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Open letter to science editors



A Conversation with Barry Fell
David Griffard

In April of 1985 the Editor visited Dr. Barry Fell at his home in San Diego to record an interview for publication in HORUS. Dr. Fell, Professor Emeritus from Harvard, has pioneered research that leads to a dramatically revised view of pre-Columbian American history. He is founder of the Epigraphic Society and editor of its journal, Epigraphic Society Occasional Publications. Thoroughly grounded in the sciences and a specialist in marine biology, Dr. Fell's interests eventually turned toward human involvement with the sea and the wealth of archaeological evidence that, long before Columbus, other seafarers had already visited the Western Hemisphere. Various moundworks, stone monuments and sculpture, shaft chambers that mark the Sun-cycle, coins, beads and other artifacts stand in mute witness. More telling are the numerous inscriptions left behind. in languages and scripts far more ancient than Columbus' time. To explore this fascinating perspective, Dr. Fell had to master skills in yet another field and soon became a leading authority on the decipherment and translation of ancient inscriptions.

An intriguing confirmation of his mastery involved the decipherment and reading of an ancient Celtic Ogam rock inscription found in Wyoming County, West Virginia. As translated by Fell, it identified Christmas day as the winter solstice (as in the Julian calendar before the Gregorian reform) and alluded to a verifying visual display that could be seen at winter solstice Sunrise. The inscription called for the Sun's first rays to graze "the notch on the left side. . . " Researchers who sought to confirm the solstice phenomenon at first thought that "notch" referred to a distant cleft between two hills and could see no reasonable match with a measured solstice alignment. But at solstice Sunrise, it became clear that "notch" referred to a segment of the rock overhang itself which directed the light in a specific pattern across the inscription, confirming the excellence of Fell's translation. More importantly, it offered evidence for the presence of Celtic language, writing, astronomy and Christian culture in ancient North America long before the arrival of Columbus.

[*!* Image: Dr. Barry Fell and his Wife, Rene; San Diego, 1985]

A similar example was photographed for a recent educational television documentary, "History on the Rocks", which highlights some of the archaeological evidence for pre-Columbian transoceanic visitors. In a small cave in Oklahoma, Sunrise rays on the cardinal day cast a pattern into the cave, bathing a correspondingly patterned inscription in its light. As with the West Virginia petroglyph, the inscription referred to the event.

Over the years Dr. Fell has amassed a large amount of linguistic and other archaeological evidence pointing to the presence not only of the Celts, but of other ancient cultures as well. Many others since have joined the research and have forged firm links between ancient scripts and artifacts found in the Americas and those from across the seas. The evidence for widespread trade and colonization by ancient mariners reaches back centuries before the Christian Era according to Dr. Fell and his colleagues.

Clearly, the message these discoveries contain radically alters the traditional conception of history formalized in our schools and should have generated a general academic effort to verify and extend the body of acceptable evidence. Instead, the case presented by Dr. Fell has proven to be generally unwelcome in academic circles. Like other pathfinders, he has had to contend with a widely held scholarly prejudice against the idea itself, however strong the evidence for the new view. The Epigraphic Society Occasional Publications has grown significantly since its inception in 1974 and continues to develop and publish a wealth of supporting evidence. Yet, the resistance to acceptance of its implications by academics generally remains strong.

In the transcribed interview below, Dr. Fell discusses this problem along with a variety of other topics related to his research and general thesis. He was more than generous with his time and, on occasion, would digress to supply a reference or the address of a relevant authority. Some editing and some abridgement has been necessary to save space, eliminate crosstalk, etc. while preserving the mainstream. Editorial comments for clarification have been added.

As the conversation began, Dr. Fell cited some recently uncovered evidence supporting his work. It came from a site in Bolivia where there was...

Dr. Fell: "a big Sun-gate with megalithic features, and the archaeologists who have investigated there brought up some Phoenician beads. Have you seen those Phoenician beads? Actually they were reported in North America as early as about 1820, I think. A man called Schoolcraft - he made a big report to the American congress, a very good report which was published in an enormous book. It included illustrations and descriptions of some of the yellow and black glass beads he found in the American Indian mounds. As far as we know the Phoenicians are responsible for them.

