First published in Amateur Astronomy & Earth Sciences, April 1996.
“When the Earth Nearly Died”: Dramatic New Evidence
Nigel Blair looks at a remarkable new book published by Gateway Books — “When the Earth Nearly Died” by D.S.Allan and J.B.Delair, subtitled “Compelling Evidence of a World Cataclysm 11,500 years ago” – i.e. 9,500 B.C. Its thesis is based on very extensive worldwide scientific evidence, largely of recent date, collected from painstaking geological, meteorological and archaeological research written up in scholarly and often obscure journals. It all points unerringly to this date, which coincides almost exactly with Plato’s reference to the sinking of Atlantis as being 9,000 years before he wrote.
The authors conclude that a series of massive cosmic bodies passed so close to the Earth that some of them struck, including possibly in the western Atlantic, and almost wiped out all life on the planet through a great conflagration, a universal flood and a terrifying cosmic bombardment. There were huge earthquakes, fiery volcanoes, the upheaval of the great majority of the world’s major mountain ranges, the distortion of the Earth’s tectonic plates and the shifting of the axis of the planet. Some land rose, much sank including Atlantis, coastlines and river valleys were deluged, and the forces of destruction were let loose on what remained above water. There was an age of darkness, dying plant life, despair and bleakness.
Phaeton, “The Shining One”: Ancient Myths Of The Cosmic Body Of Destruction
The thesis centres on the cosmic body, which Allan and Delair argue was not an asteroid but a chunk of exploded astral matter from a nearby supernova. They call it Phaeton [Phaethon], after the ancient mythical name. It occurs first in the original accounts from Hyginus, Euripides and Ovid. It was described as the son of the sun-god Helios, and literally means “the shining one”. They quote extensively from ancient legend and mythology, from which a few examples follow.
An ancient Jewish tradition tells that the Deluge was caused by “the Lord God changing the places of two stars in a constellation”. A Persian legend speaks of a fiery “Tistrya”, which was “the leader of the stars against the planets”. The ancient Hindu account of Brahma and his followers has him noting the arrival in the sky of a very small white body which, within an hour, grew to seem as big as an elephant before hitting the Earth and causing a worldwide flood.
Chinese legends tell how, in the reign of the Emperor Ya-hou, a bright star came from the “Yin” constellation, just before a great planetary upheaval. Tribal legends of southern California talk of a star-like or sun-like body which traversed the heavens at will and scorched the Earth when it approached. In ancient Peru, the hero who survived the flood by climbing a mountain did so by accurately plotting the unusual movements of “stars”.
Many traditions refer to two or more visiting bodies. In the Nordic myths, two heavenly monstrosities, the Midgard Serpent and the Fenris-Wolf, acting together, brought catastrophe to the mythical ancient Earth. They were said to have three offshoots, the equally terrible “sons of Muspelheim”. In ancient Persian myth, Earth suffered greatly from two bodies, Ahriman and the snake-like Azhidhaka, otherwise known as Zohak and Iblis. In the Bible, there was of course the heavenly war between Lucifer, usually identified by Christians (and by the Book of Revelation) with Satan, and Michael and his angels. Lucifer was beaten and “cast down onto Earth”.
Marduk And Tiamat: Battle Of The Planets In Mesopotamian Legend
Allan and Delair devote a major section to Mesopotamian legends, based on the accomplished astronomy of the Sumerians and Chaldeans. Akkadian cylinder-seals show eleven planets circling the Sun. Even including the Moon as a planet, this still leaves one planet unaccounted for. When and how was this lost?
We know from Diodorus Siculus that the Chaldeans knew of the Solar System with the Sun at its centre, the Moon reflecting its light, and the planets each on its own orbit. Evidence from a Sumerian clay tablet now in the Berlin Museum suggests that the signs of the Zodiac go back to around 11,000 B.C., or Atlantean times, a point confirmed by Diodorus Siculus who says that astrology, which in those days included astronomy, began in Atlantis. In aid of their astrology, Assyrian, Chaldean and Sumerian astronomers kept precise ephemerides — tables that listed and predicted the future locations of the planets and other heavenly bodies. Amongst other things, they knew of the planets Neptune and Uranus and the constellations of Draco, Ursa Major, Triangulum, Cepheus, Cygnus and Lyra. So we know that astronomers in what we think of as prehistoric times were in fact keeping fairly accurate records of the sky, especially in the Middle East.
