Micah Hanks and Friends Launch New Website Covering Archaeology, History, Weird Pop Culture, and Other Stuff I Write About
I have to say, somewhat facetiously, that I’m feeling a little ripped off today after learning that podcaster and writer Micah Hanks and some of his friends have launched a website covering much of the same material as my own, only worse. In a Facebook posting yesterday afternoon, Hanks announced that he, environmental scientist Jason Pentrall, and geologist James Waldo launched Seven Ages, a WordPress-powered blog focusing on history, archaeology, science, and genre fiction—the topics I also cover here. The team currently offers lightly rewritten versions of current news stories, along with a biweekly podcast. The three men collectively produced seven posts in the past 17 days, along with three podcasts.
The website features Hanks’s trademark curlicue writing style, like this clunker: “Perhaps with the discovery of the new ancient documentation encased within mummy burials, a more clear focus can be cast on these ever-perplexing aspects of ancient Egypt’s more mundane aspects.” No, it doesn’t make any more sense in context, but the lack of professional editing does Hanks no favors. I say that with complete knowledge that I am a terrible typist and make quite a few typos. The difference, I think, is that I know the right thing to say, even if my fingers don’t always get the message.
Although the website does not explain its name, I presume it is in reference to Shakespeare’s “seven ages of man” from As You Like It 2.7, describing the stages of a person’s life, from birth to senility. I’m not entire certain what that has to do with the subject of the blog, but I guess it’s meant to recall the mysticism of the number seven and the five ages (gold, silver, bronze, heroic, and iron) of Hesiod’s mythological scheme, the six of Christian legend, the four of Hindu, or five of Mesoamerican. But since the passage from Shakespeare also contains the famous “All the world’s a stage / And all the men and women merely players...” lines, it also unintentionally highlights the performative aspect of their project, which foregrounds three non-experts in history as arbiters of truth.
Here is some of what Hanks had to say about Seven Ages:
Seven Ages Research is a project based around a group of individuals, myself included, with some unique ideas about historical research, archaeology, and studies of cultures around the world.
It's a little hard not feel a bit ripped off by the Hanks crew for launching a competing site covering pretty much my exact beat. However, I am heartened that they are terrible at it and have managed to provide nothing of substance in their offerings. For example, in comparing their coverage of the Italian mathematician who claimed that the Great Pyramid hides an iron throne to mine, Hanks simply repeated the story with little additional substance, whereas I found the specific utterances from the Pyramid Texts used to justify the claim. It wouldn’t have taken Hanks any effort to do the same, but he didn’t bother. I’ve made this point many times before, mostly every time Hanks tries to become a discount bin version of me with superficial coverage of archaeology and history buried beneath chunky, discordant sentences.
I wish them the best of luck developing their site into something more than it is, but I will caution them that they really need to up the quality and depth of their research if they plan to make their site anything more than a less weighty version of Ancient Origins or Mysterious Universe.
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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