A New Theory of Earth Crustal Displacement

Breathing new life into Charles Hapgood’s theory of earth crustal displacement/pole shifts, a new paper proposes that short-term reversals of the geomagnetic field may “unlock” the crust sufficiently to allow tidal forces to pull it over the mantle in the same way they move earth’s oceans. With existing climate theories unable to provide a satisfactory explanation of glacial cycles and ice ages, a revised version of Hapgood’s theory has been developed that explains sea-level changes resulting from the buildup and melting of polar ice over ice age/glacial cycles by a combination of Milanković cycles and Hapgood pole shifts.

Click here to read the paper.

Watch a video presentation sponsored by the Society for Scientific Exploration.

Introduction

In this article, we begin by revisiting Hapgood’s theory of earth crustal displacement in the context of recent developments in climate and geoscience and show that it may be the missing link in understanding not only the rise and fall of past civilizations, as we first set out to do in Before Atlantis, but ice age/glacial cycles as well. A modified version of Hapgood’s theory is then described based on a new mechanism that is triggered by short-term reversals of the geomagnetic field that “unlock” the crust from the mantle and driven by earth-moon-sun tidal forces, the same forces that move earth’s oceans. 

Courtesy University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Milanković Cycles

In the 1920s, Milutin Milanković proposed that changes in earth’s eccentricity, axial tilt (obliquity), and precession result in cyclical variations in the amount of incident solar radiation (insolation) reaching the earth. Insolation is generally assumed to be a major driver of climate change over long periods. From 1–3 million years ago, climate patterns were correlated with the earth’s 41 Ky-long obliquity cycle. Then, about a million years ago, patterns began to follow a 100 Ky cycle that is between the 95 Ky and 125 Ky cycles in earth’s orbital eccentricity. Why the period of climate patterns changed, the origin of the 100 Ky cycle, and why insolation lags rather than leads climate changes are among some of the problems that cannot be explained by Milanković cycles. Perhaps the greatest shortfall of Milanković’s theory is the inability of insolation in itself to accurately account for the periodic buildup and melting of polar ice over glacial cycles.

Average daily mean top of the atmosphere (TOA) insolation at 65°N over the past 250 Ky and global sea level, which is inversely related to the amount of polar ice. 

The two time series, insolation and global sea level, shown above are weakly correlated (R=0.14). There is a somewhat higher (R=0.33) correlation between insolation and temperature, and an even greater correlation (R=0.63) between insolation and changes in sea level as a function of time. The reason for the increased correlation is that as insolation increases, temperatures increase, polar ice melts, and sea levels rise. Conversely, as insolation decreases, temperatures decrease, precipitation freezes and accumulates at the poles, and sea levels fall. Exploiting this correlation, we can estimate mean sea level change ∆s(t) as a function of insolation Q(t) that when summed provide an estimate of sea level s(t) as a function of insolation over time.

Global sea level change predicted from insolation, which when summed provides an estimate of global sea level as a function of insolation.

What Insolation Does Not Predict

Over the last two glacial cycles, insolation tends to underpredict sea level (over predict polar ice) at the beginning of a cycle and over predict sea level (under predict polar ice) at the end. In other words, a greater amount of ice melts at the beginning and accumulates at the end of a glacial cycle than what is predicted by insolation. 

Difference between sea level predicted from insolation and actual sea level over the last glacial cycle.

Pole Shifts and Sea Level Changes

Insolation increases as we move toward the equator. Allowing the geographic location of the earth’s poles to shift relative to the rotational axis as Hapgood proposed provides a means that can potentially account for the difference between the above sea-level curves. Before the start of a glacial cycle, a large amount of water is stored in an ice sheet around the pole. If the crust displaces enough to move the ice sheet out of the polar zone, the increased amount of solar radiation at lower latitudes will cause the ice to melt raising sea levels. After a period, an ice sheet begins to form at the new pole causing sea levels once again to fall.

Crustal displacements cause former polar regions to shift south toward the equator.(Google Earth)

Sea levels decrease in stages during a glacial cycle suggesting a continued buildup of ice near the poles. Notice the land area around the pole is different at different pole locations. Since ice forms and accumulates more readily on land than over the ocean, if the land area at the new pole is greater than the land area at the old pole, sea levels after a pole shift should eventually fall to a lower level as there is a greater area for ice to accumulate. Based on measurements of land area in the Arctic circle and former polar regions there is a strong correlation between the size of the ice sheet (assumed to be determined by land area) and sea level for the current and four prior pole locations. Successive increases in available land area following the Bering Sea to Greenland pole shift have led to successive decreases in sea level. This suggests that the magnitude of crustal displacements during a glacial cycle, i.e., before the last glacial maximum (LGM) and penultimate glacial maximum (PGM) were small enough to keep the accumulating mass of ice in the polar zone. The precipitous rise in sea level after the LGM and PGM suggests that larger magnitude crustal displacements shifted the ice sheet farther south to melt a significant fraction of the accumulated ice. 

A Possible Mechanism for Crustal Displacements

In his original theory, Hapgood proposed polar ice creates mass imbalances that can cause the crust to slip over the mantle shifting the geographic location of the North Pole. Einstein later argued that the force of the ice was not sufficient to cause a crustal displacement. Using models of the crust and ice sheets at the LGM to estimate the degree to which the ice could have affected the earth’s moments of inertia, it has been determined that if the crust were free to move, the ice would have shifted the pole by less than 0.25° relative to its present position. 

If the first part of Hapgood’s theory is wrong, that ice cannot move the pole, is there another way to save the rest of his theory?

An analysis of alternative mass distribution models reveals the theoretical axis of rotation (TRA) of the crust deviates significantly from the earth’s rotational axis and so may not be in equilibrium with the earth. We have determined the crust’s TRA is at 1.21°N, 18.52° W. This location lies in the zone of the tropics almost on the equator. At the equinox, the equator is parallel with the ecliptic plane. At other times of the year, the ecliptic passes through the earth’s equatorial region between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The path of the sun, moon and most other bodies in the solar system lies along the ecliptic. That the crust’s TRA points in this direction suggest the possibility the crustal disequilibrium may have an external (i.e., extraterrestrial) cause.

The influence of the moon, and to a lesser extent, the sun, are responsible for the earth’s tides. The balance between gravitational and centrifugal forces causes the earth (primarily its oceans) to elongate in the direction of the moon by 1.34 meters and the direction of the sun by 0.61 meters. As the earth rotates, tidal forces cause the oceans to rise and fall twice a day. These forces also pull on the crust. It has been proposed that tidal forces acting on the crust could be a possible trigger for certain kinds of earthquakes. 

Possible role of tidal forces in changing the position of the crust’s theoretical axis of rotation (TRA).

Tidal torques acting on the earth and moon dissipate energy. With the crust “locked” to the mantle, the energy loss manifests as the frictional heating of the crust and oceans. If, however, the crust became “unlocked” the effective work could result in a displacement of the crust over the mantle. The key to crustal displacement thus becomes the question of whether there is a way for the crust to become unlocked from the mantle. 

A growing body of evidence suggests changes in the earth’s magnetic field may influence climate. Over the last 83 million years, 183 geomagnetic reversals have taken place in which the poles changed polarity. Geomagnetic reversals occur, on average, 450 Ky years apart. Long periods (millions of years) in which the magnetic poles do not flip preceded the four largest extinctions on earth: the Cretaceous-Tertiary (KT), Triassic-Jurassic (TJ), and the Permo-Triassic (PT) and Guadalupian-Tatarian (GT) doublet. Between geomagnetic reversals, events known as geomagnetic excursions take place where the field temporarily reverses for a shorter period (thousands of years or less).

Earth’s magnetic field (top). Bottom left to right shows the normal polarity of core and crust, polarity during a geomagnetic excursion, rotation of crust, and return to original field polarity

One possibility is that changes in the magnetic field during a geomagnetic excursion may affect the ease with which the crust can move over the mantle. Magnetic dipoles of ferromagnetic minerals in the crust normally line up in the same direction as those in the core resulting in continental ferromagnetic fields. It is conjectured that when the core magnetic field flips during a geomagnetic excursion, the dipoles in the crust temporarily point in the opposite direction to produce a repulsive force between the crust and core fields. If this force, perpendicular to the crust, is sufficient to reduce the frictional force between the crust and mantle, it may be possible for forces acting on the crust parallel to the surface to move the crust over the mantle while the geomagnetic field is reversed. When the geomagnetic field flips back the crust is once again locked to the mantle maintaining disequilibrium.

Sea level predicted from insolation (dotted) and actual (solid) curves. Approximate dates of geomagnetic excursions (circles) and volcanic eruptions (triangles).

Correlated Events

Although there is no way to test our conjecture directly, correlations between geomagnetic excursions, super-volcanic eruptions, and glacial events could imply causation. The Blake geomagnetic excursion occurred 15–20 Ky after the PGM. The Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) is a relative measure of the explosiveness of volcanic eruptions.  The next two geomagnetic excursions were each followed by massive VEI 8 magnitude volcanic eruptions. The most recent Toba eruption 73–75 Kya followed the Norwegian-Greenland Sea excursion. The Oruanui eruption of New Zealand’s Taupo volcano followed the Lake Mungo excursion 28–30 Kya. The somewhat smaller VEI 7 Phlegraean Fields eruption followed the Laschamp event 40–42 Kya.

Although the trigger mechanism for geomagnetic reversals is not clear, crustal shifts could provide an explanation for earthquake activity, volcanic eruptions, and other events that follow geomagnetic excursions. The Blake, Norwegian-Greenland Sea and Lachamps geomagnetic excursions precede three episodes of sea level decline/increase of polar ice. The Lake Mungo geomagnetic excursion occurs just before the LGM after which global sea levels began to rise to current levels. According to the model, crustal displacement(s) triggered by the Mungo Lake and possibly the Gothenburg geomagnetic excursions shifted most of the ice sheet that had formed up to the LGM almost 2,000 miles south well into the temperate zone leading to rapid melting and sea-level rise. The Younger Dryas event was also likely a significant contributor to glacial melt. All four events appear to be somewhat correlated with Milanković cycles evident in the insolation curve. Three precede major volcanic eruptions. 

Conclusion

We show how Hapgood pole shifts working in conjunction with Milanković cycles provide a possible explanation for climate changes over past glacial cycles. That the crust does not appear to be in equilibrium with the whole earth in terms of their moments of inertia suggests the possibility that an unknown force could be at work. We propose earth-moon-sun tidal forces may be responsible, and that these forces, which move the earth’s oceans might provide sufficient energy to displace the crust a significant distance during a geomagnetic excursion. It is our hope that these new findings will lead to further work in these and other related areas of research.

The featured image at the top of the article was captured by the astronauts about the International Space Station.

Rome Wasn’t Built In a Day: New Evidence the Eternal City May be Older Than We Think

Although most historical accounts are rooted in the legendary founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus in 753 BCE we present new evidence based on astronomical alignments that the place we now call Rome may have been first established tens of thousands of years earlier.

Click here to download paper from SSRN.

Introduction

Analysis of the alignment of Roman towns reveals the distribution of geographic orientations is decidedly non-random (Magli 2008). Most are laid out in solar directions from due east-west to directions north and south that are within the range of sunrise/sunset directions over the course of the year. These alignments span the range of lunar directions except for extreme northerly and southerly moonrises and moonsets at the time of major lunar standstills which occur every 18.6 years. Spiravigna (2016) has found evidence of lunar alignments at Roman sites including the Decumani of Naples, Augusta Emerita, known today as Merida, in Spain, and Curia Julia in the Forum of Rome. 

