Last Update: November 26, 2014
In the first place you remember a single deluge only, but there were many previous ones; in the next place, you do not know that there formerly dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, and that you and your whole city are descended from a small seed or remnant of them which survived. And this was unknown to you, because, for many generations, the survivors of that destruction died, leaving no written word.
--Plato, from Timaeus (about 360 B.C.)
We look at history far differently than Plato and other ancient chroniclers, a fact that may prove our undoing as the future unfolds. Before the late 19th century, the texts of classical antiquity were routinely consulted for insight about natural disasters and apocalyptic events predicted by seers, shamans and prophets. But no more.
This vast depository of wisdom, so painstakingly handed down through the centuries -- most often through storytelling but sometimes in writing --- took a back seat during the British Empire. (Earlier periods of book burnings, inquisitions and witch hunts didn't help, either.) It seems that within the hallowed walls of Oxford and Cambridge, a decision was made to distinguish between those accounts from antiquity that could be verified by archaeological digs and written records, and those that could not. Since the earliest evidence of translatable writing only goes back to around 4000 B.C., the majority of history was thus reclassified as "prehistory". The legends referring to those bygone days were thus demoted and reshelved in libraries in a section called "mythology".
Never mind that explorer Heinrich Schliemann had dug up the city of Troy in 1868. Thanks to his persistence, we now know there was more to Homer's epic poem than just a vivid imagination. More recently, robot submarines and satellite mapping have unearthed immense urban complexes sitting on the floor of all our oceans. How did they get there? And where did their builders acquire the expertise to quarry, transport and install megalithic blocks weighing many tons in such a precise and organized fashion?
Many independents investigators through the years claim to have uncovered the mythical continent of Atlantis. It may be buried just off the coast of Cuba, where Pauline Zalitzki, a marine engineer, and her husband Paul Weinzweig uncovered a submerged city in sonar images taken in 2001. However, Professor Richard Freund of the University of Hartford has long argued that the city described in detail by Plato best matches a spot near Dona Ana Park, a swampy area in southern Spain.
Off the coast of Japan, Professor Masaaki Kimura, from University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa, has reported on the impressive stone complex sitting near the island of Yonaguni for the past decade. The underwater ruin dates back to at least 6000 B.C. Meanwhile, around the Mediterranean Sea more than a hundred cities have been discovered (so to speak), including the "mythological" city of Dwarka, off the coast of western India.
Part of the Yonaguni underwater complex in Japan. Photo: Robert Schoch
Despite so much circumstantial evidence, modern historians aren't budging when it comes to revising, expanding or otherwise correcting what appears to be a deeply flawed timeline for our species. Richard Rudgley, author of The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age and an Oxford-trained scholar himself, had this to say in 1999: "The way in which the human story has been written to date is so abridged and poorly edited that it has provided us with an account of ourselves which leaves out most of the contents of the early chapters."
It's probably not the best time for established academia and its detractors to be engaging in a Mexcian standoff. For if, as many of the old legends state, a periodic doomsday rocks the Earth every several thousand years, then the time has come to take a closer look at those ancient accounts. Even if the next mass extinction remains a generation or two rather than the day after tomorrow.
The next time you pick up the big travel atlas you keep handy for driving directions, you might take a moment to ponder the title on the cover. According to Greek mythology, Atlas was one of Poseidon's sons. Poseidon is said to have founded a seafaring empire in the Atlantic long before what we call western civilization. He carried around a trident capable of dispensing (if we read between the lines) some form of high-tech energy beam. His son Atlas ruled the island or continent known as Atlantis, which was the central hub of Poseidon's domain. Interestingly, the root of Atlas and Atlantis, Atl (which means water), is shared by both the Basque culture in Spain and the ancient mesoamericans ( Mayans, Hopis, Aztecs, etc) . According to the Popol Vuh, the Mayan culture's Olmec ancestors landed in Latin America about 5,000 years ago, after surviving a voyage from the east and landing on the Yucantan peninsula.
Yet modern historians insist that mesoamerican cultures are the product of the Bering Straits migration, with perhaps of dash of European colonization dating back to the Solutrean era around 20000 B.C. The professors are also sticking to the story that cultures before 4000 B.C. consisted of nomadic hunter-gatherers who engaged in a lot of superstitious mumbo-jumbo, spear throwing and human sacrifice. From these dubious beginings, the massive complexes in Tiahuanaco (Bolivia), Machu Picchu (Peru) and Teotihuacan (Mexico) spring up suddenly out of nowhere, built with nothing more than stone chippers, copper chisels, ropes, logs and several decades worth of manpower.
