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Easter Island: land of mystery

David Pratt

November 2004

Part 4 of 4

Contents

9. Sunken lands
10. Megalithic Pacific

9. Sunken lands

... Easter Island – the living and solitary witness of a submerged prehistoric
continent in the midst of the Pacific Ocean. – H.P. Blavatsky1

Read my lips: the islands of Polynesia are not, nor have they ever been, a part of
a sunken continent. – A modern ‘expert’2

Easter Island lies some 500 km east of the crest of a submarine mountain range
called the East Pacific Rise; it is also situated on the Easter fracture zone. The
island is believed to be the summit of an immense mountain formed by the
outpouring of molten volcanic rock from the seafloor. It rests on a submarine
platform some 50 or 60 m below the ocean’s surface, but 15 to 30 km off the
coast, the platform ends and the ocean floor drops to between 1800 and 3600 m.

Easter Island owes its roughly triangular shape to the three volcanoes located at
its corners: Poike, Rano Kau, and Terevaka. In addition to these main volcanic
centres there are at least 70 subsidiary eruptive centres. The oldest lava flows
have been dated at up to 3 million years old, but more recently lower dates of
half to three-quarters of a million years have been published.3 Some scientists
think the earliest lavas of Easter Island (now well below sea level) erupted
around 4.5 to 5 million years ago.4*

*For conversion between ‘scientific’ and theosophical dates, see ‘Geochronology: theosophy
and science’, http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/dp5/geochron.htm.

Legend describes Easter Island as having once been part of a ‘much larger
country’. Successive ice ages during the Pleistocene have lowered sea level by
at least 100 m and possibly far more at times, and Easter Island would then have
been larger than it is today. According to the ruling geological paradigm of plate
tectonics, Easter Island has never been part of a sunken continent. However, the
plate-tectonic model is challenged by a mountain of evidence. Some of the main
problems are on following page.
Fig. 9.1
Francis Mazière thought
that the legendary lost
continent of Hiva might
have been a long
continental ridge (the East
Pacific Rise). As explained
below, growing evidence is
emerging that far larger
areas of the Pacific Ocean
were once land.

Plate tectonics – a dogma in distress

Although most earth scientists jumped on the plate-tectonic bandwagon in the


1960s and 70s, the theory has always had its critics. Their number is increasing
as evidence contradicting the reigning paradigm continues to accumulate.1

According to plate tectonics, the earth’s outermost layer, or lithosphere, is divided


into separate ‘plates’ that move with respect to one another on an underlying
plastic layer known as the asthenosphere. The lithosphere is said to average 70
km in thickness beneath oceans, and to be 100 to 250 km thick beneath
continents. However, seismic tomography (which produces 3D images of the
earth’s interior) has shown that the oldest parts of the continents have very deep
roots extending to depths of 400 km or more, and that the asthenosphere is
absent or very thin beneath them. Even under the oceans there is no continuous
asthenosphere, only disconnected asthenospheric lenses. In addition, the
boundaries of the main plates are sometimes ill defined or nonexistent. These
crucial facts – which go largely unmentioned in modern geological textbooks –
render the large-scale lateral movement of individual ‘plates’ impossible.

Plate tectonics claims that new ocean crust is constantly being created by
upwelling magma at ‘midocean’ ridges (including the East Pacific Rise) and
subducted back into the mantle along ocean trenches, mostly located around the
Pacific Rim. This would mean that the entire ocean crust should be no more than
about 200 million years old. Yet, although ignored by the textbooks, literally
thousands of rocks of Palaeozoic and Precambrian ages have been found in the
world’s oceans. For instance, the rocks forming the St. Peter and Paul islands
near the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge gave ages of 350, 450, 835 and 2000
million years, whereas according to plate tectonics they should be only 35 million
years old. Rocks from central Tahiti in the South Pacific have proven to be over
800 million years old. Contrived and unconvincing attempts are occasionally
made to explain such anomalies away – e.g. as crustal blocks that somehow got
left behind during ‘seafloor spreading’.

Everyone accepts that enormous areas of the present continents have


repeatedly been submerged beneath the sea; about 90% of all the sedimentary
rocks composing the continents were laid down under water. But due to their
ingrained beliefs, plate tectonicists tend to ignore the growing evidence that there
used to be large, now submerged, continental landmasses in the present oceans
– landmasses that are completely ignored in imaginative reassemblies of today’s
supposedly drifting continents. Several geoscientists have called for a major
effort to drill the ocean floor to much greater depths to verify whether, as the data
available already suggest, the basalt layer that is currently labelled ‘basement’
conceals more ancient sediments below it.2

The earthquakes taking place at different depths on the landward side of ocean
trenches define a Benioff zone, which is interpreted in plate tectonics as a
‘descending plate’. How ocean crust is supposed to descend into the denser
mantle has never been satisfactorily explained. Moreover, Benioff zones have a
highly variable and complex structure, with transverse as well as vertical
discontinuities and segmentation, and bear little resemblance to the highly
stylized pictures of continuous downgoing slabs depicted in geological textbooks.
Fig. 9.2 Earthquake distribution perpendicular to the Andes (15-30°S).
The outlined ‘subducting slab’ appears to be a product of wishful thinking.3

The volume of crust generated at ocean ridges is supposed to be equalled by the


volume subducted. But whereas 80,000 km of midocean ridges are supposedly
producing new crust, there are only 30,500 km of trenches and 9000 km of
‘collision zones’ – i.e. only half the length of the ‘spreading centres’. If subduction
was really happening, vast amounts of oceanic sediments should have been
scraped off the ocean floor and piled up against the landward margin of the
trenches. However, sediments in the trenches are generally not present in the
volumes required, and they do not display the expected degree of deformation.
Plate tectonicists have had to resort to the far-fetched notion that soft ocean
sediment can slide smoothly into a subduction zone without leaving any
significant trace.

An alternative view of Benioff zones is that they are very ancient fractures
produced by the cooling and contraction of the earth, and currently represent the
deformation interface between the uplifting island arc/continental region and the
subsiding ocean crust and mantle.

