Volume 2, Issue 9
May 5, 2012
How anthropologists explain the remains of those buried by the worldwide Flood
but how their view of religion darkens their eyes
Hopewell mounds Hopewell burial mounds in Ohio -  from Noah's Flood! ??



Anthropology has committed many sins, from pioneering racism to what I discuss here: its pretentious theories of religion. The field's core mistake is to suppose that people can be understood apart from their special experiences and relationships. But that's for historians, not scientists. As with the other historical sciences, there are big problems in anthropology, but don't mistake this as a polemic against anthropologists whose wide experience may cause them to become especially aware of their science's limitation. Last week, I enjoyed a pleasant visit to the department of anthropology at my local state university. It was about coffee instead of anthropology, but how gracious the staff and lovely the lady who heads the department that shares the same building as the department of religious studies. In secular universities, anthropology and religion are closely connected. Ironically, religion has vast importance for scientific anthropology, nowhere more than in its study of early man.


Before religion can be dismissed as is the goal of the scientistic, it must first be explained, something for which secular science is particularly unqualified. But anthropologists can make careful observations that theologians are likely to miss. Just as in the case of the theologians, its problems are due to the theories by which anthropologists explain their observations. Theory is but the scientific version of theology. Trusting theories about the religion of early mankind has ironically enveloped anthropology in a thick cloud of religious darkness that obscures our world's understanding of man's past no less than once did the myths of pagan religions. 


Anthropologists' excessively religious interpretation of ancient man is the reason that moderns have been unable even to consider that the vast remains of unknown civilizations that are found on every continent (as those pictured above) might have been the result of a great flood, likely the same Noah's Flood as in the Bible. As one discovers that these religious explanations cannot hold water, he will also realize that there is no other way to explain these burials than by something that once did. 


Discovering this was my 'crossing of the Rubicon,' the point in my long search for the archaeological evidence of Noah's Flood when I put behind the anxiety that followed my initial discovery. Before that, I would hold my breath as I searched the evidence from each region of the earth, hoping that my thesis would not be refuted through my own investigation. At first, that seemed likely. Keep in mind that I was searching for the Flood employing a systematic methodology and using a testable hypothesis, procedures that never seems to have been employed by the skeptics. More than a single example of population and cultural continuity through the era of the Flood is all that is required to refute any possibility of an ancient worldwide Flood. But instead of being refuted, I kept getting more light, which in turn assisted in new discoveries. As I explain below, it was from learning how archaeologists explain some of these burials that opened my eyes to the fact that the "Ice Age" was but Noah's Flood. Only later would I discover that the remains of the Ice Age were formerly known as the diluvium.


This explains my confidence in challenging the entire framework of the historical sciences. It is not that I am so smart, having been reminded by my friend during a visit at his university: "...but only the "stupid" search for Noah's...." This new light has made me even more stupid because I have also found Noah's Flood, and praise God, NAMI has found Noah's Ark! 


There are several reasons why anthropologists have seen the ruins of the antediluvian world as inspired by religion. To begin is the fact that human remains are found amidst so many artifacts of the living. Europeans buried their dead inside cathedrals and beside churches. To Sir Archaeologist, that suggested that antediluvian dwellings and buildings must have been temples, mortuary houses, or even necropolises - entire cities of the dead! Since food vessels found within these tombs were clearly offerings to the dead, drinking vessels found there had to be for pouring libations. No problem that some of these burials include artifacts from ancient industries. Even if many items were in an incomplete state of manufacture, they were surely some type of votive offering. 


There are problems that religious burial is unable to explain. Why do so many of the buried seem the picture of health? Why are all ages buried in what appears a normal entourage of family and servants? For the latter, religion comes desperately to the rescue: probably an example of suttee. But it is not just the king's widow together with her cart and oxen that pulled it that are put to death to accompany the king on his passing, but also the grooms who attended the oxen, a troupe of soldiers, and dancing girls! Though rarely so affluent as those royal tombs of Ur, this gruesome rite seems to have been the favored practice of millions of households in ancient times.

Another puzzling fact is the informality, contradicting the highly liturgical explanations of these burials. Bodies are scattered rather than formally laid out, lying in flexed position as if they died from drowning. Some skeletons are burned. They are not fully burned as in the case of cremation, but as if accidentally burned by fires that would self-extinguish after consuming the oxygen in these "tombs." Just another example, often observed from this era, of 'the ritual of half cremation.' I did not make that up. That is the way archaeologists explain these incompletely burned remains.

