While at Springfield College, a student’s question about the Lost Continent of Mu prompted a class project to investigate the lost continent of Atlantis, leading Hapgood to investigate possible ways that massive earth changes could occur and exposing him to the literature of Hugh Auchincloss Brown.
In 1958, Hapgood published The Earth’s Shifting Crust which denied the existence of continental drift and featured a foreword by Albert Einstein. In Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings (1966) and The Path of the Pole(1970), Hapgood proposed the hypothesis that the Earth’s axis has shifted numerous times during geological history. In Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings he supported the suggestion made by Arlington Mallery that a part of the Piri Reis Map was a depiction of the area of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land. He used this to propose that a 15 degree pole shift occurred around 9,600 BCE (approx. 11,600 years ago) and that a part of the Antarctic was ice-free at that time, and that an ice-age civilization could have mapped the coast. He concludes that “Antarctica was mapped when these parts were free of ice”, taking that view that an Antarctic warm period coincided with the last ice age in the Northern hemisphere, and that the Piri Reis and other maps were based on “ancient” maps derived from ice-age originals. Later research concerning the paleoclimatology and ice sheets of Antarctica have completely discredited the interpretations by Hapgood that an Antarctic warm period coincided with the last glacial period in the Northern hemisphere and any part of it had been ice-free at and prior to 9,600 BCE (approx. 11,600 years ago).
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And the mystery of this map is that it shows Antarctica as it looks under the ice long before Antarctica is supposed to have been discovered, and perhaps the greatest mystery of all is that it shows the Antarctic Peninsula, not as it looks today, covered by more than a mile of ice, but as it actually looks underneath that covering of ice. Now we, ourselves, have only known what the land under the Antarctic Peninsula looks like since 1958, when seismic surveys were taken across the ice cap.
Not elaborated by Hancock, the program’s host and narrator actor Charles Heston, or anybody else in the program, is any kind of realistic view of the evidence presented. The Bad Archaeology site provides a more reasoned perspective:
Charles Hapgood (and those derivative of him) used other maps allegedly showing Antarctica that are, at first sight, even more convincing than the Piri Re‘is map. The first of these is a product of Orontius Finaeus Delphinus (1494-1555), whom most Bad Archaeologists consistently and incorrectly refer to as Oronteus (more properly, his name was Oronce Fine or Finé, although the Latinised version seems to be in more common use, at least among the Bad Archaeologists). The map in question was published in 1531 and its supporters claim that it shows the continent at the correct scale, placing the Weddell and Ross Seas as well as Queen Maud Land, Wilkes Land and Marie Byrd Land in their correct longitudes. Again, if these claims are correct, they would display an even more remarkable knowledge of the continent than that supposedly (but demonstrably not) shown by Piri Re’is.
Although there are fairly obvious similarities between the general depiction of the southern continent by Orontius Finaeus and modern maps of Antarctica, they do not stand up to close scrutiny; indeed, there are more differences than similarities, much as one would expect from a map drawn without genuine knowledge of the southern continent! To show that Orontius’s Terra Australis corresponds to the outline of Antarctica, it was necessary for Hapgood to rotate the depiction by about twenty degrees, move the South Pole by 7½° (1,600 km) and alter the scale, as Terra Australis is 230% the size of Antarctica. Hapgood used this change in scale to explain the absence of the Antarctic Peninsula (Palmer Land), which he believed Orontius Finaeus had to omit from his map as it would have overlapped with South America at that scale; he explained that Finaeus confused latitude 80° south with the Antarctic Circle. Just as with his treatment of Piri’s map, Hapgood also had to shuffle whole sections of coastline to make them fit. It is unclear how the hypothesised original map had become fragmented and wrongly recombined; it is even more unclear how the fringe writers can go on to claim that various geographical features are shown in their correct places and at the correct scale. Again, these writers ignore what we know about the life of Oronce Fine.
The clearest deduction of all is that whoever drew up those original source maps thousands of years ago had a level of technology as high as our own. They had explored the whole globe from north to south and from east to west. So this is testimony of and advanced and as yet unidentified civilization in remote prehistory.
We can only hope that mapping technology has improved significantly above that which produced the Orontius Finaeus map.
But what about The Lost City of Atlantis? We are finally getting around to that.
Atlantis (Ancient Greek: Ἀτλαντὶς νῆσος, “island of Atlas“) is the name of a fictional island mentioned within an allegory on the hubris of nations in Plato’s works Timaeus and Critias, where it represents the antagonist naval power that besieges “Ancient Athens”, the pseudo-historic embodiment of Plato’s ideal state (see The Republic). In the story, Athens was able to repel the Atlantean attack, unlike any other nation of the (western) known world, supposedly giving testament to the superiority of Plato’s concept of a state. At the end of the story, Atlantis eventually falls out of favor with the gods and famously submerges into the Atlantic Ocean.
Despite its minor importance in Plato’s work, the Atlantis story has had a considerable impact on literature. The allegorical aspect of Atlantis was taken up in utopian works of several Renaissance writers, such as Bacon‘s New Atlantis and More‘s Utopia. On the other hand, 19th-century amateur scholars misinterpreted Plato’s account as historical tradition, most notably in Donnelly‘s Atlantis: The Antediluvian World. Plato’s vague indications of the time of the events—more than 9,000 years before his day—and the alleged location of Atlantis—”beyond the Pillars of Hercules“—has led to much pseudoscientificspeculation. As a consequence, Atlantis has become a byword for any and all supposed advanced prehistoric lost civilizations and continues to inspire today’s fiction, from comic books to films.
