Yesterday I mentioned that the X-Files was likely to spark interest among conspiracy theorists, and I indeed found that my Facebook feed was filled with conspiracy theorists who felt that the program has vindicated their worldview. “Curious about how much of the new x-files is real?” read one typical post. “Turns out most of what was presented in the first episode was absolutely REAL!” An article on a conspiracy website expanded on this: “Chris Carter claims its (sic) all research, others claim its (sic) disinformation on a grand scale. For me I think its (sic) little bit of everything. […] I’m curious to see how far they take it, or are allowed to take it.”
Meanwhile, ex-Treasure Force Commander and current History Heretic J. Hutton Pulitzer delivered another of his endless missives yesterday, and while its content neither convincing nor interesting, it did seem to reveal that Pulitzer isn’t quite clear on the history he claims to be an expert in.
One specific ancient and engraved stone sitting on Oak Island has scholars and academics excited about the continuing possibilities confirming that some form of a Roman Recon Mission, possibly a forbearer to various Iberian Reconquistas hit the shores of Oak Island.
I can’t make hide nor hair of this bizarre sentence. The first half refers to a rock that Pulitzer claims contains a Roman inscription. The accompanying photograph shows some very lightly scratched letters, though I am not able to read them or determine the language in which they are written from the photo. Pulitzer’s digital tracing reveals no coherent letters, slightly resembling perhaps Greek or Phoenician if we are generous, gibberish if we are not. (Update: As Andy White points out, the photo, turned upside down, reveals the letters, which Pulitzer traced incorrectly, to say Harold.) But it’s the second half the sentence that is stranger, since the Reconquista has nothing to do with any putative Roman expeditions to the New World. The Reconquista was the centuries-long project of the various Spanish kingdoms to expel the Muslim Moors from Iberia, a process that lasted from the High Middle Ages down to 1492, when the last Muslim kingdom fell to the forces of Ferdinand and Isabella.
Presumably Pulitzer confused the Reconquista with reconnaissance and assumed that it referred to Portuguese and Spanish explorations of the New World.
Pulitzer, of course, remains angry at The Curse of Oak Island, its production company Prometheus Entertainment, and executive producer Kevin Burns, whom he accuses of suppressing the truth. Prometheus and Burns, for their part, have nothing to say to Pulitzer but did make headlines this week for announcing that the other hit series they produce, Ancient Aliens, is making an imminent trip to Dunbar, West Virginia, on January 29 to shoot an Adena burial mound at Shawnee Park, and they plan to use ground-penetrating radar to look inside for undisclosed reasons.
Local officials were eager to see the Ancient Aliens freak show roll into town. Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission director Jeff Hutchinson and Dunbar mayor Terry Greenlee both facilitated the show’s access to the site, and local officials feel that exposure on the program will help to increase tourism in the area. Archaeologists, however, expressed varying degrees of outrage that another ancient site would be roped into the ancient alien hypothesis and thus denigrate the accomplishments of the Native Americans who built the mounds. You can read some of their comments here.
I have no idea why Ancient Aliens would be interested in this mound. I haven’t been able to find any particular legends or claims associated with it, though I read in Brad Olsen’s Sacred Places of North America that it allegedly contained “two skeletons of very tall people.” Are they looking for giants? That must be the case. So, I got out the 1914 West Virginia Geological Survey, in which I found a reprint of the relevant section of the Fifth Annual Report of the Smithsonian (1888, for years 1883-1884), giving an account by Cyrus Thomas of the only archaeological excavation of the mound, conducted by Prof. Thomas and Col. P. W. Norris. Here is what Thomas says:
Mound 31 of this group seems to furnish a connecting link between the West Virginia and Ohio mounds. It is sharp in outline, has a steep slope, and is flattened on the top; is 318 feet in circumference at the base and about 25 feet high. It was opened by digging a shaft 10 feet in diameter from the center of the top to the base. After passing through the top layer of surface soil, some 2 feet thick, a layer of clay and ashes 1 foot thick was encountered. Here, near the center of the shaft, were two skeletons, lying horizontally, one immediately over the other, the upper and larger one with the face down and the lower one with face up. There were no indications of fire about them. Immediately over the heads were one celt and three lance-heads. At the depth of 13 feet and a little north of the center of the mound were two very large skeletons, in a sitting posture, with their extended legs interlocked to the knees. Their arms were extended and their hands slightly elevated, as if together holding up a sandstone mortar which was between their faces. This stone is somewhat hemispherical, about 2 feet in diameter across the top, which is hollowed in the shape of a shallow basin or mortar. It had been subjected to the action of fire until burned to a bright red. The cavity was filled with white ashes, containing small fragments of bones burned to cinders. Immediately over this, and of sufficient size to cover it, was a slab of bluish-gray limestone about 3 inches thick, which had small cup-shaped excavations on the under side. This bore no marks of fire. Near the hands of the eastern skeleton were a small hematite celt and a lance-head, and upon the left wrist of the other two copper bracelets. At the depth of 25 feet, and on the natural surface, was found what in an Ohio mound would have been designated an ‘Altar.’
It certainly looks like we’re hunting giants! Again! I guess Ancient Aliens was trying to find a mound where our old friends, the red-haired Caucasian giants, might still be sitting unremoved by fiendish Smithsonian giant collectors.
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, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, 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.