Education logo

The Valessian Crisis and its Elven Connection

Hypothesis Concerning the Origin of the Elves:

By Tristan BiggsPublished 3 months ago 21 min read
Elven Couple

It is my belief that many of the beings and races mentioned in myth and legend actually exist, or at least did exist at some time. Firstly this is because I view the tales and legends as having some thread of truth in them. This is especially true when the stories are surprisingly similar in numerous traditions that, at the time they were told, would have had no contact with one another, given the distances between them.

Now I will go into some specifics, not concerning myth or legend, but from the field of archaeology: This begins primarily with the era in the evolution of life on earth known as the Valessian Crisis. The Valessian Age refers to an era within the Miocene period - about 11.6 - 9 million years ago, during which a series of events took place that resulted in the extinction of several mammalian species such as: the antelope Potragocerus, the bovid (the word ‘Bovine’ refers to such animals as cattle and buffalo) Miotragocerus, and two species of suids (referring to pigs and boars), one being Hyotherium. Many rodents such as the cricetidae and glirids - the second group made up mainly of dormice and mice that hibernate - were also almost completely destroyed. Many of these animals were replaced by species that were better adapted to the more open plains that arose as a result of the massive deforestation that was the cause of the crisis in the first place.

However, of particular importance to this segment is the theory that many of our own prehistoric ancestors also fell victim to the Valessian Crisis, or perhaps it is more appropriate to mention that some indeed survived the event. The two hominid species - or more accurately proto-hominid species as these beings are thought to have existed long before the more widely accepted hominids - for which there is fossil evidence are Oreopithecus, which survived in the remnants of the forests, and Ouranopithecus, which adapted to the open environments of the late Miocene period. However it is postulated that both were extinct by 7 million years ago.

Oreopithecus (from the Greek and meaning “hill-ape”) is an extinct genus of humanoid ape from the Miocene epoch whose fossils were located in the areas that would be modern-day Tuscany and Sardinia. At the time when this genus lived there, the region would have been an isolated island in a chain of isles stretching from Central Europe to Northern Africa, the area that was becoming the Mediterranean Sea.

Ouranopithecus, based of the dental and facial anatomy of one of the sub-species Ouranopithecus macedoniensis, is thought to be a Dryopithecine, part of an extinct family of great ape which include the possible forerunner of the Orang Utan. Some consider macedoniensis to be the last common ancestor of both humans and other apes, and a forerunner to Australopithecines and thus to modern man. Although this is not widely accepted and is considered very controversial, it has been noted that Ouranopithecus macedoniensis shares some derived features with the earliest of hominids, such as the frontal sinus - a cavity in the forehead.

But let us expand the notion that not all these proto-hominids became extinct. After all, the mere absence of fossil evidence does not mean that a species did not exist. The conditions that allow fossilisation to occur are extremely specific, and thus many creatures may have fallen by the wayside without leaving any proof of their existence at all. If one looks at the map of areas where hominid fossils have been found, compared to the size of the land masses upon which they once lived, one must draw one of two conclusions: The first being that early humans only inhabited a very small portion of the land, or that those areas where their remains were found were the only ones in which the conditions allowed for fossilisation to take place. The former seems unlikely because it would have severely compromised humanity’s chances of surviving, let alone thriving to the point of being the most dominant species on Earth. Which leaves us with the latter option.

Having established this, if indeed other proto-hominids did survive the Valessian Crisis, it is very likely that they left nothing behind to indicate who they were or where they lived. However their legacy may have lived on after all. In the realm of myth and legend. For example: The discovery of tools and remains in the Bacho Kiro cave revealed that Neanderthals and modern man (Homo sapiens) co-existed in Europe for several thousand years, giving them ample time for biological and cultural interaction. In fact some encounters were of a very intimate nature indeed, resulting in some modern humans inheriting about 2% Neanderthal DNA

