Note: This post has been edited to protect the privacy of April Holloway after the pseudonymous author asked that her real name be removed from the article. This included removing comments she made in response to this post. I have also revised some material to better clarify the corporate relationship between Ancient Origins and its affiliated businesses. Finally, I have removed photographs at the request of Ancient Origins, which asserted a copyright claim. While I believe my use of the photographs to be fair use, I have removed them out of respect for the wishes of Ancient Origins and Stella Novus.
Update: Since this post was published, and due to its publication, both Ancient Origins and Novus Web Solutions have updated their websites to (a) identify John Christian Black as the pen name of John Syrigos, (b) identify April Holloway as a pen name, and (c) clarify on the Novus page that Ancient Origins is owned by Novus's parent company and is not an independent client of Novus.
First up: The Roswell Slides were unveiled in Mexico City on Tuesday, and to no one’s surprise the “alien” body in the slides was immediately recognizable as a child mummy in a glass display case, presumably in a museum. The most interesting thing about the whole episode, other than the crass commercialism of the “unveiling,” is Nick Redfern’s continued efforts to rewrite his views of the slides.
Back in March he said that the first, blurry image of the slide looked to him like “a mummy of some kind. Check the Internet. You’ll see numerous examples of small, humanoid bodies, in glass cases, positioned on blankets – just like the body in the ‘Roswell slides.’” He concluded that the slide showed one of many “ancient mummies.” He then backtracked and suggested there was reason to think the slides may really show an alien. Today, though, Redfern claims that the newly released image “looks more like a child-mummy than ever. The low-resolution image, admittedly, did not – at least, not to a significant degree, it didn’t. The smooth skin, in particular, looked very unlike that of a mummy.” That’s not what you said in March! You’d think Redfern would have been content to be proved right for once, but apparently not; and for reasons known only to him, he’d like us to think he was wrong.
Here’s a weird one sent to me by an alert reader: Many of you will have seen the fringe website Ancient Origins, which runs lightly rewritten news stories about ancient history and longer compilations of fringe claims about a variety of ancient astronaut, pseudohistory, and related claims. The website claims to be “the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives,” though in terms of sheer volume, it’s more of a delivery service for a high volume of advertising for a variety of fringe history books, videos, and other products.
(Disclosure: Ancient Origins has on occasion quoted my blog posts.)
The site’s editor is named April Holloway, a self-described writer with a bachelor’s degree. She also writes for other fringe and fringe-oriented publications such as Epoch Times. Holloway uses one particular picture of herself across all of her web presences, including Ancient Origins, Facebook, Google+, etc. Weirdly, that same picture also appears under another name on the website of Novus Web Solutions, an Australian web design firm that shares a corporate owner with Ancient Origins, Stella Novus.
The same woman also appears in another Stella Novus property, English with Jo, a website providing English language lessons online. She has asked not to be identified because she writes Ancient Origins under a pseudonym.
Here’s where it gets interesting: Novus Web Solutions (not to be confused with Texas-based Novus Web) did the web development and marketing for Ancient Origins, and the founder of Novus Web Solutions, John Syrigos (a.k.a. Ioannis Syrigos; a.k.a. Ioannis Sirigos), a Greek-born computer scientist and Victoria University Sydney lecturer, was promoted in Circular Times magazine in 2013 as the original editor of Ancient Origins when the site launched, before his name was scrubbed from the site. On Ancient Origins he is now listed as John Christian Black, but otherwise kept the same biography and uses a photograph from what appears to be the same photo session as the photo provided in the Circular Times article announcing the founding of Ancient Origins. He maintains a Facebook page under this name. Ioannis Syrigos has a separate web page for his computer work.
John Christian Black describes himself as “a computer engineer with a background in Artificial Intelligence research, primary editor for Ancient-Origins.net.” A profile of Ancient Origins published in Circular Times when the site launched stated that “Dr. John Syrigos is a computer and electrical engineer with a specialization in Artificial Intelligence.”
