BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Some things are older than you may suspect ...

I have been aware of Robert M. Schoch for quite a while … he has been one of those “alternative timeline” researchers dealing with the extreme antiquities of Egypt, and the one with the most impeccable credentials of that group of theorists. Not that others in that niche don't have impressive C.V.s of their own, but it seems that only Schoch got into it via what he has an advanced degree in (Geology and Geophysics, which he also teaches as a tenured professor at a major university). If you're not familiar with this area, Schoch's main “claim to fame” arose from being invited to consult on a project studying the Sphinx at Giza … to give his opinion on what he felt the rock facings within the Sphinx enclosure indicated for the age of the sculpture, and, by extension, the whole Giza site. In his opinion, the type of weathering that is exhibited in these very old constructions could only have happened in a period when Egypt was subject to a great deal more rainfall than has been the case in the “canonical” timeline (which holds that the Sphinx was created in 2,500 BCE) and since … his estimates are that the enclosure could not have been carved out any more recently than 5,000 BCE, and might date to as early a time as 9,000 BCE.

As I sat down to review this, I was having a hard time recalling what specifically spurred me to order it … I still don't have a clear answer for that question, but I suspect this might have been referenced/plugged in Graham Hancock's Facebook feed (which I follow with great anticipation for the stuff he features). Anyway … something must have gotten the idea in my head that I needed to get a copy of Schoch's Forgotten Civilization: The Role of Solar Outbursts in Our Past and Future, although I'm not sure exactly why … as it's sort of in a “side issue” zone as far as my reading in the category has gone. It is fascinating, however, how this dovetails with other bits and pieces that I've read over the years.

The connecting theme in Forgotten Civilization is the concept (as noted in its sub-title) of “Solar Outbursts”, and how these may have deeply influenced civilization. Now, like Schoch's research on the Sphinx, there are several other threads of “heretical” material that points to there having been a global advanced civilization sometime about 12,000 years ago. From John Anthony West's theories of some of the older Egyptian ruins (such as the Osirion at Abydos) dating from that age, to various anachronistic sites in South America, India, and elsewhere, the “orthodoxy” simply scoffed and implied that all such theories were delusional at best. However, the recent discovery of the Göbekli Tepe site in Anatolia has changed the playing field, as Schoch notes: “Based on radiocarbon analyses, the site goes back to the period of 10,000 BCE to 9000 BCE and was intentionally buried circa 8000 BCE.” … meaning that we have solid evidence of an advanced culture (certainly in its sculpting) dating to the same 12,000 years ago time period that was supposedly what the priests of Sais had told Solon (according to Plato) was the fall of “Atlantis”. Suddenly, all these “Nah, couldn't be!” advanced cultural artifacts dating from c. 10,000 BCE are harder to just summarily reject (although the vast majority of “doctrinal” archeologists – Zahi Haiwass certainly among them – still do). Schoch takes one chapter here to dig into the “accepted” timeline – which posits mankind being barely out of the cave in 10,000 BCE – and shows how much of this derives from the work of Gordon Childe, who in 1950 published a list of “ten basic criteria” that he held to be indicative of civilization. Childe's model has been the accepted paradigm for the past half-century, but has (when presented with examples like the Natufian culture in the Levant c. 13,000 BCE or Göbekli Tepe, etc.) some serious holes in it.

The book is in three main parts (although not specifically divided that way), first a look at three archaeological contexts, that of the Sphinx, Göbekli Tepe, and Easter Island, then a middle section looking at various scientific pursuits, ice ages (specifically the “Younger Dryas”, a cooling period that happened about 11,000 BCE), sunspots and the lifecycle of the Sun, the Earth's magnetosphere, “cosmoclimatology”, and off into such cosmic obscurities as “galactic superwaves”, “gravity waves” (possibly triggering earthquakes), and even the possible effects of interstellar dust clouds … and then a third part where he's trying to link the theories he's worked up in the first parts to historical events and other “science stuff”, followed by a handful of appendixes which seem to address particular issues that he's had brought up related to things in the book.

