlier agricultural societies such as those at Mehrgarh in the 7thmillennium BCE with cities such as Harappa and Mohenjo-daro established much later during the 3rdmillennium BCE.

Another theory is that the Indus Valley was once a part of a larger and older civilization. This theory is supported by Badrinaryan’s discovery of ruins off the coast of Gujarat in western India in the late 1990s. According to Badrinaryan “Most of the structures that were discovered in the Gulf of Cambay had many similarities to the CITADEL, GREAT BATH and grid-iron pattern habitation sites, grannery, etc. of the Harappan civilization.”

Considering Badrinaryan’s discoveries, Robinson (2018) argues that it may be time to revise history once again:

Is this lost city the stuff of legends and myth? Badrinaryan’s discovered city feels similar to the lost city of Troy before Heinrich Schliemann found it in the 1870s.

Based on their location and depth, the ruins below the Gulf of Cambay must be at least 10,000 years old. Thermoluminescence dating of pottery shards recovered at several locations in the gulf revealed even more ancient dates, some as old as 31270±2050 years BP, more than 10,000 years before the last glacial maximum.

Evidence of widespread trading with neighboring regions including Mesopotamia and Central Asia (Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex) suggests the Indus Valley was at one time part of a larger civilization in this part of the world. According to Bakry (2006):

Due to the big amount of Indian or Indian related objects discovered in Central Asian sites (more than Central Asian in India), one can say that the Indus people were the initiators for these relations at their initial stage, or the direction of relations was more from India to Central Asia. Later on, after the formation of BMAC in Central Asia, such relations took direction more from Central Asia to India. This happened especially when Harappan civilization started to decay in the beginning of the second Mill. BC, as if BMAC peoples sensed a vacuum in the Indus Valley region and moved in to fill it.

We propose that the Indus Valley Civilization and the BMAC were the descendants of an even earlier civilization. Badrinaryan (2010) sums it up:

So, from the foregoing it is very evident the prehistoric civilization that matured and developed in the present day Gulf of Cambay was the forerunner and model to the subsequent advanced Harrapan civilization known to history. This wonderful twin prehistoric metropolis of Cambay lasted from about 13000 BP to about 3000 BP making it the most ancient and largest city civilization not only in Asia but in the entire world. It is seen to be at least 7500 years older than the oldest Mesopotamian city civilization. However strong evidence supports the presence of humans from at least 31000 BP who were evolving and developing and formed a great hitherto unknown civilization that were submerged by the flood, giving credence to local and global flood myths.

The alignment of numerous archaeological sites in this part of the world to previous locations of the North Pole supports Badrinaryan’s discoveries in the Gulf of Cambay. In his opinion, the sudden appearance of a technically advanced civilization in this part of the world suggested that there was a “missing link between the ancient hunter gatherer group of people and ‘Harappan’ civilization. In India, there were many Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic stone-age cultures. But none of them have any remote resemblance of the type of civilization found in the Harappan sites.” He goes on to suggest that

It is possible that the missing link between the two is either under cover or has been submerged due to major sea level rise caused by melting of ice-sheets.

Perhaps it is both. Complementing Badrinaryan’s discoveries under the Gulf of Cambay we believe that the alignments of Indus Valley and other sites in India to previous locations of the North Pole is the other half of this missing link that together can lead to a better understanding of the origin of early civilizations in this part of the world.

References

Charles H. Hapgood (1958) Earth’s Shifting Crust: A Key to Some Basic Problems of Earth Science, Pantheon Books.

K. Thapar (1979) “Kalibangan: A Harappan Metropolis beyond the Indus Valley,” in Ancient Cities of the Indus (Gregory L. Possehl, ed.), Vikas Publishing House.

Arthur Cotterell (1980) “The Indus Civilization,” in The Penguin Encyclopedia of Ancient Civilizations (Arthur Cotterell, ed.), Penguin Books.

Jansen (1984) “Preliminary results on the ‘forma urbis’ research at Mohenjo-Daro,” In Interim Reports on Fieldwork Carried out at Mohenjo-daro 1982-83, Vol. 2, (M. Jansen and G. Urban, eds.).

Wanzke (1984) “Axis systems and orientation at Mohenjo-Daro,” ibid.

R. Rao (1990) “Excavation of the legendary city of Dvaraka in the Arabian Sea,” Marine Archaeology, Vol. 1: 59-98.

George F. Dales and Jonathan Mark Kenoyer (1991) “Summaries of Five Seasons of Research at Harappa (District Sahiwal, Punjab, Pakistan), 1986-1990” in Harappa Excavations 1986-1990 – A Multidisciplinary Approach to Third Millennium Urbanism (Richard H. Meadow ed.)

Kameswara Rao (1992) “History of Astronomy – Astronomy with Buddhist stupas of Sanchi,” Bull. Astr. Soc. India, Vol. 20:87-98.

S. Gaur, Sundaresh and Sila Tripati (2004) “An ancient harbour at Dwarka: Study based on the recent underwater explorations,” Current Science, Vol. 86, No. 9.

Badrinaryan (2010) “Gulf of Cambay Cradle of Ancient Civilization,” in Lost Knowledge of the Ancients (Glenn Kreisberg, ed.)

Subhash Kak (2010) “Visions of the Cosmos: Archaeoastronomy in Ancient India,” Journal of Cosmology, Vol. 9: 2063-2077.

Bakry (2016) “Prehistoric Contacts between Central Asia and India,” Transactions of Margiana Archaeological Expedition, Vol. 6:422-565, Moscow.

Marsha R. Robinson (2018) Disobedient Histories in Ancient and Modern Times: Regionalism, Governance, War and Peace, Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Carlotto, M. J. (2019a). “Archaeological dating using a data fusion approach,” Signal Processing, Sensor/Information Fusion, and Target Recognition XXVIII, Baltimore MD.

Mark Carlotto (2019b) “New Models to Explain the Alignments of Greek Temples,” https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3501950.

Mark Carlotto (2020) “Ruins in the ‘Stans: Evidence of a Lost Civilization in Central Asia,” Available at SSRN: http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3677452.\

Acknowledgement

Featured image “Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro (Pakistan)” at the top of the article courtesy Junhi Han/UNESCO

 

Ruins in the ‘Stans: Evidence of a Lost Civilization in Central Asia

In the 1950s, Viktor Sarianidi discovered the ruins of an ancient civilization known as the Bactrian-Margina Archaeological Complex (BMAC) centered in the Murghab Oasis of Turkmenistan. Sarianidi believed the people who settled in this region had migrated east from Anatolia by way of Mesopotamia in search of arable land. Others argue this civilization, which is also known as the Oxus Civilization, was indigenous to the region preceded by earlier civilizations dating back to the seventh millennium BCE. An analysis of archaeological sites in Central Asia reveals that relatively few are aligned to the cardinal points or in astronomical directions such as solstices or lunar standstills. Using Charles Hapgood’s theory of crustal displacement as a working hypothesis, over two-dozen sites are shown to reference previous locations of the North Pole. We propose that these sites were first established tens of thousands of years ago when the climate was less arid than it is today and that the Oxus and preceding civilizations in this region were the descendants of an even earlier civilization that existed up until the time of the last ice age.

Click here to read the full paper.

Central Asia corresponds roughly to the geographic region now occupied by the five former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. Google Earth.

Climate Changes

Bordered by the Caspian Sea to the west and what’s left of the Aral Sea to the north, much of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are deserts.

At the time of the last glacial maximum, around 20,000 years ago, sea levels were approximately 120 meters below current levels and the string of basins stretching from the Black Sea east to the Caspian and Aral seas were cut off from the Mediterranean Sea. At that time, the glaciers in the Hindu Kush were significantly larger. Fed by these glaciers, the volume of water in rivers flowing north into Central Asia was greater than it is today forming a large freshwater lake in the basin now occupied by the Caspian and Aral seas. A similar freshwater lake in the Black Sea basin fed by rivers flowing south from Central Europe also existed at this time.

Landcover in Central Asia at present and at the time of the last glacial maximum 20,000 years ago. Google Earth and Zürich University of Applied Sciences.

When the glacial period ended, the climate in Central Asia became increasingly arid, and these lakes began to shrink in size. Meanwhile, as the North American and other ice sheets melted, global sea levels began to rise. Ryan et al (1997) proposed that around 7500 years ago the level of the Mediterranean Sea rose above the Bosporus causing the Black Sea basin to flood. Chepalyga (2007) argues the flood event created a vast inland sea in what he calls “a cascade of Eurasian basins” that existed 9,000-17,000 years ago. The area of the inland sea was about six times greater than that of the Great Lakes of North America. According to Chepalyga, the timing and magnitude of the flood event “would have been an impressive phenomenon to late Paleolithic humans and could have been reflected in old epic poems and mythology. In particular, a similar basin was described in the ‘Avesta’ (the Zoroastrian Holy Scriptures) under the name of Vorukashah Sea.”

After the flood event as the climate in Central Asia became progressively more arid, the water level of the Caspian and Aral seas decreased. Today, with the Amu Darya (Oxus) River no longer reaching the Aral Sea, it has all but disappeared.

Archaeological Sites

Sarianidi’s discoveries followed the explorations of the American geologist Raphael Pompelly a half-century earlier who published Explorations in Turkestan – a compendium of reports describing the geology and archaeology of the region (Pompelly 1905). Pompelly’s report describes several sites he visited including Merv, an ancient city mentioned in the Avesta, the sacred book of Zoroastrianism, and Samarkand, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia.

Locations of geoglyphs (squares) from previous study and archaeological sites (circles) examined in this article are distributed around the Eurasian basin. Google Earth.

Gonur Tepe

Sarianidi spent more than four decades excavating the ruins at Gonur Tepe at the edge of the Karakum Desert. According to Lamberg-Karlovsky (2013), Sarianidi found different building levels with as many as four temples built on top of each other and states “even after more than thirty years of research and excavation, the chronology and stratigraphy of the BMAC remains deeply problematic.”

Gonur Tepe alignments to solstices relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Apple Maps.

As seen from above, the palace complex at the center of the site is closely aligned to the cardinal directions. Zooming out to see more of the site reveals an eastern skew in the orientation of structures to the south. These structures are not aligned along solar or lunar directions or toward any of the Hapgood poles but do appear to indirectly reference the Hudson Bay pole suggesting the first structures at Gonur were built before 12,000-18,000 years ago. Specifically, the southern wall is aligned in the winter solstice sunrise/summer solstice sunset direction relative to the former pole. Interestingly, the complementary summer solstice sunrise/winter solstice sunset direction relative to the Hudson Bay pole lines up along the northeast-southwest diagonal of the site.

Gyaur Kala in ancient Merv is aligned to the solstices relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Apple Maps.

Ancient Merv

The ancient city of Merv is approximately 38 miles south of Gonur Tepe. There are three walled structures at Merv: Gyaur Kala (at one time the citadel for the larger Hellenistic city of Antiochia Marginana), Sultan Kala, and Abdullah Khan Kala. Gyaur Kala is believed to be the oldest part of the site, and Abdullah Khan Kala the most recent. Like Gonur, Gyaur Kala, and Sultan Kala appear to reference the Hudson Bay pole. The north and south walls of Gyaur Kala are aligned to the winter solstice sunrise/summer solstice sunset relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Like Gonur, the summer solstice sunrise/winter solstice sunset direction relative to the Hudson Bay pole is along the northeast-southwest diagonal of the site. Structures within the Shahriyar Ark section of Sultan Kala are similarly aligned.

Structures within the Shahriyar Ark section of Sultan Kala are aligned to the solstices relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Apple Maps.

Did this tendency to align sites to solstices continue after the Hudson Bay pole shift? Abdullah Khan Kala, which was founded in the 15thcentury, is aligned in current solstice directions. Twelve of the sites examined are aligned in solstice directions relative to current or previous locations of the North Pole.

Abdullah Khan Kala is aligned in the current summer solstice sunrise/winter solstice sunset direction. Apple Maps.

But could these directions have some other explanation? In Zoroastrianism, six seasonal festivals are celebrated during the religious year. Two are associated with equinoxes, two with solstices, and two with the mid-spring and fall. The alignments of the south walls of Gonur Tepe and Gyaur Kala are 4-5° south of east. The sunrise in this direction occurs in late winter just before the equinox and in early fall just after the equinox and so do not appear to correspond to Zorastrian festival dates.

Samarkand

Gonur Tepe and Merv are located within the Murghab Oasis in southeastern Turkmenistan. Samarkand is about 300 miles northeast of Merv in southeastern Uzbekistan on the Zeravshan River. Thought to be one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, the oldest part of Samarkand is a hill known as Afrosiah. Its alignment is potentially even more interesting than Gonur and Merv. Excavated rectilinear ruins near the center of the hill are rotated too far from the cardinal directions to align to solstices or mid-season sunrise/sunsets. The ruins appear to be aligned both to the Norwegian Sea pole and in the direction of Merv. If the alignment were toward Merv, Samarkand, like Merv, could be more than 12,000-18,000 years old. Alternatively, if Samarkand was first established when the North Pole was in the Norwegian Sea, the site could be 60,000-80,000 years old.

Alignments of Samarkand to the Norwegian Sea pole (white dotted lines) and in the direction of Merv (orange line). Apple Maps

Koi Krylgan Kala

Koi Krylgan Kala (shown at the top of the article) is an ancient temple complex in the Amu Darya (Oxus) Oasis in Uzbekistan. Archaeological excavations in the 1950s unearthed numerous artifacts including terracotta figures of gods and goddesses, most notably Anahita – the divinity of the waters. The six Zorastrian festivals are associated with the six “primordial creations” of Ahura Mazda: sky, waters, earth, plant life, animal life, humankind. The festival day honoring the water is May 25. The site is very closely aligned in the sunrise direction on that day. It is also possible, that Koi Krylgan Kala may even be older than Samarkand or Merv by virtue of its alignment to an even earlier position of the North Pole in Greenland more than 80,000 years ago.

Alignment of Koi Krylgan Kala to mid-season sunrise/sunset directions. Apple Maps
Alignment of Koi Krylgan Kala to the Greenland pole. Apple Maps.

The Signature of a Lost Civilization?

Let us assume a three-part working hypothesis: 1) Hapgood’s theory of crustal displacement, 2) human civilizations tend to align places of importance to the geographic pole/cardinal directions or in astronomical directions relative to the geographic pole at the time of construction, and 3) the probability that a site survives depends on its age, i.e., there should be fewer sites aligned to previous poles and more sites aligned to the current pole. The dramatic decrease in the number of sites in Mesoamerica and Central Asia aligned to the current pole could be interpreted as a loss of resources and/or megalithic construction technology after the Hudson Bay pole shift. Based on the number of sites, both Mesoamerica and Central Asia civilizations appear to peak during the time of the Hudson Bay pole and then decline.

Regional alignment statistics relative to the current (AR) and previous HB, NS, GR, and BS pole locations.

An analysis of site alignments in Egypt (Carlotto 2020a) suggests that the lack of sites aligned to previous poles in Lower Egypt close to the Mediterranean could have been the result of a flood or some other disaster 12,000-18,000 years ago caused by the last crustal displacement event that destroyed those sites. In contrast, there are many sites in Upper Egypt aligned to previous poles. Far from large open bodies of water and geological faults, it is possible that civilization in Upper Egypt survived the disaster. Civilizations partially destroyed in other parts of the world could have recovered, perhaps with outside help. Given its proximity to Egypt, it is possible that Greece and other parts of Europe were rebuilt after the last pole shift.

The Epic of Gilgamesh describes a catastrophic flood that affected but did not destroy Mesopotamian civilization in the Tigris-Euphrates valley. It is unlikely that a widespread Black Sea/Eurasian basin flood event destroyed a preexisting civilization in Central Asia. It is more likely that subsequent climate changes made it increasingly more difficult to survive in a place that was gradually becoming desert. Although Central Asia was probably one of the major centers of civilization in the early days of Oxus Civilization it later declined as the climate became more arid and water resources increasingly scarce.

References

Raphael Pumpelly (1905) Explorations In Turkestan, Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Charles H. Hapgood (1958) Earth’s Shifting Crust: A Key to Some Basic Problems of Earth Science, Pantheon Books.

William B.F. Ryan, Water C. Pitman III, Candace O. Major, Kazimieras Shimkus, Vladimir Moscalenko, Glenn A. Jones, Petko Dimitrov, Naci Gorür, Mehmet Sakinç, and Hüseyin Yüce Seyir (1997) “An Abrupt Drowning of the Black Sea Shelf At 7.5 Kyr BP,” Marine Geology 138: 119–126.

L. Chepalyga (2007) “The late glacial great flood in the Ponto-Caspian basin”. In Yanko-Hombach, V.; Gilbert, A. S.; Panin, N.; Dolukhanov, P. M. (eds.). The Black Sea Flood Question: Changes in Coastline, Climate, and Human Settlement, Springer: 118−148.

C.C. Lamberg-Karlovsky (2013) “The Oxus Civilization,” CuPAUAM39, 2013: 21-63 ISSN 0211-1608 22.

Motuzaite Matuzeviciute, A.V. Logvin, I. Shevnina, A.M. Seitov, J. Feng, and L. Zhou (2015) “OSL dates for the ancient geometric earthworks of Kazakhstan,” Archaeological Research in Asia, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ara.2015.12.001.

Mark Carlotto (2020a) “Toward a New Understanding of the Alignment of Ancient Egyptian Sites,” Available at SSRN: http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3526820.

Mark Carlotto (2020b) “A New Model to Explain the Alignment of Certain Ancient Sites,” Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 34, No. 2. https://doi.org/10.31275/20201619

Mark J. Carlotto (2020c) “Analyzing the Geometry of the Torgai Steppe Geoglyphs,” http://dx.doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.23925.19681

Seyyed Hossein Nasr (1976) Islamic Science: An Illustrated Study, World of Islam Festival Publishing Company Ltd.: 92-93.

Analyzing the Geometry of the Torgai Steppe Geoglyphs

In 2007, Dimitriy Dey discovered a large number of “geometric earthworks” in the steppes of northern Kazakhstan including linear arrangements of earthen mounds, cross figures, squares, and other shapes. These features are found at points of high relief, such as on plateaus and river divides. Like the Blythe Intaglios in California along the Colorado River and other geoglyphs discussed in previous articles, those in Kazakhstan can only be seen from above.

Alignments of Earthwork Crosses to Solstices

Six of the Torgai geoglyphs are cross-shaped: Akshiganak, Kara-Torgai, Zharsai, Ashutasty, South Torgai, and Makhsat. The Ashutasty and South Torgai crosses have bent and curved arms that make it difficult to determine their orientation. The Makhsat  cross is also irregular and bisected by a paved road. It is not immediately evident that the other three crosses rotated 9° to 13° from north are aligned in any obvious direction, astronomical or otherwise.

In an attempt to understand their orientation an interesting alignment has been discovered. Instead of using the arms to define the direction of a cross, consider the series of lines that pass through successive pairs of mounds equally spaced from the center.

For a cross that is rotated counterclockwise, lines between mounds along the northern and eastern arms lie within the range of sunrise and sunset directions in this part of the world.

The Akshiganak Cross is rotated approximately 13° counterclockwise relative to the cardinal directions. If a cross were aligned to the cardinal directions lines passing through successive pairs of mounds emanating from the center would run from 135° to -45°. Subtracting the 13° counterclockwise rotation of the Akshiganak Cross produces a series of equally spaced lines running from 122° to -58° or from 32° south of east to 32° north of west. At this latitude, these lines lie in the direction of the winter solstice sunrise and summer solstice sunset circa 7200 BCE.

Akshiganak Cross and alignment lines. Summer solstice (red) and winter solstice (blue). Apple Maps.

The Kara-Torgai and Zharsai crosses are rotated clockwise relative to true north. The Zharsai Cross is rotated 11° east of north. Lines passing through pairs of mounds along the northern and western arms run from 56° to -124° or 34° north of east to 34° south of west and lie in the direction of the summer solstice sunrise and winter solstice sunset circa 3880 BCE.  The Kara-Torgai Cross is rotated by a lesser amount, 9.2° east of north, and so it’s dating is more recent around 900 BCE.

Using changes in the earth’s obliquity to date the crosses, we hypothesis that the Akshiganak and Zharsai crosses are more ancient than the Kara-Torgai Cross. The Akshiganak and Zharsai crosses also appear to be better executed than the Kara-Torgai Cross, which contains unmatched mounds just above and below the central mound. Even more irregular in shape, neither the Ashutasty nor the South Torgai crosses would have been able to function as solstice markers. Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of the Ashutasty Cross is early Iron Age around 800 BCE (Matuzeviciute et al 2015). If their intended purpose were to function as solstice markers one could conclude that the astronomical knowledge used to construct the Akshiganak, Kara-Torgai, and Zharsai crosses was lost by the first century BCE.

Kyzylkan Line and the nearby town of Tasty aligned to the ancient city of Merv. Google Earth.

Alignments to Other Places

That the oldest astronomically dated cross figure appears to be the best executed suggests the possibility that some of these figures could have been built by an earlier pre-Iron Age civilization. In the 1970s, Viktor Sarianidi discovered the ruins of an ancient civilization that he termed the Bactrian-Margina Civilization also known as the Oxus Civilization centered in the Murghab Oasis, Turkmenistan and dated to the Bronze Age, 2200-1700 BCE (Lamberg-Karlovsky 2013).

In a study of the alignment of ancient sites in Greece, it was determined that either the ancient Greeks or their ancestors aligned certain temples to face older oracle sites as far as 700 miles away (Carlotto 2019). Here we have found that the Kyzylkan Line and the nearby town of Tasty, the Arshaly Line, and possibly the Aksai Line appear to point to the direction of the ancient city of Merv over 900 miles to the south-southwest.

Alignments of geoglyphs to the ancient city of Merv to the south. Google Earth.

Earthwork Alignments to Previous Poles

The Ushtogaiskii Square, which is perhaps the most unique and sophisticated of the earthen structures appears to be deliberately facing a particular direction, but unlike the crosses analyzed in the previous section, it is rotated too much to be aligned to the sun or moon.

Thousands of years before Abu Rayhan al-Biruni’s earliest geodesy algorithms for calculating Islamic qibla (Nasr 1976), there is no evidence that a Bronze Age civilization in this or any other part of the world was capable of aligning sites hundred of miles apart to one another. If the alignment of these three geoglyphs to Merv is not a coincidence, then such knowledge must have been inherited from an even earlier prehistoric civilization.

Ushtogaiskii Square is cardinally-aligned relative to the direction of the Hudson Bay pole. Apple Maps.

We have found that four of the Torgai geoglyphs appear to be aligned to three former pole locations. According to Hapgood’s theory, the North Pole was located in Hudson Bay 12,000 to 18,000 years ago (Hapgood 1958). Ushtogaiskii Square and a rectangular structure approximately 62 miles to the southeast are aligned to the Hudson Bay pole. By virtue of its alignment to the Hudson Bay pole, we propose that Ushtogaiskii Square was built tens of thousands of years ago by an unknown prehistoric civilization. The Kandy and Kara-Torgai lines could be even older. The Kandy Line is aligned perpendicular to the Norwegian Sea pole, which is thought to have been the location of the North Pole before Hudson Bay approximately 60,000 years ago. The Kara-Torgai Line is aligned in the direction of an even earlier pole in Greenland estimated to have existed 80,000 years ago.

Summary analysis of the Torgai geoglyphs.

Summary

As shown in the above table only one geoglyph is aligned in the cardinal directions. Three could have functioned as solstice markers, two or possibly three appear to point to the ancient city of Merv, one to another geoglyph, and four to previous locations of the North Pole. Together, these explanations account for the alignment of most of the geoglyphs examined except for the curved and irregularly shaped including the ring geoglyphs and the “Torgai Triskelion.” The presence of more and less precise geometries aligned in different ways suggests that the geoglyphs were not the product of a single period or civilization but were created over an extended time with earlier figures more precisely aligned and better executed than the later ones.

References

Mark Carlotto (2019) “New Models to Explain the Alignments of Greek Temples,” SSRN http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3501950.

Charles Hapgood (1958) The Earth’s Shifting Crust: A Key To Some Basic Problems Of Earth Science, CreateSpace.

C.C. Lamberg-Karlovsky (2013) “The Oxus Civilization,” CuPAUAM39, 2013: 21-63 ISSN 0211-1608 22.

Motuzaite Matuzeviciute, A.V. Logvin, I. Shevnina, A.M. Seitov, J. Feng, and L. Zhou (2015) “OSL dates for the ancient geometric earthworks of Kazakhstan,” Archaeological Research in Asia, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ara.2015.12.001.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr (1976) Islamic Science: An Illustrated Study, World of Islam Festival Publishing Company Ltd.: 92-93.

