Afrocentrism doesn’t sell as well as Eurocentrism to judge from the miserable performance of a diffusionist Kickstarter campaign promising new claims from a familiar face.
A production starring ancient astronaut theorist David Childress is seeking $20,000 in donations to fund an Afrocentric documentary on the Olmec. In a poorly written press release distributed online yesterday, producer Lee Sullivan announced his and David Childress’s belief that the Olmec became the guardians of the Ark of the Covenant in 600 BCE and directed interested fans to his website, whose URL misspells the name of the Olmec, testifying to the care with which he is approaching this bizarre hypothesis.
As of this writing, $325 has been pledged to the campaign since it launched on September 17.
On Ancient Aliens David Childress previously speculated about the Ark of the Covenant being hidden in the United States or Canada, and in his 1980s books he speculated about a Near East location. In his 1989 book Lost Cities & Ancient Mysteries of Africa and Arabia, Childress asserted that Jewish bankers, particularly the Rothschilds (the “Jewish banking family that has controlled Europe’s monetary wealth for hundreds of years”), were conspiring with the Illuminati to hide the Ark as part of a plot to control the world’s economy and bring about the Apocalypse of Revelation.
As with so many of Childress’s early claims, that one, too, is no longer operative since joining Ancient Aliens full time and embracing the ancient astronaut theory he for so long claimed to find illogical.
In a YouTube video Sullivan, who is black, discusses the “distinctly African characteristics” he sees in Olmec and Central American sculptures, a claim that originated in the nineteenth century and has been repeatedly debunked for more than 120 years. Olmec sculptures bear their closest physiological resemblance to the indigenous people of the Olmec heartland in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, and other Native art from Mesoamerica similarly reflects the traits of the people who lived in and around where it was created.
Sullivan states that the Ark of the Covenant passed through Barilles, Panama and was stored in the volcano of Chiriqui. He attributes the claim to “some researchers.” One of them is Edna Houx, a UFO witness who lives near Barilles and claims that a heavily stylized statue found there depicts a Chinese man riding on the shoulders of an African man. According Houx, the Ark was found in Barilles (and apparently covered up somehow), though she did not tell travel writer Jim O’Donnell who did the discovering.
Houx, who owns and operates the Barilles archaeological site according to her beliefs, claims that Chinese and African colonists founded Barilles around 1000 BCE to take advantage of its “healing stones.” Archaeologists, however, believe the site was at its height around 650 CE, a number Sullivan transforms to 650 BCE to better align with Biblical chronology, which has the Ark disappear sometime around 587 BCE. Radiocarbon dates suggest that the site was founded around 300 CE and was occupied until around 900 CE. Although there were likely people living in the region in 650 BCE, there is no archaeological evidence for a major settlement or monumental architecture at that time.
Sullivan takes Houx at her word and believes that Panama was colonized by Chinese and African explorers who bequeathed their superior culture to the barbarous natives while leaving behind no Old World artifacts, objects, or plants. Sullivan describes his first meeting with David Childress, which he said occurred when Childress barged into a classroom where Sullivan was contemplating Panamanian prehistory, looking for directions. “I realized that was the person who might have the answers to this question” of the Chinese-African origin of New World civilization. He tried to chase down Childress, who had already sped away, prompting Sullivan to show up at a Childress book signing in Arizona. Childress, according to Sullivan, agreed to participate in Sullivan’s documentary if Sullivan would buy two of Childress’s books. The two subsequently went on a world tour of ancient sites, though at whose expense Sullivan does not say.
Sullivan asserts that the New York Times calls David Childress “the Indiana Jones of our times.” A ProQuest database search of the New York Times from 1851 to today failed to turn up any results for this alleged quotation, or anything similar. The phrase “real-life Indiana Jones” was part of Childress’s self-written promotional materials during his “maverick archaeologist” phase in the 1990s, before being called out for calling himself an archaeologist without possessing a degree in the subject or working professionally in the field. That claim, too, became inoperative after he joined Ancient Aliens.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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