A couple of weeks ago, Huang Heqing, a professor in the department of art and archaeology at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China made ridiculous claims about ancient history at a conference. Huang, who teaches art history, holds a doctoral degree from the University of Paris but nonetheless is convinced that all the achievements of ancient Western cultures were fabricated in the nineteenth century.
At the conference, Huang made the following assertions. They were presented in Mandarin, which it should be obvious that I do not speak. Below is a machine translation, which I have smoothed out and compared to discussions from actual Mandarin speakers who have also analyzed the claims:
Athens in Greece, the pyramids of Egypt and the “ruins” of Persepolis in Iran are modern forgeries. Using the method of “illustrated history,” from the perspective of art history, to examine ancient Western architecture, sculpture, cultural relics and sites, through a network of resources and access to a large number of rare and almost undisputed illustrations and historical photographs of ancient Western books, unquestionably proves that Athens’ Parthenon and other monuments, the Egyptian Sphinx, and the ruins of Persepolis in Iran ... It's all a modern forgery.
As best I can tell, his argument seems to be that nineteenth century drawings of ancient sites and art are not scientific records of preexisting structures and carvings but rather plans for construction. The stunning ignorance—and the wholesale imaginary conspiracy required to carry out this ridiculous work, fabricating thousands of years of documents, and rewriting thousands of books—boggles the mind.
He went on to claim that steel was an invention of the Chinese, not the West, and that cuneiform is a “scam” designed to rob China of its primacy as the first culture to write.
Fortunately, his colleagues in China have criticized his bizarre claims, and he has apparently been mocked vigorously on Weibo, the popular Chinese social media site.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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