Before we begin, a couple of quick notes:
First, thanks to generous donations from readers of this blog, I have updated the Forum section of the website to the full-featured, unlimited discussion paid service. I encourage everyone to give it a try, and if you have suggestions for additional forums or changes you want to see, just let me know. It’s a work in progress.
Second, I wonder how long it will be before Ancient Aliens starts using the McArthur Genius Grant in its advertising. This week astrophysicist Sara Seager won a McArthur Genius Grant, and she has appeared frequently on Ancient Aliens. Seager has publicly faulted the show for taking her out of context and distorting her comments to support the ancient astronaut theory, but given Ancient Aliens’ fast and loose relationship to the truth, I would not put it past them...
Now on to today’s surprising news. Portuguese-language media (and a few English-language reports) are claiming that a sixty-meter-tall pyramid was found in the waters off of the Azores. The structure was allegedly seen by a private yacht owner, Diocleciano Silva, who told the media that the pyramid was regular in shape and aligned to the cardinal directions. Silva estimated the pyramid’s base as being 8,000 square meters (a fraction of the Great Pyramid of Giza’s nearly 53,000 square meters). So far as I can gather Silva did not actually see the pyramid with his eyes but rather detected a roughly rectangular shape with his instruments, recording a set of blue isobars showing the ocean floor. While the Portuguese Navy said it was investigating the claim, both the Navy and the University of the Azores expressed doubt about Silva’s claim, suggesting that the underwater anomaly could have many possible explanations, including a volcanic origin.
Officially the Azores were first discovered in 1427, though sporadic claims of earlier occupations have been routinely proposed, including colonists from Atlantis, Phoenicia, Carthage, Rome, and Africa. So far, however, the only pieces of archaeological evidence are some disputed earthen mounds that may be natural or colonial era, as well as some alleged inscriptions Barry Fell identified as a plethora of ancient languages.
Naturally, the alleged pyramid has already been dubbed the “Atlantis Pyramid” and is making the rounds of the internet message boards as proof that Atlantis has been found.
Were most of the reports not in Portuguese, I’d have put this down to a publicity stunt for the BBC’s new adventure drama Atlantis, which premieres tonight in Britain and in November here in the United States. The show, which takes place in Atlantis, finds the Greek hero Jason, an overweight Hercules, and the sixth century BCE philosopher-mathematician Pythagoras encountering rewritten and re-imagined Greek myths.
Perhaps it says something about the difference between the United States and Britain, but consider this: When Disney released its Atlantis movie back in 2001, it paid for a publicity campaign promoting the idea that Atlantis was real, and the media played along. (Graham Hancock benefited from the hype.) With the BBC’s Atlantis, a journalist from the Guardian actually asked the show’s star, Jack Donnelly, if he was of any relation to Ignatius Donnelly:
"Are you related to Ignatius L Donnelly," I ask, "whose pseudo-scientific 1882 book Atlantis: The Antediluvian World underpins our contemporary fascination with Atlantis?"
I have trouble imagining a U.S. entertainment reporter even being aware of the fictive nature of Atlantis, much less the modern origins of the Atlantis craze.
Depending on technology, I may have a review of Atlantis tomorrow. I am thankful, though, that the show is airing before my due date for my Jason and the Argonauts book so I can bring my book up to date with the first TV series centering on (some form of) the hero Jason.
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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