Lost Civilization in Antarctica?

The continent of Antarctica has been in the news. This does not happen very often. Home to only a handful of temporary residents and mostly covered by ice, Antarctica has little about it to attract the attention of the rest of the world. But Russian scientists have been doing some important scientific work there. They drilled through the massive layer of ice covering Greater Antarctica, and on February 5, 2012, made it all the way down to Lake Vostok, an ancient lake unknown to modern man. There may be many surprises yet to come because our knowledge about Antarctica is still very scant. After all, modern man did not discover Antarctica until 1818, and even then had no idea what land features lay beneath the ice until scientific advances made this possible in 1958.

Some unorthodox investigators with an interest in remote antiquity believe that as our exploration of Antarctica continues, we might eventually stumble on the remnants of the lost civilization of Atlantis. A few centuries before Christ, Plato, the Greek philosopher, wrote that an advanced civilization that he called Atlantis existed in remote antiquity until it succumbed virtually overnight to a natural catastrophe around 10,000 BC. Now Plato provided many details regarding the city of Atlantis as it was in its heyday. Assuming that Plato’s Atlantis really did exist, some of these details might be factually accurate and thus provide clues that tell us where to look for its remnants today. Among other things, Plato wrote that the city of Atlantis was surrounded by mountains and was located on an elevated plain close to the ocean half way down the longest side of the continent of Atlantis. The continent of Atlantis, in turn, was surrounded by all of the world’s oceans and was roughly equal in area to the combined areas of North Africa and the Near East. Based upon this information, it is possible that the continent that we call Antarctica was the same continent that Plato called Atlantis. And if Antarctica really was the continent of Atlantis, then Lesser Antarctica, the huge peninsula that points toward South America, would have been the most likely location of the city of Atlantis.[amazon asin=1889071013&template=*lrc ad (right)]

The legends of many Native Americans are reminiscent of what Plato wrote about Atlantis and thus reinforce our suspicion that Atlantis existed. In addition, these legends, emanating from tribes separated by great distances and isolated from one another, nonetheless tell a similar story of a fallen civilization called Aztlan where their ancestors dwelled long ago. According to the legends, Aztlan was located on a “white island” somewhere vaguely to the south. It perished without warning as a result of a horrendous natural catastrophe. It all began when the sun suddenly shifted its position in the sky. There immediately followed tidal waves, floods, and earthquakes. The survivors of Aztlan fled for their lives and relocated to the Americas, where their descendants still live today.

[amazon asin=B00AWH595M&template=*lrc ad (left)]A skeptic might understandably balk at the notion that any lost civilization could have been on a frozen continent that cannot support any civilization today. We have reason to suspect, however, that in remote antiquity all or at least parts of Antarctica were much more hospitable than they are now. For one thing, a number of mysterious and perhaps ancient maps have come down to us that depict the continent of Antarctica either wholly or partly without ice. The most famous of these is a map drawn in 1513 by Piri Reis, an admiral serving in the navy of the Ottoman Empire. The Piri Reis map, which Piri Reis based not on his own research but on older, perhaps even ancient sources, accurately traces the coastline of Antarctica but does not show the layer of ice that covers that coastline today. This suggests that whoever drew the original maps upon which Piri Reis later based his map saw Antarctica before it was covered by ice. Skeptics might wonder how a continent centered on the South Pole could have been free of ice. But some investigators counter that long ago the continent of Antarctica was not at the South Pole, where it is now, but was instead between the South Pole and the Equator.[amazon asin=1591431379&template=*lrc ad (right)]

This bold assertion is based upon the controversial scientific theory of crustal displacement. The generally accepted theory of continental drift holds that the earth’s crust is divided into several tectonic plates that float over a molten inner layer and slowly bump and grind against one another over the ages. In a controversial extension of the theory of continental drift, the newer theory of crustal displacement claims that every 40,000 years or so, the entire crust of the earth, comprising all its tectonic plates, shifts as a single unit like the loose peel of an orange. After each shift of the earth’s crust, all the land masses of the earth, including whole continents, find themselves in a new position on the globe. The proponents of the theory of crustal displacement believe that this has happened many times in the past and most recently around 10,000 BC. As a consequence, Antarctica, [amazon asin=B00FVU5VJE&template=*lrc ad (left)]which they believe had once been between the South Pole and the Equator, eventually wound up where it is now: on top of the South Pole.

