Author: Mark Isaak
Title: The Once Hollow Earth Theory
THE ONCE HOLLOW EARTH THEORY
In 1950, Immanuel Velikovsky published _Worlds in Collision_ , a book
based on the premise that ancient mythology, interpreted literally, could
give useful information about past history. The premise has some merit to
it; after all, Heinrich Schliemann used the Iliad as his guidebook to making
several important discoveries and sparking the new science of archeology in
the process . However, Velikovsky erred in his objectivity. He surmised
that the planet Venus had a major worldwide influence, often catastrophic,
on the world, and that these influences showed up in mythology. Mythology,
however, doesn't support this conclusion. Venus appears very rarely in
world mythology , and Velikovsky, as a result, had to concentrate on the
few cultures that did mention it and infer far-fetched connections in other
In 1990 I began to ask myself what conclusions one would come to if one
looked at *all* the world's mythology. It immediately occurred to me that
legends of an underground were practically universal, and further research
has confirmed this. In order for such legends to be so important and
widespread, underground caverns must have played an important part in the
lives of ancient peoples. However, although some extensive cave systems
exist, we don't today see any of the vast underground chambers we hear of in
legend. The inescapable conclusion is that the huge caverns collapsed at
some point in the distant past. The collapse of these caves also explains
much more elegantly many of the catastrophes which Velikovsky required
unknown extraterrestrial forces to cause.
In brief, the Once Hollow Earth theory may be stated as the theory that
there were once vast chambers beneath the surface of the earth; that humans
lived in these chambers, and that their life there contributed to the
development of civilization and of humanity itself; and that most or all of
the chambers collapsed over a stretch of time early in history and/or in
prehistory. The following text goes into more detail but is still but a
brief summary; space doesn't allow inclusion of all the evidence supporting
the Once Hollow Earth theory.
Mechanisms for Forming Caves
Diseased nature oftentimes breaks forth
In strange eruptions; oft the teeming earth
Is with a kind of colic pinched and vexed
By the imprisoning of unruly wind
Within her womb, which, for enlargement striving,
Shakes the old beldame earth and topples down
Steeples and mossgrown towers.
William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part One, (III,i)
The earth's interior is a dynamic place where powerful forces even today are
slowly but inexorably changing the face of the surface above. These forces
are driven by the energy of radioactive decay. This energy manifests
itself, to us, mainly as earthquakes, volcanoes, and the earth's magnetic
Radioactive decay produces more than energy, however. Alpha decay produces
alpha particles which (with rare exception) turn into helium atoms. Other
processes create argon and radon. These are all inert gasses, which means
they don't combine chemically with the other materials in the earth. Since
they are lighter than the surrounding minerals, they will slowly make their
way to the surface.
Here, though, the gasses encounter an obstacle, since the earth's crust
isn't uniformly porous. In some places they will find an outlet and escape
as part of volcanic eruptions, but in other cases they will remain
underground, either dissolved in magma or in huge bubbles. The bubbles, of
course, produce underground chambers directly when the rock around them
cools sufficiently. The dissolved gases produce chambers via a different
mechanism. If the gases have built up until the magma is saturated with
them, a decrease in pressure will cause some of the gas to come out of
solution. A decrease in pressure can be caused in any of many different
ways--the magma may continue to rise slowly; the magma may partially vent as
a volcanic release; or an earthquake may pass through the magma, creating
waves of increasing and decreasing pressure. Whatever the cause, a decrease
in pressure can produce small gas bubbles in the magma, which, if the magma
is cool enough, won't escape. If water later gets into these small spaces,
it will fairly rapidly erode a complex and intricate cave structure.
The caves will initially be entirely underground, but nothing on or in the
earth long remains unchanged. Groundwater slowly dissolves tiny cracks into
wide underground rivers, some of which will connect with the caves. Lands
uplift, and the surface above the caves slowly erodes away, while the waters
which once scoured the caves drain out of them. In time, the caves become
Early Ventures Underground
The Tunnel is not lighted
Existence with a wall
Is better we consider
Than not exist at all.
Even before mankind existed as such, caves must have played a role in its
development. Caves provide shelter from the elements and from larger
predators. African folktales still tell of escaping from a lion in a cave
and of the lion getting stuck under the roof . It is perhaps inevitable
that caves should come to be frequently used by primitive humans. Evidence
of this early use shows up as artifacts which archeologists find in caves.
It also shows up in the physical and mental characteristics of modern humans.
Elaine Morgan has listed several physical characteristics unique to humans.