In a clay tablet from Ur, third millennium B.C., is a detailed classification of the constellations, including an especially interesting name: “Enlil”, which may have meant something like “Demon Lord”. The Assyrians referred to him as “Bel”, who was identified with the cosmic hero-figure Marduk, in turn identifiable with Phaeton. In Sumerian mythology, “Enlil” was thought to be second only to the supreme sun god Apsu. However, later he disobeyed divine laws, and was banished to the underworld. Allan and Delair see this as another rendering of the remarkably similar Lucifer legend, in which this being, originally second only to God, was thrown into “a bottomless pit”; or the Phaeton legend in which a very similar being, nearly as radiant as Helios (the Sun), was destroyed, his remains cast down from the sky and buried under the Earth. “Enlil”, they argue, is therefore apparently another name for Phaeton.
On clay tablets of about 650 B.C., found in Assurbanipal’s palace library at Nineveh, is the oldest extant version of an Akkadian creation epic similar to Genesis in many ways. Usually regarded as purely allegorical and portraying the eternal struggle between light and darkness, it can also, according to Allan and Delair, be seen as an account of the Phaeton near-miss of the Earth and all its results. In Part Four Chapter 16, “War in Heaven”, page 218, they describe the extraordinarily close parallels. Space does not permit their repetition here, but suffice it to say that readers will probably agree that they make a good case for such an interpretation, in general outline if not always in detail.
If it is correct, one important feature is added to the story: there was an extra planet, called Tiamat, that was destroyed by Marduk’s close approach. The authors argue that its rotation was retarded or stopped by electrical discharges from Marduk, and its outer shell was split open leading to the disintegration of the entire planet. Marduk then dragged a lot of the debris along in its wake, possibly creating the asteroid belt that we know today. Some of the asteroids orbit in groups suggesting that they had at one time been parts of one or more larger bodies. Meanwhile, Marduk acquired “Kingu”, the Akkadian word supposedly denoting Tiamat’s satellite, and some of the debris, which were later to provide ammunition for the fearsome bombardment of Earth.
Allan and Delair support this thesis by reference to the Greek myth in Homer’s “Iliad” of a time of strife in the heavens between the god Aries (Mars) and the goddess Pallas Athene (Venus). They think it refers specifically to the passage of Marduk (Pallas Athene) past the planet Mars, which they say has certain inexplicable anomalies, notably an eccentric orbit and extensive fracturing of its crust, which they argue could be caused by similar treatment meted out to Mars as later was inflicted on Earth. The two peculiarly shaped Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, could be captured fragments of the shattered Tiamat. One other point about this myth is important: a planet, “Electra”, left the heavens never to be seen again.
Multi-headed Serpents And Dragons In The Sky
Allan and Delair highlight several key features of the depiction of the cosmic bodies in these ancient myths from all over the world. They are generally connected with water and floods; they are frequently described as serpents or dragons, and often as multi-headed, with such attributes as gaping jaws, horns, sparkling crowns, glowing manes, speckled bodies, great jets of fire, clouds of pestilence, poisonous blasts or streams of “blood”; with hissing, roaring or explosive sounds. They were all gigantic and shining, often with glowing haloes or trails. These descriptions, the authors convincingly argue, closely resemble what we would expect from a cosmic body coming close by Earth, accompanied by other smaller ones some of which may have hit the planet, and surrounded by blazing methane clouds shooting out burning hydrocarbons and poisonous blasts.
Having unlike its attendants survived the encounter with Earth, Phaeton headed back towards the Sun. According to Allan and Delair, confused human memories have come down to us of a great dragon or fiery monster shining in the sky and moving toward the Sun just after the Great Flood. Survivors might have seen glimpses of it in the rare gaps in the clouds during the rapid onset of the dark age following the catastrophe.
Those who saw all or some of these dramatic cosmic events — and survived — would never have forgotten, and may even have recorded them in some of the dot-and-ring marks that appear, for example, on a large flat rock on Ardmarnoch in western Scotland. We know that heavenly objects and stellar alignments feature frequently in megalithic structures and carvings, such as Stonehenge and Callanish. It would therefore be surprising, the authors argue, if such a cosmic and shattering event, even at so distant a date, went unrecorded in carvings.
One thing we know for certain. It did not go unrecorded on the column of stone in the Egyptian College of Priests at Saïs. For there the name of Phaeton, or Phaethon, was carved in hieroglyphics and read out, together with the story of Atlantis, to Solon in 571 B.C. This name was specifically mentioned by the Egyptian priests who gave him the account of Atlantis, as a myth whose real meaning was a drastic disturbance of the planetary bodies bringing catastrophes to Earth. Atlantis was destroyed, they said, in just such a disaster.
“Fearsome Worldwide Bombardments”: The Near-destruction Of Life On Earth
In part 5 Chapter 2, “Confrontation”, Allan and Delair add a good deal more detail about Phaeton, “Kingu”, the “attendants” or smaller bodies and their cataclysmic effects on Earth. Ancient descriptions of them, especially Persian, say the ominous group of bodies in the sky constantly changed shape, for example sometimes resembling a human shape, sometimes a golden-horned bull, and sometimes a horse. This the authors put down to the changing angles from which the objects were seen. As they approached, the Earth began to wobble and shift on its axis. Their evidence is from magnetic charges still detectable in igneous rocks of this period, which are apparently between ten and a hundred times stronger than anything which could have been caused by unaided internal Earth movements.
