(Courtesy of The Land Newspaper 10th March 2005)

WHEN they first hear of his plan, some people think Hans Berekoven must be a little crazy. After all, he and his wife, Roz sold their 2000 fine wool Merinos and are about to sail away on a 19-metre ketch in search of lost civilizations beneath the waters of Indonesia's Java Sea. It's not the selling of the sheep that raises eyebrows – who hasn't wanted to do that lately? – as much as this not-so-ancient mariner's belief that the legendary Atlantis (or perhaps one of its trading partners) really existed and is now about to be discovered. But as Hans explains his theories the doubts begin to disappear and the realization dawns that he just could be on the track of evidence that would rewrite the history of human civilization.


The key to it all is the knowledge that in the last ice age, which lasted for many thousands of years and ended rather abruptly 12,000 years ago, sea levels were 150 meters lower than they are today. Rather than being an archipelago, Indonesia as far east as Kalimantan (Borneo) and Bali was an extension of the Asian continent blessed with the world's balmiest climate. With the Northern Hemisphere's ice caps extending half way to the equator, the Sunda Shelf (as the region is known in geographical circles) would have been, in Hans's words, "the best piece of real estate on the planet". "It must have been the prime place for a civilization to take root," he said. It is generally believed that agriculture and animal husbandry started 8000 to10,000 years ago in the Middle East but Hans reckons it could have happened 6000 years earlier on the Sunda Shelf. "Hunters and gatherers were forced south into this tropical zone and I think the concentration of population sparked off animal husbandry and farming – the two greatest inventions of humanity," he said. "The reason we haven't found proof of it is because we've been looking on land. The proof is under the water." Hans has been encouraged by the as yet unpublicized discovery of a similarly ancient submerged city beside an old river in the shallow Gulf of Cambay , just north of Mumbai on the west coast of India. Using satellite radar pictures of the sea floor and a bottom profiler, which can see through meters of mud to the underlying landscape, Hans hopes to identify old river valleys and deltas which are now buried under layers of silt in the 40 to 60 meter deep Java Sea. He will explore the valleys using side scan sonar and, eventually, a remotely operated mini-submarine and scuba gear. "Civilizations tend to form on river mouths and fertile deltas," he said. "Ancient Egypt on the Nile is a good example. "If there is any kind of settlement, no matter how primitive, it should show up as mounds on the river bank that aren't quite natural. "Then we'll go over it with a bottom profiler to see what's below the silt."


Hans, a former sea captain on seismic survey vessels, cashed in his superannuation to buy the 19-metre "Southern Sun", a five-year-old, steel hulled, ketch-rigged motor sailor. He and Roz and their two children, Tristan, 15 and Hannah, 8, will leave within weeks, sailing from Fremantle to Bali where Roz will set up base camp for re-fuelling, re-supply and home schooling. The expedition, involving Hans and three other men, including one from the Jakarta Museum, could last for a year or more. To pay for it all, the Breakeven's sold their 2000 fine wool Merinos, leased their 1200 hectare property, "Kangaroo Camp", Bombala – complete with orchard, farm stay and Australia's highest vineyard – and are holding a clearing sale this Saturday (March 12). "We're going out on a high note," Roz said. "We've made our best wine, produced our best wool and we won three awards for excellence in tourism."


The Ice Age and its effect on Human Migration

By Hans Berekoven

It is now well established that Ice Ages did exist and that the last Ice Age ended approximately 12,000 years ago. We also know that the Asian Continent was at that time populated by nomadic peoples, Hunters and Gathers.

