Tag Archives: Museum of Natural Sciences of Vienna

The Genetic Disk (Updated)

NOTE: In an earlier version of this post I mentioned that I had been unsuccessful at contacting Dr. Vera M. F. Hammer to get her comments on the Genetic Disk. After this post was published, and through the wonders of twitter, I was able to get in contact with her and she gave me some great insights into her involvement with the disk. Also, I’ve learned a bit about mineralogy and the differences between chert and schits and so have changed parts of the post due to this new information. I will note the areas that have been changed with an UPDATED tag. Thanks again to Dr. Hammer and to Edward Habsburg (@EdwardHabsburg)  who connected us. 

The red flags on this one just fly through the air. Just about nothing about this “artifact” makes sense. Honestly, it’s a little hard to know where to start here with this one.  I guess a description is in order.

The disk is said to be made out of lydite and measures 22 cm in diameter and weighs 2 Kg.  It’s apparently solid black in color and shaped like a Bi Disk. It’s carved on both faces, and has random images carved on it depicting what some are calling “the cycle of life.”

I can’t find any official origin story for the disk. What I can cobble together from the websites that focus on the disk is only that it was found somewhere in Columbia by a gentleman named Jaime Gutierrez-Lega, who  is a well known industrial designer in Columbia. At some point after it was found it was taken to the Museum of Natural Sciences of Vienna, Austria, and reportedly studied by Dr. Vera M. F. Hammer. She somehow managed to date the stone and apparently assigned it to the Pre-Columbian Muisca-culture.

Now, lets really begin to break this one down, because I’m rather surprised this one fools anyone once you really start to look at it.

First, There is no account or record of the Genetic Disk ever being discovered. This is kind of unusual because even fake artifacts have origin stories usually listing time(s) and place(s), often giving details of how the artifacts were found and by who. This time all we have is “The Disk was found in Columbia by Jaime Gutierrez-Lega.” This doesn’t tell us anything, and it’s sure  doesn’t help create confidence in authenticity.  Columbia is a big place, where in Columbia was it found? How did Gutierrez-Lega discover it? Was he digging with a group or did he just stub his toe on it? Why is there no record of it being discovered? Are there any other witnesses to the discovery? What did he do to preserve it? Where did he take it? Who else saw this artifact? Does Mr. Gutierrez-Lega even know he’s associated with the Disk or is he a convenient target for the conspiratorial minded?

What I have been able to cobble together about the Genetic Disk I’ve found on a variety of personal blogs, that I will list in the resources below. However, other than repeating the same shoddy details, they mainly just marvel over how cool the carvings are on the Disk and how they clearly show “the process of life” including two naked individuals, images of sperm, fertilized eggs, embryos, and some other random squiggles.  I mean, these are cool images, very sleek and modern looking, but they are not evidence of anything by themselves.

(UPDATE) Second. The claim here is that lydite is as hard as granite and is also delicate and flaky, making it too hard for prehistoric people to carve and too delicate for them to carve in such detail anyway. The first problem is that the way people are trying to support these claims is comparing the MOHS scale reading of lydite to that of granite. Never-minding that lydite and granite are two completely different types of rock (Hammer 2013), the MOHS scale  does not apply to rock, so the hardness of the rock used to carve the disk is not relevant (Hammer 2013)

As to not being able to carve something like this mysterious delicate and flaky rock, I’d like to point out that prehistoric peoples were incredibly gifted at carving shell and thin sheets of Mica into gorgets and other forms of jewelry. They were just as capable at carving delicate materials as they were crafting stone tools.

Now, that’s not saying I believe that the Genetic Disk is made out of any of these materials. There is nothing supporting the descriptions of the Disk. It is my opinion that the stone the Disk is made of is not lydite at all. Dr. Hammer gave a good deal of information on the actual  composition of the material of the disk, and I am leaving that for the section below.

(UPDATED) Third. Lets begin to look at the people involved with the disk.

The supposed finder of the Genetic Disk is Jaime Gutierrez-Lega, who  is an Industrial Designer known for his modern and sleek designs in his artwork. We know Gutierrez-Lega is a real person, but I have no idea what, if anything, he has to do with archaeology. I can’t really say more than that with any certainty. I have not been able to find a way to contact him. However, if this story is remotely true, I find it very suspicious that an modern artist found an artifact out of the blue, that looks very sleek and very modern in design. I’m not saying Mr. Gutierrez-Lega has done anything, it’s my guess he’s probably not involved, or if he is, he’s been horribly taken out of context and his goodwill taken advantage of.

Which brings us to the next participant. As I stated at the beginning of this post, Dr. Vera M.F. Hammer recently contacted me to answer my questions about her involvement with the disk. She was very kind to do so, and it was very exciting to talk to someone living who is involved in something like this. I have reproduced  Dr. Hammer’s account here.

Dr. Hammer is a Mineralogist, not a Geologist as some sites (myself included, sorry.) have said.  Since 1992 she has worked as a curator for the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Department of Mineralogy and Petrography.  According to Dr. Hammer she first encountered the disk in 2001 through Mr. Klaus Dona, an individual I didn’t touch on last time, but will get to this time. But first, Dr. Hammer’s account:

“I was asked in the year 2001 by Mr. Klaus Dona, who curated the exhibition “Unsolved Mysteries” in the same year in Vienna, to make XRD analyses of some of the exhibited objects. Most of the objects include new materials and I told him that this were fakes, but this is not what he wants to hear… Even other scientists from our Museum told the owners of the objects, and Mr. Klaus Dona, that all that stuff is not what they believed. Some of the exhibited objects were curiosities by the nature, others man made new stuff which you can buy in any touristic shop in that areas. But anyway, our comment about the so called „genetic disc“ was only that it consists of feldspar, quartz and mica, which was proved by XRD measurement.

