No CBC hasn’t proven that ‘White’ Europieans made it to America ‘First’.

critical tv
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), show “The Nature of Things” is going to air a documentary Friday that claims to prove the Solutrean Hypothesis true. This problematic hypothesis tries to claim that the first humans in America came not via the Bering Strait Land Bridge from Asia, but across the ocean from Europe. This episode has already aired in Canada
Of course, this has immediately come under fire, as it should.
Professionals in the field of paleoanthropology call this episode “Extremely Irresponsible” (Brean 2018). Personally, that’s putting it politelyThe reasons for this may not immediately appear evident, unless you run in select social circles. One preoccupied with proving America is a “white homeland” and the others actively disproving such crap.
The Problems with the Solutrean Hypothesis.
Originally, the problems were completely academic. When the hypothesis was first put forward by Bradley and Stanford, it was not warmly received. In the 20+ years since, things haven’t changed. I want my readers to understand, Doctors Bruce Bradley and Dennis Stanford are both respected archaeologists. Both are authorities in Paleoindian topics, including stone tool technology. Dr. Bradley retired from his teaching positions at the University of Exeter in the UK. Doctor Stanford works with the Smithsonian National Museum in the department of anthropology. It is their hypothesis that is being critiqued here, not the men themselves, and I will not encourage any negative feed back against either man. 
What was originally put forward as the ‘Solutrean Hypothesis’ in 2012, essentially suggested that an ancient European culture group, identified as the Solutrean, who are only located in areas now identified as France and Spain, somehow made it to the Americas before the currently oldest identified culture group, the Clovis. Bradley and Stanford’s hypothesis has several issues that have never been satisfactorily addressed. Some parts have been effectively debunked, yet are still pushed as evidence. I think it would be a good idea to look into this in greater detail, but in this post I want to stay focused on the CBC show.
Now, the proposal of a group making to the Americas first isn’t the issue. There has been talk of Pre-Clovis peoples for decades. The problem is the lack of good solid evidence to prove it.
Issues with the Solutrean Hypothesis as put forward by Bradly and Stanford are many, but the highlights are;
  • Dubious existence of the Ice shelf that would have been necessary for the Solutrean people to cross in enough numbers to populate the area (O’Brien et al 2014). Which makes all arguments stemming from that difficult to defend.
  • Solutrean subsistence patterns suggest that they were opportunistic hunters, and not in possession of advanced foraging skills necessary to supply food for a journey like this (O’Brien et al 2014).
  • The issue of radio-carbon dates not overlapping as they should, as well as tool production technologies not showing progress as we would expect (O’Brien et al 2014).
The biggest academic issue, however, is linked to the rhyolite biface that was recovered in 1970 by the dredging vessel Cinmar off the Chesapeake Bay (O’Brien et al 2014). The biface, named the Cinmar Biface, according to Bradley and Stanford, is evidence of a Solutrean presence in America. As the biface is stone, and there is as yet, no effective way to date stone, the date for the Cinmar Biface is assumed to be the same as the associated mastodon tusks that were found with the point (O’Brien et al 2014). There is a whole controversy surrounding the recovery of the biface and the tusks and the reliability thereof. There are a whole lot of other issues around the biface itself, and we should tackle them in another post.
What my point is here, is that there are a plethora of academic issues with the Solutrean Hypothesis. These existed before the alt-right and other white nationalist groups got ahold of it, and began throwing it around like it was a sold theory.
Now, unfortunately, the Solutrean Hypothesis has been adopted by such groups as mentioned above, mixed with an erroneous idea of how genetics works, to create a strange and convoluted “theory” that attempts to prove America is really a ‘white homeland’ that was invaded by outsiders (Brean 2018, Head et al. 2017). These ‘outsiders’, we are meant to believe, are the ancestors of modern-day Native Americans. This revisionist narrative is meant to prove that there is a white claim to America. That non-whites are the interlopers, and that somehow that means white heritage is superior. This is something we’ve encountered a lot on this blog and on the podcast. Aside from the clearly racist overtones of this, the illogic of it is baffling.
It’s also a well-known problem among professionals in archaeology who are aware of the Solutrean Hypothesis. Well known enough that the CBC, having archaeologists as advisors on the subject, should have known better than to try to push a racist agenda with their TV show.
And here is where the issue is.
CBC’s upcoming episode “Ice Bridge” not only ignores all previous professional criticisms of the Solutrean Hypothesis, it’s Director, Robin Bicknell completely ignores the larger problems of the racist issues as well. Bicknell takes no responsibility for the airing of supremacist ideas. In her interview with Carol Off in the CBC ‘As It Happens’, Bicknell says: “If white supremacists want to view this theory through their lens and place on their version of history on people of the past, then there’s nothing I can do about it (Off 2018).” I argue there was a lot that could have been done, like not making the episode in the first place.
Bicknell waves off any criticism from Indigenous groups implying that since the team worked with Huron-Wendat in making this episode, all other voices are null (Off 2018). In reality, indigenous people are upset. It doesn’t matter if one group participated, the objections of other groups should be heard. Especially when the hypothesis you’re pushing is basically being used to wipe out their history.
Bicknell’s interview did her no favors, in my opinion, and I have further comments, but basically it sounds like CBC and Bicknell were too busy chasing ratings from sensationalism to stop and think about what message they were putting out there. Bicknell’s callous dismissal of the social issues surrounding the hypothesis, and now the show, are unhelpful as well. It seems like nothing more than an attempt to dodge responsibility.
Haplogroup X, we meet again. 
Of course we haven’t seen the show yet here, but the National Post did an fairly thorough break down of the episode. From this, we can address some of the issues we know will come up. Many of which we’ve debunked on the podcast before (Head et al 2016a, 2016b).
Of note is the genetic evidence that will be presented. This evidence will show the presence of the genetic marker for haplogroup X, found in 3 of the 40 teeth offered for analysis. We’ve had Jennifer Raff on the podcast before, and plan to have her back again, to discuss her and her co-author, Deborah A. Bolnick’s, work (Head et al. 2016b).
In 2015 Raff and Bolnick produced a paper examining Haplogroup X and if it was evidence of migration to the Americas (Raff and Bolnick 2015). Around the time we interviewed her for the podcast, Raff also put up a blog post, ‘Responses to some questions about our recently published paper on haplogroup X and North American prehistory’. She outlines her and Bolnick’s work and states:
“Quite simply, we found that mitochondrial and genomic data do not support this migration hypothesis as the most plausible explanation for X2a’s presence in North America. Instead, the most parsimonious interpretation of the genetic data continues to be that haplogroup X2a had the same migration history and ancestry as the other founder Native American mitochondrial lineages (i.e., from Siberia). Based on the current evidence, we feel that there is no need to invoke a distinct origin for individuals bearing this lineage (Raff 2016).”
 Which begs the question, why was this even brought up in the CBC show in the first place?
Raff and Bolnick’s research and opinions are not in the minority, and any cursory amount of research would have found that out. So why is the show pushing that as the lynchpin evidence they have to “prove” the Solutrean Hypothesis true? Especially, as Bicknell and Bradly have both admitted knowing the racist issues with the Solutrean Hypothesis. Why would they present genetic evidence, that can be explained in ways that fit the current accepted theories (Raff and Bolnick 2015, Brean 2018), as evidence of Europeans in America? All without any commentary or refutation of racist ideologies? That is irresponsible.
We will be watching the episode when it becomes available, and we will be talking with Raff again afterwards. To say we’re going to have a critical eye on it is an understatement. We also know that our voices are not the only critical ones aimed at CBC and The Nature of Things. Going forward we hope they hear this outcry and maybe listen to reason before airing something like this again. Or maybe they wont, sensationalism breeds ratings. Lets hope that’s not all they’re after
  • The CBC upcoming episode of The Nature of Things is pushing the unaccepted and unsupported Solutrean Hypothesis, put forward by Bradley and Stanford. 
  • The Solutrean Hypothesis is highly controversial and has no substantial evidence to support it.
  • The Solutrean Hypothesis is often used in conjunction with the misunderstanding of the genetic marker haplogroup X to support racist and white supremest ideas.
  • Neither the CBC nor director Robin Bicknell take responsibility for pushing such ideas, even though they were aware of them, or for giving such ideas national recognition.
  • We find this to be irresponsible at best, and hope that the CBC recognizes this going forward.

