Atlantis and the Neanderthals

A Best-Selling Writer Searches for 100,000 Years of Lost History and Outlines the Discoveries in His New Book


Charles Hapgood, an American professor of history, became convinced in 1989 that a civilization, ‘with high levels of science,’ had existed at least 100,000 years ago.

In the mid-1950s, Hapgood had written a book called Earth’s Shifting Crust, to which Einstein contributed an In­troduction, arguing that the whole crust of the earth undergoes periodic ‘slippages,’ one of which in 9500 B.C. had caused the North Pole to move from Hudson Bay to its present position. And in 1966, his Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings had suggested that mediaeval maps called ‘portolans’—used by sailors to navigate from port to port—proved that there must have been a worldwide maritime civilization in 7000 B.C.

In 1989 he told the writer Rand Flem-Ath that he intended to bring out a new edition of Earth’s Shifting Crust, containing his evidence that civilization had existed since before 100,000 years ago. But before he could do that, he walked in front of a car and was killed.

I agreed to collaborate with Rand Flem-Ath in trying to solve the mystery of the ‘lost civilization,’ which Rand equated with Atlantis. But if Hapgood was correct, Atlantis was tens of thousands years older than Plato assumed.

After a long search, I was fortunate enough to track down the man who claimed to have convinced him that civili­zation, in fact, dated back 100,000 years. He was an eccentric recluse who lived in a small town in New England. When I asked him to explain what had convinced him that there was civilization 100,000 years ago, he specified two things: (1) that Neanderthal man was far more intelligent than we assume and (2) that ancient measures prove that man knew the exact size of the earth millennia before the Greek Eratosthenes worked it out in 240 B.C.

A little research of my own quickly verified both statements. Far from being a shambling ape, Neanderthal man had a larger brain than we have, was well acquainted with astronomy, played musical instruments and even invented the blast furnace. As to the size of the earth, the ancient Greeks had a measure called the stade—the length of a stadi­um. The polar circumference of the earth proves to be exactly 216,000 stade. Yet the Greeks did not know the size of the earth. They must have inherited the stade from someone who did know.

On a cruise down the Nile in 1997 I stumbled on another crucial discovery: the Nineveh number, a vast 15 digit number found inscribed on an Assyrian clay tablet in the ruins of Assurbanipal’s library. Yet the Assyrians were no great mathematicians. The French space engineer, Maurice Chatelain—who provided the first moon rocket with its communication system—discovered powerful internal evidence that the Nineveh number must have been worked out about 65,000 years ago.

He also learned that two more numbers, even larger, were found inscribed on stele in the Mayan sacred city of Quiriga. These shared with the Nineveh number a remarkable characteristic: they could be divided precisely by the number of years it takes the earth to complete its ‘precessional cycle’ round the sun, just under 26,000. (Precession of the equinoxes is the backward movement of the signs of the zodiac, so that in the heavens, spring begins slightly ear­lier each year.)

So it seems the Assyrians inherited their knowledge of precession from some early ‘founder’ civilization— presumably the same civilization from which the Maya, thousands of years later and thousands of miles across the At­lantic, inherited theirs.

I came upon one more important discovery on that Nile cruise. It was something that happened in the temple of Edfu and it took six more years before its full significance dawned on me and provided a sudden insight into the se­cret of Egyptian temples. Of this more in a moment.

I had come upon another interesting piece of evidence that ‘high levels of science’ date back much earlier than we suppose. It started with the mystery of the Libyan desert glass. Two British scientists driving through the Libyan desert discovered large quantities of a fused green glass, highly valued by Arab craftsmen for making jewelry. Their first assumption, that these were ‘tektites,’ a fused glass that comes from outer space, had to be abandoned since it lacked the typical air bubbles and left them with the only alternative hypothesis: that this glass had been manufac­tured by some strange industrial process around 6000 B.C. But that would have required large quantities of water. It was Hapgood who was able to assure the investigators that there had been vast lakes in the desert in 6000 B.C. When Lord Rennell of Rodd described the mystery to a scientist named John V. Dolphin, who had worked on testing the atom bomb in the desert of Australia, Dolphin told him that the glass looked just like the fused sand left behind after an atom bomb test, which led Lord Rennell to consider the possibility that the makers of the Libyan desert glass had mastered atomic energy. Hapgood dismissed this notion, being himself convinced that the ancients simply had some other method of producing very high temperatures—of around 6,000 degrees.

