Before we begin today, a quick note about Ancient Aliens: Moving the show to Saturday to get away from heavy competition in the “stuff old guys like” category paid off for the History Channel. The show’s ratings recovered from their 2019 slump, rising by around 200,000 viewers to 1.08 million this past week. However, ratings growth was largely from viewers 55+, a less favored demographic among TV channels and their advertisers.
Meanwhile, a YouTube video claiming that the famous Neolithic Irish tomb at Newgrange is really the temple of Poseidon that Plato alleged stood at the center of Atlantis is making waves in the media. Keystone University of Ireland posted the video, and Irish media picked up the story because of its obvious connection to Ireland. The video utilizes a number of long-debunked claims to allege that Ireland was the legendary continent of Atlantis, but the real story is who posted it and why.
The three-and-a-half-hour-long video itself isn’t very special by the standards of pseudohistory, nor is it well produced. It’s about what you’d expect from a slow, meandering PowerPoint presentation. It claims, for example, that the Irish were the first advanced civilization on Earth and that the Irish spread their superior red-headed genes around the world. The evidence is as dubious as you’d imagine. The video mistakes, for example, the bleaching of dark-haired mummies’ hair over the centuries as proof that they originally had red hair.
Naturally, the Nephilim giants make an appearance, and there are some laughably bad etymologies. For example, the video alleges that that “Aryan” race are descendants of the Irish because “Aryan” mean “from Erin,” which is an Anglicized version of the Irish word Éirinn, itself the dative of Éire, the Irish name for Ireland. That’s all well and good, except that Éire is a modern word, which replaced the Old Irish Ériu when the name of the goddess Ériu became the name for Ireland sometime after the Iron Age, when Celtic language and culture came to the island. As best anyone can tell, the name didn’t exist in the Proto-Indo-European times imagined here as the heyday or Irish Atlantis.
That said, Ireland was certainly part of a Bronze Age trade network that did indeed involve boats, and there is a case that could be made that Ireland may have been the legendary island of Ogygia in Plutarch’s Moralia, a claim suggested by Ruaidhrí Ó Flaithbheartaigh in 1685. Since Ogygia was also identified as a parallel to Atlantis by W. Hamilton in a 1934 Classical Quarterly article, it’s just possible to imagine a textual link to the idea that Ogygia connects Ireland and Atlantis, though none of the links in the chain of inference is very strong.
The claim that the Irish founded world civilizations emerged in the nineteenth century, and the evidence used today is very similar, for example, to the biased and faulty misinformation used by the French hyperdiffusionist writer Eugène Beauvois around the turn of the twentieth century.
But I am more interested in who published this video earlier this month.
Keystone University is not to be confused with Keystone College, a real academic institution. Instead, Keystone University is proudly not an actual accredited academic institution. “We are not an (sic) traditional university & we don't pretend to be - we are a new type of university with a huge vision, determined leadership & a razor sharp team who dare to go where others won't,” Keystone’s unpunctuated run-on copy reads.
Instead, like Trump University, its curriculum revolves around brief seminars. Keystone offers three seminars per year. One involves improving one’s mental faculties. Another is about business skills. The third is about ancient mysteries, including Atlantis and “human evolution,” which wouldn’t fit into the category unless the pseudo-school had something unusual to say about it. Keystone claims that their seminars compress “decades” of learning into “days.”
Each three-day seminar costs a thousand euros ($1,100).
In short, the Atlantis video isn’t a scholarly attempt to locate Atlantis in Ireland, as many have been fooled into believing by the “Keystone University” name. It’s a come-on for pricey seminars recycling standard-issue pseudohistory claims from the past couple of centuries and presenting it as an edu-tainment opportunity to stick a “university” course onto a résumé.
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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