[*!* Image]

You know, when Lewis and Clark crossed America in 1803 or thereabouts, you remember the story of how they had with them the famous Indian princess who was married to a good-for-nothing French Canadian trader - they didn't realize what a jewel they had when they left Missouri with her but - it soon turned out that the Indians, as they passed through the various tribes, picked out all the blue beads of the big stock of beads they'd brought with them and left all the yellows, reds, and greens that were of no value to them. In one very critical situation when they really had to have some trading material, the Shoshoni princess -they didn't know she was a princess- pulled off her own blue beads and gave them to either Lewis or Clark to trade with, and they got what they wanted. Later on they discovered that the tribes of this region had an absolute hold on the manufacture of blue beads - that they made them from crushed

Well the story is, then, that the American Indians did not know how to make glass, though they did value it and particularly blue glass. Consequently, how is it that there are blue glass beads in burial mounds that can be dated back to 800 A. D. or earlier? They must have been brought here by traders, so we've come to the same conclusion on similar evidence to that which Bolivian archaeologists have come; Phoenicians were bringing it.

[In America B. C., Fell presents an abundance of archaeological and linguistic evidence that points to a Phoenician presence in North America as early as the 8th to 6th century B.C.]

Editor: To what do you attribute the general academic resistance to this kind of evidence and the implications of your work?

Dr. Fell: Well I find it very strange myself. If I were in a situation as a younger scientist confronted with a discovery that was obviously making some of my earlier work wrong, my first defensive reaction would be first of all to check whether it convinced me or not; and as soon as I was convinced, immediately get out a paper as fast as possible acknowledging that an advance had been made and then follow that with another paper contributing to the new aspect. I would then safely be on the bandwagon and wouldn't be likely to be (inaudible). Alternatively, there is such an enormous critical mass of people who are either convinced or think they're convinced that the theory that nobody came before Columbus is correct, that nobody dares to get off this band-wagon. Even people who will privately tell me they think what we're doing is great, -they believe it and all that -but they won't come out and acknowledge [the fact].

The German attitude to universities for which a former principal at Harvard was responsible - about a hundred years ago the, then, president of Harvard was vastly impressed by the German system of graduate schools, as opposed to undergraduate schools, and the great advances that could be made in scholarship if you foster the graduate school where a very learned scholar had direct contact with a small number of people who already had their undergraduate degrees. He introduced this system to Harvard and it spread to the other Ivy league colleges here.

It was alright and produced great results but it had one disadvantage - that it produced some extraordinarily dictatorial, self-opinionated people, including the man in the Smithsonian who laid down the law around about 1880 that nobody came here before Columbus. Professor Carter [Prof. George F. Carter, Texas A&M University] has recently demonstrated that that same man in the Smithsonian actually falsified some evidence when he found it didn't fit his theory - he actually distorted a skull from Florida. Carter has set that evidence in print in his book, Earlier Than You Think. It seems strange to me but I think it is a defensive attitude that they're just afraid of being fired or something like that. The young people are obviously in many cases convinced that we're right but they don't dare open their mouths. It's a matter of just waiting for some of the old dictators to die off before these younger people will become outspoken.

Editor: What do you think of the need for a revision of ancient chronology? Are you familiar with [Velikovsky's] Peoples of the Sea?

Dr. Fell: I bought a copy and was at first much impressed, and I called up an archaeologist friend of mine, Norman Totten, and urged him to read the book too. He did. He called me back and said "I'll have to come and talk to you about that book, and he came - and began to point out various defective features in the parallels between the - oh, a- some kind of Persian soldiers or something that Velikovsky was equating to some of the soldiers of one of the Pharaohs - I think it was - what, now - it was so long ago - and soon I realized that this was not going to be a simple matter of convincing Norman Totten to the Sea Peoples.

I began to look at the matter more closely after perceiving that he [Totten] wasn't convinced and I zeroed in on what - the only epigraphy that he has in all his works as far as I know - that was what I looked at. [Velikovsky] said that the tiles built in the palace for Rameses III carried on the backs of them Greek letters, which he illustrated, and that therefore they could not be older than, whatever it was- 800 or something or other and not 1200 B. C. as had been claimed. 0. K. I looked at them and as soon as I saw these diagrams I said to myself "these are Phoenician!", all he's done is to rotate them 90 degrees and put them into the position that the Greeks put them in. He turns the aleph round that way so it looks like a Greek alpha, but it's just a Phoenician aleph on its side. There's not one - not one critical Greek letter that he illustrates out of all of that - so I was unconvinced thereupon and since then have not paid any further attention to his modified [chronology] - you wouldn't believe how many letters I get from people pointing out one thing or another in my writings which have supposedly confirmed Velikovsky

[Here the point was clarified that the question was not so much a matter of confirming Velikovsky's revised chronology in particular; rather, the potential importance of epigraphic studies in unraveling the scholarly problems with the traditional chronology that Velikovsky pointed out. Dr. Fell's conclusion that these were simply ancient Phoenician letters mistaken for Greek seemed a novel contribution to the problem. -Ed.]

