We’re On Hiatus Until July 1st! Yay Vacation!

 

2018 has been a bit of a roller coaster for the Archaeological Fantasies blog and podcast. I know many of you have noticed, so I figured, Let’s have a rundown of what’s happening here at the AF Studios…

Last year I went back to finish my Masters’ degree and well, between that and working full time, it’s been…fun? Unfortunately, the blog suffered and will need to be scaled back some, but I still need to make monthly markers, so stick with me. We’ll have a good time still.

I moved in February, and though I’m in a much nicer place, moving across three states takes a bit of doing, and I’m still not done doing yet since I’ve been gone almost three weeks each month since I moved. Still, it’s all been good, just busy.

Oh, I got the flu. That was almost three weeks of my life. Get your shots folks. Just trust me on that.

The most important bit here, that I’m sure you’re all reading for, is…..The podcast is moving!!!

Yes, we’re moving the URL of the podcast, which means we will not be on the Archaeology Podcast Network anymore. The podcast will be hosted here instead, on the Archaeological Fantasies blog. I feel like this makes more sense in the long run, but in the short term, it means we have a little bit of restructuring to do.

The podcast is going to be on hiatus until July 1st, at which point we’ll relaunch with our new location here on the blog. You’ll (hopefully) still be able to subscribe to us with Itunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and with luck Spotify. You can also listen here directly or subscribe to our RSS feed at https://archyfantasies.com/feed/podcast/  or see the full listing at our Blubrry site: The Archaeological Fantasies Podcast. 

(Shout out to Mike Dell at BluBrry, you rock)

As always this is a labor of love, but it still costs me out of pocket, and hey, I’m happy to pay. Still, if you feel like donating some, it will help pay for the new hosting costs and the blog upkeep. You can support us monthly on Patreon:  https://www.patreon.com/Archyfantasies or throw us a few bucks when you want on Ko-Fi : https://ko-fi.com/A8833HAS . Either option helps us out.

Thanks for waiting out our dust, and I hope you can help spread the word! As always follow us on Twitter @ArchyFantasies and contact us if you have questions. Hopefully, this will go smoothly, fingers crossed.

Podcast Music by the esteemed Mr. Soup at ArchaeoS0up Productions. I cannot tell you how much I love this song, thank you for letting us use it.

Bears Ears Rock Art with Vaughn Hadenfelt – Episode 93

Links

Welcome 2018 and Bears Ears Update – Episode 90

Antiquities Laws and Regulations – Episode 75

Friends of Cedar Mesa | Stewarding the greater Cedar Mesa area in …

Bears Ears Rock Art

Pilling Collection of Fremont Culture Figurines

Hexham Heads, ley lines, and Wear-sheep-men

Contact

If you’d like to support the Podcast, condenser donating to us monthly on Patreon:  https://www.patreon.com/Archyfantasies or giving just a little on Ko-Fi : https://ko-fi.com/A8833HAS . Either option helps us out.
Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and like and share us where ever you can. You can follow us on twitter @Archyfantsies or look us up on Facebook.
Contact us below or leave a comment.

CBC, The Solutrean Hypothesis, and Jennifer Raff – Episode 92

Links

CBC under fire for documentary that says first humans to colonize New World sailed from Europe. National Post.com. Jan 11 2018

DNA in Archaeology with Jennifer Raff. ArchyFantasies. 

The Solutrean Hypothesis – ArchyFantasies Episode 31. 

DNA in Archaeology with Jennifer Raff – Episode 50. 

Review of Across Atlantic Ice: The Origins of America’s Clovis Culture by Dennis J. Stanford and Bruce A. Bradley.

Raff, J. A., & D. A. Bolnick

2015 Does Mitochondrial Haplogroup X Indicate Ancient Trans-Atlantic Migration to the Americas? A Critical Re-Evaluation.297–304.

Archaeological Fantasies and the genetic history of the Americas. Violent Metaphors.

On thin ice: problems with Stanfordand Bradley’s proposed Solutrean colonisation of North America

Director defends documentary that claims Europeans could have been 1st humans in North America.

Jennifer Raff at the Guardian

Contact

If you’d like to support the Podcast, condenser donating to us monthly on Patreon:  https://www.patreon.com/Archyfantasies or giving just a little on Ko-Fi : https://ko-fi.com/A8833HAS . Either option helps us out.
Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and like and share us where ever you can. You can follow us on twitter @Archyfantsies or look us up on Facebook.
Contact us below or leave a comment.

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
TLDR?
  • 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.

