Deep time is an impenetrable mist.
We have lost everything.
We Sapiens Sapiens, the Elioud, are the lone survivors.
Only tantalizing fragments of myths remain of those who came before. We are a species with amnesia.
Our imaginations must fill the blanks…
The following is fiction, probably…
Until only a few tens of thousands of years ago, the Homo family was large and boisterous. Sapiens shared the world with a diverse collection of cousins:
Homo neanderthalensis made art in sacred caves and buried their dead curled and fetal—as if sleeping—facing the rising sun, hoping for the rebirth of a new day.
Homo denisovans we know from a single finger bone. Yet, from within that tiny fragment we managed to extract an entire perfectly preserved genome. Archeologists have begun to find beautiful Denisovan relics perhaps 70K years old.
Homo floresiensis Mysterious small-bodied Hominins from the island of Flores in Indonesia.
Possible Denisovan Stone bracelet, 70,000 years old.
We know we bred with some of these vanished cousins, there will be others too, lost races of sentient creatures who lived, loved, and learned for mega years before the first word was committed to mud or bark. They will not show up in the fossil record, their bodies are dust and their stories are gone.
It is two-hundred and sixty thousand Terran sidereal years — ten Great Years — since Sapiens split from his hominid cousins.
Homo Naledi, Hominid Ancestor (National Geographic)
In that time, the shifting equinoxes have completed nine migrations through the houses of the zodiac.
One ‘Great Year’
Ice Ages have come and gone since Mitochondrial Eve took her first breath. In this time the polar ice caps have pushed down nearly to the Mediterranean three times before retreating again, back to the North.
Our species was birthed in Africa, far away from the icy cold, but the slow respiration of our planet, whose periodic inhalation sends tundra raiding south into France and Germany, brings rains to the African deserts, turning dust to lush jungle for long Ages before cycling them relentlessly back to dust. We evolved towards the end of one such African flourishing, when the Sahara would have been verdant forest and the sea one-hundred-and-fifty meters below where it lies today.
Perhaps it was the encroaching grassland and withering forests that first forced us down from the trees, then lifted our peering eyes above the stalks of tall grass; a Darwinian, leopard assisted, pruning of the short and hunched.
Sapiens stayed in Africa, for five more Great Years, isolated by the rampant Sahara and swollen seas. But the arrival of another ice age far away to the north brought a tempering of the climate, creating a tempting path of green which led our forefathers along the rift valley to Djibouti where they gazed across the Bab al-Mandab; looking out over waters drawn lowby the vast expanses of kilometer deep glaciers arrayed across huge swathes of North America and Europe.
On cool clear mornings Sapiens could see land beckoning from far across the hazy waters; the cliffs of Perim…
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. T. S. Eliot
Reed boats took them across the Bab el-Mandib to Asia. Bab al-Mandib
There were no sons of Adam or daughters of Eve here, but there were people –
Others, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo denisovans and the mythical Homo anunnalis, had been enjoying the paradise of Arabia and the Levant for one-hundred-and-twenty Ages — three-hundred thousand years; ten Great Years — before a trickle of Sapiens began arriving on the shores of Arabia, clutching their woven bags and gourds.
Of those brave enough to dare the crossing, a few returned. They told of terrible giants, imploring listeners to believe fantastic stories of wondrous plenty and terrifying men of ivory and ochre.
They were not like us. They had no place for kings or priests. Their ethics and impulses were not ours. They lived in families and small clans. They spoke their own languages — which we could learn, but never fully understand; their words behaved badly; refused to translate cleanly.
Neanderthal (National Geographic)
The slow passage of the Ages brought new waves of furtive, fast-breeding, famine adapted Sapiens from the South.
As their numbers relentlessly grew, they pushed into lands already settled. Inevitably, there was conflict. For many Ages, every battle Sapiens fought with the giants he lost; but every time he was driven back, he would retreat, only to come again, mere centuries later, scrawny and persistent, with hunger at his back. Anannalis withdrew before the waves of new arrivals and slowly Sapiens drove the Neanderthal clans from Arabia.
But war, genocide and persecution were not the only interactions between these people. Over generations, proximity and illicit passion mixed the races and shuffled cultural and genetic inheritances. Gifted children of errant couplings were born —
—ages later these hybrid people are remembered as the Nephilim, Elioud, and Anakim.
