Transoceanic Flora and Fauna, Not Just Swallows with Coconuts.

20161115_094023_2-01

The introduction to Section 1 of The Lost History of Ancient America opens with a complicated statement:

“Perhaps never before has so much incontrovertible evidence in so few words establishing beyond question that humans reached and occupied America long before 1492, …” (Joseph 2017:13)

Let’s unpackaged this statement a little. ‘Incontrovertible’ is a bit strong. Most of the evidence offered in this section is unreliable or proven false. Clearly, there is room to argue the validity of said evidence. To even call some of this ‘evidence’ is a stretch, but we’ll address this as we come to it. Yet, this opening was a misplaced humble-brag. The real impact of the opening statement is in the following description:

“… in so few words …”

This small string of words encapsulates the four articles reprinted here. They are brief, and for the most part lacking any explanation on why we should trust them. Not just in the lack of credentials of the authors, but also in the strength of the sources cited, if they cited at all. There’s so little citation in these, one is right to wonder if it’s all made up.

This little snippet also illuminates another problem the fringe communities seem to encounter with the professional world; the wordiness of academic publications. Even the briefest of reports are often filled with jargon and five-dollar words. There’s no particular reason for this beyond the professional environment and the concept of writing to one’s peers

As a professional archaeologist, I should expect that other professionals who are reading my writing should be able to understand the meaning of my words. This does, however, create an issue when the public comes in contact with such writing. Unfamiliarity with the field causes misunderstandings when trying to read archaeological jargon. Even simplified concepts that seem basic to us, but are much more complicated in practice. Is there a solution to this? Perhaps. Should we as professionals reduce or remove our professional language to make it more accessible to the public? No. What we should be doing is providing adequate explanations to the public as well.

All that aside, Joseph’s lauding of “so few words” speaks volumes to the Fringe’s ideas that simple language is best. They see the use of big words, detailed concepts, or long reports akin to obfuscating information. Yet, Joseph’s and his cohorts, over-simplification of language and reporting creates articles that are void of content, analysis, citation, and evidence. Readers are simply told what is and what isn’t, and not offered any explanation on why these things could be true.

Lastly, in the opening statement, we have:

“… that humans reached and occupied America long before 1492 …”.

This is an important concept to keep in mind as we work through this section and the book in general. The main argument of the book is that mainstream archaeologists don’t believe that anyone made it to the Americas before Columbus. That we are so invested in this belief that we actively hide any evidence that contradicts it. This argument is a problem. It overlooks completely, the presence of Native peoples, reducing them to nothing more than background noise to the clamor of all the white European, “transoceanic travelers” that Joseph and his cohorts believe came here long before Columbus, the Vikings, and in some cases the Native American’s themselves

After this dubious introductory sentence, the authors of the articles reprinted in this section are introduced. Joseph makes an attempt to provide credentials that make each author sound like an authority in their subject. A deeper look into each author shows potential problems with these claims of authority.

Frank Joseph is listed on the back of the book as a veteran scuba diver and amateur underwater excavator. It even mentions his time as past editor of Ancient American magazine (Joseph 2017).There are many issues with Joseph’s background. These issues shouldn’t be ignored when considering this edited volume. As I’ve already stated, however, they are not to focus of these critiques.

Dr. Steven E. Jones is a retired physicist from Brigham Young University (Joseph 2017:14) known for his 9/11 Truther theories about Muon-Catalysed Fusion melting steel beams and for his ideas about Cold Nuclear Fusion. He’s criticized by his peers for his ideas on the above topics. Archaeologists find his ideas about ancient American horses proving the validity of the Book of Mormon invalid as well.

Carl L. Johannessen is a professor emeritus of geography from the University of Oregon (Joseph 2017:14). He refers to himself as a Biogeographer on his website Archives of Cultural Exchange.org. He appears very invested in the idea of transoceanic contact. Archaeologists and botanists find his ideas about transoceanic trade unsupported by evidence.

Julia Patterson (1931-2015), is presented as a former professor of archeology and anthropology at London College and the University of Illinois, Urbana (Joseph 2017:14). I can’t find anything about her through my usual sources. This does not negate the book’s claims of her credentials. It is difficult to check her expertise on any particular topic, however. I can find no mention of her at either institution nor can I find any academic papers with her name on them. If anyone is familiar with her or her work, please feel free to send me a link or file, and I will update this section.

After introducing the sections authors, Joseph finishes off the section by suggesting that the Hopewell culture is somehow controversial. He makes the claim that the Hopewell people are racially and culturally different from the “indigenous societies” because they have more gracile cranial features and what appears to him to be a more elegant and sophisticated society (Joseph 2017:14). There is no reason to accept this statement, and I am unaware of any actual controversies about the Hopewell culture that run along these lines. However, it’s not the first time I’ve seen a prehistoric native culture marked as ‘other’ by the Fringe.

Joseph’s closing statement serves two purposes as far as I can tell. Firstly, to create doubt in the mind of the reader, suggesting that the Hopewell culture is in question academically and there is a controversy about it being fully ‘native’. Secondly, to create a space in prehistory that might be populated with non-native people. Said people must have originated from some other location, thus creating room for the possibility of transoceanic travelers to be real.

It is from this section that we begin delving deeper into the meat of the book itself. Keeping in mind that the purpose is to provide us with incontrovertible evidence of transoceanic travelers in America’s prehistory.