Acknowledgement

Featured image at the top of the article is courtesy CNES/Airbus/Google Earth.

The Cities of the Antediluvian Kings

Cuneiform tablets list the reigns of between eight and ten kings who are thought to have ruled in Sumeria before a flood approximately 20,000 years ago. These kings are associated with a number of ancient Sumerian cities. Analyzing the visible remains of these cities and other ancient sites in Mesopotamia reveals approximately fifty sites and/or structures within sites are aligned in directions that reference previous locations of the North Pole. Interpreting the alignment of the sites in the context of Hapgood’s theory of earth crustal displacement suggests a far more ancient dating of their origin from thousands of years old to between 20,000 and 130,000 years old depending on alignment. All five of the antediluvian cities contain structures aligned to previous (i.e., pre-flood) poles. The cities associated with the earliest rulers are aligned to the older Greenland pole, while cities associated with later rulers are aligned to the more recent Hudson Bay pole.

The Antediluvian Kings

Finklestein (1963) lists up to ten antediluvian kings from four cuneiform tablets UCBC 9-1819, WB 444, WB 62, Ni. 2195, and Berossus’ Babyloniaca. According to Jushur, the first ruler of the first dynasty of Kish:

“After the flood had swept over, and the kingship had descended from heaven, the kingship was in Kish.”

Working backward from a table of the Sumerian King List, the beginning of the Kish dynasty can be dated to approximately 20,580 BCE. Using the chronology from WB 444, a list of eight kings goes back over 240,000 years before the flood. Berosus’ timeline goes back even farther to 432,000 years. Because such ancient timeframes are orders of magnitude longer than currently acceptable historical periods that start with Gobekli Tepe, which is considered by mainstream archaeologists to be the oldest archaeological site discovered to date, most scholars believe that the antediluvian kings were either mythical figures or their reigns somehow must have been shorter.

Pole Shifts, Floods and Other Disasters

The beginning of the Kish dynasty is around the time that the North Pole is thought to have shifted from its previous location near Hudson Bay in Canada to its current location in the Arctic. Rapid displacement of Earth’s crust over the mantle would likely have resulted in worldwide floods, earthquakes, and other disasters at that time. That a catastrophe affected this part of the world  is supported by the Epic of Gilgamesh (Kovacs 1989):

Enlil assigned (Humbaba) as a terror to human beings,
Humbaba’s roar is a Flood, his mouth is Fire, and his breath is Death!
The ground split open with the heels of their feet,
as they whirled around in circles Mt. Hermon and Lebanon split.

The white clouds darkened,
death rained down on them like fog.
Shamash raised up against Humbaba mighty tempests —
Southwind, Northwind, Eastwind, Westwind, Whistling Wind, Piercing Wind,
Blizzard, Bad Wind, Wind of Simurru,
Demon Wind, Ice Wind, Storm, Sandstorm —
thirteen winds rose up against him and covered Humbaba’s face.

Six days and seven nights
came the wind and flood, the storm flattening the land.

According to Bůčková (2004) deluge is one of the most widespread mythical motifs throughout the world. She explains how in the Maori mythology of the aboriginal people of New Zealand, their hero Tawhaki took his warriors and built a protected village upon the top of a mountain. It was here that Tawhaki called to the gods for revenge and the flood they let down was so disastrous that the whole earth was covered by water and all human beings perished.

Vigato (2015) proposed that the pyramid of the feathered serpents at Xochicalco in Mexico is a monument erected to commemorate the mythical ancestry of the lords of Xochicalco, descendants from a company of gods that were the sole survivors of a cataclysm that destroyed and sunk their primeval homeland.

In Plato’s dialog Timeus, the Egyptian priest tells Solon that “there have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes.”

Alignments of the Cities of the Antediluvian Kings

Seven ancient cities are associated with the antediluvian kings (Finklestein 1963): Babylon, Bad-Tibira, Eridu, Larak, Larsa, Sippar, and Shuruppak. Although there is a certain degree of uncertainty, Eridu and Babylon are associated with the earliest kings, Alulim and Alalngar, and Sippar and Shuruppak are associated with the latest, En-men-dur-ana and Ubara-Tutu. En-men-lu-ana, En-men-gal-ana, and Dumuzid, the Shepherd are associated with Bad-Tibira, and En-sipad-zid-ana is associated with Larak. Unfortunately, the precise location of the ancient city of Larak is unknown but is probably somewhere in Isin. Bad-Tibira, which is thought to be in modern Medain has yet to be found (Crawford 1960).

Cities associated with the antediluvian kings of Sumeria.

Shuruppak – Although there are no above surface structures at Shuruppak, known today as Tell Fara, excavations by Schmidt (1931) revealed evidence of a flood between the two lowest strata at the site.

The drawing on the left is the ground plan of a Babylonian house excavated by Koldewey (1914). Dated to around the fifth millennium BCE it shows little change in the internal structure of a Babylonian house over a period of thousands of years. Koldewey states: 

Nothing shows more conclusively than these ground-plans the immense age of Babylonian civilisation; for even in this remote period, which is in part prehistoric, they give clear indications of a yet earlier development from a presumably simpler and more primitive building.

If we rotate the ground plan 22.5° counter-clockwise direction so that the arrow points up, the house would have been aligned in the direction of the North Pole when it was in Hudson Bay between 20,000 and 65,000 years ago.

Sippar – According to Berossus (Burstein 1978), records of the civilization that existed in Mesopotamia before the flood were buried at Sippar:

Cronus appeared to Xisouthrosso in a dream and revealed that on the fifteenth day of the month mankind would be destroyed by a flood. Therefore, he ordered Xisouthros to bury the beginnings and the middles and the ends of all writings in Sippar, the City of the Sun.

After the flood “when these people came to Babylon, they dug up the writings at {the city) of the Sipparians and founded many cities and rebuilt shrines and founded anew Babylon.”

Thousands of clay tablets were discovered in Sippar in the late 18th century.  What remains of this the northernmost of the ancient cities on the east side of the Euphrates River is not aligned in any known astronomical direction (i.e., relative to the current geographic pole). As shown in the figure to the right, Ebabbar, the temple of Shamash (dedicated to the Mesopotamian sun god) and the adjacent ziggurat appear to be aligned in the direction of the summer solstice sunrise/winter solstice sunset relative to the Hudson Bay pole.

Larsa – The temple of the sun god Shamash and the ruins of a ziggurat to the north at Larsa (Banks 1905) are aligned to the Hudson Bay pole. Thus both Sippar and Larsa contain temples dedicated to Shamash that are aligned to the Hudson Bay pole.

Eridu –  By association with the earliest kings, Eridu along with Babylon are the two most ancient of the antediluvian cities. A site known as the “palace” at Eridu (below left)  is aligned in the direction of Greenland, which according to our timeline is thought to have been the location of the North Pole 85,000 – 130,000 years ago. What remains of the ziggurat to the south of the palace (below right) appears to be oriented in the general direction of the summer solstice sunrise/winter solstice sunset relative to a later pole in Hudson Bay pole.

Babylon – Robert Koldewey’s 1914 book The Excavations at Babylon describes more than a decade of work in uncovering, documenting, and analyzing the ruins of this historic city.

At the north is Babil (B), the remains of one of Nebuchadnezzar’s palaces, which is inside the outer wall of the city (AS). South of Babil was Nebuchadnezzar’s castle (Kasr or Qasr). The principal entrance to the Kasr (K) is through the 12-meter tall Ishtar Gate. Although the internal layout of the Kasr is cardinally aligned the surrounding walls are not. According to Koldewey, the foundations are so deep that, owing to the high water level at the time, they were unable to reach the footings. The wall north of the Ishtar Gate appears to be very closely aligned with the Greenland pole while the wall south of it appears to be very closely aligned with the Norwegian Sea pole. The orientation of the Ishtar Gate itself lies in between these two directions. While most of the city was constructed of mudbrick, Koldewey found a section of the western wall consisting of four courses of immense limestone blocks bound together with dove-tailed wooden clamps. Many of the structures to the south of Kasr on the mound known as Amran (A) excavated at the time are no longer visible in Google Earth imagery.

Registering a more detailed ground plan of this part of the city reveals that besides the Ziggurat of Etemenanki (ET) also known as the Tower of Babel, whose foundation still exists, the Esagila or Temple of Marduk (ES), to the south appear to be aligned in the direction of the Greenland pole. Structures further south may be also aligned in the same general direction. Like Eridu, based on their alignment to the Greenland pole we hypothesize these two cities were originally established 85,000 to 130,000 years ago.

Summary

All five of the antediluvian cities contain structures aligned to previous (i.e., pre-flood) poles. The cities associated with the earliest rulers are aligned to the older Greenland pole, while cities associated with later rulers are aligned to the more recent Hudson Bay pole. A new paper analyzes 350 ancient sites in Mesopotamia and shows the oldest sites generally tend to cluster in the vicinity of the cities that are associated with the antediluvian kings. Click here to learn more.

Vintage print entitled “Ruines de la Tour de Babel” by Mallet (1683).

Credit: The featured image for this article is a depiction of Babylon by Austen Henry Layard.

References

Banks, Edgar James  (1905) “Senkereh, the Ruins of Ancient Larsa.” The Biblical World, Vol. 25, No. 5, pp. 389-392, The University of Chicago Press.

Burstein, Stanley Mayer (1978) “The Babyloniaca of Berossus,” Sources and Monographs Sources from the Ancient Near East, Volume 1, Fascicle 5, Undena Publications, Malibu CA.

Bůčková, Martina (2004) “Deluge in Polynesian Mythology,” Asian and African Studies, Vol. 13, No. 2, 191-197.

Carlotto, M. J. (2019). “Archaeological dating using a data fusion approach,” Signal Processing, Sensor/Information Fusion, and Target Recognition XXVIII, Baltimore MD.

Carlotto, Mark (2020a) “Toward a New Understanding of the Alignment of Ancient Egyptian Sites,” (January 28, 2020). http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3526820.

Carlotto, Mark (2020b) “An Analysis of the Alignment of Archaeological Sites,” Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 34, No. 1.

https://journalofscientificexploration.org/index.php/jse/article/view/1617

Carlotto, Mark (2020c) “A New Model to Explain the Alignment of Certain Ancient Sites,” Journal of Scientific Exploration, Summer (in press).

Crawford, Vaughn E (1960) “The Location of Bad-Tibira,” Iraq, Vol. 22, British Institute for the Study of Iraq.

Finkelstein, J.J. (1963) “The Antediluvian Kings: A University of California Tablet”, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Vol. 17, No. 2.

Hapgood, Charles Hutchins (1958). Earth’s Shifting Crust: A Key to Some Basic Problems of Earth Science, (Foreword by Albert Einstein), Pantheon Books.

Koldewey, Robert (1914) The Excavations at Babylon, Macmillan and Co., Limited St. Martin’s Street, London.

Kovacs, Maureen Gallery (1989) The Epic of Gilgamesh, Stanford University Press.

Schmitd, Erich (1931) “Excavations at Fara, 1931,” The Museum Journal, Vol. XXII, No. 3-4.

Vigato, Marco (2015) “The pyramid of Xochicalco: A monument to the end of times,” http://unchartedruins.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-pyramid-of-xochicalco-monument-to.html

Childhood’s End? An Analysis of a New Video of the Moon

In this article, we digress from our investigation of ancient sites on Earth to examine a new video posted in late March that shows what appear to be three very large UFOs flying around the moon.

The video was taken by a French Canadian astronomer with a telescope viewing a crescent moon in daylight through thin clouds. Click here to view the original video. A magnified version of the video is shown below. Three objects rise up over the limb of the moon, fly across the lunar surface, and disappear into the moon’s shadow.

The following is a motion stabilized and sharpened version of the video that I created to better visualize the event.

What is immediately evident is that the UFOs in the video are large enough and close enough to the moon to be able to cast noticeable shadows. On seeing this I was immediately inspired to analyze the video in greater detail to attempt to answer four key questions:

• How close are these objects to the moon?
• How large are they?
• How fast are they moving?
• What are they?

Measuring Distances

Using the arc or limb of the moon as a starting point, since the size of the moon is known we can estimate the physical length of the portion of the limb that is seen through the telescope. From this, it is possible to compute a scale factor that gives the physical distance between two points at the distance of the moon from the distance between two points in the image. According to Francis Ridge, who leads the Lunascan Project, the large crater in the image is Endymion. Using a computed scale factor of 107 miles/inch (see figure below), the crater’s length measured north-south in the image is 0.55 inches and so its physical diameter is about 59 miles, which is close to the measured diameter of 62 miles using Google Moon.

How close are these objects to the moon?

Object measurements were made in magnified versions of the video. Using Endymion as a reference, the scale factor in the magnified video frames is 34 miles/inch. The images below give altitudes of the three objects (U1-U3) estimated from the highest points in their paths as they rise up from behind the moon.

How large are they?

The fact that these objects are so clearly resolvable in the video immediately suggested that they are quite large. As it turns out they are enormous. A measurement of U1 as it flies over Endymion is between 5 and 15 miles in length and roughly 1 to 3 miles in width. The other two objects appear to be about the same size.

Distances along the lunar surface in the range direction are foreshortened. Near Endymion, the effective scale factor is 100 miles per inch.

As shown below, as U1 moves across the moon we see the bright sunlit side when the background is dark and the dark shadowed side when the background is bright. Putting the two together suggests that U1 and the other objects have an elliptical or ellipsoidal shape.

U1 revealing its shape is it moves over dark and light areas on the moon.

How fast are they moving?

If we can measure physical distances then we can estimate speed. By measuring its displacement between video frames, U1 appears to be moving about 31 miles/sec. Objects in a circular orbit near the moon move at a speed of about 1 mile per second. Thus U1 is moving more than 30x faster than it would were it in lunar orbit.

In an analysis of video imagery of UFOs taken by the Space Shuttle in 1991, it was determined that certain objects, which appeared to be traveling around the Earth, were moving at speeds in excess of 20 miles per second. Although such speeds are not in themselves that remarkable since meteorites can move up to 45 miles per second that they were moving around the Earth in curved trajectories suggested that they were not meteorites or space debris. Similar behaviors are evident in this video.

Object U1 travels across Endymion, a distance of about 62 miles, in 2 seconds at a speed of 31 miles/sec.

What are they?

A recently posted CGI video recreation that attempts to prove the original video is a fake actually proves the opposite. In the side by side comparison shown below the CGI version predicts the general appearance of the event quite well and so validates the underlying sun-moon-UFO geometry. However, it fails to accurately model the appearance of the UFOs themselves. In particular, a thin border around the objects indicates that they were inserted or composited into the frame. There is no such border around the objects in the original video.

Atmospheric turbulence, which causes long-range images to dance or shimmer in a random manner, provides another subtle clue attesting to the authenticity of the original video. As shown below as it moves across Endymion U1 “dances” along with its local background. In the CGI version, this motion appears to have been mimicked by simply adding in frame-to-frame jitter.

Magnified and cropped section of a stabilized version of the original video. (Tenac)
Detail of stabilized version of CGI recreation. Notice border around UFOs indicating the objects were inserted into the frame. (MendezMendez)

Ultimately, it is impossible to prove that this (or any other) video is authentic. But what if it is?

In the midst of political turmoil, global warming, and a worldwide pandemic, could it also be time for something completely different – time for three enormous objects that have been flying around the moon to land on Earth.

Could it be time for us to open our minds up to yet another reality – one that is almost literally looming on the horizon?

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Francis Ridge, Ananda Sirisena, and David Eccott for their contributions.

The picture at the top of this article, which is from the front cover of an early printing of Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End, depicts what one of these objects might look like hovering over a major city.

Can an Aztec Legend and an Unproven Scientific Theory Explain the Alignment of Certain Mesoamerican Archaeological Sites?

“The Spanish chroniclers do not give one reliable word about the manners and customs of the builders of the grand antique edifices, that were objects of admiration to them as they are to modern travelers. The only answer of the natives to the inquiries of the Spaniards as to who the builders were, invariably was, “we do not know.” – from Queen Moo and the Egyptian Sphinx, Augustus Le Plongeon, 1900.

There are thousands of ancient structures in Mexico and Central America. Based on measurements from hundreds of locations it evident that their alignment is clearly non-uniform, exhibiting concentrations in certain directions. A paper by González-García and Šprajc (2016) analyzed the orientations of 271 structures at 87 sites in the Mayan lowlands and found that the distribution of orientations was largely in the east-west direction referring to the Sun and to the major extremes of Venus and the Moon. However, it is apparent from their data that alignments in the cardinal directions, solstices, and lunar standstills are much less frequent than those in other directions. What is particularly interesting is the large concentration of unexplained orientations displaced 10° to 20° south of east. Astronomically this range of directions lies between the equinox and lunar and solar extremes.

Histogram of site azimuth angles with key directions indicated: equinox (E), solstice (S), major (M) and minor (m) lunar standstills. Adapted from González-García and Šprajc (2016).

Instead of assuming that Mesoamerican sites were aligned to solar events related to calendrical dates, a recent paper, considered a different possibility – that these sites were first established by a previous (unknown) civilization who used other points of reference to align their sites. In a series of articles we have shown that numerous sites across the world appear to face toward four locations within about 20° of the North Pole that could have been previous  locations of the geographic pole over the past 100,00 years or so. In two regional studies (Carlotto 2019, 2020) almost one hundred sites in Greece, eastern Turkey, southern Italy, and Egypt were found that reference these four previous pole locations. Continuing our search in Mesoamarica we have found another 64 sites aligned to these same four locations. (Click here to read the paper.)

Our Hypothesis

One measure of the power of a scientific theory is its ability to explain the data in a simple way. Our hypothesis is that these and other sites throughout the world were originally aligned in the direction of the North Pole at the time of constuction and are now misaligned due to subsequent pole shifts. Although Charles Hapgood’s theory that suddent large scale crustal displacements and pole shifts remains unproven, the fact that so many sites seem to point to these same four locations is strong circumstantial evidence supporting his theory.

What is particularly interesting is that our hypothesis explains González-García and Šprajc’s data quite well. Together with equinox, solstice and lunar standstill alignments relative to the current pole (the dotted lines in the figure) almost all of the peaks in the data are in the directions of past poles.

Counts of sites “◊” aligned in previous pole directions superimposed over the site orientation data collected by González-García and Šprajc (2016). From left to right: 2 sites aligned to the Bering Sea, 9 to Greenland, 31 to Hudson Bay, and 9 to the Norwegian Sea.

Sites aligned to ancient poles would have to be as old as the poles themselves, from 18,000 to as much as 130,000 years old. Predating human history by tens of thousands of years we find ourselves in the relam of myth.

The Legend of the Five Suns

According to a mid 16th-century account by Hernando Cortes’ chronicler Francisco López de Gómara (von Humboldt 1810):

“The peoples of Culhua or Mexico believe, according to their hieroglyphic paintings, that before the sun that now shines upon them, four suns had already existed and had been extinguished, one after the other. These five suns constitute the ages in which humankind was wiped out by floods, earthquakes, an all-consuming blaze, and the effect of fierce storms.”

Aztec Sun Stone showing the five Suns or gods of Aztec mythology. Counter-clockwise from the top right are glyphs representing Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc, and Chalchiuhtlicue. The current Sun Huitzilopochtli is in the center.

Our hypothesis is that the current and four previous world ages described in the legend of the Five Suns corresponds to the current and past four locations of the geographic pole, and the disasters that ended each age were the result of sudden displacements of the Earth’s crust. Our recently updated chronology of past poles and their relation to Mesoamerican Suns is summarized below.

Mesoamerican world ages associated with previous locations of the North Pole.

The Fifth Sun

Aztec traditions tell us that we live in the world of the Fifth Sun, which is associated with the current North Pole. Surprisingly only 18 of the 160 sites examined reference the current pole. The North Acropolis at Ek Balam (see below) is one example.

64 sites/structures reference four past locations of the North Pole and so could have been first established many tens of thousands of years ago during previous world ages or Suns.

The Fourth Sun

According to a chronology of pole shifts described in the previous article, we hypothesize that sites aligned to the Hudson Bay pole were built more than 16,000 years ago. This corresponds to the period of the fourth Sun called Atonatiuh that ended in a great flood. This age was presided over by the Aztec goddess of water, Chalchiuhtlicue. The statue of Chalchiuhtlicue displayed at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City was found within the Temple of the Moon at Teotihuacan. Teotihuacan is one of 31 Mesoamerican sites that are aligned to the Hudson Bay pole.

View looking south from the Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacan.

The Third Sun

We believe that sites in Mesoamerica aligned to the Norwegian Sea pole were built 16,000 to 63,000 years ago in the time of third Sun called Ehecatonatiuh. The third Sun is the age of the wind or air and is often associated with Quetzalcoatl. The Pyramid of Kukulcan at Chichen Itza is one of 9 sites aligned to the Norwegian Sea pole. 

Aerial view of Chichen Itza.

The Second Sun

The second Sun called Tletonatiuh was the age of fire and corresponds to the time 83,000 to 130,000 years ago when the geographic pole was in Greenland. The Aztec god of fire Xiuhteuctli is associated with Tlaloc the rain god at Tenochtitlan. One of the twin temples atop Templo Mayor was dedicated to Tlaloc. Templo Mayor and the surrounding area in Mexico City is  aligned in the direction of the Greenland pole. In total, we found 9 sites aligned to this pole.

The original design of Templo Mayor is evident in the excavated remains of the second pyramid (Phase II) that lies under a protected roof at the site. The two structures at the top were the temples dedicated to Tlaloc (left) and Huitzilopochli (right).

The First Sun

The first age of Sun was called Tlaltonatiuh, the epoch of the earth or the “age of the giants” Von Humboldt (1810) associates this age with the earliest mythological periods in the world. Only two sites have been discovered that have structures aligned to the oldest pole in the Bering Sea, one example being the megalithic structures at Chimalacatlán discovered by Marco Vigato.

(Click here to read the full paper, which contains a listing of all of the sites discovered.)

Summary

Charles-Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg, Augustus Le Plongeon, and other respected 18th-century scientists and explorers lost their credibility when they proposed that the ruins discovered by the Spanish in Mexico were not built by the native people but dated back to a far more ancient age. Time will tell, but perhaps they were right after all.

References

Carlotto, Mark (2019) “New Models to Explain the Alignments of Greek Temples,” https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3501950

Carlotto, Mark (2020) “Toward a New Understanding of the Alignment of Ancient Egyptian Sites,” https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3526820

César González-García, A. and Šprajc, Ivan (2016) “Astronomical significance of architectural orientations in the Maya Lowlands: A statistical approach,” Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Vol 9, pp 191–202.

Von Humboldt, Alexander (1810) Views of the Cordilleras and Monuments of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas: A Critical Edition.

On the Sequence and Timing of Pole Shifts

In 1958 Charles Hapgood proposed that three displacements of the North Pole had occurred over the past 75,000 years. Last spring at a data fusion conference I presented a paper showing that over fifty ancient sites throughout the world appear to be aligned to previous locations of the pole. Since then more than one hundred additional sites have been found.

Although Hapgood’s theory is not generally accepted in the scientific community, that so many ancient sites seem to be aligned to previous poles raises the obvious question: if Hapgood’s theory is wrong why are so many sites aligned to them?

This article presents a revised sequence and timing of geographic pole shifts over the past 130,000 years based on new climate evidence.

Meridians of sites aligned to previous locations of the North Pole in the Bering Sea (red), northern Greenland (green), the Norwegian Sea (yellow), and Hudson Bay (magenta).

Mollusks and Mammals

In examining the ‘extralimital anomaly’ of mollusk shells in the Americas, independent researcher Mark Gaffney has found new evidence supporting Hapgood’s theory of crustal displacement. Gaffney’s analysis posted last summer at Graham Hancock’s website shows that the locations of today’s faunal beds are displaced by more than a thousand miles from where they were at the end of the late Pleistocene. He determined from this displacement that before its present location in the Arctic, the previous location of the North Pole was on Baffin Island in northern Canada. This location is about 470 miles north of Hapgood’s Hudson Bay pole, and about 530 miles northeast of the location I had determined from site alignments.

Gaffney’s latest soon-to-be-published research reveals new climate evidence that supports Hapgood’s theory specifically in regard to the order and timing of pole shifts. My analysis of site alignment data using data fusion techniques revealed that Hapgood’s Greenland/Norway pole was really two separate poles, one in northern Greenland, and the other in the Norwegian Sea. Although I was able to resolve their locations, without additional data I was unable to determine which came first, i.e., did the pole shift from the Bering Sea, to the Norwegian Sea, to Greenland, and then to Hudson Bay, or was the sequence Bering Sea, Greenland, Norwegian Sea, and Hudson Bay?

