Part One: Historical Disturbances
(* This paper is an edited version of a talk to a meeting of the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies, London 26 April 1980. The help of Mr. Peter James on important points of material evidence is gratefully acknowledged.)
Whether from timidity or misapprehension, hypotheses of general destruction about 3500 years ago are felt to be based upon scraps of evidence from scattered and often unreliable sources, whereas their conventional counter-theses are solidly founded. To the contrary, as I shall maintain here, the evidence from this period points to an extraordinary destruction in culture and nature. I shall offer nine propositions to this effect, adjoin an example or two, and challenge anyone to present and defend an opposing case. Seven of the propositions govern large special areas of science. The balance cover all areas of knowledge.
Since the total effect produced many great changes, and the effect in each field was also large, I do not hesitate to give them the name of quantavolutions. Quantavolutions are abrupt, intensive, large-scale changes, and contrast with evolutionary changes which are, as they say, drop-by-drop and point-by-point. The time, about 3500 years ago, was that of Exodus. The catastrophe of the Exodus is described in detail in God's Fire and Ages in Chaos.
We begin with astronomy and physics. We speak of calendars, reports of sky bodies in action, legends of the gods, sky-struck human behavior of the period. We say of the Astrosphere: "No available record of astronomical events from anywhere presents astral, planetary, or solar movements as unchanged or uniformly changing from before that time to afterwards."
When Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision appeared in 1950, many a critic leaped at it claiming that eclipses of the times before 700 B. C. were known and hence the skies had been orderly for long before then. Over the years he and his supporters put to rest this claim. No such historical record exists; there is no anomaly present.
Other critics were discovering in Stonehenge and other megalithic constructions an astronomical orientation that went back to the New Stone Age and is still valid. This is not so. Dr. Euan MacKie wrote about his investigations: "In the 16th or 15th centuries B. C. a second period of crisis began during which the dressed bluestone setting was dismantled, and joints on its stones battered off where possible, and most of the sockets for a new circle of bluestones were dug. This project was abandoned before completion.." Again no anomaly.
A corollary of our first Proposition says that no calendar based on the present solar year or lunar cycles is available that comes from the period before 3450 B. C. or thereabouts. However we find a severe challenge. Hastings in 1910 wrote that "the Egyptian calendar [amounting to 365 days] appears throughout the whole of its history. However far back we may trace it, we cannot reach the moment of a change in it."
Malcolm Lowery stresses the anomaly in correspondence to Zetetic Scholar (3/ 4, April 1979, p. 60):
To cite a case in point: according to Egyptological authorities, monuments from Old Kingdom Egypt unimpeachably and unequivocally record a year consisting of twelve thirty-day months plus five days of the year; and this 365-day year is confirmed by students of other Near Eastern civilizations.
His footnote reads:
"Two references must suffice here (a) Hastings: Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (Edinburgh, 1908-1926), II (1910), p. 93: "As it has just been described [with a year of (3 x 4 x 3 x 10)? 5 days] ... the Egyptian calendar appears throughout the whole of its history. However far back we may trace it, we cannot reach the moment of a change in it." (b) Helck/ Otto (eds.): Lexikon der Ägyptologie (Wiesbaden, 1975), III, 298, article: Kalender by J. von Beckerath: "Auf der Grundlage eines [unregelmassig 12-bzw. 13-monatigen] Lunisolar Jahres wurde in Ägypten schon früh ein... Kalender... geschaffen, der aus unveränderlich 365 Tagen bestand. Er war nach dem Vorbild des natürlichen Kalenders in 12 Monate zu je 30 Tagen eingeteilt, wozu noch 5 Zusatztage (Epagomenon) kamen."
An attack from Peter Huber in the same issue (p. 67) reads:
Another one [problem with Velikovsky and his followers] is that they tend to repeat the same, clearly wrong assertions ad nauseam (for example, the 360-day year mentioned by May is a fairytale, it has no more physical reality than the 360-day year nowadays used in interest calculations).