Actually [the aleph is] just rotated. If you go to Athens and ask for the oldest tombs, the ones you'll be shown have Phoenician writing on them. The A lies on its side. You see he's trying to say that this Pharaoh couldn't be as old as 1200 B.C. because he's got 800 B.C. lettering. Well that is wrong. It's 1200 B.C. lettering. All those letters were used by the Phoenicians in 1200 B. C. There's no reason for saying they're Greek at all. There's not a single Greek letter there. Every single one is Phoenician. If there had been a theta or something like that it would be great - that would have been different - but they're not. They're just ordinary Phoenician letters.

[Here again, a point of clarification. Velikovsky had not argued for an 800 B. C. date for the letters but, rather, a later date in the 4th Century B. C. His evidence that the letters on the backs of the tiles were Greek was not based on his own manipulation of the tiles or their pictures, but on the reports of specialists who had studied them. T.H. Lewis, Emil Brugsch, Eduard Naville, and F.L. Griffith, noted authorities in the field, had already declared the letters to be Greek. These same experts also agreed that the front faces of the decorative tiles bore Persian motifs appropriate to a 4th Century B. C. date. They noted as well that some were marked with the hieroglyphic name of Rameses III. In either case, Greek letters or 4th Century Persian motifs with Rameses name- these authorities were perplexed at the discovery; the traditional version of the dates for Egyptian pharaohs placed Rameses Ill's reign in a time 800 years before. (cf. Peoples of the Sea, pp. 6-12.) Archaeologists are familiar with a variety of such confusing finds and have labored with these dating problems for years; but the whole dating scheme of ancient history has remained tied to the traditional chronology established for Egypt.
Dr. Fell's conclusion - that former authorities have mistakenly read Phoenician letters as classical Greek - may open new lines of inquiry into this long-standing problem. But the conclusion that the letters come specifically from 1200 B.C. (Phoenician writing lasted many centuries) is clearly because of their specific association with Rameses III's Mortuary Temple and the conventional placement of his reign in that time.
Dr. Fell acknowledged, however, that there are questions about the conventional Egyptian chronology and went on to discuss his own research experience with the problems of ancient dating - especially with the carbon-14 technique. -Ed.]

Dr. Fell: I'm not overlooking the fact that he [Velikovsky] makes a point somewhere along the line that a critical marker in Egyptian chronology is that established for some Pharaoh - his name I don't remember by some 18th Century historian who simply out of his head proposed a certain date - [for] Amenophis or Setriti - I can't remember who - and nobody's ever changed that date! It's stayed the same ever since. It's highly improbable that the European historian in the 1700's would hit on the right date. Well that impressed me, of course.

And, another thing also impressed me as a biologist. It's during my lifetime that the whole theory of radiocarbon dating has been developed - and I followed it very closely with great excitement when it first came out. We saw all the amazing coincidences - correspondences I should say - of cloth taken from this or that tomb giving such and such a date - and that was the date Egyptologists had given. We were struck dumb by that and all we could say was "when are we going to be able to apply this to [our research in] the Pacific? Come and do our stuff over here. We don't have any Pharaohs, so you'll be able to tell us what the dates are." So sure enough one of the major radiocarbon dating laboratories in the world was established in New Zealand - one of the three most important ones is in New Zealand.

They came up with all sorts of exciting dates. We learned that seals were coming to a bad end and being mummified by Nature in Antarctica in 1200 A. D. That was interesting and we wondered what was happening in Antarctica at that time - and then some unfortunate things started to happen.

We had [evidence of] two successive volcanic eruptions on the island of Tonga. There were human remains, then a layer of lava, then more human remains, and another layer of lava. We took charcoal out of both layers and had them both dated - and we didn't tell them, the dating people, which layer which came from - and to our amazement we learned that the whole island of Tonga has rotated through 180 degrees and is now upside down. The top layer is older than the bottom layer of the charcoal.

