Sumeria was unknown until the middle of the 19th century. With the discovery and the decipherment of the Sumerian cuneiform tablets the sophistication of their culture prompted the idea that Sumer had been ‘the cradle of civilisation.’ Subsequent discoveries, such as the those in the Indus Valley and more recently Göbekli Tepe have now somewhat diluted that idea.
The origin of the Sumerians is still something of a mystery as is their language which seems to be an ‘isolate’, unrelated to any known language group. Ronnie Gallagher has suggested that migrants from the Caucasus had provided the impetus that led to the development of the Sumerian civilisation. Gallagher’s theory is supported by Jerald Jack Starr on his Sumerian Shakespeare website, who emphatically attributes a Caucasian origin to the Sumerians(l).
Emilio Spedicato has controversially suggested that the Sumerians came from the Tibetan region!(m)
Sumeria has now been proposed as a possible source of the Atlantis story. Dr. Ashok Malhotra, a professor of Engineering, has suggested(a) that that ‘the likelihood of the Atlantis stories being of Sumerian origin is strengthened by the fact that the submergence of ancient cities was a strong part of the Sumerian mythology. It dominates their historical tradition. The destruction of the ancient city as a result of sin was also part of their beliefs.’ Malhotra then proposes that these Sumerian stories reflected actual flooding events in the Indus Valley region that were brought first to Sumeria and then were later transferred to Egypt and from thence via Solon to Plato to us.
George Michanowsky went much further and claimed that the Sumerians had known Atlantis under the name of NI-DUK-KI, known today as Dilmun[282.66]. The renowned Henry Rawlinson interpreted this name to mean ‘blessed hill’ or ‘blessed isle’. While Michanowsky’s suggestion is highly speculative, if correct, it would be the earliest known reference to Atlantis.
The Sumerian king list(e) from Larsa records eight kings (some versions note ten) before the Deluge, which may have been reflected, in a distorted fashion, in the ten patriarchs of Genesis and/or the ten kings of Atlantis! Another suggested link is with the eight generations between Adam and Noah recorded in Genesis chapter 5.
John Sassoon would seem to support Malhotra’s thesis in his book, which proposes a Sumerian origin for the Jews with possible earlier links with the Indus valley. He is not concerned with Atlantis, just the ancestry of the Jewish people of whom Abraham was born in Sumeria around 2000-1800 BC. Sassoon’s views offer a possible transmission route for Eastern traditions and myths to have reached Egypt and subsequently through Solon to Athens.
More recently, Dr. Willem McLoud, a South African researcher, commented that “we have good reason to think that Atlantis was not located beyond the pillars of Heracles in the Atlantic Ocean, as is so often propagated, but that it was actually none other than the ancient land of Sumer itself.” Mcloud is primarily concerned with the Sumerians and Akkadians, which he will expand on in a forthcoming book(n).
In 2001, a book by Radek Brychta was published in the Czech Republic in which he also advocates a Sumerian connection. He identifies Atlantis with the legendary Dilmun of Sumerian legend and locates it on the Indus civilisation island of Dholavira. Excerpts from this fascinating book are available on the Internet and worth a read.
However, the most extreme claims came from Zechariah Sitchin who proposed that the Sumerians had been ‘influenced’ by ancient astronauts from the planet Nibiru, which information is to be found in their cuneiform tablets if Sitchin’s translation is to be believed. Similar daft ideas(g) have been put forward by Hermann Burgard but so far have only been foisted on a German-reading public.
As if that was not bad enough, we now (Oct 2016) have the Iraqi Transport Minister claiming, among other matters, that the Sumerians launched spaceships 8,000 years ago(h)!
Jim Allen, the leading advocate of ‘Atlantis in the Andes’ has also claimed(b) a Sumerian connection with South America citing Ruth & Alpheus Hyatt Verrill, who include in their book[838.293] three pages of Sumerian words compared with the language of ancient Peru as well as other cultural aspects there. They also believed that Sargon (2369-2314 BC) was known in Peru as the deity Viracocha! Their fanciful idea stems from an account of Sargon sailing to the west and spending three years there! Zhirov supported this claim[458.23] describing it as ”a seemingly semi-fantastic theory”. My reason for considering this claim to be nonsensical, is simply that Sargon was continually engaged in expanding his empire and constantly dealing with rebellions in the various city states that he ruled over. The idea that he took three years out to visit America, 14,000 km away, is in no way credible.
Nevertheless, the idea of Sargon in South America persists with James Bailey repeating it in Sailing to Paradise[0150.66] and more recently by the Afrocentrist, Clyde Winters in an article on the Ancient Origins website(f) in which he quotes Bailey and the Verrills as supporting Lake Titicaca as the Lake Manu of Sumerian tradition. A further article(j) on the same website begins with the forceful claim that “it is becoming increasingly clear that the Sumerians had established a colony in South America called Kuga-Ki.” The paper is based on a series of questionable artifacts, the Fuente Magna Bowl, the Crespi Collection and the Pokoyia monument!
The Fuente Magna Bowl is frequently offered as evidence of a pre-Columbian link with the Sumerians(c), although its provenance is unclear and there are suggestions of a hoax. A sceptical view of the ‘Bowl’ by Carl Feagans(k) is available.
The very existence of Sumerians has recently been attacked in an appendix to The Three Ages of Atlantis by Marin, Minella & Schievenin. They maintain that the Sumerian ‘language’ “could be an artificial construct created by Akkadian priests” to be used for liturgical purposes. These ideas were first expressed at the end of the 19th century by the respected Orientalist, Joseph Halévy. Andi Zeneli has expressed comparable ideas(d) regarding the Sumerian language.
Uwe Topper’s son Ilya has also put forward the idea that the Sumerians did not exist(o). His paper is in Spanish and was influenced by the work of Gunnar Heinsohn, another chronology revisionist.
Dendrochronology is the science of dating the age of timber by comparing the sequence of its tree-ring width variations with that of timbers of a known date, ideally belonging to the same species and from the same location. As with any science it is not without its difficulties(c), but is generally considered to be more accurate than radiocarbon dating, which is frequently calibrated using dendrochronology. Fully anchored chronologies now exist for river oaks in parts of Germany dating back over 10,000 years and a similar chronology extending back 6500 years exists for the bristlecone pine of California’s White Mountains. A new project(b) involving the Kauri trees of New Zealand has commenced, which should give an accurate climate record for the past 30,000 years. Some of these trees are dated to 130,000 years ago.
Professor Mike Baillie, one of the leading dendrochronologists in Europe, has written about ‘dendro’ evidence of cometary impacts. One such impact has been suggested by a number of commentators, as the possible cause of the demise of Atlantis.
While the science of dendrochronology is perfectly sound there can a need for fine tuning to take account of unexpected factors like the nibbling of tree trunks by animals such as sheep. Recent studies in Norway(d) over a nine year period provided data enabling appropriate calibration to be achieved.
In 2014, Gunnar Heinsohn, a German chronology revisionist, questioned the value of dendrochronology, which was followed by a rebuttal from Mike Baillie(e). This debate continues, with many specific details far from resolved (f).
Professor Henri D. Grissino-Mayer, of the University of Tennessee, has a most informative website(a) on dendrochronology.
(c) See Archive 3046
The Hyksos is the name applied to two dynasties of foreign kings who ruled Egypt around 1650-1530 BC(a).>Gerard Gertoux suggests three dynasties reigning from circa 1750- 1530!(l)<They are generally accepted to have been a Semitic people, from an unknown land, who invaded Egypt around 1710 BC. They ruled for over a hundred years until defeated by the Egyptian Pharaoh Amasis I.
Their name was originally taken to mean ‘Shepherd Kings, but more recently, it is accepted that the Egyptian term ‘heqa-khase’ which means ‘rulers of foreign lands’ gives us a simple but credible title of ‘Foreign Kings’. It has been suggested by David J. Gibson (1904-1966) that the modern interpretation indicated that the Hyksos ruled a vast empire and has devoted a book to justifying this view(g).
Walter Baucum summarises his view on the subject as follows, “The Early Hyksos Shepherd Rulers of Egypt were descendants of Shem and identical with Typhon and the Titans, the peoples of Set, and to some degree with the Hebrews. The early Hyksos were to a large degree Israelites but after they left, the Amalekites conquered Egypt and were also referred to as Hyksos”.
There have also been persistent suggestions that there were strong links between the Hyksos and Crete, as referred to below, but the exact nature of the links is unclear and may not be more than you get between nations trading over an extended period. The relevance of such links, if they were ever shown to be political rather than commercial, would take on new significance for supporters of the Minoan Hypothesis. Time will tell.
E. J. de Meester has suggested links between Crete and the Hyksos, an idea an included in an article by Philip Coppens(b). In a similar vein Diaz-Montexano claims that a study of the names of the Hyksos pharaohs suggests to him that they were proto-Greek or Mycenaeans.
An example of the diversity of opinions regards the origins of the Hyksos is a brief article written by Emilio Spedicato who identifies them with the Scythians. Gunnar Heinsohn (1943- ) is a German professor emeritus at the University of Bremen, who presented a paper entitled ‘Who were the Hyksos’ to the 6th International Congress of Egyptology in 1993, in which he concluded that they were to be identified with the Old-Akkadians(j).
Perhaps even more radical is the suggestion by Riaan Booysen that the Hyksos were the fleeing Israelites in the biblical Exodus story(c). In fact he claims that there were two ‘exoduses’ which coincided with two separate eruptions on Thera. This idea is not as new as it might seems as something similar was proposed by the 1st century AD Jewish historian Josephus(d).
Nick Austin also identifies the Hyksos as Jews [1661.184], but is more generous than Booysen claiming that there were four separate eruptions of Thera. Like many others he has also associated the biblical Exodus and the Plagues of Egypt with the Theran eruptions.
Ralph Ellis, among others, has endorsed(e)(f) the idea that the biblical Exodus and the historical Expulsion of the Hyksos describe the same event.
There are theories, many and varied, regarding the origins and post-Egyptian settlement of the Hyksos. Arguably, the most exotic was put forward by a Chinese geochemist, Sun Weidong, who proposed that Hyksos migrants were responsible for the founding of the Chinese civilisation!(h)(i)
In July 2020, it was reported that “new research led by Bournemouth University archaeologists supports the theory that the Hyksos, the rulers of the 15th Dynasty of ancient Egypt, were not from a unified place of origin, but Western Asiatics whose ancestors moved into Egypt during the Middle Kingdom, lived there for centuries, and then rose to rule the north of Egypt.”(k)
(b) See: Archive 2133
(g) See: Archive 3468