Hyperdiffusion with Atlantis at its centre was argued at great length by Ignatius Donnelly when he proposed Atlantis as the mother culture, located in the Atlantic. Through colonisation and migration their civilisation was brought to the Americas and the Mediterranean, particularly Egypt. The idea received widespread support at the time and has persisted until today(a). A similar proposal was made by James Churchward in connection with his Pacific island of Mu.
However, even earlier, in the seventeenth century, Olof Rudbeck “purported to prove that Sweden was Atlantis, the cradle of civilization, and Swedish the original language of Adam from which Latin and Hebrew had evolved.”(i)
Since Atlantis in the Atlantic is considered by many to be highly improbable and Mu only existed in Churchward’s imagination, a more likely explanation is that diverse ideas emerged independently in different locations, possibly around the same time. These developments then diffused through trade and migration in various directions, sometimes returning in an improved format. The result is that today we are finding that most ancient civilisations show evidence of cultural influences from more than one source.
Richard Cassaro and Jim Allen have both published online large collections of images(b)(c)(d) that clearly demonstrate widespread diffusion. This is particularly so in the case of South America where influences from both east and west are clearly evident. While it is regularly claimed that Egypt influenced South American civilisations it is obvious that Asian inspiration was equally, if not solely, at work. The existence of pyramids in both Egypt and Mesoamerica is put forward as evidence of contact between them. However, the problem is that the American pyramids were constructed hundreds if not thousands of years later than the Egyptian ones. However, in spite of this separation by time and distance, the Egyptians and the Aztecs also shared feathered-serpent deities(g)! What appears to be overlooked is the fact that the Chinese pyramids are more like Mesoamerican examples and are dated to the second half of the first millennium BC, again closer to the development of pyramids in Mesoamerica.
An even more unusual hyperdiffusionist opinion was expressed by the Argentine paleontologist, Florintino Ameghino (1854-1911), who thought that mankind originated in South America(h).
A 1986 paper(f) by Ben Urish entitled Cultural Diffusion should be read in this connection..
(g) See: Archive 2827
John Macmillan Brown (1845-1935) although Scottish by birth, he spent his academic life in New Zealand, where he was a professor of Classics and English at Canterbury College in Christchurch. He had an enlightened attitude towards the education of women.
In 1924, he published Riddle of the Pacific in which he expressed the view that there had been a continent in the Pacific with some of today’s island groups its only remnants. This was some years before James Churchward started publishing his books on Mu.
Nan Madol is a large stone city on the Micronesian island of Pohnpei. The city has a series of canals connecting the structures, which were built on nearly a hundred artificial islands. It has been called both the ‘Venice’ and the ‘Atlantis’ of the Pacific. Conventional archaeology dates the site to around 1200AD.
James Churchward claimed Nan Madol as part of his concocted Mu. David Hatcher Childress has claimed that the site was part of Lemuria, another invention. Erich von Däniken in his The Gold of the Gods was happy to claim that as a result of extraterrestrial intervention, the ancient Micronesians, had mastered flight and used this ability to transport the stone for the construction of the city!
*Recent archaeological research in 2017, led by Mark McCoy from Texas Southern Methodist University, has, not unexpectedly, regenerated foolish speculation that the remarkable site might in some way be connected with Plato’s Atlantis(a) .
Albert Churchward (1852-1925) was a younger brother of James Churchward, the ‘inventor’ of Mu. Although trained as a medical practitioner, his real passion was the study of the early development of religion and the later development of Christianity from Egyptian origins. In that respect he was greatly influenced by the work of Gerald Massey(a)(c). He makes no reference to Mu or Atlantis, because he either disagreed with his brother’s views or just did not wish to tread on his literary toes! His book The Origin and Evolution of the Human Race can now be read online(b).
The Swastika is a symbol that is said to have a 12,000-year-old history(I) and is occasionally suggested as having an Atlantean link. This is highly improbable as modern research has suggested that it was more likely to have originally represented an ancient cometary display in the sky(c), explaining the ubiquity of the symbol around the world. Fernando Coimbra wrote a paper(h)on this subject in 2011.
