A 100,000-Year-Old Civilisation?
My friend Stan Gooch spent his last years living on an old age pension on a caravan site in
Now he has gone, perhaps Stan’s highly original work will one day be given the credit it deserves. Certainly, it seems that the safe, academic world he turned his back on is catching up with him, as recent findings appear to confirm some of his long-held theories about the sophistication of Neanderthal man.
CITIES OF DREAMS
In 1999, I was engaged in pursuing an intriguing little problem. Charles Hapgood, best known as the author of Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, had died as the result of a car accident that happened in December 1982. Two months earlier, he had written to a librarian named Rand Flem-Ath telling him that he had made “recent exciting discoveries” that had convinced him that there had once been a 100,000-year-old civilization with “advanced levels of science”. And since I had agreed to collaborate with Flem-Ath on a book about Atlantis, I set out to pursue Hapgood’s contacts to see if I could find out what he meant.
Finally, through a tip-off from one of Hapgood’s acquaintances, I found myself in touch with an archæologist and science writer from
Now, I had already stumbled on the information about the Greeks in a book called Historical Metrology by AE Berriman (1953), to which the historical researcher Henry Lincoln had introduced me. And the second assertion had been made by Stan Gooch in 1989, in a book called Cities of Dreams.
Gooch was arguing that Neanderthal man had possessed a complex civilisation, but that it was not a civilisation of bricks and mortar, but of ‘dreams’. That hardly seemed to make sense. Surely civilisation is our defence against nature? Dreams are not much use against a hurricane or a sabre tooth tiger.
Gooch launches his argument by comparing Neanderthal man with Native Americans, pointing out that in spite of their complex culture, the latter had no written language and built no houses. What would have happened, Gooch asks, if they had been exterminated by disease or some catastrophe, and had simply vanished? Archæologists would find their skeletons and dismiss them as ‘primitives’, just as we dismiss Neanderthals.
Speaking of the Seven Sisters, Gooch remarks: “The Pleiades are the only [star grouping] noted and named by every culture on Earth, past and present, from the most advanced to the most primitive”. He points out the similarity of the legends of Australian aborigines,
Gooch goes on to mention that the Seven Sisters play an equally important role in the legends of the Aztecs, the Incas, the Polynesians, the Chinese, the Masai, the Kikuyu, the Hindus and the ancient Egyptians. This worldwide interest in the Pleiades, he argues, surely indicates that it originated in some very early and once central culture.
In Gooch’s view, that culture was Neanderthal. We may doubt this, and prefer to believe that it was our own ancestor, Cro-Magnon. But Gooch certainly had accumulated some impressive evidence of the intellectual sophistication of Neanderthal man. He speaks, for example, of a find made at Drachenloch in the Swiss
Now seven is, of course, a number associated with shamanism. The Drachenloch cave was clearly a place of ritual – in effect, a church. Moreover, as historian of religion Mircea Eliade tells us, there is a worldwide connection between the bear and the Moon. And this might have been guessed from the fact that the number of skulls in the cave was 13 – the number of lunar months in the year. This, and many other clues, led Gooch to infer that the religion of Neanderthal man was based on Moon worship, and Neanderthals were the first ‘star gazers’. He argues that, among much else, the knowledge of precession of the equinoxes, noted by Giorgio de Santillana and Herta von Dechend inHamlet’s Mill, probably originated with Neanderthal man.
A ‘church’ implies a priest or shaman, so Neanderthal man must have had his shamans, ‘magicians’ who played an important part in the hunting rituals, as shamans do worldwide. Is it chance that the Moon goddess is Diana the Huntress? Is she perhaps also a legacy from Neanderthal man?
Since Gooch’s book came out in 1989, new evidence has accumulated indicating that Neanderthal man also possessed his own technology. In 1996, it was announced that scientists from
One of Gooch’s most amazing statements is that in
In 1950, Dr Ralph Solecki of the Smithsonian Institution had excavated the Shanidar cave in Iraqi Kurdistan and discovered evidence of ritualistic burial by Neanderthals, in which the dead had been covered with a quilt of woven wild flowers. His book Shanidar (1971) is subtitledThe Humanity of Neanderthal Man. He was the first of many anthropologists to conclude that Neanderthal man was far more than an ape.
Gooch points out that red ochre has been in use since at least 100,000 years ago until today, when it is still used by Australian Aborigines. He quotes one authority who calls it “the most spiritually rich and magical of all substances”.
Now, red ochre is the oxidised form of a mineral called magnetite, which, as the name suggests, is magnetic. If a small sliver of magnetite is floated on the surface tension of water, it swings around and points to magnetic north. And in 1000 BC, the Olmecs were using it as a compass needle, floating on cork, a millennium before the Chinese invented the compass.
