Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Astroarchaeology Dating of Stonehenge

By Robert John Langdon

As we approach the Midwinter Solstice, we are reminded that Stonehenge was built in the Mesolithic period as a place of healing and of the excarnation of the dead.  In Neolithic period it was further adapted to incorporate a Sarsen stone monument, for the same purposes.  Now if the Sun, Moon and planets rise and set in the exact same place year after year, then astroarchaeology would only be good for connecting these monuments to certain rituals (such as the midsummer solstice celebrations) and little else.  But fortunately, because of anomaly in the earth’s rotation called ‘precession’ we can use astronomy to also calculate dates of construction.
Midwinter Solstice seen from the Altar Stone
Midwinter Solstice seen from the Altar Stone

Axial Procession (Wiki)
In astronomy, axial precession is a gravity-induced, slow and continuous change in the orientation of an astronomical body's rotational axis. In particular, it refers to the gradual shift in the orientation of Earth's axis of rotation, which, like a wobbling top, traces out a pair of cones joined at their apices in a cycle of approximately 26,000 years.

The earth wobbles on its axis like a toy gyroscope when it’s slowing down.  This alters the view of space from earth as the stars revolve around the polar star and this polar star position will gradually change over this 26,000 period, eventually going back to the original position.

Ecliptic Plane (Wiki)
The ecliptic is the apparent path of the Sun on the celestial sphere as seen from the Earth's center, and also the plane of this path, which is essentially coplanar with the orbit of the Earth around the Sun.  The path of the Sun is not normally noticeable from the Earth's surface because the Earth rotates, carrying the observer through the cycle of sunrise and sunset, obscuring the apparent position of the Sun against the background stars. Put simply, the ecliptic is the plane of Earth's orbit around the Sun.

This plane goes through the 12 zodiac constellations - hence there importance to astronomy and astrology for so do the sun, planets and the moon.

Precession


Most of the bodies of the Solar System orbit the Sun in nearly the same plane. This is likely due to the way in which the Solar System formed from a proto-planetary disk. Probably the closest current representation of the disk is known as the invariable plane of the Solar System. The Earth's orbit, and hence, the ecliptic, is inclined a little more than 1° to the invariable plane, and the other major planets are also within about 6° of it. Because of this, most Solar System bodies appear very close to the ecliptic in the sky. The ecliptic is well defined by the motion of the Sun.

So the sun, moon and planets go around this imaginary line in the sky, known as the Ecliptic and where this line crosses the horizon dictates where the heavenly bodies rises and sets.  As I stated before if the earth did not wobble this line of the ecliptic would never move and the chances of predicting construction dates would be pointless, but that wobbles moves the ecliptic  (about 0°.0002) per year, which is very little if you understand that the diameter of the Sun or Moon is about 0.53o - so we are looking at the width of the moon/sun every 2500 years, but as we are looking at monuments at least 5,000 years old if not 10,000 we are talking 2-4 sun/moon widths, which is the width of a fat thumb at arm’s length, against the horizon.

I’m not going to go into the mathematics of these calculations in great depth, but for those who have nothing to do over the Christmas period I recommend you read: Observational archaeology at Stonehenge: by Gordon & Phyllis Freeman.


Freeman observed that Stonehenge was orientated towards the Winter Solstice via The HEEL STONE to the NE through the existing Sarsen Standing stones 30 & 1 - through the Altar stone the broken trilithon stone 55b and standing still 56 and finally past stone 16 and missing 15 to Bell-Barrow Amesbury 15. 

Freeman's alignment
Freeman's alignment


This alignment gave them a date of 2000BC - which is clearly wrong!!

So where did they go wrong?  Well although this alignment is ‘lovely’ would you commit a complete monument to something ‘outside the circle?  Surely if you build a circle with a centre altar stone - that’s the place you view these events?

So if we repeat this experiment with an observation from either the centre of the altar stone how will that change things?

Well the angle from the Altar stone to the bell-barrow is 232.6o - using the same formula in the paper this is altered by the refractive correction and the height of the object against the background to become 232.8.  Using the cybersky 5 software package - this gives us a date of 2889 AD!!  So unless the three post holes found in the excavation of Amesbury 15 are poles for a raised platform or high fence - this barrow is not the alignment to the winter solstice.
Amesbury 15 - somewhat smaller than the past
Amesbury 15 - somewhat smaller than the past


But there is lost barrow (Amesbury 10) that does fit the bill.  The interesting aspect about this barrow is the shape and structure.  Recent geological surveys have suggested that there are stones under the ground that may have surround the barrow.  I would suggest that as this barrow had a massive ditch plus a platform to the NE of the oval shape (as seen in the enhanced photo’s) that clearly this is not a ‘normal’ marker barrow but a sightline and the stones may be standing stones for the platform.

Amesbury 10 - it had a 45m moat and raised platform towards the front
Amesbury 10 - it had a 45m moat and raised platform towards the front

This barrow is 228.56 and we assume that the height of this barrow relative to the horizon is the same - then taking all variable into account we are looking for a midwinter solstice sunset at 228. 77o for this date Cybersky 5 gives us a date of 20/01/4200 BCE

So can we confirm this date?

Strangely, yes we can!!  For when the makers of Stonehenge placed the Sarsen blocks that become the temple, they also created THE AVENUE.  Now my book (The Stonehenge Enigma) proves the Avenue was a processional walkway down to the lower Neolithic river water levels ending at the current ‘elbow’.  This ‘road’ was built in direct alignment with the summer solstice sunrise, for obvious reasons - so if the CENTRE (not the Heel stone alignment) of the Avenue can be match to the summer solstice sunrise, we will have a second and verified proof of construction date.

The Avenue with The Sun Rising over the centre in 4210 BCE
The Avenue with The Sun Rising over the centre in 4210 BCE


Currently, the sun rises just above the Heel stone on the Summer solstice 50.75o - we no longer need to adjust for the refractive correction as we have empirical observation showing that if we find the exact azimuth reading for the sunrise for the year 2000AD and we can calculate the adjustment needed to move the sunrise to the centre of the Avenue.

Cybersky 5 calculates that the sunrise on the summer solstice 2000 was 49.27o this gives us an adjustment of 1.48o from the visual centre to the rising azimuth position of the sun.  The centre of the Avenue is 49.42 - therefore the azimuth sunrise we are looking for is 47.54o.  Cybersky 5 gives us a date of 27/07/4210 BCE.

Sadly not the exact same date but within 10 years, which may reflect the construction time between phases - although more accurate than anyone to date has obtained.