Several days before his death, Velikovsky indicated to me his impression that we had only to answer one ultimate source for these statements, a single ancient document, and Malcolm Lowery and Christoph Marx helped me locate it in Breasted's Ancient Egyptian Texts. It is a business contract mentioning an addition of five days to the year of 360 days. Until this matter is thoroughly investigated and rebutted, it stands as an anomaly.
A most common expression of critics is that the orbits and behavior of the planets, including Venus, were known before -1500 and are the same as today's. This has been shown to be untrue, much to everyone's surprise. The records are not there, nor can they be retrocalculated, for this would beg the question. Venus has been shown to have been perceived and observed to take an eccentric course that is compatible with the behavior of a comet. This finding, along with those mentioned above and in many other works beyond recitation here, tends to confine strictly and cast into doubt the 365 day year anomaly mentioned above.
The Atmosphere seems intangible as a source of evidence for events of 3500 years ago, but in fact much evidence of atmospheric turbulence is available. A rationalistic and literal interpretation of the Bible at the time of Exodus reveals high electrostatic levels, high radioactivity levels, dense and persisting cloud covers, high carbon content in the air, oppressive darkness and falls of a spectacular type -- quail, manna, barads, fire etc.
We are entitled to say, "There were radical disturbances and some lasting changes in atmospheric electricity, radioactivity, temperatures, winds, climates and solar radiance in the mid-II Millennium." Radiocarbon dates for the years involved require adjustments of serious consequence, as Suess and others have disclosed. The prevailing view that the Exodus was a gambol of truant slaves or a return of some bedouins to their ancestral desert is absurd and useful to divert attention from how bad conditions really were. The Jews were operating in the middle of catastrophe; there is no anomaly here.
The Geosphere was disturbed. The world was shaking. Rivers were stopped and changed their courses. Mountains were moved. We are obliged to hypothesize: "Every geophysical feature or process in the world capable of exhibiting the effects of continuous stress will show that such stress occurred around -3500." Here we share problems with conventional students of Holocene geology: what tests can pinpoint geological events in time --radiocarbon dating, possible chemical changes in rocks and soils, changed stratigraphy and morphology that can be tied to historical or protohistorical events?
So when we read a contrary statement in the Encyclopaedia Britannica to the effect that the Euphrates River bed was unchanged over many thousands of years, we must juxtapose to this a statement by R. Adams, for instance, that there occurred in the mid-second millennium "a major westward shift in the Euphrates system of channels as a whole during Kassite times." And when Robert Raikes, a quasi-catastrophist, theorizes that giant mud dams formed and broke and flooded out the Indus River civilization of this time, we have to carry his argument farther and, viewing the tremendous destruction throughout northern India and the bases of the Himalayan Range, insist upon a much more universal disaster than the mud-barrier floods. We have Sagan in his "An Analysis of Worlds in Collision," Scientists Confront Velikovsky, p. 66:
But the claim that there were extensive lava flows and volcanism involving "all volcanoes" is quite another story. Volcanic lavas are easily dated and what Velikovsky should produce is a histogram of the number of lava flows on the Earth as a function of time. Such a histogram, I believe, will show that not all volcanoes were active between 1500 and 600 B. C., and that there is nothing particularly remarkable about the volcanism of that epoch.
How does this anomalistic claim stand against the evidence of volcanism put forward in my Lately Tortured Earth, against the finding of Phoenician vases embedded in lava dated to 3500 years ago, against the plinian explosion of Mt. Rainier in America dated concurrently? Not well. Volcanism was not behaving normally. Velikovsky was speaking loosely and deductively, meaning all volcanoes must have erupted if the Earth paused and a great attractive celestial body was close. Elsewhere, insofar as the data allowed, he spoke in statistical language, foreshadowing the vaunted histogram. When Sagan says "volcanic lavas are easily dated" he is mistaken, even on the premises of radiochronometry. My own position is that many volcanoes were initiated, many fissures opened, all active volcanoes erupted, and furthermore a great many eminences erupted electrically.
