His foundational hypothesis centres around ongoing debates within academia and science, particularly those challenging archaeology and palaeontology, which rely on interpreting incomplete sets of evidence.
He questions the timeline of human evolution, our rise from the Stone Age, and the onset of civilisation.
Revising our understanding of history
According to Van Kerkwyk, the conventional narrative of human civilisation’s origins, particularly that of the Egyptian civilisation, is likely flawed. He suggests that the mainstream historical perspective, which posits that civilisation began around 6,000 years ago with the Sumerians and Babylonians, is outdated.
This view has been challenged by recent discoveries and advancements in various scientific fields that imply a much older origin for sophisticated human societies.
He argues that the technological evidence found at ancient sites, such as precision engineering in Egypt, does not align with the tools and techniques documented in the archaeological record. This discrepancy points to a potential misunderstanding of the earliest parts of our history.
Van Kerkwyk is particularly interested in the ‘Inheritance model’ of ancient Egypt, which proposes that the peak achievements of Egyptian civilisation, like the construction of the great pyramids, did not emerge suddenly from the Stone Age but were rather built upon an inherited foundation of knowledge and technology.
His theory is that, rather than a linear progression of technological development, there may have been an advanced civilisation in the distant past that left behind knowledge and artefacts. This ‘Inheritance model’ suggests that the greatest works of the Old Kingdom of Egypt were not the beginning of their civilisation but a legacy from a prior epoch. He finds the traditional view of a technological decline after an early peak to be incongruent with the pattern of technological evolution observed in more recent history, where capabilities build over time.
An outdated conventional model?
Conventional human history can be summarised as follows.
- It started with Homo sapiens evolving and entering the Stone Age.
- During this lengthy period, humans lived primarily as hunter-gatherers.
- Then, suddenly, there was the rise of civilisation, starting with the ancient Sumerians.
- This is followed by the civilisations of Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Rome, the Mongols, and China’s great dynasties.
- Then we quickly arrive at the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution and the internet.
Van Kerkwyk challenges this linear narrative of human history, suggesting that it is under siege by new evidence suggesting our history is longer, more complex and, perhaps, cyclical.
In other words, there are repeated cycles of rise and fall of unknown, yet advanced, civilisations, of technologies created, used, and then lost.
He refers to it as the “cosmic hamster wheel of human civilisations.”