She proposes that they can best be explained by supposing that humans once
went through a semi-aquatic stage. However, they can also be explained just
as well, and perhaps better, by considering mankind's early ventures
underground. Man's upright posture evolved from the need to free the hands
for groping along cave walls in the dark. Our unique distribution of body
hair arose as a result of being freed from dependence on hair for protection
from the elements. Our streamlined fat distribution allows us to carry as
much fat as possible yet still fit through narrow openings.
In addition to physical characteristics, we have several mental features
which point to underground life. Since natural objects are the objects of
phobias much more often than more recent but more dangerous objects like
automobiles and electric outlets, phobias apparently have a genetic basis,
requiring probably hundreds of generations of natural selection to become
part of our nature. Excepting social phobias, most of the most common
phobias (snakes, spiders, darkness, cliffs, closed places) are associated
with caves. Agoraphobia, another of the most common phobias, may be
associated with leaving the security of caves. It's unlikely that human
phobias would have such a strong association with caves if humans didn't
spend much of their lives there. Furthermore, near-death experiences almost
invariably include traveling through a tunnel, providing further evidence
of a brain evolved inside caves.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.
William Cowper, from Olmey Hymns
With the advent of the controlled use of fire, caves became much more
accessible, for people no longer needed to navigate them by feel. At that
point, caves had almost everything necessary to sustain permanent
populations. Ground water supplied their water source. If the cave system
were extensive enough, it would be naturally ventilating, because cool air
sinking to lower levels would be heated geothermally, causing it to rise and
create a perpetual circulation of air.
The only thing lacking for self-sufficient underground living is food. A
few caves may have had even that. Some bacteria and at least one species of
fly eat petrochemicals . They may have been able to convert subterranean
oil reserves into something edible by humans. Evidence that this may have
happened appears in the book of Exodus, which tells how Moses and his
followers, in an oil-rich region of the world, fed for a time on the manna
which came from the ground (not, as Velikovsky pretends, from the sky) .
Human life will be found wherever sustained life is possible; therefore it
is inevitable that people would have formed lasting communities in the
underground areas capable of supporting them. I refer to these underground
dwellers as "Chthonians" (from Greek for "in the earth"). Since their homes
have since been buried under miles of rock, we can't see the results of
their civilization directly, but we can get some idea of what their life was
like through indirect means, mainly through the legends about them that have
been passed down through the generations.
One particular force for causing people to live underground would be
powerful invading tribes which force people into more inhospitable areas.
Stories of such an exile exist in myths around the world. The Titans, for
example, were confined to Tartarus after their battle with the Greek gods,
and Satan was banished to the abyss. Across the globe, the underworld has
gained a reputation as an abode of hostility and death. 
Yet some Chthonian civilizations must have flourished, for many tales of the
underground characterize it as a place of riches and luxury. Beside
Tartarus, for example, the Greeks had the Elysian Fields. Mimir, in the
Scandanavian underground, is a source of wisdom.  In Hindu myth, the
underworld is home to Nagas and Rakshasas with all their riches.  In New
Guinea, the underworld was the source of musical instruments.  Buffalo
and the sowing of corn came from the Cheyenne underground.  Since the
underground is a source for many natural resources (especially energy and
minerals), and since the Chthonians would be much more sheltered from
hostile people, animals, and climate, it's not surprising that some
Chthonian civilizations would surpass even the cities aboveground.
Atoms or systems into ruin hurled,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.
Alexander Pope, Essay on Man, epistle I
Caves even today are not the most stable of geologic structures. Normal
weathering and erosion cause them to fall in on themselves eventually. The
typical lifetime of a cave is on the order of a few million years ,
which is very brief by geologic standards. Ceiling collapse is one of the
major causes of caving accident today . When cave systems were even
larger and more extensive, they must have been even more subject to
collapse. Furthermore, the shock waves from one collapsing cave may have
triggered the failure of nearby caves as well, causing entire regions of
underground chambers to collapse essentially simultaneously. In many areas,
the collapse could have triggered (or have been triggered by) volcanic
These collapses did not go unnoticed by our ancestors. Tales of terrible
earthquakes are common the world over, and they are often connected with
creatures living underground. But even large earthquakes don't come close
to explaining some of the catastrophes which ancient legends relate. One
point in the Mahabharata, for example, tells that "the Himalayas are
exploding and tumbling down."  Indians of the American Northwest tell of
a time when "'the world turned over,' 'the world turned inside out,' or 'the
world changed,' often quite suddenly."  The "angel of the Abyss" in the
book of Revelation is known as "Destroyer." 