Lunar Alignments

Most 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. The moon’s movements are more complex than the sun’s for several reasons. The moon completes one orbit around us in a much shorter time than we do around the sun and so does in a month what the sun does in a year, in terms of the changing rising and setting direction along the horizon. The plane of the moon’s orbit is tilted by 5.1° relative to the ecliptic and so can rise and set more northerly and more southerly than the sun. Due to the effects of the sun’s gravity, the moon’s orbital plane does not stay fixed in space but precesses, causing the monthly angles of moonrise and moonset to change over an 18.6-year cycle. Every 18.6 years the moon rises and sets at its maximum northerly and southerly directions, which is known as a major lunar standstill. 9.3 years later a minor lunar standstill occurs when the moon rises and sets at its minimum northerly and southerly directions. Both of these times appear to have been important to ancient builders throughout the world.

Ancient ruins on Palatine Hill.

The City of Rome

According to legend, the city of Rome was founded by the sons of Mars, the twin brothers Romulus and Remus on April 21, 753 BCE. Seven hills comprise the city of Rome. Temples dedicated to the Roman goddess Luna once existed on Aventine and Palatine hills.

The alignment of grid patterns on both Aventine and Palatine hills lie in the direction of most southerly moonrises and northerly moonsets. The alignment of the Roman Senate building, Curia Julia, in the Roman Forum is in the direction of most northerly moonrises and southerly moonsets. Alignments in all three areas are in major lunar standstill directions.

The Field of Mars

West of the old city lies Campus Martius – The Field of Mars. One of the oldest Roman temples, the Pantheon, is here just east of Piazza Navona. Unlike the Roman Forum, and Palatine and Aventine hills, this part of Rome is laid out in a direction that currently has no known astronomical or geographic significance. 

In a study of more than two hundred archaeological sites (Carlotto 2020a), it was discovered that the alignment of almost half of the sites examined could not be explained in terms of known directions. Approximately 80% of the sites were found to reference four locations within 30° of the North Pole (Carlotto 2019a) that, if Hapgood’s theory of earth crustal displacement is correct, could have been former locations of the North Pole over the past 100,000 years (Carlotto 2020b). 

The orientation of the Pantheon (right) and surrounding area including the Piazza Navona (left) are in the direction of major lunar standstills relative to the Hudson Bay pole.

The Pantheon is one of these sites. Shifting the geographic reference point from the current North Pole to a previous pole in Hudson Bay, the Pantheon and surrounding area become aligned in the direction of major lunar standstills relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Based on the chronology established by Gaffney (2020), if the Romans had built the Pantheon over a previous structure that was aligned to a former pole in Hudson Hay, based on its alignment, the original site could have been established at least 12,000 to 18,000 years ago.

Ancient Foundations

Examples of newer structures built over older pre-existing structures can be found throughout the world. Seven stages of construction are evident at Baalbek. Under the Parthenon in Athens lies an older Parthenon (Beard 2010). There are many examples of this practice, now known as adaptive reuse, in Rome. Walking through the old city modern buildings built over and alongside ancient ruins are everywhere.

Previous constructions at San Clemente basilica (https://brewminate.com/adaptive-reuse-of-ancient-buildings-in-rome/)

But what lies underneath Rome? According to Tom Mueller in his article “Underground Rome,” something is buried beneath everything in Rome. Roman architects tore the roofs from old buildings filled their interiors and used them as foundations for newer structures. Four levels have been excavated within San Clemente, a twelfth-century basilica just east of the Coliseum. 

Descend the staircase in the sacristy and you find yourself in a rectangular hall decorated with fading frescoes and greenish marbles, lit by sparse bulbs strung up by the excavators. This is the original, fourth-century San Clemente, one of Rome’s first churches. It was condemned around A.D. 1100 and packed full of earth, Roman-style, as a platform for the present basilica. A narrow stair near the apse of this lower church leads down to the first-century structures upon which it, in turn, was built: a Roman apartment house and a small temple. The light is thinner here; cresses and fungi patch the dark brick and grow delicate halos on the walls behind the bare bulbs. Deeper still, on the fourth level, are several rooms from an enormous public building that was apparently destroyed in the Great Fire and then buried by Nero’s architects. At about a dozen yards below ground the massive tufa blocks and herringbone brickwork are slick with humidity, and everywhere is the sound of water, flowing in original Roman pipes. No one has excavated below this level, but something is there, for the tufa walls run another twenty feet or so down into the earth.[5]

The fourth-century church was filled with rubble and used as the foundation of the current basilica, whose aisle and nave were lined up with that of the one below it. In this way, the alignment of the original structure defines that of later structures built over and around it.

The Oculus

Spiravigna (2018) considers the question of what could have been seen through the opening (oculus) of the Pantheon. Rome is located approximately 42° north of the Equator. Relative to the Hudson Bay pole, its latitude would have been about 35°.

35° parallel relative to current pole (bottom) and Hudson Bay pole (top).

Earth’s axial tilt or obliquity is currently 23.5°. Numerical models suggest the obliquity, which varies cyclically could be as large as 24.5°. The declination of the moon at a major standstill at maximum obliquity would be approximately 24.5 + 5.1 = 29.6°. The diameter of this opening or oculus at the top of the structure subtends a 10° region centered at the zenith. The angular diameter of the moon is about 0.5° and so would have been almost visible through the oculus at this time from below. If one looked up and stepped back toward the doorway, the moon would become visible at its zenith.

Side view of the Pantheon. Directly below the oculus, the moon would be hidden. Walking a few steps to the north the limb of the moon would become visible during a major lunar standstill.

Discussion

The Parthenon is thought to have been aligned toward sunrise on August 15, the date of Athena’s birthday (Carlotto 2019b). Using a similar rationale, we have been unable to find any structure in Rome aligned in the direction of sunrise (74°) or sunset (286°) on the city’s founding date of April 21. The orientation of the Roman Forum (294°), which is well north of this direction, like structures on Palatine and Aventine hills, is aligned to lunar standstills, in this case, minor standstills.

Worship of the moon is thought to have originated in the early years of the Roman Kingdom. That so much of ancient Rome is aligned to the moon and one of its oldest buildings, the Pantheon, is aligned to the moon relative to the Hudson Bay pole may be no coincidence, particularly in light of the Roman practice of building over older structures, a practice that they could have inherited from an earlier civilization that also held a special reverence for the moon.

References

Giulio Magli (2008), “On the orientation of Roman towns in Italy,” Oxford Journal of Archaeology 27 (1), 63–71.

Mary Beard, The Parthenon, rev. ed. (Harvard University Press, 2010).

Amelia Carolina Sparavigna (May 29, 2016) “The Decumani of Naples and the Minor Lunar Standstill,” PHILICA, Article number 608. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2786259.

Amelia Carolina Sparavigna (July 10, 2016) “Augusta Emerita and the Major Lunar Standstill of 24 BC,” PHILICA Article Number 635, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2807544.

Amelia Carolina Sparavigna (July 19, 2016) “ A Possible Astronomical Orientation of the Curia Julia in the Forum of Rome,” PHILICA Article number 639, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2811625.

Amelia Carolina Sparavigna and Lidia Dastrù (May 27, 2018) “The Pantheon, eye of Rome, and its glimpse of the sky,” Available at HAL: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01800694.

Mark Carlotto (2019a) “Archaeological Dating Using a Data Fusion Approach,” SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing Conference on Signal Processing, Sensor/Information Fusion, and Target Recognition XXVIII (11018), Baltimore MD, April 14-18, 2019.     

Mark Carlotto (2019b) “New Models to Explain the Alignments of Greek Temples.” Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3501950 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3501950

Mark Gaffney (2020) Deep History and the Ages of Man. Independently Published.

Mark Carlotto (2020a) “An Analysis of the Alignment of Archaeological Sites,” Journal of Scientific Exploration 34(1):13. DOI: 10.31275/2020/1617

Mark Carlotto (2020b) “A New Model to Explain the Alignment of Certain Ancient Sites,” Journal of Scientific Exploration 34(2):209-232. DOI: 10.31275/20201619

Mark Carlotto (2022) “Toward a New Theory of Earth Crustal Displacement,” Journal of Scientific Exploration 36(1):8-23. DOI: 10.31275/20221621


Featured image at the top of the article courtesy Jörg Bittner (Unna). Creative Commons. 

On the Geomagnetic Alignment of Chinese Pyramids

An analysis of the geomagnetic alignment of more than three dozen earthen pyramids in China reveals a number of interesting correlations between the date of construction and size. A strong correlation (R = 0.79) between the orientation of a pyramidal mound and the direction of the geomagnetic pole at the time of construction supports the idea that the Chinese used some form of a magnetic compass to align many if not all these structures. A moderate negative correlation (R = –0.59) between the size of a mound and its date of construction reveals that older mounds tend to be larger and decrease in size over time. Comparing these findings with those from a previous study of 3rd to 5th Dynasty Egyptian pyramids suggests that it is possible the ancient Chinese, as well as the Egyptians, could have repurposed/reused older and larger structures as tombs for later day rulers and their families.

Click here to read full paper

The Chinese Pyramids

In China, numerous pyramidal mounds are thought to have been constructed as mausoleums and burial mounds containing the remains of early emperors and their families. Some are oriented in known geographical or astronomical detections, but most are not. These structures were unknown in the West before the 20th century. One of the first to gain widespread attention following World War II was the tomb of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty (156 – 87 BCE), which became known as the White Pyramid.

Most (but not all) of the Chinese pyramids are in the Guanzhong region between the Qinling Mountains to the south and several mountain ranges to the north.

Geomagnetic Dating

Unlike the geographic pole, which is relatively fixed over time, the geomagnetic pole moves as the earth’s magnetic field changes. According to the geomagnetic alignment hypothesis, which was first proposed by Robert Fuson, dates when a site is aligned to the geomagnetic pole (i.e., when a magnetic compass aligns to the principal axis of the site) are possible dates for its construction (or modification). For sites within the range of magnetic declinations in China over the past 4000 years, we selected the geomagnetic pole that most closely lined up to the site and used it as the basis for dating the site. When an alignment could be associated with more than one date, the one closest to the dynastic date was chosen. Dynastic and geomagnetic dates of Chinese pyramid sites are plotted below:

Given the limited accuracy of the geomagnetic pole data, particularly as you go back farther in time, we find significant differences between dynastic and estimated geomagnetic dates. Differences of a century or less in later Sui and Tang dynasty tombs increase to up to five centuries in the early Han dynasty.

Magnetic declination in central China over the past 4000 years. Positive angles are east of north and negative angles are west of north.

Anomalous Alignment

The greatest difference in alignment is for the tomb of China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang (Tomb of First Emperor in Lintong) located within a massive earthen pyramid approximately 360 x 360 meters (33 acres) in area. Its size is considerably larger in area than the Great Pyramid of Cholula in Mexico (273 x 295 meters) and the Pyramid of Khufu in Egypt (230 x 230 meters. Qin Shi Huang ruled China until 210 BCE. If his burial site was constructed and geomagnetically aligned at this time, it should be oriented approximately 7° west of north. As shown in the animation below, the pyramid is oriented about 1.5° east of north. This direction lies between the 1900 BCE and 1800 BCE geomagnetic poles. There is no other geomagnetic alignment at a declination of 1.5° from 1800 BCE until 200 CE, which is more than 400 years after the death of Qin Shi Huang. It is difficult to account for this discrepancy in terms of geomagnetic pole accuracy.

