The Osirion Civilisation is a term recently concocted to describe the peoples of the antediluvian Mediterranean region including pre-dynastic Egypt. The Osirion at Abydos is offered as an example of their architecture. The concept has been promoted by David Hatcher Childress in one of his books in the ‘Lost Cities’ series. Inevitably, the internet has taken up this highly speculative idea.
Scott Ogburn is an Adjunct Professor in the department of Landscape Architecture at Temple University, Pennsylvania. His interests include archaeoastronomy, the influence of astronomy on sacred architecture, as well as sacred geometry.
MUFON, possibly the world’s oldest UFO network have sponsored a lecture by Ogburn on the subject of Atlantis entitled Legends and the Sacred Architecture of Ancient Atlantis, touching on structures at the Great Pyramid, the Sphinx, the Osirian Temple at Abydos, the Gateway of the Sun in Bolivia, and the ruins of Puma Punku(a).
The Cygnus Constellation was the location of a supernova which inspired the story of Phaeton, as related to Solon by the priests at Sais, according to Michael A. Cahill in his two-volume Paradise Rediscovered [818/9].
Andrew Collins has also written on the place of the constellation Cygnus in prehistoric consciousness. Arising from this study, it appears that the position of the Cygnus stars correlate more accurately with the Giza pyramids than those of Orion, which was proposed some years ago by Robert Bauval. Collins continues with the Cygnus-Giza connection in a subsequent offering, Beneath the Pyramids. Derek Cunningham has echoed(a) some of Collins’ work suggesting that there existed in ancient times a World Map based on the Cygnus constellation!
Anthony Murphy and Richard Moore have also written(b) about the Cygnus Constellation and a possible link with Ireland’s Newgrange.
*Freddy Silva has endeavoured to link Cygnus with the Osirion in Abydos in a 2019 article(c) in which he dated the structure to 10,500 BC.*
Abydos, known locally as Umm el-Qa’ab, is a site in Upper Egypt that contains a variety of structures including the Osirion, which is alleged to be burial-place of Osiris, the Egyptian deity who was the father of Horus and the brother and husband of Isis. It was discovered in 1901/2 by Sir William Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) and Margaret Alice Murray (1863-1963)(c). The Osirion has a number of unusual features that have led some, such as John Anthony West(a) to conclude that it is from a much earlier period than the adjacent Temple of Seti I.
This view is based on at least three observations.
(i) The foundations of the Osirion are much lower than those of the Temple of Seti, a feature that would have been totally unprecedented. It is more likely that structure was originally designed to be built at ground level in a conventional manner. However, after construction, the ground level rose over succeeding years with the deposits of silt from the annual inundation by the Nile. Consequently, when the adjacent Temple of Seti was built, a considerable number of years later, it was erected on much higher ground beside a buried Osirion.
(ii) The Temple of Seti has an unusual unique outline being ‘L’ shaped instead of having the usual rectangular form. This would seem to suggest that during the construction of the temple, the builders discovered the buried Osirion and had to alter the original design.
(iii) For some, the most compelling reason for dating the Osirion differently to Seti’s Temple is that stylistically the structure is totally at variance with anything else from Seti’s era.
*In 1995, Graham Hancock drew attention to this difference in style and in a 2019 article, Freddy Silva also commented on this dissonance(h), but notes that while the Osirion at first sight does not appear to have any obvious astronomical alignment, “only in the epoch of 10,000 BC do connections begin emerge, for the constellation Cygnus appears in full upright ascent over the horizon in conjunction with the axis of the temple, the entrance framing its brightest star, Deneb.”
Silva added that the Osirion “represents a complete departure from standard temple design. However, a geological appraisal contradicts this opinion. In ancient times the level of the Nile was fifty feet lower than today, its course seven miles closer to and beside the Osirion. When North Africa was subjected to major flooding between 10,500-8000 BC, layers of Nile silt gradually compacted and rose inch by inch until they surrounded and covered the Osirion. In other words, the temple was originally a freestanding feature on the floodplain.”
For my part, the apparent absence of contemporary hieroglyphics in the Osirion seems to suggest a preliterate period for its construction. The Valley Temple and the Sphinx Temple at Giza show similiar construction techniques and are also devoid of inscriptions. As I see it, there is no unequivocal evidence on offer to demonstrate that the Osirion could not be much earlier than the nearby Seti Temple. Therefore, I would urge caution before hastily dismissing Hancock, Silva and others in this regard.*
This suggestion of an earlier date, such as in Ralph Ellis’ Thoth, the Architect of the Universe, has added weight to the more general claim that other Egyptian monuments such as the Sphinx and some of the lower courses of the Great Pyramid are also from a predynastic era. This is interpreted by some as evidence of an early civilisation that might be more in keeping with 9600 BC date in the story of Atlantis told to Solon by the Egyptian priests at Sais.
A sceptic’s view of the claimed early date for the Osirion can be read online(d).
Klaus H. Aschenbrenner has produced an Internet article, Giza and Abydos: The Keys to Atlantis, unfortunately in German only, which bravely promotes the idea of an 11th millennium BC date for parts of both Giza and Abydos.
Hieroglyphics in the Temple of Osiris at Abydos have also been seized upon by proponents of ancient technology existing in prehistoric times and possible links to a hi-tech Atlantis. These carvings suggest the outline of a helicopter and a submarine! A refutation of this interpretation, by Margaret Morris(b) and others(e)(f) has demonstrated that the carvings have been reworked and that some of the plaster infill had deteriorated. Furthermore, there is clear evidence that images of the hieroglyphics circulating on the internet were digitally ‘tidied up’.
