According to my on-screen cable guide and the History.com episode guide, this episode of Search for the Lost Giants, S01E04, has no title. It is simply “#5,” even though it is the fourth episode to air. History.com lists the show title as “The Giant Curse” elsewhere on its website, so we’ll go with that.
“To disrupt the holy ground that once belonged to past rulers with supernatural powers would be breaking the law,” says the opening quotation, attributed to King Nahmwarki of Nan Madol, but actually taken verbatim from a fringe history website. (It also appears in copied text on travel websites; I can find no record of it elsewhere, though it may be somewhere I do not have easy access to.) It is no ancient text but a modern one, and Nahmwarki isn’t a person but a title for a high chief. If the tourism website is correct, the line refers to the efforts of F. W. Christian to survey and explore Nan Madol in 1896, but the line does not appear in the racist book Christian wrote about Pohnpei in 1899. There, Christian describes the natives in racist terms and paid the king a $5 fee to bypass the restrictions on entering holy ground. It is possible that the line might come from a Spanish language account to which Christian refers; I do not know.
We open with a recap of the previous four episodes, edited to suggest that the brothers Jim and Bill Vieira have actually discovered something related to giants. One of Jim Vieira’s neighbors, Al Peiropan, tells Vieira about the Micronesian stone city of Nan Madol on Pohnpei, where Peiropan recalls locals telling him not to violate the sanctity of the ancient citadel. I’m not aware of a close association between Nan Madol and giants, but David Hatcher Childress, writing in Ancient Micronesia, reported that an islander told him he had found a femur twice the size of a normal human femur. Japanese archaeologists, working to establish imperial claims over Micronesia after receiving a League of Nations mandate, claimed to have found “taller” skeletons that proved that the current population were not the first inhabitants of the island and therefore had no inherent rights to it.
The Japanese took over Nan Madol from the former colonial power, Germany, and Search for the Lost Giants records some false information about the colonial governor dying from a curse. This was on Ancient Aliens, from the same production company, and the researchers simply recycled old research without correcting it. Therefore, my criticism from Ancient Aliens S06E09 still stands:
Dr. Viktor Berg, the German colonial deputy governor of Pohnpei at the time, in fact died of sunstroke and exhaustion, according to the official records, shortly after excavating the tomb of Isokelekel. Later excavators of the tomb suffered no ill effects. The show fails to note that the “curse” was invoked at the time because Berg had been hated by the natives for his imposition of harsh German colonial policies, including disarmament and restrictions on cultural expression. It was part of native efforts to resist colonial rule, a constant source of tension during the German administration of the island.
Isokelekel was the son of the Thunder God, but he is not typically described as a giant, so Peiropan is being a bit deceptive in arguing that Berg went hunting for giants. Nevertheless, the show rehearses the deaths of several people who went searching for giants in order to establish the claim that there is a curse that affects those who seek out big bones, and the Vieira brothers are in danger. And yet the Vieira brothers still live.
The brothers take off for Catalina Island in California, where earlier this year Nephilim researcher L. A. Marzulli helped them to find archival information about the “giants” supposedly unearthed there by a con man and fraud, Ralph Glidden. Marzulli made an upset blog post after the Vieira brothers’ show declined to include Marzulli in the episode or give him credit for finding a particular photograph of a “giant” in the archives of Glidden’s museum.
Terje Dahl, a Norwegian giant hunter who worked with Thor Heyerdahl, speaks with the brothers by video chat link and tells the brothers that Catalina Island may have been an outpost of the same legendary giants from Pacific Islander mythology. Jim Vieira and Ancient Aliens pundit Hugh Newman (now described as a “giant hunter”) contact a forensic sketch artist to ask him to draw a picture of a giant. To what end, I don’t know.
After the break, the show tries to fabricate a giant “curse” by exploiting Terje Dahl’s hospitalization upon his arrival in Los Angeles, in a hospital that conveniently allowed a television crew to film in his hospital room. Dahl had trouble breathing after deplaning, and he asserts that “archaeologists” have told him that “my research on giants can be dangerous.” Dahl, an elderly man, suffered blood clots in his lungs, but the show seems to want us to believe that there is a supernatural component to the giants. Dahl, oddly enough, manages to have a “giant” tooth somewhere underneath his hospital gown, and he gives it to the brothers. He tells them that the tooth is actually a “replica” modeled on one from the Denisova Cave in Russia. The real tooth does in fact exist and belonged not to Homo sapiens but to the genetically distinct population of Denisovans, another branch of the human family tree. You can read about the tooth in National Geographic, where the conspiracy conveniently hid it from giant hunters. Oh, right: No one hid this.
