AN ATLANTEAN OUTPOST
Anomalous Cro-Magnon intrusions in Palestine
by R. Cedric Leonard
|It appears that archeological and anthropological evidence both point to the possible existence of an Atlantean outpost at the eastern end of the Mediterranean in the Levant. This is not new information, but was excluded from my original treatment of the Atlantean culture for the sake of simplicity. Generally the picture is clean and simple, but there is one exception.
It has been demonstrated in the anthropological and linguistic pages of this web site that the occupation areas of Cro-Magnon type people and the pattern of the Berber-Ibero-Basque Language Complex coincided to near perfection. But we do have an anomaly in this one instance. In the case about to be described, the fossil evidence (skeletal bones, skulls, teeth, etc.) and the archeological evidence (cookware, tools, weapons, etc.) coincide; yet to my knowledge there is no evidence of the complimentary “linguistic island” resembling our Atlantean language complex.
Therefore, I consider this culture anomalous to the other Atlantean remains for two reasons: (1) its “eastern” location in respect to the usual western orientation which we have been observing, and (2) the lack of any evidence of a linguistic connection. The toolkit is virtually the same; the skulls and associated skeletons are similar; and the occupational chronology well within the expected time-frame. But because of the anomalies noted I have tentatively labeled it an “outpost”.
Dating the beginning of this series has been somewhat problematical—differing methods having yielded somewhat different dates. In such cases, we are forced to deal in approximations. But regardless of the exact date, the majority of evidence indicates that these Cro-Magnon-like people began to appear in this area along about the time that Neanderthal was disappearing. (AAPA, 2007)
In a manner similar to the four Cro-Magnon invasions of the Atlantic coastal regions, several consecutive Cro-Magnon-like cultures seem to have cropped up in an area of northern Palestine. Although this cultural series follows basically the same time-frame as the western Cro-Magnon invasions, its distance and isolation from the corresponding western series is somewhat surprising.
The Antelian culture is an Upper Paleolithic phase in the Levant (Syria-Lebanon-Palestine) that appears immediately after the Emirian around 35,000 years ago. The most important innovation in this period is the incorporation of some typical elements of Aurignacian, such as certain types of burins and narrow blade points that resemble the Font-Yves blades of Europe. (Alimen & Steve, 1994)
According to Gladfelter (1997), around 40,000 B.C. Palestine was occupied by the Levanto-Aurignacian “Ahmarian” (i.e., Emirian) which directly preceded the Antelian culture. In the recent past archeology has indulged in the questionable practise of naming certain Upper Paleolithic industries of the Levant “Aurignacian,” as reflected in the following quote. (Such a practise has led some into thinking the Aurignacian may have originated in the east, which is not the case.)
“Next in the sequence comes an early Upper Paleolithic development [the Emirian], which is characterized by various types of blade and flake-blade tools, including points that recall the Chãtelperron type. This is overlain by the Antelian (formerly ‘Middle Aurignacian’), which in turn is followed by the Atlitian and the Kebarian.”—Internet Encyclopedia Brittanica
The Antelian in no way derives from the earlier Laventine industries associated with “eastern” Modern Man out of Africa. According to Kaufman, the culture in the Levant he labels “Aurignacian” (i.e., the Antelian) is totally different. He describes it as both “intrusive” and “ready made,” dating back some 35,000 years. Like the Aurignacian in the west it arrives abruptly, and is considerably more innovative and dynamic than the other contemporary Upper Paleolithic industries in that area. (Kaufman, 2002)
In Quest for Atlantis I wrote: “A so-called ‘Aurignacian’ outpost may have existed in Palestine. The latter, known as the Antelian, was contemporaneous with the Aurignacian in the west and possessed a number of Aurignacian characteristics” (Leonard, 1979). It is clear that both the cultural and physical characteristics of these people are basically identical to the western Cro-Magnon “invaders” we have been studying.
