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Does the Earth’s crust Shift?

August 22, 2013  Rand Flem-Ath

This paper (never previously published) was written twenty years ago (1993) and appears as citation # 8 (page 552) of “Exhibit 5” (pages 476-77) in Graham Hancock’s Fingerprints of the Gods.


Does the Earth’s Crust Shift?

by Rand Flem-Ath


On the 25th of December, 1990, geologists Barrie McKelvey and David Harwood were working 1,830 meters above sea-level and 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the South Pole on the lonely island continent of Antarctica. On this Christmas day, Santa really delivered. The geologists discovered fossils from a deciduous southern beech forest dating from between two and three million years ago. The geologists’ surprise was complete as it had always been assumed that Antarctica had been within the Antarctic Circle for as much as fifty million years.

The former Antarctic beech forest suggests rates of change that are incompatible with the gradual movements of the earth’s crust assumed by plate tectonics. The movement of the earth’s crust in relation to its various plates is far too slow for Antarctica to move from the polar zone within three million years. We need an additional whole earth theory to solve this problem.

The idea of “rapid polar wandering” is a whole earth theory that can makes sense of the Antarctic discoveries. Rapid polar wandering assumes a movement of the whole lithosphere (crust) relative to the earth’s axis. This kind of movement may be abrupt, thrusting different lands into and out of polar regions, temperate zones and the tropics. Such a movement could bring warmer climates to Antarctica within thousands rather than millions of years.

In 1965, Stephen Jay Gould argued that we could not exclude the idea of rapid polar wandering simply by repeating gradualist assumptions: “Surely it is preferable to judge this proposal on its own merit rather than by reference to a preconceived idea of nature’s course.” Unexpectedly, Gould’s challenge was taken up by a scientist who discovered physical evidence for rapid polar wander on Mars.

In the December 1985 issue of Scientific American, Peter H. Schultz explained a series of anomalies on the surface of Mars by assuming that the planet’s crust had undergone an abrupt displacement. “…the Martian equivalent of plate tectonics might simply be the movement of the entire lithosphere, the solid outer portion of the planet, as one plate.” This movement took place “… in rapid spurts followed by long pauses.”

To support the idea of rapid polar wandering on Mars, Schultz examined the planet’s crater impacts. Impacts within the polar zones have characteristic crater signatures only at the poles. Schultz scanned the planet in search of craters exhibiting “polar” features outside the polar zones. Schultz found two such areas. “These zones are antipodal: they are on opposite faces of the planet. The deposits show many of the processes and characteristics of today’s poles, but they lie near the present-day equator.”

Schultz’s “antipodal” argument for rapid polar wandering on Mars can also be used when we look at the Earth. The dominate feature of our planet’s poles is the lop-sided placement of the ice caps. In the northern hemisphere most of the ice lies in one area: central Greenland. On the other side of the planet, a great ice sheet rests on the eastern half of Antarctica. Central Greenland’s ice sheet is antipodal to the one on eastern Antarctica. Both ice sheets are lop-sided relative to the planet’s axis. How did this odd placement of the ice sheets come about? One simple idea is to assume that the earth’s crust, like its Martian cousin, may have abruptly shifted. If so, then the ice sheets on central Greenland and East Antarctica may represent those areas that remained in the polar zones both before and after the displacement of the earth’s crust. They may be remnants of former polar conditions.

The idea of rapid polar wandering on Earth was extensively explored by one man in the 1950s through to 1970. Charles H. Hapgood (1904-1983) thought the term “rapid polar wandering” was awkward and unnecessarily wedded to the assumptions of the gradualists. He called the phenomena “earth crust displacement .” In 1953, he sent his preliminary findings to Albert Einstein (1879-1955). On the 8th of May, Einstein replied:

“I thank you very much for the manuscript that you sent me on May 3rd. I find your arguments very impressive and have the impression that your hypothesis is correct. One can hardly doubt that significant shifts of the crust of the earth have taken place repeatedly and within a short time. The empirical material you have  compiled would hardly permit another interpretation.”

During the last years of his life, Einstein continued to be consulted by Hapgood.  Hapgood’s two books on the subject have been largely ignored by the scientific community but the recent work on Martian crustal displacement coupled with the fossil finding on Antarctica breathes new life into the theory.

Using geomagnetic evidence, Hapgood was able to determine the location of the earth’s crust as it was before the last displacement. This allows us to revisit the Earth as it was 11,600 years ago. The following maps reveal the climatic upheaval of the last earth crust displacement. (see Maps 1-3)

Map 1 (click on map for larger image)















Map 2 (click on map for larger image)















Map 3 (click on map for larger image)














The “Inter-Polar” zone encapsulates the two areas of the Earth’s surface that were within the Arctic Circle and the Antarctic Circle both before and after the last earth crust displacement. (see #1. in Maps 1 & 2) These areas, central Greenland in the north and eastern Antarctica in the south, contain the bulk of our planet’s glaciation. The world’s largest ice sheets are antipodal and lop-sided relative to the Earth’s axis because the earth’s crust periodically is displaced. No other theory has yet been put forward which is capable of explaining the geography of our planet’s glaciation.