Geomagnetic pole alignment between 200 BCE and 1900 BCE (date in the upper left corner). The best alignment is between 1800 BCE and 1900 BCE. (Base image courtesy Google Earth.)

A Possible Explanation

If the pyramid was aligned geomagnetically one possible explanation for the discrepancy between its dynastic and geomagnetic date is that the pyramid is much older than the tomb contained within it. In other words, Qin Shi Huang could have been buried within the preexisting structure. Before Consort Ban, geomagnetic dates tend to be earlier than dynastic dates. The negative bias of the geomagnetic dates backward in time suggests the possibility that earlier pyramids could have been reused for later-day burials.

The Chinese historian Sima Qian, writing a century after Qin Shi Huang‘s death, states that it took 700,000 men to construct his mausoleum, a labor force whose size has been disputed. It is interesting that in his account Sima Qian never mentions the thousands of terracotta statues buried east of the pyramid to protect the emperor in the afterlife from evil spirits. The Terracotta Warriors, which were excavated in 1974 are lined up in a direction slightly south of due east. Based on the orientation of its surrounding enclosure, their alignment would appear to be the same as the pyramid suggesting the array of Terracotta Warriors was aligned at the same time as the pyramid. It is possible that Sima Qian did not mention the statues because they were buried at the time and had been buried for more than a thousand years.

Plotting pyramid area versus date shows a low to moderate negative correlation. A negative correlation implies the size of pyramids tended to decrease over time. In other words, the oldest pyramids should be the largest. If we accept the geomagnetic dating of the pyramid containing Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum, then the oldest pyramid is the largest.  

A Similar Trend?

Based on an analysis of 3rd – 5th dynasty Egyptian pyramids it was hypothesized that certain 4th Dynasty pyramids could be much older than their accepted age leading to the possibility that they were not built but co-opted and modified by 4th Dynasty pharaohs. The same possibility is suggested for the first Chinese emperor based on the alignment and size of the pyramid within which he is entombed. Did Qin Shi Huang, like Khufu and Khafre, co-opt preexisting structures that were much larger than what was being built at the time for their own purposes? Over this period, the size of Egyptian pyramids strongly correlates with the age of construction, with later pyramids becoming smaller (and less well built). Could a similar trend have occurred in China?

The featured image at the top of the article is an artist’s conception of the northern sky in central China during a geomagnetic storm. (Source images courtesy of Google Earth and Wikimedia Commons.)

The Ruins of the Taklamakan Desert

Ruins of ancient shrines, temples, forts, and settlements in and around the Taklamakan Desert are generally thought to have been established no later than the third century BCE. Some of the structures at these sites excavated by M. Aurel Stein in the early 20th century were built over more ancient foundations and so could be considerably older based on their alignment to previous locations of the North Pole. 

Click here to read the paper

The Sand-Buried Ruins of Khotan

The Kingdom of Khotan was an ancient Iranian Saka Buddhist kingdom located on the branch of the Silk Road that ran along the southern edge of the Taklamakan Desert. The ancient capital is thought to have been founded around the third century BCE during the reign of the Indian emperor Ashoka. Stein’s interest in this region can be summarized in the following section taken from his 1904 book The Sand-Buried Ruins of Khotan:

For systematic excavations, which alone could supply this evidence, the region of Khotan appeared from the first a field of particular promise. In scattered notices of Chinese records there was much to suggest that this little kingdom, situated on the important route that led from China to the Oxus Valley and hence to India as well as to the West, had played a prominent part in developing the impulses received from India and transmitting them eastwards. The close connection with ancient Indian art seemed particularly marked in whatever of small antiques, such as pottery fragments, coins and seals, native agency had supplied from Khotan. And fortunately for our research, archaeology could here rely on the help of a very effective ally—the moving sand of the desert which preserves what it buries. Ever since human activity first created the oases of Khotan territory, their outskirts must have witnessed a continuous struggle with that most formidable of deserts, the Taklamakan; while local traditions, attested from an early date, told of settlements that had been abandoned before its advance.

More than mere stopping points along the Silk Road, Stein goes on to say:

The ruined sites explored by me have more than justified the hopes which led me to Khotan and into its desert. Scattered over an area which in a straight line extends for more than three hundred miles from west and east, and dating back to very different periods, these ruins throughout reveal to us a uniform and well-defined civilization. It is easy to recognise now that this bygone culture rested mainly on Indian foundations. But there has also come to light unmistakable evidence of other powerful influences, both from the West and from China, which helped to shape its growth and to invest it with an individual character and fascination of its own.

Using Stein’s original photos and narratives together with current high resolution satellite imagery we examine several of the sites he first uncovered. The locations of these and other sites discussed in this article are shown below.

Ancient sites in and around the Taklamakan Desert in Central Asia. (Google Earth)

Tashkurghan

Tashkurgan is a town on the western edge of the Taklamakan Desert. The area of interest contains the ruins of a Chinese fort that Stein describes as:

A line of massive but crumbling stone walls crowns the edges of a quadrangular plateau of conglomerate cliffs, roughly one-third of a mile in length on each of its faces. A small portion of the area thus enclosed, on the east side facing the river, is occupied by the Chinese fort. Its high and carefully plastered walls of sun-dried bricks stand undoubtedly on far more ancient foundations.

Shown below, an analysis of the area reveals a circular feature (a), perhaps the remains of a Buddhist stupa, in the ruins north of the fort area. A rectilinear structure at the center rotated west of north is in the same direction of a line that passes through (a) and another circular feature (b) to the south. A line in the same direction passes through two small features along the outer wall of the fort (c). This line is in the direction of a former pole in Hudson Bay suggesting the original foundations Stein alludes to in his narrative could have been first established tens of thousands of years ago and later co-opted by the Chinese. Rectilinear patterns of ruined structures north and west of the fort (d) lie in the direction of the summer solstice sunrise/winter solstice sunset relative to the Hudson Bay pole.

Analysis of the Tashkurgan fortress and surrounding area. Dotted white lines are in the direction of the Hudson Bay pole. Solid red lines are solstice alignments relative to the Hudson Bay pole. (Google Earth)

2.   Rawak

East of Tashkurgan in the western portion of the Taklamakan Desert is Rawak, perhaps Stein’s most remarkable find:

Here an unexpected and most gratifying discovery awaited me. Our honest old guide had spoken only of  “an old house” to be seen there half-buried in the sand, but in reality the first glimpse showed a large Stupa with its enclosing quadrangle, by far the most imposing structure I had seen among the extant ruins of the Khotan region. Large dunes of coarse sand, rising over 25 feet in height, covered the quadrangle and part of the massive square base of the Stupa on the north-west and north-east faces. But towards the south the drift-sand was lower, and there great portions of the Stupa base, as well as the lines of masonry marking the quadrangular enclosure of the Stupa court, could be readily made out. 

Enigmatic figures depicted in sculptures at Rawak. (M. Aurel Stein)

What Stein found most interesting was not the stupa itself but the sculptures decorating the walls of the courtyard that had been buried in the sand for centuries if not millennia. The geometry of the site is perhaps even more remarkable. The axes of the stupa and its quadrangular enclosure are rotated too far away from the cardinal directions to be aligned to the sun (solstices) or moon (lunar standstills). However, like Tashkurgan, if we assume a different reference frame, the southwest-northeast axis turns out to be very closely aligned in the direction of major lunar standstills relative to the Hudson Bay pole placing its origin in the same epoch as Tashkurgan – at least 12,000 to 18,000 years ago.

3.   Endere

Continuing west to east, an extensive array of ruins can be found in Endere including an ancient fort and Buddhist temple. Stein’s exploration of the fort raised more questions than answers:

During the days following I had almost all the buildings within the enclosing ramparts cleared of sand. These excavations furnished interesting data as to the methods of construction employed, but failed to throw much light on the original destination of the whole of this ruined settlement. The large brick building to the east of the temple, of which a portion left exposed by the sand occupies with its massive walls of sun-dried bricks three sides of a quadrangle over 100 feet square. The dimensions of its rooms suggest public use; but as, with the exception of a walled fireplace or two, they were found completely empty, there was nothing to prove the true character of the structure. Were these the quarters of a well-to-do monastic establishment which found it advisable to protect itself by walls and ramparts? Or do the latter mark a fortified frontier-post which sheltered also a Buddhist temple?

Where Stein felt that he “had reached the border-line beyond which Indian influences yielded to Chinese,” other structures at Endere seem to straddle an even more ancient border-line between history and prehistory.

Surviving features of the fort (top right) are aligned in the direction of the geomagnetic pole circa 200 BCE, which corresponds to the period when the area was under the control of the Han Dynasty. A stupa northwest of the fort (bottom right) appears to be aligned in a different direction that corresponds to the direction of major lunar standstills relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Nearby ruins (left) are cardinally aligned (N-S-E-W) relative to the same pole suggesting these structures could be considerably older than the fort.

Ruins at Miran including a stupa (top) and several temples that appear to be cardinally aligned relative to the Hudson Bay pole. (Apple Maps)

4.   Miran

The pattern of structures aligned to the Hudson Bay pole extends to Miran, at the eastern end of the Taklamakan Desert. At Miran, Stein first encountered four ancient structures including two stupas – one “well-preserved” and the other “much decayed.” Two remaining ruins were “square structures solidly built in sun-dried bricks of unusual hardness.” Visible structures appear to be rotated slightly west of north in the direction of the Hudson Bay pole.

About a kilometer east of these ruins, lies an ancient Tibetan fort that Stein found to be less than remarkable, stating “the crumbling walls and bastions were massive enough in dimensions, but their inferior construction seemed to suggest a relatively late date.“ Less than 2 km northeast of the fort he found a ruined temple in which he uncovered an enormous Buddha head. Based on his findings Stein concluded that “the temple dated from a period far more ancient than that ascertained for the Tibetan fort. A number of observations made it appear a priori probable that a site of considerable antiquity had been reoccupied here, as in the case of Endere.”

Locations and alignments of sites to the current Arctic (Ar), and previous Hudson Bay (HB), Norwegian Sea (NS), Greenland (Gr), and Bering Sea (BS) poles. Alignment key: equinox (E), solstice (S), major (M) and minor (m) lunar standstills, and geomagnetic north (X).

5.   Discussion

The above table summarizes the alignments of these and other ancient sites in the Taklamakan Desert and surrounding regions. Most of the sites appear to reference previous poles, especially the Hudson Bay pole. This is particularly interesting as it extends a pattern discussed in previous articles that appears to stretch from the Arabian Peninsula, through India, into and now across Central Asia. That the alignments of so many structures appear to reference the Hudson Bay pole supports the hypothesis that these sites were first established by an earlier pre-cursor civilization that existed in this part of the world no less than 12,000 to 18,000 years ago (Carlotto 2022). Although this hypothesis explains the alignment of these sites in a simple way it does not account for the alignment of all of the sites in the region or the possibility that some of the sites might have been aligned in other ways such as to the geomagnetic pole, a possibility that will be considered in a forthcoming article.

Feature image at the top of the article of the Rawak stupa is courtesy of The International Dunhuang Project.


