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Best Evidence?

Are the Indian remains of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa, their sudden abandonment and the apparent discovery of an ancient site with a layer of radioactive ash the best available evidence for the possibility that our ancient ancestors possessed a highly advanced technology – which might have included atomic warfare?

Philip Coppens



Did an ancient advanced – if not extra-terrestrial – civilisation exist on Earth? The question is very intriguing and despite the academic ridicule that has been bestowed on the likes of Erich von Däniken and Zecharia Sitchin, the idea has caught the world’s imagination, with the help of Hollywood and shows such as Stargate SG-1.
But apart from a battle for our hearts, there is also a battle for our minds: is there evidence that ET visited and lived here, millennia ago? Many possible scenarios and theories have been put forward, from statements that Atlantis was a high tech civilisation, leaving us an as yet undiscovered Hall of Records and the pyramid complex at Gizeh, to the possibility that the Nazca lines might be a prehistoric airport.

In 2007, the latter was voted as one of the Fortean Wonders of the World. Nazca’s popularity is almost singularly due to Erich von Däniken, whose approach in his quest for serious consideration of the “ET question” has been to point out various anomalies, resulting in a pool of evidence that is then queried as to whether together, this could – should – be seen as evidence of either an alien or a highly technologically advanced civilisation.
What his approach has revealed, is that science in the 1960s thought it had all the answers, but largely had to perform much additional research. Today, this has meant that some of the sites, such as Nazca, have received a more proper scientific study.
In a larger context, von Däniken’s “body of evidence” has also enabled easier acceptance of sites such as Caral, which truly have made the “New World” as “Old” – if not older – revealing many parallels between the two continents. To some extent, von Däniken has fought “their battle”, eased the scientific acceptance of Caral and like.
It is therefore clear that von Däniken has had an impact on archaeology, but, equally, since first airing the question whether or not we have alien ancestors, the answer has remained a negative: there is, four decades later, no hard evidence ET landed on Earth.

Another popular ancient astronaut author is Zecharia Sitchin, who, in origin, decided to focus on a more specific area, the Sumerian civilisation, and analysed every detail of its myths and history, claiming the devil was in the detail: that hidden inside these myths, when properly translated and explained, was clear evidence of an alien component of this civilisation, which he then set out to write down in a series of books, The Earth Chronicles, beginning with The Twelfth Planet in 1976.
Like von Däniken, Sitchin’s work has been popular, but unlike von Däniken, Sitchin has definitely failed in making any impact on the scientific community – though he has made a major contribution to the “conspiracy theories” out there, who see some of the wars fought in the Middle East as having a “clear” alien component.
That Sitchin’s work had this result is remarkable, as his approach might seem to be more scientific – and perhaps better: he focussed on the quest for the “best evidence”, a single piece of evidence that in itself is the best example to support a conclusion. The term is used in court, and is the so-called “smoking gun”: in presenting your case for the jury, what single piece of evidence would convince that jury that a person is guilty of the allegation?

So, even though Sitchin has failed, in the search for an advanced ancient civilisation, what would be this “best evidence” that could convince the jury ET dropped by, many millennia ago?
First, we need to assume that ET somehow will have left physical traces of his presence, and that this trace has withstood the test of time. A spaceship landing off the shores of some country, ET walking on the beach and speaking with the local inhabitants, will have left no physical trace, except, perhaps, an oral or written tradition of “some ancestor” conversing with “a being” on the shore “a long time ago”. We should hope this being left some gift with the ancestors, and that they carefully preserved it, and that this gift can be shown to be of alien origin. But this is not a given.
The “best evidence” therefore needs to be long-lasting, and a clear sign of an advanced civilisation; the so-called “oop-arts” (out of place artefacts) such as the Antikythera machine, the Phaistos Disc, etc., are all in themselves not evidence of an advanced extra-terrestrial civilisation, but “merely” evidence that some of our ancestors, or entire civilisations, were far more clever than academics were willing to grant them. Though von Däniken has made tremendous impact here, it is, as mentioned, not part of the real battle he wants to win.

Within our current mindset, detailed changes to the DNA molecular structure could be seen as evidence of a highly advanced manipulation, outside the scope of any of our earthly ancestors. Indeed, Sitchin has looked towards such genetic manipulations and claims to have “read” such accounts in the Sumerian myths; others who have read the same accounts nevertheless remain unconvinced. However, at present, our understanding of the gene pool does not allow us to even begin to look where we could find evidence inside that gene pool whether ET intervened in it or not.

