Archaeology in the News Round Weekly Round Up. 10/1/11

These are some stories that caught my attention over the past week.


Bones Don’t Lie – Bones Abroad: What to see in Rome

My freind is in Rome doing a bit of sight seeing, and while she’s at it she posted about all the cool things she saw, Including this gem :

 Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini
Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini


Remington Carriage Museum, Cardston, Alberta

My Friend @Elfshot went to the Remington Carriage Museum and showed his age just a bit.


Archy goes to the Creation Expo.

I went to the Creation Expo and got a bit more then I barged for.


We found a new way to view the Dead Sea Scrolls

The scrolls have been digitized in a way that you can move a viewer over the different pieces of the scroll and it will translate the passages as you move over them.

800-year-old remains of witch discovered in a graveyard in Tuscany, Italy

I’m trying to dig up some great Halloween flavored posts for the October month, this one was great!


Burial site believed linked to Vikings is centuries older

Where a Viking Site is re-dated to pre-viking times. ( I do love my Vikings)


Food archaeologist gives new life to nearly extinct grains, veggies

Where we learn how cool archaeology really is!

and lastly,

Project Eliseg

Which “is a collaborative archaeological research project investigating one of Britain’s most enigmatic early medieval monuments: The Pillar of Eliseg, near Llangollen, in north-east Wales.”

They did a great job of using video and blog site to keep the public informed on their projects progress.

Archy goes to the Creation Expo.

Every year the local creationists hold an expo here in Indiana. I have always ignored it before, but this year, Louise (@Spa_yediMonster), asked me to go and sweated the deal with an archaeologist who likes to show archaeological evidence to prove creationism is real. Sold!

I suppose I should disclose here that I had no clue what creationism taught before going to this. I was interested to see what they offered as evidence, and I brought along some of my past research in anticipation of what I thought would be the evidence. Man was I wrong.

So after getting lost trying to find the place, I found a seat beside Louise (who wrote her own account here) and Nathan. They had sat through most of the opening sermon by a gentleman I later found out was one of the founders of the Creationist movement, Dr. John Whitcomb.

Dr. Whitcomb was a decent speaker, I won’t begrudge him that. He knew his bible, but it was more like sitting in church again then being at a conference or expo. All I really took away from this was the group’s desperate need to be special and important and to be rewarded with fame, glory, and riches in life and in death (things he said). The big thing that I noticed when he talked was that he jumped around the whole bible, picking and choosing single lines and re-weaving them together to make points. Everything was way out of context.

After the sermon, because I refuse to call it anything else, there was a few rousing hymnals and then the speaker I had come to see, Dr. Willie Dye Ph.D, Ph.D, Ph.D, Ph.D, Ph.D, Th.D, M.D, D.D, D.D. (no really, that’s how his name is on his business card). I admit I was pleasantly surprised to see that he was black, mainly because African Americans are massively underrepresented in the field of archaeology. I can count on one hand the number of African Americans I have worked with, and it’s always been a sore point to me. Also, I mention this because it is relevant later on.

The title of his lecture was “Separation of the Nations as Understood Through Biblical Archaeology”. I have no idea what that means. Dr. Dye opened with a bible verse and then began to talk about how the whole world was going to hell because America took the teaching of the bible out of schools in 1963. To back that up, he showed a series of slides with astronomical figures on them. Things like violence was up 995% since 1963, teen sex is up 1000%, unmarried couples living together up 530%, SAT scores have dropped 80 points, Teen pregnancy up anywhere from 300% to 553% depending on the age bracket. None of this is cite sourced, and when pressed later he couldn’t really provide any. He basically admitted to making them up, and then tried to claim they were listed on a website somewhere.

Next, he bemoaned the loss of new converts to the church. Basically, his argument broke down to “Since we can’t preach to children in school, they learn to think critically, and then they don’t believe in god.” He also made this weird blanket claim that all single parents are by nature godless, and so in order to save their children, men need to convert. I’m not really sure what this has to do with archaeology, but I don’t have a string of letters after my name either.

Finally he seemed to segway and mentioned a man named F. A. Filby who did some research and found that at some point, every continent had been underwater. This caught me a bit off guard because it was the first true thing he’d said but it seemed out of place. Fortunately, he didn’t give me long to wonder because he told us that this was evidence that the world had experienced a global flood.

