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A hundred kilometers southwest of where the city of Tangier is located in Morocco today, at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, the Carthaginians in the seventh century BC built an ancient port city. They called it Lixus, "the eternal one." But this Lixus was built on top of the gigantic blocks of another, older, Phoenician city called Liks. The Phoenicians, in turn, had settled there as long ago as about 1200 BC. Not on a whim, for the Phoenicians — the great seafarers of antiquity — had come across the remains of a megalithic civilization in the same place. They made use of that. Those unknown megalithic people, the original builders of what later became Lixus, must have handled the imposing stone blocks as little Jimmy handles his toys. (Images 1–4) The harbour breakwater was as good as lined with colossal stone blocks, and the ramparts were built of hundreds of huge, partly cut granite rocks. If we want to understand how impossible that is, we should briefly consider that every technology follows a fixed evolutionary pattern. At the beginning, the simple people who have just descended from the trees learn how to handle wood and small stones. Then we get the first modest tools and primitive working of stone. Next comes the dressing of the raw blocks and their planning into larger structures. At length, some sort of transport is invented and tested, followed by the manufacture of fibers into pulleys or similar constructs. Finally, the human masses are divided and organised.
In Lixus, this "natural evolution of technology" is turned on its head. At the beginning, there was an ancient, unknown culture with the readymade knowledge about how to work and transport extraordinary stones. Then, at some point in the course of the millennia, came the Phoenicians, followed later by the Carthaginians and, finally, the Romans. All these subsequent civilizations used the ready-made blocks from that unknown mysterious people, who at some point thought up and built this complex. (Carthage itself was totally destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC.)
Thor Heyerdahl, the famous experimental archaeologist, started his Atlantic voyage with the papyrus boat "RA" north of Lixus, and for good reason: that is where there is the strong flow of the Canary Current which carries vessels to Central America with minimal effort. Heyerdahl had not lost his sense of awe. He wrote about the megaliths of Lixus:
Stones cut in various sizes and shapes, but always with vertical and horizontal sides and corners which fit exactly into one another like the stones of a giant jigsaw puzzle; even when the blocks displayed so many right-angled irregularities that the outlines could have been decagonal and dodecagonal instead of right-angled.
Outside the city center of Lixus, whole ramparts of overgrown, curious stone formations lie about, which at first sight look like broken natural rock, but are not. Every more-detailed examination reveals that they have been artificially worked and precisely cut. (Images 5–8) Down at the beach at low tide, the blocks of a former breakwater can still be found; they do not originate from the Romans or the Carthaginians, let alone the Phoenicians. The archaeologist Gert von Hassler writes about them (Images 9–11):
Thus the original walls of an Atlantic port have been preserved which occupies an important place in our collection of curiosities. Its stone blocks can neither be argued out of existence nor shifted in time. Lixus is definite: not a Moroccan fishing village, not a Roman temple square, not a Phoenician trading post. A prehistoric seaport.
In his Natural History, the historian Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79) recounts that the original Lixus had once been a temple of Hercules. This temple was surrounded by the much sought-after Garden of the Hesperides. The Hesperides were singing nymphs and, as the Greek poet Homer (c. 800 BC) recounts, also daughters of the gods Atlas and Zeus. In addition to their daily singing, these graceful ladies also had to guard a grove with golden apples. That went dreadfully wrong. Together with the nymphs, there lived in the Garden of the Hesperides a serpent called Ladon. The task of this reptile was actually to protect the beautiful nymphs, but the inevitable happened. The mighty Hercules, one of the heroes of the Greek Argonautica (story of the capture of the Golden Fleece), killed the serpent.
What has any of this to do with Lixus? The story about the origins of Lixus digs deep into matters mythological. The elements of the beautiful, seductive nymphs, the serpent, and the stolen apples is interrelated with the Biblical story of Paradise, with Adam and Eve and the fatal bite out of the apple.
Was Lixus the same as the Biblical Garden of Eden? A paradise created by a god to raise the first humans? The most ancient stonework in Lixus was undertaken by a civilization of which we know nothing at all.
Today there is little left to see of the original Liks. It is difficult for the tourist to trace a few ruins of even the Roman Lixus. The place lies about three kilometers north of the Moroccan town of Larache, on the motorway from Tangier to Rabat. The river Loukos winds its way toward the Atlantic Ocean. (Image 12) The banks of the river are a popular bathing beach. A golf course and modern settlement are being built just a kilometer away — part of it on the land of the ancient Lixus. On a hill overlooking the river, there are the remains of a Roman amphitheatre (Images 13–14), a temple to Neptune and, in between on the hillside facing toward the river, ruins from that unknown age. Monolithic longitudinal and transverse blocks are still recognizable today which, although they were used by the Romans, were not their original building materials. The Romans used whatever happened to be lying about. (Images 15–16) And at the harbour breakwater on the Atlantic, there is a jumble of mighty blocks where it is difficult to see what was scattered by the roaring breakers and what was artificially processed in ages past.