Now - it is likely that this interaction was not always peaceful, and humans being humans, their more ‘primitive’ co-habitants’ might have been maligned and ridiculed. Is this not possibly the origin of the tales of evil, clumsy and brutish ‘Trolls’? After all, the evidence in Bacho Kiro shows that they lived in caves. This cavern system is situated in Bulgaria, near the town of Dryanovo, and is interestingly only 300 metres away from the Dryanovo Monastery. There are many galleries that contain countless stalactite and stalagmite formations, some of which have been given such fairytale names as: Bacho Kiro’s Throne (Bacho Kiro was a Bulgarian leader, teacher and a revolutionary, and the caves were named after him in 1940); The Dwarfs; The Sleeping Princess; the Reception Hall; the Haldouti Meeting Ground; and the Sacrificial Altar.

The caves were first partially excavated in the 1930s and again in the 1970s, but alas, the fossil evidence from these earlier explorations have been lost. The most recent, and the most revealing evidence was discovered in 2015, when they were finally able to radio-carbon date their finds, an effort that obtained 100 dates, the largest number from a single Paleolithic site by a single team of archaeologists.

So - the evidence is there that Neanderthals and Homo sapiens coexisted, but what is to say that other hominids did not also share the planet with modern man? The only difference being that there is no evidence to prove that they even existed. The fact that most of the fossils found in Bacho Kiro by those who excavated in the 1930s and 1970s have subsequently gone missing poses yet another possibility as to why no evidence has been uncovered: Perhaps it ended up in the wrong hands, and was either destroyed or found its way into private collections. The theory of evolution remains to this day a bone of contention between certain groups, mainly for religious reasons. Thus, if an individual was to find a fossil bone before Darwin’s theory even came into being, the conclusion that person would have drawn was that it was either of some kind of animal, or even worse, demonic - especially if it bore any resemblance to an early human. This makes it highly likely that such a find would have either been discarded or even destroyed.

Legends and myths might have originated from our pre-Christan forefathers’ encountering some of these other species, and either fearing them or revering them as some kind of deity. Once Christianity had taken over most of Europe, such meetings would not have bode well for the other humanoids. One historical account seems to back this theory: During the time of the Inquisition, two Scottish women were taken into custody, questioned and tortured to death. Their crime - claiming that they learned their skills as healers from the Elves, one even stating that she was tutored by the ‘Queen of the Elves’. Now there are many questions about this whole affair, but two specifically come to mind: The first is that, if these ‘Elves’ did not in fact exist, then why did the Church so vehemently oppose anyone making these claims? The second concerns the women themselves. If their tale was false, then surely there would have come a time when wisdom and the need for self-preservation would have meant that they would abandon such fantasies and admit the truth. And yet they were so convinced thereof that they were prepared to die - and in such an horrific way - rather than deny the existence of their Elven teachers.

How many more village healers were similarly tutored we will never know. As most traditions were passed down via word-of-mouth, it is possible that it was these women’s forebears that received their instruction directly from the people they referred to as ‘Elves’, which had inhabited the British Isles since before the arrival of modern Homo sapiens. Because of this, they would have been well versed in the healing and medicinal properties of the plants and herbs found in their home environment, and thus would have been able to share this valuable knowledge with the ‘newcomers’ when they first arrived on their shores.

So what happened to these folk? Well there are a number of scenarios as to their fate: The most obvious would be that they died out along with what was left of the Neanderthals, perhaps even roughly at the same time as well. But this does not have to be the case. It is possible that, as humanity began to spread throughout Europe, those who already lived there were forced to find new habitats in which to live. Some may have fled to such remote places as the modern-day Shetland, Orkney and Faroe Islands of the North Sea, perhaps even reaching as far West as Iceland where they would later be referred to as the Huldufolk, a tradition that still exists today. It was perhaps this migration that caused Homo floresiensis to take up residence in the Liang Bua Cave on the Indonesian island of Flores.

