The Top That Reeled
Paul D. Ackerman
An intriguing mystery began to unravel with some routine research work by the late Australian astronomer George Dodwell. He was examining lists of winter/summer solstice shadow measurements (length of sun's noonday shadow on the longest and shortest day of the year) recorded and left by ancient astronomers from as long ago as 3000 years. The mystery begins with the well known fact that there is something wrong with these measurements. A distinct inaccuracy is apparent in these data that is totally Out of character with the well documented meticulousness of the remainder of the ancients astronomical records and observations. The recorded shadow lengths are right in respect to latitude position, but wrong in respect to axis alignment with the sun. This in spite of the fact that they saw a religious significance in their astronomical calculations, and (herefore, took them very seriously. Errors in their work beyond those imposed by the limitations of ancient observing methods are extremely unlikely. Also, the correctness of the latitude measurements give credibility to the accuracy of the measurements. Dodwell thought, "There must be another explanation."
As he pondered the data, he decided to make a graph of the measurements recorded by the ancients and compare them to what they should have been based upon reverse projections from modern calculations of planetary alignments and motions. When he did so he found that the ancient measurements formed a distinct pattern of increasing discrepancy with modern projections as they went further back in time. The data fit a curve that Dodwell was quite familiar with.
Even so. he was puzzled by what lay before him. What did it all mean? The calculations laid on Dodwell's desk untouched for two years while he pondered that question. When their import was finally realized. the impact of the realization led Dodwell on a totally unexpected turn to a deeper commitment to Christianity and the absolute historical trustworthiness of the Bible. These commitments were to occupy his time and energy through the remainder of his life. Dodwell's scientific efforts stimulated by what he became convinced were not erroneous measurements by the ancients were never fully compiled in his lifetime but, fortunately, are now being put together in a book soon to be published.1 What did Dodwell discover?
Eudoxus was a well known Greek mathematician, geographer and astronomer who lived from about 400-347 B.C. Among the astronomical observations made by Eudoxus is a careful description of the North Celestial Pole (the point in the sky around which the stars appear to rotate and thus the position marking the alignment of the earth's axis). The problem is that on the basis of reverse projections from modern measurements of the earth's axis, orbit, etc. the observations of Eudoxus do not fit the time of 350 B.C. at which they were made but rather a time some 1600 years earlier or about 1900 BC.
Stonehenge is an ancient man-made construction consisting of huge stone slabs arranged in circular patterns and situated on the Salisbury Plain in southern England. In ancient times Stonehenge was used for astronomical observations in the context of religious rites and ceremonies. On the basis of archaeological evidence and considerations, Stonehenge was for many years associated with the ancient Druid cult and thus dated at about 350 B.C. Modern astronomical research, however, has upset the simple conclusion of associating Stonehenge with the Druids, and the dating for the monument is now set much earlier between 1500-1900 B.C. The reason for the early dating is that the astronomical solstice measurements which Stonehenge was built to observe would not according to reverse projections from current planetary positions have been possible in 350 B.C. but only at the earlier date.
Egyptian Solar Temple of Amen-Ra, Karnak
The Solar Temple of Amen-Ra, Karnak in Egypt was built during the time of the Pharaohs near or some time after 2000 B.C. It was the site of a most impressive religious ceremony known as the "manifestation of Ra" or sun god. The Egyptian Pharaohs claimed to be divine, and the once-a-year ceremony at Amen-Ra was designed to emphasize the point. At the center of the temple was a darkened sanctuary filled with gold and other magnificently jeweled decorations. Connecting to the outside from the sanctuary was a long narrow hallway. As the ancient summers drew near, the days grew longer and longer. The sun was positioned in the sky a little more northward each day until it reached the most northerly position of its annual progression, the summer solstice and longest day of the year. On that longest day and only on that day, the setting sun was far enough north to shine down the long corridor of Amen-Ra and flood the sanctuary with light. On that glorious day the priests and other important persons would gather along the corridor, while the Pharaoh stood in the darkened inner sanctuary. As the sun sank it shone down the long corridor and Pharaoh was suddenly swallowed up in the blinding brilliance. The sun-god Ra and the god Pharaoh had become one. A most impressive ceremony except for one tiny problem.
According to modern astronomical calculations, during the time of the temple's historical use the sun would not have reached far enough north to shine down the corridor and into the sanctuary. Yet we know from ancient hieroglyphic writings that the sun did indeed shine into the sanctuary. Obviously there is something wrong with our modern astronomical calculations according to which you would have to go back to at least 4000 B.C. for the "manifestation of Ra" ceremony to be possible. Dodwell sought to solve the mysterious discrepancy between historical records and modern astronomy.
That Strange Curve of Observations
Earlier it was pointed out that Dodwell made a graph of the solstice shadow length observations recorded by the ancients. When he constructed a mathematical curve to fit the observations he made some important discoveries. First, the curve had a point of origin dating at about 2345 B.C. Something dramatic must have occurred at that time. Secondly, the curve determined by Dodwell cross-checked with the proper archaeological dates for Eudoxus, Stonehenge and the Solar Temple of Amen-Ra. Dodwell's astronomical curve gave correct dates for these instances thus tending to validate the calculations.