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Professor Bruce Bradley. Retreived 1/15/18

Dennis Stanford, Ph.D.Dennis Stanford, Ph.D. Retreived 1/15/18

Brean, Joseph
2018    CBC under fire for documentary that says first humans to colonize New World sailed from Europe. National Jan 11 2018 Retreived 1/15/18

Head, Sara
2016    DNA in Archaeology with Jennifer Raff. ArchyFantasies. . Retreived 1/15/18

Head, Sara, Kenneth Feder, and Jeb Card
2016a    The Solutrean Hypothesis – ArchyFantasies Episode 31.  Retreived 1/15/18

2016b    DNA in Archaeology with Jennifer Raff – Episode 50. Retreived 1/15/18

Lee, Craig M.
2012    Book Reivew of Across Atlantic Ice: The Origins of America’s Clovis Culture by Dennis J. Stanford and Bruce A. Bradley. Retreived 1/15/18

Raff, J. A., & D. A. Bolnick
2015    Does Mitochondrial Haplogroup X Indicate Ancient Trans-Atlantic Migration to the Americas? A Critical Re-Evaluation. PaleoAmerica, 1(4), 297–304. Retreived 1/15/18

Raff, Jennifer
2016    Archaeological Fantasies and the genetic history of the Americas. Violent Metaphors.  Retreived 1/15/18

O’Brien, Michael J., Matthew T. Boulanger, Mark CollardBriggs Buchanan, Lia Tarle, Lawrence G. Straus, & Metin I. Eren
On thin ice: problems with Stanfordand Bradley’s proposed Solutrean colonisation of North America. Antiquity Publications Ltd. ANTIQUITY 88 (2014): 606–624  Retreived 1/15/18

Off, Carol
2018    Director defends documentary that claims Europeans could have been 1st humans in North America. As It Happens. CBC Radio. Retreived 1/15/18

ArchyFantasies’ 2017 in Review

I’ve been told these are a hot item on the blogosphere. But it’s been a slow year here on the blog. We’ve focused a lot of effort on the Podcast over on the APN, and in August I went to Grad School for a masters in CRM. Things got busy.

Yet, I owe you all something for sticking with me this year, so perhaps rather than dwelling on the negative things that happened over the last year, maybe let’s look forward?

Next year, We’re going to try some new things with the Podcast, and here at the blog. We’re also leaving several thing in place. Check the blog for updates, and keep listening to the podcast to find out more as we go forward.

Mainly I want to play around with merchandise and new formats for reaching out. We’ll experiment with Audio-blogging, YouTube (again), and with guest blogging and podcasting.

Also on the list: Not going insane from grad school and getting my work done.

So, there it is, My round up. Like I said, not a lot there right now, but probably more to come.

Happy New Year everyone, let’s hope 2018 is less of a dumpster fire that 2017 was.

No One Here But Us Subduction Zones.



Chapter 10 in, The Lost History of Ancient America, opens with the mysterious Professor Julia Patterson seeming to answer a comment from a reader of Ancient America named Tamara Szalewski. Szalewski mentions an anomaly they’ve discovered while looking at Google Earth and other maps. Szalewski mentions how she wonders if the anomaly is already recorded due to Frank Joesph’s reporting on Lemuria and Atlantis. The area in question is a portion of the Juan De Fuca Plate in Cascades Subduction Zone, 12 miles off the coast of Oregon, between the Coos and Winchester Bays. Since the article is missing any actual pictures of the area in question, I went to Google Earth myself and got some images. Don’t get me wrong, Google earth is a great product, and it can be useful in a number of situations, but it can also be miss understood easily and won’t give a full picture of an area.

