Pyramids, are designed and built to be very stable structures. They are first encountered in Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium BC, known as ziggurats. Unfortunately, they were built of sun-dried mud bricks and so, over time have crumbled. These early pyramids were stepped with between two and seven tiers. Their function was ceremonial.
Pyramids around the World
Pyramidal structures are now to be found around the globe; whether this is a consequence of diffusion or independent design is uncertain, possibly both.
For Ignatius Donnelly, the pyramids of Egypt and Central America were the result of a shared heritage originating in Atlantis. However, the millennia that separate their construction in the two regions would seem to militate against this idea. The Mayan pyramid at Mirador in Northern Guatemala was thought to be the largest in the world, by volume, at 2.8 million cubic metres, however, the Great Pyramid of Cholula is 4.45 million cubic metres(au)(bq). This is now rivalled by the Mayan pyramid at Toniná, Chiapas(bd).. The great Giza pyramid is 2.5 million cubic metres in volume.
Even more spectacular was the 1996 discovery of pyramids on the southern Atlantic coast of Brazil dated as early as 3000 BC, predating the earliest Egyptian Pyramids by a few hundred years. However, two sites in Peru, Caral and Sechin Bajo, are claiming pyramid complexes with dates of 3500 BC(j). Very ancient pyramids have also been claimed for Crimea(af).
What is arguably the greatest concentration of pyramids in the world is to be found in the Lambayeque Valley of northern Peru, numbering 250, built of mud brick, and dated to circa 750-1100 AD. The late Philip Coppens referred to the valley in his book, The New Pyramid Age  and it was also the subject of a BBC documentary(an).
Apart from Meso-America, pyramids have also been discovered as far apart as the Canaries, Sicily, Sardinia and Mauritius(k) as well as Russia(dc) and China(cp). A website by Gabriele Lukacs, dedicated to possible European pyramids is now available(g). The remains of three pyramids have also been identified on the Greek Peloponnese, one of which has been dated to 2720 BC ± 580 years.
In 2005, an ongoing debate was ignited when the Bosnian-American ‘archaeologist’ Semir Osmanagic announced that he had identified a gigantic manmade pyramid beside Visoko, 30km north of Sarajevo. Highly publicised excavations began in 2006. Readers should be aware that Osmanagic has expressed  rather bizarre notions including a belief that the Maya were descendants of the Atlanteans who in turn arrived on Earth from the Pleiades! A French commentator, Douglas Moonstone, has a comparable belief, namely, that the Atlanteans came from the constellation of Orion and furthermore that the “Neanderthals fled their bases on another near planet, probably a planet of Sirius B and a planet of Alnitak, as we have seen in previous volumes, and they have saved Hopis, Sapiens, in a space station in orbit.”(cc)
On one side, we had Philip Coppens offering support for Osmanagic(cl), while on the other, an on-site investigation by Robert Schoch concluded that the Visoko ‘pyramid’ was probably not man-made!(cm).
Osmanagic updated his claims in December 2011(o) and as recently as August 2016, He was still offering a spirited defence of his views(bi).
Gigantic pyramids have also been proposed for Germany by K. Walter Haug(ab). and demonstrated on his heavily illustrated website(aj).
Maxim Yakovenko was the founder of the world-pyramids.com website(bf). in 2008. It has a range of interesting articles that relate to pyramids around the globe. Unfortunately, the news section does not appear to have been updated over the past two years.
A recent (2010) site, lists(h). the eight largest pyramids in the world. A wide range of free papers, in pdf format, relating to the Giza Pyramids is available online(l)..
Perhaps even more dramatic is a recent claim(q) of a pyramid older and larger than the Great Pyramid at Giza, known as Mount Sadahurip in Garut, West Java, Indonesia .
July 2012 saw Linda Moulton Howe publish(r) a two-part illustrated article about an anomalous feature in Alaska which has been identified as a buried pyramid larger than the Great Pyramid at Giza. This feature was first identified twenty years ago, but the story appears to have been suppressed, according to a retired U.S. Counter-intelligence officer who contacted Howe. A comparable claim has also been made for pyramids in Antarctica and later shown to be a hoax(w).
Now for some further light relief, earlier in 2012, a nonsensical report(s) of an underwater glass pyramid in the Bermuda Triangle emerged. I’m sure it will be soon followed by a sighting of Elvis creating crop circles in Antarctica.
In September 2013, it was reported(y) that “researchers have discovered an underwater pyramid 60 meters high with a 8000 meters square base near the Bank De João de Castro, between the islands of Terceira and São Miguel” in the Azores. Shortly afterwards the Portuguese Navy denied the existence of any such structure.(aa) This claim has now spawned its own website(ad).
Even more ridiculous was a report in the UK’s Daily Star which claimed that an underwater pyramid estimated to be between 3.5 and 11 miles across had been spotted on Google Earth, situated off the coast of Mexico in the Pacific(cd).
Finally, it appears that in order to satisfy the public interest in pyramids the meaning of the term itself has been extended to include a range of natural features as well as man-made structures. Robert Schoch is happy to see Newgrange as a type of pyramid, others see Silbury Hill as a pyramid(e). while some writers apply the term to mountains as is the case with Jeff Nisbet(f). who sees ‘pyramids’ in Scotland. Nisbet attempts to justify his view with a very unconvincing suggested link between ancient Egypt and Scotland incorporating freemasonry and Princess Scota(bh).. Similar stories are widespread in Ireland where Scota is allegedly buried in Kerry in Gleann Scoithin, now known as Foley’s Glen. Scotia was another ancient name for Ireland. Andrew Power expands on the Scota story in his Ireland: Land of the Pharaohs  as well as Ralph Ellis  and Loraine Evans .
This claim of an Egyptian link with Ireland has been recently repeated by Steve Preston in his Egyptians in Ireland . David Halpin, an Irish writer from Carlow, has also written a three-part paper on the connections between Egypt with Ireland(av).
Pyramids of Egypt
The actual number of Egyptian pyramids recorded is variously cited as 118 or as many as 138. However, the greatest number of pyramids is to be found in Sudan, with around twice as many as Egypt, but are far less spectacular(df).
August 2012 brought a report(u) that two possible new Egyptian pyramid complexes have been discovered using Google Earth. However, subsequent inspection on the ground showed them to be less interesting(v).
A site providing a wonderful 360º view of the Giza Plateau is now available(m). while another site offers a remarkable panoramic aerial view(t).
Another site offers a remarkable collection of old images of the pyramids dating back to the mid-nineteenth century(br).
Another matter that has caused continual controversy is the layout of the three Giza pyramids. Robert Bauval is probably best known as the original promoter of the Orion Correlation Theory, which claims that the layout of three principal Giza pyramids mirrors ‘Orion’s Belt’ in that constellation. This received widespread coverage when it was outlined in The Orion Mystery . written by Bauval and Adrian Gilbert and in Keeper of Genesis . written with Graham Hancock, published two years later. In fact, Bauval had first published his theory in 1989 in Discussions in Egyptology(cw).
While the theory of Bauval & Gilbert are very well known, a more elaborate claim was proposed by Scott Creighton in his The Giza Oracle , in which he suggests that 11 pyramids in the Giza complex along “with the Great Sphinx forms a grand ‘Precession Wheel’, indicating key dates from humankind’s remote past – and indeed, its future”!(cy).
Further alignment claims and debate relating to two shafts that some claim were originally directed at particular stars(cx).
Date of the Egyptian Pyramids
The Pyramids of Egyptare are generally accepted to have been constructed in the third millennium BC in the period 2700 – 2150 BC. However, a number of investigators have inferred a much greater antiquity for some of these remarkable structures particularly the Great Pyramid (G.P.) at Giza. They believe that by pushing back the date for the construction of the Great Pyramid and/or Sphinx endorses the possibility that Plato’s early date of 9600 BC for the Atlantean War is factual.
Hossam Aboulfotouh calculated the date of the building of the Great Pyramid at Giza as 3055 BC, which he claims was also the time of the Deluge or what he refers to as the “tsunami of the Mediterranean”.(da)(db)
Ralph Ellis, a British researcher, has investigated the erosion to be seen at Giza, Meidum and Dashur and concluded  that there is evidence for an 8000 BC or an even earlier date for the construction of these structures(a). Ellis also has an article on the internet outlining his evidence for an earlier date for the construction of the Great Pyramid. More recently Robert Schoch announced the discovery of evidence of erosion INSIDE the Great Pyramid suggesting that a more ancient core had been exposed to the elements for a long period before being built upon to give us the structure we have today.
Edgar Cayce ‘revealed’ in 1932 that the Great Pyramid was built over a hundred year period from 10,490 to 10,390 BC(ap). At the other end of the time spectrum, Huang Heqing, a professor in the department of art and archaeology at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, amused the world with the claim that the Egyptian pyramids were built in the 19th century, in fact he goes further and maintains “that all the achievements of ancient Western cultures were fabricated in the nineteenth century”, including the Parthenon, the Temple of Zeus in Athens and the ruins of Persepolis in Iran(cu).
The late Joseph Jochmans related  how it was recorded that the outer casing stones showed water marks halfway up the height of the Pyramid before the Arabs removed them. Geologists have found evidence of a final catastrophic flooding event in Egypt circa 10,000 BC. Furthermore, radiocarbon dating of organic inclusions in a fourteen-foot layer of silt around the base of the Great Pyramid offered a date of around 9600 BC.
This suggested extended age for the pyramids has been incorporated into the argument to prove the possible existence of other advanced ancient civilisations that were concurrent with the 9600 BC date given by Solon for the antiquity of Atlantis.
Understandably, these revolutionary ideas have been met with fierce opposition by establishment archaeologists. This is a debate that will run for some time yet.
The earliest historical references to the pyramids can be found in early Egyptian and Greek documents(ch). However, the oldest known papyri, discovered at the Egyptian site of Wadi el-Jarf offer evidence supporting a date of about 2500 BC for the construction of the Great Pyramid, which reinforces conventional dating theories. One of the documents, written by Merer an overseer, records details of the construction of the final stages of the G.P.(ce). This, of course, seriously undermines the extended antiquity for the pyramids by proponents such as Graham Hancock.
Zecharia Sitchin, the controversial ‘alternative’ historian, entered the fray in 1980, with the claim that the only concrete evidence that the Great Pyramid had been built by Khufu, was an inscription forged by Colonel Richard Howard-Vyse(d). (see below). Philip Coppens has also written an article(cq). about Sitchin’s claim. The Howard-Vyse forgery debate has been stirred up again by researcher, Scott Creighton, who produced copies of Howard-Vyse’s papers to support the claim of fraud(ah). If true, this would lend some support to a redating of the structure.
2014 began with a report that two idiotic Germans, Dominique Goerlitz and Stefan Erdmann, had chiselled off part of the ‘Vyse’ cartouche from inside the Great Pyramid, which led to an international incident. They claim that the objective of their foolhardy act was to demonstrate that the Pyramid is older than generally accepted and was in fact a remnant of the Atlantean empire(z).
At the opposite end of the speculation spectrum is a recent book by Emmet Sweeney, The Pyramid Age , in which he claims that the pyramids were in fact far more recent and bravely suggests a date of around 800 BC for their construction. In this regard it is to be recorded that the Bible makes not the vaguest reference to one of the greatest wonders of the ancient world. It has been erroneously stated that Herodotus, a prolific recorder of trivia and who claims to have travelled as far south as Elephantine, failed to mention the pyramids. This is not true, as can be seen in Book II of his Histories 124-134. However, it is possible that it was meant to say that Herodotus did not refer to the Sphinx! It has been claimed that he was describing the pyramids at Dashur and not Giza(ao)!
In May 2013, Peter James, a structural engineer, published a new theory on why the building of pyramids ceased(x).
The Pyramid Builders
For a long time it was thought that the pyramids had been built by slaves, possibly Israelite. Recent years has seen this idea debunked(at). and reinforced by papyri put on display for the first time in July 2016, which clearly indicate that the pyramid builders were paid and were not slaves (or extraterrestrials)(be).. A sober review of development of pyramid building and the technology involved was offered by Owen Jarus in June, 2016(bo).
Unfortunately. there are a number of commentators who have attributed the construction of the Great Pyramid to extraterrestrials, who cannot accept that the Egyptians built the pyramids, in desperation have interpreted the existence of the pyramids as ‘evidence’ of extraterrestrial visitations!(ae).
One such proponent is Peter Lemesurier who identifies the elohim of the Old Testament as the designers of the GP and that they came from the star Sirius . He claims that they left prophetic messages in the structure of the GP for humanity.
Many and varied are the claims regarding the pyramid builders and their methods, including that they were built by refugees from Atlantis(bl). . October 2017 had Gerry Cannon & Malcolm Hutton claim(bx). that the Great Pyramid was built by an advanced civilisation, which may have been Atlantis! Graham Hancock holds similar views.
Even more entertaining is a claim by two Irishmen, Francis J. and Francis P. Ward, that druids from Ireland, which they consider to have been Atlantis, built the pyramids at Giza!(bt).
The Great Pyramid Building Methods
The idea that a gently-sloping ramp was used has been a popular idea for a long time, but weaknesses in the concept were soon apparent. For example, the material required to build some of the proposed ramps would have been greater than the pyramid itself. Franz Löhner has developed what he calls a ‘rope roll’ to demonstrate that simple technology available to the Egyptians could have been used to lift the pyramid’s blocks into place. Löhner has worked in a quarry and consequently has an intimate knowledge of the practicalities involved. He has co-authored a book (German only) , with Dr. Heribert Illig which expands on his idea and has developed an interesting website(cg), in English and German, with further information.