Little of this makes sense, but why have anthropologists supposed that it does? They weren't trying to explain away the evidence of Noah's Flood, an interpretation that seems never to have occurred to them. As I explain in the two articles below, it is due to the fact that even before the beginnings of prehistoric archaeology, early man was seen as highly religious and never more so than in the late nineteenth century when these interpretations were being developed. The truth is, these early men were violent, decadent, and materialistic, but for that same reason I doubt they were very religious. They had fears just as we do today, but the great fortifications around most of their houses and cities, the great numbers of weapons found near their hands, and numerous injuries to their skeletons show their fear was neither of the gods nor of the unknown forces of Nature. It was their neighbors.

I must explain the exact point of my 'Rubicon crossing' when I stopped doubting my thesis. It occurred as I was tracing the route of the first North Americans after the Flood, which explains why I was reading Dean Snow's, The Archaeology of North America. I had only recently come to suspect that the Adena and Hopewell cultures responsible for some of America's most famous "Indian" mounds (shown above) may have been Flood graves, though we are assured that they date from around the time of Christ. The archaeology of these burial mounds goes back to early America. Thomas Jefferson's careful excavation of one of these mounds was a notable event marking the beginnings of scientific archaeology.

Early Americans, who knew natives better than latter archaeologists, could not believe these burial mounds were from native Americans. Neither did the natives then claim them, though they did build temple mounds and buried their dead in those artificial mounds, perhaps leading to a mistaken conclusion that the earlier burial mounds were likewise artificial. Still, in the first scientific publication ever sponsored by the United States Government, the Smithsonian distinguished between these kinds of burial mounds and came to the same conclusion. Unfortunately, when John Wesley Powell became the museum's director of ethnology, he commissioned a new study to make his case that the Indians built them. That has remained official archaeological opinion. 


The burial mounds of interest belong to the Archaic period of the first Americans. Early Americans [from Europe] called those who built these, the 'Mound Builders.' From extensive weapons found among the dead, to the great fortifications around these mounds, to injuries among the skeletons, there is bountiful evidence of violence among the Mound Builders. Early Americans speculated that the Mound Builders were a race wiped out by the Indians. The same facts inspired Joseph Smith to write his book of Mormon declaring in King James English that those buried in them were Jaredites from the Tower of Babel who turned wicked, eventually wiping themselves out just in time for exiled Jews to replace them. Interestingly, though Americans of those days knew that the Lord sent Noah's Flood because the world was filled with violence, few have ever considered them as belonging to the antediluvians. 


Dean Snow, describes how the artifacts in these graves differ from the remains of occupied camps:


The exotic and beautiful artifacts found in graves are rarely discovered even as fragments in habitation areas. What we find in the refuse of day-to-day living are more practical and mundane implements. Perhaps the finest craftsmanship and rarest materials were reserved for grave goods, or the prized possessions and status symbols of individuals during their lifetime, accompanying them even after their death. In any case, the finest works of these ancient artisans were removed from the world of the living at a rate that nearly equaled their manufacture, a pattern of consumption that was to continue in [Eastern America] for 3500 years[!] [p.35] 


Though Snow ascribes to the official position, he is making the same observations as those who attributed these to a race of Mound Builders. He makes these startling observations because he is an increasingly rare big picture archaeologist. Similar observations of how burial mounds from "prehistory" differ so from the habitation sites of the living can be observed of burials on all six inhabitable continents. Sites of ordinary living are extremely rare until after the Flood. They are also rare for centuries afterward because the earth had become so recently depopulated. Adena and Hopewell burials (pictured above) from the Flood are officially dated according to nearby Eastern Woodland habitation sites, which are indeed from the Indians, the first American natives after the Flood. 


Another passage by Dean Snow opened my eyes to the fact that the "Ice Age" was but Noah's Flood:


The 'Glacial Kame' culture, which centered in southern Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, and which flourished about the same time as Adena, was for many years generally accepted as the innovator of burial mounds. Early burials of this culture are often found in kames (small abrupt hills) left behind by the last glaciers. Later burials are in artificial mounds. It was reasoned that the prototype burial mound was a natural kame. However, radiocarbon dating has shown that artificial Adena mounds are as old as Glacier Kame burials, suggesting that the later were the work of country cousins trying to duplicate more elaborate Adena practices. [!] [p.39] 


Others have calculated the incredible number of man years to construct these artificial mounds using only stone tools and handbaskets. These explanations require that the most ancient inhabitants of our earth must have occupied themselves with nothing other than creating these elaborate graves. In the Early Bronze era of the Ancient Near East that dates to the Archaic era in American archaeology, we have the same elaborate graves and the same lack of sites where those buried may have lived. According to Snow's reasoning, each time someone died (which usually occurred in the prime of life), the living among them had to dig through those mounds, open the tombs and carefully lay the new burial, then recover the mound. That is a lot of work for these country cousins just to keep up with the Jones.


