Last month Nephilim theorist L. A. Marzulli expressed his anger that an unnamed researcher with an upcoming cable TV series on Bible giants allegedly failed to give Marzulli credit for uncovering a photograph of a supposed 8-foot giant from Catalina Island in California. Thanks to a press release from A+E Networks we now know that the researcher is Jim Vieira, who along with his brother Bill has been given a new History Channel series, Search for the Lost Giants, which will debut in the first week of November as part of History’s multi-network fringe history extravaganza. The same week will see the debut of the second season of Secrets of Oak Island on History and the return of America Unearthed on H2.
Jim Vieira is well known to regular readers of my blog as a longtime “giant” researcher who combs old newspaper accounts for evidence of oversized ancient humans. He also became briefly famous when the TED organization pulled his TEDx talk on giants because of its failure to meet the minimum qualifications for scientific evidence. (On the History Channel, this is likely a selling point.) Last year Vieira referred to me as “an individual on a crusade to save the world from bad science” and as a “troll” in an August 2, 2013, Facebook post blasting my evaluation of his claims about giant skeletons. At the time Vieira claimed that unlike me, whom he accused of profiting from debunking, he was a trustworthy source of information about giants because he was not paid to investigate giant claims:
I have no agenda and have not made a nickel from any of this. To the contrary, I have had to pay a fair amount of money to release many of these newspaper accounts from the dustbin of history.
Now he is being paid, so I guess that claim is no longer operative.
Search for the Lost Giants is produced by Left/Right Productions, a company best known for producing Frontline documentaries for PBS as well as the Showtime adaptation of This American Life.
According to A+E Networks, Vieira’s new series is modeled on its lead-in, Curse of Oak Island, and will similarly see two brothers investigating their eccentric view on ancient mysteries without finding any hard evidence to prove anything weird actually happened. We know this because the press release describes the series without mentioning the discovery of any actual giants, and had the two Vieira brothers actually found one, that would have been the lead in the press release.
Here’s the network’s official description of the show:
The bible says, “There were giants in the earth in those days.” In SEARCH FOR THE LOST GIANTS, brothers Bill and Jim Viera set off on a nationwide quest for the truth. Several years ago, these hard-working stonemasons stumbled upon something in the Massachusetts woods that would change their lives forever: the brothers found a set of ancient stone structures and tunnels that could be the clue to a lost civilization. Further research led them to dozens of published accounts of giant bones and skeletons, some of which were found in similar structures across the country. These stone structures could be the clue to a lost civilization of giants that has never been mentioned in the history books. According to articles from the turn of the 20th century and various town histories, many of the remains were those of 9-12 feet (sic) tall humanoids, with double rows of teeth. But none of the reported skeletons can be found in any museum. If a race of giants once existed, where is the evidence today?
It’s a bit disheartening that we now have individual researchers who specialize in specific sizes of giants: The Vieiras go after 9-12-foot-tall giants, while Greg Little prefers them 6’6” to 8’5”. It is also a bit shocking that History forgot that its own Ancient Aliens and In Search of Aliens have both gone to museums where (actually normal-sized) skeletons alleged to be those of giants were displayed for the cameras.
But what is more disturbing to me is the way such a very short passage from Genesis—verses 6:1-4—has become a programming strategy for History and the central focus for so very much of fringe history. Think about how much programming they get out of this brief passage, which in its entirety reads:
(1) And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, (2) That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. (3) And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. (4) There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
Ancient Aliens wouldn’t exist without it. The sons of God, in their later adaptation as the Watchers from the Book of Enoch are the central actors in the ancient astronaut theory, particularly after Zecharia Sitchin identified them with the Anunnaki of Mesopotamian myth. They also govern Giorgio Tsoukalos’s vision of the past on In Search of Aliens. The later interpretation of the story from the Hellenistic period and after, in which the sons of God were rationalized as the sacred godly bloodline of Seth (e.g. Josephus, Antiquities 1.68-72; Africanus in Syncellus, Chronicle 19-20; John Cassian, Collectiones 8.21, etc.), ancestor of Jesus (Luke 3:23-38 with Africanus in Syncellus, Chronicle 19-20), is also the progenitor of the Holy Bloodline theory beloved of America Unearthed, which posits a parallel narrative where quasi-divine Templar descendants of Jesus similarly impregnated mortal native women in order to create a special ruling class who were the mighty men of the Middle Ages, including such luminaries as Quetzalcoatl. The parallels, some unintentional, are striking, but inherent in a belief in a sacred bloodline.
