Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 17th, 2006
Jeremiah 10:22: Behold, the noise of the bruit is come, and a great commotion out of the north country, to make the cities of Judah desolate, and a den of dragons.
As the world seems to be rushing onward to World War III, let us pause, for a moment, to consider what impact this Armageddon might have on cryptozoology in the Middle East.
On July 13th, Jon Stewart of the Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” said he got up, had a nice egg and cheese sandwich, a cappuccino, turned on his television, and, as Annie Wu at TV Squad noted, realized World War III had begun. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., told Tim Russert of NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, July 16, that the current Mideast crisis equals the beginning of World War III. Some people seem startled that these folks would be using the phrase, World War III. I have not been.
It should be no surprise really. Other people are thinking about this, no matter what your political background or reason. I worked over the weekend to pull together my thoughts for this blog, and couldn’t figure out whether to entitle it “World War III and Cryptozoology” or “Cryptids and World War III.” Frankly, I decided it was something I could not ignore on Cryptomundo, especially as cryptozoology will be swept up in these events, as it has been in the past. In July 2006, there has been a shift in the winds of war and let’s not avoid that fact here.
Perhaps I should have waited for an official war to be declared. But why? War scholars and historians can debate someday when and where World War III began. Was it really on July 12th, when rockets began zipping back and forth between Lebanon and Israel? Was just after World War II, when Palestine was not given to the Palestinians by Jordan and Egypt? Was it sometime specific in the last three weeks, when soldiers were kidnapped in the south and north of Israel? Did it begin in the last six years, with the commuter train bombings in India on July 11th (please note, 7/11), or with the bombings in London (on 7/7/05), in Bali (on 10/11/04), or in the US (on 9/11/01). You can read about my thoughts on the use of twilight dates (containing “sevens” and “elevens”) in my book, The Copycat Effect, and we need not dwell on that here.
Many a writer will wax and wane in prose about their tribulations on the rockets flying about in the Mideast. I am not here to concentrate on bemoaning the fact of war, which I am clearly against as a form of final human endeavor. I mourn the plight of all humans who will become involved in a wider and wider conflict. But that is beyond the scope of what I wish to discuss today, here at Cryptomundo.
Some will not understand this, thinking cryptozoology is merely an exercise in intellectual adventure, but I have other thoughts on the matter.
“But, if there is an underlying oneness of all things, it does not matter where we begin, whether with stars, or laws of supply and demand, or frogs, or Napoleon Bonaparte. One measures a circle, beginning anywhere,” as Charles Fort said.
I think some consideration of even a field like cryptozoology, in the greater scheme of things, gives us insights into how the coming of World War III might affect all of us. Call it blogging metaphorically, if you will.
I personally feel this breaks down into three major arenas of concern: the death of humans (as viewed through those cryptozoologists who have or will be killed), the impact on current living animals (which, to me, includes cryptids) in the region, and the destruction of historical evidence of ancient cryptozoological matters there.
The Death of Cryptozoologists
First we must confront the notion that there will be the real death of cryptozoologists in wartime, and the work of cryptozoology. Safety of intellectual pursuits suffer in wartime. But people actually die too. Indeed, I already interpret the killing of one cryptozoologist as an early death in this widening war.
Jordi Magraner, 35, the famous Spanish zoologist and cryptozoologist, was assassinated, when his throat was cut on August 2, 2002. This occurred in his house in the north of Pakistan, along with his 12-year-old servant, Wazir Ali, also found with his throat slit.
Magraner, encouraged at the beginning by Bernard Heuvelmans, for 12 years had been on the track of Barmanu (which means literally “the big hairy one”) in northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. From 1992 through 1994, during his trek to the Shishi Kuh valley in the Chitral region of Pakistan, his expedition investigated the Barmanu, heard sounds and found footprints.
But in recent years, curiously, Magraner became a secretive semi-permanent figure living along the Pakistani-Afghan border. Rumors circulated that some in the village where Magraner lived thought he was a spy because of all of the communication equipment he had. Was he a victim of war?