When a joint British-American expedition excavated the Cave of the Kids (Mugharet es-Skhul) in Israel they came upon one of anthropology’s great finds. The cave contained ten buried skeletons embedded in a densely cemented matrix. The people were different from the earlier Neanderthals which had inhabited the area; yet they were also unlike “eastern” Modern Man types, being somewhat more “robust” than the latter. Anthropologist Carleton Coon of Harvard described them as “broad-faced” and “heavy boned”.
In fact, Coon describes Cro-Magnon Man generally as a large, heavy-boned, muscular people with large heads and powerful jaws; and declares that this type is well illustrated by “the skeletons taken from a number of caves in Palestine and Lebanon, notably from the Cave of the Kids (Mugharet es-Skhul) near Mount Carmel, excavated in 1926 and 1927 by an Anglo-American expedition.” (Coon, 1954)
According to the late William W. Howells (1967), also of Harvard, they are similar to Modern Man; but he describes them as tall, strongly built and with straight limbs. The brain case is modern in both size and shape: high, flat-sided and round, with no “Neanderthal” projection in the rear. Some skulls exhibit a slightly sloping forehead, while others are of respectable height (a normal variation in any population).
Brow ridges are pronounced, but not heavy or bulbous as in Neanderthal. The jaw has an abrupt angle, but again not like Neanderthal. And most important, they have prominent chins—Neanderthal is virtually chinless. Howells comments, “It is hard to assess these people accurately.” (Howells, 1967)
The earliest examples of this Palestinian series (some dates crowding 35,000 B.C.) should be expected to be a little more “robust” than the later “Magdalenian-like” descendants which make up the Atlitian culture. But generally anthropologists describe the entire series as resembling our familiar “western” Cro-Magnon type.
Again Prof. Howells comments: “The latter could hardly have developed [evolved] from the Tabun Neanderthals and migrated into Europe in a mere ten thousand years. So the idea of replacement and absorption is more appealing . . . Such an interpretation means that [Cro-Magnoid] Homo Sapiens must already have existed elsewhere . . . It also requires that he developed in some place outside of Europe and the Near East.” (Howells, 1967) I would, of course, suggest Atlantis.
A MISSING INTRUSION?
When one looks at the four Cro-Magnon invasions in the west, it appears that another intrusive culture should follow the Antelian in the Levant. I thought I might have found indications of such a culture—one which would match the Solutrean in Western Europe—but on closer inspection this did not prove to be the case. At a few sites (El Khaim, Nahal Oren, Ein Gev) signs of a tool assembly known as the Kebaran were apparent between the Antelian and the Atlitian.
However, upon looking deeper into this culture, it quickly became clear that it was neither Cro-Magnoid nor “intrusive”. (Garrod, 1954) Like the widespread Perigordian of “eastern” types, the Kebaran encompassed a much longer period of time than the narrow time-frame of the Solutrean; and was far too widespread for it to have any connection with its Solutrean equivalent in Europe. The flintwork does not resemble the Solutrean, and finally the physical human type does not at all resemble Cro-Magnon Man (Arensburg & Baryosef, 1973).
According to Drs. Dennis Stanford and Bruce Bradely of the Smithsonian Institution, the bulk of the Solutreans ventured westward toward the Americas rather than eastward to the Levant. (Stanford & Bradely, 2004) Such could explain the lack of definitive Solutrean remains to the east. Another possible solution to this “missing culture” problem is to divide the stages of the long-lived Antelian into “Early” and “Late” Antelian, as did Garrod (1954) in his careful analysis of the Levantine Paleolithic. The dates roughly correspond. These stages are easily distinguishable, and do represent two separate intrusions into Palestine.
In fact, Freedman (1978) uses the term “second wave” to describe this added influx of “Antelians” into the Levant, also noting that it arrived later than the Aurignacian in Western Europe—suggestive of general movement from west to east. At least five different theories are given by professionals for the point of origin of this culture, which means there is much uncertainty among archeologists as to its possible origin (no gestation stage has been found anywhere). I have thereby altered the table below to reflect this latest viewpoint.
