- Hardcover: 258 pages
- Publisher: Harmony; 1 edition (May 11, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0609603698
- ISBN-13: 978-0609603697
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 30 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #674,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Voices of the Rocks : A Scientist Looks at Catastrophes and Ancient Civilizations 1st Edition
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Everything changes. The great 19th-century battle between catastrophists and uniformitarians seemed to end with the notion of global cataclysms being dismissed as a back door to the supernatural. But the catastrophist theory has gradually become more and more plausible, so that now, less than a hundred years later, it is widely believed that mass extinctions are linked to meteor strikes. Geologist Robert M. Schoch believes that if a large meteor or comet could extinguish most of our planet's complex life (just ask the trilobites), then a smaller one could destroy a civilization, and perhaps did. In Voices of the Rocks, he tells us how it may have happened.
Asked to investigate the Sphinx at Giza, Schoch was troubled to find evidence of a much greater age than the 4,500 years suggested by Egyptologists. This led him to examine the possibility of a lost civilization dating back to at least 10,000 B.C. Looking at linguistic, geological, and archaeological evidence from around the world, he proposes an outline of prehistory that differs markedly from our received wisdom--after all, if the Lascaux cave paintings really are star maps, then we've got a lot of catching up to do. Schoch's willingness to dismiss implausible evidence and to use Occam's razor to cut away unnecessary complications is admirable and refreshing in a field in which credulity pays and skepticism is viewed with deep suspicion. Ending on a note of warning, Voices of the Rocks reminds us that by weakening the planet, we have made ourselves much more vulnerable to the next global cataclysm, which may come at any time. --Rob Lightner
From Publishers Weekly
For ardent readers of current science, little is more appealing than stories of discoveries that change the way people view the world. In this volume, Schoch asserts that he is at the vanguard of a paradigm shift, not in his own field of geology, but rather in anthropology. From his geological analysis of the Sphinx, he draws a conclusion that he admits is controversial: that a technologically advanced civilization rose and faded in Egypt long before the time of the pyramids. Adding speculative science and drawing on myth, he asserts that other similarly advanced civilizations flourished around the world, only to be obliterated by global catastrophes brought on by a century-long rain of asteroid impacts. Similar cosmic storms strike once a millennium, he says, triggering or ending ice ages, causing floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions of biblical proportion, precipitating shifts in the earths axis. The 22nd century, Schoch predicts, will be the next era of catastrophe. Our civilization will be especially vulnerable because burning of fossil fuels and other global technological activities may seriously compromise the planets environment. Few readers will be convinced by Shochs web of speculation, although some may find it fascinating nonetheless. Many will dismiss even its most persuasive evidence, because Schoch devotes many pages to pseudoscientific ideas, such as the Face on Mars and the effects of planetary alignments. Although he finally declares them bogus, his readers may wonder why he discussed them at all. 8-page b&w photo insert, not seen by PW. Agents, Sarah Jayne Freymann and Judith Riven.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Schoch poo-poos the famous Piri Reis map, which dates to 1511 and which accurately shows the coastline of Antarctica. As Hapgood correctly argued, the map dates to long before modern explorers first visited Antarctica, let alone mapped the coast. Schoch conspicuously ignores the evidence that Hapgood found in the Piri Reis map indicating that whoever created it (Piri Reis himself copied the map from earlier versions) knew how to plot longitude, which in the modern era only became possible after the invention of the chronometer in the 18th century. This proves that some earlier unknown civilization knew all about longitude. The existence of the map indicates that ancient mariners visited the Queen Maud coast of Antarctica long ago -- at a time when there was no ice!
Schoch also ignores the abundance of coal deposits found very near the south pole. How is the coal to be explained? Surely it presence is powerful evidence that the Antarctic continent was not always in its present location.
Likewise, Schoch mentions the cave paintings of Lascaux, France which date to about 15,000 B.C. Why, Schoch wonders out loud, did the artist(s) at Lascaux paint bulls (instead of reindeer) at a time when France was in the grip of the last ice age? It never dawns on Schoch that the cave art is strong supporting evidence for crustal displacement! Rather than questioning the art or the artist who created it, Schoch should have re-examined his own beliefs. Crustal displacement easily explains the bulls at Laschaux!