The “Neo-Polar” region is, as the name implies, an area which has only recently been thrust into the icy confines of the Earth’s Polar regions. (see #2 in Maps 1 &2) Not surprisingly, these regions contain the shallowest ice sheets with the Arctic and Antarctica Circles.

In north eastern Siberia, Russian scientists have encountered the frozen remains of mammoths. One site in particular has a long and rich history. The New Siberian Islands are in the Arctic Ocean, north of Siberia and in the Neo-Polar zone. Charles H. Hapgood wrote of these now barren islands: “There the remains of mammoths and other animals are most numerous of all. There Baron Toll, the Arctic explorer, found the remains of a sabertooth tiger, and     a fruit tree that had been ninety feet tall when it was standing.”

The “Paleo-Polar” region in the northern hemisphere (see #3 in Map 1) is the area that was freed from the Arctic Circle following the last displacement. This area contains vast lakes, the melted remnants of the former ice sheet that once crowned North America. The removal of this area from the Arctic Circle can be traced not only by the retreating ice sheet but also by the ecological changes that resulted. Fossil pollen allows us to reconstruct the North American late Pleistocene climate. In Maps 4a and 4 b we can the present and former ranges of major plant regimes on North America. These ecosystems match, if we adopt Hapgood’s location of the Earth’s crust as it was prior to 11,600 years ago. (see Map 4a & 4b with Table 1).

Map 4a & 4b


Maps 4a & 4b (click on map for larger image)











Table 1 (click on Table for larger image)






Plants are sensitive indicators of climate. In those regions within the Arctic Circle (66.6 to 90.0 North) ice, tundra and conifer forests reign. This was true before the last earth crust displacement (Map 4b) and after it (Map 4a). In the Sub-Arctic (60.0 to 66.6 N) broadleaf and mixed forest vegetation formations are added to the tundra and conifer forest. From 60.0 N to 60.0 N both maps show conifer forests along with broadleaf and mixed forest. All the vegetation formations have moved north, as the earth’s crust shifted south. The plants found their former latitudes in new areas of the continent.

In the southern hemisphere, the Paleo-Polar zone is in the South Indian Ocean and the remains of the ice sheet that once lay here can be found on Heard Island (53S 73E) with its dome of ice.

The last earth crust displacement took place at the end of the last ice age, approximately 11,600 years ago. This period is highly significant in archaeology because it coincides with the sudden, global emergence of agriculture, late Pleistocene extinctions and the peopling of America. Like worldwide glaciation patterns, and the movement of vegetation formations, each of these long-standing problems becomes clearer when viewed through the lens of the crustal displacement idea.

Throughout the earth’s history there have been a series of mass extinctions, the most recent of which are being caused by mankind’s eco-destruction. Eleven and a half thousand years ago, millions of animals perished in a grand circle of death that corresponds directly with the direction of the crust’s motion. The areas where there were great latitude changes, such as North and South America and Siberia, experience massive extinctions. Those lands which experience very little latitude change, such as Europe, Africa and New Zealand, escaped the worst of the mass extinctions. Elephants and rhinos vanished from North America but survived in Africa because of greater latitude changes in the New World. The grassy flora that once provided food for mammoths in Siberia disappeared when the Earth’s crust shifted. With them went the mammoths, cave lions and cave hyenas that once flourished there. It was the destruction of the ecology that brought about the extinction but it was the movement of the Earth’s crust which shattered the ecology.

Like the problem of mass extinctions in palaeontology, the sudden, global rise of agriculture shortly after 9,600 B.C. is one of the oldest problems in archaeology. Why did different people, on different continents, and using different plants, suddenly begin to experiment with agriculture at the same time? Several theories have been advanced to explain this problem, with such factors as climatic change, population pressure and sea-level changes but none of the theories have been able to explain the timing and geography of agricultural origins. Both the “where” and the “when” aspects of agricultural origins becomes clear with the use of the crustal displacement hypothesis.

First, it should be remembered that until 9,600 B.C., humanity was, for hundreds of thousands of years, dependent upon hunting and gathering for subsistence. Anthropologists have long held that the change to agriculture must have been caused by some kind of crisis. There are strong cultural and status motives for retaining hunting and gathering and for resisting the immobility that accompanies dependence on agriculture. Agriculture’s sudden and simultaneous emergence is a puzzle.