In 1896, the Smithsonian Institution published an extensive paper by Thomas Wilson (1832-1902), a curator at the U.S. National Museum, demonstrating the global spread of the swastika symbol.
Another site demonstrates the widespread use of the swastika and its variants in commercial iconography(d). In April 2014, a well illustrated report(k) revealed that a 7,000-year-old piece of pottery with a swastika on it was discovered in Bulgaria.
I recall that my native Dublin had a firm, founded in 1912 by a Mr. Brittain, called the Swastika Laundry, which had their vans liveried in bright red with a white swastika on a black background. The business lasted into the 1960’s.
James Churchward claimed that the swastika was a symbol of his invented civilisation, Mu, while Robert Stacy-Judd speculated[607.243] that it had originated in Atlantis. Others have attempted(e) to link the swastika and its presentation in red, white and black to be in some way connected with Plato’s reference to the colours of the rocks found in Atlantis. In a 1959 article in Sykes’ Atlantis magazine by Arthur Louis Joquel II declared(o) that the swastika had been the symbol of Atlantis! No evidence was offered.
Leaving conjecture aside it can be demonstrated that the swastika was an ancient Hindu symbol and also used in the Indus Valley civilisation(b).
While Heinrich Schliemann was excavating Troy at Hissarlik, he discovered many hundreds of swastikas throughout the site and was responsible for bringing what had been, until then, a benign symbol back to Germany, where it was later hijacked by the Nazis and came to represent oppression(n).
The long honourable history of the swastika should not be erased because of its abuse at the hands of the Nazis. The residents of Swastika in Ontario, have for decades steadfastly refused to change the name of their community, which has been in use since 1907.
In 1925, the people of Panama’s indigenous province of Guna Yala adopted a flag having a black left-facing swastika, said to represent the four directions and the creation of the world(p).
Jacques Gossart wrote a book on the history of the swastika and in Denys Eissart’s now inactive website, L’épopée atlante (The Atlantis Epic) he devoted a page to a discussion on the subject(a). More recently Richard Cassaro has published two articles(f)(g) highlighting the extensive use of the swastika. The articles are well illustrated including some fascinating images. He also attempts, unsuccessfully in my view, to suggest a link between swastika and Atlantis. A Reclaim the Swastika website(j) is campaigning for the promotion of the swastika as a spiritual symbol as it had been in the past.
A number of large swastika shaped features have been spotted from the air(m).
(o) Atlantis, Vol.12, No.3, March/April 1959.
Robert B. Stacy-Judd (1884-1975) was born in London where he trained as an architect. He moved to Canada before going south and establishing a practice in California in 1920. He was totally fascinated by Mayan culture, particularly its architecture which led him to promote the ‘Mayan-Revival’ style of architecture in the United States.
His interest in the Maya went further leading him to write a number of books on the subject including The Ancient Mayas: Adventures in the Jungles of Yucatan 19340902] and the still very impressive Atlantis: Mother of Empires, in which he produced a chart (p.254) showing many parallels between the ancient cultures of the Americas and those of the Old World together with the suggestion that many of these perceived common features had their origin in Atlantis.
He suggested that Atlantis was situated in the Atlantic and that it suffered three major inundations in 23,000 BC, 14,000 BC and 9,600 BC (p.174/5) leading to a succession of migrations and cultural diffusion. He believed that the Akkadian civilisation of ancient Mesopotamia was founded by colonists directly from Atlantis or by Cro-Magnons from Spain (p.162)!
He also totally rejected Churchward’s claim that the lost continent of Mu was ‘positively’ the birthplace of the Mayan civilisation, saying that Churchward’s arguments “lack corroboration, are illogical and unconvincing.”
A biography of Stacy-Judd has been written by David Gebhard. An aspect of Stacy-Judd that I had not been aware of, was his psychic abilities, revealed in an online article(a) by Franklin Loehr, a Congregational minister.
