Marco M. Vigato
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 and 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 as 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 tracked 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 its 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 development of new technologies, chariots, longbows, and 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 that 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).>Atlantisforschung has published a 1967 paper by Sykes supporting diffusionism with particular reference to pyramid building on both sides of the Atlantic(ad).<
>Andrew Cutler published a paper on cultural diffusion in August 2023 that should be studied by anyone interested in the subject. He discusses themes such as the Pleiades, Snakes, Finger Removal and Linguistics among others. He expresses the opinion that while many assume that such common features can be traced back to before the 100,000 BC Out of Africa migration, Cutler suggests a much later time circa 40,000-30,000 BC(ae).<
A more extreme view is the concept of ‘hyperdiffusion’, which is the idea that there was a single ‘mother culture’ that 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 the existence of 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 that has 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 meet 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. Also in Göbekli Tepe, we encounter what has become known as ‘the handbag of the gods’(y) which has been found depicted in many locations such as Turkey (Göbekli), Iraq (Assyria), Mesoamerica (Olmecs)(w), Egypt and New Zealand(x). These images are not only spread over thousands of miles but thousands of years.
However, Andrew Gough is the only researcher who seems to have come anywhere near to explaining the purpose of the ‘handbag’. In a lengthy article on his website, he explains how a British Museum guide confirmed that the bag was a pollen carrier(ac). This dovetailed with Gough’s view of his belief regarding the importance of the bee in ancient cultures.
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 Dryas 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 the East and the West. It is obvious that a number of artefacts 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 the Americas as the home of a mother culture.
>Similarly, Gary A. David proposed that Votan was a diffusionist deity with counterparts known by other names such as Kukulkan, Quetzalcoatl or Viracocha in the different American civilisations. However, he goes further placing Votan’s origins in the Old World suggesting that he may have been Phoenician or Hebrew, citing Adrian Gilbert and Andrew Collins in support of this(af).<
An extensive website managed by Erich Fred Legner offers a wide range of evidence to support the view that the Americas had been visited and settled by people from both Asia & Europe before Columbus(aa).
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.
In March 2021, Hugh Newman published a paper drawing attention to the similarity of megalithic building techniques, using polygonal stones, in America, Asia, Europe and Africa. He goes further noting that “Peruvian relief carvings match those at Göbekli Tepe.” How much might be the result of coincidence is a matter of opinion.(ab) In January 2022, Marco M. Vigato published a new book, The Empires of Atlantis , in which he offers a hyperdiffusionist view of Atlantis. He “traces the course of Atlantean civilization through its three empires, as well as the colonies and outposts formed by its survivors in Egypt, Göbekli Tepe, India, Mesopotamia, the Mediterranean, and North and South America” and “reveals how the first Atlantean civilization lasted from 432,000 to 33,335 BCE, the second one from 21,142 to 10,961 BCE, and the third Atlantis civilization–the one celebrated by Plato–collapsed in 9600 BCE, after the Younger Dryas cataclysm.”(z).
(l) See: Archive 3563
(u) Atlantis Rising No.110 March/April 2015 p.41
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. Before 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 ‘imbecilic 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 that suggested their construction at a time when they would have been correctly aligned 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, which he later reduced to 10,000 BC.
In the 1920s, 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)
Dr Graham Holton, an Australian commentator has written about the pseudo-science practised in the early 20th century at Tiwanaku by the likes of Posnansky and Kiss and endorsed by Hörbiger and Hans Bellamy(al)(am).
Although, as you can see below, Posnansky’s work and particularly his dating of Tiwanaku has been rejected by many, he still has supporters. In Graham Hancock‘s 1995 book Fingerprints of the Gods , he supported Posnansky’s date, referring to his work throughout the book. Ian Alex Blease, a devout sceptic took issue with this endorsement (aa). For my part, I note that Hancock was happy to support Posnansky in ‘Fingerprints’, but in America Before , despite its title, he gives Posnansky’s date no mention, perhaps because it clashed with his new date for the destruction of his ‘Lost Civilisation’!
Marin, Minella & Schievenin [972.97] “Between 1927 and 1930 several scientists, including Hans Ludendorf, at the time director of the Astronomical Observatory of Potsdam; astronomer Arnold Kohlshutter, University of Bonn; Dr Rolf Muller, University of Potsdam and Dr Friedrich Becker, Specula Vatican, meticulously checked the archaeological-astronomical research of Posnansky for accuracy. After three years of work these scientists corroborated his thesis.”
