Today we examine Book V of Gavin Menzies’ The Lost Empire of Atlantis. Last time, we saw Menzies rework early twentieth century pseudoscience about Phoenicians in Britain and America to support his fantasy that the Minoans colonized both, building Stonehenge. Book V supposedly explores the Minoans’ trans-Atlantic “empire” with actual “proof.”
I am interrupting my criticism of Gavin Menzies to report that National Geographic Channel elected not to use the interview they recorded with me in their documentary The Secret History of UFOs, which they broadcasted (without my knowledge) on July 29. Instead, they presented the ancient astronaut theory as a conflict of personalities between Giorgio Tsoukalos and Kenneth Feder, the archaeologist. The producers stacked the deck to make Tsoukalos appear much more credible than he really is, and they did not directly challenge any of Tsoukalos' assertions. This is doubly strange considering that I was asked to record responses to the very issues Tsoukalos discussed.
I am greatly disappointed both by being left out of the program (and wasting an entire day flying out for the interview) and also by simplistic portrayal of the ancient astronaut theory. If they didn't demand that I sign a confidentiality agreement, I would have much to say about the way the producers' promises about the direction of their program went unfulfilled as well as about the way they apparently caved to specific demands made by Giorgio Tsoukalos in return for his appearance on the show.
I'm going to go be angry for a while. But at least I don't feel so bad about hating NatGeo's Chasing UFOs or their stupid Finding Atlantis documentary anymore.
In which I can’t escape the goddamned ancient aliens…
Today we’re looking at Book IV of Gavin Menzies’ The Lost Empire of Atlantis, in which the author decides he wants to attribute pretty much the entirety of megalithic Europe to the Minoans. Since the megaliths of Europe are vastly older than the Minoans, forgive me if I don’t spend as much time carefully examining every stupid claim.
In which we learn how to fake citations to hide our sources...
Gavin Menzies’ entire case for Minoan trans-Atlantic trade exists on the backs of a shipload of copper and a dried beetle. The supposedly American tobacco beetle was likely indigenous to the Old World in the Bronze Age, according to recent researchers; and the copper supposedly so pure it could only come from Lake Superior is indistinguishable from smelted Old World copper according to academics who study copper. With these facts in mind, we can proceed to evaluate Menzies’ claims about the Minoans’ American empire.
In which we learn to pay attention to the difference between BCE and CE...
Today we move on to “Book Two” of Gavin Menzies’ The Lost Empire of Atlantis. This one is called “Exploration” and promises to explain Minoan voyages to the Near East. I can’t imagine this will be terribly exciting since Minoan trade networks are well known and well represented in the scholarly literature. Let’s see what Menzies turns up.
Gavin Menzies’ Lost Empire of Atlantis is far too long to go through line by line the way I do with ancient astronaut theorists’ threadbare efforts, so you will forgive me if my review is somewhat spottier than past practice. As it happens, even I have a limit for how much ill-informed speculation I’m willing to carefully parse in one sitting. Today I'll finish out "Book One," covering chapters 2-7.
I’ve selected my next alternative book to blog my way through reviewing. I’ve gotten tired of aliens, so I thought I’d try a lost civilization bit of crazy this time. Many readers will remember Gavin Menzies as the British writer who advocated the idea that the Chinese discovered America in 1421. He relied on long-discredited evidence, false assumptions, and distortions of truth to do so, which I wrote about a decade ago. Well, Menzies hasn’t stopped producing books, nor have major publishers stopped giving him money to do so. (Here’s looking at you, William Morrow.)
Late last year, Morrow published Menzies’ latest opus, The Lost Empire of Atlantis, which supposedly presents the best ever evidence for the existence of the lost continent that, in the real world, was invented by Plato in the Timaeus and Critias. He believes Atlantis was “really” Minoan Crete, a long-suffering hypothesis that fails to overcome the chronological difficulties involved in transmitting the story across 1,300 years without any intervening acknowledgement.
Apparently crazy doesn’t take the summer off, so publishers have put out a new crop of alternative archaeology books. I haven’t had a chance to read these yet since two have just been published in the last two weeks and one is forthcoming later this summer. Apparently thanks to Ancient Aliens ancient mysteries are hot again. Lucky us!
Earlier this week Cracked.com's Cezary Jan Strusiewicz wrote about the obscure 1898 newspaper serial novel Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss. This strange piece of Victoriana formed a loose sequel to H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, which had concluded its serial run just six weeks before Serviss' sequel debuted. In the novel, Thomas Edison travels from earth to Mars to get revenge on the Martians for invading earth. I bring this up because Strusiewicz points out a fact I didn't know: Edison's Conquest of Mars presents a full-blown ancient astronaut theory, including many of the claims that would later show up in the work of Zecharia Sitchin. Serviss' book features aliens using humans as slaves, mining for gold across the solar system, aliens building the pyramids and the Sphinx, and interplanetary battles galore.
In which the author prays for “memes” from the Great Vibrator in the sky…
Finally, I’ve reached the end!
Erich von Däniken (EVD) begins the final chapter of Twilight of the Gods by rehashing the mathematical odds of extraterrestrial life on other planets, discussing the Fermi Paradox (if a large amount of alien life exists, we should have evidence of it by now), SETI, panspermia and other random claims about the potential existence of life on other planets that have very little to do with the specific claim that aliens sexed up earth women and taught them how to build pyramids.
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.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.