Chapters in this section:

Chapter 1: Horses in America
Chapter 2: Plants Connect the Old and New Worlds
Chapter 3: Egyptian Style Cat Burial in Illinois
Chapter 4: Eyewitness Engravings of Ancient American Mammoths


If you’d like to support this blog, consider donating on Patreon or PayPal under ArchyFantasies@gmail.com
Want more on this topic? Go to: ArchyFantasies Reviews – The Lost History of Ancient America.
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com.


References:

Joseph, Frank
2017    The Lost History of Ancient America. Edited Volume. The Career Press. Wayne, NJ.

Categories: ArchyFantasy Reviews, The Lost History of Ancient America | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

ArchyFantasy Reviews: The Lost History of Ancient America: Introduction

20161115_094023_2-01

I was sent an early copy of Frank Joseph’s newest edited volume titled, The Lost History of Ancient America, to review. Someone thought this was a good idea.

I’ve been pouring over this, rather brief, fact free, and poorly argued volume for some time now. It’s easy to dismiss a book like this out of hand. Its editor alone is enough for some to write it off. But that’s not what we’re about here at the blog. We want to look things over, examine the arguments, look over any ‘evidence’ provided, and evaluate these claims.

Once we’re past the obvious errors of the book, we’re left with a lot to unpack here. We’ll move through the book as it is laid out, but let’s begin at the beginning.

In the introduction, written by Frank Joseph aka Frank Collins, Joseph makes a rather strange argument starting with the title of the chapter, and continuing throughout the introduction. It’s a blatant strawman argument, starts with the title “Columbus was Last” (archaeologists already know this), and continues with Joseph hounding on the false assumption that archaeologists think that Columbus was the first European to come to the Americas. He attacks a false paradigm that he desperately needs to be true in order for his arguments to hold up. Sadly, they do not.

Not long after introducing this narrative, he branches off to start making claims that this book is a “breakthrough”, “Radically Innovative”, and that this book shall reveal “The Truth”,

“Never before and nowhere else has so much valid evidence been assembled on behalf of overseas’ visitors in America before Columbus. (Joseph 2017:11)”

“With the publication of this, the fourth in a series of articles from Ancient American magazine, skeptics no longer have an academic leg to stand on…(Joseph 2017:11)”

He then begins a preemptive attack on said ‘academics’, prematurely martyring himself to argumentum ad hominem and argumentum ad verecundiam (which this book is the very definition of). He then begins his own attacks on these faceless academics,  all the while lauding himself and this collection of articles as being the real research, not just a collection of ‘dry facts, and ‘techno-jargon’.

He closes with an odd statement, more a declaration than an offering:

“History, we affirm, belongs to anyone who can appreciate it, and is not the exclusive privilege of salaried professional. But our agenda is not theirs, and we go our way.”

Here I have to break with my stated purpose, as knowing Joseph’s background and the agenda of the Ancient American magazine, make the above statement almost ludicrous. Joseph seems to be trying to make a bold statement about owning his own history, not letting ‘privileged, salaried professionals’ tell him what that history is. The chilling irony here that he’s doing this at the expense of actual native peoples, appropriating and reinterpreting, or flat out denying their recorded, known, and evidence backed histories.

It is from this launching point that we are led into the book. It promises to be both a comical and aggravating experience. There is more to this series, just follow the link: ArchyFantasies Reviews – The Lost History of Ancient America. 


If you’d like to support this blog, consider donating on Patreon or PayPal under ArchyFantasies@gmail.com
Want more on this topic? Go to: ArchyFantasies Reviews – The Lost History of Ancient America. 
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com

Categories: ArchyFantasy Reviews, The Lost History of Ancient America | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Archaeological Fantasies Podcast Halloween Line-up!

696f16b7e1261fcfcf5dd6f88615df18s_n1-01

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

Categories: ArchyFantasies Podcasts, Podcast, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dare Stones

dare-stones

The Dare Stones are one of those ‘artifacts’ that I find the belief in them hard to understand. There is so much that I find to be obviously wrong with them, that I have a hard time figuring out why anyone would believe them to be real. Though to be honest, it seems not a whole lot of people really do find them to be authentic, just a few who might have an investment in them.

So what are the Dare Stones?

AU s1e7 dare stones 4

One of the Dare Stones. Image via America Unearthed screen shot.

Like many of the questionable artifacts we’ve looked at over the years, these also have dubious origins. In 1937, one L. E. Hammond, claimed to have found a stone he thought was inscribed by Eleanor Dare, the daughter of the John White, Governor of the lost colony of Roanoke (Childs 2013). Hammond said he found the stone off Highway 17 in North Carolina, while hunting for hickory nuts (Childs 2013).

Hammond claimed that he struggled to decipher the stone himself, and decided to seek help (Pearce 1938). Hammond took the stone to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia,  where it was examined by Dr. Haywood Jefferson Pearce, Jr., professor of American history. Pearce seems to have been convinced of the authenticity of the stone, and penned a preliminary examination of the stone, published in The Journal of Southern History (Pearce 1938). In his article, Pearce uses cautionary language about the authenticity of the stone, but writes as if he is certain it’s real. He makes several assumptions (Pearce 1938) based on the Stone being real:

  1. That the colonists didn’t go to Croatoan as has been usually assumed by Historians.
  2. The colonists did not go to the mainland opposite Roanaoke island.
  3. The colonists did go inland to the lower reaches of the east bank of the Chowan River.
  4. The colonists for two years…suffered ‘misery and war’ and in two more years were reduced by sickness to ’24’.
  5. Of these 24, all but 7 were massacred by the Indians in 1591.
  6. Among the dead were Ananias and Virginia Dare, the husband and daughter of Eleanor Dare.
  7. The massacre was reported to the Jamestown people and was instigated by the priest.
  8. The approximate burial-place of the massacred was a small hill, four miles east of the Chowan River on which a rock inscribed with their names was placed.