The very next “intrusive” culture which has been determined as settling in Palestine is that known as the Atlitians around 14,000 B.C. To get an idea of the correlation between the main Cro-Magnon intrusions (i.e., Western Europe and North Africa) and the Palestine sequence, I have included the chart below.
Chart showing a comparison between the Western intrusive cultures and the Outpost in Palestine
A little further on in my book, I wrote, “Once again an isolated culture, the Atlitian, existed in Palestine strangely similar to a western Cro-Magnon culture, this time the Magdalenian” (Leonard, 1979). The Atlitian culture has been called the eastern equivalent of the Magdalenian in Western Europe (Garrod & Bate, 1937), and is described as “rare and enigmatic” (Dr. Robert E. Bell, personal communication).
Concerning one particular skull, Carleton Coon writes: “One Jabel Qafza skull, No. 6, looks more modern than any of the Skhul specimens. Essentially it is the same as the Upper Paleolithic skulls from western Europe . . . .” (Coon, 1962) This particular skull may be respresentative of the later Atlitian culture. Dating can be difficult, since the caves are often used as “cemeteries,” resulting in bones being separated from their associated archeological context.
A wide diversity exists typologically in the stone artifacts of the Atlitians, although microliths are not found. But most Atlitian experts believe that a number of sites can be included in this stage despite the differences between them. A few such sites would be Mugharet el Wad, El Khiam, Ksar Akil, Nahal Ein-Gev I, and the Nahal Oren terrace site.
The Atlitian culture lasted for roughly four thousand years with only minor changes—then something happened. I believe it is not without significance that it ended abruptly circa. 10,000 B.C., a date approximating the demise of Atlantis—in fact, a Natufian bone calendar has been found which begins circa. 10,000 B.C. (Marshack, 1972) Thus we see the Atlitian was succeeded immediately by another even more advanced and innovative culture, the Natufian. Chronologically, the Natufian corresponds to the Azilian in Western Europe—both appeared at the very beginning of the Mesolithic Age.
The Natufian culture was considerably advanced for a Mesolithic culture, and most anthropologists believe it was among them that the domestication of animals and agriculture began—although I have shown elsewhere that both were practised earlier by the Cro-Magnon people. Tools for reaping and grinding of grains have been unearthed, as well as a large assemblage of microliths. The Natufians are believed also to have invented clay pottery and domesticated the dog (Dr. Bell, personal communication).
Even though cultural scientists have not been able to discover what kind of ships they may have had, one must assume some form of sea navigation enabling the armies of the island of Atlantis to impinge on the established cultures of mainland Europe and Africa (see also my Atlanteans in America page).
Noting the geographical gap between the Cro-Magnon cultures in the west and this so-called “outpost” in the Levant, one has to assume that Atlanteans had sailed eastward to the far end of the Mediterranean on numerous occasions, establishing their colonies there. Whether it was valuable minerals or simply fertile land that attracted them is so far unclear; but whatever the reason, it seems the outpost, beginning with the Antelian and continuing through the Atlitian, survived for tens of thousands of years.
So why bother with this obscure and out-of-the-way outpost? I am convinced that, at least toward the end, the Atlantean civilization was an empire. From the evidence uncovered, there were outposts, not only in the Levant, but also on the Atlantic seaboard of Africa, the Canary Islands, in Egypt, in Spain and northern France, among the greater and lesser Antilles of the western hemisphere, in Peru and Bolivia, and possibly even Antarctica.
But most importantly, the outpost discussed here is not far from the ruined acropolis of Baalbek, in Lebanon (see Archeology page). The very existence of the megalithic platform at Baalbek testifies to the advanced technology possessed by these late ice age people in producing monumental architecture. There is also late archeological evidence that this relatively small Palestinian outpost eventually extended into the southern Negev of Palestine (Goring-Morris, 1987), but much more work needs to be done in that area.
Glossary of Terms
AAPA, 76th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Philadelphia, March 2007.
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Version 1.6: Updated 12 Aug 2013.