Catastrophism without Velikovsky!
Anyone who investigates theories of catastrophic changes and chronologies cannot escape from the theories put out by Ivan Velikovsky (the 'V'-Author) in the 1950s. Let me state that nothing in my work owes anything to Velikovsky or his science. However, I am a cross-disciplinary researcher and author, not a specialist. The problem isn’t so much the author himself. In that pre-radiocarbon era it was clear that something was wrong with the archaeologists’ chronology – though not quite what Velikovsky thought – rather that he supported it with naïve astronomy. His disciples propagate his theories even today and unfortunately it has poisoned the ground for anyone else who tries to investigate these subjects. For example, the first review of my own book began with the words: ‘we enter Velikovsky territory here…’ The reviewer had not read a word!
I decided to make my own older books on catastrophism and ancient history available again in 2017 and update the research, because in the 15-20 years or so since their first publication, various people have continued to contact me with questions and ideas. So perhaps some details of my original research motives may interest potential new readers.
In the 1980s and 1990s I began to undertake cross-disciplinary research into the mechanism of ice ages and related climate and sea-level changes of recent millennia. I was not satisfied with the conventional explanations given by the specialists. Each discipline: climatology, sea-level research, geomorphology, geophysics, archaeology, etc, has their own established chronologies and dogma, developed over the years by field researchers. Within each discipline these may stand scrutiny, but if one looks across disciplines it becomes evident that they don’t quite fit together! None of them matches the story of the past that is offered by our most ancient myths and legends – so conventional scholarship usually dismisses these as just silly tales left by our primitive ancestors. There is also a pattern in the myths and legends – if you seek it.
For example, geomorphology and sea-level change is attributed to gradual changes in climate and the expansion and contraction of polar ice; these in turn being driven by the variations in the Earth’s orbit. However, the view of the past climate derived from vegetation and pollen gives a series of stable episodes, transitioning sharply from one climate regime to another. So I decided to investigate whether sea-level changes might also be episodic and whether the various raised beaches and submerged features might match the dates of the climate changes. This could offer ‘hard’ evidence of pole-shifts in recent Earth history.
In the 1980s I looked at literally hundreds of academic papers regarding sea-levels, climate and archaeology, covering the last 12,000 years since the ice age. I was looking for dating evidence from raised beaches, submerged peat, and human activity that might establish a pattern. Most of these papers and books were examining single sites and offered dating evidence only for a single location. The majority did not offer anything accurate enough to pin down a precise date for comparison. Various researchers had also tried (without success) to make worldwide ‘sea-level curves’ to prove how the ancient sea-levels matched to the expected orbital changes.
However, for dates during the last 5,000-10,000 years there did seem to be some evidence of periodicity. In particular, the period around 5,000 years ago showed a pattern of sea level change in alternate quarter-spheres that is the expected signature of a pole shift. I had hoped that it might be possible to trace back the path of the poles, through these successive climate episodes, right back into the ice-ages; however it proved to be too difficult with the evidence then available. Perhaps if a modern researcher wished to repeat this exercise with the latest field research then they might have more success. It is a thankless labour of Hercules and I have no wish to try it again myself.
In reconstructing the likely ancient coastlines of Europe for 5,000 years ago (3200-3100 BC) I was surprised to find a pattern of coastal change around the British-Irish continental shelf that looked remarkably like that given, not only in Plato’s legend, but also by other mythological and legendary sources. I was not at that time investigating myths and legends; I was researching the Ice Age and Holocene climate. However, in discussing the possibility of ancient pole-shifts, it is also necessary to say something about their cause – which brings us on to astronomy, geophysics and catastrophism!
Unfortunately, there was no outlet (pre-internet) to publish such cross-disciplinary research. It could only be submitted as either climate science, or sea-level research, or geomorphology, or even archaeology; the specialist referees for such journals understand only their own narrow specialist subjects. These academic channels were therefore not open to cross-disciplinary research. To publish the results in the form of a book hits a similar problem. Academic publishers also have little appetite for cross-disciplinary research. The likely number of sales for such books is quite small and probably uneconomic. I therefore decided (as many others have before) to put it out as a book about Atlantis, with the sub-title ‘The Earth’s Rotation in Mythology and Prehistory’. A major publisher seeking a book about Atlantis then picked it up and re-titled it.
Over the past several years, many people have contacted me about Atlantis: from academics to TV producers to Joe Bloggs. I can honestly say that the number of co-responders, who have asked sensible questions, can be counted on the fingers. Some would pass-over the first half of the book entirely and go straight in at chapter 12, complaining ‘what’s all this science'.
Some reviewers and academic commentators will dismiss the entire concept of catastrophic changes in Earth history as mere pseudo-science. It is not good enough to just offer a vague 'it sank somehow'. The only part that might be ‘pseudo’ would be the theory of pole-shifts. The real reason behind this reaction seems to be, not so much that the theories are ‘off the wall’, rather that they are actually quite close to the wall. The first half of the book was only put there to establish that the author does understand the standard science. It is just that single-subject academics only really know their own single subject. Yet others have made constructive comments. Some of these I hope to feature on this website.
I was struck by the reaction when climate scientist Ulf Erlingsson published a theory of Atlantis based on conventional climate science and the submergence of Doggerland in the North Sea; he went outside his own field to suggest that this event was remembered in the Irish mythology. He too, attracted a knee-jerk negative reaction from the Irish and Celtic scholars. I didn’t agree with his theory but it was at least competently stated and certainly didn’t merit the savage attacks that it received. Some people it seems can only be negative. I only really take note of those critics who offer an alternative mechanism of their own to explain the anomalies in the currently accepted science.
Anyone who would seek to undertake research across conventional academic boundaries must expect the difficulties described above. It is not possible to know everything about every subject. You will make mistakes and you will miss some recent published papers. My advice is: don’t let that bother you. The specialist referee will tear to bits that small part of the submission that they understand, while for those areas outside their own field they will have nothing to say. Someone has to try to put in the cross threads. I can only assert again that the various theories about the past do not fit together unless we include a catastrophic element in recent Earth history.