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From Adam to Atlantis, and after


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Title: From Adam to Atlantis, and after

From Adam to Atlantis, and after
  • A travelogue and enquiry into environmental
    change and the roots of our culture

The background picture may be a contemporary
picture (ca 1650 BC) of the city that Plato
called Atlantis
Amended following original presentation to add
slides containing explanatory text
Martin Taylor, May 2008
About the show
  • Why the title? During a holiday in Greece and
    Turkey in April-May 2000 I saw the remnants of
    the great and cultured Minoan/Theran civilization
    that ended over a thousand years before what I
    was taught was the start of real civilization, in
    Periclean Greece around 500BC. I wanted to know
    where it came from. That led in unexpected
    directions, including speculations about the
    historical origins of our present culture, and of
    many myths and legends, from the Expulsion out of
    Eden (about 6200 BC, amended around 3500 BC) to
    the destruction of Atlantis (about 1628 BC) and
    beyond. Those two stories frame the title.
  • The show includes
  • Pictures of a little of what we saw on that and
    subsequent holidays.
  • An outline of what little I understand of the
    interconnected cultural history of Europe, the
    Middle East, and the northwest Indian
    subcontinent, with an emphasis on the effects of
    environmental change and environmental
  • Interpretations, some of them very speculative,
    about the origins of some legends, myths, and
    written stories.

Martin Taylor, May 2008
Holidays In our month-long holiday in Greece and
Turkey we saw the palaces, houses, and artifacts
of the refined Minoan-Theran civilizations of
Crete and Santorini. This high civilization
certainly didnt spring full-blown from the head
of Zeus! I had thought civilization began with
classical Greece.
Classic Greek structures
The Hephaestion in Athens
The original Olympic Stadium
Later, in 2005, we visited Southern Italy and
Malta, and saw the 5500 year-old Maltese
megalithic temples (1000 years older than the
Pyramids or Stonehenge). And in 2007 I saw the
equally old megaliths in the Orkneys (Scotland).
Why should Maltese and Irish use the same odd
imagery of interwoven spirals? Since that
holiday in 2000, I have read a lot of
archaeology, mythology, genetic mapping, and
paleolinguistics, and have drawn my own (perhaps
fanciful) conclusions, particularly about what
might be the real historical background to some
of the old myths and legends.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
The Minoans and Therans were very fine craftsmen
Bee brooch from Mallia
Table cast in plaster from Akrotiri
All of this is from before 1600 BC
Pendant from Aegina, probably made by refugees
from Thera after the explosion.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
This is a view of one corner of the caldera of
Santorini, also known as Thera. It was blown out
in about 1628 BC by the second-biggest volcanic
explosion of the last 10,000 years. In the
distance, at the lowest neck visible, is the
ancient town we call Akrotiri, which was buried
in the same way as Pompeii, but about 1700 years
earlier. A new volcano is growing in the middle
of the caldera (far right in the picture).
Martin Taylor, May 2008
In Turkey, we saw many fine Greek and Roman
Aspendos Theatre
Roman main street of Perge
Hadrians Wall in modern Antalya
And scenery
Antalya Bay
Pammukale Mineral springs
Blue Mosque, Istanbul
Martin Taylor, May 2008
We saw the tomb of King Midas (of the Golden
Touch) at Gordias
King Midas has two legends, and one can be traced
back to within a century or so of his death. They
both may have been current while he was
alive. Both legends have the King helping Apollo
with some issue, and Apollo giving him some gift
that turns out to have bad consequences for the
King. I wondered if maybe the legends might
actually have been put about by King Midas
himself, or his political spin doctors, to
buttress his position. Why? Midass father,
Gordias, took control of a strategic crossing on
the Anatolian trade routes. Midas, as the son of
the strongman, would have had a precarious
position. To be known as the confidant of a
powerful God would perhaps protect him from
enemies, both internal and external.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Added slide
The Midas Legends
The legend of Midas and the Golden Touch is well
known. The second legend is not. In that legend,
Apollo asked Midas to judge whether he or another
god was the better musician. Midas judged in
favour of the other, which angered Apollo. He
said that if Midas listened with the ears of a
donkey, he would have the ears of a donkey, and
Midas grew long, floppy ears. To hide the shame
of his ears, Midas grew his hair long, so that
only his barber knew. The barber was told under
pain of death not to mention the ears to anyone.
But the barber could not keep the secret entirely
to himself. He did not confide in another person,
but whispered it into a hole in the ground. Reeds
grew from the hole, and when the wind blew, they
whispered Midas has the ears of a donkey. There
is a small statuette in the museum associated
with Midass tomb showing Midas with donkeys
ears, dated within 200 years of his death, which
suggests that the legend might well have been in
circulation during his lifetime, and by extension
that the Golden Touch legend might also have been
contemporary with Midas. Both legends could have
been useful in making possible political rivals
or external enemies think twice before attacking
someone on such good terms with Apollo that
Apollo would ask favours of him. It is not too
far-fetched to suggest that the legends might
have been started by Midas himself.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
More Greek and Roman ruins in Turkey
Great Library of Ephesus, which was
climate-controlled to preserve the books. Perhaps
St. Paul used this library!
Three eras of building Temple of Diana, (one of
the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), Church
of St. John, Seljuk fortress.
Entrance way to the hospital where Hippocrates
was chief physician, Pergamum
Temple of Zeus at Pergamon (now Pergamum)
Martin Taylor, May 2008
And much older ruins at Troy
Did the Trojan war even happen? Or does the Iliad
combine stories of many skirmishes around Troys
shifting allegiances between Mycenae and the
Hittites around 1200 BC? Around the far corner
is where they would have had to bring in the
Trojan Horse. Its not possible! The horse is an
avatar of Poseidon, God of Earthquakes. This
level of Troy was damaged by a major earthquake.
