<![CDATA[Jason Colavito - Blog]]>Sun, 14 Feb 2016 02:58:42 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Benton Rooks Lauds Graham Hancock, Complains that Academics Believe in Linear Evolution of Civilization]]>Sat, 13 Feb 2016 15:03:56 GMThttp://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/benton-rooks-lauds-graham-hancock-complains-that-academics-believe-in-linear-evolution-of-civilizationThe Disinformation Company, or as it styles itself, disinformation®, is a purveyor of conspiracy theories. If we are being generous, we might say that they explore alternative points of view, and if we are not being generous, it might be fairer to say that they make money off of hoaxes and lies, mixed with paranoia and New Age spirituality. They also have a business relationship with Graham Hancock, for whom they are the U.S. publisher of his book Supernatural. You wouldn’t know that from reading Benton Rooks’s review of Hancock’s Magicians of the Gods for Disinformation this week, nor would you learn that Rooks and Hancock worked together in creating the genre of “ethnodelic storytelling” to describe shamanic-influenced literature. In short, the review isn’t exactly what it pretends to be.
This close connection is important in evaluating how much to trust Rooks when he tells us that Graham Hancock is “the closest thing we have to a real” Indiana Jones.
 
The business concerns, however, are secondary to my interest in the way Rooks’s worldview led him to view Magicians of the Gods in a completely different way than I did when I read the book. Rooks advocates New Age spirituality as filtered through mind-altering drugs, and he seems to believe that trances and hallucinogens put us in direct contact with godlike entities from other dimensions. Because he views the world through that paradigm, in reading Magicians of the Gods he saw the book as a ratification of his spiritual views.
 
Thus, he sees Hancock—a fellow advocate of hallucinogenic drugs—as claiming that the ancient peoples of the Near East “have been in contact with the elder Atla[n]teans is through trance states” and the “devastation to the Earth’s geological core can be brought on by the spirits or Gods through both extreme weather in order to teach humans valuable (albeit sometimes distinctly mysterious) lessons.” I didn’t see either of those claims in Magicians, so I even went back to check Rooks’s reference, which was to page 115. In the edition that the U.S. publisher provided me, that page talks about post-glacial flooding but makes no mention of spirits or gods.
 
Rooks clearly comes to the book from a different perspective, and it’s fascinating to see how he brings to the text his own worldview and therefore emphasizes the references in the text to Hancock’s spirituality. As we know from Supernatural, Hancock does indeed believe in the power of shamanic trance states to contact other realms of consciousness and other beings who may or may not be gods. (He once claimed to have had a battle in his mind with a goddess while high.) But in Magicians, these beings don’t appear as actively engaged with the material world, and the “gods” he discusses are actually the white men he believes ruled Atlantis and were mistaken for deities by non-white people.  
 
But look at how far down the rabbit hole Rooks is. He believes that Hancock is unfairly denied his rightful role as a major historical figure because Rooks mistakenly believes that academia views civilization in the same terms as Lewis Henry Morgan, who in 1877 delineated the continuum of savagery to barbarism to civilization and the linear progress of civilization. Thus, Hancock’s views aren’t taught in schools “likely because it disrupts the idea of perfectly neat and linear historical evolution; the central arrogance of the West certainly seems to be that we are somehow the greatest civilization that has ever existed.” Linear evolution hasn’t been the dominant view since at least Franz Boas more than a century ago, but it is telling that Rooks conflates academic views of civilization with political claims about the greatness of Western civilization in order to form a counterpoint to his preferred philosophy, Vedic-inspired degeneracy whereby the earth runs down to destruction. I wonder if he ever stopped to consider what he think his own ideology of inferiority says about his views of civilization as degenerate. Also: Is he not aware that pretty much the entirety of one major American political party is obsessed with cataloging the alleged degeneration and destruction of Western civilization? I hear plaintive cries to “Make America Great Again” or to save Europe from hordes of Eastern invaders, but very few arguing that America or the West is currently at the top of their games.
 
The fact of the matter is that terms like “greatest” and “degenerate” are value judgments that exist relative to a perceived ideal, and those ideals are culturally derived. Rooks seems to find his ideal in an imagined past where an eco-friendly, world-bestriding civilization lived in harmony with each other, with nature, and with a spiritual world that exists beyond this corrupt and corrupting material plane. It’s a pretty fairy tale, but one unsupported by evidence.
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<![CDATA[Are the Nephilim Good Role Models for African American Fathers? Alfonzo Rachel Says Yes!]]>Fri, 12 Feb 2016 19:45:17 GMThttp://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/are-the-nephilim-good-role-models-for-african-american-fathers-alfonzo-rachel-says-yesI know that there has been a push to make Christianity cool for Millennials, and I suppose I have to give Alfonzo Rachel credit for looking and sounding very different than his essentially fundamentalist message. He’s an African American political conservative and a biblical literalist, and he’s upset at the idea that anyone could pretend to be Christian and yet find the Flood or the story of Jonah in the fish to be allegorical. “Please stop. You either believe the Bible or you don’t.” However, I was a bit shocked and disturbed to see Rachel promoting the Nephilim as “superheroes” from the Bible, and implicitly equating them with Jesus, whom he identifies as a “real-life superhero.”
Click here to view parts 2-6 on Rachel’s website.
 
Rachel says that Genesis 6:1-4 is as easy “for any man to understand as pee on the toilet seat.” For him, the biblical story is entirely the story of horny angels who did the right thing by marrying the women they loved and birthing superheroes. These are decidedly not the evil Nephilim of L. A. Marzulli, or the Christian tradition going back to the Church Fathers.
 
“Do not impose your own piety on the Scriptures!” Rachel said in rejecting the euhemerizing idea that the Sons of God are sons of Seth. In fact, he opposes all scholarship and efforts to understand the Bible in a broader contexts. “Scholars looked right into the face of God, spat in his face, and hung him on a cross,” he said in arguing that scholarship detracts from acceptance of all things divine. “So I don’t buy every word of a scholar just because he’s a scholar.” He calls scholars “elitist-minded egotists.”
 
Instead, he argues that the Sons of God are the angelic host, and he produces a lengthy argument for why these were not fallen angels but rather regular angels fully possessed of their holiness. They are “the ones that were the most solid,” Rachel said. Rachel argues that Sons of God can’t be evil because they are peacemakers and therefore the two-thirds of the angels who remained uncorrupted by Satan.
 
Rachel also rejects the Book of Enoch as non-canonical, and in assuming all the parts of Judeo-Christian theology to be equally ancient argues that the Nephilim cannot be evil because the Devil and his angels fell from heaven before the creation of Adam, and the angels could only fall once. Because Leviticus doesn’t forbid angel-human marriages, Rachel says that the angels who married humans “stepped up” and provide a good role model for African American fathers, who would benefit from taking responsibility for their out of wedlock children.
 
