Gnomons are the vertical markers of sundials that casts the sun’s shadow. The oldest known sundial is possibly the one found in a burial mound in 2011 near Donetsk in Ukraine(c). Herodotus tells us that the Greeks learned the use of dials from the Chaldeans. The first use of gnomons by the ancient Egyptians is thought to be as early as 3500 BC(d).
Gnomons are also used to cast the shadows, by which means latitude can be calculated. Furthermore, the earth’s tilt (obliquity-of-the-ecliptic) may also be calculated using gnomon data and it was this feature that created problems for the Australian astronomer G.F. Dodwell who carried out a study of gnomons around the world over the past 4,000 years. It is generally accepted that the tilt of the earth’s axis varies cyclically between 22 and 24.5° over a period of some 40,000 years due to a number of factors. Dodwell’s difficulty was that his investigations revealed a distinct deviation from the expected, around 2345 BC. The only conclusion that Dodwell could arrive at was that either ancient observations were systematically in error all over the world or the earth’s tilt angle had been altered during historical times.
Dodwell was convinced that this date of 2345 BC was the date of Noah’s Flood, when the obliquity-of-the-ecliptic was altered from 5° to its present 23.5°. Although Dodwell was a scientist, he was also fundamentalist in his Christian beliefs. It would appear therefore that his conclusions regarding the date of the Flood may have been an amalgam of his religious views and his scientific investigations.
Amy Smith of Flippin, Arkansas has a website(b) relating to Atlantis in which she highlights two references that indicate a prehistoric change in the earth’s axial tilt, one from the Book of Noah (65.1) and the other from Plato.
Colin Wilson refers to the view of Rand Flem-Ath who maintains that many Mexican temples, which one would expect to be aligned with true north, and in the case of at least 50 of them, are consistently 15.5º adrift of this orientation, providing evidence for the crustal slippage suggested by Charles Hapgood. Although Hapgood proposed a date of 9500 BC for such slippage, long before the present temples were constructed, Wilson points out that religious edifices were frequently erected on the foundations of earlier sacred structures. Many Christian churches have been built astride pagan sites. Whether, Rand’s ideas and Dodwell’s discoveries are in any way related, will require further investigation.
The idea of a global catastrophe around 2300 BC has gained support in a number of quarters including advocates such as Moe M. Mandelkehr an ardent catastrophist and Barry Setterfield a dedicated creationist(a). Further support for an axial shift came from Malcolm Bowden of the Creation Science Movement.
For those interested in constructing their own gnomon, there are a number of sites giving clear useful instructions(e).
George F. Dodwell (1879-1963) was a leading Australian astronomer, who made an extensive study of ancient gnomons and discovered that they deviated from what had been anticipated. A gnomon is the part of a sundial that casts the shadow. He concluded that there was consistent evidence that the tilt of the earth’s rotational axis was altered around 2345 BC. This view supported those that have claimed that the poles shifted within the memory of man, possibly as a result of a close encounter or impact with an extraterrestrial body such as a comet. Some have gone further and attribute the destruction of Atlantis to this clash. Dodwell’s complete work on the subject can now be read on Barry Setterfield’s website(a).
Dodwell, a devout Christian, concluded that it was this sudden shift of the earth’s axis that led to the Flood of Noah. Reinaud de Jonge proposed a similar linkage between the 2345 BC cosmic encounter and the biblical Deluge. He also claimed that a large collection of petroglyphs at Mougau-Bihan in Brittany were inspired by this event.
Rene Noorbergen (1928-1995) mentions in his Secrets of the Lost Races [612.20] that Dodwell wrote to Professor Arthur J. Brandenberger of Ohio State University, outlining his theory in the following manner; “I have been making during the last 26 years an extensive investigation of what we know in astronomy as the secular variation of the obliquity of the ecliptic. From a study of the available ancient observations of the position of the sun at the solstices during the last three thousand years, I find a curve which, after allowing for all known changes, shows a typical exponential curve of recovery of the Earth’s axis after a sudden change from a former nearly vertical position to an inclination of 26½ degrees, from which it was returned to an equilibrium at the present inclination of 23½ degrees during the interval of the succeeding 3,194 years to A.D. 1850. The date of the change in the Earth’s axis, 2345 B.C., is none other than that of the flood recorded in the Bible, and the resulting conclusion is that the Biblical account of the flood as a universal one, together with its story of Noah’s Ark, is historically true.”