Death of the Cryptids
Next, animals will be killed in a broadly escalating Mideast war. It always happens. Tigers were routinely killed in the jungles of Vietnam during the Southeast Asian conflicts. From 1996-1999, over 100 rare gorillas were killed in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.
Sometimes we hear many years later that cryptids and unknown hominoids have been killed or captured in war zones.
There is the case of the killing of a gul’bi-yavan – the Tajik name for a wild man – in 1925 on the Pamir mountains. The incident was described to the Commission of the Academy of Sciences by KGB General Michael Topilski.
The military doctor Vazgen Karapetyan is shown checking a captured kaptar – the local name of wild man – in Daghestan, Caucases, in 1941, during World War II. The creature died in captivity. Karapetyan gave this information about his encounter to the same Commission.
The Mideast is the site of continued reports of cryptids, whether they be unusual felids, surviving Neanderthals, or aquatic monsters (e.g. in Iraq’s Tigris River or Israel’s Sea of Galilee). All cryptids will be in danger, of course, but we probably won’t hear about it during the war.
It is uncertain, at this writing, where all this fighting will lead, but it could have a severe impact on people, animals, and cryptids in Israel, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, and other areas of ancient Palestine and Arabia, as well as farther afield in Turkey, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
The Fragile Past
As an ancient record, in spite of any religious feelings you may or may not have, the Bible certainly can be viewed as a window to what has happened long ago in the land of the Jews, Christians, and Arabs. Biblical scholars have dealt with the fact, for them, that the Bible is filled with creatures that appear to be part of cryptozoology. Websites such as “Cryptozoology: The Biblical Bestiary,” contrasts the two religiously-based points of view about sightings of unusual beasts recorded in the Bible, with each other:
The Church View:
The strange creatures described in the Bible are either visions or just overstated or excited descriptions of normal animals
The Bible View:
The strange creatures described in the Bible are clearly described in a natural context and appear with the accurate descriptions of other well-known creatures.
The Church View:
As the above-noted site mentions:
One of the more prominent ancient writings clearly presenting evidence of anomalous creatures is also the world’s longest running bestseller, the Bible. In the pages of the Bible are found dragons, unicorns, cockatrices, and leviathans.
A story of interest to hominologists is that of Esau, “born of a separate nation” in northwest Mesopotamia, as told in Genesis 25. I am not saying that the children of Esau still live in caves in the Middle East, but what I know is that archaeological sites and ancient monuments have a way of being destroyed in world wars. It would be unfortunate, during this time when more fossil finds and new records are producing answers, to see the ceasing of new explorations, due to danger and destruction.
Image of Esau from a quilt by Marilyn Belford 2002.
Genesis 25: 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau.
As a concrete example of the kind of items that may be destroyed, I merely point to the Ishtar Gates, pictured at the beginning and below.
Monuments and museums contain incredible pieces of art in the Mideast. Shown here is the Sirrush in bas-relief in the Pergamonmuseum. The Sirrush is a creature depicted on the reconstructed Ishtar Gate of the city of Babylon. It resembles a scaly dragon with hind legs like an eagle’s talons and feline forelegs. It also has a long neck and tail, a horned head, a snakelike tongue and a crest. While not matching any known creature, the cryptid Sirrush could have been a genuine animal. Bernard Heuvelmans relates it directly to the Mokele-mbembe of central Africa.
When the Ishtar Gate was discovered in 1902, interestingly it showed the real-like depictions of lions, rimi (aurochs = bulls), and the pictured curious creatures, the sirrush. Scholars since then have debated what they were, but cryptozoologists certainly have been open to the idea they may have been giant unknown monitors or large reptiles of uncertain species.
For our discussion here, let me just leave it that dragons are about in the Mideast, and the fire-breathing ones need to be calmed so the ones on walls are not eradicated.
Jeremiah 51:37: And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant.