When I left South Africa September 2011 after one big conference and another workshop a friend handed me out a gift. It was the book 'Temples of the African Gods'. Clearly I had to try to read this book.
POINT OF VIEW
I am not a historian nor an archaeologist but nevertheless I am dealing with the evolution of the universe, the biological life on earth as well as some special developments within the biological evolution. From this I have learned that since about 10 - 15 years there seems to by some 'convergence' of scholarly opinions that the today living 'humans' are all descendants of the 'homo sapiens' who about -60.000 made his way out of Africa along the Arabian Peninsula into Asia, Australia, Europe, North- and South-America. There seems to be also some interdependence between this migration and the eruption of the super-vulcano at lake Toba in Sumatra, which happened somewhere in the time span -75.000 until -65.000.
MANY PICTURES, SPARCE TEXTS
The book is not a 'usual' science book with many texts, many references etc. but it comes to your eyes rather as an illustrated book. About 133 pages out of 176 are photographs often -- but not always -- with some short explaining texts. The photographs are mostly impressive, but only seldom you can find clear references where exactly is the place shown in the picture or what exactly is the material shown in the picture. You will miss too at the end of the book a listing of all pictures with their content and their origin. You will also not find any list with references, no subject list, no list of names, no orienting time table, no general maps related to the areas and locations mentioned in the book. This makes it very difficult to come to a sound judgment about the content of the book.
Despite the above mentioned spares methodological 'outlook' the subject of the book is exciting: the photographs and the texts give the impression, that there are thousands of ruins in the southern part of Africa which stem from a time long before the eldest known high culture of Sumer (whose early period is dated back to a time about -5300, with early syllabic tablet-inscriptions from about -2700 belonging to a language with no resemblance to any other known language family). The authors are dating back some of the African findings to -50.000 and to -100.000 (cf. pp.105-106). In the context of old gold mines they report findings of old tools dated back to -200.000 or even -400.000 (cf. p.107). Details are missing. Because such time measurements are important it would be important to make these arguments very clear. Especially it would be interesting whether the main bulk of ruins stems from the time before the Toba volcano eruption or from the time after that. Additionally they point explicitly to thousands of African petroglyphs whose form show strong resemblances to sumerian symbols. They hypothesize that the people -- and their knowledge -- are connected to the old religious beliefs of the sumerian religion(s). This entails that African knowledge is been assumed to be 'transferred' to the Sumerians. An interesting hypothesis, but how can this be proved? An exchange over -- perhaps -- 60.000 or 90.000 or even more years? It is difficult to see how this could have happened. Besides this assumed relationship to the Sumerians the authors have collected many evidences of ancient ruins which all show the same structures of walls formed in circles around circles connected by roads which are always delimited by walls with a height of at least 1.5m. And -- strangely -- these walls have no entrances. The roads end up at walls. They report 500 km of roads investigated by their own. They guess, that it must be several thousands km. Alone the stones of the known roads make up a number of about 500 Million large stones. From the sheer number of these ruins the authors infer, that these ruins could not have been built up by the few people migrating from the north of Africa to the south (p.96f). Also they give some reflections about the possible 'meaning' of this circled architecture with no entrances and they propose some ideas about resonance spaces enlarging energy. Clear arguments are missing.
While the overall impression of the arguments is that of fuzziness and of a very speculative nature there remains the fact of the enormous number of ruins, of petroglyphs, of tools, old mines -- especially goldmines -- and a lack of convincing explanations. The existence of much earlier cultures than those known today as that of Sumer would be an interesting modification of the history of cultures, but would not make a great difference in the overall evolution of life on earth where 100.000 years do not mean to much. The main time scales here are counting Millions, hundreds of Millions or even Billions of years.
MANY QUESTIONS LEFT
Thus after finishing the reading of the book some new interesting ideas have come to my mind, but many unsolved questions are left too. In my impression the authors have introduced some very interesting ideas (I did not report all of them), but for me the relationship to the 'real facts' is often too weak. This weakness in speculation can weaken the importance of the real facts which are indeed challenging.