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Ancient Astronomy and Terrestrial Catastrophism


When originally published in 2005 Under Ancient Skies was intended to both follow the astronomy and ancient calendar science in the author's earlier book, but also to give a self critique of its validity. The science (some might prefer pseudo-science) was an attempt to explore how changes to the Earth’s rotation could be affected by astronomical phenomena; and the evidence for this that might be present in the ancient astronomy. When it was written, observation of interstellar comets and gravity waves from exploding stars were still only theoretical concepts. Perhaps not so pseudo any more?




Named after a Hawaiian goddess, this was the first ‘comet’ to be positively identified as an interstellar object traveling in a hyperbolic trajectory.  At its closest approach to the sun on September 9 2017 it was determined to be traveling at 87.71 km/s relative to the sun; much too fast for it to be bound to our solar system and probably it formed around another distant star in the direction of Vega. More correctly described as a rocky object rather than a comet, it passed inside the Earth’s orbit, being at its closest to the sun around a quarter the distance of Earth from the sun.


Why is this important? Because it shows us that very fast objects from deep space could have hit the Earth in the distant past, not only the solar asteroids and comets that we can predict. Where previously this could have been dismissed as speculative, now it is a fact.


While Oumuamua may be an object ejected from its home star-system by gravitational interaction, there is good reason to believe that much faster objects than this may occasionally visit our neighbourhood. The material ejected from distant supernovae can be detected to travel at velocities as high as 10% of light-speed (about 30,000 km/sec) but more typically around 10,000 km/sec.


Usually, in the astronomical research one may find discussion of how expanding supernova remnants are brought to a halt by the interstellar medium. If you like: a near-perfect vacuum colliding with another near-perfect vacuum. This is fine as a mechanism for halting gas expansion, but a giant star would also be surrounded by its own cloud of planetesimals in the process of converging into planets, rudely interrupted by the supernova. Interstellar gas is not going to stop solid objects ejected at supernova velocity from one day reaching us. A very small object traveling very fast would not leave a conventional crater but it could disturb the Earth’s angular momentum, leaving very little physical evidence in the geological record.

Interstellar Comets

Isn't it amazing how the emergence of 'hard evidence' can spur academics to reach conclusions that they should have reached many years ago? It should be obvious that objects of interstellar, even cosmic, origin can hit the Earth. It is certainly a good idea to have a shield against near-earth asteroids, but unfortunately - the one that gets us - we will probably never see it coming!



Gravitational Waves


Another way that an external force might act upon the Earth without leaving an impact scar would be the effect of a gravity wave. If a small fast interstellar body would leave very little evidence of an impact on the ancient Earth then how much less should we expect to find hard-evidence from the passage of a gravitational wave through our planet in historical times?


In February 2016 came the first detection of a gravitational wave as originally proposed by Einstein; other claims have followed. Such small motions are found by very sensitive cryogenically cooled detectors. Currently, the most sensitive is LIGO — the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory. It is safe for specialists to discuss such topics as long as they are referred to distant phenomena and distant epochs.


The example usually given of the space-time distortion by a gravitational wave is to imagine a ‘ring of particles’ being rhythmically squashed back and forth into an ellipse as the gravity wave passes through. The measured effect of distant events is tiny, less than the width of a proton. Imagine something similar happening to the shell of the rotating Earth, caused by a much closer event. The amplitude of a gravitational wave travelling at the speed of light will fall off as the inverse of the distance from the source.  We won’t have hard evidence of the effect until a wave from a local supernova reaches us; at the same time as we detect its first light. Probably, to us, it would just feel like an earthquake.


Cosmologists now tell us that all of our heavy elements, heavier than iron, could only have been formed during a merger of two neutron stars in the region that would become our solar nebula. Such a merger would certainly generate gravitational waves. Therefore we may ask: what would be the effect if a neutron-star merger – similar to that observed in distant galaxies – had occurred somewhere in our own galaxy in early historical times? One must not speculate, but some idea of the effect can be gained from the various papers published by astronomers and cosmologists.


Perhaps some astronomer or geophysicist will be brave enough to publish a paper suggesting what effect we should seek in the ancient data. What might it do to the Earth’s rotation; and what should we look-for in the ancient climate and sea-level data? Another good example here of cross-disciplinary science; if you know of a relevant piece of research then I would like to put a link to it here.