But don’t take my word for it. On his LinkedIn page, Syrigos admits that all of the sites I’ve mentioned above are his own work: “I am a Computer and Electrical Engineer, co-owner of StellaNovus.com, an IT consulting company where we run several individual online projects (Ancient-Origins.net, EnglishWithJo.com and NovusWebSolutions.com.au).”
Now I of course would never say that people aren’t allowed to write under pseudonyms; pen names are an old and established literary tradition. Indeed, in dealing with controversial subjects they are sometimes even necessary. (Disclosure: I have published some forgettable, failed fiction under a pseudonym.) When I first researched this article, I became deeply concerned that Syrigos and his team were presenting Ancient Origins as a client that the Novus Web Solutions company has assisted—indeed, in their portfolio it was one of only two listed projects—while not disclosing on that website that Ancient Origins is owned, operated, and produced by Novus staff under other names. Fortunately, the Novus team has agreed to make changes to clarify this information and ensure that everyone who visits their sites has a much better understanding of the relationship between them.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Syrigos isn’t the first fringe figure to straddle the line between fringe history and computer science. Jason Martell spent much of the last decade trying to balance his day jobs working for GodTube.com and Christian Mingle, among other tech companies, with his ancient astronaut work, separating them out across his many web sites with relatively little convergence until recently.
5/7/2015 09:19:36 am
Just an observation. From what I had heard, the slides were supposed to be from the 1940s, contemporaneous with the Roswell incident. The obvious fact of the mummy being a museum display of human remains aside, the clothing on the woman standing behind the case, from what I can see of it, is consistent with style dating to the Kennnedy era, but not with style from the '40s.
5/7/2015 12:46:45 pm
If you look close at the upper right corner of the first image, it looks like a ghostly, undernourished gray...Oh my!
5/7/2015 02:13:36 pm
Funny, to me it looks like an outfit I had in the 1980s. But in reality, there's not enough detail in the image as it sits on this page to really determine its era, other than "not Victorian or earlier."
5/8/2015 05:35:22 pm
Good job with the shelving! And, in any case, that outfit isn't 1947! (Don't really remember many 3/4 length sleeves in the Eighties, but what the hey--- this isn't a fashion blog! *S*)
5/10/2015 08:37:33 am
Thanks to mhe for the Tony Bragalia link below.
1/2/2018 07:18:19 am
You are all arguing about the legitimacy of a website, where all the"senior writers", and managment, use pseudonyms, don't quote references, and don't allow feedback. Um... Am I missing anything? Never going there again anyway but I have to ask. No real names, no bibliography and no feedback? And you're arguing over the content. Good luck!
4/10/2018 10:58:13 am
I agree HillRowie - why bother looking for any info from a website that doesn't openly and honestly disclose any of the names of its managers and executive writers - what do they have to hide from anyway? Interesting how there are no public comments available either for questions or feedback.
5/7/2015 04:54:50 pm
I don't "like" people to think I'm wrong. I'm honest enough to admit I WAS wrong!
5/7/2015 11:32:35 pm
But that's the thing, Nick: When you first looked at the lo-res image, as I quoted, you said in March that it looked like a mummy and that you considered it most likely an ancient human mummy! Now you say you didn't think so when you saw the lo-res picture, even though you are on record as stating otherwise. Perhaps you don't remember what you wrote in March? But, look, if you want to tell people you were wrong when you weren't, that's your business and I won't stop you.
5/8/2015 02:36:44 am
5/8/2015 12:38:18 am
Yes, as I said in the article, I hemmed and hawed for no less than 18 months, during the time when all we had was a low-res image, and I went back and forth (and back and forth AGAIN even) because I just wasn't sure and the low-res offered nothing that could be said for sure. Now I am sure. It's a mummy. The hairy head behind the "dead alien" is also a clincher: museum oddity.
5/8/2015 12:52:13 am
Below is a link to a new Mysterious Universe article from me on the Roswell Slides.
