The following was cross-posted in my Substack newsletter.
This week, I am experimenting with a newsletter format, featuring a longer piece of writing divided into shorter articles rather than separate posts. In this issue, we’ll look at the Today show’s promotion of the curse of the pharaohs, a new article about ancient Greek mythology’s connection to the Bronze Age, and we’ll review a historical piece by a famous writer linking American mounds to Atlantis.
Weekend Omnibus: Younger Dryas Volcano, Elon Musk's Ancient Astronaut Tweet, Steve Quayle's Plagiarism, and More!
Yesterday was an extraordinary day for news of interest to my readers. Let’s take a brief survey of just some of the things that happened.
I’ll put the science first. A new study in Science Advances concludes that the global cooling triggered during the Younger Dryas was not the work of a comet or meteor but was instead brought on by volcanic activity. From the press release announcing the study late yesterday:
Could you imagine what pseudoarchaeology and pseudohistory would have been like had Plato never written of Atlantis? It’s an interesting thought experiment, since so much of modern “alternative” history derives directly or indirectly from efforts to investigate Plato’s allegorical ancient civilization. Without Atlantis, there would be many fewer crazy ideas about “white” rulers in ancient Mesoamerica, no “pole-shift” speculation, and no Fingerprints of the Gods. And since Atlantis ideas also fed into ancient astronaut claims, we’d probably have a lot less space alien nonsense, too. But, you live with what people actually did, not what you with they had done.
Finding Atlantis is such a staple of internet click-bait that it’s hardly a surprise when a new claim arises. If you believe the British tabloids, Atlantis has been found every three months for decades now. Today’s claim comes to us from The Express, summarizing a video lecture Christos A. Djonis made on Ancient Origins. It should sound familiar, though, because it’s the same claim that Djonis made in 2016 and also the same claim that appeared on America Unearthed before that. According to the Express article, Djonis has picked up a few things from America Unearthed, too, now claiming that the Minoans stole copper from America, as Scott Wolter rather ridiculously argued years ago. He also has added a claim picked up from Gavin Menzies that an American tobacco beetle was found in Minoan remains at Santorini, though it was actually an indigenous beetle from the Bronze Age. Rather than rewrite my analysis of Djonis’s poor evidence, let me repeat my 2016 article debunking his nonsense:
Over on Graham Hancock’s website, Hancock has published the latest in a series of articles by Shawn Hamilton making some extreme claims about the Hopi. Hamilton is nothing special as far as fringe history believers go. Forty years ago, he worked with Oswald “White Bear” Fredericks, a Hopi who was heavily influenced by postwar pop culture and New Age ideas when he told an idiosyncratic version of Hopi mythology to Frank Waters in the 1960s. I have discussed White Bear’s ideas many times, but the issue, as I wrote previously, is that his version of Hopi mythology does not correlate with versions recorded prior to the 1960s, but does correlate with pseudohistory books of the preceding years. He talks about Atlantis by name, for Pete’s sake, so it’s fairly clear that he wasn’t drawing on unadulterated ancestral truths. His mythology, I wrote in 2016, was:
Before we begin today, a quick note about Ancient Aliens: Moving the show to Saturday to get away from heavy competition in the “stuff old guys like” category paid off for the History Channel. The show’s ratings recovered from their 2019 slump, rising by around 200,000 viewers to 1.08 million this past week. However, ratings growth was largely from viewers 55+, a less favored demographic among TV channels and their advertisers.
Meanwhile, a YouTube video claiming that the famous Neolithic Irish tomb at Newgrange is really the temple of Poseidon that Plato alleged stood at the center of Atlantis is making waves in the media. Keystone University of Ireland posted the video, and Irish media picked up the story because of its obvious connection to Ireland. The video utilizes a number of long-debunked claims to allege that Ireland was the legendary continent of Atlantis, but the real story is who posted it and why.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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