If you’d like to support this blog, consider donating on Patreon.
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com

Resources:

Professor Bruce Bradley.  http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/archaeology/staff/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 Post.com. Jan 11 2018
http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/cbc-under-fire-for-documentary-that-says-first-humans-to-colonize-new-world-sailed-from-europe Retreived 1/15/18

Head, Sara
2016    DNA in Archaeology with Jennifer Raff. ArchyFantasies. https://archyfantasies.com/2016/09/09/dna-in-archaeology/ . Retreived 1/15/18

Head, Sara, Kenneth Feder, and Jeb Card
2016a    The Solutrean Hypothesis – ArchyFantasies Episode 31. https://www.archaeologypodcastnetwork.com/all-shows/archyfantasies-31.  Retreived 1/15/18

2016b    DNA in Archaeology with Jennifer Raff – Episode 50. https://www.archaeologypodcastnetwork.com/archyfantasies/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.  http://www.paleoanthro.org/media/journal/content/PA20140470.pdf 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. https://doi.org/10.1179/2055556315Z.00000000040 Retreived 1/15/18

Raff, Jennifer
2016    Archaeological Fantasies and the genetic history of the Americas. Violent Metaphors. https://violentmetaphors.com/2016/08/15/archaeological-fantasies-and-the-genetic-history-of-the-americas/  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 https://www.academia.edu/5119515/On_thin_ice_Problems_with_Stanford_and_Bradley_s_Solutrean-Clovis_hypothesis.  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. http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-friday-edition-1.4484878/director-defends-documentary-that-claims-europeans-could-have-been-1st-humans-in-north-america-1.4484883. Retreived 1/15/18

Archy! Where you at?

IMG_20170510_101201_processed-01.jpeg

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.

 

Welsh Indians and Lewis’ Murder: America Unearthed S1Ep 9.

screenshot_20170113-205135-01-01

As with previous blog posts in this series, I’m going to summarize things at the bottom for you to make following all the claims in the show easier, but I’m driven to break this down. If you don’t want to read the whole post just skip to ‘In Summary’ at the bottom. Don’t be surprised, though, if you ask me a question, I refer you to read the whole post first.

Despite the horror film introduction and the warning of the graphic nature of the imagined suicide/murder of Meriwether Lewis, this show isn’t actually about any of that. The actual premises of the show is a buried a bit and is a little hard to swallow.

The apparent premise of the episode is that Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame, was killed to keep secret the truth of the things he found out while investigating the American frontier.

Now, there is a bit of a controversy on how and why Lewis died on his trip up the Natchez Trace. Many historians agree that Lewis killed himself during a depressive episode, and this news appearers to have made sense to close friends of Lewis’ at the time (SHSND 2017). However, the Lewis family insisted it must have been murder, but no inquest into the possible murder ever apparently happened. This is all compounded by the three conflicting stored from the night of Lewis’ death by attributed to Mrs. Grinder, the innkeeper where Lewis was staying at the time of his death.

There are even newer claims that Lewis was neither killed nor committed suicide, but rather died of malaria. This newer idea is outlined by co-authors Thomas Danisi and John Jackson, who explain this theory in their book, “Meriwether Lewis: A New Biography.” Published in 2009 (Hansen 2009). This particular theory, though not particularly popular among historians, isn’t completely discounted by the State Historical Society of North Dakota (SHSND):

“It should be noted, however, that there is the possibility that Lewis suffered from malaria, a disease that is known, in its later stages, to cause forms of dementia and erratic behavior.” (SHSND 2017)

Wolter does a good job of keeping up the ruse that this is the premise of the episode. We get a graphic recreation of Lewis’ death, we get a brief story about Lewis and Louisiana purchase, and we meet Wolter’s friend, Don Shelby who has some nice first editions books. One such book appears to be Lewis’ notebook from his expedition.

old-book

It’s around here that we start to veer from the apparent topic. Shelby tells us that Lewis and Clark didn’t record everything they saw on the trip. He claims there are missing pages from the journals, and no one knows what’s in them. But there could have been something that someone would want Lewis dead to keep secret!

So far this is in keeping with the apparent episode premise. Then Shelby drops a huge hint on us. He tells us that Lewis and Clark were instructed by President Jefferson to look for evidence of pre-Columbian Welsh in the Louisiana Purchase.

So here’s the interesting part about this bit of information. Jason Colavito on his blog took it upon himself to search through and read all of the Jefferson papers at the Library of Congress, the Monticello Museum, the New York Historical Society, and all of the existing correspondence to and from Lewis about the expedition (thanks for that BTW). What he came up with is a lot different from the prevailing story out there, bolstered no doubt by this show. Colavito comes up with an explanation that is a lot more rational.