It takes five videos before he actually begins to support the claim that the Nephilim were superheroes (it’s Genesis 6:4, the “heroes of old,” in case you didn’t realize), but before this his videos are rather just a long literalist discussion of biblical passages, which never quite add up to an argument, eventually derailing into a discussion of biblical tax policy and the sexual politics of allotting spouses in heaven. I’m not sure for whom such a discussion is meant, but it becomes quite clear over the course of six videos that while Rachel thinks he is being objective in evaluating the role of the Nephilim in Christian mythos (or, rather, his version of Christian mythos), he’s more likely projecting modern social concerns related to his experience in the African American community onto the brief references in Genesis.
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<![CDATA[Vice Media Shooting "Ancient Aliens" Story While Scott Wolter Rants about 2010 Rune Stone Claims]]>Thu, 11 Feb 2016 17:25:07 GMThttp://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/vice-media-shooting-ancient-aliens-story-while-scott-wolter-rants-about-2010-rune-stone-claimsLate yesterday afternoon a producer for Vice Media contacted me to ask if I could pop by their Brooklyn studios this morning to shoot an interview for a “light and fun” piece they’re doing for the new Viceland TV channel, the one that’s replacing H2, on the popularity of the Ancient Aliens TV series. This was all kinds of wrong, not least because Vice thought I could drop everything and just pop on over to Brooklyn, all the way from upstate! The producer apologized for the short notice, but blamed deadlines for the need to find “a skeptic” fast. 
The more troubling concern, and one I expressed to the producer, was that Vice wanted a “light and fun” look at a TV show whose pundits routinely embrace racist and anti-Semitic themes, who engage in fraud for cash, and who are the “fun” face for some very dark currents in American life, as Michael Barkun has explored in his Culture of Conspiracy. It’s also a bit of a conflict of interest since Vice is producing the puff piece for the Viceland channel, a joint venture of Vice and A+E Networks, the parent company of the History Channel and owner of Ancient Aliens. (A+E, which is also a co-owner of Vice Media, holds majority ownership of Viceland and promised to work with Vice on creating shows that integrate promotion and advertising into editorial content.) While Vice has editorial independence, it seems difficult to believe they’d openly criticize their partner’s show, despite the producer’s promise that “we’ll try to stick closer to the truth.” To his credit, the producer, who is Jewish, seemed genuinely concerned to hear that Ancient Aliens has recycled some old anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and he promised to look into it before they shot their story this morning.
 
Unfortunately, though, all I see is a cross-promotional opportunity for A+E Networks and Vice, one that the latter wanted to give the gloss of responsibility by including a token skeptic.
 
Speaking of self-promotion, another member of the A+E Networks family dropped his latest blog post yesterday afternoon while I was speaking with the Vice producer. America Unearthed and Pirate Treasure of the Knights Templar​ star Scott Wolter posted a lengthy diatribe on what he sees as a conspiracy involving his former writing partner Richard Nielson and Henrik Williams, a Swedish professor of Scandinavian languages. Wolter asserts that the two men have both changed their mind about secret codes embedded in the Kensington Rune Stone due to an unnamed and undescribed conspiracy (yes, he really uses the word “conspired”) to deny a medieval date for the artifact:
There are likely multiple reasons for this carefully crafted plan to try and alter their acknowledgement of the physical characteristics of the KRS inscription which they both previously agreed were present, but [they] apparently now are trying to make the "Dating Code" and the "Grail Code" disappear from the historical record.  You would have to ask them what purpose is served by doing this, but I suspect it was for personal reasons and/or to conform to some arbitrary academic standard. […] Nielsen and Williams have conspired to publish a document that effectively erases these important codes they apparently no longer agree with.
All of this, he said, took place in 2010, which made it very strange that he chose to post a largely incoherent rant about it now.
 
I must confess to being singularly uninterested in the “Dating Code” or the “Grail Code,” which Wolter images to be embedded in lines and dots scattered among the Rune Stone’s letters. In the case of the Grail Code, Wolter believes that punched dots associated with the runes for “G,” “R,” “A,” and “L” indicate a misspelled medieval French Cistercian acknowledgement of the word graal, or grail. Nielsen, however, believes that some of the punch marks were meant to guide chisels and others are the result of natural or subsequent damage. Even if these dot codes were real—and there isn’t much to support the claim—it wouldn’t be directly relevant to the authenticity of the Rune Stone since a code could have been generated at any time after the development of the world graal. In other words, the code proves nothing.
 
But I am interested in Wolter’s assertion of a decade-long, slow-moving conspiracy that somehow involves warring “sides,” one being Wolter’s supposedly truth-based geology and the other being “ultra-conservative” academics. In Wolter’s view, because Nielsen and Williams see the various marks as natural, damage, or chisel guides and therefore did not include them in a transcription of the Rune Stone, they are part of an “apparent plan to erase the record of the codes” that dates back to at least 2008, if not earlier. “The overriding question is why did Williams and Nielsen suddenly change their minds and set out to try to reverse their prior acknowledgement of the physical marks using deceptive tactics veiled as academia?”
 
(Disclosure: I spoke with Williams earlier this week by email, before Wolter’s blog post, because Williams wanted to know if I planned to publish any more of my America Unearthed reviews in book form. It was the first and only time we’ve spoken. I spoke with Nielsen a couple of years ago regarding his Rune Stone research, but not since.)
 
Wolter frames the question, though, largely in personal terms: Richard Nielsen and he had a falling out, Williams and Nielsen were in a dispute with the Runestone Museum, and everyone is fighting with everyone. What was shocking was that Wolter and Nielsen spent $75,000 to self-publish and print their Kensington Rune Stone: Compelling New Evidence book, and that money seems to be at the root of the personal dispute that overshadows any actual fact-based argument. According to Wolter, Nielsen declined to pay his half of the money, and Wolter sold off his agate collection to fund the printing. To which: Holy cow! I’ve self-published a number of books, and I’ve never spent more than $25 on one, albeit I used print-on-demand rather than offset printing. Even if I went the super-deluxe route, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with ways to blow $75,000 on producing one! What kind of print run did they pay for?
 
Anyway, Wolter made a strange point in the comments section of his blog post that Nielsen only changed his mind and attacked Wolter’s views out of revenge because he “had no financial investment in the book.” Does this imply that one’s views are dictated by profit?
 
