Governance & Complexity in General
Southwest Asia
Indus Valley
South America
North America

The Globe

We have entered the temples of the Greeks and the Aryans, the Hittites and the Hurrians, the Canaanites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. We have followed paths that took us across continents and seas, and clues that carried us over several millennia. And all the corridors of all the temples have led us to one source: Sumer. There is no doubt that the "olden words," which for thousands of years constituted the language of higher learning and religious scriptures, was the language of Sumer. There is also no doubt that the "olden gods" were the gods of Sumer; records and tales and genealogies and histories of gods older than those pertaining to the gods of Sumer have not been found anywhere. (146)

Most historians and archaeologists today more or less automatically project the 'materialist' basis and structure of modern society (whether in its' capitalist' or 'socialist' form) back on to societies of the remote past. This belief - that civilization is simply a function of economic forces - has in turn dictated research and excavation strategies in the field and profoundly influenced the way that scholars look at ancient texts such as the Vedas. In recent years, however, a thought-provoking counterview has begun to emerge. 'Our political and economic interpretations of history', argues the Sanskritist David Frawley, 'cannot be true if enlightenment or spiritual realization is the real goal of humanity.' If the essence of civilization is technology then the modern view may be right, but if it is the culture of spirit, it is quite wrong. By my interpretation civilization was founded by yogis, seers and sages. (124)

The archaeological evidence is undeniable that for the first three million years of our history as a genus, we lived in what anthropologists generally--if inexactly--call band societies. In contemporary and recent band societies, the most salient characteristic seems to be that there are only minor differences among members of the group in terms of prestige; in these societies no one has any greater claims to material resources than anyone else. In most of these societies, older males who are good providers gain the most respect, but they have little or no power to coerce other band members. This lack of social differentiation is tied to their economy: band members spend most of their lives in groups of fifteen to forty people, moving often as they exploit wild plants and animals. (45)

The division of labor in bands is generally along basic age and sex lines, and the economic structure is a sort of practical communism: money is not used, and exchange usually takes place between people who consider themselves friends or relatives. This gift-giving is usually done very casually, and relationships are frequently cemented by offers of reciprocal hospitality. These individual bands are very much alike in their social organization and economy, and each individual is able to do almost everything needed for the group to survive and reproduce itself. Each band contains, in the form of its members' skills, all of the expertise it needs to function and persist. It is the change from this kind of functional redundancy to functional interdependence that seems to be at the heart of the origins of complex societies. (45)

Hunter-gatherers lived in an egalitarian tribal culture that moved around a home territory in search of food. The concepts of private property, acquisitiveness, and personal wealth did not exist. The need to organize a large workforce did not exist. Warfare was small in scale and limited to conflicts with local tribes. All of this changed when people settled down around crops that were grown. (69)

Tribe is the rather ambiguous term that anthropologists have used to label social groupings that are larger than band societies but generally not particularly complex in terms of economy, social hierarchies, law, etc. People living in tribes are often subsistence farmers. Tribes often have a nominal leader--usually male--who acts to redistribute food and perform a few minor ceremonial activities, but, as in band societies, he has no privileged access to wealth or power. He leads only by example and serves at the pleasure of the tribe. (45)

Timothy Earle defines chiefdoms as "regionally organized societies with a centralized decision-making hierarchy coordinating activities among several village communities. These differences in prestige usually correlate with preferential access to wealth; chiefs and their families can claim the best farmlands or fishing places as well as more food and more exotic and expensive items than "commoners." They are often regarded as divine and typically marry within noble families. The economies of these societies typically show a greater degree of specialization and diversification than those of tribes or bands. Craftsmen exist, but they are usually also farmers, and there is no permanent class of artisans as there is in states. Chiefdoms are much larger than tribes, often involving thousands of people. (45)

A small tribe composed of a group of hunter-gatherer nuclear families, probably on the urging of a charismatic chief and his allied shaman, decides to settle down and change its semi-nomadic way of life by focusing on growing specific crops. The chief is convinced that they should build massive monuments for reasons that are unclear. A brief period of intense discovery and rapid change takes place and their society begins to realize the value--the necessity, in fact--of task specialization and of mobilizing and organizing their workforce. (68)

It is an easy evolution to describe but a difficult process to understand. Where is the motivation behind this effort? We can easily envision the stages of social and technical development that occur when a people move from a hunter-gatherer culture to one that is agriculture-based and finally to a full civilization because we have read accounts of these transitions and are at the far side of the process ourselves. But for the hunter-gatherers at the beginning of the process, there are no precedents, no precursors to copy, nothing from which to borrow. What they would have needed is more manpower and more time--neither of which they had, as is borne out in the archaeological record--or outside help, an external source of input, the help of an advanced race that already had such knowledge. (68)

Generally, states are assumed to have centralized governments composed of political and religious elites who exercise economic and political control. In addition to being larger in population and territory than other societal forms, states are characterized by having full-time craftsmen and other specialists, whose products are distributed in part through an integrated national economy. The state codifies and enforces laws, drafts soldiers, levies taxes, and exacts tribute. States have powerful economic structures, often centered on market systems and they have a diversity of settlement sizes, such as villages, towns, and sometimes cities. (45)