How the Solstice could have looked through the Stones
How the Solstice could have looked through the Stones


Lastly, is there any Carbon Dating at Stonehenge that meets this astroarchaeology date - and believe it or not there is - a piece of antler pick ‘packing’ was found for Sarsen stone 27, this gave a carbon dating date of 4175 +/- 185 BCE.

Seasons Greetings!!

RJL

Additional Information

To stop an impossible debate on statistics (remember lies, damned lies and statistics!!) I thought I show some empirical evidence anyone can play at home via Google earth - the contributors agree that the sun sets by .0002 degrees per year eastward every year in the last 10,000 years - this is a combined change of 0.002 x 6000 years (until 4012 BCE - if I am correct) total 1.2 degrees.

If we are happy that the sun rises over the heel stone today, then 6000 years ago it should have risen over the centre of The Avenue - so lets do the exercise!!


Line down the centre of The Avenue showing 49.57 degrees
Line down the centre of The Avenue showing 49.57 degrees

Heel Stone Alignement showing 50.81 degrees
Heel Stone Alignement showing 50.81 degrees


The difference is 1.24 degrees which is within acceptable limits - 1.24 variation would give a construction date of 4188 BCE - no even close to the current 2500BCE to 3000BCE.


RJL

(by Robert John Langdon)



Monday, 3 December 2012

The Stonehenge Enigma - Prologue and Introduction

By Robert John Langdon

In line with the Open Access practice of placing non-fiction e-books FREE OF CHARGE on the internet,   I can happily announce that the new second edition of my book The Stonehenge Enigma will be launched onto this format by Christmas 2012.

The Stonehenge Enigma - First Edition


The e-book will not contain any maps or pictures, so I have decided that I will publish each chapter in full on this website over the next eighteen months with pictures - ending in June 2014.  So if you wish to read it in its entirety and can't wait.... buy the book or wait for Christmas day to download.  If you are not in a hurry, here is the Prologue and Introduction.  The first chapter will be published here on 1st Jan 2013 and each subsequent chapter - thereafter on the 1st of the month... happy reading.


Ancient Stonehenge



Prologue
I love prehistory; I think it should be called pre-mystery. In my mind, it’s the greatest ever ‘who done it’. Agatha Christie or even Dan Brown would have been proud of leaving so many tantalising clues and artefacts about what happened so long ago in mankind’s ancient past.

So who am I then? Holmes, Poirot or Indiana Jones?

Well hopefully a combination of all three as I love to solve puzzles, and this book answers the most captivating of all questions – who built Stonehenge and why?  Just think of the clues on offer: strange stone monuments; relics of a bygone age; scientific evidence that seems to contradict each part of the puzzle as it’s discovered and an overwhelming realisation that this is not a game - this is reality!

I want to solve the mysteries from the dawn of our civilisation. If that fails to excite you to the bone, I guess nothing in history ever will.

To understand our ancestry, you must be able to detach your mind from the 21st century. You need to picture the land that archaeologists call the ‘stone age period’ - the problem is that your mind has already created a mental picture of either hairy fur covered men dragging their women into the cave for fun or Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble going for a drive in their stone-mobile. Of course, neither of these images is correct or helpful.

As you read this book you will journey with me back in history. You will need to remember that for a considerable time, the people you will read about, may have only possessed wood and flint as tools yet they still had the foresight, capability, tenacity and organisational skills to build monuments that would last 10,000 years. I really don’t think even our best known recently built structures – the O2 Millennium Dome, Wembley Stadium, Canary Wharf Tower - will survive for one tenth of that time period. I would strongly argue that we must give our ancestors the respect they deserve and be proud that our forefathers created such a great civilisation.

Stonehenge - even today the water level is high
Stonehenge - even today the water level is high

The story starts with a car journey, driving home from a family holiday in the summer of 2009. I had previously studied Archaeology at the Museum of London in the early 1990s. During my course the standard format of materials was poorly photocopied archaeological texts and illustrations - the use of an available overhead projector was far too modern for this type of dusty establishment. The illustrations provided showed that mankind originally moved from Africa to the Middle East and then finally, onwards to Northern Europe and eventually Britain. This was the sacred proven pathway of our civilisation, and if anyone dared to write an essay even hinting at an alternative suggestion, they were branded a heretic and would be marked down accordingly – as you may begin to imagine, I fell into this category.

I have always found this ‘traditional’ model of our civilisation’s pathway difficult to accept or understand. In my mind, civilisations are incredibly old and diverse and need many tens of thousands of years to develop the characteristics we see around the world today - therefore to suggest that the first farmers were migrants from Africa who travelled to the Middle East and who then transferred their knowledge onto Europe over only a few thousand years, seems totally unbelievable, naive and somewhat simplistic because in my view, that’s not how civilisations develop. I also found it surprising that the literature and teaching provided, failed to include any references to the even more diverse civilisations of the Far East – so, I guess, according to traditional theories provided, the Chinese must have never discovered farming and therefore they must still be living in caves today?
Traditionalist view of Stone-age man
Traditionalist view of Stone-age man

Nonetheless, it is true to say that the antiquated lesson structures and information to which I was exposed did give me an insight into how Archaeology itself has evolved – via a group of amateur enthusiasts, whose dated theories somehow still remain prominent today. Many of these old academics have little to no engineering or practical skills, let alone the empathy to understand the true nature of hunter-gatherers or the issues surrounding self sufficiency in a hostile environment (thinking a little more like Ray Mears would have helped them considerably).

I am often amused by watching archaeologists spending hours on the most boring, labour intensive work such as drawing an excavation plot on an A3 board with strings as guides. On a few occasions, I've approached the poor student conscript allocated this god forsaken task and mentioned the marvellous new invention called a digital camera – which not only takes high resolution shots, but if used to take photographs from different angles and heights, they can then be turned into a 3D map on a PC. The poor students usually look at me as if I’m mad to suggest such a device and some well indoctrinated ones have suggested that “cameras can miss things” – really!

Archaeology - the science of outdated methods?
Archaeology - the science of outdated methods?


This is a clear indication of how the whole archaeological process has developed - more as a ‘club’ rather than a progressive scientific subject. Hence the quiet distain showed to the utterly engaging TV series Time Team in which a site is excavated in 3 days. The archaeological establishment sees this as ‘popularist’ and not ‘true archaeology’ which, in their view, should take years and eventually reach the same old, tired but established conclusions that are automatically accepted as being correct - and certainly wouldn't allow a theory that would take them out of their academic comfort zone.

