The Mystery of The Carpathian Sphinx


Geologist Robert M. Schoch and Filmmaker Oana R. Ghiocel

OANA R. GHIOCEL, an American filmmaker born in Romania, and DR. ROBERT M. SCHOCH, Boston University Professor and a world-renowned geologist investigate enigmatic structures in the Wild Carpathian Mountains of Romania. The documentary searches the deep roots of the oldest European civilization, retracing its origins to the primordial human culture of Old Europe that left its traces on the archeological records, legends and myths around the world, on our current institutions and many of our society's religious practices. The Great Sphinx of Carpathia is the legacy of a highly sophisticated spiritual people.

On site in Romania, Oana explores the Bucegi Massif plateau where the Carpathian Sphinx is situated (the Carpathian Sphinx is a conglomeratic rock formation similar in facial features and size to the Great Sphinx of Egypt, but much older - isolated on the Bucegi plateau in the Carpathian Mountains in modern day Romania). The position of the Sphinx is imposing, at 7270 feet (2216 meters) in the middle of the colossal fortress-like Bucegi Massif, a chain of very abrupt highly elevated mountains. During the winter the Sphinx is enveloped in rime and ice, at the intersection of numerous heavy winter storms, and in the summer it is enveloped in thick fog, at the crossroad of powerful thunderstorms. At sunset the Sphinx turns copper, reddish and golden, and if you find yourself there alone you will feel a sense of exhilaration, as if you are about to enter another world. 

Serious scholars have suggested that the Carpathian Sphinx and other enigmatic monuments in the Carpathian Mountains are evidence of a very old, forgotten, primordial civilization that survived in the mountains during catastrophic events such as the Biblical Noah's Flood.  Among such researchers was the late Peruvian proto-historian Daniel Ruzo who investigated the Carpathian Sphinx on site in Bucegi and concluded that the key to our past history is to be found here. Daniel Ruzo was convinced that the primordial land was here in Bucegi, as well as important spiritual treasures of crucial importance to present day humanity. In his seminal book, 'The Incredible Story of a Discovery' Daniel Ruzo wrote a significant chapter titled 'The Door to the Treasure' on the Carpathian Mountains and the Carpathian Sphinx. Ruzo wrote:

Here in these mountains in Romania lies the blood of men, the subterraneous tunnels where humanity saved itself during the Flood. These are the caverns of the treasure referred to in so many world legends... 

Today humanity has forgotten the past. 


The Altar of the First Spiritual Man

'The Mystery of the Carpathian Sphinx' comes to portray the spiritual journey of the filmmaker Oana and Dr. Robert Schoch who are deeply moved and transformed by the discoveries they make around the Carpathian Sphinx, acknowledging the vital importance of Mother Nature and reverence for the Universe. 

The Carpathian Sphinx points to a very old sacred world that we are just now beginning to unfold: the world of the First Spiritual Man, the misunderstood and little known man we most commonly refer to as the Neanderthal.  Neanderthal was much different than media and traditional science textbooks have portrayed him, and the documentary shows Neanderthal in a new, unexpected light, one that might completely shock you.

The 'Carpathian Sphinx' was the altar of the Neanderthals. This is the story. 

the movie

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.         Albert Einstein

Hyperion Media Inc, the producer of the film The Mystery of the Carpathian Sphinx has decided to release the film for viewing for free at this time. This decision was made especially having in mind the Romanian audience.

This film is dedicated in memory of Nicholas Dimancescu. Nicholas loved Romania's very ancient history, rich cultural heritage and the pristine beauty of the Carpathian Mountains. This film is also dedicated to all people who love mountains, nature, old history and the mysteries of the life that surrounds us. We thank you for watching.

The Neanderthal physical reconstruction photos are from the book "Daynes" courtesy of Daynes Atelier, Paris, France.

Artist: Elizabeth Daynes

Photography: Phillippe Plailly


The Neanderthal digital reconstructions are by paleo- artist Viktor Deak from New York City.


The Neanderthal voices heard throughout the film are musical reconstructions by British composer Simon Thorne. The music was based off scientific studies made by distinguished professor of archeology Steven Mithen, whose research was published in the book "Singing Neanderthals."

