A God and His Secret Number
My conclusion that the Olmec presence in the New World went back
at least 5,000 years, to circa 3000 B.C., was reached by many paths.
The first one was an attempt to identify the great god of
Mesoamerica, the Winged Serpent (Quetzalcoatl to the Aztecs,
Kukulkan to the Mayas), and the significance of his promise to
return to those lands on the first day of a 52-year cycle, (AD 1519,
when the Aztec king Montezuma believed that the appearance of the
Spanish conquistador Cortez was such a Return, coincided with the
anticipated sacred date).
The peoples of Mesoamerica employed in addition to a practical
calendar of 365 days, called the Haab, also a Sacred Calendar
(called Tzolkin) of 260 days. The two cyclical calendars were
conceived as two wheels with meshing teeth that turned and returned
to the same spot once in 52 years; and 52 was the Sacred Number of
the Winged Serpent god?
Since 52 was also the Secret Number of the god known to the
Egyptians as Thoth; since Thoth as Quetzalcoatl, was the god of
science and the calendar; and since Thoth was exiled from Egypt
circa 3100 B.C., I have suggested that it was he who took a group of
his African followers to a new land, bringing the "Olmecs"
Accordingly, I said, Olmec presence goes back to at least 3000
B.C. -- a date twice as old as that conceded by established
The Mysterious "Day One"
By the time I was writing The
Lost Realms, the book devoted to
the prehistory of the Americas, I was sure that the arrival of the
Olmecs with Thoth/Quetzalcoatl could be established with astounding
precision. The key to unlocking the enigma was the Olmec Calendar.
In addition to the Haab and the Tzolkin, there was in Mesoamerica
a third calendar, used to inscribe dates on monuments. Given the
name the Long Count, it was not cyclical as the other two, but
linear -- a continuous one, counting the total number of days that
had passed since the counting began on a mysterious Day One.
By means of glyphs denoting groups of days
(1, 20, 360, 7,200 or even 144,000) and dots
and bars giving the number for each group-glyph, monuments were
dated by saying: A total of so many days from Day One have passed
when this Monument was erected.
But what was that Day One, when did it occur, and what was its
It has been established beyond doubt that this Long Count
calendar was the original Olmec calendar; and it is now generally
agreed that Day One was equivalent to August 13, 3113 B.C.
But what does that date signify? As far as I know, the only
plausible answer was provided by me: It was the date of Thoth/Quetzalcoatl's
arrival, with his followers in Mesoamerica!
The Unexpected Corroboration
All official publications continue, however, to remain at 1250
B.C. -- 1500 B.C. at most -- as the date of the start of the Olmec
Imagine my pleasant surprise to come across an eye-witness report
by the astronaut Gordon Cooper in chapter 11 of his book
Leap of Faith : An Astronaut's Journey into the Unknown: "During my final years with NASA," he writes,
"I became involved in a different kind of adventure: undersea
treasure hunting in Mexico." One day, accompanied by a National
Geographic photographer, they landed in a small plane on an island
in the Gulf of Mexico; local residents pointed out to them
pyramid-shaped mounds, where they found ruins, artifacts and bones.
On examination back in Texas, the artifacts were determined to be
5,000 years old!
"When we learned of the age of the artifacts," Cooper
writes, “we realized that what we'd found had nothing to do with
seventeenth-century Spain... I contacted the Mexican government and
was put in touch with the head of the national archaeology
department, Pablo Bush Romero."
Together with Mexican archeologists the two went back to the
site. After some excavating, Cooper writes,
"The age of the ruins was confirmed: 3000 B.C. Compared with
other advanced civilizations, relatively little was known about this
one --called the Olmec."
Proceeding to describe some of the amazing discoveries about the
Olmecs and their achievements, Gordon Cooper continues thus:
"Engineers, farmers, artisans, and traders, the Olmecs had a
remarkable civilization. But it is still not known where they
originated... Among the findings that intrigued me most: celestial
navigation symbols and formulas that, when translated, turned out to
be mathematical formulas used to this day for navigation, and
accurate drawings of constellations, some of which would not be
officially 'discovered' until the age of modern telescopes."
It was this, rather than his experiences as an astronaut, that
triggered Gordon Cooper's "Leap of faith": "This left
me wondering: Why have celestial navigation signs if they weren't
navigating celestially?” And he asks: If ‘someone’ had helped
the Olmecs with this knowledge, from whom did they get it?
My readers, of course, know the answers.
Has the Cover-up Ended?
