Conventional wisdom implies that modern civilization is the culmination, by the process of selection and absorption, of the viable elements of the ethnic civilizations that have preceded it since the sporadic rise of the earliest known settlements in the Near East. They were the settlements that came into existence when the hunter-gatherers living around the Mediterranean Sea ceased having a nomadic existence about 10,000 years ago. They gradually formed communes and introduced rudimentary animal husbandry and dry farming in those areas that are usually called the twin cradles of civilization. The two areas referred to are the "fertile crescent" in the alluvial basin of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia and the fertile banks and delta of the Nile River in Egypt. Those early primitive civilizations gained additional impetus when simple forms of irrigation were developed in the region about 8,000 years ago, which enabled agricultural pursuits to be organized more effectively in arid climates. The important ethnic civilizations that usually are considered to be the direct antecedents of our modern civilization include those of the Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Greeks and lastly the Romans. Other ethnic civilizations that arose contemporaneously with the civilizations of the Near East and the Mediterranean are usually regarded as derivatives of those civilizations, in which respect ethnic civilizations that have survived as entities are usually looked upon as components of modern civilization rather than as its antecedents.
The occurrence of a flood of immense magnitude and duration, when an advanced civilization was already in existence, are essential elements of most of the world's mythologies. The Hebrew account of the creation of man and the evolution of an early civilization, from the primitive existence of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden to the acquisition of manual arts and crafts before the time of Noah and the flood, is narrated in the book of Genesis, beginning in the seventh verse of the second chapter and ending in the fourth verse of the sixth chapter.
According to the chronology established
by Archbishop Ussher, whose work is discussed later, this series
of events took place over a period of about one thousand seven
hundred years. On the basis of presently available evidence, the
Genesis Flood probably took place during the period of exceptionally
heavy precipitation that is known to have occurred during the
melt down of the polar ice caps towards the end of the last great
Ice Age. This precipitation was very intense for almost 8,000
years, from about 15000 BCE to about 8000 BCE. Archaeological
investigations have not found any extensive remains from a flood
of cataclysmic magnitude in the land areas occupied by the present
civilization, which had its beginnings about 10,000 years ago.
This lack of evidence almost certainly is because the earlier
civilizations had occupied areas of land that were flooded after
the last great Ice Age, forming a substantial part of the extensive
submerged continental shelves now bordering the world's great
land masses. Nevertheless, evidence is steadily accumulating to
prove that there was an advanced civilization before the flood.
Stephen Oppenheimer has examined, in considerable detail, events that relate to the drowning of all archaeological evidence of those coastal cultures that once dwelt on land that now forms part of the great continental shelves, especially the land that connected the Indonesian Archipelago and New Guinea with the continent of Southeast Asia during the last great Ice Age. In the process he has correlated those events with the Genesis Flood and the many other flood stories that feature in myths from around the world. In his recent book Eden in the East, subtitled The Drowned Continent of Southeast Asia, Stephen Oppenheimer discusses three dramatic ice-melts that raised the level of the world's oceans and drowned the coastal cultures of Sundaland that had occupied a land area as large as India. At the height of the last great Ice Age, between 20,000 and 18,000 years ago, Sundaland had a total area about twice that of India. He explains how the last of those abrupt sea-floods, which occurred about 8,000 years ago, was compounded by super waves set off by cracks in the earth's crust when the northern ice-plates finally collapsed, thus initiating mass migrations of the population by land and sea, north into Asia, east into the Pacific, south towards Australia and west into the Indian Ocean.
The compelling information provided by Stephen Oppenheimer is supported by the results of geological, archaeological, linguistic and genetic investigations. He deals comprehensively with flood myths, creation myths and all aspects of the biblical story of the Garden of Eden and other comparable stories and gives an absorbing comparison between developments in the Far East and the Near East, effectively negating the long held theory that civilization in the Far East only arose as a consequence of a migration of civilized people from the Near East. The migrations by sea from Southeast Asia to Melanesia, Polynesia and Australia give weight to the hypothesis that the Sumerians, who were at the forefront of the development of civilization in Mesopotamia and also were a seafaring people, originally came from the Far East. Many of the ancient myths of the Near East describe the Sumerians as seafarers and all say that they came from the east, which Genesis 11:2 specifically mentions:
"And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there."
If the Sumerians were migrants from Southeast Asia, which is highly feasible even though at first sight it might seem improbable, this would explain why the language of the Sumerians when they entered Mesopotamia differed from those of both their Indo-European and their Semitic neighbors. An early migration from the Far East to the Near East by sea would not have been any more difficult than the regular trading that took place by sea about 6,000 years ago between the ancient Indus River settlements on the Indian subcontinent and the Near East. Nor would an overland migration of civilized people from east to west have been any more difficult than the original migration of primitive people from west to east, which had taken place thousands of years earlier more or less along what became the ancient Silk Road used for trade for many millennia. The probability of a migration of a civilized people from the Far East to the Near East before the Genesis Flood is supported by the fact that agriculture began in the Far East much earlier than in the Near East. Furthermore, at least 26,000 years ago stones for grinding cereal grains were used in the Solomon Islands, about 12,000 years earlier than when first used in Egypt and Nubia and about 14,000 years earlier than when first used in Mesopotamia. Recent discoveries that pottery was being made in China and South East Asia from 2,500 to 3,500 years earlier than in India, Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean also is relevant, especially as some of the first pottery made in India and the Near East were decorated in a similar way to the earlier pottery from the Far East.
