The 1909 Arizona Gazette Grand Canyon hoax entered the pantheon of fringe history claims mostly due to the advocacy of David Hatcher Childress, whose report about the early twentieth century account of a fictitious lost civilization in the Grand Canyon went viral on the early internet in the late 1990s. Today, however, not only do fringe believers accept the story as true, they come up with new and inventive ways of expanding on the newspaper account into fact-free confections that freely mix and match material from other fringe claims.
The most recent version of the story I have encountered turned up on the Archaeology Hub website, but a few moments of checking found that Archaeology Hub simply copies and pastes material from other sources (often Ancient Origins) to create click-bait. Its account of the Grand Canyon lost civilization had previously been published on Lockclip.com last year, and Archaeology Hub simply copies and pastes without credit. Nevertheless, the copied version went viral this week, spreading across Facebook and being republished all over the internet.
The piece is illustrated with unlabeled computer-generated illustrations taken from Grand Canyon hoax believer Jack Andrews, who created the pictures in 2000 and 2001 for a 2001 article. The images have been cropped to remove Andrews’s name and darkened to make them look more realistic, thus passing them off as photographs rather than illustrations.
The majority of the article is a standard recounting of the 1909 Arizona Gazette article, which tells the fictional story of how an adventurer and a Smithsonian investigator excavated a series of chambers in the Grand Canyon containing the remains of a Tibetan-Egyptian civilization. But then the author offers a weird detail not found in the original. The author claims this was “a civilization that most likely consisted of individuals of cyclopean proportions.” The author later declares the underground city to have had “giant inhabitants.”
The trouble is that the original 1909 hoax made no mention of giants, and the text implies that the bodies—all male—were completely normal human bodies, which the characters in the story were able to move and hold up to take photographs of.
It seems fairly clear that the original author of this Grand Canyon hoax piece has the stories of the red-haired cannibal giants or the Nephilim in mind, but it seems strange to me that the author failed to notice the lack of giants in the article, or the absurdity of the standing (!) mummies stacked row on row above one another all to be giants!
Weirdly enough, Nephilim researchers have adopted the 1909 hoax as evidence of Egyptian and therefore Nephilim activity in America, this despite the fact that the original story identified the people as being Asians from Tibet who descended from Egyptians (a once-popular eighteenth century theory). Steve Quayle, the Nephilim believer who implied gay people are evil Nephilim who must be killed off, includes the Grand Canyon story as evidence of Nephilim in his Genesis 6 Giants (with pulp-inspired illustration of elongated-skull Grand Canyon Nephilim mummies here), and as you can see from this page others have specifically tried to tie the Grand Canyon to Lovelock cave and its alleged “giant” mummies imagined to have been found there.
But what really takes the cake is that that Archaeology Hub story attracted comments from visitors who (mis-)remembered seeing the story on America Unearthed! “I saw this story on the history channel (sic). And when they tried to get close to the entrance a couple of black helicopters showed up.”
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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