Tag Archives: Graham Hancock

Question all the Pseudoarchaeology!

Would you believe I get asked a lot of questions?

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A lot of them kinda fall into the category of repeat things. “Have you seen X? What about Y lost civ? I found Z, is it real?” and “XYZ religion believes this thing, is it true?”

There’s always outsiders, but these are the categories for the most part. Normally I have seen/hear/read something about most mainstream fringe topics (didn’t think you’d see that phrase eh?) But every now and then I get something I haven’t, and I have to look into it.

The most challenging questions are the religious ones. I just want people to understand, you can’t debunk religious (or really any) beliefs.  I can’t tell you that your connection with ‘god’ or whatever isn’t valid. You wanna commune with nature, go for it. Honestly, as long as you’re not hurting anyone/anything or breaking major laws, I really don’t care what you believe.

What I do get testy about though is the use of archaeology and science to try and ‘prove’ religion. When I was first starting off as a YouTube channel, all them years ago y’all, I would constantly get pushback to my videos by Creationists, and well Mormons who wanted to use archaeology to either prove the earth isn’t as old as science says it is, or wanted to prove that there were advanced (white) Indians (Lost Tribes of Israel) in ancient America.

There are lots of problems with these claims, and I do question the purpose of such religious beliefs, but my point is, once you start to drag reality and facts into the discussion, you better bring evidence to back it up.

I’ve recently began looking over a new-ish religion using imagery of the Sacred Sun as an ancient, all-encompassing father cult that predates all other religions, and therefore spawned all other religions. They draw heavily from writers like Graham Hancock and his constant attempts to connect all ancient site together.

There’s a lot of underlying issues that are social and cultural in nature here, but the ones I really want to drive home is, there’s no archaeology to support such claims. In all reality, archaeology documents that cultures developed independently of each other, and connected with each other via trade, marriage, warfare, and diplomacy. Yes, we can see cultural traits passed down and adopted by others, but again, this only supports the idea of independence. Adapt, teach, learn. I harped on that in the last post.

Most importantly, we don’t see unifying cultural traits that we would expect to see if all religions/cultures were connected and decent from one super group. Seeing similarities between one group or another (the Maya and Egyptians for example) is often in the eye of the beholder and usually doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny.

Does this invalidate personal religious beliefs? No. Personal religious beliefs are personal. Does that make them good/right/virtuous? Again, up to the person/society, you’re in. Do I have to believe what someone else does? Hell no. Do I have to put up with it? Often times yes.

But when said group wants to try and drag archaeology into their beliefs and use it to further/support their beliefs (I’m looking at you Ancient Aliens and Hancock), you’ve moved out of the realm of Personal and into the realm of Facts. I can meet you there, you can show me your evidence and we can discuss it, and If you’re making some weird ass claim about super races and father cultures, it’s not going to be a fun meeting for you.


If you’d like to support the Podcast or site, consider donating to us on Patreon or buy us a  Ko-Fi. Either option helps us out.

Check out Jeb Card’s new book Spooky Archaeology :
Myth and the Science of the Past

And Ken Feder’s new book Archaeological Oddities: A Field Guide to Forty Claims of Lost Civilizations, Ancient Visitors, and Other Strange Sites in North America

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How Culture Works: Adapt, Teach, Learn.

I think many people who interact with pseudoarchaeology have similar origin stories. We all come to archaeology through a lense of curiosity, that was kindle in some part by the pseudo-information that was out there when we were growing up. I’ve spoken about my roots in role-play, especially D&D, but I also had a decent steeping in the Norse religious revival in the US.

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Cover of the Poetic Edda translated by Lee. M. Hollander.

I once dreamed of learning Old Norse and translating mysterious Runic scripts and learning the secrets of the old ways. Archaeology changed that for me. I went into archaeology as an extension of my fantasy rich image of the past and came out with a much different, yet far more interesting view.

I learned that magic, as cool as it seems, was unnecessary for peoples of the past. They had something much better, they had knowledge and ability. It’s what makes the human species so successful, our ability to adapt, teach, and learn. It’s also how we keep progressing from one cultural achievement to another. Adapt, teach, learn.

Got a new way to chip stone to make tools? Adapt, teach, learn.