To make matters worse, shortly after that we had established the International Geophysical Year, 1958 onwards, and established a permanent observatory site in the New Zealand sector of Antarctica - and one of the technicians at the site, when they emerged in the spring, noticed that a seal carcass that he himself had shot for dog-meat and that got left out through the winter -when he emerged in the spring he found that the freeze-drying that had occurred made it look just like the mummified seals that they had been sending in. So without telling too many people what he was doing, he sent this mummified seal to be carbon-dated and do you know it was dated to 1200 A. D., and he had shot it the year before. When that was made public it really caused a storm.

[Here, a brief side-discussion of uncertainties regarding the assumptions underlying the method. -Ed.]

Dr. Fell: Yes - you know, there's another one in Hawaii which goes the other way around - a famous temple in Hawaii that was built during the reign of one of the [kings] and the year it was built was essentially known - sixteen-hundred and something or other. The carbon date for that shows you that it will be built some day. That shocked me because I had all the selection of reports that we'd received from Britain all those area test pieces on the Egyptian materials- it became obvious to me they must have faked them. The people must have known the alleged dates that the archaeologists gave to them and they made the carbon dates agree.

Editor: In other cases carbon-14 dates apparently have been made to fit the accepted dates or the test data was disregarded or thrown out.

Dr. Fell: I've pretty well lost faith in [radiocarbon dates]. Another curious thing that has happened in America that's in the literature here - a routine archaeologist - doing perfectly ordinary archaeology on the East Coast - I think it was New jersey - found there were brass discs and fragments of leather with evidence the discs had been attached to the leather in the Indian sites that he was investigating and he knew perfectly well that these were not things that Indians made so he automatically classified it as "postcontact", and wanted to know just what post-contact date it was. He sent it off to be carbon-dated and was disgusted to get a date of 1200 [A.D.] something or other. So he sent off a second lot and again it came back, 1200. Then, he published it and reported that there was something wrong with carbon dating because it gave this date - and to us, of course, it could be perfectly O.K. It could be 1200 or any other [pre-Columbian] date you like. It was some typical African type of decoration that could have been brought here anytime in the last 2000 years.

Editor: I was particularly interested in the hieroglyphic inscriptions you describe with the Iberian-Punic translation underneath that was found here in America - [The Davenport Calendar stele, found in a burial mound in Iowa, 1874. See America B.C., pp, 261ff.]

Dr. Fell: Yes. I think you're talking about the Davenport stele, the one which the [Putnam] museum now keeps out of sight because they won't admit that it could be genuine. They won't even allow people to see it now.

A thing people don't realize is that Egyptian was not written normally in that beautiful style that we see on the palaces - people scrolled it. People forget that the Egyptians had trading stations in Spain - at least one trading station in Spain - and that Egyptian things are found in Spanish tombs and they had the most awful scrolls on them, including Seshonk and his sons and other relatives. [They] have their names distorted in a terrible way just as - virtually as bad as we find on American rocks.

[Here, a brief break to change the recording tape. We resumed as Dr. Fell was relating a formal observation offered by a colleague (Norman Totten) regarding Columbus. -Ed.]

Dr. Fell: [Prof. Totten] brought up something in our last congress in Albuquerque in the course of an address he gave there saying that Columbus was actually the first one to point out that Columbus was not the first person to come to America. He pointed out that Columbus, in his letter to Ferdinand and Isabella, which is all we have left of his diary- his diary you know was destroyed in one of the great earthquakes - he says that after they left San Salvadore, seven days later they landed at another island that would be about 19th of October, 1492, and they were met there by an old man wearing two foreign coins suspended around his neck and nobody in his party could translate the writing that was on the coins. He just reports that. Nowhere does he say I was the first to come here" or anything like that he's just honest and reports it that way.

Well I had never heard that version before. I'd read the whole of Columbus's surviving journals when I was at Harvard. So I went and got my copy and looked it up - and my copy is edited by the notorious Professor Morrison - so called Admiral Morrison of Harvard who was a member of the Boston bluebloods - always wore riding boots and carried a crop - was very rude and so forth. He was a highly unpopular honorary Admiral in the Pentagon - and (inaud.) a trip to supposedly replicate Columbus voyage and prove that what went on - and what Columbus (inaud.) San Salvadore.