“Jefferson wrote to Lewis on January 22, 1804 his only mention of Welsh Indians:

“In that of the 13th inst. I inclosed [sic] you the map of a Mr. Evans, a Welshman, employed by the Spanish government for that purpose, but whose original object I believe had been to go in search of the Welsh Indians, said to be up the Missouri. On this subject, a Mr. Rees of the same nation, established in the Western parts of Pennsylvania, will write to you.”” (Jefferson 1804)

Note that Jefferson is either uncertain or unconcerned whether Evans had been in search of Welsh Indians. Instead, his concern is to get Lewis a useful map that will help the expedition. It is reasonable to conclude from this letter that in order to obtain the map, Jefferson agreed to let Rhys write to Lewis about his pet subject, the Welsh Indians. However, Jefferson doesn’t seem at all interested in the subject, and is content to let Rhys write under his own name (i.e. unofficially) about any such inquiry.” (Colavito 2013)

Colavito then points out that neither Lewis nor Clark ever wrote about Welsh Indians in their journals. That was done by Joseph Whitehouse in his own journals that he apparently intended to publish (Colavito 2013). Whitehouse (1805a, 1805b) only mentions them twice and uses the descriptor of ‘Welch [sic]’ to explain their difficult language. Whitehouse makes no effort to express extraordinary interest in the group, or even to point out how these Natives were different from others they encountered beyond saying how nice they were (Whitehouse 1805a, 1805b).

I’ve read the above-mentioned letter from Jefferson (1804), and clearly, Jefferson is not telling Lewis to look for anything. He seems to be informing Lewis of why Mr. Evans has a map of the Missouri, and never mentions it again. Hardly a direct, or secretive, order to look for mysterious Welsh Indians.

So at this point you could be forgiven if you think that the premise of this episode is that Meriwether Lewis was murdered in order to keep the secret that there were Welsh Indians living in the Louisiana Purchase. You’d almost be correct too. Almost.

au-s1e9-brandenburg-inscrition

The show takes us to Brandenburg, KY to meet with Gerry Fischer, a retired archaeologist. He is there to present us with a new stone to add to our collection. This one is the Brandenburg Stone, and the show would have us believe it’s a land claim written in Welsh. Fischer tells us that it’s been translated by professionals, but doesn’t say who, and that he believes it’s real. Wolter is all about this stone, and tells us, that if the stone is real, then it will call into question the legitimacy of the US.

No, it really wouldn’t, it would have no discernible effect at all, but we need a little drama, so…

Wolter’s Ah-Ha moment is that the Welsh made it to America first and left this land claim stone, thereby giving them true sovereignty over the America’s. Also, that Lewis found this out through his interactions with the Welsh Indians and was killed to keep this a secret so that North America could stay firmly in the hands of the new US government. Native Americas need not apply for ownership of America, Europeans only.

And now you have the actual premises of the episode. Hidden in the attention grabbing murder mystery, is the claim that the Welsh were the first transoceanic travelers to make it to the Americas, interbred with the Native Americans they found here, and somehow that makes them the true inheritors of the Americas. Wolter and the show never come out and say this in plain English, but the claim is clear there once you realize what is being said.

The problem with this claim is that it requires two things to be true. One, that the Brandenburg Stone is authentic (it’s not) and two, that the Welsh Indians are a real people (they are not).

Wolter spends the next third of the episode trying to convince us that the stone is authentic, doing his usual “I can tell the carving is old, because reasons” routine followed by his “if I can find similar stone in the area, then it must be true!” shtick.

wolter-looking-at-rock

He tries to make a big deal out of the Oolitic limestone that the stone appears to be carved from, implying that finding similar limestone in the area somehow makes the Brandenburg Stone real. Problem with this is that according to the Kentucky Geological Survey, 50% of the surface rocks in Kentucky are limestone. There’s so much of it, that Kentucky actually exports it for use in road surfacing and making concrete. Basically, it’d be more impressive if Wolter didn’t find limestone.

As for authenticating the stone via carving. I have always had issues with Wolter’s 3D scanning magic that he never really explains or seems to understand. When I see the pictures of the scans, tool marks always look sharp and fresh to me, but Wolter always says they are eroded and weathered. And that’s assuming we even get to see the actual images and not just some weird, fast rotating 3D topo map that could possibly be anything from a ditch to a scratch mark. I know a little about 3D imaging, I don’t like what I see on this show.