Dodwell was also impressed by the work of the creationist, George McCready Price (1870-1963), who had also concluded that the Earth’s axial tilt had been altered as a result of an impact with a celestial body. Price also linked the event with the biblical Deluge.
Dodwell referred to a paper of F.S.Richards on the orientation of the Temple of Ammon at Karnak(b), which indicated an anomalous obliquity of the ecliptic of 25°9’55”. This led to considerable debate regarding the age of the temple. William Fix drew attention[871.264] to the widespread reuse of very ancient sacred sites by successive cultures, which might explain the incompatibility between the apparent age of the most recent temple and the greater antiquity suggested by the obliquity of the ecliptic. Alternatively, it might also indicate an encounter with an extraterrestrial body that affected the Earth’s axis and caused widespread destruction, including, according to some theories, the destruction of Atlantis!
S.F. Wells published a paper(h) on Graham Hancock’s website in which he investigated the Avebury stone circle and its associated monuments and found evidence that they “show knowledge of past Polar positions”.
>In the interests of balance, I must refer readers to an extensive 2013 paper(f) by a creationist, Dr Danny Faulkner, who has cast doubts on Dodwell’s conclusions. More recently Paul Dunbavin also published a critique of Dodwell’s work in Prehistory Papers [1758.71]. This essay was written a few years ago and is now available on his website(k).<
Another interesting comment is offered by Barry Setterfield, who wrote(a) that “ Dodwell has assumed here that the original axis tilt of the earth, before 2345 B.C., was nearly upright. For that reason, he supposed a very strong impact was necessary to jolt the earth from that position to its current 23.5-degree tilt. This is why a number of astronomers have rejected Dodwell’s work in this area. However, if the axis tilt was greater than its current axis tilt before 2345 B.C., then an impact of much less force would have been required to restore the earth to a slightly more upright position. The evidence for this greater axis tilt may be seen in the evidence of the ice age which covered most of Europe prior to 2345 B.C.”
Malcolm Bowden, the author of True Science Agrees with the Bible, also wrote a pamphlet supporting Dodwell’s findings and later produced a YouTube video explaining in detail Dodwell’s axial tilt theory(g). Paul D. Ackerman offers another review of Dodwell’s work from a creationist viewpoint(j). Ackerman is an ardent supporter of the concept of a young Earth .
In 2011, Mike Baillie, the renowned dendrochronologist, gave a PowerPoint presentation(d) at the Quantavolution Conference in Athens, which offered tree-ring evidence that clearly demonstrated an ‘event’ in 2345 BC, which has counterparts in early Chinese and Middle East records suggesting a cometary encounter/impact! Baillie also notes that Isaac Newton and Edmund Halley both thought that Archbishop Ussher’s Flood of 2349 BC was due to a comet.
More recently, Andrew Bourmistroff, a Russian researcher, has determined that the orientation of the Great Pyramid at Giza is off by 9.85 degrees west of true north(e). The full significance, if any, of all these details has yet to be fully determined.
A Gibraltar Landbridge or Dam is generally accepted to have existed on several occasions during the earth’s history. There is a broad consensus among geologists that the last time an enclosed and desiccated Mediterranean had its barrier to the Atlantic breached was around 5.3 million years ago. One well-illustrated website(h) attributes this rupture to a meteor impact!
Today, we generally think of the Strait of Gibraltar as the only gateway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, while in fact there is evidence that millions of years ago the Strait was closed but that there were earlier access routes between the two bodies of water(n). The Betic Corridor in the north, which later became part of the Spanish Guadalquivir Basin and the Rifian Corridor in the south, in what is now Morocco.
However, a number of experts in different fields (noted by Van Sertima) have opted to suggest a more recent landbridge, perhaps 120,000 years ago, in order to explain some of the faunal migrations from Africa to the Iberian Peninsula.
>When the last opening of the Mediterranean was demonstrated by Kenneth Hsu to have taken place 5.5 million years ago, the idea of a landbridge at Gibraltar being destroyed within the memory of man seemed rather unlikely. However, when I saw the bathymetric maps of the Mediterranean produced by Brosolo, Mascle & Loubrie, relating to the Younger Dryas Period, it raised new questions for me.
