"Ancient Origins" Author Claims a Comet Caused Noah's Flood, Which Ripped the Casing Stones from the Giza Pyramids
Most of you have already seen that on Tuesday former television personality Scott F. Wolter posted a blog entry suggesting that he had “proof positive” that the Kensington Rune Stone was a medieval artifact. His “evidence” was laughably illogical. He claimed that measuring the diagonal of the stone yielded the fictitious “megalithic yard,” a unit of supposed ancient measure that was actually invented in the twentieth century. The first problem is that the measurement is subjective. The stone is irregular, so the length of the diagonal can vary depending on which lump, bump, or uneven part one chooses to measure from. The second problem is logical: Since Wolter believes that the megalithic yard remained in use down to modern times—since he claims, following Alan Butler, that the Freemasons laid out Washington, D.C. with that measurement in the 1700s, the 1800s, and again in the 1940s—its inclusion in the rune stone, even if true, would provide no proof whatsoever of medieval origins since it could just as easily have been chosen by a nineteenth century Freemason faker.
Having dispensed with the “proof positive” of Templars in America, let us turn to a more cosmic problem.
In the waning days of 1694, the great astronomer Edmond Halley visited the Royal Society and read two papers in which he proposed that a comet was the agent God used to bring about Noah’s Flood. Having previously argued that comets caused the Earth’s poles to shift, he now argued that the impact of a comet on the Earth, having overturned the poles, flooded the Earth and destroyed the antediluvian world and caused the continents to slip across the surface of the Earth:
That some such thing has happened, may be guessed, for that the Earth seems as if it were new made out of the Ruins of an old World, wherein appear such Animal Bodies as were before the Deluge, but by their own Nature and Defences from the Weather, have endured ever since, either petrified, or else entire in statu naturali. Such a Choc may have occasioned that vast Depression of the Caspian Sea, and other great Lakes in the World; and ’tis not unlikely, but that extream Cold felt in the North-West of America, about Hudson’s-Bay, may be occasioned by those Parts of the World having once been much more Northerly, or nearer the Pole than now they are; whereby there are immense Quantities of Ice yet unthaw’d in those Parts, which chill the Air to that degree, that the Sun's Warmth seems hardly to be felt there, and of which the Poet might justly say, Frigus iners illic habitat pallorque tremorque--Ac jejuna fames.
Halley, however, quickly recognized that his proposal might run afoul of ecclesiastical authorities, so he forbade the Royal Society from publishing his papers for decades. They only saw the light of day in 1723.
The claim, as you can see, anticipates most of the later “earth changes” school of fringe history. It is the germ of Ignatius Donnelly’s argument that a comet ended the Ice Age civilization of Atlantis. We see in it, too, Immanuel Velikovsky’s argument that history is the result of passing cosmic bodies in embryo, and we see Charles Hapgood’s infamous idea that the Earth’s crust slips across the planet’s surface when the poles shift. We even see most directly Graham Hancock’s idea that a comet ended the Ice Age, flooded the world, and was remembered as Noah’s Flood.
It should probably surprise no one that this very old idea has come back around again, in its original form, on the Ancient Origins website. Dennis Brooks is a self-published author of books about Atlantis, and he has spent two largely fruitless decades investigating Atlantis without finding it. He published an article this week calling Halley’s hypothesis a “new theory” and basically summarizing Graham Hancock’s recent versions of it. This would be bad enough if Brooks didn’t think that he had discovered something new and amazing. He writes that the comet hypothesis can explain world mythologies: “The comet fragments that landed in the oceans caused worldwide flooding. This included all the shores and islands of both oceans. Tsunami waves backed up all the rivers, leading to the oceans including those in the Americas, Africa, and Europe, destroying everyone in the area. This would explain why all cultures all over the world have a flood (myth) story to tell.”
Ignatius Donnelly made the same argument in 1884, but was even more explicit about the comet element of the myths he fantasized were memories of real history:
It is utterly impossible that the races of the whole world, of all the continents and islands, could have preserved traditions from the most remote ages, of a comet having struck the earth, of the great heat, the conflagration, the cave-life, the age of darkness, and the return of the sun, and yet these things have had no basis of fact. It was not possible for the primitive mind to have imagined these things if they had never occurred.
But it gets worse. Brooks reaches back to medieval mythology and proceeds to both debase and misunderstand it in order to support his contention that Noah’s Flood actually happened. Consider this whopper about the “mark” the Flood left on the Giza pyramids:
The water from the sea left a unique high water mark on the pyramid that stands the highest above sea level. Take a look at the walls of the three pyramids on the Plateau. The outside covering has been washed away from all of the pyramids except for the top part of the highest one above sea-level. That outside covering was washed away by floating flood debris, leaving only a cap. The cap now acts as the only high water mark showing the height of Noah’s Flood. Judging from the cap on the pyramid, the water may have risen as high as 65 feet (19.81 meters) above sea level in the desert.
You will recognize the underlying claim. Al-Biruni made it in 1030 CE when he reported that “People are of opinion that the traces of the water of the Deluge, and the efforts of the waves, are still visible on these two pyramids half-way up, above which the water did not rise” (Remaining Signs, p. 23; trans. C. Edward Sachau). This referred to the casing stones of the pyramids when they were still intact, for a dark line was said to be visible partway up. But Brooks has misunderstood this to refer to the denuded pyramids, after the Arabs had carted away their casing stones. He mistakes the failure to strip Khafre’s pyramid of its last casing stones for the height which the Flood did not reach—despite the fact that the “Flood” somehow washed away the stones at the corresponding height on the Great Pyramid. The upshot is that he seems to also be arguing, against facts and logic, that the Giza pyramids date back to the Ice Age, something not even Graham Hancock asserts anymore.
It is disappointing that Ancient Origins continues to publish substandard articles that fail even basic fact checking and whose authors are utterly ignorant of the history of their own ideas. But whatever brings in the cash—right?
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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