Unknown to Hapgood and Lord Rennell, a Bulgarian inventor named Ilya Velbov—who later called himself Yull Brown—had solved this problem. Brown made the extraordinary discovery that if the hydrogen and oxygen in water are separated and then re-combined in a kind of oxy-acetylene flame, it will punch an instantaneous hole in a piece of hard wood, burn tungsten (requiring 6,000 degrees), vaporize metals, melt a firebrick and weld glass to copper. Brown called this mixture ‘Brown’s gas,’ and the Chinese used it in their submarines to turn seawater into drinking water. Yet because no one understands the process, science has shown total lack of interest in it. However, Brown had no doubt it was known to the ancients, who used it to extract purified gold from gold ore.

Brown’s total refusal to compromise with American industry ruined his one excellent chance of achieving fame and riches and he died unknown.

But if Hapgood is correct about his 100,000-year-old science, what evidence remains? Well, a modern builder would admit that, for all our technology, he would have no idea of how to go about building the Great Pyramid. The same is true of the magnificent ruins of Tiahuanaco, in the Andes, whose harbor area has blocks so big that no mod­ern crane could lift them. These builders seem to have had some technology for moving immensely heavy weights.

Lake Titicaca, on which Tiahuanaco was once a port, is full of sea creatures. At some time in the past, a geological convulsion raised it two and a half miles in the air. Geologists assume this was millions of years ago, but this is ab­surd. Who would build a great port on a lake with no other ports or cities? Surely, Tiahunaco must have been at sea level when the convulsion occurred. In their book When the Earth Nearly Died, Compelling Evidence of a Cosmic Catastrophe of 9500 B.C. (1995), D. S. Allan and J. B. Delair argue that the convulsion was probably due to the im­pact of a comet or asteroid. The date, of course, is the date Plato assigns to the destruction of Atlantis “in a day and a night.”

The story of the great flood is preserved in the legends of the Haida Indians of Canada and of many other tribes. But which flood? Plato speaks of no less than four. The first of these was the Atlantis flood. The second is referred to in the Book of Enoch and the rituals of the Freemasons and it took place approximately two thousand years after Pla­to’s flood. “Seven burning mountains” fell to earth from space, according to the evidence of Professor Alexander Toll­mann, the largest in the Sunda Strait and it set in motion a great migration north, which created civilizations in In­dia and then in Sumeria (the Sumerians are regarded as the founders of European civilization). The third flood, around 6000 B.C., created the Black Sea and was the flood of Noah and the Epic of Gilgamesh. The fourth, “Deuca­lion’s flood,” occurred in the Bronze age, around 2200 B.C. Another vast catastrophe struck in A.D. 535, causing worldwide famine, drought and plague, which destroyed, among others, the civilization of the Maya in Central Ameri­ca and of the Nazca Indians of Peru, whose giant line-drawings on the surface of the desert, we now know, were de­signed to persuade the gods to send rain.

These drawings can be seen only from the air and have given rise to the theory that the Nazca shamans, with the aid of “psychedelic” drugs (which the Indians are known to have used) were able to achieve out-of-the-body experi­ences that enabled them to do this. The Indians of the Peruvian forest use a drug called ayahuasca, which (according to anthropologist Jeremy Narby) they claim taught them the properties of 80,000 plants and the structure of DNA.

I argue in my new book Atlantis and the Kingdom of the Neanderthals (Inner Traditions 2006) that shamans have a knowledge of nature that goes far beyond that of modern science. There seems to be no doubt that shamans possess powers that we would consider “magical,” and many examples are cited. The healing abilities of shamans can also be used for the opposite purpose, to produce sickness and death. The Kahuna priests of Hawaii can use the Death Prayer to kill enemies. And it was when reading about their power to protect temples with a curse and the story of one rash youth who became paralyzed from the waist down after entering a “fordidden” temple in a spirit of bravado, that I suddenly saw the meaning of an incident that had happened in 1997 in the temple of Edfu. These temples were, in­deed, alive; a certain ritual could summon the god or goddess as a living force. The curse of Tutankamun was un­doubtedly more than a legend.

