Nephilim of the Grand Canyon: Cross-Pollination in the Copy-Paste World of Fringe Archaeology
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.”
2/20/2016 12:50:46 pm
I'm shocked that with all the evidence readily available (the Egyptians-at-the-Grand-Canyon myth clearly started as a 19th-century newspaper hoax, a practice which was common in that era) there are still who believe it--but then I guess that's the definition of a fringe cult.
2/20/2016 12:57:51 pm
If you see one Loch Ness Monster, there must be a colony of them. But there isn't enough sustenance in Loch Ness to feed one monster. Yet people continue to believe in the Monster.
2/20/2016 01:29:09 pm
Believing everything you read - it didn't start with the interwebs.
2/20/2016 01:36:51 pm
Andrews is now credited for his illustrations.
2/20/2016 01:48:04 pm
Clearly the Arizona Gazette story was written, but what exactly is the evidence that it was a hoax? Do we know who wrote it? Was he a legitimate journalist? Did he have a history of being a joker? Did The Gazette have a history of writing an April Fools story every year.
2/20/2016 02:21:50 pm
There is no author listed, and the story's hoax status derives from the similarity to other "lost civilization" hoaxes, the total lack of any record of any of the characters from the story outside the story (exception: an earlier Gazette story about Kinkaid, which contradicts the more famous one), the reliance of the account on outdated and disproved hypotheses for its "evidence," and the utter lack of even a single artifact to support it.
2/20/2016 04:51:55 pm
I wouldn't argue since I don't believe it either, but to avoid a bad rap as one-way, I really think skeptics need evidence to disprove theories just as they ask fringe theorists to provide it.
2/21/2016 06:00:06 am
>>> I really think skeptics need evidence<<<
2/21/2016 08:53:05 am
Time Machine- "only Biblical Scholarship is like this, basing theories on figments of the imagination" is a misunderstanding of what is in realty a very common situation. Literary works have the advantage of being easy to copy, so even when the original disappears, one or more copies may survive, made either directly from the original or from an earlier copy. It is of course possible to abuse this process to create a fictitious "copy" of a previously non-existent earlier work, but that's another matter.
2/22/2016 08:40:38 pm
I've ran into a lot of afrocentric trolls using that same "egyptians in the grand canyon" piece.
3/27/2016 01:16:43 pm
"Time Machine," the general consensus of scholarship is that most or all of the NT books were written in the 1st century. There's a distinct lack of anachronistic errors that would mark a 2nd-3rd century body of works (and such as mark the Gnostic works). The debate has been between those who argue for a pre-70 AD date for the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and those who argue for a late-1st Century origin, as well as whether Matthew and Luke used a common earlier source (commonly called Q) that contained Yeshua's (Jesus's) sayings and parables.
2/20/2016 02:33:30 pm
For starters: http://www.jasoncolavito.com/archaeological-cover-up.html & http://www.jasoncolavito.com/the-1909-grand-canyon-hoax.html
2/20/2016 02:34:24 pm
The clearest evidence that it's a hoax is the lack of evidence for G.E. Kinkaid and Prof. S.A. Jordan in Smithsonian / National Museum annual reports BEFORE 1909. Suppressing a discovery is one thing; retrospectively altering reports distributed to libraries around the world is quite another.
2/20/2016 04:58:16 pm
Lack of evidence is certainly good reason not to believe it, but it doesn't prove its a hoax. I think it should be quite easy for a Phoenix area skeptic to do a little snooping around and come up with something concrete to prove it.
2/20/2016 06:14:22 pm
The trouble is that you can't really prove a negative. The burden is on those who claim it's true to provide evidence. Everyone who has ever tried researching it has found the same thing: There is not a trace of evidence that any of the people in the story existed. I am not able to say whether the newspaper got taken by a con man who made the whole thing up, or whether they were complicit in fabricating the story, but without even a shred of proof to go on, there isn't much use in looking for what doesn't seem to exist.
2/22/2016 02:43:43 pm
There's an interesting article by Don Largo in the Grand Canyon Historical Society's newsletter ("The Ol' Pioneer", summer 2009) that covers this story very well, including the suggestion that the hoax was started by the well-known tall-tale-teller Joe Mulhatton. It can easily be found online by searching for "grand canyon historical society egyptian cave hoax" (or something similar).
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