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Egerton Sykes

Sykes’ 1966 Lecture To The Explorer's Club In New York

On November 22, 1966, The Explorer's Club of New York let one of their first Atlantologists, Egerton Sykes, through the front door, to lecture on “The Antediluvian World”. It was old hat to Sykes that the continent of Atlantis wasonce situated in the Atlantic Ocean between the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean, and it stretched from the Azores to Ascension Island with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge — its highest peaks reaching 6000-feet above sea level — forming the mountainous backbone of the continent; however, most of the Club’s members were uninformed on the subject of Atlantis. Nonetheless, the courageous Sykes managed to explain what occurred, when it happened, cultural traces left behind, and what could be done nowadays to pick up the lost trails.

Sykes claimed that within a few years of Atlantis sinking, shiploads of hardy adventurers were breasting the Atlantic waves to search for remnants of the lost continent. These journeys began a continuous stream of traffic to the Americas, which lasted until the days of Columbus. He proudly boasted that Atlantology rode both the horses of Diffusion and Atlantis — two facets of the same historical coin — and set out to prove that there have been Old World cultural manifestations by Egyptians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Etruscans, Minoans, the Vikings, and the Irish — to name a few — on the east coast of the Americas since 10,000 BC. On the western coasts, documented traces of the Chinese, Ainu, and Jomon from Japan, dated nearly as far back.The process of diffusion left behind a whole series of river and place names, stories of adventures, and occasional artifacts.

Noticing some raised eyebrows in the audience, Sykes acknowledged that there were probably a few disbelievers present, after all, heated arguments have raged over the centuries over whether Atlantis ever really existed or not. Indeed, in France, bitter quarrels once caused the government to forbid a conference of Atlantologists, claiming it threatened the calm of the inhabitants of Paris and the safety of the buildings in which the meetings would take place.

Not intimidated in the least, Sykes nonchalantly informed his skeptical hosts, “Atlantis is a part of our history whether we like it or not.”

Sykes hypothesized that Atlantis was a place where humankind made impressive advancements in the development of civilization. The Atlanteans, a red race, were one of up to five races to appear, possibly simultaneously, in different regions of the Earth. The Atlanteans knew sufficient astronomy to have an accurate calendar; had knowledge of architecture; and worshipped Poseidon, the Sun, and the Moon. They were Rhesus negative; mummified their dead; and practiced artificial cranial deformation to produce slightly egg shaped heads with sloping foreheads. There were thousands of artificially deformed skulls in museums all over the world, and there had been some magnificent ones in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons before it was bombed during World War II.

Sykes debated with his peers about the cause of the catastrophe that submerged Atlantis in 10,000 BC, and entertained theories ofa meteor strike or some other stellar intruder, possibly associated with a magnetic pole reversal. The Lunar Capture Theory, as described by Hans Hoerbiger, was presently the most popular and controversial theory, as the Moon had always been regarded as a naturally born child of the Earth; not a separate, captured planet.

In 1913, Hans Hoerbiger, an Austrian engineer and amateur astronomer, with the support of Philip Fauth, the eminent astronomer, postulated that our present moon had been captured by the Earth in 10,000 BC. The event caused vast tidal waves as waters congregated around the tropical and equatorial belts; the North Pole shifted from somewhere near Petermanns Peak in Greenland to its present position; and tectonic strains caused enormous earthquakes and volcanic activity. The rain of debris, which accompanied the final dissolution of the Moon, marked the end of a geological era by crushing all that had preceded it. Atlantis plunged two to three miles underwater.

Sykes and his fellow Atlantologists researched meteorite craters all over the globe as possible proof of a cosmic bombardment, including the Carolinas, Arizona, east coast USA, the Caribbean, Arabia, Australia, Labrador, the Vredefort Ring in South Africa, and the Sahara of southern Lybia.

A persistent legend in Argentina told of a giant chunk of iron that fell from the sky in a spectacular fireball. In 1965, an American research team and an Argentinean geologist concluded that the original meteorite partly buried in the sandy soil of Campo del Cielo, the Field of the Sky, was part of a moon that fell to Earth. The Bushmen, the oldest inhabitants of South Africa, pay special reverence to meteorite pieces as their oral legends teach that the Moon is responsible for everything that has taken place — good or bad — and tell of a tremendous disaster on Earth in which the Moon played a significant part.

Plato’s dialogue of Critias supported the Hoerbiger Theory when the Egyptian priest said, “Often and in many ways has mankind suffered destruction, and will again be destroyed, mainly through fire and water... This sounds like a myth, but the true kernel of it is the altered courses of the bodies moving around the Earth...”

Sykes in 1978

Sykes in 1978

The Club members gradually opened their minds as the passionate Englishman brilliantly intertwined mythology and science.

Major terrestrial changes accompanied the catastrophe of 10,000 BC: the end of the Ice Age; the formation of the Sargasso Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Great Rift of Africa; the desiccation of the Sahara; and the quick freezing of mammoths in northeastern Siberia — so quick that the beasts’ cells were preserved intact, and the creatures’ mouths and stomachs contained green grass and fresh dandelions.Carbon-14 dating used on the famous Taimyr mammoth found in 1948, showed that the animal lived 12,000 years ago.

As the last fragmented islands of Atlantis descended to the depths, the final wave of migrants fled to Central and South America, France, Spain, Portugal, the Pyrenees mountains, and Egypt. It took humanity many thousands of years to recover from the shock. The survivors had witnessed astonishing cosmic and terrestrial phenomenon, and recorded their honest accounts in the world’s religious and classical literature, history, mythology, legend, folklore, and customs. Archaeology provided more tangible evidence in the ruins of cities and temples, ancient calendars, petroglyphs, and artifacts.