5/8/2015 01:58:58 am
I wish to gripe and moan, though not about Nick, who has done a reasonable job in problematic circumstances. My gripe concerns this image:
5/8/2015 11:04:05 am
And on the topic of Roswell Slides- here's one from a slightly different angle, without the apparent motion blur, and with the exhibit label perfectly in focus.
5/9/2015 05:55:39 am
It seems I was wrong to claim that the exhibit label placard would be "easily readable"- but readable it was, mostly. Well done guys:
5/9/2015 06:34:39 am
Wow! That certainly puts things to rest, a two year old mummified boy. Would be nice to know what museum the picture was taken in. I did like Nick's speculation on that.
5/9/2015 07:38:42 am
5/9/2015 08:48:22 am
PS: Here's a shot from the Mexico presentation as published in The Examiner, showing the two slides on screen side by side:
5/9/2015 12:42:47 pm
The promoters behind the slides have called The Roswell Slides Research Group "internet trolls":
5/10/2015 06:43:42 am
Anthony Bragalia apologizes: http://beforeitsnews.com/strange/2015/05/the-roswell-alien-slides-and-my-apology-to-a-dead-child-of-the-mesa-verde-by-anthony-bragalia-2460726.html
5/10/2015 06:45:17 am
You can go googling for various sources (there is discussion on Above Top Secret), but apparently the remains have been identified as those of someone from Mesa Verde, the collector/donor's name is known, etc. because the mummified remains were written up in the 1930s with specific enough detail that the signage shared key phrases. At least one prominent UFO blogger who supported the photos previously has apologized.
5/10/2015 10:47:26 am
Dammnit, my lengthy post means you got there first on the Mesa Verde news. I find Braglia's apology to be a little here-and-there, but still, for ufology it is well above what I would expect, and would commend him and others doing same.
5/11/2015 12:04:42 am
So much for the apology. As the slides are "irrelevant" that post was removed.
5/11/2015 12:06:22 am
Semi-correction, it has been made available on Kevin Randle's blog.
5/8/2015 03:49:35 am
I think you're on to something, Nick, and that is the most reasonable explanation I've heard for where the picture came from.
4/11/2016 12:55:28 am
5/8/2015 08:16:16 am
Jason, John (Ioannis) here…
5/8/2015 09:15:17 am
I never said it was a crime, John. I was only trying to solve a mystery. I once worked for a man who used his own name as "CEO," answered the phone as "Mike," and wrote letters as marketing director, "Paul." I am sensitive to the idea that people want to separate themselves out, but there is no privacy violation in pointing out information you have placed publicly on your websites and in media reports. If you want to attack someone, attack Circular Times for printing your name as the head of Ancient Origins, and attack yourself for printing your own information on Linked In.
5/8/2015 07:50:54 pm
Which specific privacy laws does it violate?
3/16/2017 03:48:17 pm
John, if you don't like people criticizing your site and questioning your motives, perhaps you might want to have your writers do at least a basic google search for their articles. Also, allowing writers like Valda Roric and Ralph Ellis to post articles using their books as sources hurts your credibility even further.
5/8/2015 08:53:54 am
Comments at the bottom of posts are not the responsibility of this blog site run by Mr. Colavito.. Also, slander is spoken, libel is written, and no it's not slander. No libel or slander there. The article clearly shows two subjects, although JC could have made a better transition, but that is not a crime.
5/8/2015 08:58:23 am
Before you try to figure out who I really am, I too am not related to this blog in any way. I just come here to read about the fringe reviews about aliens.
5/8/2015 02:57:50 pm
Speaking for myself, I enjoy these websites specifically for the 'fringe' quality of the content. Remember, it wasn't that long ago when the 'round-earth' theory was considered ludicrous by the leading scientists of the day. Your constant attempts to belittle these authors smacks of sour grapes. I can't figure why you won't just let us plebes enjoy our brain candy. It's not as if you're Zawi Haw-ass protecting your flawed and antiquated theories. Let it go man...
