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There’s An Elephant in the Room…!

(Article By Alex Whitaker, 2011)

 

Abstract: When Shelley wrote in his famous sonnet Ozymandias  ‘Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.!', he raised an important question - Why exactly do we have archaeology? What purpose does it serve beyond providing a source of reflective fascination? In the light of the current emphasis on archaeology, perhaps it is time to start looking beyond the discoveries themselves and appraise what more the discipline might have to teach us. This article looks at the things we haven’t yet found, nor ever will find, and what if any bearing they have on the archaeological record.

In archaeological terms, each new discovery adds to the context of previous discoveries, and it is this procedure that has enabled us to begin building the picture we have today of our journey as a species. In itself this has been an obviously valuable exercise as it has provided a better understanding of our development, but along with the artefacts, monuments, cities and civilisations, we have also begun to unearth a new set of questions, questions that go beyond physical artefacts and beyond the realms of archaeology. It is not the facts but rather an absence of them that is beginning to reveal itself. Our ignorance of the facts, as particularly demonstrated by the human fossil record, which still amounts to a single handful of bones worldwide from anytime before a million years ago, compels us to see that we are only just emerging from a period of ignorance, and before that from a time when our origins were based on mythology. It seems hard to believe that the legendary cities of Troy and Knossos (amongst others) were simply considered as Greek fiction until the 1870s, the same time that the 150 million year long dinosaur dynasty was also first officially recognised. It appears then that the spade has begun to reveal something beyond the remains themselves, for in this age of rediscovery we are also revealing a record of absence, absences both of continuity and facts. Indeed many of the discoveries we have made are surrounded by vast ‘negative spaces’ in the record, a fact that becomes more apparent the further back we look.

Although today we are being provided with a steady stream of discovery from our more recent journey, there remain several noticeable absences in the record. In respect of the recent human record we may say that the end of the last great ice-age at approximately 10,500 BC was a particularly pivotal time, following which humanity began its journey into the ‘civilised’ state that we find ourselves in today. This same date is the most probable candidate for the numerous myths of a ‘great-flood’ as we speculate that the world experienced waves of ice-melt for the following few thousand years. Before this date in time, we encounter a ‘negative space’ both in the archaeological record and the oral tradition, as seen in the number of origin myths which include a watery start, with little if any mythology to represent the vast 250,000 year ice-locked period preceding the post ice-age flood event. It is also during this harshest of environments that we have now become aware of at least two ‘bottlenecks’ in the human population, with speculation of humanity being reduced to a mere 15,000 persons following the ‘Toba Incident’ around 70,000 years ago (1). One of the most important realisations from the examination of these ‘negative spaces’ therefore, has been the recognition that our struggle towards ‘civilisation’ has not been the systematic, constant and gradual rise from savage primate to upright homo-sapiens that was long believed to be the case: rather the path has been staggered and shows both rises and falls, linked in with the natural and dynamic cycles of the mother-earth and the celestial spheres.  

It is to one particular date after the Ice-age that the rest of this article is orientated, a date that stands out amongst others. It marks the time at which several civilisations make their appearance simultaneously at different places around the ancient world as well as being recognised as the ‘K/T’ boundary between history and prehistory. It was at this time that records began to be written. Something unique happened around 3,100 BC which caused a shift in human culture and which was marked by the appearance of several great civilisations such as the Sumerian, Indus Valley, Egyptian and European, resulting in the building of some of the largest and most enduring human structures ever made. It was at this time that most of the greatest megalithic structures in Britain, Malta and Egypt were constructed. Along Western Europe several prominent existing megalithic monuments such as Stonehenge and Carnac were modified, while numerous civil-scale megalithic constructions were built along the length of the western coast of Europe and the Mediterranean.

The preference for solar orientation in these new structures also coincides with the transfer from a predominantly female, earth-mother worship to what is recognised as a male, solar-orientated worship, with a male deity. It is also at this time that one begins to see something beyond architecture and artefacts with the introduction of systems of apparently deliberate linear placement of sacred places; also, rather surprisingly, located according to both longitude and latitude. There is sufficient evidence now (apart from the locations of the sites themselves) to support the proposal that an ancient meridian once ran through the Egyptian site of Heliopolis/Giza, and that the subsequent placement of other ‘sacred’ sites across Europe, the Oracle centres of the Mediterranean, and several Capital cities of the middle east were placed according to a working belief in a higher design, associated with geometry and the connection of sacred sites. The same ideas prevail in the esoteric beliefs of the body Chakras, perhaps offering us an origin to such a system through the belief in a living earth-mother. At present, the recognition of such ideas is still in its infancy, but there is no doubting the linear mentality of our ancestors or their geometric ‘fingerprint’ which lies across the landscape to this day. It is no coincidence that this same linear mentality appears soon after in the new-world, along with cultures strongly influenced by pyramid building and solar worship.  