Sykes sketched a hazy outline of cultural connections between ancient peoples, and remarked that he desperately wanted the mysteries of the Egyptians and Maya solved in his lifetime. Sykes hoped that someday, the complex biology ofblood groups, in combination with linguistic studies,would allow us to trace the migration path of any given group of people.

Well-versed in mythology, Sykes reminded the Club members that the six-hundred Deluge stories of different races around the world, among peoples who knew the sea well and among those who lived far inland, are not simply coincidental. The Flood was a universal event. Stories of the Deluge are to be found in the Sagas; the Eddas (records of Nordic history that may have the only account of the beginning of an ice age known to mankind); the Puranas; Greek myths; the Book of Genesis; and in the memories of the Algonquins, Aztecs, Incas, Mayas, Toltecs, Babylonians, Hebrews, Egyptians, and Chinese. In Peru, there were strange tales of the Moon’s capture by a fiery dragon in the days before the great flood. Many of the creation legends of Latin America start with the first men digging themselves out of caves to the surface after a major catastrophe that preceded the Deluge.

Sykes thought it interesting that in all early religions, men were the children of the representatives of the gods of the Earth, and not the objects of their creation. Sykes viewed the Bible as the best history book available between 2000 BC and AD 100, and liked to clarify that religious history is as full of inaccuracies as any other form. The story of Noah in the Old Testament was an eyewitness account of the Deluge, and the Garden of Eden was a memory of the dispute between the Serpent Worshippers and the High Priest.

“Serpent worship appears to be the oldest religious activity in the world”, Sykes speculated, and went on to state his belief that it started somewhere near what is now the Gobi Desert. The Snake Priestesses were the healers of antiquity, and these famous women oracles of the past included Medea, Medusa, and the Delphic Oracle. The art of the Maya in Yucatan shows that the feathered serpent was important in religion. Some Indian tribes in America had a tradition of a Snake Island in the Atlantic Ocean. There are three serpent mounds in Ohio. A tradition existed throughout the Near East, of an all powerful and wise serpent clan of rulers dating back to remote times, who were in some way connected with catastrophe stories of a cosmic nature. Sykes assumed that they were a pre-Deluge race of humans having the serpent as their totem.

Sykes chuckled as he recalled the time in 1947, when he was denied a visa by the Turkish government to head an expedition to look for Noah’s ark on Mount Ararat. Sykes had wanted to date the wood of the ship, and thus, prove the time of the Deluge.

“There are a scant 149 classical references to Atlantis which have survived to the present day. Unfortunately, there have been extensive losses of ancient literature in both the New and Old World”, Sykes lectured. “No doubt the burning of the Library at Alexandria in AD 641 and the destruction of the Maya codices by Bishop Landa, deprived us of keys to the past. Still, the truth may lay in the hundreds of tons of unsorted and untranslated documents lying in the cellars of religious, educational, and secular buildings throughout Europe, the Near East, and Russian Central Asia...”

Sykes’ finishing stroke referred to the fascinating branch of the science of Atlantology which studied other mythical lost civilizations, including the Lemurian culture. Those sculptures with enormous ears twice as long as normal and reaching down to the chin were those of the Lemurian culture, a generic term for the half dozen cultures existing at various early times in the Pacific Ocean island groups. “There is no satisfactory means of dating rude stone monuments, and the lack of written material means that we have only a vague idea as to the nature of the Pacific civilizations,” he stated confidently. “We have the numerous megalithic structures in the Caroline Islands; Angkor Vat, the mysterious city of French Indo-China with its monstrous snake images; the Venice of the Pacific on Ponape; Malden Island’s forty stone temples joined by paved highways, some of which vanish into the sea; and Thor Heyerdahl’s captivating tales of Easter Island — but they are only a speck of the story...”

The Explorers Club members listened to what Sykes had to say with great patience and asked many valuable questions afterwards.At the end of the evening, Sykes was presented with aninscribed vellum scroll as a gesture of thanks. In return, Sykes left the crowd with some parting words to ponder, “When I was a boy it was stated by practically everybody that the atom was indivisible, and only a few daring heretics dared to suggest otherwise.”

As an appendix to Sykes’ lecture, Dr. Manson Valentine, a Yale Professor of Zoology, and a daring archaeologist, gave an account of some of his most recent discoveries in the Caribbean Islands — finds possibly related to Atlantis.

On his application for membership to The Explorers Club of New York, Sykes wrote,

"Atlantis apart, I still am an authority on the political background of Eastern Europe, the Near East, and the Mediterranean, all of which I know extremely well, having covered the area as a soldier in two world wars as a foreign correspondent and as a diplomat. To recapitulate: My ideas may not be agreed with by everybody, but I adhere strictly to logical and scientific principles in my work on them.”

Dr. William R. Nethercut, Professor of Greek and Latin at Columbia University in New York, wrote a supportive seconding-letter in August 1967 to The Explorers Club Committee on Admissions. Nethercut wrote,

"Atlantis is a controversial issue, and there may be some reluctance to accept Mr. Sykes’ petition for membership on the very grounds that his name is linked with the problem. Those members of the Committee who attended his talk on Atlantis will have formed their own judgments about the value of what was said. I shall point out, in any case, that the candidate’s edition of Donnelly’s work (Ignatius Donnelly, a Minnesota congressman and known as the founder of the modern science of Atlantology, published Atlantis: The Antediluvian World in 1882 to rave reviews) represents a service... Sykes also published an up-to-date list of all books and articles pertaining to Atlantis through the years, and has collected all the classical references to the problem. This bibliographical work is objective and fills a need. His time has not been wasted on it."

Sykes was accepted as a member of The Explorers Club in April 1968, and in 1977, he became the Chairman of the British Chapter of the Explorers Club of New York.

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