Pearce, seeming to sense that there would be fall out for his examination of the stone, asked a few valid questions about the stone. Two of which were, why was Croatoan written on the palisade door if they didn’t go there, and why didn’t Eleanor state her exact whereabouts in the message inscribed on the stone?

Pearce states that he was impressed by the stone for a few reasons, including how well the account on the back of the stone adheres to known historical sources from the time, including the mention of 7 survivors (Pearce 1938). He was also impressed by the authenticity of the language and grammar used on the stone, which matched the known language of the time (Pearce 1938). He did mention the unconventional 3 letter signature of Eleanor at the end of the stone, it was almost unheard of for women to sign their names this way, usually it was with only 2 letters (Pearce 1938).

Hammond, after being well received at the university, worked with researchers there to decipher the stone and even took them to see approximately where he claims to have found the stone (Pearce 1938). There is no report to say if any further examination of the stone was ever made.

dare_stones_brenau_university_haywood_pearce_jr_center_with_emory_colleagues_james_g_lester_left_and_ben_w_gibson

A photograph of professors (l to r) James G. Lester, Haywood Pearce, Jr., and Ben W. Gibson examining the first Dare Stone. Image courtesy of Brenau University, Gainesville, Ga. (Childs 2013)

 

Pearce managed to convince his father, Pearce Sr., owner of private school Brenau College in Gainesville, Georgia, to buy the stone (Childs 2013). Pearce also knew he needed more evidence to confirm the authenticity of the stone, and he knew if he could find the second stone alluded to in the first stone’s inscription, it would go a long way to proving the stone was real.

After the publication of his article, Pearce was contacted by a Capt. J. P. Wiggins, a former mayor of Edenton, North Carolina. Wiggins seemed to remember as a young man seeing a moss covered stone up on a knoll, or small hill (Sparks 1941). He said he could take Pearce to the location, but he couldn’t promise that the stone was still there. The location and description seemed to match the first stone’s story of the burial place of the 17 dead. Pearce lead his first survey of the area in February of 1938, and the found the large stone. When it was uncovered though, there was no writing on it. Still convinced that it was an unmarked grave Pearce went back in August of that year and excavated the entire hill. Nothing was found. He returned to the area one last time in March of 1939, with the same results (Sparks 1941).

Frustrated but not defeated, Pearce decided to tackle this another way, he offered a $500 reward for information on the second stone (Childs 2013). With money on the line, Pearce’s luck was about to change.

Enter Eberhardt.

In the summer of 1939, William “Bill” Eberhardt, a stone cutter, told Pearce that he’d found the second stone (Childs 2013). Not only that, he’d found a total of 13 other stones there as well. He said he’d found them near Pelzer, SC, and showed Pearce the site (Childs 2013).  To his credit, Pearce didn’t immediately take to Eberhardt’s claims at first (Sparks 1941). Pearce told Eberhardt that the first stone presented was probably a Spanish grave marker, and the second two stones were dated wrong, not to mention the 300 mile difference (Sparks 1941). Pearce made the mistake of telling Eberhardt what he was looking for, that an authentic stone would have been dated 1591 and have seventeen names inscribed on it (Sparks 1941). A week later Eberhardt showed up with just the right stone (Sparks 1941). Of greatest interest on this new stone was the inscription on the side of it; “Father wee goe sw.(Sparks 1941).” This seemingly small detail was quite a clever ruse set in place to make the distance seem more logical and more plausible. Eberhardt was paid for his discoveries, and over the course of time he managed to ‘find’ 42 more stones, bilking the Pearce’s for $2000 in total (Childs 2013).

Eberhardt’s stones expanded the story started on the original Dare Stone, and now there was a proper epic. Adding to the story of woe and misery on the first stone, the Eberhardt stones expanded on the story creating a world where the seven:

“survivors journeyed southwest from the Edenton, N.C. area through South Carolina to Georgia. Eleanor and the six survivors found refuge with friendly Cherokees in “Hontaoase.” Eleanor married an American Indian chief in 1593, gave birth to his daughter Agnes, and finally died in a cave on the Chattahoochee River near present-day Atlanta in 1599 (Childs 2013).”

Reinvigorated by this new discovery, Perce had Eberhardt show him where the stones had been found, and sure enough, there were still indentations in the ground (Sparks 1941). Bolstered by this, and that all investigations into the stones and Eberhardt showed that the stones were authentic and Eberhardt so uneducated to have forged them (Sparks 1941), Pearce bought the hill the where the stones were found and began excavations. Despite their efforts, nothing was found here either.