The sudden shift of the Earth’s crust presented humanity (and all of life) with a crisis of monumental dimensions. In the “Inter-Temperate” region (see #4 in Maps 1 and 3) climatic change was significant but hunters and gatherers could follow the migrating animals and retain their time-honoured hunting and gathering means of survival. The earth crust displacement theory of agricultural origins does not expect any early (11,600 to 9,000 B.P.) agricultural experiments to occur in the Inter-Temperate zone at all, despite the fact that today these lands supply the bulk of the world’s food supply.

The situation in the “Neo-Temperate” zone, however, was extremely favourable to agricultural origins. Here, temperate-adapted plants and animals migrated into a formerly tropical region from an inter-temperate zone. As they crossed this ecological threshold, there must have been great abundance. This increased productivity for temperate adapted plants and animals allowed humans to become sedentary. The people settled down to enjoy the new abundance and by abandoning their mobility they were inadvertedly setting the stage for agriculture. The Sumeria (Mesopotamia), Egyptian, Namaza (Central Asia), the Harappan (IndusValley), Minoan (Crete), and Chinese civilizations all emerged in the Neo-Temperate Zone. (see #5 on Map 1)

When we turn to tropical agricultural origins, we find that these began in areas of the globe that were midway between the current and former position of the equator. (#6 on Map 2) The early experiments with potatoes in the highlands of the Andes near Lake Titicaca have their antipodal counterpart at Spirit Cave in the highlands of Thailand. Both developments occurred at approximately the same time using different plants. The highlands of Ethiopia were also midway between the current and former path of the equator (technically speaking it was the crust that move, not the equator). (#6 Map 2)

The situation in the “Neo-Tropical” area was entirely different from the Neo-Temperate. Movement from the Inter-Temperate zone into the Neo-Tropical region was restricted because what was needed was tropical not temperate plants. In one of the Neo-Tropical zones, Mexico (#7 in Map 1) agriculture did finally develop but in the other, northern Australia (#7 in Map 3) it didn’t arrive until the colonization by Europeans. The presence of mountains may have been the deciding factor. A change of 1,500 feet can cool the temperature by 5 degrees F. In northern Mexico, mountains higher than this allowed plants that were at sea-level to migrate upwards as the temperature warmed. Plants from Arizona, for example, may have been able to migrate to higher elevations in northern Mexico once the Earth’s crust shifted but in Australia, there were no mountains and consequently no agriculture. The earth crust displacement theory allows for the possibility that agriculture could have emerged independently in southern Africa where mountains (like Mexico) could have supplied the necessary plants.

It was also possible for agriculture to develop in the Paleo-Polar region of North America but this would have to have taken place much later to allow for the melting of the ice. The earth crust displacement theory of agricultural origins can be seen in the following Table. (see Table 2)

Table 2 (click on Table for larger image)











So far we have seen how the idea of a sudden shift in the Earth’s crust can account for anomalies in glaciation patterns, North American vegetation formations, worldwide extinction rates and agricultural origins. Now we can turn back the clock to 9,600 B.C. and see how humans may have entered the Americas. The peopling of America is the central archaeological problem of American prehistory.

Prior to the earth crust displacement, North America was situated in a different relation to the Earth’s axis. From the perspective of Washington state, for instance, what it today east was then almost due north. Seen from Seattle, at 9,600 B.C., Alaska, Beringia and Siberia were to the west, California to the east and Hawaii to the south. The sun appeared to rise from the direction of Mexico and set in the direction of Alaska. The Pacific Northwest coast of America was, 11,600 years ago, the SOUTHERN coast of the continent. Given these orientations, the problem of the peopling of America can be seen in an entirely different light. (see Map 5).

Map 5 (click on map for larger image)



People could migrate from Siberia to Alaska across the Beringia sub-continent while moving EAST. Most of this area was outside the Arctic Circle prior to 9,600 B.C. and this explains why all of Beringia, much of Alaska and parts of the British Columbian coast was ice-free, while, at the same time, New England lay under a thick blanket of ice. Seen in this light, arrival in America is not the complicated process assumed in most archaeological models.

The ice-free corridor, long regarded as the most favoured pathway to America, would seem to be a much less attractive route to America than the Alaskan and British Columbian coasts. To get to the ice-free corridor, people would have to travel towards the North Pole, a challening operation. The Pacific coast route, in contrast, required little adaptation for cultures familiar with the coast waters of Siberia. The earth crust displacement theory of the peopling of America allows for entry into the new world long before 9,600 B.C. It is entirely consistent with Tom Dillehay’s discovery, in southern Chile, of an archaeological site dating at least a thousand (and possibly 23,000 years) prior to 9,600 B.C.