Actually he [Morrison] abandoned the trip. No sooner had he gotten there than he quit because everybody hated him so much he couldn't stand it. He still wrote the story of it and revised Columbus' diaries translated them and revised them - what it was about. He renders that passage in a way that makes it sound as if Columbus concluded that when he met this guy wearing two coins around his neck, he deduced that he had already met him the week before, and that he had sailed on ahead and was there to meet them when they got there, and that he'd got the coins, apparently, from people on board the ship. He distorts the passage just enough to give you that impression. For that reason it never stuck in my mind because it seemed of no importance. I've spoken to Norman twice about this asking him to put in writing what he told us - he's promised that he will, because no book that I've seen gives this reason. Norman has seen the original Spanish and read it directly from the original Spanish.

Editor: Do you find a significant number of catastrophist themes in ancient inscriptions and, if you do, how do you account for them?

Dr. Fell: Well - give me time to think about this. There again its a question of my training - I was a student in the 19... (inaud.) ... the student of a professor who had been a student of Huxley and dates back therefore - I have a sort of academic lineage leading back to the time of Lyell, the great British geologist. Our professors told us the whole story of the overthrow of catastrophism by uniformitarianism and of Lyell, the great hero who showed how the strata was slowly formed under the sea and slowly elevated. It wasn't all the result of one colossal flood in which everybody got killed. So because of that its been hard for me to treat catastrophism's ideas seriously - but, of course, one shouldn't throw away the baby with the bath water and, undoubtedly there have been catastrophes - great catastrophes which perhaps affected the course of civilization.

Everybody talks about the one that apparently wiped out the Minoan civilization, - possibly in Santorini that may correspond to the story of Atlantis. That kind of idea is much more acceptable to me than the story of Atlantis as it's commonly presented in which some island in the mid-Atlantic is supposed to have gone down. I can't accept that. The seafloor of the Atlantic ocean is such as to make it quite impossible that anything like that could have happened within the course of human history. It's a much, much more protracted series of events that have been occurring in the Atlantic for the last two hundred million years at least, but catastrophism is of course to be - the word catastrophism is silly catastrophes unquestionably have occurred and could occur again.

An example that recently came to my knowledge I had to lecture at the University of Miami a couple of years ago and met some of my old marine biology colleagues while I was down there - I've been out of marine biology for years now - and they told me that another of our colleagues, a famous authority on the sea floor has recently come to the conclusion that the melting of the Ice Age occurred much more suddenly than we had previously thought. Colossal floods were produced through the very rapid meltings of enormous chunks of ice. over a period of about a hundred years instead of the period of several thousand years that we had previously supposed. So that's an area where a catastrophic event is being considered seriously now by a number of marine biologists.

Editor: Well, my point is that the source myths of people, their creation myths -their own origin myths almost always begin with or include some kind of catastrophic event. Whoever settled Easter Island, the myth was that a particular deity began lobbing islands around using a giant lever and that Hotu Matua had escaped in two long-boats with a handful of people from this horrendous catastrophe going on in the Pacific. This was the motive given for moving to Easter Island in the first place. It's characteristic of the myths of all peoples and the problem for the psychologist is to rationalize that.

Dr. Fell: That might be a second-hand version of that myth, of course. New Zealand was settled much more recently and we have a much more logical myth - not myth at all - it's a history - and New Zealand's settlement dates back only to about 1350. The land itself was discovered by the Polynesians around 800 by a guy called (inaud. [Tupo?]). His name means "Navigator". He recorded that it was a very hostile place very high mountains - very cold, and unpleasant and totally unattractive and he sailed back to Tahiti. That was that.

But two hundred years later a famous boat race was taking place between the son of a [chieftan] and some other chieftans and a sudden hurricane came up in the course of the boat race and the son of [the chieftan] was lost at sea. But [the chieftan] didn't believe that his son was such a poor navigator that he couldn't have survived - so he sailed all around all the islands of Tahiti looking for word of his son and the last information he got was that it was believed he had sailed southeast. So he then fitted out an expedition to revisit the land which lay to the southeast and sure enough he found his son in New Zealand. The son didn't like New Zealand and went back to Tahiti but the father said "I've had enough of travelling" - so he settled there and became the first of the Maori settlers around 1000.