Wolter’s whole blog post was poorly organized, very confusing, and based on material published in 2010 and earlier. I have no idea why he posted it now, but it seems pretty clear that there are interpersonal disputes playing out under the surface.
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<![CDATA[What's the Harm? Hoaxes, Lies, and Open Minds Grab Bag]]>Wed, 10 Feb 2016 18:36:27 GMThttp://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/whats-the-harm-hoaxes-lies-and-open-minds-grab-bagA story making the rounds on the internet alleges that an Ohio teenager said that her out of wedlock pregnancy occurred because one of the Nephilim came to her in July and impregnated her with Jesus Christ’s baby. “He told me that he was a Nephilim, like those described in the Bible,” the girl allegedly said. “He told me that he had a message from Jesus, He said that I was going to be pregnant, and that I would give birth to a son, Jesus’ son.” If the news report were true, it would be worth trying to disentangle the confused Nephilim theology, which appears to be derived more from the recent Freeform Shadowhunters TV series than esoteric religion. However, the story is a hoax, from the “satire” site World News Daily Report that social media and some international news outlets mistook for a real news report.
All too true, however, is the upset and terror that California comedian and podcaster Ryan Singer claims to feel in the face of supernatural monsters who may or may not be extraterrestrials. Singer runs a paranormal podcast called Me & Paranormal You in which he talks to individuals who have had paranormal experiences, and he says that his discussions with people who live in “a different reality” have transformed him. But it didn’t take a lot of effort since Singer says that his mother was a believer in a range of paranormal ideas. “It’s more fun to believe. That’s how I live my life. I will believe anything until someone can prove it is false and then I move on.”
 
And yet, his own behavior undermines the assertion that belief is either fun or beneficial. One thing that struck me was his admission that he is afraid of imaginary beings from Arabian lore:
I’m currently pretty terrified of djinn. Americans know about the bastardization of that idea as genies, but true djinn are not Robin Williams. I was reading about djinn and I actually became so scared that I opened an Etsy account so I could buy a protective necklace from a girl in Thailand. That’s a bit in my standup now, about being so scared of genies that, as an adult man, I set up an Etsy account. It’s a funny joke for the audiences, but I’m also supposed to be saving for a retirement and instead I’m covered in crystals I bought off the internet. I don’t do drugs anymore, but I do spend a lot of time with crystals. You have to get your juice from the universe somehow.
Is it really fun to waste money trying to save oneself from prehistoric supernatural myths? I don’t want to harp on the notion of harm, but it’s pretty clear that leaving one’s mind too far open leads to some terrible consequences.
 
Another case in point comes to us from the ConspiraSea paranoia cruise that wrapped up last week, as I briefly mentioned a few days ago. Colin McRoberts, a lawyer and a skeptic, attended and witnessed the most recent act in the ongoing saga of Sean David Morton, erstwhile Ancient Aliens pundit and current fake attorney. According to McRoberts, Morton portrayed himself as an expert in law and lectured attendees on the conspiracy theory cruise about bizarre extralegal tactics for making debts disappear, relying on a WordPress blog post he asserted was really a U.S. Supreme Court decision restricting federal courts’ jurisdiction to the District of Columbia. He also claimed to have had one of his books optioned for a “$100 million” movie or TV series. Morton was arrested upon disembarking the ConspiraSea cruise for conspiracy to defraud the United States (income tax fraud) as a result of following his own legal conspiracy theories. Morton then tried to get out of the indictment by creating a trust and naming his prosecutor as fiduciary, in some bizarre tactic that I wasn’t able to understand. He faces more than 600 years in prison.
 
Morton must be a pretty awful character to have been kicked off of Ancient Aliens after his first indictment—for psychic fraud, resulting in an $11 million judgment against him—considering that the show is happy to have on racists, advocates of anti-Semitic conspiracies, and other such distasteful claims—plus David Wilcock, who once appeared on Russian TV to denounce the United States.
 
Anyway, McRoberts had a fascinating blog post (linked above) in which he discussed his attempts to convince one of Morton’s audience members, whom he named only as Q, not to take Morton’s advice, or that of fellow fake legal expert Winston Shrout. The short answer is that McRoberts failed, for reasons you can read about in his blog post. He concluded, though, that the people who profit directly from organizing events where con artists and delusional halfwits spew lies that can, if implemented, lead believers to financial ruin or even prison deserve to be blamed for the damage they cause:
The cruise promoted Shrout and Morton and gave them the credibility they used to put people like Q in danger. Its promoters share some of the responsibility. I’m not naming names because I can’t tell, from the outside, where that responsibility should fall. But I know that they have the power to notify the people who paid them money for the privilege of learning at Morton’s feet that his lessons bear tragic fruit. And I don’t think they’re going to do it. For all the cruise’s high rhetoric about fighting abuses of power and supporting light energy and peace and justice, they seem very unconcerned with actually reaching out to help their own customers.
The same can be said of all the pseudosciences and the pseudohistories. They leave the vulnerable believing in things that are untrue, frighten them into paying for the next revelation of “truth,” and are blithely unconcerned for consequences. It’s upsetting to see that the same jackasses simply move on from one field to the next—Morton pretended to be a psychic, a theologian, an ancient astronaut theorist, a sexual guru, and a legal expert, just for starters—destroying everything in their path. And the only reason Morton got stopped is because he didn’t pay his taxes, just like Al Capone!
 
The lesson seems to be that you can get away with anything as long as the government gets its cut. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than thinking that the government is plotting with the Nephilim to establish a Freemasonic dictatorship.
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<![CDATA[L. A. Marzulli Claims Super Bowl Halftime Show Is an Illuminati-Occult Conspiracy]]>Tue, 09 Feb 2016 17:07:21 GMThttp://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/l-a-marzulli-claims-super-bowl-halftime-show-is-an-illuminati-occult-conspiracyWhen my Facebook feed started featuring stories from white nationalist David Duke’s website arguing that the Super Bowl halftime show proved that “the United States has come under the control of a Jewish elite that is hostile to the white population in this country” by “promoting promiscuity, homosexuality, and anti-white imagery,” I assumed that this was regular white supremacist nonsense. But it turns out that Beyoncé isn’t simply the focus for garden variety white supremacist anger: She also earned the ire of Nephilim theorists! 
According to his newest Politics, Prophecy & the Supernatural Report YouTube show, Nephilim theorist L. A. Marzulli hates women performers for being obscene. In 2015 he declared Katy Perry the Whore of Babylon because her appearance at the Super Bowl atop a tiger reminded him of the Whore riding a Beast in Revelation. He previously accused Madonna of promoting an “Illuminati-occult agenda” at a past Super Bowl. This year, Marzulli accused Lady Gaga of dressing in red to symbolize the Devil while “flashing the Baphomet horn sign” with her hands. He says that Gaga was pledging her allegiance to the Illuminati and Satan. He accuses Beyoncé’s dancing of being “pornography” that is pushing a liberal agenda of sexuality associated with “rock and roll and the hip hop community” (as though they were the same thing!). He says that producers refuse to have Yo-Yo Ma or classical pianists perform at halftime shows because Classical music is too wholesome.
 
