Today we examine Book V of Gavin Menzies’ The Lost Empire of Atlantis. Last time, we saw Menzies rework early twentieth century pseudoscience about Phoenicians in Britain and America to support his fantasy that the Minoans colonized both, building Stonehenge. Book V supposedly explores the Minoans’ trans-Atlantic “empire” with actual “proof.”
This chapter speculates on how the Minoans could have sailed to Britain and America by calculating latitude and longitude. He devotes enormous space to suggesting ways the Minoans could have used star charts to calculate longitude, which strikes me as irrelevant since he began the chapter talking about the similarities of his theory to the Viking voyages, which did not utilize longitude calculations. We then get a discussion of the Antikythera mechanism, again irrelevant as it is nearly 1,500 years younger than the Minoans, before Menzies goes full on Phoenician and discusses the alleged evidence for Phoenicians in America, all of which has been extensively and repeatedly debunked. Somehow this adds up to proof that the Minoans “adapted” stone circles across Europe to track the moon across the heavens and thus establish longitude.
This chapter is just bullshit. It pretends to discuss David Childress’ favorite copper mystery: where did the copper mined in America go? Crete? Well, here’s the thing. This is all lies. Here’s a journal article examining all of these old lies one by one. Menzies repeats almost all of these lies as truth (usually from the same sources cited in the article as full of crap) despite the long-ago debunking. But, finally, Menzies reveals the chemical analyses he relies on for claiming the Uluburun copper (which was not Minoan) is identical to that of Lake Superior: analyses conducted in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, before modern analysis techniques. Good work!
This chapter continues to present the myths debunked in the link I gave in chapter 33. The Old Copper people did not simply abandon all their tools at once and run away. Etc. Etc. He then claims that Native American stone circles are Minoan, especially the Beaver Island, Michigan stone circle, which he calls a “mini-Stonehenge” built by Minoans despite the fact that the stone circles of America are thousands of years younger than their Old World counterparts. The Beaver Island “circle” is not anything like Stonehenge, may only be a glacial deposit (possibly reworked by Native Americans), and is believed to have been used ceremonially for only about a thousand years according to the only scholarly work ever done there, making it more than 2,500 years too young to be Minoan.
Menzies hates science. That must be the reason that he talks about the post-glacial period (c. 9500 BCE) as though it were the same as 2000 BCE in order to argue that post-glacial flooding helped the Minoans travel directly from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River to transport copper back to Crete. According to geology, by the Minoan period (2300-1400 BCE), the Great Lakes drainage was nearly identical to today; there was only a very short period around 2000 BCE when the Great Lakes overflowed to the Mississippi. It is theoretically possible that they could have sailed along it in those years, but, well, no. There are no Minoan artifacts, shipwrecks, or settlements anywhere in the Americas. Menzies source for his theories is Ancient American, the fabulously inaccurate Mormon-funded alternative magazine I examined in great detail last spring. From this he repeats the notion, debunked more than 100 years ago (220 if you count Thomas Jefferson’s efforts), that the Native American earthworks (the “mounds”) are of foreign construction (because Native Americans are too dumb to pile up dirt) and were “fortifications,” a lie created in the eighteenth century by racists. God, I hate this book.
Menzies insults the accomplishments of Native Americans as easily as he does those of the Western Europeans by attributing Poverty Point to the Minoans. The great mound city of Louisiana is nothing like Crete in any way, shape, or form. They also, he thinks, visited Mesoamerica to get cotton and corn. I apologize to the Olmec on Menzies’ behalf. He suggests that the Minoans sailed down the Mississippi, across the Gulf of Mexico, and rode the Gulf Stream to Spain carrying loads of copper while leaving not a single trace of their culture behind.
This chapter is supposedly “the proof.” It begins with Menzies’ belated acknowledgement that science cannot determine chemically the source of a given copper artifact or relate two artifacts through precise testing of their purity. He therefore chooses to compare artifacts on stylistic grounds, and, well, they don’t look alike in any way to me. He then reuses the same arguments first put forward 300 years ago to suggest that Europeans were responsible for every aspect of Native American culture, all of which amount to “this looks like European stuff to me.” It doesn’t, and it isn’t, and the dates and styles and techniques don’t align. After beginning the chapter with the confession that copper cannot be chemically identified with a given source, Menzies assumes we’ve forgotten this and concludes by reminding us that the “Minoan” wreck of Uluburun (which is not in any way Minoan) was stuffed with copper that “cannot be traced” to any Old World source.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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