First, Dr. Dye is correct, every land mass in the world has been under water at some point. Also, given enough time, every land mass in the world will be underwater again, with or without our help. This does not mean that they were all under water simultaneously, nor does the geological record support that. I’m not sure who F.A. Filby is, but he apparently has no clue how tectonic plates work or stratigraphy for that matter. Still, this was enough for Dr. Dye.

Next he went on about giant fossilized cockroaches and dragonflies with wingspans like football fields. Oh, and he was involved in digging them up. Then he talked about this idea about an Ice canopy that once surrounded the earth and when God used the heat from the Thermonuclear core of the earth to melt it, that caused the great flood, killed all the bad people, and created an atmosphere for Noah and his descendants to live in. Cause before that everything was giant, except maybe humans, and apparently didn’t need air to breath. I have a great video by the Creationist Debunker Thunderf00t to show you here that is much better at explaining why this is crazy. 

Then he rambled for a bit and I really didn’t follow much of it, but he did touch on “kinds” and that AIDS came from men having sex with monkeys. He also drug up a unique form of Afrocentrism where he managed to link black people to Noah’s cursed son Ham, and that all our great thinkers are white, and all black people are good for is athletics and music. This is apparently what he was talking about with the whole “Division of Labor” thing. He kind of broke down around here, and it became a tad overwhelming.

What I did manage to get was that until the Tower of Babel fell, the world was one super continent known as Pangaea (which is a real thing, just not like this). Pangaea was the land that got flooded, it was the same land that was settled by eight individuals, and those eight individuals went forth, had litters of babies, and repopulated the world and created all the cultures on it.

So to be clear, every complex culture that ever existed on the planet was well established BEFORE Pangaea broke up. Then man built the Tower of Babel, and the act of destroying the tower is what caused the tectonic plates to separate and shift into their current states. I really can’t begin to explain why this is crazy! However, here is a handy link to show you how the whole Pangaea thing really works and how though tectonic drift, our planet had several series of continents before the set we have now. I’m not even going to go into the impossible genetics of getting 6+ billion individuals out of 8.

When his lecture was over there was time for Q&A and Louise asked him for the sources of his statistics, and kind of not really got an answer from him. I asked him to confirm for me that he said complex culture and society existed before Pangaea broke up. I got a mini-sermon on God and man and good and evil, but no real answer. I’m not sure if he’s not sure, or if he didn’t understand me, or if he knew I had caught his lie and was challenging him with it. I really think it was the second, I don’t think this ‘Archaeologist’ knew what the terms ‘complex culture and society’ meant.

Before going to this, I had in my head all these great debates and “gotcha” moments I was going to have, but the more Dr. Dye spoke, the more it became clear to me that it didn’t matter. I could sit there all day and point out how what he is saying is not only wrong, but impossible, and it wouldn’t change a damn thing. It was depressing, and frankly scary. It made me want to reach more people with my blog and channel. I can’t help Dr. Dye. Ph.D, Ph.D, Ph.D, Ph.D, Ph.D, Th.D, M.D, D.D, D.D. But I might be able to reach one of the 40 people that came to hear him talk. Here’s to trying.

Anne Stine Moe Ingstad

Anne Stine Moe Ingstad was born in 1918 in Lillehammer, Oppand county, Norway. Her parents were attorney Eilif Moe and Louise Augusta Bauck Lindeman. Before achieving her MA in Scandinavian Archaeology from the University of Oslo she married she married Helge Ingstad In 1941. Instead of impeding her academic career, her marriage turned out to be quite the partnership leading to a major discovery for the couple later in their carrers.

In the 1960’s the Ingstad’s discovered a Norse settlement that dated to ca.1000 AD at L’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland in Canada [1]. A local inhabitant, George Decker, led them to a group of overgrown bumps and ridges that looked as if they might be building remains [3]. These later turned out to be the remains of the settlement. This is perhaps the most famous discovery of her career as it confirmed that the old Norse saga’s were true and the Vikings had found America, 500 years before Christopher Columbus [1].