Many scientific problems, in different fields of study, can be simply resolved using the idea of a sudden, catastrophic, displacement of the Earth’s crust. Each of these problems have been addressed with various assumptions. The beauty of the crustal displacement model is its simplicity. By treating one factor (the crust) as a periodical variable rather than a virtual constant, the theory can address each of these long-standing unsolved problems. Simply coincidence?

The beech forest of ancient Antarctica has brought us a long way in understanding some of the most persistent problems in science. Hapgood’s theory cannot specifically accound for these particular fossils but it does permit us to look on this unexpected finding as something not quite so unexpected afterall. The problems we have discussed above are all related to one event 11,600 years ago. Within two or three million years, dozens of earth crust displacements may have occurred. Any one of these crustal displacement could have produced the beech forest on the highlands of Antarctica.


For a discussion of this paper click on the image below:


Suggested Further Reading


Gotta, Daniel and Sally, “Antarctica: whose continent is it anyway?, Popular Science, January, 1992.


Webb, Peter-Noel and David M. Harwood, “Late Cenozoic Glacial History of the Ross Embayment, Antarctica”, Quaternary Science Reviews, Volume 10, (1991) pp. 215-23.


Gould, Stephen Jay, “Is Uniformitarianism Necessary?”, American Journal of Science, Volume 263: no. 3, pp. 223-28 (March 1965).


Schultz, Peter H., “Polar Wandering on Mars”, Scientific American, Volume 253, No. 6 (December, 1985).


Hapgood, Charles H., The Earth’s Shifting Crust, New York, Pantheon Books, 1958 and Path of the Pole, Philadelphia, New York and London, Chilton Book Company, 1970.


Martin, Paul S. and Richard G. Klein, Quarternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution, Tucson, Arizona, 1984.


Grayson, Donald K. “Death by Natural Causes”, Natural History, Volume 5, 1987, pp. 8-13.


Flem-Ath, Rand “A Global Model for the Origins of Agriculture”, Anthropological Journal of Canada, Volume 19, No. 4, 1981, pp. 2-7.


Dillehay, Tom D., “By the Banks of the Chinchuapi”, Natural History, Volume 4, 1987, pp. 8-12.


Fladmark, Knut R., “Getting One’s Berings”, Natural History, Volume 95, No. 11, (November 1986), pp. 8-19.




Atlantis Beneath the Ice – Capricorn Radio July 2013

August 5, 2013  Rand Flem-Ath



Press reviews of When the Sky Fell

July 25, 2013  Rand Flem-Ath


Press Reviews of When The Sky Fell


“With the help of 31 maps that span the centuries, this scholarly but readable text posits a geographical catastrophe about 9600 B.C. that may explain mysteries from the frozen mastodons of Siberia to the apparent water erosion of the Sphinx.”

Toronto Sun (26 February 1995)


…even the most sceptical reader will admit after reading this book it is difficult to deny the existence of a lost continent, Atlantis, buried under the Antarctic ice…condense[s] centuries of Atlantis fact and myth into a landmark work of scholarship.

Ottawa Citizen (9 April 1995)


The Flem-Aths’ contribution to Atlantis research is their rediscovery and interpretation to the 1665 Athanasius Kircher map of Atlantis, brought from Egypt by the Romans, which identifies Atlantis as being the present-day continent of Antarctica. The Flem-Aths point out that the map, which corresponds in remarkable detail to the present-day Antarctica, was published almost three centuries before scientists knew the true ice-free shape of the frozen continent. …The book is a lively and topical Atlantis update, blending science, mythology, and ancient history to shed fresh light on this most enduring of mysteries.

Vancouver Sun (22 April 1995)


So how convincing is the authors’ argument? Well more plausible than Eric von Daniken’s theory that civilisation was born from aliens. …The authors’ most interesting theory lies in mythology. If we accept that the exploits of the gods and goddesses of ancient times were simply exaggerated tales of the real deeds of former kings, queens and rulers, then clearly myths become a signpost to the past.

Manchester Evening News (21 July 1995)


… a convincing case for Atlantis… the Flem-Aths examine other mysteries such as mass extinctions in certain areas of the world, perfectly preserved mammoths discovered in the Siberian ice, the true age of the Sphinx and remarkably accurate maps of the Americas and ice-free Antarctica that date from long before European explorers ever reached those shores. … It is a compelling argument…

Birmingham Post (5 August 1995)


By studying ancient maps, Plato’s clues to the location of Atlantis and similarities between myths from around the world, they conclude that a civilisation of intelligent seafarers did exist 12,000 years ago. …This is a brave attempt to bridge the gap between fact and fantasy…

Huddersfield Daily Examiner (7 October 1995)


Written in a scholarly but easy to understand manner, if offers a simple hypothesis. Antarctica is Atlantis… This is more than just science. It is an entire history lesson dating to the dawn of man’s ability to remember events.

