I was just sent the image below from a friend who asked for my opinion.
I often get pictures like this that people think “prove” certain ideas about ancient alien influence on world civilizations. Asinine. Pardon my yawn.
Let me summarize what this proves:
All ancient cultures believed the gods lived where humans did not and could not – mountains, the depths of the sea, the waters above the sky, below the earth, etc. They also believed the gods lived in the best possible places – hence also the luxuriant garden idea, known best in arid cultures where finding an oasis was a big deal.
Taking the “gods live on mountains” idea, to localize a deity so that you can worship it and offer sacrifice, in return for blessing and barter, you’d build the deity a vacation home – in the shape of a mountain, like his or her real home. A home away from home.
Consequently, such images make me think “whoop-dee-do.” What other architectural shape would you use to build an artificial mountain / home / meeting place for a deity? It’s no surprise that the common shape occurs all over the world. It’s quite understandable.
Jason Colavito has a worthwhile post demonstrating the flawed thinking and resourcing of such claims (and they are quite common). But hey, I guess it sounds better than a giant prehistoric dog eating the evidence.
Jason Colavito has written some recent pieces on presumed discoveries of giant human specimens. Often such reports are simply not what they claim to be – evidence is misunderstood or even fabricated, or reports get garbled and transformed in transmission. Here are two illustrations courtesy of Jason’s work:
I’ve blogged before here about the importance of peer review. I came across these thoughts by another scholar (and friend; Dr. Larry Hurtado) on its crucial role for sifting nonsense. Hurtado is a seasoned NT scholar and has been on both sides of the process. Unless you approve of “researchers” making conspiratorial excuses to avoid submitting their thoughts and ideas to experts, you’ll enjoy it.
This past June Dr. Margaret Barker was on Coast to Coast AM talking about the infamous Jordan Codices. Barker is a legitimate scholar in the fields of biblical studies and Second Temple Judaism. She’s a favorite author of mine, not because I always (or even often) agree with her, but because she’s out of the box.
My fondness for Barker’s work won’t stop me from being critical of her thinking, though. Her thoughts about these codices, which basically the rest of the scholarly community thinks are fakes, for very good reasons, are a case in point. But I don’t have to chime in myself, as a fellow scholar and friend of mine, Dan McClellan, has already done so. Dan is one of a handful of scholars who has followed the codices saga very closely and done a lot of work to chronicle it for the rest of us. I recommend reading Dan’s critique of her appearance.
That’s the title of a new, freely accessible scholarly paper on the Antikythera mechanism you can find here. Here’s the abstract:
The Antikythera Mechanism is a fragmentarily preserved Hellenistic astronomical machine with bronze gearwheels, made about the second century B.C. In 2005, new data were gathered leading to considerably enhanced knowledge of its functions and the inscriptions on its exterior. However, much of the front of the instrument has remained uncertain due to loss of evidence. We report progress in reading a passage of one inscription that appears to describe the front of the Mechanism as a representation of a Greek geocentric cosmology, portraying the stars, Sun, Moon, and all five planets known in antiquity. Complementing this, we propose a new mechanical reconstruction of planetary gearwork in the Mechanism, incorporating an economical design closely analogous to the previously identified lunar anomaly mechanism, and accounting for much unresolved physical evidence.
For all those ancient aliens enthusiasts out there, please note the line about the five planets known in antiquity. The Gadarene rush among some in of that ilk to label the mechanism as proof of high (read: alien) technology in the ancient world would of course be proven wrong by this analysis. We’d have another case (just like Sumerian and Babylonian astrolabes and astronomical texts, contra Zecharia Sitchin) where the “aliens” presumably behind this technology only knew about five planets in our solar system.
Amazing how consistent that is. Why? Because we’re talking about human naked eye astronomy, not alien knowledge.