One of the other “best candidates” for best evidence is the conquest of the atom – nuclear warfare, which according to Sitchin is precisely what occurred in the Middle East in the third millennium BC. In support for this conclusion, he has consistently relied upon photographs of the Sinai Peninsula, taken from space. They purportedly show an immense cavity and crack in its surface, showing us where the nuclear explosion has taken place. He adds that the area is strewn with crushed, burnt and blackened rocks, which contain a highly unusual ratio of isotope uranium-235, “indicating in expert opinions exposure to sudden immense heat of nuclear origin”, to quote Sitchin. Alas, Sitchin provides no further detail who these experts are, or where they have expressed such opinions, thus weakening his own case for what would otherwise be very good evidence.
In recent publications, Sitchin has also argued that the “Climate Change and the Collapse of the Akkadian Empire: Evidence from the Deep Sea” article, which was published in the April 2000 issue of “Geology”, is confirmation of his claim. The essay argues that an unusual climate change occurred in the areas adjoining the Dead Sea, which gave rise to dust storms and that the dust – an unusual “atmospheric mineral dust” – was carried by the prevailing winds over the Persian Gulf. According to Sitchin, this was due to an “uncommon dramatic event that occurred near 4025 years before the present”, or ca. 2025 BC. He adds that the Dead Sea level fell abruptly by 100 meters at the time, underlining that something truly catastrophic did happen.
Alas, consultation of the report itself reveals that Sitchin has been more than “selective” in his summary of this report. Though the reports states a catastrophe occurred, the report clearly reveals that the likely cause of this climate change was a volcanic eruption – not a nuclear explosion. Though the report is unable to identify which volcano was responsible for this sudden climate shift, the report clearly correlates the presence of volcanic ash with the ensuing disasters. In short, it is not evidence of a nuclear explosion at all; it is evidence of a so far unidentified volcanic eruption. As there are references to “volcanic ash” in the abstract and summary of the report, the question should be asked why Sitchin failed to see this.
The problematic verification of Sitchin’s claim is not a new allegation and is a known problem for his theories. Furthermore, despite decades of searching, he seems to have been unable to find supporting evidence that the Sinai Peninsula is indeed strewn with nuclear debris. This does not invalidate his theory as such, but has stopped him – and “the ancient astronaut cause” in general – to advance. Indeed, his often-maligned unscientific methodology of writing has been seen by some as hurting, more than advancing, that cause.

Another candidate for a nuclear explosion, so far left untouched by most of the “ancient astronaut proponents”, is the Indus River Valley, where towns such as Harappa and Mohenjo Daro flourished in 3000 BC, but were then quickly abandoned. One answer that has been put forward is that the ancient cities might have been irradiated by an atomic blast. If true, it would be impossible to ignore the conclusion that ancient civilisation possessed high technology.

The ruins of Harappa

What this candidate has in its favour is that a layer of radioactive ash was indeed found in Rajasthan, India. It covered a three-square mile area, ten miles west of Jodhpur. The research occurred after a very high rate of birth defects and cancer was discovered in the area. The levels of radiation registered so high on investigators’ gauges that the Indian government cordoned off the region. Scientists then apparently unearthed an ancient city where they found evidence of an atomic blast dating back thousands of years: from 8,000 to 12,000 years. The blast was said to have destroyed most of the buildings and probably a half-million people. So far, this story seems to have all the necessary credentials.

Archaeologist Francis Taylor stated that etchings in some nearby temples he translated, suggested that they prayed to be spared from the great light that was coming to lay ruin to the city. “It’s so mind-boggling to imagine that some civilization had nuclear technology before we did. The radioactive ash adds credibility to the ancient Indian records that describe atomic warfare.”
Furthermore, when excavations of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro reached the street level, they discovered skeletons scattered about the cities, many holding hands and sprawling in the streets as if some instant, horrible doom had killed its inhabitants. People were just lying, unburied, in the streets of the city; there seemed no-one available to bury them afterwards.
What could cause such a thing? Why did the bodies not decay or get eaten by wild animals? Furthermore, there is no apparent cause of a physically violent death. Furthermore, Alexander Gorbovsky, in “Riddles of Ancient History” (published in 1966), reported the discovery of at least one human skeleton in this area with a level of radioactivity approximately fifty times greater than it should have been due to natural radiation. Furthermore, thousands of fused lumps, christened “black stones”, have been found at Mohenjo Daro. These appear to be fragments of clay vessels that melted together in extreme heat.