However, Hsu’s date for the last flooding of the Mediterranean has, understandably, found little support from young-Earth creationists, such as Lambert Dolphin(o). and Barry Setterfield, who have striven to reconcile the irreconcilable with obscure ideas, such as changes in the speed of light!<
The 18th century writer Georges-Louis Buffon speculated as early as 1749 on the existence of a Gibraltar Dam. Alexander Braghine refers[156.21] to a Bishop Tollerat, a contemporary of Bory de Saint Vincent, claiming that a Gibraltar landbridgen was breached by an earthquake and led to the submergence of Atlantis. Unfortunately, I have been unable to track down Tollerat.
Even popular fiction featured the idea of a Gibraltar landbridge. In 1869, Mark Twain in chapter 7 of Innocents Abroad voiced a then current theory that there had been dry land between Gibraltar and North Africa allowing the passage northward of the so-called ‘Barbary apes’ that live on the ‘Rock’ today.
In 1921, H.G.Wells, in The Outline of History, offered a graphic, although speculative, description of the breaching of the Gibraltar Dam(g). He wrote that “This refilling of the Mediterranean, which by the rough chronology we are employing in this book may have happened somewhen between 30,000 and 10,000 B.C., must have been one of the greatest single events in the pre-history our race.”
Manuel Sánchez de Ocaña was the Spanish Lieuenant General during the 1909 war in Africa. In a rare 1935 book, Accion de España en Africa(a) (Spanish Action in Africa) he refers to the ancient isthmus that linked Spain and North Africa as well as landbridges linking Europe and America on which he believed Atlantis had been situated.
François de Sarre (1947- ) a noted French evolutionary zoologist who has proposed that a landbridge had existed at Gibraltar, which was only destroyed in relatively recent times, possibly in the second millennium BC. In support of his view he quotes Pomponius Mela, Diodorus Siculus and Pliny. He has also published a paper, in English, supporting his opinion with a spectrum of faunal evidence(k).
Others have ventured further and proposed that a dam existed within the experience of man and that its last destruction led to the sinking of Atlantis that many claim was located in the Mediterranean. H. S. Bellamy refers to Strato quoted by Strabo, declaring that originally the strait did not exist but that the barrier was broken through in a cataclysm. Bellamy also quotes Seneca describing how Spain was separated from Africa by earthquakes. Neither of these references could have originated without human witnesses.
Alexander Braghine also added to the idea of a relatively recent landbridge when he wrote[156.139] “We possess a whole series of records of the width of these Straits, left by ancient and medieval writers of various centuries. At the beginning of the fifth century B.C. the width was only half a mile, but the writer Euton in 400 B.C., estimated it at 4 miles; Turiano Greslio, in 300 B.C., at 5 miles; and Titus Livius, at the beginning of the Christian Era, at 7 miles. Victor Vitensa, in A.D. 400, gives the width of the Straits as equal to 12 miles, and at present it is 15 miles wide.”
C. M. Hardy subscribed to the view that there had been a dam at Gibraltar that was breached around 4500 BC with such a force that it also led to the destruction of a landbridge between Tunisia and Italy. He believed that remnants of Atlantis will be found in the seas around Greece.
C. S. Rafinesque, the famous naturalist, claimed that there was a Gibraltar landbridge that was destroyed 654 years after Noah’s Flood. These claims are to be found in chapter 14 of Vol II of The American Nations published in 1836. This volume can now be downloaded for free(e). A creationist website(i) links the breaching of the landbridge with Noah’s Deluge, which the author claims not only flooded the Mediterranean but also spilled into the Black Sea, the Red Sea and also the Persian Gulf. (see below)
The standard argument against the landbridge theory is that although the Atlantic was dramatically lower during the last Ice Age it was not sufficient to expose a land bridge between Spain and Africa at Gibraltar. However, it should be noted that the underwater sill between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean would have been much higher than now. When we consider that the breaching of a landbridge at Gibraltar would have caused an incredible flow of water through the breach (hundreds of times the flow of Niagara Falls), scouring its bottom, so that by the time the levels in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean had equalised, the erosion of the sill between them would have been considerable and when viewed today would misleadingly suggest that the Mediterranean had not have been completely cut off from the Atlantic during the last Ice Age. For the future, the consequence of this is that when (not if) the next Ice Age begins the ocean levels will have to drop even lower if the Mediterranean is to be isolated from the Atlantic once again. An example of what a sudden release of large bodies of water can do is visible in the scablands of North America, created by the breaching of the glacial dam retaining Lake Missoula.