Whatever it was that inspired the global ‘Atlantean’ construction phase at around 3,100 BC, it is noticeable that the great constructions were not followed by greater constructions, but rather a decline in skills resulting in the subsequent rise and fall of newer cultures, each adding to an obliteration of the memory of what happed at this apparently historically significant moment in time, uncannily echoing the cyclic prophecies of the Indian Yuga’s and the ‘Ages’ of the Mayans. The Mayan calendar system offers us an exact start date of 3,114 BC and the Indian Kali Yuga began at 3,102 BC (2). It is also incidentally the very time Aubrey Burl calls the ‘Dark-Age’ of [European] prehistory due to the lack of human fossil record, and the same time that the great Chinese, Sumerian, Indus Valley and Egyptian dynasties are believed to have begun. Inscriptions from the time show that the early Egyptian dynasties only lasted a couple of hundred years before the country was ‘torn apart by civil unrest’, marking the end of the great pyramid phase. The Sumerian ‘Lament of Ur’ records the collapse of the Sumerian civilisation at the same time. In Neolithic Western Europe and the Mediterranean (i.e. Malta), the same pattern is repeated, in each case achieving unprecedented success in construction but disappearing soon after. That these cultures were connected has been demonstrated by the discovery of seals, pottery and other associated evidence of trade, makes it likely that they were closer connected than we think, perhaps also through religion, language, art or the sciences. Although we know very little about the events behind this global phase, the same date marks the simultaneous rise and fall of several cultures and is curiously marked by the commencement of two particular calendar systems: The Indian ‘Kali Yuga’, and from the other side of the world, the Mayan Long-count which comes complete with a very specific end date too called the ‘End-time’, predicted as falling on Dec 21st, 2012 AD. Inscriptions for this calendar system are written by using a complex combination of dots and dashes.

The oldest record of the long-count inscription actually comes from the Olmec site of Tres Zapotes, written in 31 BC, a thousand years before the Mayan culture or any mention of an ‘end time’. The site had been occupied since around 1,500 BC by the Olmecs, who have been called the ‘mother-culture’ of Meso-America, and who are still one of the least understood. Archaeological research on the Olmecs suggests a multi-cultural society living in the Mexican gulf, with roots tracing back to at least 1,500 BC. They built the first pyramid complexes and ball courts,  left the first evidence of writing and several enigmatic stone monuments portraying heads with African and Asian features; their art includes numerous portrayals of people with beards and moustaches (facial features not present in the Amerindian genotype), with characteristics suggestive of both Oriental and Eurasian profiles. It has been long proposed by Van Sertima and others that a transatlantic cross-cultural exchange existed in pre-Columbian times. The long-count stele from Tres Zapotes also confirms that it was the Olmecs and not the Mayans who developed the sophisticated long-count calendar. Although it is commonly claimed that the Mayans were responsible for the long-count calendar system, this discovery shows that they inherited an existing system from the Olmecs, who presumably placed a great significance on the date, which has been recorded into Mayan mythology as the end of the last great cycle, and the beginning of the present one. The start date of the Olmec calendar therefore, marks the very time that many of the great old-world civilisations arose; including the Chinese, Indus Valley, Sumerian, Egyptian, Mediterranean and western European megalithic builders (associated with the ‘beaker people’). This date then is an apparently significant date both in the old-world and new-world. The mysterious Olmec culture (or more to the point, the origins of the Olmec culture) is arguably therefore one of the most relevant archaeological mysteries today.

Our prejudice for prophecy today places huge question-marks over such ideas, but there is little doubt that prophecy and prediction featured highly in ancient cultures. We are told for example that the time and place of Cortez's arrival in America was accurately predicted, allowing him to become a ‘Trojan horse’ to the Aztec civilisation. Similarly, the Sybil’s of the ancient oracle centres were renowned for their enigmatic prophecies for several hundreds of years. The first modern treatise on the subject of prophecy was carried out in 1952 by Carl Jung who wrote a landmark book on the subject (3) in which he explored the idea that events which happened synchronously might have a meaningful connection. This profound work, at first greatly misunderstood, has since been reinforced by modern experimentation in the field of quantum science. We now find ourselves on the cusp of re-learning an apparently lost science, in which a universal synchronicity is being proposed, but which cannot be explained with traditional modern terminology.  Jung’s acausal synchronicity takes on an even more profound meaning when one views the predicted Great-ages of both the Mayans and Indians which appear to share a start date no more than 12 years apart; the same start date that marked the simultaneous rise and fall of several civilisations worldwide. Should Jung be right in his supposition that such synchronicity might involve a ‘shared connection’, then we find ourselves in the situation of dismissing a source of ancient wisdom at the very time that such wisdom tells us to consider it, and that is the elephant in the room.! It brings into play the absences between cycles and the path that rises and falls, suggesting that there is a mystery to life in origins and continuity.

Perhaps it is this combination of absence and the cyclic nature of time that makes these prophecies and proto-myths so difficult to decipher today. They remain in our consciousness like elusive memories of a dream, both tangible and intangible at the same but we have learnt from the discovery (loss) of cities such as Knossos and Troy that myths can and do often hold an essence of truth in them. Plato’s now infamous story of ‘Atlantis’, which he reported to have been destroyed by catastrophe provokes not just the image of a sophisticated golden age, but rather the overwhelming subsequent absence of it, an absence caused by loss.  Regardless of the truths behind these prophesies and myths, they offer us a vague reflection of our fragile reincarnated presence through archaeological discovery and stories of catastrophe as we find ourselves living in the long-shadow of the predicted Mayan ‘end-time’. The geological record confirms humanity as being witness to similar events in the near past. It seems relevant that James Lovelock, the prophetic figure behind the Gaia eco-revolution in the 1960’s, recently announced his belief that it was already too late for humanity which he predicted no more than 30–40 years in its current state (4). Whatever the truth of the Mayan predictions, modern computer simulations appear to be in agreement with the fact that humanity is about to face a dramatic global collapse. Should such a catastrophe be looming on the horizon, then for those of us still seeking the truth of the Atlantean myth, we have only to look in the mirror for an answer.

 

(The Mayan Prophecy: 2012)

(Catastrophism)

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References:
 
1).    Dawkins, Richard (2004). The Ancestor's Tale, A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
2).    Egbert Richter-Ushanas . The Induand the Rg-Veda. (ISBN 8120814053)
3).    Carl Jung. 1952. Synchronizität als ein Prinzip akausaler Zusammenhänge" ("Synchronicity: an Acausal Connecting Principle").
4).    http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2008/mar/01/scienceofclimatechange.climatechange

 

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