The probability that the original home of the Sumerians was in the Far East is supported by recent investigations carried out in the Black Sea under the direction of William B F Ryan and Walter C Pitman, two geophysicists of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. In their book Noah's Flood, subtitled The New Scientific Discoveries about the Event that Changed History, they give details of their underwater explorations carried out in the Black Sea with the assistance of scientists from Bulgaria, Russia and Turkey. They have uncovered evidence that about 7,600 years ago the Black Sea was a huge inland fresh water lake, which had been formed by water flowing from the polar icecaps melting at the end of the last great Ice Age. The lake was then about 150 meters below the level of the oceans, when the rising waters of the Mediterranean Sea burst through the narrow Bosporus valley and streamed into the low lying areas with catastrophic force, causing the inhabitants to flee before the influx. They suggest that this event is the basis of the Sumerian and Biblical stories of the Genesis Flood, handed down orally until recorded by the Sumerians in the epic of Marduk. They also postulate that the original margins of the lake, surrounded by a vast region of semidesert, were a Garden of Eden inhabited by an advanced culture.
The following sequence of extracts from Noah's Flood by William Ryan and Walter Pitman are especially relevant because they encapsulate the data that support the hypothesis that the Sumerians were migrants from the Far East who had settled around the Black Sea before the Genesis Flood and moved into Mesopotamia when driven out by the flood:
"In recent years archaeologists have reported the sudden appearance of advanced farmers along the Rioni River in Transcaucasia, midway between the Black and Caspian Seas. With no precedent, with no roots and seemingly without forebears, they built a town of mud-brick buildings (some were dome shaped like those of the Halaf) and planted fields with grains and pulses.
To the east of the great Syro-Arabian Desert lie the fabled lands of Mesopotamia. Contained within and between the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, this arid near-desert is said to have been the cradle from which western civilization sprang. It is a land of extremes. . . . . . The annual rainfall on the alluvial plane is less than ten inches per year in the north and as little as three in the south. Farming is possible only with irrigation. . . . . . The people who arrived later would turn the land into a breadbasket. Known as the Sumerians, they went on to create one of the most impressive civilizations the world has known.
The Sumerians were thought to be descendants from a distant homeland to the north. In searching for a linguistic affinity with modern dialects, Henry Creswicke Rawlinson reckoned that their particular use of pronouns was more like the language of Mongolia and Manchu than any other type of Asian family. One of his most respected colleagues pointed out what he believed were close ties with Turkish, Finnish and Hungarian. A modern Assyriologist, J Bottéro, writing in 1987 on the literature, reasoning and gods of the Sumerians, stated "we do not know anything of their earlier ties, as they seem to have burned all bridges with the country of their origin, from which they never received any new blood, as far as we know."
The Sumerian view of their own alien past is expressed in their "Poem of the Supersage" in which the Great Flood marked the end of mythological time and the inauguration of historical time. It is intriguing that they believed the seven sages appeared from the sea during the "first days" in human form wearing fish skins. In the epic of Gilgamesh the seven sages are credited with building the walls of Uruk and bringing the arts of civilization to the Sumerians B irrigation, farming and the use of copper, gold and silver. The question of where the Sumerians came from is still unanswered."
Concepts of the Genesis Flood have changed dramatically through the ages. From ancient times the Genesis Flood was considered to be an irrefutable fact until a Scottish geologist, James Hutton (1726-97), introduced the theory of uniformitarianism in 1785. He postulated that the entire history of the earth could be interpolated on the basis of the then known geological processes, which were assumed to have proceeded at a gradual and uniform rate, which appeared to be supported by the fact that, until then, no evidence of a worldwide cataclysmic flood had been found. In 1837 a Swiss-born American naturalist and glaciologist, Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz (1807-73), challenged uniformitarianism when he advanced a catastrophic glacial theory for the cyclical formation and melting of the huge polar ice caps. The reality of the cyclical behavior of the polar ice caps and the magnitude and importance of the consequential worldwide floods is now well understood. In The Genesis Flood, subtitled The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications, John C Whitcomb, Jr and Henry M Morris critically review archaeological and geological research carried out in the Fertile Crescent that relate to the Genesis Flood, revealing the inadequacies of uniformitarianism and evolutionism as unifying principles. The philosophic and scientific aspects of creationism and catastrophism are carefully examined and opposing viewpoints are considered in an endeavor to reorient the Biblical records in the light of available scientific data.
The polar ice cap phenomenon supports Stephen Oppenheimer's concept that the drowned landmass of Southeast Asia was in fact an Eden in the East, based on a detailed study of the consequences of the three worldwide floods caused by the rapid rises in sea level associated with the last great Ice Age. Those floods occurred about 14,000, 11,500 and 8,000 years ago, when sea levels rose rapidly by about 45, 35 and 20 meters respectively, ultimately producing a total rise of 130 to 180 meters that peaked some 5 meters above the present sea level about 4,500 years ago. The long-term effect on the people in the Garden of Eden around the Black Sea described by William Ryan and Walter Pitman and on the people living in Stephen Oppenheimer's Eden in the East was similar, except that the flood in the Near East inundated a huge inland region while the flood in the Far East converted vast coastal plains into the world's largest archipelago some 4,000 kilometers long.
