Ancient Civilizations, Atlantis, and Myths
Written by: Michelle Belanger
By this time, nearly everyone on the Internet who has at least a passing interest in House Kheperu is aware that we believe ourselves to be spiritual immortals. Those whom we define as Kheprians are individuals with specific energetic sensitivities who trace their origins back to a common temple and priesthood. Although we adopt an Egyptian name for our household and make use of Egyptian iconography, we do not locate our origins in ancient Egypt, but in the time the Egyptians themselves believe came before, which is referred to as the Sep Tepy. Now, this has of course brought about speculation on our connection to Atlantis. I have heard numerous people online who have no connection to our House and who have not been initiated into our mysteries claiming to be experts on our origins and explaining that we believe we’re actually from Atlantis. I cannot help but be amused by these claims, just as I was amused by the fellow who emailed to inform me that the founder of House Kheperu was an actual undead vampire who had sold his soul in order to become an immortal daywalker who feasted on blood.
That interesting tidbit, offered in all sincerity despite how preposterous it sounds, has proven to me the lengths to which the Internet encourages the distortion of information. And, being a practical individual, I realize that unless a firm and accurate account of what we do believe is published where it can be seen and referred to by all, speculation, in all its wild vagaries, will continue to go on.
So, in the interest of quelling the often inaccurate, sometimes inflammatory, and occasionally insulting speculations that I know are circulating around out there, I have undertaken to explain some of our beliefs regarding ancient civilizations, how we have arrived at these beliefs, and why the current timeline of history may not be as accurate as some would like to insist.
I will continue to leave the specific details of our shared history unpublished for a number of reasons, primary among these being that they are our mysteries, and therefore the sacred property of our tradition. Our shared history is something that informs every aspect of our House and binds our Family together, and as such, it is not something to be paraded around in public for anyone’s titillation and amusement. Secondly, we use the remembered details of our shared past to determine who among those who approach us for membership is truly tied to our ancient heritage, and who is simply telling tales to try to fit in.
While we do open our membership to individuals beyond the limited numbers we once started with, we are nevertheless a very exclusive and elitist society. In recent years, we have become popular enough that we are approached by quite a few people with less than sterling reasons for wanting to belong, and to give such individuals the opportunity to patch together a bogus history so they may lend credence to their requests to belong is something we seek to avoid. By keeping the mysteries secret, we know for certain when someone comes to us with a compelling detail of the past that fits into what we have already established as true, that they are coming to us because this is where they belong.
The Truth Within Myth
Before I begin to explain my different interpretation of the past, let me first explain my stance on legend and myth. I believe that most myths are stories created by people standing on the outside looking in at something they do not completely comprehend. Think about what your neighbors might think about a ritual they happened to oversee. What kind of speculations would your observers use to fill in the blanks of their knowledge about your beliefs, your practices, and about ritual in general? Any misconceptions or preconceived notions would invariably color their interpretation of events, and things they don’t know they would probably just make up in order to create a good story when recounting it to friends.
The simple fact is, people on the outside of something still develop some perception of that thing. Sometime they see the truth, but even so they may not convey this truth when they attempt to describe what it is they just saw. If the truth is something they cannot comprehend, there is no way they can accurately report it. They are left to subjective observations, based on pre-conceived notions and expectations. Further, when information is incomplete, the holes are filled in with speculation. Sometimes this speculation is close to the truth. Sometimes it couldn’t be farther away from it.
Then, once the original thing being observed is no longer available for observation, memory makes certain details hazier still, and more holes appear that must be filled in. In the retelling, details are changed even further, often specifically for the benefit of the audience to whom the tale is being told. Eventually, after retelling upon retelling, what was once a tale about a man with some interesting talents becomes, for example, the story of the Son of God.
So that’s my stance on myth. There’s a grain of truth to all myths, but quite often that grain is deeply buried in exaggeration, erroneous conclusions, and wild speculation. So while we can look at myths and see something of the truth in them, there is a lot of sifting we need to do in order to get to that truth. And sometimes no matter how hard you sift, things have been so distorted by time and outsiders’ perspectives that you may never really get a clear view of the original truth.