Frank Frazetta. Sons and daughters were born of unions.
“When men began to increase on earth and daughters were born to them, the divine beings saw how beautiful the daughters of men were and they took wives from among those that pleased them… It was then, and later too, that the Nephilim appeared on earth — when the divine beings cohabited with the daughters of men, who bore them offspring. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown.” Genesis, Chapter 6, from the Jewish translation of the Torah.
This was the world before 50K BC. Homo sapiens in their huts, Homo denisovan in their villages to the East. Neanderthalensis, to the West and North, seeking refuge from Sapiens’ relentless expansion, sheltering in havens deep in isolated forests or hiding in remote caves.
Far away in the Hyperborean North, mythical Anunnalis, long departed, leaving their Elioud children—barren, but magnificent to behold and formidable of intellect—to watch over the tribes of Man; great leaders and prophets, blessed of the Anunnali, directing great works and building cyclopean places of power…
…but the universe was about to demonstrate that life on this thin shell is perilously fragile, intervening brutally, with such destructive pique, that all that remains today of this pre- cataclysm golden age are scattered enigmatic ruins; cyclopean structures so out of context that fearing ridicule most who study them acquiesce to flimsy improbable explanations of their origin – or, more often than not, ignore them entirely. Academic inertia forces them to cling instead to a chronology of human civilization defined in the Nineteenth Century when people still believed the Earth was six thousand years old. In doing so, they ignore an extraordinary story of survival in the face of a raging universe determined to wipe them— us—from the face of this planet.
Seventy-thousand years ago: the polar ice caps are swollen, ice covers much of North America. In Europe, glaciers sortie south nearly reaching the shores of the Mediterranean. North Africa and the Levant are warm and wet. In the Middle East, the Persian Gulf is a fertile land of swamps, forests, and hills. The Tigris and Euphrates flow through fertile valleys all the way to the Gulf of Oman.
Twenty thousand years ago, the Persian Gulf was a fertile valley.
The sea level is 150 meters lower than today. Thousands of miles of coast long vanished, still rise above the surface of the Earth’s waters.
In northern Europe, Doggerland, an area the size of Poland, was a forested country of rolling hills.
The ancestors of Homo denisovans, Homo neanderthalensis and Homo anunnalis had left Africa, three hundred thousand sidereal years — ten Great Years — before Sapiens first dared to float across the Bab el-Mandib on his bundles of dried grass and twine. As successions of Ice Ages and balmy Interglacials rolled across the Eurasian landscape, northern Homo populations were repeatedly split and merged by the rhythms of glaciation. Swelling over millennia during halcyon times of plenty, only to be decimated and isolated with the arrival of each new age of snow.
The isolated frozen valleys of northern Eurasia were the crucible that shaped Homo anunnalis into cold adapted giants, whose intellects matched their tremendous frames.
When the cold came, clans were separated for tens of thousands of years. Even in neighbouring valleys, tribes might be divided for millennia by the barriers of cold and snow.
When the ice retreated, the descendants of the survivors left the protected pockets where they had sheltered and spread across newly greened pastures. They found the land suddenly bountiful; fertile and bursting with birds and mammals enjoying population explosions of their own. Venturing forth, the peoples mixed and merged; hybridizing with lost cousins and re-shuffling long-isolated genomes.
Advantageous traits spread like wildfire amongst these wildly surging populations.
During Ice Ages, populations are separated in valleys and remote green areas. Cultures evolve in isolation and diverge genetically from one another. When the snows melt, populations expand and merge creating a period of rapid evolution as traits mix and hybridization occurs.
In golden days that came at the end of the previous Ice Age, Homo annunali emerged from this riotous melting pot and journeyed south into valleys filled with lakes and rivers fed by retreating glaciers. In intellect and stature, Annunali rose above their kin. They were the firstborn; the first to comprehend their place in the world; the first to seek answers in the riddles of the Great Mother. As ages passed and forests claimed meadows, which had once been ice, the great long-lived Annunali amassed strong ‘magicks’.
Boats of reeds, cross the Bab el-Mandib three ‘Great Years’ ago.
