Nic Flemming, Senior Scientist at the Southampton Oceanography Centre, has reviewed the second episode of my TV series Underworld: Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age. This extremely hostile review, which purports to have been “provided in the public interest and to promote archaeology” appears on the sceptical website Ma’at. I note in passing that Dr Flemming was invited to appear in Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age. He initially welcomed the idea and was keen to offer his data and input to the producers; however on learning that a certain Graham Hancock would be presenting the series Dr Flemming withdrew his cooperation entirely.
This suggests to me – how can it do otherwise? – that Dr Flemming made up his mind about Flooded Kingdoms, and formed a negative attitude towards it, from the moment that he heard of my involvement. Since Ma’at, though “sceptical”, prides itself on balance, I question the choice of a reviewer whose mind had been so demonstrably made up against the series – even before a single frame of film had been shot.
I will respond to Flemming’s review section by section. In each case, for reasons of clarity, I set out Flemming’s own words first, followed by my responses.
Sections 1, 2, 3 and 4 have already been posted.
Section 5: Sea bottom samples
Nic Flemming wrote:
I was astonished by the extremely unconvincing nature of the so-called artifacts shown on the TV screen, and which I have viewed from images obtained via the web. My immediate impression was that these objects are mostly natural rolled pebbles, concretions, and other normal seabed phenomena. If I had found material like this on the sea floor I would not have expected the public to believe that they are artifacts.
Dr Neil Kenyon, a colleague at SOC who has published more than 100 papers on the use of sidescan sonar and sub-bottom profiling to analyse seabed sediments and geological outcrops. He has worked recently in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Hormuz and provides the following comments:
"Although only based on the images seen on the TV programme, the materials dredged up from the Cambay site and presented as human artifacts all appear to be well-known natural geological features and fossils, familiar to any sedimentary geologist who has worked in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, or Arabian Gulf region. The flat stones which looked so smooth are natural fragments of shale or mudstone, probably from a natural outcrop known to the Geological Survey of India. Most continental shelves have been surveyed acoustically for military and offshore petroleum purposes. The outcrop would probably be plotted on available marine geological maps. The flat stone fragments have been rolled in the strong currents on the seabed, and blasted with suspended sand particles, which has made them smooth, like beach pebbles.
"Some of them had been perforated by boring molluscs, seashells which eat calcareous rock, and this accounted for the holes in them. The nodular and cylindrical objects are natural concretions and fossils. The object that looked as if it has been turned on a lathe is just a nodule that has been rolled on the sea bed by the current.
"The flat grey object which GH said had got writing on it is a well known fossil from this area, and is popularly known to geologists as a "hieroglyph fossil" because of the patterns on its surface. It is probably several million years old. This fossil is typical of layers of shale and mudstone of this age. Although I had only a glance at them the trace fossils could be Palaeodictyon or Helminthoida.
"Many objects left on the sea floor in these climatic conditions become concreted rapidly with calcareous deposits. The so-called human jawbone is probably an object that has been coated in natural calcareous limestone precipitated on the seabed. Inside the hard white coating there could be a bent piece of wood, or a fish-bone. These possibilities should be checked.
"All the materials displayed on the film were the sort of natural objects which a sedimentary geologist would expect to find anywhere in the tropics on the seabed, dating to millions of years old, but moved, altered, and concreted by modern currents, boring organisms, and natural chemical processes of seawater."
In short, there is no evidence that these objects are man-made. Any piece of debris or old tree root stuck on the seabed could have, by chance, provided the convenient carbon 14 date.
Graham Hancock replies:
It really bothers me here, as with his comments on the sonar images, that Dr Flemming pays no attention to the skills, knowledge and expertise of the NIOT scientists involved in the marine research in the Gulf of Cambay. For example their geologists clearly do not think that the slab with raised markings is a fossil since they have put into circulation the view that the marks could be a proto-script. They may ultimately be proved right or wrong but I cannot understand why Flemming simply ignores their hypothesis as though it has no weight, while greatly favouring the opinion of a colleague in Southampton based on what the colleague himself admits was “only a glance” at the slab on my film.
Besides this slab, about which we now only know that some geologists think one thing and other geologists think another, is one amongst 2000 artefacts that the NIOT brought up from the site of the cities on the bottom of the Gulf of Cambay.
Flemming and his colleague have not seen or handled any of these artefacts, as I have done and as the NIOT scientists have done. Until they do so, I suggest that it is hasty (to say the least!) for them to so adamantly contest the NIOT’s conclusion that these are indeed man-made artefacts. Flemming seems to be simply ignorant of the fact that the artefacts include pottery and carved stone figurines. Likewise his colleague (Dr Neil Kenyon) asserts that “the object that looked as if it has been turned on a lathe is just a nodule that has been rolled on the sea bed by the current”.
I have handled this so-called “nodule”, which is about four inches long and resembles a human phallus. For what it’s worth I asses it to be ceramic (i.e made of fired clay – pottery in other words). The narrow-diameter hole that runs straight through it from one end to the other was not in my view created by any mollusc but is human workmanship so that the object could be threaded on a string.
|Review of Nic Flemming's Review, 5, Sea bottom samples||1||Graham Hancock||02/24/2002 02:44AM|
|with a little luck||1||Jim Alison||02/24/2002 07:26AM|
|Reviewing the review... (long)||1||joe_at_farquest||02/25/2002 05:21PM|
|Re: Review of Nic Flemming's Review, 5, Sea bottom samples||1||Mr. Alias||02/26/2002 03:33AM|