Eden in the East: The Drowned Continent of Southeast Asia

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9780753806791: Eden in the East: The Drowned Continent of Southeast Asia

This book completetly changes the established and conventional view of prehistory by relocating the Lost Eden—the world's first civilisation—to Southeast Asia. At the end of the Ice Age, Southeast Asia formed a continent twice the size of India, which included Indochina, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Borneo. In Eden in the East, Stephen Oppenheimer puts forward the astonishing argument that here in southeast Asia—rather than in Mesopotamia where it is usually placed—was the lost civilization that fertilized the Great cultures of the Middle East 6,000 years ago. He produces evidence from ethnography, archaeology, oceanography, creation stories, myths, linguistics, and DNA analysis to argue that this founding civilization was destroyed by a catastrophic flood, caused by a rapid rise in the sea level at the end of the last ice age.

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About the Author:

Stephen Oppenheimer from 1990 to 1994 was Professor of Paediatrics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

From Kirkus Reviews:

In an exhaustively researched and creatively argued reassessment of mankind's origins, British physician Oppenheimer, an expert in tropical pediatrics, contends that the now-submerged area of Southeast Asia was the cradle of ancient civilization. From time to time, scholars from various disciplines have argued for the existence of a vastly old ``founder civilization.'' Among the most famous was Charles Hapgood, who based his theory of a lost seafaring civilization on his analysis of the famous 16th-century ``Piri Re'is'' maps of the Antarctic land mass. In this tradition, Oppenheimer blends evidence from geology, genetics, linguistics, archaeology, and anthropology to argue persuasively that such a civilization existed on a submerged land mass in Southeast Asia, which geologists call the Sunda shelf. Pointing to geological evidence for the submersion of the shelf by abrupt rises in the sea level about 8,000 years ago, Oppenheimer contends that the coastal cultures of Southeast Asia were drowned by a great flood, reflected in flood mythologies scattered from the ancient Middle East (such as the biblical story of Noah) to Australia and the Americas. According to the author, tantalizing archaeological evidence exists of settlements under a ``silt curtain'' left by the sea floods in drowned coastal regions from Southeast Asia to the Middle East, while linguistic markers indicate that languages spread from Southeast Asia to Australia and the Pacific. The shared flood story is one striking example of similar Eurasian myths according to the author; the ancient Middle East and Asia share other myth typologies, conspicuously including creation and Cain and Abel myths, which point to common origins in a progenitor culture. Absorbing, meticulously researched, limpidly written, and authoritative: should be regarded as a groundbreaking study of the remote past of Southeast Asia, and of civilization itself. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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