Jack E. Churchward is the great-grandson of James Churchward, the creator of Mu. In 2011 Jack republished what he describes as the definitive edition of James’ 1926 The Lost Continent of Mu which includes a new index and added appendices. It is still just the concoction of a fertile mind. My scepticism and that of many others is reflected in a recent blog from Dale Drinnon(a).
Jack has also a promotional website(b), where he candidly wrote(c) that “the Troano Manuscript, as a reference for the sinking of Mu, must be removed from the list, if there is to be any legitimacy accorded to an evaluation of Churchward’s theories on Mu.” Jack was highlighting the unreliability of James’ translation of the Troano Manuscript, influenced as it was by the earlier seriously flawed attempts by Bishop Diego De Landa (1524-1579), Brasseur de Bourbourg and LePlongeon. Jason Colavito has added further comments(d) regarding Jack’s blog.
*Jack continues to exploit his great-grandfather’s misguided ideas with the publication of The Stone Tablets of Mu in August 2018.
Carlo Dorofatti (1970 – ) is an Italian New Age, or as he calls it New Era, researcher. In 2010 he addressed a conference in Dubai on the subject of Atlantis(a). His ideas on the subject were rather similar to those of Ignatius Donnelly – Atlantis in the Atlantic with the Azores as its remnants. Not content with that he then proceeded to discuss Lemuria and Mu citing the discredited James Churchward. While denouncing conventional scientists for their self-interested conservatism, he is happy to rely on speculation. Dorofatti has a website in English and Italian(b).
In a blog about alchemy, Dorofatti offers the following two gems;
“The existence of ‘something’ is always preceded by the idea of its absence, or else by its non-existence. After all, in our daily lives is it not true to say that we only realize the value of something when it is missing?
When a universe is born a counter universe, is also born as compensation (0 = (+1) + (-1)): the shadow universe, or ‘universe B’. It has nothing to do with anti-matter and is a profound and complete antithesis: an immaterial universe.”
Diffusion is the anthropological term used to describe how similar customs, beliefs and artefact designs are spread between cultures through migration, invasion or trade. Diffusion is not just a ‘one-way street’ as history has shown that ideas have travelled in all directions, while in fact most ancient civilisations can be demonstrated to have absorbed cultural elements from a multiplicity of foreign societies. Today, globalisation has increased exponentially the variety of influences that all societies now experience. Not only is the number of these influences greater but the rate of increase is apparently accelerating. The ubiquity of Coca-Cola, T-shirts, Irish pubs, Japanese cameras, German cars, English language, Guinness, Chinese toys, ABBA, AK-47s etc., etc., etc., are indicative of the global reach of commercial ‘empires’ today. In older civilisations trade was more concerned with commodities such as metals, olive oil, wine, amber, obsidian, or timber, so the technologies involved in their production or exploitation were also exchanged.
The development of agriculture also saw techniques spread, which had to be modified to suit different climates, although recent studies indicate that agriculture started around the same time in a number of centres(I).
in the Fertile Crescent as far north as the Zagros Mountains. Further north, on the steppes of Russia, horses were domesticated and apparently there also the use of chariots originated. A book by David W. Anthony also attributes the region with being the source of what is known as the Proto-Indo-European family of languages.
Societal concepts, religious or legal were no different as their geographical spread can also be traced over time. Consider the different strands of the Abrahamic faiths, beginning with Judaism, which spawned Christianity and later was joined by Islam through Muhammad, who claimed to be a descendant of Abraham. Similarly, democracy has slowly evolved and spread over time and still has a long way to go.
Since early man left Africa, he has had ample time to settle all over our planet and exploit it resources, moving from being a hunter-gatherer to becoming a settled farmer, developing urban centres (city states), then empires and the inevitable wars. Wars, then like today, led to the develop of new technologies, chariots, longbows, armour, to be copied and if possible improved upon, by each side.
My view is that initially, technology and techniques were freely exchanged between peoples, until gradually the idea of monopoly entered the human psyche, eventually leading to the paranoia and greed associated with the ownership of ‘intellectual property’ today. I would speculate that a freer and possibly gentler diffusion of ideas lasted until, at the earliest, the first millennium BC.