But then there is another possibility: The Norse sagas speak of a land called Alfheimr, literally ‘Land of the Elves’. It was one of the nine realms that make up Yggdrasil, or the ‘World Tree’. These realms are: Niflheim (Land of Fog and Mist), Muspelheim (Land of Fire), Asgard (Land of the Gods), Midgard (the world of men), Jotunheim (Land of the Giants), Vanaheim (Home of the Vanir - deities that existed before those of Asgard), Alfheimr (Home of the Light Elves), Svartalfheim (Home of the Dark Elves or Dwarves), and Helheim (the Land of the Dishonourable Dead).

The sagas also tell us that the Ljósálfar, Norse for ‘Light Elves’, could often be seen on a clear night as they visited Earth, even giving aid to those in dire need. Similarly the Dökkálfar, the ‘Dark Elves’, would also appear on stormy nights. However they were not so favourable towards humans, and would cause many kinds of mischief. Both of these present the possibility that these are more than just myths. We have already seen that there have been documented cases of people receiving direct instruction from these legendary folk. The question is when did this tutoring take place? The one scenario, as has already been discussed, is that it was when Homo Sapiens first encountered the local inhabitants when they first arrived in Europe and the British Isles, and the tradition was passed down from one generation to the other. But perhaps there is another: That these healers were taught during one or more of these so-called excursions to Earth.

Many tales tell of growing friction between the Elves and humanity, mainly due to the latter encroaching more and more into the forests in which the former dwelt. What follows is my own theory about what transpired as a result of this: Firstly, there were a number of them that fled to other parts of the world, as already discussed. But the second is that others simply vanished from this plane of reality - known to the Norse as Midgard - and foundered their own realm, either Alfheimr or Svartalfheim.

One needs to examine this second option more closely to understand how this may have come about. Between the middle to late Miocene era and 40,000 years ago - when the earliest humans arrived in Europe - the progeny of Oreopithecus and Ouranopithecus would have also evolved, but perhaps in a different way to those of modern man. You see, humanity’s evolution has been marked by the development of technology in order to help them survive, beginning with the most basic hand-axe, and eventually resulting in the advent of the Bronze and Iron Ages. And still the inventions became more and more sophisticated until they reached the technological age in which we find ourselves today.

But is this the only evolutionary path there is for a species to follow in order to thrive in their environment? Even within the human race, there have been people that have become more developed in areas other than technological advancement. Some have reached a sustainable level of technology, and then concentrated on other spheres of evolution such as spirituality and spiritual awareness. And quite successfully too. Perhaps this was the case with the offspring of those hominids who survived the Valessian Crisis. It is possible that they developed the means by which they could escape the ever-oppressive world, in which humanity was becoming more and more dominant, and relocating themselves in a different plane of existence. This may also explain why there is no trace or evidence of their ever being here in the first place, excepting of course the circumstantial evidence found in the tales handed down from those who first encountered them.

If this is true, then what of the other mythical races such as the Dwarves, Gnomes, Fairies and the like? Well the truth is that many of these terms are often synonymous with one another. Even in Norse mythology, the so-called Dark Elves (Svartalfar) were also called ‘Dwarfs’ because it was believed that their home was a subterranean one, and that they originated and dwelt underground.

One particular tradition about which there is extensive information is that of the Irish and the Scots. Both speak of a race known to the former as the Aos Sí, or in other references Sidhe which is spelt Sith in the Scottish legends but is pronounced the same way. The correct pronunciation for both is similar to the word ‘She’. This adaptation of the word is erroneous because the term Sidhe actually refers to the mounds in which the Aos Sí dwell and not the beings themselves.

Although commonly associated with faeries, these folk share many characteristics with the Alfar of the Norse sagas.

The answer to the question concerning their origins depends a lot on the individual’s point of view. One pagan belief is that they are the offspring of the Tuatha Dé Danann, meaning the "People of Danu". Danu is seen as the Mother Goddess, the matriarch through whom the Sidhe and other such races were born. Interestingly there is another belief as to the Sidhe’s origins, and that is the theory that the Aos Sí were the pre-Celtic occupants of Ireland, which ties back to a statement that I have made before with regards to them being the original inhabitants of Europe. It may be that they were forced to leave their European homes, and found succour across the English Channel.