In his book entitled The Seven Daughters of Eve, Bryan Sykes sets out the investigations recently completed to determine the origins and descent of mankind based on an extensive and detailed study of the genetic codes of diverse groups of people revealed in their mitochondrial DNA. Bryan Sykes presents a fascinating story of his studies that lead to the discovery of seven clan mothers and the seven Gardens of Eden they came from in Eurasia, the lands of our ancestors. His study was then extended to include the world clans and where they are found. His book The Seven Daughters of Eve provides essential background information for a proper understanding of the various episodes of migration discussed by Stephen Oppenheimer in Eden in the East and by William Ryan and Walter Pitman in relation to the early inhabitants around the Black Sea and their later dispersion after Noah's Flood had inundated the Black Sea. In this context the recent discovery of several 1.75 million years old hominid skeletons at the site of the ancient village of Dmanisi, overlooking the old Silk Road through the Caucusus region, are especially relevant. An archaeological team led by David Lordkipanidze, a paleoanthropologist of the Georgian State Museum in Tbilisi, discovered the skeletons when excavating during the 1990s under a grant from the National Geographic Society. It has been determined that the Dmanisi hominids resemble the ancient Homo habilis, not the Homo erectus who have long been thought to have been the first intercontinental migrants. Interestingly, Bryan Sykes identified this region as the Garden of Eden of the clan mother Xenia, whose descendents moved eastwards in successive generations across the steppes of central Asia and Siberia. About 6 per cent of the present population of Europe are descended from Xenia.
The following books also provide useful background information relevant to the concepts developed by Stephen Oppenheimer, William Ryan and Walter Pitman. Using the discoveries of archaeology, geology and astronomy, Graham Hancock has comprehensively investigated the worldwide myths and legends of humanity. His book, Fingerprints of the Gods - A Quest for the Beginning and the End, gives evidence of an unknown civilization that existed during the last ice age. Two other books, The Orion Mystery by Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert and Keeper of Genesis by Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock, also provide evidence, from an Egyptian perspective, of the existence of an advanced civilization before the flood. In The Great Pyramid Decoded Peter Lemesurier sets out a detailed comparison between the ancient beliefs held in Egypt and Central America, highlighting the probability that they have a common basis. Rand and Rose Flem-Ath have collated and reviewed the available information on early advanced civilizations, setting out their logical conclusions in a book entitled When the Sky Fell - In Search of Atlantis.
MYTHS OF THE CREATION AND THE FLOOD
The well-known Hebrew story of the creation, the Garden of Eden, the rise of civilization, the fall of man and the great flood that is recorded in the book of Genesis has already been mentioned. This story is not unique, nor indeed is it the first record of these events in the Near East. The earliest known inhabitants of the "fertile crescent," in the basin of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, were Sumerians whose origins are uncertain. It is known they had been a seafaring people and came into Mesopotamia from the tree clad mountainous region of Asia Minor, but that they were not Semites and their language was neither Semitic nor Indo-European. There is no evidence that they came from Africa, but as noted earlier it is possible that they migrated westwards from the vicinity of Sundaland. Archaeological investigations have revealed that the Sumerians had established a highly organized agricultural economy by 3000 BCE, after which they continued relatively undisturbed for at least five hundred years. During that period the Sumerians produced the earliest narrative literature that has been discovered anywhere in the world. The lists of their early kings say that the monarchy "came down from heaven" and that the king, who also was the high priest, was a "tenant farmer of the gods" whose holding of the land was renewed annually at the New Year Festival. In Genesis of the Grail Kings, Laurence Gardner describes the key personalities in the Sumerian lists, as well as the myths that surround them and details of their relationships to important biblical characters.
The essential elements of the story in Genesis were first recorded by the Sumerians in the epic of Gilgamesh, which was adopted and adapted by their Babylonish successors in about 2000 BCE. In the Sumerian version of the creation story the central theme is that three gods created the universe. They were Anu who was identified with the sky, Enlil who was identified with the earth and Enki who was identified with water and the subterranean abyss. Anu was accompanied by his consort Antu, later identified with Ishtar, the goddess of love and war personified by the legendary Assyrian queen Semiramis. The similarities between the Sumerian and Egyptian stories of the creation are interesting. In the Sumerian story Marduk was chosen as the king of the gods, which established an embryonic monotheism somewhat similar to that of the Vedic religion of ancient India and also of the religion of ancient Egypt. The Sumerian story of the creation and the flood is recounted and embellished in later Assyro-Babylonian revisions of the epic of Gilgamesh. The basic elements of all of the stories of the creation and the flood from the Near East are similar. However the account given in the first and seventh chapters of Genesis reveals the religious genius of the Hebrews, in their adaptation of the earlier Sumerian and Babylonian mythologies for lofty spiritual purposes.
e story of the creation and the flood is not only found in the mythologies of the Near East. The ancient Peruvian myths relating to their great Creator God, Viracocha, as well as the ancient traditions of the Aztecs of Central America, of Vedic India and of the pre-dynastic period of Egypt, all include similar stories of the creation, an early civilization and later catastrophic floods. The myths of Burma, Laos and northern Thailand likewise refer to a catastrophic flood that devastated the whole earth and destroyed civilization, but they all say that a raft was built which enabled a few men and women to survive the deluge. The myths of Vietnam have a similar story, except that the escape vessel was a huge chest, which also contained two of every kind of animal. It is of particular interest to know that several aboriginal tribes in northern Australia say that they came into existence during their Dreamtime, after a great flood had swept away all of the previous landscape and society. The myths of many other aboriginal tribes in Australia say that it was the cosmic serpent associated with the rainbow that caused the deluge preceding their Dreamtime.