Special Thanks:

Dan Dimancescu

Charles Mapleston

Simon Brighton

David S. Percy




The enigmatic, haunting voices heard throughout the film are part of NEANDERTHAL album: Neanderthal musical reconstructions by composer Simon Thorne based on scientific evidence presented in the book 'The Singing Neanderthals' (2005) written by Steven Mithen, Pro-Vice Chancellor at Reading University (Ph.D in Archeology at Cambridge University).


  • Earth To Be Named Many Dreamings - short

  • Moon To White Water - short


'Mystery of the Carpathian Sphinx' will be distributed worldwide on DVD by Hyperion Media Inc (http://www.hyperion-media.com), as well as other distributors and outlets. In US the film will be distributed on Amazon. Details about purchasing the DVD will be coming in late summer 2013. The DVD will include bonus materials, such as bits from one of the last interviews given by Daniel Ruzo at his home in Lima, Peru at the age of 90 (he passed away the following year, at 91.)


We are pleased to announce that the poster for the DVD of 'The Mystery' is being fully designed by paleo- artist Viktor Deak, who is world renowned for his physical and digital reconstructions of hominids.  Many of the physical reconstructions in the 'Hall of Human Origins' at the prestigious American Museum of Natural History in New York City are made by Viktor. Viktor's work has been featured on BBC, National Geographic, Scientific American and Discovery Channel among others. The poster will include Neanderthals digitally reconstructed after actual fossil remains. We are very excited about this original work.  More on Viktor's work can be seen on his website: www.anatomicalorigins.com


A version of the film, subtitled in the Romanian language will be uploaded on this site, free for viewing starting April 25th. This decision was specifically made for the Romanian audience by the producers of the film, Hyperion Media Inc.


Stay tuned for more upcoming news, and thank you for your interest. 

directors statement

Oana at Ialomita Cave Monastery- Bucegi MassifOana R. Ghiocel'Caves of Consciousness' Project by Nicholas DimancescuOana R. Ghiocel in Bucegi Massif'Caves of Consciousness' Project by Nicholas Dimancescu


Unleashing the Spiritual Human Potential

I was inspired to make this film by the wonderful young filmmaker Nicholas Dimancescu, born in Boston, Mass., US, a second generation Romanian - American and a great lover of Romania's geographical beauty, multi-millenary old history and sacred places like the Bucegi Massif. Nicholas loved the Carpathian Sphinx and I dedicate this film in his memory:

May your spirit live forever in the sacred mountains of Old Dacia. I will think of you every time I return to the Carpathian Mountains. I will continue your legacy.

Dear Reader,

The Carpathian Mountains hold the memory of the 'Flood' and the 'Blood of Men.' They signal the 'Door to the Treasure' of a lost people.

When I was little I used to spend most of my school vacations in Busteni, a mountain ski resort at the base of the abrupt Transylvanian Alps in Romania. At the house, my grandfather had books from his numerous trips, and there were piles of books about Egyptian culture and the Great Pyramid. I remember the book that I liked the most had on its cover a limestone statue of a reclining mythical creature with a lion's body and human head: the Great Egyptian Sphinx and below the description: 'The Terrifying One: The Greatest Sculpture on the Planet.'

One day, during the summer, I was probably seven, my dad took me up the Transylvanian Alps, to the Bucegi Massif plateau to see an unusual rock formation Romanians called 'The Sphinx.' I had no idea what it was, but I was very curious to find out. It was a chilly mid - morning. We were alone on the plateau. The clouds were very low. It was a spooky atmosphere, and as we hiked up, we lingered in a thick milky fog that slowly started to vanish, and I realized we were high atop, surrounded by huge mountain peaks. It seemed we were in the middle of a colossal fortress. Suddenly, as I turned around to enjoy this new view, I saw the Sphinx. And I just froze. My jaw dropped, my mouth wide open. I was in front of a gigantic human face with mysterious, enormous eyes. It seemed a relic from another world, a lost giant from some very ancient legend. And the resemblance with the Egyptian Sphinx was almost unreal.

Since then, a question, inevitably, started to haunt me: Could there be a link between the Carpathian and the Egyptian Sphinx?

As an adult I started to pose myself more and more questions. I read books about Egypt and Romania. The Sphinx in the Carpathian Mountains is virtually unknown outside of Romania. Nobody in the US, for example has heard of it. Yet, when I show Americans images of the Sphinx they are perplexed and intrigued. Why have I not seen or heard of this? they ask me. And my reply, often, is: I do not know. So, Why? Could it be poor marketing strategies? Bad luck? As I view it, there could be a number of possible explanations such as that the Communist regime kept the Western tourism and tourists away, virtually making no promotion of it outside of the Romanian borders, and also the fault of all Romanian geologists that were quick to jump to conclusions and explain it as a natural eroded rock (although they never spent any time on the plateau to investigate it).