The outstanding museum on the Olmec civilization in Jalapa, in
the Veracruz province of Mexico, included when it was built a wall
panel showing the extent and dates of Mexico's various cultures. On
my first visit there, I could hardly believe my eyes: The first
(earliest) civilization, that of the Olmecs, was shown as begun
circa 3000 B.C.!
I urged the members of my group to take pictures of me pointing
to the date: Finally, the date claimed by me has been officially
On a second visit, however (to which the previous article, The
Case of the Missing Elephant relates), not only the telltale
elephant-toy disappeared; the Olmec column starting at 3000 B.C. was
also gone... And the official Museum Catalogue, reviewing the Olmec
civilization, reverted to 1500 B.C.
But now comes the astronaut Gordon Cooper, and innocently and
inter-alia tells, as an eye-witness, what he was told by the chief
Mexican archaeologist: 3000 B.C.
And thus, when all is said and done, I stand vindicated.
© Z. Sitchin 2001
Presented with permission.
By Will Hart
It has been 23 years but I remember the morning like
it was yesterday. A mist shrouded the jungle above the Temple of the
Inscriptions. A series of roaring sounds suddenly split the silence
as a band of Howler monkeys made their way through the trees. The
cacophony added to the sense of mystery.
My head was exploding. By the time I had reached Palenque we had
already visited dozens of archeological sites from the northern most
down to the Yucatan Peninsula. I was steeped in questions and
Several things had become clear to me: the cultures that built
the pyramids and other buildings had been advanced in the arts and
sciences. I had seen many beautiful things emblematic of advanced
culture as well as many enigmas.
The Olmec civilization surprised me the most. I had read about
the Maya and knew of the Aztecs but I was unprepared for what I
found in Villahermosa: Large stone heads with Negroid features and
stone Stella carved with depictions of curious emissaries. The
figures clearly were not from any Mexican culture.
These artifacts were more than just a fascinating puzzle they
represented a headache for science. They are an anomaly. Who carved
the heads? Who created the Stella? Where did they get the models for
these heads and figures? These were questions that arose because of
the way scientists have reconstructed the human history of
Mesoamerica. Africans don't fit and neither do the cloaked Caucasian
figures carved on the Stele. They shouldn't be there, however, they
are there as bold and undeniable as sunlight.
Scientists do not claim to have solved this enigma.
Anthropologists and archeologists admit they do not know much of
anything about Olmec culture. So we don't know the ethnic group or
the language and nothing of their social organization, beliefs or
traditions. No one has any idea of why they carved the helmeted
heads or what these curious people called themselves.
The only records we have are the monuments they left behind,
which are impressive. But how do we understand them? Where do they
fit in the mosaic of human history? There are no direct clues in
Mexico. The Olmecs didn't leave us any written records. However, we
do have a clue.
The bible is an extremely important document. It doesn't matter
whether you are a believer or not. It contains a very ancient
accounting of human history compiled from a variety of early
sources. At least this is true of Genesis. But it is not always easy
to decode. Do we find any reference in the bible that might help us
solve the Olmec enigma?
Turning to Genesis Chapter 11 we read " Now the whole earth
used the same language and the same words." This indicates that
there was a period in man's history when there was a global human
civilization. Let us call it the "zero" civilization. We
learn that during that epoch men wanted to build a tower:
"Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top
will reach into heaven; and let us make for ourselves a name; lest
we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth."
The fact that the Olmec civilization presents science with an
anomaly indicates something quite profound: the data does not fit
the model. Scientists can't change the observable data, it is as
hard as data can get. But they could change the model to conform to
the data. There is the rub. Anthropologists and archeologists have a
huge investment in that model, an intellectual edifice that has been
built up over generations.
Scientists would rather ignore the tough questions and leave the
Olmecs alone relegated to the dim mists of forgotten antiquity. That
is not a very scientific approach. Where is the pursuit of truth?
What happened to the scientific method? It is just not acceptable.
Some ancient society built the huge mound; dragged the basalt
heads about 60 miles from the quarry to the burial site; those heads
weighed from 5 to 18 tons; and they also carved the figures into the
stele. They wouldn't have gone to all that trouble unless the people
the monuments represented were important to them. It is a logical
assumption to make and we can only hope that scientists in the
distant future will reach the same conclusion when they study Mount
Since we have the artifacts we know that there has to be an
explanation for who the builders were. As with any mystery you
search for clues. You begin in the most likely places and work your
way down the list: Mexico. The problem is that the Olmecs
disappeared from the scene long before Cortez arrived. None of the
cultures contemporary with the Aztecs made any references to the
Olmecs, they seemed to know nothing. No other Negroid heads have
been found in Mesoamerica. Another curious fact is that the
developmental period that must have preceded the mound building and
head carving is nowhere to be found.