The theory of crustal displacement was the brainchild of Professor Charles Hutchins Hapgood (1904‑1982), who taught anthropology and the history of science at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire. Hapgood, who had earned both graduate and undergraduate degrees at Harvard University, explained his theory to Albert Einstein, the noted physicist, in an extensive correspondence in the early 1950’s. Einstein thought that Hapgood’s ideas had merit and encouraged him to continue his work. Einstein wrote the forward to Hapgood’s book, The Earth’s Shifting Crust, which appeared in 1958, and urged the Guggenheim Foundation to assist Hapgood financially. President Dwight Eisenhower also looked into the theory of crustal displacement after receiving a letter from Hapgood. Eisenhower asked government officials, especially at the Strategic Air Command, to assist Hapgood by providing him with relevant scientific information. One would expect that support from both an American president and a famous physicist might provide a huge boost to Hapgood, but it was not to be. Hapgood never got the financial support he needed, and President Eisenhower left the White House before he could follow through. So Hapgood’s work gathered dust for a while.[amazon asin=0517887290&template=*lrc ad (right)]

Later on, Rand Flem-Ath and his wife, Rose Flem-Ath, independent researchers from British Columbia who had known Charles Hapgood, picked up where he had left off and produced additional scientific, cultural, and historical evidence in support of his position. In 1995, they published their views in their book, When the Sky Fell, an updated version of which has appeared under the title of Atlantis Beneath the Ice. According to the Flem-Aths, the theory of crustal displacement, if it were true, would provide a single solution to many mysteries that have stumped scientists and historians for decades. We have already seen that the downfall of Atlantis around 10,000 BC as described by Plato might have been caused by a crustal displacement. Let us look at some other important events, many of them around that same time, which the Flem-Aths suspect were caused by the same thing.

[amazon asin=B00CU0NSCU&template=*lrc ad (left)]Scientists agree that the Northern Hemisphere in general and much of North America in particular lay under thick sheets of ice for thousands of years until that ice suddenly began to melt around 10,000 BC. Scientists have called this era the Ice Age. Unfortunately, scientists cannot agree on what started the Ice Age, what ended the Ice Age, or why, when the Ice Age finally ended, it ended as quickly as it did, with massive sheets of ice frozen hard for thousands of years suddenly melting very fast. But according to the theory of crustal displacement, it was all very simple. A massive shift in the earth’s crust pushed North America into the frigid north around 50,000 BC, starting a long build-up of ice that lasted for 40,000 years. Another massive shift around 10,000 BC pushed North America back into the warmer south, at which time all that ice began to melt.

The theory of crustal displacement could also explain why a disparity exists between the thickness of the ice on Greater Antarctica and the thickness of the ice on Lesser Antarctica. Inasmuch as Antarctica is centered on the [amazon asin=0517884542&template=*lrc ad (right)]South Pole today, one would expect that all the regions of Antarctica would be under roughly the same amount of ice. But in reality, the ice over Lesser Antarctica is much thinner than the ice over Greater Antarctica. How did that come to be?  If the theory of crustal displacement is correct and the continent of Antarctica was once well to the north of its present location, then Lesser Antarctica might have had a temperate climate and Greater Antarctica a bitterly cold one for the roughly 40,000 years between 50,000 BC and 10,000 BC. This might account for the disparity in the levels of ice that persists today.

The theory of crustal displacement could clear up a similar mystery regarding the island of Greenland. Much of Greenland is covered by a strikingly thick layer of ice whose origin has stumped scientists for some time. Now inasmuch as Greenland is very cold, there is obviously nothing surprising about the fact that it has ice. But the mystery is why the ice is so thick given the fact that Greenland receives only modest precipitation. The proponents of crustal displacement suspect that before 10,000 BC, Greenland was in a different location where it got much more precipitation than it does now. Over thousands of years, the heavy precipitation froze into a thick layer of ice. When a crustal displacement pushed Greenland into its present position, Greenland carried all that ice with it and retains it to this day.

The theory of crustal displacement could provide an explanation for the puzzling fact that trees once grew in Antarctica. Trees do not grow in Antarctica today because trees cannot grow in such bitter cold and wind and because they cannot grow on a land that is in constant darkness for several months at a stretch every year. Yet the stubborn fact that trees once did grow in Antarctica suggests not only that Antarctica was once much warmer than it is now but also that it once received some sunlight during the winter months. Would that have been possible at the South Pole?