All that said, it’s all basically irrelevant because of the alphabet used to create the message on the stone. According to Jon Whitfield, Baram Blackett, and Alan Wilson, the script on the stone is called Coelbren or Coelbren y Beirdd. It’s a Welsh script that supposedly shares characteristics with other ancient scripts like Etruscan, Pelasgian, and Nordic runes (Pennington 2012). The problem is that it’s fairly well documented that Coelbren is a made up language from the 1790’s (Museum of Wales N.d.). Edward Williams aka Iolo Morganwg created the runic-like language and claimed it was a druidic script (McCulloch 2010).

But to bring the show back around to what it was pretending to be about, we head out to Natchez Trace, Hohenwald, TN meet with Meriwether Lewis descendant, Keith Vanstone. Vanstone is also a proponent of exhuming Lewis’ body to have it examined by modern forensics to better determine the cause of death (Vanstone 2009, VOA 2010). This knowledge makes Wolter’s later suggesting to exhume Lewis’ body seem less shocking. However, the show doesn’t mention this so it just sounds like Wolter is being a ghoul on the show. Not sure what the reason for this editing decision was, but it was a bad one IMO.

Since we can’t dig up a 200-year-old American hero, we do the next best thing and examine the monument erected over the general area of his grave. Wolter acts surprised when he sees a Masonic grave symbol on the monument. Somehow this is a sign of a deeper conspiracy, as always. It’s not a secret that Lewis was a Mason, nor should it be surprising to anyone who knows history well. It would honestly be more surprising to me to find out that Lewis wasn’t a Mason, since pretty much every male of any public standing was in the 1800’s.

Vanstone mentions that Lewis’ Masonic apron supposedly has his blood on it and Wolter gets a new idea. If he can’t dig up Lewis, maybe he can test the blood on the apron and that would somehow prove there was a struggle. This isn’t how forensics works, but that’s not going to slow Wolter down.

We jet off to the Grand Masonic Lodge in Halana, MT. to meet Ried Gardiner, Masonic Grand Secretary and curator of the museum at the Lodge, and Thom Chisholm – Masonic grand Master of Montana. They show us Lewis’ very decorative apron. They tell us that there are traces of human and deer blood on it and that it has been tested before. They were not pleased with the former testing and that makes them reluctant to allow Wolter to test the apron now.

tjs-apron

To his credit, Wolter is very nice and patient with the Masons, and they eventually agree to let him take swab samples.

While we wait for the DNA lab to get us results, Wolter talks with Don Shelby again. We get a translation from the stone;

“Toward strength (to promote unity), divide the land we are spread over, purely (or justly) between offspring in wisdom.”

Wolter decides this is a land deed, it sounds like gibberish to me. To be fair, most of the translations that this show produces sounds like gibberish to me. Shelby then explains the whole Coelbren being a fake language to which Wolter replies;

“Just because this isn’t real, doesn’t mean the Welsh weren’t here.”

Well, yah, it kinda does.

Wolter brings up John Dee again and suggests that he might be the originator of the whole Welsh in America thing. He pretty much admits there is no way to know if any of this is true.

So we end the episode in a DNA lab where the swabs Wolter took have been tested and we’re ready for the results. We meet Stephen Fratpietro, the forensic examiner. He tells us that none of the blood on the apron matches Lewis’, but there appear to be two individuals represented by the stains. He tries to explain that this could be a case of contamination.

Wolter’s not hearing any of it and begins to explain to everyone in the room how important a Manson’s apron is to him, and how a Mason would never have a dirty apron. Therefore the blood would have to have been deposited the night of the murder. He pulls his; “That’s all that makes sense to me!” thing that he does and begins to fabricate a story about how this supports his original idea that Lewis was murdered in order to keep the knowledge that the Welsh discovered America first secret. Everyone else in the room tries not to look uncomfortable, and we cut away to recap pictures and Wolter’s voice over telling us that he’s “blown a hole into history.”

au-s1e9-dissapoint-face-1

I see what you did there. Tacky.

Summary:

Despite the meandering of the episode and the show once again debunking it’s own evidence, the premise of the episode was that the Welsh were the first ones to make it to the Americas, interbred with the Native Americans they found here, and therefore are the true inheritors of the Americas. This is the typical white-washing of prehistoric America that I’ve come to expect from the show. I know a few readers don’t like when I point out this white-out tendency of shows and books like this, but I’m going to keep calling it out when I see it.

