This week, Nephilim theorist L. A. Marzulli welcomed giant hunter and frequent History Channel barnacle Hugh Newman to Acceleration Radio to talk about—what else?—giants. Newman was on to promote the book he wrote with Jim Vieira, Giants on Record, a book that he self-published in 2015. The interview got off to a bad start, half an hour into the show, which began with Marzulli’s borderline alt-right brand of conservative commentary, followed by commercials for urine stain remover. In the context of Marzulli’s idolatrous worship of Trump as God’s chosen savior of America, there is certainly some humor in his sponsor being a urine removal spray.
Anyway, Newman started his interview by announcing that the bones and teeth of a lost race of giants “have been disappeared by the Smithsonian and by NAGPRA.” He alleged that the Smithsonian collected “tens of thousands” of giants’ bones and destroyed them. That wasn’t true when he said it in 2015, and it remains untrue today. This conspiracy theory was invented by David Childress in 1990 as a result of an Indiana Jones fantasy crossed inchoate anti-government rage. Newman also finds it “bizarre” that the Smithsonian no longer displays the corpses of Native Americans for public amusement and edification.
Here’s the thing: The Smithsonian collected thousands of skeletons in the nineteenth century, but they did not collect bones of giants and then destroy them. I talk about this in the book I recently finished writing about Mound Builders, where I describe what happened at the end of the nineteenth century:
Exaggerated and absurd reports of giant skeletons seven, eight, nine feet tall or sometimes taller continued to fill the country’s newspapers, at a growing pace. Many of these reports ended with the refrain that “all the relics were carefully packed and sent to the Smithsonian Institution,” though the Smithsonian never produced a report on giants. In reality, the newsmen played on the growing prestige of the Smithsonian and sometimes exaggerated real efforts by the Bureau of Ethnology, and its Mound Exploration Division, to collect the skeletons of ancient Native Americans. All told, U.S. museums collected nearly half a million Native skeletons in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Smithsonian did indeed ask the excavators of graves and mounds to ship bones to the Institution. New boxes of bones arrived daily in the 1880s and 1890s, until the museum held 35,000 skeletons, of which 18,000 were Native American. They were not, however, the bones of giants. Once at the Smithsonian, the “giants” were reexamined and accurately measured. Most turned out to be incorrectly measured Native skeletons; others were reclassified as mammoths, mastodons, and other Ice Age fauna.
We know this because in those cases where experts were able to examine the bones of “giants” when they were uncovered, sometimes by medical professionals, they were found time and again to be the bones of mastodons and mammoths. Other museums in Europe similarly examined their “giant” bones and reclassified them as Ice Age elephants. Newman, however, refuses to believe this, even when reciting accounts of men holding “giant” jaws over their own faces, bones that were clearly those of Ice Age mammals. “It’s disconcerting and arrogant,” Newman said, to deny that these bones were those of prehistoric giant Aryan ginger cannibals.
Newman claims that all of this was an “agenda” and Marzulli claims that it was conspiracy of “Darwinists” to undercut Scripture and promote white supremacy. (Even though the giants are alleged to be red-haired and white-skinned, the new fringe line is that they are some kind of indigenous creature so the claim cannot be racist.) Newman claims that Native Americans passed on oral traditions unchanged even by “a syllable” for ten thousand years, so therefore myths of giants must be true. This is wrong on two levels, first because a story can be both old and false, and second because oral histories are not consistent over time. When the same stories have been recorded by multiple ethnographers, they don’t match, even over a few decades, let alone millennia. Some oral histories now incorporate stereotypical dinosaurs thanks to depictions of dinosaurs in early movies, as Adrienne Mayor found in writing Fossil Legends of the First Americans.
The more disturbing part of the interview is when Marzulli told Newman that he goes to Ohio to dig into Native mounds on private land, where it is legal, in the hope of finding a giant. He says that he conducts these digs with an archaeologist and a Native American present, but he is sad to have found no giants, only deer bones and “arrowheads.” Newman replies that the Mound Builders were a separate race of “elites” who were red-haired cannibal giants with double rows of teeth. He feels that the Smithsonian is trying to suppress evidence of this “lost race.”
Do you hear this, publishers? I tried to tell you these ideas are still popular and aren’t just a historical curiosity. I TOLD YOU SO!
Newman believes that burial mounds and dolmens were not actually burial sites but were “power” sites for “earth energy” in which one could place seeds to “supercharge” crops. Oddly, he has not bothered to prove this by heaping up some rocks and producing one of these super-crops.
Newman concluded by telling Marzulli that he and Vieira are working on a sequel about giants in Great Britain and Europe, and he will claim that the Denisovans—known only from a finger bone, two teeth, and a toe!—were giants and that Stonehenge had been built by giants nine feet or taller in height. The myth that Stonehenge was the work of giants is an old one, from medieval times at least, when the site was called the Giants’ Dance. Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain (8.11) that the “giants of old” had brought the stones from Africa to Ireland, where they built Stonehenge as a magic bath bomb (running bath water over the stones prior to a bath) before Merlin caused them to fly to Salisbury Plain. The trouble, of course, is that a medieval myth recorded thousands of years after Stonehenge’s erection doesn’t make it true. The story is part of a global folklore trend to attribute ancient wonders—even those whose construction has been documented by actual people and cultures—to giants and superhuman monsters. Thus, the Mycenaean ruins of Greece became associated with Cyclopes and Roman walls in Germany were said to be the work of the Devil.
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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