Ocala Star-Banner (10 December 1995)


How is it, Hapgood asked, that during much of the last ice age a large part of North America was under mile-thick glaciers, but a third of Antarctica was not? Hapgood suggested that perhaps the continents were then in different places relative to the poles -that the earth’s crust had shifted over the molten layers beneath it. But if Antarctica was once further north and partly ice-free, was it also inhabitable? The Flem-Aths add up the clues and come to a startling conclusion: Antarctica was Atlantis!

Quest (Winter 1995)


Canadian librarians Rand and Rose Flem-Ath have assembled a daring and extremely convincing argument that the location of the lost civilisation of Atlantis is the Antarctic continent. …Combining mythology with a wealth of scientific and historical information, the Flem-Aths’ research will shake a few foundations.

Nexus (January 1996)


Rand & Rose Flem-Ath, Education & Bibliography

May 29, 2013  Rand Flem-Ath

Rand Flem-Ath is a Canadian writer, librarian and independent scholar. He has co-authored several books with his wife, writer, Rose Flem-Ath. She is a novelist and two-time winner of the Canada Council grant for Fiction. They live in British Columbia, Canada.





Rand has a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from Simon Fraser University and a Master of Library Science (MLS) from the University of British Columbia. He was mentored by Charles H. Hapgood   from 1977 to 1982 (working on the theory of earth crust displacement ) and was a Reader at the British Library from 1981 to 1985. He was the Senior Researcher for Business International U.K. Ltd. (incorporated by The Economist).







Proud possession! Reading Pass for the British Library.




Rose has a B.A. in English from Simon Fraser University and was an Editor (1982-1985) of the London Financial Times’ Media Monitor.






1984    Flem-Ath, Rand Survey of the European Information Industry: Its Electronic Developments, Commissioned by the European Information Providers Association (EURIPA) of the European Communities and researched and prepared by Business International SA, Geneva, Switzerland.


1986    Flem-Ath, Rand and Professor Reginald H. Roy, Canadian Security and    Intelligence: A Bibliography (1945-1985), commissioned by the Privy Council of Canada and published in Victoria, British Columbia.


1995    Flem-Ath, Rand & Rose When the Sky Fell: In Search of Atlantis, Stoddard, Toronto, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, St. Martins Press, New York.


1997    Flem-Ath, Rose Field of Thunder, Stoddard, Toronto.


2000    Flem-Ath, Rand and Colin Wilson The Atlantis Blueprint , Little Brown & Co., London, Delacorte Press, New York, 2001.


2012    Flem-Ath, Rand & Rose, Atlantis Beneath the Ice , Bear & Company, Rochester, Vermont, Toronto, Canada





2009   Flem-Ath, Rose Field of Thunder , OncetherewasawayPress, Blaine,            Washington.


2011    Flem-Ath, Rose, Collapse . OncetherewasawayPress, Blaine,     Washington.


2011    Flem-Ath, Rose & Rand When She Was Alive  (A Campbell Carlyle Mystery), OncetherewasawayPress, Blaine, Washington.



Articles, etc.:


1981    Flem-Ath, Rand, “A Global Model for the Origins of Agriculture,”  The       Anthropological Journal of Canada, vol. 19, no. 4, 2-7.


1985    Flem-Ath, Rand, “Temperature, tempo and symmetry in ice ages theories. ”


1993    Flem-Ath, Rand, “Does the Earth’s Crust Shift? ”


1996    Flem-Ath, Rand & Rose,  “Atlantis in Antarctica” in two issues of Nexus Magazine. (Vol.   5, no. 3. and no. 4.)


1997    Flem-Ath, Rand, Introduction to Cataclysm! : compelling evidence of a cosmic catastrophe in 9500 B.C. / D.S. Allan & J.B. Delair. Bear & Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico.


1997    Flem-Ath, Rand & Rose, “Contact ” New Dawn Magazine.


1998    Flem-Ath, Rand, “Blueprints from Atlantis” Atlantis Rising Magazine.


2005    Flem-Ath, Rand, “Blueprints from Atlantis” in Forbidden History, (J. Douglas Kenyon, Editor) Bear & Company, Rochester, Vermont.


2009    Flem-Ath, Rand & Rose, “A Knife that Shut Up ”, Haida Laas (Official Journal of the Haida Nation), Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.