A New Interpretation and Dating of the Sphinx based on the Moon

This article explores the possibility that the Great Sphinx in Egypt was conceived as a temple to a lunar deity in the form of a lion facing the rising of a full moon circa 21,000 BCE. We hypothesize an alignment at the fall equinox with the sun setting behind the Sphinx instead of in front of it at the spring equinox as Bauval and Hancock have proposed. Based on predictions derived from Charles Hapgood’s theory of earth crustal displacement, this hypothesis places the origin and early history of the Sphinx in the tropics where heavy rainfall over time could have eroded the original structure so as to appear as it does today.

Introduction

The Sphinx is thought to have been built by the 4th-dynasty pharaoh Khafre, around 2500 BCE. Inspired by the research of Schwaller de Lubicz, John Anthony West believed it to be much older. West along with geologist Robert Schoch proposed a dating of 5000 BCE based on indications of water erosion, water erosion that could only have occurred when the climate was wetter. Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval suggested the Sphinx was built circa 10,500 BCE in the astrological age of Leo. They believed the symbolism of the Sphinx facing the sun as it rose on the first day of spring “mirrored” the alignment of the sun in the sky with the constellation Leo at that time. West later went on to propose an even earlier date of 36,000 BCE during the time of the legendary predynastic rules of Egypt.

A Warmer Wetter Egypt

Evidence of water erosion on the Sphinx suggests that it once existed within a much wetter environment. Today, the climate in Lower Egypt is dry due to it being north of the tropic of Cancer within the range of latitudes in the northern hemisphere that has the least amount of rainfall. 

Climate zones relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Egypt would have been located in the tropical zone between the red and orange lines.

Charles Hapgood proposed that ice ages and other climate events were due to displacements of the earth’s crust that shifted the geographic location of the North Pole. As the pole shifts, so too do climate zones. If the North Pole were in Hudson Bay before the latest crustal displacement, which Hapgood estimated occurred 12,000 to 18,000 years ago, Egypt would have had a warm and wet climate.

Anomalous Alignments in Giza

Before Atlantis considers the archaeological implications of Hapgood’s theory, in particular, that certain ancient sites were aligned to previous locations of the geographic pole. In Giza, if the geographic pole were in Hudson Bay, North would have been about 30° west from its current direction. 

The three great pyramids and associated temples in Giza are accurately aligned within fractions of a degree to north. Much of the surrounding area contains later-day tombs, settlements, and other structures that are similarly aligned although not as accurately. Like the pyramids, the Sphinx also appears to be aligned to the cardinal directions. 

An area surrounding the Sphinx on the east side of the Giza Necropolis contains structures that are aligned differently. The Temple of Amenhotep II northeast of the Sphinx is rotated about 45° clockwise from the cardinal directions. The temple was built over the then yet to be revealed temple in front of the Sphinx that was discovered after his son Thutmose IV excavated the Sphinx around 1400 BCE. The Pyramid of Khentkaus I is a two-stepped tomb south of the Sphinx that was constructed during the 4th-dynasty. The tomb, built in two phases coinciding with its two steps, was originally known as the fourth pyramid of Giza. It is unusual in that unlike the other three Giza pyramids this structure is misaligned by a considerable amount, about 6° west of north.

What is interesting about the Hudson Bay pole hypothesis is that it explains the alignment of these two structures in a simple way. If the North Pole were in Hudson Bay, the Temple of Amenhotep II would be aligned in the direction of minor lunar standstills. The Pyramid of Khentkaus I and neighboring structures east and west would have been aligned in the direction of the winter solstice sunrise/summer solstice sunset relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Even more interesting, we find that the direction of major lunar standstills circa 21,000 BCE corresponds to due east today. In other words if the Sphinx were originally built in alignment with the moon at this time, after the pole shift from Hudson Bay it would now appear to be cardinally aligned.

Alignments to the Moon 

According to Wendell  Phillips, the “Indiana Jones” of his time, “the moon was the chief deity of all the early South Arabian kingdoms – particularly fitting in that region where the soft light of the moon brought the rest and cool winds of night as relief from the blinding sun and scorching heat of day.” 

Sites dedicated to moon gods exist throughout Arabia to the east. The ancient cities of Timna and Mar’ib along the southern border of the Rub’al Khali are aligned in the direction of minor lunar standstills. The Temple of Awwam in Mar’ib, dedicated to the moon god  Ilumquh is aligned to sun and moon relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Structures in the ancient town of Shabwa to the east are also aligned to the moon relative to the direction of the Hudson Bay pole. (See a previous article for a discussion of these sites.)

A Lunar Temple?

In considering the widespread worship of the moon in this part of the world, was the Sphinx, once thought to have been the representation of a lion, actually a shrine to a lunar deity? 

Lions do not live in arid desert regions but in warm tropical savannas. Like most predators, they sleep during the day and hunt at night. 

Lion at sunset. (Photo by Lynn Carlotto)

West’s 36,000 year-old dating of the Sphinx is Bauval and Hancock’s plus one precessional cycle of 24,000 years. At that time the sun would have risen in the constellation Leo, and set in Aquarius on the spring equinox. One half precessional cycle earlier, circa 21,000 BCE, the situation would have been reversed with the sun rising in Aquarius and setting in Leo.

24,000 year processional cycle divided into 12 astrological ages.

One can argue that the symbolism of a lion sitting upright at twilight with the sun setting behind it in the constellation Leo, facing the moon as it rises in the opposite direction, is just as compelling (perhaps even more so) as that of a lion facing the sunrise. 

A Complex Argument

Similar to Marco Vigato’s argument that the Giza pyramids could have once been earlier predynastic mastabas or similar structures that were later expanded into pyramids, could the base of the Pyramid of Khentkaus have been built even earlier before the last pole shift aligned to the solstices relative to the pole at the time, the Hudson Bay pole?

Clearly, the Temple of Amenhotep II built over the Sphinx Temple has nothing to do with the origin of the Sphinx itself. However, its presence in Giza together with similarly aligned sites in Upper Egypt suggests the Egyptians aligned structures to the sun and moon relative to the current and previous geographic poles and so could have aligned the Sphinx in this manner as well.

The Temple of Karnak, Hypostyle Hall, Temple of Thutmose II, and Temple of Ramesses II are all lined up in the direction of the winter solstice sunrise/summer solstice sunset relative to the current pole in the Arctic. The Mortuary Temple of Thutmose III and the Colossi of Memnon in Thebes are also aligned in this direction, about 26° south of east, along with the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. The Mut Temple in Luxor is aligned in a direction a few degrees away that is toward minor lunar standstills.

There are other sites in Upper Egypt oriented in directions around 45° south of east that are not currently aligned to the sun or moon. One possibility is they were aligned to the stars as proposed by Norman Lockyer. Another is that they were aligned to the sun and moon relative to previous poles.  An analysis of Luxor Temple reveals two sections are aligned with solstices and minor lunar standstills relative to the Hudson Bay pole. Across the Nile River, the Ramasseum is aligned to major lunar standstills relative to the Hudson Bay pole. 

The Temple of Amenhotep II in Giza is aligned in the same direction as the Ramasseum in the Theban Necropolis more than 300 miles away. The Mortuary Temple of Thutmose III in Thebes is aligned to solstices relative to the Hudson Bay pole as is the Pyramid of Khentkaus. Why did father and son rulers Thutmose III and Amenhotep II align temples in Giza and Thebes to directions that have no obvious reference other than to the Hudson Bay pole?

Over 60 temples, mostly in Upper Egypt, are aligned to previous hypothesized locations of the North Pole. A study of how these alignments correlate with different rulers could provide further insight into the question of whether the structures were built over earlier sites or oriented in “sacred directions” in acknowledgment of mythical rulers or “gods” of past ages.


Featured image at the top of the article is a painting by K. F. Schinkel entitled “Garden scene with the Sphinx in moonlight.”

New Evidence of Prehistoric Civilizations in the Holy Land and Surrounding Regions of the Levant

The Holy Land and surrounding regions in the Levant contain some of the most sacred and enigmatic places in the world. It has been determined that some of these places contain structures that are aligned to what could have been previous locations of the North Pole over the past 100,000 years or more. This article reveals that these places are not exceptional in this regard but are among numerous other sites in this part of the world that appear to be aligned to former poles and thus could be much older than mainstream archaeological theories maintain.

Click here to read the full paper.

I put to Emir Hangar the question, who built Baalbeck? His answer was – “There have been three builders; the first was Sanoud, the second was (I have forgotten the name), and then came the Deluge; after that it was repaired by Solomon.”

David Urquhardt, The Lebanon: A History and a Diary, 1860

Baalbek

This site on which a succession of temples and other structures have been built contains, at its base, the largest megalithic blocks in the world. In all, seven stages of construction are evident. The plan of the original structure is a square enclosure (Urquhardt 1860):

A small portion only of this has been completed in the old work, namely, the angle of the north-west, and the adjoining walls. It is there that may be seen the 70 feet stones built into the walls in tiers, and hoisted up 20 feet, and placed on several layers of smaller stones. 

Two unknown periods of construction are above this:

The remainder of the space is filled up with piles of stones, entirely of another order. Through these, two vaults are open, leading to the inference, that it is all vaulted below: these again may be divided into two orders; one [second period] may be called Cyclopic, the stones being irregular, the sides varying from 5 to 6 and 7 feet. The other [third period] is more systematic, and combines some thing of the Etruscan and the Egyptian, an arch being traceable in the one style, and a portal in the other.

Platform of the Temple of Jupiter, west wall, triliton (Baalbek). (Creative Commons/Lodo27)

Above these ancient foundations are four historical periods of construction. According to Urquhardt

In one of the vaults, about eight feet from the ground, a stone has, by some accident, been removed, and my attention having been called to it by traces of fodder, I had myself lifted up, and got into a crypt beyond… I could not doubt that I stood in a Phoenician Temple, perhaps the only one that still exists.

Next are the restored Greek and Roman ruins, an enormous peristyle known as the Temple of Jupiter. Robinson (1852) describes Baalbek’s megalithic foundation in greater detail:

Not less wonderful than the other parts of the great temple are the immense external substructions, by which the walls supporting the peristyle are enclosed and covered; if indeed that term can be properly applied to huge masses of masonry, on which nothing rests. This external substruction wall is found on the north side and west end of the peristyle; and exists also probably on the south side beneath the mounds of rubbish…

The most imposing of these substructions is the western wall, as viewed from the outside. It rises to the level of the bottom of the columns, some fifty feet above the surface of the ground; and in it is seen the layer of three immense stones celebrated by all travelers. Of these stones, the length of one is sixty-four feet; of another, sixty-three feet eight inches; and of the third, sixty-three feet; in all one hundred ninety feet eight inches. Their height is about thirteen feet; and the thickness apparently the same, or perhaps greater. They are laid about twenty feet above the ground; and below them are seven others of like thickness, and extending somewhat beyond the upper ones at each end.

In a quarry less than a kilometer from the temple lies an enormous stone block approximately 20 x 4 x 4 meters in size and weighing an estimated one thousand tons. It is likely the quarry dates back to the time of the original construction:

On the north, the substruction wall is only about twenty feet in height, and was never completed. It also is built up of cyclopean work; immense stones laid as brought from the quarry, but never dressed smooth. Here are nine stones, measuring on an average thirty-one feet in length, nine feet seven inches in breadth, and thirteen feet in depth. In speaking of the huge block still lying in the quarry, I have said that there would seem to be no place for it in the plan of the present structures. Still, it may not be impossible, that the said block was intended to be placed upon this very wall, in a line with the similar course at the west end; but for some reason the work was abandoned, and the wall left in its present unfinished state.

