WHEN THE SKY FELL: In Search of Atlantis by Rand & Rose Flem-Ath Flem-Ath

WHEN THE SKY FELL: In Search of Atlantis

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Overly audacious ruminations about the lost civilization of Atlantis from two Canadian librarians, based on disparate facts and near-facts derived from mythology, literature, geology, and cartography. Pointing to the striking similarity of myths of a disastrous flood among widely dispersed peoples (Indian tribes of the Americas and peoples of the Middle East, for instance), evidence of transcontinental mass extinctions approximately 11,000 years ago, profound changes in world climate since prehistoric times, and the pervasiveness of the myth of a lost civilization of Atlantis in Plato and in Egyptian lore, the Flem-Aths draw the conclusion that an advanced maritime civilization, based in Antarctica, predated the last Ice Age. The Flem-Aths rely heavily on the theories of the late Charles Hapgood, a historian of science whose ideas once won Albert Einstein's praise. In several books, Hapgood made two arguments critical to the authors' thesis: that at some point in the distant past the Earth's crust was abruptly torn asunder (rather than gradually shifting apart, as plate tectonic theory would have it) and that accurate, ancient maps existed, particularly the so-called Piri Re'is from 1513, that showed Antarctica centuries before it was discovered by European explorers. Weaving together Hapgood's crust displacement theory, the flood myths, and evidence of sophisticated ancient cartography, the authors speculate that the Antarctica-based Atlantean civilization was destroyed by geological catastrophe and attendant flooding. The shattered survivors cultivated agriculture in the mountaintops that alone survived the great floods (the authors point out that the grains that have been staples in the human diet originate in the highlands) and, as the floodwaters receded, founded cultures that in turn became the basis for civilization. Fun, yes, but it isn't science. The Flem-Aths go well beyond their evidence to locate Atlantis in Antarctica, and the basis of their speculations, including the ancient sea maps and Hapgood's theory of catastrophic crust displacement, must await a more sober and rigorous assessment.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1995
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: St. Martin's