2009    Flem-Ath, Rand & Rose, “Atlantis in Antarctica?” New Dawn Magazine (Special Issue)


2009    Flem-Ath, Rand & Rose, “The Lost World Map of Christopher Columbus” Atlantis Rising Magazine.


2012    Flem-Ath, Rand & Rose, “The Atlantis Connection,” Atlantis Rising Magazine.


2012    Flem-Ath, Rand & Rose, “The Upside Down Theory,” New Dawn Magazine.




A Global Climatic Model for the Origins of Agriculture

May 23, 2013  Rand Flem-Ath

A Global Model for the Origins of Agriculture by Rand Flem-Ath


This is the origina l text submitted in the Spring of 1981 to The Anthropological Journal of Canada, and accepted for publication. It contains more information than the edited text that appeared in Volume 19, No. 4, 1981, 2-7.



A climatic model orders archaeological evidence on the origins of agriculture and the sequence of independent civilizations on a global scale.


Why did agriculture become the preferred means of subsistence following the termination of the Pleistocene? Why did the civilizations of the New World take so much longer to evolve despite the fact that their early agricultural experiments are contemporary with those of the Old World? This paper will attempt to shed light on these problems with the aid of the little know climatic model of Hapgood [1]  in conjunction with the stress model of Harris. [2]

Cohen[3]  has argued, quite rightly, that it is no longer adequate to explain the “where” and the “when” of agricultural origins but to address ourselves to the more important question of “why?” Why did mankind, in both the Old and New Worlds, almost simultaneously shift from their highly successful and traditional subsistence of hunting and gathering to agriculture? Why were certain areas of the world more suitable to this adaptation than others? Any theory which attempts a global approach to this problem must confront the question of “why” in such a manner as to illuminate the data concerning the “where” and “when” of the origins of agriculture.

Global theories which have addressed this problem have fallen into three categories: the diffusion models; the population/ecological models; and what I term the “traditional” climatic models. Why have these models failed to account for major significant archaeological evidence?

The fact that “. . . all agricultural origins fall about 10,000 ± 2000 years ago.”[4]  well before the first civilizations, coupled with the evidence demonstrating more than one center of early agricultural experimentation [5]  has seriously undermined the concept of diffusion as an important model for the origins of agriculture. Until a theory is developed which can overcome these two problems the theory of diffusion will remain untenable as a global model.

Cohen attempted to apply a population/ecological model on a global scale.  Following Boserup[6]  who first put forward the idea of population density as a casual feature of technological change, thus reversing the traditional Malthusian model, Cohen argued that population growth worldwide reached a saturation level which in turn created as stress condition forcing the adoption of agriculture as a new strategy of food supply. This thesis suffers from three very serious drawbacks: first, it flies in the face of anthropological data which as shown that hunter-gathers normally maintain equilibrium with their environments;[7]  second, given that the population of density of the Old World was significantly greater than the New World, Cohen’s theory fails to explain why the ecological thresholds were reached at the same time; and finally it does not address itself to the evidence of Vavilov[8]  which shows a direct correlation between high altitudes and the centers of agriculture. In short, although Cohen has addressed the problem of “why,” his model does not shed light on the “when” and “where” aspects of the problem.

The diffusion and population/ecological global models have difficulties in explaining archaeological data and so we now turn to the “traditional” climatic models. These theories, such as Childe[9]   and Binford[10]  have suffered as Cohen correctly pointed out,[11]  from two problems: they are regional in scope and thus cannot account for the data on a broader perspective; and they are repetitive processes which fail to explain why the particular changes of the post-Pleistocene period resulted in agriculture when similar events in the past had not done so.  Any new climatic theory must address these two problems.

Before we proceed to the primary thesis of this paper it may be helpful to describe the type of theory that is required. We need a theory that can explain the “why” the process of agriculture began in the New and Old Worlds at approximately the same time yet led to much different rates of cultural evolution. The model must not only address this “when” evidence and especially the long neglected correlation between altitude and centers, but the theory, if it is a climatic one, must address itself to the traditional limitations of repetitive and regional effects outlined by Cohen. Finally the theory should address the data on a global scale.

A climatic model based on the geological theory of Hapgood[12]  in conjunction with the stress model of Harris[13]  can meet all the requirements stated above. The sad state of affairs is that Hapgood’s geological work has simply been ignored despite the fact that original volume was prefaced by the late Albert Einstein .  Einstein’s preface is an excellent summary of the basic theory and since the book is now out-of-print I have taken the liberty of quoting him:


“I frequently receive communications from people who wish to consult me concerning their unpublished ideas.  It goes without saying that these ideas are very seldom possessed of scientific validity.  The very first communication, however, that I received from Mr. Hapgood electrified me.  His idea is original, of great simplicity, and – if it continues to prove itself – of great importance to everything that is related to the earth’s surface.

