British Tabloid Uses Year-Old Interview with Nephilim Theorist to Claim Atlantis Was Located in the Golan Heights
The British Express tabloid recently offered up yet another in the endless list of places where the lost continent of Atlantis is alleged to be. Discussing as though it were new a March 16, 2018 appearance on Coast to Coast AM by Ryan Pitterson, an evangelical Christian Nephilim theorist, the Express quoted Pitterson as saying that Atlantis was located in the Holy Land and that its people were identical with the antediluvian giants fathered by the Sons of God in the sixth chapter of Genesis.
Today, I thought I’d review the Science Channel’s Sunday night lineup, even though it turned out to be much less interesting or impressive than the marketing made it seem.
My on-screen guide called Sunday night’s Science Channel special by the title Atlantis: The Dark Secrets, which is a lot more interesting than the show’s actual on-screen title, Finding Atlantis: The New Evidence, a show that bears the hallmarks of being a Euro import with new American-accented narration dubbed over it. I watched the whole damned thing until I found out that it was a “BBC/Discovery Channel/France Televisions/Prosieben co-production,” and despite being listed as “new” in my cable guide, it was actually first broadcasted on the BBC in 2011. I feel like it was on before here in the U.S. before, but a Google search doesn’t turn up any immediate evidence of it. Maybe it aired under another name?
This weekend, I am devoting my time to working on my new book about the myths and legends of the pyramids, so I have only a short topic to discuss with you today. It concerns a “new” hypothesis about the location of Atlantis that was recently described in the Nevada Appeal, a newspaper in Carson City publishing two weekly editions. The Appeal published a column by local historian and amateur archaeologist Dennis Cassinelli, who has written four books on Great Basin history, including Uncovering Archaeology, in which he attacks the “current system” of science and claims to have found evidence for lost civilizations of an Old World flavor in the Great Basin region, along with Mormon-style evidence of Christ’s visitation.
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.
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.
Fred C. Woudhuizen is an independent Dutch scholar who has produced a number of obscure publications making a series of controversial claims to have deciphered hitherto unreadable texts to reveal surprising confirmation of Greek mythological traditions. He argued, for example, that the Phaistos Disc was in fact a letter written by the Luwians to Nestor, the king of Pylos in the Odyssey. In another, he argued that the otherwise indecipherable Etruscan language is in fact a patois of colonial Luwian. The Luwians, for what it’s worth, are his major interest, and his arguments, as one published review of his scholarship put it, are “alas, not very convincing.”
Chapman University Finds Continued Growth in Paranormal Beliefs, Including Rising Support for Atlantis, Ancient Astronauts
Each year, Chapman University publishes its annual survey of American fears, and each year the results get worse. In the two metrics that I have monitored over the past three or four cycles, we have witnessed self-reported belief in ancient astronauts and lost Atlantis-like civilizations climb to record levels, among the highest rates of belief ever recorded. Belief in Atlantis became a majority belief last year, and it now stands at 57%, up from 55% last year. Belief in ancient astronauts rose from 35% to 41%, representing a plurality of respondents. (The remaining respondents either disbelieved or were unsure—the latter category not exactly being great for the side of science.)
The Search for Atlantis: A History of Plato’s Ideal State
Steve P. Kershaw | 428 pages | Pegasus | October 2018 | ISBN: 978-1681778594 | $27.95
The greatest compliment I can bestow on Classical scholar Steve P. Kershaw’s The Search for Atlantis (Pegasus, 2018), released last week, is that I have very little to say about it. Kershaw’s book, whose title is somewhat misleading, offers a history of scholarly and pseudo-scholarly reception of Plato’s myth of Atlantis from Classical Antiquity to today. It is decidedly not a book about hunting for Atlantis, and the author makes plain his conclusion that Plato invented the story of Atlantis as a philosophical allegory and that there is not and never was either a real Atlantis or an Egyptian myth of Atlantis for Plato to have drawn upon. I am in almost complete agreement with Kershaw, who teaches at the continuing education branch of Oxford University, and have almost nothing to add.
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.
Special Edition of National Geographic Promotes Atlantis, Curses, and Other Shopworn "Mysteries of History"
Bioarchaeologist Steph Halmhofer posted to Twitter an excerpt from National Geographic’s recent “special issue” on “Mysteries of History,” and the cover is a depressing look into what journalists think qualifies as “history,” and basically it’s mythology. The three stories teased on the cover are Atlantis, King Arthur, and the Curse of the Hope Diamond. Of the three, Atlantis is fictitious, King Arthur is a myth (or at best a composite legend), and the Hope Diamond curse is fictional. It’s good, I guess, that the magazine asks “What’s real, what’s fantasy, and what’s still a mystery,” but it’s sad that the only “history” on the cover is the picture of Stonehenge.
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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