A study of the problems presented by sceptics in connection with scientific and historical research, which reviews evidence to provide logical answers to questionable theories concerning the connection between the Orion star belt and the pyramids, the evolutionary position of Lucy the ape, and the true situation of Altlantis.
"The information collected by Baigent is not hidden--it is there buried deep in some newspaper and the tremendous value of Ancient Traces is that those bits and pieces are brought out for us to read in a highly organized manner."
"All too often we fall into the trap of thinking that we know everything about our world. This book has gathered together information which reminds us that we do not: information which upsets the comfortable, but confining, boundaries of our world."
In July 1989 a team of Israeli archaeologists working in the northern Jordan valley dug up a well-constructed and highly polished wooden plank from a site that was estimated at 500,000 or more years old. It had obviously been made with considerable skill and effort. Yet current scientific and historical thinking would have us believe that cavemen did not have the technological capabilities to make such a thing. Was the plank 'an intruder', acquired by cavemen living at the site, but made by another, more sophisticated group from elsewhere? Or - the most unsettling thought of all - is current scientific thinking simply wrong about the early history of man?
It only takes the discovery of one anomalous object to upset a long established historical or scientific belief. Of course, when such things are discovered all too often those who serve and protect the consensus position take action to remove, destroy or discredit the new find. It is declared false, or its discovery is called into question, or perhaps the discoverer is personally discredited, losing his or her professional position. Indeed, all have occurred and continue to do so.
I wrote this book following a conversation over dinner with my stepdaughter who worked in the fashion business and while interested in the curiosities I was always talking about, wanted something which she and her friends could easily access, something which summarised a sample of the anomalies in an easy and simply understood manner.
This seemed liked a good idea; I decided to write a book with a chapter dedicated to each area which had set me thinking during the course of my research and writing over the years. Some of the chapters contain data which seem to me to be solid, others look at evidence which is more difficult to judge and which I cannot come to any conclusion about – whether to accept or reject it. Nevertheless, we cannot dismiss such data out of hand; we need to worry about it a bit. It might be garbled but it might convey something true.
I begin Ancient Traces with the story of the discovery of a section from a plank of willow wood around 500,000 years old; a plank which was straight, flat on the top with a smooth polished surface. The immediate question is what would people who lived in caves need such a plank of wood for? In fact, how would they even have the concept of a straight edge in their mentality?
This plank satisfies all the criteria of manufacture. It forces us to accept the existence of a very ancient culture able to retain and teach advanced skills both technical and aesthetic.
The archaeologist, Prof. Goren-Inbar, who found this plank had no explanation, simply cautioning that we have seriously underestimated the capabilities of so-called primitive humans. I raise the suggestion that this object may be culturally intrusive, that is, that the cave-dwellers with it might have taken it from elsewhere, from some culture existing in their time which was more technologically advanced. Is this so outrageous? I don’t think so.
I have always considered it very arrogant for us to claim that we are the most advanced culture ever to exist in the history of the earth. It may be that our technique of mass-production has covered the earth with objects but this is a function of our economic model rather than our technical prowess.
It is just as possible that an early culture could have great technical ability but produce advanced objects in small numbers rather than in their millions. An example of this, albeit much later, is the mechanical astronomical computer found in Piraeus harbour, Greece, and which can be dated from the first millennium BC since its use is based upon Babylonian astronomical concepts.
Perhaps only one or two of these were ever made but the one discovered proves that the technical ability was certainly there. Such mechanical devices could have been mass-produced but the culture chose not to go that route, which, given the junk modern cultures clutter our environment with, might actually be a more civilised approach to technology.
Every manufactured object exists in a cultural context; it has a history; it demands the existence not only of intelligence but of knowledge. And knowledge demands the existence of a technique of preservation ( memory, archives) and techniques of teaching (language, abstract terminology, schools); all these lie at the heart of any culture.
We can see that the danger posed to the consensus position by anomalous objects is profound, actually terminal: just one anomaly is sufficient to prove a wider knowledge. No one, for example, made an astronomical computer by luck or mistake. It emerged from a body of knowledge which itself had a history of invention, nurturing and teaching.
Our modern definition of civilisation is entangled with our view of technology: we look for evidence of technology as evidence of advancement. In fact it is worse: we look for evidence of mass-productionof technology. Which, when combined with our statistical approach to data, means that the discovery of an anomaly does not force us to change our complacent view of the past. Anomalies can be excluded – they can be declared non-existent. But if the culture did not indulge in mass-production then residues would be few.
An important consideration here is the effect of climate change: over the last million years or so there have been several epochs of global warming followed by ice-ages. The sea levels between such periods could vary dramatically.
Cultures most easily develop in temperate, fertile lowlands, near the rivers allowing the use of water for irrigation and communication. Especially important are those river delta regions where hunting, fishing and by virtue of the access to the sea, trading, is easy.
Unfortunately these broad river valleys are often very low-lying. The Indus valley today extends 450 miles in from the sea before reaching a height of 300 feet. The Mississippi reaches around 550 miles. Great swathes of western France are below 300 feet in height.
Yet, at the end of the last Ice-Age, around 7000 BC, the sea had risen, world-wide, by over 400 feet. We have proof of this on the US continental shelf where teeth of land animals – mastodon, mammoth, horses, musk ox, moose – have frequently been dredged up from depths of 400 feet, up to 190 miles out to sea. Dating techniques have indicated that this was still dry land 9000 BC.
In fact this process has occurred twice over the last 350,000 years. So we can be sure that much has been destroyed; we must look beneath the sea and mud for the origins of our culture. So many of the possible sites for such evidence would have been destroyed; one example of this which I look at is the legend of Atlantis.
In this book I look at data which directly challenges the orthodox consensus position, data which upsets the comfortable but confining boundaries of our modern world. I look at evidence suggesting some sort of design in evolution, at ancient technology, of traces suggesting that human beings existed millions of years before the present, of human culture emerging in territory no longer available for archaeological study.
But I also move into the more mystical side of our life and our world and look at evidence concerning the timeless mystery of death and rebirth. Can we have lived before? Has knowledge of the world after death been passed down through the millennia? Increasingly data is emerging to lead us to answer “yes”.
All too often we fall into the trap of thinking that we know everything about our world. In this book I have gathered together information which reminds us that we do not.
The German volumes: Das Rätsel der Sphinx and Spiegelbild der Sterne.
In Germany, Ancient Traces, was split into two volumes: the first, Das Rätsel der Sphinx, which appeared in 1998, dealt purely with all the historical material but with the addition of the chapter excluded from the English edition on the possible survival of Neanderthal man.
The more spiritual and mystical material was published 2001 in a second volume entitled Spiegelbild der Sterne."