Anne Stine Ingstad led an international team of archaeologists from Norway, Iceland, Sweden, and the United States in the excavation of the site for seven to eight years [3]. The excavation revealed the remains of an early 11th century Norse settlement, including sod houses, a forge, cooking pits and boathouses [1]. The overgrown ridges were the lower courses of the walls of eight buildings [3]. The walls and roofs were sod, laid over a supporting frame, the same kind as those used in Iceland and Greenland just before and after the year 1000 CE [3]. Long narrow fireplaces in the middle of the floor served for heating, lighting and cooking [3].

Also of interest was the discovery that not all of the inhabitants had been men. Items such as spindle whorls and knitting needles were tools used by women [3]. Even a small whetstone, used to sharpen needles and small scissors, found near the spindle whorl spoke of the presence of women [3]. The settlement is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Site of Canada.

For her efforts she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in 1969 from Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland. She received a second in 1992 from the University of Bergen. She was awarded the title of Commander of the Order of St. Olav, which is awarded to individuals as a reward for remarkable accomplishments on behalf of the country and humanity, and was a member of the Academy in Oslo.

In the 1970’s she turned her attention to analyzing the textiles from the Kaupang and Oseberg excavations. The Oseberg grave chamber contained the largest collection of textiles and tools that had been found in a single grave [2]. The collection consisted of fragmented tapestries and other pattern-woven blankets, tablet woven braids and a large collection of fragments from clothing, sails or tents, rugs, etc [2]. Many had detailed silk embroidery and embellishments on them. [2]

Anne Stine Ingstad died in 1997 at the age of 79 from complications from cancer [4]. She left behind her 98 year old husband and her daughter Benedicte Ingstad, a professor of medical anthropology at the University of Oslo [4].

References:

(Sadly, I had to refer a great deal to Wikipedia. Any inaccuracies discovered should be brought to my attention immediately and I will correct them. References must be provided for corrections.)

[1] Ingstad, Helge, Anne Stine Ingstad
2001. The Viking Discovery of America: The Excavation of a Norse Settlement in L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland. Checkmark Books.

[2] Ingstad, Anne Stine
The Textiles in the Oseberg Ship. (http://bit.ly/nduN7s)

[3] L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site of Canada
Discovery of the Site and Initial Excavations (1960-1968). (http://bit.ly/qFQuNu) Parks Canada. Accessed September 23, 2011.

[4] McG. Thomas, Robert, Jr.
1997. Anne-Stine Ingstad, a Sifter Of Viking Secrets, Dies at 79 (http://nyti.ms/rnzKbM). The New York Times. Accessed September 23, 2011.

Other Rescorces:

Parks Canada. http://www.pc.gc.ca

Wikipedia

Norwegian Forestry Museum’s http://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norsk_Skogmuseum

Man Tracks on the Paluxy River

The ‘Taylor trail’
From Bad Archaeology, click to follow link

So I recently came across this vid while flipping thought YouTube the other day:

Man Vs. Archaeology Episode 1. (http://bit.ly/o4Mw0D)

It sounded familiar, as if I had heard someone debunking it before…When I realized I’d heard it on MonsterTalk over a year ago (http://bit.ly/q7PBmo).  Kenneth Feder talked about the Cardiff Giant and human foot prints found along side dinosaur ones in the Paluxy River in Glen Rose, TX. As you can see in the vid, Creationists claim that the man tracks are proof that humans and dinosaurs co-existed.  They put together a pretty convincing argument…until you realized there is more then what they are showing you.  If you watch the next vid, Episode 2 I believe, the “expert” they find to interview about the tracks claims that some “unknown individuals” were seen vandalizing the footprints. There-by allowing him to dismiss anything that would make the footprints look funny as vandalism. But I might be getting ahead of myself a bit. Let’s find a safe place to start…

The Paluxy River.

Located in Texas, it is a tributary, formed by the convergence of the North Paluxy River and the South Paluxy River and flows a distance of 29 miles before joining the Brazos River just to the east of Glen Rose, Texas.[1] It is best known for numerous dinosaur footprints found in its bed near Glen Rose at the Dinosaur Valley State Park. Dozens of various dinosaur tracks can be seen fossilized in the banks of the river [2]. To my knowledge, all of the tracks have been identified, including the mysterious “Man Tracks” we’ll cover here.

Man Tracks?