About 30 kilometers north of Lixus, between the towns of Larache and Tétouan, the stone ellipse of Mzora lies on a hill. (It's also written "M'Soura," "M'Zora," or "Msoura.") The complex is difficult to find. Not a signpost far and wide. The ellipse consists of 167 monoliths and is surrounded by a rampart. (Images 17–22) The longitudinal axis is 58 meters, the width 54 meters. A five-meter-high obelisk towers at the western entrance. Artificial incisions can be identified on individual blocks. (Images 23–25) No one knows what they mean, just as no one has the faintest idea who planted the megalithic ellipse of Mzora in the landscape, when it happened, and why. But Mzora is just the first of the impossible facts. The list gets more and more unendurable.
A tourist traveling from Granada, Spain, along the N342 (or from Malaga, the N331) toward Antequera should take the opportunity for an educational break and stop just before reaching Antequera. That is where the megalithic super graves of Menga, Viera, and el Romeral are located. Curiously, the Menga complex is described as Cueva de Menga, cave of Menga. Yet there is no natural cave. The Cueva de Menga is deemed to be "the most impressive and best preserved dolmen in the world.", The alleged "cave" lies outside the town of Antequera and is described as a mausoleum in the specialist literature, although no corpse has ever been found in it. This Stone Age miracle is 25 meters long, 5.5 meters wide, and 3.2 meters high — big enough to drive a tractor about. (Images 26–28)
No one knows who first entered this artificial structure because, until 1842, the dark space served as a cool chamber for keeping fruit and vegetables. Of course, people started to dig — twice even, in the years 1842 and 1874. The results did not yield any clues as to who built it. A renewed attempt was made in 1904; after all, there had to be something to find in this giant dolmen. The hard-pressed soil finally revealed a discus-shaped stone structure, whose purpose is unknown. No body, no bones, no sarcophagus, but below the ceiling there are some cross-shaped engravings and a five-pointed star with a diameter of about 18 centimeters.
The ceiling is a miracle in itself. The rear-most stone is 8.07 meters long and 6.3 meters wide. It has an estimated weight of 180 tonnes — certainly no lightweight. The actual "burial chamber," which never existed, is covered by four monolithic slabs resting on mighty stone supports. Each of these lateral load-bearing stones is a good meter thick, the covering slabs more than twice that. All of it just a little bit massive for nothing. Anyone who moves and raises such monstrous stones might have taken care to ensure that the content of the tomb would stand the test of time. Or at least might have attached a little signature from the builders.
All the building materials of the Cueva de Menga consist of hard, tertiary Jura limestone quarried nearby at Cerro de la Cruz, no more than a kilometer away. That might not be a great distance, but still well-nigh impossible when transporting a slab weighing 180,000 kilograms! All the monoliths of Cueva de Menga are anchored into the ground with smaller stones. The surveyor of the clan must have attended an outstanding school of Stone Age architecture. Yet the Cueva de Menga is no more than a small step into the land of the impossible.
The limestone mountain Cuevas del Rey Moro, "caves of the black king," lies in the west of the province of Valencia in Spain; on its summit there is a megalithic town. Like Cueva de Menga, it is also called "Menga" although it lies somewhere completely different. The strange part about Menga is probably not mentioned by any classical historian because no one knows who built it and no one understands what in the world happened there millennia ago. Around the town of Menga, there is a "tram network" with "rails"— not rails from our time, but the remains of tracks that look like tramlines imprinted into the stone to a depth of 15 to 20 centimeters. Yet the "tracks" near Menga are not unique either.
The town of Cyrene lies 400 meters above sea level in the barren desert south of the cities of Benghazi and Tobruk, in present-day Libya. As the teacher and writer Uwe Topper reports, legend says that it was built by a giant called Battos. He must also have been pushing carts, because the tracks cannot be missed. Near the city of Cadiz in Spain, too, every tourist can see tracks of about 100 meters in length in the water at low tide. There are several.
And on the sunny Mediterranean island of Sardinia, the attentive visitor will stumble over numerous tracks. Even better, the island of Malta is covered in them. It goes against the grain to raise all of this old hat again, because I have reported about Malta in several books., Hence longwinded repetition is superfluous. Moreover, the pictures speak convincingly on their own.