Most plate tectonicists believe that chains of oceanic islands and seamounts in
the Pacific are the result of the Pacific plate moving over ‘hotspots’ of upwelling
magma. This should give rise to a systematic age progression along hotspot
trails, but a large majority show little or no age progression. For instance, the
ages of islands and seamounts along the Sala y Gomez ridge (on which Easter
Island and Sala y Gomez Island are located) fail to increase systematically to the
east.4 Hotspots are commonly attributed to ‘mantle plumes’ rising from the core-
mantle boundary. But critics have shown that plume explanations are ad hoc,
artificial, and inadequate, and that plumes are not required by any geological
evidence.5 An alternative proposal is that ocean island chains are formed by
magma that rises from much shallower depths, perhaps from a network of
magma ‘surge channels’ in the lithosphere.

The continents and oceans are covered with a network of major structures or
lineaments, many dating from the Precambrian. In the Pacific basin there are
intersecting megatrends, composed of ridges, fracture zones, and seamount
chains, running NNW-SSE and WSW-ENE (fig. 9.3).6 In plate tectonics,
seamount chains supposedly indicate the direction of plate movement, but to
produce these orthogonal megatrends the plates would have to move in two
directions at once! Although plate tectonicists invoke ad-hoc ‘microplates’ and
‘hotspots’ whenever the need arises, they are unable to offer a satisfactory
explanation of any of these megatrends, and prefer to ignore them.
Fig. 9.3 The Pacific ‘plate’.

Furthermore, some megatrends continue into the Australian, Asian, and North
and South American continents where they link up with major Precambrian
lineaments, implying that the ‘oceanic’ crust is at least partly composed of
Precambrian rocks – as has been confirmed by deep-sea dredging, drilling, and
seismic data. The Easter fracture zone lies on the Central Pacific Megatrend,
which spans the entire Pacific and continues across South America into the
Atlantic Ocean.7 These interconnecting lineaments demolish the plate-tectonic
myth that ‘plates’ and continents have moved thousands of kilometres over the
earth’s surface.

Sunken continents

It is commonly argued that Easter Island can never have formed part of a
continent because no granite or sedimentary rocks such as limestone and
sandstone have ever been found there – only igneous rocks. But as H.F.
Blandford pointed out back in 1890:

[T]he occurrence of volcanic islands does not prove that the area in which they
occur is not a sunken continent. If Africa south of the Atlas subsided two
thousand fathoms [3660 m], what would remain above water? So far as our
present knowledge goes, the remaining islands would consist of four volcanic
peaks – the Cameroons, Mount Kenia, Kilimanjaro, and ... Ruwenzori, together
with an island, or more than one, which, like the others, would be entirely
composed of volcanic rocks.

He added that there is ‘clear proof that some land-areas lying within continental
limits have within a comparatively recent date been submerged over a thousand
fathoms, whilst sea-bottoms now over a thousand fathoms deep must have been
land in part of the Tertiary’.1

Easter Island’s volcanic rocks consist mainly of basalts and andesites and a
small amount of rhyolite. Basalts are considered to be a major component of the
ocean crust, but flood basalts are also found in abundance on the continents.
Furthermore, as more and more basalts are analyzed, the difference in the
composition of oceanic and continental flood basalts is becoming increasingly
blurred.2 In the plate-tectonic scheme, andesitic volcanoes are supposed to form
along the edge of a continent, above a mythical subduction zone.3 Easter Island
of course now lies 3600 km from the nearest continent. Rhyolite is the coarse-
grained equivalent of granite, which is found in abundance on the continents –
and increasingly under the oceans. Some geologists in the past have described
Easter Island’s rocks bluntly as ‘continental’.4 Plate-tectonicist P.E. Baker puts it
more cautiously: ‘the lavas in general are rather more siliceous than is usual for
an oceanic setting’; rocks from other islands on or near the East Pacific Rise,
such as Pitcairn and the Galapagos, are similar in this respect.5

Soviet scientist N. Zhirov pointed out that ‘continental’ (sial) rocks such as
granite, schist, rhyolite, and/or andesite have been found on many Pacific
islands, including the Marquesas Islands, the Galapagos Islands, the Fiji Islands,
the Tonga Islands, the Kermadec Islands, Chatham, Bounty and Oakland
Islands, and Chuuk, Yap, and Man Islands in the Carolines. Most geologists
nowadays prefer to assume that andesite and rhyolite rocks found in oceanic
settings formed by high levels of fractional crystallization of oceanic basalts – but
this is entirely hypothetical.6

Continental crust is usually said to average 35 km in thickness compared to only


7 km for oceanic crust. The crust is 40 km thick beneath North Australia, 20 km
thick in the eastern part of the adjacent Coral Sea, 22-28 km thick in the Fiji-
Tonga-Samoa area, and as much as 36 km thick at the Tonga Islands. There are
over 100 submarine plateaus and ridges scattered throughout the oceans, dotted
with islands, and many may be submerged continental fragments that have not
been completely ‘oceanized’, as suggested by ‘anomalously’ thick crust and finds
of ‘impossibly’ ancient continental rocks.
Fig. 9.4 Worldwide distribution of oceanic plateaus (black).

In the early 20th century, geologist J.W. Gregory concluded from a detailed
survey of geological and palaeontological evidence that landmasses of varying
sizes had been uplifted and submerged at various times in the Atlantic and
Pacific oceans, most of them disappearing by the Miocene. He wrote: ‘The direct
geological evidence is overwhelming, that large blocks of the Earth’s crust rise
and fall for vertical amounts greater than the greatest depths in the oceans.’7

Russian geoscientist E.M. Ruditch concluded from a detailed study of ocean


drilling results that there is no systematic correlation between the age of shallow-
water sediments and their distance from the axes of the midoceanic ridges. This
disproves the seafloor-spreading model, according to which the age of sediments
should become progressively older with increasing distance from the midoceanic
ridge. Some areas of the oceans appear to have undergone continuous
subsidence, whereas others have experienced alternating episodes of
subsidence and elevation. He believed that major areas of the oceans were
formerly land. The Pacific Ocean appears to have formed mainly from the late
Jurassic to the Miocene, the Atlantic Ocean from the Late Cretaceous to the end
of the Eocene, and the Indian Ocean during the Paleocene and Eocene.8 This
corresponds closely to the theosophical teachings on the submergence of
Lemuria in the Late Mesozoic and early Cenozoic, and the submergence of
Atlantis in the first half of the Cenozoic.9

