Lectures 

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Was the megalithic society the mother culture?

The ancient astronaut hypothesis in today's culture

Delivered at the Ancient Astronaut World Conference, Orlando, Thursday, August 7, 1997


In the first months of this year, English archaeologist Aubrey Burl stated that according to his two decades long research, Stonehenge was probably built by French immigrants, probably coming from Brittany, and not by “Englishmen”. This caused moral and particularly chauvinistic outrage in English scientific circles, one person even attacking Burl, stating that it was denigrating to state the French had built this as the British could most certainly have built it as well. According to this logic, every house in the world is built by British people as the British people are known to be able to build houses.

Around the same time, my fellow lecturer Alan Alford published an article in which he restated certain facts and ideas about Stonehenge. The builders of Stonehenge exhibited a remarkable knowledge of astronomy. The rectangle formed by the four Station Stones marks an exact alignment to the eight key points of the 18.6 year cycle of the Moon. This feature can only occur at the latitude of Stonehenge. This knowledge might have been incorporated into the landscape as early as 8000 BC, when the earliest construction on Stonehenge – but not as we know it today – began. More interestingly, archaeologist John North in a recent study on the monument, stated that the Avenue, a two mile long earthen causeway that connects the site to the river Avon, was, in 3180 BC, aligned to Sirius. Professor Gerald Hawkins has stated that the Avenue of the Dead in Teotihuacan is aligned on a Sirius-Pleiades axis.

Stonehenge, because of its enormous tourist success, can be said to be the main focus of the “megalithic era”, even though its design is strangely “un-megalithic”. The nearby Avebury, except for its gigantic scale, is more typical of this “trend”. Here, we are confronted with large stones standing in a circle. Nearby are dolmens and the impressive Silbury Hill, the largest man-made hill in Europe. Its construction is estimated to have taken about 20 years and must have involved several thousands of people.
The area surrounding Silbury Hill, the standing stones and dolmens of Avebury make up one vast complex. English researcher Paul Devereux has called this a “symbolic landscape”, in which man-made structures have been constructed in such a manner that they perfectly blend in with the natural landscape, becoming a symbiosis of Man and Nature. Certain researchers, such as David Percy and the American David Myers, have gone even further. When people like Walter Hain, DiPietro and Molenaar and Richard Hoagland brought international media-attention to certain features on Mars, whom they believed to be man-made, Percy and Myers believed they had found a scale-model of these Martian man-made structures on Earth: the area around Stonehenge and Avebury was a scale-model of the Martian monuments, the megalithic monuments perfectly echoing the presumed man-made structures on Mars. This is probably the strangest approach to the megalithic mystery. Though Erich von Däniken in one of his more recent books argued for a high-technology intelligence behind the design of certain of these megaliths, Percy and Myers went way beyond this and actually conclude that whoever build the monuments in the English countryside knew precisely what could be found on Mars.

Though their research is, of course, impressive, we still know too little about what is there, on Mars, to guarantee their theory is either correct or false. What is known is that Stonehenge and Avebury form an integral relationship with each other, one that is often not explained or taken up by archaeologists. The Belgian historian Marcel Mestdagh believed that one vital aspect of the Stonehenge-Avebury complex had been overlooked: a perfectly curved road that connected the two sites, and which extends to the east of both sites. In all, the road makes a perfect oval, with the two sites situated on the circumference of this oval. Before Mestdagh, about the only researcher who discovered a relationship between the two monuments was Alfred Watkins, who believed that a “ley-line” existed between the two sites. Watkins was the discoverer – or the inventor, whatever side you wish to stand on in the big ley-debate – of ley lines.
Mestdagh believed his discovery would prove to be very important. When he measured the dimensions of this oval road, he discovered that they represented a scale model – on the scale 1/10 – of similar oval networks he had found in France. More importantly, Mestdagh had been able to link these oval systems in France with the megalithic civilization. He argued that rather than discarded building monuments across wide areas of Western Europe, the megalithic monuments revealed an underlying coherence, which was in the form of massive ovals.

Inside his newly found oval can be found another interesting site: Woodhenge. Woodhenge is not merely situated inside this vast megalithic complex; in fact, when one continues the Avenue of Stonehenge, we end up at Woodhenge.
Woodhenge is a series of concentric ovals along which were once placed wooden poles. Historians and archaeologists have always assumed that these are examples of how the ancients depicted the sun. But this seems to be a feeble explanation, for Woodhenge doesn’t look anything whatsoever like someone trying to depict the sun. It is obvious there is some stellar relationship associated with this system, which some archaeologists have now accepted. But Mestdagh also realized that Woodhenge was a perfect depiction of the ovals he had discovered in France: concentric rings around a sacred centre – the capital?