Similar phenomena also exists in the Ancient Near East and on all six inhabitable continents in remains from the Chalcolithic, the Neolithic, the Mesolithic, and the Paleolithic eras, the latter supposedly from the same Ice Age as created these glacial kames. Burial mounds are usually larger than ordinary glacier mounds due to the fact that houses and fortifications beneath them trapped more soil and debris from the receding Noah's Flood. The mounds are especially large when the Flood swept rocks and soil over houses and antediluvian settlements in river valleys. Houses from before the Flood were usually round just like most of the mounds. Ohio's famous Serpent Mound, not far from those pictured above, wasn't in fact a work of religious art, but an extended fortification.

As I explain in the article on the right, the problem has come from the fact that religious explanations are all too easy. And when explanations become institutionalized, they shut down thinking. How does one get those concerned with what is now regarded as prehistoric men to exchange their lazy explanations for thinking? I have no intention of ridiculing the archaeologists, especially someone like Dean Snow who not only looks at the big picture in American archaeology but is so consistent with the logic of the official archaeological understanding as to exquisitely describe the extreme oddness of the conclusions. I do want to see them raise their sight above the trees they have been studying, even higher than did Snow, so as to view the entire antediluvian forests. If that doesn't wake them from their slumber, I will drip cool water on their faces, lightly slapping them until they begin rubbing their eyes.

I suspect that archaeologists will be easier to awake than theologians and pastors, but the problems are no longer just in anthropology.. It is the reason that the authority of science (man's knowledge) has replaced the inspired Scriptures as our modern world's authority. I searched out this problem because I knew it was the linchpin leading to modern's dismissal of a literal reading of the Bible, to our low view of the knowledge owned by our fathers, and to celebrating our own era as "enlightened." It is not just secular universities but Christian churches and seminaries who, even if only by blinkered avoidance, tacitly agree that Christians do not have to be so "stupid" as to believe what the inspired Scriptures plainly say about man's beginnings, and about many other things. 


Best regards,
Philip Williams
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In this issue
How anthropologists explain the remains from Noah's Flood
Religious explanations: always available to explain anything
Early man as exceedingly superstitious and animistic
Early man as organizing his life through religion


Religious explanations
Always available to "explain" any discovery, but the effect is to shut down thinking  


Tel Brak eye idol
Tel Brak "eye idols"


A temple is but the house of some god and for his servants, the priests. Temples vary in size and design even more than ordinary houses and palaces. What ancient dwelling cannot be imagined as a temple? If the remains of the dead are found inside, they will almost certainly be described as a temple or as having some religious significance pertaining to the dead. Thus, the presence of temples and rites for the dead dominate the study of early man.


Animal sacrifices are cooked or burned as offerings, similar as ordinary meat is either cooked or completely consumed by some cooking fire. Grain and food offerings were made in vessels suitable for cooking or serving. Libations were poured from vessels designed for holding liquids. Thus, what ancient hearth cannot be supposed some type of altar? What food vessel cannot be imagined as used for religious offering? What ancient bottle or wine container would not have been suitable for pouring libations? The remains of cooking fires and pottery along with those for serving food are a significant portion of what remains from early man along with those who died eating and drinking until suddenly the Flood. But sacrifice and oblations rather than ordinary eating and drinking dominate archaeological explanations.


Most flexible of the religious explanations are supposed idols. Thousands of "eye idols" like those pictured above were found at Tel Brak in northeast Syria. Some were embedded in the walls of buildings. In ancient times idols were unique and precious. I doubt that the idols in the complex and affluent ruins of Tel Brak would be simple, almost identical, and massed produced. Similar artifacts found at nearby sites were used for twisting twine. My guess is that these "eye idols" were also some type of ancient spindle.
Venus mother goddess
A type of object commonly found in sites created by the Flood is the so-called mother goddess, a typical example being Venus von Willendorf, discovered in 1908 in an epipaleolithic site in Austria. This and many similar dolls model a fat, pregnant woman with drooping breasts. Today, most fat women are poor while affluent women usually are not, but in ancient, less productive times when food was hard to obtain, fat meant wealthy, beloved, and beautiful! I don't think that most of these so-called mother goddesses were in fact idols. I believe the were made chiefly as dolls for little girls.