In August of 1939, Pearce received a new bit of information, this time from one I. A. Turner, of Atlanta, GA. He to had found a rock and this one furthered the goose chance that Pearce was on (Sparks 1941). Still seemingly unaware of the situation, Pearce sent Eberhardt to investigate harder in Georgia and sure enough, just outside of Gainesville, GA, Eberhardt found nine more stones, all with the date 1591 on them (Sparks 1941). Over the next few years more stones would be found, with the direct aid of Eberhardt, and the winding saga of Eleanor Dare would wrap up nicely, carved in stone.

But this is where things get weird.

In April of 1941, Boyden Sparkes published a very critical article in the Saturday Evening Post, claiming the whole thing was a hoax and that Eberhardt was behind it along with Pearce himself. (Sparks 1941, Childs 2013).

Sparkes’ story in the Saturday Evening Post uses strong language and makes direct assertions. However, Sparks makes a very convincing argument trying to prove the stones are an elaborate hoax, including interviewing almost all of the parties involved.

Sparks begins his unraveling with an account from 1937, a year before Pearce publishes his article. In this account an unnamed man was routinely was coming to Roanoke trying to sell several get-rich scams, including proposing a hoax whereby a “bogus stone relic” would be ‘discovered’ and point to the fate of the Lost Colony (Sparks 1941). This man claimed that he had workers who could carve the stones, and presumably hide and then discover said stones (Sparks 1941).  This all seemed to have something to do with an upcoming production about the history of the lost colony, and the man was trying to get rich off of this. No one took the bait, that time. Sparks was able to track Hammond’s whereabouts at the time, and they appeared to correlate strongly with the unnamed man trying to sell a fake stone and a hoax (Sparks 1941).

Sparks makes the assertion that at the time of the publication of his article, Pearce would have been aware that the stone he was writing about was the same stone (Sparks 1941). Pearce even admitted to Sparks that he never bothered to investigate the correlation (Sparks 1941). This didn’t sit well with Sparks, who decided to really delve into Hammond and Eberhart’s backgrounds.

Eberhart himself was well acquainted with creating and selling fake artifacts. He even had an antique dealer who refused to deal with him anymore, since they couldn’t sell any of Eberhart’s forged Aztec or Mayan relics (Sparks 1941). This same dealer had been able to sell Eberhart’s other “Indiana Relics” before (Sparks 1941). Perhaps these were stretching the imagination too much (Sparks 1941).

When these forgeries were investigated, there appeared to be evidence of the soapstone pieces being treated with a blowtorch to make them seem older (Sparks 1941). The State Geologist of the time, said the carving on the relics had been recently made (Sparks 1941). All this would have been knowable to Pearce, so how did Pearce not know about this part of Eberhart’s past?

Sparks discovered that Eberhart and I. A. Turner had been friends, or at least acquaintances, for 10 years or more (Sparks 1941). He also discovered that the “four different people” that are credited with finding more stones, were either linked back to Eberhart or Turner, or were led by the nose by the two men in their ‘discoveries’ (Sparks 1941). Eberhart was involved in finding all but two of the 42 Dare stones, the exceptions being the first stone found by Turner and a stone found by William Bruce (Sparks 1941). Even the stones supposedly recalled by a man named Jett from his childhood, would never have been rediscovered had it not been for Turner’s involvement, and both of those stones have serious flaws of their own (Sparks 1941).

Turner, when interviewed directly by Spacks, admitted that he and Eberhart had planned to go in half with the profits from the stones (Sparks 1941). He also has an interesting story that appears to link Hammond, who apparently came to Turner looking for a someone who could fake a rock with the word “Yahoo” on it (Sparks 1941). He offered to pay $30,000. for it, but Turner didn’t think he had the money, so refused the work (Sparks 1941).

Sparks directly investigated the discovery location of the half stone produced by Jett’s wife (stone no. 46), and went to talk directly with her father, J. H. Whitmire. He was shown the chest where the stone that she produced was stored, and the chest was apparently a large storage chest where all kinds of items were tossed. These items included heavy farm tools and used millstones, along with other ‘Indian Rocks’. Sparks notes that anyone could have come and planted the broken stone here, and since the Jetts were approached by Turner to produce their stones,  Sparks seems to think it was a good chance that this was the case.

To support that claim, Sparks points out that the stone (No. 46) had been stored in the chest for somewhere around 15 years. Yet the stone itself was nearly pristine when found presented by Mrs. Jett. Sparks says:

“One of the least credible facts about the collection is that the half of Stone No. 46 represented to have been for twenty-six years part of a barn pillar, and then for fifteen other years somewhere on the ground, and the half that had been knocked around fifteen years in a chest of heavy tools, after such varied experiences fit as neatly as a freshly broken teacup. (Sparks 1941)”

This isn’t the first time the neat and unworn conditions of the stones were questioned. Sparks mentions that it appeared to be Eberhart’s habit to present stones that were “clean” (Sparks 1941). The stones had been repeatedly scrubbed with steel-wool and had their in inscriptions scraped out (Sparks 1941). Whatever the reasoning given for this activity, it effectively made it impossible to glean anything useful from the stone itself, and I agree with Sparks in that Pearce should have known better.

The Language of the Stones.

