You're likely to think I've been hitting the holiday eggnog or Crow's Remy Martin stash a little too hard when you read this one but I don't mind because my interest in alternate history is one I'm not ashamed of. Although anything other than absolute mainstream science is considered a foolish waste of time by many, I happen to think there are writers and scientists whose work has been unfairly marginalized. This is a post about such a person and his research into a subject we're simply not accustomed to considering.
'During a period of glaciation, the average global temperature drops considerably and the volume of the ocean decreases greatly. The water that would otherwise be in the ocean is frozen as ice in continental glaciers, or as sea ice in the oceans making the world in general a much cooler place than the one we know. This map shows coastlines (solid lines are today's coasts) as they were about 20,000 years ago which you may easily imagine provided a very fertile original homeland for civilization when the major land masses we know today were desert like and cold.'
I decided to re-read Underworld, a book written by Graham Hancock in 2002, that I first read when it was published. At the time I wasn't the least bit interested in our computer or its connection to internet search engines but now that's changed and not only does the book deserve a fresh reading (at least by me) but also an examination of references that are searchable online. He explores a subject that should be fairly obvious, that when the ice age glaciers melted, sea levels rose, obliterating civilizations that lined the ocean shores. However, archaeologists have confined their research to mainland structures - not too surprising considering difficulty and funding. Nevertheless, there is still much to learn about unrecorded, ignored or misinterpreted human history.
We have a tendency to think the world we know has always been much the same but science has proven that the oceans were once 400 ft lower than they are now. What most of us don't understand is that the last Ice Age was at its maximum 20,000 years ago when human beings just like us had been inhabiting the planet for at least 200,000 years. Once the massive ice sheets that covered most of North America, Europe and the Southern Hemisphere to a depth measured in miles began to melt they didn't just gently drip away inch by inch. What happened instead were periods surface ice melting into huge lakes which on three separate occasions broke through massive ice dams in what are called glacial outburst floods. There have been smaller versions of these in recent years but nothing like the three that happened 14,000, 11,000 and 8,000 years ago. At one point the accumulated water from an ice sheet the size of a third of Canada poured into the North Atlantic over the period of a few weeks. Not to oversimplify, related catastrophic events occurred when so much ice melted in a relatively short time. Earthquakes and volcanoes struck with great ferocity when the ice shields were no longer pressing down on the earth's crust. It's almost impossible for us living in this quiescent age to imagine what it must have been like for people who were living comfortably in wide alluvial plains where edible plants grew without requiring much labor. It sounds like Eden, doesn't it?
Interestingly enough, archaeology dates the rise of modern civilization to approximately 8,000 years ago with the discoveries of the Indus Valley and the Sumerian cultures. What is so strange about both societies is that they appear in the historical record at a very high level of development that dissipates over time. In other words, the deeper the archaeologists dug the more sophisticated the architecture and objects they found. It's also true the oldest Egyptian pyramids are the ones still standing. There's growing evidence that suggests the Persian Gulf (only 100 meters deep) was a large valley with the Tigris and Euphrates running through it to the sea. It was only completely engulfed 8,000 years ago. Could it be a total coincidence the remains of Sumer are close by in southern Iraq?
I'm enjoying the book again and may post more about it if you're interested or you may want to read it yourself. It is a very long book (700+ pages) but it's a fascinating subject to explore that has vast implications of how different our history might actually be. Perhaps there was once a very large and relatively advanced culture that goes back much farther in the archaeological record than previously accepted. I'd certainly like to think so particularly because the archaeological record of the Indus Valley culture in particular provides no evidence of armies, kings, slaves, social conflict, prisons, and other negative traits that we associate with civilization.
Maybe that's why all of recorded history appears to us as an ongoing disaster - one from which our Earth hasn't yet recovered. Isn't it possible the disaster was simply the sudden and dramatic loss of its ice shield? Could real floods be the basis for the world wide myths about Great Floods?