This is true even of high resolution satellite or LiDAR images. Because of this, archaeologists who use these images also implement Ground Truthing, which for us means going to the area in question and looking at it. Either we survey it, or excavate it, even underwater. We don’t just take an image at face value.

Unfortunately, the Google Earth images above are only a guess of what Szalewski might be talking about. There is no image provided of the area in question, only a very computer generated one of something looking like a pyramid and has absolutely no context as to what it is or where it is supposed to be.

Patterson does give us some idea of the location, and that’s what I used in Google Earth. To be honest, I don’t see anything that looks like a underwater city. This isn’t to say that there aren’t archaeological sites that have been found underwater, or drowned cities for that matter. But this area, and the Cobb Seamount mentioned in Patterson’s article, don’t appear to be either of those.

Patterson makes the claim that there is physical evidence of a sunken civilization off the coast of Washington State, but fails to cite this or provide any actual evidence in the article itself. This is odd considering Patterson is a professional archaeologist. One would think this would be second nature.

Patterson brings up the Cobb Seamount discovered in the 1950’s. Its mentioned in tandem with David Hatcher Childress and his book, Lost Cities of North and Central America. Patterson makes a reference to a citation that is supposed to be in this book. An article written in 1987 in the Seattle Times. I have tried to find this articles and can’t find anything on it, even in Childress’ book. If anyone can send me copy, that’d be great.

The article is attributed with the claim that there were man-made artifacts found in the sunken mountains. Artifacts dating to 18000 years before present. Plus the mummified corpses of porpoises and whales. I don’t know what one is supposed to do with the other, but there it is. What’s more, no explanation on how the date of 18000 years is reached. Finlay, and this is a repeating error in the book, BP and BCE are not the same thing, and later in the article Paterson swaps the two. Patterson isn’t the only author in the book to make this mistake, but as a professional archaeologist, she would know the difference.

After all this vagueness and lack of connections, or evidence, Patterson makes a astonishing series of statements:

“Perhaps, Washington State’s Cobb Seamount treasure trove of ancient materials is related to Oregon’s underwater feature, which suggests the layout of a huge population center. If so, both sides belong to a high culture that flourished on formerly dry territories, until melting glaciers at the end of the last ice age unleashed catastrophic flooding that elevated sea levels worldwide by 390 feet. (Patterson 2017:78-79)”

“As such, geology is in accord with archaeology when dating the Cobb Seamount artifacts to 18,000 years ago. (Patterson 2017:79)”

The problem is none of what Patterson is trying to conclude is supported by anything in the article. Most of the above statement is unsupported speculation. At no point has anything been provided to even build up the possibility of these claims. Her final claim that geology is in accordance with archaeology is simply out of the blue. Nothing has been provided to back it.

This article is almost exactly like chapter 9, where nothing is provided but speculation. Responsibility for this speculation is passed off onto others via the vague repeating of either a past article or the short retelling of a comment. It’s not an attempt to explain or answer, but to speculate. I’m not overly impressed with this at all, and it’s not at all helpful for building the book’s overall argument for transoceanic travelers in America.

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Childress, David

1992    Lost Cities of North and Central America. Adventures Unlimited Press. Il.

Patterson, Julia

2017    Sunken Civilization Found off Oregon? The Lost History of Ancient America, ed Frank Joseph. The Career Press, Inc. Wayne, NJ.

Sunken Cities in Mysterious Michigan Lakes.


Chapter 9 of the Lost History of Ancient America, is titled, Drowned Village of the Ancient Copper Miners, by Wayne N. May. It may as well be presented as a report of an article May read once.

This article is simply a retelling of a 2012 article from Ancient America, about a 2011 discovery by Scott Mitchim, where he claims to have found evidence of a now underwater copper workshop. One he somehow dates to about 4100 to 3200 years ago. Where these dates come from is not revealed to us in this article, so we’re just supposed to take it on faith that this is correct. Sadly, these are the least of the problems here.

May tells us that Mitchim claims the workshop is littered with artifacts both stone and copper. May tells us that these dates connect the artifacts to the elusive Ancient Copper Barons, who May believes were busily mining and shipping raw copper from the American continent to the Mediterranean to fuel the Bronze age. The same Ancient Copper Barons that we’ve never had any reason to accept as real, yet are as treated as fact here. Not only does May not bother to give any evidence to support these claims, he plainly, tells us that the location of said site is secret and unknown to any but Mitchim.

Published with the article are pictures of random, unidentified rock piles that look a lot like those supposedly under Rock Lake in Wisconsin. They also look a lot like the rock piles Mitchim tried to show to Scott Wolter in the first season of America Unearthed. In that episode even Wolter saw they looked modern, and basically fake. With no actual way to identify the murky photographs, at least none provided in this article, there’s no way to tell if any of this is real. I can speculate, and even my speculation runs that this is fake, but there’s no way to validate anything based on this article. Not my speculation, nor May’s insistence that it is real.

There’s not even a decent break down I can do about the article. It’s literally a “I read this article this one time and it said…” with one citation to an article published in Ancient American Magazine. There is no evidence provided, nor is it even offered. The images could be anything, and with the way the article is written, it could simply be putting words in the mouth of Mitchim, we have no way of knowing!

This has been the most disappointing of the articles so far. There isn’t even the appearance of providing evidence here. It’s like trying to argue there isn’t an invisible teapot orbiting the sun.

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May, Wayne N.

2017    Drowned Village of the Ancient Copper Miners. The Lost History of Ancient America, ed Frank Joseph. The Career Press, Inc. Wayne, NJ.

Archy! Where you at?


So I might have fallen off the planet there for a minute, but I have a brief excuse! I moved…again… You’d think by now I’d have this post scheduling things down, but I don’t. Sorry about that. The good news is, I’m all moved, and life is settling down again. Summer will be on us soon and that means a brief break before my next stint in Grad School. Looking forward to that…

Anyway, Mondy should see a regularly scheduled post up, looking at drowned cities and things that dwell under the water. Until then, there’s always the Podcast to keep you entertained and Ken’s new book, Ancient America: Fifty Archaeological Sites to See for Yourself, if you want something inspiring to read.