There are many examples of this - archaeological political correctness - even within the Time Team television programme. When they find something unusual or not easily identifiable, the word ‘religious’ or ‘ceremonial’ is suddenly produced as an obvious explanation, rather than a more truthful admission of, ‘Tony, ain’t got a clue mate!’

"if you don't know..... make something up!"
"if you don't know..... make something up!"

This is what I call ‘archaeological self regulation’. It’s a way of guaranteeing your future career as an archaeologist.

As will be revealed later in the book, often when archaeologists are given scientific evidence from carbon dating that contradicts the ‘traditionally’ held view, it’s dismissed as an ‘anomaly’ - this is the usual response when scientific evidence conflicts with the archaeological accepted belief system.

This ‘strange’ approach to the science of archaeology can also be seen when sites are dated. A majority of sites are dated by broken pottery or flint finds discovered within the site. This tenuous link is based on a premise that ALL pottery and flints can be dated by its design or structure. In some sites, it’s absolutely true to say that these type of finds can be a good source of evidence if it is found ‘in situ’ with other items such as coins or other carbon dated material.

The science of pottery design.... see ebay for easy to make fakes!
The science of pottery design.... see ebay for easy to make fakes!

However, to rely on this as a form of evidence when pieces are found on the surface is problematical, as ALL it shows is that this type of pot was used on this site – AT SOME POINT after this type of pot was made – not necessarily at the SAME TIME.

For example, if an archaeologist in the future finds the ruined remains of St. Paul’s Cathedral (and imagine that all written records for the site were lost) he or she would attempt to date the site by the artefacts found on site. Say, for instance, a Coca-Cola can crammed into the base of a remaining wall was discovered – using current accepted practice, the archaeologist would conclude that, because the can was found ‘in situ’, the construction date of St. Paul’s would be approximately 1950 to 2000 – the practice simply doesn't work.

Even a child would realise that dating an item found at a site, doesn't automatically mean that the site shares the same date. Sometimes, complete sites are dated just by fragments of pottery without any other evidence, other than a ‘gut feel’ or ‘tradition’. This can readily be seen by the number of ‘iron age’ encampments found on OS maps.  Most of these sites are on hills and have ditches surrounding them; archaeologists automatically classify these monuments as ‘iron age’ as the perception is that they are fortifications, built at a time of extreme violence – the iron age.  There is not one piece of true evidence to support this claim, yet we have thousands of monuments incorrectly classified as ‘iron age’ all over Britain.  This type of unsupported evidence would simply not be deemed acceptable by any other ‘science’ (a part from Geology - and we’ll talk about that later).

Frustratingly, however, it is accepted practice in archaeology. So the next time you ask an archaeologist “what’s that” and they mention either the ‘religious or ceremonial’ word, stamp really hard on their foot!

I witnessed at first-hand, this kind of blanket prejudice when I submitted my final essay during my archaeology course in the 1990s. The essay was about Stonehenge and highlighted the conflicting evidence throughout the site. This particularly applied to the car park post holes that had been ignored by archaeologists when discovered in the 1960’s and in so doing, they missed how this find could have helped to establish the true dating of Stonehenge instead of rely on the ‘loose’ pottery and antler evidence that’s currently taken as the absolute truth.



I will never forget the comments my lecturer wrote on my marking sheet, which seem even more poignant today as I write this prologue: “Would make the basis of a good book, but has no credibility for serious archaeology today”. I suppose I should have been happy to have received a pass mark, even if it was only just!
Anyway, back to the plot. I was driving to London via the A303 which takes me passed Stonehenge, when suddenly, day turned to night and a cold eerie storm ripped through Salisbury Plain. I watched in the slow traffic as the poor tourists, in their summer clothes, ran as best they could for shelter while the traffic creped to a halt. At that point, my mind started to drift, and I looked around at the grassy fields as they started to become waterlogged.

I was driving past a point called ‘Stonehenge Bottom’, a deep ravine adjacent to Stonehenge. The hills were now feeding water down to the lowest point of the valley, and water was, very quickly, becoming very deep as it reverted back to the river it once had been. “You idiot!” I said out loud to no-one in particular.
It was a phrase I had started to use a lot in everyday life, as I had become a great admirer of Hugh Lawrie’s ‘House’ – I could identify with the same stubborn, rebellious and analytical qualities of the TV personality. (If you haven’t managed to catch any of these enthralling programmes, I’d highly recommend them).

If you're an academic.... this will hurt!!
If you're an academic.... this will hurt!!
The reason for my outburst was that I had driven and walked past this same spot more times than I care to remember but I had never realised that this was a huge clue to the ‘post hole puzzle’ I had considered so many years before, in my essay.

I got off the road and returned to Stonehenge. As I entered the car park, I was guided to the auxiliary car parking spaces on the grass behind the tarmac section. There was some chaos, as attendants were busy trying to fence off a large central section of the grassy car park as it had started flooding. Most drivers found this naturally quite annoying, but I had such a huge smile on my face that I'm sure the attendants must have thought I was insane.

You see, I had been told, as are all archaeologists that have studied the site, that the riverbed, where the car park lay was pre-ice age (at least 400,000 years ago if not more) so consequently, it’s always been ignored by archaeologists.

But….what if this was wrong? 


Only if this happens will archaeologists consider the possibility, that they are wrong.

As I stood in the rain watching the river return to Stonehenge, I asked myself ‘why is the car park, still flooding?’ – If the experts were right, despite this extraordinarily heavy rainfall, should not be flooding as the ‘dry river valley’ (in which the car park was situated) had supposedly, dried up hundreds of thousands of years ago, only a significant raising of the water table would cause it to flood now – not this relatively small level of rainfall I was witnessing. Yet the evidence I saw with my own eyes told me otherwise. I knew I had to go back and look at the evidence from the start, and this time, I would question everything, not assume that so called ‘accepted’ theories were correct and would literally leave no stone unturned.

If the experts were wrong, this small piece of the jigsaw would suddenly reveal not only the darkest secrets of Stonehenge, but the true date of the great civilisation that had created the stone monuments of Britain.

Stonehenge on sea
Julian Richard's called it Stonehenge-on-sea.....  Read the book Julian, its groundwater not sea water!

Introduction
This book has been written to explain and prove a hypothesis that I have been working on over the last 30 years. In publishing this work I understand that it represents a fundamental change to not only British history, but to the history or the world. Consequently, I have not undertaken this lightly, but there are moments in the evolution of any science – and yes, archaeology is a science - when a new theory will challenge the fundamental beliefs of that science’s existing structure and that is the objective of this book.