The most persistent question relating to the pyramids and in fact all megalithic structures is “how did they manage to build them using such large heavy rocks and blocks”? Many ingenious solutions are on offer but perhaps the most remarkable is that proposed by W. T. Wallington who has demonstrated(n) that using basic materials, which were available to the Egyptians, one individual can manipulate a 4500kg stone block. His website includes a remarkable video clip of his method. A review(bu) of this video is worth a read. More recently a collaboration between Matter Design and CEMEX Global R&D has demonstrated that irregularly shaped cement objects weighing many tons can be moved easily by hand, suggesting that the manpower required to build many ancient monuments was far less than is generally assumed today. The conclusion being that technique is the key to how many of the ‘impossible’ structures of the past were constructed(ci). Ashley Cowie has written an article in which he looks at how these techniques may have been applied to the construction of the megalithic walls of Cuzco in Peru, the ancient capital of the Inca(cj). Cowie also holds that a huge earthquake caused a major change in Inca construction methods(ck).
How the pyramids were built is still uncertain with a range ingenious theories on offer. At first it was thought that a huge ramp was used, until it was realised that such a ramp with the required gentle incline would require a greater volume of material than the Great Pyramid itself! Two suggestions that still have considerable support are that (A) many of the stone blocks were ‘cast’ in situ as proposed by Joseph Davidovits(bm). and (B) that an internal ramp within the pyramid was used as claimed by Jean-Pierre Houdin(bn).
In 2006, Dr. Michel Barsoum of Drexel University of Philadelphia claimed to have proof that the Egyptians had used a lime-based cement in the building of the pyramids(cz).
What may be relevant was what was found at Giza(bk) and described as ‘melted limestone’, which led Robert Schoch to consider it the result of ‘a plasma event’.
Margaret Morris offers a comprehensive account of the features of the Great Pyramid and possible construction methods on her website(bb) and in three books . Morris is a supporter of Joseph Davidovits who proposed the controversial idea that the building blocks of the Pyramid were cast in situ.
In 2007, petrographer, Dipayan Jana, refuted Davidovits theory and as far as I’m aware, no rebuttal has been forthcoming from either Davidovits or Morris. Later in 2008, Ioannis Liritzis and his team also challenged the theory of Davidovits, when they pointed out that the material used to build Egypt’s most famous monuments “contain hundreds of thousands of marine fossils” that are distributed throughout the rock in a manner compatible with natural rock(dd).
However, it struck me that if Davidovits was correct, this ‘rock’ might instead be some of his liquid geopolymer that had been spilt and hardened in the sun!
In 2019, Fehmi Krasniqi produced a three and a half hour video(cv) on the building of the Egyptian pyramids, primarily based on Davidovits’ claim that the Egyptians used a form of concrete to make the building blocks in situ. However, Krasniqi ventures beyond Egypt, suggesting that the ancient Egyptians travelled to America, stopping off for supplies in Atlantis, now the Azores.
A 2014 study(ag) revealed that the Egyptians were able to move the pyramid building blocks over wet sand. “By using the right quantity of water they could halve the number of workers needed.” This is comparable with the documented method employed by the Chinese to transport 200/300-ton blocks used in the construction of their ‘Forbidden City’(ai). In October 2018 it was revealed that the remains of a ramp flanked by two staircases with postholes was discovered at an ancient quarry at Hatnub in Egypt’s Eastern Desert. “Using a sled which carried a stone block and was attached with ropes to these wooden posts, ancient Egyptians were able to pull up the alabaster blocks out of the quarry on very steep slopes of 20 percent or more.”(cf). While this may explain how blocks could have been moved, with relative ease, to pyramid building sites, it does not tell us how the pyramids were actually constructed.
Great Pyramid’s Function
Edward Malkowski supports(ax) the ideas of Edward Kunkel(ay) and John Cadman(az), who believed that the Great Pyramid was designed to function as a water pump. However, Malkowski goes further, suggesting that this pump was used to generate subtle electrical fields that were used to assist plant growth, which seems unnecessary, considering the fertility of the Nile Valley renewed naturally by the annual flooding of the river.
Steven Myers has written two books(ba) on the subject of ancient Egyptian hydraulics.
In 2009, Dean Talboys published his theory(co). which suggests that the remarkable internal features of the GP, including the King’s Chamber and the Grand Gallery were part of a device which used sea water to generate enough torque to drive an electric dynamo. Talboys suddenly ends his dissertation with the unexpected admission that “we are still left with the problem of what to do with the electricity it generates we could, at least, be a little closer to understanding why someone went to all that trouble”!
Many and varied are the theories that have been put forward regarding the intended function of the Great Pyramid. A most recent (Jan.2021) has been offered by Konstantin Borisov, who suggested that the purpose of the Great Pyramid of Giza was to emit free electrons to the Ionosphere, with the objective of creating light on the planet! This capability was enhanced by Giza’s location near the maximum geographical center of Earth and the use of nummulitic limestone in the construction of the Great Pyramid! Further details are revealed in an article published on the Ancient Origins website(ct).
2014 also saw the publication of Pyramid Gravity Force(ac) by John Shaughnessy in which he claims that “The pyramids were built to prevent and/or control tectonic plate movement, volcanic activity, tidal waves, major earth quakes, land movements and the magnetic field movements on Earth.” I suggest that all the Amazon reviews are read before purchasing.
It was recently revealed(ar). that, Ben Carson, a former Republican candidate for the US presidency, once proposed to an assembly of students at Andrews University that the Egyptian pyramids were built to store grain! This idea has been traced back to the sixth century, when there was a belief that the pyramids had been the granaries of Joseph, as Julius Honorius (Cosmographia, c. 500 CE), Antoninus of Piacenza (Itinerary 43, c. 570 CE), and Geoffrey of Tours (History of the Franks 1.10, 594 CE), among others, all testify! This theory was later popularized by works such as ‘The Book of John Mandeville’, a hugely popular 14th century travelogue.”(bs).
Perfection of the Great Pyramid!
Among the numerous mysteries related to the Great Pyramid is the fact that each side of the structure is actually slightly concave, making it the only known eight-sided pyramid (pedants would probably claim nine sides, including the base). This feature was first photographed in 1940(al). Jean-Paul Bauval has written a paper on this concavity, arguing that it was a design feature and not a construction error. He goes further and proposes “that the geometry generated by the concavity on the overall shape of the monument shows a clear relationship, whether intended or by accident, between the Egyptian Royal Cubit (RC) to the meter unit (m) . Finally, this geometrical design has the peculiarity of creating a ‘virtual space’ at the top of the monument on which might have been placed a spherical object”(cr).
The assumed accuracy of the orientation and dimensions of the Great Pyramid was recently called into question by Mark Lehner and Glen Dash(bj).
Apart from the disputed question of age of the Great Pyramid, its very structure has prompted its own share of debate with persistent claims that its location, dimensions and orientation have significance in the fields of astronomy, mathematics and geography. Lists of these connections are available online(p).