The Paluxy River “Man Tracks” were first discovered in 1908 and rose to popularity in 1938 when they were used as a tourist trap during the Great Depression [2]. Zana Douglas, admitted it was a hoax [3]. The Adams family had originally found many of Glen Rose’s real dinosaur tracks and sold them to tourists in the 1930’s for around $15 to $30 each. When the supply ran low, George Adams, carved more, some with human footprints[3]. Zana said her grandfather, George Adams, was an excellent sculptor [3].

These “human foot prints” caused a bit of a stir and drew the attention of Paleontologist Ronald Bird. He went and investigated them in 1938 and the “human” tracks were found to either be those of a bipedal dinosaur (there are clear claw marks) or chiseled forgeries made by the locals to draw crowds [2].

Sometime in the 1970’s the foot prints were re-discovered by the Creationist movement, even going as far as to make a movie (Footprints in Stone, 1973) to tout the ‘evidence’ of a young earth [2]. This was debunked by Berney Neufeld in 1975, when he wrote about his investigations and identification of the elongated tracks that were mistaken for human prints [5].

In 2009, researcher Glen J. Kuban, published his analysis showing the prints are those of an Upright Dino, the long foot-like depression being it’s elongated metatarsals as it walked plantigrade (heel-down) [4].

Where does this get us.

What do we have here then? We’ve got a printed confession, identification of forgeries, and actual identification of real dinosaurs. That’s pretty open and closed. So what made me so interested in the vid on YouTube? The date.

According to the posting date of the First episode of Man vs. Archaeology the show went live on Aug 5, 2011. The guy hosting is pushing the claim that the tracks are real, his expert wants you to think they are as well, and anything that looks weird is really just vandalism. He also makes some claim about “lost” evidence, which is a huge red flag.

Two of the biggest claims that conspiracy theorists and their like make is that their evidence was either 1) Tampered with in order to disguise the truth, or 2) just out right stolen/lost/covered up so no one can see it. That way, when you ask for their evidence they can plausibly say they can’t show it to you. Not because it doesn’t exist, but because it’s been manipulated or stolen.

And So.

First, I think the name of the show is rather, I don’t know, silly. Man vs. Archaeology, is he getting into a boxing ring with the entirety of the field? Is he going to debate some personification of the field in an open forum? He does have catchy theme music, and a really nice intro, once you’re past all the religious stuff that screams  CONFIRMATION BIAS!!!!

Second, talk about beating a dead horse! I mean, how debunked does this have to be? This was put down in the 1930’s! It was debunked again in ’75 and 2009. Then to try and wave all that away with claims of vandals with crowbars? Come on.

Resources:

[1] “PALUXY RIVER,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/rbp17), accessed September 06, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

[2] Feder, Kenneth L. 2010. Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology: From Atalantis to the Walam Olum. Santa Barbara, CA. ABC-CLIO, LLC,

[3] Kennedy, Bud. 2008. “Human footprints beside dinosaur tracks? Let’s talk”. Fort Worth Star-Telegram. p. B02. (http://bit.ly/nCW8JQ)

[4] Kuban, Glen J. 2010. “The Paluxy Dinosaur/”Man Track” Controversy” (http://paleo.cc/paluxy.htm), accessed September 06, 2011.  Published by Glen J. Kuban.

[5] Neufeld, Berney. 1975. Dinosaur Tracks and Giant Men. Origins 2(2):64-76.  Geoscience Research Institute. (http://bit.ly/nVu3F6)

Margaret Elizabeth Ashley-Towle – Georgia’s First Professional Archaeologist

Margaret Elizabeth Ashley-Towle was not only Georgia’s first trained Archaeologist but perhaps the first female archaeologist in the south. It’s no small title to bestow on someone, but from all accounts Margaret was not only capable but admired among her male counterparts.

She was born to Claude Lordawick Ashley and Elizabeth Miller in Atlanta, Georgia on January 12, 1902. Entering into a prestigious pedigree, she none the less struck out to make a name on her own [2]. She attended Oglethorpe University in Atlanta and graduated an A.B. in English literature and a minor in journalism [2]. Afterwards, she enrolled in Columbia University in 1926, pursuing a graduate degree in anthropology and studying under Franz Boas [2].

