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.