Godpyre: The Cosmology of North African Paleovolcanism (cont.)
A few surprises?
By R. Avry Wilson @2005-2006
1. Teotihuacán: Sometime in the 6th century CE the people vanished from the city, while not long after, the city itself was supposedly razed to the ground by an unknown army wielding fire as their primary weapon. A layer of ash among the ruins provides ample testimony for this mysterious attack on a ghost town. Was this an army of soldiers, or could it have been something else?
Pretty much any and every modern visitor to the site finds great excitement in climbing to the top of the Pyramid of the Moon, then with tourismic awe they turn toward the avenue below – the ‘Way of the Dead’ – happily snapping a memorable photo. However, no one – it seems – really takes the time to look in the exact opposite direction, for if one stands at the southern end of the avenue facing the Pyramid of the Moon a prefect line of sight is created along the roadway, through the dead center of the pyramid, finally pointing to Cerro Gordo – a now calm volcano rising nearly 3000 ft above the surrounding plain and only 5 km away. Such an alignment does appear to have some significance as regards a volcano (plus, the next nearest mount competing with Cerro Gordo’s elevation is three times the distance away). These things in mind, one has to wonder if the core cosmology of the original architects was actually based on the volcano itself, and perhaps was the real reason behind the sudden and unexplained exodus away from Teotihuacán. The idea of there being reverence for volcanism is compounded to a very high degree once an investigator is informed of a little expressed fact … for hundreds of kilometers in any direction from Teotihuacán (except to the northeast) are vast numbers of cinder cones, strato-volcanoes, etc, numbering in the thousands. Heightened activity and being constantly surrounded by mountainous pyres of destruction is certainly a good enough reason to abandon a city for a century or so.
2. Many people know the story of Noah in the Bible. One of the main features in this story is where his ark first found land, which was the now-famous Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey. On the opposite side of things many people do not know this mountain is actually a volcano situated among others in the region. The Global Volcanism Program has this to say about it:
“The 5165-m-high, double-peaked stratovolcano Mount Ararat, also known as Agri Dagi, is Turkey's highest, largest volume, and easternmost volcano. Glacier-clad Ararat, along with its twin volcano, 3925-m-high Kucuk Ararat (or Lesser Ararat), covers an area of 1000 sq km at the eastern end of a SSW-ESE line of volcanoes extending from Nemrut Dagi. Construction of the Greater and Lesser Ararat volcanoes was followed by a period of extensive flank eruptions, many erupted along N-S-trending fissures. The initial stage of flank eruptions produced a cluster of cinder cones and dacitic-rhyolitic lava domes surrounding Greater Ararat and a series of pyroclastic cones and domes on the western flank of Lesser Ararat. Late-stage activity formed large pyroclastic cones lower on the flanks of the two volcanoes. Ararat appears to have been active during the 3rd millennium BC; pyroclastic-flow deposits overlie early Bronze Age artifacts and human remains. Karakhanian et al. (2002) reported historical evidence for a phreatic eruption and pyroclastic flow at the time of a July 1840 earthquake and landslide.”
With plenty of candidates in the region for an ark to have landed, it makes one curious about why Mount Ararat was ‘chosen’ as the place where life on Earth was essentially given its second chance, so with the awareness of its true nature as an active volcano during an auspicious time of Bible interpretive-writing there is good reason to suspect the root idea came from reverence and fear of its volcanic status and not merely because it was a local high point.
3. Another well-known story from the Bible is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, where – literally – fire and brimstone rained from the sky, destroying these towns. A closer look at their approximated locations close to the Dead Sea reveals an expected truth: nearby are remnants of volcanic activity just above the eastern embankment of this sea.
From the above examples it is apparent volcanoes have played in important role in forming many worldwide myths concerning allusions – or direct references – to them, and rightly so. Therefore it should come as no surprise if when we turn to northeastern Africa and its associated peoples we ought to find similar and consistent myth-forming scenarios, especially since the region has an extensive and continuous history of volcanism.