This year wasn’t quite as bad as 2021, so I can’t be too upset at a year that, if nothing else, did not get appreciably worse. On the other hand, nothing really improved either. Between inflation and further work cuts in my failing industry, it’s been hard. When a prominent astrologer said this year would be the best of my life, I wasn’t sure whether that was a promise or a threat. It’s a good thing astrology is bunk, or else I would be painfully depressed to think this was the best things will ever get.
In a more general sense, this was a year devoted mostly to UFOs, which dominated the paranoid paranormal discourse for the first ten months, until Atlantis made a late run for the crown.
Here, then, is the year that was, edited and condensed from my blog posts and newsletter.
How Antigravity Built the Pyramids: The Mysterious Technology of Ancient Superstructures
Nick Redfern | New Page | Sept. 2022 | 241 pp. | ISBN: 978-1-63748-002-1 | $19.95
It’s telling that Nick Redfern starts his book purportedly covering supposed sonic levitation used to build the Egyptian pyramids not with the original medieval Arabic legend of self-moving stones but with ancient astronaut theorist Peter Kolosimo’s reference to it decades ago, in Timeless Earth (1964): “According to an Arab legend, the Egyptians used scrolls of papyrus with magic words written on them, on which blocks for the pyramids came flying through the air!” Redfern frames his story around Kolosimo’s speculative revision of Arab lore and Bruce Cathie’s strange ideas about levitation and antigravity (derived from his own UFO encounter and reluctance to believe lazy humans would drag big stones) rather than the actual primary sources that previous generations of kooks built upon, often secondhand, from still other summaries.
Confessions of an Egyptologist:
Lost Libraries, Vanished Labyrinths and the Astonishing Truth Under the Saqqara Pyramids
Erich von Däniken | trans. Bernard Sulzer | September 2021 | New Page Books | ISBN: 978-1-63265-191-4
Confessions of an Egyptologist is at least somewhat unusual by ancient astronaut theorist Erich von Däniken’s standards. It is framed not as his usual grab-bag of medieval, Victorian, and midcentury pseudoscience but as a discussion of an Egyptian tour guide he calls Adel H., who died in the 1997 Luxor terrorist attack near the temple of Hatshepsut. His full name, in standard English transliteration (rather than the German used in this book) was ‘Adil Hummam, and the pair had been friends since 1984. I will refer to the man in the book as Adel, however, because it is never clear how much the literary version resembles the actual man. This conceit lasts barely a page before von Däniken (henceforth EVD) winds off on a tangent, asking if Hatshepsut was the “world’s first transgender person.” He can’t write a sustained discussion of anything, even the death of his friend.
Regular readers will remember Scott Creighton, who has published a number of poorly researched books about Egyptian history containing various occult and fringe conspiracy theories. I criticized him in a previous review for writing about medieval Arabic-language pyramid myths as an accurate guide to ancient Egyptian practices, and it seems that he didn’t quite take the lesson.
Since I am working on my books and not blogging this week, I am cross-posting my newsletter news items for those who do not subscribe.
I had intended to write a full blog post today, but this week turned into a series of bad news leading to worse. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on my household's employment and finances, and a literal midnight email about mandatory pay cuts and furloughs will only make it worse. I was not in the mood to blog. However, I did feel up to working on the proposal for a new book I have decided to write, based on my recent article about Rebel without a Cause and the three 1947 national panics over communists, gays, and UFOs that turned out to be deeply interconnected.
Late last week Ancient Origins published one of the weirder claims it’s made in recent years. In a members-only article, travel agent Malcolm Hutton (writing as Calumy) claimed that the Ark of the Covenant is actually the pyramidion from atop Khufu’s pyramid and that it is currently hidden inside the Kaaba in Mecca. Aside from the obvious problem that the pyramidion can’t be the Ark if you expect either the Great Pyramid’s shape or the Exodus narrative to have any real meaning—both of them being incompatible with the other—it is at least a little interesting that there is a bit of a connection between the Kaaba and the Ark, albeit not anything like the one Ancient Origins assumes.
Later this month, independent scholar Willem McLoud plans to hold a webinar to teach members of Ancient Origins that the Egyptian god Osiris was actually a Mesopotamian king. McLoud is going to base the claim on two papers he published over the past year, in which he argues for a new understanding of ancient history based on the self-aggrandizing “McLoud Chronological Model” of Egyptian history. Basically, he wants to rejigger the Middle Kingdom of Egypt to better fit with his preferred period of Mesopotamian history—questions of more import for Biblical history than anything else, really.
Janet Wolter and Alan Butler Make False Claims about Templars, Pyramids, Gothic Architecture, and More in Podcast Interview
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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