Archaeoastronomy is a relatively new scientific discipline, which as the name implies combines archaeology and astronomy, particularly in the study of ancient megalithic monuments and their possible alignment with various celestial bodies.
Arguably the most famous example is Stonehenge, but our globe is littered with ancient monuments incorporating solar, lunar or astral alignments. Not all are as impressive or accessible as Stonehenge, Callanish or Newgrange but in remote places such as Nabta Playa or Fajada Butte (see Hadingham[1308.152]).
The subject was initially considered by some to be a ‘fringe’ topic, but in 1999 Clive Ruggles was appointed Professor of Archaeoastronomy at the University of Leicester(a) and is the author of the encyclopedic Ancient Astronomy.
The University of Maryland has had a Center for Archaeoastronomy since 1978(c).
The subject has never been central to Atlantis studies, but has hovered in the background, with writers such a Egerton Sykes(b) and Graham Hancock who employed aspects of the discipline in their publications.
*Giulio Magli (1964- ) is an Italian archaeaostronomer with a website in English(e) dedicated to the application of the discipline in Egypt. In 2013, Magli proposed that aspects of the Göbleki Tepe site are related to the recent appearance of Sirius in the night sky around 9300 BC(f) . Andrew Collins and Rodney Hale argue against this interpretation(g) , which is perhaps understandable as they support a linkage with the Cygnus constellation. A 2004 paper by Magli, on precessional effects in ancient astronomy(h) , has recently been applied by Lenie Reedijk to her contention that the Maltese temples were oriented to Sirius.*
A recent application of the discipline was by Martin Sweatman and Dimitrios Tsikritsis who also used it to interpret the carved symbols at Göbekli Tepe. In a 2017 paper(d) they concluded that the pillars there were used to record meteor showers and cometary encounters. They believe that one such encounter involved the explosion or impact of part of Encke’s Comet around 13,000 years ago, which triggered the Younger Dryas Event that kick-started the Neolithic Revolution. Sweatman later expanded the work in his book Prehistory Decoded .
Archaeoastronomy is one of only a few dozen words with four consecutive vowels.
The Taulas, on the island of Menorca in the Balearics, are one of a number of distinctive types of often enigmatic megalithic structures found on some of the islands of the Central and Western Mediterranean. Along with taulas(a) we have the menhirs of Corsica(b), the nuraghi of Sardinia(c) and the temples of Malta(d). It has been claimed(e) that the Maltese temples were built by ancient Sicilians, a claim which raises an obvious question as to why, if that was the case, no comparable temples were built on Sicily, which does have its own collection of dolmens(f).
Peter Hochsieder & Doris Knösel have published an extensive study of the thirty-one taulas remaining, including an investigation of their possible archaeoastronomical significance.*A recent study(g) of Neolithic tombs in Monte Revincu, appears to confirm that these monuments had an astronomical orientation, supporting the opinions of Michael Hoskin as well as those of Hochsieder & Knösel(h).*
Taulas (which means ‘table’ in Catalan) are frequently found near talayots, which are earlier tower-like structures of which there are at least 274 on Majorca and Menorca.
I have commented elsewhere that the shape of the taulas is remarkably like that of the monuments found at Göbekli Tepe!
*(b) http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/europe/france/corsica/sart%C3%A8ne-sart%C3%A8-around/megalithic-sites/ (link broken Jan. 2019) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20160918230516/http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/europe/france/corsica/sartène-sartè-around/megalithic-sites/*
Jon Nelo Juganaru (1948- ) is Romanian by birth, but emigrated to the United Staes, where he laboured as a glass artist and now writes under the pen-name of ‘Raven Alb J.’
His 2012 book, Why and How the Ice Age Ended, is a large tome that should have been edited to fraction of its size. As the title suggests it deals with the ending of the of the last Ice Age, which he claims was caused by an asteroid impact that also led to a Pole Shift. Another consequence was the destuction of Atlantis, which Juganaru identifies as Europe with its capital city situated in the Black Sea.
Among a number of his odd claims is that Göbekli Tepe is a miniature of Atlantis!
