Regular readers will remember Ashley Cowie, the Scottish television personality and occasional Ancient Aliens pundit who now writes milquetoast articles on ancient history for dubious outlets like Ancient Origins. In one of his recent articles for Ancient Origins, Cowie had such a howler that I can’t help but pause to make note of how he displays a truly surprising ignorance of the subject he claims to write knowledgeably about. His topic is an odd one: dragon’s teeth. But it also happens to be one I wrote about extensively in my book Jason and the Argonauts through the Ages, so I am extremely familiar with the primary sources and the scholarly literature that Cowie appears never to have read.
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.
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.
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.”
Thousands of years after Homer first made reference to the Trojan horse in a short passage of The Odyssey, an Italian archaeologist now claims that the mythical wooden creation was actually a boat, according to reports appearing this month in Italian media. Francesco Tiboni, a naval archaeologist at the University of Marseille, published an article in Archaeologia Viva claiming that the story of the Trojan Horse was nothing more than a mistranslation of one key word in Homer.
Was the Golden Fleece Really Sea-Silk? Plus: "Ancient Origins" Writer Endorses Modern Hoax as Pre-Flood Hermetic Secrets
Quality standards have never been high among fringe historians, but you’d think that someone calling himself a journalist might have had at least a little bit of research skill. Armando Mei (whom we have met before) is an Italian investigative journalist who fell down the rabbit hole and fully embraced the Graham Hancock model of history. In fact, he became one of Semir Osmanagich’s coauthors in writing about the Bosnian mountains mistaken for ancient pyramids. Anyway, Mei’s big idea is that alchemy was invented in ancient Egypt and encoded in the Great Pyramid around 36,000 years ago. You will immediately recognize this as the Arab-Islamic medieval pyramid myth, and he does nothing to confirm it except to accept it at face value.
Call it a case of motivated reasoning, if you will. Or maybe call it a case of opportunism married to capitalism. But whatever you think of Christian apologist and former chairman of the Texas Board of Education Robert Bowie Johnson’s merchandising motives, there is little to commend his half-assed, misunderstood idea that the ancient Greeks depicted Jewish mythological characters in their art. While it would be easy to simply dismiss Johnson’s entire thesis as the mad ramblings of Bible-drunk fundamentalist, his argument fails on a subtler level, by neglecting to include the actual research to help understand the real and complex relationship between Greek mythology and Near Eastern myths.
On Friday, I reviewed the latest episode of Ancient Aliens, and in that review, I noted that new talking head Ashley Cowie, the erstwhile host of Syfy’s Legend Quest, stated that there were “legends” that a golden Inca sun disc had been removed from the Coricancha temple in Cuzco and taken to a “mountaintop village” called Paititi. Many readers likely remember Paititi from when Josh Gates sought it out in Expedition Unknown a few years ago. In most versions of the story, it is a city possessed of fabulous treasure, or even made of gold, but the oldest surviving documents fail to indicate any such connection to lost Inca treasure, though they do speak of having plenty of precious metals, so much that they make pots and pans from “precious metals,” though this probably refers to copper. The legend of the sun-disc being there, so far as I have been able to tell, does not date back before the twentieth century, so I described Cowie as “telling a lie” by implying, in context, that such stories go back to the Conquest. As it happens, my conclusion, while not wrong, is incomplete.
Review of Forbidden History S04E02 "The Secrets of the Vatican"; Plus: Ben Radford Has More Reasons He Thinks I'm Wrong about Chupacabra
I was planning to review Forbidden History today, but then Benjamin Radford responded to my recent response to his recent response to an article I wrote about the Chupacabra six years ago. So, I will append the Forbidden History review below. Meanwhile, in the latest piece, Radford accuses me of purposely misrepresenting him and engaging in straw man arguments to promote a wacky, evidence-free hypothesis. As much as I respect Radford’s work, at times he is that tiresome type of skeptic who demands everything be spelled out in syllogisms and tends toward blindness in the weaknesses of his own arguments. He adds little new in the most recent piece, so I have very little to say about it except to point out some of those aforementioned weaknesses:
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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