This Grand Ramp is about 1300 years older.
Schlieman, who discovered Troy, thought it it was
the entrance to Homeric Troy, but it is actually
from about 2500 BC. I asked myself what kind of
civilization existed to do this? Later I learned
that it is from the same time as the great Ebla
trading organization, which extended to
Afghanistan and the Black Sea. Maybe Troy also
belonged that trade area.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Added slide
Trojan War
The Iliad and the Odyssey are both probably
collations of stories from different times and
places, put together by bards over several
centuries and finally committed to writing. The
political situation of Troy in the 13th and 14th
century BC was not unlike that of Finland during
the cold war, independent but caught between two
superpowers (Hittite and Mycenean Greek, called
Achaea by the Hittites). Geographically, Troy
commands the sea route between the Aegean and the
Black Sea. If the Greeks hoped to trade into the
Black Sea, as suggested by the legend of Jason
and the Golden Fleece, either they had to be at
peace with the Hittites and therefore with Troy,
or they had to have Troy on their side. The
former was not easy, when the Myceneans were
alternately pillaging and colonizing the western
Anatolian coast, which the Hittites considered to
be in their sphere of influence. The Myceneans
therefore put much diplomatic effort into getting
Troy to ally itself with them, and succeeded
several times. Each time, the Hittites made Troy
an offer it could not refuse, and Troy returned
to the Hittite fold. Eventually, it must have
seemed easier to destroy Troy as an effective
barrier to the possibility of Black Sea trade
than to keep using diplomacy on an unreliable and
untrustworthy city. There may have been several
Trojan Wars over a span of several years. In
the Iliad, Paris, who stole Helen from the
Spartans, is also called Alexandros. A Trojan
Prince Alexandros lived around the time of the
putative Trojan war. He may well have been
involved in diplomatic missions to the Achaeans.
Whether there was ever a Helen is more
difficult to know, but one possibly significant
point is that Spartan women were considered to be
baby-making machines, paternity being irrelevant.
It would not have been strange for a Spartan
woman to have enjoyed a visiting young prince,
though it would not have been very diplomatic of
the prince to allow her to elope with him if she
was the Kings wife.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
In Crete we visited the palaces of Knossos,
Phaestos and Mallia
Three of the four great Minoan palaces dating
from about 1800 BC. Knossos was the Labyrinth of
Theseus and the Minotaur.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Santorini is beautiful, and it may be the most
important place in the whole of our cultural
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Santorini Scenes
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Added slide
The size of the Theran explosion
If you read some of the earlier estimates of the
size of the Theran explosion, you will find them
saying that it was not so unusually great. The
estimate is often that it was about the magnitude
of Krakatoa 1883. They also suggest there was not
a stratovolcano, but a smaller shield volcano.
More recent work (I dont have the reference
right away, but I think it was in Science or
Nature late 2007 or early 2008) argues for a much
larger explosion, many times that of Krakatoa,
which caused The year without a summer in
Europe. The Theran ashfall was light over Crete,
and limited to the east of the island. This means
that if the Cretan agriculture was affected by
ashfall alone, it would have been for only one or
two seasons. As the Minoans seem to have had a
centralized recording system for agriculture,
they might well have offset scarcity in the east
by importing from the unaffected West of the
island. However, as the global weather must have
been affected for some seasons, there may not
have been much food in the west to share. The
bigger damage would have been from the tsunami.
Phaestos, high and near the south coast, would
have been immune, but the other great palaces are
on or near the north coast. Knossos is 5 km
inland, but beside a funnel valley that might
have allowed a wave to reach that far. I know of
no geophysical evidence to suggest it did.
Amnissos, however, the harbour for Knossos, would
have been vulnerable, even though the island of
Dia might have offered some shelter. In all
harbours, the ships would have been destroyed.
Only those already at sea would have been likely
to survive.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Maltese Scenery
South Coast
Valetta defences
Valetta from Mdina
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Maltese Megalithic Temples (4000 - 2600 BC)
Hagar Qim
A room in Mnajdra
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Malta The Hypogeum (ca. 3500 BC)
Pictures scanned from the official guidebook
The Hypogeum was discovered in 1909. It has three
levels cut from hard limestone, not the soft
volcanic tufa of most underground buildings. It
models the above-ground temples, but has mirrored
astronomical alignment. At midwinter sunset, the
sun shone through several chambers on two levels
to hit a small recess with a hook (for a
fleece?), whereas the above ground temples seem
oriented to the midsummer sunrise. Our guide
suggested the Mnajdra temple was the
complementary partner of the Hypogeum.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Orkney Megaliths (3000 BC)
Stones of Stenness (3000 BC)
Ring of Brodgar (2500 BC)
Skara Brae house
Skara Brae village (3100 BC)
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Göbekli Tepe, a very old ceremonial place in SE
Turkey (9,000 BC)
The pattern of large (5m tall) capped pillars in
a circle of smaller ones (3m) is quite
reminiscent of the more elaborate pattern of
Stonehenge, built some 6-7000 years later. The
deliberately pitted surfaces occur also in the
Maltese temples of 3000-3500BC and Scottish
megaliths of similar date. What the pitting means
is anyones guess. Similar pits occur naturally
in the flat limestone of the Niagara Escarpment,
but these are not natural. Perhaps the natural
ones were taken to have some meaning and were
replicated deliberately.