A June 2016 report revealed(bc). that the builders of the Great Pyramid had made a very minor miscalculation resulting in the west side being around 5 inches longer than the east side. The research team, led by Glen Dash and Mark Lehner, also noted that the pyramid is not oriented as precisely with the cardinal points as we have been led to believe since “The pyramid’s north-south axis (or meridian) runs 3 minutes 54 seconds west of due north while its east-west axis runs 3 minutes 51 seconds north of due east, he told Live Science. The east-west axis also runs through the center of a temple built on the east side of the pyramid. These measurements mean that the Great Pyramid is oriented just slightly away from the cardinal directions, the degree of error from north-south and east-west being almost the same.” However, these very minor defects cannot detract in any way from the magnificence of the structure constructed so long ago.
In a 2018 paper(ca), Glen Dash returned to the very slight misalignment of the Great Pyramid with the cardinal points.“The builders of the Great Pyramid of Khufu aligned the great monument to the cardinal points with an accuracy of better than four minutes of arc, or one-fifteenth of one degree.” Dash claims that the engineers who designed the plans for the Great Pyramid have used the fall equinox to seamlessly align this pyramid to the cardinal points. “He also claims that all three major Giza pyramids exhibit the same type of error in that they are rotated slightly counter-clockwise from the cardinal points.”
November 2017 began with an exciting claim published in Nature magazine(bv). that a huge cavity had been identified above the Grand Gallery in the Great Pyramid of Giza. This discovery was made using non-invasive technology, which suggests that physical verification will require some degree of interference with the structure of the pyramid, which may not be allowed by the Egyptian authorities. The initial announcement was quickly followed by a refutation of the claim of a void over the Grand Gallery by Zahi Hawass(bw). Nevertheless, further investigation now (2019) seems to have confirmed the existence of this void(cn).
Not long after, it was reported in the UK’s Daily Mail that an Italian archaeoastronomer, Giulio Magli, believes that the void at the center of the Great Pyramid houses a throne made from meteorites, used to help the pharaoh in the afterlife(bz). Magli has previously received public notice with a paper which explored the possibility that Göbekli Tepe had been constructed to “celebrate and successively follow the appearance of a new, extremely brilliant star in the southern skies: Sirius.”(ca).
In 2020, some notes of Isaac Newton’s from the 1680’s were auctioned, which revealed Newton’s interest in the pyramids. It seems that “Newton was trying to uncover the unit of measurement used by those constructing the pyramids. He thought it was likely that the ancient Egyptians had been able to measure the Earth and that, by unlocking the cubit of the Great Pyramid, he too would be able to measure the circumference of the Earth.” (cs).
The pseudoscience of pyramidology took off in the 19th century, with a range of outlandish claims(aq), based on external and/or internal dimensions of the Great Pyramid, supporting anything from the British Israelites or the early Jehovah’s Witnesses, to being a source of divine prophecy!
In the 20th century, Adam Rutherford, a British Israelite, founded The Institute of Pyrmidology in 1940. Between 1957 and 1974, Rutherford published a set of four books on the subject, although a fifth volume was planned . When Adam died, his son James took over the Institute, but following his death in a car accident the Institute ended.
Nevertheless, pyramidology was given a new twist in November 2015 when a Spanish architect, Miquel Pérez-Sánchez, added the old alphanumeric system of gematria to the mix and claimed that he had identified the name ‘Atlantis’ when ‘translating’ some of the dimensions in the structure of the Great Pyramid(by). Scott Onstott is also a modern advocate of the existence of Mathematical Encoding in the Great Pyramid.(as)
For those interested in the possible significance of numbers and the Great Pyramid, there are three related papers available on Keith M. Hunter’s website(aw).
Ralph Ellis, mentioned above, is a controversial English revisionist of biblical and ancient Egyptian history, who bravely argues(b) that Mount Sinai, of Ten Commandments fame, was in fact the Great Pyramid of Giza ! John Taylor (1781-1864) claimed in 1859 that Noah was the builder of the Great Pyramid . Even more imaginative was the claim by C.E. Getsinger in the 1920’s that Noah’s Ark was in fact the Great Pyramid(bp)!
(b) Archive 2926
(d) Archive 2494
(j) Archive 2138
(p) Archive 3620
(ab) http://www.migration-diffusion.info/article.php?year=2013HYPERLINK “http://www.migration-diffusion.info/article.php?year=2013&id=375″&HYPERLINK “http://www.migration-diffusion.info/article.php?year=2013&id=375″id=375
(af) Archive 3619
(ah) Archive 2806
(am) See: Archive 2564
(ao) See: Archive 2818
(bb) Archive 3057
(bn) Archive 3631
(bp)The Thomson Review, Thomson, Illinois, July 19th, 1922 – p.3
(bx) Archive 3618
(cw) Discussions in Egyptology, volume 13, 1989, pp. 7-18
Geodesy is usually defined as the measurement and mapping of the Earth. As a science it is traced back to Pythagoras (6th cent. BC), who was thought to be the first to propose the sphericity of the Earth. Later, Eratosthenes (276 BC– 195 BC) was one of the earliest to attempt to determine the dimensions of our Earth and succeeded with remarkable accuracy.
A controversial aspect of modern geodesy is the claim that many ancient sites were deliberately established at locations that had specific geodetic relationship to each other and/or the dimensions of the Earth. For example(a) in ancient Egypt, from Giza to the Equator is 1/12th the circumference of the Earth, Amarna to the Equator is 1/13th, Luxor 1/14th and Philae 1/15th! Graham Hancock in his Heaven’s Mirror pointed to similar relationships around the globe suggesting a possible world grid. This idea of a world grid has a number of supporters, but is often classified as a ‘fringe’ interest due to the attempt by some to link gridlines with UFOs and their use of the grid as a power source(w).
Possibly related features may be the ley lines identified by Alfred Watkins in Britain(c)(g), the Alesia alignments in France discovered by Xavier Guichard(b) and/or the Heilige Linien of Germany claimed by Wilhelm Teudt(aa).
Heinz Kaminski had claimed to have discovered a megalithic grid system that stretched from Stonehenge across Europe with an east-west and north-south orientation and referred to as the Stonehenge/Wormbach System(h).
Ashley Cowie has published a paper(ac) related to Alesia and the work of Guichard and others, as well as his own investigations.
I should also point out that Marcel Mestdagh also identified a form of road system, laid out in giant ovals with radials in France. At the centre of these ovals was the ancient city of Sens. Philip Coppens informs us [1275.184] that a further strange discovery by Mestdagh was that this ancient road network, centred on Sens, was mirrored by a similar network of roads in England centred on Nottingham!
‘The Way of Virachoca’ in the Andes which runs through Tiwanaku and is oriented exactly 45° west of true north and runs for over 1000 miles, has been studied by Maria Scholten d’Ebneth  in the 1970’s and expanded on by a number of Spanish speaking commentators and is now the subject of an article by Dave Truman(x).