Also that year she began excavating, working on the Indian Island site, now known as the Shinholser Mound site (9Bl2) in Baldwin County, Georgia [2]. This site is still located on the Oconee River near Milledgeville, GA [1]. This site contains two mounds dating to the Middle Mississippian Savannah period, along with artifacts from the Late Archaic, Late Mississippian Lamar, and Historic Creek Indians which have also been recovered [1]. There is also some evidence of early Spanish trade with the local Indian population [1].

Here Ashly did what all of Boas’ students were taught to do; good documentation and careful excavation. She did most of her work on Mound B and wrote a report for the Museum of the American Indian [2]. She described the stratigraphy and the recovered materials along with a few illustrations. Thought she wanted to return to the site, it’s not clear if she did or not.

In July 1927, Ashly notified Boaz that she’s spent a good deal of time traveling through Georgia and visiting sites. She formally began what she called “an archaeological survey of Georgia”, possibly meant to be her dissertation topic. At the time of the letter she had already surveyed four counties and some 500 sites [2].

In September of the same year, Ashley was asked to organize a department of archaeology for Emory University and to represent Emory in Warren K. Moorehead’s excavations at the Etowah site (9Br1) in North Georgia [2]. Ashley accepted this position and discontinued her official studies at Columbia. She assisted Moorehead until the spring of 1928, when she took over as director of the site [2]. She continued her survey of Georgia while working with Moorhead taking a field crew and investigating another 12 sites [2].

In 1929 she turned her attention to studying the pottery of the Etowah for Phillips Academy and the inevitable report became a major contribution to the Etowah Papers [2]. In it, Ashly tried unsuccessfully to use stratigraphy to separate pottery types. Still if gave her a good deal of experience that served her on other sites as wel [2]l.

Ashly conducted many, many more surveys during her time in the field. They would take pages to list them all, but at some point she bumped into or worked with just about every up and coming or already well know archaeologist in the state.

One of the last sites Ashly apparently surveyed was the Lockett Mound, now known as the Neisler site (9Tr1), located near the Flint River [2]. Ashley and her assistant Frank T. Schnell, spent three weeks at Neisler, performing major trench excavation atop the mound and surveying 250 test units [2]. Two fire pits were uncovered on the mound and fourteen burials excavated in the outlying area [2].

A great quote comes from this time. Ashly removed two burials while at the Neisler site and was asked by a reporter in attendance if they could have a bone as a “souvenir.” Ashly admonished the reporter by saying, “We do have respect for our finds.” [2] I whole-heartedly agree, it is because of this sentiment that so much of our past is preserved.

On February 18, 1930, the field lost Margaret Elizabeth Ashley as she became Margaret Elizabeth Ashley-Towle when she married Gerald Towle, a Harvard graduate and Moorehead’s top field assistant [2]. During her marriage she abandoned archaeology for some fourteen years, never to resume field work in Georgia [2]. During this time she was apparently injured severely causing her to spend the rest of her life in some pain that made field work nearly impossible [2].

In 1944, Gerald Towle died, and suddenly Ashly rejoined the field, returning to her pursuits at Columbia, this time studying ethnobotany [2]. In 1958, Margaret completed her dissertation, The Ethnobotany of Pre-Columbian Peru as Evidenced by Archaeological Materials, and received her Ph.D. Her dissertation was published as book 30 in the Viking Fund Publication in anthropology [2].  It was well received and filled a much neglected hole in archaeological study, enriching the study of agriculture in archaeology. Ashly worked for the Harvard Botanical Museum as an unpaid associate until her death on November 2, 1985 [2].

For more in this series check out Mother’s of the Field.

References:

[1] Hammack, Stephen A. 2011. OAS members visit Shinholser Mound site. (http://thesga.org/2011/04/oas-members-visit-shinholser-mound-site/) accessed September 06, 2011. Published by The Society for Georgia Archaeology.

[2] White, Nancy Marie, Sullivan, Lynne P., and Marrinan, Rochelle A., eds. 1999. Grit-Tempered: Early Women Archaeologists in the Southeastern United States. Tallahassee: University Press of Florida.