Picture from Science 18 Jan 2008, p278
There are several such rings in this area in the
east of Anatolia. At the time, the region was
very rich in vegetation and animal life. The
place teemed with gazelle, aurochs, and deer.
Groves of fruit and nut trees lined the rivers,
and flocks of migrating birds paused here
regularly. (Science, 18 Jan 2008, p279)
Martin Taylor, May 2008
I put together this timeline to give myself a
feel for the depth of history, being used to
thinking of Shakespear as having lived long ago,
William the Conqueror as a bit longer ago, the
Roman Empire as deep history, and nothing much
happened before that. On this chart, the Roman
Empire isnt even at the bottom of the first
strip. The Ebla trading system, politically much
like the European Common Market (before the EU),
was as long before the start of the Roman Empire
as that was before now. The great megalithic
Temples of Malta were 1000 years before that, as
long as between us and William the Conqueror.
Another 1000 years earlier we find the Old
European cultures I call collectively Vinca. The
Göbekli Tepe culture was another 4000 years
earlier, 11,000 years ago.
A larger version of this timeline chart is at
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Culturally important Environmental Changes and
  • 6200 BC Lake Agassiz flood creates Anatolian
    (and European) cold spell lasting 200 years
    causes abandonment of towns in Anatolia and
    migrations down to the Euxine Lake coast and to
    the south into Mesopotamia. (Expulsion from Eden
  • 5550 BC Post Ice Age rising sea level breaks
    through in the Bosphorus, changing freshwater
    Euxine Lake into saltwater Black Sea, raising
    water level some 400 feet. (Noah and Gilgamesh
  • 3500 BC Over two or three centuries, the
    monsoons shift in latitude and the Sahara dries
    out. Violent weather and drought in Mesopotamia
    leads to the building of irrigation canals fed
    from the Tigris and Euphrates. (Disgrace of
    Goddess, introduction of Eve and dominion over
    nature to the Expulsion from Eden story, and the
    start of misogynist Hero culture in Mesopotamia).
  • 1640 BC Explosion of Thera devastated the Minoan
    coastal cities and probably created famines in
    Anatolia (as well as elsewhere around the world).
    From the civil disruption in Anatolia came the
    warlike Hittite Empire. The loss of the Minoan
    Sea trade destroyed the core of the Regeneration
    Culture. (Atlantis story).

Martin Taylor, May 2008
This is mainly a story of three the interactions
among three cultures. One was the Indo-European,
or Warrior culture. There is some question
where they originated. My money is on the plains
north and east of the Euxine Lake (Black Sea)
east of the Volga.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Early Indo-Europeans are hard to trace. They
originally came from somewhere around the eastern
part of the Black Sea, I think the northeast.
Being nomadic and illiterate, they created no
monuments and left few if any archaeological
traces. The best way to trace them is through the
relationships among the many Indo-European
languages. Some of their cultural characteristics
may be guessed by analogy with later nomadic
warriors such as the Huns or the Genghis Khan
Mongols. Paleolinguistically, family and clan
relationships seem to have been important. The
head of the household or clan was the father, and
the concept of brother extended beyond blood
kin. The most important deity for the
Indo-Europeans, as for the later Mongols, was the
Bright Sky. In the Goddess culture and the Hero
Culture, the Sky God was male. The
Indo-Europeans did have words for agricultural
produce, so must have had some settlements that
tended crops, but there are no obvious words
relating to the Goddess of Death and
Regeneration. Indo-Europeans seem to have
assimilated cultural and religious elements from
the regions they overran in Europe.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Interactions among three distinct cultures from
6000BC to the present
4000BC 500BC
Indo-European horse-warriors
Takeover in Europe
From very early times
Hero culture
In Mesopotamia and Egypt
Ca 3500 BC
1400BC 350BC
Rejection of Goddess
Takeover in Mediterranean
Regeneration culture
Peaceful trading culture
Land-based (e.g. Ebla) and Maritime (e.g.
Initially, meaning by about 8000BC, there were
two main cultural groups around the Black Sea,
Indo-European horse-warriors and town-dwelling
agriculturalists. North and east of the Black Sea
were Indo-European nomadic warrior tribes. They
were horsemen, who left little or no sign of
permanent habitation. Culturally, they must have
been very like the Mongols of the 13th century
AD. Their primary concern, or perhaps worship
was, like the Mongols, the Bright Sky. (We get
this from the study of paleolinguistics, not
archaeology). The Indo-Europeans built their
social institutions around a male clan head, and
inheritance was through the male line, but seemed
to otherwise have no bias against women. Women
could be fighters, just as much as men. Like the
Mongols, they allowed conquered people to keep
their culture and customs, so when they
eventually took the whole of Europe, a lot of the
indigenous culture survived, and I think its
echoes still do, mainly in the differences
between the political tendencies in northern and
southern Europe.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Starting situation for the cultural development
The Black Sea was a freshwater lake, called the
Euxine Lake, about 440ft below sea level, with
fairly steep coast on the south and extensive
gently sloping plains to the north. It must have
been a bit brackish, perhaps like the Baltic Sea
today. Ballard found remnants of the frame of a
building near the old lakeshore.
