The Missing Lands: Uncovering Earth’s Pre-Flood Civilization
Author: Freddy Silva
Publisher: Freddy Silva
I received a copy of this book from a friend after he noticed my question to one of Silva’s many advertisements on several ancient civilizations Facebook groups for it. I took advantage of Silva’s misspelling of “antediluvian” as “antidilivian” and asked, “what is an antidilivian world?” A friend thought I should review it since critiquing both archaeological and pseudoarchaeological works is what I do from time to time. So, in full disclosure, the book was provided for free.
In his bio, Silva refers to himself as “a best-selling author, and one of the world’s leading researchers of ancient civilizations and systems of knowledge, and the interaction between temples and consciousness.” I found this surprising since I’d never heard of him at all until I subscribed to a few social media groups he spammed his new book in.
I found no evidence that he was on any “best seller” lists, though this could really mean just about anything. He certainly wasn’t on the NYT Best Sellers List. Or any others of that caliber. I’m sure he was on somebody’s “best seller” list, otherwise why mention it. Though it is curious he doesn’t say who’s. That’s the sort of accolade one might think he’d like others to be aware of. Particularly since he goes on to describe himself as a “leading researcher of ancient civilizations…” This, I found particularly disturbing, since I thought I was aware of all the leading researchers in this field—several of them personally. Shame on me for missing one all these years!
But perhaps my shame is misplaced. Silva begins his self-published book by describing man-made temples around the world at ages that aren’t supported by scientific evidence. He puts the Gunung Padang temple at 24,000 years ago, pyramids and temples in Egypt at 12,500 years ago, Tiwanaku at 17,000 years ago, and Gobekli Tepe at 12,200 years ago. The only two of these he even comes close to getting right is Gobekli Tepe and Stonehenge, which Silva rightly notes the first postholes were sunk at around 10,000 years ago (+/- 500 years). However, it wasn’t until 5,000 years ago that the first stone monuments were put in place.
This isn’t a new thing among pseudoscientific and untrained “independent researchers” who begin with a conclusion that there is some ancient, secret, hidden, or otherwise inaccessible civilization that once existed in deep time. And, let me be clear: being untrained in the topic of archaeology doesn’t make one either stupid or less valid than the most trained among professional archaeologists. I work with advocationalists all the time that are extremely knowledgeable, competent, and rational. But they don’t begin with conclusions then only look for that data which are supportive.
The Real Dates
The actual dates for these sites above are startlingly different in nearly every case from what Silva claims without any supportive evidence. Gunung Padang had a temple, but it was built of columnar basalt clasts found relatively in-place. Gunung Padang is well-understood by geologists to be a volcanic neck created by magma in the Cenezoic between 66 million to 2.6 million years ago. The ruins in the area are associated with the Sunda Kingdom, which dates to about 669-1579 CE. The artifact assemblage of the area also confirmed this dating.
Likewise, the dates for the monumental architecture in Egypt are utterly incorrect. The pyramids at Giza date to the Fourth Dynasty in the 3rd millennium BCE. Specifically, the Great Pyramid of Khufu dates to between 2580-2560 BCE. The Osirion portion of the mortuary temple complex for Seti I at Abydos is even more recent, certainly dating to within the reign of Seti I between 1290-1279 BCE. The precise date of this portion of the temple has yet to be determined since additional excavations are needed to get to lower levels. There’s no good reason to suspect a date older than Seti I’s reign, however.
Silva’s claim of Tiwanaku’s age is actually comical. This site in western Bolivia was probably first occupied between 200 BCE and 200 CE. Reliable radiocarbon dates place a 68% probability that it was founded in 110 CE, but definitely between 50-170 CE. Its sociopolitical complexity probably wasn’t manifest until about 500 CE. And its monumental architecture and the site’s population probably peaked together at around 800 CE—that’s just 1,219 years ago.
Silva’s anachronistic perspective on major archaeological sites has much to do with creating and perpetuating a mystery. At extreme ages, it suddenly becomes easier to project mysterious explanations that need not exist at all. Silva and others like him who favor non-scientific explanations, probably lean heavy on the works of early antiquarians and archaeologists like Arthur Posnansky (who claimed Tiwanaku to be between 11,000-17,000 years old during the early 1900s), while completely ignoring modern scientific discoveries and investigations.
Silva dates Göbekli Tepe to 10,200 BCE, which is closer than any of his other dates, but still about 1,000 years older than the last founding date of the site that I’m aware of. Still, if the fine archaeologists working at Göbekli Tepe today were to announce the discovery of a feature or artifact that has a radiocarbon date of 10,200 BCE (over 12,000 years ago) it wouldn’t surprise me.
Initially, Silva’s book doesn’t stray far from the anachronistic appeals of other pseudoarchaeological writers like Graham Hancock and Andrew Collins. But he eventually finds his own voice after mimicking Hancock’s cries of cataclysm related to the Younger Dryas. The mystery-mongers have discovered that where there are emerging data with a handful of researchers, there are grand opportunities for speculation that, however spurious, will not seem all that wild when you bend new discoveries to fit those speculative narratives.
And then reason for the invented dates Silva leads off with for major archaeological sites becomes a little more clear. They need to line up with this speculated cataclysm. The one that a handful of researchers have data for, but several other handfuls of researchers are unable to replicate.
A Personal Spin on ‘Ancient Civ’ Claim
The rest of Silva’s book seems to be his attempt to convince the reader that all the mythologies of the world that are known are the literal histories of each culture. And that there existed one or more technologically advanced civilizations that had “flying shields” and other technology that Silva variously describes as “advanced,” “above that of the average human,” and even “inappropriate.” This unknown (and unknowable) civilization disappears with a global cataclysm and global flood for which no scientific evidence exists.
He feigns the inquisitor and asks loaded questions like, “if the region [around Jericho] was only populated by hunter gatherers in 9000 BC, how did they come to possess the technology to move and place such extraordinary masonry…?” Silva is asking what technology permitted these “hunter gathers” to build a wall of stone.
As is typical with many passages in his book, there are many factual errors and logical fallacies built into just this single passage. The period in which the wall around Jericho was built was approximately 8000 BCE, not 9000 BCE. This is an important detail since, in this period, the people of the region were experimenting with agriculture. In fact, they were now living in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic and not the earlier, smaller Natufian populations of hunter-gatherers. In this pre-domestication phase, sedentary lifeways were being adopted. And the first iteration of the wall at Jericho came right around 8000 BCE. At this point, it was a little thinner and shorter (by nearly half) than the height and width Silva quotes. His quoted size wasn’t attained until about 7350 BCE. And part of the reason why the wall was so high is because there was a 9 foot ditch in front of it!
His main point, however, seems to be how could they possibly have moved the stone? For the life of me, I can’t understand why this is a mystery to him. Many of the stones that formed the wall were easily picked up with one hand. The settlement, during the PPNA period, had a population of 2,000 to 3,000 people. It literally took hundreds of years to reach the size Silva cites. What special technology was he expecting?
Silva goes on and on with many spurious alignments and numerical associations to this and to that. If you have a working knowledge of archaeology, ancient history, and anthropology that’s based in reality and science, this is a very hard book to read. If you don’t, I suspect it’s a little easier if you take what he say’s at face value and never fact check. He gets a lot of facts wrong in varied degrees. Sometimes he exaggerates or rounds up to higher figures (as with the dimensions of the Jericho wall), and other times he uses dates incorrectly assumed by early antiquarians (like Arthur Posnansky). And, still other times he appears to just make it up. And, among it all, his writing style is all over the place. He starts talking about the mythical beliefs of one culture at one period, then picks up with the mythical beliefs of a totally different culture far, far removed from the original in both time and space. As if it’s meaningful. Maybe it is. He just doesn’t demonstrate it.
I really liked the cover, though. In fact, I took a look at the covers of his other books, and most of them were quite appealing. I suspect this helps him sell more than a few of these self-published works.
If you’re interested in ancient civilizations and the archaeology of these cultures, there are many, many great books that are very approachable for the reader who isn’t already familiar in these topics. I’ll list a few highly recommended ones here but there are many more by some of these same authors.
For some history of archaeology and stories of how it all began through to how modern advances in scientific research have shaped archaeological methods and theory:
A Little History of Archaeology (2018), by Brian Fagan
Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology (2017), by Eric Cline
Prehistory and Ancient Civilizations
Ancient Civilizations (2016), by Chris Scarre and Brian Fagan
The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World (2010), by David W. Anthony
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (2006), by Charles Mann
From Eden to Exile (2008), by Eric Cline
The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts (2002), by Neil Asher Silberman and Israel Finkelstein
References and Further Reading
Bran, Peter J. (2000). The Monuments of Seti I: Epigraphic, Historical, and Art Historical Analysis. Leiden. Netherlands: Brill.
Lehner, Mark (1997). The Complete Pyramids. London: Thames and Hudson.
Marsh, Erik J. (2012). “A Bayesian Re-Assessment of the Earliest Radiocarbon Dates from Tiwanaku, Bolivia”. Radiocarbon. 54: 203–218