This ‘clean’ condition spurred Sparks to interview other authorities in the field to get their opinions on the Dare Stones. He spoke with Professor Jim Lester, who was working at Emory college. Lester commented on the “freshness” of the stones and the groves of the engravings. On Stone no. 25 he noticed the strange manner that the letters were engraved on the stone. They appeared to be done in a way as to not disturb the lichen already growing on the stone (Sparks 1941). Lester notes:

“. . .I am forced to believe less in the authenticity of this stone. than in any. . . . It makes me believe it has been doctored . . . the lack of lichenous material in the grooves seems to be the first glaring drawback to any of the stones that I have seen.” (Sparks 1941)

It was Lester’s opinion that the stone he looked at was a fake (Sparks 1941).

Sparks began to look at Pearce’s own writing on the stone, and started to take his argument apart one bit at a time. Starting with Pearce’s claim that the methods used to inscribe the stones couldn’t be replicated with modern techniques. Sparks looked up the first stone cutting company in the New York phone directory and asked them if they could reproduce the stones:

In New York I took photographs and geological descriptions of the stones to the Mount Airy Granite Company. The telephone directory showed it to be the most convenient. I asked Abe Goldsmith, in charge, “Could you do work like this?” “Sure. Any stonecutter could.” “Could you make the work look old?” “All stones are old. But it would be easy enough to ‘age’ the surface-tumble it in a barrel. Acids. Wrap the stone with wet sacking sprinkled with iron filings. Any number of ways.” (Sparks 1941)

Next he looked at Pearce’s claims that the lettering was consistent with the time period. He spoke to  Dr. Samuel Tannenbaum, an Elizabethan scholar and paleographer, and an expert in historical writing styles. The problem that Tannenbaum discovered was that the very shape of the letters was all wrong:

“There isn’t a Gothic letter here. And this settles the whole matter! The forgery becomes obvious to anyone who knows how the Elizabethans wrote. In England in 1590 only men like Francis Bacon, Edmund Spenser, Walter Raleigh, Philip Sidney could write Roman script. Few enough could write at all. Even those men wrote their text in Gothic, but as a mark of culture used Roman letters in their signatures. Every letter on these stones is a Roman letter. The best man in England would have slipped, made here and there a Gothic letter.” (Sparks 1941)

Finally, Sparks looked at the language on the stones because Pearce claimed it was acceptable for the time period. Sparks had 712 words from the stones analysed and found issues with the variation in spelling, namely that there wasn’t any:

“No Elizabethan was ever so consistent in spelling.” Said Tannenbaum. “Francis Bacon spelled his own name something like thirty different ways. Walter Raleigh spelled his name, I think, forty-five ways. Elizabethans had no principles of spelling because they had no dictionary. Here the consistency is supposed to have been observed through twelve years of forest wandering by people shut off from white civilization. “Shakespeare had a vocabulary of fifteen thousand words. Next best was John Milton with eight thousand words. The average person today has at most three thousand words. Isn’t it extraordinary to find ‘primeval’ and ‘reconnoitre’ when they do not appear in Shakespeare . . . ?” (Sparks 1941)

A simple check of the Oxford Dictionary finds that the earliest known use of “primeval” was in Urquhart’s Rabelais, 1653 (Sparks 1941, Oxford Dictionary). “ Reconnoitre,” wasn’t in used before 1707 in English (Sparks 1941, Oxford Dictionary). The word “trale” [trail] was used to denote the scent of a quarry rather than a pathway in the 1590’s (Sparks 1941). The presence of these words on stones that were supposed to date to 1591 should be enough to debunk the stones (Sparks 1941). Unless you want to argue that these are really the first recorded uses of these words. (please don’t)

The last interesting bit of Sparks’ investigation into the stones was an exchange he had with Paul Green, the author of the historical play we mentioned way back at the beginning.

He told me: “Whoever inscribed those stones plagiarized at least the framework of my play. There is no basis in history for such an Eleanor Dare. Her name is mentioned; she had a child, Virginia. After research, I conceived the need of a pioneering type of woman, capable of leadership. (Sparks 1941)

When Sparks published this article, it understandably angered Pearce. At some point afterwards Perce confronted Eberhardt. In response Eberhardt forged another stone with the inscription “Pearce and Dare Historical Hoaxes. We Dare Anything (Childs 2013).” He threatened to turn it over the the Saturday Evening Post and admit to faking the stones if Pearce didn’t pay him to stop (Childs 2013). At this point, Pearce admitted being duped publicly (Childs 2013).

But despite all this, the Dare Stones still have their faithful followers. Retired Brenau history professor, Jim Southerland, thinks the first Dare Stone is authentic, and the stones have enjoyed renewed popularity thanks to shows like America Unearthed and the History Channel’s production Roanoke : Search for the Lost Colony (AccessWDUN 2015). Unfortunately for them, both shows did more to prove the stones were fake than real.

All of the Dare Stones follow a predictable pattern that should be familiar at this point; mysterious and unreliable discoveries, dubious finders, no documentation, and no archaeological evidence to support them. Throw in this very well documented conspiracy that appears between Eberhardt, Turner, and possibly Pearce, and you simply can’t trust these artifacts at all.

It’s interesting to think that the first stone might be real. It’s a nice bit of closure for a missing colony. However, all evidence that we have suggested that the colonists went to Roanoke island, and there is some archaeological evidence to support this. What’s the complete story? Probably nothing close to the epic written in stone by Eberhardt and Turner. Still, they get points for creativity.


