Monday, February 10, 2014

Floods, Comets, and Crustal Displacements, Oh My!

If Charles Hapgood was right about the Piri Reis map, his findings beg a series of questions. Who in the ancient world would've been capable of mapping out the entire globe with such accuracy? What became of this civilization and where are its remnants? And lastly, what could possibly erase nearly all traces of these enigmatic people?

In his dialogues Timaeus and Critias written in 360 BCE, Plato offers the first clue. He tells us that the powerful empire of Atlantis, which controlled many parts of Europe and Africa at the height of its power, succumbed to a terrible cataclysm and sank beneath the waves around 9,600 BCE.

Without corroborative testimony from independent sources Plato's account carries little weight, but what happens when a bunch of myths line up? What are we to think when the legends of various peoples corroborate each other?

Few scholars give credence to the Biblical story of Noah's Ark. A global flood like the one described in Genesis, geologists argue, would leave a distinct mark on our planet and so far this mark hasn't been found. But what if the flood described Genesis is a primitive person's interpretation of real events? What if different parts of the world suffered different calamities? Those who witnessed the upheaval of the seas would describe it as a divinely-inspired flood while those who experienced volcanic eruptions might describe a time of darkness or burning skies or whatever.

Noah's story in Genesis isn't the oldest account of a species-ending flood. That distinction belongs to the Epic of Gilgamesh. Penned in 2,800 BCE, this literary work contains what is likely the "original"  flood narrative of the Middle-East. Its influence on other myths can easily be traced along the unbroken chain of culture from Mesopotamia--the cradle of civilization--to Egypt, Greece, Rome, and then Europe. That flood stories are found among these people, the inheritors of Mesopotamian culture, is unsurprising.

What is surprising is the abundance of flood stories in pre-Colombus America. The Maya, Inca, Aztec, and various Native-American tribes all possessed flood myths long before the Europeans showed up. In fact, European explorers were shocked to find these accounts already well-established among the "savages" and took this as proof of the Bible's authenticity.

Scumbag Nephilim ruining it for the rest of us
Old world and new world flood narratives share more in common than a simple cataclysm. For instance, the author of Genesis claims that giants roamed the earth before the flood; so does the legend of Viracocha in Peru. In the Egyptian flood story, Osiris comes after the waters abate to spread knowledge and civilization to the survivors; in Mexico, the role of civilizer after the time of darkness is filled by Quetzacoatl, the Plumed Serpent.

Remember: these civilizations are separated by a vast ocean. There is no possibility for cross-contamination here.

I don't believe that God flooded our planet as punishment for our misbehaviour. All I'm saying is there are too many similarities between the stories to claim coincidence. Myths and legends, no matter how fantastical, are based to some degree on reality. When dozens of myths and legends across the world tell roughly the same story with many of the same detail one cannot help but wonder whether there is a basis for these stories in reality.

That's what Charles Hapgood wanted to know. He tried to imagine what might cause a global catastrophe of massive proportions. In his research he stumbled onto the work of Hugh Auchincloss Brown (1879-1975), an electrical engineer who proposed that the weight of the ice at the poles might cause the tipping of the earth's axis at regular intervals.

Hapgood took Brown's theory and elaborated. What if the weight of the ice caused the earth's rigid outer crust to shift across the soft inner core while remaining mostly intact? Don't confuse this with plate tectonics or continental drift, both of which operate on a massive timeline. Hapgood proposed that the entire outer layer of the earth's crust--the one containing all the plates, oceans, and continents--might be forced to slide suddenly--not over millions of years--into a new position while leaving the axis of the planet unchanged. One can imagine the effects such a movement would have on the oceans, not to mention seismic and volcanic activity worldwide.

Hapgood's crustal displacement theory connects a lot of dots. It explains how a civilization might've dwelt in Antarctica before a crustal displacement shifted the continent further south and transformed the region into a frozen wasteland. It explains how deluge myths appear in nearly every culture on the planet. It explains other curious findings like the preserved mammoths found in Siberia who appear to have been flash-frozen while grazing, or the temperate vegetation beneath the ice-sheets of Greenland. 

Einstein found crustal displacement theory plausible but he argued that the weight of the ice built up at the poles wouldn't suffice to shift the outer crust. Something else was required in order to make the outer crust budge.

Roughly 12,900 years ago in North America, 35 species including the mammoth, that noble beast, and the Clovis culture who hunted them were suddenly wiped out. Scientists have been looking for an explanation for a while and last year they found nanodiamonds in the sediments of this time period at six different sites. Can anyone tell me what might have created these nanodiamonds?

Massive pressure and unbelievable heat. In other words, a big fucking explosion. Scientists suspect a comet larger than the one presumed to have hit Siberia in the early 1900's.

Could the impact have caused the earth's crust to shift? Or did the comet alone cause the cataclysm which lives on in the flood narratives of our ancestors? Either way, it's tough to deny something big must've happened.

I'll leave you with the story of a Russian botanist named Nikolai Vavilov. Vavilov identified eight centres of origin--places where the practice of agriculture suddenly and inexplicably sprang up at the start of the Neolithic Revolution--and guess what he found when he put these locations on a map? They coincide with the eight highest elevations on earth.

Like I said before, too many coincidences. 
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