People the world over are familiar with the Egyptian Great Sphinx, but there is another Sphinx, this one found in modern Romania. It is located on a vast plateau, at an elevation of 7270 feet (2216 meters) atop the fortress-like Bucegi Massif (part of the Bucegi Mountains of the Southern Carpathians in Romania). Besides the Carpathian Sphinx, other enigmatic rock formations are found here, such as Babele (The Old Women Rock), Omu Peak (Omu refers to “Person” or “People”), the Bearded Head, the Emerging Head, and Mecet Rock (a huge stage-like rock formation). At lower elevations, within a day’s walking distance of the Sphinx, there are a number of natural caves, including Ialomita Cave (with the Ialomita Monastery and Church at its entrance), Coacazei Valley Cave, Bats Cave, and Bears Cave (named after the extinct ice age cave bear remains found there).
The Carpathian Sphinx and its environs is the site of mysteries, both real and imagined. Here various persons have claimed to detect energy vortexes and experienced paranormal phenomena, including alternative states of consciousness. Here, too, it has been asserted there is a mysterious bedrock chamber, penetrated by the United States Pentagon and the Romanian Intelligence Service, containing “a holographic Hall of Records left by an advanced civilization and three mysterious tunnels leading deep into the bowels of Inner Earth” (back cover of the 2009 edition of Transylvanian Sunrise by Radu Cinamar, with an introduction, epilogue, and editing by Peter Moon). Exploring this area, we have searched in vain for any evidence of such a wondrous Hall of Records. However, the concept of an advanced civilization, together with the use of tunnels and caves in the Bucegi Mountains, might not be so far off.
Serious scholars have suggested that the Carpathian Sphinx and associated monuments are evidence of a very old, very advanced, lost civilization. Among such researchers are the Romanian investigator Dan Braneanu and the late Peruvian esotericist, protohistorian, thirty-third degree Mason, and authority on Nostradamus, Daniel Ruzo (1900-1991). Studies of legends and myths convinced Ruzo of the reality of a primordial, worldwide civilization that, with the exception of a few survivors who took refuge in underground chambers, caves, and tunnels, was destroyed by a cataclysm long before the earliest civilizations acknowledged by modern conventional historians. (By mainstream theory, civilization originated a mere five to six thousand years ago in the Middle East.) Ruzo spent much of his life searching for physical evidence of this incredibly ancient protohistorical culture. In early 1952 Ruzo was shown a photograph of what appeared to be an enormous, but highly eroded, sculpted rock head located in the Peruvian Andes on the Marcahuasi (Markawasi) Plateau. From 1953 to 1960 Ruzo intensively studied the Marcahuasi “sculptures” (the plateau is covered with rock formations that may be either natural simulacra and/or highly eroded artificial carvings), convinced they were evidence of the lost civilization. Ruzo ventured beyond Peru, determined to prove that the monuments of Marcahuasi were not an isolated phenomenon but part of a larger complex of very ancient sites found around the world. To this end, Ruzo explored areas in Brazil, Mexico, France, England, and Egypt. In 1968 he traveled to the Bucegi Mountains to see the Sphinx and associated formations. Ruzo was stunned by what he found.
Dan Braneanu is also a subscriber to the theory that the Carpathian Sphinx and associated monuments are the evidence of a primordial lost civilization. Braneanu owns a large archive of photos, including photos of Ruzo’s expedition to Bucegi, and has written (in Romanian) about this subject, relating Ruzo’s views and impressions of what he found in the Carpathian Mountains. It is worth quoting directly the words of Daniel Ruzo (all translations are by Oana Ghiocel) with our comments interpolated. Of the Carpathian Sphinx, Ruzo stated, “it is an ancient monument sculpted before the Flood, destroyed [damaged] in the face.”
Ruzo concluded that at Bucegi lies the key to the lost civilization. This was a place where those ancient people had come to save themselves from worldwide calamity, the “Flood” as Ruzo calls it. “Here in these mountains in Romania, lies the blood of men, the subterraneous tunnels where humanity saved itself during the Flood. These are the caverns of the treasure referred to in so many world legends.”