These progressive challenges should in no way be viewed as criticism of the current theories, but a logical succession, creating a more coherent set of beliefs that moves the science forwards and helps everyone involved to develop a greater understanding of the subject.

It allows experts to re-examine the subject matter in a new light and can extract the truth from the myth - which has sometimes been responsible for creating false realities.

In my view, Archaeology (and in some respects Geology) has not been challenged enough over the years especially to the same extent as we have seen in other better funded sciences such as Physics or Biology. If this unchallenged acceptance was extended to these and other sciences, we would probably still be living in a world without Quantum Mechanics or Darwin’s theory of evolution.

What you will see unfolding in this book is a newer form of archaeology, which I refer to as ‘Landscape Dating’. It allows us to date sites, not only from the findings on the site but critically, from their location in the prehistoric landscape. This science will bring a new interpretation and understanding of the structural complexities and the philosophies of our ancestors.

The Mesolithic Landscape after the ice melted
The Mesolithic Landscape after the ice melted

I believe that through ‘Landscape Dating’ and through the evidence presented in this book, history will no longer paint a tainted portrait of fur- covered hairy men, running half naked, chasing deer and mammoths over Salisbury plain. This image will be replaced by the vision of an idyllic landscape of water and tree lined islands as we currently see in certain locations in Russia and Northern Canada, within which an intelligent and sophisticated civilisation existed - a society with advanced engineering skills, living a pleasant serene Mediterranean sailing existence, in perfect harmony with their fellow man and nature.

Furthermore, this unique civilisation went on to travel the world trading, teaching and inhabiting with the local populations ultimately sharing their engineering and philosophical knowledge with the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians, amongst others

I consider myself a prehistorian and philosopher with a flair for ‘Landscape Dating’. For I must confess that I was never one for getting down and dirty or sifting through thousands of fragments trying to find a decent piece of pottery with which to identify or date a site. Although this form of ‘treasure hunting’ does give its participants the thrill of discovery, but for me, the larger picture of trading, politics and alliances made these discoveries interesting.

Traditional View of Stonehenge construction - sadly for them the monument was surround by forest and water - so you need a boat!
Traditional View of Stonehenge construction - sadly for them the monument was surround by forest and water - so you need a boat!

History of any site, can best be seen within the landscape and at the location of the magnificent monuments. When you see henges or stone circles on the edge of cliffs or peninsulas, the power and awe of these ancient monuments is absolutely breathtaking. So when the final pieces of this ancient mystery eventually fell together I felt I had no option but to place my life on hold and write this book.

But in the process of collating my findings and thoughts, the overriding evidence became so massive that our single book became a complete trilogy that eventually traced the roots of the Stonehenge builders.
As I have examined these ancient monuments in depth, I have considered them from the perspective of the engineer and social philosopher within me rather than as an archaeologist and that attitude and style is represented in the context this book. I have tried to lay out my hypothesis in a jargon free, logical and sensible way with evidence that I hope you will consider to be of sufficient proof to enable you to reconsider what you may currently believe is accepted history.  In some instances, I will in turn accepted theories on their head, as the evidence can be interpreted in a completely different way to the current accepted theories.
Other Archaeology books I have read in the past have frustrated and confused me. They either ramble on about the author’s friends and lunches they have had while researching the book or focus on irrelevant issues. I will do neither in this book – I will simply try to present ‘the facts’ and my views based on these facts in ‘layman’s terms’ and an informative, interesting manner. It’s only by engaging in the evidence that future debates can be progressed and by so doing, our understanding enhanced.

More realistic view of the Stonehenge landscape in the Meso and Neolithic Periods
More realistic view of the Stonehenge landscape in the Meso and Neolithic Periods


What we must bear in mind is that the evidence is ‘absolute’ but the interpretation of this evidence is open to scrutiny and debate.  Therefore, to assist clarity, I have laid out my hypothesis (in full) in a clear and concisely manner - this is what the next chapter is dedicated too.  This will allow you to understand what I am trying to prove.

I will then go through the evidence to date, based on the four major sites that surround and including Stonehenge – Woodhenge (Durrington Walls, Avebury and Old Sarum.  This will allow you the reader to make your own mind up on what is the truth and what is not possible.

I have always admired writers and during my recent university courses presenters who can take complex subjects and turn them into simple analogies, which allow anyone to understand the concepts without reverting to jargon or technical references.  If you have studied Quantum Mechanics and philosophy as I have, you quickly realise which lecturers really do understand there subject and who are just treading water.
Indeed, one of my favourite film scenes is from ‘Philadelphia’ when Denzel Washington turns to Tom Hanks, who is in the process of explaining a complex legal problem and asks him to “tell it to me as if I was a six year old”. A sure way of saying, give it to me straight and simple! Well, I hope this book doesn't quite talk to you as if you’re a six year old, but I will explain some of the complexities and mysteries of Archaeology in a down to earth, clear and precise manner, using similar analogies when necessary.

Einstein will point the way to the truth!
Once was have exhausted the topic or subject manner, Einstein will appear to conclude the debate and clarify what I term as ‘proof of my hypotheses’.  They will be forty or so proofs which are the basis of the evidence in the formulation of this book, a complete list will be shown in Appendix A with reference to the pages the evidence is gathered.  This enables me to claim that my book is not just a handful of ‘ideas’ like most hypothesis, but a collection of evidence that proves the hypothesis beyond doubt – even if I do get one or two wrong, which is quite possible as we are flying at the edge of understanding and it is quite possible that we will interpret evidence incorrectly due to either bad reporting or fieldwork, which is beyond my control.

A large part of this book is my landscape surveys of Mesolithic and Neolithic Sites in the Stonehenge area. This and other ‘case studies’ are central to the book as I see them as the ‘best evidence’ for my hypothesis. Too many good ideas look feasible on paper but when they are studied in detail they are shown to be ‘just ideas’ without true substance or methodology.

I could have chosen any area in Britain to prove my theory, but Stonehenge provided me with more archaeological evidence than any other as it has been the centre of prehistoric interest since the Roman invasion 2,000 years ago. It also has the detailed analysis of any site in Britain as money has in this location has been well spent unlike most other sites - and that is still not enough.

Stonehenge Landscape showing the raised groundwater levels
Stonehenge Landscape showing the raised groundwater levels

What we have found in Stonehenge is a direct connection to at least three other main sites in the same area, which makes it the centre or hub of Prehistoric Britain a little like London today. Later books will explain in detail why this we an ancient centre of activity, but the book contains sufficient information to prove that Stonehenge is not what it seems and it was built at a time unknown to present archaeologists.

