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.
Joe Rogan’s podcast made headlines this past week for what did not happen on it. Roseanne Barr canceled her scheduled appearance on the podcast, which was supposed to have been a key part of her apology tour after her racist tweets resulted in ABC pulling the plug on the sitcom she starred in. On the day Roseanne was supposed to have appeared, Rogan interviewed Robert Schoch, the Boston University geologist famous for endorsing nineteenth century views about the origin of Egypt’s Great Sphinx. The interview lasted for three hours. I will be entirely honest: I find it harder and harder to sit through such lengthy, mind- and butt-numbing slogs through pretentious fantasy. If Avengers: Infinity War couldn’t convince me to sit still for three hours, an equally ridiculous science fiction fantasia with no special effects and no action certainly would not. That’s why it took me several days to plow through it.
Charles Berlitz's "Mysteries of Forgotten Worlds": An Uncanny Echo of Graham Hancock Decades Earlier
It’s been a very long time since I opened one of Charles Berlitz’s books. His musty old paperbacks were neither the most famous nor the most extreme of the imitators of Chariots of the Gods to hit bookstores in the 1970s, and his fantasies about the Bermuda Triangle and Atlantis have long overshadowed some of his less important books. But yesterday I had to open his Mysteries from Forgotten Worlds in order to check references that David Childress had made to it, and I was rather surprised to see that Berlitz’s book is a fairly straightforward precursor to Graham Hancock’s Fingerprints of the Gods and Magicians of the Gods.
On Twitter, Graham Hancock linked to a glowing review of his 2015 book Magicians of the Gods and endorses its author’s praise of him. Normally, I wouldn’t talk about someone else’s book review, but this one as a strange read that has a few points that are worth looking into since the author claims to be a major public figure who will change the world just like Graham Hancock is changing history. It seems to be fair to evaluate his views.
Today I thought I would share a gross and morbid thing I discovered in researching the Grave Creek Stone for my book on the history of the lost white race of Mound Builders. The Grave Creek Stone has a weird and checkered history. It was allegedly uncovered in an Adena mound on the Ohio River in 1839, but it was really a hoax created, in all probability, by a Dr. James W. Clemens, a local physician who had hoped to get rich quick by selling shares in the dig on the promise of finding the Mound Builders’ treasure. When no treasure emerged, he used an old Spanish book and scratched copies of Celtic-Iberian runes into a small stone and arranged for it to be found. Clemens wrote to the greatest scientific racist of his day, Samuel Morton, in the hopes that Morton would popularize the stone as the work of a lost white race. Morton, however, ignored Clemens, to the latter’s deep chagrin
YouTube Conspiracy Videos Rake in Big Bucks; Plus: Brien Foerster Plans Colorado Seminar on Lost Civilizations and Elongated Skulls
It’s been a bit of a slow week, and I must confess that I have rather little to talk about today. One thing that is worth mentioning, though, is an article in the forthcoming issue of Newsweek in which the magazine analyzes the potential risk that fringe history and conspiracy theory videos pose to YouTube. The Alphabet company site is overflowing with conspiracy videos, and Newsweek attributes this less to public belief in conspiracies than to the economic incentives YouTube created to produce conspiracy videos in a desperate bid to garner eyeballs and thus ad dollars with the most extreme content, using the example of a video by Shane Dawson suggesting that space aliens were responsible for the disappearance of a Malaysian airliner a few years ago:
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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