All Your Bases is Underwater: Section 3 of Lost History of Ancient America.

In the briefest of introductions, Joseph outlines the purposes of the Section III.

“Our pursuit of Upper Michigan’s Copper Barons…” (Joseph 71)

So, among other things, we’re still looking for transoceanic bronze-age travelers.

We’ve already met two of the three authors from this section. Wayne May provides a second article about a possible underwater village in Wisconsin, and the mysterious Julia Patterson tells us about a sunken civilization in near Oregon.

Added to this is Andrew E. Rothovious (1919-2009). He is one of those rare individuals who is actually pretty interesting to learn about in his own right. An extremely prolific writer, he has potentially 4000 articles written across numerous publications, including Ancient America, Fate, and other alternative history/archaeology magazines. He was verbosely interested in a wide range of topics that included religion, Lovecraft, and Celtic visits to the New World (Magnus N.d). Rothovious had no formal education in archaeology or history from the sounds of it, but he did appear to be self informed, and as such drew some interesting conclusions about American Prehistory. Honestly though, beyond warm words and the occasion reference to his work, I can’t find anything out about the man or his actual writings.

Joseph erroneously refers to Rothovious with the title of “Sage of Providence” (Joseph 71). I can only find Lovecraft himself referred to by this title, though there is one reference to Rothovious as “The Sage of Milford” (The City 2010), so perhaps that was just a typo as Rothoviuous appears to be a dedicated fan of Lovecraft’s.

Then we are thrust into the articles of Section III:

Chapter 9: Drowned Village of the Ancient Copper Miners by Wayne N. May
Chapter 10: Sunken Civilization Found off Oregon? by Julia Patterson
Chapter 11: The Walls in the Lake by Andrew E. Rothovious

With that we’re on our way into the next section.

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Magnus, Margaret
N.d Andrew Rothovius. Retrieved 4/6/17

The City And The World
ANDREW ROTHOVIUS, RIP. October 7, 2010. Retrieved 4/6/17

Confusing Copper Barons and a Rant.

The eighth article in The Lost History of Ancient America is titled “Michigan’s Copper Barons” by Rick Osmon.

Osmon jumps right into his article with no explanation of what or who he’s talking about. It’s a bit jarring, and sets the stage for a very confusing article to follow. He starts by telling us about an 1835 “cavern Cemetery” discovered off the banks of the Ohio near Steubenville, IL. With nothing else to go on he tells us that, “Dr. Morton regards these remains as “of no great age” and as “undoubtedly belonging to individuals of the barbarous tribes” (Osmon 63:2017).

Who is Dr. Morton? Why should we trust him? We are never given an introduction or a reason. The closest thing we get is being told that this is all a quote from E.G. Squier’s 1851 Antiquities of the State of New York, which is apparently transcribed from Dr. Samuel George Morton’s Crania Americana.

You can be forgiven for not knowing who these two men are, as both were active in the late 1800’s. However, understanding who these men were, helps a little with what is otherwise a very confusing article.

Dr. Samuel George Morton was an early scientist whose book in question was published in 1839. In this particular book (Morton was a prolific writer) Morton lays out the argument that cranial size is equal to intelligence, and infamously makes the conclusion that Caucasian craniums were largest, and therefore the smartest of the human species. He also believed in a concept of Polygenism/polygenesis, which is the idea that different ‘races’ evolved separately from each other. So tuck that little nugget away for right now.

E.G. Squier was an early archaeologist who focused on the ‘Mound Builders’ of the Ohio. Squier’s most famous writing on this topic is perhaps Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley published in 1848, where either due to editing or original content, the claim is made that that the mounds had been built by a race separate from, and superior to, Native American or Indigenous peoples. It wasn’t until Cyrus Thomas’ work on the subject, presented in 1890, that the mounds and the mound builders were rightfully attributed to the indigenous peoples of America.

So with these two tidbits presented right at the front of the articles, and no other recent research into either the ‘Golconda Bone Hoard’ or Cave-In-Rock rock art, we already know quite a bit about where this is probably going to go.

Osmon spends a few paragraphs telling us about the bonehoard and cave art, but not giving us much in the way of context or connection. He does mention that the cave art at Cave-In-Rock supposedly looks like “men and women in the costumes of Greece and Rome” according to Josiah Priest, another problematic historical figure.

Josiah Priest was perhaps one of the first fringe theorist to be widely published. His views leaned heavily towards the views of white supremacy over lesser races, particularly Native American and African, thereby justifying slavery and the violent takeover of indigenous lands. He was a biblical literalist and looked for evidence of the bible in American archaeology. So the use of his opinion that indigenous cave art looked Greek to him, pretty much negates the argument.

Osmon then spends a few paragraphs talking about fluorspar and how it’s “magical” and glows when put under pressure or stuck. Honestly, it really doesn’t matter if it does or not, I think the point here is to establish that fluorspar exists in some indigenous contexts, and that it could be used as flux. For those who don’t know, flux is any substance that is used in metallurgy that removes impurities and improves fluidity in molten metal. This seems like it might be important later, but we never really come back to it.

We jump from this establishing of flux to a Dartmouth report on copper contamination being present in Greenland glacial caps. Osmon reposts that these contaminated layers date to the Bronze Age.

“Peaks in copper concentrations and isolators correspond to the era of the Roman Empire, the height of the song dynasty in China, and the Industrial Revolution, with decreased contaminations concentrations found in the ice deposited immediately after the fall of the Roman Empire and during the later Middle Ages of Europe when copper and bronze use was lower.” (Osmon 67:2017)

For some reason Osmon doesn’t like these dates and argues that there is an alternative reason for both the peaks and the decline in the contamination. Neither argument makes much sense as he seems to be trying to both prove that there is some kind of bronze age going on in America 500 years before the bronze age in Europe, I think, I’m not entirely sure. He’s also appears to be suggesting that indigenous people’s weren’t capable of working the bronze, but someone was over here at that time in America. Who? I have no idea.