Göbekli Tepe region. Agriculture started around
here around 8000 BC
Eridu, Ur and other Sumerian cities eventually
developed around here around 3500 BC as the start
of the Hero culture.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
The Regeneration culture
South and west of the Black Sea was a non-warlike
agricultural culture that was derived from the
original centre of agriculture around the eastern
end of Anatolia and north Syria. They lived in
substantial towns without defences and traded
over long distances. We dont know their
linguistic character, but it is possible that
Basque is the only survivor of their language
group. Environmental change caused by the
sudden draining of Lake Agassiz into Hudson Bay
caused the first big cultural shift, about 6200
BC. The high plateau of Anatolia became very cold
and dry, and was effectively depopulated. I
believe this feeds into two stories repeated in
the Bible The expulsion from Eden, and Noahs
We never saw Çatal Höyük, but it is on this plain
east of Konya
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Çatal Höyük, an early Regeneration culture town
Archaeologists drawing of the fresco
The best excavated town of this era is Çatal
Höyük in central Anatolia at an altitude of
1000m. Until about 6200BC it was the centre of an
agricultural area, but in about 6200BC it was
abandoned, and the area was empty until about
5500BC a new town was started nearby. The Çatal
Höyük people plastered the wall of their rooms
more or less annually, and painted frescos on
them. One fresco is of a town under an exploding
volcano, probably Hasan Dag, a 3000m
stratovolcano about 80km to the east. The ashfall
must have gone eastward, because if it had not,
this fresco would never have been painted. This
must have happened within a year or two of that
house being abandoned. Perhaps there is an
8000-year-old Pompeii on the slopes of Hasan Dag.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
The Regeneration Culture (cont)
We know these people more from archaeology and
what we can guess by interpreting legends than
from language studies. Their theology was
trinitarian, the trinity being (1) the Sky God
(Sun, Storm, powerful, abrupt, and concerned with
things male), (2) the Earth and things under
human control, and (3) the Regenerative Goddess
whose realm was underground (the seasonal cycle
of Death and rebirth, Moon, rivers, snakes, birds
with eggs, butterflies, growing crops, fruit
trees, and so forth, concerned with things
female). The dead are buried, and new life
emerges. That is the essence of the Goddess. The
Sky God was worshipped from natural or artificial
hilltops, the Goddess in caves and covered
places. This is important in understanding what
happened around 3500 BC in Mesopotamia and
thereafter, which seems to have been the great
change that has coloured history ever since,
including now. The Bull was a major symbol of
the Regeneration Culture through the ages. As
with many other animals, the Bull was often
represented as a half-human. In later times, from
the viewpoint of other cultures, the Bull-man
became the fearsome Minotaur, and with the bull
transmuted into a goat, Pan and Satan. The
Regeneration Culture is often called the Goddess
culture but that is improper. Male and female
had balanced but different roles. Inheritance and
status came from the mother, which had many
far-reaching consequences for female freedom and
responsibility when compared to patrilineal
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Avatars of the Goddess
I dont get the impression that what I called
God and Goddess were considered to be
human-like figures, as later gods and goddesses
were (and are). They seem to have been more like
willful forces of nature, which were given form
in avatars, some of which had human
form. Important to the story, two avatars of the
Goddess were rivers and snakes. One, the river,
shows up in the rite of baptism, the other in
many stories, including the Garden of Eden (which
also includes the fruit tree avatar) and the
story about St. Patrick expelling the snakes from
Ireland (which never did have physical
snakes). Rivers continually regenerate, and most
have a seasonal flow rhythm. Snakes shed their
skins and become newly fresh, again an important
illustration of the power of regeneration. The
Goddess is sometimes represented as having snakes
for hair (think of Medusa in classical
mythology). These avatars seem to have embodied
the Goddess, not just represented her.
Minotaur, with staff perhaps representing the
tree, and Snake (Lagash, Mesopotamia, approx 2500
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Bulls and Minotaurs through the ages
When I first looked into the origin of the fine
Minoan-Theran culture, I was struck by the two
facts the Labyrinth where Theseus fought the
Minotaur was the palace of Knossos, and that the
Bull-man form of the Minotaur had been a common
image going back to Catal Höyük before 6200BC and
in Europe to the Vinca of 5000BC. The Athenians
clearly knew of the symbolism of the Regeneration
Bulls, horns, and Minotaurs over a 5000 year span
6200 BC
2000 BC
2200 BC
1800 BC
2700 BC
Martin Taylor, May 2008
The Hero culture
The Hero culture is the culture primarily
responsible for our own, and because it is very
different from the other two cultures that have
left their influences on ours. The Hero culture
developed from the Regeneration culture in
Mesopotamia around 3500BC, I think because of
climate change. It is characterized by organized
warfare, the building of defended cities that
each had their special God, leadership by Hero
Kings who had close relationships with the city
God, the building of statues and monuments of
heroes, epic literature, patrilineal heritage and
the subjugation of women by men. Neither the
Indo-European Warrior culture nor the
Regeneration (Goddess) culture had any of these
characteristics. The Hero culture is the only
one, until much later, from which narrative
writing has survived for us to read. (Much of the
survival of this early material is due to one of
the Assyrian Kings reviled in the Bible
possibly Ashurbanipal or Nebuchadnezzar who
directed his scholars to collect and translate
all the Sumerian material they could find, and
record it in the Assyrian Royal Library). The
Hero culture hated and feared the Regeneration
culture, apparently because of the role that
intelligent women played in the society. I will
suggest a reason for this hatred, echoes of which
survive to this day in religions of the Book.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Some historically important places
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Migrations out of the cold around 6200 BC
Note the Hassuna people, whom I presume to have
come from Eastern Anatolia
When Anatolia became uninhabitable, people
migrated both north and south. The northern
migration moved down to the much warmer shores of
the Euxine Lake, while the southern migration
moved into Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. These latter
were the Hassuna people, who encroached on the
original Sumerians in southern Mesopotamia. I
suggest that the Hassuna were the people behind
the Expulsion from Eden story. Eve joins the
story about 3000 years later. Eden was a lush
agricultural area (David Rohl puts it in the
mountain-ringed area east of Lake Van, where the
Tigris, Euphrates, and two other rivers have
their sources). The people were expelled not only
by the newly harsh climate, but also suddenly
because of the effects of the volcanic eruption
recorded in Çatal Höyük (flaming swords).
