I had intended to write a full blog post today, but this week turned into a series of bad news leading to worse. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on my household's employment and finances, and a literal midnight email about mandatory pay cuts and furloughs will only make it worse. I was not in the mood to blog. However, I did feel up to working on the proposal for a new book I have decided to write, based on my recent article about Rebel without a Cause and the three 1947 national panics over communists, gays, and UFOs that turned out to be deeply interconnected.
Late last week Ancient Origins published one of the weirder claims it’s made in recent years. In a members-only article, travel agent Malcolm Hutton (writing as Calumy) claimed that the Ark of the Covenant is actually the pyramidion from atop Khufu’s pyramid and that it is currently hidden inside the Kaaba in Mecca. Aside from the obvious problem that the pyramidion can’t be the Ark if you expect either the Great Pyramid’s shape or the Exodus narrative to have any real meaning—both of them being incompatible with the other—it is at least a little interesting that there is a bit of a connection between the Kaaba and the Ark, albeit not anything like the one Ancient Origins assumes.
Later this month, independent scholar Willem McLoud plans to hold a webinar to teach members of Ancient Origins that the Egyptian god Osiris was actually a Mesopotamian king. McLoud is going to base the claim on two papers he published over the past year, in which he argues for a new understanding of ancient history based on the self-aggrandizing “McLoud Chronological Model” of Egyptian history. Basically, he wants to rejigger the Middle Kingdom of Egypt to better fit with his preferred period of Mesopotamian history—questions of more import for Biblical history than anything else, really.
Janet Wolter and Alan Butler Make False Claims about Templars, Pyramids, Gothic Architecture, and More in Podcast Interview
The other day, when I reviewed Forbidden History’s episode on Noah’s Ark, I found something really interesting by accident while researching the show’s stupid claims. I ended up discovering a medieval legend of the Giza pyramids I had never seen before! So, something good came out of this bad show, albeit in a roundabout way.
For much of the past decade—has it really been that long?—I have explored the many vicissitudes of the medieval Islamic legend that the Giza Pyramids were the work of an antediluvian leader, either Surid or Hermes. I’ve traced the story from its origins in the Thousands of Abu Ma‘shar through its classic form in the Akhbar al-zaman and its copyists to its introduction into modern pyramid mythology thanks, in no small measure, to contemporary writers’ uncritical reliance on old books like those of John Greaves and Col. William Howard Vyse, who brought the story to the West. In fact, I wrote a whole book about it that is currently sitting with the publisher. Now I have to see if I can reedit it to add in a new incident that took place at the end of last month when Egypt’s former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa resurrected the medieval story for a national Egyptian TV audience.
Weekend Roundup: Ex-Ancient Aliens Researcher Spills Very Few Beans; Plus: Matt Sibson Recycles More Pyramid Claims
Let’s start today with the Archaeological Fantasies podcast interview with Annelise Baer, an archaeologist and former staffer for Ancient Aliens, whom readers with long memories will remember for writing a 2014 blog post proudly discussing how she sold her integrity to Ancient Aliens for the “fun” of going off the “deep end” in making the anti-scientific show. (Baer blocked me on Twitter in 2014 for publicizing her blog post.) In the new interview, Baer laughs about how she hated Ancient Aliens until they offered to pay her, saying she took the job because she was unemployed. I can’t say I find her current interview reassuring since she continues to take no responsibility for the ethical and moral issues created by the show, or the deep impact its lies and fraud have on audiences.
As I am nearing the end of writing my book about legends of the pyramids (just two chapters left!), I have unfortunately come to more recent history, and this is the period when things get really weird—not just because of crazy legends that writers felt free to make up but also because of the completely bonkers misunderstandings of everything that turn even the simplest research questions into days-long quests into the heart of obscurity. This one vexed me for far too long, but it is too weird to let go.
I’m going to give Ancient Origins a little bit credit for their recent article on colored stones at the Giza Pyramids. At least the article, by writer Morgan Smith, took a different approach to developing an unusual claim about the pyramids. I hadn’t heard anyone try to claim that the colors of the stone used on the pyramids’ casings were tied to astrological and astronomical symbolism. So, I award points for at least a bit of originality. However, that doesn’t make the claim any better evidenced.
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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