Posts Tagged With: Antiquities

The 10 Most Not-So-Puzzling Ancient Artifacts: The Ica Stones

As we move on down the line of the 10 most not-so-puzzling ancient artifacts, we come to the Ica Stones. These are perhaps the most perplexing to me, since I don’t understand how anyone can look at these and think they are real.

A bad day for Fred Flintstone

These little gems range in size from cobbles to boulders, and depict a wide variety of images from humans co-existing with dinosaurs, to advanced surgery, and spaceships with advanced technology.

Apparently, this one is a modern hoax starting in 1966 when one, Dr. Javier Cabrera Darquea, a Peruvian physician, received a small carved rock as a gift for his birthday. The stone apparently came from a small town in Peru called Ica.  Dr. Cabrera seems to have had a great interest in prehistoric extinct fish, because when he saw the carved rock he recognized as such (Polidoro 2002, Carroll 2002, Feder 2010).

The Fish That Started it All.

Never mind that Dr. Cabrera never identified the fish, or mentions how he knows the fish is an accurate depiction of said unidentified species (Carroll 2002).

Dr. Cabrera became so fascinated with the little stone that he went looking for more. Lucky for him the locals were more than happy to provide them to him. Basilio Uschuya, a local farmer, began to provide more of the black volcanic stones to him. Uschuya claimed that he was finding them in a cave not far away. Uschuya never made known the location of the cave and Cabrera never appears to have gone looking for it. Still, Cabrera did become so engrossed with the stones and their apparent message that he built them a museum, left his physician career, and dedicated the rest of his life to buying all the stones he could get from the locals (Polidoro 2002). The Ica Stones are currently displayed in the Ica Stones Museum in Ica, Peru, which houses approximately 11,000 of the estimated 15,000 or more stones that are said to exist (Ross 2007, Feder 2010).

Dr. Cabrera and His Collection

So, as always we must ask, What are the Ica Stones really?

The stones themselves are varying sized pieces of Andesite, which is a type of hard volcanic rock. Various images have been engraved on the surface of these rocks depicting, as I said earlier, all sorts of crazy stuff. They also seem to all have a certain type of patina on them seemingly verifying their age. Cabrera has claimed that andesite is too hard to carve using stone tools (Carroll 2002), so for him it’s a sign that the stones were carved using advanced technology, like so many of the stones depict. The reality is that the stones are graved, as in a surface layer of oxidation has been scratched away, not carved (Carroll 2002). The difference is in the shallowness of the images on the surface of the stones.

Then there is that pesky patina, which many supporters claim is evidence of the carvings great age. Again, the reality is that the patina can be faked, as any antiquities expert will tell you.

Added to this is the admission of Basilio Uschuya to both the Erik Van Danikin and Peruvian authorities that he forged the stones, going as far to explain how he did it and producing one on the spot to prove his innocence (Ross 2007, Carroll 2002). Apparently, a dentist drill will carve anything, and the patina can be faked by either baking the stones in cow dung, or leaving them for a time in the Chicken coup (Ica N.d.). He chose his subjects from illustrations in comic books, school books, and magazines (Carroll 2002, Polidoro 2002, Ross 2007, Feder 2010). He also said that he had not made all the stones, and continued to sell similar stones to tourists as trinkets after the inquiry by the Peruvian government (Ica N.d., Feder 2010).

That’s pretty cut and dry for me, but for others, there is more to the stones then a simple hoax.

What I do like about these stones is how they manage to cross all the common conspiracy groups at the same time. See, the stones simultaneously supposedly validate the claims of the Ancient Astronauts Theorists, the Creationists, and the Atlantis folks all at once. They seem to have a little something for everyone.

Man Hunting the Tasty Sharp-toothed Brontosaurus.

For the Creationist folks there is the images of Dinos and Man living together. Sometimes they are hunting each other, sometimes Man is domesticating the Dinos. Whatever image that stones depict, all the Creationists see is evidence of a young earth and their particular slant on prehistory, despite the 60 million years that separates living dinosaurs from our earliest human ancestors.