Marzulli says that the halftime show has been so clearly an “occult-Illuminati spectacle” that this year’s show seemed “innocent” by comparison. But rather than take this as evidence that he is wrong about the Illuminati’s influence on football, Marzulli claims that we need to look still harder to find evidence of the occult hidden in the show.
 
He starts by pointing to Hindi writing on Coldplay’s amplifier. He says he has “no idea” what it says, but he demands to know “why are they displaying that? Why are they overtly displaying that?” He claims to be trying to get the text translated to determine the occult meaning of a blatant display of a non-Western script, but I will save him the trouble: It says “Coldplay” in Hindi using the Devanagari script. Essentially, Marzulli’s problem is that the lettering is non-Western and therefore in his mind evil. Marzulli anticipates the criticism that he is fishing for things to be mad at: “I would differ. Everything these people do is calculated. […] They do it with great deliberation on their part.” He accuses the halftime stage of being “the Rosicrucian cross […] that represents self-illumination.” He says that the occultists are using Hindu imagery and “Sanskrit on the amplifiers” to symbolize the Illuminati, who are associated with Eastern religion and the demons Easterners worship in contravention of Christianity.
 
Marzulli is also upset that the final image of the show displayed rainbow colors and the word “love,” which he takes to be an endorsement of homosexuality, which he considers evil and demonic. “It was a subtle, but then again in some ways not so subtle, occult spectacle,” he said.
 
Like David Duke, Marzulli asks who is “controlling” what we see in the media and who is making the decisions about which evil sluts to stimulate occult erotic desires. While Marzulli explicitly means for us to read the answer as “demons” and “Illuminati,” it’s not hard to see that the implicit answer is the same one Duke provides: Jews. Duke’s Jews are standard-issue Zionist conspirators, while Marzulli’s are the evil false Jews who manipulate secret societies under the influence of Nephilim-demons, but they come from the same century-old paranoia about Jewish control of the media.
 
Marzulli’s anger is the same as Duke’s, the rage of old white men against the young, the non-white, and the non-male. Both cranky assholes want more control over expressions of women’s sexuality (neither cares much about expressions of male sexuality unless it is homosexual) and a return to an imaginary time when straight white men could wield Jesus as a cudgel to keep everyone else beneath them.
 
Certainly it can’t be a coincidence that Marzulli is quick to declare Beyoncé (a Black woman), Bruno Mars (a Black man), Katy Perry (a woman), Madonna (a woman), Lady Gaga (a woman), and the producer of the Super Bowl halftime show (Ricky Kirshner, of Jewish heritage) of being demon-worshippers, while the only one he wasn’t sure about was Chris Martin of Coldplay, a straight white man. Marzulli seems to think Martin has been deceived by nefarious Eastern mystics into surrendering his (white? Christian?) birthright in favor of demons.
 
So this is the Nephilim-theorist agenda laid bare: Cranky old white guys upset that the world has passed them by and blaming it all on demons.
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<![CDATA[They're Back! "White" Giants of North America Get Recycled Again from Nineteenth Century Texts]]>Mon, 08 Feb 2016 17:28:01 GMThttp://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/theyre-back-white-giants-of-north-america-get-recycled-again-from-nineteenth-century-textsThe copy and paste problem in fringe history has been with us mostly since the inception of low-quality popular history. Nineteenth century texts were rife with verbatim copying, often uncredited. People like Harold T. Wilkins and David Childress raised copying to an art form, but the internet has turned it into an industry. The Ancient Code website exists almost entirely to rewrite (poorly) other people’s articles, which recently included a wholesale rewrite of an Ancient Origins article on giant bones in Romania, itself an uncredited copy of still earlier Romanian articles, going back to a hoax. Granted, this isn’t much different from the Huffington Post’s business model of rewriting other news organizations’ content to build traffic, but it’s depressing to see how little original content the supposed warriors for truth actually produce.
Today’s case in point is a depressingly racist piece on giants that appeared on the Seven Tales website run by Helena Matias. This Matias is not, so far as I can tell, the scientist of the same name who works at the New University of Lisbon.
 
Matias begins her piece by copying from Donald N. Yates’s 2012 book on the Old World Roots of the Cherokee, which I am embarrassed to say was published by McFarland, the same company that produced most of my books. Yates, who holds a degree in Classics, is the owner of DNA Consultants, the company that uses alleged DNA evidence to “prove” that New World peoples are descendants of various Old World peoples, notably Greeks and Hebrews. (“Do not believe your government history books!” he proclaims on his website.) He also sells DNA “fingerprinting” kits to track a person’s ethnic origin for just $279. (Jewish and Native American ancestry requires an additional fee of $18 and $19 respectively.) Anyway, I’m getting a bit off topic…
 
Yates feels that the Cherokee are Greeks because he thinks that the name of the Cherokee warrior class is the same as the Greek term etheloikeoi, a word meaning “willing colonizers.” So far as I know the word appears only in Yates’s work, apparently back-formed from the name Eshelokee, which appears in the Cherokee Vision of Elohi, a migration myth telling of the Cherokee’s escape from a flooded land. (It’s often used as evidence for Atlantis or for Jewish contact by fringe folk on account of the flooded land and the similarity of the word Elohi, or earth, and Elohim, the Jewish plural for “gods,” respectively.)
 
Matias quotes Yates quoting the Christian missionary Horatio Bardwell Cushman that the first inhabitants of the United States were a “race of white giants.” Matias then follows Yates in following Cushman in declaring that the white giants were the same as a the Atlans, the imaginary Atlantean giants invented by the scientist Constantine Rafineseque, who had given himself over to outright fraud in an attempt to steal back glory (and money) from Caleb Atwater, his rival, who had gained fame and fortune by proposing a Vedic Indian origin for the Ohio mounds. Cushman’s 700-page History of the Choctaw etc. (1899) is generally held to be an unreliable source text, but it preserves some myths and legends not found elsewhere.
 
This is a bit ironic since Cushman was, for all his faults, an advocate of Native American rights and yet ends up entered in evidence for Native Americans being an Old World people!
 