States--or "empires," as they are sometimes called--of this type first appeared in Mesopotamia toward the end of the second millenmum BC and within a thousand years thereafter in Egypt, the Indus Valley, and China. The Inka state of Peru and the Aztec state of Mexico also seem to have achieved imperial dimensions just before the arrival of the Europeans, in the sixteenth century A.D. (45)

When anthropologists speak of sociocultural complexity, they are generally ranking particular societies on a single scale but on the basis of several primary variables. For any given society these variables include: (1) the degree of differential access to wealth, power, and prestige; (2) the extent to which differential access to wealth, power and prestige are inherited, as opposed to earned; (3) the degree to which individuals in a community are specialzed in their occupations, and the extent to which these different occupations are integrated and organized in the economy as a whole; and (4) the degree to which political power is centralized in a government.(30)

The same kinds of changes in these variables that we have seen in Mesopotamia also happened--largely independently--in various other areas of the ancient world, in Egypt, the Indus Valley, China, Peru, Mesoamerica, and a few other places, and they happened in many other times and places in societies that were in contact with civilizations, and by now the reader will not be at all surprised to learn that the question that has fascinated archaeologists for centuries is: Why? Why did simple agriculturalists give way to socially more complex forms in these specific areas, and not in other areas? Why did our ancestors not remain simple farmers or revert to the ancient security of the hunting-foraging way of life? Why were these early civilizations so much alike in socioeconomic structures and political systems? Although complex societies have existed for only the last five or six millennia, they have almost completely replaced the simpler cultural forms in which our ancestors had lived for a million years or more. Today in the Amazon Valley, the Kalahari Desert, and a few other places, hunting and gathering groups still follow some of their ancient ways, but if current trends continue, soon there will be no groups left in the world that resemble our Pleistocene ancestors in society and economy.(30)

Based on inferences from the archaeological record, ancient texts, and ethnography, one of the fundamental things that apparently all early complex societies evolved was a coercive sociopolitical elite--that is, a class of people who took most of the society's power, prestige, and wealth. And they apparently did so without regularly resorting to armed robbery or direct confiscation by their personal militias. These societies evolved ideologies that sanctioned this confiscatory behavior and monopilization of power.(30)

It is worth reflecting on the tremendous impact the evolution of cultural complexity has had on the way people view themselves and the world. If recent band societies resemble Pleistocene band societies, most Pleistocene individuals were deeply embedded in social and family relationships and had a clear role in society. Marshall Sahlins observed that our hunting and gathering ancestors took  the "Zen road to affluence": people living in complex sedentary communities seem to live in the eternal economic dilemma of unlimited wants and limited means, but simpler societies have adjusted to their limited means by having few wants.(30)

What is important is that we know a major change in settlement patterning has occurred over time. Paleolithic hunters and gatherers and early agriculturalists lived in locations determined largely by the availability of material resources. But later, in some areas of the ancient world, settlements began to be located with less regard for natural resources and more concern for trade routes, political frontiers, and administrative networks. (30)

It is a fundamental archaeological assumption that a correlation exists between the level of social complexity of a people and the way they treat their dead. (30)

The earliest scholars believed the rise of cities and states and other elements of evolving cultural complexity required no explanation, because they assumed these developments to be mainly or entirely the work of the gods. The scholars of the Enlightenment and subsequent centuries usually explained the origins of cultural complexity in evolutionary terms. (30)

The earliest states and empires arose for the most part in arid or semi-arid environments where crops like wheat and barley could be grown without having to turn over thick grasslands or fight back lots of competing vegetation, and where agricultural production could be easily intensified, either by canals, terracing, building up fields in lake beds, or some other method. (30)

Even though intensive agriculture is the foundation of almost all early complex cultures, it is not a sufficient explanation in and of itself. Therefore most attempts to understand the origins of complexity try to link specific agricultural patterns with other factors. ...the only reason sufficient to account for the enormous efforts required to maintain agricultural systems would be an imbalance between the population and available food supply. It would be advantageous to have a hierarchical administrative organization, so that work and production could be closely and efficiently administered. (30)

....many analysts of cultural evolution have assumed that a pervasive and powerful factor in human history has been the strong tendency of human populations to increase up to the point where serious shortages of important resources are in the offing; and that experience or anticipation of such shortages has been a major factor, or even the dominant factor, in stimulating intensification of agricultural production and other technical and social innovations. In extreme versions, the entire history of complex societies and civilizations is seen as hardly more than the outcome of measures that began as ways of coping with problems posed by relentless human fertility--what might be called the "strictly from hunger" point of view of developmental processes. (30)

All societies have evolved mechanisms like migration, abortion, infanticide, marriage rules, and contraceptive techniques to control population growth, and thus we might expect people faced with stresses because of over-population to impose population controls, rather than "invent" cultural complexity. (30)

Welles's character was stating what for many is an uncomfortable truth: human competition seems be a powerful engine of cultural evolution. No early state--not Mexico, or China, or Sumer, or Peru--was without a background level of organized violence that occasionally erupted into great wars spanning decades. (30)

Economists and others have challenged many of Marx's ideas, but evidence from early Mesopotamian and Egyptian societies does support some aspects of the Marxian reconstruction: wealth differentials developed early and were impressive, and slavery existed, as did communal labor pools, warfare, irrigation systems, trade networks, and other elements integral to the Marxian scheme. (30)