The theory of crustal displacement could explain why many animal species, especially large mammals in Siberia and North America, went extinct virtually overnight around 10,000 BC. If the crust of the earth really shifted at[amazon asin=B003U4WTFC&template=*lrc ad (right)] that time, many lands would have moved to new positions on the globe where the climate was radically different from what it had been before. In turn, many of the animals living on those lands might not have been able to cope with such drastic climatic changes, and would have perished. Consider, for example, the bizarre end of the Siberian mammoth. Careful investigation of mammoth remains shows that they lived on vegetation that we know grows in warm weather, suggesting that they were living in a warm climate. Then they froze to death so quickly that their bodies did not even have time to decay. The fact that these animals not only died, but died so quickly, hints at a natural disaster.

The theory of crustal displacement provides a possible explanation for the emergence of agriculture in human society around 10,000 BC.  Common sense would suggest that agriculture probably arose among a few enterprising persons somewhere on earth, after which time their neighbors, seeing its clear superiority, copied it until eventually it worked its way around the entire globe. The evidence, however, shows that agriculture arose simultaneously and independently at several different places on earth. Especially puzzling is the fact that all these places were around 4500 feet above sea level rather than at sea level. A natural catastrophe could provide an explanation for this development. For example, if the earth’s crust shifted around 10,000 BC, many persons who had been living at sea level might have sought safety from floods and other dangers by fleeing to higher altitudes. As more and more people crowded into the higher altitudes, they might have found the older method of hunting and gathering untenable. After all, hunting and gathering require a lot of open space. Now that open space was getting more and more scarce, people had to look for alternatives to hunting and gathering and eventually stumbled on agriculture.

We have seen that Charles Hapgood first proposed the theory of crustal displacement in the 1950’s. But what do geologists have to say about the theory of crustal displacement now? Over the decades since Charles Hapgood passed away, geologists have still not had the opportunity to do extensive research on this theory, so it remains an interesting but unproven speculation. In 1997, a number of scientists from the California Institute of Technology did look into this matter and published a paper in Science Magazine asserting that the earth’s crust shifted around 500,000 million years ago. But otherwise scientists have had little to say. The best we can do now is to note that the theory of crustal displacement offers us at least one possible explanation for some of the unexplained facts about remote antiquity. We should also remember that it can take time for new ideas to take hold. For example, the theory of continental drift, first put forward by Alfred Wegener in 1915, was dismissed by scientists until it was proved to be correct in the 1950’s. At any rate, the large number of changes that apparently took place in the world around 10,000 BC point to some dramatic event, though not necessarily crustal displacement.

There is a possibility that Egyptologists might shed some light on this controversy, especially if they turn up any surprises regarding the origins of the Great Pyramids. The majority of Egyptologists believe that the ancient Egyptians built the three Great Pyramids around 2500 BC, a date long after the proponents of the theory of crustal displacement believe the earth’s crust shifted. There are, however, a few skeptical Egyptologists who suspect that the Great Pyramids are much older than their mainstream colleagues believe, and they do have at least some evidence on their side. If the skeptics eventually turn out to be right and are able to prove that the Great Pyramids were built not only before 2500 BC but even before 10,000 BC, it would strongly suggest that there was no shift in the earth’s crust around 10,000 BC. Let us see why this is so. The largest of the three Great Pyramids, the Great Pyramid of Khufu, is aligned with the four points of the compass so perfectly that it is accurate to within three sixteenths of a degree. It is difficult to see how this could be a coincidence. Whoever built this pyramid must have deliberately aligned it in this way. Now if the Great Pyramid of Khufu were already in existence and in its perfect alignment in 10,000 BC, then it is difficult to see how the earth’s crust could have shifted around 10,000 BC and still left it in that same perfect alignment established by the original builders, whoever they were. This would mean that something other than crustal displacement must have caused the dramatic events clustered around 10,000 BC.

Readers who love a good mystery and want to learn more about this fascinating if highly speculative subject should start by reading the outstanding book explaining the theory of crustal displacement by Rose and Rand Flem-Ath, Atlantis Beneath the Ice. Graham Hancock’s great book, Fingerprints of the Gods, lays out much of the evidence for the existence of an advanced civilization in remote antiquity.  Readers with a special interest in the Great Pyramids should read Robert Bauval’s book, The Orion Mystery. J.M. Allen’s book, Atlantis, the Andes Solution, gives a fascinating alternative view of Atlantis. Allen, a former British military analyst, believes that South America, not Antarctica, was the continent of Atlantis and that the Bolivian Altiplano, not Lesser Antarctica, was the site of the city of Atlantis. Allen has much evidence in support of his own interesting point of view.