Here’s the interesting thing: Yates added “white” to Cushman’s account, which did not use the phrase “race of white giants,” but did assert that large bones proved the account to be based in fact:
Also of the tradition of the Choctaws which told of a race of giants that once inhabited the now State of Tennessee, and with whom their ancestors fought when they arrived in Mississippi in their migration from the west, doubtless Old Mexico. Their tradition states the Nahullo (race of giants) was of wonderful stature; but, as their tradition of the mastodon, so this was also considered to be but a foolish fable, the creature of a wild imagination, when lo! their exhumed bones again prove the truth of the Choctaws tradition. In the fall of 1880, Mr. William Beverly, an old gentleman 84 years of age living near Piano, Collin County, Texas, and who was born in west Tennessee and there lived to manhood, stated to me that near his father’s house on a small creek were twenty-one mounds in consecutive order forming a crescent, each distant from the other about fifty feet and each with a base of seventy-five or eighty feet in diameter, and rising to an average height of forty feet; that he, when a boy twelve years of age, was present with his father, when an excavation was made in one of the mounds in which human bones of enormous size were found, the femoral bones being five inches longer than the ordinary length, and the jaw bones were so large as to slip over the face of a man with ease. This statement was confirmed by Rev. Mr. Rudolph of McKinney, Texas, and several others, all men of undoubted veracity, which places the truth of the former existence of the mounds, their excavations and results, as well as the Choctaw tradition, beyond all doubt and even controversy.
Yates got the adjective from a later passage in the book not written by Cushman but taken from a letter sent to Cushman in 1878 by Henry Sale Halbert, a former Confederate soldier and later expert on the Choctaw, who attempted to “prove” ethnograpically that Native Americans had occupied America only from about 1300 CE and therefore were illegitimate claimants to the land:
The word Nahoolo is a corruption of the Choctaw word Nahullo and is now applied to the entire White Race, but anciently it referred to a giant race with whom they came in contact when they first crossed the Mississippi river. These giants, says their tradition, as related to the missionaries occupied the northern part of the now States of Mississippi and Alabama and the western part of Tennessee. The true signification of the word Nahullo is a superhuman or supernatural being, and the true words for white man are Hattak-tohbi. The Nahullo were of white complexion, according to Choctaw tradition, and were still an existing people at the time of the advent of the Choctaws to Mississippi; that they were a hunting people and also cannibals, who killed and ate the Indians whenever they could capture them, consequently the Nahullo were held in great dread by the Indians and were killed by them whenever an opportunity was presented; by what means they finally became extinct, tradition is silent.
Halbert declared that the Mound Builders were a separate white race, “perhaps almost, if not quite, as fair as we,” who died out due to disease, their last remnants being the “white” Mandan people. Only when the great white race had died, he said, could Asiatics move into America.
 
Cushman himself was uncomfortable with this conclusion, but made the best of it since it represented what he assumed to be scientific conclusions from an expert. He suggested that Allegewi (a legendary tribe of bloodthirsty giants appearing in several tribes’ myths) or even the Norse—even in 1899 acknowledged as the first Europeans to reach America—were the lost white race of giants. He supposed that the story got mixed up with one of human sacrifice, which degenerated into a tale of cannibalism.
 
Matias continues copying Yates verbatim. Yates goes on to quote a nineteenth century account by Nelson Lee of a Comanche legend of the same white giants, but which I think any reader will clearly see is nothing but the Biblical story of the Nephilim amalgamated to some now-lost native story. (That is, if it is even real at all: The book it is in is often considered to be a hoax.) Lee is paraphrasing Rolling Thunder:
Innumerable moons ago, a race of white men, ten feet high, and far more rich and powerful than any white people now living, here inhabited a large range of country, extending from the rising to the setting sun. Their fortifications crowned the summits of the mountains, protecting their populous cities situated in the intervening valleys. They excelled every other nation which was flourished, either before or since, in all manner of cunning handicraft — were brave and warlike — ruling over the land they had wrested from its ancient possessors with a high and haughty hand. Compared with them the palefaces of the present day were pygmies, in both art and arms. They drove the Indians from their homes, putting them to the sword, and occupying the valleys in which their fathers had dwelt before them since the world began. At length, in the height of their power and glory, when they remembered justice and mercy no more and became proud and lifted up, the Great Spirit descended from above, sweeping them with fire and deluge from the face of the earth. The mounds we had seen on the tablelands were the remnants of their fortresses, and the crumbling ruins that surrounded us all that remained of a mighty city.
If that isn’t clear enough, Rolling Thunder went on to tell Lee that the “giants” are the same as today’s white people, whom God will destroy for their overweening pride. While Lee and the modern writers seem to take Rolling Thunder for a primitive sage, it seems possible to me that he was offering a sophisticated cross-cultural metaphor that intentionally evoked Biblical stories from the missionaries to make a point, and I would be rather certain that the wealth and whiteness of the giants, regardless of their Biblical connection, were a pointed detail added to make the comparison clear—note that these “white” giants also stole the land from indigenous people. It is rather insulting to suggest Rolling Thunder was any less able to make a rhetorical point than a white man. (The Comanche had been in contact with Christianity for centuries, but actively resisted missionaries.)
 
But Yates cuts out the context and thus turns this interesting cross-cultural exchange into simple proof that uncreative natives were uncritical reporters of the greatness of the white race.
 
Matias, who is actually plagiarizing verbatim from this blog post by Yates, makes them into Nephilim, with (sigh) double rows of teeth, adding that “the double row of teeth probably was selected as an evolutionary advantage in their beachcomber origin out of Africa” because giants, as all good gigantologists know, love shellfish, being evil and an abomination to God, that well-known hater of shellfish. Our authors know that the giants are Nephilim because they speak a “Semitic” language!
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<![CDATA[UFO Congress Debates Watchers-Nephilim While J. Hutton Pulitzer Promises New, Bigger Fringe Theories]]>Sun, 07 Feb 2016 13:28:58 GMThttp://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/ufo-congress-debates-watchers-nephilim-while-j-hutton-pulitzer-promises-new-bigger-fringe-theoriesThis is what the alien abduction myth has come down to: At the upcoming International UFO Congress, there will be a “debate” whether aliens are abducting humans because aliens are angelic spiritual beings guarding us, or because they are evil Watchers-Nephilim trying to corrupt us. One of the speakers, Dr. Joe Lewels argues that the Watchers are space aliens who genetically modified apes to make them into humans, that Jesus had secret knowledge of the space aliens’ activities, and that the Church suppressed this information except for the parts Mary Magdalene was able to smuggle into France to give rise to the Da Vinci Code… no, wait, Catharism. Oh, and Lewels, who cites his claims about the Watchers to Zecharia Sitchin, says that past life regression revealed that he was Jesus’ brother.
 
And now another installment in my ongoing series The Farce of Hoax Island...
I spent the time making the graphic, so I am going to get some use out of it!

