I’m pleased to announce that my newest book, Foundations of Atlantis, Ancient Astronauts, and Other Alternative Pasts, an anthology of ancient texts used to support fringe history theories, has now been published! I did not know that the book was ready to be published, and I was surprised to discover that McFarland released the title yesterday, especially since the last corrections to the proofs were just finalized on Friday. I must confess that I am a bit disappointed to see that the price is set at $49.95 for a paperback or eBook, especially since the publisher had assured me that they had anticipated wider demand for this book. (Amazon is offering a $1.10 discount!) However, I hope you’ll find that the book is a useful research tool.
I’m sure many of you remember the flap that emerged in 2013 when researchers claimed to have found Ciudad Blanca, a legendary lost city in Honduras known only from modern myths of twentieth century vintage. I wrote about the long and convoluted process that led to the development of the legend of Ciudad Blanca back in 2013. Well, the story is back again, and many popular archaeology and science publications, particularly National Geographic’s online news service, have proclaimed that the legendary city has been found. The Geographic article, by New Yorker archaeology correspondent Douglas Preston declined to note that the legend of Ciudad Blanca is of modern vintage and has little do with the genuine ancient history of Honduras. However, Rosemary Joyce has a terrific piece over on the UC Berkeley Blog in which she deconstructs the hype over the latest Ciudad Blanca claims. It’s well worth a read.
You might also be interested in the latest crazy claim, this time that the childhood home of Jesus has been uncovered in Nazareth. The evidence, presented by archaeologist Ken Dark, is that the house resembles one described in a seventh-century travelogue. This, logically, ought not to prove that it was the actual home of Jesus; at best, it proves that it was considered to be such in the 600s CE, which counts for pretty much nothing.
It’s always weird for me to watch myself on TV. It was weird when I was a student of broadcast journalism in college and was producing TV news reports regularly, and it’s still weird even today. I can never quite get over the way my voice sounds much different in real life than it does in my head. So, it is with trepidation that I sat down to watch the “Ancient Astronauts” episode of Codes & Conspiracies, to which I contributed an interview back in September. Since I am a participant in the show, I don’t consider what follows to be a formal review as much as my thoughts and impressions about how it all turned out.
After Watching Me on AHC's "Codes & Conspiracies," Here's Some More to Explore about Ancient Astronauts
Tonight at 10 PM ET (9 PM CT / 10 PM PT) I will appear on the American Heroes Channel documentary series Codes & Conspiracies to discuss the ancient astronaut theory as part of an episode devoted to discussing the life and times of Erich von Däniken. The documentary will explore von Däniken’s popularity and some of the sources he drew upon in creating Chariots of the Gods, including Louis Pauwels’s and Jacques Bergier’s Morning of the Magicians (1960), and through it the extraterrestrial mythology of H. P. Lovecraft. I have it on good authority from the writer and director of the episode, James Goldin, that I appear throughout the hour and my views are well-represented.
As many of you undoubtedly saw in the news this past week, militants of the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) destroyed priceless Mesopotamian statues and artifacts in the Mosul museum and burned thousands of documents dating back centuries. In a video documenting the rampage, ISIS claimed that such historical treasures promoted idolatry and therefore had to be destroyed. This recalled for me the apocryphal words of the Caliph Omar in burning the Library of Alexandria while establishing the first caliphate: “If these books agree with the Koran, they are useless; if they disagree, they are pernicious: in either case, they ought to be destroyed.”
Nick Redfern: U.S. Government Could Be Working with Ancient Astronaut Theorists on Immortality Elixir
Nick Redfern’s prose is clunky, and he has an infuriating habit of writing articles in a disorganized and roundabout style that serves only to obscure what ought to be clear. Sometimes I think he is simply a bad writer, but more often I think that it is an intentional affectation designed to allow him to hide the thinness of his research and the threadbare nature of the stories he retells. Reading his recent article on an alleged U.S. government immortality research program derived from Mesopotamian technology left an impression that there was more to the story than the facts allow, and I think that was Redfern’s goal.
I should start today with the sad news of the passing of Leonard Nimoy, best known for Star Trek but influential in the world of fringe history as the narrator of In Search Of... and the host of Ancient Mysteries on A&E. He introduced many people over the past four decades to both science fiction and the pseudo-historical fantasies built from sci-fi parts.
Before I get into the main topic for today, I have a brief review of last night’s episode of Expedition Unknown S01E08 “Code to Gold,” which followed almost exactly the Freemason conspiracy treasure hunting format used by many of last season’s episodes of America Unearthed on a rival channel. By contrast, when host Josh Gates heads off to Virginia to look for the fictitious Beale Treasure—a vast hoard of gold supposedly buried in Bedford County around 1819—the show gives a fair airing to a number of different perspectives on the treasure, including what I am certain is the correct solution: that it never existed.
Are you as “excited” as I am for Alan Butler’s and Janet Wolter’s new book America: Nation of the Goddess? Destiny Books, the publisher, has put up a description of the forthcoming title on parent company Inner Traditions’ website, and it’s as chock full of crazy claims as you’d expect. The two authors posit that a “secret cabal” of related families are secretly running the United States on the twin principles of “sacred geometry” and “goddess worship.” It’s almost as though Robert Graves’s White Goddess and Margaret Murray’s Witch-Cult in Western Europe had a ménage à trois with Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
I have a piece of good news to share today. The editor of the forthcoming Encyclopedia of American Folklore and Mythology (ABC-CLIO) has asked me to write the entry for Chariots of the Gods, which will serve as the encyclopedia’s coverage of the ancient astronaut theory. The volume is intended as a reference work for university libraries and is aimed at an undergraduate readership. Unfortunately, due to the publisher’s deadline, I have just over two weeks to complete the 1,500-word discussion of the ancient astronaut theory’s origin and impact on American folklore.
Due to ongoing computer problems, I am once again forced to keep today’s entry brief. Dell has scheduled repair of my computer for today, and I spent a good chunk of this morning watching my computer get disassembled and rebuilt. At least it went a little faster than the last time the motherboard gave out (last June), which turned into a weeklong nightmare of bungling, incompetence, and confusion. During that mess, Dell sent the wrong part and the technician ended up breaking something in the computer while trying to install the motherboard, requiring several follow-ups with more and more new parts. Today, things went smoothly, and (so far) the computer seems to be functioning OK with its new parts.