It may be beyond the realm of comprehension, but this is still what children in the western world are taught in school each year. So it's no wonder few people are familiar with the concept of world ages. But if 30 ancient cultures around the globe believed in them -- including the Mayans, Hindus and Greeks -- perhaps the notion of three or four (or more) world ages separated by mass extinctions is worth considering. The first three ages are generally known as Golden, Silver and Bronze/Copper. The current epoch of mankind is called the Iron Age.
In the Chinese manuscript known as the Sing-li-ta-tsiuen-chou, a world age is known as a "great year." Up to the era of Confucius, ten worlds, or kis, had come and gone. Significantly, over the course of a kis, the planet "winds up," and "in a great convulsion of Nature, the sea is carried out of its bed, mountains spring out of the ground, rivers change their course, human beings and everything are ruined and the ancient traces effaced."
The ancient Greeks also identified one world age as a "great year". Not so great was the way these epochs ended. Most of the human species was destroyed, either by a deluge, a geographical pole shift (like the one just alluded to above), or a conflagration engulfing much of the planet.
In an essay on the prehistory of Earth's magnetism, researcher Roger Coghill quotes Taoist scriptures which discuss past world ages. One passage describes a cataclysm that:
"disturbs the regular method of heaven, comes into collision with the nature of things, prevents the accomplishment of the mysterious (operation of) heaven, scatters the herds of animals, makes the birds all sing at night, is calamitous to vegetation, and disastrous to all insects [and] the six elemental influences do not act in concord."
A Vedic text known as the Visuddhi-Magga also states that world ages are separated by extinction events. Specifically, "There are three destructions: the destruction by water, the destruction by fire, the destruction by wind."
Many independent researchers think the Mayan Long Count calendar represents the beginning and end of a world age, and more specifically the present Iron Age. The calendar commences around 3114 B.C., just as our own recorded history stretches back to around 3100 B.C. In the Vedic world, an age known as Kali Yuga opens in 3102 B.C. with the death of Krishna.
These similar start dates may be just a coincidence. Or they may explain why the Long Count calendar was created in the first place. And if Troy really did exist, then maybe the advanced civilization of Atlantis also prospered on a lost continent in 9000 B.C., just as Plato and the psychic Edgar Cayce claim that it did. Moreover, the old creation and destruction myths handed down to us from "prehistoric" times may not have started out as myths at all. Were they perhaps eyewitness accounts of comet strikes and other periodic mayhem originating in outer space?
In his classic Works and Days, the Greek poet Hesiod offered an eloquent recap of world history right up to his own era of about 700 B.C. Where he got his world history lesson is unclear. However, biographers say his father was born in Asia Minor, so Hesiod may have had access to the oral legends told in that part of the world. (Asia Minor, incidently, prospered during the Neolithic era, starting around 8000 B.C.) In Works and Days, Hesiod recounts the ages of man, each starting off humbly, with humans enjoying a strong spiritual connection to the "gods". But when over time they prosper and become masters of the Earth things start getting ugly:
"In the beginning, the immortals who have their homes on Olympos created the golden generation of mortal people. These lived in Kronos' time, when he was the king in heaven. They lived as if they were gods, their hearts free from all sorrow, by themselves, and without hard work or pain; no miserable old age came their way; their hands, their feet, did not alter. They took their pleasure in festivals, and lived without troubles. When they died, it was as if they fell asleep."
After making a vague allusion to the Earth "gathering over" this generation -- this is Richmond Lattimore's translation, by the way -- Hesiod moves on to the Silver Age:
"Next after these, the dwellers upon Olympos created a second generation, of silver, far worse than the other. They were not like the golden ones either in shape or spirit. A child was a child for a hundred years, looked after and playing by his gracious mother, kept at home, a complete booby. But when it came time for them to grow up and gain full measure, they lived for only a poor short time; by their own foolishness they had troubles, for they were not able to keep away from reckless crime against each other, nor would they worship the gods, nor do sacrifice on the sacred altars of the blessed ones, which is the right thing among the customs of men, and therefore Zeus, son of Kronos, in anger engulfed them..."
Then came the Bronze Age, an age where giant humans or god/human hybrids populated parts of the earth:
"They were not like the generation of silver. They came from ash spears. They were terrible and strong, and the ghastly action of Ares was theirs, and violence. They ate no bread, but maintained an indomitable and adamantine spirit. None could come near them; their strength was big, and from their shoulders the arms grew irresistible on their ponderous bodies. The weapons of these men were bronze, of bronze their houses, and they worked as bronzesmiths. There was not yet any black iron. Yet even these, destroyed beneath the hands of each other, went down into the smoldering domain of cold Hades; nameless; for all they were formidable, black death seized them, and they had to forsake the shining sunlight."