Interesting, like the uncompleted temple at Ollantaytambo containing the Wall of the Six Monoliths, the megalithic foundations at Baalbek were never completed. To Urquhardt, its great antiquity is clear:

The builders of Baalbeck must have been a people who had attained to the highest pinnacle of power and science; and this region must have been the centre of their dominion. We are perfectly acquainted with the nations who have flourished here or around, and their works; they are the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Medes, Persians, Egyptians, Canaanites, and Jews. These complete the catalogue of ancient empires, and this work is none of theirs.

Baalbek is cardinally-alignment with respect to the Greenland pole. (Apple Maps)

The orientation of the original square enclosure is rotated approximately 12° west of north. This direction, which has no known astronomical or cultural significance, points directly toward the Greenland pole. By virtue to its alignment to this former pole the earliest foundations at Baalbek could be 85,000 to 130,000 years old.

Jerusalem

No less remarkable than Baalbek are the megalithic foundations in Jerusalem. The Temple Mount is a flat trapezoidal plaza surrounded by retaining walls built during the reign of Herod. The northern wall, together with the northern section of the western wall, is hidden behind residential buildings. The eastern wall is 1530 feet long and oriented approximately 7.5° west of north. The western wall, which includes the Wailing Wall, is about 1560 feet long and oriented 11.5° west of north. The southern wall, a little over 900 feet long, is laid out at a right angle to the western wall. Robinson (1852) observes:

A comparison of the antique portions of the southern wall with the masonry of the Jews’ wailing place, and that at the southwest and southeast corners, left upon our minds the strong impression, that instead of this portion of the substructions being of later date than those further north, these remains of the southern wall and southeast corner present decided evidence of higher antiquity, than almost any other portions.

Temple Mount enclosure, showing the courses of stone. (Creative Commons/Davidbena)

The largest stone block is in a section of the western wall foundation that is now below ground. Its estimated weight is 200-300 tons. According to Robinson “it might certainly be conceded that Herod may at least have rebuilt these vaults and substructions upon more ancient foundations. In this way, if necessary, most of the present appearances might doubtless be satisfactorily accounted for.”

The cardinal orientation of the site, defined by its western and southern walls to the Greenland pole, suggests the original foundations that defined the plan of Temple Mount, such as those at Baalbek, could be 85,000 to 130,000 years old. Like the Romans, nearly a thousand years later, perhaps Solomon built his temple over an even more ancient foundations that had already been in existence for many tens of thousands of years.

Western and southern walls of Temple Mount are aligned to the Greenland pole. (Apple Maps)

Other Sites Aligned to the Greenland Pole

Of all the former poles, almost as many sites are aligned to the Greenland pole alone than to the current North Pole. A site known as Ain Dara in northern Syria noted for its similarities to King Solomon’s Temple is aligned to the summer solstice sunrise/winter solstice sunset relative to the Greenland pole. Several Roman temples in Niha, Lebanon are aligned in the direction of the Greenland pole, which again raises the question as to the extent to which Roman and other other previous civilizations built over earlier sites preserving their relation to former poles.

The Dead Cities

There are more than 700 ruins in northwest Syria that are believed to have been ancient settlements along long-abandoned trade routes dating back to the Byzantine Empire and earlier times. Ten of these locations have been found to contain structures aligned to former poles.

Petra

The rock-hewn city ancient city of Petra in southern Jordan is thought to have been built by the Nabateans, a nomadic people, in the fourth century BCE. Independent researcher Brien Forrester argues that the Nabateans did not build Petra but co-opted and embellished what were already ancient structures.

Recent discoveries made during an excavation at the site of the Temple of the Winged Lions (Corbett and Ronza 2014) support Forrester’s hypothesis. A goal of the excavation was to attempt to reach the level of the natural sandstone bedrock over which the temple was built:

Most perplexing was the discovery that the temple appears to have been built without proper foundations, with the bottom courses of its west wall laid down directly on a thick layer of compacted soil and rubble. What is more, there are indications that the temple was built atop earlier structures, evidenced most clearly by a fragmentary stone pavement that was laid down before the west wall of the temple was built.

Following up with geophysical survey methods they found “clearly defined, higher resistivity anomalies to a depth of 2 m below the surface, suggesting the presence of a lower layer of previously unknown structures, walls, and pavements associated with the temple. Particularly intriguing and worthy of further investigation are several chamber-like voids identified beneath the temple’s inner sanctuary.

Solar paths plotted at Petra. On the equinox, sunrise is at an azimuth of 94.5° and an elevation of 7.6° over a hill to the east (intersection of orange and black dashed lines). The point in the sky at the top of the hill that is in line with the Winged Lions temple (intersection of two black dashed lines) is 17° south of east does not correlate with either the equinox or winter solstice sunrises or moonrise during a minor lunar standstill.

The Temple of the Winged Lions, along with a temple to the south known as Qasr el-Bint, and the surrounding landscape are all oriented in the same direction. Due to the presence of a hill to the east, if the sites were designed to face sunrise on the equinox, they would have to be rotated clockwise by a specific amount, about 4.5° as calculated graphically (see above figure). Plotting the paths of the sun on the equinox and winter solstice and the path of moon during a minor lunar standstill shows that these structures do not line up to the sun or the moon. The orientation of these sites, approximately 17° south of east, is in line with the Bering Sea pole suggesting the original foundations could have been established more than 130,000 years ago.

In the hills to the south, using satellite imagery to cue higher resolution UAV surveys, Parcak and Tuttle (2016) discovered a flat plaza approximately 56×49 meters in size with remains of the foundation stones of an old building, paving stones, and a column drum. The site does not appear to be aligned astronomically but is oriented in the same direction as The Great Temple east of the Qasr el-Bint. This direction is toward Baalbek about 250 miles to the north. In a similar manner, the eastern wall of Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, and several Nabatean sites in the Levant appear to be oriented toward Petra.

Conclusion

Why do certain structures in Jerusalem appear to face Petra, and certain structures in Petra face Baalbek? Why are the ancient foundations of these sites constructed from stones weighing hundreds to thousands of tons? Why do these and dozens of other sites in this part of the Levant reference four former locations of the North Pole?

Proving what ancient people in this part of the world could or could not have done using the technology of the times is problematic. That the layout of so many sites here and in other parts of the world cannot be explained in conventional terms is a problem that has yet to be solved by the mainstream academic community. Like the legend of the Gordian Knot perhaps the solution involves “cutting the knot” by looking at the problem in a different way. We propose the simple explanation that the ancient builders aligned these sites to the sun and moon much as we have for thousands of years. But due to shifts in the location in the North Pole over the past 100,000 years the sites no longer line up in our current frame of reference, that is in relation to the current pole in the Arctic. By analyzing sites relative to former poles, the alignments of a significant number of sites are easily explained.

Our findings reveal that a series of previous (unknown) civilizations could have existed in the Levant far longer than scholars currently believe suggesting that a new interpretation of the archeological evidence may be in order.

References


Edward Robinson (1852) Later Biblical Researches in Palestine, and in the Adjacent Regions: A Journal of Travels in the Year 1852.

David Urquhardt (1860) The Lebanon (Mount Souria): A History and a Diary (Vol 2).

G. Corbett and M. Elena Ronza (2014) “What Lies Beneath—New Insights into Petra’s Temple of the Winged Lions.” ACOR 26, 4: 1-6.

Sarah Parcak and Christopher A. Tuttle (2016) “Hiding in Plain Sight: The Discovery of a New Monumental Structure at Petra, Jordan, Using WorldView-1 and WorldView-2 Satellite Imagery,” American Schools of Oriental Research. BASOR 375 (2016): 35–51.

Mark Carlotto (2019) “Computing Solar, Lunar, and Geographical Alignments of Archaeological Sites,” Available at SSRN: http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3484144

Mark Carlotto (2020) “A New Model to Explain the Alignment of Certain Ancient Sites,” Journal of Scientific Exploration 34(2):209-232. DOI: 10.31275/20201619.


Feature image at the top of the article, “Aerial views of the Temple Mount and parts of the Old City of Jerusalem (2007),” courtesy Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Atlantis of the Sands: Evidence of a Previous Civilization in Arabia

Could climate changes caused by pole shifts explain the rise and fall of ancient civilizations in certain parts of the world? We explore this possibility in Southern Arabia, where evidence supports the existence of a previous civilization tens of thousands of years ago in what is now one of the most inhospitable places in the world.

Click here to read the full paper.

Map from Ptolemy’s Geographia published in 1578. (https://www.wdl.org/en/item/2916)

Introduction


The Arabia Desert, the largest in Asia, and the fifth largest in the world, occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula. In the south, between Yemen and Oman, lies the Rub’al Khali – “The Empty Quarter” – one of the most extreme environments on earth. In the second century BCE, the Egyptian astronomer, cartographer, and philosopher Claudius Ptolemy drew the first map of this region, showing mountains, rivers, and cities. One of these cities, Mar’ib, Mariama in Ptolemy’s map, was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Saba – the legendary land of Sheba. Another city, Shabwa (Sabbatha), was the capital of the Hadhramaut. The Quran [46:21] tells us that the tribe of ‘Ad lived in the al-Ahqaf – the sand dunes in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula. The late 19th century Muslin scholar Abdullah Yusuf Ali, defines this region as “extending from Umman at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to Hadhramaut and Yemen at the southern end of the Red Sea.” He describes its people as being tall in stature and great builders irrigating their land with canals. According to the Quran [89:6-13]

Did you not see how your Lord dealt with ‘Ad — the people of Iram—with their great stature, unmatched in any other land; and Thamûd who carved their homes into the rocks in the Stone Valley; and the Pharaoh of mighty structures? They all transgressed throughout the land, spreading much corruption there. So your Lord unleashed on them a scourge of punishment.

The punishment is described in Book 29, Verse 40:

So We seized each people for their sin: against some of them We sent a storm of stones, some were overtaken by a mighty blast, some We caused the earth to swallow, and some We drowned. Allah would not have wronged them, but it was they who wronged themselves.

According to the 12th-century Yemeni historian, Nashwān ibn Saʻīd al-Ḥimyarī, “Wabar is the name of the land which belonged to ‘Ad in the eastern parts of Yemen; to-day it is an untrodden desert owing to the drying up of its water. There are to be found in it great buildings which the wind has smothered in sand.”

Ptolemy’s map, together with these and other ancient references inspired 19th-century Western archaeological expeditions. Bertram Thomas, who crossed the Rab’al Khali in 1930, provides the first clues about the possible location of a lost city in Southern Arabia:

Suddenly the Arabs … pointed to the ground. ‘“Look, Sahib,” they cried. ‘”here is the road to Ubar. It was a great city, our fathers have told us, that existed of old; a city rich in treasure, with date gardens and a fort of red silver [gold?]. It now lies buried beneath the sands in the Ramlat Shu’ait, some few days to the north.” Other Arabs on my previous journeys had told me of Ubar, the Atlantis of the sands, but none could say where it lay. All thought of it had been banished from my mind when my companions cried their news and pointed to the well-worn tracks, about a hundred yards in cross section, graven in the plain. They bore 325°, approximately lat. 18° 45′ N., long. 52° 30’ E. on the verge of the sands.

The British explorer John Philby believed Ubar and Wabar referred to the same place. Roughly 250 miles northwest from Thomas’s location lies Al Hadida, where year later, Philby set out to find Wabar. Instead, he found five blackened meteor craters filled with sand and declared “So that was Wabar, the city of the wicked king ‘Ad destroyed by fire from heaven.”