Another curious sign of an ancient nuclear war in India is a giant crater near Mumbai (formerly Bombay). The nearly circular 2,154-metre-diameter Lonar crater, located 400 kilometres northeast of Mumbai and dated at less than 50,000 years old, could be related to nuclear warfare of antiquity. No trace of any meteoric material, etc., has been found at the site or in the vicinity, and this is the world’s only known “impact” crater in basalt. Indications of great shock (from a pressure exceeding 600,000 atmospheres) and intense, abrupt heat (indicated by basalt glass spherules) can be ascertained from the site.

With the apparent discovery of this radiated area, parallels were quickly drawn to the Mahabharata, the Indian epic, which indeed speak of doom and destruction. It reads:

... (it was) a single projectile
Charged with all the power of the Universe.
An incandescent column of smoke and flame
As bright as the thousand suns
Rose in all its splendour...

...it was an unknown weapon,
An iron thunderbolt,
A gigantic messenger of death,
Which reduced to ashes
The entire race of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas.

...The corpses were so burned
As to be unrecognisable.
The hair and nails fell out;
Pottery broke without apparent cause,
And the birds turned white.

After a few hours
All foodstuffs were infected...
....to escape from this fire
The soldiers threw themselves in streams
To wash themselves and their equipment.

Whereas the story of the Mahabharata is indirect evidence, the archaeological discoveries in India pose serious problems for those trying to deny the possibility that this might indeed be evidence of ancient atomic warfare. Whereas believing in the existence of Atlantis or a highly advanced civilisation that might not have left any trace is one thing, to suggest that our ancestors might have wiped themselves out along the same lines we were in fear of accomplishing during the latter half of the 20th century is a major paradigm shift.

Is this the best evidence? One sceptic stated: “I am sick and tired of hearing this [the possibility of an atomic explosion in India], and I cannot find any debunks of this either. Anyone who can debunk this, or is this really true?” That is indeed the question… and an important one. The stakes are high, as one would expect when facing the best evidence.

Lonar crater

So, let us examine what might be the best evidence. The first question is whether the named archaeologist Francis Taylor existed. Alas, no-one has ever been able to identify him. There is a Francis Taylor, an American museum director, who died in 1957. He was, however, not an archaeologist. There is a “Franciscio Taylor”, but he is not the above quoted Francis Taylor.
Hence, not a good start. Sceptics have also wondered whether the ancient atomic warfare is not a modern invention, to deflect attention away from a serious – modern – atomic contamination. In 1998, it was reported that some Indian power stations had major problems. One had an incident in which 2000 workers became exposed to excess radiation, 300 of which had to be hospitalised.
Surendra Gadekar investigated the conditions of villagers at Rawatbhatta in Rajasthan and confirmed there were indeed gross radiation-related deformities. We note that Rawatbhatta is in the same region as the discovery of the “ancient warfare” site. But Gadekar did not find evidence of ancient warfare, but did find evidence of modern negligence: wood that had been used in the power plant, had then “somehow” made its way into the local community, where it was subsequently used as wood for a fire. This in itself was a minor incident, but could there have been more serious incidents, whereby a decision was made to create an “ancient enigma”? Though a possibility, there is no evidence to back up this conclusion at present.
Regrettably, we also find that there are no newspapers that carried the story of the discovery. The Indian archaeological authorities are not aware of the story. And as there is a government laboratory in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, the question is whether something might have gone wrong there.

With the above objections, the case for the best evidence has become more controversial than a straightforward case. Still, it is clear that the counterarguments have not demolished the potential of this evidence.
Alas, in this case, neither side of the debate has truly embraced trying to prove or disprove the allegations. Indeed, it is remarkable that this has not happened, noting the potential that resides within it, as well as the multi-disciplinary approach that this cause allows.
Are the proponents of the case unwilling to stake their “reputation” on it? Perhaps. But even if they were to fail, Rome was not built in one day, and arguing for or against the case of an ancient highly advanced civilisation will not take any less time.

The nuclear facility at Rawatbhatta

Until the subject is seriously tackled, the bodies of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro remain a mystery, whether or not the Indian radioactive site turns out to be modern or ancient, it is, at least, an uncontested fact that the site was radioactive. The anomalous crater adds power to the possibility and so does other circumstantial evidence.
Finally, the fact that all these enigmas are within one general region (as opposed to scattered across the world) adds even further weight to the case… but then this should be expected if we were to consider this case to be the best evidence. The problem of the “best evidence” is often that it sounds too good to be true. That is either because it is, or because it is indeed the “best evidence”. And only careful analysis of the evidence will reveal what is what.