This episode is also a bit weird in that it pretty much debunks itself, but in order to beat a dead horse, we’re going forward.

1) Lewis’ Suicide/ Murder – Honestly, this is irrelevant to the whole episode. It was the attention-grabbing, click bait headline that made us all want to watch it. It doesn’t matter how Lewis died, though to be fair, there is some controversy over his death. Whether or not he was murdered, the show did not provide any reason for us to think it was to keep the Welsh land claim a secret.

2) The Brandenburg Stone – So fake the show debunks it, which is refreshing.

3) The Welsh Indians – Oh god where to start. Clearly, if you follow the reasoning behind this, you can see that the idea of the Welsh being in the Americas starts way back. It was a political move by Britain to secure their claims to the newly discovered Americas. It was then adopted by Welsh nationalists, and become popular in the 1800’s when Victorian ideals didn’t allow for ‘uncivilized’ Indians to be human enough to have any contribution to the past. It has roundly been debunked and isn’t even tolerated as a theory in academic, and decent, circles anymore. The mention of Welsh Indians to Lewis by Jefferson was clearly as a way of identifying an individual that would be sending an unrelated map to help Lewis and Clark on their expedition. It was not an order to look for them. Lewis never mentioned them in his own notes, that was done by an enlisted man on the expedition who was basically using it to say that the language of the Natives they were trading with was hard to understand.

Wolter’s use of this ‘Welsh Indians’ idea in modern times is incredibly troubling and should be seen a blatant white-washing. This show in general has an amazingly bad track record when it comes to acknowledging Native peoples. It constantly reimagines prehistory in a way as to remove Native Americans from the picture, commandeer their cultural achievements, and awarding them to a rotating collection of white, eurocentric, conquerors. Wolter’s and America Unearthed’s desperate need for there to be a white connection in America is blatant and tiresome. What’s worse, is they even often admit Native peoples were present at the time of these mysterious Europeans arrival, yet this never seems to matter. Whoever the White people were who were first to get here, they are the ones who are owed the land, not the folks who were actually here first.

4) Blood DNA – This is another one that is hard to deal with. Firstly, blood on the apron could never explain if Lewis’ death was a suicide or murder. Blood is simply blood. It can give you DNA, but without a lot more context, it can’t do much more. This particular blood was over 200 years old, had been handled by who knows how many hands, exposed to who knows what, and probably wasn’t kept in the best preservation conditions until recently. Secondly, the first DNA testing done on the apron told us there was deer blood on it, so some of that blood wasn’t even human. Take all of that and add in that the comparison sample came from decent 200 years removed, and you have a recipe for failure right off the bat. I don’t mean to say anything bad about Mr. Vanstone, but 200 years is a long time. Lots of things could have happened in 200 years that could complicate a genetic connection. Even if Vanstone is a direct genetic descendant (and I’m not saying he’s isn’t), the first and second complications alone are enough to pretty much guarantee DNA testing won’t work.

So did the show manage to prove either of its premises? No. All it did was speculate from start to finish, and then debunked its own physical evidence.

 


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Want more on this topic? Go to Reviews: America Unearthed.
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com

 

Resources:

Callahan, Jim
2000    Lest We Forget: The Melungeon Colony of Newman’s Ridge. Overmountain Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-1570721670. Retrieved 1/3/17

Colavito, Jason
2013     Did Lewis and Clark Seek Welsh Indians? http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/did-lewis-and-clark-seek-welsh-indians Retrieved 1/3/17

Hansen, Liane
2009    How Meriwether Lewis Might Have Really Died. NPR interview.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113712695 Retrieved 1/3/17

Jefferson, Thomas
1804    Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis, January 22, 1804.
http://jeffersonswest.unl.edu/archive/view_doc.php?id=jef.00033 Retrieved 1/3/17

1903    The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 10
By Thomas Jefferson 1903 The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association. Washington, D.C.
https://books.google.com/books?id=4dnSClToke0C&pg=PA441#v=onepage&q&f=false Retrieved 1/3/17

Jones, Mary
2004    Edward Williams/Iolo Morganwg/Iolo Morgannwg. From Jones’ Celtic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11 June 2009 (only USA, see: WayBackMachine). Retrieved 1/3/17

Pennington, Lee
2012 Ch. 11: A Map of Pre-Columbian America. The Lost Worlds of Ancient America edited by Frank Joseph (2012). Retrieved 1/3/17

See, Larry Jr.
2008    Archaeologists gather to hear story of Brandenburg Stone”. (March 19, 2008). Meade County Messenger. Retrieved March 24, 2013. Retrieved 1/3/17

