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Legends of Atlantis and Lost Lemuria
By W. Scott-Elliot
Theosophical Publishing HouseCopyright © 1990 Theosophical Publishing House
All rights reserved.
The Story of Atlantis
A Geographical, Historical and Ethnological Sketch
The general scope of the subject before us will best be realized by considering the amount of information that is obtainable about the various nations who compose our great Fifth or Aryan Race.
From the time of the Greeks and the Romans onwards volumes have been written about every people who in their turn have filled the stage of history. The political institutions , the religious beliefs, the social and domestic manners and customs have all been analyzed and catalogued, and countless works in many tongues record for our benefit the march of progress.
Further, it must be remembered that of the history of this Fifth Race we possess but a fragment—the record merely of the last family races of the Celtic sub-race, and the first family races of our own Teutonic stock.
But the hundreds of thousands of years which elapsed from the time when the earliest Aryans left their home on the shores of the central Asian Sea to the time of the Greeks and Romans, bore witness to the rise and fall of innumerable civilizations. Of the 1st sub-race of our Aryan Race who inhabited India and colonized Egypt in prehistoric times we know practically nothing, and the same may be said of the Chaldean, Babylonian, and Assyrian nations who composed the 2nd sub-race—for the fragments of knowledge obtained from the recently deciphered hieroglyphs or cuneiform inscriptions on Egyptian tombs or Babylonian tablets can scarcely be said to constitute history. The Persians who belonged to the 3rd or Iranian sub-race have, it is true, left a few more traces, but of the earlier civilizations of the Celtic or 4th sub-race we have no records at all. It is only with the rise of the last family shoots of this Celtic stock, viz., the Greek and Roman peoples, that we come upon historic times.
In addition also to the blank period in the past, there is the blank period in the future. For of the seven sub-races required to complete the history of a great Root Race, five only have so far come into existence. Our own Teutonic or 5th sub-race has already developed many nations, but has not yet run its course, while the 6th and 7th sub-races, who will be developed on the continents of North and South America, respectively, will have thousands of years of history to give to the world.
In attempting, therefore, to summarize in a few pages information about the world's progress during a period which must have occupied at least as great a stretch of years as that above referred to, it should be realized how slight a sketch this must inevitably be.
A record of the world's progress during the period of the Fourth or Atlantean Race must embrace the history of many nations, and register the rise and fall of many civilizations.
Catastrophes, too, on a scale such as has not yet been experienced during the life of our present Fifth Race, took place on more than one occasion during the progress of the Fourth. The destruction of Atlantis was accomplished by a series of catastrophes varying in character from great cataclysms in which whole territories and populations perished, to comparatively unimportant landslips such as occur on our own coasts today. When the destruction was once inaugurated by the first great catastrophe there was no intermission in the minor landslips which continued slowly but steadily to eat away the continent. Four of the great catastrophes stand out above the rest in magnitude. The first took place in the Miocene age, about 800,000 years ago. The second, which was of minor importance, occurred about 200,000 years ago. The third—about 80,000 years ago—was a very great one. It destroyed all that remained of the Atlantean continent, with the exception of the island to which Plato gave the name of Poseidonis, which in its turn was submerged in the fourth and final great catastrophe of 9564 B.C.
Now the testimony of the oldest writers and of modern scientific research alike bear witness to the existence of an ancient continent occupying the site of the lost Atlantis.
Before proceeding to the consideration of the subject itself, it is proposed cursorily to glance at the generally known sources which supply corroborative evidence. These may be grouped into the five following classes:
First, the testimony of the deep-sea surroundings.
Second, the distribution of fauna and flora.
Third, the similarity of language and of ethnological type.
Fourth, the similarity of religious belief, ritual, and architecture.
Fifth, the testimony of ancient writers, of early race traditions, and of archaic flood-legends.
In the first place, then, the testimony of the deep-sea soundings may be summarized in a few words. Thanks chiefly to the expeditions of the British and American gun boats, "Challenger" and "Dolphin" (though Germany also was associated in this scientific exploration) the bed of the whole Atlantic Ocean is now mapped out, with the result that an immense bank or ridge of great elevation is shown to exist in mid-Atlantic. This ridge stretches in a southwesterly direction from about fifty degrees north towards the coast of South America, then in a south-easterly direction towards the coast of Africa, changing its direction again about Ascension Island, and running due south to Tristan d'Acunha. The ridge rises almost sheer about 9,000 feet from the ocean depths around it, while the Azores, St. Paul, Ascension, and Tristan d'Acunha are the peaks of this land which still remain above water. A line of 3,500 fathoms, or say 21,000 feet, is required to sound the deepest parts of the Atlantic, but the higher parts of the ridge are only a hundred to a few hundred fathoms beneath the sea.