If you’d like to support this blog, consider donating on Patreon.
Want more on this topic? Go to Reviews:Artifacts That Aren’t .
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com


Resources:

Sparkes, Boyden
1941    “Writ on Rocke: Has America’s 1941 First Murder Mystery Been Solved?” The Saturday Evening Post. (26 April 1941) http://www.angelfire.com/ego/iammagi/dare_writ_on_rocke.htm  Retrieved 7/13/2016

Childs, T. Mike
2013    The Dare Stones.
NC Government & History Library, 2013. http://ncpedia.org/dare-stones. Retrieved 7/13/2016

Pearce, Haywood J.
1938    “New Light on the Roanoke Colony: A Preliminary Examination of a Stone Found in Chowan County, North Carolina.” The Journal of Southern History 4.2 (1938): 148-63. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2192000?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents. Retrieved 7/13/2016

Brenau University Homepage for the Dare Stones

https://www.brenau.edu/darestones/

http://accesswdun.com/article/2015/10/346553/retired-brenau-professor-tv-docudrama-helps-establish-authenticity-of-dare-stone-collection

History Channel

2013    Roanoke: Search for the Lost Colony. http://www.history.com/specials/roanoke-search-for-the-lost-colony

 

Categories: Artifacts That Aren't, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Unlucky Mummies Get a Bad Wrap.

 

696f16b7e1261fcfcf5dd6f88615df18s_n1-01

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!

Categories: Archaeology, ArchyFantasies Podcasts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Were-sheep-man and the Hexham Heads

e22acd75912810219880c01c88f31ae3resnetfinal_final5
The Hexham Heads are a fun little discovery that took on a life of their own…almost literally. We talk about them on episode 51 of the Archaeological Fantasies Podcast. Go give it a listen!

Supposedly, found sometime in 1971 by two young boys, Colin Robson and his brother Leslie, in their back garden in Hexham, England (Andrew 2012, Ferrol 2012, Urban 2014), these two tiny stone heads created a stir almost as soon as they were found. Kept in the home of the two boys, the heads were said to have the power to rotate around as if looking at things (Urban 2014), pull hair (Ferrol 2012), cause random items to break without reason (Andrew 2012), and other supernatural like occurrences. It’s also claimed that during Christmas, a strange flower blossomed on the location one (or both?) head was found, and that a strange light glowed there (Andrew 2012). The pinnacle of strange phenomena attributed to the heads actually happened to the neighbor, Ellen Dodd.

Dodd owned the other half of the duplex the families shared. According to the story, she woke one night to see a half-sheep, half-human creature in her bedroom. It reportedly “padded” it’s way downstairs and put the front door as she watched (Urban 2014). It is interesting to note that also that evening there was an apparent prank involving a drunk who had stolen a sheep’s carcass and was staggering down the road Dodd lived on, carrying the thing on his shoulders (Ferrol 2012, Urban 2014). Dodd also claims the same night, she heard a scream next door and the sound of something breaking (Andrew 2012). The Robsons claim the noises had to do with a werewolf sighting in their side of the house (Andrew 2012).

The heads themselves look like petrified apple-doll heads. They are made out of what turned out to be cement, and were carved as toys by Des Craigie, a former resident at the duplex that Robson and Dodd shared (Ferrol 2012, Urban 2014). He made them for his children to play with back in the 1950’s, and reproduced them on the spot when asked (Ferrol 2012, Urban 2014). So case closed right? Well…

‘I really don’t think it matters too much when the heads were made, or who made them, the things worked and that’s what matters.’ (Clarke 2012)

The story of the Hexham heads really doesn’t take off until Dr. Anne Ross becomes involved. Ross was a well known expert on Celtic culture. Unfortunately, the heads appeared to have confounded her. Ross erroneously dated the heads to be about 1800 years old and said that they were originally used during Celtic head-rituals (Andrew 2012). Ross kept the heads with her in her home for some time to study them, and during that time, she experienced paranormal phenomena of her own, including a visit from a werewolf (Andrew 2012, Clarke 2012, Ferrol 2012, Urban 2014).

Dr Ross, in whose home the stones were temporarily stored. When I interviewed Ross in 1994 she told me the stones brought an “evil presence” with them: “There was no doubt the haunting was that of a werewolf,” she told me. “The thing took form very gradually, and when it actually became not just audible and hinted at but tangible and visible, something had to be done, because it was definitely growing…” (the house was subsequently exorcised, but that’s another story….) Clarke 2011

The Heads change hands a few more times after Ross is done studying them, and like all good paranormal artifacts, they vanish. The current location of the heads is not known.

The Heads are an interesting tail for other reasons though, and most of that stems from the hype that formed around them. Jeb and I talk about this in the podcast episode. Like the quote above says, despite the Heads being confirmed as non-paranormal in origin, there is still a belief that they possess paranormal powers, this time brought on by the mere belief that they should possess such powers.

The reasoning behind this is akin to the ideas in the 1972 movie by Nigel Kneal called The Stone Tapes. In the movie, the team is studying stones that apper to have recorded paranormal phenomena cause by the strong emotions felt by the victims at the time of their demise (its a decent movie, go watch it). Ross and others make a similar plea here, that since so many people experienced what they thought was paranormal activity in the presence of the Heads, the Heads now actually possess paranormal powers similar to those originally experienced.

Can this really happen? Well, it is certainly well documented that if someone believes something strongly enough, their minds will create the desired effect. There are enough placebo studies to prove that, not to mention studies on superstition and witchcraft. So, do I think the Heads now possess supernatural powers that they didn’t before? No. Do I think that people believe that they do? Yes.