State Historical Society of North Dakota (SHSND)
2017    Was Meriwether Lewis Murdered or Did He Commit Suicide? Corps of Discovery. http://history.nd.gov/exhibits/lewisclark/suicide.html. Retrieved 1/3/17

Vanstone, Keith
2009    Letter to the Secretary of the Interior. http://www.solvethemystery.org/docs/vanstone_letter051909.pdf Retrieved 1/3/17

Voice of America (VOA)
2010    Mystery Still Surrounds Death of Explorer Meriwether Lewis
October 04, 2010
http://www.voanews.com/a/mystery-surrounds-death-of-explorer-meriwether-lewis-200-years-later-104375894/127388.html Retrieved 1/3/17

Whitehouse, Joseph
1805a    Journal Entry for September 5th Thursday 1805. Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. https://lewisandclarkjournals.unl.edu/item/lc.jrn.1805-09-05#ln22090501 Retrieved 1/3/17

1805b    Journal Entry for September 6th Friday 1805. Journals of the
Lewis & Clark Expedition. https://lewisandclarkjournals.unl.edu/item/lc.jrn.1805-09-06  Retrieved 1/3/17

Archaeological Fantasies Podcast Halloween Line-up!

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Just in time for our big MonsterTalk Halloween Special, due out Monday on Halloween, here’s a list of our spookiest episodes to date! Go catch up on a year’s worth of archaeological notes about Ghosts, Witches, Mummies and Vampires!

WITCHES, SHAMANS, AND LOOTERS WITH STACY DUNN – EPISODE 39

DIGGING NEW ENGLAND VAMPIRES – ENCORE EPISODE 40

GHOST HUNTING – EPISODE 41

HEXHAM HEADS, LEY LINES, AND WEAR-SHEEP-MEN – EPISODE 51

UNLUCKY MUMMIES AND WONDERFUL THINGS – EPISODE 52

CTHULHU WITH JASON COLAVITO – ARCHYFANTASIES 56

MARGARET MURRAY, WITCHCRAFT AND MURDER – EPISODE 58

Unlucky Mummies Get a Bad Wrap.

 

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On episode 52 of the Archaeological Fantasies Podcast we talk about Mummies!

We all think we know about the story of King Tut, but a lot of it was embellishment at the time, as well as confusing the story of Tut’s discovery with stories of other mummies at the time. Ken, Jeb, and I talk about the reality of the Mummy’s curse, in this episode. We’re also able to sus out where some of the myths about the Mummy’s curse come from, who probably started them. We also make some possible connections between King Tut and Cthulhu (noting a trend?) and talk about the long term impacts of the idea of the mummy. It’s a great episode, go give it a listen!

Irish Freemason Ritual Bath-houses in Pennsylvania. America Unearthed S1E8.

AU s1e8 entrance

So after I had my rant about this episode, I decided rage quitting the episode was a bad idea. That said, I really am going to try and keep this brief, (for me).

I wanna jump into this episode and skip my usual critique of the art-film at the beginning. I want the readers to be aware of the BS that Wolter pulls in this episode.

In the beginning of the show, after we establish that Wolter is investigating a stone chamber that he thinks is made by the Masons, due to his ‘feels’, Wolter finds out that he specifically has been denied access to the property this site is on. That means that Wolter, his crew, and anyone associated with him isn’t allowed access to the property that the mysterious site is on. To get around this, Wolter convinces one of the men he’s supposedly helping to trespass for him, pretending to be hunting, while obtaining more pictures, film, and questionable measurements. This is unethical at best, and probably illegal. Wolter knowingly sent an individual, who himself was knowingly perpetrating fraud, into an area he knew he was restricted from. Then they filmed the whole thing.

My biggest problem, beyond the probable illegality of the whole incident, is the audacity Wolter shows here. After raging on about being denied access, he then displays his apparent belief that his personal desires and endeavors trump the rights and expected privacy of the lawful landowner. He blatantly goes against the wishes of the landowner and coerces others to perpetuate fraud with him, all in the name of getting useless ‘data’ to reinforce his own biased, preconceived notions.

Now, that all said, If you would like to skip the rest of this review and go straight to the In Summary section feel free, but if you ask me question that I covered in the post, I will refer you to read the whole post before answering you.

During the art-film intro we’re told that:

“There are more than 800 mysterious stone sites in the Northeast corner of the US. Their origin and purpose are unknown, Many are not open to the public, in 2012 a new site was added to the list. Experts believe that one ritualistic element sets it apart.”