Now, to continue with my observations about certain myths from the past.
Myths of the Lost Continent
Atlantis. Heh. We in House Kheperu avoid that word more than we avoid the word “vampire.” Why? Because we know there’s a grain of truth in that tale, but it’s become so distorted over time and many retellings that it’s almost a parody of the truth it tries to tell.
According to the myth of Atlantis, as retold by Plato (as told to him by Egyptian priests who were themselves repeating stuff from manuscripts far older than they which had been kept by the temple and recopied from even older manuscripts handed down from the civilization the Egyptians believed preceded them - well, you get the idea), Atlantis was an ancient civilization, greatly advanced, that fell in a night and a day and was swallowed by the sea. In Plato’s version, Atlantis is actually a city-state, not an entire civilization, and it was supposedly located on an island somewhere beyond the Pillars of Hercules in the Mediterranean Sea.
Plato used the myth of Atlantis to demonstrate a utopian society, so it’s fair to assume he may have changed some details from those passed onto him by the Egyptian priests to suit his purpose. As it has come down to us now, Atlantis has been expanded, especially in the New Age imagination, into an entire civilization that was lost to the Flood, mainly through the hubris and dark works of some nefarious High Priest.
Certain New Age and occult groups attribute the fall of Atlantis not just to one High Priest, but to the general abuse of power and investigation into dark arts by the entire Atlantean priesthood. A couple of texts I’ve read particularly fault experiments in necromancy and death magick. Others believe that Atlantis fell because the priests abused their power over the weather, causing a climatological disaster that’s the spiritual equivalent of the environmental cliff our current society is running headlong off of. And of course, there’s the Caycean view that involves some sort of death-ray misused by the Atlanteans in such a way as to have turned its powers back on them, thus destroying their glorious civilization (and according to this version, I believe the death-ray is supposed to be located somewhere beneath the Bermuda Triangle, occasionally giving off bursts of power that cause all the disturbances there).
That’s the myth, or myths, of Atlantis. Obviously, there’s been some exaggeration and speculation going on to fill in the blanks. Yet the notion of a lost civilization which preceded any we currently understand is a persistent one. Many cultures the world over tell of ancient races of people with ways and wisdom far different from their own. So is there truth to any of this?
Seeking the Grain of Truth
Scientist Charles Hapgood risked his career and credibility in the 1960s to publish a book called Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings. This book is a study of ancient maps, some of which are in the hands of the Library of Congress. From these maps, Hapgood concluded that there was in fact an ancient civilization that was extensive and advanced enough to map out the entire globe with an accuracy that was equaled by our culture only in the 1950s with the invention of sonar. These maps are from the 14th and 15th centuries, and are copies and compilations of much older maps reputed to have been kept in the Library of Alexandria, and copied there from older maps still.
“Errors” in the coastlines and other details on these maps are consisted with them being copies of copies, and in many cases are actually accurate portrayals of coasts and river deltas that have since changed over many millennia due to weathering and change in sea levels. That these maps are truly ancient, and not simply products of the 14th or 15th centuries, is proven by the fact that at least one of the maps depicts the continent of Antarctica without its covering of ice. We moderns had no idea that the coastlines of Antarctica on this map were accurate until very recently when we could use sonar to find the actual land there under the ice cap. In order for a sea-going civilization to map Antarctica without the ice, it would have had to have existed before the end of the last Ice Age - and have been sufficiently advanced at that time to have the resources for accurate cartography as well as the need for an extensive map of the entire globe.
Just in case you think Charles Hapgood might be a crank scientist, let me say that his work was endorsed by no less than Albert Einstein, who wrote the introduction to his first book. Even so, because his theories, even with the hard evidence of the maps, flew in the face of accepted historical timelines, Hapgood’s work was swept under the rug by contemporary academics. Hapgood himself was killed in a freak hit-and-run accident before he could finish his follow-up book expanding on his theories about the earth’s forgotten history.