...for chiefdoms to appear and then to become states and empires, the appropriate "energy gates" had to be available: yams and tubers are poor energy gates because they do not store well and have no clearly defined harvest period, so a big man or chief cannot easily shut off the flow of proteins and calories produced by the farmers; but grains store well and have defined periods of harvest, so a chief with command of community grain stores absolutely controls the lives of his associates...the paleotechnic infrastructures most amenable to intensification, redistribution, and expansion of managerial functions were those based on the grain and ruminant (e.g., cattle) complexes of the Near and Middle East, southern Europe, northern China, and northern India. (30)

In the late Paleolithic-Mesolithic transition highly crafted stone points, cave paintings, etc., seem to disappear and are replaced by a "drab" but functionally more complex technology. Most early complex societies underwent a transition in which labor-intensive, highly decorated pottery was replaced by mass-produced forms of much less aesthetic appeal. Various scholars have seen cultural collapse and dissolution in such changes, but as Trigger notes, this replacement does "not indicate a decline in cultural or aesthetic standards. Instead it suggests that pottery no longer served as a medium of artistic expression." (30)

Several factors may explain these dramatic changes in pottery manufacture. The individual and corporate social groups identified by regional pottery styles, for example, are, in a sense, dangerous expressions of individualism and group distinctiveness that detract from the unity of the larger state, and it is possible that these states suppressed some expressions of group identity not derived from the state structures. The greater efficiency, too, of producing massive quantities of cheap and nearly identical pottery vessels would be best realized in a state organization. (30)

Some of the commonalities in ideology that Trigger finds in early civilizations seem obviously understandable in functional terms. Most placed their own civilization in the center of a world that had four quarters corresponding to the cardinal directions; political competition was cast in terms of religious struggles; and the universe was once--or regularly--threatened with extinction and could only be saved by the intercession of gods, who had to be placated by human activities and earthly wealth. (30)

Far from undermining my faith in a materialist analysis of human behavior, the discovery that early civilizations with differing economic and sociopolitical systems had evolved a fundamentally similar set of religious beliefs confirms this faith. Religious beliefs are linked, both in general and also in specific terms, to the central economic institutions of early civilizations--the tributary relationship. (30)

The national religious cults at all early states developed, for example, seem so transparently a device for social control. Montaigne said that "Man is certainly stark mad. He cannot make a worm, and yet he will be making gods by the dozen." But for an early state few things are as useful as gods in whom everyone believes. Then one can despise and kill (and take possession of the property of) all non-believers, foreign and domestic, without qualms; one is willing to sacrifice oneself in battles, or participate in pyramid building, or accept a social hierarchy, simply because the gods have so decreed. And the best part is that one does all these things without much cost to the state--people fight in wars, work for the common good, or accept life as a disenfranchised slave often on the premise that in the afterlife things will be greatly improved. (45)

It seems to be a pattern that wherever one finds economic systems that produce great surpluses, one also discovers elaborate social hierarchies of administrators to organize, store, distribute, and exploit these surpluses. (45)

Occupational specialization, monumental architecture, changes in settlement spacing and size hierarchies, architectural variability, mortuary stratification--in short, the whole range of physical evidence of cultural complexity--appear before evidence of significant extension of irrigation systems. (46)

Early farmers around the world converged in finding, through domestication and agriculture, four key ingredients to the village-farming way of life: they all found (1)a source for textiles, (2) a productive, high car bohydrate, main crop plant, (3) an edible oil for cooking, and (4) a reliable source of animal protein. (49)

…warfare, human sacrifice, and ritual murder, as well as every other kind of gross exploitation of people, were common elements of cultures all over the world, from China to England.…cultures can make any behavior, no matter how reprehensible in our own view, into virtues that facilitate the workings of their political systems. (51)

All civilizations can be understood to a limited extent purely in thermodynamic terms. From the food that keeps our bodies at proper metabolic temperature to the draft animals, engines, or nuclear reactors that propel our vehicles, the connection between energy and culture is close and causal. And, as in all early civilizations, in Mesoamerica a few plant and animal species were, in effect, the power base of cultural evolution. Not just any domesticated plants and animals would do; there had to be a reliable, voluminous carbohydrate source and nutritionally complementary plants and animals. In Mesoamerica these foods were, principally, maize, beans, squash, augmented by protein from rabbits, deer, dogs,and in some places, fish and shellfish. These rather plain foodstuffs were enlivened in antiquity by the use of cacao (from which chocolate is derived), incendiary peppers, numerous herbs and spices, and several natural hallucinogens. And like all ancient farmers, they used the magic of fermentation to improve the food products of various high-sugar plants—cactus being the principal source of alcohol in Mesoamerica . (51)

That so many people around the world chose the pyramid form has nothing to do with instinctive human aesthetics or the mystical power of pyramids, and everything to do with the simple engineering reality that people with primitive tools who try to build a monumental structure capable of bearing its own weight can only construct a few basic shapes. Of these, the pyramid is the easiest to build in terms of raising materials to the top of the structure and the amount of materials and labor needed. As discussed in previous chapters, monumental structures are functionally efficient in early complex societies despite their apparent "waste" of resources and labor, because they legitimize and focus the religious and social hierarchies of which they are an expression, and they may also act to dampen unstable rates of population growth and economic expansion. (51)