Fig. 9.5

The map of former land areas in the present Pacific and Indian Oceans
presented in fig. 9.5 was compiled by geoscientists J.M. Dickins and D.R. Choi
on the basis of ocean-floor sampling and drilling, seismic data, and the location
of ancient sediment sources.10 Only landmasses for which substantial evidence
already exists are shown, but their exact outlines and full extent are as yet
unknown. Some geologists have argued that the area in the Southeast Pacific
labelled S3 probably extended much further west and encompassed what is now
Easter Island.11

Lost Pacific islands

Easter Island legends tell of the first settlers arriving after their native land had
been submerged, and of a giant named Uoke, in a fit of anger, causing the
subsidence of a large continent, of which Easter Island is a remnant. Similar
traditions of vanished continents are found throughout Polynesia and Melanesia,
and in other areas bordering the Pacific. For instance, the Hawaiians believed
there was once a great continent stretching from Hawaii to New Zealand, but it
sank, leaving only its mountaintops as islands. Such legends do not specify when
the various landmasses are supposed to have existed. Although it is certain that
no large continents in the Pacific have been submerged during the past few
millennia, several writers believe that islands of reasonable size have done so.

When the Dutchman Roggeveen discovered Easter Island in 1722, he was


actually searching for Davis Land. An English buccaneer named John Davis
reported sighting this island in 1687 in latitude 27°20'S. He said it was 800 km
from the coast of Chile, low, flat, and sandy, but with ‘a long tract of pretty high
land’ to the northwest. This description in no way applies to Easter Island. The
general belief today is that Davis had misjudged his position, as was by no
means unusual in the case of the early mariners, and that Davis Land was
Mangareva, the chief island in the Gambier archipelago, far to the west of Easter
Island.

However, in the early 20th century Lewis Spence and John Macmillan Brown
took the report of Davis Land at face value, and concluded that an archipelago of
considerable extent must have foundered in this area between 1687 and 1722.
Brown thought that Sala y Gomez, a rocky islet just above water some 415 km
northeast of Easter Island, was probably the remains of Davis Land; there are
numerous reefs around it and the water in its vicinity is shallow.1 The Easter
Islanders called it Motu Matiro Hiva, meaning ‘islet in front of Hiva’, Hiva being
the name given to their legendary homeland.

In addition to the Easter Island archipelago, Spence and Brown argued that land
had also been submerged in several other parts of the Pacific within the last few
thousand years.2 They held, for instance, that the Caroline archipelago could be
the remains of a vast island-empire in the eastern Central Pacific. The ruins of
Nan Madol on Pohnpei, with its massive walls, earthworks, and great temples,
intersected by miles of artificial waterways, would have required a workforce of
tens of thousands (see section 10). Brown pointed out that within a radius of
2400 km there are no more than 50,000 people today, and added: ‘It is one of the
miracles of the Pacific unless we assume a subsidence of twenty times as much
land as now exists.’3 On the little coral island of Woleai, some 1600 km west of
Pohnpei, he found a written script still in use, quite unlike any other in the world
(see section 7).

Quite a few islands that mariners have reported on their travels have later gone
missing.4 For instance, in 1879 an Italian captain announced his discovery of
Podesta Island, just over a kilometre in circumference, 1390 km due west of
Valparaiso, Chile. The island has not been found since, and was removed from
charts in 1935. An island near Easter Island was sighted in 1912 but was likewise
never seen again. Sarah Ann Island northwest of Easter Island was removed
from naval charts when a search in 1932 failed to find it. The need for caution in
interpreting such accounts is underlined by the following incident. In 1928 the
captain and two officers on a British luxury liner announced that Easter Island
itself had vanished! A Chilean gunboat was sent to the island and found it in its
usual place.

In 1955 US military pilots sighted an island 615 km west of Honolulu, but it


disappeared within a few weeks, leaving only sulphurous streaks on the surface.
In February 1946, a British warship witnessed the birth of two volcanic cones 320
km south of Tokyo; they rose to a height of 15 m and spread out over an area of
about 2.5 sq km. Two months later they had dissolved into a shoal considerably
larger than their initial size. In addition to temporary volcanic islands that
suddenly appear in deep ocean basins, there are also islands that rise and fall in
more shallow regions. Fonuafo’ou (Falcon Island) in the Tonga group, was born
in 1885 when an eruption raised a shoal 88 m above the ocean surface. Over the
next 13 years, its 3-km-diameter mass disappeared. It was reborn in 1927, and
today is about 30 m high. Metis Island, 120 km from Fonuafo’ou, popped up in
1875 and vanished in 1899.

Hunter Island was discovered in 1823 at 15°31'S and 176°11'W. It was a fertile
land, inhabited by cultivated Polynesians who had the curious custom of
amputating the little finger of the left hand at the second joint. But the island was
never seen again. The three Tuanaki Islands, part of the Cook group in the South
Pacific, disappeared around the middle of the 19th century. These islands, too,
were inhabited by Polynesians, but in 1844 a missionary ship failed to locate
them. Several former inhabitants of the islands, who had left in their youth, died
in Rarotonga during the 20th century.

Although a few small islands seem to have sunk in the Pacific in the past few
millennia, the evidence that archipelagoes on the scale that Spence and Brown
had in mind existed during this period is extremely slim. But, as explained above,
landmasses of continental size undoubtedly existed in the Pacific in the much
more distant past.