Suppression of Information
Now, from what I’ve just said above, it may sound like I believe there’s some nefarious world-wide conspiracy bent on suppressing the evidence of this lost civilization for reasons unknown. Hardly. People aren’t organized or consistent enough for that. Academics, especially, make their living disagreeing with one another. Their entire careers are built upon theses and books that prove why their beliefs are right and why all the other guys are wrong. Getting enough academics working together in order to forward such a conspiracy over decades, if not centuries, would be something akin to herding cats. Really independent, easily-distracted, and irritable cats.
Nevertheless, information has been lost and suppressed. This has not arisen from some global conspiracy, but from something more pernicious still: human close-mindedness and reluctance to change. It’s no secret that people in general get stuck in mental ruts. They get used to their daily routine, and they get all bent out of shape when something forces those routines to change. The familiar, even when undesirable, is usually preferred over the unknown. Think of how many people you know who are in clearly destructive, unhappy relationships, but who remain with their ill-suited partners simply because they have learned to tolerate them out of habit. Even women who are being abused find it hard to let go of their tormentors because the alternative - striking out on their own, attempting to find someone new, living a life of their own choosing - is so intimidating and uncertain.
People do not like to change, and accepting the existence of a previous civilization would mean a great deal of change. Our entire worldview, some of the underpinnings of our very culture, would have to be re-evaluated in the light of such a discovery. Rather than rethink everything they have been taught, people are much more inclined to just ignore and brush aside facts that don’t fit with what they know is “true.” Consider the maps Charles Hapgood studied for his book on the lost civilization. Did you ever hear about them before? And don’t you think something as amazing as a 14th century map that accurately depicts the coastline and rivers of Antarctica would make headlines if it were found?
Such things are not the stuff of headlines. Ideas and proofs that truly challenge us are much more the kind of things you’ll find tucked away on a back shelf in the forgotten cellar of some dusty archives. And the person who originally placed them there probably had quite a few sleepless nights while he still pondered the possibilities they suggested to him - before he finally shrugged it all off and pretended it never existed.
Dusty Corners and Shelves
Hapgood’s “Maps of the ancient sea kings” are not the only hard evidence of an ancient and advanced culture that are rarely talked about and even more rarely acknowledged by the academic powers that be. There are numerous instances of archaeological finds that are thrown out or relegated to the dusty corners of museum basements because the facts they suggest are so extraordinary, modern scientists would rather pretend they do not exist than have to redefine their entire notion of world history and human development.
Among these is an Egyptian stella that talks about the restoration of the Great Pyramid as carried out by the Pharaoh Khufu, better known as Cheops. Cheops, as some may know, is attributed with the actual building of the Great Pyramid. This document speaks of the Great Pyramid in terms that make it clear it already existed by the time Cheops became king, and that it had been around Egypt so long by that point that its true origins had been forgotten. It was, however, viewed as a great and mysterious artifact, and so its restoration was a favorable offering made by Cheops to establish his reputation as a great and beneficent ruler.
Decried as a hoax, archaeologists prefer to believe that a stone removed from the Great Pyramid that has a red quarry mark on it is proof positive that the monument was built during the time of Cheops. What they often neglect to add about this is that the name of Cheops, as it appears on this block, is misspelled - and the misspelling is consistent with a misinterpretation of the hieroglyphs that was accepted as accurate during the time in which the stone was found. Further, the block was retrieved from the Great Pyramid by a fame-hungry treasure-hunter of ill-repute toward the end of a dig in which he had promised to find the secret treasures of the Great Pyramid and yet had still found not one painting, fresco, or hieroglyph in the entire thing.
