One of the problems with fringe writers is that even when they have an occasionally interesting idea, they lard it with so much ridiculousness that the whole thing collapses under its own weight. Take, for example, the claim made on Ancient Origins today from self-described archaeoastronomer William James Veall. Veall, who studied engineering at one time, offered a somewhat interesting speculation about the potential purpose of the so-called Band of Holes at Cajamarquilla, Peru. These 6,900 shallow holes form a long line often compared to a serpent, but their purpose is unknown, with suggestions ranging from grain storage pits to a gigantic serpentine geoglyph. Veall suggests that they were meant to trap rainwater, which, instead of running off, would sit in the holes and drain through the limestone below to channel into an underground aquifer and ultimately to a collection site. I have no way of evaluating this hypothesis, but it is not completely unreasonable and it is testable.
Then he goes off the deep end.
Veall is a hyper-diffusionist, so naturally he believes that the native Peruvians were incapable of such sophisticated technology as digging a hole. No, the Phoenicians had to be behind it. Veall believes that he has uncovered a Phoenician inscription at the Nazca lines, and he also identified a rock formation in the region as a sculpture of a bull, which he associates with the Phoenicians as a representation of the god Baal. (I can find no information about this “bull,” nor did Veall provide a picture of it.) He says that the bull sculpture is a typical Semitic boundary marker, such as the bull effigies erected by Jeroboam in Bethel and Dan. Of course, those were golden calves, while this is an ambiguous rock formation. Details!
Oh, and that Phoenician inscription? It’s actually hidden in the lines at Nazca, because the Phoenicians apparently developed the Nazca lines as a huge monument to themselves, alongside a formation Veall calls the “Temple of the Sacred Lamb.” “If absolutely genuine and of great age, I hoped to reconstruct a chronological time frame based upon the bull effigy, the Temple of the Sacred Lamb, and the huge, third to fourth century BC Phoenician inscription I had uncovered within the Nasca Lines.”
That’s cute and all, but in a video posted to Vimeo last year, and on YouTube in 2008, and narrated by James Albrecht, he claimed to have also identified enormous alphabetic carvings of characters from the Musnad alphabet of southern Arabia in the same alleged “Temple,” along with incomprehensibly large sculptures of Old World animals such as the oryx and lamb. He found these by blowing up Google Earth images, and he’s simply seeing patterns in random natural shapes. I’ve squinted at the pictures he provides, and I can’t see the “icons” he sees.
Veall believes that the Phoenicians colonized the Andes and stayed for centuries, leaving not a trace other than the Nazca lines and the eroded sculptures he sees in Google Earth.
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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