The legend of the glory and the sinking of the fabled continent or island of Atlantis has haunted the corridors of human history ever since the time of Plato (and if it did exist, then it has haunted us since about 10,000 BC). Lost cities whether from history or legend are ever a popular draw in bookstores and film: Shangri-La, Cibolla, Troy, the Arabian city of Ubar (lost in a sinkhole), mysterious Maiden Island in the Pacific with its deserted temples found by Europeans in 1825, the Minoan island Thera in the Mediterranean, Cahokia in Missouri, the legendary Babylon with its hanging gardens, Camelot, Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in ancient India, the Phoenician capital Carthage, Zimbabwe, and countless other ancient cities.
But a mere lost city does not hold a candle to a whole lost continent. This legend was first recorded in Western literature by Plato, who studied the ancient records in Egypt before committing the story in his own Dialogues. The story was again taken up by Ignatius Donnelly in his book Atlantis, the Antediluvian World. Then in 1926 Lewis Spence wrote a book called The History of Atlantis. And then again by the so-called sleeping prophet Edgar Cayce. Cayce only mentioned the place because past life readings for about 700 clients (out of the total of 2500 life readings) had some past life in Atlantis. These three books plus the readings are the only major sources of information about this continent. (PS:There is also the mention of Atlantis, but no description, in the Emerald tablets of Thoth, which can be read on the CrystaLinks site at http://www.crystalinks.com/emerald1bw.html).
Plato wrote with the purpose of keeping alive the story of what was to him a very real past. Cayce only stumbled onto the subject in the course of giving readings on past lives and horoscopes of living people, most of whom were stunned enough at the idea of a past life, much less at having lived in a place that everyone said was only a myth. As Hugh Lynn Cayce wrote in the preface to Edgar Cayce on Atlantis: as my brother and I have said from time to time, life would be simpler if Edgar Cayce had never mentioned Atlantis.
But Cayce and Plato and Spence and Donnelly wrote and spoke, so now we are stuck with the enigma that is Atlantis. Were all these people tripping on something, or was there some foundation in concrete evidence for the existence of an ancient, now-vanished civilization? And what kind of evidence will it take to convince anyone? As Cayce said, one needs to first determine within their own mind what is evidence; then be sure that is not evidence to thy neighbor...What is proof to one will not be proof to another.
Cayce stated that 1) Atlantis broke up in three stages. The first breakup about 50,000 BC turned the continent into islands; a second event about 28,000 BC shrank the landmass even further; and the third and last upheaval sent the last of Atlantis beneath the waves about 10,000 BC. He also stated that 2) refugees from Atlantis made their way at various times to other lands. He cites landing points in Portugal and Spain or the Pyrenees as one refuge, and Egypt, Calais, Peru and the Yucatan as other landings. And lastly, he states 3) that three repositories of records of Atlantis were built by these survivors in Egypt, Yucatan, and in the remnant of Poseidia, i.e. Bimini.
So one naturally asks whether there is any shred of evidence that man walked in the New World, with or without evidence of a culture, as far back as 10,000 BC? Keep in mind that the rapidly disintegrating Clovis theory holds that man did not enter the Americas till he walked across the Bering land bridge between Asia and Alaska around 10,000 years ago, and could not have reached Central America too quickly. Without Chevys and freeways, walking is a slow way to travel, you know.
First, let us try looking at other legends to see if they are more or less in sync with Plato, Cayce, et al. The Hopi legends of the origins of their people state that several worlds have existed before the one we now know; in fact, the first world ended in volcanoes and fire; the second world ended when the earth teetered off balance and rolled over twice; the third world ended in a flood (Waters, 1963). Other well-known flood legends besides Noah include the Babylonian tale of Gilgamesh and a Chinese counterpart, but we will not dwell on them here.
Yet another tradition provides a link between Mexico and Atlantis. Reportedly the founders of Mexico City selected a site that offered a natural moat because this design was based on that of ancient Atlantis. Many words and place names begin with the atl phoneme, and the founders of Mexico City claim to have come from Aztlan (possibly a previous capital named after Atlantis?) and were led by the priest Tenoch.
Linguistics provides arich area for investigation. The fact that the Basque language is unrelated to the Latin-based romance languages of the continent has long been an enigma. Could the Basque people be descended from Atlanteans who took refuge in the Pyrenees, according to Cayce? And what about the Aymara language of the Quechua? It is such a pure and specific language that computer programmers use it as the basis of language translations.
Linguistic curiosities or evidence of contact? The natural question arises when looking at the list of names of cities in Asia Minor with similar names in Central America. Asia Minor place names include: Chol, Colua, Zuivana, Cholina, Zallissa. Central American place names include: Chol-ula, Colua-can, Zuivan, Colina, Xalisco. The list was drawn up by Donnelly, of Atlantis, the Antediluvian World fame. He also notes that Canary Islanders have little cultural similarity to Africans, and that they mummified their dead.
The Edgar Cayce on Atlantis book cites several archaeological findings to back up the contention that man was in the Americas long before Clovis. Most are not usable here because of scanty details on who-what-where, and where reported. But one intriguing and specific citation says that that New York Times reported on April 28, 1967 that archaeologists in Puebla, Mexico found stone tools and bones from antelope, wolf, horse, camels, sloths - all covered by a distinct layer of ash from Ixtacihuall, a Mexican volcano. Carbon 14 testing by USGS of a tree burned in the ash fall dated to over 40,000 years ago.
