33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 1999
Dr. Robert Schoch's Voices of the Rocks is a scientific expose demonstrating a logical shift from the classical uniformitarian view of the ancient world to one frought with periodic catastrophe. By a combination of hard scientific observation and a more face-value interpretation of mythology and folklore, Dr. Schoch redates the Great Sphinx and pushes back the long held dates of the dawn of civilization. He also attempts to address some mysteries from ancient times. Although, how all those cities burned down at the end of the Bronze Age is still open to debate, Dr. Schoch's hypothesis is intriguing. This is an insightful, information-packed book perfect for the reader who is more inclined to science and less to flights of fancy. I am, however, surprised that Graham Hancock endorsed this book as some of his work is criticized here.
45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2000
In contemplating that Homo Sapiens may be at least one million years old, and yet recorded civilization only 5000 to 6000 years old, the author William S. Burroughs referred to that wide gap of history, "a long question mark". Dr.Schoch's book, however, while absolutely fascinating, sheds little light on the "long question mark". This book is heavy on catastrophes and little about ancient civilizations. Dr.Schoch starts the book by defending his theory that the Sphinx may be twice as old as conventionally thought, then a little about the antiquity of the Lascaux caves and an interesting bit about the possibility that the Magdalenian culture of ancient Europe and Asia Minor culminating in Catal Huyuk may have inspired the myths of Atlantis. All quite interesting and worthy of more in depth analysis; but Dr.Schoch merely throws these theories out with little information on their merits or pitfalls,(though he does go to some lengths to defend his theories about the possible older age of the Sphinx.) Far from being paradigm shifting, well over 75% of the book is an apologia for orthodox scientific thinking in regard to catastrophism and possible pre-historic civilizations. Dr.Schoch even resorts, disappointingly, to calling theories he doesn't agree with, (Hapgood, Velikovsky, Sitchin), as "blather"...the old tried and true tactic of the True Faith: label the heretics as lunatics. This is paradigm shifting? Still, the passages in the book about what happens when large extraterrestrial bodies hit are hair-raising and well worth the price of the book. But paradigm shifting? Hardly...
46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2000
Prior to the publication of this book, Robert Schoch was best known outside of academic geology as the scientist John Anthony West called in to investigate the idea, by way of Schwaller de Lubicz, that the Sphinx shows signs of water erosion that indicates an age far greater than orthodox Egyptologists are currently willing to consider. As detailed in Chapter Two of "Voices of the Rocks," Schoch came away from his examination convinced both that the Sphinx and its enclosure had been subject to extensive precipitation-induced weathering and that this weathering could only have occurred if the stone had originally been carved at least as far back as 7000-5000 BC, if not earlier, as compared to the previously accepted date of 2700 BC. Anyone looking for a real resolution to the scientific debate that Schoch started with these conclusions will be dissatisfied, as Schoch fails to acknowledge the inconsistencies in his findings (which can be found in Paul Jordan's "Riddles of the Sphinx," among other places), or viable alternative hypotheses, such as one I have seen mentioned on the web that accounts for the Sphinx' characteristic weathering via a model involving its burial in waterlogged sand. Nevertheless, it is this conclusion that Schoch uses as a springboard to consider the possibility of lost civilizations of greater antiquity than Egypt or Sumer, and (more importantly) the concomitant possibility that such civilizations were destroyed by worldwide cataclysms triggered by cometary impacts.
The book is sprinkled throughout with genuine, if most often highly speculative, science, and this distinguishes Schoch's efforts from those of pseudoscientific cranks like Graham Hancock or Rand Flem-Ath. So, for example, Schoch visits the superficially strange underwater "monolith" near Yonaguni, but unlike many (and, most likely, unlike Hancock, who is currently writing a book that will deal with Yonaguni and other underwater "monuments") he concludes that the structure is most likely a product of natural forces of erosion, as evidenced by the processes that can be observed on the beaches of Yonaguni now. Similarly, the notion of "polar shift" first proposed by Charles Hapgood and currently championed by Flem-Ath and Hancock is dealt with summarily here. In these parts of the book, it is refreshing to see a genuinely scientific approach being taken to questions that to date have been given only the most sensationalized and credulous of treatments.