The Ice Age greatly changed the climate of Asia with the Northern Ice Cap extending as far south as latitude 50 deg. North. Most of Europe was covered with a thick layer of ice, in some parts up to 2,000 mtrs thick. It is safe to assume that this climatic change would have forced the Nomadic Peoples of Asia to migrate south into what is now called the Tropical Zone. As nomads they did not have permanent dwelling and they would have had to follow the game south anyway. As the icecaps developed the water level in the world oceans receded until at the height of the ice age it was approximately 150 mtrs.  below present day levels. Due to this lowering of sea levels the South China and Java Seas became dry land exposing vast flat, fertile plains to the south - bound migrants. If we study the topographical map of the worlds oceans we see that the Sunda Shelf was at that time the best piece of real estate on the planet. Situated directly over the equator with mild temperatures due to global cooling, it would have had two summer seasons every year. When we look at the shape of the Asian continent in relation to the new Sub-continent formed by the drying of the Sunda Shelf we see a funnel, funneling the migrants into an area much smaller than the area that they had previously occupied. I argue that an unprecedented concentration of population occurred on the Sunda Shelf at that time and that this triggered the development of the planets first civilization.

 Civilization and Population Density

The nomadic lifestyle of the hunters and gatherers requires a vast amount of land. As an example the entire Continent of Australia supported only three million Aborigines after 40,000 years of occupation. When the migrants from the north streamed onto the Sunda Shelf they had two choices, either fight each other for space or develop a new lifestyle. At first they would have fought each other but because of the relative lack of space there was little room to maneuver. They tended to bump into other hostile tribes. The only solution was to take up a position and defend it. With the primitive weapons of that time the advantage was with the defender. Depending on the sophistication of the defenses one person defending was equal to three on the attack. And so the nomadic lifestyle came to an end for the majority of the tribes competing for space on the Sunda Shelf. Now that the tribe could no longer go to the food, the food had to be bought to the tribe. At first hunting parties would have herded game close to the defensive  position and killed it there. The next step would have been to drive game into the defensive position itself  so that a store of food was available and the animals killed when they were required. From there it was a relative short step to tame the captured animals and eventually graze them under supervision. Now for the first time humans had a steady surplus of food available to them. Parallel to the development of animal husbandry, farming would have developed for the same reasons. Once this was achieved the population would have increased dramatically. Mankind was now firmly on the path toward civilization. How sophisticated did this Sunda Shelf civilization become? We don’t know the answer to this question because the Sunda Shelf is now covered by 60 meters of water and twelve thousand monsoons have deposited a layer of silt over anything that may have been there.

 The Great Melt

After more than 60 thousand years of Ice Age the great melt began in approximately ten thousand BC. By all accounts the melt was rapid. In fact the Melt was a catastrophic event that nearly wiped mankind off the face of the earth. There are some 500 Flood Myths from around the world that refer to this event. The Noah tale from the Bible being only one of them. In this tale the sea rose to the height of the mountains. Of course this is impossible as there is only X amount of water on the Planet and that is either water in the sea or ice at the Poles. However Tsunamis can if they are big enough and when we look at the magnitude of the catastrophe  then we sense that Tsunamis may well have been involved. These Flood myths may well be eye witness accounts of a catastrophic event and it would not be good science to dismiss them entirely in light of what we now know about this period and in light of the sheer number of these myths.

 Why the melt was so rapid we don’t know with certainty, there are however several theories that try to explain the phenomena. One theory says that when the Ice Cap was advancing south across the Eurasian and North American Continents it pushed up a wall of earth and debris ahead of it. Which once the melt started acted like a dam wall containing the melt water in huge lakes (Steve Oppenheimer- 'Eden in the East'). Then when the waters breasted the wall it caused the wall to collapse. Trillions of cubic meters of melt water cascaded into the sea causing a rapid rise in sea levels. 

The problem with this theory is that it does not explain the massive extinctions that took place during this period. Up to sixty percent of all mammal species became extinct and two human races vanished form the earth. Also it does not answer the question of what caused the rapid melt. 

An other theory says that a large asteroids hit the earth off the East Coast of North America. The crater fields of Carolina mark it’s path overhead. (Otto Muck- "Secrets of Atlantis"). When it hit the water it sent a six hundred meter high tsunami across the Atlantic to crash with devastating effect into the coast of Africa and Europe. The earth received such a blow that it began to wobble on it’s axis. A remnant of this wobble is still present today. The Shock wave from this impact opened up the Mid Atlantic Rift and hundreds of under water volcanoes erupted. These eruptions sent thousands of tons of steam and ash into the atmosphere causing world wide flooding. It may well have rained for 40 days and 40 nights. Also the Atlantic would have heated up rapidly.

 This theory scores well on rapid melt and accounts for high extinctions around the Atlantic rim but not around the Pacific Rim

An other theory is that the Southern Ice Cap had become so unstable that it collapsed plunging country sized pieces of the Southern Ice Cap into the ocean creating giant tsunamis as well as an instant rise in sea levels in the order of 50 to 70m. One hundred and fifty meters of the worlds oceans had been deposited as ice at the poles so they must have been huge. The ice at the south pole would have grown to a massive slab perched somewhat precariously on the relatively small continent of Antarctica and extending far out into the deep ocean surrounding Antarctica. We have evidence that the Northern Ice Cap took an other 2000 years to melt and this does make sense because it was much more stable than the Southern Ice Cap. The North Pole does sit over water but is surrounded by land masses so that the bigger the Northern Ice Cap became the more stable it became. There is scientific evidence that suggests there were 3 great floods at the end of the Ice Age not just one. There was one large flood followed by two smaller ones proximately 1000 years apart. This is consistent with theory one and the melt water lakes.

There is one more theory, that of Crustal Displacement ( Hapgood ). This theory states that when the Ice Caps reach a certain mass as they did at the end of the last Ice Age they can cause the earths crust to slip. The earths crust is very thin compared to the earths diameter. The impact of an asteroid coming in at a low angel or even the extra gravitational pull during a line up of the major planets could be the trigger for such an event if the icecaps have reached critical mass. Sounds too incredible but there are some facts that support this theory.

)ne is the wooly mammoths snap frozen in the Siberian Permafrost Zone. These beasts still have the green grass in their mouths. What ever caused them to be snap frozen must have been sudden. If it was a local event then they would have thawed out once the event finished. What complicates the understanding of this event is that it happened at the end of the Ice Age. A rapid melt was taking place at the very moment these animals were being snap frozen. The only explanation that makes sense is that their region was suddenly catapulted north wards into the Permafrost Zone. The change in Latitude would be in the order of 30 degrees so that Siberia was previously where Kazakhstan is now. Factoring in the lower temperature experienced during the Ice Age it all makes sense. These animals were grazing in a cold but habitable Central Asian region, they were wooly after all. Then their region was thrust northwards some 30 degrees of latitude. Massive earthquakes and other traumatic events plus a large drop in temperatures would have killed them off. But because they were now within the Arctic Circle and the Permafrost Zone their bodies remain frozen to this day.

Then there  is the issue of the fossilized forests on Antarctica. This continent sits directly on the South Pole. This means that Antarctica experiences 6 months of darkness each year. Trees cannot grow in such a place. Up to now the phenomenon of trees growing on Antarctica has been explained in terms of  Plate Tectonics. But movement due to Plate Tectonics is a very slow process something like 20 kilometer, in a million years. We may yet find fresher forests under the ice in Antarctica.

Then there is the Peri Rice map a map discovered in the 15th century showing Antarctica ice free. This map poses a host of problems for science. Who drew this map, Antarctica was not discovered until the 18th century? The shape of the Antarctic landmass was only determined in the late 20th century using seismic equipment to see through the ice. And how can it be ice free situated at the South Pole? Even in this present relative warm period Antarctica is totally covered by ice. Was Antarctica in a different location 12,000 years ago?