References

1. H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings (vols. 1-14), Wheaton, IL: Theosophical


Publishing House, 1950-85, 7:292-3.
2. www.islandheritage.org/mysteries.html.
3. K.M. Hasse, P. Stoffers and C.D. Garbe-Schönberg, ‘The petrogenetic evolution
of lavas from Easter Island and neighbouring seamounts, near-ridge hotspot
volcanoes in the SE Pacific’, Journal of Petrology, vol. 38, no. 6, 1997, pp. 785-
813.
4. R.I. Rusby, ‘GLORIA and other geophysical studies of the tectonic pattern and
history of the Easter Microplate, southeast Pacific’, in: L.M. Parson, B.J. Murton
and P. Browning (eds.), Ophiolites and their Modern Oceanic Analogues,
London: Geological Society Special Publication no. 60, 1992, pp. 81-106 (p.
101).

Plate tectonics – a dogma in distress


1. See ‘Plate tectonics: a paradigm under threat’, and ‘Sunken continents
versus continental drift’, http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/dp5
(Earth science).
2. J.M. Dickins, D.R. Choi and A.N. Yeates, ‘Past distribution of oceans and
continents’, in: S. Chatterjee and N. Hotton III (eds.), New Concepts in Global
Tectonics, Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press, 1992, pp. 193-9.
3. See ‘Problems with plate tectonics’,
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/dp5/lowman.htm.
4. J.G. Clark and J. Dymond, ‘Geochronology and petrochemistry of Easter and
Sala y Gomez Islands: implications for the origin of the Sala y Gomez Ridge’,
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, vol. 2, 1977, pp. 29-48.
5. H.C. Sheth, ‘Flood basalts and large igneous provinces from deep mantle
plumes: fact, fiction, and fallacy’, Tectonophysics, vol. 311, 1999, pp. 1-29.
6. N.C. Smoot, ‘Magma floods, microplates, and orthogonal intersections’, New
Concepts in Global Tectonics Newsletter, no. 5, 1997, pp. 8-13.
7. N.C. Smoot, ‘Earth geodynamic hypotheses updated’, Journal of Scientific
Exploration, vol. 15, no. 4, 2001, pp. 465-94.

Sunken continents

1. Quoted in Lewis Spence, The Problem of Atlantis, London: William Rider & Son,
1924, pp. 34-5.
2. A.A. Meyerhoff, I. Taner, A.E.L. Morris, W.B. Agocs, M. Kaymen-Kaye, M.I. Bhat,
N.C. Smoot and D.R. Choi, Surge Tectonics: A new hypothesis of global
geodynamics (D. Meyerhoff Hull, ed.). Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1996, pp. 192-3.
3. D. McGeary and C.C. Plummer, Physical Geology: Earth revealed, Boston, MA:
WCB, McGraw-Hill, 3rd ed., 1998, pp. 170, 266.
4. P.L. Lyons, ‘Continental and oceanic geophysics’, in: H. Johnson and B.L. Smith
(eds.), The Megatectonics of Continents and Oceans, New Brunswick, NJ:
Rutgers Univ. Press, 1970, pp. 147-66 (p. 162).
5. P.E. Baker, ‘Preliminary account of recent geological investigations on Easter
Island’, Geology Magazine, vol. 104, no. 2, 1967, pp. 116-22.
6. N. Zhirov, Atlantis. Atlantology: basic problems, Honolulu, HA: University Press
of the Pacific, 2001 (1970), pp. 150-1.
7. J.W. Gregory, ‘The geological history of the Pacific Ocean’, Quarterly Journal of
Geological Society, vol. 86, 1930, pp. 72-136 (p. 132).
8. E.M. Ruditch, ‘The world ocean without spreading’, in: A. Barto-Kyriakidis (ed.),
Critical Aspects of the Plate Tectonics Theory, Athens: Theophrastus
Publications, 1990, vol. 2, pp. 343-95.
9. See ‘Theosophy and the seven continents’,
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/dp5/continents.htm.
10. J.M. Dickins, ‘What is Pangaea?’, in: A.F. Embry, B. Beauchamp and D.G. Glass,
Pangea: Global environments and resources, Canadian Society of Petroleum
Geologists, Memoir 17, 1994, pp. 67-80; D.R. Choi, ‘Geology of the southeast
Pacific’, parts 1-3, New Concepts in Global Tectonics Newsletter, no. 7, pp. 11-
15; no. 8, pp. 8-13; no. 9, pp. 12-14, 1998.
11. L.S. Dillon, ‘Neovolcanism: a proposed replacement for the concepts of plate
tectonics and continental drift’, in: C.F. Kahle (ed.), Plate Tectonics –
Assessments and Reassessments, Memoir 23, Tulsa, OK: American Association
of Petroleum Geologists, 1974, pp. 167-239 (p. 222); Zhirov, Atlantis, pp. 154-5.

Lost Pacific islands

1. John Macmillan Brown, The Riddle of the Pacific, Kempton, IL: Adventures
Unlimited, 1996 (1924), p. 45.
2. Lewis Spence, The Problem of Lemuria, Kila, MT: Kessinger, n.d. (1933), p. 143.
3. The Riddle of the Pacific, p. 52.
4. Vincent Gaddis, Invisible Horizons, New York: Ace Books, 1965, pp. 25-47.

10. Megalithic Pacific

Fig. 10.1 The Pacific Ocean and its islands.

The settlement of the Pacific is currently thought to have begun some 50,000
years ago, when hunter-gatherers first colonized Australia and New Guinea in
the western Pacific, at a time when they were joined by land due to the lower sea
level resulting from the ice age. Migration proceeded eastwards, and reached the
northern Solomon Islands about 28,000 years ago. The Polynesian islands are
believed to have been settled for the first time only within the last 2000 years or
so, because the Polynesians took a long time to develop the navigational
expertise enabling them to sail far offshore. However, dates for the settlement of
the various Pacific islands are very tentative since they are based mainly on the
oldest radiocarbon dates so far obtained; future discoveries may indicate that
human habitation goes back countless millennia earlier.

The history of even the past few thousand years is as yet poorly known. For
instance, despite persistent denials by many orthodox archaeologists, there is
growing evidence for transatlantic and transpacific contacts between a variety of
ancient cultures, including the Egyptians, Libyans, Phoenicians, Greeks, Arabs,
Hindus, Dravidians, Chinese, Mayans and Incas.1 Some ancient maps provide
tantalizing but controversial evidence that the earth had been mapped over
10,000 years ago, during the last ice age.2 There may have been several waves
of migration into the Pacific from different directions, and over a timespan far
vaster than mainstream archaeologists are willing to contemplate.

The origin of the Polynesians has also been the subject of controversy. The
prevailing theory in the late 1800s and early 1900s was that the Polynesians
were an Indo-European group who came to the Pacific via India. Nowadays they
are generally believed to have come partly from Northeast Asia and also from the
Malay archipelago. But as Graeme Kearsley says:

they are in many respects closely allied to Caucasians and were in many studies
considered as such, and this racial heritage is still obvious in many islands in
Eastern Polynesia as it was to the first European explorers. These migrations
followed the same pattern as land migrations in that the male migrants, or
mariners, traded, bought or captured marriage partners from coastal or island
peoples thereby producing mixed race descendants. Therefore variable racial
inheritance is clearly in evidence throughout the islands of the Pacific ...
In almost all of the reports by the first Europeans there are references to the
variable skin colouring of Polynesians on different islands, but also within the
people of one island.

Some Polynesians appeared to be Indians of the Americas, while others were of


‘Jewish’ type or wore turbans. Kearsley argues that there were trade links and
cultural transfers from Asia, India, and the Middle East across the Pacific to
South America, and at least a few contacts from South America across the
Pacific back to Asia, with the result that the Andean and Peruvian cultures greatly
influenced the Polynesians.3*

*H.P. Blavatsky has the following to say about the Polynesians: ‘there is in the Malay race (a sub-
race of the Fourth Root Race) a singular diversity of stature; the members of the Polynesian
family (Tahitians, Samoans, and Tonga islanders) are of a higher stature than the rest of
mankind; but the Indian tribes and the inhabitants of the Indo-Chinese countries are decidedly
below the general average. This is easily explained. The Polynesians belong to the very earliest
4
of the surviving sub-races, the others to the very last and transitory stock.’

The following brief tour of the Pacific focuses on remains of monumental and
megalithic architecture. As on Easter Island, some of the structures may be the
work of very ancient and as-yet-unknown cultures.

Micronesia

In the mid-1980s a rectangular stone structure, measuring about 250 m long, 100
m wide, and 25 m high, was discovered off the small Japanese island of
Yonaguni. It now lies in depths of up to 30 m of water but would have been
exposed about 10,000 years, when the sea level was much lower, at which time
it would have stood on the tropic of Cancer. The structure includes wide terraces,
large steps, ramps and trenches, and two megalithic blocks 6 m high, about 2.5
m wide, and 4.9 m thick. Some of the stones show tool marks, and it seems likely
that the structure is a natural geological formation that has been worked and
modified by human hands.1
Fig. 10.2 Submerged structure near Yonaguni.2 (courtesy of Robert Schoch)
Other sunken structures have been found over a distance of 500 km between
Yonaguni and Okinawa. They include paved streets and crossroads, huge altar-
like formations, grand staircases leading to broad plazas, and processional ways
surmounted by pairs of towering features resembling pylons.3

Throughout the Mariana Islands latte stones are found – tall stone columns with
a hemispherical capstone, looking like mushrooms. The upright stones usually
occur in double rows of 6 to 14 stones. Latte stones range from small crude
structures constructed of natural boulders to massive stone columns, square in
shape, 4.5 m or more in height, capped with enormous blocks of stone. The
island of Tinian has two of the largest standing megaliths. The pillars are 5.5 m in
circumference at the base and 4.5 m at the top. They are 3.7 m high and support
capitals 1.5 m high and 1.8 m in diameter. Each coral monolith weighs about 30
tons. There were originally 10 pillars arranged in two parallel rows, known as the
House of Taga.4

Fig. 10.3 House of Taga, Tinian.

When the Spaniards first arrived in the early 16th century, the lattes were already
partly in ruins. The natives (descendants of the ancient Chamorros) disclaimed
all knowledge of the builders, and ascribed the stones to the ‘spirits of the before-
time people’. Since the natives called them the ‘houses of the old people’ and still
build their houses on supports, it is commonly assumed that the lattes once
supported wooden houses, though no one has ever seen them used for that
purpose. Another view is that the taller lattes once supported the roof of ancient
temples, as in the Temple of Luxor at Karnak, Egypt.

The marked differences in the shape, size, and quality of the lattes suggest that
they could have been made by different cultures at widely different times. The
earliest radiocarbon date from organic material found in the vicinity of the lattes is
900 AD – but this tells us nothing about when they were made. In 1949 two
pieces of iron were discovered under the base of one latte pillar. These pieces of
iron were not intrusive, and some archaeologists have concluded that at least
one latte stone must have been erected after the arrival of the Spaniards – the
possibility that earlier cultures on the island may have used iron is ruled out on
ideological grounds.5

Pohnpei (or Ponape, also called Ascension) is a volcanic island in the eastern
Caroline Islands, and may have been the centre of a vanished empire. In the
lagoon on the southeastern coast of Pohnpei lies Nan Madol, the ‘Venice of the
Pacific’. It covers more than 18 square kilometres, but the core of the site is
about 1.5 km by 0.5 km and contains 92 artificial islands built in the lagoon and
surrounded by man-made canals. The islands were made by stacking large
undressed hexagonal basalt prisms, most weighing under 10 tons, on the coral
reef and filling in the centre of the islet with coral. The buildings are rather crude,
but the scale of the work is very impressive. The largest structure, Nan Douwas,
oriented to the cardinal directions, consists of two concentric perimeter walls
separated by a seawater moat and enclosing a central pyramidal mound. The
walls are made from basalt megaliths over 6 m long and reach 7.6 m in height,
but could have been far higher originally. The largest stone, a massive basalt
cornerstone on the southeast side of Nan Douwas, weighs around 50 tons.
Fig. 10.4 Nan Douwas.6