If you’d like to support this blog, consider donating on Patreon.

Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com


 

Resources:

Andrew
2012    The Curse Of The Hexham Heads? April 20, 2012 http://www.paranormal-encounters.com/wp/the-curse-of-the-hexham-heads/. Accessed 9/10/2016

Clarke, David
2011    Celtic curse tested? http://www.drdavidclarke.co.uk May 4, 2011.  https://drdavidclarke.co.uk/2011/05/04/update-on-campaign-to-protect-celtic-shrine/  Accessed 9/10/2016

2012    Heads and Tales. http://www.drdavidclarke.co.uk. December 22, 2012. https://drdavidclarke.co.uk/2012/12/22/heads-and-tales/  Accessed 9/10/2016

Ferrol, Stuart
2012    “In Search of the Hexham Heads, part one”. Fortean Times (294). pp. 42–7 (November 2012). Accessed 9/10/201

Screeton, Paul
2012    Quest for the Hexham Heads. https://www.amazon.com/Quest-Hexham-Heads-Paul-Screeton/dp/1905723946

The Urban Prehistorian
2014    The Hexham Heads part 1 – the discovery. The Urban Prehistorian blog. Jan 27 2014. https://theurbanprehistorian.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/the-hexham-heads-part-1-the-discovery/. Accessed 9/10/2016

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

DNA in Archaeology with Jennifer Raff

60a3fb62877ca17ee416aefacb3c4abb2107_hb2

 

Episode 50 of the Archaeological Fantasies is live, and Ken and I were able to finally sit down with someone who knows quite a bit about the use of DNA and genetics in archaeology. Jennifer Raff, who’s covered all this wonderfully over at her own blog Violent Metaphors, was just the podcast guest I’ve been looking for to help us sus out all the ins and outs of genetic evidence in archaeology.

We’ve mentioned Jennifer and her co-author Deborah A. Bolnick’s work before when Ken and I talked about the Solutrean-Clovis hypothesis. Her and Dr. Bolnick’s paper really digs into the supposed genetics that are supposed to support this rather flawed hypothesis.

I’m not going to rehash all of this in this post, Jennifer has don the lions share on her blog and paper, and then again on the podcast. I suggest you go give it all a read and a listen . It really clarifies questions I had about ancient genetics and prehistoric DNA.


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


Categories: Columbus was Second-ish: Who Discovered America Anyway, Podcast, Women in Archaeology | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Archaeological Fantasies and the genetic history of the Americas

We recently had Jennifer Raff on the Podcast (it went live Monday). This is a repost from her excellent blog where she talks about her paper that we mentioned in the show.

Violent metaphors

The excellent podcast Archaeological Fantasies recently had me on as a guest for a wide ranging discussion on genetics. We covered everything from the genetic prehistory of the Americas to issues surrounding ancestry testing companies. Here’s a link to the episode (apologies for the fact that I kept cutting in and out–apparently our university wireless connection isn’t very good).

Since so much of our discussion focused on haplogroup X2a and models for ancient American prehistory, I decided to break from the normal tradition here at VM and actually re-publish a post to make it easier for people to get answers to any questions they might have. And if you have specific questions about content from the podcast, please feel free to leave them in the comments on this post.

This post was originally published last year to address some questions that Deborah Bolnick and I were getting about our paper…

View original post 1,356 more words

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Ciudad Blanca or The Lost City of the Monkey God.

lcotmg af49

In the most recent episode of the Archaeological Fantasies podcast we interviewed Chris Begley about the mysterious Ciudad Blanca aka the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God.

Like many fictional places in the world, Ciudad Blanca has quite the history. The first official mention of “The White City” is attributed to Charles Lindbergh, who supposedly reported seeing “an amazing ancient metropolis”  while flying over Honduras in 1927. This  appears to be a misinterpretation of history as Lindbergh and his fellow pilots called many of the ruins they saw “white” because they were made of limestone and reflected light quite well (Colavito 2013). They were describing their explorations and the term “Ciudad Blanca” became a descriptor of the area, even having a biological preserve named after it (Colavito 2013).

Academically in the same year, “Ciudad Blanca” was used to describe some “important ruins” that had been written about by Eduard Conzemius in his report on the Paya Indians of Honduras. He mentions that the city had been calls thus because the walls of the ruins had been built out of a white stone (Conzemius 1927). Neither Lindbergh nor Conzemius were talking about a mythical city however, they were simply describing what they saw.

In 1933, Honduran president Tiburcio Carías hired George Gustav Heye to perform a study on the native people “before their way of life was disturbed” (Raphael 1934). Captain R. Stuart Murray was hired to lead the expedition and he brought back a few artifacts, and a lot of stories. Including:

 “There’s supposedly a lost city… which the Indians call the City of the Monkey God. They are afraid to go near it for they believe that any one who approaches it will, within the month, be killed by the bite of a poisonous snake.”(Raphael 1934).

A second expedition was made to look for this lost city, but it wan’t found.  It’s around this time that the “White City” and the “City of the Monkey God” apper to have been blended together. Other than both being ‘lost’ cities, there don’t apper to be a good reason for this, but this blending became permanent fairly quickly.