Martin Taylor, May 2008
The Black Sea Flood migrations
In about 5550 BC the rising sea level finally
overtopped the land connection at Istanbul, and
flooded the Euxine Lake, cutting a deep channel
through the Bosphorus. The people living near the
Lake, and up to nearly 500 ft above the lake
level, had to move or die. Many new Regeneration
cultures were started in the area of the Balkans
between 5500 and 5000 BC. At the same time,
Anatolia was repopulated, the cold dry spell
having ended. I believe the repopulation of
Anatolia is the source of some of the Flood
legends (including Noah and Utnapishtim), but not
all (not Atrahasis). The Black Sea Flood may echo
in myths as far away as Ireland.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
How might the Noah story have started?
  • Flood stories and their historical causes
  • Flood stories are found in all parts of the
    world, but they dont all have the same
    characteristics as the Noah story.
  • The ending of the Ice Age must have generated
    many great floods due to the bursting of ice
    dams, such as the one that created the Channeled
    Scablands in Washington state.
  • A major river can have a once-in-a-thousand-year
    flood because of extreme weather or some upstream
    event such as a bursting ice dam or a volcanic
  • The 130m rise in sea level that ended around
    5000 BC and the isostatic rebound that is still
    occurring must have flooded out many villages all
    around the coastlines of the world, leading later
    generations to assume that there had been a great
  • The rising sea level can overtop a sill that
    protects an inland lake, as in the upper Persian
    Gulf and, notably, the Black Sea in about 5550BC.
  • Climate change can alter lake levels, as
    happened when the isolated lakes in what are now
    Lake Huron and Georgian Bay filled up, and Lake
    Huron spilled over into Georgian Bay in a massive
  • All of these can give rise to Flood stories that
    persist over many generations. Only the latter
    two conform to the general shape of the Noah
    story. A river flood fits Atrahasis.

Martin Taylor, May 2008
Stories that have been said to be related to the
Noah story
  • The Noah story in the Bible is an amalgam of two
    different texts. In addition, there are
  • Utnapishtim was sought out by the hero
    Gilgamesh. Utnapishtim had essentially the same
    story as Noah, including warning by a God,
    building a boat, and so forth. I think the
    Utnapishtim story, like Noahs, refers to the
    Black Sea Flood, but that Utnapishtim is not
    Noah. I think Utnapishtim escaped to the west
    coast of the Black sea (Bulgaria - Romania),
    whereas Noah escaped south to Anatolia and thence
    to Mesopotamia.
  • Atrahasis, likewise was warned by a God to build
    a boat to survive the coming Flood. But I dont
    think his flood was the Black Sea Flood. I think
    it was a major Euphrates flood, perhaps a
    combination of severe weather and a lahar from a
    volcano near the source (perhaps even Mt.
  • Deucalion has a somewhat different story, and
    the story itself is vague. The only real
    correspondences are the fact that there was a
    flood, and that Deucalion escaped on a boat, to
    find land on a mountain. It could have been the
    Black Sea Flood, but it could also refer to the
    earlier slow sea-level rise in the Mediterranean.
  • So, in my view, these four or five Flood stories
    derive from at least two different floods, and
    each of the four different heros (except perhaps
    Atrahasis) represents a whole population escaping
    from their respective floods.

Martin Taylor, May 2008
Neolithic villages were built layer on layer. As
a house became too decayed to be worth repairing,
it would be levelled and a new on built on top,
so the towns became mounds, some of them quite
tall. Çatal Höyük is 20m high.
The level of the Euxine Lake would have been
quite seasonal, rising with the spring flood down
the big rivers Volga, Don, Dneipr, Dneistr, and
Danube. Some houses might have been built on
stilts, as in this model of a Balkan 5000BC
village near Ljublijana. If the Flood happened in
spring, it would initially not have seemed
During the height of the normal spring flood, one
of the village mounds might have looked like the
mound in this lake near Pergamon. But one year
the spring flood kept rising when it should have
subsided. And there was thunder and rain (spray
from the waterfall/cataract) for weeks.
Someone might have eventually decided that the
water was not going to stop rising, and wanted to
save his family and home animals, which might
have needed a bigger boat than he had. But the
reed beds used for building boats and houses
would by then have been under water, so to make
the new boat he could have broken down his
wattle-and-daub house.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Noah (cont)
When the family, with its animals, reached the
Anatolian shore, they probably climbed to get
away from the rising water, and found the towns
abandoned in the freeze of the previous few
hundred years (now over). The story told to the
grandchildren The Gods killed all the people
except our family, but one of them warned Grandad
and so we were the only people who were saved,
with our animals. Later, descendants met other
families with the same story, and perhaps
concluded it was the same great-great-grandad,
and only one family had survived the Great Flood,
with all the animals of the world. That is
essentially the story of both Noah and
Utnapishtim. Why do I think Noah and Utnapishtim
represent different people?