Throughout the book the author constantly introduces Romanian words for explanation, to the point where it quickly became irritating. Furthermore, he is also guilty of what for me is the publishing crime de la crime relating to non-fiction books, there is no index.
Gunung Padang is a megalithic site on the Indonesian island of Java, which was first surveyed in 1914 by the Dutch colonial authorities and published as Rapporten van de Oudheidkundige Dienst (Report of the Department of Antiquities). A post-war Australian investigation concluded that the site was much older than previously believed. Now, with presidential support, local archaeologists are carrying out an extensive investigation of the site.
The site has recently been claimed as part of Atlantis. A few years ago the late Arysio dos Santos was the leading proponent of Sundaland, which included Indonesia, as Atlantis. Now Danny Hilman Natawidjaja an Indonesian geologist has made a similar claim in his Kindle ebook, Plato Never Lied: Atlantis Is in Indonesia. In it Gunung Padang plays an important role. Mount Padang has also been claimed as the world’s oldest pyramid!
Nevertheless, a recent (May 2017) assault on Natawidjaja’s theories in an open letter(i) from Rebecca Bradley has laid bare the weaknesses in his claims.
Andrew Collins has now added an article(h). to his website that examines the preliminary claim that the lower levels at the site could be 12,000 years older than Gobekli Tepe. If confirmed, it will undoubtedly require some rewriting of history books. Do not lose sight of the fact that radiocarbon dating has limitations, being accurate for up to around 6,000 years with increasing unreliability up to perhaps 50,000 BC after which it is generally useless.
We now (Nov. ’14) have a report(e) that some type of ‘electrical device’ has been discovered at the site ‘made out of gold and copper and seems to resemble a primitive electrical capacitator.’ Until further information is available this claim must be treated with caution.
There are, however, dissenting voices as reported by journalist, Michael Bachelard(g), such as vulcanologist Sutikno Bronto, who says “Gunung Padang is simply the neck of a nearby volcano, not an ancient pyramid.Danny Hilman is not a vulcanologist. I am.” As for the carbon-dated cement between the stones, on which Hilman relies for his claims about the age of the site, Sutikno believes it is simply the byproduct of a natural weathering process, ”not man-made”. Other sceptics are even tougher. One archaeologist, who does not wish to be named since the President took such an interest, says the presidential taskforce is deluding itself. ”In the Pawon cave in Padalarang [about 45 kilometres from Gunung Padang], we found some human bones and tools made of bones about 9500 years ago, or about 7000 BCE. So, if at 7000 BCE our technology was only producing tools of bones, how can people from 20,000 BCE obtain the technology to build a pyramid?” the archaeologist asks.
Cancho Roano is a Spanish archaeological site near Zalamea de la Serena in Badajoz province. A feature of the site is that it “appears to have been ritually burned and sealed in rammed earth in a manner similar to Etruscan ceremonies”(a). When I read this I was reminded of Göbekli Tepe which was also deliberately buried!
Richard Freund considers Cancho Roano to be a ‘memorial city’ constructed to represent the lost city of Tartessos, which Freund considers to have been Atlantis. This idea is born of nothing but Freund’s fertile imagination and three concentric circles on a stele. Plato describes the capital of Atlantis as circular while Cancho Roano seems to be a large single square building!
Timothy J. Stephany is a keen student of mythology in general and Norse mythology(a) in particular. He has also written a book, The Eden Enigma, which explores the background to the biblical story of the Garden of Eden. He has an extensive website that offers a fascinating and well illustrated paper(b) on the remarkable Göbekli Tepe site which includes a number of carved animal that Stephany suggests may be a representation of constellations when they were carved. His site also includes a review(c) of Jim Allen’s theory, which places Atlantis in the Andes, but concludes at the end of a lengthy paper that the evidence is not strong enough. His article on paleoastronomy(d) should be read in conjunction with his comments on Göbekli Tepe.
(a) http://timothystephany.com/gods.html (offline Sept.2018) See Archive 3611
(b) http://timothystephany.com/gobekli.html (offline Sept.2018) See: Archive 3610
(c) http://timothystephany.com/atlantis.html (offline Sept. 2018)
(d) http://timothystephany.com/paleoastronomy.html (offline Sept. 2018)
Easter Island (Rapa Nui) with its strange statues, known as moai, remains one of the great archaeological mysteries. As with most ancient enigmas, various writers have tried to link Easter Island with either Atlantis, Mu or extraterrestrials.