In 1973, three Russians, engineers Valery Makarov and Vyacheslav Morozov along with Nikolay Goncharov, an artist, published in Russian an article with the eye-catching title of Is the Earth a Giant Crystal? (y) This was probably the earliest presentation of an earth grid based on ancient historical sites. A brief history of the earth grid theories that emerged around this time is available online(z). There is now a Russian geodesy website with an English translation(ab).
David Hatcher Childress published his Anti-Gravity and the World Grid  in 1993, with the modest claim that he “proves that the earth is surrounded by an intricate electronic grid network offering free energy.” Obviously, Childress’ understanding of ‘proof’ is different to mine, as the only proof required is the production of some of this free energy, which he has not done.
Tom Brooks has entered the fray with a study of 1500 prehistoric sites and his conclusion that the inhabitants of ancient Britain had a designed a navigation system based on a grid of isosceles triangles(i). Brooks has gone a step further and speculatively claimed that the accuracy of this geometry-based system could only have been designed through “extraterrestrial intervention”(r). This concept is explored more fully in his latest book, Seeing Around Corners: Geometry in Stone Age Britain  and in a series of video clips(s). A more critical view of Brooks’ ideas is also available on the Internet(j).
Some years ago a former employee of a NASA sub-contractor, Maurice Chatelain claimed that within a 450-mile radius of the Aegean island of Delos that 13 mystical sites, when connected by straight lines formed a perfect Maltese Cross(u)!
Others such as Livio Stecchini(d) and Jim Alison(e) using geodetic calculations have identified São Tomé and Cape Verde respectively as the location of Atlantis. I must also include Hugo Kennes, a Belgian researcher with a passionate interest in global grids and sacred geometry(l). Kennes has also informed me of a new Facebook group(q) deal with all aspects of the subject, as well as another(v) that includes submerged cities and other features.
Anyone interested in pursuing a study of this subject might like to look over James Q. Jacobs’ archaeogeodesy website(f) as well as the BioGeometry website (m).
If you have pursued all the links so far, you can pamper yourself further with a paper(k) by William Becker and Beth Hagens(n). Another researcher in this field is Dan Shaw whose website(o) give a good overview of the subject.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix added his weight to the debate with his 1998 paper entitled The Mapmakers from the Ice Age(t).
A global network of sacred sites was also put forward by Rand Flem-Ath & Colin Wilson in The Atlantis Blueprint . This book was intended as a sequel to When the Sky Fell , but generally wandered off into other areas after the first couple of chapters.
I am somewhat sceptical about certain aspects of geodesy, particularly some of the claims of a world grid. However, it does raise many questions that require further study and explanation. In this connection, I would recommend John Sase’s Curious Alignments  as a good starting point.
In February 2020, Frank Maglione Nicholson, Ken Phungrasamee & David Grimason, collectively known as The Nazca Group(ad), published The Nazca Great Circle Map Hypothesis. Their claim is that “The lines and geoglyphs carved into the Nazca plateau represent a map of the Earth. The map is a Great Circle Map: a gnomonic projection with the center of the Earth as its cartographic view point. Each line on the Nazca Plateau represents a great circle of navigation centered at the center of the Earth and encircling the entire planet. The majority of the lines on the Nazca Plateau radiate from five loci of origin called radial centers.” I found this rather esoteric proposition difficult to absorb.
(d) http://www.metrum.org/mapping/atlantis.htm (link broken Dec. 2020)
(r) https://www.prehistoric-geometry.co.uk/ [See (i)]
Elephants are specifically mentioned by Plato as being indigenous to Atlantis. This must have significance for anyone trying to arrive at a credible location for Atlantis. For example, supporters of the Theran Atlantis School cannot show where such large animals could have lived on the small volcanic island. There are no physical remains, no frescos and no historical references. Rodney Castleden who supports the Minoan Hypothesis admits that “no raw elephant ivory has been found (on Thera) and very little in the way of worked ivory”[225.70]. He later speaks of the importation of ivory into Crete[p.172] having bravely denounced Plato’s description (Critias 115a) of herds of elephants on Atlantis as “false”[p.136].
Similarly, Spanuth’s Heligoland location would have been climatically unsuited to elephants. Spanuth himself admits that the elephant reference “is hard to explain“. Nevertheless, Felice Vinci who champions a Northern European origin for Greek mythology is of the opinion that Plato’s elephant reference may be a lingering memory of the woolly mammoths that inhabited Arctic regions as recently as 2500-2000 BC(t)(u). In the late 17th century Olof Rudbeck, recognising the problem that Plato’s reference to elephants presented for his Swedish Atlantis, argued that Plato had been speaking figuratively when describing the large voracious animals and had in fact been referring to wolves, the Swedish word for wolf being ‘ulf’, which sounds like the beginning of ‘elephant’!!
Elephants in Western Europe were undoubtedly represented by mammoths, remains of which have been recovered from the North Sea – Doggerland and dated to around 40,000 years ago. Coincidentally, a tool made of mammoth bone, used for making rope, has also been dated to 40,000 years ago(i)(n). This discovery(s) by Nicholas Conard from the University of Tubingen was made shortly before Ashley Cowie published his interesting book on the history of rope-making. Further information on string, ropes and knots was published in March 2017(o). This ingenuity of our very distant ancestors, so often underestimated, is slowly being revealed by modern archaeology. In 2000, in the Czech Republic, it was discovered that woven cloth was being produced on looms 27,000 years ago(v). A few years later a team from Harvard’s Peabody Museum reported the discovery of fibers that ‘were spun, twisted or knotted’ and dated to at least 34,000 years ago(x). 2020 saw evidence emerge which suggested that even as far back as 41,000 – 52,000 years ago the Neanderthals had mastered the making of cords(w).>Later the same year, further evidence was offered that string making may have begun even earlier(y).<
Allied to the demise of the Siberian mammoths is the often repeated fib that when the remains were first discovered, their flesh was still fresh enough to eat, has recently been debunked by Jason Colavito(j). He has also unearthed the truth behind that other canard relating to a Siberian mammoth, namely that fresh buttercups were found in its mouth(j). He has now(q) traced back the earliest reference to the frozen mammoths to George Cuvier in 1822 [1586.11].
Eckart Kahlhofer, in a forthcoming book advocates a North-West European location for Atlantis, suggests that where Plato referred to elephants he really meant deer! Kahlhofer offers, as a simple explanation for this seemingly daft contention, the fact that the Greek for elephant, elephas, is very similar to the Greek elaphos which means deer. A simple transcription error by a scribe could have caused the mix-up. The elk was the largest species of deer to be found in the northern hemisphere and are still to be found in Scandinavia. The Great Irish Deer which died out around 5500 BC had an antler span of 11ft and a maximum height of 10ft.
