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Environment                  12,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

In General

 Worldwide, we know that the period of 14,000 to 13,000 years ago, which coincides with the peak of abundant monsoonal rains over India, was marked by violent oceanic flooding - in fact, the first of the three great episodes of global superfloods that dominated the meltdown of the Ice Age. The flooding was fed not merely by rain but by the cataclysmic synchronous collapse of large ice-masses on several different continents and by gigantic inundations of meltwater pouring down river systems into the oceans. (124)

A great, sudden extinction took place on the planet, perhaps as recently as 11,500 years ago (usually attributed to the end of that last ice age), in which hundreds of mammal and plant species disappeared from the face of the earth, driven into deep caverns and charred muck piles the world over. Modern science, with all its powers and prejudices, has been unable to adequately explain this event. (83) 

...the Russian scientist Immanuel Velikovsky's investigations of the Beresovka mammmoth found [it] frozen in Siberia around 1901 in a half-standing position with buttercups in its mouth. Obviously, for such flora to have been growing, the climate had changed very suddenly, but how could even an earth crust slippage have caused the temperature to drop so rapidly? We can picture the Arctic Circle as a circular piece of adhesive plaster, with the North Pole as its centre. Before 10,000 BC, that plaster apparently reached further down, so that its centre was in Hudson Bay and its southernmost edge was as far south as Ohio. As Rand had noticed, the western edge of the plaster did not extend to the west coast of Canada. Hapgood concluded: 'Thus we are able to say that warm conditions of the Arctic Archipelago of Canada persisted for the entire duration of the Wisconsin glaciation, from 40,000 years ago to the establishment of modern conditions.' Hapgood presented evidence to demonstrate, in the same way, that the North Pole moved from the Yukon district to the Greenland Sea about 80,000 years ago, then from the Greenland Sea to Hudson Bay about 50,000 years ago, and from Hudson Bay to its present position about 17,000 to 12,000 years ago. In other words, the most recent crustal movement began about 15,000 BC, and ended about 10,000 BC. Rand's new evidence concerned the fact that in Antarctica the ice was thickest where there was least snowfall, which seemed absurd, since snow turns into ice. Equally odd was the fact that the ice was thinnest in areas with the heaviest snowfall. The most obvious explanation was that the areas with the thickest ice had been within the Antarctic Circle thousands of years longer than the areas with the thinnest ice. In other words, Antarctica had slipped lower, and a part that had once been outside the Antarctic Circle was now located inside it. (123)

And let's not forget that the earth by this time - 8000 years ago - has already suffered the consequences of 7000 years of intense volcanism, 7000 years of rising sea-levels and sudden and unpredictable marine floods, 7000 years of continental shelves, land-bridges and islands vanishing beneath the waves, and 7000 years of spectacular climatic instability. Indeed, the palaeo-climatological record testifies to all of the following - and much more - between 15,000 and 8,000 years ago: cold oceans, high winds, mountains of dust in the atmosphere and wildly unpredictable temperature shifts. (124)

Meltwater Pulse 1A raised global sea-level by 15-20 metres in just 500 years around 14,000 years ago. That sounds bad enough. However, it is not necessarily the case that this very large rise was evenly spread out over the 500-year period resolved by inundation science. In my view the uncertainties regarding post-glacial events make it possible that all or most of it could have been compressed into a single event of much shorter duration anywhere within that 500-year period. (124)

During the same 10,000-year epoch in which the ice melted and global sea-level rose by 120 metres - roughly from 17,000 down to 7000 years ago - our planet also experienced dramatically increased volcanism, dramatically increased frequency and magnitude of earthquakes, and a dramatically unstable climate that seesawed rapidly and unpredictably between extremes. (124)

                                                                                                         MOST RECENT DATE
COMMON NAME                              GENUS                                   BEFORE PRESENT

CHEETAH                                           Acinonyx                                           17,000
PECCARY                                           Platygonus                                         13,000
SHORT-FACED BEAR                       Arctodus                                            12,600
PRONGHORN                                    Stockoceros                                       11,300
WOODLAND MUSK OX                  Symbos                                               11,100
MAMMOTH                                       Mammuthus                                         10,500
MASTODON                                      Mammut                                              10,400
LION                                                   Panthera                                              10,400
HORSE                                                Equus                                                  10,400
CAMEL                                               Camelops                                            10,300
STAG-MOOSE                                   Cervalces                                             10,200
GIANT BEAVER                                 Castoroides                                          10,200
GIANT GROUND SLOTH                  Glossotherium                                        9,800
SABERTOOTH                                    Smilodon                                               9,400
TAPIR                                                   Tapirus                                                  9,400
                                  