>Before retirement, R. Cedric Leonard supported Posnansky’s early date for Tiwanaku citing a number of atronomers who endorsed his chronology. “Between 1927 and 1930 Prof. Posnansky’s conclusions were studied intensively by a number of authorities. Dr. Hans Ludendorff (Director of the Astronomical Observatory of Potsdam), Friedrich Becker of the Specula Vaticana, Prof. Arnold Kohlschutter (astronomer at Bonn University), and Rolf Müller (astronomer of the Institute of Astrophysics at Potsdam) verified the accuracy of Posnansky’s calculations and vouched for the reliability of his conclusions.
The conventional practice of dating Tiahuanacu as beginning c. 200 A.D. and collapsing c. 1000 A.D. started with Wendell Bennett’s excavations, which turned up numerous examples of pottery, small statues and other artifacts. Since it is common for later arrivals to be awed by massive ruins (sometimes attributing their origin to supernatural beings, thus replicating the “sacred” images on their own pottery and textiles), I think it is a mistake to fuse the two cultures into one, implying that the later arrivals were the same people who built the original ruins. I believe Bennett and his successors are all guilty of such an error.” (ap)<
R. Cedric Leonard believed 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)
The American archaeologist, Neil Steede, while reviewing Posnansky’s date, thought that a date of 7000-5000 BC was more appropriate(aj).
At the other end of the spectrum, Emmet Sweeney, an ardent chronology revisionist claimed that “most probably, Tiahuanaco was built around the same time as pharaoh Djoser’s Step Pyramid at Sakkara in Egypt. It can thus claim to be among the oldest of human monuments [700.208].” Tiwanaku is conventionally dated between 200 BC and 100 AD, while the Step Pyramid is thought to have been constructed around 2650 BC.
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).
A paper from Marco Antonio Cabero regarding the ‘Gate’ throws a modicum of doubt on its possible use as a calendar. Instead, he focused on the other side of the monument where he claims there is evidence that the ancient people of Tiwanaku knew the ‘golden number’, phi.
“The composition of the front face of the Gate of the Sun in Tiwanaku presents, anthropometric, and bilateral symmetry. On the back side, there are also harmonic proportions but with less significance. These proportions were not found before because the study of the content of its engraving frieze was believed to be a calendar, an idea that has been so widely extended, that any other interpretations were ignored (however, the presence of these proportions does not exclude the possible existence of some type of calendar). The Gate of the Sun may not be part of a temple, but its content could also be considered as the expression of a monument in itself; a work that testifies to the importance of knowledge, art, and science “(ac).
Ashley Cowie has recently proposed that Tiwanaku was located on an ancient Prime Meridian(w).
Also eye-catching 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 from 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).
In 2013, Jason Yaeger and Alexei Vranich published a detailed study of the chronological development of Tiwanaku and Puma Punku. This is now available on the Academia.edu website(ao). Anyone seeking support for ancient astronauts, giants or Atlantis will be greatly disappointed. The authors confirmed a starting date for monumental construction at the site of no earlier than 200 BC, which continued intermittently until the arrival of the Spanish invaders. Their report is the result of the ‘hard slog’ required by real archaeology.
Several 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.
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 1970s(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 (see right) and its 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 to 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 and finely dressed stone, 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). He has now published his magnum opus on the academia.edu website(ae).
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).
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 man-made structures that extend for many miles around Lake Titicaca. These ‘geoglyphs’ encompass Tiahuanaco.
The most remarkable collection of early photos of the Tiwanaku 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).
Joseph Davidovits who controversially proposed that Giza’s Great Pyramid stones had been cast rather than carved has also claimed that other well-known structures had been created in a similar manner, such as at Tiwanaku and Puma Punku in Bolivia(ah) and Easter Island(ai). He offers scientific evidence to support this claim in a very interesting video(ak). My objection to his ‘cast rather than carved’ hypothesis, particularly in relation to Easter Island, is that partially finished statues are visible today in a quarry still attached at the back to the rock from which they were carved as well as some of the tools used for the job. Images of these can be seen in Thor Heyerdahl’s Aku-Aku .
Brien Foerster is an American writer who now lives in Cuzco, the former Inca capital in Peru. He has studied the ancient cultures of the Andes and believes that many predated the Incas and had advanced technologies that permitted the precise drilling of stone(af), the quality of which he has compared with examples found in Egypt and like Chris Dunn concluded that their level of accuracy could not have been achieved without possession of a high technology, now lost(ag). He has expanded on this in his 2014 book, Lost Ancient Technology of Egypt .
A fully illustrated guide to the intriguing monuments of Tiwanaku/Puma Punku is now available which is an excellent introduction to the site including a map by Javier Escalante Moscoso(an).
(aa) https://www.oocities.org/debunkinglc/tiwanaku.html (link broken)