Plato’s 5+6 year Calendar - 'The Neolithic Calendar'


While published science may go out-of-date due to recent advances, the evidence in our ancient sources – in mythology and the classical writers – remains as valid as ever. One theme in all my books is that myths, legends and the histories of classical authors may contain ‘mythological fossils’: pieces of detail that can be taken out and separately analysed with science.


One such ‘fossil’ is the calendrical reference in Plato’s Critias: that the ancient kings gathered together ‘every fifth and every sixth year alternately’. He has no need to make such a precise statement to tell a fictional story. I have featured reconstructions of such a calendar in all my books since 1995 and in a more detailed paper.


To summarise the case at its simplest: lunisolar calendars are based upon repeating cycles where an integral number of months are almost equal to an integral number of solar years. None are exact, but some of the closest are 8-years (Greek Octaeteris) and 19-years (Meton cycle) and an 11-year cycle is almost as good. The 5+6 year calendar of Plato is therefore using an 11-year cycle. The calendar requires 4 extra intercalary months evenly spaced throughout the 11 years, hence two in the 5-year cycle and two more in the 6-year cycle. It is then simply a matter of where you wish to place the epagomenal days (equivalent to our 29 February).


We have an example of a 5-year cycle in the Gaulish Calendar of Coligny (see links below). This gives us an example of how a real 5-year cycle worked (It is useless on its own) but it must have a complementary 6-year cycle. The dictates of astronomy determine how the 6-year cycle must be arranged to make the lunisolar calendar work.


We have the added complication that various ancient sources tell us that the Celts also used thirty-year cycles based on the orbit of Saturn. So, either they simply marked the appearances on the lunisolar calendar, or perhaps they arranged the days to start a new cycle on each orbit. Without hard evidence it is not possible to say more. Note that 5- and 6-year cycles map to 30 much more easily than to 8 or 19, which may tell us why the 11-year cycle was preferred.


Prediction: one day evidence of a calendar with a six-year cycle will be discovered somewhere in the Celtic regions.


Some years ago, in one of my ‘talks’ I was challenged: “the Coligny Calendar is Roman – what’s that got to do with Atlantis?” Look at the calendar on your wall. The printer didn’t invent it. It is an evolution from the old Roman calendar that is over 2,500 years old. The months are named for Roman emperors 2,000 years old. The days are named for Germanic gods who knows how old. Therefore, when you find a calendar that was on a wall in first-century Gaul it is quite probable that the structure and nomenclature were already thousands of years old. That takes us back to the era of the stone circles and megaliths.

The author's more detailed discussions may be found on the Academia website at:


The following links lead to other independent discussion – always a good sign when others come independently to similar conclusions.



Maltese Temples

There has been recent discussion that the temples of Malta may exhibit calendrical alignments; these temples date from the fourth millennium BC. There is no reason in principal why there should not be such solar alignments, as many temples elsewhere in the world are solar-oriented.

CR Sant in his recent books The Calendars of Megalithic Malta and The Two Queens and the Megalithic Temple has argued for changes to the obliquity of the Earth based on the temple alignments at Mnajdra and Ggantija. An investigation of the spiral art found at Maltese and other temples is available here.

If a temple points to a modern solstice sunrise, such as we find at Karnac, Stonehenge or Newgrange, then such alignment may be reasonably claimed. If however, it points to sunrise on some other festival date then how do you prove it? How does one counter the claims of sceptical archaeologists that it is random orientation or poor astronomy? What we need is a clear message from the temple builders that gives us both date and purpose of the monument.


In my own work, I have tried various ways to test that a change of obliquity, or at least a pole-shift and transient wobble, has occurred in recent prehistory. It is not easy. In Under Ancient Skies I attempted to analyse this problem by  analysis of ancient eclipses and other astronomical references in ancient sources. Unfortunately the available dates and time-of-day are too imprecise to be of much help before about 1200 BC. I concluded that no such event could have occurred since c.3100 BC as it would invalidate the Newgrange and Stonehenge alignments.


This is where the Maltese temples (if intentional alignments could be substantiated) would be highly informative, since they date from earlier in the fourth millennium BC. If a change of obliquity has occurred then monuments older than 3200-3100 BC should not be aligned on the modern solstices but on some other line.

The books by Carmel Raymond Sant are available on Amazon Kindle. His latest material is here: 

Other relevant discussion:



[February 2019, updated June 2022 v1.3]

Tags: ancient astronomy, catastrophism, pole-shift, Chandler wobble, nearly-diurnal wobble, impact event, comet impact, ancient calendar, ancient eclipses, Oumuamua, gravity wave, Malta temples

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