Order of poles: Bering Sea (BS), Greenland (Gr), Norwegian Sea (NS), Hudson Bay (HB), and the Arctic (Ar).

By analyzing mammalian fossils in Late Pleistocene deposits in Britain Gaffney determined the sequence was likely the former with a pole shift from the Bering Sea to Greenland causing the climate in Europe to change from sub-tropical to temperate between 123,000 and 96,000 years ago, followed by a pole shift from Greenland to the Norwegian Sea that caused it to become much colder around 85,000 years ago. According to the fossil record, the climate then warmed up around 38,000 to 50,000 years ago, which is consistent with the pole moving to northern Canada and finally to its present location around 20,000 years ago.

Sea Level Change

Generally speaking, during glacial periods when there is more ice at the poles, sea levels are lower than during interglacial periods when there is less ice. The amount of ice depends on temperate, which in turn depends on how much solar radiation is absorbed at the surface or reflected by clouds and ice. Hapgood hypothesized pole shifts were caused by a build-up of ice in the polar regions that eventually create an imbalance large enough to cause the crust to slip over the mantle and shift the added mass toward the equator. When the mass of ice at the pole shifts to a lower latitude some of it melts leading to a rise in sea level. Then as ice begins to accumulate at the new pole, sea levels slowly decrease, and the cycle repeats. Using this basic pattern we can estimate the timing of pole shifts from sea-level changes.

Sequence and timing of geographic pole shifts based on new climate evidence. (Base graphic courtesy University of Toledo)

Over 130,000 years ago at the time of the penultimate glacial maximum, sea levels were about 120 meters below current levels suggesting an ice cap comparable in size to the one at the last glacial maximum (LGM) at the end of the Wisconsinan glaciation. Hapgood estimated that during the Illinoian glaciation the North Pole was near the Yukon region in Canada, a location we have subsequently refined using site alignment data to a point in the Bering Sea north of the Aleutian Islands. When the pole shifted from the Bering Sea more than 2500 miles to northern Greenland much of this ice melted causing the sea level to rise 130 meters by around 120,000 years ago. As ice then began to accumulate at the new North Pole in northern Greenland sea levels began to decrease in stages. About 85,000 years ago the build-up of ice at the Greenland pole caused the North Pole to shift again but by a smaller distance, about 1250 miles, to the Norwegian Sea. The mass of ice in the polar region grew significantly over the next 20,000 years as Europe experienced a much colder climate. The continued imbalance in Earth’s moment of inertia created by a build-up of polar ice caused the pole to then shift to northern Canada about 65,000 years ago. Reaching its greatest extent at the time of the last glacial maximum, the pole moved to its present location in the Arctic about 20,000 years ago.

Dating Ancient Sites

Based on our revised sequence and timing of pole shifts we propose that places in Mexico such as Teotihuacan and Uxmal that are aligned to the Hudson Bay pole are 20,000 to 60,000 years old. Chichen Itza and sites that are aligned to the Norwegian Sea pole are 60,000 to 80,000 years old. Based on their alignment to the Greenland pole, we hypothesize that the original (pre-Aztec) settlement at Tenochtitlan in the heart of modern-day Mexico City and other sites in the Valley of Mexico are among the oldest archaeological sites in Mexico. Sites aligned in this direction could have been first established 80,000 to 130,000 years ago.

Sites in Peru’s Sacred Valley that are aligned to the Bering Sea pole including Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo are more than 130,000 years old. If it is indeed artificial, by virtue of its alignment to the Bering Sea pole, the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun could be the oldest structure in Europe.

Since they are aligned to the same pole, we hypothesize that the Acropolis in Athens and Tenochtitlan date to the same period. According to Plato’s dialog Critias:

“In the first place the Acropolis was not as now. For the fact is that a single night of excessive rain washed away the earth and laid bare the rock; at the same time there were earthquakes, and then occurred the extraordinary inundation, which was the third before the great destruction of Deucalion.”

If the Bering Sea to Greenland pole shift corresponded to the first destruction, the Greenland to Norway Sea to the second, the Norway Sea to Hudson Bay to the third, and the Hudson Bay to the present pole to the fourth, the original structures at the Acropolis were destroyed about 60,000 years ago.

The Greenland to Norwegian Sea pole shift moved Europe much closer to the pole than it is today. As a result of its colder subpolar climate, there are relatively few sites in western Europe aligned to the Norwegian Sea pole. After the pole shifted to Hudson Bay the climate in Europe warmed and many more sites were built there including the oracle of Apollo at Delphi and the Lion Gate at Mycenae, both of which were established before the last flood approximately 20,000 years ago.

Evidence of an Advanced Civilization in the South Pacific During the Last Ice Age

An analysis of the orientation of ancient structures on four islands in the South Pacific suggests the possibility that a previously unknown civilization could have existed in this part of the world during the last Ice Age.

Nan Madol

Nan Madol is a megalithic complex on the island of Pohnpei consisting of about a hundred rectangular islets. Most of the islets are surrounded by retaining walls constructed of long slabs of prismatic basalt laid on top of foundations of immense basalt boulders. Archaeologists believe that the earliest structures were built around 900 CE. It is thought that the enormous basaltic slabs were floated by some means from quarries on the other side of the island to their present location. 

Nan Madol is divided into two areas. One to the southwest known as Madol Pah is where royal dwellings and ceremonial areas were located. The other area to the northeast known as Madol Powe is where the priests dwelled and most of the tombs are located.  

Esteban (2014) measured the alignments of numerous structures at Nan Madol. He determined that the long southeast-facing retaining wall of Madol Pah is oriented at an azimuth angle of 56° and could have been aligned with the rising of the “Southern Cross” at the time the site is thought to have been built. This angle is confirmed in measurements made using a recent LIDAR image (Comer et al 2019).

An analysis of the alignments of Nan Madol and other sites discussed in this article is sometimes difficult since many structures are not perfectly rectangular and not always oriented in exactly the same direction. The azimuth angle of the west-southwest retaining wall of Madol Pah measured in the same LIDAR image mentioned above is approximately 137°, which is not at a right angle to the southeast wall. Together these two walls thus defined a general range of directions to the southeast between 137° and 146°.

Hudson Bay pole alignments at Nan Madol measured in a  LIDAR image overlay created in Google Earth. A is the Hudson Bay pole meridian, B is the solstice alignment of Nan Dowas and other structures in the funerary area in Madol Powe, C is the solstice alignment of the area of royal dwellings and ceremonial areas in Madol Pah. (Google Earth/Comer et al)

Like other megalithic sites throughout the world, the lack of a compelling explanation for how such large structures could have been constructed using primitive technology suggests the possibility that the sites were first established by a previous technological civilization and then co-opted by later more primitive (indigenous) people.

Assuming a date of construction to satisfy a stellar alignment becomes somewhat of a circular argument since such alignments shift due to precession. A search for a more stable solar or lunar explanation that does not assume a date of construction leads to a consideration of alternative pole locations. If we assume the North Pole was in Hudson Bay at the time the site was first established, it would have been located at around 10° S latitude (it is currently at 6.84° N latitude). The southernmost (summer solstice) sunrise angle would range from 137.7° to 139.9°. It is thus possible that Madol Pah could have been aligned to the summer solstice sunrise at this time.

The largest structure at Nan Madol is Nan Dowas, which is constructed of stones weighing up to 50 tons. The alignments of this and other structures in the funerary area in Madol Powe are different from those in Madol Pah. According to Esteban (2003) Nan Dowas and a tomb at Sapwtakai, another megalithic site on Pohnpei, are both aligned in the same general direction, approximately 3° south of east. This angle is very close to the range of northernmost sunrise angles on the solstices (90.4° to 92.26°) relative to an assumed North Pole location in Hudson Bay suggesting that Nan Dowas could have also been aligned to the winter solstice sunrise at this time.

What is particularly intriguing about this ancient dating around the time of last glacial maximum when sea levels were more than 120 meters lower than their present levels is that Nan Madol and other reported ruins off of its eastern coast would have been well above sea level and the island itself would have been larger.

The ancient city of Leluh is constructed from the same kind of prismatic basalt found at Nan Modal and is aligned in the same general direction. (Photo courtesy Maloff1)

Leluh

The ancient city of Leluh was built up as a man-made extension on a small island in a lagoon on the eastern side of Kosrae, an island 540 km east-southeast of Pohnpei. The same kind of prismatic basalt found at Nan Modal was used in Leluh to construct numerous walls and tombs. According to Morgan (1988) the stone was quarried from a site in Utwe (about 15 km from Leluh) and transported using rafts. Although the basalt itself cannot be dated, Uranium/Thorium (U/Th) dates from corals collected from structural materials suggest the tombs were built about 700 years ago (Richards et al 2015).

Even more intriguing than the materials used in construction is the similarity in the alignments at Leluh and Nan Madol. Esteban (2002) reports the orientations of the northeastern sides of five tombs range in azimuth from 47° to 59°. Their southeastern facing sides are thus aligned in the range 137° to 149°. Being at a similar latitude the solstice sunrise directions are similar to those at Nan Madol relative to the Hudson Bay pole. By registering Hambruch’s original 1910 map to create an image overlay in Google Earth we are able to verify that the ancient city itself is aligned in the same general direction of the solstices.

The range of sunrise directions assuming the North Pole was in Hudson Bay may also explain why Leluh was originally built off of the east coast of Kosrae. Extending sightlines in the solstice directions reveal that the southern sunrise and sunset directions relative to the Hudson Bay pole bracket the mountainous landscape of Kosrae to the southwest. On the summer solstice, the sun would have risen to the southeast over the ocean and set west between two mountains on Kosrae.

One of three stone-paved trapezoidal areas called marae on the island of Taputapuatea in French Polynesiamarea. (By Michel-Georges Bernard – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2966431)

Taputapuatea

Taputapuatea is on the island of Raiatea in French Polynesia. Near the eastern tip of the island, there are three stone-paved trapezoidal areas called marae. Marae were meeting places in Polynesia where the world of the living could interact with the realm of the ancestors and the gods.

Alignments of three marae at Taputapuatea – from left to right in the direction of the Hudson Bay pole, the Greenland pole, and to solstices relative to the Hudson Bay pole. (Google Earth)

The long axes of two of the marae appear to be oriented toward former poles – one toward the Hudson Bay pole and another toward an earlier pole in Greenland. The minor axis of a third marae is aligned in a solstice direction relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Salvat et al (2019) have U/Th dated limestone slabs at the site to be 3000 to 5000 years old. Alignments to former poles suggest the original site could be even older.

Haʻamonga ʻa Maui Trilithon. (Photo courtesy Tauʻolunga)

Tonga

The Haʻamonga ʻa Maui Trilithon is a unique megalithic structure on the northern coast of the island of Tongatapu. It is constructed from three enormous blocks of coral limestone, the largest is 5 meters in height and weighs about 50 tons.

This photo taken by Esteban along the lintel of the Haʻamonga ʻa Maui Trilithon indicates the structure is not precisely aligned to the solstices. (Photo courtesy César Esteban)

Although it is widely thought to have been aligned to the summer solstice sunrise/winter solstice sunset, an interesting photo taken along the lintel by Esteban reveals that it is misaligned by several degrees. It turns out to be very closely aligned perpendicular in the direction of the Hudson Bay pole and so would have been once oriented east-west. It is interesting to note that this direction is similar to that of land-use patterns in many parts of the island. Aveni (1980) notes that in Mexico alignments of churches built over earlier structures and planted fields often follow patterns that had been established in pre-Columbian times. Perhaps this pattern on the Tongan landscape was first established tens of thousands of years ago when the North Pole was in Hudson Bay.

Maori Flood Myth

According to Bůčková (2004) “Deluge is one of the most widespread mythical motifs throughout the world…” She explains how in the Maori mythology of the aboriginal people of New Zealand, their hero Tawhaki

“took his warriors and built a protected village upon the top of a mountain. It was here that Tawhaki called to the gods for revenge and the flood they let down was so disastrous that the whole earth was covered by water and all human beings perished. This episode may, however, be characterized as a cataclysmic deluge.”

Could the origin of this myth have been a catastrophe caused by a pole shift/crustal displacement that flooded all but the tallest peaks of the mountains in the South Pacific?

Sea levels have changed dramatically over the past 20,000 years after the last glacial maximum (LGM).

In Hapgood’s chronology, at the time of the last glacial maximum when sea levels were at their lowest, the North Pole was in Hudson Bay. Much more of the Tonga archipelago would have been above sea level at this time. In fact, most islands in the Pacific would have been much larger. According to Hapgood’s theory, when the pole shifted from Hudson Bay to its present location the ice on the old pole melted releasing an enormous quantity of water that caused sea levels to rise over 120 meters in 20,000 years. Over time the rise in sea level could have forced the original builders of Nan Madol and other enigmatic places in the South Pacific to flee these islands.

Tonga bathymetry. Much of this area would have been above sea level at the time of the last glacial maximum.

Perhaps Churchward’s Mu did exist after all, not as a supercontinent in the middle of the Pacific Ocean but as a vast archipelago, much larger than it is today, supporting an advanced civilization that had the capability to quarry, transport, erect, and align these and other (yet to be discovered?) enigmatic structures that are testament to its existence.

References

Aveni, Anthony (1980) Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico(Austin and London: University of Texas Press.

Bůčková, Martina (2004) “Deluge in Polynesian Mythology,” Asian and African Studies, Vol. 13, No. 2, 191-197.

Carlotto, Mark (2020a) “Toward a New Understanding of the Alignment of Ancient Egyptian Sites, https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3526820.

Carlotto, Mark (2020b) “An Analysis of the Alignment of Archaeological Sites,” Journal of Scientific Exploration, Spring (in press).

Carlotto, Mark (2020c) “A New Model to Explain the Alignment of Certain Ancient Sites,” Journal of Scientific Exploration, Summer (in press).

Comer, Douglas C., Comer, Jacob A., Dumitru, Ioana A., Ayres, William S., Levin, Maureece J., Seikel, Katherine A., White, Devin A. and Harrower, Michael J., (2019) “Airborne LiDAR Reveals a Vast Archaeological Landscape at the Nan Madol World Heritage Site,” Remote Sensing, 11, 2152; doi:10.3390/rs11182152

Esteban, César (2014) “Orientations and Astronomy in Prehistoric Monumental Tombs of Nan Madol (Pohnpei, Micronesia),” Monuments and People in the Pacific.

Esteban, César (2002) “Some Notes on Orientations of Prehistoric Stone Monuments in Western Polynesia and Micronesia,” Archaeoastronomy. The Journal of Astronomy in Culture.

Morgan, W. N. (1988) Prehistoric Architecture in Micronesia(University of Texas Press, Austin.

Richards, Zoe T., Shen, Chuan-Chou, Hobbs, Jean-Paul A., Wu, Chung-Che, Jiang, Xiuyang, and Beardsley, Felicia (2015) “New precise dates for the ancient and sacred coral pyramidal tombs of Leluh (Kosrae, Micronesia),” Science Advances, Vol. 1, no. 2, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400060

Salvat, Bernard, Maric, Tamara, Goepfert, Tyler and Eisenhauer, Anton (2019) “The marae of Taputapuātea (Ra’iatea, Society Islands) in 2016: nature, age and origin of coral erected stones,” Dans Journal de la Société des Océanistes(no. 149).

Feature image: Nan Madol ruins in Pohnpei.
Photo by CT Snow, CC BY 2.0 https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3838239

Before Zep Tepi

“…in the time before these men they said that gods were the rulers in Egypt, not mingling with men, and that of these always one had power at a time; and the last of them who was king over Egypt was Oros the son of Osiris, whom the Hellenes call Apollo…” – Herodotus, II, 144.

“They said also that the first man who became king of Egypt was Min [Menes]…” – Herodotus II, 4.

Thirty years ago Robert Bauval proposed that the three great pyramids in Giza were the terrestrial representation of the three stars in Orion’s Belt, This idea led to an even more revolutionary proposal a few years later with Graham Hancock that the pyramids together with Sphinx formed a pattern on the ground that matched that of the heavens circa 10,500 BCE, a time known as Zep Tepi thought to be the true beginning of the Egyptian civilization.

In the last post, we discussed the possibility that certain ancient sites in Greece were not built by the Greeks but by a previous civilization long since forgotten. This article presents new evidence suggesting the Egyptian civilization began tens of thousands of years before Zep Tepi.

The Alignment of Ancient Egyptian Sites

Understanding the alignment of ancient Egyptian pyramids, temples, and other structures is a subject of great interest. Where most (but not all) pyramids are aligned to the cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west, sometimes with uncanny precision as those on the Giza plateau, the orientation of Egyptian temples has remained somewhat of a mystery. In his highly controversial book, The Dawn of Astronomy, Norman Lockyer was the first to propose that the ancient Egyptians aligned their temples to the sun and stars. Using knowledge of precessional motion he estimated that the Temple at Edfu and several other temples were built in alignment with Ursa Major around 6400 BCE. Taking into account changes in Earth’s axial tilt or obliquity he estimated that the Temple of Karnak at Luxor, which is aligned in the direction of the winter solstice sunrise, was established in 3700 BCE.

In their paper “Astronomy, Landscape, and Symbolism: A Study of the Orientation of Ancient Egyptian Temples” Belmonte, Shaltout, and Fekri propose that astronomy and geography were important factors in the alignment of ancient sites and that the “terrestrial landscape, dominated by the Nile, and the celestial landscape, dominated by the sun and the stars, combine in order to permit the establishment of Ma’at, the Cosmic Order, on Earth.”

Even after taking other contextual factors into account such as landscape, many unanswered questions remain regarding the alignment of many Egyptian archaeological sites. For example, why is the Temple of Karnak in Luxor, east of the Nile River, astronomically aligned, while “Temples of the Millions of Years” across the Nile in West Luxor dedicated to Amenhotep III, Seti I, Thutmosis III, and Ramesses II are not? The Osireion is perhaps one of the most enigmatic megalithic structures in all of Egypt. Why is the temple of Seti I in Abydos aligned in the same direction as the Osireion, a direction that is neither astronomical nor geographical?

Alternative Frames of Reference

In his 1958 book, The Earth’s Shifting Crust Charles Hapgood proposes that displacements of Earth’s crust over the mantle and resulting shifts of the geographic pole could explain ice ages and other patterns of climate change. Before Atlantis explores the idea of using pole shifts as a method for dating ancient sites aligned to former poles. According to Hapgood’s pole shift timeline, sites aligned to the Hudson Bay pole are at least 12,000 to 18,000 years old. Those that face Greenland could be 50,000 years old. Sites aligned to even earlier poles could be 75,000 to 125,000 years old or more.

The effect of a pole shift is to shift and rotate the reference frame of the observer. Sites once aligned to the sun or moon are no longer oriented in those directions after a pole shift.

A new paper “Toward a New Understanding of the Alignment of Ancient Egyptian Sites” considers the possibility that when the Osireion, the “Temples of the Millions of Years” and other enigmatic places in Egypt were first established they were aligned relative to earlier poles. The paper lists 60 sites that could have been astronomically aligned to former poles: 19 to the Hudson Bay pole, 35 to the Greenland pole, and 8 each to the Norwegian Sea and Bering Sea poles. As a result of subsequent pole shifts, these sites are not today aligned in any meaningful way and so have been difficult to understand using conventional models/reference frames.

If Hapgood’s theory is correct, based on their alignment with former poles, these sites could have been first established tens of thousands of years ago. Over time as sites fell into ruin, some structures were rebuilt and others added over and around the original foundations sometimes preserving original alignments to the older poles. What exists today is a mixture of site alignments that reference both current and past pole locations.

The Turin King List

The Temple of Hathor at Dendera is one of the sites that are aligned in the direction of a former pole. According to John Anthony West in The Traveler’s Guide to Ancient Egypt

“Like virtually all Egyptian temples, Dendera is built upon the site of a succession of earlier temples. An inscription over one of its subterranean crypts (this one not open to the public) declares the temple had been built ‘according to a plan written in ancient writing upon a goatskin scroll from the time of the ‘Companions of Horus.’ Thus, Ptolemaic architects from the first century B.C. were claiming that the architectural plan for the temple dated to the legendary prehistoric era when the ‘Companions of Horus’ ruled Egypt.”

Data that conflict with established timelines that begin with the rule of Menes, the first king of a unified Egypt circa 3000 BCE, are anathema to Egyptology. In particular, rulers before Menes listed in an important scroll known as the Turin King List are often ignored as having no historical basis. According to R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz in his book Sacred Science, the Companions of Horus or “Shemsu Hor” ruled Egypt from 16,820 BCE up to the dynastic period.  Earlier rulers known as the “Venerables of the North” and the “Venerables of Memphis” ruled Egypt after 40,020 BCE, up to the time the Shemsu Hor.

Refined Hapgood pole shift timeline with Egyptian dynastic (D), Shemsu Hor (SH), and pre-SH reigns indicated.

Correlating the Turin King List with our hypothesized pole shift timeline above shows that the earliest reigns correspond to the time when the North Pole was in Hudson Bay. The reign of the Shemsu Hor began after the Hudson Bay pole shift and continued up to the dynastic period.

Evidence of an Ancient Flood

Could “the great destruction of Deucalion” mentioned in Plato’s dialog Critias have been the result of the Hudson Bay pole shift? Rejected by most scientists as myth new data suggests that certain passages in another of Plato’s dialogs Timeus, widely thought to be little more than a story, might have a factual basis after all.

The following excerpt  is well known:

“There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes. There is a story, which even you have preserved, that once upon a time Paethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father’s chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt. Now this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth, which recurs after long intervals…”

This passage could very well be describing a crustal displacement. A rapid shift of the poles would change the apparent motions of celestial objects. Continuing, the dialog goes on to describe the aftermath of a crustal shift

“…at such times those who live upon the mountains and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destruction than those who dwell by rivers or on the seashore. And from this calamity the Nile, who is our never-failing saviour, delivers and preserves us. When, on the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water, the survivors in your country are herdsmen and shepherds who dwell on the mountains, but those who, like you, live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea. Whereas in this land, neither then nor at any other time, does the water come down from above on the fields, having always a tendency to come up from below; for which reason the traditions preserved here are the most ancient.”

The last part of this passage suggests that the impact of the last flood varied geographically. Those who survived in Greece (and Europe) lived in the mountains while others were swept into the sea. Although there is no mention of those who lived closer to the sea in Egypt (i.e., Lower Egypt), the implication of the last sentence is that those who lived in Upper Egypt survived the flood to tell about it.

Histogram of site alignments vs. latitude. There are more sites aligned to the current pole in Lower Egypt, but more sites aligned to previous poles in Upper Egypt.

A geographic analysis of the alignment statistics seems to support this idea. (see paper for details). Sites currently aligned to solstices and lunar standstills are distributed more or less uniformly from Upper to Lower Egypt. Overall most of the sites that are aligned to the current pole are in Lower Egypt. On the other hand, there are more sites in Upper Egypt aligned to older poles than there are in Lower Egypt. One possible explanation is that a flood following the last pole shift destroyed about 80% of the sites close to the Mediterranean Sea.

Based on these new findings perhaps the Zep Tepi of 10,500 BCE was not the “First Time” but only the beginning of the latest chapter in the long history of the Egyptian civilization.

The Mystery of Greek Temple Alignments

The alignments of Greek temples have puzzled archaeologists for over a century. Originally it was thought that the Greeks aligned their temples to the sun and stars on the feast day of the deity to which they were dedicated. Subsequent research revealed the nature of the alignments to be more complex with no simple or obvious explanation.

A New Study of Greek Temple Sites

A recent study of 59 temples, oracles, and other important archaeological sites in Greece, Sicily, western Turkey, and northern Africa found only about a third of the sites to be aligned astronomically. (Click here to read the full paper.) The inability of archaeoastronomy to explain the alignment of most ancient sites in Greece as well as in other parts of the world has led archaeologists to consider the influence of other factors besides astronomy such as local culture, agricultural practices, and landscape. That so few sites can be explained by alignments to the sun, moon, and stars suggest the possibility that the ancients could have used other points of reference or even different frames of reference not previously considered by archaeologists.

Katherine Carlotto, Hyperborea (2019) Acrylic on canvas

Geomagnetic Pole Alignments

Charvátová et al (2011) argue that numerous earthen mounds in China could have been aligned using a magnetic compass toward the north geomagnetic pole at the time of construction. Ioannis Liritzis and Helen Vassiliou (2006) suggest that certain Greek temples were aligned to observe the aurora borealis – a geomagnetic phenomenon commonly known as the “northern lights.” Could the Greeks, who were familiar with the magnetic properties of certain materials, have used some primitive form of a magnetic compass to align temples in the direction of the geomagnetic pole, which is generally displaced from the geographic pole much like many Greek temples are from the cardinal directions?