DATES IN PERSPECTIVE
When comparing events that are referred to in myths and legends with the events recorded in the scriptures, as well as correlating both with the history of the universe and the world as revealed by modern scientific investigations, it is important to understand how the dates of those events have been determined. The Chaldeans and the Egyptians devised their calendars independently more than 5,000 years ago, by which time the Sumerians had developed their pictographic script and the Egyptians had developed hieroglyphics. It is reasonable to assume that, since then, the dates of events that were recorded at the times of their occurrence by the Mesopotamians and the Egyptians should be fairly accurate. Because the Hebrew Scriptures do not record the dates when events took place, the dates of Biblical events must be deduced by correlating the genealogical records in the Hebrew Scriptures with the dates of events that have been recorded contemporaneously by others. An Irish archbishop, James Ussher (1581-1656), was the first person who is known to have made a serious chronological examination of the Septuagint version of the bible, the early Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures inherited by the Christian church, with the objective of determining the dates of Biblical events. James Ussher was born in Dublin, where he became a fellow of Trinity College and later chancellor and professor of divinity of St Patrick's College. He became Archbishop of Armagh in 1625. His theology was Calvinistic and his ideas of church government were moderate.
After moving to England in 1640, Archbishop Ussher preached at Lincoln's Inn for several years before concentrating on research and writing. His best known work is the Annales Veteris et Novi Testament, in which he propounded a chronology of the Hebrew Scriptures that established the date of the creation as 4004 BCE, which was accepted as an undeniable fact for almost three centuries. When determining the chronology of the Bible, Archbishop Ussher based his calculations on the genealogical information recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures, without reference to other contemporaneous records. For events since about 1000 BCE, which was during the XXIst Dynasty of the Egyptian pharaohs and about fifty years before King Solomon completed the temple at Jerusalem, Archbishop Ussher's dates are usually accurate to within about a decade. Earlier events progressively become less accurate and are in error by a century or more in 2000 BCE, during the XIth Dynasty of the Egyptian pharaohs, which was about the time of Abraham. The inaccuracies in those dates are partly because the Hebrew genealogies are incomplete and partly because in the Hebrew Scriptures the earlier events were not recorded contemporaneously, but were passed down as an oral tradition from generation to generation. Before the time of Abraham, Archbishop Ussher's dates for Biblical events are entirely conjectural, so that recourse must be had to other evidence to determine them with any accuracy. In many early editions of the Bible, Archbishop Ussher's dates were included as marginal notes and for almost three centuries they were considered infallible.
THE VISTA OF TIME
If the creation of the universe, the development of the solar system and our planet earth and the subsequent evolution of mankind are to be understood in their true perspective, all of these events must be visualized within the time frame of the whole universe. Nowadays space is usually taken for granted and is often regarded as a limitless void, which is not correct. Indeed, there may be more than one universe, each with its own time and space. The first to record their concepts of matter and space seem to have been the Atomists of ancient Greece. Leucippus, the Greek philosopher of Miletus who flourished in the fifth century BCE, is regarded as the originator of atomistic cosmology, which his pupil Democritus (c.460-c.370 BCE) developed more fully. The theory is expounded in The Great World System, a book usually credited to Leucippus, whose writings cannot be reliably separated from those of Democritus. In 1755 a German philosopher, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), was the first to suggest that the earth had been formed from a nebula. In 1796 a French mathematical astronomer, Pierre Simon the Marquis de Laplace (1749-1827), was the first to suggest that the solar system had developed in a slowly rotating mass of incandescent gas that had been flung from the sun. Various other theories have been put forward for the origin of the earth, including a collision or a near collision of a comet with the sun, as well as the separation of a double sun. However the nebula hypotheses of Kant and Laplace are now generally accepted as the probable manner in which the solar system was formed.
The discoveries of modern science indicate that the big bang, which is believed to have resulted in the creation of our universe, occurred about 15,000 million years ago. Our solar system began to evolve about 4,500 million years ago, when gravitational forces within one of the myriad nebulae of gas and dust in our universe began to drag the spiralling material towards the centre of the nebula, thus forming our incandescent sun. The remainder of the nebula formed a vortex around the sun and the heavier elements gradually coalesced to form Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, the four inner planets now orbiting the sun. The lighter and more volatile materials in the vortex also coalesced to form Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, the five distant planets orbiting the sun. The gas and dust from which our solar system was formed was not unique. It is now estimated that as much as 80 per cent of the matter in the universe is composed of gas and dust that cannot be seen. During this formative stage of the solar system, over about 700 million years, there were repeated cataclysmic collisions between the orbiting bodies. The evidence of these events is still clearly visible on the moon, although on earth it has largely been obliterated by erosion. The recently observed collision of the Shoemaker-Levy comet with Jupiter, which created fireballs the size of the earth, characterize the formative period of our solar system. A belt of residual debris from these collisions, comprising millions of rocky asteroids, still occupies much of the region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. This belt is similar in composition to Saturn's three main and two faint rings that form a complete and unbroken band around the planets equator, which are regarded as the most beautiful in our solar system.