​Yesterday afternoon J. Hutton Pulitzer appeared on the Earth Ancients podcast to discuss what he claims is his new, overarching thesis of “great things happening in the Americas” in the prehistoric past, great things that did not involve Native Americans, of course. Pulitzer told host Cliff Dunning that he plans two different reports, a small and specific report next week only on the Roman sword (to “teach the public” and “train” their minds), followed by a later report in early summer that uses a “new” theory to explain how anomalous archaeological mysteries across the Americas connect to one another and a broader overarching historical mystery.
 
(Disclosure: On Thursday Pulitzer and I had a lengthy telephone conversation in which we discussed the sword, but in it he produced no new information about his claims beyond what he has already said publicly, referring me instead to his upcoming reports.)
 
On Earth Ancients Pulitzer promised that there is a second “smoking gun” artifact whose laboratory testing he plans to stream live over the internet. He did not explain how he knows the artifact is a smoking gun if it has not yet been tested. This artifact is not the supposed Roman “crossbow” bolts he promoted last month as proof of Roman visitation to Canada, though he asserts that these bolts cannot be colonial-era or Victorian logging tools as critics suspect because the family of a firm that made logging tools in the area in the 1800s denied that the tools were theirs. Strictly speaking, this is not a logical conclusion to follow from the evidence.
 
Pulitzer added that the History Channel and “governments” don’t want the public to know the information that Pulitzer claims his artifacts will provide. He claims that these forces, in conjunction with the Lagina Brothers, owners of Oak Island, are actively attempting to suppress the truth for some obscure purpose he chose not to reveal but which is tied to the Curse of Oak Island television program. Thus, he alleges that Curse fabricated and faked tests on the “Roman” sword to make appear modern. He seems to think that television would purposely prefer bad and boring shows rather than an exciting “discovery” that would change history, so clearly he’s never seen Ancient Aliens or America Unearthed. It is also unclear why the History Channel or Prometheus Entertainment would purposely produce a program about Oak Island if they considered the facts too dangerous to expose to the public.
 
To take another example: When the Sci-Fi (now Syfy) channel’s Destination Truth thought it had discovered a Yeti footprint in 2007, host Josh Gates promoted the hell out of the evidence, talking about it in major newspapers, and turning it into a media circus before the whole thing collapsed into nothing. (The cast of the track is now in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, owned by the Walt Disney Company, a co-owner of the History Channel’s parent company, A+E Networks. Disney describes the track as “anatomically legitimate” and “the first 21st century evidence of the Yeti.” What? You expected science from Disney?) Similarly, when the History Channel—the same network that broadcasts Curse of Oak Island—thought Barry Clifford had found Captain Kidd’s silver treasure, they held a news conference with the Madagascar government and pushed the story through all the major news outlets before UNESCO threw cold water on their “find.” (The History producer accused UNESCO of a conspiracy, but the resulting show ended up buried on a Saturday afternoon due to the controversy and resulting poor ratings.) Overall, the evidence is clear: When TV shows find something they think is sensational, they promote the hell out of it to drum up ratings. The “Roman” sword must be especially disappointing if even the producers behind Ancient Aliens, who also run Curse​, want nothing to do with it.
 
Here is one of the issues that makes Pulitzer’s claims a bit difficult to swallow: He has hitched his star to The Curse of Oak Island to the point where the program has become part of his imagined conspiracy to suppress the truth, alongside the U.S. and Canadian governments and “academia.” This seems ridiculous given how much cable TV and its corporate masters work to sensationalize everything and promote any crazy speculation that they think will attract viewers, not to mention how many scholars and scientists have spoken out against cable TV and its methods.
 
As Pulitzer explained on Earth Ancients, he seems to see these forces in league with one another, and he is says that he wants to cut academics out of the equation by releasing his reports directly to the public, so as to avoid the suppressive power of peer review. Yet at the same time these reports supposedly rely on “five hundred” peer-reviewed academic studies, are supported by his team of alleged scientists (I say alleged because their names are secret until the papers are released), and are, in his words, based on “science, not theory.” (Pulitzer clearly does not accept the scientific definition of “theory” and seems to see it as equivalent to a “hypothesis.”) Pulitzer reminds me a bit of Scott Wolter in that he both wants to be seen as possessing the authority of science and academia (Pulitzer now claims to be a “forensic historian”) while simultaneously attacking academic scholarship as an enemy of the truth.
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<![CDATA[Flash-Frozen Mammoths and Their Buttercups: Yet Another Case of Repetition and Recycling of Bad Data]]>Sat, 06 Feb 2016 17:28:55 GMThttp://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/flash-frozen-mammoths-and-their-buttercups-yet-another-case-of-repetition-and-recycling-of-bad-dataI wasn’t planning on doing more on frozen mammoths after yesterday’s discussion of dining on them, but I found myself increasingly intrigued by the fact that so many fringe history claims for flash-frozen mammoths and eating mammoth steaks trace back to a single 1960 article by Ivan T. Sanderson in the Saturday Evening Post. He was not the first to report the claims (having apparently learned of them from Immanuel Velikovsky, according to secondary sources), but his piece directly or indirectly bequeathed the story to biblical creationists like Donald Patten (who claimed Alaskan restaurants served mammoth in the twentieth century), Charles Hapgood (a close friend of Sanderson’s), David Childress, Graham Hancock, and a host of others. So I went to the library to get a copy to find out exactly what Sanderson said.
Sometimes I wish that most of the innovations in bizarre claims weren’t made so long ago that everyone involved is now dead. Sanderson starts his article by saying that frozen food companies were intrigued by his inquiries into how to flash-freeze an elephant and wanted to experiment with it! I’d have loved to talk to one of those frozen food executives to inquire as to exactly how they thought it possible or why they would even try such a thing. Anyway, Sanderson says he began his inquiry because he (wrongly) believed that wooly mammoths had been flavor-sealed in Arctic ice: “The reason for my question is simply that we already have lots of frozen elephants; the flesh of some of them has retained its full flavor, and I want to know how the job was done.” He cites the notorious Beresovka mammoth as one such toothsome delight, mistaking the explorers’ dogs’ lack of gustatory discrimination for proof that the flesh was fresh.
 
Sanderson also asserted that the mammoth had been frozen so quickly that its last meal of buttercups were still freshly in bloom in its mouth. “Upon the [tongue] and between the teeth, were portions of the animal’s last meal, which for some incomprehensible reason it had not had time to swallow.” This one fact gave rise to a 56 years of speculation about “instant” freezing of the mammoths in some catastrophist disaster. The scientist who studied the mammoth in situ, Dr. Otto Herz, had written that “more [food] is found on the tongue and between the teeth,” and he assumed that the mammoth died while he was eating, tumbling off a cliff or down a slope to his death. He wrote that the mammoth was not flash-frozen, but rather likely died in a mud pit that froze over shortly after the animal’s death and became buried under layers of dirt. The decrepit state of the flesh reported by the explorers is more than enough to refute Sanderson’s misimpression that the mammoth was fresh enough to eat.
 