The soundings too showed that the ridge is covered with volcanic débris of which traces are to be found right across the ocean to the American coasts. Indeed the fact that the ocean bed, particularly about the Azores, has been the scene of volcanic disturbance on a gigantic scale, and that too within a quite measurable period of geologic time, is conclusively proved by the investigations made during the above-named expeditions.
Mr. Starkie Gardner is of opinion that in the Eocene times the British Islands formed part of a larger island or continent stretching into the Atlantic, and "that a great tract of land formerly existed where the sea now is, and that Cornwall, the Scilly and Channel Islands, Ireland and Brittany are the remains of its highest summits."
Distribution of Fauna and Flora
The proved existence on continents separated by great oceans of similar or identical species of fauna and flora is the standing puzzle to biologists and botanists alike. But if a link between these continents once existed allowing for the natural migration of such animals and plants, the puzzle is solved. Now the fossil remains of the camel are found in India, Africa, South America and Kansas: but it is one of the generally accepted hypotheses of naturalists that every species of animal and plant originated in but one part of the globe, from which centre it gradually overran the other portions. How then can the facts of such fossil remains be accounted for without the existence of land communication in some remote age? Recent discoveries in the fossil beds of Nebraska seem also to prove that the horse originated in the Western Hemisphere, for that is the only part of the world where fossil remains have been discovered, showing the various intermediate forms which have been identified as the precursors of the true horse. It would therefore be difficult to account for the presence of the horse in Europe except on the hypothesis of continuous land communication between the two continents, seeing that it is certain that the horse existed in a wild state in Europe and Asia before his domestication by man, which may be traced back almost to the stone age. Cattle and sheep as we now know them have an equally remote ancestry. Darwin finds domesticated cattle in Europe in the earliest part of the stone age, having long before developed out of wild forms akin to the buffalo of America. Remains of the cave-lion of Europe are also found in North America.
Turning now from the animal to the vegetable kingdom it appears that the greater part of the flora of the Miocene age in Europe—found chiefly in the fossil beds of Switzerland—exist at the present day in America, some of them in Africa. But the noteworthy fact about America is that while the greater proportion are to be found in the Eastern States, very many are wanting on the Pacific coast. This seems to show that it was from the Atlantic side that they entered the continent. Professor Asa Gray says that out of 66 genera and 155 species found in the forest east of the Rocky Mountains, only 31 genera and 78 species are found west of these heights.
But the greatest problem of all is the plantain or banana. Professor Kuntze, an eminent German botanist, asks, "In what way was this plant" (a native of tropical Asia and Africa) "which cannot stand a voyage through the temperate zone, carried to America?" As he points out, the plant is seedless, it cannot be propagated by cuttings, neither has it a tuber which could be easily transported. Its root is treelike. To transport it special care would be required, nor could it stand a long transit. The only way in which he can account for its appearance in America is to suppose that it must have been transported by civilized man at a time when the polar regions had a tropical climate! He adds, "a cultivated plant which does not possess seeds must have been under culture for a very long period ... it is perhaps fair to infer that these plants were cultivated as early as the beginning of the Diluvial period." Why, it may be asked, should not this inference take us back to still earlier times, and where did the civilization necessary for the plant's cultivation exist, or the climate and circumstances requisite for its transportation, unless there were at some time a link between the old world and the new?
Professor Wallace in his delightful Island Life, as well as other writers in many important works, has put forward ingenious hypotheses to account for the identity of flora and fauna on widely separated lands, and for their transit across the ocean, but all are unconvincing, and all break down at different points.
It is well known that wheat as we know it has never existed in a truly wild state, nor is there any evidence tracing its descent from fossil species. Five varieties of wheat were already cultivated in Europe in the stone age—one variety found in the "Lake Dwellings" being known as Egyptian wheat, from which Darwin argues that the Lake dwellers "either still kept up commercial intercourse with some southern people, or had originally proceeded as colonists from the south." He concludes that wheat, barley, oats, etc., are descended from various species now extinct, or so widely different as to escape identification, in which case he says: "Man must have cultivated cereals from an enormously remote period." The regions where these extinct species flourished, and the civilization under which they were cultivated by intelligent selection, are both supplied by the lost continent whose colonists carried them east and west.
From the fauna and flora we now turn to man.
Similarity of Language
The Basque language stands alone amongst European tongues, having affinity with none of them. According to Farrar, "there never has been any doubt that this isolated language, preserving its identity in a western corner of Europe, between two mighty kingdoms, resembles in its structure the aboriginal languages of the vast opposite continent (America) and those alone."