As the lands collapsed, the waters which had settled in some of the lower
chambers were forced out, causing large local floods in many areas, and
giving rise to legends of global floods. Once Chinese legend, for example,
tells of a time when ". . . the earth cracked, making deep chasms in all
directions. During this great disturbance, flames spat up in the forests
and waters gushed forth from the ground in great waves, turning the whole
world into a vast ocean."  In a Samoan tale, the earth is overwhelmed
by a "boundless sea" as the result of a battle between fire and water, and
the god Tangaloa had then to re-create the world. 
The underground civilizations, of course, would have perished without a
trace in such disasters. Tales of lost civilizations probably refer to
buried Chthonian cultures. Atlantis in particular must have been
underground; Plato said it disappeared midst "violent earthquakes and
floods" and tells of an entire army sinking into the earth.  The only
kind of catastrophe that could cause a large area to sink into the ground
would be the collapse of a huge underground chamber. The few survivors of
collapsed caves may have given rise to legends of people escaping after
being eaten by monsters. A Basuto legend is particularly illustrative of
this; in it, the monster is a rock which eats all the cattle and people in
the area; they escape after one of the people carves a door in the rock's
In olden times . . . Earth attained unity, and therefore became
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chpt. 2
None of the very large caves capable of supporting entire cities remains
accessible to us today. Most, no doubt, have collapsed, but a few may
remain buried deep underground. Possibly some of these may one day be
detected via analysis of seismic echoes. The bones and artifacts of the
chthonians are still buried, but they are probably deep enough that, without
knowing exactly where to look for them, it may be decades or even centuries
before we find any of them. However, the underworlds of legend were only
the latest in many cycles of creation and collapse of underground areas; it
is more likely that we will find fossils of animals that wandered into the
caverns of past ages. Such fossils can be recognized by being badly damaged
from crushing and by being dated (based on the age of surrounding rocks)
much older than expected. Protoavis may be one such fossil which has
already been found. Until some good direct evidence of the Once Hollow
Earth is found, though, research of the subject will have to take the form
of analysis of the many myths and legends that refer to it.
 Velikovsky, Immanuel. _Worlds in Collision_, Pocket Books, New York,
 Boorstin, Daniel J. _The Discoverers_, Random House, New York, 1983,
 Thompson, Stith, 1958. _Motif-Index of Folk-Literature_, 6 volumes,
of which ~20 lines refer to Venus. Indiana University Press, Bloomington.
 Mbele, Joseph, 1993. "How Hare Helped Civet", _Earthwatch_ 12(5)
(Jul/Aug 1993), 14-15.
 Borrer, Triplehorn, & Johnson. _An Introduction to the Study of
Insects_, Saunders College Publishing, Philadelphia, 1989, p. 500.
 Exodus 16:14.
 Besides Hell and Tartarus, there is Scandanavia's Niflheim
[Sturluson, Snorri. _The Prose Edda_, Oxford University Press, London, 1929,
p. 42], Egypt's Tuat [Budge, E. A. Wallis. _The Book of the Dead_, Arkana,
London, 1923, 1989, p. 57], Apa Tanis' Neli [von Furer Haimendorf, Cristoph.
_A Himalayan Tribe_, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1980. p.
172], Polynesia's Po [Poignant, Roslyn. _Oceanic Mythology_, The Hamlyn
Publishing Group Limited, London, 1967, 1975, p. 22], Maya's Xibalba
[Tedlock, Dennis. _Popol Vuh_, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1985, p. 110],
and many others.
 Sturluson, op.cit., p. 27.
 Buck, William. _Ramayana_, The New American Library, Inc., New
York, 1976, pp. 10-11, 301.
 Poignant, op.cit., pp. 106-107.
 Erdoes, Richard and Alfonso Ortiz. _American Indian Myths and
Legends_, Pantheon Books, New York. 1984, pp. 27-28.
 Moore, George W. and G. Nicholas Sullivan, F.S.C. _Speleology, The
Study of Caves_, Zephyrus Press, Inc., Teaneck, NJ, 1978, p. 21.
 Knutson, Steve. 1994. Personal communication.
 Buck, William. _Mahabharata_, University of California Press,
Berkeley, 1973, p. 250.
 Clark, Ella E. _Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest_,
University of California Press, 1953, p. 81.
 Revelation 9:11
 Walls, Jan & Walls, Yvonne. _Classical Chinese Myths_, Joint
Publishing Co., Hongkong, 1984, p. 9.
 Poignant, op.cit., p. 80.
 Plato, "Timaeus" 25
 Abrahams, Roger D. _African Folktales_, Random House, New York,
1983, pp. 332-333.