It is clear that the ancients possessed some extraordinary ability to multiply huge numbers, very like those pos­sessed by modern calculating prodigies (such as 5 year old Benjamin Blyth, who took only a few minutes to work out how many seconds he had been alive). The Infinite Harmony by Mike Hayes, shows the intimate relation between the DNA code and the I Ching. This leads to a consideration of synchronicity, which modern science refuses to recog­nize and the “certain blindness in human beings” which causes us to “filter out” so much of our experience. Goethe, like William James, was fully aware of this blindness and the scientific “filters” that cause us to see “God’s living gar­ment” as a world of dead matter. Consider Goethe’s Theory of Color. We speak of “eidetic vision,” the odd ability of certain people (like Nicola Tesla) to be able to recreate some object inside their heads. (It is also fundamental to train­ing in magic.)

Julian Jaynes realized that man is trapped in a grey world created by the left cerebral hemisphere, the scientific part of the brain. But then, Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater, two founders of the Theosophical Society, wrote a book called Occult Chemistry that describes quarks more than half a century before science posited their existence.

Another scientist Chandra Bose saw nature—even metals—as alive. And this takes us back to Hapgood, who after his retirement became interested in some very odd aspects of science—for example, the discovery by lie-detector ex­pert Cleve Backster that plants can read our minds. While still a college professor, he did experiments with his stu­dents that demonstrated that plants that are “prayed for” flourish more than plants that are ignored, while plants that are “prayed against” often died. Hapgood became very interested in the “life fields” discovered by the American scien­tist Harold Burr and the recognition that these can be controlled by “thought fields.” Hapgood’s studies of anthropol­ogy led him to conclude that man has been as intelligent as ourselves for at least 200,000 years and perhaps for two million. There is, in fact, evidence that our ancestor homo erectus was sailing the seas on rafts 800,000 years ago.

Most amazing are Hapgood’s experiments with hypnosis, which proved conclusively that he could hypnotize his  students to accurately predict the future.

There is, of course, a great deal more, which I cover in my book. In the final chapter are some of our most re­markable discoveries; for example, the unearthing of a half-million-year-old plank that had been carefully planed on one side. We also consider Neanderthal man and some facts that prove his high level of intelligence—and whose red ochre mines in South Africa date back 100,000 years. One sculpture, the Bearkhat Ram, has been dated back to a quarter of a million years ago.

We consider the fact that “shamanic” cultures take “group consciousness” for granted—the kind of telepathic awareness that enables flocks of birds and schools of fishes to change direction simultaneously. Ancient man almost certainly possessed this same telepathic ability. Kevin Kelly’s book Out of Control describes how the whole audience at a computer conference in San Diego learned this ability in a quarter of an hour. In this sense, societies like ancient Egypt were almost certainly “collectives,” which could explain their ability to lift massive weights.

We also investigate the extraordinary discoveries of John Michell, who pointed out that the “Nineveh” number can be divided by the diameters of the sun and moon and that a mathematical principle called “the Canon” seems to lie behind ancient science: the notion that our universe appears to be designed along mathematical lines—the “code of numbers that structures the universe,” which implies that there is an intelligence behind this design. An example is the sequence of “Fibonacci numbers” that play such a basic part in nature, from spiral nebulae to seashells. We dis­cuss the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, formulated by astronomer Brandon Carter, which states that the universe aims at the propagation of life and at Fred Hoyle’s statement that “Our planet is perfectly suited to the incubation of life,” and that “it looks as if some superintendent has been monkeying with the physics.”

In that case, what is it that makes human freedom so limited? Man is confined in “close-upness” which deprives him of meaning. In our book. we glance again at some of the evidence that man may have been around far longer than science supposes—such as an iron nail embedded in a piece of coal several million years old and a mastodon’s tooth engraved with a horned beast, that came from a Miocene bed of 25 million years ago.

We quote the Nobel Prize winner Frederick Soddy, who discovered isotopes, on the “evidence of a wholly un­known and unsuspected civilization of which all other relics have disappeared.” And we end by quoting Plato: “that things are far better taken care of than we can possibly imagine.”

Modified reconstruction of Gibraltar Neanderthal child (


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