Got a new way to make pottery that makes it more desirible somehow? Adapt, teach, learn.

Got a new cultural norm that benefits the population somehow? Adapt, teach, learn.

Logically these don’t always have to be beneficial, we can all probably think of things that weren’t that became issues in the past…lead for example. But the reality is, even those things were improvements of some kind at some point.

What else that’s important to keep in mind is, all of these adaptations, however simple they look to us today, were pretty important in their time. Some even revolutionary.

It’s these two basic principles of the past that get lost by the Fringe. They want to classify things as ‘primitive’ and ‘advanced’ when it’s really more of a “do we need this?” situation.

Take for example stone tools. Both Graham Hancock and Scott Wolter will waffle back and forth on whether or not these tools are ‘advanced’ or not. Depending on the narrative they’re building, the stone tools can be an example of how advanced a group is in their opinion, or how far behind they are compared to another group. This isn’t really how any of that works.

To put it simply, very simply, human beings really only change when there is a need to do so. Then they adapt, teach, learn. Why didn’t the early Native Americans have metal weapons like some contemporary European cultures? They didn’t need them, stone worked just fine.

Even within the states and various early Native cultures, we see this same process. Get out to the East coast before a certain time period and you won’t find a lot of Native pottery. Why? Because they had soapstone and they worked that into vessels. Other groups knew how to weave fiber or treat skin to make cooking and storage vessels. So they solved their problems in different ways and stuck with these techniques until they either needed a better one and adapted it, or they encountered a better way of doing things and adopted it. Adapt, teach, learn.

The dangerous error here though is considering one technique or cultural trait superior to another. Even Blue Nelson in the recent America’s Lost Vikings made the mistake of comparing ‘primitive’ stone tools to the more ‘advanced’ iron tools of the Vikings. That’s not how that is, one is not ‘better’ than the other unless you’re talking about how it works in the context of the culture it’s being used in. (And if you really want to get into Theory discussions, I can recommend some books…) As I said then, and I stand by it now, Nelson, as a trained archaeologist, should know better than to make that comparison.

Wolter and Hancock, they don’t have the benefit of being taught to step outside their own Eurocentric worldview to try to consider things from another cultural group’s viewpoint. It’s also why things like stone stools, megaliths, and earthworks seem like magic to them. They don’t understand how a ‘primitive’ group of people could have conceived of and then built such things. Then at the same time, they want to compare each group to each other, usually ignoring time-lines, culture change, and distance, and they want to rank all these groups as ‘primitive’ and ‘advanced’ judging those with more recognizable and understandable technology as being superior.

Then when they learn about something they consider ‘advanced’ being done by a group they think is ‘primitive’, they usually begin fantasizing about vastly more ‘advanced’ lost civilizations that must have given that advanced technology to the primitive people. It’s predictable to the point where you can watch or read just a little of either man’s argument, and know where they’re going with it. Yeah, I can dress it up by breaking down the absurdity of it “Australian Denisovans in South America,” or “Celtic Norse Templar Freemasons in Ancient America,” but it all comes down to, each man has picked their mysterious advanced culture group, and then sends them to bequeath technology and culture on the less advanced, usually Native Americas.

What’s most telling though is neither man sees issues with this. This is the only way they can conceive of a ‘primitive’ group of people learning to do ‘advanced’ things (both are arbitrary concepts btw). So they spend hours and pages trying to bend and stretch archaeology and history to match their narrative.

Eventually, though, even that has to break. I’m here to tell you, as I’m sure many other archaeologists will, that early Native people didn’t need to have culture and technology bequeathed on them from some supper group. They were quite capable themselves and managed to not only survive but thrive.

Adapt, teach, learn.

That’s how you got here.

Adapt, teach, learn.

Because ancient people didn’t die out.

Adapt, teach, learn.

And just because you can’t understand today how they did things in the past,

Adapt, teach, learn.

doesn’t mean Lost Civilizations or Aliens exist.


If you’d like to support the Podcast or site, consider donating to us on Patreon or buy us a  Ko-Fi. Either option helps us out.

Check out Jeb Card’s new book Spooky Archaeology :
Myth and the Science of the Past

And Ken Feder’s new book Archaeological Oddities: A Field Guide to Forty Claims of Lost Civilizations, Ancient Visitors, and Other Strange Sites in North America

Grab a t-shirt or coffee mug from our Swag Store on Zazzle.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on the blog and like and share us where ever you can.