And the story goes on that those who remained behind in Tahiti were increasing in number and the land area of that group of islands was proving inadequate to produce food supplies for the number of people involved - and very unpleasant internecine wars began to develop - and at last, around 1350, a group of six chiefs announced that they were going to lead expeditions to settle the land of the "Long White Cloud" (New Zealand), deeming that the cold climate was not so unpleasant as the potential wars and everybody wanted to come - "sign-up now!" kind of thing - and six great canoes were built and manned and the six great tribal areas of New Zealand were settled by the ancestors who came on those six canoes.

Well you see, that's a reasonable kind of catastrophe - we have a famine which forces us to quit our homeland and we've decided to put up with a less attractive alternative land to get away from the unpleasant things. So the whole Hotu Matua story of Easter Island could have been some kind of a thing like that originally and then got converted into a tot more degree of catastrophism.

Editor: Yes, but that seems to be the same kind of rationale that people typically use to deny substance in myth or generally to avoid certain kinds of evidence. It's how the stele you spoke of disappears from view, and things of that sort - anything but to recognize any validity in this testimony of ancient peoples. I noticed in America B. C. you had translated a passage that was the equivalent to the Hebrew passage about the skipping of the mountains and so forth. There's an ancient reference to a Pharaoh in whose time a horrendous "blast" fell from heaven. The ancient record makes continuous references to major upheavals in Nature

Dr. Fell: Are you interested in catastrophism as a sub-topic of your interests?

Editor: Actually, as a mechanism that, if it proves true, will explain so much in psychology - in the same sense that skilled navigators prior to Columbus' time explain how what you're studying happened - to account for certain ideas and traditions in the collective memory - myths, rituals, and so on- and great catastrophes look like the best idea, so far.

Dr. Fell: Well here's a good one for you. In the middle of Australia there is a group of three or four meteorite craters called the Henley craters. They're like the Arizona meteorite crater, - not so big, but there are several of them- and, like in Arizona, the land was scattered with pieces of iron meteorite. I think the (inaud.) -dating very slow growing desert plants. They believe that the date is about 5000 years ago - the formation of the craters. The Aboriginal name for this area is the "Place Where the Sun Walked on the Earth" - they must have seen it!

Editor: Yes. It seems much more reasonable to believe that peoples experienced these things. What we're lacking is general acceptance of the mechanism. But what the actual occurrence of globally effective catastrophes would have done to the mind, to mythology, and all the rest of it has such tremendous explanatory power that it's wrong in doctrinal, Lyellian, uniformitarian way to say that "well, no such thing could have happened. "If you don't want to be mystical - or believe, in a Jungian sense, that, somehow, people just are born with these notions, then, they had to come from actual experience. They're all basically the same stories that's what's remarkable.

Dr. Fell: Yes. The Flood is quite a basic part of Polynesian mythology. Now, in New Zealand, we don't have any snakes, but the story of the temptation of woman by a serpent is there - and since we don't have any snakes, it's an eel that does it. An eel tempts the woman.

I received from Germany a rather large manuscript which was sent - not for publication, but for me to read - by a German engineer. It was called, the Prometheus Event. Now the reason I was in touch with him in the first place is because he had noticed several interesting things in Iberia, when he was traveling there as a tourist recently, and then read one of my books and suddenly noticed that there was a correspondence that I hadn't noticed so he wrote to tell me about it. We believe that, as a result of his work, we have now identified the first medicine wheel in Europe, which was wrongly attributed to one of the Princes of Portugal, as a supposed compass - in southern Portugal.

Now because I was interested in his letter and asked him to follow it up with photographs and what-not, he took it upon himself to send me this other manuscript, and I realized it would be of interest to catastrophists. I wrote to him to ask him if he wished me to send it on to a catastrophist magazine that was published in California. His answer came back "Not if has anything to do with Velikovsky". Well, I knew it did have to do with Velikovsky, and that was the end of it; he didn't want his manuscript sent out. But he's seriously proposing that the myth of Prometheus bringing fire from heaven is another way of stating that a planetoid struck the Earth.

Editor: That something of that sort happened is not a new idea so he's a bit late. So was Velikovsky in that sense. He was not the first to come up with the idea that some myths say a large celestial body passed near the Earth. Ignatius Donnelly came up with a similar idea in the late 1800s. The difference is that Velikovsky identified the body and made the whole idea testable - but that some celestial body had passed near the Earth in historical times seems to explain this common conception in people around the world.