CONTINENTS ON THE MOVE
In the present context it also is important to understand how the continents of the earth were formed. In 1620 Francis Bacon (1561-1626), the English philosopher who probably is best known for his Advancement of Learning published in 1605, postulated the theory that all the continents were once joined together. Various books and maps on the subject had been prepared before the study of land mass formations became the lifetime work of a German meteorologist, Alfred Lothar Wegener (1880-1930), who developed the theory of continental drift. There is now irrefutable geological, geodetic, geophysical, palaeontological and palaeo-climatic evidence that the earth's land masses were a single continent, now called Pangaea, until about the end of the Paleozoic Era about 200 million years ago. Towards the end of the Jurassic Period, about 135 million years ago, Pangaea began to separate into two continents. The northern continent was Laurasia, which comprised what are now North America, Greenland, Europe and all of Asia except India. The southern continent was Gondwanaland, which comprised South America, Africa, India, Antarctica and Australia. Recently the developments in palaeomagnetism, which is the history of the changing magnetic field of the earth, have also provided evidence of the continental drift and have located the positions of the various landmasses in successive periods on the geological time scale.
e landmasses reached their present positions during the last 50 million years, but are still moving at measurable rates. The North and South America continents are also rotating separately in a clockwise direction and the continent of Eurasia is rotating anticlockwise. The basic concept of continental drift is simple and is called plate tectonics, describing the structural features of the earth that allow the land masses to move. The concept is founded on evidence that the comparatively rigid outer shell of the earth, called the lithosphere from the Greek lithos that means stone, is made up of about ten slabs or plates from 75 to 125 kilometers thick, floating on a weak and partially molten layer from 100 to 140 kilometers thick that comprises the upper mantle of the earth. This region of rock plasticity and flowage is called the asthenosphere from the Greek asthenos meaning weak. Beno Gutenberg (1889-1960), a German born American geophysicist, discovered the asthenosphere when he detected changes in the seismic wave velocities. Most of the continental plate boundaries coincide with mid-oceanic ridges, but the rim of the Pacific Ocean is a notable exception. Many plate boundaries, especially those of the Pacific Plate, coincide with major earthquake foci and regions of high volcanic activity. The process of plate separation is called sea floor spreading.
LIFE ON EARTH
The earliest fossilized microbes yet found date from about 3,800 million years ago, when the earth was extremely hot. This was at the end of the early formative period of the earth that ushered in the era in which we are now living, in which events can be dated according to the geological time scale. Hyperthermophiles, which are very similar organisms, have recently been discovered flourishing in geothermally heated rock strata, especially around the deep ocean vents. Compared with the vast period of time since the big bang when our universe was created, the tenure of all forms of life on earth has been very brief, though relatively long in relation to mankind's existence. Plants came into existence more than 600 million years ago, in Precambrian times long before the first animals appeared on earth. The first animals on earth were invertebrates living in the sea in Ordovician times, 450 million years ago or earlier. The earliest fossils that can be classified as mammals are from the sedimentary rocks of the Triassic period, about 190 million years ago. The first primates were the prosimians of the Palaeocene epoch about 60 million years ago.
The earliest anthropoids were the monkeys living during the Miocene epoch, about 20 million years ago. The early apes, which possibly are the ancestors of the present great apes and are classified as the genus Dryopithecus, developed over the ensuing 3 million years or more. They were followed by a hominid-like ape called Ramapithecus, whose remains are found in the late Miocene and early Pliocene ages from about 14 million to 8 million years ago. The next and more human-like ape, Australopithecus, appears to have lived from about 2 million years ago until about 700,000 years ago. Until several well preserved hominid skeletons 1.75 million years old were discovered during the 1990s in the ancient village of Dmanisi in Georgia, mentioned in relation to the investigations that Bryan Sykes carried out to determine the origins and descent of mankind based on genetic codes revealed in the mitochondrial DNA of diverse groups of people, the earliest known hominid remains whose characteristics are similar to those of modern humans were the skulls of Homo sapiens unearthed in the Thames River valley in England and also near Steinheim in Germany. They respectively date from about 250,000 and 200,000 years ago. No other hominid remains have been discovered until those of Neanderthal man that date from about 70,000 to about 40,000 years ago, during which period their characteristics gradually changed to become more like those of modern humans.
Some of the earliest remains identical with modern humans were found in Borneo and are only about 40,000 years old. Other remains identical with modern humans have been found in France and western New South Wales and are between 30,000 and 20,000 years old. The deposits of Lake Mungo, near the western border of New South Wales, were laid down continuously from as early as 68000 BCE until about 17000 BCE. They have yielded the most ancient relics of human activity in Australia. Several early dates from radiocarbon tests prove that humans had occupied the Lake Mungo area by about 31000 BCE. However as recently as 1999, using the latest dating techniques, a human skeleton that was found at Lake Mungo in 1974 has been determined to be at least 56,000 years old, which indicates that humans could have arrived in Australia as early as 60,000 years ago.
The manner in which mankind dispersed from the Garden of Eden around the world, from one or even from several places of origin, is exemplified by the epic journey made by the first inhabitants of Australia. Previously it was believed that about 45,000 years ago, after migrating overland for about 15,000 kilometers from the cradle of civilization in the "fertile crescent"
of the Near East, at an assumed average dispersal rate of about one kilometer per year, the aboriginals finally arrived in Australia by sea. However, the latest available evidence shows that the Australian aborigines did not come from the Near East, but had their origins in Southeast Asia. Nevertheless it is believed that their migration from Southeast Asia probably did begin at about the same time as it was previously thought that they left the Near East, which is about 60,000 years ago. In any event, their final movement by sea to the continent of Australia is certainly one of the earliest known deep-sea voyages undertaken for migration. It probably was in the vanguard of the migrations from Sundaland to Melanesia and Polynesia.
