Scientists – are they always to be trusted? Philip Coppens is not so sure, and starts off his latest volume by directing us to the Glozel controversy. To greatly oversimplify and state the point of the inclusion of this in his book, the main point is that archaeologists were guilty of outright fraud. The young farmer made a discovery on his land that produced many artefacts that went rather a way back. This was disputed by professional archaeologists to such an extent that the police were involved. Eventually the farmer was vindicated and his discovery has stood the test of time. The moral of this story seems to be ‘Beware of scientists’!
This segues into the Bosnian Pyramid storm. Without trying to get into the various arguments too deeply, many folk say that the main hill in question is a natural formation taken out of context whilst others say that it is the largest pyramid in the world; a natural formation augmented by Man. Coppens comes down firmly on the side of the latter as the start of his argument that what we currently think of as civilisation goes back much further than the greybeards of the Establishment are willing to admit. What follows is a very interesting, if contentious, journey through many examples of what may well be evidence of far older societies than current thinking would allow for.
This, then, is the main thrust of this book. Where there is a choice between orthodoxy and radical thought, then radical thought is generally the winner. This does make for an intriguing read and, to be fair, where there are questions of either possible or outright fraud then the author does take pains in pointing them out.
One very interesting part, personally speaking, was the section on Atlantis. After some criticism of the management of the Giza Plateau we come to the theory put together initially by a Belgian academic, Marcel Mestdagh, who initially specialised in Viking invasions. He became interested, initially, in the patterns that indicated that the Vikings were looking for something. They were attracted to Nottingham because of the arrangements of its roads radiating outwards from the town. However, they did not find what they were looking for, called for reinforcements and went south to France, where they worked (that is to say pillaged) their way to the city of Sens. This they besieged but did not pillage. The reasoning is that the Vikings had reason to believe that this settlement was their “Walhalla”, the home on Earth of the afterworld known to their ancestors. Mestdagh goes on to suggest that the oval forms cutting massively across the French landscape and picked out by the many megaliths surrounding the putative Viking heaven followed the same dimensions as those of Atlantis, that fabled and disputed land.
Coppens goes on to suggest that this might not be the original, but a later attempt at a reconstruction, probably under the influence of survivors of the catastrophe, or catastrophes, that took this legendary nation away from the knowledge of Man. The reason, according to the author, that we have not heard about it before is that it has never been written up in English before. This may be a theory that, at the very least, could do with a closer look.
Here I must confess to some puzzlement. There are two specific items that Mr Coppens admits are very controversial, but he includes them anyway. These are the Burrows Cave and the Bimini Crystal. Both seem to be highly debateable, very subjective and the possibility of deception on behalf of the ‘discoverers’ is very high indeed, even by the admission of the author, so why include them at all? When dealing with an hypothesis that is already going against archaeological received wisdom, why potentially undermine your own case? I fully understand that, in the case of the Bimini Crystal, there is a personal dimension, but whilst this has a certain charm, I still do not fully grasp why this is included in this book as a bolster to his main argument when it would seem to be a potential embarrasment.
This, then, is a work that takes no prisoners. Coppens is certainly on the side of the more drastic and adventurous approach to theories of the past, and he has no love for those he feels are dragging their heels in these matters, especially if they come from the ranks of orthodoxy. -- Trevor Pyne