I cannot subscribe to such silliness and would not normally include Easter Island in this Encyclopedia, but in recognition of the level of general interest in the subject I have included a link(a) to the serious archaeological work that continues on the island. This study is now in its fifth season and is directed by Dr. Jo Anne Van Tilburg. One aspect of the work was to demonstrate that many of the Easter Island ‘heads’ have buried bodies, often, until now, with hidden petroglyphs(t). A recent (June 2015) blog(g) has proposed that some of the markings represent tattoos.
The other great Easter Island mystery is the rongorongo script found there. All attempts to decipher it have failed. An extensive article by Jacob Mikanowski offering insights into the history of the island and its script and the many efforts to decode it is available online(q) . David Pratt has also compared rongorongo with ancient Chinese and Indus Valley scripts(r) . Pratt has written a number of papers on various aspects of Easter Island(s).
A new suggestion has recently emerged linking Easter Island and the ongoing discoveries at Göbekli Tepe in Turkey(b). This dates back to early 2010 and has now been given greater prominence in Robert Schoch’s recent book, Forgotten Civilization. On a lighter note, when Robert Schoch, suggested a link between Göbekli Tepe and Eastern Island(m), in spite of the eleven millennia time difference, it was no surprise that Jason Colavito scornfully dismissed the idea(n).
Pre-Colonial contacts between Easter Island and South America have recenty been supported by DNA evidence(f). This would appear to be contradicted by a 2017 study by a team from the University of California -Santa Cruz, which appears to rule out pre-European contact with South Americans! Details are published in the October 12th edition of Current Biology.(p)
Another Easter Island mystery(i) is its rongorongo script, which like the Phaistos Disk has produced a number of ‘claims’ of successful decipherment(c)(d).
The Milwaukee Journal of June 17th 1923 had a headline that announced the disappearance of Easter Island(e), proving that you really can’t believe everything you read! Coincidentally 1923 also gave us an early attempt(h) to link Easter Island with Atlantis.
For a long time it has been thought that warfare had wiped out much of its early population. This has now been debunked by a new study, led by Binghamton University anthropology professor Carl Lipo and published in the Feb. 2016 edition of the journal Antiquity(j). Shortly afterwards, a further study suggested that a more complex explanation for the early social collapse on the island has been put forward by Dr. Valentí Rull, who is a senior researcher of the Spanish National Research Council in Barcelona(k).
A further report(o) from Lipo highlighted further the complexity underlying the societal disintegration that took place on the island. Lipo outlined the commonly held explanation as follows; “One of the resources that they supposedly used up was trees that were growing on the island. Those trees provided canoes and, as a result of the lack of canoes, they could no longer fish. So they started to rely more and more on land food. As they relied on land food, productivity went down because of soil erosion, which led to crop failures…Painting the picture of this sort of catastrophe. That’s the traditional narrative.” Lipo’s studies has employed new technologies that have disproved these popular ideas and obviously forced a radical rethink.
There is a brief Smithsonian video clip available(l) which deals with the cutting and transportation of the moai.
*The latest moai theory has come from a team of researchers, led by Carl Lipo, from New York’s Binghampton University, who have concluded that the statues were placed at location where potable water was available(u). To me it seems an excessively elaborate way of marking locations.*
(e) http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1499&dat=19230617&id=9f1EAAAAIBAJ&sjid=XyEEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5420,3683626 (inaccessible Sept. 2016)
(m) http://www.robertschoch.com/articles/schochgobeklitepenewdawnsept2010.pdf (offline Sept. 2017) See Sept/Oct 2010 edition of New Dawn Magazine (Issue 122)
Zarin (1944 – ) was originally from Pennsylvania but is now living in Las Vegas and claims to be a renowned psychic as well as a researcher on Atlantis. He is obviously a ‘colourful’ individual who produced an ebook in 2011 entitled Atlantis, the Deluge and the End of the Ice Age. I am not a fan of psychics or ‘channelled’ information. However, when I discovered that it was free, I downloaded it to my Kindle.