It is into this new world of possibility that Sapiens ventures from the South. Born on the plains of Africa, they are products of a very different environment. Streaming north, Sapiens lives in his huts of grass and mud. He has not yet started building with stone, nor baking clay, nor melting metals. He scratches an existence, cowering, ignorant before the unforgiving leering face of a capricious, callous universe.
When he first encounters Annunali – ivory giants with flaming hair; creatures of the cold; beings forged and polished through Great Years in the crucible of European Ice-Ages – and their works of ‘magick’ Sapiens finds his primal stories of juju and ancestor spirits incarnated; he has found his gods.
Inscriptions, carved millennia later, will remember them as the Anunnaki.
Going naked or clad in the simplest of skins, the Anunnaki were wild, terrible, incomprehensible, patient, shy and murderous; a force of nature. Their mastery of this world was expressed in stone and sound, though they knew nothing of music. True giants, long- lived, magnificent, K-selected primates with large brains and bulging muscles. To the cowering Sapiens, Homo anunnali were Gods.
We know nothing of this world today, nor of the golden age which will follow it. The rising sea, released by the melting of ice sheets, has covered vanished coastlines and submerged their buildings of stark polygonal stone. This pre-diluvian world lies lost to us now under hundreds of meters of flood. The scarce traces which remain at the surface today perplex the curious, and infuriate the dogmatic. They are enigmas, anachronisms, out of place and time, their builders lost to memory…
From cyclopean palaces on icy peaks, the few Anunnali not departed watch the swarming Sapiens. These giants—terrible, fickle, and unfathomable—make uneasy neighbours.
To serve and appease, Sapiens sends their brightest sons and daughters to serve their gods in these high cold places. Ideas mix, but worlds never truly meet. Anunnali are too divergent, their ways too strange. They are stoic, measured, incapable of lies or fantasy. They stand naked before the universe; their minds unafraid of its roaring indifference. Occasionally though, lust and physical need bring god and man together and children are born. Never as magnificent in stature as their divine parents, they are nonetheless formidable. In intellect and wisdom they surpass both man and god. Their minds are a mélange: Sapiens genes re-wiring massive Anunnali brains. Most of their offspring are mules, sterile, and their numbers remain low, despite their long lives.
The towering half-god children of the Anunnaki are welcomed as kings and queens by the Sapiens building the first towns at the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates. With their guidance, these settlements grow into great cities ruled by just matriarchs and patriarchs. Myth remembers these divine royalty as the Nephilim; Elioud; half-gods, Watchers from the high places sent to guide. They share the ‘majiks’ of their parents with the peoples of the Levant. By fifty-thousand years ago, a world-spanning network of glorious wonders has been fashioned; the planet’s first global civilization.
The Sapiens who visit these places leave awed by glimpses of the incomprehensible. Their breathless wide-eyed stories spread like fire across dry grass. The clans of Sapiens who hear of the wonders make pilgrimage. They bring offerings of their most treasured possessions— baskets, cloaks and hats of woven grass, bowls of baked earth, blades of knapped obsidian, collars of rolled gold—but the magician-priests are unimpressed with this crude matter. Infertile, unable to reproduce, the Elioud seek another way. They ignore the mounds of treasures laid before their altars and look instead for knowledge hidden in the blood. They take secrets from the Denisovans venturing into the Levant from the East, from the few Neanderthals still to be found in the North, and from the never-ending streams of Sapiens welling up from the South. Splicing motifs, mixing traits, refining and perfecting form…
Mesopotamian myth records an ancient memory of how rugged Neanderthalensis and wise Sapiens’ were brought together:
There is a man, unlike any other, who comes down from the hills… he helps the beasts to escape and now they slip through my fingers. The Epic of Gilgamesh
…valiant Enkidu [*Neanderthalensis], born of Silence, endowed with strength by Ninurta. His whole body is shaggy with hair, he has a full head of hair like a woman, his locks billow in profusion like Ashnan. He knows neither people nor settled living.
The woman will overcome the creature as if she were strong. When the animals are drinking at the watering place, have her take off her robe and expose her sex. When he sees her he will draw near to her, and his animals, who grew up in his wilderness, will be alien to him.
…for six days and seven nights they lay together, for Enkidu [*Neanderthalensis] had forgotten his home in the hills; but when he was satisfied he went back to the wild beasts. Then, when the gazelle saw him, they bolted away; when the wild creatures saw him they fled. Enkidu would have followed, but his body was bound as though with a cord, his knees gave way when he started to run, his swiftness was gone. And now the wild creatures had all fled away; Enkidu was grown weak, for wisdom was in him, and the thoughts of a man were in his heart.