Dahl believes that the Denisovans were “more advanced than us” (meaning Paleolithic Homo sapiens) and populated the Pacific and North America, becoming the giants of old, the men of renown.
Meanwhile Hugh Newman from Ancient Aliens is in New York City gathering data on giants for creating a sketch of giants, and Newman focuses on learning about double rows of teeth. He meets with a dental anthropologist Shara Bailey, who says she’s never seen double rows of teeth. She discusses supernumerary teeth, which she says were not uncommon among Native Americans, and especially not uncommon among taller Native Americans.
On Catalina Island, the Vieira brothers go to the Catalina Island Museum and pretend to “discover” the material that L. A. Marzulli directed them toward earlier this year. The brothers look into Glidden’s research, and make notes about the skeletons Glidden found, including one with a 28-inch thigh bone. It’s hard though to credit Glidden’s reports since he faked so much of his research for financial gain. Next, the men review the specific photograph Marzulli directed them toward, and they present this as their own discovery. They say they will have it analyzed, but the show drops this point, presumably to make it a dramatic revelation in a future episode.
As I noted back when Marzulli complained about the Vieira brothers, the photograph offers little by way of evidence since it appears to be staged and there is no way to determine whether the bones seen in it are genuine or are among the fabrications and fakes Glidden acquired alongside genuine bones he imported from other sites around the world to create a morbid museum of charnel curiosity. Even the Vieira brothers notice that Glidden’s records are so slipshod that there is no way to determine whether anything he found was genuine. The Vieira brothers are upset by Glidden’s museum and feel it disrespectful to the dead to disturb their rest any longer. Nevertheless, Bill Vieira takes a helicopter to shoot photos of Catalina Island, which reveal some of Glidden’s old excavation sites. Jim Vieira feels that the island has “bad mojo” because of the desecrated graves, though I am at a loss for why looting these graves is worse than the brothers’ plan to excavate what they believe is a “giant” grave in Goshen, Massachusetts. Is there a magic number of desecrated graves that turns science into horror? Or is it only that Glidden displayed the bones for profit and for the entertainment of his museum’s visitors, while the Vieira brothers only want to display any bones they find on national television for the entertainment of their audience?
After another break, Newman continues working with the sketch artist to waste time.
The Vieira brothers are now in Arizona to meet with Carlos Hayes, son of the ethnologist Paxson C. Hayes, who claimed to have discovered a lost city of giants and dozens of giant skeletons on both sides of the Mexican border. In 1929 Paxson Hayes claimed that in New Mexico he found well-preserved seven-foot-tall mummies, which had slanted eyes and sloping foreheads, and that these mummies were preserved with resin and had their burial clothes bound in fiber. Needless to say, these mummies were never presented to the public. In 1950, at Barranco de Cobre, Paxson claimed to have found blond-haired giants who lived in buildings that he said resembled Arabian structures: “The ancient buildings in the cave,” Hayes told the Tucson Daily Citizen on November 15, 1950, “were constructed of a cement-like masonry mixed with bamboo. The huts looked much like mosques.” Cement and bamboo. For blond giants.
This is rather surprising considering that on August 25, 1933, Paxton told the Brewster Herald in Washington State that he believed that the lost race of giants were about six-foot-seven, and had long black beards. They were “slant eyed” Mongoloids from Asia who used crossbows and lived around 4000 BCE. Oh, and their feet were only six inches long!
Carlos Hayes tells the Vieira brothers that he believes his father really did find giants and a lost civilization, but provided no evidence of them. The younger Hayes hopes that the Vieira brothers can find the evidence needed to prove his father right.
Jim Vieira and Hugh Newman look at a sketch of a giant, which is based on pretty much nothing but hearsay about big jaws and double teeth, and the result is—well, it’s a picture. It’s based on Native American physiognomy, so I guess that excludes the Levantine and Aryan giants, like the blond guys Paxson Hayes was after, or the “slant-eyed Mongoloids,” also like the ones Paxson Hayes was after. This is just a big Native American stereotype with a big jaw.
The narrator helpfully informs us that all that is left is for the Vieiras to find “one conclusive piece of evidence.” Oh, is that all?
As the hour screeches to an unwieldy halt, the Vieira brothers announce that the University of Massachusetts will be excavating the Goshen Tunnel, so the remains of any giant therein can be displayed for the entertainment of all the show’s viewers—which is somehow completely different from Glidden’s museum of morbid skeletal curiosities because these guys are trying to prove something by demonstrating that at least one person in the past attained heights of seven to eight feet, the same heights documented throughout history and still attained by individuals today. I still don’t see how one skeleton will prove anything about a “lost race” of giants.
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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