Apparently crazy doesn’t take the summer off, so publishers have put out a new crop of alternative archaeology books. I haven’t had a chance to read these yet since two have just been published in the last two weeks and one is forthcoming later this summer. Apparently thanks to Ancient Aliens ancient mysteries are hot again. Lucky us!
First up, Philip Coppens has released The Lost Civilization Enigma, a supposed work of considered scholarship whose own book description discredits its very premise. Coppens relies of several unsupportable assertions to claim that civilization at an advanced level existed 20,000 years ago. These include the false assertion that Atlantis was a real lost civilization, the false assertion that to so-called Bosnian pyramids are actual structures (they are not), and the false assertion that the “golden cities” of South America are (a) real and (b) older than Old World civilizations. The main line of his evidence, however, is apparently (sigh) myths and legends, which he believes should be taken as evidence of pre-Holocene civilization. Which myths would those be? The Zuni myth that humans were originally underground lizard people? Or the Greek myth that the Mycenaean ruins were the work of Cyclopes?
Next, Robert Bauval returns with more alternative history about Egypt in Breaking the Mirror of Heaven, this time attempting to prove that there was a vast conspiracy for three thousand years to suppress the truth about ancient Egypt. This conspiracy was led, he thinks, by the Freemasons, who convinced Napoleon to invade Egypt to obtain the pharaohs’ secrets. Since last year Bauval wrote a screed claiming that “an advanced civilization of black Africans” was responsible for world civilization, beginning with Egypt, I suppose this is meant to be some kind of racist conspiracy to promote white supremacy—unless, of course, Bauval is wildly inconsistent in his theories and just makes things up. Couldn’t be that.
One other book stands out for the weirdness of its claim and the final descent of its author into alternative wackiness. Robert Schoch, once known as a geologist, is now a full-out alternative theories, wildly proposing all manner of unsupportable theories in an ever sillier attempt to defend his flawed conclusion that the Sphinx was eroded by water thousands of years before dynastic Egypt. In his latest book, Forgotten Civilization, he proposes (and I am not making this up) that solar flares ended the last Ice Age cataclysmically, destroying an advanced, Atlantis-like civilization.
His proof rests on Gobekli Tepe, an amazing site but not one that demonstrates any evidence of advanced civilization as we typically define it. Its stonework and carvings are astounding, but there is no proof of any large-scale settlement in the area, any permanent residential structures, any agriculture, or any of the other hallmarks of civilization. Schoch feels that a “solar outburst” “incinerated” the earth—without leaving any readily identifiable evidence—and thus destroyed all evidence of the Ice Age advanced civilization, except, of course, those random bits of evidence Schoch himself identified. “These solar outbursts unleashed electrical/plasma discharges upon Earth and triggered volcanic activity, earthquakes, fires, and massive floods as glaciers melted and lightning strikes released torrential rains from the oceans.”
Of course, bones and rocks don’t burn, and we should expect to find the lands this civilization occupied rich with everything from bones to trash middens to the seeds and pollen of the plants they grew. We can see the very tools used by Pleistocene mammoth hunters to butcher their prey, along with the butchered bones, so surely something should exist from this civilization. And yet there is nothing.
How will I decide which of these magnificent works of paradigm-shifting wonderment should I choose to read? Somehow I just can’t seem to bring myself to bother.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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