Places in southern Arabia discussed in this article. (Google Earth)

Climate Change


How did the rich lands of Sheba, and numerous other places depicted in Ptolemy’s map exist in what is now a harsh, dry climate? Like the Sahara Desert, which once had a wetter climate, different global climate patterns could have made southern Arabia much more habitable thousands of years ago. According to Thomas:

This tradition of ancient trade routes across what is now an almost prohibitive barrier of sands should not be lightly dismissed as impossible. South Arabia is held never to have had an Ice Age, so that when the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere lay beneath an ice cap, Arabia was enjoying a pluvial period, from which epoch date the great gorges draining the coastal mountains, and the limestone fossils washed down to the edge of the sands. This very different climate may have long persisted in modified form and made possible a very early civilisation in this region.

He goes on to say

Another interesting link in the chain of evidence has been established by zoologists from the distribution of animal life in South Arabia. The animals I collected in the Qara Mountains have proved to be mainly African or Ethiopic in affinity; they form an enclave there, for those I collected to north, east and west have been found to be exclusively Palaearctic. This enclave may well be a relic of the former animal population of the entire southern part of the peninsula when India, South Arabia and Africa had a common climate and fauna. Later, desiccation may have confined this primitive fauna to the Dhufar province, which alone in Arabia has continued to enjoy a tropical rainfall and flora, thanks to an adventitious south-west monsoon, while the denuded spaces round about have come to be re-populated by another group of animals from the north.

Were Mar’ib, Shabwa, and other places in Ptolemy’s map simply towns along ancient caravan routes as many scholars believe or were they the vestiges of an ancient prehistoric civilization whose great cities remain to be discovered beneath the sands of the Arabian Desert?

It is clear from satellite imagery that this part of the word has not always been arid. Extensive and well-developed drainage patterns seen in satellite imagery prove rivers once flowed throughout a much different landscape. In “Middle Palaeolithic and Neolithic Occupations around Mundafan Palaeolake, Saudi Arabia: Implications for Climate Change and Human Dispersals,” Crassard et al. present geochronological data supporting the existence a paleolake in the Mundafan region at the western edge of the Rub’al Khali. Lacustrine samples dated using carbon-14 and optically stimulated luminescence indicate that the paleolake first formed during the Marine Isotope Stage 5, roughly a hundred thousand years ago. The presence of freshwater mollusks suggests the lake existed over an extended period time.

Histogram of dated lacustrine samples (blue dots) at Mundafan from Crassard et al. (2013) superimposed on a color-coded chart of previous geographic pole epochs where magenta, yellow, green, and red denote the hypothesized periods of the Hudson Bay, Norwegian Sea, Greenland, and Bering Sea poles. The black curve shows sea levels over this period. Arabia would have been in the tropical zone at the time of the Hudson Bay and Bering Sea poles.

Climate Zones


Climate depends on temperature and precipitation, which depend in large part on latitude. The zone of the tropics (tropics of Cancer and Capricorn), which have warm and wet climates extend 15-25° from the Equator. Dry climates tend to exist 15-35° from the Equator. In the Northern Hemisphere this zone is wider than in the Southern Hemisphere. Arabia together with northern Africa lie in a dry belt approximately 20° wide (from 15-35° N). Australia and Southern Africa lie in a thinner dry belt that is only 15° wide from (20 to 35° S). Temperate climates are on average 35-50° from the Equator, and polar climates are above 50°.

Climate zones corresponding to current and previous poles. The red line is the Equator. Orange, yellow, and green lines are ±20°, ±35°, and ±50° from the Equator and delimit the dry subtropics, temperate, and polar climate zones.

If Hapgood’s crustal displacement theory is correct, pole shifts would have caused climate zones across the globe to change in predictable ways as shown above. Considering previous estimated pole locations, if the North Pole were in the Bering Sea, Arabia would have had tropical climate 135,000 years ago. Subsequent crustal displacements that shifted the North Pole to Greenland and then to the Norwegian Sea would have returned Arabia to a dry climate between 65,000 and 135,000 years ago. During the last North American Ice Age, with the North Pole in Hudson Bay, Arabia would again have had a tropical climate roughly 15,000 to 65,000 years ago. The distribution of data collected at Mundafan is consistent with this pattern.

South gate at Timna excavated by Wendell Phillips.

Timna


Considered to have been the “Indiana Jones” of his time, Wendell Phillips organized excavations at Timna and Mar’ib, two archaeological sites along the southern border of the Rub’al Khali in the 1950s (Phillips 1955). Phillips’s journey led his team west from the Hadramawt to Timna, the capital of the Qataban, which was a prominent Yemeni kingdom in the first millennium BCE. After three weeks of work at the south gate of the ancient city, excavations revealed “two massive towers constructed of rough blocks, some as large as eight by two feet.” The masonry work was good but not smoothly finished, indicating that the gate was built prior to the Qataban civilization when more polished work was done. Charred wood was found everywhere suggesting “Timna had suffered a catastrophlc destruction, in whlch fire played a major part.” Copies of a Hellenistic lion statue found in the ruins led Phillips’s archaeologist William F. Albright to date the site to around 150 BCE. However, the presence of structures that were evidently built before the Qatabans begs the question of when the city was first established.

Alignments at Timna. Red/blue lines are current directions of minor lunar standstills. White lines denote cardinal directions relative to the Bering Sea pole. (Apple Maps)

According to Phillips, “the moon was the chief deity of all the early South Arabian kingdoms – particularly fitting in that region where the soft light of the moon brought the rest and cool winds of night as relief from the blinding sun and scorching heat of day.” Although present day aerial imagery does not allow detailed measurements of structures within the ancient city, the site appears to be oriented toward lunar standstills – the extreme directions of moonrise and moonset. But even more interesting is the alignment of the site to the Bering Sea pole shown in the above figure that implies the original site could be more than 100,000 years old.

Mar’ib

Later, Phillips’ team conducted excavations at Mar’ib, the capital of the kingdom of Saba (Figure 7).

At our first inspection it seemed to us that ten Timnas might easily fit into the area of Marib. The present Arab village occupied only a small portion of the ancient city area. Columns, walls, and pillars extended everywhere as far as our eyes could see, in an endless crescent. At one point, present-day Yemenis had already dug deep for the beautifully cut Sabean stones from which they had built their ugly fortress and portions of their houses. They had gone down about seventy feet through one stratified layer after another. This depth, when compared with our cut of fifty-one feet at Hajar bin Humeid [near Timna], suggested that Marib was considerably older than the Qatabanian cities…

One of the team’s first discoveries was at the ancient dam:

Most amazing was the way the great stone walls had been put together. Huge boulders were so perfectly dressed that they fitted into each other like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. We saw no trace of mortar of any kind, yet we looked at portions of the wall that were more than fifty feet high…

Moving on to the temple area, partially buried limestone pillars over thirty feet tall stood in the sand. At the conclusion of their work, which was cut short by growing tensions with the local population, more than thirty feet of sand had been removed, revealing “an ovoid temple about 1,000 feet in circumference, its long diameter being about 375 feet and its short diameter about 250 feet. There was an elaborate and complicated peristyle hall and complex of buildings terminating in a row of eight tall columns.” The wall of the temple “was about thirteen and a half feet thick, constructed of perfectly fitted ashlar masonry, with a sand and rubble fill. In places, the wall was preserved to a height of more than twenty-seven feet above the floor of the entrance hall. Unfortunately, there was no way of knowing how high it had originally been or how the top was finished. Portions of the wall displayed variations in workman­ship, indicating the different contractors or technicians involved and suggesting that the wall had been built over a long period of time…” Inscriptions revealed the “temple itself was called Awwam, and the god Ilumquh to whom it was dedicated was the Sabatean version of the moon god common to all South Arabian religions.”

Alignments at ancient Mar’ib to minor lunar standstills (red/blue) and cardinal directions relative to Hudson Bay pole (white). (Apple Maps)

A large mound-like structure that is part of the ancient city to the northwest of the Awwam Temple appears to be aligned in the direction of minor lunar standstills. It also appears to be cardinally aligned relative to the Hudson Bay pole. The Temple of Awwam itself is not currently aligned to the sun or moon. However, if the North Pole were in Hudson Bay, the Awwam Temple would be oriented in directions consistent with solstices and lunar standstills relative to the former pole as shown in the figure below. That the alignments of the ancient city and the Awwam Temple both reference the Hudson Bay pole suggest Mar’ib could be 15,000 to 65,000 years old.

Temple of Awwam oriented to sun and moon at the time of the Hudson Bay pole. (Apple Maps)

Shabwa


Although Phillips flew over Shabwa they were unable to excavate there. However, like Mar’ib, certain structures at Shabwa appear to be aligned to the moon relative to the direction of the Hudson Bay pole as shown below.

Alignment of structure at Shabwa to lunar standstills relative to the Hudson Bay pole. (Apple Maps)

Shis’r


One has to wonder if the Temple of Awwam could have been the “Iram of the Pillars” mentioned in this alternative translation the Quran [89:6-8]

Have you not considered how your Lord dealt with ʿAad With Iram – who had lofty pillars, The likes of whom had never been created in the land?

It is generally assumed that Iram was Ubar, or Wabar, the lost city sought by Thomas, Philby, and more recently by a team guided by Ranulph Fiennes in the 1990s. Fiennes’s life-long search for Ubar lead to the 1991 excavations at Shis’r that are thought by some to be the ruins of the ancient city of Ubar. Media hype at the time stated that satellite imagery helped the team locate the site. Although the images do show ancient as well as more recent tracks that seem to converge at Shis’r, they provided no direct indication of anything beneath the sands. However, subtle features in an L-band SIR-C radar image (which can penetrate several feet of dry sand) over the area suggests a possible buried linear structure over five miles in length. The impression of a linear structure could be the result of a chance alignment of natural features, or be evidence of an artificial construction, perhaps a wall.

What is particularly interesting is that the long dimension of this feature is aligned in the direction of the Bering Sea pole.

L band SIR-C synthetic aperture radar (SAR) image acquired over Shis’r in 1994. Linear feature is to the left of the red line, which is in the direction of the Bering Sea pole. Coregistered false-colored Landsat-TM image was acquired in 1990.

Discussion


Given the historical importance of the moon in South Arabian kingdoms it seems no coincidence that structures at Timna and Mar’ib appear to be aligned to the moon. That structures at Shabwa and Mar’ib also appear to reference the moon but at an earlier time, that is, relative to the Hudson Bay pole suggest the moon was also important to earlier people who lived in this part of the world before the last Ice Age.

It is hard to conceive of how Sheba and other ancient kingdoms not only survived but once prospered in and around the Rub’al Khali unless the climate was much different than it is today. That Hapgood’s theory can account both for climate change in this and other parts of the world and for the alignment of ancient structures such as those discussed in this and previous articles whose orientation is otherwise hard to explain may also be no coincidence.

References

Bertram Thomas (1932) Arabia Felix: Across the Empty Quarter of Arabia.

Wendell Phillips (1955) Qataban and Sheba: Exploring Ancient Kingdoms on the Biblical Spice Routes of Arabia.