Money was running out, and he had nothing of any archaeological interest to prove that his efforts were worth continued funding (famously, the Great Pyramid has no paintings and no hieroglyphic decorations of any kind). After sending all his helpers away, this fellow went to do some late night work in the Great Pyramid within a shaft that he was sure would open into the real treasure trove. The stone with the quarry mark (in red ink that was still in use at that time, as it had been for thousands of years) was all he had to show for his long night’s work of bashing through the ceiling, although, as the first “proof” of the true builder of the pyramid, it still made his career.
Then there are the subterranean chambers in what was formerly Cappadocia (now Turkey). These go down some thirty stories into the desert floor, and the many rooms and hallways are carved directly from the stone. The entire complex, located in a remote area of desert, could easily house thousands.
These are attributed to Christian mystics who fled to the desert to escape persecution. Yet the deepest chambers have not seen habitation in millennia, and for some reason, the halls and rooms on the lowest levels are much larger and finer than the first few upper levels, as if the deeper levels have been made for people who were well over six feet tall - a height almost never attained by men in the days of the early Christians. Further, there are no signs of stonecarving on the lower levels - the primitive tools available to the Christian mystics, who might well have carved out portions of the first few levels, leave distinctive marks in the stone. Whatever tools were used to carve the lower portions, were able to cut through solid rock and leave behind a smooth, even surface. Further, the entire complex is ventilated by long, thin airshafts. Some of these go all the way down to the lowest levels, and they, too, are carved out of the solid rock. Yet the airshafts are not large enough to fit a man, even though, for the Christians to have carved them, they would have had to have been carved out by hand.
This is to say nothing of the weathering on the Sphinx, which geologists have shown is most likely to have been caused by extensive rainfall - something the Giza plateau, where the Sphinx is carved, has not seen for at least 10,000 years.
Finally, though this is not hard evidence, per se, it is worthy of some thought. According to archaeological evidence, Homo Sapiens has existed in its current form for some 100,000 years. That is to say, 100,000 years ago, there were people walking around who were about our same build (give or take a few feet due to nutrition & other environmental factors) with a brain just as complex as our own.
And yet, we are supposed to believe that our ancestors wandered around in fields & caves for something like 90,000 years, picking berries and hunting the occasional woolly mammoth before learning to build houses, raise animals, and farm.
Now, you can take the dumbest bunch of rednecks you can find, pick them up out of their complacent suburban lives, and dump them into the darkest heart of Africa with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, and you can bet within a few years they will have figured out how to build something to keep the elements away, learned through trial and error what they can eat and what’s likely to eat them, and even created the rudiments of a social structure, legal structure, and even an oral history. They do it on “Survivor” all the time. Can you tell me that for 90,000 years Homo Sapiens did none of this, until some strange urge suddenly came over them while they were in the Middle East and they spontaneously decided to use those big brains of theirs to build a civilization? Yet that’s basically what our history books tell us.
This timeline, of course has nothing to do with the fact that the Bible tells us the world was created at about 4:30 in the afternoon on October 4, 6000 BC (think I’m kidding? Some dead white guy with too much time on his hands sat down and added all the lifespans enumerated in the Bible, plus all the begets & begats in the Book of Numbers and arrived at that auspicious date. Some groups have taken it as gospel ever since!) Never mind that the ancient Egyptians strongly believed that their civilization had been preceded by an even older one, from which they had inherited most of their wisdom. Or the fact that the Vedas, sacred Hindu scriptures, tell of many civilizations that have risen and fallen over the millennia in a series of great cycles, called Kalpas. Or even that the Chinese believed that both the world and civilization had been around for thousands of years before they came onto the scene.
So what is my take on all of this?
I believe that civilization, like all things, is ruled by cycles. Things rise, and then they fall. There is a dark age which follows the crash of a great civilization, and this dark age is typified by a diaspora of its people, the loss of most knowledge and technology, and the relegation to myth of much of everything else. I think the nadir of the dark age is equal and opposite to the zenith of the civilization, thus, as bad as the Dark Ages following the fall of the Roman Empire were, when greater and more extensive civilizations have fallen, their Dark Ages have been darker and longer still.