It’s interesting that the report of finding the remains of buttercups in the mammoth’s stomach gradually morphed under catastrophist and creationist influence into something it was never intended to be. Modern writers routinely claim that the mammoth died instantly with “buttercups in its mouth,” or some variation thereof. Herz had reported that there was the remains of food in the animal’s mouth, and later on, in 1905, this was more specifically detailed by A. V. Borodin, who did not find flash-frozen salad but rather reported that bits of food were stuck between the animal’s teeth. By 1912, there was already the beginning of a suggestion of flash-freezing, which the scientist J. P. Felix gave in his Das Mammuth von Borna:  “On uncovering the skull a portion of the animal’s food was found in the form of a wad lying between the upper and lower teeth. Its death, therefore, must have been so sudden that it did not have time to swallow this food” (trans. Henry Fairfield Osborn). Felix didn’t mean that the mammoth had frozen at the moment of death, but it was easy enough to read it that way. The stomach contents, according to an English-language account published in 1925, included several species of grass, sedges, mint, legume pods, wild poppies, and “seeds of the northern butter daisy (Ranunculus).” Somehow the butter daisy seeds morphed into flash-frozen buttercups still in bloom! This appears to be due to some phrasing in a report written by E. V. Pfizenmayer in August 1939 called “Les mammouths de Siberie,” which I have not read but which is cited frequently as the source for the buttercup claim. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, what was actually found was pollen from the buttercups, both between the teeth and in the stomach.
 
For those who care, Felix said that the exact species was Ranunculus acer L. var. borealis, the common buttercup.
 
Thus, V. Paul Flint, the creationist, wrote in 1988: “Little flowering buttercups, tender sedges and grasses exclusively were found in the stomach of the Beresovka mammoth.” One creationist ventured that the mammoth froze in half an hour or less on the basis of this evidence. Such claims drew on a dispute in the Russian literature of the early 1900s in which different groups of scientists argued about the season of the mammoth’s death, with some arguing for July due to immature pollen and others for fall based on mature vegetables.
 
Sanderson claimed that the stomach contents froze so rapidly that decomposition did not occur, indicating temperatures dropping from 60 above to 150 below zero Fahrenheit or colder instantly, due, he thought, to volcanic activity. However, he had misunderstood the scientific literature and mistook the list of grasses and plants for the leaves of these. The scientists identified the plants by their seeds, which were preserved, not their leaves, which had decayed into an unidentifiable mass.
 
But I was terribly disappointed to find that the claim that Fairbanks, Alaska, had mammoth steaks on restaurant menus did not appear in Sanderson’s article. Donald Patten’s only citation on the page of Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch (1966) where the claim appears pointed to Sanderson’s article, so I had expected to find it there. Did Patten just make the claim up? I think he probably was repeating secondhand testimony of something misunderstood. Fairbanks, Alaska, was indeed involved with mammoth flesh about two decades before Patten wrote, when excavators uncovered several specimens of mammoth on which the flesh still clung between the 1930s and 1950s. The most famous of these was the mummified mammoth Otto Geist found in 1948. This activity created great interest at the time, and in July 1944 Harper’s magazine carried a report by Frank C. Hibben that evoked the stench of “thousands of tons of rotting mammoth meat” newly thawed and the desire of those who encountered it to taste the black and rotting flesh: “Nothing would do but that we taste a piece of almost black, frozen mammoth meat.” This may be the origin of Patten’s claim, or else restaurants celebrated the local mammoths with meals named for them.
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<![CDATA[Dining on Frozen Mammoth Steaks: The Evolution of a Strange Rumor]]>Fri, 05 Feb 2016 17:15:06 GMThttp://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/dining-on-frozen-mammoth-steaks-the-evolution-of-a-strange-rumorOne of the claims we see thrown around fringe literature from time to time, especially among the catastrophists, is that mammoths and mastodons were “flash frozen” in some unspeakable apocalypse that kept them carefully preserved and locked in their freshness. Although surviving wooly mammoth corpses don’t appear to be Ziploc-fresh, the story recurs every few years. For example, David Childress uses them as an example of earth-crust displacement in his Lost Cities & Ancient Mysteries of Africa & Arabia: “Witness woolly mammoths flash-frozen in the Arctic with buttercups in their stomachs. They were apparently flash-frozen in a sliding of the earth’s crust.” Our fringe theorists know the story most directly from Charles Hapgood, who wrote of “edible mammoths steaks” that proved the earth-crust displacement hypothesis. His claim bequeathed our frozen mammoths to fringe history.
However, the most active promoters of the myth were biblical creationists, who hoped to thereby prove that the Flood offed the mammoths. Here’s how catastrophist Donald Patten put it in 1966’s Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch, as quoted in H. L. Wilmington’s Guide to the Bible: “Their entombment and refrigeration have been so effective that mammoth carcasses have been thawed to feed sled dogs, both in Alaska and Siberia; in fact, mammoth steaks have even been featured on restaurant menus in Fairbanks.” The menus might have read “mammoth,” but they certainly didn’t serve it. I can remember reading about those restaurant menus in old books of strange facts when I was a kid, and the passage I just quoted from Patten above appears all but verbatim in Graham Hancock’s Fingerprints of the Gods, cited to Patten.

According to the online version of the Patten text, the source is Ivan T. Sanderson, “Riddle of the Quick-Frozen Giants,” Saturday Evening Post, Jan 16, 1960, p. 82. You will remember Sanderson as the fringe writer whose claims about ancient giants launched David Childress on the path of accusing the Smithsonian of a vast conspiracy. He seems to be an unreliable source, but one who gave more than his share of bad ideas immortality. Hapgood got his information from Sanderson.
 
Anyway, an offshoot of this claim is the recurring story that some of these mammoths became frozen dinners for European royalty, groups of scientists, or some combination thereof.
 
I bring this up because of a new report that finds that the most recent of these claims was a hoax. Legend has it that in 1951 the Explorer’s Club served meat from a frozen mammoth, as you can read in this 2014 Mental Floss article that takes the story at least somewhat seriously. But a new analysis of the preserved remains of that dinner (don’t ask why anyone kept the leftovers for 65 years) determined that the food was actually turtle, which had been passed off not as mammoth but as megatherium, an extinct ground sloth. The Christian Science Monitor misunderstood what a megatherium was in 1951 and reported that the food was mammoth, causing the legend.
 
