March 1, 2024

Here are a few book reviews I gave for some of the best books I read while researching End Times and 2019: Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, Hamlet’s Mill, and The Dimensions of Paradise. If you like what I have to say about these books, perhaps you’ll appreciate End Times and 2019.

5 stars for Charles Hapgood’s “Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings” – Maps reveal ancient knowledge, global civilization, and pole shifts – Great Book!

Hapgood’s “Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings” may be known mostly for publicizing the existence of what is commonly called the Piri Reis Map, but as the first word in the title suggests there are many ancient maps evidencing knowledge we once believed was discovered more recently. The Piri Reis map of 1513 is a fragment of a larger map of the world, based on source maps going back to ancient Alexandria and beyond. Hapgood analyzes this map in great detail but the one fact that makes it most noteworthy is the detailed depiction of western Antarctica centuries before anyone in modern times knew the continent existed. Yet is was mapped in ancient times, free of ice, with mountains and river valleys in locations now verified with technology that can see under the ice cap.

Along with an analysis of many other ancient maps (such as those from Oronteus Finaeus, Hadji Ahmed, and Buache) which apparently demonstrate cartographic use of spherical trigonometry around the world, these maps also show geographical details the cartographers should not have known in antiquity (at least as conventional history teaches us.) Hapgood also looks into a variety of additional scientific evidence and reaches a conclusion which was startling when he introduced the idea about 60 years ago: that the surface of the Earth is not firmly attached to the core. There are crustal displacements – pole shifts – in which the entire outer surface of the planet changes position relative to our poles of rotation and our equator. This may destroy civilization when it happens. It has happened repeatedly. Hapgood won’t tell us how quickly such an event could occur, nor will he claim that Atlantis was destroyed the last time it happened. But he does clarify where several prior North Poles have been, including the last one in Hudson Bay. He suggests that western Antarctica was habitable in ancient times. He even speculates that the next pole shift may take the future North Pole to a new location near Lake Baikal in Siberia.

If Hapgood’s thinking is correct (and as an author writing about related subjects, I believe it is) then we have information at our disposal which can help us make predictions about the next pole shift. Does this mean that certain prophecies might really be based on the calculations of ancient scientists who had technology and wisdom rivaling our own? Did they “know” when certain things would happen in the future? Hapgood doesn’t go that far. He stuck his neck out about as far as a college professor could in the 1950s without risking his job, but Atlantis and prophecy were not respectable topics.

Readers interested in such topics, along with those Hapgood did cover in “Maps” may also appreciate books like Hancock and Bauval’s “The Message of the Sphinx,” Weidner and Bridges’ “The Mysteries of the Great Cross of Hendaye,” Michell’s “The Dimensions of Paradise” and de Santillana and von Dechend’s “Hamlet’s Mill.”

4 stars for Giorgio de Santillana’s “Hamlet’s Mill” – Loads of facts and great analysis, little organization

I took one star away for a lack of clarity and organization, despite wanting to give the book five stars for content. “Hamlet’s Mill” is a dense analysis of ancient mythology in which the authors explain that most myth is not about the adventures of historical human characters but of astronomical bodies. There are similar stories and themes in myths around the world, not necessarily because there was an Atlantis providing a cultural heritage for everyone on earth, but because everyone observes the same skies. The sun always appears to make the same annual journey through the background stars, and ancient cultures were also very much aware of precession. This is where it gets the most interesting. It’s all well and good to notice Mars takes roughly two years to complete an orbit, and to write stories about a character with warlike attributes who returns after a two year journey, as von Dechend notes in the preface to the book. It’s much more impressive to see that many cultures understood the almost 26,000 year cycle of the precession of the earth’s axis. Such knowledge tells us civilizations were devoting a minimum of several centuries to careful astronomical observation, because it would take generations to notice a one degree change. It would take thousands of years to notice the vernal equinox sun or winter solstice sun moving through various constellations. Yet many cultures did notice, and when they pass down stories involving zodiac signs we need to decide if they are extremely ancient clues which time the stories to distant epochs. Is a golden calf about the vernal equinox sun in the Age of Taurus? Is the golden fleece about the sun in Aires? Are stories of lions about the age of Leo? If so, then civilization goes back much further than we have been taught to believe.

