David Warner Mathisen is a one trick pony, a self-described “star myth investigator” who reads basically every story in world mythology and religion as a description of astronomical movements. He was inspired by Hamlet’s Mill, the complex and dense but ultimately self-referential fantasy concocted by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend to argue for the existence of a lost civilization based on the flawed assumption that only an advanced civilization could have gazed up at the sky and told stories about the stars they saw there. Mathisen’s schtick, which he has been promoting since he started selling books on the subject back in 2015, is predictable, but his attempt to tie his hobbyhorse to the spectacular Bronze age gemstone that made headlines last year is bizarre even by his standards.
I read an interesting article about some bad research published recently in the Journal of Coastal Studies claiming that the ancient Greeks visited North America in the early decades CE, and perhaps as far back as the Bronze Age. It’s a rather textbook example of how cherry picking ancient texts outside of their established context can lead to poor results. I first learned of the claim on Friday in Hakai magazine, but it took me a few days to digest the complex chain of faulty reasoning involved. While the original journal article is locked behind a paywall, the lead researcher posted a copy to Research Gate, so we are fortunate to be able to analyze the actual arguments rather than a media summary of them.
THE CYGNUS KEY: THE DENISOVAN LEGACY, GÖBEKLI TEPE, AND THE BIRTH OF EGYPT
Andrew Collins with Rodney Hale | 464 pages | Bear & Company | 2018 | ISBN 978-1591432999
READ PART 1
In the first part of my review of The Cygnus Key, I reviewed Andrew Collins’s views on the supposedly prehistoric origins of a cult that worships the constellation of Cygnus the Swan as a vulture that leads souls to heaven. I also noted that this part of the volume, a third of its length, is essentially little more than a summary of Collins’s previous books going back a decade. In the remainder of the book, Collins finally gets to the meat of his thesis, starting with what he calls “The Giza Revelation.”
A Turkish academic who claims to “speak for science” said that Noah used a cellphone to call his son before the Flood and powered the Ark with a nuclear reactor. The latest bizarre pseudoscience out of Turkey comes a year after the Turkish government claimed that the patriarch Abraham’s father built Göbekli Tepe and a couple of years after Turkey’s strongman president claimed that Muslim explorers built a mosque in Cuba long before Columbus visited the island. Such claims are part of a growing religious fundamentalism in the Turkish state, where the secularism of Ataturk has eroded in recent years in favor of Pres. Erdoğan’s policy of Islamization.
This week the new Kensington Rune Stone Park Visitors Center opened in Minnesota to tell the story of the Kensington Runestone, the controversial inscribed slab uncovered in the nineteenth century bearing a runic inscription. (The building signage puts a space between “rune” and “stone,” but the park’s website does not.) Outside of Minnesota, the broad consensus remains that the object is a Victorian hoax created by Scandinavian immigrants, but within the region where the object was found it has a dedicated group of true believers who hold it to be proof that Scandinavians explored the interior of the future United States a century before Columbus opened the Americas to European penetration. The Visitors Center, designed in consultation with Rune Stone advocate and fringe history speculator Scott Wolter, falls squarely into the latter camp.
As we approach the New Year, it’s time to take a final look back at 2017 in fringe history. This was a year when political news overshadowed almost everything else, but 2017 still managed to find new ways to use and abuse history, rivalling the historic low of 2016. This year in fringe history might not have been more extreme than last year, but it was certainly darker. It was the year when fringe historians rejoiced that they had an ally in the White House whose courtiers proudly flew the banner of “alternative facts,” but more than anything, it was the year of Tom DeLonge, the musician turned ufologist who published an ancient astronaut book, launched a UFO research company, was crowned UFO researcher of the year, and took credit for the year’s biggest UFO research flap. Let’s look back at what happened over the past twelve months.
Yesterday I received an interesting letter from a professor in Croatia who wanted me to hear about his pet theory that Homer’s Troy is actually located in Croatia. Vedran Sinožić is a professor specializing in Istrian history, and wouldn’t you know that he determined that the Trojan War took place in Istria. According to the description of the expanded second edition of his book Our Troy, “Istrian historian Vedran Sinožić presents his knowledge of the true location of ancient Troy. After many years of research and exhaustive work on collecting all available information and knowledge, Sinožić provides numerous arguments that prove that the legendary Homeric Troy is not located in Hisarlik in Turkey, but is located in the Republic of Croatia—in today’s town of Motovun in Istria.”
It was only a few weeks ago that Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop luxury lifestyle brand interviewed Robert Schoch about his claim that the Sphinx is more than 10,000 years old. This appears to have opened the gates for other luxury lifestyle brands to bypass the fact-based media and turn to fringe historians to provide the kind of personalized, hand-crafted history that purchasers of solid gold drinking straws and jade vaginal eggs demand. Why get your history from the kind of plebian mass-market “facts” that even the poor have access to? This week’s offender is London-based Eluxe Magazine, purveyors of online and print publications devoted to “sustainable luxury fashion, beauty and lifestyles.” Eluxe ran an interview with none other than Graham Hancock, who is either a lifestyle or a fashion. I’m not sure.
Happening Now in "Who Really Built That?" Templars at the Newport Tower, a Lost Ice Age Civilization at Giza, and Australian Aborigines at Göbekli Tepe
Late last week novelist David S. Brody, who is a close colleague of former television personality Scott F. Wolter, posted on his blog what he called new information about the origins of the Old Stone Mill in Newport, Rhode Island, popularly known as the Newport Tower. Brody presented a quotation from Pocasset Wampanoag chief Daryl “Black Eagle” Jamieson, a younger man who has clearly been influenced by modern fringe history claims. Jamieson spoke with the Wolter/Brody wing of fringe history in 2015, and it is on his authority that Brody and Wolter claim that Native Americans have a centuries-old oral history of the medieval Earl Henry Sinclair of Orkney coming to America in the late 1300s. Specifically, here is what Black Eagle had to say in his own words:
If you are a longtime reader of this blog, you are undoubtedly familiar with the legend of the Kensington Runestone, a rune-covered stone unearthed in the nineteenth century in Minnesota and alleged to be a record of a Norse expedition from Vinland to the interior of North America in the mid-1300s. Since the stone’s exhumation in 1898, a debate has raged between true believers on one hand and scientists and historians on the other over the stone’s authenticity. Mainstream opinion holds that the stone is a hoax carved in the 1800s, likely as part of an effort by Scandinavian immigrants to lay historic claim to the new land where they found themselves living. Fringe opinion believes it to be an authentic medieval record, with the most complex evaluation offered by former television personality Scott F. Wolter, who sees the stone as the cornerstone (so to speak) of a vast conspiracy by Knights Templar, Cistercian monks, and Freemasons to claim nearly all of North America as the hereditary kingdom of Jesus’ descendants through Mary Magdalene
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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