Here we are in the third episode of Search for the Lost Giants, S01E03 “Chasing the Bones,” and the show is already revisiting past episodes, suggesting that this show’s format is more reality soap opera than anthology. By teasing out little bits of a single major investigation over the season, it hopes to keep the audience coming back for more details. I’m not sure, though, that selecting a two-foot tall tunnel system associated with no known giant reports is really the most compelling investigation to serve as the connecting tissue for the entire season.
We open with a quote from Flavius Josephus, identified only as a Roman historian—not, interestingly, as Jewish one. The line comes from the seventh book of Antiquities of the Jews (7.303 in modern numbering), not that you’d know it from the on-screen legend. In 7.12 of the famous Whiston translation, it goes “They had a man who was six cubits tall, and had on each of his feet and hands one more toe and finger than men naturally have.” But the show instead offers a more dramatic excerpt from 7.10 of Charles Clarke’s somewhat less literal translation: “In their army was a many of the gigantic race, being six cubits in height, and having six toes on each foot, and six fingers to each hand.” It is a reference to the events of 2 Samuel 21:20-21, where Jonathan kills one of the giants of Gath:
And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant. And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimeah the brother of David slew him.
The notes in the Loeb edition suggest that Josephus mistakenly applied the number of fingers and toes to the giant’s height. But whatever the reason, by identifying Josephus as a Roman, it provides spurious support for Bible giants from a seemingly unconnected source.
We begin the episode with a recap of last week’s episode as the Vieira brothers explain their research to their team from S01E01, and the narrator tells us that we’ll be revisiting the pilot episode’s Goshen tunnel again.
The brothers travel to the University of Massachusetts to convince archaeologist Eric Johnson to excavate the Goshen tunnel in search of a giant burial. Johnson doesn’t find enough evidence to make it worth excavating, so the team goes back to find more. They notice a “bizarre compass reading.” The guy from Ancient Aliens, Hugh Newman, thinks that the tomb is emitting magnetic energy because an ancient civilization sought out magnetic anomalies and earth energy to build their tombs.
After the first break, Bill Vieira returns to convince Johnson to dig at the Goshen tunnel. To do so, they want to analyze the sand they extracted from what they think might be a hidden chamber in the tomb. Dr. Michael Jercinovic analyzes the sand.
Meanwhile, we’re off to Rockingham, Vermont to look into old accounts that locals dug up a giant skeleton with a massive jawbone and two rows of teeth in 1849. Jim Vieira would like to connect the “giant” to petroglyphs showing round faces with “antenna-like projections,” which we might know better as horns. Older drawings suggest that some now-eroded faces resembled skulls. This trip was inspired by a secondhand passage from the 1907 History of the Town of Rockingham, Vermont by Lyman Simpson Hayes, which I happen to have here:
When the earth was removed from the top of the ledges east of the falls a remarkable human skeleton, unmistakably that of an Indian, was found. Those who saw it tell the writer the jaw bone was of such size that a large man could easily slip it over his face, and the teeth, which were all double, were perfect. It was supposed at the time, and is still so held, that this was the skeleton of the tall Indian chief named Philip, whom John Kilburn saw fall before his rifle during his noted fight August 17, 1755, a mile and a half further down the river. This skeleton was kept for many years deposited in the attic of a small building on the north side of the Square. This building was then occupied by Dr. John H. Wells' office and drug store, and stood where the Italian fruit store now does. When the building was rebuilt a decade or more ago the bones disappeared.
Note that Hayes never saw the bones, nor had anyone for more than a decade. Given the time period when the bones were found, and the fact that no one had seen it in decades, this account could represent anything from an actual man of above average height to the exaggeration of memory to the bones of a juvenile mastodon. But without a drawing or the bones themselves, there’s no way to know. I find it interesting that the show left out the 1755 date, all the better to make the bones seem mysteriously ancient.
At the local library, Jim Vieira digs through archival documents, but since this is boring we cut back to Massachusetts.
There, Jercinovic reports on his analysis of the sand, which he determines is made of quartz. Jercinovic can’t explain the presence of the beach sand at the Goshen site since the nearest beach is 100 miles away. The Vieira brothers think it was used as symbolic offering around a giant’s tomb, but my first thought is that since the Goshen tunnel has been probed, dug around, and disturbed for more than a century, it’s possible that some modern person tried to fill a hole with a bag of sand after digging, though it is not unprecedented for ancient people to bring exotic materials to construction sites. However, none of this implies anything about a giant being within any more than it implies that a denizen of Atlantis is there entombed.
So, after the next break, we’re back in the Rockingham Public Library, where Vieira has discovered Hayes’s original notes for the History of Rockingham, which find that Hayes added the word “all” into his original draft in reference to the teeth, but Jim Vieira takes the edit for “emphasis.” The narrator breathlessly tells us that finding this skeleton would “shift our understanding of human history,” again confusing the possible existence of a tall person for a global race of genetically distinct giants.
Another document, allegedly from 1886 (though clearly a computerized, retyped version), gives what seems to be the first report of the unearthing of the skeleton during the construction of a railroad. Jim Vieira wants to find a living descendant of the man who first examined the bones. Unfortunately, they’re all dead. So instead Vieira travels to the former home of the last descendant, but the homeowners have lived in the house for more than twenty years and know of no giant skeletons hidden in their longtime home. Vieira’s operating theory is that the Victorian doctor who worked with the bones passed the skeleton down to his descendants, who kept it hidden generation after generation for some obscure reason. Vieira tries probing a walled-off space in the basement and smashing his way through a patch in the foundation in the hope of uncovering a giant that seems unlikely to have been stored behind a patch in the wall that seems older than the last known report of the skeleton in the 1890s. But the homeowners now have a nice new hole in their basement wall!
Vieira and the narrator imply that “men in black” or a conspiracy opened the wall, removed the skeleton that they only imagined had been present there based on a speculative fantasy and then patched the wall back up to keep future searchers from finding the truth.
Back at Goshen, the brothers fill the tunnels with smoke to see if there is a hidden chamber by testing to see if the smoke will rise up from the hidden side-shaft, which they now are calling “the tomb of the giant” based entirely on wishful thinking.
After the break, they sniff into a drill hole to try to detect even the faintest whiff of smoke. Nothing comes out of the drill hole, and the Vieira brothers are disappointed. But then begins emerging from a different location, near known tunnels. Finally, though, smoke comes up from drill hole, but the logic of concluding that a hole beneath ground equals the lost sepulcher of a Bible giant escapes me. Again, all they’ve found is a hole, without even a hint of a reason to suspect a giant lay buried within.
Another UMass expert comes out to see the evidence, and after the final break archaeologist Stephen A. Mrozowski informs the brothers that the Goshen tunnel is not European. Does this include colonial American? I’m not sure. “This thing could be huge,” he says, adding that the site represented an astonishing level of sophistication. It sounds like he was trying to explain that he thought it was a Native American structure, similar to the stone cairns reported to have been built by Native peoples in the region, but some of this was edited out. Mrozowski agrees to excavate the site, which appears to be the through-line for the entire season, gradually teasing out the story of the tunnel—all the better to parallel the show’s model, Curse of Oak Island, and its limited location.
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.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.