The Spanish researcher Paulino Zamarro contends, in his 2000 book, Del Estrecho de Gibraltar a la Atlantida that a Gibraltar dam was created by silting when the Atlantic was very much lower during the last Ice Age and that it lasted until 7,500 years ago when it was breached and destroyed Atlantis, which he locates in the Cyclades, with the island of Melos containing its capital city. Details of his theory can be found on the Internet(d). A larger version of Zamarro’s map is shown below.
Other researchers such as Constantin Benetatos maintain that this idea is supported by comments of ancient writers who suggest that at one time the Mediterranean had no existence. The philosopher Strato supported by Seneca refer to the sundering of such a dam linking Europe and Africa. The same idea was expressed by Diodorus Siculus, who said that Africa and Europe were joined and separated by Heracles. Such ideas could only have arisen if there had been a Gibraltar Dam far more recently than the conventionally accepted 5.3 million years ago. The lowering of the ocean levels at the beginning of the last Ice Age and the exposure of a landbridge or dam between Spain and Morocco would have had the effect of drying out the Mediterranean due to the fact that loss of water through evaporation in the region is greater than the amount of water from rivers that feed into it.
It is worth considering that although the catastrophic breaching of the Bosporus and consequent expansion of the Black Sea is generally accepted as fact, there are no specific legends to support it apart from a reappraisal of the Flood of Noah. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to point out that a lack of local myth or legend relating to a breaching of a Gibraltar Dam is not proof that such an event did not occur. Furthermore, the area around the mouth of the Mediterranean is geologically unstable and could have been subjected to seismic activity that could have breached or even blocked the strait.
Alberto Arecchi agrees(a) with the concept of an historical land bridge at Gibraltar, but places its breach to around 2300 BC. As already intimated, Constantin Benetatos also believes(b) in the existence of the Gibraltar Dam. Joseph S. Ellul the Maltese writer was probable the first modern author to link the breaching of a Gibraltar landbridge with the destruction of Atlantis, which he claims to have been located adjacent to Malta. He identifies this submergence of Atlantis by the waters of the Atlantic with Noah’s Flood. Ellul interprets Genesis 7:11, 8:2, which refers to the “fountains of the great deep” bursting forth, as a reference to the collapse of the Gibraltar Dam. David Hatcher Childress also supports the idea of such a landbridge and has ventured a date of around 9000 BC for its collapse[620.261] and the consequent flooding of a desiccated Mediterranean.
Georgeos Diaz-Montexano, who has been searching for Atlantis off the coast of Spain and Gibraltar, has favourably referred to Zamarro’s silting theory and included the illustration, shown above, from Zamarro’s book on his websites. A further reference to silting can be read on another website(f).
When the Mediterranean eventually filled up, it is highly probable that it was then that the pressure of its waters led to the flooding of the Black Sea. It is reported that there are scouring marks at the entrance to the Black Sea that are very similar to those at Gibraltar. The date of the putative collapse of the Gibraltar Dam would therefore be marginally earlier, while the Mediterranean basins filled, than the accepted date for the breaching of the Bosporus currently calculated to have been around 5600 BC.
Robert Sarmast’s apparently dormant theory of Atlantis submerged off the coast of Cyprus under what is now a mile of water is totally dependent on the existence of a Gibraltar Dam during the last Ice Age and it being subsequently breached when the level of the Atlantic rose or the even more improbable lowering of the seafloor by a mile, as a consequence of seismic/tectonic activity in the region.
On the basis of evidence(c) offered by the quoted classical writers, the fact that sea levels rose hundreds of feet after the last Ice Age and examples of water damage to temples on elevated ground in Malta and nuraghi in Sardinia it is not unreasonable to conclude that a rupturing of a landbridge at Gibraltar within the last ten thousand year was possible if not probable.
The most dramatic suggestion regarding the creation of the Strait of Gibraltar has been offered by Terry Westerman(l), who has proposed that the rupturing of the landbridge was caused by two meteor impacts.
However, all that must be reconciled with the scientific findings of Kenneth Hsu who dated the last opening of the Gibraltar Strait to 5.5 million years ago(m).>This date has been unchallenged as far as I’m aware,<
(b) See: Archive 2365