Aztec Giants and Lovecraftian Horror: When Fiction and Fact Collide in Fringe History
You have to love the Internet. It makes it so easy to just copy and paste your way to success. Today’s example comes from the clickbait website Ancient Code, which posts recycled and repurposed content related to the ancient astronaut theory and then lards it with large amounts of advertising in order to generate revenue. The problem is that the content isn’t just recycled, or even rewritten from linked sources, but often copied nearly verbatim from previously published material belonging to other people and then resold for profit.
Ivan Petricevic posted an article in which he described the Aztec belief in giants, a well-known aspect of Aztec mythology, but one which he would like us to believe has its basis in an actual lost race of giants. As I have documented in the past, Spanish conquistadors, seeing this myth as a reflection of their own belief in the giants of Genesis 6:4, consistently misunderstood the bones of paleomegafauna like mammoths, mastodons, and giant ground sloths as the remains of these giants. Peter Martyr, writing in Decades 5.9 (1523), for example, recorded how Cortés sent a group of men into the jungle in search of “giants” and they returned with humongous ribs, bones that correlate to known fossil deposits today. Similarly, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, writing in the True History of the Conquest of New Spain, Chapter 78 (c. 1570), said that the Natives showed Cortés many other giant bones, which they attributed to a lost race of giants, and which Cortés dispatched to Spain as wonders. These passages are translated in full in my Fragments on Giants page.
Our author isn’t interested in these types of accounts, however, largely because he has no idea that they exist. Instead, he is interested in trying to defend Genesis 6:4, which he quotes explicitly before moving on to present a quotation from Diego Durán, the author of an early text on Aztec life and culture, published n 1581--after the two texts I mentioned above. Our author quotes from the 1964 translation:
It cannot be denied that there have been giants in this country. I can affirm this as an eyewitness, for I have met men of monstrous stature here. I believe that there are many in Mexico who will remember, as I do, a giant Indian who appeared in a procession of the feast of Corpus Christi. He appeared dressed in yellow silk and a halberd at his shoulder and a helmet on his head. And he was all of three feet taller than the others.
This, of course, proves nothing about a lost race of giants even if it were literally true, no more than an NBA player (or even a whole team) implies a race of giants. But what’s interesting is Petricevic’s explanation of the history of Durán’s text: “The manuscript lay for nearly three centuries in the National Library of Madrid. The first of three volumes from it was first published in 1867, under the title History of New Spain.”
Why is this interesting? It’s interesting because that sentence appears word-for-word in Charles DeLoach’s Giants: A Reference Guide from History, the Bible, and Recorded Legend (1995), where it is the explanatory note for the exact quotation Petricevic uses. The conclusion is inescapable that DeLoach’s Giants is Petricevic’s direct source.
A Google Images search finds that the picture of the Aztec giant found on the page (seen above) is identical to a scan appearing on the Atlantean Gardens conspiracy site, where lo and behold the descriptive text is nearly identical. Petricevic writes that “in the ancient manuscript, next to the image of the Giant we can see the name of the giant: Quinametzin which in translation means the old ones,” while Atlantaean Gardens says “the text reads Quinametzin, one of the old ones.” It all sounds very Lovecraftian, doesn’t it? Especially since “old ones” is not a recognized translation of Quinametzin. There is a good reason for that.
Atlantaean Gardens was hardly the first to make the claim, and its May 2014 text is virtually identical to a post (with the same image scan) appearing half a year earlier on Frontiers of Anthropology. That, in turn, appears to have based its claims, and to have taken the image, from a post made in October 2011 on “end times authority” C. K. Quarterman’s Fallen Angels & the Watchers page (or one of its derivatives or sources). There, Quarterman, asserting that he wrote the post himself, states that the identification with Quinametzin with “the old ones” was an invention he created for a work of fiction: “…note that the giant has a name near him, the text reads Quinametzin, one of the old ones, as I had the urinating slave boy tell Madoc in the story.”
Want some more fun?
That, in turn, goes back to 2010, from the original blog post that Quarterman republished verbatim, having stolen the text from another writer and slapped his own name on it. That post in turn, refers back to when Lovecraftian author David J. West, a Mormon, posted an excerpt from his Mormon-influenced fringe history story “Name of the Game” on his blog. There, West wrote a single sentence that spawned the entirety of this sorry mess as fiction got mistaken for fact: “The boys eyes went wide with fear. ‘One of the old ones, a Quinametzin.’”
So, yes, the “translation” of Quinametzin as “an old one” is in fact a piece of Lovecraftian fiction filtered the rough the ignorance and idiocy of people who can’t tell the difference between the Cthulhu Mythos and history, and who think copying and pasting is a license to print money off of other people’s work.
10/14/2015 01:44:57 pm
I could happily support a technology like they have at universities now to reduce plagerism .
Even Mr. West is not being original. The plot line of his story is the same as the one from the "Conehead Movie" (circa 1993), in which Beldar defeated the Garthok. Only difference is that Beldar used his stick like a golf club and belted the ball into the Garthok's throat.
10/14/2015 05:45:16 pm
I remember that movie. Well, the scene with the Garthok, at least.
busterggi (Bob Jase)
10/14/2015 03:39:31 pm
I find the Patagonian giants reported by European explorers relevant - oddly the more Europeans explored, the shorter the giants became until they were only a legend.
10/15/2015 12:27:36 am
Yes this is quite interesting way to handle all the things which are define here accordingly.
10/15/2015 01:06:14 am
Before Jason deletes this post as spam, I just wanna say this is one of the greatest things I've ever read on the internet. It reads like the transcript to an encounter with the (socially awkward, possibly extraterrestrial) Men in Black.
10/15/2015 05:17:58 am
This "giants" bullshit is nothing but another variant of the racist moundbuilder myth.
10/15/2015 07:38:29 am
Everything in Homo Sapiens society is "racist" - just like everything in society is "sexist" - and these silly words, do they really define modern civilization as being sensible?
10/15/2015 08:18:48 am
The first step to getting help for a problem is actually recognising that you have one.
10/15/2015 04:36:25 pm
I know very little about Lovecraft but more about Gulliver's Travels, and even I can tell that the modern picture of that giant is clearly not ancient in any way, and that even his name is another sound alike word which the fringe loves. See, that word sounds like this other word, therefore aliens!
terry the censor
10/18/2015 11:05:31 pm
Good work, Jason. I can't find in my notes a modern example of this happening in ufology, though the buzz in my head says it has.
6/20/2016 12:44:28 am
Achieve master degree with your best dissertation.
7/27/2016 12:08:01 am
It look like a movie seen
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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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