Near the end he begins to focus on a 2008 article written by E. Ben-Yosef et al titled “A New Approach for Geomagnetic Archaeointensity Research: Insights on Ancient Metallurgy in the Southern Levant”. He begins to question if the Levantines were using coal to heat their smelting fires or using bellows, and where they were getting their flux from. I’m guessing Osmon didn’t get past the $35 pay wall for the article, because I sure didn’t, but I’m willing to bet some of the questions he put forward would have been answered in Ben-Yosef’s paper.

Osmon then takes us back to a confusing array of historical recollections of more bone hoards and mass graves, none of which are connected or verified in this article. And frankly, I am completely lost at this point.

So far we’ve bounced around quite a bit in Osmon’s article topic wise. We started with unconnected bone hoards and rock art, talked about magical glowing flux, debated the actual cause of researched glacial deposits, and ended with a variety of questions for an academic paper we didn’t apparently read, then jumped back to bone hoards and mass graves again. How does Osmon tie all this together in his last paragraph?

With this horrific statement:

“We don’t know why large numbers of human remains were gathered in these places. We know we have no extant evidence that might tell us who they were, how or why they died, or how or where they lived. However, it is tempting to speculate that they may have been slaves of the ore traitors, who were simply no longer needed, and were simply liquidated.” (Osmon 69:2017) Emphasis added.

It’s “Tempting”? Really? How so? What in someone’s life experiences leads them to draw this truly appalling conclusion? I want to know, but I think I might not like to know…


I don’t even know where to start here. If we just look at the historical and archaeological evidence put forward here, there is no connection between any of it.

Osmon does get points for having the most footnotes that lead to actual documents and not just Wikipedia entries, but that’s pretty much it. Osmon’s use of late Victorian sources that are clearly motivated by racial superiority is worrying at best, and his conclusion is simply indescribably offensive.

Osmon’s veiled opinions are not outside of the norm however. He is simply blatantly presenting the usually more subtle view the fringe holds of prehistoric and pre-Columbian peoples. This view is hyper-masculine and overly violent, leaving no room for women or children as anything other than property or victims. This assumed violence and savagery is only put in check after the introduction of a European element, often in the form of a Saviour style culture-bearer of some sort, who is nearly always masculine as well. It is these themes and dismissal of indigenous peoples, their culture, and the focus on stereotypically masculine traits that is so worrisome about The Lost History of Ancient America.

The further we get into this volume, the more apparent the motives for this become. These motives are certainly not ones that professional archaeologist work towards. Perhaps that’s the main reason why Joseph and his cohorts have such a hard time convincing mainstream archaeologist to take them seriously.

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Ben-Yosef, E., L. Tauxe, H. Ron, A. Agnon, U. Avner, M. Najjar, T.E. Levy.
2008    A New Approach for Geomagnetic Archaeointensity Research: Insights on Ancient Metallurgy in the Southern Levant. Journal of Archaeological Science. Volume 35, Issue 11, November 2008, Pages 2863–2879

Morton, Samuel George
1839    Crania americana; or, A comparative view of the skulls of various aboriginal nations of North and South America. To which is prefixed an essay on the varieties of the human species. Philadelphia, J. Dobson; London, Simpkin, Marshall & co.

Squier, E. G.
1851    Antiquities of the state of New York. Being the results of extensive original surveys and explorations, with a supplement on the antiquities of the West. Buffalo, G. H. Derby and co.

The Not-So-Secret Ancient Copper Workshop at Cahokia.


The seventh article in The Lost History of Ancient America is titled “First Copper Workshop Discovered” by Wayne N. May.

May starts with a story. He tells us about Gregory Perino’s discovery of a copper workshop located on Monks Mound in Cahokia, a Mississippian mound complex located in Illinois. Which in itself is not shocking or unbelievable. However, May’s presentation of this discovery is riddled with inaccuracies.

In form with Frank Joseph’s articles in this volume, May sprinkles insults and accusations towards academics throughout his article.

“But professional archaeologists were not interested in Perino or his claims, because he was, after all, only an amateur.” (May 59:2017)

“The snobbish technicians who never made such a find themselves […]” (May 59:2017)

“God forbid, another outsider.” (May 60:2017)

And so on.

He also presents Gregory Perino as if he was an unknown amateur enthusiast that was dismissed by the archaeological community. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Gregory Perino was self-taught in the field of archaeology, but as he began his career in archaeology in the 50’s this is not shocking. He however, was not an amateur. Perino was a respected researcher, an expert in flint knapping and point identification, expert in comparative artifact analysis, and field identification. He served as a curator at the Gilcrease Museum and worked at the Center for American Archaeology in Kampsville, Illinois (Fraser N.d.). He has over 50 academic publications to his name, including a multi volume set he co-authored with Robert Bell which are THE manuals for point analysis and identification. He was a founder of the Central States Archaeological Society, and lead or participated in several excavations in his time, including early excavations at Cahokia (Fraser N.d.).

The blatant inaccuracy in May’s article don’t end with this however. Building on the idea that Perino was a dismissed amateur, May tried to claim that when Mound 34 aka Monks Mound was again investigated in 2010, that Perino was not credited for his early work. Again this is simply not true.

Quoting James A. Brown, professor of archaeology emeritus from Northwestern University in Chicago in an article originally published by George Pawlaczyk at Belleville News-Democrat in 2010:

“The irony is that a self-taught archaeologist, Greg Perino, who grew up in Belleville and pioneered a sometimes heavy handed excavation style that featured bulldozing, actually discovered the copper workshop and another nearby nearly 60 years ago. Perino died in 2005 at age 91. However, his mapping was rudimentary and it took years to relocate his find.

“Perino left us something, even with the bulldozing,” said Brown.