A 50,000-year-old fire pit (the first barbecue?) in South Carolina was reported in 2004:
University of South Carolina archaeologist Al Goodyear said he has uncovered a layer of charcoal from a possible hearth or fire pit at a site near the Savannah River (see also Archaeo News 3 July 2004). Samples from the layer have been laboratory-dated to more than 50,000 years old. Yet Goodyear stopped short of declaring it proof of the continent's earliest human occupation. "It does look like a hearth," he said, "and the material that was dated has been burned." (Archaeo News, 2004)
Similar cookouts have been excavated in Santa Rosa Island, California dating to about 27,000 BC. The menu featured roast elephant.
And it seems that Brazil may have hosted an equally ancient habitation, according to a report in Science Frontiers in 1993. It cites the original report in the Nature journal, which unfortunately has only an abstract available for free perusal.
French archeologists (not American) have established to the satisfaction of most European archeologists (not American) that humans were present in Brazil at least 50,000 years ago. F. Parenti, with N. Guidon, presented their data at a recent Paris meeting. The main site studied was the sandstone rock shelter of Pedra Furada, which is one of several hundred painted rock shelters discovered in northeastern Brazil. Guidon began her work in 1978; Parenti, in 1984. The four-volume, 7-kilogram report (actually Parenti's doctoral thesis) concentrates on three lines of evidence:
A coherent series of 54 radiocarbon dates ranging from 5,000 to 50,000 years.
Crudely flaked stones, some 6,000 of which are deemed of human manufacture, even when the most stringent criteria are applied. Many of these came from Pleistocene strata 50,000 years old or older.
Some 50 Pleistocene structures consisting of artificial arrangements of stones, some burned, some accompanied by charcoal. These are likely ancient hearths. (Archaeo News, 2003.)
While we know that man lived in Europe in prehistoric times, new findings still turn up all the time. Tiny figures cared from mammoth tusks were discovered in the area of Ulm, Germany; they were dated to about 30,000 years ago.
Excavations in the Czech Republic also turned up carved bone dating to about 30,000 years ago:
The thumbnail-sized bone fragments are engraved with parallel lines and match similar artifacts uncovered in the same area during the 19th century. They were carved by hunter-gatherers as they slowly made their way north in pursuit of moving populations of mammoth and reindeer 25-30,000 years ago.
The unusual find was made by a Cambridge scholar, Becky Farbstein, who has been working at Predmosti in north Moravia, in the Czech Republic. The excavation team comprises archaeologists from both the University of Cambridge and the Czech Republic (PhysOrg.com, 2006).
The European excavations are of interest because recent DNA research into the origins of the native Americans show a mixed heritage. While four genetic lines of descent trace back to Siberia or northeast Asia, a fifth line traces back to Europe with no mixing with Asian peoples. The Ojibwa, Sioux and two pre-Columbian groups share mitochondrial DNA with two to four percent of Europeans and in the Middle East, particularly in Israel. This genetic clan lived in the Caucasus Mountains and spread across Europe and somehow leaped the ocean. This genetic clan traces back to about 23,000 BC (Indian History, 2009).
Ancient footprints dating to around 50,000-year-old have been found in several places in the globe: Korea, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Italy, France and Chile. Wait, did they say CHILE? As in South America? And what is more, footprints dating to possibly 40,000 years ago were also found at the bottom of an abandoned quarry in the Pueblo, Mexico area (Oldest American?, 2005; see also BBC story). These Pueblo footprints are very controversial right now, with some claiming that they do not even look like human prints. Nevertheless, with the other Pueblo-area excavations made over several decades, it looks as though Mexico could be one of the oldest inhabited sites in the New World.
Discussion of when humans colonized the Americas is complicated not only by difficulties of excavation and re-assessing older finds already in museum collections, but also that there was more than one Bering land bridge connecting Asia to America. Prehistory lists a first land bridge existed about 50,000 to 40,000 BC, and the better-known second land bridge about 25,000 to 14,000 BC (Indian History, 2009). Alternate theories of population dispersal by water transport are also gaining adherents. Personally I like the ancient mariner theories and hope that someday soon we discover an ancient sailing manual.
Or as they said in the movie Liberty Valance - when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
TO BE CONTINUED
30,000-year-old figurines discovered, Dec. 19, 2003, Archaeo News, StonePages.com, www.stonepages.com/news/archives/000484.html.
50,000-year old footprints, Japanese kamikaze, and the U.S. bombers in Korea
Lee Wha Rang, AsianResearch.org, 3/10/2004, www.asianresearch.org/articles/1892.html.
Cambridge scholar makes rare 30,000-year-old find, PhysOrg.com, Aug. 6, 2006, www.physorg.com/news73663087.html.
Cayce, Edgar Evans, Edgar Cayce on Atlantis, Assn. for Research and Enlightenment, 1968.
Footprints of 'first Americans', BBC, July 5, 2005, news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4650307.stm.
Indian History, Telus Planet dot net, 2009, http://www.telusplanet.net/public/dgarneau/indian2.htm.
South Carolina fire pit dated to be 50,000-year-old, Archaeo News, July 3, 2004, www.stonepages.com/news/archives/001022.html.
The 50,000-year-old Americans of Pedra Furada, Science-Frontiers.com, May-June 1993, www.science-frontiers.com/sf087/sf087a01.htm.
The Oldest American? Footprints from the Past, Liverpool John Moores Univ/Bournemouth Univ, 2005, http://www.mexicanfootprints.co.uk/
Waters, Frank, Book of the Hopi, Viking Press, New York, 1963.
ALSO: Recommended reading at The Peopling of the American Continents, UCLA, 2001, http://cogweb.ucla.edu/Chumash/EntryDate.html.