It has always been recognised that post-glacial landscape is still a mystery to both geologists and archaeologist alike, as quoted in the book ‘Stonehenge in the Landscape’ by Michael Allen “In short, we are dealing with a period from the upper Palaeolithic to the Late Neolithic covering nearly five millennia for which, realistically, we know little from the environment except by assumption and inference from the adjacent area way from the chalk”

To give you a flavour of how the other books of this trilogy will unfold, the final chapter unites the evidence of the former chapters creating an unique insight and vision into what kind of great civilisation must have existed in prehistoric times that could organise and build such colossal ancient monuments that have lasted over ten thousand years. For archaeologists have always sadly failed to understand the type of culture that was required to socially organise and manage large numbers to create these types of structures.
This ‘lost civilisation’ has enormous consequences for the history of not only Britain but also Europe and the World. We will show you that this civilisation clearly uses (for its time) engineering skills and mathematics way beyond what archaeologists and historians to date given credited for their abilities.

Enjoy the book and I hope it will encourage you to go out and re-explore these ancient sites armed with a new vision and knowledge of how our landscape really used to look some 10,000 years ago. For each unexplored prehistoric site still holds great secrets of our ‘lost civilisation’ past just waiting to be rediscovered. Those who dare to venture forth ‘with an open mind’ could be actively participating in solving the disentanglement of the greatest historical mystery of all time




RJL

(by Robert John Langdon)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Did Stonehenge have a fission reactor?

By Robert John Langdon

While I have been rewriting the second edition of The Stonehenge Enigma, I have taken the opportunity to sift through the hundreds of documents I had previously disregarded for the first edition.  Amonst the rejected pieces of information was the research on Bluestone origins.

The scientists used a system of evaporation to find which compounds were inside a typical Bluestone and hence from the results try to locate the source of the bedrock and quarry  From the Museum of Wales:

Vaporising the Bluestones


To test this match further, quantitative evidence has been acquired by analysing the composition of tiny, micron-sized zircon crystals from Stonehenge and Pont Season rhyolite samples, using a technique known as 'laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry' at Aberystwyth University.

The technique is to focus a very high-power laser beam, with a diameter of only 10 microns, onto the zircon crystals (themselves no larger than 100 microns) and 'ablate' them — essentially vaporizing them — so that after analysis the zircon crystals are peppered with small craters. The vapour generated by this process is then analysed in the mass spectrometer, which reveals the chemistry of the zircon crystals. This was the first time zircon chemistry had ever been used to provenance archaeological material.


Uranium found in Bluestones
Uranium found in Bluestones

As well as zirconium (and the closely related element hafnium) the crystals contained detectable concentrations of a range of elements including scandium, tantalum, uranium, thorium and the rare earth elements, and the analyses from the two sample sets proved to be near identical, providing a geochemical 'fingerprint'.

Uranium and Thorium caught my eye as they are radioactive elements - further investigations showed that in Rhyolite outcrops there is sometimes a substance attached called 'Weeksite':

Which occurs within small "opal" veins within rhyolite and agglomerates, and as encrustations in sandstones and limestones. It occurs associated with opal, chalcedony, calcite, gypsum, fluorite, uraninite, thorogummite, uranophane, boltwoodite, carnotite and margaritasite.


Moreover, 52% of the substance is uranium.  http://rruff.geo.arizona.edu/doclib/hom/weeksite.pdf

Now at this point I started to wonder about the Bluestones and I realised that the term was quite inappropriate as it was just a generalisation used by archaeologists who know nothing about rocks.  For Stonehenge has a variety of rocks and if we look at the present structure, we see it consists of two types of sandstone (AKA Sarsens) and two types of ingenious rocks rhyolite and dolerite (AKA bluestones).

Type and Location of the Bluestones at Stonehenge
Type and Location of the Bluestones at Stonehenge

BUT the question no one seems to have ever asked is ' why bring TWO types of rock from the preseli mountains of Wales?

If our ancestors had a sacred rock (as most archaeologists believe) surely they would have brought just that one, either rhyolite or dolerite - not both!!  It is my belief that there was a very good reason for their madness and selection.  If we look at the number and size of the rhyolite at Stonehenge we see something very peculiar - the number and size.

There are only 3 lumps of rhyolite in the stone circle compared to 27 dolerlites and of those 3 lumps the largest is only 1' 8" high - far too small to be a meaningful standing stones.  The mystery deepens for when you look at the analysis of the 3600 bluestone (compared to just 2170 Sarsen) chips that have been found on the site.

Bluestone chippings breakdown
Bluestone chippings breakdown


For only 24% of the Bluestone fragments are Dolerites in comparison to the 90% that are standing stones.  So clearly the rhyolites were smaller and were transported broken or to be broken up when at the site.

But why would you chip small pieces off large stones?

In my book, I suggested that these smaller fragments allowed the chemicals contained within stone to dissolve into the waters helping to cure the sick.  The first edition took this substance to be rock salt.

BUT was that correct?

Uranium surprisingly also dissolves in water, in fact it dissolves so easily that water in aquifers under the ground contain quantities of uranium, which when processed becomes drinking water.  So if the rhyolite contained weeksite in the 'veins' of the rock it would completely dissolve in the waters increasing the concentration levels of uranium in the Stonehenge ditch, which my book has proven was a moat at the time of construction.

But you can't get a 'chain reaction' in a nuclear plant without enriched uranium can you?

Another article in the same dismissed pile that drew interest was about natural nuclear reactors. At the time of research I was looking to make the waters warm so they could be more effective and traditional and so I researched the possibility of finding the geyser that currently feeds the town of Bath being under the bedrock of Salisbury plain.  Sadly, I found no justifiable evidence, but I did find this article called  'natural nuclear fission reactors' :

In May 1972 at the Pierrelatte uranium enrichment facility in France, routine mass spectrometry comparing UF6 samples from the Oklo Mine, located in Gabon, Central Africa, showed a discrepancy in the amount of the 235U isotope. 

Normally the concentration is 0.720%; these samples had only 0.717% – a significant difference. This discrepancy required explanation, as all uranium handling facilities must meticulously account for all fissionable isotopes to assure that none are diverted for weapons purposes. 

Thus the French Commissariat √† l'√©nergie atomique (CEA) began an investigation. A series of measurements of the relative abundances of the two most significant isotopes of the uranium mined at Oklo showed anomalous results compared to those obtained for uranium from other mines. 