The ‘experts’ he’s talking about can only be himself, as no actual archaeologist or historian believes these are anything other than root-cellars and spring-houses, and the ritualistic element he’s talking about is the water basin inside this particular spring-house.

The show stages him receiving an email from two gentlemen talking about a stone chamber they found in Western Pennsylvanian. The two men are puzzled as to what they found, and why they didn’t just go to the State Arch or Historical Society I have no clue, but they ask Wolter to tell them what it is. They send along pictures and Wolter is, of course, immediately excited and he rushes to call them back.

Next we see Wolter talking to the two men, who I’m not going to name here because I don’t feel it’s fair. These two really appear to be duped by the show and Wolter, and are used to do things that are probably not entirely-legal, at least that’s how it seemed to me. Anyway, Wolter immediately starts telling the two men that this is probably a religious site, most likely built by Masons, and there’s no possible way it could be built by Native Americans or by farmers looking to get water and store veggies. Keep in mind he’s never seen the site, and as we find out, he never will.

AU s1e8 mad

Apparently, the owner of the land in question, who is not one of the two guys, knows about Wolter, and refuses to let the man on their land. This of course sends Wolter into a furry and we get to listen to his usual rant about The Man keeping him away from solving mysteries and how this can only mean that the landowner is hiding something and is afraid of THE TRUTH!

Well, the real truth is that the landowner could be denying him access for any number of reasons including a desire for privacy, or to control the use of their own land. Either way, Wolter now cannot legally enter the property, and instead of going to the landowner and trying to talk with them about it, he hatches his basically illegal plan. He’s going to send one of the men onto the property, in bad faith, posing as a hunter. Then that guy will take all the measurements and pictures that Wolter thinks he needs to prove himself right.

This action does two things that pretty much ends the show here. 1) any information Wotler receives from this can’t be taken seriously. Despite the five second crash course Wolter gives the chosen man, there is no way these can be accurate measurements. 2) Wolter will never see this site beyond pictures and film. So unless he plans to do some fancy forensic photography with that (which he doesn’t apper to), he’s got nothing to work with here. Oh yah and 3) This is basically, if not actually, illegal.

So while one man is off ‘hunting’ in the woods, Wolter and the other man stay behind, and Wolter tells the woeful tail of how he’s had this happen before. He’s talking about the time he wasn’t kicked out of the Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest, but this guy doesn’t know that so he listens dutifully. Wolter also goes on about Freemasons and how this was a secret bathing chamber due to the spring, as it’s true because it’s the only thing that comes to his mind.

Now as I said above, this is clearly a spring-house, and this basin Wolter is all hot about is clearly the receptacle for the water, so you know, water can be drawn from it. Spring-houses were also know for being cool places, which made them ideal for storing food stuffs that you didn’t want to spoil. The reason there are so many of them all over the country is because they worked, and farmers liked to drink clean water and not eat spoiled food. However, it seems to Wolter, the average farmer is a myth, much like Native Americans in any aspect. Let alone the aspect of building stone structures. Which, contrary to Wolter’s blanket statement, Native Americans are actually known for. Maybe not this structure however, it is clearly modern. So Wolter gets some points for this one, kinda.

So anyway, the man who was off hunting returns with measurements and more footage. Wolter tells us that with this minimal data he’s going to tell us who built it, when and why. The measurements are exactly what Wolter wanted them to be, how convenient for him, and Wolter immediately launches into archaeoastronomy. I’m not even going to go into that here, just follow the link.

So now Wolter wants to build a model chamber just like this one so he can prove that the light of the summer solstice will illuminate the chamber. Then he gloats like he got away with something, and he takes his measurements and peels off. He calls Cari Merryman, a designer, while he’s driving (tisk tisk, Wolter). He wants her to build a model of the chamber from the measurements he just got.

AU s1e8 chamber

While we wait for that to happen, we head out to Groton, CT at the Gungywamp Archaeological Site. We meet Steve Sora, who the show tells us is a Gungywamp Researcher who retells the 800 stone sites thing.  Sora is a Knights Templar theorist and he takes us back to see a particular stone site. Sora claims that there are 27 stone structures that date back to 2000 BCE, long before the first colonist. He says no one knows who built them, and so it must be the Irish or Vikings. Native Americans need not apply.

The reality of Gungywamp is that Native American artifacts have been located all over the site, and there are known Colonist settlements there as well. Archaeology points to these stone structures either being Native American in origin or used as root cellars, or both. There’s no evidence to suggest that anything other than the obvious happened here.