Between 500 and 750 thousand tonnes of building material were transported
from varying distances to the site. Although legend speaks of the prisms being
magically floated through the air, the official view is that they were carried on
coconut palm rafts. Lost prisms can in fact be seen on the bottom of the lagoons
along the route from the quarries, indicating that at least some were transported
by this means. Ashes at the bottom of a fire pit on one of the artificial islands
were dated to 1000 AD, but this only shows that the city was inhabited at that
time – not that the entire city was built then. In any event, traces of an earlier
layer of construction have also been detected.
According to legend, two wise and holy men, Olosopa and Olosipa, selected the
site of Nan Madol after they climbed a high peak and saw an underwater city
below; Nan Madol was built as a ‘mirror image’ of its sunken counterpart. Legend
speaks of two sunken cities and of underwater tunnels. The existence of
extensive undersea ruins has been confirmed. They include a series of tall pillars
standing on flat pedestals, reaching heights of up to 8 m.7

The ancient giant stone city of Insaru on Lelu Island, which lies adjacent to
Kosrae (the easternmost of the Carolines), was also made of huge basalt walls
and pyramids, with the islands and buildings being intersected by a canal
network connected with the ocean. The ruins are very similar to those of Nan
Madol but not as extensive. Some of the walls are over 6 m high, and the
megalithic basalt blocks weigh up to 50 tons. Whereas Nan Madol has sunk
somewhat, Lelu appears to have risen slightly since the canals are almost dry.
Where the stones came from is a mystery; legend says the city was built in one
night by two magicians.
Fig. 10.5 Rare 1899 photo of one of the massive walls on Lelu Island.8

On the Palau islands, the westernmost of the Carolines, over 5% of the land
surface is terraced, and whole hills have been sculpted to resemble step
pyramids. Some of the terraces are 4.5 m or more high and often 9 to 18 m wide.
The terraces do not feature at all in local oral traditions, and no one knows who
built them. The Bairulchan megalithic site on Babeldaob has two rows of large
basalt monoliths, some with facial features carved on them. There are 37 stones
in all, some weighing up to 5 tons, and the largest being 3 m tall. Similar
monoliths can be found on Vao and Malekula in the Vanuata Islands (New
Hebrides).
Fig. 10.6 Part of a broken monolith on Malekula.9

Melanesia

On the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia there are about 400 large tumuli or
mounds, ranging from 9 to 50 m in diameter, and 0.6 to 4.6 m in height. The
material composing them seems to come from the immediate surroundings: coral
debris, earth, and grains of iron oxide. The larger tumuli enclose cement columns
of lime and shell matter, suggesting that the tumuli are the product of human
activity. Many archaeologists doubt this as the early settlers did not use cement,
and they theorize that the mounds were built by huge, now-extinct, flightless
birds for incubating their eggs! However the cylinders inside the tumuli are of a
very hard, homogeneous lime-mortar, containing bits of shells which have
yielded radiocarbon dates of 5120 to 10,950 BC; even the later date is some
3000 years earlier than humans are believed to have reached the southwest
Pacific from the Indonesian area.1

Polynesia

The Polynesian triangle stretches from New Zealand in the southwest to Hawaii
in the north to Easter Island in the southeast. Nowhere in the Pacific are there as
many impressive megalithic remains concentrated in so small an area as on
Easter Island. Nevertheless, there are several notable structures on other
islands.
The island of Tongatapu in the Tonga Islands has the only megalithic arch in the
South Pacific – the trilithon of Ha’amonga. Each of the upright coral pillars is 4.9
m high and weighs about 50 tons. The lintel, which is set into grooves in the
upright stones, is 5.8 m long and weighs about 9 tons. One theory is that the
trilithon was erected in the 14th century for a king to sit on as he drank an
alcoholic beverage known as kava!

Fig. 10.7 The trilithon of Ha’amonga.1

The ceremonial centre of Mu’a (formerly Lapaha), a canal city on Tongatapu, has
many megalithic platforms (known as langi). The central area of Mu’a was
surrounded by a huge canal or moat. Massive rocks at an ancient port on the
lagoon side of Mu’a indicate that huge vessels once docked there. The island
has risen about a metre over the last few thousand years and such structures as
the wharf and canal/moat are now useless. Langi Tauhala, a pyramidal platform
at the old fortress of Tongatapu, is made of massive cut stone blocks. It contains
probably the largest structural stone ever used by the Polynesians: measuring
7.4 m long, 2.2 m high, 0.4 m thick, and weighing 30 to 40 tonnes, it is notched
and fitted into an adjacent block, and forms part of a wall 222 m long.
Fig. 10.8 The largest stone block in Langi Tauhala, Mu’a. The unusual notching
can be seen on the far right.2
Fig. 10.9 Other stonework at Lapaha.

On the basis of carbon-dating, Samoa is believed to have been settled by the


Lapita people around 1200 BC, at about the same time as Tonga. On Savai’i
island is an enormous flat-topped mound of stone blocks, known as the
Pulemelei – the largest surviving mound in Polynesia. It covers 61 by 50 m at the
base, and rises in two tiers to a height of over 12 m. At either end is a slightly
sunken ramp to the top, together with a pavement, and it is surrounded by
numerous other platforms, roads, and stone walls, as would befit a major
ceremonial centre. On Upolu is another ceremonial centre consisting of immense
earthen mounds, seven of which are truncated, rectangular pyramids. The
largest of them surpasses the Pulemelei in size: it is 105.5 by 95.8 m at its base,
about 12.2 m high, and appears to be made entirely of earth. The mounds are
generally thought to have been used for the former royal amusement of pigeon-
snaring, but it seems unlikely that this was their original purpose.