While present-day philologists and historians unanimously accept the story’s fictional character, there is still debate on what served as its inspiration. The fact that Plato borrowed some of his allegories and metaphors—most notably the story of Gyges—from older traditions has caused a number of scholars to investigate possible inspiration of Atlantis from Egyptian records of the Thera eruption, the Sea Peoples invasion, or the Trojan War. Others have rejected this chain of tradition as implausible and insist that Plato designed the story from scratch, drawing loose inspiration from contemporary events like the failed Athenian invasion of Sicily in 415–413 BC or the destruction of Helike in 373 BC.
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Time for a short geography lesson. There is a connection between Atlantic Ocean, Atlantis and Atlas. The Atlas Mountains are a significant range in northwestern Africa, you can see them from Spain. The Strait of Gibraltar nearby is the gateway from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, and that ocean was named after those mountains. Atlas, of course, being the Greek God who supported the world on his shoulders. And, yes, the city of Atlanta, Georgia, ultimately received its name from the Atlantic Ocean.
From host Charlton Heston:
If a technologically advanced culture did live on the Earth thousands of years ago, what happened to it? The Greek philosopher Plato described an advanced civilization, whose legend was preserved by Egyptian priests. As the story goes, Atlantis was a great empire of engineers and scientists, who were in many ways more technologically advanced than we are today. It was destroyed 12,000 years ago by floods and earthquakes, forcing its survivors to seek refuge all over the world. For centuries scientists and explorers have searched in vain for a continent that fits Plato’s description of Atlantis.
We next meet Rand Flem-Ath, co-author of When the Sky Fell.
Rand Flem-Ath is a librarian and author from British Columbia, Canada. He is best known for his books about the lost continent of Atlantis and the theory of Earth crust displacement. Flem-Ath has written numerous fiction and nonfiction where he advances what is known as the pole shift hypothesis.
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Here’s some extra reading on the pole shift hypothesis:
In the 1970s and 1980s a series of books not intended as fiction by former Washington newspaper reporter Ruth Shick Montgomery elaborates on Edgar Cayce readings.
In 1997 Richard W. Noone published 5/5/2000, ICE: The Ultimate Disaster. This book argued that a cataclysmic shift of the Earth’s ice cap covering Antarctica caused by a planetary alignment and solar storms, would lead to crustal displacement on May 5, 2000.
In 1998 retired civil engineer James G. Bowles proposed in Atlantis Rising magazine a mechanism by which a polar shift could occur. He named this Rotational-Bending, or the RB-effect. He hypothesized that combined gravitational effects of the Sun and the Moon pulled at the Earth’s crust at an oblique angle. This force steadily wore away at the underpinnings that linked the crust to the inner mantle. This generates a plastic zone that allows the crust to rotate with respect to the lower layers. Centrifugal forces would act on the mass of ice at the poles, causing them to move to the equator.
Books on this subject have been published by William Hutton, including the 1996 book Coming Earth Changes: Causes and Consequences of the Approaching Pole Shift (ISBN 0876043619), which compared geologic records with the psychic readings of Edgar Cayce and predicted catastrophic climate changes before the end of 2001. In 2004 Hutton and co-author Jonathan Eagle published Earth’s Catastrophic Past and Future: A Scientific Analysis of Information Channeled by Edgar Cayce (ISBN 1-58112-517-8), which summarizes possible mechanisms and the timing of a future pole shift.
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Writers Rand and Rose Flem-Ath provide some background:
In the summer of 1976, when we first began to explore the idea of Antarctica as the site of Atlantis, the notion that civilization and climate were intimately connected was not part of the cultural template. More than three decades later, the daily impact of global warming reminds us just how easily the fragile web of civilization can be torn when nature rebels.
Radical climatic change is not something new. Stories of catastrophic earthquakes, floods and a lost paradise fill the pages of world mythology.
Today’s obsession with ‘progress’ – a straight line from one accomplishment to another – blinds us to the lost realities of our past. Our research reveals a legacy closer to the ideas of the ancients. They spoke of the earth’s past as a story filled with shocking turmoil and hard-fought survival.
We are now presented with the notion that Antarctica could be the lost continent of Atlantis. How then could the place have survived, since the continent has sported its mile-thick ice for millions of years? Hapgood postulated the build up of ice caused an imbalance of the spinning Earth. Since we now know that Earth’s crust lies on top of a liquid inner core, this imbalance resulted in a sudden 2000-mile shift of the entire crust. Antarctica, previously temperate, moved to its present polar position and froze over. This sort of thing happens every 41,000 years, according to Hapgood. The narrator says this could explain what happened to the people of Atlantis.
The first (not the only) thing I noticed about this remarkable brain wreck, is it does not account for the fact the Antarctic ice has been around for millions of years. Even so, commenter Hancock and host Charles Heston announce it to all with never a blush. Hancock piles on:
I am convinced by the evidence that we are a species with amnesia, that we have forgotten something of great importance from our own past. When we recover it we’ll realize for a start that our civilization isn’t the apex of creation, isn’t the pinnacle toward which everything has been building throughout all of geological time.
Amazingly, I agree with Hancock. I agree that he is convinced. Charles Heston concludes:
We have met the experts and looked at the evidence that seems to contradict our conventional theories about the human race.
All except the part about meeting the experts and looking at the evidence.
That concludes NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man, and most likely this series of reviews. There’s a lot of stuff in there, and I did not touch all the points. Some of these I may revisit, but that’s going to be a future topic. Thanks for reading.