The Mexican civilizations confronted by modern Europeans for the first time in the early 1500s were still Bronze Age-like cultures, unchanged for millennia, and essentially frozen in time since their inception. The sixteenth century Aztecs were culturally no further advanced than the Olmecs, who preceded them by thirty centuries. Like the Mayas and Toltecs, their societies were less unique than variations on a Mesoamerican theme common to them all.
Perhaps the strangest quality of Mesoamerican Civilization was the suddenness of its appearance. For at least twenty thousand years, Middle America was populated by disjointed tribes of hunter-gatherers, whose material level of culture did not extend beyond the most primitive weapons and a few, crude tools. Then, around 1500 BC, a sophisticated, powerful civilization suddenly appeared on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, spreading rapidly throughout much of Mexico.
Archaeologists refer to this first American civilization as “Olmec,” although it is a name of scientific convenience only, as the real identity of these earliest culture bearers is not known. Where before there had been savagery, the Olmecs introduced literacy, sculpture, monumental architecture, a complex religion, advanced textile production, astronomy, calendrics, commerce, social stratification, systems of weights and measures, divisions of labor, metallurgy, standardization of the crafts, government, and every aspect of a full-blown civilization. It did not develop in place slowly over centuries, but appeared all at once in its entirety, as though suddenly imported from somewhere outside Mexico.
This impression is heavily underscored by the numerous representations of persons from other parts of the world surviving in Olmec sculptural art. These unequivocally portray non-Amerindian faces, including bearded men with Near Eastern features and Asians bearing strong resemblances to modern Cambodians, together with West Africans depicted in colossal stone heads sculpted from black basalt. These important foreigners were culture bearers, respectively, from Atlantis and Lemuria. While the Atlanteans were aggressive imperialists with dreams of world conquest, the Lemurians dreamt of other things; namely, spreading their spiritual discipline beyond the Pacific realm. The two, fundamentally diverse peoples collided in Middle America, where the colonial ambitions of one contrasted with the religious agendas of the other. Between conflicting influences of the materialistic Atlanteans and the proselytizing Lemurians, native Mexicans built Mesoamerican civilization.
Around 1200 BC, the Olmecs experienced an abrupt surge in population and reached the height of their influence. Thereafter they entered into a slow decline, eventually merging into the next stage of Mesoamerican civilization. The Maya arose in the Lowland Yucatan before 200 BC, and, although clearly derivative of the Olmecs before them, they developed their own, distinctive culture of city-states. These were all built on a common, general plan, but no two were alike, and styles varied enormously, resulting in a civilization of great color and originality. Long assumed to have been a people of peaceful astronomer-priests more interested in the heavens than in mundane affairs, recent translation of the Mayan glyphs paints a completely different portrait.
The Maya city-states were entangled in ceaseless warfare with each other and grabs for power were common. They also engaged in human mutilation and sacrifice, although not on the terrific scale arrived at much later by the Aztecs. Despite their relentless battles for ascendancy, the Mayas achieved prodigious feats of astronomy, accurately computing, for example, the precise position of a certain star one million years ago. The Maya closed down their civilization around AD 900, leaving a power vacuum that was not entirely filled until the rise of the Aztecs, some five hundred years later, when they strayed into the Valley of Mexico. After overcoming local opposition, the leaders of these folk wanderings occupied a fabulous city, Tenochitlan, built by its previous owners, the Mexica, on an artificial island in the center of Lake Texcoco.
With its surrounding man-made lake, bisecting canals, and Atlas-like Temple of Ehecatl at its very center, Tenochitlan was designed to impress upon all the peoples of ancient Mexico that the Aztecs were the direct descendants of the Feathered Serpent, who entrusted them with hereditary, absolute power to govern Middle America. National capitals, then and now, were engineered chiefly for political reasons, foremost among them being the psychological subjugation of opponents. From Tenochitlan, the Aztecs followed the example set by their Atlantean forebears by launching imperialistic wars which soon resulted in the empire they sought.
Just two centuries later, the Aztecs were themselves annihilated by the Spanish Conquest. How just five hundred Conquistadors could so thoroughly bring down an entire empire of millions cannot be explained merely by the superiority of European firearms. Long before the Spaniards set foot on Mexican shores, the Aztecs had been psychologically disarmed by millennial legends of a white-skinned, bearded visitor, who arrived over the sea from the east and, with his followers, founded Mesoamerican civilization. The Aztecs were never entirely sure if this man who called himself Hernan Cortes was not, in fact, the same, sacred culture-hero, or his direct descendant. Paralyzed by uncertainty, they were unable to effectively resist the invaders, despite their huge numerical advantage.
The white strangers who were their most important mythic-historical figures were the Atlanteans and Lemurians who colonized and otherwise impacted Middle America. Known to the Toltecs and Aztecs as Quetzalcoatl, and the Mayas as Kukulcan, their ancestral founding father was always the “Feathered Serpent” for the insignia he wore.
On the other side of the world, the uraeus was a badge of authority carried by ancient Egyptian royalty; it comprised the image of a cobra combined with the features of a vulture—literally, a feathered serpent. Although the uraeus signified the unity of Upper and Lower Nile in the person of Pharaoh, the Egyptians themselves claimed that all their sacred regalia had been handed down from the gods after they left the sinking Primal Mound of Atum in the Distant West.