You can follow us on twitter @ArchyFantasies, or look us up on Facebook. You can reach us by email at ArchyFantasies@gmail.com.

Contact us below or leave a comment.

 

The Past is a Foreign Country, Pseudoarchaeology and Interpretation.

the past

 

One of the things my professor said offhandedly in class one day that still sticks with me was “The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.” It took me a while to find out that the quote was from a 1953 novel by L.P.Hartley.

The impact of that quote on me is hopefully what my professor wanted, as I’ve never read the book. However, taken literally, this is a fact about the past I think is missed by most people, especially those in Alternative/Pseudo/Fringe/Mavric Archaeology. Things were different in the past. Things we take for granted today were not part of the past. I don’t just mean big noticeable things like flushing toilets and AC. Smaller things too, like zippers, buttons, toilet paper.

More importantly, society and social norms were different. Those of us alive today, especially in Westernized countries, have a lot of privileges and rights we would not have had in the past. The absence of these, informed the way society worked, and the way people thought about things. Obviously, things change, but we as Archaeologists have to think about this when we try to interpret things about the past.

Especially the deep past, prehistoric, ancient past.

Often we’re dealing with cultures and societies we don’t ourselves have direct connections with. We can only ever be outsiders looking in. And just because something looks one way to us (looks like an X to me!) doesn’t mean that’s really how it was.

We see this a lot with pseudoarchaeology shows, books, and blogs. Hancock’s current book, America Before does this a lot. I’m floored by the number of times Hancock just starts interpreting ancient historic things in his own way based solely on how things ‘look’ to him. He’s using his modern white feels, and he’s constantly coming up with a lost civilization that left no trace because that makes sense to him!

Well, it might make sense to Hancock, but it doesn’t make sense to the cultures and societies he’s dismissing and ignoring. It’s why archaeologists insist on evidence, and why we’re constantly going back and forth on our theory and interpretations of the past. Another thing Hancock doesn’t understand, science and theory change, and we’re ok with that. He might not be, but most (I would argue all, otherwise they are not professionals) professional archaeologists understand the past is not black and white, it’s just 50 shades of Munsell Neutral.

I’ll be having more thoughts like this as I work through the Tomb that is Hancock’s newest book, which I think will work better than any single review. But this is the thing that sticks out most right now. Check the categories below to follow along as I post these.


If you’d like to support the Podcast or site, consider donating to us on Patreon or buy us a  Ko-Fi. Either option helps us out.

Check out Jeb Card’s new book Spooky Archaeology :
Myth and the Science of the Past

And Ken Feder’s new book Archaeological Oddities: A Field Guide to Forty Claims of Lost Civilizations, Ancient Visitors, and Other Strange Sites in North America

Grab a t-shirt or coffee mug from our Swag Store on Zazzle.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on the blog and like and share us where ever you can.

You can follow us on twitter @ArchyFantasies, or look us up on Facebook. You can reach us by email at ArchyFantasies@gmail.com.

Contact us below or leave a comment.

The Never Ending Mystery of Stonehenge: Legends of the Lost Ep 1

After last week’s marathon post, it’s kinda nice to be able to have short one this week. Why, you ask? Because two-thirds of this episode is pure woo and spirituality. It has nothing to do with archaeology, and honestly has little to do with science, so…my job here is basically done after the first 20 min.

First, I want to talk about the obvious cutting and remixing of the first 30 seconds of the show though. The way it’s cut makes it look and sound like professional archaeologists are agreeing with topics that they were never even asked about in the show. I mean, yeah, who only watches the first 30 seconds of a show and not the rest? But it’s also the promo clip so it’s all some people may see, like a commercial. So, yeh, seeing something being dishonest like this bugs me.

But onto the show.

The show opens with Fox being driven out to Stonehenge by her local guide, Mark Conroy. Fox gives us this fluffy, woo-full voiceover with some actual facts about Stonehenge. The only real tidbit I take issue with is this awe she expresses at the age of Stonehenge and how amazed she is at celestial alignment: “2000 years before the science of astronomy was invented, at least as far as we know.”