Once Christianity had arrived on the Isles, however, the Aos Sí were relegated to being either fallen angels themselves or the children thereof. Either way they were no longer given the reverence or respect that the pagans afforded them. Regardless of these opinions, there are a few facts that are shared: The first is that they appear to either enjoyed very long lives, or were even immortal. Now this may allude to them having been there for centuries, or possibly even millennia before any human being set foot on English soil. Another is that, if treated with respect, they would return such kindness and reverence. However, their attitude towards the race of men would soon become one of distrust and disdain if they were treated poorly, which gave rise to an interesting, if not somewhat amusing adaptation of the ‘Fallen Angel’ theory. It was later said that, although they might have been fallen angels, their sins were not of such a terrible nature as to result in them being cast into Hell! So instead of treating them as cursed, Christians were encouraged by the early church to be kind and considerate to them. This can be seen as an attempt to safeguard their congregations from becoming victims to the Aos Sí’s wrath.

This perhaps was the reason why, in Scottish folklore, the Aos Sí became divided into two distinctive groups, known as ‘Courts’. The ‘Seelie Court’ was composed of individuals within the Aos Sí whose attitude and temperament towards the human race was favorable, whereas the ‘Unseelie Court’ had no such opinion. This matches the Norse traditions of the Ljósálfar and their more malevolent Dökkálfar.

There is, however, one more possible answer to the question of what happened to the Elves over time, and that is one of assimilation. This means that, in order to keep their bloodlines alive, the elves intermarried with humans, resulting in what has been termed ‘Elf Hybrids’, a combination of elf and a human. This is also known in some cases as a Half-Elf, a term made popular by the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and also by certain role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. Whether this cross-breeding was deliberate or merely because either a male elf was attracted to a human female, or perhaps the other way round, the result was that, like the small percentage of humans that have been shown to have Neanderthal blood in them, certain people may carry elven DNA as well.

As is often the case, such unions perhaps did not go without defect, and indeed there is a syndrome known as Williams Beuren Syndrome which used to go by the name of ‘Elfin Facies’, due to the facial characteristics that are associated with it. However, this defect comes with a whole list of health issues as well.

Other elf-like characteristics are not accompanied by problems pertaining to one’s health. One such example is what is known as Stahl’s Ear Syndrome, or simply Stahl’s Ear. Also known as ‘Elf Ears’, this deformity  consists of an extra cartilage fold in the scapha portion of the ear, and results in a pointed ear shape. This is a hereditary condition that has no negative effects on the person’s health whatsoever, but sadly is more often than not surgically corrected while just after birth because many parents fear that their child will be teased and picked on later in life.

Less obvious physical attributes are: Tall and slender build, very fair skin, high cheekbones and large expressive eyes. The last aspect has also been combined with certain hair colours. These are mainly the more scarce hair/eye combinations, such as auburn or red hair and green eyes, blonde hair and light blue eyes - usually accompanied by very fair skin, but without the characteristic pink colour that might indicate albinism, and the very rare black hair and blue eyes, again a specific icy blue.

However there are other traits that are not so noticeable as they have little or no impact on the person’s physical appearance. Here are some examples: They are generally less likely to be given over to emotions, especially when it comes to decision making. This would make such a person more level-headed and thoughtful. Another would be either a love of the outdoors or a preference for peace and quiet, and thus an aversion towards loud noises. Thirdly a lack of materialism, a love of the simple things in life, and an inclination towards minimalism. And lastly a love of creativity, often expressed in artistic or musical talents.

Now - because these are more difficult to ascertain, they are not as definitive as those attributes that are more physical in nature. But they may indicate that those who feel that they fit these descriptions are indeed elf-hybrids. Above all this depends entirely on what the individual believes or is prepared to accept. Many have been raised believing that elves are little more than figures in myth, legend, and fairy-tales. Such would find it difficult to believe that, not only were they real, but that they themselves have certain characteristics that indicate that they are in fact part-elf themselves.