Although it is not known if the  Greeks had actually developed some form of magnetic compass and used it to align sites as the ancient Chinese are thought to have done, using archaeomagnetic data to compute the location of the north geomagnetic pole over the past 4000 years, 6 of the 59 sites are aligned in the direction of the geomagnetic pole at their estimated time of construction.

Temple of Poseidon at Paestum (400 BCE) could have been aligned to the north geomagnetic pole at around the time of construction. (Sacred Directions/Apple Maps)

Alignments to Oracles and Other Places of Importance

The Greek writer Vitruvius, in his work De Architectura, states that sunrise was not always the principal direction for aligning temples and that there was sometimes a preference for facing nearby cities or directions of approach along rivers or roads. Jean Richer (1994) proposed that the locations of certain sacred places in ancient Greece provided a geographical reference frame for a zodiacal interpretation of the alignments of ancient sites to places such as the Amun Temple in the Siwa Oasis near Libya in northwestern Egypt, Mt. Ida on the island of Crete, and oracles at Dodoni and Delphi in Greece.

Sequence showing the alignments of sites to the Amun Temple in the Siwa Oasis near Libya in northwestern Egypt, Mt. Ida and the Cave of Zeus on the island of Crete, the oracles at Dodoni and Delphi, and Mycenae. (Google Earth)

By examining the orientations of rectangular structures and rectilinear features such as walls, 25 of the 59 sites were found to be aligned in the directions of six “centers”- the Amun Temple in northwestern Egypt, Mt. Ida and the Cave of Zeus on the island of Crete, the oracles at Dodoni and Delphi, and the fortress of Mycenae.

Amphitheater at Dodoni faces toward the Amun Temple in Siwa.
Amun Temple, Siwa, in turn, faces in the direction of Dodoni.

A particularly interesting discovery is that the Amun Temple in Siwa and certain structures at the Greek oracle center of Dodoni face each other implying that they might have been built at the same time. This idea is consistent with the following passage from Herodotus (Book 2, Chapter 55):

“That, then, I heard from the Theban priests; and what follows, is told by the prophetesses of Dodoni: to wit, that two black doves had come flying from Thebes in Egypt, one to Libya and one to Dodoni; this last settled on an oak tree, and uttered there human speech, declaring that there must be there a place of divination from Zeus; the people of Dodoni understood that the message was divine, and therefore they established the oracular shrine. The dove which came to Libya bade the Libyans (so they say) to make an oracle of Ammon; this also is sacred to Zeus…”

How did the Greek build two sites almost 800 miles apart aligned to face one another? Perhaps they did not.

Alignments to Old Poles

Two papers to be published next year based on an analysis of over two hundred ancient sites across the world find that more than half of the sites cannot be explained in terms of alignments to celestial or other known points of reference but can be explained in terms of alignments to previous locations of the North Pole. Remarkably, an even smaller fraction of the sites considered in this study have a conventional explanation but almost all of them appear to reference previous locations of the pole.

Color-coded alignments of sites to the current pole (white), Hudson Bay pole (magenta), Greenland pole (green), Norwegian Sea pole (yellow), and Bering Sea pole (red). (Google Earth)

By referencing Greek sites to previous pole locations, site alignments can be interpreted in a new way. Two locations on the island of Crete, Mt. Ida and the Cave of Zeus, appear to be extensions of meridians through Mycenae and Delphi relative to the Hudson Bay pole as shown in the figure below. Were Mycenae and Delphi aligned to Mt. Ida and the Cave of Zeus or were these two locations on Crete established based on the locations of Mycenae and Delphi?

Alignments between Mycenae, Delphi, and Crete. Magenta lines are meridians relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Orange lines between sites are aligned to within 1° of the corresponding meridians..

Implications

The existence of sites aligned to previous locations of the North Pole suggests that the area of what is now Greece has been inhabited for a considerable period of time. If our hypothesized pole shift chronology is correct, to up to about 125,000 years ago, when the North Pole was in the Bering Sea, Greece was located near the equator. A crustal displacement and pole shift to the Norwegian Sea thrusted Greece into the far northern temperate climate zone with cataclymic consequences. The next crustal displacement moved the pole to Greenland shifting Greece south to where it existed for several tens of thousands of years. This may have been the period that Critias tells us about in Plato’s dialog:

“Now the city in those days was arranged on this wise. In the first place, the Acropolis was not as now. For the fact is that a single night of excessive rain washed away the earth and laid bare the rock; at the same time there were earthquakes, and then occurred the extraordinary inundation, which was the third before the great destruction of Deucalion.”

The Parthenon atop the Acropolis in Athens is one of many structures in Greece that is aligned to the Greenland pole. According to Critias’ count of destructions/inundations, the Bering Sea to Norwegian Sea pole shift would have been the first, the Norwegian Sea to Greenland pole shift would have been the second, and the Greenland to Hudson Bay pole shift would have been the third. The destruction of Deucalion caused by the last pole shift from Hudson Bay was the fourth.

Shifts in the location of Greece relative to the geographic pole over the past 125,000 years. (Google Earth)

We propose that the Greek temple sites referencing previous geographic pole locations were established by earlier civilizations and later co-opted by the Greeks. Our hypothesis is that, over time, as certain sites were destroyed or fell into ruin, they were rebuilt and expanded, and new structures were added above and/or around consistent with the original site plan. What exists today is an indication of the original alignment of the site. For sites that contain structures aligned to current and past poles there may not be obvious differences between the two if the older pole structures were rebuilt or built over at the same time current pole structures were added.

References

Charvátová, Ivanka , Klokočník , Jaroslav, Kolmaš, Josef, and Kostelecký, Jan (2011) “Chinese tombs oriented by a compass: Evidence from paleomagnetic changes versus the age of tombs,” Studia Geophysica et Geodaetica, Vol. 55, pp 159–174.

Liritzis, Ioannis, and Vassiliou, Helen (2006) “Were Greek temples oriented towards aurorae?” Astronomy & Geophysics, Vol. 47, Issue. 2.

Richer, Jean (1994) Sacred Geography of the Ancient Greeks, State University of New York Press, Albany.

The Echo of an Earlier Civilization in Northern Europe

The 5th Century BCE Greek poet Pindar wrote of a mythical place called Hyperborea – a place “that lay behind cold Boreas of bleak and frozen breath.” – a place that was unreachable:

“Of the fairest glories that mortals may attain, to him is given to sail to the furthest bound. Yet neither ship nor marching feet may find the wondrous way to the gatherings of the Hyperborean people.”

According to the 2nd Century CE Greek poet Aelian the Hyperboreans were giants in stature:

“The race of the Hyperboreans and the honors there paid to Apollo are sung of by poets and are celebrated by historians…This god [Apollo] has as priests the sons of Boreas (the North Wind) and Khione (snow), three in number, brothers by birth, and six cubits [9 feet] in height.”

The 1st Century CE Roman scholar Pliny the Elder believed that Hyperborea was a real place north of the Ripaean Mountains, known today at the Carpathians, which extend across Central Europe. 

Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Placemark denotes the location of the polygonal wall aligned to the Hudson bay pole (magenta) and Crete (orange).

Greek Temples

Two sites in Greece may provide clues as to the location of Hyperborea. Jean Richer (2007) argued that the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, which is oriented in a northwest direction, references two important directions – one southeast toward the island of Crete, which is the birthplace of Zeus and the origin of all of the Greek gods, and the other northwest in the direction of Hyperborea. The Temple of Hera at Samothrace is similarly aligned in a northwest direction with “symbolic north” directed toward Mt.Haemus (Balkan Mountains), beyond which the Greeks believed was the realm of Hyperborea.

The supporting polygonal wall of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi.

The original temple dedicated to Apollo at Delphi is thought to have been built in the 7th century BCE. Today’s temple is roughly in alignment with the summer solstice sunrise. A careful examination of the site reveals other geometrical alignments. The polygonal wall below the temple and behind the Stoa (Portico) of the Athenians, which is made of polygonal stones similar to “cyclopean” walls found both in Europe and other parts of the world, is at a right angle to the direction of the Hudson Bay pole. So too is the orientation of the amphitheater. The opposing direction points directly toward the Cave of Zeus on Crete.

Geometry of the Hudson Bay Pole Shift

If references to Hyperborea are in the direction of the former North Pole in Hudson Bay, then from the point of view of the Greeks, when the pole shifted from Hudson Bay to its current location, certain parts of Europe, most notably those in northeast Europe which were at a lower latitude and more temperate in climate would have been shifted northward into the Arctic Circle. These places could thus be interpreted as now being “beyond north” and unreachable in the sense that they had existed at a different time in a previous age but are now gone as a result of the resulting cataclysm.

Kuyva geoglyph similar to the Atacoma giant in Chile is located on the Kola Peninsula in northwestern Russia.

An Anomaly in Northern France

Could the last pole shift have destroyed a civilization that had existed northward from the Carpathian Mountains to Scandinavia and west to the British Isles and east to Siberia, and if so is there any evidence of its existence? A search for archaeological ruins in this area aligned to the former pole revealed little evidence other than a few curious features on the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea, and a geoglyph facing north-northwest on the side of a mountain in the middle of the Kola Peninsula.

Thousands of menhirs at Carnac appear to be aligned in the direction of Paris.

Moving on to megalithic sites in Scandinavia and continuing west to the British Isles, and then south to mainland Europe more than a dozen sites were found that appeared to be aligned to a geo-location in or near modern-day Paris. The oldest sites (late Neolithic) were not oriented in directions that coincide with celestial directions such as solstice sunrise/sunset and lunar standstill moonrise/moonset. However, later sites (Bronze Age onward) were oriented both in celestial directions and toward Paris. (Click here to read the paper.)

Paris alignments include 5 late Neolithic and 10 Bronze age sites that appear to reference a geolocation in or near modern-day Paris.

Before the advent of radiocarbon dating, archaeologists believed that the megalithic tradition in Europe had spread westward from the Near East. Based on a statistical analysis of thousands of radiocarbon-dated samples from megalithic sites across Europe Schulz Paulsson (2019) concluded that the megalithic phenomenon in Europe originated independently in northwest France during the fifth millennium BCE.

The concept of the “omphalos” or center is referenced by ancient civilizations and religious/spiritual traditions in the context of sacred stones that are kept in places of importance. Examples include the Omphalos of Delphi, the Black Stone in the Kaaba at Mecca, and others. Richer (2007) believed that Greek oracles including the Temple of Apollo at Delphi were aligned to specific locations, one being Mt. Ida on the island of Crete, which was thought to have been the birthplace of Zeus. The city of Cuzco, which translates as “navel” in Quechua, is the point of origin of radial lines called “ceques” that emanate from the city in all directions (Farrington 2018).

That sites up to 1000 km distant point toward a location in a region that was also an independent place of origin of the megalithic tradition in Europe is an interesting coincidence. 

From Myth to Prehistory

Certain passages in Plato’s two dialogs that discuss Atlantis are often overlooked because they discuss Athens in the context of its war with Atlantis. What is significant in these passages is that that they refer to the existence of an earlier civilization, perhaps referencing the “Heroic Age” of Greece. From Timeus:

“…you do not know that there formerly dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, and that you and your whole city are descended from a small seed or remnant of them which survived. And this was unknown to you, because, for many generations, the survivors of that destruction died, leaving no written word. For there was a time, Solon, before the great deluge of all, when the city which now is Athens was first in war and in every way the best governed of all cities, is said to have performed the noblest deeds and to have had the fairest constitution of any of which tradition tells, under the face of heaven.”

We learn a little more from Critias

“For when there were any survivors, as I have already said, they were men who dwelt in the mountains; and they were ignorant of the art of writing, and had heard only the names of the chiefs of the land, but very little about their actions.”

Although there do not appear to be any archaeological ruins (i.e., megalithic sites) in northern Europe that are in alignment with the Hudson Bay pole it is possible that what had existed in this part of the world was destroyed by the ensuing cataclysm. A plausible explanation for the emergence of the megalithic phenomena is northern Europe and the alignment of ancient sites to a place that is now Paris is that the memory of a previous (prehistoric) civilization persisted for some time after its destruction. It is hypothesized that this civilization could have been the Hyperboreans of Greek myth and the ancient Athenians mentioned in Plato’s two dialogs.

A 4th Century CE mosaic of Polyphemus from the Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily. It has been suggested that the Cyclops were not one-eyed monsters but enlightened spiritual beings with a highly developed third eye, which is thought to be the seat of the soul in some spiritual traditions.

These myths may provide a prehistoric context not only for Hyperboreans but for other mythical creatures such as the Cyclops. Richard Cassaro suggests that the Cyclops,  who are were also thought to have been giants, might have been the builders of numerous megalithic structures in Europe whose origins are unknown or uncertain.

References

Farrington, Ian (2018). The Oxford Handbook of the Incas, (Sonia Alconini and R. Alan Covey, eds.) Oxford University Press.

Richer, Jean (1994) Sacred Geography of the Ancient Greeks, State University of New York Press, Albany.

Schulz Paulsson, B. (2019) “Radiocarbon dates and Bayesian modeling support maritime diffusion model for megaliths in Europe,” Proceedings National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 116, No. 9. (http:// www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1813268116).

Evidence of Advanced Prehistoric Civilizations in the Valley of Mexico

In The Pyramid Network – Part I, The Valley of Mexico Marco Vigato identifies a collection of archaeological sites in and around Mexico City that appear to be aligned to one another. Although they are generally regarded to be of Aztec, or more broadly Nuaha origin, an examination of these sites in the context of our Before Atlantis hypothesis suggests that they could be much older.

Tenochtitlan

Beginning around 500 CE waves of Nahuatl-speaking people began to migrate into the Valley of Mexico from the north. The last wave who called themselves the Mexica arrived on a marshy island in Lake Texcoco known as Tenochtitlan at a spot that, according to legend, had been pre-ordained by Huitzilopochli, the Aztec god of the Sun and war. There they built a pyramid with twin temples on the top – one dedicated to the rain god Tlaloc and the other to Huitzilopochli.  

The original design of Templo Mayor is evident in the excavated remains of the second pyramid (Phase II) that lies under a protected roof at the site. The two structures at the top were the temples dedicated to Tlaloc (left) and Huitzilopochli (right).

By the time of the Spanish Conquest this structure, which is now known as Templo Mayor at the heart of modern-day Mexico City, had been expanded a number of times, each time preserving the original design with later pyramids built over and around the original pyramid in a manner not unlike that of a Russian nesting doll. Pyramids of similar design were built at Tenayuca, Acatitlan, Tlatelolco, and Texcoco.

The earliest surviving ( Phase II) structure is highlighted in this plan view of Templo Mayor.

An unsolved mystery of Templo Mayor and the surrounding area in Mexico City is why they are misaligned with respect to the cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west – by approximately 6.5° south of east. 

The orientation of Templo Mayor (center) and surrounding region in Mexico City is rotated approximately 6.5° south of east.

According to a Spanish friar who arrived in Mexico soon after the Conquest, the Aztec feast of Tlacaxipehualiztli “took place when the sun stood in the middle of [the Temple of] Huitzilopochtli, which was at the equinox, and because it was a little out of line, [King] Moctezuma wished to pull it down and set it right” (Aveni 2001). One explanation for why Templo Mayor is not aligned due east-west is that it had to be rotated to compensate for the elevation of the sun by the time it had risen high enough to be seen between the two temples at the top of the pyramid.

The solar path at Templo Mayor on the equinox. The sun rises due east at the horizon. For a structure viewed from the west at sunrise on the equinox, the sun rises above the structure south of east. To make the sun appear to rise directly between the two temples the structure must be rotated clockwise and viewed from a position slightly north of west. As the height of the structure increases the sun rise further to the south. Thus as Templo Mayor was expanded it should have been rotated clockwise by increasing amounts.

If this explanation were correct, as the structure was expanded, the rotation angle of the later phases should be greater than the rotation angle of earlier phases. The following measurements made by Sprajc (2000) give the orientations of the north-south, east, and west-facing sides of Templo Mayor.

Phase II:
East: 97°42'±30' 
West: 277°42' ± 30' 
North-South: 6°30' ± 1° 

Later phases:
East: 95°36' ± 30' 
West: 275°36' ± 30' 
North-South: 6°40' ± 30'

Notice the east orientation of the Phase II structure is greater (not less) than the east orientation of later phases. Although later phases of the pyramid may have been rotated under Moctezuma’s rule to make it line up, the Phase II temple could not have been aligned to the equinox. 

Various researchers have suggested other possible explanations for the orientation of Templo Mayor (and other pyramids) related to important Aztec calendar dates, agricultural cycles, and horizon features such as mountain peaks. Before considering another  explanation, let us examine several nearby sites.

Tenayuca and Acatitlan

Due to the similarity in design, it is generally assumed that Templo Mayor was modeled after the pyramid of Tenayuca to the north. The orientation of this pyramid is quite interesting. Like Templo Mayor it is rotated clockwise but by a different amount. The east-facing side of the pyramid points directly toward the peak of a currently extinct volcano known as Cerro Tlaloc, 31 miles to the east-southeast. The diagonals of the pyramid closely align with Teotihuacan to the northeast and Cerro de la Estrella to the southeast. It turns out that structures at all three of these sites are aligned in the same direction, approximately 15.5° east of north. Another pyramid at St. Cecilia Acatitlan that has undergone extensive reconstruction a short distance to the north of Tenayuca is also oriented in this direction and faces Cerro Tlaloc.

Alignments of the pyramid at Tenayuca. The top line is aligned approximately 15.5° east of north. The line along the northeast diagonal of the pyramid points to Teotihuacan. The line along the southeast diagonal points toward Cerro de la Estrella. The east side faces Cerro Tlaloc.
Alignments of the reconstructed pyramid at St. Cecilia Acatitlan. The top line is aligned approximately 15.5° east of north. The east side faces Cerro Tlaloc.

Tlatelolco

Twelve years after it was founded, a group of dissident Mexica left Tenochtitlan to settle on a marshy island to the north that had been previously occupied by earlier waves of Nahua who had migrated to the Valley of Mexico. Over time, this settlement came to be known as Tlatelolco, which means “a built-up mound of earth.” Interestingly the alignments of some structures at Tlatelolco are similar to those at Tenochtitlan. The Temple of the Calendar and the Temple Of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl closely line up with the north-south alignment of 6.5° measured at Templo Mayor. On the other hand, the pyramid at Tlatelolco that is similar in design to Templo Mayor is rotated even further clockwise, 8 to 9°. Like Templo Mayor was this structure also rotated so that the sun would be seen to rise in between the twin temples at the top of the pyramid at the time of the equinox? If so the increased rotation angle of the structure implies that it was taller than Templo Mayor, which is unlikely (Marco Vigato, private communication).

The orientation of certain structures at Tlatelolco is in the same direction as the north-south orientation of Tenochtitlan.

Texcoco

A twin pyramid similar to those at Tenochtitlan, Tlatelolco, Tenayuca, and Acatitlan once existed in the ancient city of Texcoco, which was east of Lake Texcoco. Among the above-ground ruins in modern-day Texcoco, those at Los Melones appear to be oriented in the same direction as Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco.

The orientation of a structure at Los Melones in Texcoco is in the same direction as the north-south orientation of Tenochtitlan.

A Far More Ancient Origin?

Unlike Tenayuca and Acatitlan, neither Templo Mayor nor Tlatelolco directly face in the direction of Cerro Tlaloc.

In Before Atlantis we propose that a series of crustal displacements shifted the North Pole four times over the past 125,000 years, first from the Bering Sea north of the Aleutian Islands to a location in the Norwegian Sea 125,000 years ago, then to northern Greenland 75,000 years ago, then to a location east of Hudson Bay in Canada 50,000 years ago, and to finally to its present location in the Arctic 12,000-18,000 years ago.

Notice in Sprajc’s measurements that the north-south alignment of both the Phase II and later phases of Templo Mayor is the same – approximately 6.5° east of north. As noted above Tlatelolco, Los Melones, and an early structure atop Cerro de la Estrella (discussed later) are also aligned in the same direction, a direction that faces a hypothesized prior location of the North Pole in Greenland. We propose that the original structures at these sites were built by a much earlier, prehistoric civilization that inhabited the Valley of Mexico when the North Pole was in Greenland, some 50,000 to 75,000 years ago.

These sites aligned to the Greenland pole could have been established 50,000 to 75,000 years ago.

The pyramids of Templo Mayor at Tenochitchan, Tlatelolco, Texcoco, Tenayuca, and Acatitlan were all of the same design. That the orientation of the pyramids at Tenochitchan, Tlatelolco, and Texcoco are different from those at Tenayuca and Acatitlan suggests there were different alignment schemes. Both of these schemes are evident in the two superimposed sets of orientations present in a structure atop Cerro de la Estrella. The alignment of the bottom (earlier) structure (in green) like Tenochitchan, Tlatelolco, and Texcoco is toward the Greenland pole. The structure above it (in magenta) is, like that of Tenayuca and Acatitlan, oriented toward the Hudson Bay pole.

The structure at the top of Cerro de la Estrella appears to be have been first aligned to the Greenland pole, and then realigned to the Hudson Bay pole.

A Prehistoric Timeline

If structures in Tenochitchan, Tlatelolco, Texcoco, and Cerro de la Estrella were first built when the North Pole was in Greenland, the latitude of the Valley of Mexico would have been about 10° further north than it is now with a climate similar to that in northern Mexico or the southwest US.

Several tens of thousands of years later, during the last glacial period in North America, the Valley of Mexico had a temperate climate and Lake Texcoco was much larger than it was at the time of the Spanish Conquest.  Teotihuacan, which translates as “birthplace of the gods” in the Nahuatl language was also known to the Mayans as the “place of reeds” and suggests that the site was once on or near the shoreline of Lake Texcoco. This is consistent with the climate-change consequences of a pole shift from Greenland to Hudson Bay that would have moved the Valley of Mexico 20° further north well into the temperate climate zone. With a climate similar to that in northern Canada, fed by snowmelt and rain runoff from the surrounding mountains, Lake Texcoco could have been much larger than it ever was during the historical period reaching as far north as Teotihuacan.

Site                              Elevation 
Cerro Tlaloc                      4124 
Cerro de la Estrella              2404 
Teotihuacan                       2280 
Texcoco                           2263  
Acatitlan                         2266 
Tenayuca                          2254 
Tlatelolco                        2233 
Tenochtitlan                      2232

After the Greenland to Hudson Bay pole shift, much of what is now Mexico City and what was then the first settlements at Tenochitchan, Tlatelolco, and Texcoco would have been flooded, submerged, and eventually forgotten.

Tenochtitlan, Tlatelolco, Texcoco, and nearby areas were submerged when the North Pole shifted from Greenland to Hudson Bay.

At Teotihuacan, an enormous statue dedicated to the water goddess Chalchiuhtlicue was found within the Pyramid of the Moon. Chalchiuhtlicue was the fourth Sun in the Aztec myth of the Five Suns and is associated in with the time when the North Pole was in Hudson Bay. In an earlier post we showed that based on archaeoastronomy evidence, the Pyramid of the Moon might have been the first structure built at Teotihuacán approximately 35,000 years ago.

When Teotihuacan was built it could have been on or near the shoreline of a much larger Lake Texcoco.

The last violent eruption of Cerro Tlaloc is estimated to have occurred 21,000 to 25,000 years ago (Macías et al 2012). It is possible that by this time the water level of Lake Texcoco had fallen somewhat exposing more land in the Valley of Mexico. We propose that following the eruption of Cerro Tlaloc the first structures were built at Tenayuca and Acatitlan near the shoreline (Acatitlan is translated as “the place among the reeds”) and positioned to be in alignment both with the Hudson Bay pole to the north and Cerro Tlaloc to the east. Cerro de la Estrella also could have been modified at this time.

Tenayuca and Acatitlan were probably built later after the water level of Lake Texcoco fell.

The last crustal displacement shifted the North Pole from Hudson Bay to its current position in the Arctic and thrust the Valley of Mexico more than 40° south from a cool temperate climate to a dry arid one. The effect of such a large displacement in this part of the world probably devastated the civilization that had developed here when the North Pole was in Hudson Bay.

After the pole shift as the climate warmed the water level began to drop revealing ancient shoreline and islands that had been submerged for thousands of years. When the Nahua people entered the Valley of Mexico in historical times we propose that they found the remains of these two previous civilizations in the form of ancient architecture aligned in non-cardinal (and non-astronomical) directions. Teotihuacanos co-opt Teotihuacan, the Chichimec Tenayuca, and so on. The Mexica build Templo Mayor patterned after the design of Tenayuca over ruins oriented in the direction of the old Greenland pole, which was considered sacred by virtue of its alignment with Cerro Tlaloc.

The alignment of archaeological sites in modern-day Mexico City.

