23. VII. 56
Pardigon, par Cavalaise s/Mer (Var) until 22 Aug, then
Le Castel Blanc, 14 rue Turgot, St. Germain en Laye
I shall answer in English but apologize in advance for the style of this letter and the grammatical mistakes.
I now can acknowledge with thanks the arrival of your book on Earth in Upheaval. I took it with me to the South where at the Mediterranean shore I find some time for quiet reading and writing before I shall go out again to further archaeological and stratigraphical research in Syria (Ras Shamra) and Cyprus (Enkomi-Alasia), in September. I finished reading your book with the greatest interest and much profit. I am glad to have learned that the upheavals in geological times so far distant from us and our prehistorical or protohistorical periods, have in several cases occurred much nearer to us and even, it seems, during the early periods of men on earth. Thus the parallelism between them and the crises which I found have interrupted the historical development in the Near East during the IIrd and IInd millennia has become much more significant.
Since the publication of Stratigraphie Comparée in 1948, written during the intervals of my wartime duties in the Fighting French Navy, mainly between 1942 and 1945, further reading and research in several Near-Eastern archaeological sites have disclosed new confirmations of the reality of those crises on a continental scale which I have detected and tried to analyze. I would be glad if I could write now immediately the contemplated second and enlarged edition of Stratigraphie Comparée in 2 volumes. For with the new confirmations those crises could no longer be questioned by the great number of sceptical short-sighted archaeologists among which I live now in some sort of scientific isolation, so striking are the proofs and so accurate the dates established by the new discoveries. When their testimony will have been shown, those great crises will explain better than before, the historical development of the most ancient civilizations and its mechanism, and they will definitely take out of the hands of man the command of the great historical happenings we thought he possessed.
Having for the first time established in Strat. Comp. those successive crises during the IIrd and IInd mill from the Caucasus down to Egypt (and there are even more to be analyzed of the IVth and Ist mill. B.C.), I was tempted to look for the causes among which were earthquakes, tidal waves, climatic changes and other natural catastrophic agents. The idea of the earthquake disturbances and their consequences has bitten so much the imagination of the archaeologists that some of them which are hostile to new ideas which oblige them to study afresh established scientific opinions, admitted that I wanted to explain all those different crises by earth tremors and their consequences on human occupation and civilization in ancient times. Thus those of my colleagues which are not easily accessible to new ideas used their argument in order to discredit the whole idea of the reality of crises on continental scale. It disturbed their conservative and comfortable outlook on the historical events during the IIIrd and IInd mill. It will take some more time until the new idea has taken root, but it will ultimately take root for the truth always in the end prevails. Of course, as you did it in your vast field mainly of geology, anthropology, astronomy, I would like to hasten the process of ripening of the new ideas by publishing the new meaterial and the new confirmation in the Near Eastern and European prehistorical and protohistorical archaeology. Unfortunately I am so burdened with work that the time has not yet come when I can sit back and write down the new and enlarged Stratigraphie Comparée.
Perhaps it is good, at present, to establish only the reality of those crises and tremendous upheavals during the last millennia before our time, or B.C. and leave the sutdy of the causes to later research. For the historian and the general public are not yet ready to accept the thought that the earth is a much less safe place than they were accustomed to believe. With the removal of the troublesome warlords in some of the modern nations, with Hitler, Mussolini and the Communists finally removed, they think eternal peace and security will automatically be attained on earth everywhere. It is true that the very recent earthquake disaster in the usual Mediterranean area have again slightly shaken that belief. But men are not easily convinced to face reality and to accept the results of objective research. They prefer to live in their imaginative world. And perhaps all the better for them.
Here are some particulars which I noticed among many more which I cannot mention in this letter. Chapter I: I will try to get the publication you refer to concerning the new Alaska finds and those of the Ivory Islands. They are so very much important also for the French paleolithic finds and their chronology. I had before the war in my library a book by Pfigmuller (?) on the Siberian Mammoth finds. But during the German occupation of my house near Paris, most of the books of my library have disappeared or were burned stupidly in my garden by the Gestapo agents. Now I cant find many of those books for they are out of print. p. 13, you refer very well to Cuviers views which are too often forgotten nowadays. I feel exactly the same way, I know that those vast crises and cataclysms have occurred during the IV-Ist mill. B.C., but I cannot yet explain them satisfactorily. Your explanations and ideas will certainly help me to try again to to find out the real causes which are certainly identifiable in the near future and lead what concerns the archaeological evidence. How far the cataclysmic evolution can convincingly be ascertained, I cant say, being incompetent in the matter, But the theory is very tempting. I noticed that what you call absolute intelligence and what religious people call God (p. 210) employs similar methods in many of his manifestations. So catastrophic historical mechanism which also often had the result of cataclysmic evolution what concern the civilizations, may be a counterpart to the cataclysmic evolution as a whole and what concerns the origin of new specials in particular (p. 255 ss.)