Schoch's approach occasionally falters. Immediately after determining that the Yonaguni "monument" shows erosion and weathering consistent with what is happening naturally on the beaches today, he mentions the fact that this does not altogether rule out the possibility that human hands did have a role in shaping it. In the concluding paragraphs of this chapter, Schoch's narrative suddenly veers away from his scientific perspective as he incorporates a manmade Yonaguni monument into speculative and nearly baseless notions of ancient civilizations existing on the now submerged coasts of Ice Age-era antiquity. Although the possibility of extensive neolithic cultures that have been erased by sea-level rises since the last Ice Age is a real one (see Stephen Oppenheimer's "Eden in the East" for a fair summary of the evidence for this), Schoch completely forgets that he has no evidence whatsoever for a human influence on Yonaguni, and plentiful evidence for natural processes.
Even with such slips, "Voices" is a worthwhile read for anyone looking for a more reasoned and less sensationalized perspective on the question of lost civilizations, the legend of Atlantis and the "facts" that might underlie it, and the possibility that cometary impacts have had profound effects on the course of human history.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 1999
Such moments are rare these days when one takes a book in the hand and is completely captivated by it after reading the first few pages : this is what happened with *Voices of the Rocks*. The author, a geologist and a professor, is one of this era's best academics. He articulates his vast knowledge, experience and research into our ancient past in an engaging and scholarly fashion. In this book he brings us beyond the limits of our need to think and to find answers. He explains the numerous theories available and then tries to work them out so we can truly understand the reason of each venue. At every page we feel the exciting moment of truth and of discovery, but only to fall back on our feet to the reality. This is a rollercoaster for the newcomer. The book also serves as a travelogue since we follow Professor Schoch in his travels from the sandy deserts of Egypt to the bottom of the ocean in Japan. This book does not answer questions but makes us wonder. A definite must for all.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2000
Schoch uses his credability as a geologist as a springboard for proposing what caused the downfall of many ancient civilizations. This book provides interesting speculation, but few hard facts to back up his speculations. Chapters two and three are credible in regard to the dating of the Sphinx. Chapters four to six provide intersting speculation on comet/asteroid strikes, polar wanderings, etc. without credible evidence and often skips from one theory to another with little introduction. Chapter seven is pure speculation with theories from previous chapters treated as fact without proof that must be acted upon today, if not yesterday. The ending left much to be desired. At least he provides a list of sources.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 1999
i loved this book. it is accessible and informative for scientists and those who are just interested in science. the author made clear and convincing arguments to support his positions, which themselves were very interesting. the author evealuates catastrophes using sound scientific reasoning, which seperates this book from others that also deal with catastrophism.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2000
I was not impressed with this effort by Mr. Schoch. He seems to take a different stand depending on his mood. I would have expected more from a Yale Professor. Since I caught him on the Discovery Channel in a documentary concerning the underwater "Pyramid" off Yonaguni Island I will focus on this portion of his book. In the chapter concerning this debated monument Mr. Schoch states that it's origin is most likely natural in origin, and yet in his final paragraphs of this chapter he postulates a theory based on the idea that it is man-made.
The natural side of his theory on this monument includes erosion that "bores" holes through rocks with the shape of the resulting hole having sharp right interior angles (a perfect rectangle!). He would also have us believe that the strong current of the region has carved out and carried off what would, on land, amount to small boulders! Yet, this powerful eroding current is also supposed to have taken the care to produce inumerable right angles(exterior and interior) to form what others believe to be an ancient monument. He has also ignored the film evidence of careful, though eroded, carvings on this monument which are plainly visible! When asked about the monument onshore of the Island that is strangely similar to the sunken one, Mr. Schoch replied that it was probably a copy of the underwater one. This is the same type of thinking that has had scholars claiming that the clay tablets of Sumer are merely fanciful fairy tales even though they pointed out the outer two planets of our solar system thousands of years before we found them in the middle of this century.
Mr. Schoch is merely restating "approved" science irregardless of the evidence, and I have seen too much of that. In short, if you still believe that the Great Pyramid was the last one built, or that the pyramids were tombs, then this is your man, and your book! If, on the other hand, you feel the theory should fit the evidence and not the reverse then you would be happier looking in the direction of Sitchin or Alford
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2013
If you have had high school physics, natural science, astronomy, and applied math, this book reveals nothing new beyond those subjects. Not only is it a rehash of standard scientific dogma, some of which has been revised since this publication, but Dr Schoch is a travesty of a scientist for having obtained two Masters degrees and a Doctorate, then publishing this pulp "science." Common science lab reports and doctoral thesis contains more useful information. The level of writing in the book makes one wonder how he managed to impress his scholastic superiors.