“Kingu” was separated from Phaeton and the Earth’s axial spin was stopped or at least slowed, causing terrible destruction on Earth. In particular, the waters of the world’s rivers, oceans and lakes were removed en masse from their normal homes and concentrated in the area closest to the cosmic bodies, causing gigantic tidal waves and floods. As the Earth’s rotation slowed down, terrifying winds blew up which bodily transported whole masses of loose rocks and surface materials enormous distances, flattened entire forests, and whipped up vast volumes of water to great heights.
Meanwhile, the flows of semi-liquid volcanic magma, also pulled towards the locality of the Phaeton group, created a number of new mountain ranges as enormous fractures and buckling of the tectonic plates occurred, vast rivers of molten lava flowed and stifling clouds of dust and gas spread out over wide areas. Amongst these new ranges were the Andes, on which could have been the ancient precursor of the great stone city of Tiahuanaco, pushed up to about 13,500 feet by the cataclysm. In some places clouds of volcanic gas carried large stones for miles, making marks on the surfaces of the rock often confused by experts with those caused by glaciers. Along with high-pressure steam full of grit, these carved out whole valleys and rock surfaces. Hot mud in voluminous torrents cascaded down hillsides taking giant boulders with it. Countless creatures were trapped underground, in useless refuges, and animals, humans and plants on the surface had no chance at all.
The Moon was changed to its present orbit. In Slav mythology there is a star, or planet, called Gokihar or “Wolf-progeny” which “disturbed the Moon” in ancient times causing great catastrophes, probably the same phenomenon. The smaller cosmic body, “Kingu”, had become trapped by Earth and now began to break up. Frozen liquids from this would initially have cascaded down on the Earth: vast sheets of water and hail, as in the Noah’s Flood story
A great final explosion of “Kingu” must have caused a deadly blast. The largest fragments, what the Norse sagas called the “sons of Muspelheim”, would have inflicted great craters on the planet. Some of these may be the ones recently discovered, subtly hidden in the contours of great landmasses as in northern Canada. Following this would have been fearsome worldwide bombardments of rocks, iron pieces and the like. Sheets of sand and dust, blazing fluids and sticky liquids probably followed. The crater fields of South Carolina would have been caused at this time, together with similar craters or “bays” in Holland. Allan and Delair believe that a series of “lakes” all aligned from north-west to south-east are the basins formed by the impacts in that distant time.
The main cosmic body, Phaeton, according to them, then escaped toward the sun leaving “Kingu” to finish its disintegration over Earth. With the Moon on a new orbit, and the Earth on a radically different axial tilt, all was in chaos. The piled-up tides of water and magma returned to their normal homes, causing colossal tidal waves and searing gales making our present-day hurricanes and typhoons look like gentle gusts. Countless stories from mythology described the waters advancing like a wall of irresistible power and awesome height. They submerged not only valleys but hills and the slopes of mountains, being stopped only by the highest mountain ranges. Collapsed parts of the Earth’s crust became new ocean basins.
All organic matter in their path was destroyed or gathered up and deposited chaotically in all directions. There was a massive biological extinction indiscriminate in its effects. Human beings — the lucky, or perhaps unlucky ones who survived — were witness to something which humanity as a whole has probably never suffered to this degree before or since.
“When the Earth Nearly Died” is a book not to be missed. It adds a great deal to the already plentiful evidence for a global catastrophe that not only destroyed Atlantis, but fundamentally interrupted the evolution of the Earth and of humanity, somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 B.C. It combines scientific and mythological evidence in an impressive manner. It leaves little doubt that the very existence of civilization was threatened, and that humanity’s survival was in the balance.
The Survivors: “Homo Sapiens Sapiens”?
Meanwhile, Atlantean Man is identified with Cro-Magnon, or Aurignacian Man: Homo Sapiens Sapiens, the first really modern human, upright, with large brain and developed larynx for speech. This culture still survived as the colonisers of the remnants of the Atlantean empire. Like other colonisers in history who have lost their homeland, they preserved what they could of the language, technology and culture, but they were attacked by predators, hungry and cold in the new dark age after the floods and dust cloud. They were unable to maintain their original culture and, like Britain after the Romans left, declined into a long period of chaos, isolation and racial amnesia: possibly the distant ancestors of cultures like the Basques, Sumerians, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Carians, Mayans, proto-North American Indians, Mayas, pre- Olmecs and pre-Incas.
© Copyright Nigel Blair. 1996
First published in Amateur Astronomy & Earth Sciences, April 1996.