THE LOST CIVILISATION THEORY
The Panleonist Lost Civilisation Theory
panleonist theory proposes that a highly advanced civilisation existed
on the Earth during during the precessional age of Leo (c. 10900-8700
BC), but was destroyed by a cataclysm circa 10500 BC and hence became
a lost civilisation. The theory proposes that the lost
civilisation encoded the date 10500 BC into their monuments (e.g.
by astronomical alignments) so as to commemorate the date of the
The panleonist theory is best known from the writings of Robert
Bauval, Adrian Gilbert and Graham Hancock. But it has its roots
in an assortment of different writings. Firstly, in Platos
story of Atlantis, which recalled the destruction of an advanced
civilisation nine thousand years before the time of Solon, i.e.
c. 9600 BC. Secondly, in the prophecies of certain mystics, such
as Edgar Cayce. And thirdly, in the writings of Zecharia Sitchin,
who dated the beginning of history to the Great Flood in 11000 BC,
at the beginning of the age of Leo.
It is on the writings of Bauval, Hancock and Gilbert that I wish
to comment here, in particular their claims that the Giza Pyramids
and Sphinx were built to commemorate the date 10500 BC.
The Orion Theory
In The Orion Mystery (1994), Robert Bauval and Adrian
Gilbert made a very interesting discovery, namely that the three
main pyramids at Giza (of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure) formed a pattern
on the ground virtually identical to that of the three belt stars
of the Orion constellation. This was a perfectly plausible hypothesis.
However, Bauval and Gilbert then entered controversial territory.
Using computer software, they wound back the Earths skies
to ancient times, and witnessed a locking-in of the
mirror image between the pyramids and the stars at the same time
as Orion reached a turning point at the bottom of its precessional
shift up and down the meridian. This conjunction, they claimed,
was exact, and it occurred precisely at the date 10450 BC.
In Keeper of Genesis (1996), Robert Bauval teamed up
with Graham Hancock, and took the 10500 BC theory further, claiming
corroborative evidence in the form of the Sphinx at Giza (see below).
In Heavens Mirror (1998), Graham Hancock tried
to argue that the date 10500 BC was encoded also at the ancient
Cambodian site of Angkor Wat (the temples, he alleged, were in the
image of the constellation Draco at exactly 10500 BC).
On 15th September 1998, I issued a detailed rebuttal of Hancocks
Angkor Wat theory, which I published on my website. I concluded
that Hancocks case is extremely weak, and by pursuing
it with such vigour (claiming no doubt that a correlation
exists p.126, and then winding back the skies to 10500 BC
to claim a precise match) he risks bringing this kind
of research into disrepute. He certainly does Robert Bauval no favours,
for many people will now highlight the poor quality of Hancocks
research to debunk the more plausible (though unproven) 10500 BC
alignment at Giza.
My comments were to prove farsighted. On 4th November 1999, BBC
screened a Horizon documentary which raised serious questions about
Bauval and Hancocks panleonist theory. Hancock, in particular,
was ridiculed for his theory of a 10500 BC alignment between Angkor
Wat and the constellation of Draco (rightly so in my opinion). But
Bauval too was criticised for being careless in his calculation
of the 10500 BC alignment between the Giza Pyramids and the stars
of Orions Belt. To the shock and horror of Bauvals followers,
the BBC claimed that the accurate 10500 BC lock-in between
the Giza pyramids and Orions Belt was not quite so accurate
after all. Worse still, in the ensuing furore, Bauval and Hancock
actually conceded the point and admitted that the alignment was
Bauval and Hancock went on to accuse the BBC of bias, and their
complaint was upheld in one respect (although not in the majority
of respects) by an independent commission. Nevertheless, in the
heat of the argument, the fact was obscured that (a) the alleged
accuracy of the Pyramids/Orions Belt alignment had been absolutely
central to Bauval and Hancocks original argument of a lost
civilisation of 10500 BC; and (b) the alleged accuracy of the Pyramids/Orions
Belt alignment had been successfully rebutted by the BBC.
The present situation is this. It is accepted that the alignment
between the Giza pyramids and the stars of Orions Belt is
not precise but approximate. Therefore, no firm conclusion can be
drawn about any particular date which the monuments might have commemorated.
