ATLANTIS - Title With Image

In their book When the Sky Fell, Rand and Rose Flem Ath present convincing evidence that Antarctica was in fact the mythical Atlantis. Taking their cue from Charles Hapgood’s Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings and his theory of ‘crustal shifts,’ they demonstrate that the island was once the temperate thriving hub of the world. A total shift in the earth’s surface in 9,600 BC resulted in its displacement to the current position at the pole where the culture was overwhelmed by water and ice.

This is the basis for the myths of the flood, and the idea of an original advanced civilization from the sea that crops up in the folklore and written histories of cultures around the world. According to the Flem Aths, the once flourishing and technologically supreme Atlantean/Anatarctican civilisation was dispersed across the planet, replanting the seeds of essential culture in locations as varied as Peru, Mexico, Egypt and Cambodia. Here they erected huge, durable structures encapsulating the astronomical data that defined the sky to earth relationship at the time of the deluge. An attempt we’re informed, to forewarn future generations should the same configuration reoccur.

Graham Hancock runs with the idea in his book Fingerprints of the Gods, then elaborates on it further in his illustrated travelogue Heaven’s Mirror, on which he also collaborated with his wife, photographer Simaith Niin. Like the Flem Aths’, the Hancock, Niin documentation is equally plausible but they pivot their own theories on the even more remote date of 10,500 BC. A time they say, when the Egyptian Sphinx aligned exactly with the constellation of Leo at spring equinox and the ground plan of the three pyramids of Giza and the river Nile corresponded precisely to the Milky Way and the three stars in the belt of Orion.

Like the Mesoamerican civilizations and the far Eastern Cambodians the Egyptian building methods and immense knowledge of celestial mechanics are presented as evidence of a single originating culture. Both sets of authors catalogue their data in order to disprove the dates proposed by archaeological orthodoxy. A kind of cosmic finger wagging, aimed at humbling both expert and layman alike with evidence of comparable and often apparently superior technological know how to our own, that was already in existence as much as 12,000 years ago.

The four cultural groups have indeed left tantalizing possible evidence of this common cultural ancestor: massive megalithic structures, many of which defy modern attempts to explain their purpose or the processes by which they were accomplished. An achievement made possible say the authors, by the transfer of information from this protean culture that according to Plato erected large scale architectural marvels of its own.

Whenever Atlantis is evoked it is synonymous with splendor and intellectual accomplishment. It is a gleaming continent of sparkling white cities teeming with refined and opulent inhabitants; a fabulous culture unparalleled before or since.

In his descriptions of Atlantis, Plato described the main city as a circular configuration in which areas were accessed through a system of concentric canals. The opulence of these areas increased as the visitor approached the center. “A wall of brass” surrounded the outermost “trader and mercantile” rim followed by a “wall of tin” beyond which lay racetracks, parks and recreation areas. Next came a “wall of Orichalcum” a metal unique to Atlantis that “sparkled like fire,” and finally, a “wall of gold” behind which lay the central hub. It was a very shiny place apparently and noisy one would imagine during its construction.

On viewing all this splendor, a visitor’s first question must surely be: who actually did the work? And what were the terms of their employment? Quite apart from the enormous labor required to erect such marvels in the first place, maintenance must have been a monumental organizational undertaking. New York City’s Parks and Recreation Department has an army of thousands dedicated to cleaning up trash, mowing the grass and watering the plants. A greater army of workers descends on the offices of that city every night to clean them. In the capital of Atlantis just polishing the walls must have been a full time job.

The folks who initiated and controlled all this, apparently resided in the rarefied Tiffinayesque gold inner circle. Who lived behind the sparkles of Orichalcum we’re not told. The ones who bought and sold the materials – and presumably organized the workers as well – were the brass crowd on the outer rim.

The city was larger than Manhattan and the journey through it remarkably similar. A visitor’s boat trip is comparable to a taxi ride up Broadway from Battery Park. He or she passes through the downtown financial district, continues up through the parks and entertainments of midtown, then finally arrives at the wealthy neighborhoods of the upper East and West sides.

Contemplating where the Atlantean workers lived, how they were paid and how they traveled to work inevitably points to the underlying social foundation to the glamour. Plato doesn’t mention them in his account – not even the wall they lived behind. It seems that a city designed to such exacting aesthetics wouldn’t allow a Bronx or a Bed Stuy to mar the overall impression. Workers in all likelihood went about their personal lives far removed from the splendid city they made possible. Out of sight and out of mind as it were. Down wind and down there somewhere.

Meaning they’d probably have to commute. There’s no mention of buses, but the Atlanteans were big on boats. Possibly there was a ferry transit system. Then again, they were also big on circles and metallurgy. Maybe everyone rode shiny bicycles. More than likely they simply walked and they didn’t get paid for the work at all. Given the great civilizations it supposedly inspired, the entire wonderful setup was in all likelihood predicated on some form of enslavement.

A jewel-encrusted city founded on a system of interlocking concentric canals is a phenomenal undertaking no matter how balmy it gets. How many workers did it take to damn up the polar ocean in order to build the retaining walls? Where did all the precious metal come from? Who mined it? Who smelted it? Did the inhabitants grow their own food? And process it? If not who did? Were there “third world” producers around at the time? Proto Peruvians, Egyptians, Aztecs? And how did the Atlanteans end up in charge anyway? Was there an ante-protean culture before them that passed the tricks along? And another one before that?

Who is Number 1?

Such information if it exists at all is conveniently buried under mile-thick polar ice, but the so-called legacy of its operating procedures is well known. The Aztec and Mayan oligarchies in ancient Central America maintained a brutal system of exploitation over a populace without recourse for thousands of years; every life outside the golden inner-circle subject to the discretion of unassailable whim. In one temple alone Cortes discovered the skulls of 130, 000 sacrificial victims. Children were especially useful for this business: assuaging the paranoia of self-appointed, self-serving superstitious posers.

Similarly the Egyptian Pharaohs and their priestly minions placed no restraint on the use of lesser human beings for their self-glorification. A five thousand year Reich that committed much of its intellectual, technological and artistic resources to clarifying the world beyond this one and the sky above it – at the expense of millions who benefited hardly at all from such indifference to earthly life and to whom few if any monuments were dedicated. Far more space was devoted to birds and hippopotami on the walls of their temples than to acknowledging the countless anonymous souls who built them.

The Cambodians also configured their buildings to match celestial comings and goings. Like the Egyptians, Aztecs and Mayans they too spent a lot of time staring into space and joining the dots. They too decided that ‘up there’ is where you go to when you die. If you’re rich that is, one of the in-crowd, one of the one’s doing the fingering. As both sets of authors would have it, this is the legacy of fabulous Atlantis: God king scams where the opulence of a few came at the expense of a never-ending supply of disposable human misery.

That such an insidious dynamic had its roots far farther back than we’d previously imagined is hardly a cause for wonder. It’s certainly not something to get excited about. Given the appalling suffering that has occurred in the meantime, the idea that we were just as smart, if not smarter 12,000 years ago is a terrifying, chilling thought.

Inundating even.

Like being overwhelmed by water and ice.


Malcolm Mc Neill’s first project out of art school was a seven-year collaboration with writer William S. Burroughs. His two books about the experience were published at the end of 2012.

His most recent exhibition of paintings was in August 2013 in New York.

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