But can a natural rock have such clearly recognizable features? Is there any other natural rock as well 'carved' anywhere else in the world? If it's natural why don't we have others very similar in the Alps, Pyrenees or the Caucasus, or any other mountains on this planet? Clearly, the Carpathian Sphinx is unique. The fact that there is nothing like it in Europe (and the world) gives it some sort of specialness, and if that's the case it would have attracted much attention in ancient times just as it does now. Rocks that resemble the human shape had always been considered sacred, as they are an indication that they came from the Gods. And then add to that sacred quality that drop of specialness. It is an incredible combo: a sacred spot, but totally unique in the world. It is a combo I always felt would make the human populations living in Europe go completely nuts for it. The Sphinx surroundings would be the perfect location for incredible ceremonies and rituals where tens of thousands of people could be able to gather during the year. And the view from the Sphinx is wild, yet puts you in a state of exhilaration. From the top of the Sphinx one can literally see almost all the Romanian borders, and at night you feel you can touch the stars with your hand.

Pondering on these ideas, I started to wonder: Who could those people that went 'nuts' be? Could there be any civilization (let's call it as many writers do ante-diluvian, lost civilization) that gathered in the mountain, the Sphinx playing a significant role in their culture, and whose memory was transported to Egypt both physically through human migrations and spiritually through traditions and legends?

I read countless books on ancient civilizations (and lost civilizations) late at night in some of the world's best libraries and museums, such as the Harvard Peabody Museum, the Smithsonian, the American Museum of Natural History, and many other museums around the world when I traveled.

And I often wondered: Could the evidence be in plain view? You know how it is - you could be looking for your glasses everywhere and then realize they were in front of you the whole time. This happened to me many times, so I was sensitive to this idea. We humans are trained to see, 'focus' on one thing at a time, and it is impossible for us to 'defocus' so I thought, perhaps this analogy could be used when we think about lost civilizations - that a lot of evidence is already discovered, but we have failed (archeologists and historians and others) to recognize it properly, and have misinterpreted it, judging it too soon and too quickly. Many mistakes could have been made due to 'rush' and 'poor judgment.' Perhaps, I wondered, could the evidence be right here, and yet we still miss it?

And this is exactly the case of the Great Egyptian Sphinx. Typically, Egyptologists date the Great Sphinx back to the Old Kingdom, to the reign of Pharaoh Khafra (c.2558-2532 BC). But in fact, the Egyptian Sphinx is much older. Hysteria in the media started in the early 1990s (Geologist and Professor Dr. Robert Schoch was at the center of this big controversy) presenting shocking evidence that the Sphinx was really, much, much older than conventional archeology believed. It was much older than the Egyptian civilization, dating back to at least 7,000 BC, but that is just the minimum age. The Sphinx could be 15,000 years old, or even more. 'Scientists could Rewrite History' wrote the New York Times and many other publications around the world. A documentary on the prestigious BBC and primetime television in United States followed. And how did the Egyptologists deal with the undeniable, mounting pile of evidence against their textbook theories? They simply went in denial, trying to ignore it, hoping that it will simply go away. But it won't. The evidence is too indisputable, the theory too certain for it to ever be demolished. The only thing that needs to be 'demolished' is the current view of history.

Many advances in science were considered outrageous in their time, yet today we take them for granted. Galileo was imprisoned when he stated that the earth moved around the sun, and when the Wright Brothers proved to the world they could fly - they were already doing it for two years, and up to that time everyone thought the ability to fly was impossible. How many stories like this can you find when you look at your Science textbooks from high school for example? A new idea is always considered impossible or heretical until it is proven correct - and then it simply becomes common knowledge.

So is there the possibility that there existed in the Carpathian Mountains, centered on the Sphinx, a high, sophisticated civilization that influenced the builders of the Egyptian Sphinx?

It became my mission. Just like a detective, protagonist of a suspense adventure film, like the female version of Indiana Jones, I had to pursue this to its core. The Sphinx was calling me to unravel its hidden story. I had to solve the mystery.