Mestdagh’s discovery of this oval network in France happened because of his interest in the Viking invasions that occurred in the 10th century AD. Viking ships left Scandinavia, attacked English villages and afterwards made their way to the European continent, where a similar warfare occurred. But Mestdagh believed he had seen an aspect in their way of travelling that no-one had ever noticed before. It appeared as if they made wide sweeps across the English country, zooming in on something as they progressed. Eventually, they reached Nottingham and then suddenly left England. On the European continent, they began to make similar wide sweeps, zooming in on the city of Sens. Sens, some 150 kilometres south-east of Paris, was at that time a very important city. In Celtic times, it was the territory of the Senones – the Elders, the most influential tribe. Afterwards, it was the place of the Archbishop’s seat. It seems that throughout history, until the Middle Ages, Sens was always regarded as the religious capital of France. Even the Vikings seemed most impressed as Sens was the only city they did not sack and loiter. Instead, they waited outside the city for the inhabitants to surrender.
The Vikings seemed to have deemed Sens important; and it did seem to be the goal of their travels. Could it be that Sens was their mythical Walhalla? For when the Vikings left Scandinavia, their own reason for going on their long and arduous travels was not just because of “overpopulation”; it was also to find the location of their Walhalla, which according to their legends was somewhere to the Southwest.

In figuring out how the Vikings moved about the countryside, Mestdagh realized that they had encountered an old and long forgotten system of roads. This system was interlaced with a network of megalithic stones. It was known that the Vikings were intimately aware of megaliths, what they stood for and how they were used, much more so than their contemporaries in Western Europe. Unfortunately, very little of their knowledge has come down into our hands. It seemed that the Vikings were able to use this old road system to make their way to Sens. For Mestdagh realized that all these roads zoomed in on Sens. Sens seemed to be the axis, with all the roads the spokes of a wheel.
Taking his research even further, he realized that this network of roads and megaliths was placed upon vast concentric ovals, with Sens at its centre. These ovals were today quite often nothing more than roads, but his on-site research learned that once, enormous ditches had been located there – and that often, these could still be traced in the landscape. As they were made of sand, their integrity had slowly degenerated over the ca. 3000 years they had no longer been used. Their construction further revealed that they were double ditches. In the centre, a depression had in the past probably contained water: these were canals, which were connected to natural rivers, some of these rivers having been incorporated into the network of canals.

Sens as the centre of the megalithic world might seem odd. For today, the megaliths in Brittany, with places such as Carnac, are far better known. Still, this is a misconception, for which the tourist industry should be partly blamed. In the 1870s, a French scientist was asked to make an index of all the megaliths that could still be found in France. His report clearly showed that by far the biggest concentration of megaliths could be found in and around Sens. Though today most of these have disappeared, because of the ever increasing grasp of our modern age, until the beginning of this century, the area around Sens was literally littered with megaliths.

What purpose could these have served? Marcel Mestdagh himself believed it served as a perfect system of defence against any possible invaders, who had to cross huge canals, some measuring 180 metres wide. However, of perhaps specific interest to this audience, he also noted that the sheer size of these ovals, filled with water, would make them highly visible from outer space. Their perfect oval shape would also make sure that any intelligent being or probe passing by would know these ovals could not be a natural occurrence.
Interestingly, there have been people in recent history that pondered the idea as to how Earth would be able to attract the attention of such “passing aliens”. The German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, in the 1820s, believed planting pine trees in Siberia would be the ideal solution. Planting these trees in quadrangular, triangular and other mathematical forms would surely attract the aliens’ attention? Some twenty years later, Joseph von Littrow, believed that a twenty mile long ditch in the Sahara desert would be the solution. If it were filled with kerosene and set ablaze at night, it would beacon any alien visitor. Perhaps unintentionally, the megalithic civilization in France seems to have entered a far more modern, practical and lasting “call” to any potential ancient astronaut.

However, it would seem to be rather simplistic to suppose that anyone would go through such efforts, efforts that lasted about two millennia to complete, merely if one wanted to attract the attention of a possible ancient astronaut passing by our planet. Dutch researcher Wim Zitman, who has privately made tremendous breakthroughs in Egyptological research, noted that the dimensions of this civilization expressed numbers that are related to the star Sirius. He believes that the ancients had worked with the notion that time was equal to distance – a concept that is essentially correct as time and space are identical – and that when measuring specific distances of ancient monuments, etc., you will find numbers that are relevant in astronomy and astrology, of which the most important aspects were incorporated into myth and legend, as those numbers were relevant to the gods and goddesses. This, he argues strongly, helped the ancients in observing the sky and astronomical events. Hence the proverb: “as above, so below.”