Geological situation in Gabon leading to natural nuclear fission reactors
Geological situation in Gabon leading to natural nuclear fission reactors
1. Nuclear reactor zones
2. Sandstone
3. Uranium ore layer
4. Granite
Further investigations into this uranium deposit discovered uranium ore with a 235U concentration as low as 0.440%. Subsequent examination of other isotopes showed similar anomalies, such as neodymium and ruthenium as described in more detail below.

This loss in 235U is exactly what happens in a nuclear reactor. A possible explanation therefore was that the uranium ore had operated as a natural fission reactor. Other observations led to the same conclusion, and on September 25, 1972, the CEA announced their finding that self-sustaining nuclear chain reactions had occurred on Earth about 2 billion years ago. Later, other natural nuclear fission reactors were discovered in the region.

In fact Oklo is the first known location for this in the world and consists of 16 sites at which self-sustaining nuclear fission reactions took place approximately 1.7 billion years ago, and ran for a few hundred thousand years, averaging 100 kW of power output during that time.  But what caught my eye in the report was how the reactor worked and how similar Stonehenge's ditch was to this natural reactor:

The natural nuclear reactor formed when a uranium-rich mineral deposit became inundated with groundwater that acted as a neutron moderator, and a nuclear chain reaction took place. The heat generated from the nuclear fission caused the groundwater to boil away, which slowed or stopped the reaction. After cooling of the mineral deposit, the water returned and the reaction started again. These fission reactions were sustained for hundreds of thousands of years, until a chain reaction could no longer be supported.

Fission of uranium normally produces five known isotopes of the fission-product gas xenon; all five have been found trapped in the remnants of the natural reactor, in varying concentrations. The concentrations of xenon isotopes, found trapped in mineral formations 2 billion years later, make it possible to calculate the specific time intervals of reactor operation: approximately 30 minutes of criticality followed by 2 hours and 30 minutes of cooling down to complete a 3-hour cycle.

A key factor that made the reaction possible was that, at the time the reactor went critical 1.7 billion years ago, the fissile isotope 235U made up about 3.1% of the natural uranium, which is comparable to the amount used in some of today's reactors. (The remaining 97% was non-fissile 238U.) 

Is this what our ancestors saw in the mountains of Preseli 10,000 years ago?

The groundwater levels would have been higher then and like the Gabon it could have caused a reaction.  It would also explain why the stones were so special and why they undertook to transport them 200 miles to their site at Stonehenge.  It would also explain why they brought two types of rock and broke one of them into smaller pieces to be dissolved in the moat.

If we look at the structure of the pits that make up the ditch of Stonehenge it will also explain why they are individual pits with small walls rather than a traditional ditch. As the 'post holes' reported at the bottom of the ditch by Hawley were in fact 'stone holes' for the dolerite stones that acted as the catalyse for the uranium waters as uranium metals are also found in dolerites and were possibly used as control elements (switching the heating on and off)

Pits that are Stone's ditch - perfect for a chain reaction?
Pits that are Stone's ditch - perfect for a chain reaction?

If we are right, the picture at the start of this blog would be accurate for a fluorescent blue glow would shine all night over the site - adding the the historic mythological reverence of the construction.  In addition, this material seems to be sort after, as there are numerous accounts of rhyolite/uranium mining in Northern America on and around 9500BC.  And as we have shown here on previous blogs, our ancestral Cro-Magnon skeletons have been found in America - could it be that this was the reason for travelling such vast distances, to seek out a very special raw material to replenish their miracle spa?

Or is Stonehenge just one of several spa's they possessed and archaeologists have failed to identify?

For it should be considered that although rock salt is essential to the cure of infections, low level radiation was and is used to remove and cure cancerous lumps.

Perhaps the cure for cancer was known and lost long, long ago!

RJL

(by Robert John Langdon)



Tuesday, 23 October 2012

South Downs and more conclusive evidence of Post Glacial Flooding

By Robert John Langdon

If you study any British Geological Society (BGS) geological map of Britain you will notice it shows a series of bedrock, sedimentary and superficial deposits.  At a scale of 1:50,000 km and below these deposits start to form labyrinth of material that look like canals and gigantic waterways which lay under the surface on top of the bed rock. This lays testament to how the landscape must have looked at some stage in of our natural history and this is particularly prevalent in the Stonehenge area as well as other chalk bedrock outcrops.


Stonehenge - BGS Geological Map showing superficial deposits
Stonehenge - BGS Geological Map showing superficial deposits
These superficial deposits that resemble ancient rivers can clearly be seen on the surface and are known to the archaeologists, geologists and the general public as ‘Dry River Valleys’ -  because the river valleys are currently dry.

But this was not always the case!

Until recently geologists believed that the contours of these chalk hills and valleys were cut during a ‘Periglacial Phases’ of the ‘Quaternary Period’, which is the current geological period that started about 2.6 million years ago - although there is no real evidence of their exact date of their formation.
Recent theories (and in Geology these new ideas are occurring on a regular basis) suggest that these dry river valleys are the result of water flooding, washing away the top soils and rounding the chalk sub-soil, during the melting period after an Ice Age. 

The problem for archaeologists and geologists is - which one?  - For there has been several during the quaternary period.
Devils Dyke - a 'dry river valley' on the South Downs
Devils Dyke - a 'dry river valley' on the South Downs
Geologists seem content to give rough estimations on the construction date of geological objects such as dry river valleys, which for the archaeologist can become misleading.  For although the origin of these objects is of interest, the actual dates when they could have been used my man is even more important, if we are to understand  the anthropological implications and through this process, any archaeological findings in relation to their location.  
So we must best try to understand not WHEN the dry river valleys were formed, but when LAST did they have water running within them?
Geological maps clearly indicate that great rivers once flowed through Britain and we know that the greatest deluge of water that has ever affected the landscape is at the end of an ice age, when the gigantic ice caps finally melt.  In the end of the last ice age some 17,000 years ago, geologist have estimated that the ice was over two miles thick in some places. This substantial level of ice MUST have created huge flooding all over the Mesolithic landscape including the Valleys of the South Downs, even thought they were over 100 miles away from the main ice sheet.
South Downs -BGS Geology map showing SALTDEAN
South Downs -BGS Geology map showing SALTDEAN
Modern geologists now accept that the dry river valleys are the product of water (not ice as previously believed) and looking at some extreme examples of the soil eroded and valleys cut, we are not talking about just frozen tundra slowly melting in the summer season - but millions of gallons of fast flowing water cutting away at the top-soil and sedimentary deposits, all the way down to the bedrock in some instances. 

