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By Alfred de Grazia

Part One: Historical Disturbances



[* A summary of Professor Shaeffer's findings and notes of a research proposal to extend his work. A memorial to Professor Schaeffer (1898-1982) by Geoffrey Gammon occurs in V The Society for Interdisciplinary Studies Review 3 (1980-1), 70. The sites studied by Schaeffer and a map of them is contained in his work of 1948, Stratigraphie Comparée and this author's Chaos and Creation (1981).]

In concluding his massive inventory and analysis of strata of destruction in Bronze Age settlements, Professor Claude Schaeffer of the University of Paris wrote as follows:

The great perturbations which left their traces in the stratigraphy of the principal sites of the Bronze Age of Western Asia are six in number. The oldest among them shook, between 2400 and 2300, all of the land extending from the Caucasus in the North down to the Valley of the Nile, where it became one of the causes, if not the principal cause, of the fall of the Egyptian Old Kingdom after the death of Pepi II. In two important sites in Asia Minor, at Troy and Alaca Huyuk, the excavators reported damage due to earthquakes. Under the collapsed walls of the buildings contemporaneous with the catastrophe, the skeletons of the inhabitants surprised by the earthquake were retrieved. However, in the actual state of our knowledge, it is not possible to say to what extent the earthquakes are the direct cause of the disasters which, at a date situated between 2400 and 2300, fell upon so many of the countries of Western Asia.
We are better informed in that which concerns the second of the great perturbations which in the order of time shook all of the Bronze Age civilization in Western Asia. In Anatolia, these brutal and sudden events struck fatally the brilliant centers of Troy III, of Alaca Huyuk famous for the riches of its royal tombs, and Alishar I B and of Tarse.
As to the nature of this third great perturbation, registered in all of the countries of Western Asia at the end of the Middle Bronze Age, and whose effects, in certain regions, were prolonged into the midst of the Recent Bronze period, we are reduced, in the actual state of our knowledge, to hypotheses. In most countries occupancy suffered a notable reduction, in others sedentary occupancy was replaced by nomadic. In Palestine and the island of Cyprus the situation appears to have been complicated by epidemics; collective tombs without durable offerings and apparently established with a certain haste were brought to light in the necropolises of the end of the Middle Bronze Age and the beginning of the Recent Bronze Age. Calamities of the same nature appear to have caused the eclipse of the Hittite empire from 1600 on in round figures. Persia and Mesopotamia in their turn then went through a severe crisis; likewise in the North, the countries of the Caucasus; our study has shown that here too there is no continuity between the civilizations of the Middle Bronze Age and of the Recent Bronze Age.
This brilliant period of the Middle Bronze Age, during which flourished the art of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt and the refined industrial art of the Middle Minoan, and in the course of which the great commercial centers such as Ugarit in Syria enjoyed a remarkable prosperity, was ended between 1750 and 1650 by a new catastrophe, equal in severity and in scope to the two preceding perturbations.
However, around 1450, a new perturbation, the fourth since the middle of the third millenium, struck Western Asia, particularly the Mediterranean regions. Evidently less severe than the preceding ones, it was accompanied by revolts in Syria and in Palestine, resisted by Thutmose III and subdued by Amenhotep II.
A century later, around 1365, mean date, in the time of the reign of Amenhotep IV or Akhnaton, an earthquake of great violence ravaged several cities on the Syrio-palestinian coast as well as in the interior of the countries. In Asia Minor also the urban centers (Tarse and Boghazkeui and Troy) suffered damage in the same period. This fifth perturbation is very distinctly marked in the stratigraphic sections of most of the sites explored in these countries.
From about 1250 or 1225, the sixth and last great catastrophe fell upon the civilizations of the Bronze Age in Western Asia. Vast ethnic movements are launched again of which one, probably the most important, proceeds across the Syrio-Palestinian corridor and along the coast toward Egypt.

Professor Schaeffer then searches for causes and assigns the greatest weight to natural disaster, and not necessarily purely seismic disturbances.

Our inquiry has demonstrated that these successive crises which opened and closed the principle period of the third and second millenia were not provoked by the action of man. On the contrary, compared to the amplitude of these general crises and to their profound effects, the exploits of conquerors and the machinations of statesman at that time appear modest indeed.