…in Rome and elsewhere, living in early pre-industrial cities shortened life: half the people died before about fifteen years of age, and only a very few lived past the age of thirty. (51)

It is a fallacy of historical analysis to assume that increasing complexity is a natural, inherent quality in human societies. The idea of "progress" is so much a part of Western culture that it sometimes blinds people to the fits and starts of cultural evolution. (52)

…if we follow latitude 30 degrees north from Giza through Pakistan and India to the Yellow River, we will have traced a path through the locations of three of Earth's first ancient civilizations: Egypt, the Indus Valley, and China. (68)

In time, then, Earth's first advanced civilizations suddenly had divine kings from heaven sitting on earthly thrones. The appearance of these earliest civilizations was accompanied by a radical social transformation from a simple egalitarian system to, eventually, a complex pyramidal system with a divine king at the apex. We may wonder why a race that had been egalitarian for millennia would suddenly exalt members of the tribe to a godly status, and why so many of the first and later civilizations followed this same path of social development. (69)

We know that 20,000 years ago all people up to that time--approximately 100,000 generations--were hunter-gatherers living in simple egalitarian tribal units. By comparison, only 500 generations in total have depended on agriculture, and only 10 generations have lived in industrial civilization. The majority of cultures were still made up of hunter-gatherers 3,000 years ago, and a significant portion of the world's population still did not practice agriculture or live in civilization in the fifteenth century AD. It is important to note that 99.99 percent of our genetic heritage dates from the pre-Neolithic era. In essence, our genes were formed before the development of agriculture, which led to certain biological, social, and cultural consequences. (69)

What specific changes brought us to civilization? Four principle developments can be credited: agriculture, the wheel, writing, and metallurgy. In each case a considerable amount of conceptual work--the development of the brain, of consciousness--was invested in the discovery process. This conceptual work is the all-important precursor to development of any technology and is the component of the process that is almost never considered or analyzed by scholars, archaeologists, and anthropologists. (69)

Although the Anunnaki legacy is now known as Indo-European culture, it involved three distinct groups which apparently predated the Cataclysm. First, and on the east, were the Caucasian people who may have originally been from the Caspian Sea region. In Egypt were the Hamitic people who had evolved in northeast Africa. In the middle were the Semites of the Arabian peninsula. (The Caucasians were also known as Indo-Europeans, who earlier had spread eastward into Persia and westward into central Europe.) The loyalty of these and other groups to the gods associated with their homelands would result in conflicts that persist into the present era. (113)

No human culture appears to claim the invention of kingship. The Bible and Sumerian king lists record that ten demigods, from Adam to Noah, reigned until the Cataclysm. Then after the Flood (as the Cataclysm of 11,500 BC was known in West Asia), kingship by demigods resumed in the city of Kish. According to Sumerian texts, the demigods ruled until 3760 BC, when a meeting of the senior gods took the decision to grant kingship to mankind. At that time, according to both Sumerian and biblical sources, Nimrod was anointed to the throne of Kish by the Anunnaki Ninurta. (113)

Nineteenth and twentieth century studies of traditional societies by scholars suggest that important decisions were made by consensus or a collective authority. In larger clans, different individuals may have assumed leadership responsibility in certain functions--e.g., hunting, rituals, healing, etc.--but fundamental decisions were made in council. Roles and work assignments apparently evolved without a few assuming a special power over the majority. (113)

Shamans, medicine men, and spiritual teachers play more of a facilitating role in the natural traditions, not as intermediaries for a divine presence. They share their experience and knowledge received through ecstatic states but stress the need for individuals to gain self-knowledge. While the priest stresses dogma, the natural teacher emphasizes experiential knowledge. "Shamanic knowledge can only be acquired through individual experience…'learning from the trees' is considered superior to learning from a…shaman." This principle remains consistent in the natural perspective across cultures separated by oceans. (113)

Once supernaturalism is officially established, a small group can gain control of the resources of society's central institutions and marshal them to solidify and perpetuate its unnatural view of reality. The identity of who has been behind the imposition of supernaturalism and for what ultimate purpose remains elusive. (113)

That transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture is generally considered a decisive step in our progress, when we at last acquired the stable food supply and leisure time prerequisite to the great accomplishments of modern civilization. In fact, careful examination of that transition suggests another conclusion: for most people the transition brought infectious diseases, malnutrition, and a shorter life span. For human society in general it worsened the relative lot of women and introduced class-based inequality. More than any other milestone along the path from chimpanzeehood to humanity, agriculture inextricably combines causes of our rise and our fall. (114)

Why do modern superpowers include the United States and the USSR, Germany and England, Japan and China, but no longer Greece and Persia? This geographic shift in power is too big and lasting a pattern to have arisen by accident. A plausible hypothesis attributes it to each ancient center of civilization in turn ruining its resource base. The Mideast and Mediterranean were not always the degraded landscape that they appear today. In ancient times much of this area was a lush mosaic of wooded hills and fertile valleys. Thousands of years of deforestation, overgrazing, erosion, and valley siltation converted this heartland of western civilization into the relatively dry, barren, infertile landscape that predominates today. Archaeological surveys of ancient Greece have revealed several cycles of population growth alternating with population crashes and local abandonment of human settlement. In the growth phases, terracing and dams initially protected the landscape until felling of forests, clearing of steep slopes for agriculture, overgrazing by too many livestock, and planting of crops at too short intervals overwhelmed the system. The result each time was massive erosion of the hills, flooding of the valleys, and the collapse of local human society. One such event coincided with (and may have caused) the otherwise mysterious collapse of Greece's glorious Mycenean civilization, after which Greece fell back for several centuries into a dark age of illiteracy. (114)