In this list, as in more complete ones, the apparent extinction dates cluster between 11,000 and 9,500 years ago. This was the time that the climate, local weather, and ecosystems of North America were undergoing a spectacularly rapid upheaval. It is also the time when other creatures that could also be called charismatic megafauna thrived - the hunters of the Clovis culture and the ensuing Folsom culture. (130)

It appears that, in round figures, the poles remain stationary for periods of about 30,000 years, then move around for 6,000 years, then again stay put for 30,000 years, and so on. Scientists have established that the last four rounds of the poles started 120,000 years ago when the North Pole installed itself in the territory of Yukon in Canada at 63° Nand 135° W; then it went to the Greenland Sea at 72° N and 10° E about 84,000 years ago, moved from 54,000 until 48,000 years ago and settled in the middle of Hudson Bay at 60° N and 83° W; it rested there for 30,000 years; then wandered again from about 18,000 to about 12,000 years ago when it came to its present location. (141)

Africa

The climatic record is, however, unequivocal: for most of the time between around 14 kya and 5 kya the Sahara experienced a monsoonal climate. The region had considerably greater rainfall than now and much of the land had permanent vegetation. (145)

Southwest Asia

 Between about 20,000 and 12,500 BC, glaciers expanded over many areas of American and Eurasia, altering climates around the world. Within this span there were shorter cycles of climate change, periods of several thousand years in which the climates became relatively warmer or cooler, drier or wetter. For most of this period, the sea coasts expanded as ocean levels fell. Forests covered coastal areas around the northern and eastern Mediterranean but many higher areas of southwest Asia were dry steppe or grasslands.(26)

Between 13,000 BC and 4000 BC sea levels rose significantly as ice sheets melted. Meteorologists suggest that there was increased rainfall in the Near East in this era and botanists point to increased plant life. (68)

...the whole of the Persian Gulf – in fact to a point well beyond the Strait of Hormuz in what is now the Gulf of Oman – was dry land between 18,000 and 14,000 years ago. Only then did the sea begin to transgress into the Gulf itself, first as a narrow waterway, later as a recurrent cycle of powerful short-lived floods, each followed by a partial recession of the floodwaters, then a standstill, then renewed flooding at irregular intervals. (124)

By 14,000 yr BP the Hormuz Strait has opened up as a narrow waterway and the flooding of the lowlands to the west begins, first with the flooding of the Eastern Basin by marine water soon after 13,000 BP. (124)

In the Near East many bands of hunter-gatherers had adopted a more sedentary way of life, constructing permanent villages, hunting and fishing locally, and gathering fruits, nuts, and wild wheat and barley, which they later learned to cultivate. With the coming of the Younger Dryas, however, and the sudden change to a cooler and arid climate, these resources disappeared. Jericho was deserted, as were many other villages. The plains of Ukraine and southern Russia reverted to steppe desert. Tribes crowded near oases where game and water were plentiful, such as at the rim of the Black Sea lake. (131)

The steadily rising sea levels might have had a more profound effect on coastal communities where large areas were inundated in fits and starts. For example, this could have happened in the Persian Gulf. This enclosed sea goes no deeper than 100 m, and much of the seabed is only about 40 m below the present-day surface. When sea levels were 120 m lower the gulf would have been dry land 20 kya, and the ancestral river system of the Tigris and Euphrates flowed through the deepest part of the gulf, a canyon cut by the river waters to the Indian Ocean. The postglacial rise in sea level inundated the floor of the gulf between 15 and 6 kya. The sea advanced more than 1000 km, forcing any people living there to abandon their settlements. (145)

The climatic record is, however, unequivocal: for most of the time between around 14 kya and 5 kya the Sahara experienced a monsoonal climate. The region had considerably greater rainfall than now and much of the land had permanent vegetation. (145)

Egypt

 The climatic record is, however, unequivocal: for most of the time between around 14 kya and 5 kya the Sahara experienced a monsoonal climate. The region had considerably greater rainfall than now and much of the land had permanent vegetation. (145)