The film strives to address these questions and many more, and identifies the missing 'glasses' you look for everywhere, but not where they are - in front of you. The lost civilization most people still search for in many popular television shows, blockbuster movies, and many bestselling books is a civilization quite known by mostly everyone that went to high school and has an average culture and history background. Whom am I talking about? Please, take a seat and grab on to your chair so you won't fall: It is the dumb brutes of popular culture, the almost subhuman Neanderthals. You may find this unbelievable, but it is true. It is almost like finding out your 'retarded' neighbor you've totally ignored is a rocket scientist, or one of the greatest writers alive. The same applies to Neanderthal. Thanks to incredible breakthroughs in science (such as the historical unraveling of the Neanderthal genome in 2010) we are proven to be part Neanderthal (yes, we are a hybrid species- part Neanderthal, part Cro-Magnon) to have gained from Neanderthals many fundamental spiritual concepts such as the practice of burials (and the idea of flowers on graves), the idea of an afterlife, artistic innovations such as painting and musical performance. Now how vital are these practices in our daily lives? Can you imagine living today for example without burying the dead or without listening to music?

People have not seen the Neanderthals for whom they really were: as stated before, it is hard to see sometimes what is in front of your eyes. It is hard to 'defocus.' But when you finally do, sometimes, you find yourself very surprised by what you see. There could be a scream of shock or a sigh of relief: Aaagh! Wow! I can't believe it! So, time has come for a radical re-thinking and re-evaluation of the past. It is time to turn the view of history upside down.

I shall lead you and show you undeniable proof in the wild Carpathian Mountains. It is time for the fog around the Carpathian Sphinx to clear. It is time for the spiritual treasure to be regained. Let's enter the Mystery. Let's enter the forgotten Paradise. Let's unleash the human spiritual potential.


Oana R. Ghiocel

OANA R. GHIOCEL, dual US and Romanian citizen, received an M.A. in Documentary and Audio Production from Emerson College in Boston, Mass., and she holds previous degrees in screenwriting and filmmaking from RIT (Rochester, NY) Prague (Czech Republic) and Paris (France.) Born in Bucharest, Romania, she is an award-winning media producer, consultant, and screenwriter, and currently the Vice-President of Hyperion Media Inc. (www.hyperion-media.com). She has appeared several times on television and has a strong interest in proto-history and human origins.

scientific statement

Robert M. Schoch in the Bear CaveRobert M. Schoch- Bucegi MassifRobert M. Schoch and John Anthony West- Egypt- Early 1990s


The Neanderthal Legacy

by Robert M. Schoch, Ph.D.

The notion of the totally objective scientist is, I contend, a myth. Scientists are humans, and we all carry cultural biases, personal and societal worldviews, religious preconceptions, and implicit paradigms. These biases are often so deeply ingrained that we do not even acknowledge them explicitly; we mistake our subjective views for some sort of objective truth. We fail to "experience the true meaning of things rather than the meaning we unwittingly impose on them" (David Conway, Magic without Mirrors, 2011). A case in point is the traditional interpretation of our close, and now extinct (but more on this below), relatives commonly referred to as Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis).

Ever since they were first recognized in the 1850s based on fossil remains, Neanderthals have been generally viewed as our rather brutish, primitive, ape-like distant cousins, the quintessential uncultured cavemen and cavewomen. The early modern humans (Homo sapiens, often referred to as Cro-Magnons, and seen as our direct ancestors) were, according to common consensus, superior to the Neanderthals in every way. Indeed, the vehement intellectual struggle waged against the concept of evolution by natural selection (a struggle that continues even today, over 150 years after Charles Darwin first published On the Origin of Species in 1859) is fueled in part by preconceived notions and false interpretations of the "primitiveness" of Neanderthals. Such subhuman animals certainly could not have anything to do with our noble ancestry, or so some assert. However, the latest modern scientific research is rapidly upending the traditional view of Neanderthals. Indeed the Neanderthals, with brains on average larger than those of modern humans (but differently arranged and proportioned), may well have been endowed with certain intellectual and emotional faculties that were better developed than the equivalents in the average modern human.