Juxtaposing these data from hyrax middens with archaeological and literary data yields the following interpretation. Deforestation from Neolithic to imperial times was driven by the clearing of land for agriculture, browsing by sheep and goats, gathering of firewood, and wood needs for house construction. Even Neolithic houses not only were supported by massive timbers but also consumed up to thirteen tons of firewood per house to make the plaster for the walls and floor. The imperial population explosion quickened the pace of forest destruction and overgrazing. Elaborate systems of channels, pipes, and cisterns were needed to collect and store water for the orchards and city. (114)

In very early times the importance of Mesopotamia as a connecting link between the West and the East was clearly understood; and before Egypt through the power and ability of its kings became the clearing house of the world, the city of Babylon occupied that position, and even in late times was always a formidable rival to Egypt. The traffic between Europe and Persia passed through the country of Northern Mesopotamia, but the Euphrates and its banks formed the highway by which the products of India and Arabia and the east coast of Africa made their way into Europe and the large islands of the Mediterranean. (118)

The New World was definitely part of the Old World in prehistoric times. The Minoans and related Minas (fish) tribes not only colonized and controlled the Mediterranean, but also the Indo-Chinese coast, the Pacific, and the Atlantic. Their ships, 100 feet long, with 50 rowers, made regular voyages between the Pacific islands, South and North America, Africa, the British Isles, Scandinavia, and the Mediterranean. They had a world culture, and later their history served as the basis for Greek myths about the births and natures of the gods. (120)

Their own theology and sociology, having been brought from India starting back some time around 5000 BC--or earlier--later became the foundation for the theology of the Mediterranean world and the world of this protoAmerindian empire. There is an almost 100 percent correspondence in theological/mythic concepts within the boundaries of this empire. Any unknown factor in any of the empire's cultural units can be explicated by using its known analogue in any of the empire's other units. The interchange was not just one way, but went from New World to Old World and then back again. This was all before the Great Cataclysm. Tiahuanaco, the proto-kiva-people world, the Olmec world, Chavin, and perhaps other centers still not found in Brazil, all flourished. (120)

Then came the Great Cataclysm. Most of the world population was destroyed. The Andes continued to rise, Chavin was wiped out, buried under tons of rock and dirt (the way it was found when first excavated); Tiahuanaco was deserted, and the world of the kiva-people began to change. Grassland became desert, the Sahara began to be formed, Saudi Arabia became wasteland, at which point the world unit was destroyed. At which point Greek myth begins to happen in the Mediterranean, and the world beyond the oceans is forgotten. (120)

Phase two is Phoenician. It flows into the world left by the Minas-people. The routes are the same (or similar), perhaps the Phoenicians themselves are survivors of the protoMediterranean-Amerindian stock. They certainly seem to come from the same general area, and their ships are similar, but the world that they inhabit is a very different world. The matrilineal has become patrilineal, the gods have become angry, the seas have gone wild, the earth hasn't really "recovered" from the Great Cataclysm. (120)

But the Phoenicians begin to ply the routes all over again anyhow; this time in secret. They have become a hunted, harassed minority. Their gods are degraded, angry versions of the older phase-one gods. They come to Mexico and Brazil not to rebuild the old cities, but merely to mine metals and jewels. They don't colonize, merely "extract." Meanwhile, the descendants of the people of phase one have become the Incas, the Teotihuacanas/Toltecs/ Aztecs, the Mayas. The newcomers from the East are "strange" to them. Old galley slaves have proliferated, taken over whole cultural centers (Olmecs), and then died out themselves...(120)

In the Old World, the Phoenicians are destroyed, their cities razed, and the Romans take over. By the time of Christ, the Phoenician home-bases are finished, done...the New World is cut off from the old. The Norsemen (also descendants of the Minas people/Phoenicians) still come, but even the Norse colonies die off...A whole world waits for the appearance of the conquistadores, and when they come, the "Indians," who have turned the people from the East into myths, hail the conquistadores themselves as gods, and are destroyed, leveled, enslaved, and "converted" for their mistake. Phase three is the Spanish/English/Dutch/Portuguese empire--extermination. (120)

As in the case of Giza, what Rand also began to look for were the latitudes of the sacred sites. He soon came to note what he called 'sacred latitudes' occurring again and again: any latitude that would divide neatly into 360 degrees - such as the 30 degrees of Giza. Quito, the northern capital of the Inca Empire, and Carthage, the Phoenician city, had both been at 30 degrees north during the Hudson Bay Pole. Others, such as Easter Island, Mohenjo-Daro and the Tibetan holy city of Lhasa, were located on the equator. When he had identified forty sites on 'sacred latitudes' Rand was fairly certain that this was not just a game with numbers. Sacred latitudes when the Pole was at Hudson Bay (60N/83W). All of these sites are within half a degree (30 nautical miles) of a sacred latitude. Raiatea and Tahiti, in the South Pacific, are the closest land to the sacred latitude. (123)