Fig. 10.10 The Pulemelei mound (left) and a star-shaped mound (right) on
Savai’i, Samoa.3

Malden Island (one of the Line Islands, Republic of Kiribati [pronounced:


Kiribas]), now uninhabited, has some 40 stepped pyramidal platform-temples, 3
to 9 m high, 6 to 18 m wide, and 27 to 60 m long, with traces of paved roads
leading down to the sea.4

On Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands, piercing the ears and extending
the earlobes were old customs, as was the case on Easter Island, in ancient
India, and in Peru. The Rarotonga dialect is close to the Rapanui language. The
island has a megalithic road that once encircled the entire island, as well as
several pyramidal platforms. Some sections of the road were paved with perfectly
fitting slabs, but most of it has now been paved over with asphalt. The kerbing is
composed of neatly fitted blocks of prismatic basalt laid closely together. It is
better constructed than the roads on Malden Island, and similar to those found in
Peru. Rectangular enclosures associated with ceremonial platforms are set off
from road.
Fig. 10.11 Paved road encircling Rarotonga.5

Truncated, pyramidal platforms, or marae, are found throughout the Society


Islands, some consisting of megalithic stones, carefully shaped and fitted. The
largest of all the Polynesian stone structures was Marae Mahaiatea on Tahiti. In
overall appearance it was a stepped pyramid with a broad flat top. It measured
21.6 by 81.4 m at the base, and rose in 11 steps to a height of over 13 m. The
courses were made of coral blocks, faced with squared volcanic stones. It is said
to have been completed shortly before Captain Cook’s visit in 1769, but was
demolished after 1897.
Fig. 10.12 Marae Mahaiatea.6
Fig. 10.13 The largest tiki found in Polynesia. It stands 2.75 m (9 ft) tall, and
consists of 2 tons of basalt. It was carved on Raivavae (one of the Austral
Islands), the religious centre of Polynesia, but now stands at Tahiti’s Gauguin
Museum. Claims that the moai statues of Easter Island are a development of the
Polynesian tiki are unconvincing.
Fig. 10.14 On the remote island of Rapa – also known as Rapa Iti (Little Rapa) to
distinguish it from Rapa Nui (Big Rapa, i.e. Easter Island) – the hills are carved
with overgrown terraces and mysterious pyramids; it is not known who made
them.7
Marae Taputapuatea on Raiatea (the largest of the Leeward Islands) is 43 m
long, 7.3 m wide, and up to 3.7 m high. It is thought to have been erected in the
early part of the 2nd millennium AD, but was built over an older platform. It is one
of the largest and best preserved platforms in Polynesia, and one of its most
sacred sites. Like those of Raiatea, the marae on Huahine and Bora Bora are
constructed of large coral slabs, whereas comparable structures on Tahiti and
Moorea are made of round basalt stones.
Fig. 10.15 Coral slabs in Marae Taputapuatea.
Fig. 10.16 Coral slabs in Marae Tainuu, Raiatea.

Throughout the Marquesas Islands the remains of great stone platforms, walled
house sites, and terraces, most of them overgrown with jungle vegetation,
provide silent testimony of a vanished culture. The largest archaeological site in
Polynesia is found on Hiva Oa, and occupies the whole of the Taaoa Valley. This
partially restored site has over 1000 paepae (platforms on which houses were
built), a large tohua (public ceremonial centre), and several me’ae (sacred
platforms taboo to the public). Some of the platforms are 120 m long and 30 m
wide, and contain cyclopean basalt blocks weighing over 10 tons. However, no
carefully cut stonework comparable to Ahu Vinapu on Easter Island has been
found.
Fig. 10.17 Platform in the Taaoa Valley.

Fig. 10.18 On the massive Te I’ipona me’ae at Puama’u on Hiva Oa stand


five huge stone tiki, the largest being 2.43 m tall.
One of the most impressive archaeological sites is the unrestored ancient
ceremonial centre in the Taipivai Valley on Nuku Hiva. It includes a massive
platform, Vahangeku’a Tohua, built on an artificial terrace on a hillside.
Measuring 170 by 25 m, it contains an estimated 6800 cubic metres of earth fill,
and was faced by a wall almost 3 m high consisting of enormous basalt blocks,
some of them 1.5 m high and just as broad.

Fig. 10.19 Megalithic 3-m-high wall of Vahangeku’a Tohua, Nuku Hiva.

In 1956 archaeologist Robert Suggs carried out excavations at Hikouku’a in the


Hatiheu Valley on Nuku Hiva, a sacred site that had long been concealed from
western visitors. His crew dug several trenches in the huge platform in the hope
of finding datable artifacts. Their finds included a musket used in the American
Civil War, a French brandy bottle, and a glass bowl manufactured in Philadelphia
in the late 1700s. Suggs concluded that the platforms had been constructed
since the arrival of the Europeans in the Marquesas.

However, novelist Herman Melville had visited Nuku Hiva in 1842, and described
the massive platforms as being of such antiquity that his Marquesan guide said
they were ‘coeval with the creation of the world’. Melville’s book on the subject
appeared in 1846, 15 years before the American Civil War. Yet Suggs believed
the platforms were still being constructed in the mid-1800s! He had fallen into the
common error of assuming that the dates of artifacts or burials found in
association with megalithic structures are reliable indicators of when the original
structure was built.8 The structures could of course be thousands of years older,
and could have been renovated, rebuilt, or enlarged several times.

Nowadays the Marquesas Islands have about 8000 inhabitants. The population
is thought to have peaked at about 100,000 a few centuries ago, but was
decimated following the arrival of the Europeans at the end of the 16th century.
The Marquesas are frequently assumed to have been settled by people of
western Polynesian origin, probably from Tonga or Samoa, around 300 AD, but
Suggs argues that they were settled much earlier, around 300-500 BC. The
islands are widely believed to have been one of the main points from which
Polynesians spread throughout the Pacific; the Marquesan language is closely
related to the languages of Hawaii, Mangareva, and Easter Island.

A minority view is that the Marquesas were populated from Mexico or Peru, but
opponents point out that no South American pottery or tools have ever been
found in Polynesia. Nevertheless, there is evidence that the Marquesas, as one
of the most easterly parts of Polynesia, played a key role in two-way contacts
between Asia and the Americas. There are many cultural parallels between the
Marquesas and the cultures of Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.