Other Rescorces:

Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site (http://ngeorgia.com/ang/Etowah_Indian_Mounds_State_Historic_Site)

Shnell, Frank T. and Newell O. Wright, Jr. 1993. Mississippi Period Archaeology of the Georgia Costal Plain. (http://shapiro.anthro.uga.edu/Archaeology/images/PDFs/uga_lab_series_26.pdf) University of Georgia.

The Society for Georgia Archaeology. (http://thesga.org)

William, Mark. 2009. Mapping the Shinholser Site, 2007 (http://shapiro.anthro.uga.edu/Lamar/images/PDFs/publication_133.pdf) Lamar Institute. Lamar Institute Publication

1990 Archaeological Excavations at Shinholser (9BL1): 1985 & 1987. (http://shapiro.anthro.uga.edu/Lamar/images/PDFs/publication_04.pdf) Lamar Institute / University of Georgia.

Why Exactly Will I not Accept Josephus as Evidence.

Why you ask? I mean, everyone knows he mentions Jesus Christ in his writing, right? Right? I mean, I was told by some who was told by someone, who might have been told by their preacher that Josephus mentions Christ. Or, wait! I read it on the internet somewhere.

Ask yourself this, What do you really know about Josephus and his writings? What if I told you that the Josephus text is not only a known forgery, but an acknowledged one by major church fathers? Would you then quit using it as evidence of Jesus’ existence?

Let’s start at the beginning; let’s start with Josephus himself.

The Man in Question.

Flavius Josephus was born sometime in 37 AD and died sometime around 97 AD. (I’m using AD vs CE just for confusion sake). This would have prevented him from being eye-witness to any of Christ or John the Baptist’s miracles. He was however a contemporary to the Christian Evangelicals who were, at that time, polishing up the books that would become the New Testament of today [1].

Josephus was a well know writer of his time, a historian who wrote on the history of the Jews in several books. Of note are Wars of the Jews and Antiquities. Time wise, Wars of the Jews was written 20 years earlier then the Antiquities, and this is important to know because there is no mention of James the Just, John the Baptist, or Jesus of Nazareth in Wars of the Jews. This is particularly perplexing because Wars of the Jews covers the time period when these men were supposed to have lived [1]. Josephus had access to living eyewitness of the time, his own father was a well-known Rabbi and well aware of the major events of his time. So why no mention of three men who would have been very noticeable?

A Few Quick Notes.

First, we need to understand that Antiquities is a very well planned and organized book. It has a table of contents associated with it, one of the oldest known. We are lucky to have it survive, many of these don’t make it to modern times. What this gives us is an outline of the document, how it was originally written and laid out by the author [1].

Secondly, we need to know that Eusebius Pamphili (c264-340 AD), and early church father, advocated the use of fraud and deception as long as it furthered the mission of the Church [2].

Antiquities.

It’s in Antiquities that things begin to get weird. The passage often quoted is known as the Testimonium Flaviannum, or the Testament of Josephus. (We’ll stick with Testimonium, cause it sounds cooler.) This is actually a single paragraph (called Paragraph 3, or P3) where Josephus begins exalting Christ, for no apparent reason. The paragraph before this (P2) talks about the mistreatment of the Jews at the hands of Pontius Pilate, and the paragraph afterwards (P4) says “About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder” [3].

Without knowing anything about P3 you might think this is a natural progression, but it’s not. P3 is pretty upbeat, it talks briefly of the miracles of Jesus, calls him ‘Messiah’ by name, mentions the crucifixion, and then mentions that the Christians live on to this day. The only commonalty between P3 and P2 is Pilate [3].

Scholars have looked over this paragraph and its relation to the others around it, and have found it to be an interloper. Not only is the tone mismatched, the words used are out of context for the writer. Jospehus was a Jew, born, raised,  and died. There is no record of him ever converting to Christianity, so his use of the word ‘Messiah’ is very suspicious. Also, if you remove P3 and read from P2 to P4 you’ll find the flow of words uninterrupted and the message of the stories intact [1].

Remember that Table of Contents I mentioned earlier? This passage is not listed in the original Table of Contents. I know that seems a little nit-picky but keep in mind that Josephus outlined this document for us, telling us what he was going to mention and where. To have this paragraph just stuck in here like this is unusual in the context of the document [1].

