This week, Rep. André Carson announced that his subcommittee of the House Intelligence Committee would hold a hearing next week on the Pentagon’s lack of transparency on UFOs. It is the first UFO hearing in Congress since 1966. Naturally, the New York Times brought back its biased reporters Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean, both with conflicts of interest, to cover the story. Both reporters are longtime members of the UFO community. Blumenthal has openly spoken of his “transcendent” belief in the paranormal power of UFOs, and Kean spent much of the last year working for Bob Bigelow, a key figure in the government UFO story. She was also the longtime romantic partner of the late Budd Hopkins, an alien abduction researcher funded by Bigelow.
Carson’s hearing is scheduled to feature testimony from two defense officials and promises to feature Carson, who has staked his claim to fame on riding UFO coattails, grandstanding about a cover-up.
A few hours after the announcement of the hearing, Skyfort, the pro-UFO think tank founded by Sean Cahill and promoted on Tucker Carlson Tonight by Lue Elizondo, announced that it folded. Skyfort grandly took credit for the House hearing but mostly it was a huge failure that could not generate the pro-UFO consulting business it imagined would follow from the U.S. government UFO report last year. Elizondo is already promoting a new company, PhenomAInon, which aims to monetize UFO data analysis with a subscription model, charging for access to UFO data from Robert Bigelow and To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science.
Meanwhile, this week I was saddened to discover that the owner of a notebook that once belonged to James Dean as a schoolboy shredded it to sell the confetti at auction. The owner, who was not publicly identified, took the pages on which Dean had written notes and drew cartoons of ghosts, Lovecraftian monsters, and a space alien, and cut the pages up into irregular shapes of between one and three inches in length. The owner then attempted to auction the pieces off online, with a reserve price of around $750 per inch, pricing most fragments between $1,000 and $2,000. As of this writing, not a single one sold, though several remain open for bidding. It’s a terrible loss to see a historic artifact intentionally destroyed, all the more so because the collage of doodles was an important piece of evidence documenting Dean’s early fascination with the supernatural and science fiction.
n happier news, the Spectator has a fascinating piece reporting on new discoveries in Turkey and the surprising new information they provide about a previously unguessed type of culture among the region’s stone age hunter-gatherers. Karahan Tepe’s ancient sculptures—it’s temple of giant penis statues, for one—were discovered in 1997, about 60 km (37 miles) from the more famous Göbekli Tepe. Karahan Tepe, where more than 250 monolithic carvings have been found, may be slightly older, but what is apparently new is the discovery of homes and evidence of the fermenting of alcohol, suggesting a permanence to the hunter-gatherer settlement not previously suspected. The whole region, known as the Tas Tepeler, seems to have been a center for something bearing some of the hallmarks later associated with “civilization,” but without agriculture.
These places, the Tas Tepeler, were not isolated temples where hunter gatherers came, a few times a year, to worship at their standing stones, before returning to the plains for the life of the chase. The builders lived here. They ate their roasted game here. They slept here. And they used, it seems, a primitive but poetic form of pottery, shaped from polished stone. They possibly did elaborate manhood rituals in the Karahan Tepe penis chamber, which was probably half flooded with liquids. And maybe they celebrated afterwards with boozy feasts. Yet still we have no sign at all of contemporary agriculture; they were, it still appears, hunter gatherers, but of unnerving sophistication.
I’m not sure I’d call it “unnerving.” We know from many historical examples that stone buildings followed from wooden ones, so it is entirely possible that many more settlements, and earlier, have simply been lost to time because they were made from wood, reeds, and other impermanent materials. The question is why the people here began to build in stone, not why they were “unnerving” in their “sophistication.” The suggestion of a skull cult based on human sacrifice is a depressing reminder that “civilization”—whatever that means—isn’t always synonymous with civilized. Americans won’t want to look upon the giant penis sculptures or the frequent relief carvings of men clutching their penises, so it was up to the British to publish a popular article about it.
To that end, I’m not sure novelist Sean Thomas was the right choice to write about this region and its new lesson in human history. Calling it a “wild, grand, artistically coherent, implausibly strange, hitherto-unknown-to-us religious civilisation” is a depressingly exoticized take on history, casting the past as inherently separate from the present and fellow humans as an alien Other. Thomas reinforces this by emphasizing that many depictions of humans at these sites have six fingers, which he again suggests could represent a tribe apart from other humans, an alien other. Indeed, Thomas’s anti-humanism is on full display when he visits a frieze of a human and some animals, and proclaims himself the first person to see it since the Ice Age, “a few farmers apart.” Those ignorant peasants don’t count, not being smart, sophisticated, or Western.
Nevertheless, there is an uncomfortable similarity between some of what we have learned about the people of the Tas Tepeler region and the Near Eastern legends of the giants of the antediluvian world. The prehistoric sites are close to Harran, the ancient upper Mesopotamian city that became a center of culture and eventually Hermeticism, and which played such a major role in the development of antediluvian mythology. It’s also in the same general vicinity as the various locations where various Near Eastern Flood myths placed their ark landings. The skull cult and the six fingers recall the bloodthirsty, six-fingered giants described in the Bible (Samuel 21:20-21), and settlements revolving around carved pillars calls to mind the antediluvian tablets and pillars that so impressed Near Eastern cultures and were found in stories from the Epic of Gilgamesh to the myths and legends of Enoch.
There is no plausible way for the ancient sites, buried until recent decades, to have been the source for the myths, unless one posits 10,000 years of continuity of tradition across a truly massive region stretching from Turkey to the Persian Gulf with no intervening evidence of such tradition until it shows up far from Karahan Tepe in Sumeria. But it’s sure to reinforce the efforts of Graham Hancock and Andrew Collins to tie these places to the origin of these myths.
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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