Abdullah Yusuf Ali (1934) The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holy_Qur%27an:_Text,_Translation_and_Commentary

H. Stewart Edgell (2003) “The myth of the “lost city of the Arabian Sands,” Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, Vol. 34, London, 17-19 July 2003, pp. 105-120.
See https://www.jstor.org/stable/41223810

William C. Brice (1973) “The Construction of Ptolemy’s Map of South Arabia,” Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, Vol. 4, Cambridge, June, 1973, pp. 5-9.
See https://www.jstor.org/stable/41223130

Re ́my Crassard, Michael D. Petraglia, Nick A. Drake, Paul Breeze, Bernard Gratuze, Abdullah Alsharekh, Mounir Arbach, Huw S. Groucutt, Lamya Khalidi, Nils Michelsen, Christian J. Robin, and Je ́re ́mie Schiettecatte (2013) “Middle Palaeolithic and Neolithic Occupations around Mundafan Palaeolake, Saudi Arabia: Implications for Climate Change and Human Dispersals.” PLoS ONE 8(7): e69665. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069665.

Ranulph Fiennes (1992) Atlantis of the Sands: The Search for the Lost City of Ubar, Bloomsbury.


Featured image at the top of the article courtesy Javierblas/Creative Commons.

As Below, So Above? New Evidence of an Ancient Connection Between Earth and Mars

A previous post explored the Hermetic concept “as above, so below” – that the spatial arrangement of a group of structures or features on the ground “reflect” a pattern in the sky. Here, in considering this same possibility on the planet Mars, we find new evidence of artificiality in the Cydonia region and a possible ancient connection with Earth.

Star Maps

In 1989, Robert Bauval proposed that the pyramids in Giza were arranged to mirror the pattern of stars in Orion’s Belt, and later with Graham Hancock went on to argue that the layout of these and nearby pyramids along the Nile was a terrestrial representation of the constellation Orion and the Milky Way. In his book, The Hidden Records, Wayne Herschel expands on this idea and proposes that a number of sites on Earth and one on Mars were constructed as “star maps” presenting Orion, the Pleiades, and other constellations.

One such star map involves Stonehenge and a group of ancient hills to the southwest that Herschel believes is a ground representation of the Pleiades. The central axis of these hills, known as the Winterbourne Stoke Barrows, is in the same general direction of the summer solstice sunrise. The Pleiades, a small group of stars near the constellation Taurus, is close to the ecliptic – the imaginary circle in the celestial sphere along which the sun and planets move, and so rise and set in roughly the same place as the sun but at a different time, which varies over the course of the year. 

The Seven Sisters

According to Ray and Barnaby Norris, legends concerning the Pleiades could be the oldest stories in the world. In Greek mythology, the Pleiades were the seven daughters of Atlas, who was forced to hold up the sky for eternity, and so was unable to protect his daughters. To save them, Zeus transformed the seven daughters into stars. According to the story, one of the sisters fell in love with a mortal and went into hiding, which is why we only see six stars.

A similar story is found among Aboriginal groups across Australia. This is particularly interesting as there was almost no cultural contact between European and Aboriginal Australian cultures from about 100,000 BCE, when the ancestors of both cultures are thought to have migrated out of Africa, until 1788 when the British invaded Australia. One possible explanation for this similarity is that the origin of the “Seven Sisters” dates back to this incredibly ancient prehistoric time. Norris’ hypothesis is supported by the fact that although today there are six stars in this constellation, hundreds of thousands of years ago, due to stellar motion, a seventh star was visible.

City and Face are in the Cydonia region on Mars. (Google Mars)

If legends of the Seven Sisters share a common origin a hundred thousand years ago, what was the source of the original story, and could it be even older?

Cydonia, Mars

In 1976 a Viking orbiter spacecraft imaged a mile-long formation on the surface of Mars resembling a humanoid face. Following its rediscovery in the NASA archives by Vincent DiPietro and Gregory Molenaar in 1981, an effort was undertaken to evaluate the “Face” along with other unusual features on the Martian surface, including a group of structures to the southwest that Richard Hoagland named “The City.” Hoagland determined the alignment of the Face relative to the City was roughly in the direction of the summer solstice sunrise on Mars. Like Earth, Mars’ axial tilt changes slowly over time, which Hoagland used to date the formations on Mars in the same way Stonehenge has been dated. 

Thomas Van Flandern proposed an alternative explanation for the alignment of the City and Face in Cydonia. Early in Mars history, billions of years ago, the Martian poles where approximately 20° from where they are today. It is thought that a mass imbalance resulting from the formation of the Tharsis volcanoes shifted Martian crust relative to its mantle in the same way crustal displacements/pole shifts are thought to have occurred on Earth. He proposed that at this time, the City and Face were aligned in the cardinal directions (N-S-E-W) and were near the Equator.  As shown below, the likely range of previous pole locations does not appear sufficient to have rotated the City and Face exactly to the cardinal directions.

Range of possible directions to the previous south geographic pole thought to have been once located within the Dorsa Argentea formation. (Google Mars)

New Evidence

Perhaps Wayne Herschel’s most controversial star map is on Mars. Using a recently developed method tested at several terrestrial sites, we find a high degree of correlation between selected stars in the Pleiades and landforms in the City. As shown in the figure below, five ground features were selected based on their size and shape and corresponding stars identified. Remarkably, the patterns match better than most terrestrial sites tested in our previous study with a relative accuracy of 3.5% and a skew of 3.5°.

The matching process computes a transformation from stellar coordinates to ground coordinates. If the City corresponds to the Pleiades, by reversing the transformation, we can determine the location in the celestial sphere corresponding to the Face. Currently, there are no stars at this location, which led Herschel to hypothesize that it could have once pointed to a star that has since moved over the course of many thousands of years. But there is another possibility.

This location (denoted by the crosshairs in the above images) is about 1.4° away from the ecliptic. Mars is currently tilted 25.1° on its axis. Using a model of Mars’ obliquity, the last time the planet was tilted 26.5° was 280,000 years ago.

Current ecliptic as viewed from Mars (red). Estimated location of ecliptic 280,000 years (orange) passes through the crosshairs that mark the projected location of the Face in the sky. (Stellarium)

Where Hoagland estimated the solstice alignment at Cydonia based on image measurements, if we instead use the obliquity when the ecliptic last passed through the celestial location of the Face to compute the angle of the summer solstice sunrise, we come up with a different alignment, 35.5° north of east. Superimposing a rectangular grid at this angle over the landscape appears to be correlated with the alignment of the Face and structures in the City. 

The Sumerians

Ancient Mesopotamian cylinder seals depict the Pleiades as well as other astronomical objects (see below). Why was this tiny constellation of interest to the Sumerians and other early civilizations in this part of the world?

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. 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 chronologies from various sources, the reign of antediluvian kings goes back as far as 432,000 years. Because such ancient timeframes are orders of magnitude longer than currently acceptable historical periods, most scholars believe that the antediluvian kings were either mythical figures, or their reigns somehow must have been shorter.

Long since obliterated by the sands of time, is there any corroborating evidence anywhere of this ancient time?

Converging Evidence

Almost fifty years after it was first discovered, the possibility that the Face on Mars could be artificial in origin remains a subject of debate. The case for artificiality rests on its uncanny resemblance to the humanoid form and apparent alignment to a group of nearby structures to the southwest. Hoagland first proposed this is a solstice alignment. More specifically, it is an alignment to the ecliptic and path of the Sun and most planets in the Solar System at sunrise on the summer solstice. Exploiting Herschel’s observation that the City could be a representation of the Pleiades, it has been determined the geographic location of the Face maps to a point in the sky that intersected the ecliptic 280,000 years ago. The Face could have been positioned anywhere along the alignment direction. That the ground location is such that its location projected into the celestial sphere intersects the ecliptic at the same time the alignments on the ground in Cydonia occur provides additional independent evidence of a terrestrial, or at least a solar connection.

If the location and alignment of the Face direct our attention to our Solar System by virtue of its movement along the ecliptic, that Earth is the only planet in the solar system home to the humanoid form, leads to the almost inescapable conclusion that these features on Mars reference Earth and humankind.

Still, the evidence remains circumstantial. Scientific data suggests that conditions on Mars did not exist long enough for advanced life to have developed on Mars. If UFOs are not extraterrestrial craft as NASA maintains, then if these structures are artificial, where did they come from?

Before Atlantis proposes that our current technological civilization was preceded by a series of earlier civilizations stretching back more than 100,000 years. Preliminary findings presented here lead to the obvious question of whether an earlier civilization from Earth might have constructed the Face and other structures on Mars long ago.

Perhaps a future expedition may one day rediscover the key to our past on, of all places, Mars.

Looking northeast from the City toward the Face on a summer day on Mars. Google Mars/Stellarium

Feature image at the top of the article courtesy Google Mars/Stellarium.

As Above, So Below – Testing Archaeo-Astronomical Correlations

Does the spatial arrangement of a group of structures or features on the ground “reflect” a pattern in the sky? In this article, we examine the Hermetic concept of what is below, the microcosm, is a reflection of what is above, the macrocosm.

Testing an Age-Old Idea

In 1989, Robert Bauval proposed that the three pyramids in Giza were arranged to mirror the pattern of three stars in Orion. With Bauval, Graham Hancock further expanded upon this idea claiming the layout of these and nearby pyramids along the Nile were a terrestrial representation of the constellation Orion and the Milky Way. Hancock and researcher John Grigsby later proposed a similar correlation between the spatial arrangement of temples at Angkor and stars in the constellation Draco.

Although these and other claims have been criticized by the archaeological community (see, for example, this article by Magli and Belmonte), there has been no attempt to test the correlations using quantitative methods. A recent paper describes a new method that maps stellar coordinates to corresponding ground locations for the purpose of measuring the similarity between the two patterns.

Orion Correlations

Ideally, a mapping of stars to the ground should be “conformal” — preserving shapes and angles. Attempting to match the three stars in “Orion’s Belt” to the corresponding pyramids in Giza stretches and distorts the pattern of the stars so that they match the corresponding pyramids (see figure below). However, forcing a match in this way skews the pattern. Mappings with a large amount of skew are not conformal and not accurate representations of the star patterns on the ground. The amount of skew can be measured by mapping a rectangular region in the sky to the ground. If the projected region is rectangular (corner angles close to 90°), the transform has minimal skew.

So while Orion-Giza is correlated, it is not conformal. If Menkaure were located approximately 45 meters northwest of its current location, the layout of the Giza pyramids would match the pattern of the three stars in Orion exactly. It would seem that had the architects of the Giza Necropolis intended the layout of these three pyramids to match the stars in Orion, they would have arranged them just as precisely as they were oriented to the cardinal directions.

In another proposed Orion correlation, also illustrated above, an even greater skew is introduced if we try to match these same three stars to the layout of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the pyramids of the Sun and Moon at Teotihuacan.

Angkor Correlations

It seems unlikely that either Giza or Teotihuacan was intended to be terrestrial representations of Orion. But with only three stars/pyramids, it is difficult to say for sure.

In Heaven’s Mirror, Graham Hancock and John Grigsby claimed the layout of temples at Angkor were correlated with the pattern of stars in the constellation Draco. Although they identified more than three temples/stars, there was a methodological problem. According to Jason Colavito, “It looked like many of the stars of Draco were missing, and Angkor seemed to have temples where there were no stars.” In order to fill in some of the missing information, using Google Earth, seven temples can be identified that appear to be correlated with stars in Draco. Using our method to match this pattern of temples to the corresponding stars in Draco results in a mapping with much less skew. As mentioned above, a simple measure of skew is the amount the corner angles of the rectangles deviate from 90°. The corner angles for the Draco-Angkor correlation are 90±6°. This is much less than Orion-Giza (corner angles 90±18°) and Orion-Teotihuacan (corner angles 90±75°).

