Yesterday was a depressing day in the field of ancient astronautics. UFOTV released a new video in which they acknowledge that the 2012 Maya prophecy of doom failed and instead propose a new timeline for the return of the aliens, based on “Vatican revelations” about an “infrared planet” (?) hurtling toward the earth. The general point is: Forget that we were wrong about 2012 and start fearing the upcoming disaster. But let’s move on from this miserable bit of exploitation.
Yahoo! Answers is not a reputable source of information by any stretch, but it does provide a snapshot into what people think about a range of topics, including fringe history. Would it surprise you to learn that someone posted an insanely racist white supremacist explanation for ancient history yesterday? A participant named Andrew, who self-identifies as an extreme conservative and an anti-feminist, argued that ancient astronaut theorists are right in claiming that ancient people in non-European lands were more advanced than their descendants, but he disagreed that aliens were the cause of prehistoric greatness.
India, Persia, Egypt, Mesopatamia (sic) and Babylon, Carthage, Phoenicia, etc all once had inhabitants who were a special kind of people, a people who built wonders and still amaze us today, BUT they brought in slaves from sub-Sahara Africa and now their mixed race descendents (sic) are the Arab and otherwise brown people of today in those regions of once great civilization. Basically, for you dumb liberals to understand, the theory goes that the "Indo-European/Caucasion" (sic) people inhabited a larger area than just Europe until other nonwhite tribes invaded and/or became enslaved.
And readers wonder why I make reference to the racist underpinnings and conclusions of fringe history theories. Whites are “a special kind of people [who] still amaze us today”?! Any one particular claim may not contribute much on its own, but taken together they paint a portrait that helps support these kinds of world view.
This is the upshot of imaginary claims for far-flung white dominance of prehistory. We see this claim in so many forms: the original Americans were white until savage dark-skinned people killed them all; Lost Tribes of Israel were (a) really white British people and (b) the true force behind history; the inhabitants of Atlantis were white and delivered civilization to the world’s non-white people; the rulers of Mu were white people who reigned over and enslaved the brown and black people of the world; Teutonic people were the original humans who ruled the world from Thule and would again when Hitler conquered the world—the repetition is mind-numbing.
On the lighter side, Rebecca Watson has an article at Popular Science discussing Ancient Aliens talking head Brien Foerster’s YouTube video claim that the sarcophagi of the Apis bulls at the Serapeum of Saqqara are too large, too heavy, and too precise to have served as sarcophagi for mere bulls. He cites their “exactly-ish” 90 degree angles as proof of advanced engineering, whatever that is supposed to mean. Watson’s article outlines the various claims made for these boxes by other fringe writers, particularly claims that they were carved by or for ancient aliens or were carved by or for the Nephilim-giants before the Flood. She left out my favorite: Erich von Däniken’s claim that the sarcophagi were meant to contain multi-headed genetically-altered hybrid animals! (He got that from a bad translation of material on the discovery of an ancient but fake bull mummy made up of spare parts from more than one bull.)
Viewing Foerster’s video, which is little more than a travelogue, led me to another video posted last year in which David Childress rambles on at great length about archaeological cover-ups. Since tomorrow’s episode of Ancient Aliens features the 1909 Grand Canyon cave hoax, I found it interesting to hear Childress give at great length his interpretation of the events discussed in the Arizona Gazette in April of that year.
(Disclosure: Childress once blasted me by name in the Chicago Reader for calling him an ancient astronaut theorist, a moniker he would not formally adopt until joining Ancient Aliens.)
I don’t believe I’ve ever spent much time listening to Childress’s ramblings, mainly because I find his presentations to be excruciating. But this was interesting, not because he said anything true but because of the insight it provided into his thought patterns. Childress described the fact that the characters in the 1909 newspaper hoax, G. E. Kinkaid and S. A. Jordan, cannot be traced in the historical record. There are no academic records, or government files, or employment records, or even obituaries or property transfer notices—nothing. What does he conclude from this? Does he recognize the story for the hoax it is? Of course not! Instead, Childress expresses astonishment that two explorers “vanished” and insinuates that the Smithsonian and the United States government made them disappear to protect the “truth”—all while conveniently forgetting to burn the Arizona Gazette. He asserts that the 1909 newspaper article is a more reliable source for the prehistory of Arizona than “mainstream archaeologists.”
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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