My former director who was petrologist said, that this rock could be lydite (a grey to black fine grained schist) or an artificial product made of this minerals. I never classified the disk or any other of these objects to a special cultural period or give any statement of age, which in fact are not part of my competence. So, this was the only information we gave, not more! All interpretation of symbols and signs, age or anything else arise in the head of the owner and/or the curator of the exhibition! There was no author given in the catalogue about “Unsolved Mysteries”, so in fact, I don’t know who writes all that nonsense!”

Dr. Hammer’s statement pretty much concludes this whole thing. The one and only official researcher who is mentioned as having studied the Disk tells us it is a fake.

So let’s take that closer look at Mr. Klaus Dona.

Mr. Dona appears to be based out of Austria and calls himself a Spiritual Archaeologist. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m pretty skeptical it’s a real sub-field of archaeology. Mr. Dona’s website is Unsolved Mysteries, where he sells some books, has some more extensive explanations of the Genetic Disk and other artifacts. In his explanation for the Disk he says “Geologists at the University of Bogotá date it to a prehistoric epoch. The most recent examinations were unable to find evidence of faking.” Except for the researchers at Natural History Museum in Vienna telling him they were fakes and also the fact that Geologists aren’t going to be able to date an artifact, also I notice he’s stopped giving the names of his researchers.

Mr. Dona also has a hard time keeping his own facts straight. In a video on YouTube titled “Klaus Dona – The Hidden History of the Human Race – Must Watch” at about 25:50 he begins to talk about the Disk. He says there is no way to identify the culture that produced the artifacts and that the way the artifacts were dated was by guessing the artifacts were older than any known civilization in the area, therefore they must be 6,000 years old. Very scientific. He doesn’t mention how any of these things were found, where exactly they were found, why they are considered older than all other civilizations in the area, or who the researchers were that helped date and identify and interpret the Disk et al. He gives no evidence whatsoever to back up any of his claims.

Fourth. It is really hard to date rock, and assuming you could get a date, you would literally be dating the rock itself, not the artifact that was made out of the rock. There is often no organic material on rock to date to get an age for the artifact, and so, often the age of rock artifacts is reliant on the context of the area it was found in, or, as in the case of stone tools, the style in which the artifact was made.  So how they got a date for the Disk is beyond me. Unless people are trying to say that the age of the rock is concurrent with the age of the Muisca-culture, in that case, there is no evidence to support this. Though according the Mr. Dona, they are basically just making it up. 

Fifth and lastly. I don’t see any similarities between the artwork on the Disk and the artwork left behind by the Muisca-culture. The few Muisca items I’ve seen don’t look anything like the Disk. Which I guess is the point, but if this was a culture that lived along side of the Muisca, why is there no other evidence of their presence? If this was a more advanced people, visiting their vast knowledge on an ancient peoples, why is there no further evidence for their presence? If this was the work of aliens, then why is there no further evidence….well you get the point.

(Updated) My Observations.

The Genetic Disk is just so bizarre to me because, if you ask any questions at all about it, the whole story begins to fall apart. The one named researcher who supposedly helped date and decode the disk clearly did not. Not only that, she clearly told Mr. Dona that the Disk and it’s related artifacts were fakes. The museum where the Disk was supposedly studied is a fake place. There is no documentation, fake or otherwise, to support where and how the disk was found. The material of the disk could probably be man-made, meaning that the Disk could have been (probably is) a cast. Mr. Dona, being informed of this, continues to change his story about the Disk, evolving it to meet his needs. I mean, the only thing I am convinced of is that somewhere there is an object that looks like the picture above.  There is absolutely nothing supporting the validity or reality of the disk.


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Resources:

Hammer, Vera M. F.

2013    Personal Correspondence via Email. December 17, 2013.

N.d    Personal reference page – http://www.nhm-wien.ac.at/en/research/mineralogy__petrography/staff/vera_m_f_hammer. Accessed 12/11/2013

Hurst, K. Kris.

N.d.   Musica Culture. About.com http://archaeology.about.com/cs/glossary/g/muisca.htm”>http://archaeology.about.com/cs/glossary/g/muisca.htm. Accessed 12/11/2013

Questionable Resources:

Above Top Secret. The Awesome Mystery of the Pre Columbian “Genetic Disc”. Astonishing Knowledge!  http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread770144/pg1.  Accessed 12/11/2013

Klaus Dona, Spiritual Archaeologist. http://projectcamelot.org/klaus_dona.html. Accessed 12/11/2013

Onovus: Ancient Mysteries and Present Discoveries. Genetic Disc | Advanced Biological Knowledge in Ancient Times. https://onovus.wordpress.com/tag/genetic-disk/. Accessed 12/11/2013

Unsolved Mysteries: The Genetic Disc. http://unsolved-mysteries.info/english/objects/e01_01c.htm. Accessed 12/11/2013