Every attentive tourist in Malta will sooner or later see the "cart ruts," as the Maltese call them. Once again, these are railway track–like grooves in the ground, which could not have been tracks because the they are of different widths. (Images 29–33) Southwest of the old capital Mdina, near Dingli, the grooves in the ground accumulate and appear to be coming from everywhere, as at a railway junction. That is why the area is called "Clapham Junction" (a busy railway junction in London). These really are strange tracks: they pass through valleys and climb up hills. Frequently, several run alongside one another and suddenly converge into a double track before abruptly taking audacious bends. (Images 34–38) On several stretches of coast, such as St. Georg's Bay, south of Dingli, and Marsaxlokk Bay, the tracks go purposefully into the blue waters of the Mediterranean. (Images 39–41) The Malta researcher Alexander Knörr discovered whole collections of tracks that go under the water. Then they suddenly end at a sharp drop. There must have been a rock slide, including the tracks, at such places. (Image 42)
There is plenty of speculation about this Maltese riddle. Were they cart ruts, skids of sledges? Roller bearings? Did the original inhabitants of Malta put their loads on a kind of forked branch and drag them across the countryside with draught animals? No good. The forked branch would have been too rigid and would not have changed the width of the tracks. Anyway, in that case, the tracks of the animals who pulled the heavy loads should also be evident in the limestone rock. But they aren't. Or — as the researcher André Schubert proposes — are the tracks in reality the traces of quite ordinary vehicles which only drove along the route once but on what was then soft ground?
There has certainly been plenty of speculation. The "tracks" were a cult ... a calendar ... a conduit system ... writing. ... We are flooded with clever and, indeed, logical explanations, and yet an ultimate answer which is beyond any doubt is still missing. I consider the Maltese tracks to be a classic case of archaeological misconception and will explain why nothing can add up: Malta must never be looked at in isolation. Whatever this unknown civilization in past millennia might have been, it was — as we have to realize today — transnational. It was connected with the whole Mediterranean area, including the adjacent regions, from North Africa to Britain, from Spain to Egypt. Track-like grooves in the ground can also be found in Sicily, Italy, Sardinia, Greece, southern France, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, and so on. The timeframe in which these incredible things happened is not 2,000 to 3,000 years BC, but a good 10,000 years ago or more. Today we know nothing about that time; there are no archaeologists at any university who are studying these things. Although "pre- and early history" is still taught at individual universities, it is without exception restricted to tiny geographical areas. Something like a comprehensive overview over the whole of Europe and beyond appears to be taboo. People are valiantly investigating their own little region. Giant spaces do not fit into the concept.
In Europe alone, there are several hundred stone and wood circles from the unknown past, and although no magazine called Megalithic Today existed at the time, all of these circles have an astronomical orientation. And all were designed using the same unit, the so-called Megalithic yard of 82.9 centimeters. Who cares? Several of these complexes lie under water. For example, columns of menhirs lie off the island of Gavrini in Brittany; two stone circles are also snoozing there at a depth of 12 meters under the Atlantic. Tracks near Cadiz, in Malta, or on Sardinia lead into the water. And nowhere is there a science in sight that cares about that. What a superficial lot we have become! A society, moreover, that imagines that, thanks to the Internet, it is the best informed. Forget it!
Who, apart from the intelligent disbelievers and doubters who are interested by the mysteries of the world, has ever heard of a "hypogeum"? The word comes from the Greek and means "below the earth" (hypo meaning "below" and gaia meaning "earth"). The Hypogeum of Malta is just as mysterious as the tracks on the surface. The space was discovered purely by chance. In 1902, a builder found a stone slab in the ground near the quay wall of the large port of Malta which did not fit there. He levered it up and peered down into a rectangular shaft which disappeared vertically into the depths. The builder kept silent. He knew that there were subterranean complexes all over the island. He also kept his mouth shut because he feared the authorities might block his building plans. Today the underground chambers have been opened up to tourists — with restrictions. Groups wanting to visit the Hypogeum have to register in advance. Guests are first taken into a cinema where they can admire impressive pictures of the rock chambers. Then they can go in single file along a prescribed ramp to view a part of the complex. The Hypogeum is different from any other dolmen elsewhere in the world, different from the royal tombs in Egypt. Passageways branch off the main chamber to niches and smaller chambers. (Images 43–44) Walls and ceiling have been worked in perfect Megalithic style: clear lines and sharp edges on mighty blocks. Above them is a rounded, curved ceiling in three layers, one above the other. (Images 45–46) A total work of art, it is a masterpiece which does not fit into the Stone Age at all. The monoliths extend smoothly from the floor to the ceiling, the niches have been flawlessly hammered out of the rock, the curved ceiling even in the form of a dome. That is totally alien to Stone Age thinking. (Images 47–48) Who chiselled this complex out of the rock? What was it for?(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Remnants of the Gods"
Copyright © 2014 Erich von Däniken.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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