I've already touched on elements of the Sphinx and Göbekli Tepe … both apparently date from ≅ 10,000 BCE, with the latter being intentionally buried (much like the Pyramid of Kulkulkan at Teotihuacan outside of Mexico City) a couple of thousand years after its construction. The Easter Island material, however, is somewhat central to the book. It seems that the “moai” (the large statues) were quarried from pits that are presently well under water off the coasts of the island, this, with the fact the many of the maoi are deeply sunk into the ground, would indicate a possible very early date for their sculpting. The answer to the “so what?” question on the Easter Island material is that there are engraved tablets in an undeciphered script called “rongorongo” that Schoch (or, I guess, his wife Katie came up with the idea) feels is very similar to petroglyphs that a Los Alamos plasma physicist, Anthony L. Peratt, felt were similar (or a recording of) certain plasma phenomena that would likely happen in a major solar storm.
Powerful plasma discharges, much more powerful than the auroras observed in the present day, form structures known as plasma columns that can expand in some places and constrict or narrow in other places (due to “pinch instabilities”). In profile these plasma columns can form donut shapes and may look like intertwining snakes, a stack of circles, or even resemble human stick figures (the so-called “stickman” or “squatting/squatter man” figures … ). In the modern day, powerful large-scale electrical discharges known as sprites occasionally occur in the upper atmosphere (about 80 to 140 kilometers above the surface of the Earth). Some sprites take on stick figure forms and other shapes comparable to those of the plasma columns. Based on Peratt's models and experiments, in some cases the stick figure will have an upper cup shape (head) that has the appearance of a bird in profile. Peratt and his colleague W.F. Yao record that observers of the Carrington Event reported seeing “figures in the sky as if drawn with fire on a black background”.
There are photo inserts in the book comparing the rongorongo script with various rock carvings, and plasma experiments. While there are certainly similarities between the script and the carvings, how many ways are there that a “stick figure” will appear? Unfortunately, I feel they were really stretching to attribute significant connections between the plasma patterns and the figures (making me wonder if this whole book is just a gesture to make Schoch's wife feel good). Anyway, those figures, and (in terms of chronology) that “script” (there was noted some question as to how old that actually was), are the main things linking extreme solar events with the archaeology of 10,000 BCE, with the rest of the book pretty much being “oh, and this!” add-ons.

One interesting thing in the above quote is the “Carrington Event”, which was a major solar storm in 1859. This happened over a week, from August 28 through September 5:
In late August of 1859 a major sunspot group appeared. On or around August 26 and 27 a solar flare (although unobserved) may have occurred, as well as a solar proton event (SPE) and a CME {coronal mass ejection}. The CME may have taken on the order of forty to sixty hours to cross the distance from the Sun to Earth, arriving on August 28 and creating the first wave of outstanding auroras and the accompanying geomagnetic storm. …
On September 1, Carrington and Hodgson observed the solar flare. Given how bright it was modern estimates suggest the surface temperature of the sun at the point of the emission was close to 50 million degrees Celsius. An enormous amount of energy was released, not only as visible light but also as intense X rays and gamma rays that, traveling at the speed of light, hit Earth eight and one-half minutes later. A CME was also released from the Sun …
Protons were accelerated by the solar flare and the CME to incredibly high energy levels and penetrated into our atmosphere, creating a major solar proton event (SPE). According to one estimate, this reduced the stratospheric ozone layer by 5 percent, and it took years to fully recover. Furthermore, energetic protons hitting the nuclei of nitrogen and oxygen atoms created a shower of neutrons that rained down onto the surface of the earth. ...
Schoch notes that this event, while major compared to “the usual” output of the Sun, was not as powerful as the Sun is capable of throwing at us (there have been CMEs that we've seen that have been huge, but fortunately pointed in another direction), and the suggestion is that something significant happened at the end of the Younger Dryas that threw the planet into a warming phase that created havoc for the civilizations that existed at the time.