Sora and Wolter get fascinated with one particular structure, claiming that it’s a Calendar Chamber and aligns with the twice yearly equinoxes. Wolter fails to mention that any given point on the ground can be made to align with the sunrise at any point in the year. He also fails to recognize that ancient Native peoples were more than capable of creating solar calendars, and did so frequently, such as  Woodhenge at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. Wolter does some stuff with his expensive compass and then declares the site evidence of the Irish, and to prove his point we fly off to Ireland.

AU s1e8 ship

We go to Craggaunowen Museum in County Clare, Ireland and we meet Tim Severin, who the show tells us is an adventurer. Severin is best known for his recreations of ancient maritime sailing feats. Don’t get me wrong, that’s cool! What it doesn’t do though is prove anything actually happened. But honestly, it doesn’t sound like Severin is trying to say it did, only that it could have. Which is acceptable.

But we’re here to talk to him about St. Brendan the Navigator, a 6th century Irish Monk who is said to have sailed to America. Now there is no evidence that St. Brendan was a real person, let alone that he sailed around the world in a skin boat. But in order for Wolter’s story to work, we have to assume this. Wolter thinks that because Severin recreated the famous voyage, it must have been possible. Severin did make it to Newfoundland, but none of that proves a) that Brendan was a real person or that b) he sailed from Ireland to America.

So next we go to Newgrange, County Meath, Ireland to talk with Alan Butler again, who this time the show tells us is a Megalithic Era Historian. Last time we talked with him in Episode 2, Butler was presented to us as a historical genealogist who helped us track down the non-existent Rough Hurech.  Now he’s trying to help Wolter make a connection between Newgrange and the stone chamber in Pennsylvania. There isn’t one of course, the two structures look nothing alike and moreover, there is a huge difference in the time scale that Wolter wants us to swallow. Again, foiled by maths! It doesn’t stop Wolter from getting all excited about the spirals carved on Newgrange, because in Wotler’s mind apparently, no one else ever could have come up with the spiral design.

All this globe trotting is done now though, as the model (remember that?) is now finished and Wolter takes us home to look at it. And I will say, it is a very nice model. I have thing for miniatures and this tiny spring-house is no exception. She even makes the spring water run, how cool is that? Wolter is likewise impressed, as he should be, and now he’s decided that this model made by ill-gotten means, definitely proves that Freemasons built it. Why you ask? Who knows. What did all that time spent in Ireland mean to all this here? Again, Who knows. Maybe Wolter just needed a vay-kay on History Channel’s dime?

AU s1e8 model 3

One last thing Wolter needs to do before he ends the show, and that’s to shine s flashlight down the entrance to see if it reaches the back of the chamber. He decides that since this does work, which should surprise no one, as there is no control here or anything to make this an actual experiment, this is evidence of Dualism. Why? Because the sunbeam is the representation of the fertilization of the male and it pierces mother earth where the spring come from. So the sun is like cosmic sperm, warm and spread over everything, and the water is like a woman, cold and wet? And somehow the sun is, um…doing…the earth to fertilize the water? Cause I’m most concerned when my water isn’t fertile….ok anyway.

Aside from my disturbing mental images, there is a lot wrong with Wolter’s recreation and interpretation. I honestly don’t have the space to get into it, but it revolves around using unreliable data to build an unreliable model to then shine a flashlight down at a random angle to ‘prove’ that it lines up with the sun. Then using all that error ridden not-evidence to say that this proves Freemasons built the chamber.

Wolter closes the episode by saying “Archaeoastronomy ties many cultures together throughout history.” To which I say, no it doesn’t. It doesn’t even mean what you’re trying to make it mean.

In Summary:

There’s not a lot to put here.

Really there are only two major points:

1) Wotler blatantly went against the expressed wishes of a Landowner and probably broke the law for no good reason.

2) This is a stream-house built by farmers to keep dirt and whatnot out of their drinking water and to create a cold storage location to keep food fresh longer.

That’s really it. All that was pretty much covered in the first 20 minutes of the show. Except for the kick-ass model reveal at the end, this was pretty much a waste of time.

 


If you’d like to support this blog, consider donating on Patreon.
Want more on this topic? Go to Reviews: America Unearthed.
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com

*All picture are from America Unearthed S1E8 and are used under the fair use act.

For more on the topic see:

Colavito, Jason
2012    Review of America Unearthed S01E08: “Chamber Hunting”.  http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/review-of-america-unearthed-s01e08-chamber-hunting

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