Heres perhaps the oldest map in the world. It
shows the home of the survivor of the flood
beyond the mountains and the sea northwest of
Babylon, as is described in the Gilgamesh story,
consistent with a Bulgarian location. But I think
Noah represents the Halaf diaspora south across
Anatolia to Mesopotamia.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Added slide
More on Utnapishtim and Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh is the first great literary hero, but
there was a real King of Uruk with that name. The
epic of Gilgamesh is not the only one in which he
figures. In the epic of Gilgamesh, there is one
section that deals with the search for
Utnapishtim, the survivor of the Flood. Gilgamesh
travels long and far, by difficult ways, until he
comes to a river or channel that he must cross by
boat. A boatman offers to transport him, but
Gilgamesh breaks stones he believes to be evil
magic, and the boatman says that they cannot go
until the stones have been replaced. Once they
do, they can travel against the current when the
boatman lowers the stones deep in the
water. There is one place in the world where this
makes sense the Bosphorus, where there is a deep
current opposed to the steady surface current.
Until the age of motorized boats, the local
fishermen used to travel toward the Black Sea by
just this method. Gilgamesh must have wanted to
go toward the Black Sea, which is called The Sea
of Death in the epic (and, I believe, in moden
Turkish). This is appropriate for the Black Sea,
because of the hydrogen sulphide that sometimes
erupts from the anoxic depths, a problem that
probably was more severe in he time of Gilgamesh.
The location is also consistent with the oldest
map, shown in the previous slide). When Gilgamesh
finds Utnapishtim, he is given a plant that will
confer immortality, but on his return journey to
Uruk it is stolen by a snake. Snakes are an
avatar of the Goddess, which might be
significant, since the time of Gilgamesh is well
after the start of the Hero culture (and he is
the first Hero whose story has come down to us).
Martin Taylor, May 2008
The Expulsion from Eden
  • The story has three major components
  • An idyllic land from which Adam and Eve were
    expelled, in part by angels with flaming swords
  • A knowledgeable Eve, tempted by a serpent in a
    tree of which the fruit conferred knowledge
  • The gift to Adam of dominion over the earth and
    the animals.

My interpretation
  • Eden was at the heart of the agricultural area in
    eastern Anatolia (Rohl argues for the area around
    Lake Van), which became cold and arid around 6200
    BC, and which, at the time Çatal Höyük was
    abandoned, was affected by a volcano. (The basic
    Expulsion story, with the flaming swords)
  • The Goddess was responsible for seasonal crop
    regeneration. Around 3500 BC the climate became
    unstable, developing into desert. Trees, snakes,
    rivers, were among her avatars, and she was
    linked to women. As the drought set in, the
    Goddess and women became mistrusted and
    intelligent women were feared. (Eves interaction
    with the serpent added)
  • Human engineering of irrigation canals succeeded
    in thwarting the evil doings of the untrustworthy
    Goddess. Humans gained power over the natural
    environment. (The God of Sun and Storm gave men
    the power).

Martin Taylor, May 2008
Beginning of the Hero Culture
There are two ways groups can deal with problems
of resource scarcity cooperate to increase the
resources, or fight to get the limited supply. In
southern Mesopotamia, fighting was the approach.
One village might attack another to get its
harvest. Organized defence became necessary, and
military skills developed. Single leaders with
special tactical and strategic skills, rather
than deliberative committees, became the key to
survival. At the same time, someone had the idea
of getting water for agriculture from the rivers
Tigris and Euphrates. Irrigation canals supplied
the water and allowed the crops to develop, when
the Goddess had turned traitor. The engineering
works also demanded skilled technical leaders and
coordinated execution of plans. Later Sumerians
called the canal builders Gods and demigods. Both
the defensive and the agricultural response to
the increasing drought and generally unstable
climate led people to congregate in organized
walled cities that were supported by agricultural
regions that owed their productivity to the
citizens of the particular city, in opposition to
the plans of the Goddess to starve them out.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Why does Satan preside over an underground Hell?
Under these conditions, Great Leaders were
celebrated and women were mistrusted because of
their relation to the Goddess. Since Goddess
worship tended to be in covered or underground
places, that is where evil became to be seen.
The God, however, was a Sky God, and was
worshipped in high places, natural or artificial.
The good attributes of the Goddess began to be
ascribed to Gods. This Ziggurat dated around 2200
BC was dedicated to Nanna, originally a Goddess,
but by then she seems to have become a
God. Ziggurats were like stepped Pyramids, and
may have inspired the Egyptian Pyramids.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
The Bright Sky God is above, the Goddess of
Death and rebirth, below
The early Pyramids were stepped like
Ziggurats, but the later ones were smooth. From
near it, you can see a pyramid as an infinite
road leading into the sky
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Dualism and Trinitarianism
The original Regeneration culture was based on a
tripartite division of responsibilities Above
the Earth, the Earth, and Below the Earth. Above
and below, things happened over which humans had
no control. Humans dealt with the Earth. Above
was both violence and beneficence the warming
sun and the killing sun, the gentle rain and the
storm. Below was mostly nurturing, river sources,
spring growth, but also death and decay, from
which new growth arises. Duality is based on Us
and Them. Whereas the basic ethos of the
Trinitarian system is cooperation, the basic
ethos of the dualist is competition. When the
Goddess became a betrayer in the 4th millenium BC
Mesopotamia, humans came into competition not
only against the powers of the Underworld, but
also against each other. Competition, and
warfare, became standard, and were idealised.