“You had to remember when he was working, in the ’50s, there weren’t the refined techniques we use today. He knew it was a copper workshop and he was very interested in it, but he regarded it as something that had been found elsewhere. What he didn’t know or didn’t realize or think about was there never has been one located elsewhere. Not that there couldn’t be. It’s just that no one has ever found one.”

I believe this is the same article that May drew some of his information from for his own article, due to May’s use of exact wordings from the article. However, I can’t be sure, as May, like the other authors in this volume, didn’t cite his sources or provide much in the way of footnotes.

Regardless, the idea that Perino was 1) an amateur laughed at by the archaeological community, or 2) uncredited or dismissed for his work at Cahokia is farcical. Ray Fraser sums it up best in his tribute to Perino:

“To archaeologists, Greg and his work will live on and “continue to be a source of primary information with which one may address many topics ranging from material culture to the social dimensions of mortuary practices, and from mound construction to ancient world view.” (Fraser N.d.)

So with that bit of misinformation set aside, lets look at the rest of May’s article.

May’s major argument here seems to be that there was a copper workshop at Cahokia. He’s absolutely correct. There is archaeological evidence that we’ve had since the 50’s and there are several copper artifacts that corroborate the use of copper at Cahokia.

So what’s the issue here? I really can’t tell what May’s point in this article is, other than to throw ad homin attacks at professionals in the field of archaeology. He does bring up a few things in his attempt to make an argument for things we already knew. One is the idea of the ‘Sinissippi Cross’ and this idea of Sinissippi meaning ‘Serpent Ore’.

As far as I can tell this is an idea published by Frank Joseph in his book Atlantis in Wisconsin: New Revelations about the Lost Sunken City published in 1995. The idea that a mound complex might have been recorded in the past and then later destroyed by the farmer’s plow is very much a reality. However, I can find no mention of a perfect, equilateral cross earthwork recorded near Sinissippi Lake, as Joseph claims (Joseph 90:1995). If someone has better information feel free to send it to me. Also, ‘Sinissippi’ doesn’t translate to ‘Serpent Ore’ in Algonquin. According to the Lake Sinissippi Association it means ‘lake-like river’ in Algonquin and according to well-known historian and ethnographer, Virgil J. Vogel, it means ‘Rock River in the Sauk and Foxes languages (Vogel 175:1991).


I really can’t figure out what May’s point here was. The information he presents is almost completely re-hashed from Pawlaczyk’s article. None of it is controversial, and most of it is published and obtainable even by ‘amateurs’. The only point I can find here is May’s apparent misunderstanding of who Greg Perino was and what a major impact the man had on archaeology. The majority of May’s  attacks are based on the idea that professional archaeologists hate dealing with amateurs and outsiders. To the point where his dig about “God forbid, another outsider.” Which was made about then graduate student, Lori Belknap who was working on a master’s degree in geology, is misplaced. She was a valued member of Dr. Brown’s excavation team and is now Executive Director at Cahokia Mounds Museum Society. Hardly an outsider.

To that point, professional archaeologists work with amateur archaeologists on a daily basis. Be it through public outreach, working with the archaeological and anthropological societies like Central States, or one-on-one with landowners and enthusiasts, even *gasp* metal detectorists! Archaeologists depend on what May would call amateurs in order to learn more about the areas we work in and the people we work with. I’m not trying to paint some pie-in-the-sky image of professional and amateurs skipping hand in hand, but it’s hardly antagonistic like May seems to want it to be.

As has been stated on this blog and on the podcast I host with Jeb Card and Ken Feder, there are dual realities that are being presented here. May’s misrepresentation of Perino’s place in archaeology only highlights this. Perino was, and is, such an institution in the field that some seasoned professionals aren’t even aware of his lack of credentials. Not that finding this information required much in the way of digging. Both his profile at the Central States website and his entry on Wikipedia (a favorite resource for May and Joseph) clearly state his experience and contributions to the field of archaeology. Honestly, this whole article could have been avoided with some simple Google searches, even back in 2010, when I believe this article was originally written.

In correspondences, Feder points out that ‘amateur’ Perino is joined by other influential, self-trained archaeologists such as Don Crabtree the “Dean of American flintknappers”, who was a college dropout with an honorary doctorate from the University of Idaho and is still a revered figure in experimental archaeology; George Frison, a rancher who became Wyoming’s first State Archaeologist and was a founder of the University of Wyoming Anthropology Department; and my own alma mater patron, Glenn A. Black, who didn’t attend any college, but was awarded an honorary Ph.d. by Wabash College, he identified the Angel Mounds, worked to have them preserved, and held several offices in the Society for American Archaeology including President.

The reverse reality here is the one May presents us with. One where Perino worked and died in obscurity, being mocked by professional archaeologists who stole his important discoveries from him. In a recent correspondence, Jeb Card pointed out the reasons for this parallel reality. They prosper, he states, because the use of media, TV, magazines, podcasts, and blogs allow for the creation of an entire alternative network of “news” and “researchers”. These individuals deny easily verifiable and well supported facts, and present their own easily debunked ideas as facts. Through the use of media and closed social circles, they create an echo chamber that simply amplifies these falsehoods and demonize the work of actual researches and their actual discoveries.

Dismissing May’s strange and unrelated argument that Perino was an unacknowledged amateur, I can’t say this article furthered the overall argument of the volume that there is evidence for transoceanic travelers in ancient America.

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Want more on this topic? Go to: ArchyFantasies Reviews – The Lost History of Ancient America.
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Fraser, Ray
N.d. A tribute to Greg Perino (1914-2005). Central States Archaeological Society. Retrieved 3/21/17

Joseph, Frank
1995 Atlantis in Wisconsin: New Revelations about the Lost Sunken City. Galde Press.–fSAhWGbSYKHWpnCm4Q6AEIHzAA#v=onepage&q=the%20sinissippi%20cross&f=false Retrieved 3/21/17

Pawlaczyk, George
2010 Copper men: Archaeologists uncover Stone Age copper workshop near Monk’s Mound in Illinois. 16 Feb 2010. Belleville News-Democrat. Retrieved 3/21/17

Vogel, Virgil J.
1991 Indian Names on Wisconsin’s Map. The University of Wisconsin Press. Retrieved 3/21/17

Teotihuacan’s Underground Electrical Mercury Pools.