The Epic of Gilgamesh
The races of the Levant are blurring and merging; changed by millennia of meddling. Elohim are powerful but scarce, the few remaining Anunnali have gone, escaping the growing clamor of civilization and returning North towards the retreating ice.
Each Zodiacal Sign is an Age lasting 2160 years, a single month in the cycle of a Great Year, which is itself a full 26,000 years long.
The slow precession of the heavens marks the passage of time. Against the celestial calendar, the sun and stars measure off many Golden Ages as months of a Great Year. At its peak, this first shining civilization casts its influence across the globe. Philosophy,
astronomy, and math have risen to heights not to be attained again for tens of millennia. Within the great cities of cyclopean stone, the few remaining Annunali, finish their work; melding, crafting and perfecting. Myth knows those touched by their design as the Anakim and Elioud.
Perhaps these first civilized peoples believe they have built a utopia which will outlast even the eternal perfection of the heavens; but day by day a new visitor grows in the night— soon, its robes will dominate the sky. Whether day or night, its numinous tail is a spill of milk which stretches from horizon to horizon; its nucleus is a gob of cold light. The heavenly firmaments hold all answers. To the ancient races, the new arrival in the sky is an auspicious visitation.
The progenitor of Comet Encke, 55 000 BC
Far away in the North, Anunnali too watch the comet’s movements against the familiar stars. They know what is coming.
Elohim priests contemplate a new sign in their sky. They will do what they can to warn and protect, but their world is about to change forever.
Sapiens whispers to his brothers still streaming North across the Bab el-Mandib: “…a message from their departed gods”.
The World, one Great Year before today, 20K BC
Sapiens lives in huts of grass and mud.
Homo neanderthalensis, scarce, clinging onto existence, hunted and haunted, lives scattered in a handful of isolated caves.
Mythical Anunnalis has left back to the ice of the North, only a handful of the giant Watchers remain, singing their wisdom into the night.
North Africa and the Levant are warm and wet. Glaciers extended close to the northern shores of the Mediterranean. The sea level is 150 meters lower than today. Many thousands of miles of coast—now long-vanished—are still above the surface of the world’s waters. Great Elioud cities line the shores of the Indian ocean and flank fertile valleys—still dry— which will one day be inundated with waters and become the Persian Gulf.
Babylon and Uruk will not be founded for another ten millennia.
Into this world, a visitor disturbs the dance of the heavens. It grows, until soon, whether day or night, its train stretches from horizon to horizon. It grows to dominate the sky.
In the great cities of the Elioud, the Magician-Kings watch with dread. None consider the visitor as inconsequential, but none yet know how it will interrupt the march of Ages and erase all that has come before.
In the far North, only the dwindling eternal klans of Annunali understand.
The visitor fills the night. Tucked close to its body, many heads writhe. It will pass — this time — but it has come too close. Our planet’s invisible embrace has disturbed it; woken it. A hundred years later when it visits again, rising from the black ocean of heaven, it is no longer a single bright point, but a train of glowing pearls on a string.
Forty thousand years ago, the progenitor of comet Encke passes close enough to the Earth that our planet’s tidal forces tear it into chunks.
The comet is named after the man who first calculated its orbit: Johann Franz Encke. Any resemblance to Enki—the Summerian God of the deluge—must surely be coincidental.
Every hundred years, the Elioud priests look up at their night filled with rains of fiery snakes. Sometimes the searing fires are bright enough to singe the skin of upturned faces. Fragments punch through the column of air protecting our planet and strike the earth so it shakes in fear. Crops are destroyed, floods erase lands and destroy populations.
Tugged at by the influence of the sky lords — Irukulpinja, Jove, Maṅgala—over thousands of years the dragon raider is stretched apart, broken into a train of mountain-sized chunks interspersed with a rubble of pebbles, dust, and boulders. The ancient watchers see seven- heads of a serpent accompanied by its pale horde.