Gooch points out that many creatures, including pigeons, have a cluster of magnetite in the brain, which is used for homing, and asks if it is not conceivable that Neanderthal man also had a magnetite cluster in the brain, which may have enabled him to detect hæmatite under the ground. This, of course, would be simply a variant of the power dowsers have to detect underground water.
For whatever reason Neanderthal man sought red ochre, it seems clear that he must be credited with some kind of civilisation.
In January 2002, it emerged that Neanderthal man made use of a variety of superglue. It was a kind of blackish-brown pitch discovered at a lignite-mining pit in the
Now clearly, all this is revolutionary. We take it for granted that human culture began with Cro-Magnon man, Homo sapiens. Our Cro-Magnon ancestors began making drawings in caves about 30,000 years ago and so, we had always assumed, our civilisation had its beginnings. But if the Pleiades were recognised 40,000 years ago, then Neanderthal man could have got there first.
Again, an 82,000-year-old bone flute, discovered by Dr Ivan Turk of the
But perhaps the most staggering piece of evidence so far is the small, carved statue known as the Berekhat Ram figurine, discovered on the
So Neanderthal man was carving a tiny female figure, probably the Moon goddess, more than a quarter of a million years ago. The implication is that he had already developed the religion to which the bear skulls in the Drachenloch cave bear witness – but 200,000 years earlier.
In Uriel’s Machine, Robert Lomas and Christopher Knight also turn their attention to Neanderthals, and point out that they had larger brains than modern man, adding the startling information that they were around for 230,000 years before they vanished. Neanderthals thus had plenty of time to acquire a high level of sophistication. They clearly believed in an afterlife, for they buried their dead with every sign of religious ritual, and with tools and meat to supply their needs in the beyond. They buried them in cloaks covered with ornate beads (with buttonholes), decorated caps, carved bracelets and pendants. They manufactured at least one perfectly circular chalk disc, which is almost certainly a Moon disc.
And if Neanderthal man conducted religious rituals, played the flute, studied the heavens, and built blast furnaces, he must have had some form of language other than grunts.
So Stan Gooch’s insights, which struck most people as crazy in 1989 (they certainly struck me as crazy when I first read Cities of Dreams), are slowly being justified.
THE MYSTERIOUS 'CARL'
But to return to my
I shall not give his real name, for reasons that will become clear, but shall call him Carl.
During that first conversation, it was soon apparent that there was an unforeseen problem. Although our talk lasted two hours, I couldn’t understand more than one sentence in 10. Like certain brilliant people, whose heads are crammed with knowledge, Carl was unable – or unwilling – to express himself clearly and to the point. It was obvious that when I asked him a question, he wanted to say 30 things at once, and it was like a crowd trying to push through a narrow doorway. Nevertheless, I had no doubt that I had solved the problem of Hapgood’s “100,000 years”. I could hardly wait to telephone my collaborator.
Here I was in for a surprise. Instead of the congratulations I expected,
As to the suggestion that Neanderthal man might be more intelligent than we suppose, he was dismissive. And he told me later that he had mentioned it to a girl who taught in a nearby university, and she had burst into screams of laughter.
I had arranged to ring Carl back in two weeks, and to install a recording machine that would play for an hour. But this proved to be quite inadequate. Carl simply talked non-stop for an hour, and when I told him the tape had ended, just went on talking – for another hour.
But at least he said some fascinating things – basically, that the antiquity of civilisation was proved by its measures. And if these measures could be shown to date back to the La Quina disc, carved by a Neanderthal 100,000 years ago, then the point was proven. I had to agree. He also talked about linguistic evidence in Greek, Hebrew, Sumerian and Sanskrit, and cited the exact words. I had never come across a man of such immense erudition. His theory was incredibly difficult, involving music, planetary distances, archæology and atomic numbers. His articles – of which he sent me several – might range from the Great Pyramid, Ice Age art and
But I soon realised that I could not simply present him to the reader as an unrecognised genius, for some of his views left him wide open to the accusation of being a crank. He not only accepted the reality of the ‘Face on Mars’ (which I am also inclined to do), but believed it had been created by human beings, and that one of the satellites of Mars was some kind of artefact.
Just as I was beginning to wonder if
He mentioned a friend of his who lived in the Midlands, and who had been on an archæological expedition with Carl in
Some of his claims, my informant agreed, might be startling – such as his story about meeting Einstein when he was 10 years old and having a conversation about the lost tribes of Israel – but then, he was a child prodigy, and came from a distinguished family who might well have had Einstein to tea.
Unfortunately, Carl learned that
I was much saddened, of course, but then a consoling thought occurred to me. So much of the book had been slashed that I was left with enough material to form the basis of another. In 2006, I published Atlantis and the Kingdom of the Neanderthals; this time, I made sure that the achievements of Neanderthal man formed a central part of its thesis, and Stan Gooch finally received the credit he deserved.