In November 2016, it was announced that a city was unearthed not far from the Abydos temples, where “it is believed the city was home to important officials and tomb builders and would have flourished during early-era ancient Egyptian times.(g)“
(b) http://www.margaretmorrisbooks.com/atlantis_and_giza.html (Offline May 2018) See Archive 2727
A Bull Cult is noted by Plato as one of the characteristics of the culture of Atlantis. Unfortunately it does little to identify the location of Atlantis since the bull featured prominently in the culture of so many ancient peoples and continues today, principally in the bullfights of Spain, Portugal, and Mexico.
In northern Italy there was a Gaulish tribe called the Taurini during the first and second centuries BC. The bull was also a symbol of the southern Italic tribes, in a region which Plato informs us was occupied by Atlanteans(e).*In Sicily, modern Taormina was formerly known as Tauromenium in Roman times, which may suggest an even earlier association with a bull cult!*
Mithraism, which originated in Iranian mythology and developed rapidly in Italy in the first century AD, included in its beliefs, the killing of a bull by the deity Mithras(g).
Writing in Egerton Sykes’ Atlantis in 1955 (Vol.8 No.3), Vera Howe outlined the extent of the bull cults which ranged from Assyria, across the Mediterranean and up to the British Isles. In the February 1963 (Vol.16 No.1) edition of the samejournal, it is recounted that Ireland had bull feasts and bull-fighting in ancient times. There is also evidence of a bull cult among the Picts of Scotland(h). Let us not forget that the Israelites began to worship a golden bull-calf when they thought that they had been abandoned by Moses(b).
It is generally accepted that the bull was also associated with lunar religions(a) as the horns resembled the crescent Moon. Even today the crecent is one of the principal icons of the Islamic faith.
At the 2005 Atlantis Conference, Professor Stavros Papamarinopoulos delivered a paper(i) outlining the Bronze Age bull rituals in Egypt and the Aegean and their parallels in Iberia. In the Temple of Seti at Abydos there is a well-known wall carving depicting Seti I and his son Ramses II roping a bull and further along the wall sacrificing it.
Robert Ishoy had pointed out bull carvings in Sardinia. The Minoan bull jumpers on Crete are widely known. The Egyptians had a cult of Apis the Bull, a fact mentioned by R. McQuillen in support of his Egyptian Atlantis theory. When the Israelites rebelled they worshipped a golden calf or more correctly a young bull (Exodus 32). Exodus 29.36 also instructs the priests that “Each day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement.“
In the seventeenth century Olof Rudbeck associated the ancient Swedish custom of sacrificing a bull to Odin with the bull immolation described in Plato’s Atlantis.
Carvings of bulls’ heads decorated the home of ancient Anatolia in modern Turkey. There are bull carvings to be seen at Tarxien in Malta and not far away in Northern Tunisia ancient carvings of bulls are also to be found(c). The ancient Celts also included bulls in their ceremonies. The Assyrians had a bull-god as their guardian. The oldest church in Toulouse is dedicated to St. Taur, a possible reference to an earlier bull cult. Further afield, in India, there is a bull taming sport, jallikattu, which is practiced annually in the villages of the southern state of Tamil Nadu and recently the subject of a failed attempt to ban it(f).
Dhani Irwanto, who claims a Sundaland location for Atlantis has proposed that Plato’s mention of bulls was the result a distorted account of the original Atlantis narrative brought by refugees from Indonesia and was a reference to the local water buffalo!
Peter James in a short appendix to his book, The Sunken Kingdom supports a Lydian origin for the Atlantis tale argued that Plato’s text makes no reference to the bull-leaping game depicted in Minoan art. However, quoted the studies of the British anthropologist Jane Harrison(1850-1928) who discovered that a coin from Troy’s Roman period depicted a bull being sacrificed in exactly the same manner as Plato’s description, namely, suspended from a pillar. The Roman bull sacrifice ritual was known as ‘taurobolium’.
James also provides other instances of possible Atlantean style bull worship in the same region which also contains his proposed location for Atlantis, ancient Sipylus.
In conclusion therefore, it must be obvious from the above that Plato’s reference to bull rituals is no definitive guide to finding an exclusive location and so probably has limited value in any quest for Atlantis.
(c) http://encyclopedieberbere.revues.org/1697 (French)
(e) Timaeus 25b & Critias 114c
John Anthony West (1932-2018 ) was born in New York City and is often referred to as a maverick Egyptologist. The principal reason for this soubriquet is his contention that the Sphinx is far older than conventionally accepted. He was greatly influenced by the writings of R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz who was the first to question the date of the monument based on what he considered extensive water erosion that could only have occurred many thousands of years earlier than the establishment view. It was at West’s request that Robert Schoch, the American geologist, agreed to investigate the Sphinx. Schoch’s conclusion was that water erosion was indeed evident and he controversially dated the carving of the front of the Sphinx to somewhere between 7000 BC and 5000 BC.
West has also questioned the age of the Osirion at Abydos dating it back to 10,000 BC or earlier. He is convinced that a more ancient Sphinx and Osirion raises the question of a lost civilisation at the end of the last Ice Age that may have been the Atlantis of legend.
West supports the idea of Atlantis without specifying a location, declaring that, “Given all this evidence, ‘Atlantis’ can no longer be ignored by anyone seriously interested in the truth.” [0452.230]
Apart from his non-fiction output West has written a book of short stories, a novel, plays and film scripts. His TV documentary on the Sphinx won acclaim in the UK and USA. West also maintains a website(a).
West and Robert Schoch have now formed a documentary production company, Akio Enterprises, that already has a couple of projects in the pipeline.
In January 2017, it was announced that West was suffering from Stage 4 cancer. However, athough he won his fight with cancer, his body had been badly weakened and on February 7th 2018, his death was announced(b).