5/8/2015 03:21:33 pm
I can't figure out why you won't let those of us with common sense enjoy fact over fantasy. Unless you're Tsoukalos, Childress, etc. protecting your flawed and obviously fictional "theories". Like your ignorant example of the "flat earth" beliefs of people centuries past, that has been debunked many times. Let it go...dude.
5/8/2015 04:34:28 pm
The only thing those guys are protecting is their own meal tickets and you know what...it's America, let em make a buck. Besides if i wanted common sense I'd be watching Fox News.
5/8/2015 05:23:16 pm
Ah, so fringe proponents should be allowed to "protect their own meal tickets" and "make a buck". Because you have more need for brain candy than common sense.
5/8/2015 03:38:00 pm
The idea of a spherical earth was established by the ancient Greeks in the classical period and has been the dominate viewpoint ever since. You would have to go back to earlier Near East sources to find a flat earth perspective at least within the Western traditions. Maybe not the best example to make your point.
3/16/2017 03:40:52 pm
No. The idea of a round earth was never considered ludicrous. As far back as Eratosthenes we knew the earth was round. And contrary to the claims being made to try and prop up Columbus' reputation, the leading scientists and clergy of his day did not think the world was flat. There was a debate in Galileo's day as to whether the earth revolved around the sun (Kepler had a more accurate explanation but even he admitted he wasn't sure he could prove it beyond mathematically proving it). The debate in Columbus' time was regarding the actual size of the earth as Columbus was actually using an erroneous translation of Ptolemy's work that caused him to think the earth was smaller than it actually is. The leading scientists of Columbus' time were actually closer to the truth regarding the size and circumference of the earth but that gets forgotten as Columbus got lucky that there was another two continents where they were.
11/6/2017 02:27:44 pm
Incorrectly pointing out that a flat earth was considered "ludicrous by leading scientists", "not that long ago", is not just incorrect (as already pointed out), but is a perfect illustration for why Rick ought to be more critical of the information he puts to memory. He defends AO’s fraudulent agenda by citing a false scientific claim that AO would have been proud to popularize in the first place, had they existed 500 years ago.
5/9/2015 03:11:03 am
The page Ancient-Origins.net is interesting under many perspectives: You do not realize its fringe side at first glance, and it is a very active page which provides frequently nicely looking articles with pictures etc. I remember that I followed it for a while.
5/10/2015 11:20:26 pm
I'm continually surprised by the number of people I know - people who are anti-fringe, and some of them well-respected academics - sharing articles from Ancient Origins.
5/12/2015 08:03:22 am
Although you removed the real name of April Holloway, you left enough information in the post to work it out in less than a minute by following a single link.
5/12/2015 08:09:39 am
Oh shame, if you Google her real name, the image from Ancient Origins shows up in preview; then select it and the new image (open mouthed smile) displays instead. This could mean that they overwrote the image, but Google is still caching the old one in the preview. So she really took it personally.
11/4/2015 05:07:01 pm
hey is John Black there I need to know were you found your information for school
12/31/2015 05:10:44 pm
So, Ancient Origins is not reliable then?
4/28/2016 11:17:27 pm
Ancient origins is definitely interesting. Rich in history and more indepth studies need.
7/26/2016 03:57:06 am
Hi everyone. In my opinion any website that publishes "news" with content full of "maybe's" or "could be's", is not news but gossip.
10/29/2016 12:44:39 am
After starting with the quizzical title 'who is really behind...?", why do you respond to John's rebuttal as if he's overreacting, or you never intentionally meant to raise public suspicions, and how he distorts what you presented relative to any picture's association to the title?
11/6/2017 02:54:45 pm
My comments couldn't possibly speak for Jason (and probably won't be read these many months later), but perhaps Jason viewed John's comments as overreacting since John accused Jason of violating privacy laws and committing libel.
10/14/2018 08:05:34 pm
Current "Who we are" page: https://www.ancient-origins.net/we-005254.
10/11/2021 01:59:57 pm
I don't "like" people to think I'm wrong. I'm honest enough to admit I WAS wrong!
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