The first half of the book was a fairly pedestrian affair. Then we got to it, “a super strong and unusual crystal” called the ‘atal’ stone which gave Atlantis its name! This crystal power gave them the potential for flight and which he says might have given them a military advantage. Which is rather strange when you find that they were defeated by the Athenians.
Zarin moved on with constant attempts to link the discoveries of Göbekli Tepe with Atlantis. He also includes suggestions of extraterrestrial visitors in our ancient past.
A recent report tells of Zarin seeing the Crucifixion, the image on the Turin Shroud and also that of the Virgin Mary on a large ‘Lemurian coding crystal’ from Madagascar, which according to Zarin was the centre of Lemuria.
Unfortunately, three more books by Zarin are looming, no doubt as soon as the material can be extracted from the rear end of some male cow!
*(b) http://paranormal.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=paranormal&cdn=newsissues&tm=64&gps=136_6_1067_609&f=00&su=p284.13.342.ip_p504.6.342.ip_&tt=2&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http%3A//www.theopenpress.com/index.php%3Fa%3Dpress%26id%3D107184 (offline Sept 2017)*
Richard Cassaro (1972- ) is a journalist from New York City, now based in Madrid, with a passionate interest in ancient mysteries. His 2011 book, Written in Stone is a study of parallel architectural features to be found in ancient structures on both sides of the Atlantic and further afield in Asia. He focuses on the ubiquity of what he calls a “triptych’ feature in sacred buildings around the world and ascribes their continued use to the influence of Freemasonry. In January 2013 he published(f) a further selection of these triptych features found in China.
Up to this point I find his work credible but I think that he pushes the boat out too far when he speculates that these structural similarities are the result of the influence of a much earlier mother culture – Atlantis.
His website(a) includes excerpts from his book and interesting video clips.
Included there in January 2017 is an illustrated article on the ‘cyclopean’ wall that surrounds the ancient city of Tarragona situated southwest of Barcelona as well as a comparable wall at Orbetello in Italy. He maintains that this was a colony of the cyclopes, a mythological race of one-eyed giants. Well, if they were giants, why does the height of the doorways in Cassaro’s images appear no greater than standard doorways today? Cassaro also implies that the cyclopes were Atlanteans, which explains the title of the article – Atlantis Ruins in Europe? The Megalithic “Master Masonry” of a Cyclopean Colony in Tarraco, Spain.(n)
Cassaro also produced an article and video(b) on the frequency with which a pagan concept of a sacred trinity is expressed in symbolism found across ancient pre-christian Europe. The Wikipedia entry for ‘triskelion’(c) augments Cassaro’s case.
He has recently written an article(d) claiming that the Egyptian god Osiris was the first Messiah and that Jesus was the second! However, I must advise readers that this is not an entirely new idea(e).
October 2013 saw Cassaro publish(g) a large series of images from around the world that various deities all posing in a comparable manner! His conclusion is that “the (god) icon is the chief symbol of a lost ancient universal religion.” He also endeavours to link this ancient symbology with later esoteric ideas and Freemasonry. He published a second series in January 2014(i).
He has also examined the Egyptian ankh and tau symbols and identified counterparts in South America(j). In 2015 Cassaro published images online that show the ‘third eye’ symbol as found in Asia and across the great ancient civilisations of the New World(k) and expanded on this in a later article on Graham Hancock’s website(l).
I should point out that Jim Allen has published an even more impressive collection of images of artifacts(h) that clearly demonstrate that the early civilisations of America were greatly influenced by cultures in both the east and west. The contributions of Allen and Cassaro offer a persuasive argument for cultural diffusion occurring at an early date in man’s development.
Cassaro has now delved further into what he refers to as the ‘godself’ icon and published his findings in a new, fully illustrated, book, The Missing Link together with another promotional article on Graham Hancock’s website(m). Coincidentally, on the same day that I read of Cassaro’s new book, I also read of one element in the iconography at Göbekli Tepe, which was also to be found at other sites around the world. Cassaro’s work on diffusion should now be given wider consideration, although in my view hyperdiffusion is still unproven.