A great many empirical data indicate that at each point of the earth’s surface that has been carefully studied, many climatic changes have taken place, apparently quite suddenly.  This, according to Hapgood, is explicable if the virtually rigid outer crust of the earth undergoes, from time to time, extensive displacement over the viscous, plastic, possibly fluid inner layers.  Such displacements may take place as the consequences of comparatively slight forces exerted on the crust, derived from the earth’s momentum of rotation, which in turn will tend to alter the axis of rotation of the earth’s crust. …” [14]


It should be noted that the process of earth crust displacement  (ECD) refers only to a movement of the earth’s crust and not to the mantle, core, or pole of rotation. Put simply, ECD is a process which results in various parts of the earth’s crust being shifted, at different times, over the earth’s axis (the North and South Poles).

Working on the assumption that the earth’s magnetic fields are usually located in close proximity to the pole of rotation, Hapgood collected geo-magnetic rock samples from different parts of the globe indicating those areas of the crust which were at the poles from the last three ECDs. Hapgood found evidence that the most recent ECD occurred between 17,000-12,000 B.P. at which time the crust displaced resulting in the North Pole’s relocation to its current place in the “Arctic” Ocean after having been located previously in the Hudson Bay region of northern Canada. More recent climatic data from different sources have been brought together[15]   indicating at dramatic climatic change at 12,000 B.P. which coincides with Pleistocene extinctions, rising ocean levels, the close of the ice age and the origins of agriculture.

A displacement of the earth’s crust causes dramatic climatic changes but it should be noted that these variations are not all equal in their impact. There were areas of the globe following the ECD of 12,000 B.P. which were tropical before and after the event. Taken in conjunction with the data of Vavilov[16]  I have labelled these areas as “Micro-Centers” because the further one travels from the mid-point between the current and previous equators the less likely that one will be able to survive the harsh ecological changes. (See Map 1 and Table 1)



Vavilov found a direct correlation between agricultural origins and land over 1500 meters above ocean level. This long neglected data is explicable in terms of ECD because the displacement of the crust results in immense tidal waves. Survivors of the event have a strong motive for staying in high mountains. The Micro-Centers listed in Table 1 are over 1500 meters above ocean level.

Important archaeological discoveries in three of the four Micro-Centers date agricultural developments to approximately 12,000 B. P. MacNeish[17]  reviews the archaeological evidence in Peru dating to this time range, while Pickersgill and Heiser[18]  delineated the number of important crops which were domesticated in the Lake Titicaca region of Bolivia/Peru. The same sort of data comes from the antipode of Lake Titicaca in the highlands of Thailand. Early agricultural experiments at Spirit Cave, Thailand, are reviewed by Solheim[19]  and Gorman.[20]   Similar evidence near the Ethiopian highlands is found in Wendorf.[21]  The model suggested here indicates that more excavations might be profitably undertaken in the highlands of north-eastern Borneo.

ECD creates a situation where mobility is limited and important plants and animals for man become extinct.[22]  This is exactly the condition that Harris argues leads to the process of agriculture. According to his model an immobile population creates population pressures which intensify wild-food procurement with eventual improved seasonal scheduling. A resource specialization coupled with improved technological innovations and a cultural selection of specific plants or animals may develop into a genuine food-producing system. If mobility is restored this last phase may not take place and a reversion to hunting-gathering can take place.

Harris’s model can also be applied to the areas in high altitudes which were temperate both before and after the ECD of 12,000 B.P. Map 2 and Table 2 show the conditions that prevailed in the northern hemisphere following the last ECD.  (see Map 2. and Table 2.)




The absence of important early agricultural experiments in the “Non-Center” shown and described in Map 2 and Table 2 is entirely in line with climatic conditions proposed by Hapgood and the stress model of Harris. Since this area was temperate both before and after the ECD of 12,000 B.P. it did not take long for mobility to be re-established. Cohen reviews the literature showing the preference for the hunting and gathering way of life over the more labour intensive means of agriculture.

The area labelled “Macro-Crescent” was the most favorable area for agricultural experiments following the ECD of 12,000 B.P. Since this area was formerly tropical and newly become temperate, the possibility of expansion into this zone from the Old World Non-Center was especially favourable. People who had gone almost all the way to food-producing during the population pressures in the high mountains around the Black Sea could move from a region which was temperate both before and after the ECD into a newly temperate zone. Such expansion would favour the use of agriculture since the indigenous plants and animals had been depleted.

The situation in the “Micro-Crescent” of the New World was entirely different. Here expansion to the south was into a zone which was formerly temperate but which had become tropical. Expansion into this zone was slow because of the radically different climatic conditions compared to the North American Non-Center. This fact accounts for the time-lag of New World civilizations. (See Table 3)



Table 3 demonstrates the utility of ECD as a model for accounting for the sequence of early independent civilizations. It will be noted that the first five civilizations appeared within the Macro-Crescent and that later societies fall into place according to the climatic conditions delineated. The first four civilizations were dependent upon plants and animals that were first domesticated near or in mountains and in the vicinity of the Black Sea. China is here seen as an off-shot of the Thailand highland Micro-Center which brought high altitude plants from a tropical zone into a low altitude temperate zone.