Conclusion

The Aztecs had set out to find a place marked by an eagle sitting on a cactus eating a serpent. We propose that they also found the ruins of pre-existing structures that had been built tens of thousands of years earlier by an unknown prehistoric civilization. Establishing a pattern that would be repeated many times, they built their first temple over the old.

Although the pre-existing ruins were aligned to the Greenland pole, which is associated with the Third Sun Tlaloc, the Mexica’s reverence for both Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli required a structure that would reference both deities. The original temple aligned to the Greenland pole was rebuilt and rotated slightly north to align to the equinox sun at the point where it would be seen between the two temples.

References and Sources

Anthony Aveni, Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico, Austin and London: University of Texas Press, 1980), 236–238.

Manuel Aguilar-Moreno, Aztec Architecture – Part 1

Manuel Aguilar-Moreno, Aztec Architecture – Part 2

J. Alcocer and W.D. Williams, “Historical and recent changes in Lake Texcoco, a saline lake in Mexico,” International Journal of Salt Lake Research, March 1996.

J.L. Macías, J.L. Arce, F. García-Tenorio, P.W. Layer, H. Rueda, G. Reyes-Agustin, F. López-Pizaña, and D. Avellán, “Geology and geochronology of Tlaloc, Telapón, Iztaccíhuatl, and Popocatépetl volcanoes, Sierra Nevada, central Mexico,” The Geological Society of America Field Guide, 25, 2012

Ivan Šprajc, “Astronomical Alignments at the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan, Mexico,” Journal for the History of Astronomy , January 2000.

A Commentary on Plato’s “Myth” of Atlantis

This article interprets sections of Plato’s two dialogs Timeus and Critias that discuss Atlantis in the context of Hapgood’s pole shift hypothesis.

The Goddess

Timeus was written by Plato 360 BCE. The dialog begins with a discourse by Critias who tells a story that was passed down from his grandfather, who heard it from his great-grandfather. His great-grandfather was a friend and relative of an Athenian statesman named Solon who visited Egypt sometime in the 7thcentury BCE.

“In the Egyptian Delta, at the head of which the river Nile divides, there is a certain district which is called the district of Sais, and the great city of the district is also called Sais, and is the city from which King Amasis came. The citizens have a deity for their foundress; she is called in the Egyptian tongue Neith, and is asserted by them to be the same whom the Hellenes call Athene; they are great lovers of the Athenians, and say that they are in some way related to them.”

Neith was a very important deity in the Early Dynastic Period and was often equated with Mehet-Weret, a primeval goddess whose name means the Great Flood. She was the mother of the creator sun god and so had claims to be considered the oldest of beings (Geraldine Pinch, Handbook of Egyptian Mythology). Athene or Athena was the goddess of Athens and is thought to have been a pre-Hellenic goddess who was later adopted by the Greeks.

In the Aztec creation myth of the Five Suns, the water goddess Chalchiuhtlicue presided over the Fourth Sun or the fourth creation of the world. It is believed that Chalchiuhtlicue retaliated against the ruler of the Third Sun, Tlaloc by destroying the world in a flood. Following the flood, the world that we now occupy (the Fifth Sun) was created.

The Fourth Sun is associated with the previous location of the North Pole as hypothesized in Before Atlantis. It has been suggested that a pole shift 12,000-18,000 years ago was responsible for the destruction of Atlantis. Could Chalchiuhtlicue have been an even earlier goddess who served as the inspiration for the Egyptian goddess Neith, and possibly even Athena? In other words, could Chalchiuhtlicue, Athene, and Neith all have represented the same deity in different places at different times?

A Species with Amnesia

Graham Hancock often refers to humans as a species with amnesia. Mankind in Amnesia is a psychological study published by Immanuel Velikovsky in 1982 that explains our inability to remember the distant past as a response to the trauma of certain past events. Perhaps the original reference to the idea that we have forgotten much about our past is in the next section of Timeus:

“To this city came Solon, and was received there with great honour; he asked the priests who were most skilful in such matters, about antiquity, and made the discovery that neither he nor any other Hellene knew anything worth mentioning about the times of old. On one occasion, wishing to draw them on to speak of antiquity, he began to tell about the most ancient things in our part of the world-about Phoroneus, who is called “the first man,” and about Niobe; and after the Deluge, of the survival of Deucalion and Pyrrha; and he traced the genealogy of their descendants, and reckoning up the dates, tried to compute how many years ago the events of which he was speaking happened. Thereupon one of the priests, who was of a very great age, said: O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are never anything but children, and there is not an old man among you. Solon in return asked him what he meant. I mean to say, he replied, that in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with age. And I will tell you why. There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes.”

It is widely accepted that an enormous asteroid impact near the town of Chicxulub in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula approximately 66 million years ago caused a mass extinction in which 75% of plant and animal species on Earth became extinct. If an event of that magnitude had occurred within the past several hundred thousand years we probably wouldn’t have forgotten it, it probably would have destroyed us.

Periodic encounters with smaller objects such as those in the Taurid meteor stream might have been responsible for certain climate-changing events, the most recent being the Younger Dryas – a period of rapid cooling 12,800 to 11,500 calendar years ago that followed an abrupt period of warming that brought the last Ice Age to a close 17,500 years ago. Charles Hapgood proposed that rapid displacements of the earth’s crust would have had a similar effect. What is interesting about Hapgood’s pole shift hypothesis is that the effect of a rapid displacement of earth’s crust would likely have varied in degree and effect throughout the world. Tectonic subduction zones or reverse faults exist throughout Europe. A sudden shift of the crust would likely have triggered numerous earthquakes along fault lines. It would also displace a considerable amount of water likely inundating coastlines exposed to the open ocean. Egypt is a river valley far from a large body of water and located several hundred miles west of the Arabian plate. A crustal displacement in Egypt, similar in magnitude to that in Europe, would likely have had a lesser impact. Perhaps the Egyptians remembered the past because they were largely spared from the effects of the last crustal displacement and the resulting devastation that Europe had experienced by virtue of their more protected location.

Figure 1 The effects of a hypothesized pole shift from the Bering Sea to the Norwegian Sea in the Old World (top) and New World (bottom).

The Son of Helios

Figure 1 illustrates the effects of a crustal displacement. In some places a crustal displacement causes a shift in latitude while other places experience a rotation of the cardinal directions. For example the hypothesized pole shift from the Bering Sea to the Norwegian Sea would have shifted the latitude of Europe and Africa 50 degrees north and rotated the Americas counterclockwise such that a point on the horizon 50 degrees east of north would end up pointing due north.

This passage in the Timeus seems to describe a pole shift in mythological terms:

“There is a story, which even you have preserved, that once upon a time Paethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father’s chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt. Now this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth, which recurs after long intervals at such times those who live upon the mountains and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destruction than those who dwell by rivers or on the seashore. And from this calamity the Nile, who is our never-failing saviour, delivers and preserves us. When, on the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water, the survivors in your country are herdsmen and shepherds who dwell on the mountains, but those who, like you, live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea. Whereas in this land, neither then nor at any other time, does the water come down from above on the fields, having always a tendency to come up from below; for which reason the traditions preserved here are the most ancient.”

For a fixed observer, a change in declination of celestial bodies relative to their normal motion would occur if there were a change in the reference frame of the observer. A crustal displacement would generally both rotate and shift the observer and so affect their perception of celestial motion. For example, if the observer were rotated 90 degrees clockwise as the result of a crustal shift the sun would appear to rise to the north and set to the south relative to the original reference frame.

The statement in the above passage that those who live in the mountains are more liable to destruction than those who live near rivers and seas does not at first seem to be in agreement with the pole shift hypothesis. However, the Egyptians did not consider the Mediterranean to be a sea but merely a harbor (as stated later in the dialog) and so could be implying that the effects of earthquakes experienced in Europe were more severe than that of flooding along the Mediterranean coastline.

An Earlier European Civilization

Critias’ story then alludes to the existence of a great European civilization before the last deluge:

“The fact is, that wherever the extremity of winter frost or of summer does not prevent, mankind exist, sometimes in greater, sometimes in lesser numbers. And whatever happened either in your country or in ours, or in any other region of which we are informed-if there were any actions noble or great or in any other way remarkable, they have all been written down by us of old, and are preserved in our temples. Whereas just when you and other nations are beginning to be provided with letters and the other requisites of civilized life, after the usual interval, the stream from heaven, like a pestilence, comes pouring down, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education; and so you have to begin all over again like children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times, either among us or among yourselves. As for those genealogies of yours which you just now recounted to us, Solon, they are no better than the tales of children. In the first place you remember a single deluge only, but there were many previous ones; in the next place, you do not know that there formerly dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, and that you and your whole city are descended from a small seed or remnant of them which survived. And this was unknown to you, because, for many generations, the survivors of that destruction died, leaving no written word. For there was a time, Solon, before the great deluge of all, when the city which now is Athens was first in war and in every way the best governed of all cities, is said to have performed the noblest deeds and to have had the fairest constitution of any of which tradition tells, under the face of heaven.”

In Before Atlantis we propose that a series of pole shifts over the past 125,000 years have demarcated four past ages that can be identified with what remains of ancient structures originally built in alignment to four previous locations of the North Pole. We speculate that former poles in the Bering Sea, Norway Sea, Greenland, and Hudson Bay were associated with what is commonly known in the Old World as the “Ages of Man” that begin with the Golden Age, and decline in the Silver Age and Bronze Age. The fourth age, which the Greeks called the Heroic Age, existed prior to the deluge and corresponds to the time mentioned in the above passage that refers to the people of Athens and their heroic deeds.

That a civilization existed in the Old World for a considerable period of time prior to the deluge provides a context for the tale of Atlantis, which is the next passage in Timeus.

Atlantis in the New World

The first part of Critias’ story about Atlantis in Timeus concludes as follows:

“Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state in our histories. But one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valour. For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city put an end. This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles; the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbour, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a boundless continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent, and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia. This vast power, gathered into one, endeavoured to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the straits; and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind. She was pre-eminent in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the Hellenes. And when the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand alone, after having undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated and triumphed over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who were not yet subjugated, and generously liberated all the rest of us who dwell within the pillars. But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.”

Figure 2 Change in sea level in the Caribbean over the past 20,000 years.

The Caribbean is one of several proposed locations for Atlantis. It is interesting that the region of the Caribbean Sea between the Yucatan Peninsula and the Bahamas would have been much less navigable at this time according to sea level estimates (Figure 2)

Figure 3 The last pole shift from Hudson Bay to the current pole (left to right) rotated but did not significantly change the latitude of Europe or Africa (top) while shifting Mesoamerica south from mid-latitudes to the tropics (bottom).

Figure 3 shows the effect of the Hudson Bay pole shift in the Old and New Worlds. Its effect in Europe and Egypt was relatively benign to what was likely experienced in Mesoamerica. As shown in the figure the effect of the crustal displacement in the New World was a 40-degree shift south in latitude that moved North America from a polar to temperate climate and Mesoamerica from a temperate to a tropical climate. It is likely that the impact of the pole shift was much greater in this part of the world due to its exposure to tidal waves from the open ocean and a chain of volcanos along the spine of Mesoamerica that has been active over the past million years (Figure 4).

Figure 4 Geologically active areas during the past one million years.

Greece, Before

The story continues in Plato’s other related dialog Critias that describes first Athens and then Atlantis and the surrounding countryside.

“Many great deluges have taken place during the nine thousand years, for that is the number of years which have elapsed since the time of which I am speaking; and during all this time and through so many changes, there has never been any considerable accumulation of the soil coming down from the mountains, as in other places, but the earth has fallen away all round and sunk out of sight. The consequence is, that in comparison of what then was, there are remaining only the bones of the wasted body, as they may be called, as in the case of small islands, all the richer and softer parts of the soil having fallen away, and the mere skeleton of the land being left. But in the primitive state of the country, its mountains were high hills covered with soil, and the plains, as they are termed by us, of Phelleus were full of rich earth, and there was abundance of wood in the mountains. Of this last the traces still remain, for although some of the mountains now only afford sustenance to bees, not so very long ago there were still to be seen roofs of timber cut from trees growing there, which were of a size sufficient to cover the largest houses; and there were many other high trees, cultivated by man and bearing abundance of food for cattle. Moreover, the land reaped the benefit of the annual rainfall, not as now losing the water which flows off the bare earth into the sea, but, having an abundant supply in all places, and receiving it into herself and treasuring it up in the close clay soil, it let off into the hollows the streams which it absorbed from the heights, providing everywhere abundant fountains and rivers, of which there may still be observed sacred memorials in places where fountains once existed; and this proves the truth of what I am saying.”

Evidently, the climate changed in this part of Europe from a lusher “primitive state” in the distant past to a more arid condition during historical times.  According to our pole shift model, if the North Pole were in Greenland, the latitude of Greece would have been slightly higher than it is today and so might have had a more temperate climate. More rainfall would promote greater vegetation growth whose byproducts would accumulate over time to form the thick soils mentioned above.

The Acropolis

This is an excerpt from a latter part of Critias that discusses Athens proper:

“Such was the natural state of the country, which was cultivated, as we may well believe, by true husbandmen, who made husbandry their business, and were lovers of honour, and of a noble nature, and had a soil the best in the world, and abundance of water, and in the heaven above an excellently attempered climate. Now the city in those days was arranged on this wise. In the first place the Acropolis was not as now. For the fact is that a single night of excessive rain washed away the earth and laid bare the rock; at the same time there were earthquakes, and then occurred the extraordinary inundation, which was the third before the great destruction of Deucalion.”

One interpretation of the last line is that if the destruction of Deucalion was the fourth, which is associated with the pole shift from Hudson Bay to its current position, the third would have been the Greenland to Hudson Bay pole shift, the second the Norwegian Sea to Greenland pole shift, and the first the Bering Sea to Norwegian Sea pole shift. As illustrated in Before Atlantis the Parthenon and other structures on the Acropolis are oriented in the direction of the Greenland pole, which would have been the time frame of the above passage.

Atlantis

In contrast to the rather factual description of Athens and its people, the language becomes markedly mythological as Solon goes on to describe the origin of Atlantis.

“In this mountain there dwelt one of the earth born primeval men of that country, whose name was Evenor, and he had a wife named Leucippe, and they had an only daughter who was called Cleito. The maiden had already reached womanhood, when her father and mother died; Poseidon fell in love with her and had intercourse with her, and breaking the ground, inclosed the hill in which she dwelt all round, making alternate zones of sea and land larger and smaller, encircling one another; there were two of land and three of water, which he turned as with a lathe, each having its circumference equidistant every way from the centre, so that no man could get to the island, for ships and voyages were not as yet. He himself, being a god, found no difficulty in making special arrangements for the centre island, bringing up two springs of water from beneath the earth, one of warm water and the other of cold, and making every variety of food to spring up abundantly from the soil. He also begat and brought up five pairs of twin male children; and dividing the island of Atlantis into ten portions, he gave to the first-born of the eldest pair his mother’s dwelling and the surrounding allotment, which was the largest and best, and made him king over the rest; the others he made princes, and gave them rule over many men, and a large territory. And he named them all; the eldest, who was the first king, he named Atlas, and after him the whole island and the ocean were called Atlantic…”

The description of the city and surrounding countryside that follow seem less factual for the most part except for the following passage:

“The whole country was said by him to be very lofty and precipitous on the side of the sea, but the country immediately about and surrounding the city was a level plain, itself surrounded by mountains which descended towards the sea; it was smooth and even, and of an oblong shape, extending in one direction three thousand stadia, but across the centre inland it was two thousand stadia. This part of the island looked towards the south, and was sheltered from the north.”

It is interesting to note that 2000 x 3000 stadia = 229 x 344 miles is roughly the size of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Discussion

That certain statements in the above passages in Timeus and Critias appear to be consistent with Hapgood’s pole shift hypothesis and the application of his hypothesis that explains the alignment of ancient sites discussed in Before Atlantis suggest that at least part of the Solon’s story may have had a factual basis – that Plato’s Atlantis was a real place and existed within a worldwide civilization which shared common ideas and experiences. Perhaps the “Old World” and “New World” were simply two parts of the world that experienced the effects of pole shifts and climate change by different amounts, in different ways, and at different times.

The featured image at the top of the article is from the 1960 movie, Atlantis, The Lost Continent.

A New Interpretation of Teotihuacán

In the Aztec language, Nahuatl, Teotihuacán is translated as “the place where gods were born.” In this article we hypothesize:

1) Teotihuacán was originally aligned to a former North Pole that was located near Hudson Bay

2) The Pyramid of the Moon, the Pyramid of the Sun, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, and the Palace of the Jaguars are associated with the succession of Aztec sun gods Chalchiuhtlicue, Tlaloc, Quetzalcoatl, and Tezcatlipoca, respectively.

3) Tezcatlipoca, who was the First Sun in the Aztec creation myth of the Five Suns, corresponds to the time when the North Pole was in the Bering Sea, Quetzalcoatl was the Second Sun that corresponds to the time when the North Pole was in the Norway Sea, Tlaloc was the Third Sun that corresponds to the time when the North Pole was in Greenland, and Chalchiuhtlicue was the Fourth Sun that corresponds to the time when the North Pole was in Hudson Bay

4) The distances between The Pyramid of the Moon, the Pyramid of the Sun, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, and the Palace of the Jaguars as measured along the Avenue of the Dead correspond to intervals between pole shifts

5)  Based on new archaeoastronomy evidence, the Pyramid of the Moon might have been the first structure built at Teotihuacán approximately 35,000 years ago

6) The other structures were probably added later just before the latest pole shift from Hudson Bay to the current North Pole, around 18,000 years ago.

Figure 1 Sites aligned to the Hudson Bay pole.

The Alignment of Teotihuacán

Various explanations have been proposed for why the city of Teotihuacán including the Avenue of the Dead, and numerous pyramids and temples are rotated 15-16° clockwise from the cardinal directions. Teotihuacán like other Mesoamerican sites is thought to have been aligned to be in harmony with the surrounding landscape. It has been suggested that Teotihuacán was originally aligned to face the direction of a nearby mountain peak, Cerro Gordo approximately 18 km to the east-southeast. Sprajc [1]  argues that this alignment also corresponds to the directions of sunrises and sunsets on two different sets of dates 260 days apart, which is the basis of Mesoamerican ritual calendars. Teotihuacán is one of the best-known examples of the group of orientations widely distributed in Mesoamerica ranging from about 15° to 18° clockwise from the cardinal directions that have become known as the 17° family of orientations [2]. 

In Before Atlantis we propose a different explanation to account for the variation in the alignment of these sites as a function of their location – that when the sites were first established the North Pole was in a different location, approximately 3400 km south of its current location in Hudson Bay. Our hypothesis is that these sites were originally aligned to face the former North Pole when they were built and are now misaligned due to a pole shift that occurred 12,000 to 18,000 years ago. This explanation not only accounts for the alignment of structures in Teotihuacán and other Mesoamerica sites but also that of structures in other parts of the world (Figure 1).

Figure 2 Locations of interest at Teotihuacán. From top to bottom: the Pyramid of the Moon, the Palace of the Jaguars, the Pyramid of the Sun, and the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl.

Pyramids of the Gods

According to the Aztec legend of the Five Suns, the past is divided into a succession of ages or “Suns” that are ruled by deities that create, sustain, and eventually destroy the world during the age in which they rule. Not surprising, the current age known as the Fifth Sun is ruled by Huitzilopochtli, a violent deity of war and human sacrifice.

At Teotihuacán, the Pyramid of the Moon, the Pyramid of the Sun, and the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl have been associated with three of the four previous Aztec gods Chalchiuhtlicue, Tlaloc, and Quetzalcoatl, respectively.

When Teotihuacán was first excavated by Leopoldo Batres in the late 1800s one of the artifacts found was a 20-ton statue buried in the Pyramid of the Moon representing Chalchiuitlicue, the goddess of the Fourth Sun. Artifacts later found inside the Pyramid of the Sun suggest that it was dedicated to Tlaloc, the god of the Third Sun. The Temple of the Feathered Serpent, which is named for the numerous feathered serpents heads carved into the facade and stairwell of the temple, was excavated from under the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl, the god of the Second Sun. Although there is no indication that any of the other structures were associated with Tezcatlipoca, the god of the First Sun, it is conjectured that The Palace of the Jaguars’ might have served that purpose, as jaguars are sometimes associated with Tezcatlipoca.

Figure 3 Positions of locations along the Avenue of the Dead.

Avenue of the Dead

It has been suggested that the arrangement of the pyramids of the Sun, Moon, and Quetzalcoatl at Teotihuacán are the Aztec equivalent of the three Egyptian pyramids that match the three stars in the belt of the constellation Orion. 

We propose another explanation based on Hapgood’s theory of pole shifts. In Before Atlantis we associate the Fourth Sun with the period of time when the North Pole was in Hudson Bay, the Third Sun with the period of time when the North Pole was in Greenland, the Second Sun with the period of time when the North Pole was in the Norway Sea, and the First Sun with the period of time when the North Pole was in the Bering Sea. The Pyramid of the Moon, which is associated with the Fourth Sun, is located at the northern end of the Avenue of the Dead. If these structures are associated with gods who ruled over a succession of past ages perhaps the arrangement of these structures might be related in some way to the Five Suns. 

According to Arizona State University archaeologist Saburo Sugiyama, who excavated the Temple of the Moon in 1999 “The pyramid of the Moon started out as a rather small temple beneath what is now the five-tiered platform in front of the pyramid. After two additional construction episodes, the builders embarked on the construction of the pyramid itself.” [3]

Using the Avenue of the Dead as a yardstick let the position of the small temple in front the Pyramid of the Moon, which is dedicated to Chalchiuitlicue (C) be at one end of the yardstick. The position of the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl (Q) along the avenue is 1900 meters from C. The position of the Palace of the Jaguars, which we conjecture was dedicated to Tezcatlipoca (T) is 1720 meters from Q. If one were to talk from C to Q to T the total distance would be 1900 + 1720 = 3620 meters. 

According to our adjusted pole shift timeline, the North Pole was in Hudson Bay, which corresponds to C, 12,000 to 18,000 years ago, the Norway Sea, which corresponds to Q, 75,000 years ago, and the Bering Sea, which corresponds to T, 125,000 years ago. Plotting these times along with their corresponding distances along the Avenue of the Dead reveals a linear relation. The equation of this line is 

Y = 33.33 x D + 15,000 years

where Y is the year before present and D is the total distance from C. Previously we have not been able to determine how long the pole was in the Norway Sea or in Greenland, but the total time was assumed to be the period of the Sangamon Interglacial of 50,000 years. Using the location of the Pyramid of the Sun, which corresponds to Tlaloc and the time of the Third Sun, along the Avenue of the Dead we estimate the Norway Sea to Greenland pole shift occurred about 48,000 years ago during the Wisconsin Glaciation (which, ironically was Hapgood’s original estimate.)

Figure 4 Modified Hapgood pole shift timeline crossreferenced to locations at Teotihuacán.

Geographic “Hall of Records”

If this interpretation is correct then the distances between these structures at Teotihuacán tell us the periods of the four previous Suns. The alignment of the site to the Hudson Bay pole tells us when this layout was established but does not tell us exactly when these structures were actually built. 

Figure 5 Pyramid of the Moon was aligned to the cardinal directions and the solstices when the North Pole was in Hudson Bay.

What is interesting is that neither the platform in front of nor the Pyramid of the Moon itself appears to reference the moon in any obvious way today. The Pyramid of the Moon has a more rectangular shape than the other pyramids in Teotihuacán. Although it is difficult to accurately estimate its aspect ratio due to various irregularities between platforms, the angular span between the summer and winter solstice sunrise/sunset directions when the North Pole was in Hudson Bay is not inconsistent with the diagonals of the structure. Over the 41,000-year obliquity cycle, the solstice angles change by several degrees. Approximately 35,000 years ago when the Temple of the Moon was aligned to north, its diagonals would have been aligned to the solstices. Thus we hypothesize that the Pyramid of the Moon might have been the first structure built at Teotihuacán around that time.

Figure 6 Observations of the sun and moon at the plaza below the Pyramid of the Moon.

At this point, one has to wonder why the Aztecs referred to this pyramid as the Pyramid of the Moon. Directly below the five-tiered platform south of the pyramid is a plaza surrounded by nine pyramidal platforms and the Palace of the Jaguars. Aligned to the Hudson Bay pole the layout of these structures around the plaza become evident. The summer solstice sun would have risen and set in between the two pairs of pyramids to the northeast and northwest, respectively. The angular separation between the two pyramids to the northeast and the two pyramids to the northwest bracket the range of maximum and minimum lunar moonrises and moonsets.