It is now known that there were several waves of migration to Australia, some of which must have taken place during the last Ice Age. That was when the level of the ocean was so low that New Guinea, the continental landmass of Australia and the island of Tasmania were joined by land bridges, forming the continent called Sahul Land. Nevertheless some substantial deep-sea crossings were necessary to complete the journey, because although most islands in the South China Sea and what is now the archipelago of Indonesia were connected by land bridges to the subcontinent called Sundaland, they were not connected to Sahul Land. The archipelago islands of Sulawesi, Timor and the Moluccas were much larger than they are today, but they were still separated by deep ocean channels that were up to 100 kilometers across. Although it is conceivable that this episode of human migration could have begun from the traditional Garden of Eden, the evidence now strongly suggests that their Garden of Eden was in Sundaland. In any event, migration to Australia was significantly more difficult than migration to the Americas, because the Americas were connected to Asia by an extensive land bridge during the same period.
EVIDENCE OF A WORLDWIDE FLOOD
Every story of the flood indicates that it was not a local event, but a worldwide calamity of cataclysmic proportions that caused a sudden an unprecedented rise in water levels. It therefore is obvious that precipitation alone could not have been the primary cause of the flood, even though heavy rainfalls undoubtedly accompanied the event. Two natural factors that could cause abnormal rainfalls concurrently with huge rises in ocean levels are sudden movements of the continental plates and a meltdown of the polar ice caps. Moreover, it is possible that either of these events could have triggered the onset of the other. The continental plates are in an almost continuous state of transition, so that although a movement sufficient to cause an earthquake of global proportions might be unusual, such an event almost certainly would have occurred from time to time. As the polar ice caps contain at least two per cent of the earth's water at present, the ocean levels would be raised by 40 meters or more if they were to melt now. When the ice caps were at their maximum depths about 18,000 years ago, during the last period of glaciation, they covered about 30 per cent of the earth's land area and the ocean levels were at least 130 meters lower and in some areas as much as 180 meters lower than at present. The rapid melt down of the polar ice caps at that time would have inundated occupied land to a great depth, which probably explains why the Genesis story of the flood says that the Ark came to rest on a mountain, as indeed do most myths of the flood.
Archaeological evidence indicates that there was a great flood about 12,000 years ago, which is supported by palaeontological findings. For example, a vast number of species became extinct in America, Asia, Australia and Europe during the last Ice Age, the great majority of which were destroyed during the period from 15000 BCE to 8000 BCE, but especially between 11000 BCE and 9000 BCE. The present ice cover in Greenland and Antarctica are the remnants of vast sheets of ice that melted from the lower latitudes of the earth about 12,000 years ago. There are coal seams and other evidence indicating that for many thousands of years at some time prior to the last Ice Age, the climate of Antarctica had been tropical and later subtropical. The ice sheets in Greenland at present are as thick as 3 kilometers and in Antarctica they are as thick as 4 kilometers, compressing the land to significantly lower levels than originally. Much greater compressions would have existed towards the end of the last great Ice Age, which would have contributed to even greater depths of inundation when the pressure of the ice sheets was reduced. There are countless legends about the creation, but at least five hundred from around the world say that a cataclysmic flood almost destroyed mankind. In his book entitled The Flood Reconsidered: A Review of the Evidences of Geology, Archaeology, Ancient Literature and the Bible, Frederich A. Filby records that an eminent German geographer and anthropologist, Dr Richard Andree, carried out detailed studies of 86 deluge legends from six different regions of the world, of which he found that 62 had not been derived from the Mesopotamian and Hebrew accounts.
Because the fertile crescent of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers has long been regarded as the location of the Garden of Eden, it naturally followed that any evidence of floods found during archaeological investigations of ancient cities in that region were considered important. Excavations have been carried out in more than a dozen towns and cities that existed before the flood, including well known places like Ur the birthplace of Abraham; Fara the home of Utnapishtim who was the Babylonian Noah; Kish an early centre of Sumerian kingship only a few kilometers east of Babylon; and Ninevah, which was founded by Nimrod. Before the flood Ur would have been at sea level at the head of the Persian Gulf, about 20 kilometers from Eridu, the traditional site of the Garden of Eden. The other towns respectively were at distances of about 100, 250 and 750 kilometers further up the river basin. Flood layers found at these places have been dated to about 4000 BCE, previously hailed as evidence of the Genesis Flood, but on the basis of currently available information that view has now been reversed. Later it was believed that the silt deposits were the result of the local floods that occur spasmodically in the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. In fact those discoveries confirm that the Genesis Flood must have occurred before 4000 BCE as dated by Archbishop Ussher. Sir Charles Leonard Woolley (1880-1960), one of the most eminent English archaeologists, was the first to discover the Mesopotamian flood deposits at Ur when carrying out excavations in the old city in 1929. He found a solid bed of water laid clay about 3 meters thick, buried under several strata that were rich in the remains of human occupation. Below the water laid clay from the flood there was further debris, but it came from a completely different civilization. In the same year another bed of clean water laid clay, about 1.5 meters thick, was found in the lower strata of the ruins at Kish, which the flood tablets from the library of Assur-banipal at Nineveh say was the first city to be rebuilt after the flood.