To cut to the chase, far from being an uncivilized side branch of the human evolutionary tree, best joked about even as we relegate them to a metaphorical closet like some eccentric relative whom we are ashamed to acknowledge, these Neanderthal cave people may be the originators of religion, the first practitioners of the arts that would eventually develop into science, and the innovators responsible for laying the foundations of civilization and high culture. We may owe our deepest intellectual notions, our underlying archetypal mythologies, our most fundamental religious conceptions and worldviews, to the Neanderthals. We are who we are today due to our inheritance, both culturally and to some extent genetically, from the Neanderthals. In this view the tables are turned. It was the Neanderthals who, tens of thousands of years ago during the ice age, were the carriers of refined and sophisticated intellectual notions that led to what we now view as the hallmarks of civilization. The Cro-Magnons were, counter to the traditional view, the unrefined, warring, physically assertive, and relatively un-intellectual species. Today our civilization and we modern humans are a mixture of Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon traits.

These are exciting, explosive, paradigm-shattering ideas. They shake the very foundations of what we thought we knew about the origins of civilization and high culture. Yet, this new paradigm is supported by the latest scientific research on Neanderthals, research that is on-going with new discoveries being made on a regular basis.

It has been a joy and privilege to become directly involved with this new research concerning not just the enigma of the Neanderthals, but also the origins of our own humanity. I have long had an interest in Neanderthals, dating back to before my college days. As an undergraduate I studied anthropology and geology, and my primary focus was human evolution based on both the fossil record and comparative ethnological analyses. I could think of nothing more interesting and important than to understand our own origins and what makes us humans what we are. At the time Neanderthals fascinated me, along with other earlier species belonging to the human tree (various members of Australopithecus, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and so on) as well as the antecedents of the hominids (the human family). To better grasp these topics, after receiving my B.A. in Anthropology and B.S. in Geology from George Washington University, I attended Yale University. There I earned a Ph.D. in geology and geophysics in 1983, with much of my focus being on mammalian paleontology (for, after all, humans and their close relatives are mammals), but also continuing my studies in what makes humans 'human' and the origins of civilization.

Since1984 I have taught fulltime at Boston University, using my 'free' time and the summers to pursue my research into the origins of civilization and modern humanity. My studies have taken me around the world, from Egypt to Easter Island, Japan and Peru, Scotland and Turkey, to name just a few places where I have carried out fieldwork. In some circles I am perhaps best known for my work on the Great Sphinx of Egypt. I first traveled to Egypt in 1990, on invitation to analyze the Sphinx from a geological perspective. The question before me was: Does the geology agree with the traditional date of circa 2500 BCE ascribed to the statue by modern Egyptologists? After several trips to Egypt and intense research, including geophysical studies around the base of the Sphinx and analyses of comparative weathering patterns correlated with climaticchanges in Egypt over the millennia, I came to the unorthodox conclusion that the oldest portions of the Great Sphinx date back thousands of years earlier than hitherto recognized. Initially I estimated, rather conservatively, that the Sphinx dates back to at least 5000 BCE to 7000 BCE (today I acknowledgethat it could be even older). This is well before the beginning of dynastic Egypt, circa 3000 BCE, and furthermore well before civilization was supposed to have begun anywhere in the world. My dating was impossible, my critics and detractors argued. Humans were too primitive; they were at best hunters and gatherers back then, and they certainly did not have the technology, social organization, or will power to carve a giant statue from bedrock!

My work on the Great Sphinx was my first serious brush with the status quo. I was lambasted in the media by some conventional archaeologists and historians, even as many geologists quietly supported my work (I first presented my research at a meeting of the Geological Society of America, with rave reviews by fellow geologists). For some years certain Egyptologists did their best to marginalize me, even calling me a "pseudo-scientist" (one of the nastiest epithets in the academic lexicon, commonly used when it is desired to exclude one from mainstream scholarly circles: fortunately I already had my Ph.D. and was tenured at Boston University). To make a long story short, my solid dating of the Great Sphinx has never gone away and archaeologists must face the evidence. Recently my thesis that civilization is thousands of years older than conventionally believed has received strong support with the stunning finds of sophisticated, beautifully carved, megalithic structures at G?bekli Tepe (in modern southeastern Turkey) that are securely dated to the period of 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Some followers of my work have na?vely asked me if, in the light of such vindication, my critics have now apologized to me. Unfortunately I must report that I have yet to receive one such apology.

My research on the Great Sphinx (and related areas, such as G?bekli Tepe) had pushed the origins of civilization back to well over 10,000 years ago, back to the end of the last ice age. But it seemed to me, based on the evidence, civilization 10,000 years ago was in some ways basically the same as civilization today, even if not characterized by all our fancy machinery and electronic wizardry. I continued to ponder the fundamental roots of civilization and all that goes with high culture, such as religious beliefs and apparently primal archetypal notions that ultimately form the foundation of our world today. I wanted to push further back into prehistory, into proto-history. Along this journey I became aware of the work of the Peruvian esotericist and proto-historian Daniel Ruzo (1900-1991).