This is an interesting turn of phrase for two reasons. First, it’s that whole “primitive people couldn’t have done this because I don’t understand how they could have” argument. It’s one the fringe dearly holds onto because it sets up the next implication of this statement, that there must have been someone else who did build it. You’ll see how this comes to the forefront later.

Ok, so the first 20 mins or so of the show is pretty if you ignore the woo language. We meet Si Cleggett  a project manager at Wessex Archaeology. Wessex Archaeology has a great page on their Stonehenge project here, and a fun twitter @wessexarch .

Cleggett does as a fantastic job of explaining what archaeology can tell us about Stonehenge and takes to see some of the things found here.There’s  also human remains, again, so points off for that. By Cleggett is very careful with his language and doesn’t feed into any pseudo ideas about Stonehenge, which is nice and how a show about Stonehenge should be.

We transition from Wessex Archaeology to talking with Timothy Darvill. He gives us his ideas about where the Blue Stones at Stonehenge came from, and show us an interesting thing about the sounds the stones make when struck. Fox records these sounds because she thinks they have magical healing powers, and that’s where all the archaeology ends.

From here is just Fox getting her head scanned while listing to tones and the banging noises, then going to Avery to talk a druid about Ley Lines.

There is a bit of dowsing, and really can’t help but point out how you can see Fox’s hand bending to make the dowsing rod move. See first  Maria Wheatly, the druid in question demonstrates the dowsing and clearly shows where the energy bands are first, even touch the stones to point out nice clear landmarks.

So it’s not surprising that Fox easily retraces the Bands locations, tilting her hand to get the rods to move.

Probably the only other moment of any interest to us is when Fox goes to see her personal hero and mentor, Graham Hancock.

I’m just gonna leave this bit from Wikipedia here because it pretty much sums up Graham Hancock.

Graham Bruce Hancock (/ˈhænkɒk/; born 2 August 1950) is a British author and reporter. Hancock specializes in pseudoscientific theories[1] involving ancient  civilizations , stone monuments or megaliths, altered states of consciousness, ancient myths, and astronomical or astrological data from the past.

One theme of his works proposes a connection with a ‘mother culture’ from which he believes other ancient civilizations sprang.[2]An example of pseudoarchaeology, his work has neither been peer reviewed nor published in academic journals.[1][3][4]

Hancock spends his time on the show basically hawking his most recent book and repeating his  unsupported about his mysterious ‘mother  culture’ (Atlantis) who were wiped out by a global climate event (the younger dryas) and the  survivors then spread out all over the world creating  culture and building all the megaliths in the world.

There is so much wrong with Hancock’s theory I could write a book, but I’m trying to keep this short

The last bit of the show we get a call back from Bartsch who tells Fox something about how her brain responded to the knocking sounds on the stones and it was something about Alpha waves. We fade out here here and see a barrage of images of foggy landscapes and Fox hugging rocks.

There’s really not a lot to unpack here because the archaeology is solid, not on any part of Fox’s other than there doesn’t appear to be much deceptive editing here. She does start the show with the premise that Stonehenge is some kind of prehistoric hospital, and that the stones have magical healing properties. One part of that statement might be supported by archaeology (its the first half if you couldn’t tell) but the other half is just spiritualism and feelings. 

After reviewing the first episode of Legends of the Lost about Viking Women and watching Fox sit out on a spiritual quest, now seeing her walk around Stonehenge and Avery, hugging stones and feeling energy waves, I do want to talk about Fox’s Religious Tourism here. Fox is using this series, so far, to indulge her desire to go to ‘spiritual’ places and have ‘religious’ experiences. Personally, I find it disrespectful to the religions she’s dipping her fingers in, and knowing what’s coming up in the series (giants) I’m already cringing inside. 

Jason Colavito also did a review of the show, you can read it here

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If you’d like to support the Podcast or site, consider donating to us on Patreon or buy us a  Ko-Fi. Either option helps us out.

Grab a t-shirt or coffee mug from our Swag Store on Zazzle.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on the blog at www.ArchyFantasies.com and like and share us where ever you can.

You can follow us on twitter @Archyfantsies, or look us up on Facebook. You can reach us by email at ArchyFantasies@gmail.com.

Contact us below or leave a comment.