I do not believe in Atlantis - not as it is portrayed in this day and age, and not as it was portrayed a few millennia ago by Plato. I do believe that at one time there was an extensive and relatively advanced civilization that spanned most of the globe. I do not think that this was one world-wide, unified civilization (and certainly not some sort of spiritual utopia), but a collection of many nations and empires just as the world is today. Some people had more extensive knowledge of and interaction with their neighbors, some people were more advanced, others were relatively isolated and backward. That is simply the nature of civilization.
I do not think that this ancient civilization was technologically advanced in a manner we currently recognize. If it were just like this day and age, there would be much more archaeological evidence, regardless of the natural disasters that might have swept much away. Cities and skyscrapers, plastics and subways leave a great deal of hard evidence that will last for some time to come. Hell, just the cigarette butts alone that we’ve produced in the past 50 years will be around for millennia.
In this ancient and long-gone civilization, I think most building materials were of wood, mud brick, or stone. These things weather and age over time, and eventually, except for very rare circumstances, they become unrecognizable as anything but natural material. Tools were probably of degradable materials as well, and I consider metal, which will oxidizes and degrades fairly rapidly when left to the elements, much less likely to survive the ages than a more primitive item carved from stone.
The widespread use of metal for implements and tools is debatable and hardly crucial to the points I wish to make in this article. I realize that we associate certain levels of progress with the use of metals for tools, as is evidenced by our delineation of “Stone Age,” “Bronze Age,” and “Iron Age” peoples. However, I don’t think we should fall into the trap of assuming that simply because a civilization does not have technologies that we recognize, such as ironworking, it is not a technologically advanced society. There are many aspects of technology, and our Cartesian-Newtonian paradigm is just one way of approaching the Universe.
Personally, I feel that the lengths to which many New Agers and other Atlantis-advocates go in proclaiming that the lost culture had achieved unprecedented psychic and even magickal technologies is a bit far-fetched. However, I do believe that the technology of that lost culture is much more in line with spiritual technologies such as those currently in the safe-keeping of Eastern mystics such as the Buddhist lamas of Tibet. In the past several hundred years, our culture has thoroughly explored the material world, studying its laws and learning what makes it tick on a purely physical level. As a result of our pride and indoctrination in this Cartesian-Newtonian approach to reality, we often err on the side of assuming that knowledge of material reality is the only worthwhile knowledge that proves a civilization’s advancement. However, there is an entire other half to our experience as living beings, and the complexities of the spiritual side, and its attendant energetic technologies, should not be overlooked.
Again, I will assert that I do not quite go to the lengths of the New Agers in typifying the advancement of this ancient culture’s metaphysical technology as bordering upon the supernatural. However, I do feel that the technology, and in fact the entire approach to reality, was more in tune with the spiritual aspects of inquiry than those pertaining to physical, material laws.
I believe that the “technology” of that by-gone time focused on subtle energies, healing techniques like Reiki, methods of knowing that were more intuitive than rational and so forth. I think this is supported by the theory that our ancestors were more predominantly right-brained than left, and somewhere around the start of accepted civilization, there was a shift from right to left in our dominant hemispheres. Some anthropologists use this shift to explain why civilization happened at all, believing that our reasoning, our language and our writing developed as we relied more and more upon our rational left brains.
Yet the right brain is the source of art and abstract thought. It is also the area of the brain that we make use of when meditating and engaging in other me_aphysical pursuits. To me, this further seems to support the notion that a previous civilization could be technologically advanced but still not capable of technology as we understand it. What kind of technology arises from right-brained thinking? How do we even approach reality from that aspect of thought? Thinking about these things, it’s easy to see how such a civilization would be radically different from what we accept as civilization today, and how its values, its advances, and its very culture would be hard to interpret coming from the mindset of this day and age.
So, if there was an ancient and technologically advanced civilization that preceded civilization as we currently accept it, the question arises, “When did it exist?”
