If you’ve surfed the web at all in the last day or two you have probably heard about this “discovery.” One piece I saw on Yahoo News described the skeletal remains in the picture below as those of a “giant-headed mummy” with a “triangular skull.” It must be alien — right?
At first glance, the “giant-headed” description may cause readers to zip right past the fact that the specimen is twenty INCHES long. Here is another picture you likely won’t see on the archaeo-porn websites seeking to derive up their hit traffic. It puts things into perspective.
The specimen is most likely an infant whose head was wrapped to achieve the shape, as I have blogged about before (and lots of infants have misshapen heads without wrapping anyway). This is the opinion of the discoverer, at any rate (if it really is a discovery, as opposed to a hoax). But that of course doesn’t deter audience-seeking web journalists from using words like “alien” and “extraterrestrial.” But iust couldn’t be the result of head-wrapping, known to have been practiced over nine millennia, including in Peru.
Otherwise, is it just me, or are several of the teeth in the skull a different color? And maybe it’s my imagination that the jaw is also out of proportion. I’m sure there’s no hoaxing involved. I’m also sure the Colts will be in the play-offs this year.
At any rate, at least one report I read noted that there appears to be the remains of an eyeball in the right eye socket (pardon me while I ignore the fact that if this is ancient that shouldn’t be there). But if by some material this non-bone material survived all this time, that would be prime DNA testing material. We can all wait now for the “oh, if only we had the funding [and please help us with that]” lamentations that will likely follow (either that or “the scientific community won’t allow us to test it”). My money is on this turning out to be another in the long line of “finds” that do nothing but perpetuate the cherished mythology.
As I hoped in a recent post, I was able to attend Randall Price’s session at the annual Near East Archaeological Society meeting (a sub-session at the Evangelical Theological Society meeting) this past week in San Francisco. The session was entitled, “Report of the 2011 Ark Search LLC Expedition and Excavation on Mt. Ararat.” I’m happy to say it was an interesting and informative session. I went wanting to hear two things. First, I wanted to actually hear Price distance himself from the Chinese ark investigation hoax. I had previously posted a letter on this blog from Dr. Price disavowing the nonsense. You can find that letter here on Dr. Price’s website (and other items investigating the hoax). I just wanted to hear him say it in a room filled with many people predisposed to wanting the ark found. He did so, very clearly. He did the same when I briefly chatted with him later in the conference. Second, I wanted to know if he had read the recent critique of the bogus Carbon-14 testing that I linked readers to in this earlier post. He actually brought up the article before Q & A time, so I know he read it. He also agreed with its findings, which I was glad to hear.
My general impression of Price’s session is that he and his team are making a serious attempt to understand a large anomalous form under the ice that they have detected with ground-penetrating radar (the tests were performed by people expert in that technology, one of whom has a PhD in geology). The audience saw a number of slides from the data read-out that indeed showed an anomalous rectangular space or object. I can’t actually say more than that since some of the information (legitimately) ought not be discussed on the web due to legalities surrounding permits from the Turkish government (i.e., what the team was allowed to do and not allowed to do – I don’t want to mis-characterize anything I heard and make it hard for Price’s team to get permits next year). I can say that nothing even close to conclusive was found. It’s basically going to take permission to dig or drill into the object, and then proper testing of any material remains. I don’t say this sarcastically, but good luck with that. There are many physical and legal obstacles to even getting anything to test. That’s just the way it is.
There was only one negative aspect of the presentation for me. We really *can* do without all the Indiana Jones-ish storytelling. It amounts to hype and detracts from being taken seriously. There wasn’t a lot of that, but any of it is too much.
Here’s a link to a short post from the Bible Places blog that contains links to Carbon-14 analysis of the wood from the recent Noah’s ark “discovery” (read: fraud). It’s nice that someone bothers to do scientific research and pursue problems (the hoaxers do not) and report all the data (the hoaxers do not report everything in their upcoming “documentary”). Granted, the source for this critique comes from a site that itself many readers (and me) will question in regard to some of its own presuppositions, but this is the sort of research and analytical critique that needs to happen (note that the author of the critique does have a PhD in geology). This sentence in the post says it all:
In short, the burden of proof is on those who claim that they have discovered Noah’s Ark. Their unwillingness to report their data so that it can be analyzed by scholars suggests that they are perpetuating a fraud.
“Suggest” is far too nice.
I’ll be leaving tomorrow for the annual scholarly conferences in religion and biblical studies. I hope to catch a session or two that are about the recent Noah’s ark “research” (one is a session by Randall Price, and then there’s another on recent advances in satellite technology). If I get to those on the schedule, hopefully I’ll have something to share.
Hard to believe, but it’s been three years since I blogged about Adrienne Mayor’s book explaining references to giant skeletons and bones in ancient classical authors (The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times). It’s highly recommended. Tonight I came across a 24-page PDF that is the new introduction to the 2011 edition of the book. If you haven’t read the book (and you should), the intro will give you a very good idea of the sorts of things Mayor covers in her book.
Well, I’m finally back from a week on the east coast. That means things will start to return to normal. To get back on the blogging saddle, here’s a cool resource that readers of this blog might be able to use at some point in their own reading and research: 2300 ancient sites via Google Earth. Check it out!