In case you didn’t see it, Graham Hancock appeared on Russell Brand’s podcast this past week to promote Ancient Apocalypse and to attack archaeologists yet again for being mean to him by asking for evidence for his claims. Hancock looks tired and angry during the interview, and even Brand notes that he seems unduly dejected and downtrodden for a man with one of the world’s most popular streaming nonfiction series.
The probable origin of the Kensington Runestone's runes has been found: The runic alphabet from the stone, with its distinctive "hooked X," was taught in a mid-19th century Swedish calligraphy school and the textbook its instructor published. It includes "Masonic" characters like those used by the Larsson brothers, whose runic writing had previously been the only other known runic use of the "hooked X."
Magnus Källström of the National Antiquities Office in Sweden published the results of his investigation last week. The key was in an 1876 textbook published by Eric Ström, an itinerant calligrapher (!):
Netflix released the first viewership figures for Graham Hancock’s Ancient Apocalypse, and the numbers were less impressive than I expected. Netflix reported that for the week of Nov. 14-20, the show’s first full week of release, viewers of Netflix’s English-language services worldwide watched 24.61 million hours of the show. By contrast, the comedy series Dead to Me had 30.3 million hours viewed in half the time (it was released mid-week) and Warrior Nun, released the same day as Apocalypse, had 27.74 million hours viewed. All of them paled before 1899, which had nearly 80 million hours viewed in its first few days of release.
Writing my annual year in review article used to be amusing, if not actually fun, because there was at least some entertainment value in seeing the wild claims and fantastical speculations that passed for history and science. But each year has been a little darker than the one before, and the job is less an exercise in tut-tutting foolishness than it is a depressing reminder that wealthy and powerful people are pushing conspiracies whose real-life consequences are no longer hypothetical but manifest every day in ways large and small, from the halls of Congress to hospital ICUs.
In a recent podcast interview, former television personality Scott Wolter made a bizarre assertion about prehistoric space aliens, a part of his ongoing conversion to full ancient astronaut theorist. Wolter discussed the documents he has asserted to be medieval records from the Knights Templar for the past several years, and in “new” Templar documents conveniently mirroring his own conversion to ancient alien enthusiast, he claims to have discovered evidence that space aliens intervened in human history.
Over the summer, Paolo Chiesa published an article in Terrae Incognitae describing a passage in a medieval Italian chronicle briefly mentioning the land west of Greenland which the Norse had named Markland, and it made the rounds of online news sources a couple of weeks ago. Chiesa said that this passage, from around 1340 CE, is the oldest mention of North America known from the Mediterranean region. On its own, this is not earth-shattering news since the northern European peoples had been speaking of these lands since Adam of Bremen described Vinland around 1035 CE. But it does have interesting implications for the notorious Zeno Narrative and its role in fringe history’s elaborate narrative about Henry Sinclair learning of and visiting North America.
More than three years after Yale University announced that it would put the infamous Vinland Map through a through a series of high-tech tests to determine once and for all whether the allegedly medieval depiction of Greenland and the Canadian coast was in fact a fake, the results are in. It is, in fact, a fake, as has long been suspected. New analysis of the ink used to draw the map found that, as earlier researchers has concluded, the ink is modern. It dates no earlier than the 1920s. While the identity of the forger is not known, and the exact time of forgery hasn't been determined, the new evidence should (but probably cannot) put to rest claims that the map is the oldest cartographic depiction of part of North America in European history.
Last week, viewers fled Hunting Atlantis, with the show's ratings falling even as its lead in, Expedition Unknown, gained viewers. Last Wednesday's episode drew just 605,000 live plus same-day viewers, down 45,000 from the week before. The demo collapse was worse. Only 90,000 adults 18-49 watched. By contrast, Expedition Unknown rose significantly, to nearly a million viewers. It's clear: Viewers aren't into Atlantis.
Another discontented viewer of cable pseudo-documentaries was none other than Erich von Däniken, the Chariots of the Gods author who is feeling a little ignored these days, as his protégé Giorgio Tsoukalos reported:
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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