On Sunday, CBS’s 60 Minutes ran a piece on Easter Island reported by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. To promote the piece, CBS tweeted questions about whether aliens built the statues. In the filmed piece, Cooper asked whether space aliens put the statues in place. It was a depressing confirmation that the media has a low opinion of its audience and that the ancient astronaut theory is now so mainstream that it even shows up in news reports on the highest-rated news broadcast in America.
As a reminder, for the next week, I am reducing my blog output as I work on reviewing Graham Hancock’s America Before.
Last week, The Daily Star, ran a piece (picked up within hours by Sputnik) about ancient Egypt alleging that a lost book contains all of the secrets of the pyramids. The claim comes from Matt Sibson, the blogger and YouTuber whom we met last year when he alleged that the hoax Zeno map was actually an antediluvian chart of Atlantis. In his latest brain dropping, he misunderstood his sources and mangled yet another effort to understand ancient history, this time the Great Pyramid of Giza:
As I have been writing my book about the myths and legends associated with the Giza pyramids, I have run across a few facts I wasn’t previously aware of, or which were right in front of my face but which I didn’t fully understand. One of the more interesting I just discovered by accident this past week. It concerns a passage found in the historian al-Maqrizi’s Al-Khitat, which al-Maqrizi composed around 1400 CE. In the passage he relates what at first seems like a rather standard summary of another writer’s views about the pyramids of Khufu and Khafre:
Erich von Däniken Receives Award for "Integrity," Gives Keynote Speech Based on Decades-Old Mistakes and False Claims
This weekend Erich von Däniken was in California to give the keynote address to the Conscious Life Expo. At the event, he received the “Integrity Award” for his lifetime of investigation into the ancient astronaut theory. The layers of irony are thick, particularly since von Däniken’s “integrity” involves being convicted of embezzling money to fund his writing of Chariots of the Gods, admitting to fabricating his exploration of a cave full of “alien” artifacts, wholesale reusing of material from book to book while charging readers for “new” content, and the usual laundry list of false and misleading statements that demonstrate his lack of scholarly rigor or even a basic critical understanding of his own material.
I am pleased to announce that I have received a commission from Red Lightning Books and Indiana University Press for a new book, tentatively titled Legends of the Pyramids, which will explore the mythical history of Giza pyramids, from Joseph’s granaries to antediluvian giants to space aliens. The short book will be written for a general mass-market audience and is intended to serve as an overview of the many ways people have imagined the history of the pyramids. It will incorporate material from my blog and focus on the importance of the medieval legend of the antediluvian pyramids from the Akhbar al-zaman in shaping popular understanding of the pyramids and Egyptian history down to the present. The book is currently scheduled for release sometime in 2020.
Here’s a brief overview of the book from my book proposal:
In southeastern Pennsylvania, the local MUFON chapter puts on monthly programs to “educate” (I guess) the public about issues relevant to UFOs. Next week they present “The Night We Rocked the Pyramids,” in which local minister Annabelle Wood, a self-described student of quantum physics, will discuss her experiences searching Egypt’s pyramids for hidden truths. Here is what the news release promises for the Nov. 13 event in Strafford, Penn. Be sure to read all the way to the end, when the story takes an incongruous turn.
I’ve been reading an old article by Hayrettin Yücesoy with the lengthy title of “Translation as Self-Consciousness: Ancient Sciences, Antediluvian Wisdom, and the ‘Abbāsid Translation Movement,” published in the Journal of World History back in 2009. I had originally downloaded the article in the hope of finding some specific information about Arabic translations from Greek in order to investigate questions I had about the Greek material underlying some of the Arabic stories of the pyramids and Hermes Trismegistus, but in reading the article, the “antediluvian” section ended up offering an interesting perspective that is worth sharing.
I thought it might be interesting to ask today why it is that the modern fringe/occult movement has inherited a relatively wackadoodle conception of ancient Egypt and the pyramids as antediluvian repositories of scientific super-knowledge when there were, in days of yore, a plethora of bizarre ideas to choose from. As many of you know, the ancients didn’t think much about the pyramids other than that they were very large and represented a tremendous expenditure of economic, political, and human capital. Herodotus didn’t think that the Giza pyramids were all that old, and later Greco-Roman writers were more concerned about how many vegetables were needed to feed the workmen than the supposed mysteries of the pyramids. Herodotus, Diodorus, and many others all agreed that the pyramids were the tombs of the Egyptian kings.
Note: A publisher has expressed interest in my book about the history of the Mound Builder myth and has asked for the full manuscript. However, in order to get the manuscript ready for review, I have to do some work with formatting, especially converting the footnotes into a bibliography, so I will be taking the day off of writing the blog while I work on this. In the meantime, please enjoy this rerun post from November 2012.
One weird claim from Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods has always bothered me, and I’ve never been able to figure out just where it came from. In the book, von Däniken claims that Egypt’s Great Pyramid lies at the “center of gravity” for all earth’s land:
For the past week or so, I’ve been working on an interesting project that turned out to be much larger than I intended it to be. One of the unsolved questions surrounding the compendium of medieval legends about Egypt known variously as the Akhbar al-zaman (History of Time) and the Digest of Wonders is the question of who wrote it. The manuscripts of the book give two different authors with no great certainty that either is the actual author. The first attribution is to al-Mas‘udi, an early medieval historian who wrote a book called the Akhbar al-zaman, but which appears to have had almost completely different content. The second is Ibrahim ibn Wasif Shah, also known as al-Wasifi or in the West as Alguazif, about whom almost nothing is known except that he lived two centuries too late to have written the book that otherwise passes under his name. The situation has not changed since Baron Bernard Carra de Vaux translated the Akhbar al-zaman into French in 1898 and found himself unable to name an author:
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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