Indus Valley

 An epoch of spectacular geological turmoil occurred at the end of the last Ice Age, with the most dramatic effects registered in a series of cataclysmic floods that took place at intervals between roughly 15,000 and 7000 years ago. Is it an accident that this same 8000-year period has been pinpointed by archaeologists as the very one in which our supposedly primitive forefathers made the transition (in different places at somewhat different times) from their age-old hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settled agriculture? Or could there be more to 'the food-producing revolution' than meets the eye? After all, most scientists already recognize a causative connection between the end of the Ice Age and the supposed beginning of farming - indeed an unproven hypothesis that rapid climate changes forced hunter-gatherers to invent agriculture presently serves as pretty much the sum of conventional wisdom on this subject. But there is another possibility. Nobody seems to have noticed that in the general vicinity of each of the places in the world where the food-producing revolution is supposed to have begun between 15,000 and 7000 years ago there is also a large area of land that was submerged by the post-glacial floods between 15,000 and 7000 years ago: We have seen that this is true for India, one of the world's ancient agricultural 'hearths', which lost more than a million square kilometres in the south and the west and, most conspicuously in the north-west, at the end of the Ice Age. (124)

China

 

Europe

Between about 30,000 and 10,000 years ago, European climates began a long cooling trend with some periods of extreme cold, but for most of the period the summers were cool and the winters relatively mild. The rich European grasslands and mixed forest habitats supported great numbers of herbivores, including reindeer, deer, bison, wild ox, ibex, woolly rhinoceros, and mammoths. France seems to have been densely occupied during this period, particularly near the confluence of the Dordogne and Vezere rivers. This lovely part of the world is a well-watered, heavily forested limestone formation, honeycombed with caves and rock shelters, which offered excellent places to live.(24)

One of the most amply documented Upper Paleolithic cultures in eastern Europe is the Kostenski-Bershevo culture centered in the Don River Valley, about 470 kilometers southeast of Moscow. About 25,000 to 11,000 years ago, the Kostenski-Bershevo area was an open grassland environment, with no rock shelters, caves, or other natural habitations, and with very little wood available for fires. People here left a variety of archeological sites.(24)

At peak moments of the meltdown any hypothetical civilizations living around the edges of partially enclosed seas that served as drainage areas for the great ice-sheets could have suffered disproportionately large and rapid change in sea-level. In a sophisticated and original argument, LaViolette draws particular attention to the Mediterranean: Glacial meltwater [from the nearby European ice-sheets] would have entered the Mediterranean much more rapidly than it could escape through the Straits of Gibraltar, and, as a result, the temporary rise in Mediterranean sea-level would have been much greater than in the surrounding oceans ... [Such meltwater surges] could have temporarily raised the Mediterranean by some 60 meters, flooding all coast civilizations. (124)

…there is no dispute from any authority that during the extremely cold and arid periods that occurred several times between 17,000 and 10,000 years ago: man and animals could migrate from the Italian peninsula, by land, to the warmer climates of the Siculo-Maltese district. Herds of red deer left northern latitudes and settled in all parts of present-day Sicily, the present-day Egadi islands of Favignana and Levanzo, and the Maltese archipelago, the latter site being the warmest of the Siculo-Maltese district during the Pleistocene. (124)

What the map at any rate reveals is that the newly isolated Malta of 14,600 years ago had lost 70 kilometres of its width by 13,500 years ago due to the complete and relatively rapid inundation of its former large extension to the east and south. No marine archaeology has ever been done on these submerged lowlands, which may conceal archaeological evidence of vital importance to the full understanding of Malta's prehistory. The map also shows that Malta had actually become two islands 13,500 years ago - one, to the west, consisting of the present Malta, Comino and Gozo joined into a single mass, and the other, quite small, lying a little to the east. (124)

Europe was gripped by a return to the rigors of the glacial climate 12,500 years ago, an event known as the Younger Dryas, which lasted for a thousand years. Temperatures fell and the rains became scarce throughout southwest Asia, Europe, and Africa. Glaciers advanced in the high mountains. Lakes in Africa and Anatolia dried up. Precipitation in and around the Black Sea was low, so inflow was reduced to the point that the loss of water by evaporation from its surface exceeded the water received from the rivers and rainfall. The water level began to drop until it had fallen below the Sakarya outlet. Outflow ceased, and the Black Sea became an isolated lake. (131)