Rather than God, Man, and Goddess in partnership,
there was God against anti-god, with humans doing
what they could in the middle. It is worth noting
that Satan is often depicted as a Minotaur,
though with goat substituted for bull (as was
also the case for Pan). Christianity retains a
vestige of the Trinitarian in the Holy Trinity
the God above in Heaven, Christ in body, and the
Holy Spirit emerging from underground. The rite
of Baptism also may be a holdover from a ritual
of mating with the Goddess, who is immanent in
the avatar of the river.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Three cultures
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Timelines of the Indo-European takeover of Europe
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Indo-Europeans overrun Balkan Europe
The Warrior Indo-Europeans invaded Balkan Europe
in waves, driving the relatively peaceful Goddess
culture underground, and driving populations of
refugees into the Mediterranean islands and
further west in Europe. The Maltese megalithic
temples date from this era. The Indo-Europeans
seem to have assimilated some Goddess culture
characteristics, the more so the further west and
north they went.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Two Regeneration Culture Federations
  • A land-based trading regime politically like the
    European Common Market, based around Ebla
    (northwestern Syria), about 2500 BC. Trade
    covered a range from India and Afghanistan to the
    Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Cities exchanged
    trade embassies and concluded trade treaties.
    Military action was only defensive, and was
    against the Hero culture cities to the Southeast.
    Ebla captured Mari and imposed an Eblaite
    governor, but replaced later by a native Mari
    governor. At the same time, Ashur (later capital
    of Assyria) was separated from Mari and a trade
    treaty concluded with it, which survives.
  • A sea-based trade regime beginning around 2000BC
    encompassing Crete, Thera (Santorini), Byblos
    (near modern Beirut), and probably many Aegean
    Islands, Cyprus, and the Anatolian coast. The
    Cretan part is what we call Minoan. The elegant
    Theran communities include Akrotiri, where the
    archaeologists thought the first house they
    excavated must have been a palace, until they
    found that all the houses were similarly opulent.
    The Minoan sea federation lasted until the Theran
    eruption, and by sea warfare kept the Athenean
    pirates more or less bottled up. They built no
    land defence systems. I believe a city on the
    central mountain of Thera was Atlantis, and
    Akrotiri was a suburban outpost with a harbour.

Martin Taylor, May 2008
A section of the so-called Marine Fresco from
Akrotiri, about 1630 BC.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Added slide
The miniature Marine Fresco from Akrotiri
The picture of Atlantis in the previous slide
is a detail from the miniature Marine Fresco
which ran high along one wall of a room in
Akrotiri. It is about 50 cm high by about 3m
long. Another similarly sized fresco depicting a
sea battle (against the Athenian pirates?) was on
another wall of the same room. The fresco depicts
a fleet making a voyage from one city to another.
Some have interpreted it as a battle fleet,
perhaps because of the battle in the other
fresco, but I think it is a festival fleet going
from Thera to Knossos. A picture and
interpretation of the whole fresco is available
on the Web, at http//
/Legends/fresco.html which explains in part why I
think this may be Atlantis. It also discusses the
ships, the route implied by the depictions of the
departure and destination cities, and other
aspects of the event. I used this fresco in 2004
to illustrate aspects of psychologically
appropriate pictorial representation, in a talk
on advanced computer interfaces!
Martin Taylor, May 2008
The Thera eruption, ca 1628 BC
  • The eruption was one of the biggest in the last
    10,000 years, perhaps an order of magnitude
    bigger than Krakatoa 1883. Some immediate
  • Elimination of a key centre in the Mediterranean
    trade routes
  • Destruction of Cretan harbours, and probably
    most Minoan ships
  • Loss of Minoan confidence and failure of
  • Tsunami destruction over the whole region
  • Ashfall damages crops for some years, causing
    widespread starvation
  • Probable global cooling for a year or two
    (example English and North American year
    without a summer following Krakatoa eruption
  • Long-term consequences
  • Mycenean (Indo-European Warrior culture)
    takeover of Crete
  • Loss of the core of the Regeneration Culture,
    leading to eventual Hero culture dominance
  • Hittite Empire in Anatolia fighting in Levant
    against Egypt and in western Anatolia against
    Mycenean Greeks (Trojan War).

Martin Taylor, May 2008
Theseus and the Minotaur
After the Theran explosion, the Minoans no longer
dominated the seas, their ports and much of their
fleet having been desroyed. The Atheneans and
other Myceneans were free to develop their sea
power. The Myceneans seem to have been much like
the Vikings fearsome raiders (a highly
praiseworthy epithet in Homer was sacker of
cities), but also colonists. They developed
colonies along the western edge of Anatolia,
which led them into conflict with the Hittites
from central Anatolia, who also wanted those
areas as subject states or direct colonies. Troy
vacillated in its allegiance between the two
powers, leading eventually to the series of
engagements conflated into the Trojan War. By a
century or so after the Theran explosion, the
Myceneans began to dominate Crete, which
previously had been the great enemy. A complete
administrative takeover happened, and the
official language of Crete became Greek (we dont
know what it had been, as the writing has not
been deciphered). Since the Minotaur had been a
symbol of the Regeneration culture of Crete, the
Labyrinth is a name for the palace of Knossos,
and Theseus is an attested Mycenean name, I take
the Theseus legend as representing the
destruction of the Minoan administration by the
invading Myceneans around 1450 BC. The Ariadne
element of the story relates to the refugees who
brought Theran arts to the Myceneans after the
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Hittite Empire
Before the Theran explosion, Anatolia was in a
trading system dominated after Sargon the
greats grandson Naram-Sin captured Ebla by
Assyrian traders who had trading embassies in
many inportant centres. This trade stopped around
the time of the explosion, and Anatolia became a
lawless region. I am guessing that the ashfall
from the explosion might have caused widespread
starvation and the breakdown of authority. Out of
this Wild West environment the Hittites from near
present-day Ankara emerged as a dominant power
around 1400BC. They were Indo-European, warlike,
and cruel. Nevertheless, the mother of the king
had considerable power, as did the kings
wife. The Hittite Empire waxed and waned over the
next 200 years or so, sometimes being diminished
to a small central region and once even losing
the capital, but at other times covering the
whole of Anatolia and half of Syria and Lebanon.
