No one remembers one’s moment of birth and neither does humanity. The beginning of man is a scientific mystery. This article, however, is not about how man came to be, but about shortly after that; it is about the dawn of humanity, a missing chapter in human history. People, in this forgotten chapter, mapped the earth and sky long before there were ancient Egyptians or Jews. They are not to be confused with Australopithecus, Homo Habilis, or Homo Ergaster. Instead, they are remembered by ancients as ‘gods’ because it is they who first engineered societies, leaving baffling traces on earth.
The idea of how humanity’s progress began is relative. Before the enlightenment, human civilizations throughout history viewed the past as glorious and expected the future to simply resemble and repeat the past. Mankind did not think highly of themselves until after Kant declared the motto “Sapere aude,” – dare to think for yourself. But the question remains: what is it in our distant past that made the ancients behold it with such impressiveness?
Scientific and technological progresses do not necessarily take thousands of years. The pace can be exponential, slow, or even regressive – exponential through accidental breakthroughs and inventions, e.g. the 20th century, but slow when impeded by a major force such as the Roman church or the Black Death that prolonged the dark ages for a century. Regression occurs due to a massive loss of knowledge, e.g. the burning of the Alexandria Library in 391 A.D. The idea that scientific and technological development takes millennia is an impression that we get from our assessment of the known history. Progress is inevitable and desirable for any civilization.
The progress of science and technology changes the way we live presently as well as how we see the past and future. Our expectations of the future change based partly on the breakthroughs we make and the pace of the scientific development. Our visions of the past, too, change as we develop new ways of investigating facts. The current worldview of the past is that things were primitive, and that mankind emerged from a state of barbarism to become smarter and more capable.
However, emerging evidence suggests otherwise beginning with Plato’s account of Atlantis, although, across the past two millennia, his account was considered fictional. In 1882, U.S. Congressman Ignatius Loyola Donnelly published his book ‘Atlantis: The Antediluvian World’ in which he gathers the then-available evidence in favor of an early mighty civilization that was far more advanced than they had any right to be. He mainly studied ancient myths and believed Plato’s account of Atlantis to be historically accurate.
Forty-seven years later, in 1929, a medieval map called Piri Reis was found at the Imperial Palace library in Constantinople (Istanbul). This map inexplicably depicts, with unprecedented fine details, the continents of South America and Antarctica corresponding to present longitude and latitude albeit it dates back to 1513. It was not until after the Piri Reis map discovery that other maps of high precision started emerging, eg: the Ribero maps 1520-30, the Ortelius map 1570, and the Wright-Molyneux map 1599 (McIntosh, 2000:59).
The Piri Reis map was thought to have been based on Columbus’ explorations, though he never surveyed South America. Later, Charles Hapgood studied the map intensively and concluded that a remote and advanced civilization had existed and mapped the unexplored parts of the world before Columbus’ time (Hapgood, 1966). Hapgood’s unorthodox theory of earth crustal displacement also accounts for a preexistent civilized culture in Antarctica. Albert Einstein found that Hapgood’s ideas had scientific worth (Einstein, 1953).
Years later in 1978, Brad Steiger’s book ‘Worlds Before Our Own’ rekindled the issue of past advanced societies. Steiger studied the OPA (out-of-place artifacts) to support his theory which challenged the well-accepted idea that if humans were primitive in the past, common sense then says the deeper one digs down into the earth the more un-advanced artifacts one finds. What he actually found was that some advanced human artifacts are located in the lowest primordial geologic strata whereas primitive ones are located in upper strata (thus labeled Out-of-Place Artifacts). He also presented evidence that strongly suggests the cohabitation of dinosaurs and humans.
Steiger’s unconventional book fueled other subsequent works such as Dead Men’s Secrets (1986), Forbidden Archaeology (1993), The Orion Mystery (1993), Fingerprints of the Gods (1995), and Technology of the Gods (1999). But, Steiger’s book was also met with a great deal of criticism.
Today, theories such as Steiger’s, along with supporting evidence, call into question the current worldview of the first people. When one subscribes to this unconventional and unaccepted theory of history, one is then driven to speculate two possible past events that put an end to these historical societies. Either they were so advanced that they destroyed themselves, or they were destroyed by a global cataclysm from which a few survived. The first case seems less probable than the second although there might be some clues that imply ancient warfare.
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