A variety of ideas in astronomy have changed since he [Velikovsky] published the books in 1950. There are no longer any arguments as to whether catastrophes of a celestial nature could have been the source of these mythical notions. But at the time he brought his books out there was a hue and cry very much the same as what's been happening to you - the same kind of thing - this unthinking rejection without looking carefully at the argument he made first. The tendency is to reject it as absurd to begin with and to go from there. You've run in to the same kind of problem. I was particularly interested to see the complaints you were making about the kinds of things that had happened to you along the way. There's the same sort of tendency to...

Dr. Fell: The comparison is bigger than you might realize. I have only recently discovered that the archaeologists at Harvard put pressure on publishers to refuse to take my books, the same as they did for Velikovsky. The Harvard people were responsible there [as well] - Harlow Shapley - and the perpetrators get away with it too. I've given you reasons why I don't like Velikovsky's ideas- I feel he's too flippant about the way he changes the planet's orbits when I think he should do some really thorough calculations to demonstrate his ideas- but, on the other hand, we do have the phenomenon of chunks of what look like pieces of planets flying all around the universe and the recent photographs of some of the moons of Saturn and Jupiter that NASA has given us make it perfectly obvious that they're chunks broken off of something big.

Editor: What can you tell me about the Rongo-rongo tablets?

Dr. Fell: I don't want to tell you much about the contents because I haven't yet told the Polynesians.

Editor: But you know the contents?

Dr. Fell: Well, roughly. There are 18,000 hieroglyphs and I haven't translated all of them yet. It takes me a long time to do each one. But I know the general nature of it. It's traditional lore, and instructions for young men, history of their explorations and things like that - same stuff is in Maori. One of the tablets that I've been reading is one directed to young priests who conducted the scientific observations among other things, - and sets out their duties - and they're responsible for (inaud.) watching, navigation, pacifying gods- propitiating gods, and things of that kind advising the chiefs, and seeing that food production occurs in a regular manner. All of this is true of New Zealand, too, so it's very familiar to me. It's interesting that some of the words are very archaic. Some we know only from very old chants where the Maoris themselves were not sure what the word means. In some cases I've been able to find out what a word means by seeing the context on the tablets.

I haven't published any of this yet because, as a New Zealander who was brought up among older Maoris who really gave me my first understanding of learned matters, I feel a strong obligation to communicate the substance of my findings to the Maoris first. I will be sending them to a friend who is a Maori chief - I have to do that within the next month, perhaps while the first report is going through the press here. I just want to insure that all Polynesian courtesies are fulfilled before the rest of the world knows. It'll take me years to do the whole thing.

Editor: How much is cosmic?

Dr. Fell: I haven't run into anything of the kind you would imply by the word "cosmic".

Editor: I mean in the sense of archacoastronomy knowledge of the stars, Polynesian navigation systems, and so on.

Dr. Fell: Nothing, as yet. I don't even know the word for equinox. I have not run into any word that means Venus - I haven't run into them yet. The only astronomy I've run into so far concerns the regulation of the year. It's not done by observing the equinox. It's done by observing the rising of the Pleiades, in June, with the Sun. They're only interested in it to the extent of when or not they've got rain they want rain at this time. That tells me one thing - that the tablets were not written in the latitude of New Zealand because if they were they wouldn't be planting their crops at that time. June is far too early in the year to plant.

[The use of the June rising of the Pleiades is already familiar in the astronomical traditions from the American mainland and could represent further evidence for Heyerdahl's contention that Easter Island originally was settled by adventurers from here, as noted in Vol. 1, No. 2 of HORUS. It would have been intriguing to pursue these and other topics further but, as the tape was running low and it was nearly time to leave for the airport, the Editor reluctantly closed the interview. HORUS wishes to thank Dr. Fell for his unselfish assistance in our search. The implications of his work for a clearer understanding of history, the distribution of peoples, and the interchange of knowledge and ideas impact profoundly on several disciplines. At the very least, if he is right, we all will have to return to grade school regarding the earliest discovery of the New World. More importantly, he offers a range of evidence that argues strongly for the need to revise completely our interpretation of the course of civilization itself in both the New World and the Old. -Ed.]

[*!* Image: Old Irish Ogham Petroglyph, West Virginia]

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