I can’t help but begin with the crazy claim made by self-proclaimed “spiritual archaeologist” John Benefiel (actually an evangelical pastor) on God Today this week. Benefiel cited Barry Fell’s pseudohistorical claims of Old World writing in America as proof that the Phoenicians and the Egyptians had brought an idol of the god Baal to America and thus made a land claim for the Devil encompassing the current United States: “They were Baal worshippers, that was their god, and they left their petroglyphs, their rock art, as they went along the waterways claiming the land – literally claiming it for Baal.” Benefiel considers Baal the son of Satan, and thus his worshipers as preserving the satanic bloodline of Baal. Surely you see the similarity to the parallel claim that the Knights Templar claimed all of the Mississippi watershed for the descendants of Jesus. According to Benefiel, even a single dedication to Baal is enough to corrupt the whole continent for millennia and give Satan legal title to the land.
A green-gold obsidian spear point found in the volcanic Haleakala Crater by Brian Axtell and Trevor Carter in 2009 became controversial last month when the H2 series America Unearthed announced the results of tests conducted by University of Hawaii anthropologist and lithics expert Peter R. Mills confirming that it was made of obsidian from Pachuca in Mexico before the show then claimed that the National Park Service was working to suppress Scott Wolter’s investigation of the spear point. Wolter’s key contact during his investigation was Dr. Janet Six, a University of Hawaii archaeologist who had worked with the spear point after Axtell and Carter showed it to her several years ago.
Today’s story is one of those confusing textual problems that most of you probably won’t care much about but which drive me up the wall as I’m trying to trace back fringe history claims to their source. As most of you know, I’m working on a book of ancient texts used by fringe historians, and many, including Erich von Däniken, have cited al-Mas‘udi, the Islamic historian of the tenth century CE, as supporting their claim that the pyramids of Giza were built before the Great Flood and contained fabulous treasure. Here’s how von Däniken put it in Chariots of the Gods:
So here we go again. The Universe: Ancient Mysteries Solved E02 “The Pyramids” intends to show us how the pyramids of Egypt connect to the stars. Obviously, this could go one of two ways. It could look at real archaeoastronomical investigation into what the Egyptians really believed, or it could descend into New Age theories about radical alignments to various constellations based on astrology. The fact that the first person to speak on the show is the Egyptologist Mark Lehner suggests early on that we will be sticking closer to facts rather than the most outlandish claims for stellar associations.
When you scrape the bottom of the barrel as Ancient Aliens has been doing for so long, eventually you break through to what lies beneath. If you’ve ever turned over a barrel left outdoors for a long time, you know what is underneath: bugs. In this very special episode of Ancient Aliens, S06E18 “Aliens and Insects,” we turn over the barrel and root around in the dirt to ask what aliens want with insects—but pointedly not arachnids. Nope. They’re not aliens. Not at all. You’d think the fact that having an exoskeleton would make it virtually impossible for a human-sized bug-man to exist might give ancient astronaut theorists pause, but no. In fact, they ignore the exoskeleton issue for pretty much the whole run time and focus instead on superficial characteristics like the wraparound eyes of Grey aliens that resemble those of some insects.
Here we go again. The latest edition of the Maui Time newspaper has a cover story on the allegedly Mesoamerican obsidian spear point found in a national park on the island of Maui. The new details provided by the newspaper are meant to make us more confident in the connection between the spear point and Mexico, but instead the reporting raises still more doubts about the authenticity of the artifact—and from an unexpected source, the archaeologist America Unearthed featured in its episode on the spear point. The newspaper also offered us the largest photograph yet published of the spearhead, which appears more than ever like a modern fake, sharing few if any characteristics with genuine pre-Columbian Mexican lithics.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for weird extraterrestrial news.
While I’m working on indexing and proofreading the page proofs for Jason and the Argonauts through the Ages, I’ve also been trying to assemble the final list of texts for my collection on ancient texts related to ancient astronauts and fringe history, which has the working title of Ancient Astronauts and Alternative Histories: A Sourcebook. In reviewing the list, I found that East Asian texts were rather underrepresented. This isn’t entirely my fault; fringe historians tend to tread lightly on Asian material except for repetitive iterations of miracle stories and flying dragons—and how many of those can one read?
So I did a little more research to see if I could find some more appropriate Asian material, and I came across the Chinese story of Fusang, which I’m sure I’ve discussed before but which I’ve discovered has some interesting connections I didn’t already know about.
When America Unearthed presented its story of the supposedly ancient Mexican spearhead found on the island of Maui (S02E13), it included the testimony of the two men who claimed to have found the object in 2009, Trevor Carter and Brian Axtell. The two men told Wolter that the National Park Service took no interest in their artifact until the week before the production team was scheduled to come to Maui to examine the artifact. On Facebook and in media accounts published before the show aired, the two men said they had “repeatedly” tried to interest the National Park Service in the artifact between 2009 and November 2013, when Park Service officials seized the spearhead because it had been illegally removed from Haleakala National Park against federal law, which prohibits removal of artifacts.
Let’s get this out of the way first: H2’s press release about The Universe: Ancient Mysteries Solved scouring the world for the “megalithic yard” wasn’t just deceptive—I’m happy to say it was completely wrong! Nary a word about the “megalithic yard” was uttered on The Universe, and perhaps the PR officer for the network has drunk the Ancient Aliens and America Unearthed Flavor Aid a bit too deeply and now sees even serious and sober science through the lens of the network’s lunatic fringe offerings. I do wonder, though, what happened. My on-screen cable guide also listed the megalithic yard (“just one unit of measurement”) as the subject for the show. Did someone realize after America Unearthed that the unit was a fiction and erase it from the more “serious” show, thus accounting for all the astronomical repetition? Why was all of PR information wrong?