In the Near East many bands of hunter-gatherers had adopted a more sedentary way of life, constructing permanent villages, hunting and fishing locally, and gathering fruits, nuts, and wild wheat and barley, which they later learned to cultivate. With the coming of the Younger Dryas, however, and the sudden change to a cooler and arid climate, these resources disappeared. Jericho was deserted, as were many other villages. The plains of Ukraine and southern Russia reverted to steppe desert. Tribes crowded near oases where game and water were plentiful, such as at the rim of the Black Sea lake. (131)

In 1931 a trawler working in the southern North Sea dredged up a lump of peat containing an exquisitely crafted spearhead made from a deer's antler. Dated as being nearly 14 kyr old, this artefact was dramatic evidence of how early humans exploited the broad expanses of land that had been exposed during the last ice age, and were only reclaimed by the sea some 7 kya. When this spearhead was buried, dense oak forests had yet to spread into the region, known to archaeologists as 'Doggerland', where now the sea is over 30m deep. This famous find emphasises that the rise in sea level between about 15 and 5 kya covered up large areas of habitable land that had been exploited by humans and made movement around the continental margins easier. (145)

South America

 Ironically, the site with perhaps the best claim to a pre-12,000 BP date date in the Americas is among the farthest south, Monte Verde, in south central Chile. Here Tom Dillehay and his crew have excavated a camp site that has been radiocarbon-dated to about 13,000 years ago, and below the levels of that age are layers of tools and debris that may be much older, perhaps up to 33,000 years old.(26)

...about 15,000 years ago the Altiplano underwent a big change. A long dry era began that lasted for 2,000 years and the lake (Titicaca) level dropped significantly. (69)

We have two areas lying at similar distances from their respective poles. In one, the northern, we have many evidences of heavy glaciation, extending over a period of perhaps 40,000 years, but ending about 14,000 years ago, to give way to the present climate about 10,000 years ago. In Chile and Argentina, on the other hand, in the same relative latitude just as close, presumably, to a pole, we have no glaciation until after the climate has become normal for the present temperate zone in the north. It appears that in Argentina a cool period set in just as the hipsithermal phase with higher temperatures set in all over the northern hemisphere! Clearly, then, there was no similarity in climatic trends, but rather the opposite. (132)

Mesoamerica

 

North America

 ...the drumlins and other 'hummocky' landforms strewn across Canada are evidence of continental floods of biblical proportions - floods of water in some cases hundreds of metres high - that roared out from beneath the ice-caps during the last deglaciation, destroying or mangling everything in their path. Shaw explicitly suggests that many elements of the universal myth of the deluge may be explained by such floods pouring down off the land - intimately linked, as they were, to the episodes of sudden and ferocious sea-level rise that took place between 15,000 and 8000 years ago. I think it is worth re-emphasizing Shaw's figures, and their implications. He is talking about turbulent, energetic floods 20 metres deep flowing in vortices at high speed and pressure, under the main ice-sheets, across fronts up to 160 kilometres wide. Only floods on such a scale and of such violence could have sculpted the drumlin-fields and hummocky terrain and tortured pitted scablands of Canada and the United States and carved out other remarkable features such as the extremely large through valleys - including those containing the Finger Lakes - that lie to the south of drumlin-fields in northern New York State. 'Volumes of water required to sustain such floods', observes Shaw, 'would have been of the order of one million cubic kilometres equivalent to a rise of several metres in sea-level over a matter of weeks. (124)

Today, Eskimos using skin boats easily cross the ninety kilometers of open sea separating Siberia and America, and recently an American woman slathered herself with grease and actually swam from Alaska to Siberia. But such a sea crossing would not have been necessary during much of the Pleistocene. During periods of glacial advance within the last million years, enourmous quantities of water were converted to ice, lowering the sea level sufficiently to expose a 1500- to 3000-kilometer-wide expanse of the floor of the Bering Sea. This land bridge--usually referred to as Beringia--was probably available at least four times in the last 60,000 years.(25)

Prior to 10,000 years ago, species of deer, bison,camels, bears, foxes, mammoths, moose, caribou,and even rodents crossed from Siberia into the New World. Going in the other way--from America to Asia--were foxes, woodchucks, and, during the early Pliestocene, the ancestors of modern forms of horses, wolves, and other animals.(25)

Some large mammals of Pliestocene America. The scale preserves relative size.(25)