One thing I found very interesting here is that Schoch is largely (in the current progressive terminology) a climate change “denier” … for many of the same reasons that I have doubts about the current dogmatic theory. He rather archly outlines:
The accepted paradigm, the scientific dogma, is not to be fundamentally questioned. Small additions and tweaking, elaborations and expansions, and building on the accepted paradigm are acceptable and even encouraged, but questioning the fundamental basis of the paradigm is not allowable. Radically dissenting views and any data that challenge the accepted paradigm must be suppressed. Heretics are persecuted or ignored. (In past centuries, this might mean torture or death. In modern times it might mean exclusion from the scientific community by being locked out of jobs, publication outlets, and grant funding.) Ultimately such tactics constitute “cheating by concealment” and “discreet fraud” ...
I've been aware of counter theories to the dominant paradigm for well over a decade … going back to Richard Hoagland's “Hyperdimensional” physics material, which he's called on to explain why there has been similar “global warming” phenomena on Mars and other planets happening simultaneously to the activity on Earth … with a Solar cause being far more plausible than SUVs. Schoch cites:
In recent years there has been increasing evidence for, and acknowledgment of, connections between climate, Earth's magnetic field, solar activity, and related extraterrestrial and other “subtle” factors. Much of this work goes against the reigning paradigm, the common consensus that has solidified around the topic of global climate change (more commonly refereed to as global warming). The general consensus view, for instance, has been that increases in global temperatures seen in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have been due primarily or totally to the actions of humans, most notably the increase of greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Natural factors and cycles have been downplayed or ignored, despite the fact that changes in greenhouse gases have been correlated with global temperature changes for hundreds of thousands – even millions – of years, long before humans could conceivably have been causing such changes. Indeed, increases in carbon dioxide may in part be a consequence of global warming rather than a cause. Increases in temperature due to other factors (such as increases in solar activity) may warm the oceans, for instance, resulting in the release of carbon dioxide and an inability to absorb more carbon dioxide …
Obviously, I'm in agreement with him here, and, to be fair, he makes the “cosmic catastrophe” case very well, citing a lot of geological science (of course), from micro-diamonds in geological strata to odd cases of vitrification (where rock has been turned to a glass-like substance by extremely high heat) indicative of the possibility of ground-level (i.e. massive) plasma events. The down side of this is two-fold … first, it's quite grim, and the sort of thing that you really can't do anything about, except to dig deep underground spaces to escape to in the brief warning period that one would have before something like this would hit (interestingly, there are “bunker-like” structures on Easter Island which he posits were created for shelters against the solar storms of 12,000 years ago), and secondly, we're WAY over-due (looking at ice cores, geographic strata, and deposits of assorted isotopes) for a big civilization-erasing event.

However, towards the end of the book he gets into some very strange spaces … from instabilities in the galactic core that can result in periodic bursts of cosmic rays, which would not only effect Earth directly, but “throw gasoline on the fire” on the Sun, causing a whole alphabet of bad stuff, SPEs, CMEs, and even technology-destroying EMPs, to the possibility of our moving into an interstellar dust cloud that would be like throwing dry fuel into the Sun, with many of the same effects. He also pokes into some odd science, from the theories that water “can form nanostructures with the ability to encode, store, and transmit information”, to work that suggests that isotopes' decay rates are not constant but fluctuate in correlation with external factors: magnesium-54 fluctuating in correlation with solar flares, and silicon-32 and radium-226 exhibiting variations in decay rates that correlate with the changing distance between the Earth and the Sun.

While I found Forgotten Civilization fascinating in the material it has at the granular level, it's a very odd book in the broad strokes, starting from an “alternative archaeology” tour of key sites that push civilization back many thousands of years before the dominant paradigm, to a look at how cosmic influences could be the driving force for both “climate change” and historical disasters, to pulling in a wide net of other materials which are only “sort of” to the point (as I see it, at least) … and I doubt that was what I was anticipating when I ordered this! I'm also sort of surprised that this is only the first of his half-dozen or so books that I've picked up.

So, will you like this? I don't know. There is a ton of stuff in this that I was glad to have encountered (including theories I'd never even heard of previously, which is not a usual thing for me), but I've read a lot in the genre, and the over-all arc of the book put me off, and I suspect that it is likely to be a firehose of weirdness for readers coming to it without a substantial background in this material. Countering that perception, while it's been out for three years at this point, it hasn't gotten cheap in the new/used channels … with the cheapest of those books still coming in higher than the discounted price (assuming you're getting free shipping) from the on-line big boys. I don't regret buying this, but I can only recommend it with that whole heap of caveats above.

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Tags: book review

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