Almost as flexible as idols are votive offerings, a sacred burial of some personal weapon or tool. Consider that industry had not stopped when the Flood suddenly arrived. Manufactured iitems had yet to be completed or traded. Some were in an unfinished state. But a collection or assemblage of any kind of artifacts found buried in the ground might have been a votive offering. Even if it doesn't fit the classic explanation, one can always declare whatever is found to be a votive offering. That will serve as an explanation for most of us who have only a vague notion of what a votive offering is supposed to be.

For example, consider the animal figurines found among the ceramic moldings of campsites and dwellings of an archaeological culture that immediately succeeds those of the Early Bronze that were buried by Noah's Flood. The new culture spread throughout the Ancient Near East, hence has gotten various names: Khirbet Kerak (from a town in Israel where the culture was first identified), Transcaucasian (because it also spreads across the Caucasian mountains), or Kura-Araxes (named for the Kura and Araxes Rivers where the culture is seen to begin). The Araxes River flows from Mt. Ararat! According to Peter Glumac in Old World Chronologies (1992), the culture is seen to begin "from a burst of cultural evolution, the early stages of which remain undocumented or unrecognized." Interesting! That is, until NAMI's discovery. Similar animal figurines and what seems to be an early form of this pottery as well as pottery from the Early Bronze were in fact found inside the artifact that NAMI discovered. Randall Price explained these as votive offerings. I believe these animals were molded by Noah's family to show their children what they had once seen, a tradition of making toy animals to explain Noah's Ark that has been passed down to this day. 

A familiar class of religious explanation are those used to explain why the bones in thousands of ancient graves were painted with ochre. We are told that it is due to the color's "strong suggestion of life-giving blood." Anthropologists go on and on about this particular form of ancient man's religion found throughout the ancient world, even giving a name to the famous Red Painted people from Archaic times found buried in New England. Painting those bones meant that someone had to dig back into those mounds after the flesh had decayed, very carefully so as not to disturb the fragile skeletons, then recover the grave. Realizing the difficulty of that some anthropologists have proposed the ancients first placed the dead on platforms to allow carrion to remove the flesh, before burying the bones.

Please! Whether Noah's or some later local, some type of flood is surely responsible for this careful work. My mother explains what happens in unsealed basements whenever floods occur in our North Carolina Piedmont, famous for its red clay, "Everything gets painted." As Dean Snow points out in the case of the Red Painted people and elsewhere in the world indeed, "the key seems to have been the availability of the pigment  in natural deposits."   
During my long years of study, I found nothing so unpleasant as having to read hundreds of religious explanations for why archaeological sites appear as they do. A problem is that so much of systematic archaeology was pioneered by art historians who examine how manufacture and style of certain artifacts changed through the centuries. That is essential to archaeology and necessary for the pottery traces, something I find exciting. If one can independently date or else identify a certain type or style of artifact, he can use it for connecting archaeological discoveries over distances and through centuries. This works when one studies the design of weapons and tools, but what rules govern religious or artistic expression and how do we know that people followed those rules? How could the lives of ancients have any meaning much less sustained if completely spent in rituals for the dead? One might conclude that it was not the Flood that killed antediluvians, but boredom. Perhaps boredom inspired their violence. Aside from whether my contention that the great majority of the world's most ancient archaeological remains were created by Noah's Flood is true, what is certainly a fact is that religious explanations have substituted for a meaningful understanding of the remains of ancient mankind. 


Ancient man did have some religious awareness. According to the Bible, Cain and Able offered burnt sacrifices, as did Noah who also lived before the Flood. We know from the Bible that some men walked with God from the time of Adam to Noah. But according to the Bible man's problem before the Flood was not too much, but too little awareness of the Creator. Thus, I find it deeply frustrating to see almost everything from the remains of early man given some type of religious explanation.  
Early man as exceedingly superstitious and animistic 
Matching how 19th century anthropologists viewed the "savages" of their own day
Edward Tylor

Edward Tylor (1832-1917)

The notion of man's cultural evolution long preceded Darwin. It was rather theories about cultural evolution and human populations of the world's most industrialized nation that inspired Darwin's biological theory. Even ideas about biological evolution preceded Darwin. These developed from shifting the Great Chain of Being (a philosophical ordering of living organisms and peoples) from a philosophical to a temporal basis. With this shift from being to time, tribes then living in Africa, America, and the Pacific, that had been classified lower than white men in the ladder of the Great Chain of Being, were now to be classified as being first, that is "primitives."