Long before the catastrophe, there was an “AGE of TRUTH and KNOWLEDGE. They lived around the sacred mountains of pyramidal summits and carved into them, for us and for the future generation, signaling the caves. These were people who believed in magic, in alchemy.” But then catastrophe struck—the type of catastrophe is not certain—and the age came to an end. “After the misfortune passed, the human groups found themselves in the poorest of conditions, submerged into the misery that converted them sooner or later into true primitives. Others vanished. Noah was not a primitive; he belonged to a very advanced civilization…All the symbolic systems, all the legendary characters, all the myths and the legends do not have the name of the author; we have inherited them from a vanished humanity . . . . Wandering on a devastated planet they had to close up their caverns. Just as they surrounded themselves with sculptures, they surrounded themselves with a system of symbols sculpted into the natural rock and scattered them throughout the world in stories and legends.”
On the Bucegi Plateau in the vicinity of the Sphinx, Omu Peak, the Mecet Rock, and other formations, Ruzo found sculptures and symbols and legends that he believed pertained to this race. Referring to one of the formations, he stated, “Here we are in front of an original sculpture known all over the world that has not been reproduced in historical times. Being so used to the tri-dimensional landscape started in Sumerian times, we had failed until today to see these sculptures considered made by nature. This was a magical work, done by people whose work was part of their life, like their heartbeat, like breathing. It was a magical work done by a culture whose science and understanding of the world was different from the present.”
And it was also in Bucegi that Ruzo believed the secret caves and caverns containing ancient treasure would be found, and it is of utmost importance to find it! “At the end of each AGE the treasure must be saved. We are moving through the last 180 years [Ruzo is speaking in the late 1960s] of our fifth AGE and according to the Prophets, at the end of this period are expecting a cosmic catastrophe. Once again we are threatened as in the time of Noah. Perhaps we should remain conscious of the antiquity of our existence and prepare ourselves to confront our inexorable destiny. During the next century humanity must find these stone arks and prepare for its salvation . . . Out of their entrances they made hidden behind one identical technique, one human finality: the search for the treasure. These sculptures mark the location of the subterraneous caverns in which humanity was saved and in which humanity will be saved once more.” Yet to find the caves, to find the treasure, is no easy task. According to Ruzo, “Only a map or plan of the whole region studied by one who knows how to interpret it in agreement with astral situations could indicate the path of the caves that served as refuge to the groups of people that were saved from an earlier cataclysm.”
Ultimately, however, Ruzo was not particularly sanguine about the state of modern humanity and our collective ability to either understand our past or face the future. Summarizing his views, Ruzo declared, “The sculpted work of the vanished humanity has been realized in natural rock on all the continents. The men of the earlier humanity did not content themselves with sculpting the mountains. They raised up megalithic monuments. The monumental work was the expression of a culture… time passed. The sculptures and the blocks became of a lesser size. Man returned to contending himself with the transitory world of his own life. He forgot tragedy once again. Today humanity has forgotten the past. In the human unconscious there is an extremely powerful force that acts on an individual, keeping him from seeing with clarity the obvious symptoms of his next death. Only in the last moments are the eyes of the soul opened and man understands his situation and accepts it… the landslide of all empires and all the human institutions is evident as soon as one studies the past. Everything dies around us… why do we believe in a progress without end?”
Ruzo left Romania convinced that the key to our past, and our future (the “treasure”), is to be found on the Bucegi Plateau, but he failed to locate it definitively. Dan Braneanu continued the search, and now we have taken up the challenge.
Ruzo was searching for a lost humanity, an advanced civilization, one that had been almost utterly destroyed by a catastrophe, yet a few individuals survived in underground caves and tunnels, only to infuse their high culture on the next wave of humanity. Perhaps the evidence of this civilization was there all along but remained unrecognized by Ruzo as it did not fit his preconceived notions of what must constitute an advanced civilization. Or perhaps it might be more accurate to say that the scanty remains of this very ancient, very advanced, civilization were totally misinterpreted by scholars who imposed their own values on a people they did not understand. As a result, the most advanced people of long ago have been popularly viewed as quite the opposite—short, stocky, big-browed, brutish, ape-like, grunting, stupid, subhuman cave men and women eking out a meager existence during the ice age. Of whom are we speaking? The people popularly known as the Neanderthals!