Dating is also an issue here. Using the events mentioned in P2 and P4 we can date these two paragraphs to be talking about 19AD. P3 jumps ahead about 11 years to 30AD. If we read the three paragraphs in their supposed correct order we move from year 19 to year 30 and back to year 19 again. Not the best way to relate events, especially events meant to be related to each other [1].

Eusebius.

This is probably the most damming bit of information I can offer against the Testimonium. The Testimonium fist appeared in the writings of Eusebius, who was a known forger. He advocated the use of forgery in the early church. The translations of Antiquities that and the copies made there from are traceable back to Eusebius. I can go on a list other early church fathers that never mentions or apparently knew about the Testimonium. Men like Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria [4]. Can I say without doubt that Eusbius is the actual forger, no, but I can say that his version, and only his version, of Antiquitieshas a forged paragraph in it.

Modern Use of the  Testimonium.

Even the more dogged evangelicals today have stopped using the Testimonium as historical evidence of Jesus’ existence. If the damming knowledge that Eusebius advocated and forged other documents wasn’t enough to draw it into question, the more scholarly methods I provided would be. It’s hard to continue to use flawed evidence against a well informed opponent, unless you never got the memo.

[1] Zindler, Frank. The Jesus the Jews Never Knew. (Cranford, New Jersey: American Atheist Press) Chpt. 2.

[2] Eusebius Pamphili, “How it may be Lawful and Fitting to use Falsehood as a Medicine, and for the Benefit of those who Want to be Deceived.” From Praeparatio Evangelica, Vol 12, Chpt 32.

[3] Whiston, William, Josephus: Complete Works (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1981), Antiquities, XVIII, 3.            

[4] Remsburg, John E., The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence (New York: The Truth Seeker Company, 1909) Pg 30-31

Those Who Never Knew Jesus – but Should Have.

I’m learning a lot from Frank Zindler. Mainly about people I’ve never had any reason before this to know anything about. I’m also learning quite a bit about the evolution of religion, specifically the evolution of Christianity. I’m always fascinated with how things change and morph into other things, especially when it’s a process of borrowing and altering other sources.

Now to be fair, I am only through the first chapter of the book “The Jesus the Jews Never Knew” but it’s a dense book. The first chapter mainly covers two men named Philo Judaeus and Justus of Tiberius. Both were Jewish authors that lived during the same time that Jesus of Nazareth was said to have live.

Now Justus was a well know writer who lived in, well, Tiberius. Though it’s true that Justus’ writings were lost sometime in the 9th or 10th century, we know a very important tid bit about his writings. We know they never mentions anyone like Jesus, or any of the events attributed to him despite having lived near Galilee during Jesus’ miraculous acts.

Philo of Judaeus aka Philo of Alexandria was a prolific writer and rather important to the early Christian founding fathers; Eusebius, Jerome, and Photius. This one is a little more convoluted as to why Philo is so significant.

Philo’s surviving works fill 900 modern pages, and who knows how much we’ve lost. In all those 900 pages he never mentions Jesus, St. Paul or anyone really associated with Christ or Christianity. He does mention a monastic cult known as the Therapeutae who appear to be the predecessors to Christian monks and nuns, but aren’t Christians themselves. Also, Philo appears to be the originator of the ideas of Logos (The Word) and Pneuma which became Hogion Pneuma (The Holy Ghost).

The weirdest part of Philo comes from his niece-in-law, Bernice, who is mentioned in Acts [chpt 26 & 27]. According to Acts, Bernice and her brother Herod Agrippa II, met and were witnessed to by St. Paul. This presents a major problem because, again, Philo never mentions St. Paul. It seems unrealistic to believe someone as prolific as Philo wouldn’t have:

  1. Noticed and wrote about something as awesome as Jesus’ miracles
  2.  Have talked to his own family and found out about St. Paul

Keep in mind that Philo lived during the entire span of Jesus’ life and lived in or near Jerusalem his whole life. He never mentions Herod’s massacre of babies, or the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, or the miracles associated with Jesus, or the earthquakes and zombie walk associated with Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

Still, Eusebius, Jerome, and Photius all try and force his writing into the Christian mold by making things up and using wording that makes things ambiguous. They also try and morph the Therapeutae into some kind of Christian group even though they existed long before Christ.

