Podcast/The Lost Theory of Pangaea

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[edit] Eli Hunt - Thelostgames.com - Podcasts


[edit] The Lost Theory of Pangaea

  • Watch the podcast at thelostgames.com
  • Watch the podcast at dotSUB
  • Downloadable slides are included in the transcript below
There are certain discoveries that we take for granted to be unique to our age of science and technology. The theory of plate tectonics, for example, was invented by geologists in the 1950s to explain large movements of the earth’s crust.They based their theory on centuries of previous earth science and exploration,along with new seismic imaging techniques. But what if another civilization had predicted tectonic theory, more than two thousand years before us, and without even knowing that the world was round? I’m Eli Hunt, and this is the lost theory of Pangaea.

Pangaea was a term coined by scientist Alfred Wegener in 1920 to describe a massive “supercontinent” made up of all the landmass on earth. According to modern tectonic theory, Pangaea supposedly fractured hundreds of millions of years ago, and the continents have continued to drift and reshape themselves ever since.

Wegener’s theory is informed by our modern knowledge of the shape of all the major continents, as well as an understanding of the fossil record. The Greeks were thousands of years away from any of this knowledge, and yet, if my findings are correct,they may have stumbled onto their own theory of Pangaea.

I found my first clue in the ruins of Dodona, site of the oldest Hellenic oracle,in a piece of graffiti carved into the face of one of its foundation stones. The graffiti was in roughly the shape of a “C” - wider at the bottom, a section missing on the upper left side, and trailing off at the top. To the casual observer, it resembled nothing more than a shapeless blob. But looking closer, the line of the shape seemed deeply and deliberately cut. It was clear to me that the artist had a particular image in mind when they carved this shape. Oddly, there was a sixteen point star carved near the inside bend of the “C." I photographed the image and filed it away, and six months later found myself staring at the exact same image, only this time it was a modern approximation of the ancient supercontinent of Pangaea. Looking closer, I realized the sixteen point star on the ancient Greek stone was precisely where the land that became Greece would have been in the Pangaea formation.
Was the graffiti more modern than I’d first suspected? Or did the ancients somehow predict a 20th-century discovery? Is it possible that an anonymous vandal might have insights into the movements of the earth that even today escape us?
I was so intrigued by this possibility that I spent thousands of dollars of my own money to authenticate the carving with three different groups of researchers. All said, without a doubt, the carving was real and it dated to roughly 200 BC.
Perhaps this mysterious carver was not alone in envisaging the earth’s distant past.It’s certain that the Greeks had some understanding of geology and its volatile nature, as evidenced by the many earthquakes, tidal waves, and volcanic eruptions recorded throughout the course of Hellenic civilization.

For example, ancient geographers and historians have provided us with thorough documentation of the 373 BC earthquake and ocean swell that sunk the city of Helike into the Mediterranean. [zoom into] Helike And throughout Hellenic times, Greeks held the “Earth-Shaker” Poseidon, the god of the sea and of earthquakes, in one of the highest places of honor in the Olympic pantheon. Historians suspect this highest honor was bestowed precisely because the ancient Greeks were so aware of their position at the center of a seismic hotbed.

But Pangaea is a concept far beyond what even the most advanced Greek science could have reasonably predicted, unless we grant that the Greeks came to the theory by a means that we still do not understand. And to that end I turn to an obscure document whose authenticity has long been in doubt, the Pythian manuscript.

The Pythian manuscript surfaced in 1948 in Dresden, Germany, amidst the wreckage of World War II. It is a sheet of papyrus that has been accurately dated to at least the 3rd century AD. Written in Latin, it claims to be a translation of an even older document supposedly found at the temple of the Oracle of Delphi, the site of the original Greek omphalos.
It describes a vision related by the oracle of the catastrophic collision of huge masses of land. "The oceans slip aside, making way for cliffs and mountains. Cities and towns are ripped asunder, and not a soul is spared. As big as the hand of Poseidon himself, all the five lands upturn upon themselves, drawing ever closer into one final island."
I can hardly confirm the document’s authenticity, or say with any certainty whether any such document of oracular visions was ever found at Delphi, but the description is striking to say the least. The phrase "one final island" suggests to me that this cataclysm is a vision of Pangaea, made up of the five continents – or “five lands” that we know today.

I am struck, however, by the unusual sequence described in the oracle’s vision. We know today that the five continents broke apart from Pangaea, rather than being drawn into it. The oracle’s record reads more like a sudden and violent return to a state of Pangaea – which is, in fact, exactly what most geologists today predict for our Earth, several million years ahead in the future.
What could have inspired this vision? And what would its significance have been in the time of the Greeks,when the world itself stretched no further than India, northern Africa, and perhaps China?
The Greeks have surprised us before with their technological advances. The Antikythera machine, a complicated device known as a “moon computer” was believed to have been used to predict celestial events, and has been dated to 150 BC. Ancient travelers to the city of Rhodes have described other advanced mechanisms,resembling giant robots, the likes of which the world would not see again for thousands of years. Even so, I can hardly be certain that the Greeks had grasped any real notion of the Earth’s tectonic history
But I submit to you, listeners, that the vision of a supercontinent, of Pangaea, appeared at least two times, in two different locations, over two thousand years ago. And now it falls to our inquisitive minds to wonder how and to question why.


[edit] Slide details

[edit] Pythian Manuscript
oceani labeni_s rupibus
montibusque concedint atqu
n_bes ot oppida subueruntur
ne ulli quidem parcitur omnes
quinque terrae quantae manns
posidonio ipsi connementes
unam in magnam insuiam
onnementes in se connertunt

[edit] Quiz

How much do you know about the Lost Theory of Pangaea?

Try the quiz.

1. When was the term "Pangaea" invented?

   * In 670 BC
   * In 1640 AD
   * In 1920 AD
   * In 1964 AD

2. According to Alfred Wegener's theory of continental drift, what shape was Pangaea?

   * A perfect circle
   * A long oval
   * The letter "U"
   * The letter "C"

3. What did the sixteen point star appear to mark on the ancient graffiti at Dodona?

   * The northernmost point on Pangaea
   * The southernmost point on Pangaea
   * The point on Pangaea that later became ancient Greece 
   * The point on Pangaea that from which the first continent broke off

4. What is the Pythian manuscript a translation of?

   * A history of earthquakes in the city of Helike
   * A vision of continental drifts described by the Oracle at Delphi
   * A record of calculations performed on an ancient "moon computer"
   * A diary from an ancient Greek voyage to China

5. What is most unusual about the "one final island" story told in the Pythian manuscript?

   * It describes a "super-Pangaea" - one that is three times as large as Wegener hypthosized.
   * It is a backwards history of Pangaea. 
   * The continents drift together instead of breaking apart. 
   * It argues that Pangaea sunk to the bottom of the ocean, instead of breaking apart.It argues that Pangaea never existed.
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