Based their arrangement along the Avenue of the Dead, it is likely the construction of the Pyramid of the Sun, Temple of the Feathered Serpent, and Palace of the Jaguars began just before the last pole shift from Hudson Bay.

Concerning the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, Marco Vigato states:

“The ruins that survive today make it abundantly clear, however, that in the long sequence of construction of the site, the earliest layers almost invariably show the greatest complexity and sophistication. It is therefore even more surprising to find evidence among the earliest layers of construction of an entirely different style of architecture employing enormous, finely cut and polished blocks of stone, which could very well be called megalithic.” [4]

He goes on to say:

“The unfinished state of the monolith of Coatlinchan and of the countless megalithic stone blocks that lie scattered around the site of Teotihuacán are suggestive of the sudden arrival and departure of a very technically advanced elite: Over the following centuries, construction resumed and continued at Teotihuacán, although in much cruder form, recycling many of the megalithic stones and structures left behind by the original builders.”

Based on Vigato’s findings it is possible that the Temple of the Feathered Serpent was never completed. If the Hudson Bay pole shift were sudden the effect would have been catastrophic in certain parts of the world especially northern Mexico. Teotihuacán would have suffered extensive damage but like other sites in the world discussed in Before Atlantis, it probably would have been rebuilt in a manner consistent with the original site plan.

The Goddess of Water

The location of Pyramid of the Moon at the top of the Avenue of the Dead suggests Teotihuacán was itself dedicated to Chalchiuitlicue the goddess of water. Water was the agent of the destruction of the world both in Plato’s tale of Atlantis and the Aztec’s legend of the Five Suns. It is also thought to have been abundant at one time in Teotihuacán.

When the North Pole was in Hudson Bay Teotihuacán was 3500 km north of its present location. Its climate was temperate, perhaps not unlike that of the northern United States. With ample rainfall aquifers that have long since dried up might have supplied Teotihuacán with great quantities of water.

In excavating the square surrounding Teotihuacán’s Pyramid of the Moon, Verónica Ortega found canals and pool-like cavities located beneath the square, alongside statues of water gods, from which she has concluded that the entire city was built as a sanctuary dedicated to the worship of water. “If there was a city in the ancient world where water was worshipped, it was Teotihuacan.” [5]. According to Ortega, a mural found inside the Palace of the Jaguars depicts streams of water flowing from a pyramid-like structure.

An extensive network of tunnels and caves under Teotihuacan are thought to have carried water throughout the city and are currently an active area of investigation.

References

[1] Ivan Šprajc, “Astronomical Alignments at Teotihuacan, Mexico,”  Latin American Antiquity, December 2000, https://doi.org/10.2307/972004.

[2] Anthony Aveni, Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico (Austin and London: University of Texas Press, 1980).

[3] Angela M.H. Schuster, “New Tomb at Teotihuacan,” Archaeology Archive, 1998.

[4] Marco Vigato, “The Rome of America: What Lies Under Teotihuacan? – The Real City of the God,” Ancient Origins, Feb. 2017.

[5] https://www.history.com/news/scholar-claims-worship-of-water-explains-mexicos-ancient-city

 

An Analysis of Certain Alignments at Chimalacatlán

In this article, we examine the alignments of certain structures at Chimalacatlán that suggest it might be the oldest archaeological site in Mesoamerica.

Buried Cities, Forgotten Gods

William Niven was a geologist and mineralogist who lived and worked in Mexico for more than five decades beginning in the late 19th century. Niven is perhaps best known for the clay tablets that he discovered in the 1920s, which were later popularized by James Churchward in his theory of a lost continent in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Less known were Niven’s explorations three decades earlier in the Mexican state of Guerrero.

While on a trip prospecting for a particular garnet known to exist in this part of Mexico, Niven learned of a ruined city in the mountains that had been discovered by Don Lorenzo Castro a few years earlier. After an unsuccessful attempt to reach the area in 1891 Niven returned a year and a half later to find

“Broken walls, ruined buildings, huge in size beyond comprehension… marked the slopes as far as the eye could reach. Once this was a rolling plateau, dropping gently away from the mountain wall, but now it is cut into giant ridges by gorges from 200 to 1,000 feet deep – gorges whose sides are scarred with broken buildings, ridges covered with ruins of great houses…” [1]

Chimalacatlán

It is likely that some of the ruins Niven saw are those located near the town of Chimalacatlán. In “Lost Cities of the Mexican Highlands,” Marco Vigato compares the ruins in Chimalacatlán to those in South America

“Unlike the Andean region of South America, with its impressive megalithic architecture as in the region of Cuzco, capital of the Inca empire, and Tiwanaku, nothing on the scale of the impressive megalithic walls and constructions of Peru seems to have ever characterized Mesoamerican architecture. There is however one remarkable exception to this rule, which is as impressive in its monumentality and scale as it is also remarkably unknown to the public at large, including many of the very specialists in Mesoamerican archaeology and architecture. This is the case of the megalithic platforms and walls of Chimalacatlán, in the south of Morelos and near the border with the state of Guerrero.”

Vigato characterizes the archaeological site, which  is several kilometers southwest of the town of Chimalacatlán, as  “a set of dry stone platforms, placed at different levels, once connected through a system of monumental ramps and stairway” that form “a set of plazas at different levels, roughly following the profile of the natural elevation.”

Figure 1 Locations of three structures in the mountains southwest of Chimalacatlán that are discussed in this article. Chimalacatlán is the small town at the top of the image.

Three structures are visible in Google Earth imagery. C1 is a “megalithic acropolis” consisting of two stone platforms each about 30×30 meters in area whose “outer walls reach at least 7 to 8 meters high at the northwest corner and are entirely built of massive ashlars, some of which over 2.5 meters long. The construction is of remarkable quality and accuracy, consisting of several layers of carefully laid out and jointed megalithic stone blocks.” [2]

Figure 2 Southwestern side of structure C1.  Image courtesy Marco Vigato

C2 is at the summit of Cerro del Venado. Vigato describes the structure as being pyramid-like in appearance, “consisting of four super-imposed terraces, all sharing the same trapezoid shape with the exception of the top platform, which is a perfect square. Although some larger stones were employed in the construction of this pyramid, and a few well-cut stone blocks are visible on some of the terraces, the workmanship is generally poorer than the rest of the megalithic platforms, employing smaller and more irregular stones.” [2]

Figure 3 Northeastern side of structure C2. Image courtesy Marco Vigato.

C3 is on the Mesa del Venado near the entrance to the site. The walls of the structure are composed of mid-sized, roughly cut stones and are the least sophisticated in terms of the size and shape of the stones used suggesting the possibility that it was a later addition to the site.

Figure 4 One of the sides of structure C3. Image courtesy Marco Vigato.

Many have speculated that these ruins might be the remains of a mythical place called Tamoanchan, considered to be the cradle of all Mesoamerican civilizations. Is there a way to date Chimalacatlán based on the alignments of these structures?

Ancient Alignments

As discussed in Before Atlantis numerous sites in Mexico appear to have been aligned to ancient poles that are hypothesized to have once existed in Hudson Bay, Greenland, and the Norway Sea. For example, Teotihuacan is aligned to Hudson Bay, which based on current climate data could have been the location of the North Pole prior to the end of the last ice age, approximately 12,000 to 18,000 years ago. Tenochtitlan (today’s Mexico City) and Chichen Itza are aligned to locations in northern Greenland and the Norway Sea that could have been the locations of the North Pole at earlier climate epochs as far back as 75,000 years ago. By virtue of the alignments of these sites to older poles, we hypothesize that the sites are as old as poles.

Places in South America such as Cuzco and sites in Peru’s Sacred Valley and in other parts of the world appear to be aligned to an even older pole located north of the Aleutian Islands in the Bering Sea. Up to this point, no site in Mesoamerica had been found to be aligned in the direction of the Bering Sea pole, implying that Mesoamerica was not settled until after the Bering Sea to Norway Sea pole shift, which is estimated to have occurred about 125,000 years ago.

At Machu Picchu, the Temple of the Three Windows lines up with the Bering Sea pole. Similarly, at Ollantaytambo, the Wall of the Six Monoliths also faces that direction. Smaller less sophisticated structures at these sites are aligned in other directions. Figure 5 reveals that the megalithic acropolis at Chimalacatlán, the structure we call C1 is also aligned to the Bering Sea pole.

Figure 5 Alignment of structure C1 to the Bering Sea Pole.

C2, the pyramidal structure uphill from C1 also references the Bering Sea pole but in another way. Where C1 would have been oriented to the cardinal directions relative to the Bering Sea pole, i.e., to the sunrise on the equinox, C2 would have faced the most northern direction of moonrise and most southern direction of moonset  (Figure 6). The alignment of C3 is less clear but could have also been oriented to the moon at this time.

Figure 6 Structure C2 would have been aligned to major lunar standstills when the North Pole was in the Bering Sea.

Other Alignments

Using the Sacred Directions archaeoastronomy app it is possible to quickly assess other alignment possibilities. For example, moving the time slider forward in time to after the Bering Sea to Norway Sea pole shift, C2 became aligned both to the sun and the moon (Figure 7). This suggests the possibility that C2 could have been added later.

Figure 7 After the Bering Sea to Norway Sea pole shift C2 would have faced north with the diagonals of the top rectangular structure aligned to major lunar standstills.

Moving the time slider to the present time reveals a less ancient but equally plausible explanation in which all three structures line up to major lunar standstills. Perhaps like other sites such as Chan Chan in Peru that might have once faced an ancient north pole and were later repurposed as lunar sites after subsequent pole shifts, the same could be true for Chimalacatlán. If so,  evidence that the ancient people here worshipped the moon might be found in artifacts, iconography, or other sources of information. Otherwise, the possibility exists that the ruins at Chimalacatlán might be as old as those in Peru based on similarity in construction materials, technique, and alignment, and so could have been the first settlement in Mesoamerica.

In an article [3] published in 1896 by The American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal, Niven reported that ruins could be found in every foot-hill and mountain ridge over an area in excess of 900 square miles in this part of Mexico. If Chimalacatlán were once a part of Tamoanchan perhaps other sites can be found and analyzed in this context.

References

[1] Robert S. Wicks and Roland H. Harrison, Buried Cities, Forgotten Gods: William Niven’s Life of Discovery and Revolution in Mexico and the American Southwest, Texas Tech University Press, 1999.

[2] Marco Vigato,  “Lost Cities of the Mexican Highlands,” Uncharted Ruins.

[3] “Remarkable Discovery of the Ruins of a Prehistoric City in Mexico,” The American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal Vols. 18-19, 1896.

 

 

Lunar Temples

We return to earth after our brief visit to the moon in the past couple of articles and examine sites that are aligned to the moon. 

Most people are familiar with the seasonal path of the sun – that it rises in the east and sets in the west, more or less. The motion of the moon, however, is more complex and perhaps, as a result, is seen as being more mysterious. (Professor Judith Young provides a nice explanation in her article Moon Teachings for the Masses.)

In this article, with the help of a newly developed archaeoastronomy app, we review sites from around the world that are aligned to the moon.

Britain

We start in Britain the home of Stonehenge, one of the most famous and enigmatic of all ancient sites. Although it is generally known when it was built, around 3100 BCE, no one knows exactly why it was built or by whom.

Around 2600 BCE a large stone known as the Heel Stone was added outside of the inner circle of stones and positioned so as to line up with the summer solstice sunrise when it is viewed from the center of the site. At the same time, four other outlying stones called Station Stones were arranged to form a rectangle around the central monument. One of the Station Stones was positioned in the direction of maximum southern moonrise, also called a major lunar standstill. Today, these alignments are off by about a degree due to the change in earth’s obliquity since the time they were set into place more than 4000 years ago.

Figure 1 Alignments at Stonehenge. Solstices are depicted as solid lines and lunar standstills as dotted lines. Time slider shows the direction of the alignments around 2600 BCE.

There are other sites in Britain that also appear to reference the motion of the moon. The Calanais Stones are in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. The circle of stones, which is thought to have been set in place between 2600 and 2800 BCE has been interpreted by several researchers to have been used as a lunar observatory.

Figure 2 Alignments at Calanais around the same time as Stonehenge (2600 BCE).

Middle East

A little later in Mesopotamia King Ur-Nammu built a ziggurat dedicated to Nanna, the son of the two original Sumerian deities, Enlil and Ninlil. Nanna was the god of the moon and wisdom yet ironically the temple dedicated to him was called “Etemennigur,” which means “House whose foundation creates terror.” As shown in Figure 3 the Ziggurat of Ur is aligned in the direction of maximum northern major lunar moonrise and maximum southern major lunar moonset with best alignment achieved around the accepted time of construction, approximately 2100 BCE.

Figure 3 Alignment of the Ziggurat of Ur to major lunar standstills around 2100 BCE.

India

Few temples in India appear to be aligned to the moon. According to Sikh historical records, the land that became Amritsar was chosen by Guru Amar Das, the third Guru of the Sikh tradition. Arjan, the fifth Sikh guru, completed the Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1604. The overall layout of the site including the reflecting pools is consistent with the direction of minor lunar standstills. (Recall major standstills are the most northern and southern moonrises and moonsets and so minor standstills are the least northern and southern moonrises and moonsets.) What is unusual about the site is that the best alignment is achieved when the earth was at minimum obliquity, approximately 14,000 years ago (Figure 4). If the Golden Temple is aligned to the moon perhaps Amritsar had been an even earlier site of religious significance.

Figure 4 Alignment of the Golden Temple in Amritsar to minor lunar standstills.

Southeast Asia

Continuing east, the Khmer empire constructed monumental cities and religious sites in Cambodia around a thousand years ago. Where most places including Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom are aligned to the cardinal direction, others such as Preah Khan and Koh Ker are not.

Preah Khan of Kompong Svay is approximately 100 km east of Angkor Wat. It consists of a series of four concentric rectangular enclosures that contain temples, buildings, and a central sanctuary. According to Giulio Magli the site is aligned to the moon, specifically to the northern major lunar standstill. Based on a single dated inscription, the site is thought to have been built around 1000 CE, which turns out to be consistent with the alignments in Figure 5.

Figure 5 Alignment of Preah Khan to major lunar standstills.

Koh Ker is 50 km north, northwest of Preah Khan. In the same paper referenced above, Magli argues that Koh Ker is aligned in the direction of sunrise on the day when the sun rises directly over the site (zenith passage). Figure 6 suggests another possibility – that the site was aligned to the northern minor lunar standstill approximately 15,000 years when the earth was near minimum obliquity.

Figure 6 Alignment of Koh Ker to minor lunar standstills.

Central America

As discussed in Before Atlantis, Chichen Itza and Tulum are two sites in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula that might have been aligned to an earlier location of the North Pole in the Norway Sea. Many of the structures at Chichen Itza including the Caracol also appear aligned with major lunar standstills (Figure 7). The Caracol is believed to have been used as an observatory by the Maya who were familiar with the motions of the sun, moon, stars, and planets. The alignment of most structures at Tulum also appears to be aligned with major lunar standstills (Figure 8).

Figure 7 The Caracol at Chichen Itza is aligned to major lunar standstills.
Figure 8 Most structures at Tulum are aligned to major lunar standstills.

South America

Located in Peru, Chan Chan is believed to have been built around 850 CE by the Chimu culture. The etymology of the name is thought to be derived from the Quingnam “Jiang” or “Chang” which means Sun. The name could also be derived from the term: “Shian” where “Shi” translates as Moon and “An” as house, meaning House of the Moon.

As discussed in Before Atlantis, the orientation of Chan Chan correlates both the direction of the Norway pole and to major lunar standstills. One explanation that satisfies both the solar and lunar interpretations of its name is that the original site was constructed long ago when the North Pole was in the Norway Sea and so was originally aligned to the cardinal directions and to the sun. Later it was co-opted by the Chimu, who repurposed Chan Chan as a lunar site as a result of its serendipitous realignment to the moon.

Figure 9 Part of an extended area in Chan Chan aligned to major lunar standstills.

On a mountain top north of Machu Picchu lies a site called the Temple of the Moon that is built into an open-face, shallow cave. Like other places in Machu Picchu, the site is generally thought to have been arbitrarily named. Figure 10 shows the site in a Google Earth perspective view looking south.

Figure 10 View looking south from north of Huanya Picchu toward the Temple of the Moon.

Being in the tropics south of the equator the sun moves north after sunrise at certain times of the year and south at other times. The moon also travels north after moonrise at certain times of the year as well. The cave opening faces north and spans the maximum possible northern range of lunar motion (Figure 11). That the cave was oriented in this direction for the purpose of observing the moon would seem to be no accident.

Figure 11 The Temple of the Moon faces north, which is not visible in the view. The blue dotted lines depict the full range of lunar motion visible from the cave opening.

North America

We complete our journey around the world in North America and examine two Native American sites that appear to be aligned to the moon.

Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park in Georgia contains the remains of major earthworks built before 1000 CE by the South Appalachian Mississippian culture that includes the Great Temple Mound and other ceremonial mounds, a burial mound, and defensive trenches. Evidence suggests the site has been continuously occupied for 17,000 years. As shown in Figure 12 The Great Temple Mound appears to be aligned to the southern minor lunar standstill. The nearby Lesser Temple Mound also appears to be similarly aligned. Lunar alignments are thought to exist at Cahokia another Mississippian site in Illinois as well.

Figure 12 Alignment of the Great Temple Mound at Ocmulgee to minor lunar standstills.

Pueblo del Arroyo is an archaeological site in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. The structure was a “great house” built in the latter part of the 11th Century by the Ancestral Puebloan or Anasazi people, who are thought to have built many structures in alignment with lunar and solar (seasonal) cycles. Given the flatness of the surrounding terrain, the location of the site would seem to take full advantage of its alignment to the southern maximum moonrise and northern maximum moonset (Figure 13).

Figure 13 Alignment of Pueblo del Arroyo in Chaco Canyon to major lunar standstills.

Summary

Numerous sites all over the world are aligned to the moon. Where the seasonal path of the sun is easily discernible, the complex motion of the moon, which repeats in 18.6-year cycles would have required dedicated observation over a much longer period of time. Although it is possible that the builders of these and other sites that are aligned to the moon did independently discern the complexity of lunar cycles it is also possible that this knowledge was inherited from an earlier people, perhaps from an unknown and highly advanced civilization that existed long ago. 

An Alternative SETI Strategy for the Moon

After decades of increasingly more detailed photoreconnaissance of the moon, we have yet to discover compelling evidence of alien objects or structures on the surface. Many features that at first attract our attention are at the limits of resolution or are viewed at unfamiliar sun angles or highly oblique look angles. Under different conditions or in higher resolution images, most turn out to be craters, rock outcrops, or other natural features. 

Carl Sagan was one of the first scientists to suggest the possibility of extraterrestrial activity on the moon. In the 1960s William Blair announced the discovery of “lunar spires” that turned out to be large boulders lit at a low sun angle casting long shadows that looked like towers. George Leonard and Fred Steckling believed they had found extensive evidence of alien activity on the moon, which they described in their books Somebody Else is on the Moon and We Discovered Alien Bases on the Moon. Richard Hoagland argued that there were enormous towers and glass structures visible in Lunar Orbiter and Apollo photography. Attempts to locate these features, in particular, one known as “the shard”, were not successful.

In a previous post, we searched for evidence of a “monolith” that the Soviet Union claimed their Lunokhod 2 rover had found, photographed, and analyzed in 1973. Other possible structures purported to have been found on the moon have been investigated and determined to be optical illusions. One was a tower on the edge of the crater Lobachevsky first spotted by Johannes Fiebag. Higher resolution imagery revealed that the impression of a tower was created by a pattern of dark crater ejecta material and a reflection off the rim of the crater. Another was what appeared to be a bridge at the edge of the Sea of Crisis that turned out to be an optical illusion caused by the interplay of shadows.

Lunar Archaeology

In 1990 a colleague of mine and I first proposed the idea of using anomaly detection algorithms to search for artificial objects on planetary surfaces. Alexey Arkhipov described several such algorithms and provided a listing of more than a hundred “finds” or anomalies detected on the moon in Clementine imagery. Arkhipov’s paper “Towards Lunar Archaeology” is a blueprint for lunar SETI:

“Our Moon is a potential indicator of a possible alien presence near the Earth at some time during the past 4 billion years. To ascertain the presence of alien artifacts, a survey for ruin- like formations on the Moon has been carried out as a precursor to lunar archaeology. Computer algorithms for semi-automatic, archaeological photo-reconnaissance are discussed. About 80,000 Clementine lunar orbital images have been processed, and a number of quasi-rectangular patterns found. Morphological analysis of these patterns leads to possible reconstructions of their evolution in terms of erosion. Two scenarios are considered: 1) the collapse of subsurface quasi-rectangular systems of caverns, and 2) the erosion of hills with quasi-rectangular lattices of lineaments. We also note the presence of embankment-like, quadrangular, hollow hills with rectangular depressions nearby. Tectonic (geologic) interpretations of these features are considered. The similarity of these patterns to terrestrial archaeological sites and proposed lunar base concepts suggest the need for further study and future in situ exploration.”

Some of the rectangular features Arkhipov discusses appear to be related to patterns on the lunar surface known as the lunar grid, which was explored by Fielder and others.

Lacking evidence of ET activity on the surface leads to the question of whether or not there might be activity underground. In 2017 Ananda Sirisena, Fran Ridge, and I showed that certain features first imaged by Apollo in the crater Paracelsus C on the far side of the moon are present in more recent Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) imagery and appear even more remarkable up close. 3-D analysis suggests that one of the features may be an opening leading underground.

Lava Tubes

The idea of underground lunar settlements or bases is gaining support after the discovery of lava tubes on the moon by the Japanese Kaguya spacecraft in 2008. It appears that many long sinuous features on the moon called rilles are collapsed lava tubes. The existence of a lava tube is sometimes revealed by the presence of a “skylight,” a place in which the roof of the tube has collapsed, leaving a circular hole.

LRO has found hundreds of skylights. The Chandrayaan-1 orbiter imaged a lunar rille with an uncollapsed segment suggesting the presence of a lava tube near the lunar equator. Gravitometric observations by the GRAIL spacecraft suggest the presence of lunar lava tubes with widths of over 1 km. 

Large underground spaces the size of cities are possible. Assuming a width-to-height ratio of 3:1, a structure can remain stable with a ceiling that is 2 m thick. Lava tubes at least 500 m underground can theoretically remain stable with widths of up to 5 km.

Transient Lunar Phenomena

For hundreds of years, astronomers have noticed strange features on the lunar surface. The first recorded sighting was a star-like point of light on the dark side in 1540. Other features that have been reported include small whitish clouds by Cassini in 1671, ‘lightning’ by Louville and Halley in 1715, ‘vapors’ by Schroter and Olber in 1797, brilliant flashing spots on the dark side by Gruithuisen in 1821, dots and streaks of light by Slack and Ingall in 1869, a glow of light in the crater Plato by Fauth in 1907, a moving luminous speck near Gassendi by Haas in 1941, a pulsating spot on dark side by Emanuel and others in 1965, and hundreds more. In 1968, NASA published a compendium of these so-called lunar transient phenomena (LTP) sightings in a report entitled, Chronological Catalog of Reported Lunar Events.

A majority of TLP events occur near the maria, which is where many lava tubes are located. Could there be a spatial correlation between TLP events and skylights? 

Correlation of TLP events (green dots) with locations of skylights. 

If there were underground bases on the moon that were accessed through skylights one possible alternative SETI strategy might be to image skylights continuously, or at least as frequently as possible, to attempt to detect such activities.

Thermal Anomaly Detection

One of the instruments aboard LRO is the Diviner Lunar Radiometer that has mapped the global thermal state of the Moon and its diurnal and seasonal variability. If there is an active presence below the surface of the moon it is likely generating heat. Another alternative SETI strategy finds underground activity on the moon using thermal imagery. By correlating optical and thermal imagery it is possible to detect thermal anomalies – areas in an image that are different from the natural background that could be indicative of underground heat sources.

Summary

NASA’s recent technosignatures report proposes a new approach to SETI based on advanced technologies, future sensor capabilities, and crowdsourcing. Unfortunately, the report reads much the same way as previous SETI strategies that can be characterized as a search for ETs either a long time ago, or in a galaxy far, far away.

That reports of TLP and related events have persisted for hundreds of years suggests a more exciting and potentially more relevant strategy to look for signs of an extant intelligence underground. The benefit of this strategy is that even if we don’t find alien bases we might, in the process, find some good places to build our own.

Feature image courtesy V101 Science.

In Search of the Lunokhod “Monolith”

In this article, we digress from our investigation of ancient mysteries on Earth to examine an unresolved mystery on the moon. 