*In a forthcoming book, Mayan Masonry, Cassaro returns to familiar suspects in which he speculates on the possibility that the ancient Maya were an older branch of the Masonic family tree! He has also posted a lengthy excerpt(o) from the new book.*
Those interested in his work can sign up for Cassaro’s newsletter.
Diffusion is the anthropological term used to describe how similar customs, beliefs and artefact designs are spread between cultures through migration, invasion or trade. Diffusion is not just a ‘one-way street’ as history has shown that ideas have travelled in all directions, while in fact most ancient civilisations can be demonstrated to have absorbed cultural elements from a multiplicity of foreign societies. Today, globalisation has increased exponentially the variety of influences that all societies now experience. Not only is the number of these influences greater but the rate of increase is apparently accelerating. The ubiquity of Coca-Cola, T-shirts, Irish pubs, Japanese cameras, German cars, English language, Guinness, Chinese toys, ABBA, AK-47s etc., etc., etc., are indicative of the global reach of commercial ‘empires’ today. In older civilisations trade was more concerned with commodities such as metals, olive oil, wine, amber, obsidian, or timber, so the technologies involved in their production or exploitation were also exchanged.
The development of agriculture also saw techniques spread, which had to be modified to suit different climates, although recent studies indicate that agriculture started around the same time in a number of centres(I).
in the Fertile Crescent as far north as the Zagros Mountains. Further north, on the steppes of Russia, horses were domesticated and apparently there also the use of chariots originated. A book by David W. Anthony also attributes the region with being the source of what is known as the Proto-Indo-European family of languages.
Societal concepts, religious or legal were no different as their geographical spread can also be traced over time. Consider the different strands of the Abrahamic faiths, beginning with Judaism, which spawned Christianity and later was joined by Islam through Muhammad, who claimed to be a descendant of Abraham. Similarly, democracy has slowly evolved and spread over time and still has a long way to go.
Since early man left Africa, he has had ample time to settle all over our planet and exploit it resources, moving from being a hunter-gatherer to becoming a settled farmer, developing urban centres (city states), then empires and the inevitable wars. Wars, then like today, led to the develop of new technologies, chariots, longbows, armour, to be copied and if possible improved upon, by each side.
My view is that initially, technology and techniques were freely exchanged between peoples, until gradually the idea of monopoly entered the human psyche, eventually leading to the paranoia and greed associated with the ownership of ‘intellectual property’ today. I would speculate that a freer and possibly gentler diffusion of ideas lasted until, at the earliest, the first millennium BC.
In 2014, the University of Connecticut published the result of studies which demonstrated that human technological innovation occurred intermittently throughout the Old World, rather than spreading from a single point of origin, as previously thought(j).
Egerton Sykes, a leading 20th century Atlantologist, was a committed diffusionist, describing it as “the lifeblood of civilisation”(h).
A more extreme view is the concept of ‘hyperdiffusion’, which is the idea that there was a single ‘mother-culture’ which led to the development of all major civilisations. Ignatius Donnelly was a hyperdiffusionist, advocating Atlantis as the mother culture. His ‘heretical’ views were highlighted by the range of similarities between structures around the world in apparently unrelated cultures, which seem to greatly exceed what could be expected by mere coincidence alone. This is explored further in a recent illustrated article on the Malagabay website(v).
Similarly James Churchward proposed his invention, Mu, as an alternative hyperdiffusion centre. Perhaps better known is the work of W. J. Perry who was convinced  that an archaic civilisation had begun in Egypt and gradually spread eastward through Asia and Polynesia, eventually reaching the Americas. Ben Urish published a paper(d) in 1986 that offers a critical overview of hyperdiffusion.
Konrad Kulczyk promotes a hyperdiffusionist theory that places his proto-civilisation, New Atlantis, just south of the Aral Sea(e).
Ivar Zapp proposes a global seafaring civilisation thousands of years before the Greeks, Egyptians or Sumerians(k) in an as yet unpublished book, Babel Deciphered.