The fact that cultural and biological evolution of humans long preceded Darwin
explains why the greatest shock in the era of Darwin was not so much, as currently trumpeted, Darwin's theory but new acceptance of the antiquity of man. It was this latter that led to widespread acceptance of Darwin's, just the latest theory of evolution. And that was less the work of Darwin than of his mentor Charles Lyell's acceptance, only in 1859, of the coexistence of man with extinct animals.
The important thing here is that prior to the first investigations of what would be understood as the remains of prehistoric man, anthropologists had plenty of theories about him that were developed entirely from studying living peoples. The most influential theory to immediately impact the archaeological remains of early man were those of Darwin's neighbor, the banker John Lubbock (1834-1913) who coined the terms Paleolithic and Neolithic to distinguish was was supposed to be a progressive increase in man's stone working ability. According to Lubbock, ancient man could be modeled on stone-using tribesmen. Deeply racist and contemptuous of "savages," Lubbock supposed the stone-using peoples of his own day incapable of mental and spiritual advancement. Like his neighbor and childhood friend, he looked on them as belonging to a less evolved state of humankind. 
Even more influential than Lubbock was Edward Tylor (pictured above), who was not a racist but a religious bigot. He looked down on any belief in the supernatural. Though a unilinear evolutionist like Lubbock, Tylor believed the primitive state of contemporary "savages" simply a result of their animistic religion that held them in a state of darkness. From the time of Isaac Newton, belief in spirits had become increasingly regarded as due to imagination and defective understanding. An indication that Tylor's view of animistic religion may have come from his low view of Christian revivalists who were emotionally affected by religious experience or who retained outmoded Christian beliefs in angels, demons, departed souls in Heaven, or a God who might answer prayer is Tylor's equally influential theory of "survivals." 
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Early man as organizing his life around religion 
Emile Durkeim and totemism  turned ancient kings into morticians and choreographers


Emile Durkeim
Émile Durkheim (1858-1917)

The French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798-1857) explained science as the latest and ultimate stage in the advance of knowledge. In his view, mankind first explained things in terms of supernatural religion. In Comte's second stage, man advanced to the era of philosophical explanation. The most advanced stage of mankind's understanding would be the new era of positivist science. That meant that valid knowledge could only come from the study of data available to the physical senses. Comte famously conceived of science as man's new religion. He even proposed solemn liturgies and vestments for the new priesthood of a scientific elite that would replace the old order of Catholic priests. Movements and organizations for the promotion of science in fact function much like their religious counterparts, but most scientists find explicit acknowledgment of the religious character of science to be embarrassing.
Much influenced by Comte, the sociologist Emile Durkheim (pictured above) believed that religion was always necessary for ordering and understanding any society. In The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, Durkeim explained ancient man's religion in terms of totemism, which he modeled on the ancestral and animist religion of natives rimming the Pacific ocean. His theory is less surprising when one considers that, though including animals in men's genealogy, totemism is hierarchical as were the Catholic and Rabbinic religions most familiar to Durkheim. Nor is it surprising that affluent and academic Europeans, those most familiar to Durkheim, tended to view religion more in terms of liturgy and sacred art. His thought powerfully influenced anthropology and prehistoric archaeology, leading to the structuralist schools of anthropology that would follow.
Importantly, Durkheim's theory provided perfect explanations for the elaborate burials of those who died in Noah's Flood. Consider that these burials were of entire societies engaged in the ordinary affairs of living. Guided by Durkheim's thought, archaeologists supposed these remains were not from the ordinary functions of living but artificial creations. Those skeletons were in fact real, but to explain them, anthropologist would have to choreograph how they were buried. Sir Leonard Woolley explained a festive royal party at ancient Ur as instead, a gruesome rite of suttee. It seems that kings and family leaders responsible for giving order to ancient society were not, as in later times, much concerned about their own and their subjects' prosperity, security, alliances, warfare, droughts, and disputes, or even with parties and outdoor enjoyment with family and friends, but exclusively with proper burial. They had not so much to be skilled at those ordinary functions of royalty as in knowing how to prepare and direct funerals. For doing that, they had to master the art of choreography.
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Christian Leaders & Scholars is the newsletter and publication site of Philip Ernest Williams, author of The Archaeological Evidence of Noah's Flood (2011). The site is also a ministry not only to Christian leaders and scholars but all who are interested in the more difficult issues pertaining to the Bible and its implications for science and history. (Read more)