More difficult to dispute is the claim that recent ice cores drilled from beneath the Greenland Ice Cap pass through the mid-second millennium with an extraordinary appearance of debris, but not enough to suggest world disaster. I shall have to deal with this anomaly in a future study. (See below.) The cores by the way are not showing other expected effect around this time anyway. Oceanographic theory has a drastic drop of catastrophic proportions in the ocean levels of the age. Could there have been a great freeze, a deluge, a breaking into new basins such as the North Sea and Baltic Sea (actually in both cases indicated)? Or could the land have risen around and below the seas -- just as disastrous an event?
"Every biological species underwent radical change around 3500 years ago in numbers, habitat, behavior or genetics:" such would be our fourth proposition, concerning the Biosphere.
There is much evidence regarding numbers -- including human destruction as for instance among the Israelites and Egyptians, also much concerning changes of habitat, abandonment of settlements, changes in behavior. Ovid is not to be believed when he said that the passage of Phaeton at this time burned the Earth and turned Africans to black from the heat, but it is not unbelievable that so many of the non-black peoples of Africa were destroyed that the continental population noticeably blackened after the event. Those who deny marine disasters can of course rely upon the absence of datable fossil events, but there are mammoth destructions datable to the time, and a Woods Hole Oceanographic Expedition to the Black Sea uncovered a general layer of coccoliths that occurs at the -3500 level and could not simply have died normally and drifted to the bottom en masse. The ancient historian Josephus said that nature, in a revolution, produced "mutations in the bodies of men, in the earth, in plants, and in all things that grow out of the earth." There is little fossil evidence yet uncovered from the period or most of what there is has been assigned to later or earlier times or ignored or is of current species. Apparently "very fresh" fossil mucks have been found, but the assignment of dates to them has progressed little.
The situation is different when one turns to the Ecosphere, the human settlements. Here the evidence is abundant, and has been presented in a number of works discussing every region of the world. Europe, the Mediterranean, the Near, Middle and Far East, and Meso-America provide evidence. Every advanced civilization suffered destruction, whether in China, Africa, the Causasus, Anatolia, Crete, or elsewhere. So we add the hypothesis: "No human settlement in the world escaped heavy destruction from natural causes in the midsecond millennium." I discussed this proposition with Professor Claude Schaeffer two years ago, and he agreed with it. Hundreds of sites that he had not included in his massive volume on comparative stratigraphy might now be added. A corollary of this proposition, which is also related to the one on astrophysics, is that "No religious temple that was built before about -3500 and rebuilt afterwards shows the same astronomical orientation afterwards as before." Peter Tompkins, for instance, carries a diagram in his work on the Great Pyramid that shows four different historical orientations of the Temple at Luxor, one of which was probably at the end of the Middle Bronze Age. René Roussel has written a report (unpublished) showing that a rupestral temple at Ouadi es Sebous (Upper Egypt) was oriented to different winter solstices before and after -3500. A disaster occurred to the temple in between; great fire damage and layers of ash are to be seen.
We can call the human documentation (the oral and written records, of the mid-second-millennium period) a kind of history and coin the following hypothesis regarding the "Historisphere":
"All legendary or contemporary historical accounts from any people in the world which discuss events of, or attribute events to, the mid-second-millennium mention a general and natural disaster."
Much of Greek myth centers upon catastrophe-born Pallas Athena, upon Hephaestos and Dionysus. The Books of Moses center upon the Exodus disasters. The Vedas of the Hindus focus upon momentous natural events at the time of their main descent upon India from the North, which time has been generally accepted as mid-second-millennium.
The Ipuwer papyrus which conforms rather closely to the Biblical Exodus account appears to be datable to the end of Middle Bronze, hence confirms our thesis. Ancient pagan accounts of the doings of Moses, often unfavorable, as often agree that plagues and natural destruction were occurring then. Are there exceptions? None that I know of. Only evolutionary modern writers have presumed a benign history covering this period, and I await any contradictory thesis referring to any document or legend. I await the uniformitarian anomaly.
The seventh thesis, the Anthroposphere or cultural sphere, says: "Every culture complex in the world changed radically in mid-second- millennium." Here we refer to social organizations, religions, and modes of life.
We know that the Egyptian Middle Kingdom underwent the political and social traumas of a takeover by the Hyksos. Most often, as Schaeffer has shown, "sedentary occupancy" of an area "was replaced by the nomadic." In Persia, Mesopotamia, and the Caucasus, he writes "there is no continuity between the civilizations of the Middle Bronze Age and the Recent Bronze Age."