Among the most ancient of Egyptian deities associated with a Sacred Mountain, the origin of the first gods, Atum was the first divinity of creation. He created the Celestial Waters from which arose the Primal Mound. Shu, the Egyptian Atlas, declares in the Coffin Texts, “I am the son of Atum. Let him place me on his neck.” In Hittite mythology, Kumarbi, a giant arising from the Western Ocean, placed Upelluri on his mountainous neck, where he supported the sky, and is today regarded by mythologists as the Anatolian version of Atlas.
Atum says elsewhere in the same Texts, “Let my son, Shu, be put beneath my daughter, Nut (the starry night sky), to keep guard for me over the Heavenly Supports, which exist in the twilight (the far west).” His position beneath Nut indicates Shu’s identification with Atlas as the patron of astronomy. “The Heavenly Supports” were known to Plato and his fellow Greeks as “the Pillars of Heracles,” beyond which lay Atlantis-Atum.
The sixtieth Utterance of the Pyramid Texts reads, “Oh, Atum! When you came into being you rose up as a high hill. You rose up in this your name of High Hill.” As Randall Clark explains in his Gods of Egypt (NY: Random House, 1954), “When the deceased, impersonated by his statue, was crowned during the final ceremony inside the pyramid, he was invested with the Red Crown of Lower Egypt. A heap of sand was put on the floor and the statue placed upon it while a long prayer was recited, beginning, ‘Rise upon it, this land which came forth at Atum. Rise high upon it, that your father may see you, that Ra may see you.’ The sand represents the Primal Mound. The instruction to the king is to ascend the mound and be greeted by the sun. This implies that the mound can become the world mountain whereon the king ascends to meet in his present form, the sun.”
This, then, is the concept of kingship descended from the supreme sun-god, Ra, on his holy mountain of Atum, the gods’ birthplace. It was this sacred ancestral location, reported Egyptian tradition, that sank beneath the sea of the Distant West, causing the migration of divinities and royalty to the Nile Delta. Atum’s philological and mythic resemblance to Mount Atlas, wherein the Egyptian deity is likewise synonymous for the sacred mountain and the god, defines him as a religious representation of the original Atlantean homeland.
The Aztecs claimed ancestry from Aztlan, portrayed in their birch-bark illustrations as a volcanic island to the east. It is apparent that the Egyptian Atum and the Aztec Aztlan both refer to Atlantis and the migration of her peoples, east and west. Thus understood, the supposedly “Near Eastern” faces depicted in Olmec art are really the portraits of Atlanteans who established a large colony in Mexico. So, too, the “Cambodian” features of other Olmec sculpture actually belong to the Lemurians that Cayce said exerted an important, but less imperial, influence on early Mesoamerica.
The arrival of these alien culture bearers, who transplanted their arts and sciences, politics, and religions from Atlantis and Mu, may explain how, when, and why civilization suddenly sprouted from nothing in Mexico. To be sure, the resultant growth was a hybrid of introduced novelty and native influence featuring elements of both in a unique synthesis. But the materially advanced newcomers formed a governing aristocracy not only of the Olmecs, but of every subsequent Middle American society, including the Mayas, Toltecs, and Aztecs, as witness the bearded, decidedly un-Amerindian characteristics of Moctezuma III, the last Aztec emperor, who proudly traced his lineage directly back to the Feathered Serpent.
Over time, the ruling elite endeavored to preserve its distinct identity, despite inevitable crossings with native peoples. Only this original racial disparity can account for the significant differences that existed between the Indian masses and their monarchs. All pre-Columbian civilizations were a mix of outside forces from the Atlantic and Pacific upon native cultures, a mixture of influences made all the more varied by much later, occasional visitors, either shipwrecked or deliberate, from Carthage, Rome, West Africa, Ireland, China, and Japan.
Lemuria’s impact on Pacific coastal South America was more strongly felt.
Just north of Trujillo, near the north coast of Peru, lie the ruins of a sprawling pre-Inca city known as Chan Chan. During excavation of its Palace of the Governor, archaeologists uncovered a truly vast expanse of walls decorated with a peculiar mural; it depicted a sunken, pyramidal city with fish swimming over the top. Col. James Churchward, author of The Lost Continent of Mu (Albuquerque, NM: BE Books [reprint of the 1924 first edition], 1988), another name by which Lemuria was known, might have been directly referring to the Chan Chan mural, when he wrote, “there are existing ruins which, by their location and the symbols that decorate them, tell of the lost continent of Mu, Motherland of Man.”
That this scene represents lost Lemuria, or Mu, is affirmed by the very name of the people who created Chan Chan: the Chimu. They were a pre-Inca people who raised a powerful civilization, Chimor, that dominated the Peruvian coast from circa AD 900, until their defeat by the Incas during the late fifteenth Century. Chan Chan was founded, according to Chimu historians, by Taycana-mu. They reported that he had been sent on a culture-founding mission by his superior, who ruled a kingdom in the Pacific Ocean. Another important Chimor city was Pacatna-mu, christened after an early Chimu general who became the regional governor, after whom the monumental structure adorned with the sunken city mural was named.
The Atlanto-Lemurian roots of pre-Columbian civilization are clearly exposed by its ruins and the native oral traditions still associated with them. An appreciation of these deeply ancient origins is vital to understanding how the high cultures of Mexico, Yucatan, Peru, and Bolivia arose when they did, and why generation after generation continued to venerate the gifted foreigners who arrived in America as refugees from an overseas catastrophe.