50° Rosslyn/Loanhead/Kilwinning, Tara/Newgrange/Knowth, Dunecht, Uxmal , Chichen Itza
45° Copan/Quirigua, Canterbury
30° Carthage, Quito
25° Troy, Constantinople
15° Giza Pyramids, Jericho/Jerusalem, Ashur, Nazca, Gilgal, Heliopolis
12° Babylon, Pyongyang
10° Ur/Uruk/Eridu, Thebes/Luxor, Susa, Ise, Nara, Kyoto Heian, Kumasi, Naqada, Lagash

Byblos , Xi'an , Lalibala, Elephantine, Raiatea, Tahiti

Lhasa , Aguni, Mohenjo-Daro , Easter Island

Note: Sites connected by '/' are located so close together that they yield the same results.

...since he had the latitude and longitude of so many sacred sites, it would be a simple matter to add or subtract Giza's longitude (31 degrees, 8 minutes east) to see what would happen if Giza was the prime meridian instead of Greenwich. Suddenly dozens of sacred sites began to fit into a vast global pattern. Quite simply, sites whose latitude and longitude looked unpromising because they seemed 'too complicated' (with too many decimals) now began to fall into simple round figures. For example, Tiahuanaco, whose longitude is 69 degrees west of Greenwich, is also 100 degrees west of the Great Pyramid. The former Inca capital at Quito is at 110 degrees west of Giza and other very significant sites, including Teotihuacan and Easter Island, are found at 120, 130 and 140 degrees west of the Great Pyramid. This pattern also extends eastward. Ur of the Chaldees is exactly 15 degrees east of Giza and the Tibetan capital of Lhasa is 60 degrees east of the Great Pyramid. What was even more significant was the fact that many of these round figures were phi numbers. Tiahuanaco, for example, was 10 phi; so was the ancient Polynesian spiritual centre Raiatea (this is also at 180 degrees latitude from the Giza meridian). Since I had described so many of them in my Atlas of Sacred Sites, I was as astounded and excited as Rand when he told me of his breakthrough. One of Rand's most startling discoveries came shortly afterwards. He had discovered that there were no fewer than eight sacred sites at the 10 phi north latitude during the Hudson Bay Pole. (123

10 phi sites during the Hudson Bay Pole. 10 phi is 4429.2 nautical miles from the Pole, which is equal to 16:11N.

Sacred site


Distance to HBP (nautical miles)

Former latitude

















Machu Picchu
















Rand reasoned that there should be a current sacred site at 10 phi north to match Tiahuanaco's 10 phi south, and that it should also be linked to the Great Pyramid. He had looked in his atlas for a very specific spot: 10 phi north of the equator, and 120 degrees west. There was nothing obvious - just three little red dots, and a name that was so tiny that he had to take off his glasses to read it. He had never heard of it: Labaantum, in Belize in central America. Via the Internet he had found out that 'Lubaantum (Place of Fallen Stones)' was an ancient Mayan ceremonial centre with three pyramids and terraces made of dressed stone blocks. (123)

 The kingdom known as Choson in Pyongyang dates to 2,333 BC, a time very close to the building of the Great Pyramid of Egypt. Korean legend tells how Prince Hwanung descended upon Mount Taebaeksan with 3,000 servants, bringing the gifts of civilization and building a great city. Pyongyang's co-ordinates are 39 degrees north, 125 degrees, 47 minutes east. During the Hudson Bay Pole, Pyongyang was located at 12 degrees north (along with Babylon in the Middle East and Nikko in Japan). During the Greenland Sea Pole the city was located at 30 degrees north along with the Xi'an pyramids. And finally, and most remarkably, Pyongyang was also at 30 degrees north during the Yukon Pole. Pyongyang's latitudes through time went from 30 degrees north to 12 degrees north. This made the North Korean capital what Rand calls a 'geological marker', of which there are only a few others in the world: Aguni, Byblos, Cuzco, Jericho, Nazca, Pyongyang and Xi'an. These cities were all built at the intersection of sacred latitudes. It seems that ancient surveyors of Europe, Asia and South America used their knowledge of the earth's geological past and their ability to calculate vast distances with extreme accuracy to position geological markers that in time became sacred sites. (123)

'Maria Schulten de D' her book La Ruta de Wirakocha...drew lines showing that a 45-degree line originating at Tiahuanacu, combined with squares and circles of definite measurements, embraced all the key ancient sites between Tiahuanacu, Cuzco, and Quito in Ecuador including the all-important Ollantaytambu.' …Tiahuanaco lies 100 degrees west of the Great Pyramid. And Quito, at the equator, lies 110 degrees west of Giza. This would seem to indicate that Tiahuanaco and Quito were constructed after the Giza Prime Meridian was established. So it seemed that ancient Egypt and Peru had a powerful geodetic link. (123)

