So, my hard drive failed for the second time in three months. My computer is still functional, to a point, so I can use it intermittently while I wait for HP to send me a box to ship it back for more repairs, including the fault sound, flickering screen, etc. They informed me that the hard drive has to die three times before they will admit that this computer is a lemon and replace it. So, stay tuned for hard drive failure number three later this spring.
This week, geologist Robert Schoch appeared on the Lost Origins podcast, which was sponsored by “The Great Courses Plus,” a subscription service providing video lectures from college professors. Just think about that for a moment. A zany fringe history podcast gets cash from The Great Courses to promote the opposite of their own claims. Money makes strange bedfellows.
The podcast itself was much less interesting. Schoch is a boring speaker, and he tends to speak like a stereotype of a college professor. He never varies his tone, and his words start to become a wall of undifferentiated sound. It’s hard for me to listen to him talk for too long because my mind starts to wander.
Schoch repeated most of his usual claims, particularly his 1992 argument that the Sphinx had been carved prior to dynastic Egypt, a nineteenth century idea that Schoch adopted from R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz via John Anthony West. Schwaller de Lubicz got it from Gaston Maspero, who adopted it from Auguste Mariette, who came up with it because he mistook a Ptolemaic stela for an Old Kingdom one and therefore mistook a myth on the Inventory Stela for a historical account. This time, however, Schoch claims that he realized the Victorians and occultists were right “within 1 or 2 minutes” of arriving at Giza. Truth be told, that doesn’t fill me with confidence.
Another section of the podcast led to Schoch concluding that there is no evidence of the so-called Younger Dryas impact event which is so popular among Graham Hancock and his followers. It’s interesting to see a rift between the two advocates of pseudo-Atlantis, I guess. He reiterates his claim that ancient people recorded “plasma” events from the sun, which caused the end of the Ice Age.
Schoch describes the end of the last Ice Age in geological detail, but he never quite makes the case that the dramatic changes at the end of the period destroyed a lost civilization. Even if we accept his claims about solar plasma, it implies nothing about the existence of an advanced, state-level civilization for it to destroy.
He then discusses his excitement about viewing the Turkish site of Göbekli Tepe at sunrise, and he talks about the emotional reaction he has to ancient sites, which therefore colors his belief that they must be something more closely associated with an urban civilization similar to our own. Feelings… beliefs… blah, blah, blah.
More depressing is Schoch’s new claim that Göbekli Tepe was the site of a literate civilizations some 8,000 years before the first systems of writing. Remarkably, he also claims to be able to translate the “writing” he sees on the stones of the site. He claims that one stone reads “God of gods,” and I’d say it’s a darn site remarkable that he can translate a heretofore unsuspected system of writing in a 10,000-year-old language no one alive has ever heard. After all, several writing systems from historic times, such as linear A, related to languages that were only spoken a few thousand years ago, remain largely unreadable. We can’t even read Etruscan fluently, and yet Schoch has supposedly learned to read an Ice Age language! Think about that. For example, Old English is largely unintelligible to modern English speakers, while the Ice Age is removed in time from us by a factor of twenty times that chronological distance. The unlikeliness of Schoch’s claim boggles the mind.
Nevertheless, Schoch apparently published a paper about the claim a couple of months ago, and it is as weird as you would imagine. He claims that Göbekli Tepe contains Luwian (!) hieroglyphs, from the Anatolian culture that we have encountered on this blog as part of a fringe extremist view of the Trojan War and its supposed Luwian connection to Atlantis. (Naturally, Schoch cites the work of the Atlantis theorist behind the Luwian claims.) Luwian writing dates to around 1500 BCE, but Schoch makes only a shallow effort to bridge the gap between the oldest hypothesized Luwian predecessor script c. 2000 BCE and the heyday of Göbekli Tepe eight millennia earlier. His hypothesis is that the Luwians adopted Göbekli Tepe symbols as part of their writing system due to their preservation in Anatolian oral traditions (the stone versions being buried) and therefore the meaning remained unchanged for 8,000 years. Given that our own alphabet looks nothing like its predecessors from just a few thousand years ago and that the adoption of Egyptian hieroglyphs by their successors preserved almost nothing of the original meaning after only a few centuries, I find this claim to be impossibly unlikely. (Cf. for example, the decline of hieroglyphic knowledge from ancient Egypt to Horapollo to Abenephius to Ibn Wahshiyya.) Schoch admits in his article that the Luwian symbols are not identical to those of Göbekli Tepe, only somewhat similar. I think he is seeing what he wants to see and reading what he wants to read.
Schoch is not a linguist or an expert in Luwian. His coauthor, Manu Seyfzadeh, is also not a linguist but is a pyramid enthusiast who claims that The Orion Mystery helped him discover occult secrets in the Great Pyramid.
Anyway, the hosts ask Schoch about the so-called “handbags” held in the hands of statues and carvings of ancient gods, demigods, and demons. Schoch claims that they are “arcing” solar emissions. Uh-huh. Why, then, did the ancients fail to depict the, you know, sun in such carvings? Well, Schoch clarifies that he isn’t actually talking about handbags around the world, just a single symbol at Göbekli Tepe. So, consequently, this part of the conversation was a waste of time.
The podcast then ends without any actual evidence being presented for any of the claims. The end.
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.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.