Civilization One

Christopher Knight and Alan Butler’s latest book Civilization One unveils astounding revelations about a hitherto unknown civilization which pre-dates the Ancient Egyptians. Here is an extract from this extraordinary book.

The super-culture

Was there a super-advanced culture in prehistory? If not, how can it be that the supposedly unsophisticated people of Stone Age Britain possessed a fully-integrated system of measurement based on a deep understanding of the solar system?

The history of human development from hunter-gatherer to city dwellers once seemed comfortable and predictable. All of the available evidence supported the accepted picture of a smooth social evolution largely driven by the ingenuity of people living in the Middle East. But then, over several decades, an eminent professor of engineering, Alexander Thom, annoyed the world of archaeology by making a startling claim. He maintained that he had found that the structures left by late Stone Age man had been built using a standard unit of measure that was so precise that he could identify its central value to an accuracy that was less than the width of a human hair. The idea that these simple people from prehistory could have achieved such accuracy flew in the face of all the worldview of most archaeologists. Not surprisingly, Thom’s findings were almost universally dismissed as some kind of mistake.

Professor Thom called his discovered unit the ‘Megalithic Yard’, but he died (in 1985) without ever being able to explain why people from the Neolithic Period, or late Stone Age, circa 3500 BC might have been motivated to establish such a measure or how they could have consistently reproduced such incredible accuracy.

Even today there are many tens of thousands of these Megalithic stone structures strewn across the British Isles and the western fringes of Europe. Our initial quest was simple: we wanted to find out if Thom really had found a prehistoric measure or if he had been deluded by the huge amount of data he collected from his surveying of sites from the islands of northern Scotland down to Brittany on the west coast of France. We reasoned that if Thom’s Megalithic Yard was imaginary, it should be a meaningless value, but if it was indeed a genuine Neolithic measure, it should have some physical reality behind it and some kind of scientific means of reproduction.

The consequences of knowledge

Our investigation led us to a rediscovery of the science behind this prehistoric unit: we can now demonstrate both its mathematical origin and its means of reproduction, using the mass and spin of the Earth. In identifying the precise origin of Thom’s Megalithic Yard, however, we soon found that we had nudged open the door of a virtual treasure chest of lost knowledge.

Our approach has been to apply forensic techniques to archaeology across a span of cultures from prehistory (before 3000 BC) and the earliest times of written history (after 3000 BC). We have found that there is a completely identifiable ‘DNA’ associated with the oldest and purest system of science that appears in the most unexpected places. Even units of measure that are believed to be relatively modern, from the pound and the pint to the gram and the litre, turn out to be thousands of years old and linked to the very dimensions of the solar system.

We have tried to keep our story as short and as clear as possible. A basic knowledge of arithmetic is all that is required to follow our investigation in detail, so please have your calculator to hand if you wish to check our findings step by step.

If you feel comfortable with the old idea that human development was a smooth evolutionary journey from ignorant caveman to urban sophisticate, be prepared to be shocked. The world is not what you thought it was.

Return to the Civilization One book page.

Vicky Hartley is the Marketing Director and Head of Digital for Watkins Publishing Limited (including Duncan Baird Publishers)