This paper has restricted itself to addressing the questions of the origins of agriculture and the sequence of pristine civilizations as seen through the climatic model of Charles H. Hapgood and population stress model of David R. Harris. Why previous ECDs have not led to agriculture can be accounted for by two factors: the fact that only two ECDs (12,000 B.P. and 55,000 B.P.) have occurred within the lifespan of Homo sapiens; and because lower overall population levels in the past allowed for a reversion to hunting and gathering.

It is my conviction that the theory of earth crust displacement constitutes a scientific revolution as defined by Kuhn.[23]  It is a theory which has a wide application to various persistent problems in different scientific fields, and in the field of archaeology it orders data on a global scale and suggests new lines of investigation. Hapgood applied the theory to the problems of the ice ages; mountain-building; extinctions; and the process of evolution. Recent developments in solar physics[24]  are suggestive [25] of a mechanism for the displacements. This paper has applied the theory of ECD to the two persistent problems of: the “why”, “where” and “when” of the origins of agriculture; and the sequence of pristine civilizations. In future papers I hope to expand the model to other problems in archaeology.

[1]  Charles H. Hapgood  The Earth’s Shifting Crust, Chilton, Philadelphia, 1958 and The Path of the Pole, Chilton, Philadelphia, 1970.

[2]  David R. Harris “Alternative Pathways toward Agriculture” in Charles A. Reed, The Origins of Agriculture, Mouton, The Hague, 1977, 179-244.

[3]  Mark N. Cohen The Food Crisis in Prehistory: Overpopulation and the Origins of Agriculture, YaleUniversity Press, New Haven and London, 1977.

[4]  George F. Carter “A Hypothesis Suggesting a Single Origin of Agriculture” in Charles A. Reed, The Origins of Agriculture, Mouton, The Hague, 1977, 89-134.

[5]  N. I. Vavilov “The Origin, Variation, Immunity and Breeding of Cultivated Plants” translated by K.S. Chester, Chronica Botanica, 13, (1-6), 1950, 14-54. AND Jack R. Harlan “Agricultural Origins: Centers and Noncenters,” Science, 174, 1971, 468-474.

[6]  E. Boserup The Conditions of Agricultural Growth, Aldine, Chicago, 1965.

[7]  Harris op. cit.

[8]  Vavilov op. cit.

[9]  V. G. Childe Man Makes Himself, Mentor, New York, 1951.

[10]  L. R. Binford “Post Pleistocene Adaptations” in Bindford and Binford (eds) New Perspectives in Archaeology, Aldine, Chicago, 1968, 313-341.

[11]  Cohen, op. cit. 8.

[12]  Hapgood, op cit. 1970.

[13]  Harris op. cit.

[14]  Hapgood, op. cit. 1958.

[15]  C.C. Langway, Jr. and J.R. Hansen, and B. Lyle, “Drilling Through the Ice Cap: Probing Climate for a Thousand Centuries” in Richard S. Lewis and Philip M. Smith, Frozen Future: A Prophetic Report from Antarctica, Quadrangle, New York, 1973, 202.

[16]  Vavilov op. cit.

[17]  Richard S. MacNeish “The Beginnings of Agriculture in Central Peru,” in Charles A. Reed, The Origins of Agriculture, Mouton, The Hague, 1977, 753-802.

[18]  Barbara Pickersgill and Charles B. Heiser, Jr. “Origins and Distribution of Plants Domesticated in the New World Tropics, in Charles A. Reed, The Origins of Agriculture, Mouton, The Hague, 1977, 803-836.

[19]  W. G. Solheim “An Earlier Agricultural Revolution,” Scientific American, April 1972, 34-41.

[20]  Chester Gorman “A Priori Models and Thai Prehistory: A Reconsideration of the Beginnings of Agriculture in Southeastern Asia,” in Charles A. Reed, The Origins of Agriculture, Mouton, The Hague, 1977, 321-356.

[21]  Fred Wendorf, “Late Palaeolithic Sites in Egyptian Nubia,” in Fred Wendorf (ed.) The Prehistory of Nubia, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, 791-953.

[22]  Hapgood, op. cit. 1970 Chapter 10.

[23]  Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1962.

[24]  John A. Eddy “Historical and Arboreal Evidence for a Changing sun,” in John A. Eddy (ed.) The New Solar Physics, Westview, Boulder, Colorado, 1978, 11-34.

[25]  John Gribbon The Strangest Star: A Scientific Account of the Life and Death of the Sun, Fontana, Glasgow (Published in the USA by Delacorte Press, New York under the title, The Death of the Sun) 1980.