Earth crosses the orbit of comet Encke once per year. The entire orbit is now a congested kinetic minefield. Even today, 40K years after its initial break-up, we still brace for our passage through Encke’s debris-strewn orbit twice each year. These are the Taurid meteor showers. The Tunguska was likely a Taurid remnant of comet Encke. 20K years ago there would have been many more massive mountain-sized fragments ready to be encountered. The annual gauntlet would have been far more precarious…
Sapiens, cowed and hysterical, can do little more than fling sticks at the lights in the sky. Only the Elioud and remote Annunali are equipped to process the enormity of the slowly unfolding cataclysm. Watching the space opera playing out in the skies, they know they must learn to predict the rains of fire.
They rise to the challenge. They study the movement of the stars and record the wandering points of light which may be mountain-sized shards of destruction lining up to strike our world.
—but the earth wobbles, its rotation precessing like a spinning top, its pole of rotation drawing a circle every twenty thousand years—the same cycle which gives the Astrological Ages and the Great Year. The wobble must be accounted for. New knowledge is needed, but the changes in the sky are infinitesimal and measurements must be repeated over thousands of years. New megalithic instruments are built and distributed around the ball of the Earth to guarantee observation in all directions. They are made solid so they can start accurate enough to mark positions in the night sky over thousands of years. Magician-prophets work to understand the celestial ballet. The seven heads — which were once bright and clothed in cold fires — are fading. Though they have vanished from plain sight, the magicians know the dragons are not gone. Each year, as Earth sweeps through their belt of destruction, we may be set upon by the hidden nemesis. Once in a Millenium, destruction comes close enough to feel, smell, and hear.
Civilization adapts. Elioud knowledge of stone is unsurpassed. Pushed by necessity they have risen further than any who came before. To the cowering Sapiens, they are Gods capable of wonders—
Catacombs are built, filled with stone vessels, arcs, for preserving seeds and wisdom.
The Serapeum of Saqqara, Preservation Ark
A planetary alarm system is created to detect the impact of meteors thousands of miles beyond the horizon; the few hours of warning are enough for terrified citizens to stash seeds and flee underground before they are inundated by deluges of water and cataracts of fire.
Cyclopean, over-the-horizon, early warning.
The buildings are functional; massive; unadorned; there is no time for frivolity or decoration. The universe is trying to scour these people from the face of a planet. For ten thousand years they survive, heeding the warnings of their machines of stone, retreating below the ground and waiting for the sky’s fury to pass.
The Elioud Kings have a single goal. They build with cyclopean stone. They build to withstand firestorms and earthquakes. Their aesthetics mirrors their stoic resolve: brute strength, geometric perfection and endurance.
Perhaps Sapiens looks to the Elioud magician-priests in their astronomical ziggurats and confuses cause with effect. Can an ignorant observer discern the difference between prediction and provocation?
They Elioud Kings guide the peoples of the world through night’s dark forest helping their children to avoid the celestial predators which prowl there. Many times the dragon sends its firey snakes to burn and wreak havoc. For ten thousand years they live under the threat of annihilation. Too many times they emerge from deep shelters and survey scenes of utter devestation. Only the seeds of plants and knowledge stored deep in granite vaults enables the survivors to replant crops and re-start civilization.
But none of it is enough.
Despite all precautions, we know that 10,000BCE several fragments of a comet struck the ice sheet of North America, which then was still under kilometers of ice. The impact would have vaporized billions of tons of water and initiated a ‘nuclear winter’. This cataclysm can be seen in ice cores, tree rings, and sediments. The meltwater explains the surge in sea level archeologists observe—possibly as much as 30 meters in a single decade. A mountain- sized—tsunami surge. The colossal amounts of water-vapor would have taken decades to precipitate out; it would have rained for years. Fireballs streaking across the skies would have ignited global fires.
The dragon comes from the night. Raising walls of water, breathing fire, burning forests, destroying cities and flesh. In a few short days, its plagues of flood and flame erase the planet’s first golden civilization — a global culture that has prospered for twenty thousand years.
We notice they are gone now, the cyclopean kings, big brothers, giants of stature and intellect; but we have always needed less to survive.
To the south and the North we subsist, becoming little more than animals.
For thousands of years, we look upon the ruins of their great works, staring uncomprehendingly at megalithic technologies of stone, sound, and crackling lightning.
We spin elaborate tales of the builders — of the giants who came before. Stories of great crimes and the punishments of vengeful gods.
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