The Nazca Lines, therefore Aliens.

For the Ancient Alien folks, there appear to be several stones that depict celestial bodies, things that might be space ships, and of course the Nazca Lines. All those things add up to Aliens visiting and teaching humans advanced technology, and leaving the newly advanced humans species with no other way to record such a visit, then to carve the events primitively onto stones.

Floating Heart Surgery.

For the Atlantis folks there are images of advanced technology and surgery. Stuff far to advanced for primitive brown people, so obviously the erudite Atlanteans brought their knowledge to these people, and again, had no better way to record all of this then to carve it into stone.

Where do we go with all of this?

No matter how you cut it, all three groups are claiming a very advanced, yet somehow lost and forgotten culture. So to all three groups one has to ask, why  has no one has ever found any other remnants of this great culture? Where are the encampments, the trash, the burials, the kilns, the tools, the grave goods, the monuments, the trade goods, the descendants of the people? Why if this culture is so advanced that they could perform modern surgery and take down animals hundreds of times their size, could they not find a better way to preserver their history then shallowly scratched stones? Why is it that no dinosaur’s fossils can be dated to an age contemporary with man (Polidoro 2002)?

Collection of Various Stones.

Dating the stones presents it own set of duh moments. Stones without organic mater can’t be carbon dated, so we rely on the strata in which they are found. Removing the stones without documenting where they were found pretty much renders the stones undatable, and basically useless to the archaeological record.

Sound Familiar? Yah, I’ve harped on this point before: let’s assume for a brief moment the Ica stones are real. Since they have never been properly recorded, and the cave they were supposedly found in has never been located, they are completely out of context, and nothing of significance can be learned from them. It also makes it impossible to date them or assigned them to a cultural group. Which is the fancy way of saying, they are completely useless.

Add to that the numerous debunking of the stones starting in 1977 during the BBC documentary “Pathway to the Gods”, Uschuya produced a “genuine” Ica stone with a dentist’s drill and claimed to have produced the patina by baking the stone in cow dung (Ica N.d.).

Then again in 1998, after four years of investigation, Spanish investigator Vicente Paris declared the stones a hoax (Ica N.d.). He stated that the stones showed traces of modern paints and abrasives. The strongest evidence he presented was the crispness of the shallow engravings; stones of great age should have substantial erosion of the surfaces (Ica N.d.).

Finally, a recent examination of the stones, done in Barcelona by José Antonio Lamich, founder of the Spanish “Hipergea” research group, revealed signs of sandpaper and recent carvings, backing up Paris’ investigations (Polidoro 2002, Feder 2010).

So with all of this stacked against the Ica Stones, not to mention the clearly ridiculous images depicted on the stones, how can anyone believe these are anything other than a hoax?

Here There Be Dragons!

 


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Resources:

Carroll,Robert T.

2002.  Ica Stones. Skeptics Dictioary. http://www.skepdic.com/icastones.html Accessed 5/3/2012

Feder, Kennith.

2010.Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology: From Atlantis to the Walam Olum. Greenwood

Polidoro, Massimo.

2002. Ica Stones: Yabba-Dabba-Do! Skeptical Inquier. Volume 26.5, September / October 2002
http://www.csicop.org/si/show/ica_stones_yabba-dabba-do/ Accessed 5/3/2012

Ross, Sara.

2007. The Ica Stones and Dr. Javier Cabrera. PARA Web Bibliography B-03. http://pseudoarchaeology.org/b03-ross.html Accessed 5/3/2012

The Ica Stones of Peru

N.d. http://www.crystalinks.com/icastones.html Accessed 5/3/2012

Categories: 10 Most Puzzling Ancient Artifacts, Ancient Astronauts, Creation Science and Intelligent Design, Weird Archaeology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

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

Categories: Historical Jesus | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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