This past week geologist Erin Matchan, writing with colleagues in Geology, claimed that the Gunditjmara people of southern Australia preserve the world’s oldest oral tradition, dating back 37,000 years. Being conservative on such things, I find it difficult to accept that claim, since preservation over such long periods occurs nowhere else in the world, and the evidence is suggestive without being conclusive. Matchan alleges—while admitting that she does not have proof—that the Gunditjmara origin story for the Budj Bim (Mount Eccles) volcano records its catastrophic formation over a period of months tens of thousands of years ago. She bases this date on her dating of the volcano’s rocks, which, so far as I can tell, has nothing to do with the oral story since the oral tradition does not describe the formation of a volcano. Previous estimates placed the volcano’s origins around 25,000 BCE.
Andrew Collins: Ancient Humans in India Horrified by "Grotesque" Giant Cannibal Denisovans, Had Sex with Them Anyway
Andrew Collins has a new article at Ancient Origins speculating about Denisovans and their alleged influence on ancient Homo sapiens. The news peg revolves around a new study published last week in Nature in which the authors performed a genetic study concluding that the non-Indo-European inhabitants of south and southeast Asia have significantly more Denisovan DNA than the Indo-European populations that entered those areas later in history, and the two populations also differ in terms of the branch of Denisovan DNA they include in their genome. In short, the study reflects earlier assumptions and conclusions about Indo-European incursions onto Asia and their relatively higher sociocultural status. Collins summarizes the Nature piece and then decides that it proves Indian myths are actually about Denisovan Nephilim-style cannibal giants.
Every few months we get a story about how “scientists” have discovered some location associated with a famous myth. This time, the story revolves around a cave where Circe housed Odysseus in the Odyssey. As with most efforts to find the “true” location of Greek mythic tales, this supposed discovery involves a lot of special pleading and a naïve approach to understanding the formation of ancient Greece’s most important poems.
To promote the release of his self-published book The Discovery of Troy and Its Lost History, historical researcher Bernard Jones published an article in Ancient Origins highlighting the book’s central claim, that the ancient city of Troy (Ilium) was not located in Asia Minor as has been assumed since ancient times but instead was located in the Celtic world. His evidence is Homer’s Iliad, whose poetic descriptions he takes as literal depictions of a voyage to the New World.
On Sunday, Expedition Unknown broadcasted a live special in which host Josh Gates presided over the opening of an Egyptian sarcophagus containing the mortal remains of a priest of the god Thoth. Gates took to Twitter to share his excitement, declaring the dead man to be “a stunner.” I get the idea of being excited by digging up a mummy, but it makes me uncomfortable to turn a corpse into entertainment.
I’ve been working on writing my book about legends associated with the Giza pyramids, and in so doing, I have, of course, been reviewing material related to the story of the Pillars of Wisdom of the Abrahamic tradition, since the stories about their antediluvian knowledge were later applied to the Great Pyramid. In so doing, I came across a very strange fact that I am not entirely sure what to do with. It seems like it might be possible that these pillars were conceived as being the pyramids of Egypt all along, or at least since Late Antiquity.
In Brief: "To the Stars" Tells Investors about Alien Metals; Plus: Hindu Scientists Make Absurd Claims about Stem Cells and Dinosaurs in the Vedas
Ancient Origins ran a couple of unusual articles by John McHugh this week about the Biblical story of how Jesus walked on water, and they were… weird. McHugh correctly notes that the different versions of the story recorded by the Gospel writers are not identical, and he is also right that the Biblical authors wrote long after the events they claimed to record. But then Hugh tries to argue that the story is astrological and revolves around Greek mythology and Mesopotamian linguistic puns. This seems like a bridge too far for me, particularly since there are more immediate potential cultural influences for a story of walking on water than long-lost Mesopotamian wordplay.
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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