A recent corollary of our hypothesis number 7 is this: "No god of before mid-second-millennium B. C. remained without change of status or family change or serious incident."
Zeus found a new daughter, Athene, and what a daughter she was! The Hindu goddess Devi conforms to all appearances with Athena, with the same violent entrance upon the skies and the human mind.
Yahweh appears and explains to Moses, rather unconvincingly: "I am the same god of your fathers, but different." "Not different enough," replied a great many Jews and they insistently chased after Baal - represented in the young Baal-bull.
Can any scholar offer an unchanging religion for this period: I think not. Certainly, if so, it would be an anomaly.
At this point, I am prepared to assert that all major spheres of existence have been incorporated into a quantavolutional scheme of the mid-second-millennium: astrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, biosphere, ecosphere, historisphere, anthroposphere.
Let us then generalize a Holosphere, that which contains all modes or forms of existence, and offer an VIIIth proposition, thus:
"All spheres of existence change together by a mutual interaction in the mid-second-millennium," or conversely,
"No major quantavolution in any special sphere occurs independently of quantavolutions in other spheres."
The Exodus case represents the best studied and perhaps the most documented history of the times we have, and, viewing it, we can confidently say:
"When all spheres are quantavoluting, then the whole world is involved and the cause is universal."
The forces at work are so strong and transactional that we may add an event to the workings of the Astrosphere:
"There can be only one necessary and sufficient cause of the quantavolutions of the mid-second-millennium, and that must be a large-body encounter with Earth; by definition it was a cometary encounter, if a comet is considered as any substantial body pursuing an elliptical or changing orbit."
The challenge is to be phrased thus: "Nothing but a god-like comet could have produced the quantavolutions of 3450 ± 60 B. P."
There occurs, then, a Ninth Proposition. It concerns the subsequent history of effects of the Quantavolution of Venusia: the present-day lingering of the tail of the flattening logarithmic curve of the catastrophe. We can call this the Neosphere. "Every institution, behavioral pattern, and natural setting that exists today, if its history is complete, will reveal an inheritance of specific effects from the Venusian Quantavolution of -3500."
"Arabia Felix" - Happy Arabia - of 3500 B. C. is a waste of sand with vast fields of stones and hundreds of dry stream beds resting upon layers of petroleum.
Zvi Rix wrote extensively on the sexual complexes derived from the human experience with Venus. Nicolas-Antoine Boulanger related basic human problems to the everlasting fear of a great comet.
Moses was a reconstructor after the catastrophe of Exodus. The Jews gave in to Moses or got out of Judaism. Jesus Christ was the child of mosaism and of the morning star (as W. Sizemore and others are showing in a book underway). Islam is more mosaic than Christianity is.
The Iranian mosaists are telling the other Islamic mosaists that they must kill the Jewish mosaists; and the Christian mosaists and Russian Stalinist mosaists are urging a similar business upon themselves and others. And American mosaists are contemplating nuclear war a) because they believe god is on their side b) god will take them into heaven.
But the Cambodians, Indonesians, Ugandans, Vietnamese, Chinese, have no Moses; and flutter toward the same candle flame of destruction.
What I am finally saying is this: Because of the lingering effects of past catastrophes mankind has long been in the business of producing catastrophes in order to recapture the madness of ancient disasters. Wars, aggression, suppression, compulsive and punitive behavior are connected with the primordial past. It is as if we are congenitally convinced that good comes only from greater evil -- to roast a pig we must burn down our house.
The psychological de-programming of the catastrophized mind is still a little-understood process. Both the morale, and the rational invention of means, for moving directly to good without the intercession of great evils are very weak currents or motifs in contemporary civilization.
But, to an existentialist and pragmatic mind, there can be no alternative to trying. We must keep trying. Like Sisyphus we must push the great rock of reason up the mountain, time after time, prepared always to see it fall, until one day, who knows, mirabile dictu, whether by invention or luck, the rock will stay fixed up there and we shall have surcease from our labors.