Half a century ago Apollo landed the first men on the moon. A few years later the Soviet Union continued their unmanned exploration program with the landing of the Luna 21/Lunokhod 2 spacecraft in the crater Le Monnier. A month later, on Thursday, February 15, 1973, the Soviet news agency Tass reported that the Lunokhod 2 was investigating “an unusual piece of lunar material.” The report stated that a “one-meter long plate, resembling a modern house panel, has proven to be a strong monolith” and goes on to describe the plate as having “a smooth surface.”  An article in the January-February 1973 issue of the  ARPO Bulletin contained excerpts from a story in the February 19 issue of Soviet Aerospace:

“The article [in Soviet Aerospace] stated that the ‘stone plate which has so puzzled scientists’ has a smooth surface which is unlike the large stones in the area and that it withstood ‘the buggy’s pressure of a hundred atmospheres’ (1,407 lb. per square inch) which left only slight traces on the thin layer of dust which covered the plate. Also, the article said, scientists have determined that the plate ‘seems much younger’ than other stone material in the area.”

“Because of the monolith’s uniqueness, scientists decided to continue to investigate it to determine its chemical composition and magnetic properties, as well as transmit TV photos. The object was found on February 13 and plans were made to continue the investigation through the 16th. The bedrock in the immediate area was described as being different from the material observed and tested earlier and because the monolith is also so different from the surrounding bedrock the scientists were wondering if such a combination is accidental.”

News of this discovery was also reported by NASA:

“A monolith one meter (three feet) long of unusual lunar material was discovered Feb. 13. The plate had a strong, smooth surface unlike surrounding pockmarked stones and appeared to be much younger.”

Figure 1 Western section of Lunokhod 2 route. From Stooke (2009). Click on image for full resolution view.

Figure 1 summarizes the first three months of the probe’s operation on the moon. According to Phillip Stooke in the International Atlas of Lunar Exploration

“From 12 to 16 February the rover parked near a large fresh boulder as the high Sun made visibility difficult. The rover then drove rapidly south to the nearby hills where it took new panoramic images and performed experiments.”

This is when, according to both the Tass and Soviet Aerospace stories, the rover was analyzing and taking photos of the monolith. The location of the rover over this period of time is marked in the figure with the label “12-2-73 to 16-2-73 X, P” where “X” and “P” indicate that x-ray fluorescence spectrometer measurements and panoramic photographs were taken, presumably after the rover had left the shade of the boulder and traveled south.

The Laboratory for Comparative Planetology website lists 92 pan photos captured in 44 sessions. The map in Figure 1 plus three other maps depicting the later movement of the rover show 26 locations where photos were taken. Stooke states that the map does not list all of the panoramas. It is also not clear if the website includes all of the photos that were taken.

Most of the panoramas show rolling, relatively featureless terrain. Figure 2 shows one of the photos taken during the second month (lunation) of lunar operations. Notice the angular rock in the center of the photo. The length of its shadow indicates the picture was taken late in the day, not around noon, when the rover was said to have been parked next to the large boulder. Other than Figure 2, none of the photos shows anything resembling a slab, let alone a monolith.

Figure 2 Lunokhod 2. Lunation 2. Session 14. Panorama 34. From Laboratory for Comparative Planetology. Click on image to enlarge.

If this rock encountered by the Lunokhod rover was so extraordinary why is there no photo of it? Was the announcement by Tass simply propaganda – an attempt to match the accomplishments of the US Apollo program? Or did the Soviets discover something remarkable on the moon, so remarkable that the photos and scientific data were withheld from their own scientists and the international community?

Where on the Moon?

After exhausting the available historical data we have reached a dead end. Still, it might be possible to use this information in conjunction with current imagery to search for the monolith using future probes.  The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has imaged numerous manned and unmanned spacecraft on the lunar surface including the Luna 21 lander (Figure 3).

Figure 3 Landing site is the bright area near the top of the image. Note track leading south (top to bottom). Click for full resolution view. NASA/ASU

The tracks left by the rover are also visible over much of the terrain, which can be viewed using ASU’s Quickmap viewer.  By correlating Figure 1 with LRO imagery we can determine the general area where the rover was parked from February 12-16. An area around 25.87°N 30.45° E is shown in Figure 4. This location, somewhat less than three miles from the landing site, is near several unusual rectangular craters but appears otherwise unremarkable.

Figure 4 Search area for the monolith. The Lunokhod 2 track runs top to bottom in the middle of the image. Click on image for full resolution view. NASA/ASU

Although it is not possible to image an object only a meter long from lunar orbit, it may be possible one day to revisit this area on the moon, now that we know where it is, and rediscover what Lunokhod might have found almost a half-century ago.

The author would like to thank Rick Sterling, Fran Ridge, and Ananda Sirisena for their contributions.

Top image from the move 2001: A Space Odyssey.

 

On the Alignment of Some Ancient Geoglyphs

The term geoglyph has become synonymous with almost any kind of large organized pattern on the ground. Some are the remains of ancient structures long since abandoned, others were created to express an idea, perhaps even to communicate some kind of message. Most defy explanation either in terms of what they represent or attempt to communicate, how they were constructed, or for whom were they intended. 

A previous post examined a geoglyph known as the Badlands Guardian east of Medicine Hat, in Alberta, Canada. The Badlands Guardian is thought by many to be simply an example of a hollow-face illusion resulting from natural erosional processes. We showed that this feature is oriented to the cardinal directions and by virtue of its orientation with respect to the path of the sun will tend to maintain its facial appearance over the course of the year.

In this article, we discuss the alignment of other geoglyphs aligned to the poles (i.e., north-south) and to other geographic locations.

Directional Markers in the Southern Hemisphere

Those of us who live in the northern hemisphere forget that the southern hemisphere currently has no pole star. The Paracas Candelabra is on the north side of a hill on Peru’s Paracas Peninsula. Lacking a celestial reference to north, the Candelabra faces within a couple of degrees of due south (Figure 1). Almost two hundred meters tall, the geoglyph would have provided ancient mariners with a directional reference that can be seen twenty kilometers out at sea.

Figure 1 The Paracas Candelabra is oriented to within a couple of degrees of due south. It is even more closely aligned to the Hudson Bay pole (magenta line). Google Earth

More than a thousand kilometers southeast of Paracas in the northern Atacama Desert near the town of Pintados Chile lie an assortment of geometric, anthropometric, and animal forms on the side of a hill. These figures are smaller, on the order of tens of meters in size. One is an arrow that points due south (Figure 2).

Figure 2 Arrow on Cerro Pintados is aligned exactly north-south. Google Earth

Unlike these features rendered on hillsides that can be seen at ground level, the following geoglyphs can only be seen from above.

Blythe Intaglios

The Blythe Intaglios are a number of large biomorphic glyphs etched into the ground in California along the Colorado River. Three are humanoid forms with outstretched arms. One is aligned to the north (Figure 3). A second figure is aligned with a third that, in turn, points north, northeast. There is also a fourth humanoid figure forty kilometers due east in Bouse AZ that faces south.

Figure 3 Blythe Intaglios. One of the humanoid figures faces due north. The animal figure to the southeast is aligned approximately in the direction of the winter solstice sunrise/summer solstice sunset. Google Earth

None of these figures can be fully visualized at ground level. There are no hills high enough or close enough to be able to see these features from above. The inescapable conclusion is that they were built for someone who could view them from the air.

Figure 4 Overview of Blythe Intaglios showing the alignments of the three humanoid figures to the north (white), the Hudson Bay pole (magenta), and one to another (orange). Google Earth

Charles Hapgood proposed that the ice ages were caused by shifts in the geographic location of Earth’s poles. He hypothesized that the North Pole was near Hudson Bay during the last ice age. Figure 4 summarizes a series of inter-related alignments. The third humanoid figure mentioned above that points north, northeast is aligned to the Hudson Bay pole, which is approximately 31° east of north. The figure (a) is upside down with its feet facing the former pole. The second humanoid mentioned earlier and an adjacent animal figure are both in line with the third figure (a). The feet of the second figure face the third figure (b). It can be shown that this angle was in the direction of the winter solstice sunrise/summer solstice sunset when the North Pole was in Hudson Bay. This angle is approximately 43° south of east, which is greater than the current solstice angle of 28°. The difference is due to the fact the latitude of the site changed after the Hudson Bay pole shift. The animal figure (c) is rotated counterclockwise relative to (b). The first humanoid figure (e) is aligned to north. The adjacent animal figure is aligned in the current solstice direction (d) as shown in Figure 3. The difference in alignment between the two animal figures (c) and (d)  is approximately 15°, which is equal to the difference between the solstice angles.

According to Hapgood, during the last ice age when the North Pole was in Hudson Bay, this part of the United States was ice-free with a much more temperate climate than it has today. Thus, unlike other parts of North America, the Southwest has probably been inhabited continuously for tens of thousands of years. Perhaps the alignment of these geoglyphs along with what they represent might be able to tell us something about the history of this part of the world over this period of time.

Nazca Lines

In Before Atlantis it was shown that the two brightest Nazca lines are aligned to two former hypothesized pole locations in the Bering Sea and the Norway Sea. Numerous sites in Peru including the ancient city of Cuzco were also once aligned with the Bering Sea pole.

Figure 5 Alignment of Nazca lines and geoglyphs. The red and yellow lines point to ancient poles in the Bering Sea and Norway Sea, respectively. The purple line points to Cuzco. Lines are offset to better show alignments. Google Earth

Although many explanations have been proposed for the alignments at Nazca, none have considered their relation to other sites, other geographic locations. Figure 5 shows the correlation of Nazca lines with the direction of the two former poles mentioned above and the city of Cuzco some 370 kilometers east, northeast of Nazca. One can find numerous linear features along the purple line that are oriented toward Cuzco.

An examination of the orientation of Nazca’s zoomorphic geoglyphs reveals that seven appear to be oriented with respect to Cuzco as well (Figure 6). The human figure sometimes called the Astronaut (top photo) faces toward Cuzco, as does the Heron. The Condor seems to be flying at a right angle relative to the direction Cuzco. The Dog and Parrot face away from Cuzco. The Spider is also aligned in the same general direction as is the Tree.

Figure 6 Alignment of Nazca glyphs relative to Cuzco. Google Earth

That at least some part of Nazca at some point in time referenced the ancient city of Cuzco is apparent. Although it is beyond the scope of this article to speculate about its purpose, one wonders whether the Nazca lines could have once been a kind of map to help guide someone or something approaching Cuzco in the air from the west?

Uffington White Horse

The Uffington White Horse is located on a hillside in Oxfordshire, England. The figure, deeply cut into the soil and filled with chalk, is oriented south, southwest. One theory for why the horse is aligned in this direction is that in midwinter the sun appears to overtake the horse, reflecting a mythological belief that the sun was carried across the sky on a horse or in a chariot.  We propose another explanation. If we draw a line between here and Stonehenge, the horse appears to be headed precisely in that direction (Figure 7). Dated to 1380 to 550 BCE, a relatively short time after the completion of the last phase of construction at Stonehenge around 1600 BCE, could the Uffington White Horse have been a directional marker pointing toward Stonehenge?

Figure 7 The Uffington White Horse appears to be galloping toward Stonehenge in the direction of the white horizontal line 48 kilometers away. Google Earth

Top image courtesy Marilyn Bridges.

Evidence of a Previous Temple at Dendera, Egypt

This article presents new astronomical evidence supporting the existence of an earlier temple at the site of the current temple of Hathor at Dendera in Egypt.

The temple of Hathor is west of the Nile River thirty miles north of Luxor. The construction of the present temple began in the first century BCE during the last Egyptian dynasty and was completed in the first century CE under Roman rule. 

The Egyptian goddess Hathor had many aspects: mother or consort of the sky god Horus, a symbol of femininity, a guide to the afterlife, and others. Hathor was often depicted as a cow, or a woman wearing a headdress of cow horns.

The temple and several nearby structures are oriented approximately 17° east of north. Too far north to be aligned to the Sun, Moon, or planets, it is believed the temple was aligned to the rising of a star or constellation associated with Hathor.

One possibility is the constellation Ursa Major, which the Egyptians saw as the representation of a bull, and a star in Ursa Major known as Alkaid. According to Jose Lull and Juan Antonio Belmonte in The Constellations of Ancient Egypt, 

“This star could have been used as a reference to establish the axes of several temples, such as that of Dendera, where Alkaid would presumably be the star mentioned in the hieroglyphic texts of the temple of Hathor…”

It is convenient to think of the stars existing on the inside of a celestial sphere. As Earth revolves on its axis, the stars appear to rotate around the celestial poles. At Dendera, the north celestial pole is 26° above the northern horizon. The point on the horizon 17° east of north along the major axis of the temple traces a circle 31.4° away from the north celestial pole. As shown in Figure 1 this path is currently about 10° away from Alkaid. Alkaid thus does not currently rise in line with the temple.

Figure 1 Current alignment of the Temple of Hathor to the celestial sphere.  Sky Publishing Corporation.

As the tilt of the Earth precesses over a 26,000-year orbit about the ecliptic pole, the north celestial pole follows the path of the dotted line in Figure 2.

Figure 2 Precession of the north celestial pole over the 26,000-year cycle. Sky Publishing Corporation.

There are two points along this path, two times during the precessional cycle when Alkaid rises directly in line with the Temple of Hathor (Figure 3). The most recent was when the current temple was built approximately 2000 years ago. At this point in time, the north celestial pole was between Polaris and Thuban and so there was no pole star. The second time was about 10,000 years ago when the pole star was in the constellation Hercules.

Figure 3 Alkaid aligns twice to Temple of Hathor at Dendera during the 26,000-year precessional period. Sky Publishing Corporation.

Interpretations of hieroglyphics in the temple and the zodiac of Dendera attach special importance to the astrological sign of Cancer. In contrast to Greek and Babylonian zodiacs, Cancer is placed at the center of the Dendera zodiac. One theory is that the Egyptian civilization began during the age of Cancer. At this time about 10,000 years ago the pole star was in Hercules and Alkaid rose in line with the major axis of the temple just as it did 2000 years ago when the current temple was built  (Figure 4).

Figure 4 Alkaid just above the horizon in alignment with the major axis of the Temple of Hathor. Your Horizon

How is it that the Temple of Hathor aligns with its celestial counterpart Alkaid on these two particular dates?

According to John Anthony West in The Traveler’s Guide to Ancient Egypt

“Like virtually all Egyptian temples, Dendera is built upon the site of a succession of earlier temples. An inscription over one of its subterranean crypts (this one not open to the public) declares the temple had been built ‘according to a plan written in ancient writing upon a goatskin scroll from the time of the Companions of Horus.’ Thus, Ptolemaic architects from the first century B.C. were claiming that the architectural plan for the temple dated to the legendary prehistoric era when the ‘Companions of Horus’ ruled Egypt.”

Concerning this time West states

“The Greek and Roman writers of antiquity, basing their accounts on information received either first- or second-hand from Egyptian sources, claimed far greater antiquity for the civilization of Egypt than that currently established by Egyptologists. These Egyptian sources claimed vast time scales (estimates ranging from 24,000 and 36,000 years) during which Egypt was civilized and ruled respectively by the netterw themselves and by the Shemsu Hor, the companions or followers of Hours.”

Let us evaluate the alignment of the Temple of Hathor in a broader prehistorical timeline. As described in Before Atlantis, inspired by Charles Hapgood’s crustal shift hypothesis, we have computed four past locations of the North Pole based on the alignment of over fifty sites throughout the world. The oldest pole location is in the Bering Sea north of the Aleutian Islands. It turns out that the major axis of the Temple of Hathor points directly toward the Bering Sea pole. By virtue of its association with this ancient pole, this site could be much older than is currently thought.

Figure 4. Temple of Hathor is aligned to the Bering Sea pole. Google Earth

We propose a new chronology where the site was originally aligned to the north when the pole was in the Bering Sea approximately 125,000 years ago. After the Bering Sea to Norway Sea and subsequent pole shifts, the site became misaligned to the north. At the start of their civilization, the ancient Egyptians, the followers of Horus, co-opted what was already an ancient site. Aligned then with Ursa Major and Alkaid, a temple to the star’s terrestrial counterpart, the goddess Hathor, was built. (In Before Atlantis we propose a similar explanation for the alignment of the Parthenon and its relation to the Greek goddess Athena.) With knowledge of precessional motion, thousands of years later, the Egyptians rebuilt the temple when it again became aligned to Alkaid.

If this explanation is correct then the original site could have been established more than 100,000 years by the mythical netterw who, like Augustus LePlongeon’s naacal, were not gods but an advanced technological civilization that had developed from earlier human sub-species out of Africa 200,000 to 300,00 years ago.

Feature photo courtesy Marilyn Bridges.

 

The Inca Steps of Quenuani, Peru

Inspired by videos created by Megalithomania and Brien Foerster, who first found the site, this article examines the Inca Steps of Quenuani between the towns of Cuturapi and Yunguyo on the Peruvian shore of Lake Titicaca.

From clues in these two videos, the geographic location of Quenuani has been determined using Google Earth to be at latitude 16.259446° S and longitude 69.171322° W. Based on rough measurements from the image (Figure 1) the linear rock cuts appear to be aligned approximately 23° west of north. This implies the steps face 67° east of north. Is there a celestial explanation for this alignment?

Figure 1 Google Earth image of the Inca Steps

Using a location analysis tool developed to support the research presented in Before Atlantis, the angle 67° can be shown to be just outside the range of solstice sunrise alignment angles (64.8° to 66.6°) over the past 41,000 years. Measurement error is one possible explanation for the discrepancy. 

Figure 2. Puma Punku is slightly misaligned to the east.

The site of Puma Punku is located 38 miles southeast of Quenuani. Puma Punka and nearby Tiwanaku are not aligned exactly to the cardinal directions but are rotated slightly east of north. In Before Atlantis we have determined four prior locations of the North Pole over the past 125,000 years based on Hapgood’s pole shift hypothesis. Between 75,000 to 125,000 years ago, the North Pole is thought to have been in northern Greenland. In this part of Peru, an ancient Greenland pole would have been in the direction 1-2° east of north.

If the North Pole were in Greenland, Puma Punku would face due north. Quenuani would also be rotated slightly to be within the range of solstice sunrise angles (65.9° to 67.7°). 

Based on its orientation it is likely that Quenuani was built as a place to observe the sunrise over Lake Titicaca on the solstice. It is also possible, if Hapgood’s theory of pole shifts is correct, that Quenuani, and perhaps other sites in the area such Puma Punku and Tiwanaku may be related by virtue of their alignment to an ancient pole in Greenland and could be 75,000 to 125,000 years old.

Top image source

Three Faces: Altered Landforms or Pareidolia? (Part 3 – The Face on Mars)

This series of articles discusses three surface features that resemble faces: a strange landform in Alberta Canada known as the Badlands Guardian that was discovered in 2005, a carved stone formation found by Daniel Ruzo on the Marcahuasi Plateau in Peru in the 1950s, and the Face on Mars, a mile-long structure on the surface of Mars first imaged by a Viking orbiter spacecraft in 1976.

The Face on Mars

The Face on Mars has become a classic example of pareidolia – of seeing faces where there are none. Yet, despite NASA’s claims to the contrary, as we shall briefly summarize in this article, there is significant evidence to support the hypothesis that the Face and other nearby objects are artificial in origin and probably incredibly ancient based on their highly eroded state. 

Figure 1 360° rotation of face computed from Mars Odyssey/THEMIS imagery.

Not a Trick of Light and Shadow

When it was first imaged by a Viking orbiter more than four decades ago, NASA dismissed the Face on Mars as a trick of light and shadow. I tested this assertion using an algorithm we had developed at TASC – a tech firm north of Boston – known as “shape from shading” that computes a 3D model of the Face from the available imagery. Since only two images existed at the time, both taken under similar conditions, I used the 3D model to render synthetic images at different simulated sun angles and viewpoints. The results, which were published in the journal Applied Optics, showed that the Face maintained its facial appearance over a wide range of imaging conditions and so is not an optical illusion as claimed by NASA.

Different from Surrounding Landforms

The Face on Mars is more than a mile wide and 1-2/3 miles long. Could the Face have been constructed by modifying a pre-existing landform? 

A colleague of mine at TASC had developed an algorithm to detect manmade objects in images using fractals. A fractal is a mathematical concept to describe objects in nature that are self-similar including the shape of coastlines, the structure of natural terrain, and many other kinds of phenomena. Fractal models are often used in computer graphics to generate photo-realistic renderings of natural features. Instead of using fractals to generate images his idea was to use fractals to analyze images, specifically to detect manmade objects by finding areas in images that deviate from a fractal model. When we applied his fractal algorithm to the Viking imagery the Face was found to be different from the surrounding landforms.

Is it unreasonable to conclude that this landform was different from the other landforms because it had been modified to look like a face?

Figure 2 Comparison between an orthorectified MGS image and its mirror image. Multiple points of symmetry are evident.

Architectural Sophistication

Mars Global Surveyor and later orbiters showed that the Face is much more eroded than was previously thought. In particular, the right (eastern) side appears to have slumped (perhaps due to a process that is known as mass wasting) and is covered with dunes. As shown in Figure 2 there clear evidence of symmetry in the platform surrounding the Face, the forehead, and the eyes. There are also repeated expressions of symmetry and the geometry of 3-4-5 right triangles in its shape and internal features.

Artificial Structure or Pareidolia?

We close with a rendering of the Face as seen from the southwest. It is a time-lapse view over the course of a summer day on Mars. Like those enigmatic features on the Marcahuasi plateau discussed in the previous post, if the Face on Mars is an optical illusion, nature is having a great joke on us.

Three Faces: Altered Landforms or Pareidolia? (Part 2 – A Face on the Marcahuasi Plateau)

This series of articles discusses three surface features that resemble faces: a strange landform in Alberta Canada known as the Badlands Guardian that was discovered in 2005, a carved stone formation found by Daniel Ruzo on the Marcahuasi Plateau in Peru in the 1950s, and the Face on Mars, a mile-long structure on the surface of Mars first imaged by a Viking orbiter spacecraft in 1976.

A Face on the Marcahuasi Plateau

The Marcahuasi plateau is in the Peruvian Andes east of Lima. A vast array of ancient ruins and enigmatic rock sculptures was discovered there in the 1950s by Daniel Ruzo in his search for evidence of a pre-Inca civilization [1]:

“Since 1925 I have been of the opinion that one should be able to find traces of a very old culture extending from Central to South America, especially between the two tropics. The study of the old traditions and legends, the analysis of the recitals of the Spanish Conquistadors endorsed this assumption.”

Encountering gigantic and magnificently executed but isolated, eroded, and partially destroyed sculptures in the hills and along the coast of Peru eventually led him inland to the Marcahuasi plateau where he found hundreds of stone ruins and formations of animal and human figures. 

Well off the beaten path, after a rare visit to Marcahuasi in 1989, film producer Bill Cote wrote [2]:

“What little is written about Marcahuasi indicates a certain reluctance on the part of archaeologists to say that the figures are man-made. Indeed, many of them are subtle and not always obvious to the viewer. But that is precisely what contributes to the mystery. There are so many recognizable forms there, that one is tempted to say they must be man-made, or else nature is having a great joke on us.”

In the late 1990s, Linda Moulton Howe shared some of Bill’s photographs with me. One of the photos was of a human form that had been carved out of bedrock. Like the Face on Mars, which I was studying at the time, the Marcahuasi face stares up at the sky. But unlike the highly eroded stone figures in other photos I had seen, the face in this photo showed clear signs of having been carved out of bedrock using advanced technology (Figure 1). 

Figure 1 Close up of the face and cut marks in the stone skirt to the right of the face in the original photo at the top of the article. (Bill Cote)

With just a photograph it was hard to say more about this mysterious stone face at the time – a decade before Google Earth, and two decades before imagery existed of sufficient resolution to be able to locate the formation in an overhead view. 

Figure 2 Overhead view of the stone face on the Marcahuasi plateau. (Google Earth)
Figure 3 Upright views of the Marcahuasi face from above. (Google Earth)

After an extensive search of Marcahuasi using Google Earth, I was able to find the stone face (Figures 2 and 3) in a Digitial Globe image over the northwest section of the plateau (11.775670° S 76.581853° W). Ruzo mentions that the visual effects produced from shading and shadowing on the stone sculptures are most pronounced near the solstices. To my surprise, I discovered this face is not aligned with the cardinal directions or to the solstices. If however, we consider previous locations of the North Pole as described in Before Atlantis, it can be shown that when the pole was in the Norway Sea the sun would have set directly west of the face on the summer solstice (Figure 4).

Figure 4 Alignments of Marcahuasi face. Current solstice alignment (white line). Direction to Norway Sea pole (solid yellow line). Solstice alignment relative to the Norway Sea pole (dotted yellow line).

