Fake history is everywhere and often quite difficult to root out. Today, I’m going to break format a little bit to look at an inflated historical claim that is a little unusual. I came across this listing for an antique brass humidor for sale at a wildly inflated price of $795, and I had a hard time believing it.
To promote the release of his self-published book The Discovery of Troy and Its Lost History, historical researcher Bernard Jones published an article in Ancient Origins highlighting the book’s central claim, that the ancient city of Troy (Ilium) was not located in Asia Minor as has been assumed since ancient times but instead was located in the Celtic world. His evidence is Homer’s Iliad, whose poetic descriptions he takes as literal depictions of a voyage to the New World.
I received the copyedited chapter files for my mound builder book, which means that I now have to review and approve the changes. Because this takes a lot of time, I’m taking this weekend off to work on the review process. Therefore, I’ll leave you with a brief notice that the claim made this week that a researcher using “ingenuity” and “lateral thinking” had deciphered the mysterious Voynich Manuscript in less than two weeks has already descended into recriminations and claims that academics just don’t understand radical new ideas—you know, the standard. It is another case where a sexy claim got overblown through over-ambitious PR and sensational media coverage, aided by a claimant who seems to lack humility about the limits of his own claim.
History Channel Doubles Down on Paranormal and Conspiracy Programming in Presentation to Advertisers
In a month’s time, Graham Hancock will release his new book, America Before, which attempts to document what he claims to be evidence for a lost civilization that was destroyed when a comet collided with North America at the start of the Younger Dryas period about 12,900 years ago and triggered horrific wildfires that burned much of the continent. Skeptic magazine has commissioned me to review the book, and my review will be published when the book is released in the United States in April. But in the meantime, Hancock tweeted what he said was supporting evidence that his comet holocaust killed off the megafauna of Ice Age America:
University of New Mexico Revises Reason for Studying Olmec Heads on Trip Exploring "African Presence" in Mexico
The University of New Mexico came under fire online from anthropologists, archaeologists, activists, and skeptics after a flyer for an upcoming study abroad trip sponsored by their Chicano Studies department caused outrage by promising to help students learn about the “African presence” in Mexico during Olmec times. The trip, scheduled for May, was intended to explore the African experience in Mexico across time, including in the colonial period and in contemporary Mexico. But it was the decision to follow the Afrocentric claim that Olmec society had an African component that set off alarm bells.
"Ancient Origins" Writer Claims Ancient Greek Homosexuality Is "A Big Lie" and Greeks Just Really Liked "Bromance"
Modern scholarship is often caricatured as arguments about race, class, and gender. While most of the abuses of history we examine here tend to revolve around race and class issues (Eurocentrism and anti-elitism, among others), these are far from the only areas where history is misused to score political points and fight a culture war by proxy. The question of homosexuality in premodern times has been problematic for centuries, mostly on account of how Western thinkers tried very hard to suppress evidence for it in order to create a version of the past more in line with conservative Christian mores. Indeed, until the end of the nineteenth century, it was routine for scholars to suppress or omit references to homosexuality in ancient and medieval texts, or to alter pronouns from male to female, or to place in Latin references to same-sex desire in English translations, lest women or children be exposed to such moral turpitude.
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.
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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