Recently our perception and understanding of the Neanderthals have undergone a revolution; in the forefront of the new interpretation was the late Stan Gooch (1932-2010). Beginning in the 1970s, in such books as The Dream Culture of the Neanderthals (1979, reprinted 2006) and Cities of Dreams (1989, reprinted 1995, 2001), Gooch argued for a radical reinterpretation of the Neanderthals. Neanderthals had brains as large as ours, or indeed in many cases slightly larger, but their brains were not structured in the same manner as ours. The human brain consists of both the cerebrum and cerebellum, and Gooch pointed out that Neanderthals had larger cerebellums than modern humans. According to Gooch the cerebellum is that part of the brain primarily responsible for intuition, dreaming, insight, paranormal abilities, and magic (in the true sense, not stage conjuring). The more developed Neanderthal cerebellum gave rise to a “high civilization of dreams” (Cities of Dreams, p. 242). Neanderthals developed a deep understanding of the natural world, but they did not necessarily do so in the rational, logical, “scientific” manner that modern humans have come to expect and accept. “I think that they [the ancients, Neanderthals]” Gooch stated, “obtained their knowledge not logically and scientifically but intuitively” (Dream Culture, p. 92). Gooch argued that Neanderthals were the original creators, the innovators, of high culture, of symbolic values and religious sensibilities, which early modern humans (Cro-Magnons) copied and adopted without genuine understanding. Neanderthal culture was not a civilization of high technologies but one of the mind and spirit that survives today in our beliefs, myths, folklore, and religious practices.
Were the Neanderthals the ancient, pre-catastrophe, high civilization, the “people who believed in magic, in alchemy,” the people who carried out the “magical work done by a culture whose science and understanding of the world was different from the present,” of which Daniel Ruzo spoke? We believe so, based on several lines of evidence.
Neanderthal fossil remains are found in Romania, and the caves of the Bucegi area have yielded direct evidence of Neanderthal habitation, including Neanderthal tools, ritual arrangements of cave bear skulls and skeletons, and other indisputable evidence of a Neanderthal presence. There is no doubt that this was a major Neanderthal cultural nucleus during the last ice age, tens of thousands of years ago.
Beyond the direct evidence of Neanderthals in the region, the vast majority of the structures (or sculptures) found at Bucegi are, to our eyes, compatible with Neanderthal features and attributes. The Emerging Head looks distinctly Neanderthal-like with large eye sockets and brow ridges, a low forehead, and a wide nose. Likewise, the Bearded Head Rock appears to us to resemble more closely a Neanderthal than a modern human. The Sphinx has more than one profile; viewed from one aspect it appears to be a modern human, but when one walks around to the other side it takes on a distinctly Neanderthal appearance. We are studying these formations carefully, considering whether they would have had these appearances during Neanderthal times. At present our tentative conclusion is yes, they would have; and we believe that Neanderthal people on the plateau would have recognized these faces as readily, perhaps more readily, as we do today. Based on our on-going research, we hypothesize that the Bucegi Plateau was both a stronghold and ritualistic center for Neanderthal populations during the last ice age.
Reinforcing this interpretation are extremely ancient legends and myths that specifically pertain to the Bucegi area. These are well attested, as the Romanian Queen Elisabeth (1843-1916) collected and preserved the legends of the region current among the common people. Additionally, the world-famous Romanian historian, folklorist, and philosopher Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) compiled, studied, and interpreted many incredibly ancient Romanian folk traditions, clearly dating back long before the time of ancient Greece (one of the sources for these traditions is Herodotus of the fifth century BC). We are currently undertaking exhaustive analyses of these traditions in the light of possible Neanderthal connections. Although we have just begun, we already see numerous potential references and allusions to Neanderthals and interactions between Neanderthals and early modern humans. A wizard (Neanderthal) lives in Ialomita Cave; witches (female Neanderthals) understand the secrets of nature magic; the hero-king-god-healer Zalmoxis (Zamolxis) wore a bear skin (Neanderthals had rituals surrounding the cave bear); a fortress is found at the heart of Bucegi where the snow never melts (apparently a reference to the ice age, as throughout Bucegi the snow now melts during the summer months); and many other elements all point toward Neanderthal civilization. As Eliade wrote in his 1972 book Zalmoxis (p. vii), “. . . the cult of Zalmoxis, . . . as well as the myths, symbols, and rituals that underlie and determine Romanian religious folklore, have their distant roots in a world of spiritual values that precedes the appearance of the great Near Eastern and Mediterranean civilizations.”
We believe that distant world, the same distant world that Ruzo and so many others have sought, was the world of the Neanderthals.
Oana R. Ghiocel, M.A., is Vice-President of Hyperion Media Inc. and currently is producing a documentary on the Neanderthal legacy in the Bucegi Mountains of Romania: www.hyperion-media.com
Robert M. Schoch, Ph.D., a full-time faculty member at Boston University, is best known for re-dating of the Great Sphinx of Egypt. His latest book is The Parapsychology Revolution (Tarcher/Penguin, 2008). www.robertschoch.com