Even as Philo shows no signs of supporting Jesus as a historical figure, he does support a hypothesis that Zindler mentions early in his first chapter. He suggests that Christianity isn’t a new, sudden religion brought to us by a single teacher. He suggests that Christianity is natural evolution of older religions, borrowing and changing the older myths and stories to fit their needs. This is very common, and looking at the way Logos and Pneuma became part of the Christian doctrine, it’s also very convincing.

I’ll go into the Evolution of Christianity as I progress thorough the Historical Jesus series. They kind of go hand in hand. So my next post will start to lay the foundation for the Evolution of Christianity, just so we all have a similar starting point. Till Then!

Proving a Negative.

Honestly, when it comes down to it, you can’t prove a negative. So why am I doing this? Ah…

Well I am caving a bit to my fans on You Tube. They’ve been asking for me to focus more on biblical archaeology, and there is a lot of that to do. There are lots of ways that archaeology is abused to move a creationist agenda forward or to simply validate lies. However, it also opens me to a huge argument I wasn’t sure that I wanted to join in on. I mean, people take their religion really seriously, and they get offended really easily when it comes to religion. There really isn’t a way to avoid talking religion if I touch on biblical archaeology, so I guess I need to bite the built.

So why Jesus?

I listen to Point of Inquiry regularly, and a few weeks ago Dr. Robert Price interviewed a man named Frank Zindler who is a biblical scholar of sorts. He’s recently published a book named “The Jesus the Jews Never Knew: Sepher Toldoth Yeshu and the Quest for the Historical Jesus”. I have always asserted that there is no evidence of a historical Jesus, despite what Mr. Jacobovici might fabricate. When I heard Mr. Zindler talk about his research into the historical record I was interested at how much of a lack of evidence there was.

I’ve had a few arguments with zealots over the years that have tried to use bad archaeology to ‘prove’ that there was a Jesus. Problem is, all their ‘evidence’ has long been debunked by people more informed than I. Those arguments are also half formed, usually by something they’ve half heard or been told by someone they view as an authority. Zindler goes even more in-depth by examining Jewish literature and thoroughly removes that leg of the argument. Or as I call it, debunking the Jesus myth.

Still, A Negative?

We’ll never really be able to say there is no ‘Jesus’. I mean, I have Jesus that lives down the road from me. We can say there is no Jesus of Nazareth, and I think Zindler does this pretty effectively. So armed with Zindler, Dr. Price, and of course archaeology, I feel prepared to venture into the world of examining the Jesus myth myself.

My first act will be to confront Mr. Jacobovici’s claims of finding the Tomb of Jesus, starting with his newest claim of the Crucifixion Nails. Not only was this apparently shoddy archaeology, but his conclusions are completely out of left field.

This will also let me set a foundation for later debates I’m sure I will be having. I’m actually looking forward to this. I think it will be fun and all arguments aside, very informative.  See you then!

Crucifixion Nails Found? I Smell a Movie Deal.

This one caught my attention because I’m gearing up to investigate the Historical Jesus.

Basically, Simcha Jacobovici, the guy who brought us Jesus’ tomb, claims that he found nails that are from the crucifixion, providing further proof that the tomb is Jesus’.

My issues, let me number them…

  1. He provides absolutely no evidence in his very brief interview as to why the nails are authentically crucifixion nails.
  2. He claims that he’s working with an Archaeologist, but doesn’t name them or their institution.
  3. He’s working from the assumption that this is Jesus’ tomb, but that was never made clear either.

Not to mention he’s got another movie due out soon on…the nails….

I have to hand it to the author of the Omaha World-Herald, they’re having none of this crap. The skeptical tone they manage to keep is admirable. They point out the controversy around the nails; the fact that Jacobovici claims the nails were there in the original 1990 excavation, but were never photographed or recorded, then disappear for 20 years, and then magically reappeared in a Tel Aviv University lab in Jerusalem. If this is a true recounting, then this is a case of really crapy archaeology.

My guess is, that he’s making all this up for some free publicity. Normally, I ignore blatant cries for attention, but in this case, I am intrigued to see how he’s going to butcher the world of archaeology in order to fulfill his false claims. So yah, keep an eye out for his “documentary” on the discovery of the nails, and then wait for my rebuttal. Should be interesting.

Occam's Trowel for Archaeology

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