Given that there is no genetic or historical record of them, outside of folklore, makes it nigh impossible to prove any of this, and thus all of this is mere theory. Doctors and scientists have told us the such conditions as Stahl’s Ear are merely deformities passed down from one generation to another, but my question is: From where did it originate?

Let us draw a parallel between this hypothesis, and the one that states that Homo sapiens interbred with Neanderthals: It has been discovered that there is a percentage of modern-day humans that actually carry Neanderthal DNA in their bodies.

This DNA has left its mark on these individuals in a number of different ways: The first is stature and build. Those with Neanderthal DNA tend to be more heavily built than those without. They are usually big-boned as well, which means that their skeletal structure is more robust.

The second has to do with the immune system, which has a tendency for being more effective in fighting off disease and infection, but can also have the effect of the individual being more prone to allergies.

There seems also to be a link between certain conditions being more prevalent among those that have what has been termed as ‘Archaic DNA’. These include being more susceptible to bouts of depression or even experiencing problems with addiction to certain substances. Those that are Neanderthal-hybrids are also more prone to suffering from thrombosis and DVT (Deep-vein Thrombosis), as well as a form of malnutrition in which, although the intake of food is sufficient, the individual does not digest certain food types. This is thought to be derived from the different diets that their Neanderthal forefathers lived on, which has imprinted itself on the genetic make-up of their offspring over time.

Other characteristics pertain to eye colour and skin tone, especially the individual’s sensitivity to UV rays, and subsequent tendency to suffer from sunburn. The latter also causes the person to be more susceptible to certain sunburn related skin conditions such as skin cancer.

The reason for this parallel is to draw attention to the fact that these are tangible and identifiable characteristics that can be positively linked to Neanderthal ancestry. The reason for this is that DNA can be traced back to 100,000 years before present, and Neanderthals are thought to have gone extinct about 30,000 years ago, which means that their genetic make-up would be relatively easy to trace. Whereas those I hypothesize to be the forebears of the elves lived around 7000,000 years ago, which makes it impossible to derive any genetic information from whatever remains have been discovered.

This means that all that is available is tentative links between the original species and their present day counterparts. The genetic information might be there, but it is not possible to make a positive link between those who survived the Valessian Crisis and what is left of their kind today.

The other possible reason for the apparent lack of fossil evidence lies in that it depends on how their - what we humans would consider prehistoric - forebears treated those who had passed on. It is a common theory that the respect and burial of the dead is a sign of evolutionary advancement. So much so that, in certain archaeological circles, it has caused scientists to differentiate between Homo sapiens and Homo sapien sapiens. This is based on a number of criteria, one of which is the ability to express abstract concepts - in the form of art - and the apparent belief in an afterlife, which is indicated by the burial of their dead.

Now - if the elven predecessors had arrived at this point, then it is possible that this might have been expressed by means of cremation instead of burial. Not only that, but there is also a possibility that they did not even bury their dead, but rather scattered the ashes in areas that they deemed sacred, and if they lived near the ocean, or any other large body of water, they might have thrown them into it to be carried away by the currents and tides. The result of this is that any fossil evidence was destroyed right at the start. This lack of remains might also have given rise to the belief among humans that their elven neighbours were either divine or at the very least immortal. After all, no bodies, no signs of the beings even having died.

My belief is that the mystery as to their fate is a combination of all of the above. This would explain, for example, the Icelandic belief in the Huldufolk (Hidden People), as well as the accounts as documented in Norse and Celtic myth and legend. It also leaves room for speculation that there might have been a certain amount of interbreeding. In the first and second instances, the elves maintained their purity, whereas in the third, they became hybrids or half-elves. Remember that this is a theory, but it is not without certain facts to possibly back it up, not the least of which, as I have said before, is the persistence in the legends surrounding these mythical beings.

In conclusion, as Tolkien is purported to have once said: “After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of ‘Truth’, and indeed present aspects of that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear.”



About the Creator

Tristan Biggs

I was born in Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) and currently live in South Africa. From an early age, I seemed to have a knack for poetry. I have written a number of stories, poems, and several novels, ranging from fantasy to non fiction.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.