In 2014, the University of Connecticut published the result of studies which demonstrated that human technological innovation occurred intermittently throughout the Old World, rather than spreading from a single point of origin, as previously thought(j).
Egerton Sykes, a leading 20th century Atlantologist, was a committed diffusionist, describing it as “the lifeblood of civilisation”(h).
A more extreme view is the concept of ‘hyperdiffusion’, which is the idea that there was a single ‘mother-culture’ which led to the development of all major civilisations. Ignatius Donnelly was a hyperdiffusionist, advocating Atlantis as the mother culture. His ‘heretical’ views were highlighted by the range of similarities between structures around the world in apparently unrelated cultures, which seem to greatly exceed what could be expected by mere coincidence alone. This is explored further in a recent illustrated article on the Malagabay website(v).
Similarly James Churchward proposed his invention, Mu, as an alternative hyperdiffusion centre. Perhaps better known is the work of W. J. Perry who was convinced  that an archaic civilisation had begun in Egypt and gradually spread eastward through Asia and Polynesia, eventually reaching the Americas. Ben Urish published a paper(d) in 1986 that offers a critical overview of hyperdiffusion.
Konrad Kulczyk promotes a hyperdiffusionist theory that places his proto-civilisation, New Atlantis, just south of the Aral Sea(e).
Ivar Zapp proposes a global seafaring civilisation thousands of years before the Greeks, Egyptians or Sumerians(k) in an as yet unpublished book, Babel Deciphered.
Hyperdiffusion is clearly a seductive theory having attracted the attention of researchers such as Richard Cassaro, who has produced an impressive collection of visual cultural similarities between ancient Egypt and pre-Columbian America(a). While the idea is not new, Cassaro’s images highlight the concept of diffusion very effectively, although he has, in my opinion overinterpreted the evidence in order to support hyperdiffusion.
Cassaro published The Missing Link in 2016 in which he expands on the widespread distribution of what he refers to as the ‘godself icon’. Although he clearly demonstrates that the motif has an extensive geographical spread it is equally obvious that the appearance of the icon is spread over a vast period of time apparently coinciding with the emergence of civilisation in different places at very different times, which, in my view, is not fully compatible with the concept of hyperdiffusion, as I would have expected a ‘mother-culture’, if such existed, to have spread its global influence far more rapidly.
A comparable discovery has been made by Ozgür Baris Etli, who has drawn attention(o) to carved hands at Göbekli Tepe that have counterparts in many other parts of the world where hands meeting at the navel are similarly depicted. I recently came across an image of(q) a megalithic statue in the Indonesian Bada Valley(u) showing its hands in a similar position.
Having mentioned Indonesia, I must draw your attention to a recent book by Dhani Irwanto, entitled Sundaland: Tracing the Cradle of Civilizations (1618), in which he makes a strong case for considering his native land as an ancient diffusionist centre, which experienced waves of emigration at the end of the Younger Dry as period that influenced the great civilisations of the Indus Valley, Egypt and Greece. Irwanto also claims that their cultural impact included the transference of the story of Atlantis from its original home in Sundaland.
Equally intriguing is the ‘Three Hares’ motif, found across Europe, the Middle East and as far as China(p) and now the subject of a book by Greeves, Andrew & Chapman. Another stylised symbol is that of the rosette found in the Mediterranean and spread as far as India(r)(s).
In a similar vein Jim Allen has devoted chapter three of his latest book to outlining what he entitled Bolivia and the Sumerian Connection(b). Arguably even more impressive is the array of images presented by Allen(c) suggesting that the civilisations of America were greatly influenced by ancient cultures in both east and west. It is obvious that a number of artifacts can be developed independently, but at some point the number of similar items produced by two separate cultures can exceed the number that can be reasonably put down to coincidence. The number of similarities presented by Allen alone clearly exceeds that threshold, demonstrating that the Americas were influenced by different sources, ruling out Americas as the home of a mother-culture.