It turns out that the face is also aligned in the direction of the sacred city of Caral-Supe, which is about 90 miles to the northwest. In Before Atlantis it is shown that Caral-Supe could have once been aligned to the Norway Sea pole and that two other sites along the Peruvian coast in Chavin and Warawtampu also face Caral-Supe (Figure 5).

Figure 5 Sites that face the sacred city of Caral Supe. (Google Earth)

The Norway Sea pole alignment is interesting as it suggests that these sites could have been first established between 75,000 and 125,000 years ago. In a previous post, we proposed that Por Bajin, a remote site in Siberia that also references the Norway Sea pole, could have been built by Denisovans, an earlier human species that coexisted with Neanderthals as long as 500,000 years ago. 

Ruzo believed the structures on the Marcahuasi plateau were ancient stating “traditions speak of the giants or Huaris, legendary beings, builders of the cyclopean structures, the remains of which persisted until the Incas.” Fossil evidence indicates that Denisovans were considerably larger than modern humans. Could these giants of the Marcahuasi plateau have been Denisovans? 

Future articles will continue to explore the revolutionary hypothesis that the oldest artificial structures on Earth were not built by modern humans but by a previous race who had evolved into an advanced worldwide technological civilization 100,000 years ago or more.

[1] Daniel Ruzo, “The Masma Culture,” L’Ethnographic, Paris, 1956

[2] Bill Cote, “Marcahuasi – A Mystery in Stone,” Louisiana Mounds Society New letter, no. 42, p. 1, October 1, 1991.

Three Faces: Altered Landforms or Pareidolia? (Part 1 – The Badlands Guardian)

This series of articles discusses three surface features that resemble faces: a strange landform in Alberta Canada known as the Badlands Guardian that was discovered in 2005, a carved stone formation found by Daniel Ruzo on the Marcahuasi Plateau in Peru in the 1950s, and the Face on Mars, a mile-long structure on the surface of Mars first imaged by a Viking orbiter spacecraft in 1976.

Figure 1 The Badlands Guardian is barely evident in Alberta’s earliest air photos taken in 1949-1951.

Badlands Guardian

Twenty-five miles east of the town of Medicine Hat in Alberta Canada is a landform that resembles a face looking due west. This feature known as the Badlands Guardian was first discovered in Google Earth imagery in 2005. Although the feature is thought to be the result of erosional processes there is much about it that is unusual. 

First is the visual form itself – that of a human figure, similar in appearance to the indigenous people from this part of Canada, wearing a headdress. It could have been any ethnic group. That it appears to represent the people native to the area is an interesting coincidence.

Second, the formation is aligned to north. There are perhaps hundreds or even thousands of similar badlands formations in North America. That one of these formations is oriented to north is not unusual in itself. That it is aligned to north and depicts the indigenous people would seem to be an unlikely coincidence.

Figure 2 Appearance at noon on the summer solstice (left), Equinox (middle), and winter solstice (right).

Even more remarkable, the alignment of the feature to north and to the path of the sun is such that the feature maintains a consistent appearance at noon over the course of the year (Figure 2). This would not be the case if it were oriented in another direction.

Figure 3 The Badlands Guardian is not visible at ground level.

The Badlands Guardian is an example of the hollow face illusion. Like numerous geoglyphs across the world the Badlands Guardian can only be seen from above (Figure 3).

Although it is likely that nature conspired to produce this phenomenon by the interplay of countless random events, it is not impossible that a pre-existing landform could have been modified in specific ways to produce this face. Either way, the Badlands Guardian is a remarkable feature.

The Lion Rock and the Constellation Leo

Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress located in the middle of Sri Lanka. It is an imposing landform standing approximately 660 feet above the surrounding countryside. King Kassapa chose the site for his new capital and palace in the 6th century CE. The palace was at the top of the fortress, which today contains numerous terraces and pools. The entrance is through a gateway in the form of an enormous lion, of which only the claws remain.

Sigiriya is also believed by some to be the mythological city of  Alakamandava – the City of the Gods –  built by King Kubera, the half-brother of Ravana as described in the ancient Hindu epic poem the Ramayanaya.

Was Sigiriya built by King Kassapa or did the site already exist, perhaps dating back to the time of King Kubera or earlier?

The rock fortress and surrounding complex are rotated approximately 8.5 degrees east of north. Amelia Carolina Sparavigna has determined that the site is aligned to the sunset on the days when the sun at mid-day is directly overhead. At the equator, the sun passes directly overhead on the equinox. The sun can also pass overhead at places near the equator on days surrounding the equinox. For example at Sigiriya, latitude 7.95° N 80.75° E, this happens around September 1 and April 11, which is about twenty days after the spring equinox and twenty days before the fall equinox (Figure 1).

Figure 1 The site is aligned to sunset on days around April 11 and September 1.

The days of the zenith sun – when the sun passes directly overhead – are the same every year so the alignment cannot be used to date the site by itself. Could the name “Sigiriya,” which means “lion rock” in the native Sinhalese language have some celestial significance; for example, is it associated with the constellation Leo, one of the twelve zodiacal constellations, which was also known to Vedic astrologers?

There are twelve astrological ages corresponding to the zodiacal constellations, each about 2160 years long, that add up to a precessional cycle of 26,000 years. The astrological age in which we live is defined by the heliacal rising of the constellation on the first day of spring. 

This year, on the first day of spring, the sun rises in the constellation Pisces. The sun rises in different constellations on other days. On September 1, the sun rises and sets in the constellation Leo (Figure 2). If Sigiriya were a modern site, aligning it to Leo on this day would have symbolic significance.

Figure 2 The sun currently sets in Leo on September 1. Graphics courtesy https://www.fourmilab.ch/cgi-bin/Yourhorizon

During the reign of King Kassapa, the sun set in Virgo on September 1 (Figure 3). Why would King Kassapa build a site representing a lion that is aligned to Virgo? Perhaps he did not build Sigiriya but co-opted a site that was already there.

Figure 3 Approximately 1500 years ago the sun set in Virgo on September 1. Graphics courtesy https://www.fourmilab.ch/cgi-bin/Yourhorizon

When was the last time the sun rose and set in the constellation Leo? There are two answers based on Sigiriya’s alignment. In the fall, on or around September 1, the last time the sun rose in Leo was one full precessional cycle ago, 26,000 years, or about 24,000 BCE. (Given the cyclic nature of the precessional cycle, its age could conceivably be N x 26,000 years, where N is an integer.)  In the spring, on or around April 11, the last time the sun rose in Leo was about 5 astrological signs ago, 5 x 2160 = 10,800 (or 10,800 + N x 26,000) years ago as determined from the diagram below.

Figure 4 Western zodiac shifts one astrological sign every 2160 years.

On the spring equinox, the last time the sun rose in Leo was 6 x 2160 = 12,960 years ago, which is believed to be Zep Tepi or “First Time” when the pyramids and Sphinx were first established on the Giza plateau in Egypt.

Did the builders of Sigiriya use a solar alignment on a different day, April 11, to mark a date, around 8800 BCE, when the site was first established, perhaps by King Kubera during the time of the Ramayana? Expert interpretation of Vedic astrology in this context, which is beyond the scope of this article,  might provide additional insight.

Pole Shift Hypothesis

Hapgood’s pole shift hypothesis provides another even more ancient dating for Sigiriya. Our method of using pole shifts to date archaeological sites assumes sites were aligned to the north or to celestial events such as solstices referenced to north at the time they were built. 

In Before Atlantis we discovered two of the sites that point to an ancient pole in the Bering Sea refer to lions. Cuzco and the neighboring fortress of Sacsayhuaman are thought to represent a puma, a mountain lion. The temple of the Winged Lions in Petra also incorporates lions into its design. 

Figure 5 Aligned to an ancient pole in the Bering Sea (red arrow) Sigiriya is aligned in the direction of the summer solstice sunrise.

Could the Lion Rock of Sigiriya be another site that is aligned in some way with the Bering Sea pole? It can be shown that if Sigiriya were built when the pole was in the Bering Sea it would have been located almost exactly on the equator and rotated in the direction of the summer solstice sunrise (Figure 5). Not itself aligned to the cardinal directions, perhaps this was the best the builders could do to modify a pre-existing landform in order to somehow reference the sky at that time. If this was, in fact, the case then based on this alignment and Hapgood’s dating of an ancient pole near Alaska, Sigiriya could be 100,000 years old or more.

 

Winter Solstice, Poles Hill, Gloucester, Massachusetts

Before Atlantis describes the discovery and possible implications of the alignment of over fifty sites throughout the world to what could have been several previous locations of the North Pole over the past 100,000 years. This was for me no less exciting than the discovery of numerous celestial alignments atop a rocky plateau called Poles Hill in Gloucester Massachusetts a few years before. 

Poles Hill is located in a tidal estuary along the Annisquam River.

During the last Ice Age, from 12,000 to perhaps as far back as 50,000 years ago, Gloucester was buried under a vast ice sheet. Over this time as the glacier was advancing, rocks called erratics were carried hundreds of miles by the ice. As a local saying goes, “This being the last place created, all the rocks not needed in the rest of the earth were dumped here.” Poles Hill is one such place.

I learned about Poles Hill from a local anthropologist who believed it was once a Native American ceremonial site that might contain stone circles, standing stones, petroglyphs, and other lithic formations. On my first visit to Poles Hill, also called Sunset Hill, I looked for an arrangement of altered stones lined up in a westerly direction, possibly in the direction of a solstice sunset. What I found instead was a chaotic landscape – a rocky plateau of fractured bedrock dotted with erratics, not unlike other parts of Cape Ann. 

Summer solstice sunset at Poles Hill as seen from the central sighting stone (foreground).

Although I had found several rocks that could have served as sunset markers, only after returning a second time was I able to identify the sunset rock – a large erratic located on the western edge of the plateau on a section of exposed bedrock, and the place one would have to stand to see the sun setting behind it on the first day of summer. That place, near the middle of Poles Hill, was next to a very unusual stone seemingly placed on a knuckle of bedrock about 130 meters away. Saving the geo-coordinates on my GPS, I located the rocks in Google Earth imagery, drew a line between them and verified that the line of sight was in the direction of the summer solstice sunset.

Figure 3 Central sighting stone for observing solstice sunrise and sunset events.

Having located the sunset rock, I wondered if perhaps there was a sunrise rock too. Using Google Earth to search for boulders in the direction of the summer solstice sunrise, I found a candidate that was roughly the same size as the sunset rock about 165 meters to the northeast of the sighting stone. A few days later I ventured out on an unseasonably cold March afternoon and found a very distinctive looking boulder composed of pink granite that would be visible from the sighting stone provided there was a clear line of sight. This was later confirmed after trees and brush were cleared out along the sightline. 

Pink granite boulder marks the direction of summer solstice sunrise from the central sighting stone.

According to a local geologist, all three of these stones were erratics whose shapes had probably been altered by a process known as spalling. Otherwise, by repositioning as few as two of these three erratics, someone could have constructed a basic solar calendar using very little effort.

I later found two stacked slabs of granite perched on a ridge to the southeast in the direction of the winter solstice sunrise (see the featured photo at the top of this article). By analyzing the differences between the alignment angles of these markers and the direction of the sunrise and sunset directions I determined that the winter marker was probably established within the past few hundred years. The summer alignments were older, perhaps 2000 to 4000 years old. (Click here to read our paper published by the Massachusetts Archaeological Society.)

Since the terrain on Poles Hill slopes down southwest towards the Annisquam River, there would seem to be no winter solstice sunset alignment. But, as it turns out there is a way to experience the winter solstice sunset at Poles Hill. The sun sets on the first day of winter opposite to the direction where it rises on the first day of summer, and sets of the first day of summer opposite to the direction it rises on the first day of winter. At Poles Hill, around the winter solstice at sunset, the light of the setting sun to the southwest illuminates the pink granite summer solstice sunrise rock to the northeast. In my opinion, the effect is even more dramatic than the sun rising over the marker on the first day of summer. Standing at the sighting stone, as the sun dips below the horizon your shadow stretches all the way to the summer sunrise rock as shown in the photo below.

View from the sighting stone (foreground) looking northeast toward the summer solstice sunrise marker illuminated at the winter solstice sunset.

There is much more to Poles Hill than solar alignments. In the spring we will discuss equinox alignments at Poles Hill including an interesting pattern of stones that appear to be correlated to bright stars in several circumpolar constellations, including Draco.

On the Alignment of El Cerrito

An analysis of the alignment of the El Cerrito archaeological site, located about 180 km northwest of Mexico City, suggests that it could be 50,000 years old or more.

Before Atlantis describes how more than three dozen sites in Mexico and Central America appear to be aligned to previous locations of the North Pole, based on Charles Hapgood’s hypothesis that Earth’s poles have shifted several times over the past 100,000 years. 

The alignment of a part of modern-day Mexico City, formerly the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan is rotated about 7° east of north in the direction of one of those ancient poles in northern Greenland (Figure 1). Sites aligned to the Greenland pole could be 50,000 years old or more based on Hapgood’s climate-based dating as described in Before Atlantis.

Figure 1 Echos of the past – a part of modern-day Mexico City faces the ancient Greenland pole.

More than a century ago, in the process of examining thousands of clay pits over a two thousand square mile area, mineralogist William Niven discovered extensive stratigraphic evidence that a series of catastrophes had occurred in this part of Mexico over a period of tens of thousands of years. The layers or “pavements” in the stratigraphy appear to be correlated to three civilizations punctuated by two catastrophes, the most recent being the shift from the Hudson Bay to the current pole 12,000 to 18,000 years ago. The lowest layer uncovered by Niven appears to correlate to the time when sites such as Tenochtitlan were oriented due north toward an even earlier Greenland pole. 

I was inspired by a recent post in Megalith Research to examine the pyramid known as El Pueblito in the El Cerrito Archaeological Zone. In examining El Cerrito, located about 180 km northwest of Mexico City, the site appears to be similarly misaligned to the north (Figure 2). Archaeologists believe El Pueblito was built in several stages from around 700 CE until 1250 CE when the area was abandoned. The east side of the pyramid, which has been restored is not a perfectly aligned structure. Near the top, steps are aligned 5 to 6° east of north and 3 to 4° east of north at the bottom. Analyzing the alignment of the pyramid itself is thus problematic.

Figure 2 Alignment of El Cerrito archaeological site. The green line points toward the Greenland pole.
Figure 3 Vertically exaggerated elevation grid in the previous figure aligns to the south edge of the El Cerrito acropolis.

The pyramid is located on a hill whose southern edge along a road is aligned 7.4° south of east, which is at a right angle to the direction of the Greenland pole. Further analysis suggests the three-dimensional structure of the hill is also oriented in that direction (Figure 3) suggesting the possibility that the hill was an even older acropolis on which the pyramid was later built.

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Figure 4 Perspective view of El Cerrito acropolis aligned in the direction of the ancient Greenland pole.

Similar sites in other parts of the world such as the Parthenon atop the Acropolis in Athens and the Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek, Lebanon are described in Before Atlantis. Is it possible that the so-called “first stage” of construction at El Cerrito in 700 CE was over a pre-existing site that had been first established by an even older “lost civilization” who inhabited the Valley of Mexico 50,000 years ago?

 

Alignment of the Bosnian “Pyramid of the Sun”

In 2005 Semir Osmanagić claimed that a collection of hills near the town of Visoko in central Bosnia and Herzegovina were not natural landforms that simply looked like pyramids but were, in fact, the remains of ancient structures created tens of thousands of years ago.

Geologist Robert Schoch’s assessment of the Bosnian pyramids was that they were similar in both shape and composition to the surrounding landforms. Satellite imagery analysis of the area revealed that certain features seemed to radiate heat faster (i.e., had a lower thermal inertia) than their surroundings, which suggested the hills had a different composition or density. The possibility that the anomalous thermal signature of these features could be due to the presence of inner spaces led to a search for tunnels, which have been found nearby, but not inside the pyramids themselves.

Is it possible that the Bosnian pyramids were natural features that were made into pyramidal formations for some unknown purpose long ago? If so they might appear today as eroded features, not unlike the surrounding landforms.

In Before Atlantis we hypothesize that when certain ancient sites were first established, they were aligned to the cardinal directions or other directions referenced to north but now appear misaligned due to shifts in the geographic position of the North Pole. In particular, it is shown that certain sites in Peru’s Sacred Valley as well as places in Europe, Middle East, and northern Africa are aligned to a possible pole in the Bering Sea north of the Aleutian Islands. Our hypothesis is that the alignment of these sites can be used to estimate the date when they were first established.

Figure 1 Google Earth image of the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun with a line to a possible ancient pole in the Bering Sea.

Figure 1 shows the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun is not aligned precisely to north but is rotated approximately 9° east of north. The misalignment of the structure is even more evident in LIDAR imagery (Figure 2).

Figure 2 LIDAR image of the Bosnian pyramid. The dotted line is parallel to apparent contours of constant elevation that are perpendicular to the alignment of the northern face.

Like the Tomb of Agamemnon in Greece, Knossos on the island of Crete, the Temple of the Winged Lions in Jordan, and several other sites in this part of the world, the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun is aligned to the Bering Sea pole (Figure 3). According to our pole shift timeline, these sites could be 100,000 years old or more.

Figure 3 Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun and other nearby sites aligned to a possible ancient pole in the Bering Sea. Google Earth

Considering a feature such as the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun that has not itself been determined to be an archaeological site only adds to the controversial nature of the pole shift hypothesis. Strictly speaking, using an unproven theory of pole shifts cannot be used as evidence to date archaeological sites. But the fact that so many ancient sites seem to point to places that could have been previous pole locations is an interesting paradox – one that we will continue to explore in future articles…

 

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Two Mysteries in Siberia: A Possible Ancient Connection

Por-Bajin is a remote archaeological site located in the mountains of southern Siberia. The walls of the site, which resemble a fortress, are massive – up to 10 meters tall and 12 meters thick at the base – enclosing an area of about seven acres containing the remains of dozens of buildings. Constructed from clay supported by wooden beams, the buildings within the site are thought to have been built around 780 CE by a nomadic people known as the Uighurs.

What is particularly unusual about the site is that it is located on an island in the middle of a shallow lake almost literally in the middle of nowhere. If it were a fort, a shallow lake would offer little protection. Adding to the mystery is a lack of artifacts and evidence of sustained occupation. Perhaps this should come as no surprise as the ground beneath the buildings is permafrost and the buildings had no apparent heating system. Archeologists admit that after two years of intensive fieldwork, with one-third of the site excavated, Por-Bajin remains a mystery.

Although the site is said to be oriented east-west, Por-Bajin is, in fact, rotated 7.5 degrees east of north. Can its orientation offer any clues about when it was built, and by whom?

Figure 1 View from inside Por-Bajin looking eastward. Siberian Times.

Chinese Influence

In China, there are numerous earthen pyramids that were constructed as mausoleums and burial mounds containing the remains of early emperors and their families. Some of these pyramids are oriented to the cardinal directions, but some are not. Historically, the art of placing, arranging, and orienting cities, streets, palaces, houses, and tombs, known as divination, geomancy, or Feng shui, has been an important element in Chinese landscape design and city planning.

Researchers from the Czech Republic have shown that there is a correlation between the orientation of many Chinese pyramids and the location of the magnetic pole at the time they were built. The magnetic pole wanders slowly over time. By using a model of the past motion of the magnetic pole and knowing the approximate construction date of the site, the Czech study shows that some form of magnetic compass, which was known to the Chinese as early as the fourth century BCE, could have been used to align the pyramids to magnetic north.

Archaeologists have noticed that the architecture and construction methods at Por-Bajin are similar to those in China at the time. Did the builders of Por-Bajin use a compass to align the site to magnetic north? At the time of construction in 780 CE, the north magnetic pole was located near 83°N 40°E (Figure 2). A compass reading at Por-Bajin would have pointed 10° west of north, about 17.5° west of the site’s alignment to north. It is thus highly unlikely that a compass was used to align the site since it would have pointed in the wrong direction.

Figure 2 Location of the north magnetic pole at 780 CE is located at 83°N 40°E (orange circle). The magnetic declination at Por-Bajin would have been approximately 10° west of north (from McElhinny and McFadden ).

Past Celestial Alignment

Does the azimuth angle of the site, 97.5°, coincide with solar or lunar events such as solstices or lunar standstills? Table 1 lists sunrise azimuths at the summer and winter solstices and moonrise azimuths at the major and minor lunar standstills at Earth’s minimum and maximum obliquity angles. Clearly, the site is not rotated enough to the east to line up to any of these events.

Was Por-Bajin aligned to a previous location of the North Pole? The Hudson Bay, Greenland, Norway Sea, and Bering Sea poles are located at azimuth angles −2.4°, −4.4°, −28.2°, and 47.9°, respectively. Again, the answer is no.

There is one last possibility – that Por-Bajin could have been aligned to solar or lunar events referenced to earlier positions of the pole.

Table 1 Minimum and maximum obliquity values of sunrise and moonrise azimuth angles at solstices and lunar standstills.
Figure 3 East-west axis of Por-Bajin could have aligned with the winter-solstice sunrise when the North Pole was in the Norway Sea and Earth’s obliquity was near its maximum value (top yellow line in inset).

Figure 3 compares the alignment angle of the site to summer and winter solstices and major and minor lunar standstills in summer and winter at minimum and maximum obliquity angles for the current pole (white), Hudson Bay pole (magenta), Greenland pole (green), Norway Sea pole (yellow), and Bering Sea pole (red). For an alignment to have been possible it must lie between the minimum and maximum obliquity values. Comparing the orientation of Por-Bajin to these alignments we find that it would have lined up with the winter solstice sunrise if the pole were located in the Norway Sea.

The Norway pole is −28.2° or 28.2° west of the current North Pole. The site would have been aligned at an azimuth angle of 28.2° + 97.5° = 125.7°, which is within 0.3° of the winter sunrise/summer sunset solstice angle of 126° at the latitude of the site when the pole was in the Norway Sea and Earth was at maximum obliquity (Figure 4).

Figure 4 Alignment of Por-Bajin to the solstice when the pole was in the Norway Sea

Notice that the diagonal of the site is aligned due east-west. This means that the solstice angle relative to east, 126° −90° = 36°, is also encoded in the aspect ratio of the site’s bounding rectangle; i.e., W/L = tan 36°.

As shown in Figure 3 Por-Bajin would have aligned to the solstice when Earth’s obliquity was close to its maximum value of 24.2°, which occurred 9,000 years ago and reoccurs every 41,000 years. Using a modified version of Charles Hapgood’s original pole shift timeline places the North Pole in the Norway Sea 75,000 to 125,000 years ago. During this period of time, the site would have lined up to the solstice 9,000 + 2 x 41,0000 = 91,000 years ago.

Figure 5 Aspect ratio of Por-Bajin is related to its orientation (see text).

What is particularly intriguing about this date is that at this time, near the end of the Sangamon interglacial period, this part of the world would have been warmer, making the existence of Por-Bajin here in central Siberia much more plausible than it is today.  The only problem with this dating is that according to accepted genetic timelines modern humans had not yet left Africa.

A Denisovan Connection?

Evidence of Denisovans – a long extinct humanoid species who coexisted with the Neanderthals about a half-million years ago – was first discovered in a cave located about 900 km west of Por-Bajin. Archaeologists there have mapped out 22 layers of sediment. The earliest evidence of occupation is in the deepest layer (1) going back 282,000 years. In 2008 a stone bracelet was found in layer 11 that has been dated to about 70,000 years ago. The bracelet shows evidence of manufacturing technology typical of much later periods, including a hole made with what appears to have been a high-speed drill.

Figure 6 A 70,000 year old Denisovan bracelet. Siberian Times.

Given the apparent fine-scale technological sophistication of the Denisovans 70,000 years ago, and evidence suggesting that they inhabited this part of the world on and off for 200,000 years or more, could they have built larger structures during this period of time? Pushing the limits of what we know, given the Denisovans possessed an appreciation for jewelry and art perhaps they lived in other places besides caves.

Earlier we wondered how and why a nomadic people built an enormous site on an island in the middle of a lake in such a harsh climate. Perhaps they did not. Could places like Por-Bajin have been first established by Denisovans that were co-opted by later civilizations, the last being the Uighurs? Perhaps deeper excavations at Por-Bajin and other nearby archaeological sites might reveal the true origin of these sites.

Finally, one has to wonder if the Russian government’s interest in Por-Bajin, including its support of the excavation with paramilitary troops starting 2007, had anything to do with the discoveries being made in the nearby Denisova Cave at around the same time. Do they suspect, or have they already discovered a Denisovan connection between these two sites?

Finding evidence of Denisovans at Por-Bajin would support the hypothesis proposed in Before Atlantis that the site was not built by modern humans in historical times but by an earlier indigenous technological civilization in the distant past.