Recently, research into this civilisation has actually gone even deeper into the past, beyond the megalithic civilization. In the 1930s, Frenchman Xavier Guichard published his life-study into the place name “Eleusis”. There is such a city in both Greece and Egypt. The Greek city is the most famous, as it is the home of the Eleusian mysteries. In mythology, we also have the “Eleusian fields”, which are intimately connected to the Afterlife. Guichard published his findings in a book called Eleusis Alesia, a study on the origins of European civilization. Published in 1936, it had a print run of 500 copies, of which several were lost. Earlier this year, André Douzet was able to locate a copy of this book in the library of Lyons, the second largest in France. My friend was able to tell me that no-one had loaned out the book for the past twenty years.
These are the conclusions that Guichard reached: all places that were called Alesia (or a name closely related), had been given this name in prehistoric times. Not a single place had been given such a name in more recent times. He believed that the name this derived from an Indo-European root, meaning “a meeting point to where people travelled”. The majority of these sites could be found in France, where there were more than 400. But, as mentioned, the name occurred as far away as Greece and Egypt, but also in Poland and Spain. Guichard was unable to find such names in Britain, which suggest that these cities might go back to the time of the last Ice Age, when Britain was covered with thick sheets of ice. Guichard himself spoke of “prehistoric” centres.

Guichard, like Mestdagh, made it an issue to visit most sites figuring in his research in person. He discovered they had two characteristic features: they were on hills overlooking rivers and were built around a man-made well of salt or mineral water. He also believed that all the sites lay on lines radiating like the spokes of a wheel from the town of Alaise, in eastern France. This is an echo of what Mestdagh discovered regarding Sens. Guichard believed that 24 lines, equally spaced radiating lines, plus four lines based on the sunrise/sunset at the two equinoxes and the summer and winter solstices, touched every site. This was a total of 28 lines, which could have a lunar connection. Intriguingly, a play of numbers, starting from 28 (which is two times 14, a number connected to dying gods such as Osiris and Jesus), gives numbers like 56, 64 and 72, all of them featuring prominently in sites such as Stonehenge, the megalithic civilization and other mythology. Of course, we can do a lot with numbers (which is, after all, what they were designed for in the first place), but it is interesting that certain key numbers keep coming back. Particularly, these numbers always have direct astronomical significance.

On some occasions, we have hinted at possible evidence suggesting an intimate relationship between Egypt and the megalithic civilization. There could be one as, historically, the two were contemporaries. Fernand Niel recorded the finding of small blue beads in a Wessex burial ground, discovered on close examination to have been made in Egypt. W.Y. Evans-Wentz noted in 1911 at the very beginning of his “The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries” that plainly there had to be some significant connection between Brittany and Egypt – and this evidence goes far beyond the wordplay that is often heard about Carnac (Brittany) and Karnak (Egypt).

Ever since Mankind became worthy of that name (and this is at least 100,000 years), we find traces of mining industries. Particularly, red ochre was often mined and afterwards used in funerary ceremonies. The corpse of the deceased was painted with this red ochre. Evidence seems to suggest that the red ochre had to represent blood; the body as such would be “born again” in the Afterlife, in a similar manner as the fetus is born in this world.
In Egyptian mythology, the place to the Afterlife was represented as an island in the west, and was an enclosed oval formed by the body of Nut, surmounted by Osiris holding aloft the Solar Disk. As Bruce Rux, author of “Architects of the Underworld”, stated: “It may be of interest that the Elysian Fields […], the Sekhet-hetep (Field of Offerings), was famous as a place intersected by canals.”
As Letorneau noted in 1893 in the “Bulletin de la Société d’Anthropologie”, “the builders of our megalithic monuments came from the South, and were related to the races of North Africa.” His colleague Sergi recorded finding the sign of the ankh and other hieroglyphic signs on French dolmens. Professor J. Morris Jones confirmed the suggestion of Sir John Rhys that Celtic languages preserved Egyptian Hamitic syntax: “The pre-Aryan idioms which still live in Welsh and Irish were derived from a language allied to Egyptian and the Berber tongues.”
In 1996, Zitman made some extraordinary discoveries, of which he has asked me not to tell too much. He hopes to publish his findings in the next few years. What I can say is that his material involves astonishing new evidence regarding our forefathers’ obsession with that stars, an unknown but vitally important lost civilization in the Sahara, one that opens up links between Sumer, Egypt and the megalithic civilization.

Two years ago, in Bern, after a day on which Robert Bauval, myself and fellow speaker Hartwig Hausdorf had lectured on mysteries of the past and had stressed the importance of the stars in all of our apparently unrelated research, one delegate came forward and stated that for him, a door had been opened.
I believe this is indeed the case. I believe that the megalithic civilization was instrumental in creating and propagating certain knowledge about things we are only now beginning to realize. Whereas today’s main focus lies in Egypt, I feel we should also look towards the megalithic civilization, Stonehenge, Mestdagh’s research and Wim Zitman’s research into this. I wholeheartedly believe the megalithic civilization will unravel certain enigmas that the Great Pyramid and all the wonders of Egypt and Sumer combined will not be able to solve.