According to the canon of Western belief, Jericho was the first city that hailed the start of civilization as we know it. The timelines I’ve checked tell me that this first bastion of civilization was founded around 6000 BC (hmm, that number sounds strangely familiar … ). Of course, even this historical “truth” has some flaws we can pick apart, since at the time it’s supposed to have been founded, Jericho already had an extensive wall that implies a certain level of civilization existing prior to it being built. But that’s what the timelines say, so we’ll have to accept it like good little sheep for now.
So, in looking for a lost civilization, do we look after Jericho or before it? Archaeologists been combing the Middle East for a couple of centuries now for proof of the Flood (in a strange attempt to prove the religious beliefs of the Bible through an application of science), and what we know from them is that there was no flood in the past 8000 years that was so extensive as to have impacted all of the various peoples who have a story about it. So if the fall of this lost civilization was brought about by a cataclysmic, world-wide flood, how far back do we have to look for a time when such a thing happened?
This is where we have to return to the works of Charles Hapgood. Remember how some of his maps had to have been made before the end of the last Ice Age? The melting of the Ice Age would create quite a flood, albeit one that would build up over years, if not decades. If such a flood occurred in this day and age, think of the havoc it would create. How much of our civilization would we lose? After a time of trying to cope with the relentless tide, wouldn’t everything just fall apart?
We used to think that geological disasters of that magnitude happened over much greater periods of time. But what we’ve learned recently with global warming and the resultant rise in our own sea levels is that things like that start off slowly, but once they begin, they can start rolling downhill with all the speed and force of an avalanche (for example, did you know that in Glacier National Park there will be no glaciers left within the next 30 years? Those ice formations have been there for thousands of years, but within the course of a century, they will have melted away).
So, based on Hapgood’s maps, geological timelines, some alternate and reasonably well-documented estimates for the true age of the Sphinx, in addition to my own intuition, I believe that this lost civilization existed approximately 15,000 years ago. Although the fall of the civilization was not brought about entirely by the flood, the civilization’s demise and the loss of nearly all evidence that it even existed occurred with the end of the last Ice Age and the massive rises in sea level that this brought about.
Although it would not have happened in a night and a day, the rising of the waters would have decimated any world-wide civilization. There is a reason that the story of the Flood exists in just about every world mythology. I think there is a root memory there, colored with fears and expectations, altered by each people with the names of local gods, changed greatly in the retelling, but holding a grain of truth nevertheless. And while I think any significant flood that has ever afflicted a large and well-established civilization has been added into the archetype of the Great Flood, I think that the grain of truth lying at the core of that archetype involves the melting of the last Ice Age.
So the story of the Flood is a memory of the last great earth change, related by the survivors to their children and told to their children’s children, and told again and again until it grew into myth. The distance between the actual event and the time it was recorded is responsible for the Flood becoming even greater than it really was (not to say that the end of an Ice Age isn’t impressive): it was a judgment from God, it was the result of human pride, it was the earth fighting back against the evils of humanity. The one thing about myths is they try to explain things, try to put them into a context that people understand. Hence any great man becomes, over time, an exalted god come down to earth, and every great disaster eventually turns into Heaven’s attempt to punish humanity for its many flaws.
The rising of the waters, which changed the face of the world, is partly responsible for the loss of most archaeological evidence that could tell us that a civilization did indeed exist. Cities, especially in a sea-faring people (as Hapgood’s maps would suggest that at least some of these people were), tend to be built along waterways and on coastlines. The waters rose so significantly that two relatively sizeable inland seas overflowed, merging to become a huge inland sea now known as the Mediterranean. Miles of coastline were submerged. Entire islands sank beneath the sea. Is it any wonder there are few if any traces of such a once-great civilization?
And of course, the few things that may have survived from this ancient and forgotten civilization are likely to be attributed to more recent cultures, simply because no other acceptable timeline exists. Or, if they clearly fly in the face of convention, they are conveniently lost, decried as forgeries, or in some cases, intentionally destroyed. You would like to think that an archaeologist has such a respect for the past that he would never destroy something simply because it didn’t fit his understanding of the world, but many scientists are as fanatical about their beliefs as Medieval priests, and one should never underestimate the power of grants and university backing - most of which often depend upon a scientist’s studies conforming to acceptable fields of inquiry.
