"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.
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.
I don’t usually cover the same fringe theorist twice in the same week, but I am making an exception because of the shocking new release from L. A. Marzulli that the Nephilim theorist announced yesterday. It also happens to coincide with the subject of my (other) forthcoming new book, tentatively titled Monuments of an Unknown People, which will be published a little more than a year from now. I can’t give more details until the contract comes through, probably next week. Anyway, Marzulli announced his newest DVD, On the Trail of the Nephilim: The Mysterious Moundbuilders. Yes, those Mound Builders—the imaginary lost race of (a) Jews, (b) cannibal giants, (c) ancient Aryans, or (d) Solutreans who were alleged to have been the true builders of the Native American mounds of North America back in the days when white Americans were too racist to admit that Native Americans could make large earthworks out of piles of dirt, a skill they believed only the white race had mastered.
Newspaper Roundup: The "Daily Mail" Seeks Atlantis in Spain, While the "Boston Globe" Hunts the Westford Knight
On the edges of history, fanciful stories never really die. They pass into pop culture folklore, endlessly recycled from one article to the next. Why? That’s a great question. As the recent Chapman University survey showed, one reason is that anywhere from a plurality to a majority of Americans believe in false history like Atlantis, ancient astronauts, and their ilk. The other reason is that these stories become the equivalent of the “bus-plunge” story—a familiar narrative that can be used reliably to fill time and space with a minimum of effort. The “bus-plunge” story is named for a distressingly frequent feature in newspapers of the twentieth century, which would fill blank spaces on their pages with small stories about buses plunging off of cliffs and bridges, usually in South America and India. As morbid as it sounds, these events happened (and continue to happen) with such frequency that editors could guarantee that they will always have one on hand to fill in any blank spaces, changing only the dateline and the number of victims. Atlantis, aliens, etc. are similarly easy features that require little effort.
The myth that Henry I Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, a vassal of the king of Norway, was mixed up in the European discovery of America a century before Columbus came to us from Johann Reinhold Forster, a German-born scion of a dispossessed Scottish noble family. Forster wrote in 1784 of Henry Sinclair’s involvement with the brothers Zeno (or Zeni, or Zen), whose story was told in the controversial account of their alleged voyage to Greenland and audience with fisherman who had returned from unknown lands beyond published by their descendant Nicolò Zeno the Younger in the 1500s, two centuries after the fact, and from non-existent documents that the younger Zeno claimed to have destroyed and then recreated from memory. Forster decided that the story’s fanciful manic pixie dream prince, Zichmni of Friesland, was none other than Sinclair: “This name of Sinclair appears to me to be expressed by the word Zichmni.” It was, however, a footnote which Forster labeled as “a conjecture” that struck him while contemplating the geography of the northern Atlantic.
This past weekend saw a number of depressingly awful stories about ancient history. The most prominent one revolved around a newspaper report about a man’s claim to have discovered Atlantis yet again. The Daily Mail published the report on Sept. 29 and was picked up by the Russian propaganda site Sputnik a few hours later and spread around the world. Heretofore largely unknown Ancient Architects blogger Matt Sibson alleges in an interview and accompanying video essay that Atlantis was actually the phantom island of Frisland seen on a number of old maps. If that name sounds familiar… well, it connects to another old fringe history chestnut.
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.
The Radioactive Skeleton of Mohenjo Daro: How Soviet Propaganda Spiraled into a Extreme Fringe History Claim
Today I wanted to share with you the fascinating work of Philippe Hernandez, who has posted an interesting exploration of the origins of the myth that Mohenjo Daro contains the remains of a nuclear massacre of that civilization’s people. As Hernandez discovered, the original source was Russian, and later authors’ lack of facility with the language allowed a modern myth to prosper.
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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