But this is far from the only mammoth dinner to be little more than hot air. The most popular such dinner allegedly took place shortly after the excavation of the Beresovka mammoth in Russia in 1901. Scientists were rumored to have supped lavishly on the fresh-frozen meat. However, I.P. Tolmachoff looked into the story in 1929 and found that it had been greatly exaggerated. “Although some of flesh recovered from the cadavers were ‘fibrous and marbled with fat’ and looked ‘as fresh as well-frozen beef or horsemeat,’ only dogs showed any appetite for it; ‘the stench . . . was unbearable,’” he wrote in a scholarly article. One scientist tried to taste the meat, but found himself unable to hold down the putrid flesh.
 
From this, a legend arose that Prof. Otto Herz, who mounted the mammoth for the Tsar’s Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, treated the imperial family to a feast of mammoth flesh, with side dishes brought from archaeological finds around the world, such as preserved grain from Egyptian tombs. While this is a lovely story of the wretched excess of the Romanoff dynasty, it is unfortunately completely untrue.
 
Nevertheless, the story was popular enough that it took on a life of its own, in various versions. In October 1959, Boy’s Life magazine told its young readers in an article on mammoths that they were frozen solid in blocks of ice. It quoted a college professor, identified only as Elmer, as saying “I once met a man who ate mammoth meat at a banquet of the Czar Nicholas of Russia during the first World War. How do you suppose that happened?”
 
I suppose it happened because people like to tell tall tales, and some none-too-critical thinkers repeated them from the better part of a century. It never ceases to amaze me how stories keep getting repeated without any fact-checking.
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<![CDATA[Were Two Ancient Greek Swords Unearthed in Uruguay in the Early 1800s?]]>Thu, 04 Feb 2016 19:09:42 GMThttp://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/were-two-ancient-greek-swords-unearthed-in-uruguay-in-the-early-1800s
Given how much time I’ve spent talking about the dumb claims made for Oak Island, I thought it might be appropriate to start branding my coverage of it. What do you think of this logo? I’m not sure it if reads as more cynical than funny, but I kind of liked it. (Special thanks to the Library of Congress for the public domain landscape drawing.)
 
The recent dust-up over the alleged “Roman” sword supposedly found off of Oak Island is only the latest in a string of claims for Roman incursions into America made over the last 500 years or so. The oldest is probably Lucio Marineo Siculo, writing in De rebus Hispaniae memorabilibus 19 (1533), who claimed that a Roman coin of Augustus had been unearthed in Panama shortly after Spanish colonization began. “This wonderful thing has ripped the glory from the sailors of our time, who once boasted that they had sailed there before all others,” he wrote, “since the evidence of this coin now makes certain that the Romans once reached the Indies” (my trans.).
Surprisingly, there were relatively few claims for vast Roman incursions into the Americas, largely on account of the fact that the Romans left no texts asserting any knowledge of the Western hemisphere. Nonetheless, the Romans were not without their supporters. I learned from Justin Winsor’s Aboriginal America that Baron Franz Xaver von Zach (1754-1832), the Hungarian astronomer, published an article in his scientific journal Correspondenz claiming that “Roman voyages to America were common in the days of Seneca,” who lived from 4 BCE to 65 CE. Winsor mentions that a certain M. V. Moore wrote an article for the Magazine of American History in 1884, “Romans: Did They Colonize America?” Sadly, this piece doesn’t seem to be readily accessible online, which is quite the shame. According to the Winsor, the evidence Victorian eccentrics used to “prove” Roman incursions was the same that Lucio Marineo Siculo offered in the 1500s: random finds of Roman coins and marking claimed to be Roman inscriptions. Not coincidentally, this is also J. Hutton Pulitzer’s supporting evidence for his claim of Roman colonization of Oak Island.
 
Winsor led me to an interesting note in Brasseur de Bourbourg’s History of the Civilized Nations of Mexico, composed in French, which alleged a Greek intrusion into the Americas that I hadn’t seen before. In fact, I don’t think it’s even mentioned in fringe literature, certainly not in the sources I surveyed today. I give the text as he did, from the Nouvelles annales des voyages for 1832, a collection of articles and reprints about sea voyages and geographic questions. The piece in question is from a Columbian original, in my translation:
Discovery of a Greek Tomb.
 
Abundant evidence leaves no doubt that the New World had been visited by the ancients centuries before Columbus. Without mentioning the temples of Mexico, which were built on the same plan as that of Delphi, here is a new proof of this assertion:
 
“In the village of Dolores, two leagues from Montevideo, a farmer discovered a tombstone with unknown characters. Under this stone, he found a brick vault containing two antique swords, a helmet and a shield quite damaged by rust, and an earthen amphora of great dimension. All this debris was sent to the scholar Father Martines, who managed to read the words in Greek characters on the stone: ‘Viou tou Filipp …… Alexand …… to … macdeo …… basi … epi tes execou …… k …… tri …… oly …… en to … top …… Ptolem ……,’ which is to say, in completing the words, ‘Alexander, the son of Philip, was king of Macedonia, during the 63rd Olympiad, to this place Ptolemy…,’ and the rest is missing.
 
“On the swords’ (sic) handle is engraved a portrait that appears to be that of Alexander, and on the helmet we see a carving representing Achilles dragging Hector’s corpse around the walls of Troy. Must we conclude from this discovery that a contemporary of Aristotle had set foot in Brazil? Is it likely that Ptolemy, the well-known head of the fleet of Alexander, driven by a storm, through what the ancients called the Great Sea, was thrown on the coasts of Brazil, and there marked his passage by this monument, making for a very curious case for archaeologists?” (Universal Gazette of Bogota.)
Brasseur de Bourbourg credited this story with sparking his interest in the prehistory of the Americas, which culminated in his twin legacies of popularizing the Popol Vuh and declaring Mesoamerica the legacy of Atlantis, a direct inspiration for Augustus Le Plongeon and Ignatius Donnelly. Through them, of course, we ended up with ancient astronaut theorists and lost civilization speculators, who draw more or less directly from Donnelly.
 
Brasseur de Bourbourg, however, wasn’t able to determine whether the story was true, and it certainly bears the hallmarks of the same kind of tall tale told in the past, from the “discovery” of a tomb by a farmer to the crumbling weapons and the attribution to Antiquity. Substitute in giant bones for the sword, and you’d have any number of similar claims, none of which panned out. If there were any truth to the story, it would more likely be Spanish or Portuguese weapons and armor (which are a better match for the imagery described, being much more common in Renaissance-era armaments) and an ambiguous inscription (or even natural grooves) misread through wishful thinking.
 
It’s a shame the J. Hutton Pulitzer, advocate of the Oak Island sword, isn’t a better researcher, or he’d have found these Old World “swords” before I did.
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