The 6th article in the Lost History of Ancient America is titled “An Ancient American Mexican Pyramid’s Liquid Mercury” by Frank Joseph.

Like the other articles in the edited volume, this one is brief and short on citations or evidence. What evidence that is offered is re-interpreted to try and hold up Joseph’s buried argument that Europeans brought electricity to the Mesoamerica by teaching them how to use liquid mercury to conduct it. He offers no reason for why or how this happened, and you have to read the final two paragraphs to even understand that this is the overall argument of the article in the first place.

Joseph begins with the 2015 discovery of traces of liquid mercury under the Temple of Quetzalcoatl also known as the Feathered Serpent Pyramid in ancient Teotihuacan. This discovery, made by Julie Gazzola and Sergio Chavez Gomez, director of the Tlalocan Project (Villarreal N.d.), and a graduate student with Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, was only part of the massive and interesting excavations of an underground tunnel that appears to run from the courtyard in front of the main facade of the temple, to well under the temple itself (Yuhas 2015, Zorich 2015). Gomez discovered the entrance to the tunnel in 2003, and has since discovered five underground chambers, each filled with artifacts, offerings, animal skeletons, and other items that show the importance of women in Teotihuacan society as well as the long reach of their trade (Vance 2014, Yuhas 2015, Zorich 2015). Gomez and his cohorts speculate that the mercury could represent water in the underworld for the Mesoamericans (Yuhas 2015). It could also mark the possible burial chamber of a monarch, or the presence of an important ritual chamber (Vance 2014, Yuhas 2015, Villarreal N.d.).

Joseph attempts to tie this discovery to the tomb of Qin Shi Huang Di (sic) or as it’s better known the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, Qin Shi Huang (Unesco N.d). This is the same burial complex where the Terracotta soldiers were uncovered. The exposed burial complex, for it is truly a massive undertaking, mirrors the layout of the imperial city of Qin Shi Huang’s time (Unesco N.d). This mirroring reportedly includes using liquid mercury to mimic the lakes and rivers of the Qin’s China (Unesco N.d).

Now, there have been readings taken of the mound over the location of the burial mausoleum, and they do show incredibly high readings of mercury (Qingbo 2007, Moskowitz 2012). However, the ground entombing the mausoleum has not been breached (Moskowitz 2012), and at the time of this writing, we do not know exactly what is going on down there.

That said, this comparison between the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl isn’t that far fetched. More importantly however, I don’t believe Joseph placed it in his article to really show a cultural connection. I think this was a setup for a statement that is made later in the article.

But we’re not done with the Temple of Quetzalcoatl yet. Joseph makes an interesting comment about Quetzalcoatl.

“The Feathered Serpent Pyramid is so called because of the exterior representation of an ‘overseas’ culture bearer, who arrived in the distant past from his Homeland across the Atlantic (Joseph 2017)”.

Joseph is speaking about the god Quetzalcoatl here, and I have never seen these attributes assigned to him. Quetzalcoatl is a god of knowledge, the priesthood, the giver of corn, the creator of books and the calendar, sometimes death and reincarnation, but nothing about being an overseas culture bearer. What’s more, Joseph offers no explanation of where he got his interpretation of the engravings around the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, so we don’t know what he means or who he got this apparently erroneous information from. (I’m willing to update this section if solid evidence comes to light to challenge this.)

So we move back from misinterpretation of god traits to the presence of liquid mercury. Joseph informs us that Rosemary Joyce of UC Berkeley says there are other sites in Mexico with liquid mercury in them (Joseph 2017). To this he is right. Dr. Joyce is a recognized expert in Mesoamerica Culture and the presence of mercury has been discovered at other location in the ancient Mesoamerican world. Joyce outlines several of them in her 2015 blog article Liquid Mercury Found Under Mexican Pyramid. What Joseph ignores from all of the articles he no doubt read in order to write his own, is why the mercury was there in the first place.

As we discussed above with Gazzola and Gomez’ discovery in Teotihuacan, mercury probably was used for its mirrors like properties and it’s apparent similarity to water. Both mirrors and water were sacred to Mesoamerica Culture and used in religious ceremonies. Mirrors were seen as being a portal to the underworld or spirit world, one you could look though, but not interact through (Healy and Blainey 2011). They were probably used for scrying and divination as well, and there are written accounts of bowls of water being used for the same purposes (Healy and Blainey 2011). (We simply don’t have the space to cover how important mirrors were, there are libraries full of research that you can read over about this topic, and a Wiki entry that seems to do a fair job of abbreviating it. I’ve even got a few links in the resources section following the blog.)

Mercury no doubt, also held a place of significance. Not only was the liquid form shinny like a mirror and fluid like water, the red ore it was extracted from, cinnabar, was ground up and used as a red paint on the dead and in art (Healy and Blainey 2011). All of this, the mercury, the cinnabar paint, even mirrors, had a logical place in Mesoamerica Culture that Joseph has to willfully ignore in order to push his argument forward.

But now we get to the formation of Joseph’s argument. After hinting at the presence of mercury at various Mesoamerican sites and probably at the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, Joseph is points out that Europeans were manufacturing liquid mercury long before either the Chinese or Mesoamerica even discovered it (Joseph 2017). This is more subtle ground work. Keeping in mind the overall goal of the book this article is in, the implication here is that Europeans were the first to ‘discover’ mercury, and so were the source of this information. Thereby implying that any other culture that also has this information must have gotten it from the Europeans.

Joseph makes a leap of logic that is not supported in anything he’s presented so far. He introduces Larry Brian Radka, a retired broadcast engineer and author of books such as Historical Evidence for Unicorns (1995) and Astonomical(sic) revelations or 666 (1997) . The most recent title I can find for him is, The Electric Mirror on the Pharos(sic) Lighthouse and Other Ancient Lighting (2006) which sells for a mere $4,491.00 on Amazon.