Rand's blueprint obviously goes further than Hapgood for, if he is correct, Tiahuanaco was only one of a worldwide web of religious sites. It also seems to emerge that whoever did the 'siting' was aware of the earlier crust movements that preceded the Hudson Bay Pole. Rand's blueprint shows that many sites can be aligned on the two earlier poles, suggesting some tradition that extends back at least 100,000 years. Enormous and catastrophic crust movements also gave ancient man an urgent reason for studying the earth under his feet. A fairly simple 'predicter' built of posts, a 'Uriel's machine', would have served his purpose. The 'blueprint' recognizes that, while there are more than sixty sacred sites related to the Hudson Bay Pole, there are eight that are related to the Hudson Bay Pole and, at the same time, to the Yukon Pole: Byblos, Jericho, Nazca, Cuzco, Xi'an, Aguni, Pyongyang and Rosslyn Chapel. (123)

Further, when the patterns of the higher civilizations of the great Maya-Aztec and Peruvian late periods are compared with their counterparts in Egypt and Mesopotamia, India and China, we find, among a multitude of other analogies: a basic neolithic complex, comprising agriculture and stock-breeding (in America, the llama, alpaca, and turkey), matting, basketry, painted pottery, both coarse and fine, loom weaving with elegant patterns, using both wool and an Asiatic cotton, metallurgy in gold, silver, tin, platinum, and smelted copper, with alloys of copper-tin, copper­ lead, copper-arsenic, copper-silver, and gold-silver, employing the cire-perdue method for the casting of sculptured figures, and fashioning, among other products, golden bells; a highly developed calendric system yielding a pattern of interlocking large and smaller cycles, an assignment of deities to the various heavenly spheres and a notion of the horoscope, the idea of cycles of creation and dissolution, the mythological figure of the Cosmic Tree with an eagle at its summit and a serpent at its root; the guardian gods and four colors of the four directions, the four elements (fire, air, earth, and water), heavens stratified above and hells below, a weaving goddess of the moon, and a god who dies and is resurrected. Furthermore, on the sociological side we find: four social classes - priests, nobles, agriculturalists (common people), and slaves - with insignia of kingship almost precisely duplicating those of the ancient world: fan bearers, scepters, canopies, palanquins, and the blown conch as royal trumpet; the idea of the city as capital of an empire, approached by causeways and embellished by ornamented temples and palaces, the temples atop pyramids, almost precisely as in Mesopotamia, and the architecture including colonnades, spiral staircases, sculptured doorways, lintels, pillars, etc.; arts including mosaics, high and low relief, carved jade, murals in fresco, memorial monuments, and the writing of books. (128)

Not only are the characteristic elements of the Middle American "classic horizon" characteristic also of Asia (stepped pyramids, corbeled vault architecture, certain types of tomb, hieroglyphic writing combined with a mature calendrical and astronomical science, well developed stone sculpture), but also, as Dr. Gordon Eckholm has shown, many motifs of the Mayan "historic horizon" suggest specifically contemporary India, Java, and Cambodia; e.g., the trefoil arch, tiger throne, lotus staff and lotus throne, conch shell associated with plants, cross and sacred tree (often with a monster mask in the center and bird in the upper branches), serpent columns and balustrades, seated lions and tigers, copper bells. (128)

Lahovary says that the pre-dynastic Gerzean culture of Egypt had manifest ties with Mesopotamia. Numerous authors, he says, have shown the ties of Mesopotamia with the Indus civilisation of India. Despite small differences, between the Atlantic coast of Spain and the Indus civilisation of northern India, similar rites, customs, religions, languages and place­names attest their close relationship. (135)

The Spanish writer, Pomponius Mela, writing in Latin in the first century AD says of them, 'The Phoenicians were a clever race, who prospered in war and peace.' They excelled in writing and literature, and in other arts, in seamanship, in naval warfare, and in ruling an empire. (135)

We can see now that the cultural origin of this movement was partly Aryan, Semitic and Sumerian, with homes in North India, Egypt and Mesopotamia; we can see that one of the bases from the fifth millennium onward was Egypt; that many different sea-peoples were involved. (135)

The Titans, we have said, were not rather absurd demi-gods, as the classical Greeks believed, but the dynasties of sea-kings who fought for control of the Mediterranean, and thus for the Atlantic trade and all the seas of the world. They ran empires, based on sea-power and religion, comparable to the British Empire, both in magnitude and life-span. So as well as being political dynasties, these were companies of merchant adventurers and it will be illuminating to compare Uranus, Kronos, Poseidon, Zeus with present-day international companies: the Hudson Bay Company, Unilevers, Anglo-American, Rio Tinto, because these are to some extent analogous. The Titans were concerned with wealth, power and adventure. One can be confident that the men at the top, in order to succeed in their struggle for commercial predominance, possessed somewhat the same qualities of courage, intellectual discipline, covetousness and cynicism as their counterparts today. Let us not follow the fashion of underrating them or in looking upon them as something mysterious or magical. They were essentially men and men who wished to live beyond their incomes.(135)

Let it be appreciated from this study of one restricted portion of Africa alone - when some of the mine-workings are very old and many stretch into the Christian era - how vast was the scale of prehistoric mining, how little long sea-journeys mattered to them, how heavy could be the traffic, how precise and complete was the organisation behind it all. Then compare this one African operation at the southern end of the continent with the South American mining enterprises we have been describing. In point of scale, of length of haul, and of the far-flung prospecting necessary for these mines to be discovered in the first place they can reasonably be compared. These are both areas in which tin and copper are found within reasonable distance of each other. While the South American operation was, by far the, greater, these two areas in distant parts of the earth, with their tin/copper complexes, substantially funded the Fertile Crescent and India. (135)