Saltdean - showing the chalk face with the remains of the sandy post glacial river bed
Saltdean - showing the chalk face with the remains of the sandy post glacial river bed

This geological evidence can clearly be seen in the cliffs and valleys of the South Downs.  Just like the Stonehenge region, this area has the same chalk sedimentary bedrock and ancient post-glacial rivers.  Evidence for these rivers are found by the sandy subsoil consisting of sand, silt and clay.  This subsoil can be seen in the valleys (known as deans) of the South Downs and most graphically in the exposed face of the white chalky cliffs that have been eroded  by the sea giving us a perfect ‘dissection’ of a typical prehistoric waterway.  Modern geologists have yet to identify these huge concave sections as being the remains of the ice melt from the last glaciations that had filled with water leaving the sandy sediments embedded in the chalky sedimentary rock face just after the great melt, some 15,000 years ago, instead they claim they are 'wind blown' loess or wash from the valley walls.
What they can't explain is the relatively short distance from the sandy soil to today's top soil and the exact date of this sandy sediment.  As you can see the sandy remains of the river is touching the top soil.  If this dry river valley was as old as some archaeologists and geologists suggest - where is the rest of the top soil? 
If the top soil erodes as quickly as some 'experts' also suggest - why is there 18 inches of top soil on top of the chalk today, there should be none?
Bottom of the prehistoric riverbed - showing how close to the top soil is the sand
Bottom of the prehistoric riverbed - showing how close to the top soil is the sand
Are we expecting some massive climatic event to wipe away the top soil in the near future or is the dating of the prehistoric river beds and consequently dry river valleys totally incorrect?  
As a matter of practice, archaeologist investigating Stonehenge have always ignored the obvious dry river valleys that surround the site, as they are incorrectly perceived that this area looked as it does today at the time of Stonehenge's construction and therefore, the River Valleys were dry in the Mesolithic/Neolithic Periods.   
Our case studies (in my book - The Stonehenge Enigma) of the South Down's, the River Ouse gave us  radiocarbon dates of 6290 BC +/- 180 for this same sediment.  Combine this with our other case study of the Thames (shown on an earlier blog) showing it was cut in the early Mesolithic and at that time, ten times larger than it is today - we have proven beyond reasonable doubt these rivers actually existed from the start of the Mesolithic, just after the ice age great melt late into our prehistory in the Neolithic period and in some instances the medieval period as in the river Ouse
RJL
(by Robert John Langdon)

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Biblical Floods are REAL - and absolutely enormous !!

By Robert John Langdon

Here is an article from August's discovery magazine showing that the amount of post glacial water over land is enormous - in America it created vast canyons and rivers and flooded the Black Sea in Asia  - quite a few miles away from the ice cap.  But geologists in Britain would have you still believe that all this water 'just ran into the sea' with no consequences on the landmass, during the Mesolithic Period.

The reality is that the ground water levels raised and the landscape was flooded for five thousand years as the water - slowly - ran into the sea creating The North Sea, the Irish Sea and the English Channel.  To quote the article;

 "At the end of the last glaciation, some 10,000 years ago, giant ice-dammed lakes in Eurasia and North America repeatedly produced huge floods. In Siberia, rivers spilled over drainage divides and changed their courses. England’s fate as an island was sealed by erosion from glacial floods that carved the English Channel. These were not global deluges as described in the Genesis story of Noah, but were more focused catastrophic floods taking place throughout the world. They likely inspired stories like Noah’s in many cultures, passed down through generations."

This is what can still be seen in the landscape in Britain as 'dry river valleys' and is the basis for my book The Stonehenge Enigma - whose second edition will be available in December 2012.

And let us not forget;

"Long before the discovery of the scablands, geologists dismissed the role of catastrophic floods in interpreting European geology. By the end of the 19th century such ideas not only were out of fashion but were geological heresy. When J Harlen Bretz uncovered evidence of giant floods in eastern Washington in the 1920s, it took most of the 20th century for other geologists to believe him. Geologists had so thoroughly vilified the concept of great floods that they could not believe it when somebody actually found evidence of one."

I know that feeling well!!

RJL

08.29.2012

Geologists long rejected the notion that cataclysmic flood had ever occurred—until one of them found proof of a Noah-like catastrophe in the wildly eroded river valleys of Washington State.

by David R. Montgomery 

W

Washington scablands: Hundreds of square miles of Washington State were gouged by the great Missoula Floods 15,000 years ago.

After teaching geology at the University of Washington for a decade, I had become embarrassed that I hadn’t yet seen the deep canyons where tremendous Ice Age floods scoured down into solid rock to sculpt the scablands. So I decided to help lead a field trip for students to see the giant erosion scars on the local landforms.

We drove across the Columbia River and continued eastward, dropping into Moses Coulee, a canyon with vertical walls of layered basalt. We gathered the students on a small rise and asked them how the canyon had formed. They immediately ruled out wind and glaciers. The valley was not U-shaped like a typical glacial valley, and none of us could imagine how wind might gouge a canyon out of hard basalt. But neither were there rivers or streams. After a while I pointed out that we were standing on a pile of gravel. I asked how the rounded granite pebbles came to be there when the closest source of granite lay over the horizon. Silence.

Hiking through eastern Washington canyons littered with exotic boulders is a standard field trip for beginning geologists. It takes a while to register what you see. A dry waterfall hundreds of feet high in the middle of the desert. Giant potholes where no river flows today. Granite boulders parked in a basalt canyon. Gradually the contradictions fall into place and a story unfolds. Where did wayward boulders the size of a car or house come from? What was the source of the water that moved them around and carved the falls? Today, even novice geologists can conjure up eastern Washington’s giant floods.

Long before the discovery of the scablands, geologists dismissed the role of catastrophic floods in interpreting European geology. By the end of the 19th century such ideas not only were out of fashion but were geological heresy. When J Harlen Bretz uncovered evidence of giant floods in eastern Washington in the 1920s, it took most of the 20th century for other geologists to believe him. Geologists had so thoroughly vilified the concept of great floods that they could not believe it when somebody actually found evidence of one.

Bretz was a classic field geologist and a controversial figure throughout his career. In 1925 he presented the story of the region’s giant floods, seeing what others at first could not—and then would not—see. He spent his lifetime piecing together the story of how a raging wall of water hundreds of feet high roared across eastern Washington, carving deep channels before cascading down the Columbia River Gorge as a wall of water high enough to turn Oregon’s Willamette Valley into a vast backwater lake.