The Olmecs just suddenly appeared then disappered!
It took me years of investigation to finally realize that the
most probable answer was in the bible and that was about the last
place I thought to look. Did the Olmecs come from outer space as
some researchers have proposed? Not necessarily. For one thing there
is no evidence to support that theory. Secondly, the Negroid heads
and the people depicted on the stele are obviously human.
The idea that there was a global civilization in ancient times
does not conform to the current model of science. However, it is
corroborated by the reference in the bible. The problem with the
scientific model is that it can't explain the available data and
that is a serious issue that has many consequences. If the problem
was limited to the Olmec civilization we might just let it go. But
there are artifacts in Egypt, South America and other parts of
Mexico that also don't fit the orthodox scheme.
Scientists have often shown a willful blindness regarding
artifacts and developments that they can't explain using their
belief system. Worse, they have either ignored key questions or
discredited the facts. Many other hard facts including the remains
of lost civilizations, and the cultural records of numerous peoples
corroborate the Olmec enigma and the bible.
References to the cataclysmic Flood occur in 230 different
cultures. Mayan history includes the story of how they came from a
land to the east that had been destroyed. The historian Herodutus'
recounted of the tale of lost Atlantis. These accounts may sound
like romantic myths spun out of early imaginations, however, when
you stand at an ancient site surrounded by strange ruins…you begin
to wonder if they just might have more than a grain of truth?
I climbed the steps of the Temple of Inscriptions and visited the
tomb of Pacal. Then I decided to take a long trip down to the Rio
Usamacinta to Bonampak and Yaxchilan. It was 100 miles of bad dirt
road. Heavily rutted in places. It finally became so muddy that we
mired the van up to the axles. We had reached the destination.
Bonampak was a short walk.
I visited Bonampak. My next destination was Yaxchilan, a ruin
secreted in the jungle about 8 miles from Bonampak. I decided to try
and hack my way there with a machete against the advice of the
natives who had warned me: "la selva is cerrado!" They
were right. I gave up after a grueling four-hour stint that netted
less than a quarter mile mostly on my belly trying to avoid
razor-sharp thorn shrubs. The insects were ravaging my body.
Yaxchilan is situated on the river and it was alleged to be the
center of the flourishing Maya civilization in this region. In Feb.
1989, James O'Kon did manage to make it to the site. Archeologists
had been studying it for a century. A particular mound of rocks
caught O'Kon's trained eye. Scientists had dismissed it as a minor
mystery but the amateur archeologist was also a forensic engineer
and he immediately knew what it really was: part of bridge.
He turned to modern technology to help prove a bridge once
existed at the site. O'Kon, a former chairman of the forensic
council of the American Society of Civil Engineers, had used similar
techniques during investigations. He compiled field information at
the Mayan site and used computers to integrate archeological
studies, aerial photos and maps to develop a three-dimensional model
of the site and determine the exact positioning and dimensions of
O'Kon ended up making a startling discovery: The Mayans had
constructed the longest bridge span in the ancient world. When he
finished calculations and computer models the bridge turned out to
be a 600-foot span, a hemp rope suspension structure with two piers
and three spans. It connected Yaxchilan in Mexico with its
agricultural domain in the Peten, which is now Guatemala and where
Tikal is situated.
What archeologists had assumed was an insignificant rock pile
turned out to be part of a crucial finding, a pier 12 foot high and
35 foot in diameter. Aerial photos located a second support pier on
the opposite side of the river. Both piers were constructed of
cast-in-place concrete and an exterior of stone masonry. That is
exactly how the Mayan pyramids were made.
In interviews O'Kon, who has been studying the ancient Maya for
30 years, said, "the Mayas were very sophisticated
mathematically and scientifically." He claimed the design
requirements of the Mayan bridge parallel 20th century bridge-design
Today we marvel at the ruins and speculate on how and why they
built the ceremonial sites. We shouldn't forget that the Maya were
an advanced race. They understood astronomy. They had an accurate
calendar. They invented the concept of zero at least 700 years
before it was incorporated into European mathematics. They built
paved roads and as we have recently learned the longest suspension
bridge in the ancient world.
What occurred to me while standing atop another the pyramid at
Coba in Quintana Roo surveying a trackless jungle was the fact that
the Maya had achieved all this in a jungle. No other advanced
civilization I could think of had emerged from a jungle environment.