The Joint Expedition of the Field Museum and Oxford University carried out the excavations at Kish under the leadership of Dr Stephen Langdon. The relics found underneath the 1.5 meters thick flood layer included a four-wheeled chariot and skeletons of the animals that drew it. Those remains also were from an entirely different type of culture from those found above the flood layer. During excavations in 1931 Dr Eric Schmidt, from the University Museum of Pennsylvania, found a flood layer of alluvial sand and clay that had been deposited between the middle and bottom cities at Fara. The value of these excavations was enhanced when Sir Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan (1904-1978), director of the British Museum Excavations, made important complementary discoveries in 1932-1933. When supervising excavations at Ninevah he excavated a pit that was almost 30 meters deep and revealed a 2.5 meters thick stratum of viscous mud and riverine sand. Five prehistoric strata of occupation were found above the flood layer, but again the relics found below the layer were from an earlier and completely different culture.
In Eden of the East, Stephen Oppenheimer provides a graphical summary, in the following words, encapsulating the train of events that would have taken place after the deposition of the flood layers that were exposed during the foregoing archaeological investigations:
"The last flushing of glacial meltwater finally slowed to a trickle as the rise in sea-level peaked on continental shelves around 5500 years ago. It was as if a curtain of water had been drawn across the remains of previous coastal settlements. Pots and implements that allowed archaeologists to define prehistoric cultures were inaccessible; they lay under silt and under the sea, miles from the shoreline. But there was a window. Over the next few thousand years the sea-level settled back by up to 5 meters, and the coastline emerged again, to a distance over 100 kilometers. This partial drawing back of the curtain allowed Woolley to peer under the silt layers, at the few hundred years after the main force of the flood of Utnapishtim struck. Because the marine inundation persisted from around 7500 to 5500 years ago on many of these sites, there was a big gap between the archaeological remains under the silt layer and those above it. Woolley's extended example bridged the transition from the Neoliothic to the Metal Age."
CIVILIZATION BEFORE THE FLOOD
The story of Genesis and the multitude of myths and traditional histories from around the world all say that there was a cataclysmic event, which created a worldwide flood that devastated an existing civilization. Although archaeological investigations have not yet unearthed tangible evidence that proves the existence of an advanced civilization before the great flood, the considerations outlined above do not preclude the possibility of such a civilization. Moreover, a great deal of circumstantial evidence supports the existence of such a civilization. For example, if that civilization had developed in a similar way to our present civilization, the main areas of habitation would have been concentrated along the coastlines, which would now be buried on the continental shelf well below the present ocean level. Even today about a third of the world population is scattered sparsely in the hinterland, with very few large structures or substantial towns to identify their presence, so that little tangible evidence of their existence would be found thousands of years after the demise of the occupants. Any inhabitants of the hinterland before the great flood would probably have existed under similar circumstances if they were not hunter-gatherers, so there would be very little tangible evidence of their occupation. Because the humans who emerged from the Garden of Eden about 60,000 years ago had about four times as much time to develop as the present civilization has had since the flood that occurred about 12,000 years ago, there is every reason to believe that there would have been an advanced or at least a significant pre-flood civilization.
Traditionally, Atlantis was a powerful and magnificent island city that lay beyond the Strait of Gibraltar, which in ancient Greece was referred to as the narrows of the Pillars of Hercules. In his dialogues called the Timaeus and the Critias, the great Athenian philosopher Plato (c.428-348 BCE) recorded that Atlantis disappeared beneath the sea "in one terrible day and one terrible night when terrible earthquakes then floods occurred." Solon (c.638-558 BCE), who was a statesman and lawmaker of Athens and one of the Seven Sages of Greece, was told the story in Egypt and took it back to Greece. Solon said that it was the priest of Sais who told him of the great civilisation of Atlantis that had developed 9,000 years earlier. Many hypotheses have been advanced for its location and various searches have been undertaken to find it. According to a recent count, about 20,000 books have been published on the subject of Atlantis. It is of interest to note that during the 1920s an American clairvoyant, Edgar Cayce, foretold that Atlantis would reappear near the Bahamas in about 1968. While carrying out an extensive deep-sea diving expedition during 1968 an American zoologist, Dr J.M.Valentine, reported that he had discovered some extraordinary structures of huge stone, deep in the sea off the island of Little Bimini, in the famous area known as the Bermuda Triangle. Although no evidence has been advanced to prove that these structures were not part of ancient Atlantis, most archaeologists are skeptical.
In their book entitled When the Sky Fell, Rand and Rose Flem-Ath advance convincing evidence that Atlantis was in Lesser Antarctica, now buried under about 2,000 meters of ice. It is of interest to note that Plato's description of Atlantis bears a remarkable resemblance to this area. The evidence that has been advanced in support of Lesser Antarctica as the site of Atlantis includes ancient maps that accurately delineate the present subglacial topography of Antarctica as determined by modern seismic surveys, especially those made during the International Geophysical Year of 1958. Various ancient maps reveals several stages in the advance of the Antarctic glaciation, which began during the period when it would have been possible to sail between the Antarctic land masses, which was from about 15,000 years ago until about 13,000 years ago. In his book entitled Fingerprints of the Gods, Graham Hancock summarizes the evidence of Antarctica and the ancient maps in the following words:
"Is it possible that a human civilization, sufficiently advanced to have mapped Antarctica, could have developed by 13000 BC and later disappeared? And, if so, how much later? The combined effect of the Piri Reis, Oronteus Finaeus, Mercator and Buache Maps is the strong, though disturbing, impression that Antarctica may have been continuously surveyed over a period of several thousands of years as the ice-cap gradually spread outwards from the interior, increasing its grip with every passing millennium but not engulfing all the coasts of the southern continent until around 4000 BC."