Based on his studies of legends and myths, Ruzo was convinced of the reality of a primordial worldwide civilization that, with the exception of a few survivors who took refuge in underground chambers, caves, and tunnels, was destroyed by a cataclysm long before the earliest civilizations acknowledged by modern conventional historians. To me, as a geologist, this did not seem like a totally preposterous notion. Ruzo spent much of his life searching for physical evidence of this incredibly ancient proto-historical culture, and he believed he had found it in the form of enormous, but highly eroded, sculpted rock formations located in the Peruvian Andes on the Marcahuasi (Markawasi) Plateau. In 2005 I followed in Ruzo's footsteps, exploring the Marcahuasi Plateau firsthand. As magnificent as the setting is, and as enigmatic as the possible ancient stone sculptures are, I was not thoroughly convinced that this was the evidence for the origins of civilization that I sought.

In early October 2008 I found myself speaking about my work on the Great Sphinx and related topics at the Conference on Precession and Ancient Knowledge (CPAK) in San Diego. One of the attendees was filmmaker Oana R. Ghiocel. She introduced herself and mentioned the enigmatic possible sculptures found in the Bucegi Mountains (part of the Southern Carpathians) in Romania. If I remember correctly, she even showed me a photograph of the Carpathian Sphinx. I was not totally unfamiliar with the Carpathians, and in particular the Carpathian Sphinx, as Ruzo had in fact visited the Carpathian Sphinx and environs back in 1968 while searching for the primordial civilization. I was also aware from my anthropological and paleontological studies that a number of fine Neanderthal specimens and habitation sites have been located in Romania. Still, having never visited Romania at that point, I only had book knowledge of the country and its treasures. Little did I know this was soon to change!

As it happened, Oana Ghiocel lived in Boston (Massachusetts) when she was not in Romania, so over the next year and a half we periodically met in my office at Boston University to discuss our mutual interests. Among other things, she introduced me to the research and theories concerning Neanderthals developed by Stan Gooch (1932-2010). Or perhaps I should say she re-introduced me to Stan Gooch, as I had vaguely heard of his work, but never pursued it, making the initial mistake of dismissing Gooch's ideas as so far from the conventional views concerning Neanderthals as to be unworthy of serious pursuit. Yes, I too was guilty of being unduly influenced by the status quo. Let that be a lesson to me!

Beginning in the 1970s, in such books as The Dream Culture of the Neanderthals (1979) and Cities of Dreams (1989), Gooch argued for a radical reinterpretation of the Neanderthals. Neanderthals had brains as large as ours, or indeed in many cases slightly larger, but their brains were not structured in the same manner as ours. The human brain consists of both the cerebrum and cerebellum, and Gooch pointed out that Neanderthals had larger cerebellums than modern humans. According to Gooch the cerebellum is that part of the brain primarily responsible for intuition, dreaming, insight, paranormal abilities, and magic (in the true sense, not stage conjuring). The more developed Neanderthal cerebellum gave rise to a "high civilization of dreams" (Cities of Dreams). Neanderthals developed a deep understanding of the natural world, but they did not necessarily do so in the rational, logical, scientific manner that modern humans have come to expect and accept. 'I think that they [the ancients, Neanderthals]' Gooch stated, 'obtained their knowledge not logically and scientifically but intuitively'(Dream Culture).

Gooch argued that Neanderthals were the original creators, the innovators of a high culture, of symbolic values and religious sensibilities, which early modern humans (Cro-Magnons) copied and adopted without genuine understanding. Neanderthals did not have a civilization of high technologies, but one of the mind and spirit that survives today in our beliefs, myths, folklore, and religious practices.