THE ICE AGE.....reconstructed

The Ice Age was probably triggered by the mega eruption of a volcano on Sumatra 70,000 years ago. Lake Toba is the crater left over from that explosive eruption. Ash from that explosion was flung high up into the atmosphere and circled the globe. The ash deflected the suns rays resulting in a cooling of the Earth. Global temperatures fell approximately 10 deg. and the covering of ice and snow kept the temperature down after the ash had settled. Gradually the Ice Caps increased and sea levels dropped.                                                          

Then 12000 years ago an Asteroid struck the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North America generating a giant tsunami and causing the earths crust to slip. Massive earthquakes wracked the planet opening up the Mid Atlantic Rift. Underwater volcanoes erupted sending steam and ash into the atmosphere. As much as terrestrial volcanoes cause global cooling underwater volcanoes cause global warming. The Southern Ice Cap broke up due to the impact shock wave and earthquakes generated by the slippage of the earths crust. Large pieces of the Ice Cap settled deeper into the Southern ocean resulting in an instantaneous rise in sea levels and more giant tsunamis. Meanwhile the steam and ash turned into torrential red and black rain which went on until the volcanoes settled down. Temperatures on earth climbed rapidly due to the steam driven rain and the warming of the Atlantic Ocean. Because the ash was mixed with steam there was no ash induced cooling as the ash washed back down with the rain. Even the ash from the terrestrial volcanoes would have been washed back into the sea because with so many eruptions there would have been no explosive high altitude eruptions.

The warming kick started the North Atlantic Conveyer or Gulf Stream pumping warm water onto the European Coast resulting in a rapid melting of the Northern ice cap there. As the Northern Ice Cap melted it left behind it 2 large melt water lakes one over North America and one over Eurasia. The larger Eurasian lake was the first to be breached resulting in a 30 meter rise in sea levels then the North American lake resulting in a further 20 meter rise in sea. The rest of the ice mass then melted slowly a process that is still continuing today.                                                                                                     



The Sunda Shelf Archaeology project

 Hans was working off India at the time of the discovery of the underwater city in the bay of Cambay in India. He heard it on his radio and was very excited as he had always believed that there was a Satellite City to the one we were wanting to find on the Sunda Shelf in Indonesia.


To confirm this we visited the NIOT institute in Chennai and after examination of the artifacts and discussions with the team there  we made the decision that we could not wait for someone else to look for the Sunda Shelf Civilization, we had to go ourselves!


So we packed our bags, bought Southern Sun and sailed away to seek permissions from the Indonesian Government to do so. These permission took 2 years and then the demands imposed upon us by the government at the time were too costly for us to bare, So we postponed our project for the time being.


These are some of the 2,000 artifacts recovered from the City of Cambay site.


The artifacts consist of Paleo & and Microlithic tools, Human Remains, Clay Wall and Floor Materials and Slag  (remains of    melted metals

Shaded areas show the dry land created when sea levels fell 150m during the Ice Age


















Migration After the Melt

Animal extinction rates around the world was in the order of 60 to 70%. In other words the animal species we have today are the 30 to 40% that survived the Great Melt Event. Mankind fared even worst. Those located near the Oceans or along tectonic fault lines would have had no chance. Only those in more stable seismic areas on high ground had any chance.

Modern anthropology tells us that the first civilization on the earth was the Mesopotamian Civilization founded in the Tigris Euphrates River System some five thousand years ago. And that the ancient Chinese Civilization developed at about the same time. Anthropology claims that South East Asia was populated by migrating Chinese peoples.  People moving from north to south.

 But what we are saying here is that the migration was in the opposite direction and much earlier. That the Mesopotamians and Ancient Chinese Civilizations where founded by the descendants of the survivors of a more Ancient Civilization, the Sunda Shelf Civilization.

After the Great Melt it took some 6,000 years for the world population to rebuild to the kind of  numbers necessary  to found  new civilizations. The Ice Age Civilization on the Sunda Shelf would have been totally wiped out  because of its location, low lying and in a volatile seismic area. But its satellites or colonies such as the one in the Indus Valley and the Gulf o Cambay  could have had some survivors. Likewise a colony on the China coast and one in Mesopotamia could also have had some survivors. Indeed mythology tells us that Noah and his clan did survive.