Hyperdiffusion is clearly a seductive theory having attracted the attention of researchers such as Richard Cassaro, who has produced an impressive collection of visual cultural similarities between ancient Egypt and pre-Columbian America(a). While the idea is not new, Cassaro’s images highlight the concept of diffusion very effectively, although he has, in my opinion overinterpreted the evidence in order to support hyperdiffusion.
Cassaro published The Missing Link in 2016 in which he expands on the widespread distribution of what he refers to as the ‘godself icon’. Although he clearly demonstrates that the motif has an extensive geographical spread it is equally obvious that the appearance of the icon is spread over a vast period of time apparently coinciding with the emergence of civilisation in different places at very different times, which, in my view, is not fully compatible with the concept of hyperdiffusion, as I would have expected a ‘mother-culture’, if such existed, to have spread its global influence far more rapidly.
A comparable discovery has been made by Ozgür Baris Etli, who has drawn attention(o) to carved hands at Göbekli Tepe that have counterparts in many other parts of the world where hands meeting at the navel are similarly depicted. I recently came across an image of(q) a megalithic statue in the Indonesian Bada Valley(u) showing its hands in a similar position.
Equally intriguing is the ‘Three Hares’ motif, found across Europe, the Middle East and as far as China(p) and now the subject of a book by Greeves, Andrew & Chapman. Another stylised symbol is that of the rosette found in the Mediterranean and spread as far as India(r)(s).
In a similar vein Jim Allen has devoted chapter three of his latest book to outlining what he entitled Bolivia and the Sumerian Connection(b). Arguably even more impressive is the array of images presented by Allen(c) suggesting that the civilisations of America were greatly influenced by ancient cultures in both east and west. It is obvious that a number of artifacts can be developed independently, but at some point the number of similar items produced by two separate cultures can exceed the number that can be reasonably put down to coincidence. The number of similarities presented by Allen alone clearly exceeds that threshold, demonstrating that the Americas were influenced by different sources, ruling out Americas as the home of a mother-culture.
The whole subject of diffusion is wide ranging and complex and well beyond my competence to do it justice in this short entry. However, for those interested in pursuing the subject further, I would like to recommend a 1997 paper(l) by David H. Kelley (1924-2011), available on Dale Drinnon’s website.
Egypt is frequently mentioned in this regard being seen as the influence behind Neolithic megalith building AND the pyramids of Central America, in spite of the fact that Newgrange was constructed before the Egyptian Pyramids and the New World pyramids were built thousands of years after those in Egypt. Atlantis is regularly suggested as another mother- culture but without a single piece of evidence to support this speculative contention. For decades the idea that the pyramids of Egypt and those in the Americas were the consequence of diffusion from a common source, namely Atlantis situated in the Atlantic was heavily promoted. However, we can now more closely identify the pyramids of America with the step-pyramids of China!
Consequently, for me, hyperdiffusion is not convincing. History has clearly shown that inventions have frequently been independently developed at the same time in different countries, while even in prehistoric times it has been demonstrated(f) that the evolution of stone tools took place as a result of the innovative abilities of local populations, addressing the same needs.
A word of warning; “recent research published in Nature by a team led by Tomos Proffitt at the University of Oxford shows that capuchin monkeys regularly produce sharp-edged flakes indistinguishable from those made by early hominins.”(t)
Even today technologies are developed independently throughout the world, but not in complete isolation, because of the instant worldwide communications available.
As a result of global marketing, in Ireland now we drive German, British and Japanese cars, use US computer technology and play with Chinese toys. However, being generous by nature, we gave the world the Irish pub, Riverdance and Guinness.
A two-part blog(m)(n) highlighting the many weaknesses in the concept of hyperdiffusion should be required reading for anyone interested in the subject.
Although Donnelly and his contemporaries, focused on the possibility of Old World influences in the New World, today, there is less of a Mediterranean centred or Eurocentric approach to diffusionism. Instead, there is greater acceptance that the Americas have had extensive cultural influences from Asia.
(l) http://frontiers-of-anthropology.blogspot.ie/2011/06/cultural-diffusion-by-david-kelley.html (link broken July 2018) See: Archive 3563
*(u) Atlantis Rising No.110 March/April 2015 p.41*