Subtitled ‘Quest for the Lost Civilisation’, this book led to a major TV series on the UK’s Channel 4 network. Published in 1998, some of the content may now be a little out of date, as archaeological work is constantly updating information based on finds.
The book is an attempt to explain the many, significant, similarities that have been found in sites in Mexico, Egypt, Cambodia, the Pacific islands, and Peru and Bolivia. Some have labelled these confluences of ideas and design ‘coincidence’, and though it is true that coincidence is far more common than many people think, it really cannot be used as a reason for the similarities discussed in the book.
The conclusion reached by the authors is that the ideas and constructions are the result of an early, currently undiscovered, civilisation. The argument is persuasive, applying many astronomical and engineering similarities in the monumental sites and considering these in conjunction with any written evidence still in existence. I could have done without the repeated mathematical explanations relating to precession: once would have been enough for me.
I do, however understand why the need was felt to drive home this aspect of the design of these colossal monuments. The world of archaeology, in common with many branches of science, has a self-defeating attitude to questions that fail to fit in with recognised ‘authorised’ theory, almost treating the early science as if it were some form of sacred text that must not be brought into doubt. It’s a failure of such narrow-minded science, of course, since real science recognises known facts are those so far discovered, explored and peer-tested, and welcomes any challenge that produces some form of evidence that might be tested. Science is not ‘fixed’ but is a developing body of information ripe for question, experiment, and exploration.
One of the fundamental questions that arises regarding any civilisation founded during the last ice age (begun around 2.6 millions ago and lasting until around 11,700 years ago) relates to the apparent lack of evidence. One simple reason for this absence may well be the difference in sea levels. The sea was approximately 130 metres (425 feet) below its current level. Since it is likely most people involved in an earlier civilisation would be inclined to live at or near the coast, where an easy source of protein was available from seafood, all evidence of their existence is probably buried beneath that now deep water, and far from the current coasts of the world’s continents. Such evidence as may have survived will be incredibly difficult to discover. It’s also interesting that the myths and legends supporting many religions include a tale of a devastating flood; possibly this is a reference to the sudden melting of the last ice age and the resulting inundation of many previously habitable areas.
A final aspect of the book particularly chimes with me: the idea that this early civilisation was founded on a religion that saw the soul as something separate from the body, something capable of surviving bodily death and able, through various means, to ascend to the stars. It strikes me such beliefs may well be the foundations of many more modern religions, where a heaven is envisaged for those faithful to the myths and legends surrounding their particular sect and who may travel there after their body has died. It’s just one more reason to examine religion more thoroughly and disinterestedly to find out where such odd ideas originated. The idea of eternal life, in some form, is more or less universal among many of the various faiths, and perhaps that impossible dream is derived from the distortion of the beliefs of those uninformed ancients from an earlier civilisation. Who knows?
[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]