For instance, ear elongation was practised in the Marquesas, as it was in Peru.
The Marquesans also practised skull elongation, a custom found in Peru and
also among the Flathead Indians of Montana. Bug-eyed statues similar to those
found on the Marquesas are found in Bolivia and Peru, especially at Tiahuanaco
and Chavin, and they have also been compared to Chinese Bronze Age statues.
The ancient sacred centre of Nuku Hiva was probably the Taipivai Valley, which
lies next to the sacred mountain of Taipi. Interestingly, the sacred centre at
Tiahuanaco bears a similar name: Taypi. Near the temple platforms on Nuku
Hiva, and on certain other Polynesian islands, sacred banyans were grown;
banyans can also be seen growing from stone platforms in India.9

World grid

Many ancient cultures were familiar with the important astronomical cycle known
as the precession of the equinoxes.1 Due to a very slow gyration of the earth’s
axis, the spring equinox occurs about 20 minutes earlier every year, and the
rising sun moves slowly against the backdrop of the zodiacal constellations from
one equinox to the next, at an average rate of 1/72 degree per year. It therefore
moves 1° in 72 years, 30° (one constellation of the zodiac) in 2160 years, and
takes 25,920 years to make a complete circuit of the zodiac.2 Numbers such as
54, 72, 108, 144, and 180 (all multiples of 18) are known as precessional
numbers, and were assigned special significance in ancient societies.
As Graham Hancock has pointed out, if we take the meridian of Giza-Heliopolis
in Egypt as the zero-meridian for measuring longitude, we find that the great
temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia lies 72° east of the Giza meridian,
the ruins of Nan Madol on Pohnpei lie 54° east of Angkor, and astronomically
aligned megalithic structures on the islands of Kiribati and Tahiti, lie respectively
72° and 108° east of Angkor.

The next significant precessional number is 144. When we look 144° of longitude
east of Angkor (which is also 144° west of Giza), we find only one island in the
vicinity: Easter Island, which lies just over 3° (barely 320 km) to the east of the
exact location. Hancock suggests that Easter Island might originally have been
settled ‘to serve as a sort of geodetic beacon, or marker – fulfilling some as yet
unguessed at function in an ancient global system of sky-ground coordinates that
linked many so-called “world navels” ’.

The next significant precessional number is 180. Hancock writes:

Exactly 180 degrees east of Angkor (and 108 degrees west of Giza), and almost
exactly as far south of the equator (13 degrees 48 minutes) as Angkor is north of
it (13 degrees 26 minutes), a colossal and unmistakable beacon does exist. It is
the outline of a trident, or candelabra, 250 metres high, carved into the red cliffs
of the Bay of Paracas on the coast of Peru and it is visible from far out to sea.
It seems to point inland, towards the plains of Nazca to the south and the
Andes mountains to the east.3
Fig. 10.20 Candelabra, Bay of Paracas.4

References
1. See Robert M. Schoch, Voyages of the Pyramid Builders: The true origins of the
pyramids from lost Egypt to ancient America, New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 2003;
Graeme R. Kearsley, Inca Origins: Asian influences in early South America in
myth, migration and history, London: Yelsraek Publishing, 2003; David Hatcher
Childress, Ancient Tonga & the Lost City of Mu’a, Stelle, IL: Adventures
Unlimited Press, 1996, pp. 76-9.
2. Charles Hapgood, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, IL: Adventures Unlimited
Press, 1996 (1966); Graham Hancock, Underworld: The mysterious origins of
civilization, New York: Three Rivers Press, 2002, pp. 453-548, 626-74. For a
critical assessment, see: Sean Mewhinney, ‘Minds in ablation part 5: charting
imaginary worlds’, http://www.pibburns.com/smmia5.htm.
3. Inca Origins, p. 8.
4. H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University
Press, 1977 (1888), 2:332.

Micronesia

1. Hancock, Underworld, pp. 596-625, www.grahamhancock.com;


www.morien/institute.org/yonaguni.html.
2. www.robertschoch.net; http://www.morien-institute.org/yonaguni_schoch1.html.
3. Frank Joseph, ‘Japan’s underwater ruins’,
www.atlantisrising.com/issue13/ar13japanunder.html.
4. David Hatcher Childress, Ancient Micronesia & the Lost City of Nan Madol,
Stelle, IL: Adventures Unlimited Press, 1998, p. 139.
5. William R. Corliss (comp.), Ancient Infrastructure: Remarkable roads, mines,
walls, mounds, stone circles, Glen Arm, MD: Sourcebook Project, 1999, pp. 293-
6.
6. Ancient Micronesia, pp. 64/5.
7. Graham Hancock and Santha Faiia, Heaven’s Mirror: Quest for the lost
civilization, London: Michael Joseph, 1998, pp. 202-3, 206-7; Ancient Micronesia,
pp. 43-51.
8. Ancient Micronesia, p. 85.
9. Ibid., p. 110.

Melanesia

1. William R. Corliss (comp.), Science Frontiers: Some anomalies and curiosities of


nature, Glen Arm, MD: Sourcebook Project, 1994, pp. 19-20.

Polynesia

1. http://www.sydhav.no/Tonga/haamonga.htm.
2. Childress, Ancient Tonga, pp. 160/1.
3. Corliss, Ancient Infrastructure, p. 267.
4. David Hatcher Childress, Lost Cities of Ancient Lemuria & the Pacific, Stelle, IL:
Adventures Unlimited Press, 1988, pp. 205-7.
5. John Macmillan Brown, The Riddle of the Pacific, Kempton, IL: Adventures
Unlimited, 1996 (1924), p. 45.
6. William R. Corliss (comp.), Ancient Structures: Remarkable pyramids, forts,
towers, stone chambers, cities, complexes, Glen Arm, MD: Sourcebook Project,
2001, p. 79.
7. Thor Heyerdahl, Aku-Aku: The secret of Easter Island, London: George Allen &
Unwin, 1958, pp. 288/9.
8. Ancient Tonga, pp. 79-81.
9. Kearsley, Inca Origins, pp. 480-1, 645, 647-8, 713, 734.

World grid

1. Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend, Hamlet’s Mill: An essay on myth
and the frame of time, Boston, MA: Godine, 1977.
2. See ‘Poleshifts: theosophy and science contrasted’, part 1,
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/dp5/pole1.htm.
3. Hancock and Faiia, Heaven’s Mirror, p. 254.
4. http://www.yannarthusbertrand.com/us/dayphoto/full/p089.htm.

Easter Island – land of mystery: Contents

Sunken continents versus continental drift

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