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 occu¬pied 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 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.

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

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

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

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

Click here to read the full paper.

Indus Valley Sites

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

Harappa

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

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

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

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

Mohenjo-daro

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kalibangan

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

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

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

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

Sacred Sites

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

Benaras

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

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

The Twelve Jyotirlinga Temples

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

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

Sanchi Stupas

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

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

Discussion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acknowledgement

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

 

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

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

Click here to read the full paper.

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

Climate Changes

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

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

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

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

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

Archaeological Sites

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

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

Gonur Tepe

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

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

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

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

Ancient Merv

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

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

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

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

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

Samarkand

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

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

Koi Krylgan Kala

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

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

Alignment of Koi Krylgan Kala to the Greenland pole. Apple Maps.

The Signature of a Lost Civilization?

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Analyzing the Geometry of the Torgai Steppe Geoglyphs

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

Alignments of Earthwork Crosses to Solstices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alignments to Other Places

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

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

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

Earthwork Alignments to Previous Poles

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

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

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

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

Summary analysis of the Torgai geoglyphs.

Summary

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

Acknowledgement

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

The Cities of the Antediluvian Kings

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

The Antediluvian Kings

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

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

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

Pole Shifts, Floods and Other Disasters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alignments of the Cities of the Antediluvian Kings

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

Cities associated with the antediluvian kings of Sumeria.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Measuring Distances

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

How close are these objects to the moon?

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

How large are they?

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

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

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

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

How fast are they moving?

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

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

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

What are they?

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

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

Magnified and cropped section of a stabilized version of the original video. (Tenac)

Detail of stabilized version of CGI recreation. Notice border around UFOs indicating the objects were inserted into the frame. (MendezMendez)

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

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

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

Acknowledgements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Hypothesis

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

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

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

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

The Legend of the Five Suns

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

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

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

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

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

The Fifth Sun

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

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

The Fourth Sun

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

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

The Third Sun

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

Aerial view of Chichen Itza.

The Second Sun

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

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

The First Sun

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

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

Summary

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

References

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

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

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

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