Earlier this year, America Unearthed host Scott F. Wolter went in search of the Holy Grail, and he suggested that a Nazi collaborator had access to secret knowledge about lost white colonists of the pre-Columbian Americas. Earlier this month, Ancient Aliens told us that the Holy Grail was an emerald that had fallen from Lucifer’s crown, and last year they also speculated about the Nazis’ connection to space aliens, UFOs, and ancient astronauts. Therefore, I read today with interest that the British TV network Channel 5 broadcasted last night a new documentary exploring Heinrich Himmler’s search for Atlantis and his efforts to secure the Holy Grail.
For those of you watching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC last night, you were undoubtedly amused by the program’s discussion of the ancient astronaut theory. This gets into some of the arcana of Marvel comics, which goes far beyond my understanding of the complexities of the various Marvel universes. As I understand it, in the standard issue Marvel universe (Earth-616), the deities of Norse mythology are presented as essentially gods, though they are apparently officially extra-dimensional beings. On the other hand, the Earth X universe (Earth-9997), the Norse gods are shape-shifting aliens from space who took on the personas of the Norse gods thanks to human worship of them. Since the Earth X series dates from 1999, it probably isn’t particularly relevant.
We are less than two weeks away from the premiere of the new season of America Unearthed, bowing at 9 PM ET on November 30, and H2 has made available a description of the first episode. Remember how producers and Scott Wolter indicated that the new series would focus less on religious conspiracies and pre-Columbian white conquest of America? Well, the first episode essentially announces: "No! We want religious conspiracies and pre-Columbian white conquest!" Yes, Scott Wolter is going in search of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel and the Ark of the Covenant in the desert southwest.
Oh, and we go back to the Hill of Tara, where Ancient Aliens told us a flock of UFOs landed. Fun!
Apparently my coverage of Graham Robb’s book is one of the least popular things I’ve ever written, if page views are a reliable judge of interest. I will accordingly try to read the rest of the book this week and post a final summary post of the whole thing rather than drag it out any more. In the meantime, since we are talking about Celtic people, it seems like a good time to revisit a claim David Childress made in Ancient Aliens on Friday that I did not have time to research for my review. He described the Tuatha De Danann, a fictional invading people in Irish myth, as arriving in Ireland in dark clouds and blocking the sun for three days. He says these clouds were alien spaceships, and the on-screen graphics depict them as flying saucers.
And… he’s almost right!
In this edition, we move forward to Part Two of Graham Robb’s The Discovery of Middle Earth, in which the author attempts to make the case for advanced Druid science, and in so doing he comes to within striking distance of the wackiness of the Atlantis theorizers and ancient astronaut crowd.
Chapter 6 opens with the Antikythera Mechanism, the Greco-Roman geared planetarium, which Robb celebrates as a fraction of ancient wisdom that has escaped the “priestly editors” who created a “polished” corpus of ancient texts that canonized our view of Classical history. He then describes the voyage of Pytheas of Massalia to Britain c. 330 BCE, known from fragments of his work, On the Ocean, preserved by Strabo, Pliny the Elder, and Diodorus Siculus. He does this by way of introducing the idea that the Greeks were not able to calculate accurate longitude, and their idea of the same was necessarily off by as much as six degrees when figuring which cities stood along the same north-south axis. He wants us to believe that the Greeks, or, better, a pre- or non-Greek people, could have used the gear-works like those of the Antikythera Mechanism to make clocks capable of figuring longitude.
Ancient Aliens S06E08 “Mysterious Relics” continues the show’s decent into religious mystery-mongering, opening with the Shroud of Turin in its rundown of upcoming material. After the credits, we start with the 2013 U.S. Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House, which the show traces back to Roman medals of bravery from the second century BCE. The show wants to know why “metal” is so important for decoration and adornment. The ghost of Philip Coppens relates this to Judaism’s metal breastplates for the priests, and the narrators simply tells us that gold, silver, and platinum connect people to the “divine, or some might say extraterrestrial” powers. Obviously, the show no longer sees a meaningful difference between the two. Ancient Aliens is rapidly becoming a sort of Unitarian Universalist Hour of Power.
I’ve completed reading Part One of Graham Robb’s The Discovery of Middle Earth, and it goes a ways toward rehabilitating some of the claims presented less convincingly in the preface and Chapter 1. At times, the remaining chapters of this part are fascinating, and at times they are infuriating. And out of nowhere, at the end of the section, Robb presents evidence that is actually interesting and somewhat compelling--maybe. There are a lot of caveats.
I know that many of you are waiting for the next part of my review of Graham Robb’s Discovery of Middle Earth, but it’s a slow, dense read, and it’s going to take extra time for me to read far enough ahead for the next part—unless you really want a 15 part series, which I imagine would get old fairly fast. I hope to have the next part for tomorrow.
You will, I trust, remember Doug Woodward, a Christian apologist who criticized me for criticizing the “Nephilim theorist community” over claims that sin is transmitted through deoxyribonucleic acid. Woodward contacted me privately to inform me that he would be publishing another rebuttal and asked me to refrain from criticizing it lest he feel compelled to respond in an infinite spiral of mutual criticism.
For interested parties, Woodward’s re-rebuttal is here.
Thanks to the generosity of a regular reader of this blog, I’ve received a copy of Graham Robb’s new book The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts. (Published as The Ancient Paths in Britain.) It just arrived last night, so I haven’t gotten very far in the book yet. It’s probably going to take me some time to read through it since, unlike fringe history topics, the book is a bit dense and requires some thought to evaluate its claims. Off the bat, one thing that annoys me to no end is that the publisher chose to forgo numbered endnotes in favor of having no notes muddying the pages but rather citations keyed to page numbers listed at the end of the book. While this is fine for narrative nonfiction, for a book that lives and dies by its source material, it makes it more difficult to find what’s being cited.
My publisher has informed me that the new title for my Jason and the Argonauts book is going to be Jason and the Argonauts through the Ages. I’m not sure what I think of it; there won’t be a subtitle, so this is the whole of it. I guess it’s OK, but it seems less vigorous and rigorous than I might have liked.
I’ve been working on putting together a sourcebook of ancient texts used by ancient astronaut theorists and fringe historians, and it’s coming together surprisingly well. I’ve been going through ancient astronaut and fringe history books and collecting the various references (not always easy given how sloppy these writers are) and digging out the original texts. Given that the fringe writers are loathe to do research that takes real work, almost all of the texts are easily found in the public domain. I even managed to track down some public domain translations of important parts of the Popol Vuh, a work not fully translated until the mid-twentieth century.
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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