Secrets and Riddles of Ancient History: Great Powers of Forgotten Worlds
Jennifer S. Dawson | Camea Publishing | December 2018 | $2.99 eBook
In some respects, self-publishing has been a boon in terms of providing a path for voices outside the mainstream to share their points of view. But mostly online eBook self-publishing has resulted in tens of thousands of half-assed click-bait titles of middling to low quality. The author Jennifer S. Dawson—apparently a pen name for a non-English-speaking author—churns out a remarkable number of books in the “ancient mysteries” genre, covering topics familiar to readers of 1970s volumes on similar subjects. I’d try to address the books by theme, but they are a hodgepodge of short articles on unrelated topics united only in their general connection to lost civilizations, ancient astronauts, and other such threadbare “mysteries.” Secrets and Riddles of Ancient History: Great Powers of Forgotten Worlds, recently published, is representative of both the author’s handling of mysteries and the carelessness that characterizes so many attempts to exploit the ancient mysteries genre.
Compared to years past, this was a rebuilding year for the fringe. Most of the major figures on the fringe sat the year out, preparing for bigger things in 2019 and beyond, and those that were active either failed to produce their promised results, delivered results that failed to meet expectations, or spent their time teasing revelations yet to come in 2019, or whenever they need a cash infusion. There was no major fringe history bestseller this year, and the wannabes in the category came from small presses and consequently received little or no media attention outside dedicated fringe sites. The new fringe pseudo-documentaries that made it to air either muddled through their middling runs or failed outright. The reason for the decline in the fringe was easy enough to see: The fringe had gone mainstream in 2017, and the continued presence of conspiracy theorists and fringe thinkers in the upper ranks of the Republican Party and the Trump Administration lessened the demand for pseudo-history. These sorts of claims tend to be more popular as counterprogramming.
Legends of the Lost with Megan Fox dropped like a rock in the Nielsen ratings for its second outing this week. Tuesday’s episode, which featured Fox meeting with alternative history icon Graham Hancock and identifying Stonehenge as a prehistoric hospital, bagged just 325,000 viewers, down from 429,000 last week. The miserable ratings secured the show 121st place in the Tuesday ratings race, behind NatGeo’s Life Below clip show special, Animal Planet’s Lone Star Law, Motor Trend TV’s Bitchin’ Rides, and even Travel’s own 9 PM rerun of Expedition Unknown, which 90,000 more people watched than Fox’s 8 PM show, and its 11 PM rerun of Monster Encounters, which 50,000 more people watched.
Yesterday, Martin J. Clemens of Mysterious Universe presented an article about the infamous photograph of a carved stone head in Guatemala, first publicized by Oscar Rafael Padilla Lara in 1987, that continues to circulate online as evidence of ancient stone-working, despite the clear evidence that the head is in fact a modern carving by a known individual. Clemens, indeed, speculates that these facts may be safely discarded in favor of a more exciting conclusion: that that Olmecs, c. 1200-400 BCE, were attempting to emulate the colossal stone heads of Easter Island, which were only carved after 1200 CE, on the basis of recent DNA evidence showing trans-Pacific contact between Polynesia and South America. “In light of this, does it not seem reasonable to suppose that Padilla’s colossal head, is in fact an attempt to replicate the look of the moai of Easter Island by an Olmec stone craftsman?” Clemens writes.
Since it has been almost exactly five years since I shared with my readers the real story of the Guatemala stone head, it seems like a good time to present again my 2013 blog post on the fake mystery, which here follows in slightly updated and adapted form.
A publisher has asked me to assemble a proposal for a short book on the myths and legends associated with the Giza Pyramids, notably the medieval legends of the Muslim world, so I am going to be taking some time today to work on this. In the meantime, I wanted to share something interesting I ran across in reading about Graham Hancock’s new book, America Before. Do you remember the popular claim that there were wooly mammoths flash-frozen in the Arctic as a result of a catastrophic change in climate, perhaps due to a shifting of the poles? It turns out that this claim is much older than I had imagined.
Graham Hancock has released the description of his new book, America Before, which is due out in April. According to the description, Hancock will be examining claims that the Americas were populated 130,000 years ago, and he will argue that North America was the homeland of his lost civilization before it was destroyed by a comet at the end of the Younger Dryas, a claim previously seen in Ignatius Donnelly’s Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel (1883), where the author similarly proposed a comet strike in the North American Arctic, affecting a civilization that stretched across North America and northern Eurasia. I remain interested to see what new evidence he has accumulated.
Spooky Archaeology: Myth and the Science of the Past
Jeb J. Card | 424 pages | University of New Mexico Press | June 2018 | ISBN 978-0-8263-5965-0 | $75.00
In H. P. Lovecraft’s 1927 novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, the warlock Jedediah Orne of Salem provided some sage advice for anyone who would attempt to resurrect the past: “I say to you againe, doe not call up Any that you can not put downe; by the Which I meane, Any that can in Turne call up somewhat against you, whereby your Powerfullest Devices may not be of use.” This sense that the past is a dangerous territory that can disturb the present is an essential element of Gothic fiction, but it is also an underlying tension that has troubled the field of archaeology since it began to separate from antiquarianism in the nineteenth century. What would unearthing the past reveal, and how might it challenge the assumptions of the present?
Andrew Collins Promotes "Cygnus Key" by Doubling Down on Lost, Advanced Denisovan Civilization Claim
Back in January, I reviewed Andrew Collins’s new book The Cygnus Key (Part 1 and Part 2), which was recently published, based on the publisher’s galley proofs. I found the book to be a poorly reasoned effort to imagine a lost white race of godlike ancestors, this time identified with the Denisovans, a poorly understood species or subspecies of human. The publisher had placed the proofs on their online press site, but my review must not have gone over well with either Collins or the publisher, or both, since they pulled the galleys within hours of my review going up. Well, the book is now out and Collins is busy promoting the volume. To that end, he prepared a teaser article that he has circulated on a number of fringe websites, including Graham Hancock’s, over the past three weeks. It’s a doozy, but one that tells us a lot about Collins’s thinking.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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