Neanderthals developed in time a culture of the mind of a very high order, but also of a strangeness that is very difficult for us to imagine. Neanderthals, according to Gooch, worshipped the cave bear, the spider, and the serpent animals with whom they shared their caves. Neanderthals were the first humans to fully develop religious cults, and cave bear worship was their most significant cult. Neanderthals worshipped the number 13, associated with the moon and the lunar calendar, a number that is still considered magical today. Neanderthals developed a profound knowledge of crystals and minerals. According to Gooch, Neanderthals had developed their own unique symbols, signs, and sophisticated language systems. Neanderthals weaved and sewed embroidery, wore jewelry, painted their faces and bodies, danced, had an elaborate mythology and cosmology, built stone circles, utilized sacred fires, and made ceremonial sacrifices. They had their own grand celebrations and feasts that were spectacularly colorful and creative performances. They worshipped the moon and other celestial bodies including constellations still worshipped today worldwide such as The Big Bear, Little Bear, and Draco (the dragon or serpentin the sky). Gooch asserted that Neanderthals had a strong religious life based on an Earth-magic religion, and they believed in the afterlife, practicing complex burial rituals.

In many ways Neanderthal culture and Cro-Magnon culture were diametrically opposed. Gooch wrote in his book, The Dream Culture of the Neanderthals,

'I believe the actuality of Neanderthal man --of whom archeologists find only a handful of skeletons, a few altars, traces of ritualized burial, a range of flint tools, and an apparent knowledge of herbal remedies --was this: his was a moon-goddess-worshipping, matriarchal, food-gathering society, where women governed all matters. The only tasks delegated specifically to men were those where muscle power was directly and literally required, as in fighting, for example.The structure and nature of Cro-Magnon life was diametrically opposite. This was a patriarchal, hunter-warrior society, of which men governed all aspects, including religious life. Women were mere adjuncts in all things, whose main purpose was to bear sons and to comfort and care for the male. The supreme deity worshipped was the sun god.'

Cro-Magnons learned about Neanderthal religion and knowledge initially through secret observations during the 10,000 years (or more) of co-existence between the two species in Europe. When Cro-Magnons arrived in Europe they were shocked by the knowledgeable Neanderthals and wanted the Neanderthal magic for themselves; so, they slowly and carefully spied on Neanderthals, copied them, and in the process stole all their knowledge and wisdom including symbolic systems and rituals.

Gooch believed that aggressive and battle-skilled Cro-Magnons both massively exterminated some populations of Neanderthals, but also interbred with them.This was a radical unconventional view --to believe that Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals interbred and therefore Neanderthal genes should still be found among us. However, recent studies of the Neanderthal genome reveal that today an estimated 1% to 4% of the modern Eurasian genome appears to come from Neanderthals. That is, Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons must have interbred. This confirms Gooch's ideas!

Inspired by the work of Stan Gooch and the enthusiasm of Oana, I was ready to go into the field and explore the Neanderthal heritage firsthand, testing the theories of Stan Gooch and further developing our knowledge and understanding of Neanderthals, and tracing the origins of our own civilization and culture. When she was a young girl, Oana's father took her to the Bucegi Massif to see the Carpathian Sphinx and she spent school vacations in Busteni at the base of the Bucegi Massif. Numerous Neanderthal fossil remains have been found in Romania, and the caves of the Bucegi area have yielded direct evidence of Neanderthal habitation, including Neanderthal tools, ritual arrangements of cave bear skulls and skeletons, and other indisputable evidence of a Neanderthal presence. There is no doubt that this was a major Neanderthal cultural nucleus during the last ice age, tens of thousands of years ago. Thisis a logical starting place to study Neanderthal culture directly.

Oana arranged joint research and filming expeditions to Bucegi during the summers of 2010 and 2011. These were heady times for me, full of adventure, excitement, new insights, and discoveries. After diligent study, I have become convinced that the Bucegi area was what we might term a hotbed of Neanderthal activity during the last ice age. Beyond the direct evidence of Neanderthals in the region, there are numerous enigmatic stone monuments besides the Carpathian Sphinx, formations that seem to resemble humanoid heads. The vast majority of these structures (or sculptures) are, to my eyes, compatible with Neanderthal features and attributes. A formation, which I refer to as the Emerging Head, looks distinctly Neanderthal-like with large eye sockets and brow ridges, a low forehead, and a wide nose. Likewise, the Bearded Head Rock appears to resemble more closely a Neanderthal than a modern human. The Carpathian Sphinx itself has more than one profile; viewed from one aspect it appears to be a modern human, but when one walks around to the other side it takes on a distinctly Neanderthal appearance. Oana and I continue to study these formations carefully, considering whether they would have had their present appearances during Neanderthal times. Our tentative conclusion is yes, they would have, and we believe that Neanderthal people on the plateau would have recognized these faces as readily, perhaps more readily, than we do today. Based on our on-going research, we hypothesize that the Bucegi Plateau was both a stronghold and ritualistic center for Neanderthal populations during the last ice age.