P. 77. I have excavated neolithic tombs and settlements in the Alsatian loess region. But I did not think this loess formation could be contemporary with the neolithic sites. I would like to reinvestigate the matter. You should come over to do yourself effective research. For with the great knowledge you have collected by studying the results of other scientists, you should now take a hand in firsthand research. I would gladly give you all support in my power. There are many possibilities where you could increase your knowledge and verify your conclusions. Your own feeling of security for the conclusions to be made from the results by other research workers would thus increase. Also the critical approach is facilitated by investigating on the spot, what now with the quick transportation means at our disposal to all parts of the world is much easier than before. I admire the extent of your knowledge and I feel you could help by basic research to get more light on so many still obscure patterns of problems. - p. 28 I myself dug hippopotamus finds in the Rhine valley (near Burbach) and afterwards discovered the effect of climatic changes in the Alsatian tumuli period (Bronze Age, IInd mill.) and published the findings in a work which I hope to send you when back St. Germain. Much later, in 1949-52 in Cyprus (Enkomi) I discovered evidence of a Klimasturz (which is dated to the very beginning of the Iron Age there = XIIth or beg. of XIth B.C.) during which part of the Islands capital (Alasia) was innundated and whole streets filled with silt like in a river bed and stratified like there. I left the deposit in situ to be shown and would like to show it to you if you can come over there. I shall be in Cyprus again next November. I shall send you a copy of my book on Enkomi-Alasia in which these inundations layers are shown. But seeing them in position is much more convincing. These layers are contemporary with upheavals we know of in prehistoric Europe. - P. 102 submarine volcanoes: If you notice the very recent appearance of a new volcano near the recently badly shaken island of Santorini (=Thera), July 1956; you refer to former catastrophes of the same island on p. 201, or 191. - There, under our eyes, on a smaller scale, is happening what happened in earlier times on a gigantic scale. Go there and see the things by yourself, it would interest you certainly very much. - p. 104 Petterssons research has also disclosed cyclic periods of disturbances with climatic changes which explain the difficulties and hard winters in Gothic times (XIIth-XIVth C. A.D.) and the loss of herring fishing by the Hanseatic towns, which thus were impoverished: confirmation that crises and upheavals continue into very recent centuries, it is true on a smaller scale. - p. 159 (note 9), 200 (note 2), 274 and following pages: date of the end of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt and Exodus. At present it seems difficult to bring down the end of the XIIth - XIIIth dyn. as late as you suggest: 1500 B.C. and I would suggest to you to be cautious here. The Exodus is not yet accurately dated. But present evidence suggests it to be a different event from the downfall of the Middle Kingdom and that it should be chronologically linked with the ending of the XIXth dynasty perhaps. - p. 278, you wish that radiocarbon analyses be made of objects dating from the New Kingdom. I offer you gladly the material I have from dated Ras Shamra levels of the time of Amenophis III, IV (Akhnaton) and Ramses II. I could send it over to you for analysis by radiocarbon or, better, you come to collect it in Paris. Your dating could thus be proved or disproved. The lowering of the accepted chronology by 5 to 7 centuries is perhaps not impossible, but seems at the present state of our knowledge improbable. But tests made as you suggest (p. 278) would decide. - p. 278 (note 4) these are examples that some literate people have lost their well developed literacy entirely and this occurred during a catastrophe: example, the early Phoenician literature with the oldest known alphabetical script I discovered in Ras Shamra! There were, it is true, some faint rememberances left by much later traditions which confirm your idea of the tenacity of traditional memory. But the fact of the loss of an entire literate civilization has happened.
Independent from you I came to the conclusion of an important and vast upheaval towards 1500 (XVIth C.) B.C. or a bit earlier followed by the rise of the kingdom of Eygpt and corresponding highlights in neighboring countries. There must be a connection with the many observations you refer to of the catastrophes in the middle of the IInd mill.: p. 158 (glacial evidence), p. 166 (Bear River and its glacier), p. 174 (Klimasturz), p. 175 (tree rings), p. 177 (lake dwellings history), p. 180 (indications of climatic catastophes by pollen analyses), drop of ocean levels (p. 183) and land sinking (p. 184).- There is also concordance between my catastrophe of the end of the IIrd mill or twoard 2100-200 and several phenomena you refer to.
The palace of Ugarit I finished to excavate (or at least the main part) last November, went through earthquake and fire destruction like the palace of Knossos and this several times. These new findings have still to be published. But the evidence is already visible among the ruins I have excavated and which can be visited. - p. 228, have a look into the reference of mammoth find in Predmost (Moravia) in Neolithic towns. I remember (but cannot verify here) that before the war, these finds have been dated to the late paleolithic period.
Your chapter XIV is of very great interest and did teach me a lot. I hope you will continue these researches and critical analysises of the opinion of the various scholars. When you have received the books I shall send you on my return to St. Germain, I would like that you send me your former publications (1950, 1952), for I would like to check your findings, after traditions and legends, which as I published many years ago, have indeed often a real value. In any case, I hope you will go on with your research. You are working in the right direction and time will help to show the reality of global or near-global catastrophes. Already continental or near-continental catastrophes cannot be doubted as I showed by my stratigraphical work in the Near East. I will take time for your findings and mine to be acknowledged. That may make us sometimes impatient. But it will stir us to more work and more research. I was glad to receive your agreement and hope one day to make your acquaintance.
Yours sincerely, Claude Schaeffer
Membre de lInstitut
Prof. du Collège de France
P.S. Very glad that Earth in Upheaval will be published in French by Stock