Radka is a big believer in ancient electricity and mostly seems to reinterpret Egyptian hieroglyphs to be light bulbs and lamps.

Next Joseph uses a large quote from the Wikipedia entry on Mercury to try and bolster the argument that Mesoamerica mercury was used for electrical purposes. I want to be bothered by this, but I realize that the differences between linking to a Wiki article for reference and using a Wiki article as evidence might be lost on many, so I’m just going to let this one go.

Lastly, Joseph brings up the discovery of a chamber beneath the Temple of the Sun, also located in the Teotihuacan complex (2017). I’m guessing he’s referring to the 1971 discovery of what appeared to be a cave (Heyden 1975) and has been further explored and expanded on (Sugiyama et al. 2013). The tunnel and chambers beneath the Temple of the Sun appear to follow a similar layout like that under the Temple of Quetzalcoatl (Sugiyama et al. 2013). Joseph claims that there was a shelf full of micro thin wafers of Mica on it. If you know anything about mica, you know it basically peels apart in thin sheets, or flakes very easily like that. It’s almost impossible to keep thick sheets of it together. It’s also naturally shiny and was used by the Mesoamerica as (you guessed it) mirrors (Healy and Blainey 2011).

What I can’t place is Joseph’s claim of “wafer thin Mica that had been imported nearly 2,000 years before from Brazil 4,615 air miles away (Joseph 2017).” The only other place I can find this, besides other fringe sites that are quoting Joseph, is a USA Today fluff piece on Teotihuacan that has no references at all. I do know that mica occurs naturally almost everywhere, so I don’t think there would have been a need for the inhabitants at Teotihuacan to go 4,000 + miles out of their way to find any.

Joseph closes his article with the statement:

“Why would the Teotihuacanos have gone to the immense trouble of bringing such delicate materials from so far away only to conceal them deep underground where they would never be seen? Like liquid mercury, mica has important electrical properties. Perhaps both were employed in tandem to power the “place where Gods become men” (Joseph 2017).”

So much to unpack here, let’s keep it brief. There are two massive, unsupported assumptions here.

1) ‘Teotihuacanos’ were using mercury and mica to electrify Teotihuacan, and

2) That knowledge came from Europeans from across the ocean.

First, aside from the incredible lack of evidence for the use of electricity at Teotihuacan, or Joseph’s lack of an attempt to provide any, Joseph is completely ignoring the cultural significance of both mercury and mica to Mesoamerica culture. This is even more puzzling because the very sources he cites, namely Wikipedia, clearly have sections, with citations, that explain this. Even the 2015 Guardian article by Alan Yuhas, (that I think he used based on terms he mentions in this article) goes to great lengths to explain the cultural significance of mercury. As does Dr. Rosemary Joyce, who Joseph reference by name (but fails to cite), so I can safely assume he read her blog post, since he directly quotes it.

The second part of this is the re-occurring diffusion argument that unnamed Europeans were the fathers of all culture and invention and though transoceanic travel, disseminated it to everyone else. Again, there is a resounding lack of evidence for this, and this article does nothing to add to that.


The major argument that Joseph appears to be making here is that the Mesoamericans had the knowledge of electricity, and were using it at Teotihuacan, and that knowledge came from unarmed Europeans from across the ocean. Joseph offers no evidence to support any part of this claim beyond quoting a Wikipedia article about how mercury can be used to conduct electricity in the modern era. There is nothing at Teotihuacan that would suggest the mercury found beneath the Feathered Serpent Pyramid was being used for anything resembling electricity. There is however, ample evidence that both the mercury and the mica at the site fit with the known cultural aspects of Mesoamerican society, and Joseph has offered nothing to challenge that.

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Want more on this topic? Go to: ArchyFantasies Reviews – The Lost History of Ancient America.
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Healy, Paul F. and Marc G. Blainey
2011 Ancient Maya Mosaic Mirrors: Function, Symbolism, and Meaning. Cambridge. Ancient-Mesoamerica, Volume 22, Issue 2
October 2011, pp. 229-244. Published online: 30 December 2011 DOI: Retrieved 3/2/17

Heyden, Doris
1975 An Interpretation of the Cave underneath the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, Mexico. Retrieved 3/2/17

Holloway, April
2015 River of Mercury in Underworld of Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl may lead to Royal Tomb. Retrieved 3/2/17

Joyce, Rosemary
2015 “Liquid mercury found under Mexican pyramid”…Berkeley . Retrieved 3/2/17

Moskowitz, Clara
2012 The Secret Tomb of China’s 1st Emperor: Will We Ever See Inside? Live Science. Retrieved 3/2/17

Shaer, Matthew
2016 A Secret Tunnel Found in Mexico May Finally Solve the Mysteries of Teotihuacán. Smithsonian Magazine. June 2016. Retrieved 3/2/17

Sugiyama, Nawa, Saburo Sugiyama, and Alejandro Sarabia
2013 Inside the Sun Pyramid at Teotihuacan, Mexico: 2008-2011 Excavations and Preliminary Results. Latin American Antiquity. 24(4), 2013, pp. 403–432. the Society for American Archaeology. Retrieved 3/2/17

N.d. Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor. Unesco website. Retrieved 3/2/17

Vance, Erik
2014 New Artifact-Filled Chambers Revealed under Teotihuacan
Rooms beneath the mysterious city contain jade statues, jaguar remains and thousands of other objects. Scientific American. Retrieved 3/2/17

Villarreal, Jose
N.d Archaeologists Find Tunnel Below the Temple of the
Feathered Serpent in Teotihuacan. Art Retrieved 3/2/17

Yuhas, Alan
2015 Liquid mercury found under Mexican pyramid could lead to king’s tomb. Retrieved 3/2/17

Zorich, Zach
2015 Mythological Mercury Pool. Teotihuacan, Mexico. Archaeology magazine online. Retrieved 3/2/17

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