Bretz found exotic granite boulders perched on basalt cliffs hundreds of feet above the highest recorded river level. In the scablands, a desolate region stripped of soil, he came across dry waterfalls and potholes hundreds of feet above the modern river. Gigantic gravel bars deposited within dry valleys implied deep, fast-flowing water. Streamlined hills rose like islands, extending more than 100 feet above the scoured-out channelways.

He realized the chaotic landscape had been carved by an enormous flood that chewed deep channels through hundreds of feet of solid basalt. The ancient flood deposited an enormous delta around Portland, Oregon, backing up flow into the Willamette Valley. The waters, he eventually realized, could have come from catastrophic drainage of Lake Missoula, an ancient, glacier-dammed lake in western Montana.

Bretz was ridiculed until 1940, when geologist Joe Pardee described giant ripple marks on the bed of Lake Missoula. The 50-foot-high ripples, he said, were formed by fast-flowing currents and not by the sluggish bottom water of a lake. Only sudden failure of the glacial dam could have released the 2,000-foot-deep lake. The catastrophic release of 600 cubic miles of water through a narrow gap would sweep away everything in its path. In 1979, when Bretz was 97 years old, the Geological Society of America awarded him its highest honor, the Penrose Medal.

Recognition of the Missoula flood helped other geologists identify similar landforms in Asia, Europe, Alaska, and the American Midwest, as well as on Mars. There is now compelling evidence for many gigantic ancient floods where glacial ice dams failed time and again: At the end of the last glaciation, some 10,000 years ago, giant ice-dammed lakes in Eurasia and North America repeatedly produced huge floods. In Siberia, rivers spilled over drainage divides and changed their courses. England’s fate as an island was sealed by erosion from glacial floods that carved the English Channel. These were not global deluges as described in the Genesis story of Noah, but were more focused catastrophic floods taking place throughout the world. They likely inspired stories like Noah’s in many cultures, passed down through generations.

Since devastating floods were a fact of life on the margins of the world’s great ice sheets, people in those areas probably witnessed them. Early missionaries in eastern Washington reported stories of a great flood among Yakima and Spokane tribes, who could identify locations where survivors sought refuge. An Ojibwa Indian legend from around Lake Superior tells of a great snow that fell one September at the beginning of time: A bag contained the sun’s heat until a mouse nibbled a hole in it. The warmth spilled over, melting the snow and producing a flood that rose above the tops of the highest pines. Everyone drowned except for an old man who drifted about in his canoe rescuing animals. The native inhabitants of the Willamette Valley told stories of a time the valley filled with water, forcing everyone to flee up a mountain before the waters receded.
+++
Did survivors of such events pass their stories down through the ages? Could the biblical story of Noah, on some level, be real?

Tsangpo Gorge Flood, Tibet
The Legend: Local folklore describes a traditional Buddhist pilgrimage that circled a small peak ringed by lake terraces. The pilgrims commemorated how Guru Rimpoche brought Buddhism to Tibet by defeating a powerful lake demon, draining its home to reveal fertile farmland. A local temple, which sits on top of a stack of ancient lake sediments, has a striking mural of Guru Rimpoche above a lake at the gorge entrance. The Temple’s head lama believes the ocean once covered all of Tibet.

The Evidence: During a 2002 expedition, geologist David Montgomery studied how the Tsangpo River once sawed through rock, carving the world’s deepest gorge. His team discovered ancient shorelines and 1,200-year-old wood fragments in lake sediments dating to around the time Rimpoche arrived in Tibet. At the head of the gorge, glacial debris was plastered on both sides of the valley, confirming that a massive tongue of ice once plunged down a nearby 25,000-foot-high peak. Two levels of terraces extending upstream indicated a wall of ice and mud had dammed the river, backing up a lake that filled the valley. Once the lake filled enough to breach the dam, a rush of water roared down the gorge, scouring out everything in its path.


Grand Canyon Flood
The Legend: A local Native American tribe, the Havasupai, attributes the canyon’s carving to a catastrophic flood down the Colorado River that occurred when the god Ho-ko-ma-ta unleashed a tremendous rainstorm. A more benevolent god, Pu-keh-eh, put his daughter in a hollowed-out log to save her from the monstrous current. After the flood receded, she crawled out and became mother of all humanity.

The Evidence: The rocks exposed in the canyon walls could not have settled during a single flood because they alternate many times in color, grain size, and composition. Although floods did not create the canyon [pdf], evidence suggests they helped shape it. Huge boulders are perched hundreds of feet above the river. Floods capable of stranding boulders so high would have been spectacular. The breaching of cooled lava dams that impounded the river may have launched these catastrophic floods. But these deluges occurred at least 400,000 years ago, long before people made it to the continent. The Native American tale of how the canyon formed is apparently an attempt to make sense of mysterious landforms.


Black Sea Flood
The Legend: In the story of Noah’s Ark, the book of Genesis says Noah lived during a time when all other people on Earth were evil. God became angry and decided to create a giant flood to kill everyone except Noah and his family. God told Noah to build a boat called an ark, big enough for himself, his wife, his sons, their wives, and at least two of every animal. Once the ark was built, God sent a rainstorm that lasted 40 days. The deluge rose higher than the tallest mountain. When the waters receded, Noah’s family and animals left the ark and repopulated the Earth.

The Evidence: After refuting the possibility of a global flood, geologists dismissed suggestions that the story of Noah’s Flood might be rooted in some sort of fact. Then, in 1993, oceanographers Bill Ryan and Walter Pitman of Columbia University used sonar to survey the floor of the Black Sea—and found evidence supporting the story after all. Submerged beneath the surface were ancient streambeds, river-cut canyons, and shorelines. High-resolution seismic reflection profiles showed a former land surface buried in the seafloor sediments. Drill cores from the seafloor contained roots of shrubs covered by marine mud. Ryan and Pitman argued that over 7,000 years ago, the Mediterranean began to rise, breaching rocks along the Istanbul Strait, a waterway that helps form the boundary between Europe and Asia today. The event caused the Mediterranean to spill into the Black Sea, triggering a catastrophic flood.

Were early farmers in the area forced to flee as their world disappeared underwater? Archaeologists found the rising waters coincided with the onset of the initial migration of farming cultures into Europe and the floodplains of Mesopotamia. Wherever they came from, the first farmers arrived in southern Mesopotamia shortly after the filling of the Black Sea. Did they bring the story of a great flood that destroyed their world?

Reprinted from The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood by David R. Montgomery. Copyright © by David R. Montgomery. With the permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

RJL

(by Robert John Langdon)