Next, Hesiod appears to discuss events closer to home:
...the wonderful generation of hero-men, who are also called half-gods, the generation before our own on this vast earth. But of these too, evil war and the terrible carnage took some; some by seven-gated Thebes in the land of Kadmos, as they fought together over the flocks of Oidipous; others war had taken in ships over the great gulf of the sea, where they also fought for the sake of lovely-haired Helen. There, for these, the end of death was misted about them.
Unlike the other ages, this Age of Heroes does not end in a world destruction. Then Hesiod talks about the present Age of Iron:
"After this, Zeus of the wide brows established yet one more generation of men, the fifth, to be on the fertile earth.... But Zeus will destroy this generation of mortals also, in the time when children, as they are born, grow gray on the temples, when the father no longer agrees with the children, nor children with their father, when guest is no longer at one with host, nor companion to companion, when your brother is no longer your friend, as he was in the old days."
Virgil's Aeneid, written much later, around 30 B.C., offers more detail about how a world age gets started, then spirals downward over time. Of particular interest to modern alien astronaut researchers is his reference to extraterrestrial beings fighting a Star Wars-like armed conflict with other E.T.'s.
"First from heavenly Olympus came Saturn, fleeing from the weapons of Jove and exiled from his lost realm. He gathered together the unruly race, scattered over mountain heights, and gave them laws, and chose that the land be called Latium, since in these borders he had found a safe hiding-place. Under his reign were the golden ages men tell of: in such perfect peace he ruled the nations; till little by little there crept in a race of worse sort and duller hue, the frenzy of war, and the passion for gain."
(For more on the E.T. angle of antiquity, see our article on Ancient Aliens.)
The notion of a rise and fall in the fortunes of mankind, culminating in planetary-wide destruction, is a persistent theme in world literature. In the Mayan text known as The Popol Vuh, as well as Aztec and Inca legends, four or five world ages are called "suns," each ending with some form of geologic catastrophe metered out by one or more "gods".
In the Book of the Hopi, published in 1963, author Frank Waters recounts legends compiled from his interviews with elders of the Southwestern tribe. During the Hopi "Second World", for example, the story goes that people became so complacent in their mastery of Earth's resources that they got downright miserly about their material possessions:
"More and more they traded for things they didn't need, and the more goods they got, the more they wanted... They just forgot to sing joyful praises to the Creator and soon began to sing praises for the goods they bartered and stored. Before long it happened as it had to happen. The people began to quarrel and fight, and then wars between villages began."
In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, dated to the 16th century B.C., the god Thoth makes a similar appraisal of the human condition and promises to clean things up:
"They have fought fights, upheld strife, done evil, created hostilities, committed slaughter, caused trouble and oppression... I am going to blot out everything which I have made. This earth shall enter into the watery abyss by means of a raging flood, and will return to what it was in primeval time. "
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2012 Guide Home
Copyright 2009-2014 TheCityEdition.com
"The Succession of World Ages." (PDF) By Jane B. Sellars. From The Death of Gods in Ancient Egypt (1992).
“Principles of Prehistoric Cult Geography” (1938) by Dr. Josef Heinsch.
"The Lost City of Dwarka; Rewriting our Common History." By Malini Alexander. Tasmanian Times 12/27/10
"The Great Year and the Lost Star." By John Major Jenkins. May 2006.
"World's oldest Copper Age settlement found." Indo-Asian News Service 11/15/10.
"Twilight of the Gods." Chapter excerpt from the book Hamlet's Mill. By Giorgio De Santillana and Gertha von Dechend (1969)
"Seven Eras of the World." Excerpt from The Wheel of Time by Luis Goitizolo.
"Prehistoric Origins of Electricity." By Roger Coghill.
The New View Over Atlantis by John Michell (1983).
Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization (2003) by Graham Hancock.
The Mythical World of Atlantis (1915) by Preston Whitmore.
Book of the Hopi (1963) by Frank Waters.
The Works and Days by Hesiod. Best English translation is by Richmond Lattimore.
The Metamorphoses by Ovid.
Vishnu Purana, Book VI, Chapter 1. Text available online.
Lost Cities and Ancient Mysteries (series beginning in 1984) by David Hatcher Childress.
The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age (1999) by Richard Rudgley
Lost Science of the Stone Age: Sacred Energy and the I Ching (2004) by Michael Poynder.
Fingerprints of the Gods (1999) by Graham Hancock.
Forbidden Archaeology (1993) by Richard Thompson and Michael Cremo
DVDs and TV Programs
History Channel: America Unearthed series. Journey to 10000 B.C. Ancient Aliens series.
The Mysterious Origins of Man: Rewriting Human History (1996) Based on the book Forbidden Archaeology. (Available for rental on Netflix.)
NOVA: America's Stone Age Explorers. (2004) Research into the origins of the Clovis people, circa 15000 - 11500 B.C.