Themes the authors focus on include the “Mill” of the title, with spinning millstones representing the circular rotation of planetary orbits and our own planet around its axis, generating our view of a spinning sky. As so many ancient cultures have myths about the world tree (used as an axis shaft) being chopped down or having its roots gnawed away at, or the sudden unhinging of the mill peg, and the destruction of the mill, we must wonder why ancient writers did not view the pole of rotation as a permanent fixture. Is it merely because they noticed gradual change, with a series of pole stars over the 25,800 years of precession? Or did they survive more than mere gradual change? Were there sudden pole shifts in which the entire surface of the earth suddenly changed position, with earthquakes and tidal waves and the demise of great civilizations? The authors, early on, mention “catastrophes and the periodic rebuilding of the world.” (p. 3) Such events would certainly be the focus of any writing done by survivors in the generations following such an event – and one good way to convey knowledge of such ideas through generations of post-catastrophe dark-ages would be to simplify the scientific and mathematical principles into myth. So we see the same unusual numbers in Egypt, in Norway, in India, in Mexico… and we are taught some science without necessarily realizing what we pass on to the next generation.

“Hamlet’s Mill” would have benefitted greatly from better editing. A huge mass of relevant material is presented, but not organized with the flow of a well-honed argument. I think the information presented was ground-breaking, and as an author myself, I found it extremely useful. My own discovery of specific patterns in ancient writing may not have been deciphered had I not read “Hamlet’s Mill” and other great books on mythology and astronomy and ancient history. Readers interested in an analysis of ancient myth may want to read Joseph Campbell’s “The Mythic Image” or for an archeoastronomical denconstruction of myth, perhaps Hancock and Bauval’s “Message of the Sphinx” or Hancock’s “Fingerprints of the Gods.” “Hamlet’s Mill” merely hinted that major religions may really be more about astronomical processes than we thought, but for more such astrotheological analysis of the major religions read books by Acharya S like “Suns of God” or “The Christ Conspiracy.” Weidner and Bridges’ “The Mysteries of the Great Cross of Hendaye,” Michell’s “The Dimensions of Paradise,” the Flem-Aths’ “When the Sky Fell” and Hapgood’s “Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings” are probably all of great interest to anyone who likes “Hamlet’s Mill.”

5 stars for John Michell’s “New View Over Atlantis” and “Dimensions of Paradise” – both reveal ancient wisdom on sacred measurements

I first read John Michell’s “The New View Over Atlantis” about 25 years ago. I was too young to appreciate it at the time; to me it seemed like hippy nonsense trying to pass itself off as some kind of ancient science through the allure of Arthurian legend. Reading it again many years later, I was able to appreciate that a great deal of ancient wisdom is passed down through generations of ignorance precisely because it was successfully hidden and blended into myth and legend. Many numbers, and the relationships between them, are significant not because they are derived from the words and numbers our ancestors choose to use – but very much the other way around – our ancestors derived words and numerical relationships from observing and measuring the earth and the heavens.

In “The Dimensions of Paradise” Michell continues to expound on a lifelong theme – that ancient civilizations had an incredible level of science and technology. Specifically, they understood geometry and mathematics, used them to obtain accurate measurements of the earth, the moon, and the sun, along with the distances between them. The ancients did not merely know these measurements (better than we did until quite recently) and express them in their original units of measure; they created systems of measurement based on known lengths, defining units in proportion to the cosmos. So it is should not be surprising to see examples where our ancestors used these measures and relationships to build monuments around the world. It was not just a vain attempt to recreate heaven on Earth; it demonstrates harmonics that work on the scale of stars and planets and moons, right down to pleasing forms in pyramids, temples, and calendar-stones. The same numbers, proportions, and ideas are also expressed in mythical construction around the world, from Plato’s Magnesia and Atlantis to the Bible’s New Jerusalem and beyond.

Because of the numerous forms these measures took in ancient expression, we can more easily rediscover their knowledge after dark ages of forgotten wisdom. We are forced to recognize that many ancient units of measure, and even the English units still used today, are derived from the same system. “The Dimensions of Paradise” is an excellent introduction to sacred geometry, gematria, and ancient systems of measure. But it is not light reading and a good background in ancient history and mythology will help readers appreciate Michell’s exposition of ancient wisdom. As an author myself, I will say that these two books were of great help to my own writing efforts, as the knowledge Michell reveals allowed me to synthesize many related ideas over a broad range of topics.

Anyone interested in these topics may also want to read books like Hapgood’s “Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings,” Weidner and Bridges’ “The Mysteries of the Great Cross of Hendaye,” and de Santillana and von Dechend’s “Hamlet’s Mill.” Many unusual numbers that stand out in the Bible, and throughout world mythology, will also take on new meaning after reading Michell’s work.

— contributed on May 16, 2014 by David Montaigne, author of End Times and 2019


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