In 1940, Heye hired another adventurer, Theodore Morde to go on a third expedition, specifically looking for the lost city. Morde took with him Laurence C. Brown, and after about 4 months in the jungles, the two returned with artifacts, and the claim that they had found the Lost City of the Monkey King (Reading 1940). The men also claimed that they had found evidence of gold, silver, and platinum and oil (Reading 1940), but it’s not clear if they were saying that the resources were found associated with the lost city, or were just spotted as the men explored.

Morde wrote vividly of the lost city he had found:

Morde later described travelling for miles up rivers, through swamps and jungle, and over mountains before reaching the ruins. “The City of the Monkey God was walled,” Morde wrote. “We found some of those walls upon which the green magic of the jungle had worked small damages and which had resisted the flood of vegetation. We traced one wall until it vanished under mounds that have all the evidence of once being great buildings.” The jungle was too thick to see much else, but his Indian guides told him that, according to legend, it hid a great temple with a vast staircase leading to “a high stone dais on which was the statue of the Monkey God himself. Before it was the place of sacrifice.” He wrote, “Towering mountains formed the backdrop of the scene. Nearby, a rushing cataract, beautiful as a robe of shimmering jewels, cascaded into the green valley of the ruins.” (Preston 2013).
485px-Lost_City_of_the_Monkey_God

Artist Virgil Finlay’s conceptional drawing of Theodore Moore’s “Lost City of the Monkey God” – The American Weekly, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26317427

At the time, the two men refused to give the location of the lost city since they were planning on returning to do a more thorough excavation (Reading 1940). Sadly this would never happen as Morde committed suicide in 1954 (Preston 2013).

Thus we jump forward to 2013 and bring Chris Begley into the story.  Begley is a veteran of archaeology in Honduras. He’s spent years exploring and documenting ruins in the area. In 2013 he took novelist Christopher Stewart into the Honduran jungle to retrace Morde’s steps and relocate the fabled City of the Monkey King. We interview Begley about this on the podcast. Predictably, they didn’t find the lost city, but really, how would they know if they did?

Jump forward again to 2015, when an archaeological team lead by Christopher Fisher went into the Honduran jungle to record extensive plazas, earthworks, mounds, and an earthen pyramid found by a LiDAR survey done in 2012 (Preston 2015). The LiDAR survey was funded by two documentary film makers,  Steve Elkins and Bill Benenson (Preston 2015). Fisher’s team found 52 artifacts, including large stone statues, stone seats, and other ceremonial objects, apparently buried at the foot of the earthen pyramid (Preston 2015). The media surrounding both the LiDAR survey and the archaeological survey constantly threw round the names of White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God, but other than getting eyes on their articles, there’s nothing to support that either place was found.

This is the critical flaw in the story of  Ciudad Blanca, there is no way to know if it is ever found.  By definition a Lost City is lost. So if someone really did know where it was, and then shared that, then it’s not really lost. Then there is the lack of information about said city. There’s no descriptors of the city other than ‘white walls’, so if a location is suspected of being Ciudad Blanca, there would be no way of telling.

Preston leaves us with a quote from Begley that sums up the search of all such ‘lost cities’:

after a brutal, weeks-long trek, they arrive at a large ruin, which may or may not be Morde’s City of the Monkey God. Begley announces dryly that, by definition, the ruin cannot be the White City, “because the White City must always be lost.”  (Preston 2013).

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


Resources:

Conzemius, Eduard
1927     “Los Indios Payas de Honduras, Estudio geografico, historico, etnografico y linguistico” in Journal de la Societé des Americanistes. Tome 19,p. 302. Retrieved 8/1/2016.

Colavito, Jason
2013    On the Development of the Ciudad Blanca Myth. http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/on-the-development-of-the-ciudad-blanca-myth. Retrieved 8/1/2016.

Raphael, Leona
1934     “Explorer Seeks Fabled Lost City; Spurns Weaker Sex Companionship”. Calgary Daily Herald. p. 34. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=JxpkAAAAIBAJ&sjid=G3sNAAAAIBAJ&pg=1617,5791667 Retrieved 8/1/2016.

Preston, Douglas
2013    “The El Dorado Machine”. The New Yorker: 34–40. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/05/06/130506fa_fact_preston  Retrieved 8/1/2016.

2015    Exclusive: Lost City Discovered in the Honduran Rain Forest. National Geographic http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/150302-honduras-lost-city-monkey-god-maya-ancient-archaeology/ Retrieved 8/1/2016.

United Press

1940    “Seek Long Lost City of Monkey God”. The Sunday Morning Star. United Press. April 7, 1940. p. 7. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=I9FeAAAAIBAJ&sjid=AQMGAAAAIBAJ&pg=3549,6520116&hl=en Retrieved 8/1/2016..

Reading Eagle
1940    “Razor Blades Used by Natives In Latin Areas 1,500 Years Ago”. Reading Eagle (New York). August 2, 1940. p. 11. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1955&dat=19400802&id=k3AhAAAAIBAJ&sjid=G4gFAAAAIBAJ&pg=6153,6150529&hl=en. Retrieved 8/1/2016.


Chris Begley:

Transylvania University Bio
https://www2.transy.edu/about/faculty_bio.htm?ID=0103684

>National Geographic Bio

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/explorers/bios/christopher-begley/

Kentucky professor a real-life Indiana Jones

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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

Categories: America Unearthed, America Unearthed | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: