“Even in Siberia there is happiness” – Anton Chekhov

Yeti Castle?
Yeti Castle?

High in the reaches of Southern Siberia’s Gornaya Shoria, Russian archaeologists are reporting evidence of super-megalithic construction in the form of what appear to be massive, hand-worked cyclopean blocks planed, leveled, and notched into dauntingly huge walls and structures.  An excellent set of pictures is provided courtesy of Archaeologist John Jensen at academia.edu (Photos of Super-megaliths on Mount Shoria).  Your more responsible, sober anomalists don’t want to get too far ahead of themselves, and have maintained that we really need to await further investigation, tentatively remarking that if these are authentic examples of prehistoric stone-working on a staggering scale, they not only would represent the largest known megaliths in the world, but are also highly suggestive of an extremely ancient, relatively advanced, unknown civilization with extraordinary contractors in Siberia long before the human race began banging away at clay tablets in Sumeria with a hammer and chisel.  As I’ve long since had both my responsibility and sobriety surgically removed, I feel eminently free to point out a few other implications based on known myths: (1) numerous ancient cultures cite Siberia as the home of a utopian civilization that preceded the rise of the historical cultures with which we are familiar, mostly because they had the bright idea of writing things down and couldn’t stop talking about themselves and complaining about their neighbors; (2) Mount Shoria has long been a hotbed of intense bigfoot activity, including myths of the indigenous Shor people (believed to have been in the area for roughly 7000 years) that describe the presence of disarmingly hirsute supernatural creatures – so perhaps we are seeing the remnants of a sasquatchian civilization that thrived long before our own; and (3) the existence of folklore (particularly among the Inuit), that great iron birds airlifted their people into polar regions at the beginning of time.  Put these wacky suppositions together, and one might conclude that the ancient High Kings of Siberia were forerunners of our cryptozoological cousins the Yeti, with an impressive civilization, mad architectural skills, and authors of a subtle plan to forcibly relocate the nascent human race to unpleasant deportation zones.  They probably thought we smelled and would bring down real estate values.  Hunter-gatherers are not known for their social etiquette.  Or bathing.  Try this theory on for size.  Tens of thousands of years before the Fertile Crescent got fertile and we decided to try our hands at farming, a sophisticated race of ancestral Yeti dominated Southern Siberia, erecting massive buildings and monuments, and relocating grubby little human populations to inhospitable climes when they were parked on a nice plot of land where the Yeti’s wanted to put a movie theater.  And by the time we got around to compiling our own glorious histories celebrating the awesomeness of being Homo sapiens, the antediluvian High Kings of Siberia were nothing but a vague memory, their cities turned to dust and ruins, and their degenerate children lurking surreptitiously in the forests, ashamed at how far they had fallen.  No wonder it’s so hard to take a picture of them.  Like Alec Baldwin, they opted to leave the limelight.  Before you call the nice young men in their clean white coats to haul me off to a padded cell (I needed a vacation anyway), allow me to elaborate.

What did the world look like 100,000 years ago, when Homo sapiens finally considered the option of becoming a viable species?  As we only started penning love letters to ourselves about 6000 years ago, this would be what we refer to as prehistory (we were thought to have emerged as a distinct species 200,000 years ago).  For about 100,000 years we just kicked back and enjoyed the balmy weather on the African veldt, before some joker had the bright idea to head north, presumably because Africa lacks ice for cocktails.  By about 45,000 years ago, we had reached Siberia and Central Asia.  We kept scrapping with Neanderthals, who were all over the place by 300,000 years ago, but both human and Neanderthal populations were relatively small (due to the low genetic variation among humans, some biologists have posited that around 70,000 years ago there were likely only 10,000 of us, due to major climactic catastrophes).  At any rate, Siberia was a lot more pleasant place 100,000 years in the past, although we were just starting to enter the most recent Ice Age (which lasted from 100,000 to 16,000 years ago, punctuated by a few minor warming spells).  Here’s the catch.  Whereas North America was covered in layers of ice, this time period was actually a good time for Siberians, as there was an absence of ice sheets across the region.  That’s why there was all that crazy megafauna like wooly mammoths, giant beavers, aurochs, and saber-tooth tigers wandering through northern Asia and into Alaska.  So, while places like Australia, New Zealand, North America, and Europe were blanketed in miles of snow and ice, the hypothesis is that Antarctica and Siberia were relatively temperate locales.  Tellingly, based on the analysis of 300 modern languages and a whole lot of estimation, linguists believe that modern human language probably arose at about this time.  So, at about the time that furry Denisovan hominids were alive and kicking in Siberia, sleeping around with other monkeys, and the Siberian climate and ecosystem was eminently livable (despite the rest of the world plunging into an ice age), us garrulous humans started talking to each other, swapping recipes, charming the ladies, and more importantly, passing along folklore.  Prior to that I guess there was just a lot of grunting, which makes it hard to communicate a story arc or get a date.  Now this is all well and good, and could have been just another evolutionary dead-end, but as we started writing things down for future generations, ancient historians across a number of cultures seemed pretty keen on recording memories of an ancient uber-civilization situated in what by then had become a great place to put a gulag (and sometimes even further north into the Arctic Circle).  And now we’re starting to find evidence of gargantuan megalithic construction in the neighborhood.  Hesiod, Homer, Herodotus, Simonides of Ceos, Hellanicus of Lesbos, and Pindar all mention stories of “the land of the Hyperboreans”, an early center of high culture, purportedly located beyond the central Asian people’s called the Massagetae and Issedones (north of Scythia), which would place them pretty much smack dab in Southern Siberia.  Interestingly, the ancient Greek scholars included curious little details such as the fact that the Hyperboreans enjoyed long periods of daylight, further emphasizing the possibility that a civilization was busy flourishing in arctic Polar Regions for a long time.  Herodotus was a little skeptical about the existence of the Hyperboreans, but notes that the scholars who preceded him felt it necessary to record the traditions of more northern neighbors that insisted they were or had been loitering about in luxury in Siberia.

Of the Hyperboreans neither the Scythians nor any of the neighboring people, the Issedoues alone excepted, have any knowlege; and indeed what they say merits but little attention. The Scythians speak of these as they do of the Arimaspians. It must be confessed that Hesiod mentions these Hyperboreans, as does Homer also in the Epigonoi (Herodotus, Histories, Bk. 4, Ch. 32).

Aelian’s Varia Historia records a more ancient tale related by Greek historian Theopompus (380-315 B.C.) describing an attempted invasion of Hyperborea by soldiers of Meropis (a mythical island kingdom, possibly a parody of Plato’s Atlantis).  The Meropisans abandon their plan when they realize that the Hyperboreans, reputed to live a thousand years and stand three meters tall are more than a match for them.  So these were big dudes.  The kind of big dudes that could move big blocks (see where I’m going with this).  The Meropisans were said to value iron more than gold, which is interesting in so far as the Gornaya Shoria region has been a center of iron mining for thousands of years.  Odd for the Greeks, Theopompus notes that in comparison to the Hyperboreans, the Greek people are found wanting, relating “He said that they once designed a Voyage to these our Islands, and sailed upon the Ocean, being in number a thousand Myriads of men, till they came to the Hyperboreans; but understanding that they were the happiest men amongst us, they contemned us as persons that led a mean inglorious life, and therefore thought it not worth their going farther” (Aelian, Varia Historia, Ch XVIII).  Since the Greeks considered anybody who didn’t speak Greek without an accent to be a barbarian, the Hyperboreans must have been pretty impressive.

Going back even further in the history of human literature we have the Hindu sacred text, the Rig Veda, the oldest written document in any Indo-European language available to us (some passages are dated at least as far back as 2800 B.C.).  The home of the original Vedic gods is said to be far north on Mt. Meru, but more curiously, many of the astronomical references across much of Vedic literature, seem remarkably accurate with respect to what one would see were they to live considerably farther north than India.  As observed by J.G. Bennett in The Hyperborean Origin of the Indo-European Culture, “Two characteristics of the polar regions are unknown elsewhere. One is the ‘midnight sun’ or the long day when the sun remains above the horizon for 90 to 180 days according to the distance from the pole. The other is the unchanging altitude of the constellations which make it appear as if the heavens were revolving about an axis. If we find in literature or mythology, references to days and nights lasting up to six months and the rotation of the dome of heaven we are entitled – to suspect that the authors had known the circumpolar regions and probably lived there.”  And this perfectly characterizes the description of Mt. Meru according to the Vedas.  Of course, much of the argument about whether the original authors of the Vedas were living in a circumpolar region centers on an obsession with the dawn, an accurate accounting of the number of dawns that could only be witnessed closer to the poles.

 But if the Vedic dawn is Polar in origin, the ancestors of the Vedic bards must have witnessed it, not in the Post-Glacial, but in the Pre-Glacial era; and it may be finally asked why a reference to this early age is not found in the hymns before us? Fortunately the hymns do preserve a few indications of the time when these long dawns appeared. Thus, we are told that the Goddess Dawn shone perpetually in former days (purd), and here the word purd does not mean the foregone days of this halpa, but rather refers to a by-gone age, or purd halpa, as in the passage from the Taittiriya Saiiihita (Tilak, 1903, p110).

The whole “Hyperborean Origin” theory has fallen into disfavor over the course of the past 80 years, as the Thule Society and subsequently the Nazi’s seized on the idea that some ancient super-race thrived in the frozen wastes of the north long before recorded history, since it self-servingly supported their mythological view of the Aryan race.  Freaking National Socialists can always ruin a good theory.  They need to stick to their strengths.  Marching, blowing stuff up, and leather couture.  Anyhow, I don’t intend to pursue the idea that a bunch of super-advanced humans existed in a world-dominating, Siberian-centered civilization tens of thousands of years ago.  That would be foolish.  Obviously it was a world-dominating, Siberian-centered civilization of sasquatch (Almas or Yeti, if we’re being geographically appropriate).

Let’s talk genetics.  I always wanted to say that, but it never really worked as a pick-up line.  In 2010, near the Atlai Mountains of Siberia, bioanthropologists identified 80,000 year old mitochondrial DNA from a species that appears to have been a common ancestor of both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, which they designated Denisova hominins or Denisovans, and appear to have ranged from Siberia to Southeast Asia (and occasionally interbred with both Neanderthals and humans (Neanderthal DNA is about 17% Denisovan, and modern human DNA is roughly 5% on average).  Opinions vary as to whether the Denisovans represented an as of yet unkown species of proto-human, but you can bet, given they seem to have a lot more in common genetically with Neanderthals, I’m going to go on the assumption that they were considerably hairier than us.  The Shors are an old Turkic people considered to be indigenous (at least for a few thousand years) to the areas surrounding Mount Shoria, migrating there from Southwest Siberia and Central Asia.  Shor folktales mention a hairy spirit that haunts the Gornaya Shoria.  The Azass Cave on Mount Shoria has long been rumored to be a center from which the local Yeti radiate (and as it is several miles deep and rife with gigantic footprints, who knows what could be hiding in there, perhaps a bunch of depressed Hyperborean Yeti, dreaming dreams of their glory days before the pestilence that is man took charge). Igor Burtsev , head of the International Center of Hominology claims that there is an active population of about 30 of the creatures living in the Kemerovo (the region of Mount Shoria) in Siberia to this day.  Why would a civilization that preceded our human one need to be human?  We have ample evidence of extensive branching of the hominid tree, and our furry Hyperborean friends may have been wiped out by a combination of population pressure from the rapidly reproducing Homo sapiens, as well as the climate changing yet again, giving us the frozen waste that is Siberia today.

Of course, everybody knows that the ancestors of the Eskimos migrated across a Bering Sea land bridge from Siberia  into Alaska, and that’s how North and South America got populated by us humans.  Everybody except the Eskimos, that is, a few of which have curious myths about arriving via ancient airlift in the New World.  Jacques Bergier and Louis Pauwels pointed out this fact in their speculative treatise on fantastic realism, Morning of the Magicians, hinting at the possibility that “ten thousand years ago an enlightened civilization controlled the world.  It set up in the Frozen North a zone of deportation.  Now what do we find in Eskimo folklore?  References to tribes being transported to the Frozen North at the beginning of time by giant metallic birds”.  Putting all this together, what do we get?  Long before recorded history, as man took his first stumbling steps out of Africa, we may have bumped into urbanized Sasquatch sophistcates who likely considered us little more than a nuisance, and shipped us off to reservations closer to the North Pole when we got annoying.  We retain a cloudy memory, handed down through millennia of oral tradition that an impressive civilization preceded us (and who later scribes interpreted as gods, since they could do really cool technological things).  Now we don’t need to speculate about ancient aliens (for which we’ve never seen a footprint) guiding human progress, since we can hypothesize an exceedingly terrestrial Yeti culture that arose and fell before we’d even left the cradle, but was around just as we learned to use language, and thus pass stories of our encounters with these primordial “gods” who had vanished tens of thousands of years before we ever put pen to paper.  Perhaps Yeti don’t exist.  Perhaps the stone walls on Mount Shoria are natural formations.  Perhaps there was no civilization in ancient Siberia.  And perhaps the models we have spent generations constructing to assure ourselves of our uniqueness and special place in the universe are similar fabrications.  Human history spans a mere 200,000 years.  The earth has been around for 4.6 billion years.  What has come and gone in that span of time?  If our Hyperborean Yeti were so advanced, how did our Stone Age human ancestors manage to prevail?  American economist Thomas Sowell pointed out, “If the battle for civilization comes down to the wimps versus the barbarians, the barbarians are going to win.”  In this case, we would have been the barbarians at the gates.  The Romans, all politically savvy and cultured, learned this the hard way, despite their well-organized legions.  So too may have the Siberian Empire of the Sasquatch.

Herodotus. Herodotus. London: H. Colburn and R. Bentley, 1830.
Tilak, Bal Gangadhar, 1856-1920. The Arctic Home In the Vedas: Being Also a New Key to the Interpretation of Many Vedic Texts And Legends. Poona city: Tilak bros., 1903.