dry land discoveries – news archive 1998

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archive is about the various discoveries in 1998 which have helped to

create the ‘paradigm shift’

in the historical sciences that characterises the ‘new

appreciation’ of the ancient world

1997 | 1999 | 2000

| 2001 | 2002


“Ruins may show Incas beat Maoris

to New Zealand?”

That was the headline in The Daily Telegraph on June 11 1998, of a story filed by Paul Chapman in Wellington. An ancient earthwork has been discovered in a remote forest in New Zealand, and it challenges the long-held belief that the Maoris, who were previously credited with arriving in canoes from Polynesia, were the first people to discover and inhabit those islands.

“An amateur researcher, Noel Hilliam, said yesterday he had discovered

the site at Kaipara, in the far north of the country, and was certain

it was not of Maori origin. The earthwork could have been built by a South

American civilisation that arrived 1,000 years before the Maoris arrived,

he said.”

Mr Hilliam, aged 60, who lives near the site, at Dargaville, and has spent the last 40 years studying hundreds of Maori sites, told Chapman he is convinced that this site is completely different.

“He said the site was only a few hundred yards from where the remains

of a mysterious ancient statue were found in 1991. The 10ft statue of

a woman is carved in native Kauri timber but bears none of the distinctive

signs of Maori artwork.”

Mr Hilliam

is the curator of Dargaville museum, to where the statue was taken, though

he says he could not interest any professional researchers to investigate

it further. This is a great pity, as amateur researchers play a valuable

part in other disciplines such as astronomy. But as arch?ologists are

notorious for hanging on to their ‘paradigms’

until they are totally impossible to defend, we shouldn’t be surprised

at this ignoring of yet another oopart (out

of place artifacts). Maybe someone’s Phd on the Maoris

was felt to be under threat?

He told the Daily

Telegraph that he had now arranged for an anthropologist to examine

the earthwork, which consists of a series of ‘overgrown

circular banks’, and covers around 1 square mile.

He also said that local Maori oral tradition told of a race that

lived in the area for more than 1,000 years before the Maori arrival,

and that these earlier settlers survive today as the Waitaha people.

“A recent blood test on a Waitaha woman had revealed a factor

otherwise only seen in Peru, Mr Hilliam said. Most of the 1,400

Waitahas live in the South Island, to which their own legend says

they fled from the more war-like Maoris.”

The writer also interviewed an Waitaha descendent, Patrick Runka, who told him that his people were really excited about the discovery, but:

“We’re not waiting for proof because we’ve always known

it was there.”

This is yet another example of scientists not listening to oral traditions, or to amateur arch?ologists, and once again it is left up to the media to highlight discoveries that challenge the views of prehistory we continue to be taught in schools and colleges.

The newspaper

also interviewed another researcher, Gary Cook, who has spent the past

three years photographing and recording stone structures that he says

are also pre-Maori. He told Chapman that the Waipoua Forest, also in the

Northland, conceals a “treasure trove”

of such artifacts, and pointed out that:

“The disclosures come just a few weeks after a Christchurch scientist,

Richard Holdaway, confirmed that radio-carbon datings on rat bones he

had discovered in the South Island proved they were about 2,000 years

old. Dr Holdaway, a fossil researcher, said that because New Zealand had no

indigenous mammals, the rats could only have arrived with humans on sea-going



underwater discoveries news archive


“Is lost Ark buried in terrorist camp?”

The Sunday Times on September 6th 1998

asked the above question in the title of a half-page article featuring

a picture of Indiana Jones. It told of new evidence uncovered by Michael

a publisher of classical university texts, which suggests that

the long lost Ark of the Covenant could be buried at a site which is

now in a terrorist stronghold on the West Bank.

He believes the Ark was stashed away after a raid on Solomon’s Temple

in the 10th century BC by one of the Egyptian Kings. By studying new

satellite images together with documents in the British Museum and elsewhere,

he claims to have discovered its final resting place in the Judean hills

– an area that has been renowned for years as a training grounds for

the Islamic Hamas guerrillas. In the process of planning an expedition

to the area, he told The Sunday Times:

“It is in very dangerous territory, but it must be worth the risk.

We believe we have found the configuration of an Egyptian temple and it

is there that we will dig for the Ark. There will be archaeologists with

us, but the search for the Ark is bound to be more of a treasure hunt

than a classical archaeological dig”.

Sanders believes the Ark was looted by Shishak, the King of Egypt, when

Solomon’s Temple was plundered around 925 BC, claiming a document in

the British Museum identifies the Egyptian temple where the Ark may

have been buried in a post-battle ritual. The British Museum’s Jonathan

Tubb, an expert in Syrian and Palestinian arch?ology, is equally quite


“I don’t think the Ark is a fantasy and it is a very reasonable

suggestion that it was taken by

Shishak because that was the first time it could have been removed.