There are no enumerated citations, only a few book titles and several internet URLs and magazine articles. While castigating Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval for shoddy science, they at least have well annotated references and bibliographies in their publications. Dr Schoch only lists a bibliography, while the overleaf has these two authors, along with Gregg Braden and John West praising his writing!
Doctor Schoch introduces his material with a summation of the scientific method. He first states his method is empirical and philosophical (p10). But then turns right around and says that all branches of science must be testable. Nowhere in this book does he cite testing to support his conclusion for any of the rock investigations covered. On the next page he says that science is progressive, equating progression with increased scientific knowledge in recent decades. How can a "reputable" scientist conflate these two differing ideas? Lastly, he asserts that real science is composed of two kinds; normal and revolutionary. Normal science is composed of consensus between scientists. Consensus is nothing but politics and has no foundation in scientific investigation. Revolutionary science he says focuses on the anomalies a given hypothesis does not explain. This is not revolutionary science. It is pseudo-science. If an hypothesis does not cover all the facts, explain all the evidence, or if it is not falsifiable by testing, then it is not a valid hypothesis, and the scientist is left with nothing but speculation which anyone can and does these days. His explanation of how science works is in reality a description of how the scientific field is being grossly abused at the university level. It is carried out in the way he describes, and admits, for obtaining funding, not to produce rigorous theories.
What little data is found in the book is suspect, if not outright error. For example, on page 102 Robert states that the ice covering Antarctica comprises 6-7 million cubic miles, weighing 30 million billion tons. Water weighs 8.333 pounds per gallon, and requires 7.49 gallons to fill a cubic foot. (Expansion with freezing changes the result very little.) Do the math and you will see that his cited tonnage is off by nearly 60X too much. To make matters worse, Antarctica is commonly listed as comprising 5.4 million square miles. Since it is known that the ice cap is 1.7X larger than the above water land mass one can then calculate the weight of the ice in square feet, or pounds per square inch. I arrived at a figure of slightly less than 200 tons per square foot, or 1628 pounds per square inch. We're supposed to believe that this much pressure causes the phenomenon of "isostatic rebound", deflecting the soil by 3100 feet as cited on this page? A scaled comparison of a bottle jack under the axle of my Uhaul truck (12K pounds) would push the one square foot bottle jack foot into the soil 39 feet! Any which way you want to approach his data, they do not correlate with each other.
On page 77 Robert asserts the precision of Bauval's Giza plateau dating is indefensible. He claims too much weathering makes the survey measurements less exact than presented by Bauval/Hancock/Gilbert. Doctor Thomas Brophy published his analysis of the Giza plateau in The Origin Map (2002), using a far more intricate astronomical computer program. The plots were overlaid on scaled plan view outlines from Dr Lehner's 1997 digital bitmaps. Thomas came up with a date of 11,772 as opposed to Bauval's 10,500 BC alignment of Orion's belt against the pyramids. This is an error of 1,272 years out of 11,772, or 10.8%. Thomas in his book suggests that if a scientist can exceed 60% accuracy they have a bonafide hypothesis. Indefensible indeed. First order approximations reaching 90% accuracy are nothing to sneeze at.
Doctor Schoch speculates a great deal in this book, as reviewed elsewhere, and reveals very little detail supporting his meandering across several natural science subjects. His discussion of comets and meteorites is completely useless, as is his foray into mythology concerning Atlantis, and the epics. These subjects add nothing to a message derived from rocks, and is obvious padding even an undergraduate could not get away with. As I have observed in many instances, so-called scientific authorities like Doctor Schoch take other authors to task for their kind of research, pseudo-science, and popular press type writing, all the while doing the same. At least Hancock's books are more interesting than the blather found in this book, even if his conclusions are far fetched.
I borrowed the book from the library, curious to learn if Doctor Schoch's publications bore any improvement over his layman's approach on his website. I didn't finish the last 30 pages of this book, and may not bother reading Voyages of the Pyramid Builders. I second much of what the other one-star reviewers had to say.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 1999
The first chapters of Schoch's book make an excellent read. These are the chapters that contain the geologist's views on egyptology. After that, the book becomes chaotic, a mishmash of unproven theories and possible consequences of things that haven't happened yet and may never happen at all. It's a sad thing really: half the number of pages would have been much better (that is, the first half!).
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 1999
As someone who is fascinated by the writings of Hancock, et al, it was refreshing to read a critical, yet openminded, account of these lost civilization theories. I could not put the book down, and I plan to re-read soon. Highly Recommended.