A majority of ancient peoples believed that reincarnation was possible only under certain circumstances: the body must keep its shape so that it would be prepared to receive the vanished soul again on its return to a corporeal form. These impulses led to the formation of two burial customs among prehistoric peoples: mummification and double burial. It is this second custom which is well known in earliest America and which has been carried on into our day. We actually met with it during an expedition into the unexplored region of the Northern Amazon, a red-painted skeleton was being laidaway in an earthenware urn. These urns were biconical in form and are set in grottoes and rock crypts, the walls of which are decorated with drawings. There one can see swastikas, triple triangles, zigzag lines, spirals, meander fret work, forms which one could call pure Mycenean or Trojan, which is to say they are so analogous that only a common fountainhead can be assumed. These urns which we were to find for the first time in the North Amazon, are identical with the Etruscan ones in Italy and those found in Lausitz in Germany. They are also very similar to the urns in Brittany which date back to the Celtic epoch in France. And all these urns are the relatives of those of prehistoric Crete. (135)

The western Sea-peoples undertook the third, they were the principal traders of the second half of the second millennium. However, from the scribblings on the rocks in the Amazon valley there must have been times when many different peoples fitted out ships to satisfy the Mediterranean Bronze Age hunger for metals. They would have taken their ocean-going ships as far up the Amazon or Parana as possible and met the suppliers in their river-boats part-way. The Mykenaeans followed after them. Fighting over the spoils in America as well as in the Mediterranean led to the historical campaign by the Peoples of the Sea in the east Mediterranean, one of the majestic turning-points and disasters in world history. The sea attack was American and west Mediterranean with some east Mediterranean elements, the prize was the Atlantic trade, especially in American metals, and such world­government as the Amorites had won for themselves four centuries earlier. The western sea-peoples developed even further the irrigation civilisation started in America a thousand years and more before by the Indus people and by those of Sumer and Akkad. They had come into the possession of an enormous inherited capital, such as Plato described, and they had politically dominated for a time the western Mediterranean and the Atlantic trade. (135)

The tradition continues with European kings, for kingship seems to have been an institution specifically created by sun-worshippers, where everything is still conceded to royal blood, rather than to nationality; as if these special families were in very fact different from ordinary men, as, six thousand years ago, had been almost true. In the days of Cortes and Pizarro, Spanish ships did not carry the picture of Christ crucified or the letters INRI or even the cross of Christ, they carried painted almost the height and breadth of their sails, blood-red, the Maltese cross, the great sun-symbol with which in the fourth millennium the gentle culture-heroes had first arrived in America. Small wonder Montezuma was confused. (135)

Hesiod's four ages of the world is not a poetic description of the unfolding of human history but an actual piece of economic history. The Age of Gold is the Age of Gold and Copper, the poor man's gold; the glorious tradition of peace and justice associated with it stems from the brilliant Indus Valley civilisation. It was known to the Greeks best through its final emanation in the reign of Chronos, a state in the east Mediterranean successor to the Sumerians, which was Amorite and Phoenician. The Age of Silver was the period when the rulers were still the professional ruling class but the legitimate line of descent had been broken by palace revolutions - this is Plato's timocracy. (135)

In the Stone Age, men were the hunters, women the collectors of plant foods. Women domesticated plants c. 10,000 BC before men domesticated animals, c. 7000 BC. The cultivation of fruit trees, vegetables and grains revolutionised life, gave greater social security and the conditions for a much increased population. Women thus were the main economic force in society and so they came to be the main political and religious force. God was a woman, the earth-mother, served by priestesses and property was passed down in a family through the female side. Women bore arms and became Amazons. (135)

The political tension among states of this early period sprang from a small, elite sky-worshipping group taking over states whose people were earth-worshippers and proselytising them. To control this tension the annual feast of the hierogamy was held on top of the ziggurat, in which Sky and Earth were cermoniously married and the populace looked upon themselves as children of Sky and Earth. Sun-worship became the principal form of sky-worship. It possessed, as we have seen, a sophisticated and elaborate theology much of which has come through in Christianity with little change. In truth, Christianity might preferably be looked upon, not as a separate religion brought down to man by God but as an episode in the great central religion of sun-worship. (135)

Archaeologists and anthropologists working all over the world have carefully studied the context in which sophisticated genres of writing emerge, and in almost every case they are a sign of state formation, in which power is centralized in national institutions like an official cult or monarchy. Other traits of this stage of social development include monumental building, economic specialization, and the presence of a dense network of interlocked communities ranging in size from large cities to regional centers to medium-sized towns and small villages. (143)

In pre-state societies kinship plays a dominant role in structuring rights and obligations among individuals and therefore also relations of authority and power. In chiefdoms kinship forms the basis for sociopolitical hierarchy - a person's rank in the social and political system is determined by his or her degree of relationship to the chief through genealogical ties to a presumed common ancestor. (159)

...the megalith builders of western Europe, though clearly a complex culture capable of marshaling the forces and coordinating the work of a large group of laborers to construct the monuments that give the society their modern name, never developed some of the diagnostic characteristics of state societies. There apparently was no formal government, no highly and formally organized political bureaucracy, and no hierarchy separating rigidly defined social classes. (170)