Wayne Herschel, proposed an alternative hypothesis – that the Angkor temples are correlated with stars in and around the constellation Perseus. Another measure of similarity is the average difference between the location of a temple and the projected location of its corresponding star. For Draco, the average difference is 950 meters, which based on a site extent of almost 12 km, gives a relative error of 8.1%. The Perseus correlation has comparable skew (corner angles 90±7°) but a smaller relative error of 6.2%. 

Is there any basis for preferring one correlation over the other or rejecting both? 

Key Question

Perhaps the key question in evaluating a correlation hypothesis is whether or not the terrestrial pattern can be seen by an observer as a “reflection” of the corresponding stars. Viewed from the north, Orion would have reached its culmination along the meridian over the Giza pyramids circa 2450 BCE. Although there are mountains south and east of Teotihuacan, they are too far away for an observer to see the individual structures at the site, and looking north-northwest, Orion would not be in the field of view at any time. The terrain at Angkor is relatively flat. It would therefore be difficult to visualize the layout of Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples over an extended area. If the Angkor temples were arranged to match the Draco, how did they do it, and for what purpose was it done?

It, therefore, seems reasonable to require that:

  1. The spatial layout of a pattern on the ground matches the corresponding pattern in the sky at least to within the measurement limits of naked-eye astronomy
  2. The ground pattern can be viewed in its entirety from some vantage point
  3. The corresponding stars can be seen in relation to the pattern on the ground at some point in time.

Overlook Mountain

Several sites in the Northeastern US contain linear patterns of cairns and other stone features that are thought to represent serpents and could therefore be considered terrestrial representations of Draco. Glenn Kreisberg describes one such site on Overlook Mountain in New York State that satisfies all three of the above requirements.

The skew is the least of all sites considered (corner angles 90±4°) with a relative error of 6.7%. As shown above, the stone features on Overlook Mountain can be seen as a “reflection” of the constellation Draco as it sets above the northwest horizon around the winter solstice when viewed from a vantage point to the southeast. If the stone features at the site can be dated, the degree to which the visual correlation could have been better/worse at that time can be assessed. 

Poles Hill

In the 1930s, Katherine Maltwood claimed that certain patterns in the English countryside were designed to mirror celestial zodiacs. Although the Glastonbury and other proposed landscape zodiacs have been disproven, evidence suggests the Native people might have attempted something similar at Poles Hill in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Glacial erratics of various shapes and sizes are scattered atop Poles Hill. The arrangements of three boulders relative to a central sighting stone have been shown to be aligned in the directions of the summer solstice sunrise and sunset, and winter solstice sunrise. A previous paper explored the possibility that the central sighting stone and two other stone features matched the pattern of three stars, Rastaban, Etamin, and Thuban in Draco. Adding three additional stars in Draco and associated stone features reveals a sky-to-ground match with an average location error less than Overlook Mountain but with somewhat greater skew (corner angles 90±11°).

What is particularly interesting is that correlations around Draco may also exist at Poles Hill. Certain stones to the west appear to correspond to a group of stars in Hercules known as the Keystone Asterism. In the opposite direction, a large glacial erratic can be found at the projected ground location of Polaris. Given the large number of boulders present, it is statistically possible for such correlations to occur by chance. Still, the possibility remains that the Native people who are thought to have established the solar alignments at this site by moving and manipulating glacial boulders may have also represented an extended portion of the northern sky in the same way.

Featured image at the top of the article and imagery in other figures courtesy Stellarium and Google Earth.

Data-Driven Pyramidology: From Pseudoscience to Data Science

A new data-driven method for estimating the ages of Egyptian pyramids suggests certain pyramids may be hundreds or even thousands of years older supporting the possibility that they could have been built over pre-existing structures first established in early dynastic or possibly pre-dynastic times.

Click here to read the full paper.

Introduction

The age of certain pyramids in Egypt, particularly those in Giza, is a long-debated topic within the archaeological community. The accepted age of Khufu, around 2554 BCE, was challenged by Bauval (1989, 1993), who calculated an earlier date of 2450 BCE based on the alignment of two shafts – one to the middle star (Zeta Orionis) in the “belt” of the constellation Orion, and the other to Thuban, the former pole star. Moving the date of Khufu almost a century earlier turned out to be consistent with Spence’s revised dating of 2480±5 BCE. Spence (2000) hypothesized the Egyptians used the simultaneous transit of two circumpolar stars, Mizar and Kochab, to align the pyramids when there was no pole star.

In a recent article, Marco Vigato argues the Giza pyramids could have been existing structures that were modified and expanded by Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. He suggests the original structure that later became the pyramid of Khufu might have resembled Mastaba 3038, thought to have been built toward the end of the First Dynasty, circa 2900 BCE. In his survey of the Giza pyramids, Petrie (1885) states:

During the course of building there was evidently a great change in the style of the work; a change, however, belonging more to the builders than to the masons… In the King’s Chamber the masonry is very fine, both in its accuracy of fitting and in the squareness and equal height of all the blocks; but the builders were altogether wrong in their levels, and tilted the whole chamber over to one corner… It would be difficult to suppose any architect allowing such errors of building, after so closely restricting the variations of masons’ work, it strongly suggests that the granite had been prepared for the chamber long before it was built, and that the supervision was less strict as the work went on.

The change in workmanship noted by Petrie is at the level of the 35th course of masonry. It is conceivable that the courses below could have been built first as part of an earlier structure with those above added by Khufu. In this way, the original pyramid could be older and still satisfy Bauval’s star/shaft alignments.

The possibility that the pyramids could be at least a few centuries older is supported both by radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating. Radiocarbon dates of wood found within Khufu and Khafre are several hundred years older than the pyramids’ accepted ages. Although neither Khufu nor Khafre has been OSL dated, Liritzis and Vafiadou (2014) found Menkaure’s granite casing could be as much as a millennium older. Samples from other structures on the Giza necropolis also indicate earlier dates.

A New Method of Dating

Instead of assuming the alignments are necessarily astronomical in nature, analysis of other properties of pyramids offers new clues that may have been overlooked. We start with a table of measurements for ten 3rd-5th Dynasty pyramids.

Pyramid data with accepted years of construction. The azimuth (Az) is the alignment angle of the pyramid. Multiple measurements provide an estimate of the mean and standard deviation in the alignment of the core, passages, casing stones, and other parts of the pyramid. The error is the deviation from true north. Azimuth and error angles are in arc-seconds. The length and height of the pyramid are in meters.

Where most are confident of the ages of more recent pyramids, some are unsure about others. Data science methods offer a way to use what we know to estimate what we do not know.

Pyramid data divided into three groups. Data in green and yellow are used to estimate the ages of pyramids in orange.

In mathematical terms, if we treat the pyramid measurements in the above table as independent variables x and age as a dependent variable y, then the problem can be formulated as determining a function f for estimating the age of a pyramid from its measurements

y’f(x)

Correlations exist between variables over different periods of time. For example, the graph below plots the alignment error (deviation from true north) vs. base length. These two variables are negatively correlated, indicating that larger pyramids tend to be better aligned than smaller pyramids.

Scatter plot of length vs. error measurements. Correlation coefficient R=0.84 indicates a high degree of correlation between the two variables.

By analyzing these correlations, a technique known as linear regression can be used to compute functions for estimating the age of a pyramid from its measurements. Using the accepted years of construction and lengths of Sahure’s and Neferirkare’s bases, we can estimate the year of construction of the other pyramids from their base length according to the linear equation:

t’  =  – 2299 – 1.85 b

which is plotted below.

Accepted age (solid line) and estimated age (dotted line) as a function of base length.

Notice the estimate of Menkaure matches its accepted date almost exactly. For earlier pyramids up to Meidum, the estimated ages are older than the accepted ages. According to this estimate, Khufu would be 170 years older than its currently accepted age.

Other estimators can be constructed using different measurements. Perhaps the most interesting result is based on using a pyramid’s precision and volume (discussed later in this article) to estimate its age, which is plotted below.

Accepted age (solid line) and estimated age (dotted line) as a function of precision and volume.

The figure below summarizes the results of six estimators plotting the average estimated ages of the pyramids along with error bars indicating their ranges. Based on these estimates, certain late 3rd and 4th Dynasty pyramids could be thousands of years older.

Accepted age (solid line) and average ages (dotted line) from six estimators. Error bars are one standard deviation wide.

Evidence of Technological Decline

Any theory attempting to estimate the ages of the Giza pyramids must also explain their size and precision. An order of magnitude increase in the volume of the 4th Dynasty pyramids over those in earlier and later dynasties is an anomaly that has yet to be explained by mainstream Egyptology. Similarly, there has been no attempt to explain the increase in precision in the 3rd and 4th Dynasties, followed by a marked decrease in the 5th Dynasty. Precision is a measure of workmanship. Why did it improve only to decline in only a century?

The ability to precisely align the parts of a structure is indicative of a high level of technology. Although the standard deviation is often used to measure the tolerance of an assemblage, it does not characterize the level of difficulty involved. For example, if we assume that is it twice as hard to align structures to a tolerance of ±½  inch as it is to a tolerance of ±1 inch, the inverse of the standard deviation (1/σ) is a better measure of the precision and the level of difficulty required to achieve it.

The ability to build large structures is also an indicator of advanced technology. Another measurement not yet considered is the height of a pyramid. But instead of using just the height or base length, consider the volume v, which depends both on base length and height. The product of volume times precision provides a single number, a technology index,  Lv/σ that can be used to characterize the level of technology involved in building a pyramid. The following graph plots the technology index vs. the accepted year of construction L(t).

Technology index L vs. accepted time of construction.

How does one explain a century-long technological anomaly in an early Bronze Age culture? If we assume these pyramids are older, changing the order, the anomaly becomes a decline. The graph below plots the technology index vs. estimated year of construction L(t’).

Technology index vs. estimated time of construction for four trendlines.

The four trendlines in the above figure are based on different datings. The mean trend is the average of the six age estimates. The min/max trends are one standard deviation above and below the mean. The trend marked “same” plots the ages computed from the estimator that uses volume and precision. All of these trendlines are highly correlated with the estimated ages. A decreasing technology index suggests pyramids thought to be late 4th/early 5thDynasty could have been built during an earlier period of technological decline.

Although a great deal of uncertainty remains over their exact ages, it is possible the Bent, Red, Khafre, and Khufu pyramids were either built much earlier or were built over pre-existing structures. That these pyramids may pre-date the dynastic period suggests they were not built by the Egyptians but by their predecessors.

References

M. Flinders Petrie (1885) The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh, Second Edition, Published by Histories & Mysteries of Man Ltd., London, 1990.

Robert G. Bauval (1989) “A Master-Plan for the Three Pyramids of Giza Based on the Configuration of the Three Stars of the Belt of Orion,” Discussions in Egyptology, ISSN 0266-3083.

Robert G. Bauval (1993) “Cheops’s Pyramid: A New Dating Using the Latest Astronomical Data,” ibid.

Kate Spence (2000) “Ancient Egyptian chronology and the astronomical orientation of pyramids,” Nature, Vol. 408.

Ioannis Liritzis and Asimina Vafiadou (2014) “Surface Luminescence dating of some Egyptian Monuments,” Journal of Cultural Heritage.

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