The whole subject of diffusion is wide ranging and complex and well beyond my competence to do it justice in this short entry. However, for those interested in pursuing the subject further, I would like to recommend a 1997 paper(l) by David H. Kelley (1924-2011), available on Dale Drinnon’s website.
Egypt is frequently mentioned in this regard being seen as the influence behind Neolithic megalith building AND the pyramids of Central America, in spite of the fact that Newgrange was constructed before the Egyptian Pyramids and the New World pyramids were built thousands of years after those in Egypt. Atlantis is regularly suggested as another mother- culture but without a single piece of evidence to support this speculative contention. For decades the idea that the pyramids of Egypt and those in the Americas were the consequence of diffusion from a common source, namely Atlantis situated in the Atlantic was heavily promoted. However, we can now more closely identify the pyramids of America with the step-pyramids of China!
Consequently, for me, hyperdiffusion is not convincing. History has clearly shown that inventions have frequently been independently developed at the same time in different countries, while even in prehistoric times it has been demonstrated(f) that the evolution of stone tools took place as a result of the innovative abilities of local populations, addressing the same needs.
A word of warning; “recent research published in Nature by a team led by Tomos Proffitt at the University of Oxford shows that capuchin monkeys regularly produce sharp-edged flakes indistinguishable from those made by early hominins.”(t)
Even today technologies are developed independently throughout the world, but not in complete isolation, because of the instant worldwide communications available.
As a result of global marketing, in Ireland now we drive German, British and Japanese cars, use US computer technology and play with Chinese toys. However, being generous by nature, we gave the world the Irish pub, Riverdance and Guinness.
A two-part blog(m)(n) highlighting the many weaknesses in the concept of hyperdiffusion should be required reading for anyone interested in the subject.
Although Donnelly and his contemporaries, focused on the possibility of Old World influences in the New World, today, there is less of a Mediterranean centred or Eurocentric approach to diffusionism. Instead, there is greater acceptance that the Americas have also had extensive cultural influences from Asia.
(l) See: Archive 3563
(u) Atlantis Rising No.110 March/April 2015 p.41
Alexander E. Strath-Gordon (1873-1952) was born in Scotland and graduated with the highest honours from the Edinburgh medical School. After a career as a medical officer in the British army he became head of the British passport control service in New York until retirement in 1934. For some time he was head of British intelligence in the United States or in plain language, a spy.
Christopher Volpe, a landscape artist, is the great-grandson of Strath-Gordon and in a recent blog on his website he described his ancestor as “Mystic, Linguist, Lecturer, Doctor, Spy”(a). In 1904 Strath-Gordon began a medical practice in Seattle, Washington and remained there until 1914. He then served as a medical officer in the British army in France until the end of the war.
Volpe records that in 1906 Strath-Gordon founded the Atlantean Research Society, in East Orange, New Jersey. This date conflicts with the foundation date of 1928 proposed by Frank Joseph. A book published by Strath-Gordon in 1934 confirms the 1906 date on its cover(b) and records him as the founder and life president of the Atlantean Research Society. The same cover shows that in 1907 he addressed the Atlantean Research Society in Seattle. I suggest that this contradiction can be explained if we accept that the Society was originally founded by Strath-Gordon in Seattle in 1906 and that in 1928 he established the “eastern division” of New Jersey.
A further interesting fact is that Strath-Gordon met Edgar Cayce on a number of occasions in the 1920’s(d) prompting speculation that he may have ‘influenced’ some of Cayce’s Atlantis readings, an idea that must appeal to any rationalist.
Strath-Gordon had James Churchward as an associate in the Society, again with the probability that there was a cross-pollination of ideas between them!>Egerton Sykes noted that James Churchward was vice-president of the N.J. branch(e) .<
A rather bizarre reference to Strath-Gordon is to be found in The New Yorker magazine of March 28th 1936 in which he is reported(c) to have predicted the end of the Depression on September 16th that year, based on a study of measurements in a gallery within the Great Pyramid at Giza!
(b) See Archive 3921
>(e)Atlantis, Volume 11, No.6, Sept/Nov 1958 <