The Phoenicians apparently were the first nation in the Eastern Hemisphere to use a phonetic alphabet, the characters being regarded as mere signs for sounds. It is a curious fact that at an equally early date we find a phonetic alphabet in Central America amongst the Mayans of Yucatan, whose traditions ascribe the origin of their civilization to a land across the sea to the east. Le Plongeon, the great authority on this subject, writes: "One-third of this tongue (the Maya) is pure Greek. Who brought the dialect of Homer to America? or who took to Greece that of the Mayas? Greek is the offspring of the Sanscrit. Is Maya? or are they coeval?" Still more surprising is it to find thirteen letters out of the Maya alphabet bearing most distinct relation to the Egyptian hieroglyphic signs for the same letters. It is probable that the earliest form of alphabet was hieroglyphic, "the writing of the Gods," as the Egyptians called it, and that it developed later in Atlantis into the phonetic. It would be natural to assume that the Egyptians were an early colony from Atlantis (as they actually were) and that they carried away with them the primitive type of writing which has thus left its traces on both hemispheres, while the Phoenicians, who were a sea-going people, obtained and assimilated the later form of alphabet during their trading voyages with the people of the west.
One more point may be noticed, viz" the extraordinary resemblance between many words in the Hebrew language and words bearing precisely the same meaning in the tongue of the Chiapenecs—a branch of the Maya race, and amongst the most ancient in Central America.
The similarity of language among the various savage races of the Pacific islands has been used as an argument by writers on this subject. The existences of similar languages among races separated by leagues of ocean, across which in historic time they are known to have had no means of transport, is certainly an argument in favour of their descent from a single race occupying a single continent, but the argument cannot be used here, for the continent in question was not Atlantis, but the still earlier Lemuria.
Similarity of Ethnological Types
Atlantis as we shall see is said to have been inhabited by red, yellow, white and black races. It is now proved by the researches of Le Plongeon, De Quatrefages, Bancroft and others that black populations of negroid type existed even up to recent times in America. Many of the monuments of Central America are decorated with negro faces, and some of the idols found there are clearly intended to represent negroes, with small skulls, short woolly hair and thick lips. The Popul Vuh, speaking of the first home of the Guatemalan race, says that "black and white men together" lived in this happy land "in great peace," speaking "one language." The Popul Vuh goes on to relate how the people migrated from their ancestral home, how their language became altered, and how some went to the east, while others travelled west (to Central America).
Professor Retzius, in his Smithsonian Report, considers that the primitive dolichocephalae of America are nearly related to the Guanches of the Canary Islands, and to the population on the Atlantic seaboard of Africa, which Latham comprises under the name of Egyptian Atlantidae. The same form of skull is found in the Canary Islands off the African coast and the Carib Islands off the American coast, while the colour of the skin in both is that of a reddish-brown.
The ancient Egyptians depicted themselves as red men of much the same complexion as exists today among some tribes of American Indians.
"The ancient Peruvians", says Short, "appear from numerous examples of hair found in their tombs to have been an auburn-haired race."
A remarkable fact about the American Indians, and one which is a standing puzzle to ethnologists, is the wide range of colour and complexion to be found among them. From the white tint of the Menominee, Dakota, Mandan, and Zuni tribes, many of whom have auburn hair and blue eyes, to the almost negro blackness of the Karos of Kansas and the now extinct tribes of California, the Indian races run through every shade of red-brown, copper, olive, cinnamon, and bronze.
We shall see by and by how the diversity of complexion on the American Continent is accounted for by the original race-tints on the parent continent of Atlantis.
Similarity of Religions Belief, Ritual and Architecture
Nothing seems to have surprised the first Spanish adventurers in Mexico and Peru more than the extraordinary similarity to those of the old world, of the religious beliefs, rites, and emblems which they found established in the new. The Spanish priests regarded this similarity as the work of the devil. The worship of the cross by the natives, and its constant presence in all religious buildings and ceremonies, was the principal subject of their amazement; and indeed nowhere—not even in India and Egypt—was this symbol held in more profound veneration than amongst the primitive tribes of the American continents, while the meaning underlying its worship was identical. In the west, as in the east, the cross was the symbol of life—sometimes of life physical, more often of life eternal.
In like manner in both hemispheres the worship of the sun-disk or circle, and of the serpent, was universal, and more surprising still is the similarity of the word signifying "God" in the principal languages of east and west. Compare the Sanscrit "Dyaus" or "Dyaus-pitar", the Greek, "Theos" and Zeus, the Latin Deus" and "Jupiter," the Keltic "Dia" and "Ta", pronounced "Thyah" (seeming to bear affinity to the Egyptian Tau), the Jewish "Jah" or "Yah" and lastly the Mexican "Teo" or "Zeo."
Excerpted from Legends of Atlantis and Lost Lemuria by W. Scott-Elliot. Copyright © 1990 Theosophical Publishing House. Excerpted by permission of Theosophical Publishing House.
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