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Hoagland's campaign does not stem simply from a love of archaeology. He believes the fenced-in, rubble-strewn site could be directly linked to a lost civilization, a coming apocalypse, and the planet Mars.
For those who haven't switched on a television or read a newspaper in the past two months, archaeologists believe the ruins on the Miami River likely formed part of a Tequesta Indian village. The owner of the land, developer Michael Baumann, would like to build apartments there. City and county governments are sparring in court over efforts to seize it; exploration has been suspended while legal issues are resolved.
The 53-year-old Hoagland dropped out of the University of Connecticut in the Sixties to become a curator at a space museum in Springfield, Massachusetts. Then he took a position as a consultant for CBS News, covering efforts to land a man on the moon. He left CBS after about a year but continued to work with museums and as a science writer for publications like Star and Sky, Science Digest, and American Way.
In the years that followed, his interest in some not-so-mainstream ideas grew: He was instrumental in getting NASA to carry plaques bearing greeting messages aboard spacecrafts, and popularizing the notion of the existence of life on one of Jupiter's moons. In 1983 he became convinced that pictures of Mars taken by a NASA Viking spacecraft revealed a humanlike face left by extraterrestrials as a message to Earthlings. The face, located in the Cydonia region of Mars's northern hemisphere, is about a mile long. It is not just any old mug, Hoagland asserts. It comprises ruins of an ancient civilization -- pyramids in fact.
Hoagland believes the Martian pyramids are constructed with a pentagonal geometry also found on Earth. This geometry is a universal language that might, according to Hoagland, contain a message on averting planetary destruction.
Ground zero for this universal geometry is near the city of Giza, in northern Egypt, where the Great Pyramids are found, he points out. Hoagland is a proponent of the idea that a grid of sacred sites based on the position of the pyramids exists. "One site will predict the location of others in terms of longitude and latitude," he asserts.
He has confirmed the Miami Circle's place on the grid, which also includes an Indian burial mound in Illinois, Stonehenge, and a similar site down the road from the English megaliths. According to Hoagland, all share the same geometry. They are also built in limestone, which has some unknown significance, possibly electromagnetic.
Together the sites tell the story of an ancient, advanced civilization that existed on Earth more than 10,000 years ago. "Something appears to have ... destroyed most of the technology and ... human memory of that epoch, leaving only a few scattered examples on this algorithm to piece the story back together," he relates.
A recent increase in the severity of storms could be a harbinger of a future calamity similar to the one that befell the ancient civilization, he explains. The weather changes are not owing to global warming, but are part of cyclical changes in the solar system.
Hoagland's interest in the site started months ago. He was planning a trip to South Florida when he heard about the discovery of the circle, the only known structure to be built in stone by the Tequesta. It instantly piqued his curiosity. Then Michael Morton, a self-described "archaeocryptographer," sent him evidence that the site might fit perfectly into the global grid. Through a newspaper clipping sent to him by a friend in Miami, Robin Falkou, Hoagland also learned of holes in the circle, which may have at one time held stones like Stonehenge. Convinced the find was significant, he packed his bag and headed for Miami.
Upon arrival in mid-January, he went to the site and discovered the developer's plans to build on top of it. "There was a chance that this was so much older than the Tequesta," he says. "I realized we had to keep it around."
On January 29 Hoagland appeared on Coast-to-Coast, a nationally syndicated late-night radio show hosted by Art Bell. Hoagland informed listeners of the Miami Circle's alleged significance. It wasn't his first appearance on the show, which focuses largely on paranormal activity. Hoagland provided the audience with fax numbers to the offices of politicians and media outlets. Bell's audience of security guards, secretaries, computer programmers, and truck drivers responded. Their efforts helped build momentum for the campaign to save the site.
Hoagland has spent the past month and a half living in a hotel in South Miami. Falkou, a statuesque redheaded doctor of Oriental medicine, has acted as Hoagland's unofficial assistant and chauffeur during his stay. He insists he will remain until he can explore the site.