ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
megalithic civilization arose in India in pre-Roman times, and from there spread to North Africa and thence to Europe. These tombs and monuments, he maintained, were made by a single race or people, who migrated from the east to the west.
Oscar Montelius in Der Orient und Europa set forth the first coherent view of European prehistory. According to this German archaeologist, as well as Sir Grafton Eliot Smith, a British antiquarian, all human progress occurred because of diffusion from Egypt. Smith set forth an absolutely fantastic theory that human civilization began in Egypt, and was transmitted by wandering Egyptians throughout the entire globe, including the Americas and the Pacific. This was based on the marae and tiki statuary in Tahiti and Easter Island respectively, and stone monuments throughout Eurasia and in the Americas, including the mounds in the Mississippi Valley which he attributed to “Children of the Sun” who allegedly came up from Mexico.
The early pioneers in Pacific Island studies, such as the New Zealander S. P. Smith in Hawaiki: The Whence of the Maori (1899) and Sir Peter Buck in Vikings of the Pacific (1938) asserted that the Polynesians originated in India, from whence they were driven out by the invading Aryans. They then migrated through Indonesia and the islands of the Pacific. These theories were based on traditional tales in which time was calculated in terms of generations, allowing twenty-five years to the generation.
Fantastic as some of these diffusionist theories seem today, they were nothing compared to those held by occultists as well as the leaders of the Church of the Latter Day Saints and other religious sects. Many occultists of the late nineteenth century (and in some cases still today) attributed ancient Egyptian society, from which all others supposedly derived, to refugees from the lost continent of Atlantis, as mentioned previously. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, other popular diffusionists argued that the people of the Pacific were survivors of the lost continent of Mu which sank leaving the Pacific isles. At the same time or thereabouts, another lost continent, Lemuria, perished in the Indian Ocean, leaving the ancestors of the people of India.
During the 1990s and continuing today, various studies are appearing, such as Ronald Hutton’s Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles (1991), which demolish older theories and schemas. All have in common the repudiation of generalist interpretations. My own view is that while these are important critical correctives of certain archaeological views, they should be seen as that, and not as the last word on the subject. The best approach, in my view, is that suggested by Kuhn in Scientific Revolutions (1962). His theory of paradigms is one of the many revisionist suggestions which have been made during and since the 1960s. According to Kuhn, scientific theories (and one might add scholarly theories as well) are challenged whenever anomalies occur, as they inevitably do. New theories are then formulated. This, of course, is only a restatement of the very old theory advanced by the German philosopher Wilhelm Hegel during the early nineteenth century: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. This was adapted to historical interpretation by Karl Marx, who, in my view and that of many others, introduced