The animals inhabiting this wilderness of 14,000 to 12,000 years ago closely approximate a modern hunter's vision of paradise. Giant moose, three meters and more in height, could be found in many of the wetter areas, along with Castoroides, a species of beaver as large as a modern bear. Along the woodland edges of the southeastern United States were large populations of giant ground sloths, ungainly creatures fully as tall as modern giraffes. In more open country were vast herds of straight-horned bison, caribou, musk-oxen, and mammoths--some four meters high at the shoulders. And the carnivores that such a movable feast attracted were equally impressive. Packs of dire wolves roamed most of the New World, as did panthers as large as modern lions and two species of saber-toothed cat, one about the size of a lion. Thus the  first Americans were hardly entering an "empty niche," since these ferocious predators no doubt provided stiff competition for people trying to specialize in hunting. The great coniferous forests of the North American South and East, and a few other locations, so much energy was in the form of inedible and unnutricious vegetation (cellulous) that there would have been few resources for primitive hunters and gatherers.(25)

One might think that good, solid archaeological data--bones and stones--would be a firmer basis for analyzing New World colonization, given the ambiguities in estimating rates of change in teeth, languages, etc. The truth, however, is that the archaeological record does not resolve these questions and disputes about the date, routes, and adaptations of the first Americans. At this time there is no conclusive evidence that people were in the New World and south of Alaska before about 13,000 BC. That they were there at that time or shortly thereafter is certain (insofar as science can ever be certain), since scores of sites have been dated by many different methods to between 13,000 and 10,000 BC.(26)

We have two areas lying at similar distances from their respective poles. In one, the northern, we have many evidences of heavy glaciation, extending over a period of perhaps 40,000 years, but ending about 14,000 years ago, to give way to the present climate about 10,000 years ago. In Chile and Argentina, on the other hand, in the same relative latitude just as close, presumably, to a pole, we have no glaciation until after the climate has become normal for the present temperate zone in the north. It appears that in Argentina a cool period set in just as the hipsithermal phase with higher temperatures set in all over the northern hemisphere! Clearly, then, there was no similarity in climatic trends, but rather the opposite. (132)

A date that seems to push deglaciation in the eastern part of North America to at least 14,000 years ago comes from West Lynn, Massachusetts. The sample consists of barnacles, and the age found is 14,250±250. Barnacles, we might suppose, could have appeared along the beaches of Massachusetts almost as soon as the ice left, and they would not have required the long prior development of a soil. Therefore we may, with these barnacles, be getting pretty close to the period of actual deglaciation. (132)

This indicates that mastodons (not arctic animals) were present, probably in large numbers, in the forests of the United States and Canada as early as 12,000 years ago. Deglaciation was probably at least 2,000 years earlier. In Ohio where the ice cap was at its thickest, we have a postglacial sample dated about 14,000 years ago. And that was spruce wood, suggesting a forest that must have taken a few thousand years, by conservative estimate, to get established. What, indeed, does this mean? Does it not clearly suggest that the ice cap, estimated to have been at its maximum at least a mile thick in Ohio, disappeared completely from Delaware County in that state within only a few centuries? (132)

Other

 Around modern Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and stretching as far north as Japan, lay the endless plains of 'Sunda Land', a fully fledged antediluvian continent. It was submerged very rapidly some time between 14,000 and 11,000 years ago. (124)

...the South Pole went through similar gyrations but in the opposite direction. We have to note that its three previous locations were in their turn in the southern part of the Indian Ocean between Australia and the Antarctic but never on Antarctica itself. Only the last movement 12,000 years ago brought the South Pole to the middle of the great continent of Antarctica. (141)

Some 260 million years ago, during the Permian period, deciduous trees adapted to a warm climate grew in Antarctica. ...Here at the southernmost known mountain in the world, - scarcely two hundred miles from the South Pole, was found conclusive evidence that the climate of Antarctica was once temperate or even sub-tropical. ...sedimentary cores collected from the bottom of the Ross Sea by one of the Byrd Antarctic Expeditions provide conclusive evidence that 'great rivers, carrying down fine well grained sediments' did flow in this part of Antarctica until perhaps as late as 4000 BC. From 6000 to 15,000 years ago the sediment is fine-grained with the exception of one granule at about 12,000 years ago. This suggests an absence of ice from the area during that period, except perhaps for a stray iceberg 12,000 years ago. ...at one time the temperatures of the Arctic Ocean were similar to the contemporary temperatures of the Bay of Bengal or the Caribbean Sea. (152)