Thirdly, as stated earlier, Dodwell recognized the pattern of the curve. He realized that the path of the curve to a remarkable degree of detail matched the recovery path of a spinning top that is struck from the outside and returns to a new position of spinning equilibrium. The realization stunned Dodwell for it indicated that something had happened to the earth in 2345 B.C. to cause it to tilt from its axis. Following that sudden and dramatic tilt, the earth began to wobble like a spinning top and gradually recover to a new axis tilt. Our modern reverse projections give inaccurate historical dates because they fail to take this fact into account. Most important in all this for Dodwell was the recognition that the 2345 date for the tilting of the earth's axis coincides with the historical date of the flood of Noah based upon study of Biblical chronologies. Asteroid Impact
The fact of a tilt in the earth's axis around 2345 B.C. is supported by an impressive body of data. What might have caused such a tilt is not certain. Dodwell came to believe that it was caused by the impact of an asteroid in what is now the Pacific Ocean.
The theory of such an impact is difficult to confirm and presents some nasty difficulties. Regarding this idea, Barry Setterfield has remarked to the effect that if such a massive asteroid did in fact hit the earth, "the miracle is not that all of humanity perished in the great flood but that Noah and his family survived." Nevertheless it remains an intriguing possibility and might explain some otherwise puzzling mysteries in the fossil record.
The Beresovka Mammoth
Buried beneath the northern tundras of Siberia and Alaska lie the remains of thousands of frozen animals including the now extinct mammoth. In some cases the carcasses are preserved to such a degree that their flesh is still edible usually by bears and wolves but in a few reported instances by men. Today, these northern tundras are cold and barren wastelands, but we know that in the past the climate was much warmer. Fossil evidence has been found of plants that today grow as far south as Mexico. At one time these tundras were covered with lush vegetation. How so many mammoths and other animals could have been rapidly buried and preserved in cold storage is a mystery, for at the time they were living, the climate was warm. One such perfectly preserved carcass was found near the Beresovka River in Siberia in 1901.2 Well preserved plant fragments were found in the mouth and between the teeth of the mammal indicating the suddenness with which it met its death. Inside the mammoth's stomach 24 pounds of excellently preserved vegetation was recovered. The remarkable preserved state of the mammoth indicates that at the time of death there was a cataclysmic occurrence that produced rapid burial of the creature and a sudden and permanent drop in the temperature. Recent studies of the temperature parameters required to account for the slate of preservation of the Beresovka mammoth reveal that "the animal must have frozen to death in midsummer by being suddenly overcome by an outside temperature below 150° F."3
for the Beresovka mammoth, some violent climatic upheaval is the only explanation for these remains. The animal was peacefully grazing on summer buttercups in late July and within one half hour of ingestion of his last lunch, he was overcome by temperatures in excess of -150° F.
whatever climatic upheaval caught him, permanently changed the climatic conditions of the tundra.4
In an attempt to relate the remarkable tundra fossils to Dodwell's theory of asteroid impact, Carl Wieland of Australia writes as follows:
Even the evolutionists have sought to suggest that impact from outer space has been responsible for extinctions such as that of the dinosaurs. They have even produced theoretical models which predict that if a large object did smash into the ocean, a massive jet of superheated steam would be shot into the upper atmosphere, where it would be superchilled to form a layer of ice crystals which would block out the sunlight, and produce catastrophic climatic effects.
But this impact idea helps explain other more puzzling features. In order to push the earth's axis into its present position, the asteroid had to be coming from a particular direction. The snap frozen mammoths of Alaska and Siberia are right in the path of the jet of spray which would have been shot high into the atmosphere to supercool below freezing and fall to earth in these places, in addition to freezing effects of sunblocking mentioned earlier. The North Pole (which, as the world's driest spot, was not formed by snow falling slowly over time) is also in the path of any ice dump from this effect. World cooling would have followed this to produce widespread glaciation which has been melting back since that time.5
Continental Plates, Precipitates and Diatoms
Asteroid impact on a scale large enough to tilt the earth's axis would also result in a good deal of fracturing of the earth's crust. This could account for the recently discovered continental plates which are apparently not existent on Venus and Mars. It might also account for some of the puzzling precipitate deposits since deep crust fracture would result in a lot of molten intrusion from the earth's interior. Such massive heated intrusion into the oceans might well result in rapid deposition of such minerals as limestone as cooling occurred. Massive and virtually pure limestone beds are difficult to explain on the basis of any known process operating today.
1 Material for this chapter was obtained from the following sources: A talk entitled, "Astronomical evidence for the flood" presented by Barry Setterfield at the 1983 National Creation Conference in Minneapolis, Mn. (Tapes of this presentation may be obtained from the Bible-Science Association, 2911 E. 42nd St., Minneapolis, Mn. 55406); and two articles published in Ex Nihilo. P.O. Box 281, Glen Ellyn, 11.60137. Carl Wieland (1983, January). An asteroid tilts the earth. Ex Nihilo, pp. 12-14. Barry Setterfield (1983, April). An asteroid tilts the earth? Ex Nihilo, pp. 6-8.
2 Jody Dillow (1977, June). The catastrophic deep-freeze of the Beresovka Mammoth. Creation Research Society Quarterly. Vol.14, pp.5-12.
3 Ibid p.5.
4 Ibid, p.12.
5 Wieland, An asteroid tilts the earth, p.13.