They fought the Egyptians to a draw and
thereafter had good treaty relations with Egypt.
Around 1200BC, just after the period of the
Trojan War, the whole area collapsed. The
so-called Sea Peoples devastated the eastern
Mediterranean, and only Egypt was able to hold
them off. Greece went into a Dark Age period
when literacy almost vanished. In Homers time,
the ability to write was seen as almost magical.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Expansion of the Hero culture into Europe
By around 500 BC, the Hero culture dominated the
Middle East, with perhaps some surviving pockets
of Indo-European or Regeneration-influenced
cultures in the northern part of the region. In
Europe, the Indo-European culture that had
assimilated many of the elements of the
Regeneration culture held sway. The influence of
the Regeneration culture was greatest in the
north and west. The Hero culture was always
monotheistic in the sense that each city god
demanded its adherents should have No other God
before me. The Indo-European culture had long
since personified its deities into whole families
of gods and goddesses with particular
responsibilities, and had no problem in accepting
new gods and goddesses from elsewhere. In
Scandinavia and the Celtic countries, the
mythology has two sets of gods, an older and a
newer, who are often shown as being in conflict.
Even the David and Goliath story is duplicated in
Irish mythology, but in a battle between the
older and newer gods rather than between human
groups. The Hero culture could not accept this
panoply of gods, and used all kinds of methods to
destroy them and the people who might believe in
them or in the wrong one true God.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Medusa and the Harpies
Two terrors of Greek mythology were Medusa and
the Harpies. Both represent prime avatars of the
Regeneration culture Goddess. Medusa was the
snake-haired Goddess, who is represented in
various old depictions. She would turn to stone
anyone who saw her face. The Harpies were agents
of vengeance, in the form of human-headed birds
of prey. Birds, especially egg-carrying birds,
were another of the major avatars of the Goddess.
Both clearly represent the fear the Greeks had of
the Goddess culture people, a distant echo of the
time when the Minoans had ruled the seas and had
forcibly bottled up the Mycenean pirates in their
harbours. The maintenance of these stereotypes
suggests that the interactions between the
Indo-Europeans and the Regeneration culture were
not always assimilative. At the border between
the two, there was often physical warfare (as
mentioned by Plato in his story of Atlantis).
Medusa subjugated, in Istanbul cistern.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Saint Patrick, Snakes, Pagans and Heathens
Jumping ahead to 500 AD, the Indo-European
assimilated version of the Regeneration culture
still was dominant in northern Europe and
Ireland. In Ireland, St. Patrick is said to have
driven out the snakes, but snakes never lived
in Ireland. What he drove out was the religion
that had snakes as a major symbol the avatar of
the Goddess. Pagan is from the same root as
peasant, meaning a country dweller. The old
religion survived outside the urban areas, as it
apparently still does in some isolated enclaves,
albeit in the form of superstitious practices
rather than organized religion. Heathen meant
people who worshipped on the heath, though I have
seen a derivation that said it was a Gothic word
meaning a beautiful woman. Both Pagan and
Heathen refer to the remnants of the Goddess
culture before the Christian Hero culture
completed its forcible takeover. The Regeneration
culture in its Indo-European guise remained
dominant in Scandinavia until around 1000 AD, and
in the eastern Baltic until around 1500 AD. I
attribute the present more social-minded politics
of these areas to the relatively recent survival
of the Trinitarian collaborative culture as
opposed to the combative Dualist good and evil,
us and them Christian culture that took over
the rest of Europe much earlier.
Martin Taylor, May 2008
From Adam to Atlantis, and after
  • A travelogue and enquiry into environmental
    change and the roots of our culture

The background picture may be a contemporary
picture (ca 1650 BC) of the city that Plato
called Atlantis
Martin Taylor, May 2008
Added slide
Indus Valley culture and the Irish connection
  • There are fairly strong suggestions that the
    Regeneration culture spread into India, at least
    as far as the Indus Valley. In the second
    millennium BC and a bit earlier, there was a
    vibrant culture in the Indus Valley that seems to
    have had many of its characteristics. Here are a
    few quotes from the Indian scholar Iravatham
    Mahadevan (from lthttp//
  • One of the cultural traits in the Indus Valley
    2500 BC or thereabouts is that they had the
    bull fight. Some famous sealings show a man
    running towards a bull, catching hold of its
    horns, doing a somersault over the back of the
    bull, and landing at the other end. (Exactly as
    shown in Minoan seals and frescos).
  • Mahadevan says they have absolutely "no great
    palaces, no royal graves, no evidence of a large
    standing army. In this respect, the Harappan
    civilization was very unique." But it was not
    unique, in that in that respect it was like the
    Vinca and like the Minoans.
  • The "Master/Mistress of Animals" appears in the
    Indus Valley imagery, at least in the form of the
    Mistress. Bulls are important in Indus Valley
    culture. They have the Minotaur "horned God" form
    (as well as other human-animal hybrids), and they
    have trees as an object of veneration.
  • These and much more about the Indus Valley and
    the curious similarities with the Atlantic coast
    and Ireland are discussed at http//www.mmtaylor.n

Martin Taylor, May 2008