Accordingly, the panleonist theory of Giza is entirely baseless
(nevertheless, it remains an important discovery that the layout
of the three Giza pyramids mirrors the shape of Orions Belt).
The Sphinx Problem
One of the foundation stones of the panleonist theory is the Great
Sphinx of Egypt, which is presumed to have the body of a lion, thus
evoking the precessional era of Leo (10900-8700 BC).
In his follow-up work with co-author Graham Hancock, Robert Bauval
wound back the skies to show that not only did the three Giza pyramids
line up with the three stars of Orions Belt at 10500 BC, but
also, at the same time, the constellation of Leo rose exactly due
east of the Sphinx. This occurrence, they said, was unique to 10500
BC, and it was therefore beyond coincidence that the Sphinx had
been carved in the form of a lion.
According to Bauval and Hancock (and other researchers, such as
John Anthony West) the weathering of the Sphinx by rainwater supports
a date of construction c. 10500 BC, at the same time as the ground
plan had been designed for the three Giza pyramids.
I would like to make three critical observations on this theory.
Firstly, the geological evidence for an older Sphinx, based on the
work of the geologist Robert Schoch, is more in line with 5000-4000
BC than with the extreme date of 10500 BC. I know from personal
discussion with Robert Schoch that he is quite unhappy with the
way Bauval, Hancock and West have hijacked his evidence to fit their
Secondly, as I pointed out in chapter 1 (p. 24) of my book The
Phoenix Solution (1998), there is a much more plausible reason
fot the importance of the age of Leo in ancient Egypt, namely that
the Sun rose against the backdrop of Leo during the heliacal rising
of the star Sirius at the summer solstice throughout most of Egyptian
dynastic history. The leonine imagery of the Sphinx (if indeed it
be a lion) points us not necessarily to the 11th millennium BC,
but rather to the much more plausible era of the 4th millennium
Thirdly, I would question the assumption that the Sphinx has the
body of a lion. In fact, as Robert Temple has pointed out, the Sphinx
has no mane, no tufted tail (and) no raised haunches,
which we would expect of a lion, and nor does it have a lions
powerful shoulders. Furthermore, the lion was a dualistic concept
in ancient Egyptian myth and architecture; lion sphinxes, for example,
were generally built in pairs, protecting the entrances to temples.
And yet the Sphinx of Giza is most certainly a solitary figure;
there is no evidence whatsoever for a second Sphinx.
On balance, it seems to me that, as Robert Temple has suggested,
the Sphinx was built with the body of a dog, presumably to symbolise
Anubis (with the cats tail representing a later modification).
Anubis, it should be noted, was the god who guarded the Earth and
the Underworld, and protected the body of Osiris. With the Pyramid
representing Osiris (Pyramid Texts, Utterance 600), it would make
sense that the Sphinx was originally an image of Anubis (its head
from the head of a dog to the head of a king).
The Anubis theory may, or may not, be correct, but its plausibility
brings into question the widely-held assumption that the Sphinx
has the body of a lion. Of course, if the Sphinx has the body of
a dog, then astronomy is of no use whatsoever in dating it.
All things considered, the Sphinx offers no evidence whatosever
in support of the panleonist lost civilisation theory. It might
well date to the pre-dynastic era (as I have indeed argued in The
Phoenix Solution), but probably to no earlier than the 5th
or 6th millennium BC.
Much credit is due to Bauval, Gilbert, Hancock and West for getting
us all looking at Egypt again with a fresh perspective. But the
debate must move on, and frankly I would like to see an end to this
obsession with 10500 BC. At the present time, there is not one single
piece of evidence anywhere in the world to justify the idea that
10500 BC was being commemorated by a lost civilisation. In my view,
this obsession with 10500 BC has done great harm, and continues
to do great harm, to the cause of those, such as myself, who would
make a serious challenge to official dogma on the origin of the
Giza pyramids and the history of civilisation. Yes, there is a mystery
which requires an explanation. But what if the answer to the mystery
lies not in 10500 BC but rather in the more plausible period of
6000-5000 BC? The worst thing we can do is investigate the past
with a preconceived dogma to rival that of mainstream academia.
Rather, it is time to take account of all the scientific
evidence and draw our conclusions accordingly.