Gene Matlock in an attempt to bolster his Mexican location for Atlantis has suggested that Plato’s elephants were in fact the long-snouted tapirs of Meso-America!(c), an idea ‘borrowed’ from Hyde Clarke
While the elephant issue should not be dealt with in isolation it does serve to illustrate the difficulties involved in analysing Plato’s text. Consider the possibility that the early date of 9600 BC for Atlantis is accepted, then the islands that are too small today to accommodate elephants may have been considerably larger and sometimes connected to each other or a mainland during the Ice Age, when sea levels were lower, and consequently capable of supporting pachyderms. In this regard, Sundaland would have been a most suitable candidate. Not only would to-day’s South China Sea’s archipelagos been a single landmass, but there would have been access to the area from the Asian mainland, home today to large numbers of elephants.
Strangely enough, even the Andes, considered by some as the home of Atlantis, reveal the fact that during the last Ice Age a species of elephant called Cuvieronius lived there but became extinct around 8000 BC. These animals are to be found carved on the great Gateway of the Sun in Tiahuanaco suggesting that they were common in the region. Supporters of an Atlantis link with Tiahuanaco have highlighted this fact.
James Bailey who supports the idea of Atlantis in America believes that Plato’s mention of elephants could be a reference to the American mammoth, generally believed to have died out circa 10,000 BC, although Victor von Hagen, the American explorer, contentiously maintained that they survived as late 2000 BC. A similar idea was presented to the 2005 Atlantis Conference by American researcher, Monique Petersen.
The Schoppes, in support of their theory of Atlantis in the Black Sea region, contend(l) that Indian elephants existed there until 800 BC and support this with a reference to the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmosis III who killed 120 elephants ‘there’ around 1200 BC, which is a strange claim as Thutmosis did not venture beyond Syria and he died circa 1426 BC!
Elephas Antiquus (Palaeoloxodon), is a dwarf species whose remains have been found throughout the islands of the Mediterranean from Sardinia to Cyprus. All those found were dated 200,000 BC or earlier! In sharp contrast, Simon Davis, in an article in New Scientist (3 Jan.1985), dated Mediterranean dwarf elephants to as recent as 6000 BC(p). A number of writers, such as Roger Coghill, have tried to use the pygmy elephant as an explanation for Plato’s text (Crit. 114e & 115a) where we find that he describes the elephants as being ‘of its nature the largest and most voracious’. This is not a description of pygmy elephants.
However, Ghar Hasan or Hasan’s Cave in southeast Malta has paleolithic cave paintings that depict elephants, indicating more recent contact with the animals. Whether these represented full-sized or the pygmy variety is unclear. A small booklet by Dr. Anton Mifsud and Dr. Charles Savona-Ventura describes this cave system.
In Dossier Malta – Neanderthal  Mifsud has drawn attention to another cavern, not far away, formerly known as Ghar Dulam, now Ghar Dalam, where thousands of dwarf elephant bones were discovered. Dulam means ‘small elephant’ in Arabic. This is one of the mainstays of his ‘Atlantis in Malta’ theory. Whether these diminutive creatures justify Plato’s description that they were the “largest and most voracious” of animals (Crit.115a) is clearly debatable. For me this is not a description of pygmy elephants and so in all probability is an indication of a North African location or, as some claim, an Asian one!
The Atlanteans had control in Europe as far as Tyrrhenia and Egypt, which would have included what is now modern Tunisia, the home of the last recorded wild elephants in that region!
Readers should be aware that there is general acceptance that the North African Elephant inhabited the Atlas Mountains until they became extinct in Roman times(e)(h). In fact the New Scientist magazine of 7th February 1985(d) outlined the evidence that Tunisia had native elephants until at least the end of the Roman Empire.
In Elephant Destiny Martin Meredith records that one of the earliest references to the African elephant came from Hanno, the 5th century BC Carthaginian explorer, who related how he came across marshes at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, which “were haunted by elephants and multitudes of other grazing beasts.” Meredith also mentions that stables for as many as 300 elephants were to be found within the city of Carthage itself.
Nevertheless, the species of elephant used by Hannibal has been a source of debate for years(f). The Numidians of North Africa (202 BC–46 BC) also used local elephants in warfare(g). It would seem to me that the North African Elephant, rather than the Asian or African species, would have been more suited to the trek across the Alps. Needless to say, the Atlas Mountains were part of the Atlantean sphere of control (Timaeus 25a-b) and so may be the reason that Plato mentioned them. It is also reported that during the reign of the Ptolemies in Egypt (323 BC-30 BC), they imported war elephants from Eritrea in East Africa(r).
The latter half of 2010 saw a new piece of nonsense hit the blogosophere when a claim that the Atlanteans had flying machines made of elephant skins suddenly appeared and before you could say “cut and paste” it was ‘adopted’ by a variety of websites(a)(b). So Dumbo was not the first flying elephant! In fact this daft idea was just a recycling of one of Edgar Cayce’s ‘revelations’ (Reading 364-6)(m).
(a) https://www.articledashboard.com/Article/Speaking-of-Atlantis/1872335 (Offline October 2017)
A Lunisolar Calendar is hidden within the Atlantis story according to a paper presented to the 2008 Atlantis Conference by Alexios Pliakos. Lunisolar calendars have been in use since ancient times in many cultures(b), indicating the phases of the moon as well as the passage of time through the solar year.
Pliakos believes[750.631] that Critias 119 d2-d4, which refers to the convening of the Atlantean kings every five and six years, contains a previously unknown lunisolar calendar of 11 years duration with an accuracy of 0.09 days per year. As he also claims that it could have been applied in both 9600 BC and 12th century BC, it cannot be used to date the time of Atlantis. However, he points out that this 11 year lunisolar calendar is in conformity with the development of calendars generally adding to the improbability of the Atlantis story being an invention.
In a recent paper by Ashley Cowie, he explains how the Hittite shrine of Yazilikaya, at least in part, could have been used as a lunisolar calendar. Eberhard Zangger, an expert on the ancient history of the region, has also identified astronomically related features at the site (d).
Paul Dunbavin, in his Atlantis of the West[0099.319], has offered a speculative explanation for the fifth and sixth year meetings of the Atlantean kings based on the fragments that make up the French ‘Coligny Calendar’(a) .
David Ohrenstein has a short blog on the significance of ‘five and six’ from megalithic times to that of the Egyptians and later the Maya(c).
Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco) is an ancient city whose remains are located over two miles above sea level near the southern end of Lake Titicaca on the Altiplano of Bolivia. It was first encountered by Spanish conquistadors in 1549. Tiwanaku has all the features of a harbour, which has led some to describe it as the seaport of nearby Puma Punku another remarkable ancient site(o).
The ruins are scattered over a number of square miles through which the Guayqui-La Paz railway was constructed, which was responsible for the breaking up of many monuments to provide ballast. Prior to that, stone from the site was used in the construction of nearby homes and a church.
Belisario Díaz Romero believed that Tiwanaku had been built by a race of people he calls Homo atlanticus, who had come to America from Atlantis over a landbridge from the east, outlined in his 1906 book Tiahuanacu. Heather Pringle notes(t) that before Romero, “Francis de Castelnau (1810-1880), for example, proposed in the mid-19th century that Tiwanaku was the work of wandering Egyptian pharaohs, as opposed to the ‘imbicilic race that inhabits the country today’.”