A plausible explanation for large parts of Antarctica being virtually ice free until as late as 4000 BCE is provided by the mechanism of earth crust displacement. Professor Charles H Hapgood advanced his theory of the phenomenon in 1953 and has expounded it in a book entitled Earth's Shifting Crust: A Key to Some Basic Problems of Earth Science. The mechanism only takes place with comparatively small sections of the earth's crust and it must not to be confused with plate tectonics, commonly referred to as continental drift, which has already been discussed. Expressed simply, earth crust displacement takes place when the rotation of the earth has developed a centrifugal momentum in the unsymmetrically distributed masses of the earth's crust, which is sufficient to cause small sections of the earth's crust to move comparatively rapidly along weakened planes, allowing a better state of equilibrium to be established. When checking his theory, Professor Hapgood carried out a detailed analysis of all available ancient maps. In Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, Professor Hapgood concludes that Antarctica must have been mapped when virtually free of ice.
The worldwide traditions of the flood, including the story of Atlantis and the various South American accounts of the bearded, pale skinned men who appeared from the south in a time of chaos and upheaval in prehistoric times, are not the only evidence of an advanced civilization before our own. Consider, for example, the knowledge of astronomy necessary for Stonehenge to be set out with sufficient accuracy to indicate the multitude of important alignments of the sun, the moon and the eclipses from about 2000 BCE to 1500 BCE. Extensive computer analyses undertaken by Gerald S Hawkins to solve these alignments are recorded in Stonehenge Decoded. It would have taken many centuries of astronomical observations to obtain the fundamental information, to analyze the data and to solve the relevant complex astronomical equations before construction began, all of which supposedly was beyond the capabilities of those who constructed Stonehenge. Christopher Chippindale gives a graphic account of the history and purpose of Stonehenge in Stonehenge Complete.
Radiocarbon dating of pine wood from three pits near the entrance to the site of Stonehenge indicate that they were probably excavated from about 9000 BCE to 8000 BCE, so that they probably are not related to the later construction. The earliest evidence of farming in the area dates from about 4000 BCE and the earliest monuments appeared only a century or so later. The earliest work on the present structure has been dated to about 3100 BCE. The Stonehenge People, subtitled An Exploration of Life in Neolithic Britain 4700-2000 BC, is an interesting book on this subject by Rodney Castleden, a British geographer and geomorphologist. Another recent book that has a bearing on the scientific aspects of Stonehenge is Uriel's Machine, subtitled The Ancient Origins of Science, by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas. The mass of evidence provided leads us to the almost inevitable conclusion that the essential astronomical work at Stonehenge must have been done by an advanced civilization before the flood.
The construction and alignment of the pyramids at Giza present a similar problem to that encountered with Stonehenge. A detailed analysis of the sloping shafts in the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) proves that, at the time of their construction in about 2450 BCE, the shafts were designed to point accurately to various stars as they transited across the celestial meridian. These stars were of importance in relation to the ancient Egyptian myths concerning the passing of the soul from the earthly to the heavenly Duat. It has been shown by astronomical calculations that, when the pyramid was constructed, the southern shaft from the King's Chamber pointed to Al Nitak, the left hand star in Orion's Belt, which the pyramid represents. The northern shaft pointed to Thuban in the constellation of Draco, the mysterious abode of Tuart the goddess of fecundity and childbearing. The southern shaft from the Queen's Chamber pointed to Sirius, which is the star of Osiris, whilst the northern shaft pointed to the centre of the four stars forming the adze shaped "head" of Ursa Minor, alluding to the adze used in the ceremony of "opening of the mouth" that was performed by Horus. Moreover, the three Great Pyramids are accurately located to reflect on earth the heavenly location of the three stars of the Belt of Orion, whilst the Great Sphinx is aligned to mark the position of sunrise at the vernal equinox, as it would have been in about 10450 BCE, which to the ancient Egyptians was the Zep Tepi, or First Time of Osiris. Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert explain the significance of the Zep Tepi in The Orion Mystery and Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock provide further background in Keeper of Genesis. As it was in relation to Stonehenge, the essential astronomical work and planning of the three Great Pyramids and the Great Sphinx appear to have been carried out by an advanced civilization before the time of the flood, although construction was not carried out until after the flood when civilization was being re-established.
REBIRTH OF CIVILIZATION
Ample scientific evidence is now available
to establish beyond doubt that there was worldwide flooding during
the melt down towards the end of the last great Ice Age and that
much of it was catastrophic in nature. There also is substantial
evidence that the rapid rise in ocean levels at the peak of the
melt down would have been magnified suddenly by the bursts of
energy caused by movements of Antarctica as a result of earth
crust displacement during the same period, as well as by decompression
of the earth that had been compressed under massive ice sheets,
especially in the northern hemisphere. As all of the available
evidence also substantiates the existence of a civilization before
the occurrence of such a catastrophic flood, as recorded in Genesis
and supported by a multitude of myths from peoples all around
the world, it seems reasonable to assume that our present civilization
owes its origin to members of an earlier civilization who survived
the worldwide floods near the end of the last great Ice Age.
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