Reinforcing this interpretation are extremely ancient legends and myths that specifically pertain to the Bucegi area. These are well attested, as the Romanian Queen Elisabeth (1843-1916) collected and preserved the legends of the region current among the common people. Additionally, the world-famous Romanian historian, folklorist, and philosopher Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) compiled, studied, and interpreted many incredibly ancient Romanian folk traditions, clearly dating back long before the time of ancient Greece (one of the sources for these traditions is Herodotus of the fifth century BCE). We are currently undertaking exhaustive analyses of these traditions in the light of possible Neanderthal connections. Although we have just begun, we already see numerous potential references and allusions to Neanderthals and interactions between Neanderthals and early modern humans. A wizard (Neanderthal) lives in Ialomita Cave, witches (female Neanderthals) understand the secrets of nature magic, the hero-king-god-healer Zalmoxis (Zamolxis) wore a bear skin (Neanderthals had rituals surrounding the cave bear), a fortress is found at the heart of Bucegi where the snow never melts (apparently a reference to the ice age, as throughout Bucegi the snow now melts during the summer months), and many other elements all point toward Neanderthal civilization. As Eliade wrote in his 1972 book Zalmoxis (p.vii),". . . the cult of Zalmoxis,. . . as well as the myths, symbols, and rituals that underlie and determine Romanian religious folklore, have their distant roots in a world of spiritual values that precedes the appearance of the great Near Eastern and Mediterranean civilizations."

With our 2010 and 2011 expeditions we have made remarkable headway in terms of arriving at a new understanding of the Neanderthal legacy and the pivotal role Neanderthals played in the development of modern humanity and civilization.Without understanding our debt to the Neanderthals we cannot hope to understand ourselves. Indeed, we all carry a piece of the Neanderthal heritage, and in this sense the Neanderthals never truly went extinct.

The first tangible fruit of our research is the film, The Mystery of the Carpathian Sphinx. I hope you will enjoy it, but more importantly I hope it will open your eyes to a new way of viewing the Neanderthals and humanity. I am proud of what we have accomplished thus far, as reflected in the film. However, the research is not over; there is much more to learn. The Mystery of the Carpathian Sphinx is not an end, but a beginning. Oana and I continue our studies of Neanderthal culture. We are currently working on a book, and we have follow-up expeditions and films planned. We have just begun the journey and there is no predicting what new insights and mysteries we may discover.

Robert M. Schoch, Ph.D.

Dr. ROBERT M. SCHOCH, a full-time faculty member at the College of General Studies at Boston University since 1984, earned his Ph.D. in Geology and Geophysics at Yale University. He also earned an M.S. and an M.Phil. in Geology and Geophysics from Yale as well as a B.S. in Geology and a B.A. in Anthropology from George Washington University. Dr. Schoch has been quoted extensively in the media for his revolutionary research on ancient cultures and monuments in such diverse countries as Egypt, Turkey, Bosnia, Romania, Wales, Scotland, Mexico, Peru, Chile (Easter Island), and Japan.

In the early 1990s, Dr. Schoch's geological analyses of the Great Sphinx demonstrated that the statue is thousands of years older than the conventional dating of 2500 BCE, bringing him worldwide fame. Dr. Schoch is featured in the Emmy-winning documentary The Mystery of the Sphinx, which first aired on NBC and has been subsequently broadcast on numerous channels both in America and abroad.

A featured speaker at international conferences and symposia, Dr. Schoch's work has been instrumental in spurring renewed attention to the interrelationships between geological and astronomical phenomena, natural catastrophes, and the early history of civilization. Besides The Mystery of the Sphinx, Dr. Schoch has appeared on many radio and television shows, including ABC, BBC-2,Syfy, the National Geographic Channel, the Discovery Channel, and the History Channel. He has contributed to magazines, journals, and reviews, and he is the author, coauthor, and/or editor of a number of books, both technical and popular,including Phylogeny Reconstruction in Paleontology, Stratigraphy:Principles and Methods, Vertebrate Paleontology, Voices of the Rocks, Voyages of the Pyramid Builders, Pyramid Quest, Forgotten Civilization: The Role of Solar Outburstsin Our Past and Future, TheParapsychology Revolution, and the university textbook Environmental Science: Systems and Solutions.
Website: www.robertschoch.com


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