The controversial Arthur Posnansky, who linked Tiahuanaco with Aztlan, the mythical “white” island homeland of the Aztecs investigated them in the early 20th century. The similarity of Aztlan with the name of Plato’s city has excited some straw clutching Atlantis seekers into claiming a definite connection between the two.
Posnansky also noted that the expected alignments of structures at Tiwanaku were offset by an amount which suggested their construction at a time when they would have been correctly aligned with respect to the cardinal points. He, after many years of study, was convinced that Tiahuanaco was the oldest civilisation on Earth dating it to around 15,000 BC. Charles Orser jnr. debunked Posnansky’s dating in a 2001 article(k) as did Paul Heinrich(n).>However, R. Cedric Leonard believes that Posnansky’s date addressed all of the mysteries associated with the site and “Thus I think it likely that Tiahuanaco was built at sea level c.15,000 B.C. as an Atlantean port.”(z)<
Some researchers, including Jim Allen, have studied Tiwanaku’s remarkable Gate of the Sun and identified the figures carved on it as a sophisticated calendar(v) . Ashley Cowie has recently proposed that Tiwanaku was located on an ancient Prime Meridian(w).
In the 1920’s, Edmund Kiss studied the ruins of Tiwanaku and concluded that it had been constructed by Nordic refugees from Atlantis which had been destroyed by a falling moon! His ideas were enthusiastically received back in Nazi Germany. A further expedition was planned, but never materialised because of the start of World War II.(u)
In sharp contrast is the claim(l) by Roger Elefant that later construction at Tiwanaku was carried out by the Vikings!
However, a more recent, but catastrophic, explanation is offered by Stephen Smith(d) on the Thunderbolts.info website. Perhaps Smith’s ideas might be combined with the studies of George Dodwell to produce a more comprehensive hypothesis. Posnansky’s date is greatly at variance with conventional dating that puts the flourishing of Tiwanaku at 1200 BC until 1200 AD. The latter part of that period roughly coincides with the existence of the Wari Empire, a possible rival of Tiwanaku(e).(e).
The claim of a direct connection between Tiahuanaco and Atlantis is hard to accept on a number of grounds; for example, the idea of an army travelling from the west coast of South America to attack Greece in the east of the Mediterranean is not tenable. That there was an advanced culture in the Andes is undeniable but to link it to Plato’s story is stretching credibility to extremes. Lake Titicaca and Tiahuanaco have plenty of mysteries still to be explained. In 1980 the Bolivian scholar, Hugo Boero Rojo, aided by one of the local natives, Elias Mamani, located underwater ruins off the coast of Puerta Acosta. His discoveries included megalithic temples, flights of stairs and stone roads.
More recently, Dave Truman has written about an alignment known as ‘The Way of Viracocha’ that runs from Cajamarca in the north, through Cuzco and Tiwanaku and finishing at Pukara Grande(p), oriented exactly 45° west of true north. Truman has built on the work of Maria Sholten d’Ebneth (1926-2007), who wrote of the La Ruta de Wiracocha in the 1970’s(q). Others have expanded on her work, but usually in Spanish. Truman has speculated on whether “Viracocha, the great teacher and restorer of civilisation in the Andes, in some way embodied the scientific knowledge of a sophisticated, but long forgotten high culture?” Truman
also discusses the ‘chakana’ or Andean stepped cross and it possible meaning.
It was reported in October 2013(g) (that a team of Belgian and Bolivian archaeologists had found an assortment of ceramics, gems and gold objects at an apparent ceremonial site beneath the waters of Lake Titicaca, which was sacred for the Incas and Tiwanakus. It was not until 2019 that images of some of the artefacts recovered from the lake were widely published(x).
We cannot leave the matter of mysterious Tiahuanaco without referring to the fact that some miles further south is Lake Poopó beside which Jim Allen is convinced that the city of Atlantis was located. Allen claims that the large plain to the west of the lake is the plain mentioned by Plato as being adjacent to the city of Atlantis. In a recent documentary “Atlantis in the Andes” broadcast by ‘Discovery Civilization’, Allen identified Tiahuanaco as one of the ten kingdoms of Atlantis. However, I cannot help noticing that while Tiwanaku, claimed to be 17,000 years old, provides us with an astonishing wealth of structures, Allen’s chosen Atlantis site, Pampa Aullagas, offers little more than rubble!
Another supporter of an Andean Atlantis is Sean Bambrough, who has been developing a theory since 1999 that identifies Tiwanaku as the city of Atlantis(h). In February 2015, Marcelo Ozorio also suggested a link with Plato’s Atlantis and most interesting is the huge number of images included on his site(i). There is also a large collection of related images on a YouTube clip(m).
A number of claims attempting to link Tiahuanaco with Atlantis have been made, with one anonymous blog(y) insisting that it was the capital of Atlantis. James Bailey was an early advocate of a Peruvian Atlantis with its capital at Tiwanaku or Chan Chan, which was probably the largest pre-Colombian city in South America.
In 2008, David E. Flynn brought to public attention an astonishing series of satellite photos(a) that show a vast network of the remains apparently of human structures that extend for many miles around Lake Titicaca. These ‘geoglyphs’ encompass Tiahuanaco.
The most remarkable collection of early photos of the Tiwanku site can be found on the Above Top Secret website(b). The accompanying text makes a strong case for treating the location as archaeologically contaminated and as a consequence that many of the dates proposed for the site should be considered suspect. Other mysteries are the fact that saltwater Lake Titicaca contains known sea life and that old waterlines are slanted(c).
In late March 2015, the Bolivian government announced(j) that ground-penetrating radar had identified what appeared to be a buried pyramid in the Tiwanaku complex as well as other ‘anomalies’ and that excavations may start in May or June.
A mixed Spanish and English website(f) offers a number of interesting papers including a chapter from Posnansky’s book Tiahuanaco: The Cradle of American Man.
Archaeology magazine has an interesting Q & A paper relating to the history and current state of preservation at the Tiwanaku site(s).
A May 2017 report(r) confirmed that the entire Tiwanaku complex is much more extensive than previously thought, covering an area of at least 650 hectares (1,675 acres).
(i) https://documentaries.camera/tiwanacu/ (offline Sept 2015)
The Neanderthals were claimed by the late Colin Wilson to have possessed highly sophisticated mathematical and astronomical knowledge and were precursors of the Atlantis civilisation. This extremely speculative assertion is made in Wilson’s Atlantis and the Kingdom of the Neanderthals, a book that wanders all over the place with references to an extensive range of ancient mysteries from the Maya to Mary Magdalene without offering anything tangible to substantiate his central thesis.