If an Egyptian temple can be identified, it would be a great place to

dig. It could solve all sorts of mysteries.”

The Old Testament says that the Ark was built at the foot of Mount Sinai

around 1250 BC at the command of Moses to hold the two stone tablets

inscribed with the Ten Commandments. Arch?ologists and treasure-hunters

have scoured the world looking for it over the past couple of hundred

years, and Sanders has not yet received permission to start an excavation

for the most precious relic of the Jewish faith:

“This has long been a Hamas training centre and a local sheikh

controls the area”.

Although the existence of the Ark of the Covenant has never been conclusively

proved, many legends abound. One legend suggests that it was taken to

Ethiopia by the Queen of Sheba, while others believe it is hidden in

caves overlooking the Dead Sea. Sanders feels that the satellite images

identify a structure south of the settlement of Dhahiriya, but the region

is turbulent with regular skirmishes between the Israelis and Hamas


Meanwhile, Saunders says that the Harris Papyrus in the British Museum

identifies the Judaean Hills as the site of an Egyptian temple to which

the looted treasures were taken. The Ark of the Covenant is believed

to have been constucted at around 1250 BC, supposedly to hold the two

stone tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were written. He believes

the stone tablets could well be discovered there because the Pharaohs

often buried plundered artefacts beneath their temples.

“This temple is refered to in the papyrus as ‘a

mysterious house in the land of Zahi’ which was dedicated to

the god Amen Ra… If the Egyptians had just seized the most sacred religious

codes from the people they had invaded, they would have laid them in the

foundations of the new temple.”



discoveries news archive


Astro-arch?ology Controversy over tomb at Crantit, Orkney

On September 10th, 1998, The Guardian science writer, Michael Pitts, told of a row that had broken out when a Neolithic tomb at Crantit in the Orkney Islands had been opened for the first time after remaining undisturbed for over 4000 years. While being initially disappointed with the scant remains inside, the co-director of the dig, Colin Richards, a lecturer in arch?ology at Glasgow University, noticed a small shaft of light shining through a notch in one of the stone slabs which made up the tomb.

He has claimed it is part of a deliberately constructed ‘light-box’ designed to allow the rising sun to shine into the chamber on a particular day, much as the Winter Solstice sun does in the massive tomb at Newgrange in Ireland. But, his co-director at the dig, Beverley Ballin-Smith of GUARD, Glasgow University Arch?ological Restoration Division, disagrees. She was quoted in The Guardian story as saying that the slab in question is ‘too rough, and that:

“I would have expected, given their skill with stonework, that they’d have removed a few bumps and made it squarer.”

Also quoted was

Audrey Henshall, secretary of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, who it

says has spent a lifetime studying Scottish tombs, and who agreed saying:

“I’m totally unconvinced. I think it’s wishful thinking.”

Richards, though, is optimistic, convinced that anyone who knows anything about Neolithic masonry will see something odd in the slab. While Frank Zabriskie, a former astronomy professor at Penn Sate University who had retired to the Orkneys, has calculated that the ‘light-box’ works around February 16th. – not a significant solar date, but he says:

“It is more or less the time you might start farming”.


Whatever the truth turns out to be, one important feature of this dig was that a daily journal was from Day 1 posted on the Internet, so that those interested in its progress could follow developments. The Morien Institute put links to the ‘electronic journal’ on our website in early September 1998 for visitors to follow the progress. Regretably that link is no longer active.


underwater discoveries news archive


Stonehenge ‘built as air raid alert’

The Daily Telegraph of 6 November 1998 had a story about astronomer, Dr Duncan Steel, who, it says, has found:

‘astonishing evidence that it (Stonehenge) was an early warning system for meteor storms’.

A number of astronomers have calculated that a giant comet entered the solar

system about 20,000 years ago and disintegrated, leaving a trail of debris

through which the Earth’s orbit occasionally passes. The newspaper reported that:

“Dr Steel found that the Earth would have been at greatest risk from meteor impacts about 5,000 to 5,500 years ago – when work began on Stonehenge.”

The article reportted he also found that ” … on the day of highest danger, the comet trail would have risen above the horizon at Stonehenge in line with the Heel Stone”, and suggested that the link between the Heel Stone and the Midsummer Solstice sunrise was a fluke – that the Earth cut across the trail of cometary debris around the same time – also that the various Long Barrows, usually thought to be Iron Age burial chambers, might have been built for a very different purpose:

“They certainly look like air-raid shelters – perhaps that’s what they are”

The Daily Telegraph was reporting on the publication of the proceedings of the

Cambridge Conference held in July 1997, details of which can be found at:


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