And this is just the History Channel and its sister station H2. This doesn’t even count other networks’ shows on similar topics, the Christian conspiracy network that sees the Nephilim as a genetic impurity (a reverse Holy Bloodline) in hybridized modern humans, or the cornucopia of books and websites dedicated to tracing the history of the Watchers, be they rendered as fallen angels or demons (Nephilim theorists and creationists), extraterrestrials (ancient astronaut theorists), or a secret prehistoric cult (Andrew Collins, Graham Hancock, etc.). They are exceptionally malleable creatures.
The giants, though, are an odd lot, too. The press release specifies that the giants have double rows of teeth, and for a long time I thought this was just a weird affectation of nineteenth century writers trying to make their giants stand out: twice the height and twice the teeth! The trope of the double row of teeth was well enough known that the nineteenth century satire The Parable of the Giants made mention of the giants’ unusual dentition. But it seems that this trait has been expected of giants since the earliest of days. In the early modern manuscripts known as the Book of Howth preserved by Sir George Carew, a sixteenth century English admiral and member of Parliament, we read of the exact same thing in a fragment of discussion on the reality of Bible giants: “Another giant’s body was found to be 20 foot in length and having a double row of teeth” (folio 147). The whole passage, the original author of which is unknown but attributed to the Book of Howth, is interesting enough that I’ve added it to my Library with numerous annotations as the first entry in what I guess will become a section on giants. You’ll note that most of the giants mentioned in it are almost certainly misidentified Ice Age mammals’ bones. Not, too, that there is ample European precedent for the nineteenth century American giant stories, suggesting (since we know the European ones were a combination of myth and misidentification) that the Americans were importing European lore and modeling their hoaxes and expectations on earlier precedents, a fairly clear parallel to other nineteenth century efforts to Europeanize the American landscape.
If pressed to guess, I would say that the double teeth trope goes back to dental problem that did not have an easy solution before modern dentistry. According to Thomas Berdmore, writing in the Treatise on the Disorders and Deformities of the Teeth and Gums (1768), it was not entirely uncommon in his era for the milk teeth (baby teeth) to remain fixed in place even when adult teeth came in over them “and this is the true cause of odd supernumerary Teeth, or double rows.” It stands to reason that such a condition occurred often enough to be noticeable in earlier centuries as well. King Louis XIII of France reportedly had such a deformity, as did one of Columbus’s sons. Pliny the Elder records the existence of the phenomenon in his Natural History: “Timarchus, the son of Nicocles the Paphian, had a double row of teeth in his jaws” (11.63), and his nineteenth century translators, John Bostock and H. T. Riley, noted that the condition was “not uncommon” in their day. Today we call the dental condition hyperdontia, and it most typically involves individual or rows of extra adult teeth forming in the human mouth. Given that in the Middle Ages any deformity was considered a prodigy, and evidence of either divine favor or demonic influence, it is only natural that the evil giants, sons of the fallen angels, would be possessed of this diabolical trait in the mythic imagination.
At any rate, the examples above demonstrate that skulls with double rows of teeth are not prima facie evidence of giants since they reflect known and not uncommon dental conditions, conditions undoubtedly more common in the Middle Ages when there was a smaller population and less genetic diversity, leading to greater incidence of such abnormalities. On the other hand, it also proves that reports of skulls with double rows of teeth are not prima facie false, since such a characteristic can and does occur in otherwise normal human beings. If many oversized skeletons really were found in Native American burial mounds (not a certainty at all), and they really were more likely to have genetic abnormalities like hyperdontia, this sounds a lot like we’re looking at cases where individuals with genetic conditions leading to rapid or excessive growth were given special burials, rather than looking at members of a lost supernatural race of Bible giants.
I’m glad, though, that now I have enough information to better understand the strange case of the double row of teeth, which may now safely be excised from the diagnostic criteria of giants as some supernatural or nonhuman trait.
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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