The idea of a Neanderthal connection with Atlantis is totally at variance with Plato’s description of a literate Bronze Age civilisation. While many atlantologists have chosen to reinterpret, modify or ignore aspects of Plato’s narrative, they have usually made some effort to justify their stance. Wilson, however, simply disregards the consistent Bronze Age references by Plato without any attempt at an explanation for this omission. Although, it is generally accepted that the Neanderthals had died out by 20,000 BC and Wilson seems to believe that the cataclysmic flooding of Atlantis took place around 9500 BC, it leaves an insurmountable gap of over 10,000 years unexplained by him.
Neanderthals are accepted to have been indigenous to Europe, although the are sites in Israel attributed to them. As far as I’m aware, the most southerly evidence in Europe of Neanderthal activity has been in Malta(l), which is outlined in Dr. Anton Mifsud’s beautifully illustrated book, Dossier Malta – Neanderthal , which can now be read online.
A January 2010 report(a) dated the demise of the last Neanderthal at around 35,000 BC, which conflicts with the last paragraph. An even more eyebrow raising claim was made two years later in February 2012, when New Scientist magazine published an article(b) which suggested that the Neanderthals had a maritime history in the Aegean 130,000 years ago! However, to make such a claim does not seem to take adequate account of the fact that at the time sea levels were much lower and as a consequence some islands were considerably larger and in many cases, individual islands that we know today were joined to each other or generally required shorter sea journeys between them.
Nevertheless, ongoing excavations at a site on the coast of Jersey, one of the British Channel Islands off the coast of France are indicating that “Jersey may have been one of the last outposts of the Neanderthals in north-west Europe.”(u)
Now the suggestion has been made that the Neanderthals were possibility the first cave artists. This claim was put forward in the journal Nature (15/6/12). The El Castillo cave in northern Spain has some of this art dated to at least 40,800 years ago.
>A 2021 study has suggested that a reversal of the magnetic poles around 42,000 year may have been a cause of the demise of the Neanderthals!(ac)<
It was also proposed by Peter Fotis Kapnistos, who worked with Spyridon Marinatos, that Neanderthal Man may also have mastered sea travel and possibly played a part in the development of the Atlantis story(c). The idea of Neanderthal sailors has gained further support in a paper(s) by Professor George Ferentinos of the University of Patras.
Paola Villa, a curator at the University of Colorado’s Museum of Natural History has recently (April, 2004) expressed the view that the intellectual abilities of the Neanderthals have been seriously underestimated(d). Similar views are expressed in an article(e) which traces the early characterisation of Neanderthals as ‘primitive’ and contrasting that with the current revised opinions that attribute much greater intellectual capabilities to them.
In 2018, an article by Joanna Gillen on the Ancient Origins website offers more evidence that the Neanderthals had a more sophisticated lifestyle than previously thought(n). This based on the finds from the cave at Abric Romani in Spain’s Catalonia. For obvious reasons the technological capabilities of Neanderthals are only hinted at from the scanty evidence available so far. One such clue was the discovery(r) that they seemed to have used birch tar to haft projectile points.
Neanderthal cave discoveries continue to surprise. In 2016, Nature published(t) details of investigations carried out in the Bruniquel Cave in southwest France. Occupation was dated to around 175,000 years ago. Furthemore, apart from evidence of the use of fire, broken stalagmites carefully arranged in circles.
An extensive two-part article describing the Neanderthals as ‘human’ is available online(g). This view is currently championed by Portuguese archaeologist João Zilhão, who’s views are featured in an interesting article(m) in the May 2019 edition of the Smithsonian Magazine.
There appears to be an acceptance that many of us have some Neanderthal DNA within us. While this is usually in the form of small snippets, an article in New Scientist magazine has reported that longer strings have been identified in Melanesian populations(o) in the Pacific!
In 2015 the results of the mapping of the entire geonome of a 50,000-year-old Neanderthal were published, which concluded that “There is now conclusive evidence that Neanderthals bred with Homo sapiens.”(f)
>Further support has come in an article by Ashley Cowie with the eye-catching title of “Neanderthal Interbreeding with Humans Rampant on Jersey?” He relates that “Now, re-analysis of thirteen ‘48,000-year-old Neanderthal teeth’ originally discovered in Jersey between 1910 and 1911 has revealed that while they have always been assumed to have come from a single Neanderthal, they actually came from at least two individuals. Furthermore, the thirteen Neanderthal teeth from both individuals ‘share traits that are distinctive of modern humans.’ In short, this means Neanderthals and Homo sapiens had a “shared ancestry.”(ab)<
Also in 2015, genetic studies pushed back the origins of Neanderthals to a startling 765,000 years ago(i), twice as old as previously thought.
A 2020 report(v) claims that “African populations have been revealed to share Neanderthal ancestry for the first time, in findings that add a new twist to the tale of ancient humans and our closest known relatives.” and that “The latest findings suggest human and Neanderthal lineages are more closely intertwined than once thought and point to far earlier interbreeding events, about 200,000 years ago.”
Geneticist David Reich had been sceptical of the idea that humans and Neanderthals had interbred until he engaged in a study of the DNA extracted from 40,000-year-old Neanderthal bones found in a Croatian cave. The result was that he was forced to conclude that “that humans and Neanderthals did interbreed in their time together in Europe. Possibly even more than once.”(p)
By way of contrast, another 2020 report highlighted conflict between Neanderthal and humans, suggesting that “The best evidence that Neanderthals not only fought but excelled at war, is that they met us and weren’t immediately overrun. Instead, for around 100,000 years, Neanderthals resisted modern human expansion.” (z)
In April 2016, the results of a study(j) of their ‘Y’ chromosome suggested that Neanderthals had diverged “almost 590,000 years ago from humans.”
A study(x), published 3 June, 2020 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B concluded that “Ancient humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans were genetically closer than polar bears and brown bears, and so, like the bears, were able to easily produce healthy, fertile hybrids according to a study, led by the University of Oxford’s School of Archaeology.”
The apparent relatively rapid extinction of the Neanderthals has, understandably, led to a great amount of speculation. One suggestion is that the massive eruption of Campi Flegrei, a supervolcano west of Naples, 39,000 years ago led to consequent cooling that may even have helped bring about the end of the Neanderthals(aa).
One of the most recent(h) suggests that the lack of the control of fire by the Neanderthals, in contrast with their human neighbours, was probably a factor that led to their demise! However, the use of fire by Neanderthals in Tuscany now appears settled with the discovery of tools shaped with fire(q).
2020 saw evidence emerge which suggested that even as far back as 41,000 – 52,000 years ago the Neanderthals had mastered the making of cords(w).
It has now been reliably demonstrated that Neanderthals also played music using a flutelike instrument made of bear bone around 50,000 years ago(y).
>Although we see above, various claims about the various technologies employed by Neanderthals, there is still debate regarding a fundamental capability, namely whether they had the ability to communicate with speech. The evidence seems to favour that they had.<
More relevant to life today is a report(k) that the average 3% which modern Europeans share with Neanderthals have left us with a greater risk of nicotine addiction and depression.