Conspiracy of Belief
Once again, I don’t mean to imply that there is an actual conspiracy working to suppress this information. If there’s any conspiracy at work, it’s a conspiracy of belief. Western civilization is founded upon a couple of things, and the most influential by far is the Bible. Christianity has left its indelible stamp upon our science, our art, our history, and our laws. And Christianity’s Old Testament roots tell us a few things about the nature of the world. First, civilization started in the Middle East. Period. Second, the First Man and the First Woman were created rather recently, no more than 8000 years ago, so it follows that civilization has only been around about that long. For those Christians who attempt to reconcile their Biblical influences with notions like Darwinism, the general assumption is that Adam and Eve were the first evolved humans, and anything that came before was just an ape.
As ridiculous as it sounds to those who aren’t married to the Bible as the literal Word of God, consider that the science of archaeology mostly got its start in the nineteenth century through the work of men who were seeking to prove - or in a few rare cases, disprove - the literal truth of Biblical history. Such men were out there digging in the desert sands, trying to find the Arc of the Covenant and the skeletons of the so-called “giants in the earth.” These were the same men who believed beyond the shadow of a doubt that the pyramids were nothing more or less than the great Egyptian granaries that Joseph fed the Israelites from during the time of famine.
Do you know how hard it is to change a so-called authority’s mind once he has settled on his “correct” interpretation of facts and events? Did you know that Galileo was sentenced to a lifetime of house arrest by the Church for suggesting that the sun did not revolve around the earth? Magellan met with similar fanatical resistance for daring to suggest that the earth was round in a time when the so-called authorities knew for a fact that it was flat.
Which brings me to the other major human fault that has contributed to the dearth of information and hard evidence about any civilizations beyond those which we currently accept: pride. Charles Hapgood said it best when he entitled a chapter, “Our Ancestors, the Idiots.” There is an overwhelming notion among people that “Progress” moves in a straight line, always further and higher than what has gone before. We tend to assume that our “modern” culture is the most advanced that the world has ever seen, and everything in the past is backwards compared to where we are today. For example, did you know that the Romans had hot and cold running water, indoor toilets, and even fast food stands? We Westerners didn’t relearn the secrets of plumbing until about 100 years ago. And further East of Rome, and even older, there is a mysterious city called Mohenjo-Daro. The people there had hot and cold running water, too. That city dates was built between four and five thousand years ago.
As I said earlier, civilization rises and falls. The progress of technology is the same. For as much as we learn, there is always more that we have lost. Our scientists, in every age, are like Columbus, boldly striking out into “unknown” territory, only to “discover” something that has been there all along. We like to think that we’re coming up with new ideas and doing things that no one has ever done before. But remember, Homo Sapiens has been around for 100,000 years. Same brain, same intellect. Compared to that, how can we possibly believe that the things we’ve learned in the past two centuries have never, ever been learned before?
The world is a much more complicated place than humanity gives it credit for, and history is not a simple line we can draw in the sand. The past can be dug up, but it’s a relativistic puzzle that changes shape depending on where the observer thinks the piece should go. Another good point that Charles Hapgood made was we find what we are looking for. And that’s not a cute rewording of the Biblical “Seek and ye shall find.” It’s an insightful quip about human nature. Often, when we’re looking for something, we already know what it is we want to find, so we’ll keep looking until we find exactly what we want. When things turn up that aren’t what we want, we either pass over them, ignore them, or throw them away.
It is regrettable that this dictum has been applied to the past and to archaeological evidence, but it is only human nature. We find what we are looking for, and, so far, nearly everyone in the current culture who has ever looked into the past has already decided what he is going to find. And if Atlantis inconveniently rears its incongruent head, most people will keep squinting at it until they can make out the Garden of Eden.