George McCready Price
George F. Dodwell (1879-1963) was a leading Australian astronomer, who made an extensive study of ancient gnomons and discovered that they deviated from the expected. A gnomon is the part of a sundial that casts the shadow. He concluded that there was consistent evidence that the tilt of the earth’s rotational axis was altered around 2345 BC. This view supported those that have claimed that the poles shifted within the memory of man, possibly as a result of a close encounter or impact with an extraterrestrial body such as a comet. Some have gone further and attribute the destruction of Atlantis to this clash. Dodwell’s complete work on the subject can now be read on Barry Setterfield’s website(a).
Dodwell, a devout Christian, concluded that it was this sudden shift of the earth’s axis that led to the Flood of Noah. Rene Noorbergen (1928-1995) mentions in his Secrets of the Lost Races[612.20] that Dodwell wrote to Professor Arthur J. Brandenberger of Ohio State University, outling his theory in the following manner; “I have been making during the last 26 years an extensive investigation of what we know in astronomy as the secular variation of the obliquity of the ecliptic. From a study of the available ancient observations of the position of the sun at the solstices during the last three thousand years, I find a curve which, after allowing for all known changes, shows a typical exponential curve of recovery of the Earth’s axis after a sudden change from a former nearly vertical position to an inclination of 26½ degrees, from which it was returned to an equilibrium at the present inclination of 23½ degrees during the interval of the succeeding 3,194 years to A.D. 1850. The date of the change in the Earth’s axis, 2345 B.C., is none other than that of the flood recorded in the Bible, and the resulting conclusion is that the Biblical account of the flood as a universal one, together with its story of Noah’s Ark, is historically true’.
Dodwell was also impressed by the work of the creationist, George McCready Price (1870-1963), who had also concluded that the Earth’s axial tilt had been altered as a result of an impact with a celestial body. Price also linked the event with the biblical Deluge.
Dodwell referred to a paper of F.S.Richards on the orientation of the Temple of Ammon at Karnak(b), which indicated an anomalous obliquity of the ecliptic of 25°9’55”. This led to considerable debate regarding the age of the temple. William Fix drew attention[871.264] to the widespread reuse of very ancient sacred sites by successive cultures, which might explain the incompatibility between the apparent age of the most recent temple and the greater antiquity suggested by the obliquity of the ecliptic. Alternatively, it might also indicate an encounter with an extraterrestrial body that affected the Earth’s axis and caused widespread destruction, including, according to some theories, the destruction of Atlantis!
In the interests of balance, I must refer readers to an extensive 2013 paper(f) by a creationist, Dr. Danny Faulkner, who has cast doubts on Dodwell’s conclusions.
Another interesting comment is offered by Barry Setterfield, who wrote(a) that “ Dodwell has assumed here that the original axis tilt of the earth, before 2345 B.C., was nearly upright. For that reason, he supposed a very strong impact was necessary to jolt the earth from that position to its current 23.5 degree tilt. This is why a number of astronomers have rejected Dodwell’s work in this area. However, if the axis tilt was greater than its current axis tilt before 2345 B.C., then an impact of much less force would have been required to restore the earth to a slightly more upright position. The evidence for this greater axis tilt may be seen in the evidence of the ice age which covered most of Europe prior to 2345 B.C.”
Malcolm Bowden, author of True Science Agrees with the Bible, also wrote a pamphlet supporting Dodwell’s findings and later produced an YouTube video explaining in detail Dodwell’s axial tilt theory(g).
In 2011, Mike Baillie, the renowned dendrochronologist, gave a PowerPoint presentation(d) at the Quantavolution Conference in Athens, which offered tree-ring evidence that clearly demonstrated an ‘event’ in 2345BC, which has counterparts in early Chinese and Middle East records suggesting a cometary encounter/impact! Baillie also notes that Isaac Newton and Edmund Halley both thought that Archbishop Ussher’s Flood of 2349 BC was due to a comet.
More recently, Andrew Bourmistroff, a Russian researcher, has determined that the orientation of the Great Pyramid at Giza is off by 9.85 degrees west of true north(e). The significance, if any, of all these details has yet to be fully determined.
Earth Axial Tilt is the term used to describe the extent to which the Earth’s rotational axis is out of true with its orbital plane around the sun. This tilt varies between 24.5 degrees and 22.1 degrees over the course of a 41,000-year cycle. The current tilt is 23.5 degrees.
The Australian astronomer G.F. Dodwell made a study of ancient gnomons erected in many parts of the world and discovered that they did not conform to the theoretical curve. His studies indicate that an unexplained change to the Earth’s axis took place around 2345 BC. He apparently concluded that the data indicated an effect similar to that of a spinning top that has been hit and is regaining equilibrium(a). Dodwell’s discoveries have been seized upon by creationists as support for a ‘young’ earth. In fact, one creationist, George McCready Price (1870-1963), had independently concluded that the Earth’s axial tilt had been caused by an impact with an extraterrestrial body, an event that also caused the biblical Deluge.*Paul Dunbavin has now produced a review of Dodwell’s work and its possible relevance to his own theories(e).
A number of catastrophists, including Immanuel Velikovsky, have claimed that close encounters or actual impacts with other celestial bodies have caused changes in the Earth’s rotational characteristics. They further contend these changes have occurred within the experience of man, who has conveyed them through myth and legend to us.
There has been considerable speculation that such an encounter may have precipitated tectonic, seismic or tidal effects that led to the destruction of Atlantis.
A 2010 paper by Mihai Radu Draghici suggests(b) that an impact in the South Pacific created what is known as Drake’s Passage which separates South America from Antarctica. He also suggests that this event affected the tilt of the earth and that it probably took place within the memory of man.
An intriguing passage can be found in the apochryphal Book of Enoch which seems to endorse the idea that the tilt of the earth’s axis occurred when Enoch was alive and was later recorded.
“In those days Noah saw that the earth became inclined, and that destruction approached.”(c) [Enoch LXIV. 1 – trans. Richard Laurence, 1883]
An American researcher, John M. Jensen Jr., offers evidence from around the world that can be interpreted as offering support for an Earth Axial Tilt within the memory of man. Jensen goes further and proposes a fairly specific date for this dramatic event, namely, May 8 to May 15 of -3,448 YBP (his present was 2014).(d)