Schoch's attempt to debunk Hapgood is not persuasive.
For a reader with no background in this topic, this book could be a good starting place. Unfortunately, the book is both simplistic and outdated. The author assumes the reader knows nothing about history, so a lot of the book is somewhat tedious. Are you unfamiliar with the story of the Minotaur? Schoch explains it in some detail. Do you think that the Romans had electric lights? Schoch will disabuse you of that error. He can't even decide on a dating convention, mixing dates BC and years before present randomly, and at times putting both next to each other for those who can't add or subtract 2000. In one instance he cites the Hundred Years War when the example he is giving is clearly the Thirty Years War. Several times he refers to the two destructions during the Bronze Age but never elaborates with any details or archeological specifics. He makes some good points, but his scholarship and overall focus leave a lot to be desired.
These shortcomings likely stem from the fact that Schoch is not really trying to write about human prehistory or the advancement of civilization. Like ancient authors who were more interested in providing lessons for their contemporary readers rather than an accurate accounting of past events, Schoch's main intention is to warn of the excesses of technology, specifically climate change and ozone depletion.
Several times Schoch mentions Mary Settegast's "Plato Prehistorian". If you really have an interest in human prehistory, save yourself the time and expense and go directly to Settegast's book.
This is a decidedly superficial and pedestrian book for a scholar of Schoch's caliber to be writing. The material covered in the book is too broad for a book of such brief length, necessitating too much generalizing and too little analysis. Many volumes could be and have been written by numerous authors about practically every subject area in this book, and covered by most of them in greater detail. The book has a superficial feel to it, almost as if it were a tour guide for some museum.
Schoch has little respect for pioneer authors in this field, e.g., Robert Bauval, Adrian Gilbert, and Graham Hancock. Schoch plays the "Ph.D. card," appealing to the authority which can only be acquired from the academy. Writers (see an exception below) from outside the "guild" are NOT welcome! At times, he seems to forget that archeology, the predominant subject of his book, is not an exact science, and, therefore, any scientist who strays into that subjective region no longer can pronounce with the customary precision and authority on large swaths of material with which he must deal. Whence, then, comes his superior interpretation of ancient events, as opposed to those of Bauval, Gilbert, and Hancock?
Schoch coolly notes that, although Bauval, et al., present "some interesting ideas on these issues......None of the authors is a scientist, and all three are far too eager to inflate problems into 'mysteries' and puff interesting insights into revolutionary findings that are nothing of the sort." (p. 76). It seems that Schoch is lifting important ideas from those writers to advance and pad the material in his own book. Shoch's treatment of John Anthony West is much more positive. Indeed, Schoch appears to have been highly dependent on and inspired by West's pioneering work.
In any case, anyone who can gaze upon ancient pyramids of Egypt, and not think that there is a lot more to them than meets the eye, not marvel at their incredible engineering, not consider the advanced technologies which their construction would clearly have necessitated, and not allow himself to formulate theories about their purpose, construction and astronomical orientation, would seem very shortsighted and unreasonable, certainly not the visionary which Shoch clearly aims to be. When it comes to something as extraordinary and mysterious as the Pyramids, EVERYTHING is on the table!
How does the reader know that SCHOCH'S grasp of archeology, prehistory, and ancient history are sound? To be fair, we must note that Schoch did received a BA in Anthropology (along with a degree in geology) from George Washington University, so we must assume some erudition there. But we all know how superficial a BA program can be! Certainly it does not come close to involving the kind of in-depth research, experience, and peer-reviewed publishing required to pronounce on these deep, murky, and difficult subjects covered in his book. Presumably, Schoch's training in geology gave him some advanced training in paleontology, so that would have helped him in some areas. However, overall, one would have to question Shoch's expertise on "ancient civilizations" just as much as the other writers mentioned.
Other complaints. The book lacks a complete scholarly apparatus which would be expected of a serious academic work. The index is much too short, especially for a non-fiction book by a "scientist." Worse, there are no reference notes. That is a fatal flaw for me because he is, therefore, taking it for granted that the reader will assume his "authority" and grasp of the subject. Instead, the reader must make do with "References" listed by chapter. A reader ought to be taking NOTHING for granted from a writer!
Surely a scholar of Schoch's training and expertise can do better than this tome! He could have. But he didn't.