It deepens the mystery of this lost race.
The sacbe are a system of roads that interconnect the sites. This
is another feature that has long puzzled scientists and independent
investigators alike. The roads were built up with rocks, leveled and
paved over with limestone cement. They vary in width from 8 feet up
to 30 feet. The mystery is simple: Why would a 'stone age' people
without wheeled vehicles or dray animals need such an elaborate and
sophisticated road network?
The fact that they had to construct and maintain these roads in
the jungle makes the question more pressing. The historical
chronicles prepared by the conquistadors, mostly bishop Diego de
Landa, suggest a network of all-weather roads that linked Mayan
You almost have to stand at a site and image the scene as it was
during the peak of Mayan civilization to really grasp the magnitude
and appreciate what this culture achieved. Today we see ruins and
jungle. Pyramids that are little more than bare stone. Crumbling
buildings surrounded by wilderness. However, in that day the
pyramids were coated with stucco. They were smooth and gleamed in
the sun and shimmered under a silvery full moon. The walls of the
structures were painted with various designs using bright colors.
The courtyards were paved. The flat white roads radiated out in all
directions connecting the centers together.
Despite their advanced knowledge of astronomy and mathematics and
their achievements in art and architecture scientists still consider
them a 'stone age' culture.
Is there something wrong with this picture? Should the Maya be
considered a Neolithic culture when they were advanced in every
other regard except having metal tools? The Romans did not have the
concept zero and their mathematical system was crude compared to the
Mayan, yet they were adept engineers and had metal tools. O'Kon
dismisses the idea that the Maya were 'stone age' by pointing out
that the nearest iron ore deposits are 1500 miles away. He contends
that the Maya used jade for tools and that it is harder than steel.
He calls them a "technolithic race".
Time is the essence of life. Human beings have always been
immersed in it, keeping track of it in one way or another, measuring
it as minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and millennia. We
know of many of its dimensions and we have used them to our
advantage. We know when the dinosaurs roamed the earth; how long it
takes for various radioactive isotopes to decay; when our early
hominid ancestors branched off from apes; the exact dates of lunar
and solar eclipses long into the future.
Time causes all living things to grow old and die. It seems so
obvious and ubiquitous we are like fish and time is water. We never
ask the basic question: What is it? Do we understand it? Is it more
than a system of measurement whether of the present moment or of the
age of the universe?
All cultures certainly have a focus on time; however, the Maya
had an obsession with it.
They tracked and measured the day length of Venus, which is 528
earth days. The 365-day Mayan calendar year was more precise than
the Gregorian calendar. They devised three different calendrical
systems: the tzolkin (sacred calendar), the haab (civil calendar),
and the long count.
The tzolkin is a cycle of 260 days (13 months of 20 days each)
and the haab is the solar cycle. These two calendars were combined
in an interlocking fashion to produce a cycle of 18,980 days, which
was known as a calendar round. That is about 52 years.
Each day had a particular glyph and meaning ascribed to it and at
the end of the 52-year cycle they had a renewal ceremony. The long
count period ended at 5200 years. This was equivalent to an age.
According to the Maya humanity was in the 4th Sun or age. That would
end 5200 years from the beginning of their calendar, which started
in 3011BC. And expires on 2012.
The longest cycle in Mayan cosmology is 26,000 years, which
corresponds to the precession of the equinox. There would be yet
another 5200 year cycle left in the grand cycle since there are 5
long count cycles or suns and we are nearing the end of the 4th.
Why did the Maya have such a fascination with astronomy? Why did
they create such an intricate calendrical system? Would a 'stone
age' agrarian society need all this advanced astronomical and
mathematical knowledge? How did they acquire it in such a short
time? How would they have any awareness of such a complex phenomena
as the day length of Venus or the precession of the equinoxes?
They are either more ancient than science allows or they had more
sophisticated technology than we know of or someone passed the
knowledge down to them. Is it coincidental that the beginning of the
4th age was 3000 BC, which corresponds to the birth of the Jewish
calendar? The assertion that the "world" is only 5000
years old may have more truth to it than we know. Is it also a
coincidence that so many Christians believe we are in the End Times?
This 5,000-year cycle is nearing completion.
The Maya obsession with time may have been based on a deep
awareness of how it functions on a cosmic scale and then unfolds on
earth in short and long- term cycles. That may be the message that
the lost civilizations have been trying to deliver to us and we may
just be starting to get it.
© 2002 by Will Hart