In the 1970's the present author was introduced to Professor Schaeffer by Mr. René Roussel, then an inspector of air navigation system for the French government and an exchange of letters and meeting followed. Dr. Schaeffer expressed a willingness to collaborate and to supply the study with later materials of the period 1945 to 1975 from his own archives. I applied for support to the National Geographic Society, without success. There follows now the statement of the proposed study. The data to be obtained is to be found in the great libraries of the world and it is hoped that an institute or department of archaeology will undertake the task.

*** The project aims to inventory all excavated sites of the Mediterranean-Middle East (4000 to 600 B. C.); to scan their reports for indications of destruction by earthquake, volcanism and cultural periods or phases; to plot the sites on a seismic and geological background map of the large region: to test the hypothesis that all existing ancient settlement of the period 4000- 600 B. C. were destroyed by concurrent natural disasters at points in time conventionally denoting the various Bronze Ages; and to publish the results.

The materials of research are those contained in Claude Schaeffer's published work and archives, which are being made available to this project, and the many excavation reports contained elsewhere and obtainable by library research mail requests, and personal contacts. The data will be collected and systematically reported in manual and electronic form, and the subsequent analysis should provide a firm quantitative base on the degree of correctness of the hypothesis of the destruction of ancient civilization at significant time intervals by natural forces.


The reformulation of the Schaeffer Hypothesis can be summarized as follows:

A. All excavations in the Near and Middle East of the period 4000-600 B. C. will show levels of heavy destruction.

B. The levels of destruction are correlative.

C. The levels of destruction will have counterparts outside of the Near and Middle East here particularly the East and West Mediterranean.

D. Natural Disasters are demonstrable.

Phase 1

1. Review and updating of the same 40 sites as presented in Schaeffer's Stratigraphie Comparée.

2. Transfer to new standardized format.

3. Preparation of a list of all excavations performed since 1945.

4. Search the excavation reports for levels of destruction and categorize them as:

a. no evidence of destruction levels
a1. Unsearched and not definite
a2. Demonstrably not destroyed

b. levels of destruction
b1. Concurrent with those previously reported in SC.
b2. Not-concurrent

5. In every case, Determine where possible whether naturally caused or provoked

6. Merge data.

Phase II

7. Determine the quantitative degree of correctness of the reformulated Schaeffer Hypothesis in all of its parts.

8. Write a narrative of the findings

9. Accompany the narrative of findings with

a. an up-to-date map of the Mediterranean-Middle East exhibiting fault lines as shown by NASA satellites, zone of modern seismic intensity, and the location of excavated sites plus

b. a differentiation of the mapped sites according to how many of the presumed destruction levels they actually reveal at the critical culture points. For example Troy shows all levels, and would be so symbolized on a map.

c. a supplementary plotting on a separate map, of all natural destruction levels that are not correlated with the presumed major destruction levels and of missing levels of destruction adverse to the hypothesis.

d. an appendix of all sites reported upon (and of those either unreported or lacking data).

e. a simple constructed Index of conformity of findings to the hypothesis.

f. an Appendix of techniques of discovering and reporting destruction levels and their causes.

g. photographs of selected destruction levels showing ashes and calcination (Troy, Tuscany, Alaca Huyuk, etc).

Phase III Theoretical Discussion

10. On the character of the natural disasters implicated.

11. On the exceptional or anomalous cases of verified concurrent non-destroyed sites, if any.

12. On chronological problems exposed in the study, and their possible solution.

13. On the degree to which excavation leader have responded to the challenge of Schaeffer's Hypothesis since 1948 (30 years).

14. On the implications of the findings.
a. for the study of the rise and fall of civilization.
b. On the comparative study of religion.
c. On the causes of sudden, significant cultural changes.
d. On the possibility that the boundaries of the
Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages have been basically determined by natural forces.

In applying for foundation support, the word "exoterrestrial" or "extraterrestrial" was not mentioned. Now, with the publication of The Lately Tortured Earth, it should be more apparent than before that the destructions of the Bronze Ages could have been produced by several causes, acting together and initiating in celestial disturbances. Other regions of the world too will lent themselves to an enhanced comparative analysis, especially in the U. S. S. R. and Meso America.


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