The Myth of the Smithsonian Archaeological Conspiracy

I’ve directed readers to Jason Colavito’s blog many times before, but I don’t believe I’ve included this specific essay: How David Childress Created the Myth of a Smithsonian Archaeological Conspiracy.

Jason makes a good case for the modern origin of this oft-repeated point of conspiracist dogma. I’m not claiming (and neither would Jason, I presume) that Childress is the explanation for every thread along these lines, but it seems pretty clear he’s a major fountainhead.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Another “Stone Age Atlantis”

Here’s a report about the discovery by some Swedish divers of “an ancient underwater site” deep in the Baltic. Since it’s in the Nordic region, it’s being dubbed as the “Swedish Atlantis.”

(Sigh).

Have you ever wondered why every time some evidence like this is discovered it’s always an Atlantis? Answer: it’s archeoporn. They need web traffic.

What we have (if the remains have been interpreted correctly) is a culture capable of building simple stone dwellings. That isn’t exactly Atlantis. But it makes for a good headline.

The issue is the age of the apparent settlement. From the link:

Buried 16 metres below the surface, Nilsson uncovered wood, flint tools, animal horns and ropes. . . . Among the most notable items found include a harpoon carving made from an animal bone, and the bones of an ancient animal called aurochs.

I can see why archaeologists would be excited about this. But honestly, I don’t see it as an “Atlantean” culture. A very old Nordic culture that used stone to build and harpooned sea creatures for food isn’t Atlantis.

 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Graham Hancock and Bad Archaeology

Professional archaeologist Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, the force behind the Bad Archaeology blog, recently posted a series of articles detailing the (poor) research techniques and (flawed) argumentation of Graham Hancock. Here are the links to the series:

Some of the posts are lengthy — Hancock’s archaeology is, well, bad.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Scholarly Online Bibliographies for the Study of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia

One word for this site: wow.

The above link leads to a gateway site for online bibliographies related to the study of the ancient Near East. It’s an amazing resource.

You’re welcome!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Update on Second Talpiot Tomb

This is about Talpiot B, the tomb with the alleged “Jonah and the fish” symbol on one of the ossuaries. Most people don’t think this is a coherent identification. I don’t (“Jonah” still looks like a ball of string to me). I’ve posted before about what the image probably is (here and here). Other scholars have accused the principle folks behind it of Photoshopping evidence. At any rate, here’s a recent update of the image — the work of Dr. Wim G. Meijer, via Duke professor Mark Goodacre’s NT blog.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Another Ancient Alien Fail: Moving 300 Ton Stones to Build China’s Forbidden City

The Live Science blog reported recently that Jiang Li, an engineer at the University of Science and Technology Beijing, has successfully translated an ancient Chinese document that reveals how stones in excess of 300 tons were moved over 70 miles without the wheel to build the famous Forbidden City.

Better sit down: the ancient document doesn’t credit aliens. Nor does it credit nephilim or talk about levitation.

From the article:

Vast numbers of huge stones were mined and transported there for its construction in the 15th and 16th centuries. The heaviest of these giant boulders, aptly named the Large Stone Carving, now weighs more than 220 tons (200 metric tons) but once weighed more than 330 tons (300 metric tons).

The ancient document Li translated revealed that workers dug wells every 1,600 feet (500 meters) or so to get water to pour on the ice to lubricate it. This made the ice even more slippery and, therefore, easier upon which to slide rocks.

The researchers calculated that a workforce of fewer than 50 men could haul a 123-ton stone on a sledge over lubricated ice from the quarry to the Forbidden City. In contrast, pulling the same load over bare ground would have required more than 1,500 men.

 

I’ll bet this won’t be part of the Ancient Aliens series. Just a guess. You just can’t make money telling people the truth.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

More Free Online Resources for Ancient Research

As is my custom, every once in a while I have to post something that veers away from exposing paleobabble toward real research. I’ve posted in the past about the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute and its posting of various volumes related to Assyriology. Here are some other goodies (courtesy of the Ancient World Online blog):

The Claremont Colleges Digital Library offers several open access resources relating to antiquity:

The Bulletin of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity is published periodically under the auspices of the Society for Antiquity and Christianity for the general information of persons interested in the research programs of the Institute.
The Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia (CCE) will initially include approximately 2800 articles published in The Coptic Encyclopedia (Aziz S. Atiya, ed. NY: Macmillan, 1991).
The Nag Hammadi codices, thirteen ancient manuscripts containing over fifty religious and philosophical texts written in Coptic and hidden in an earthenware jar for 1,600 years, were accidentally discovered in upper Egypt in the year 1945.

Attalus

This site contains over 25,000 links to Greek and Latin authors online. The links include detailed lists of events and sources for the history of the Hellenistic world and the Roman republic. It includes links to online translations of many of the sources, as well as new translations of some works which have not previously been easily available in English.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Aerial Archaeology, Anatolia, and Ancient Persia

I recently came across some open-access resources that some readers might find interesting and useful.1 Here are the links:

APAAME – The Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

ANADOLU – Open Access scholarly journal for the study of Anatolia (what’s now Turkey)

Online Encyclopædia Iranica

Enjoy!

  1. My apologies to ancient astronaut believers who might be confused by real research.

Nazca Spaceman?

nazcaastronautI’ve blogged about the famous Nazca lines before (“Doodling and Chicken Scratch of the Gods“), both in terms of why they have nothing to do with aliens and to expose readers to the thoughts of scholar-anthropologists on their manufacture and meaning. I recently came across an essay posted last December on the Ancient Aliens Debunked blog that pertains to the alleged Nazca astronaut that’s definitely worth a read: “The Nazca Astronaut Man: Owl-man or Fisherman?” The post focuses on the relief under the right elbow of the “astronaut” and the “spaceman’s” clothing. It makes a good case that: (1) the relief is actually a fish held on a line, next to a fishing pole (certainly has a fish shape when you look at it closely) and (2) the clothing is traditional Peruvian garb. It’s an interesting post. I’m betting an expert in Peruvian art could find analogous examples.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Free Book (PDF) on Temples and Temple Cosmology in Antiquity

The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago recently posted a new volume in the Oriental Institute Seminars series: Heaven on Earth: Temples, Ritual, and Cosmic Symbolism in the Ancient World (Edited by Deena Ragavan). You can download the book as a PDF for free here (click on the down arrow next to “terms of use”).

Here is the Table of Contents – some good stuff here!

Introduction
1. Heaven on Earth: Temples, Ritual, and Cosmic Symbolism in the Ancient World. Deena Ragavan

Part I: Architecture and Cosmology
2. Naturalizing Buddhist Cosmology in the Temple Architecture of China: The Case of the Yicihui Pillar. Tracy Miller
3. Hints at Temple Topography and Cosmic Geography from Hittite Sources. Susanne Görke
4. Images of the Cosmos: Sacred and Ritual Space in Jaina Temple Architecture in India. Julia A. B. Hegewald

Part II: Built Space and Natural Forms
5. The Classic Maya Temple: Centrality, Cosmology, and Sacred Geography in Ancient Mesoamerica. Karl Taube
6. Seeds and Mountains: The Cosmogony of Temples in South Asia. Michael W. Meister
7. Intrinsic and Constructed Sacred Space in Hittite Anatolia. Gary Beckman

Part III: Myth and Movement
8. On the Rocks: Greek Mountains and Sacred Conversations. Betsey A. Robinson
9. Entering Other Worlds: Gates, Rituals, and Cosmic Journeys in Sumerian Sources. Deena Ragavan

Part IV: Sacred Space and Ritual Practice
10. “We Are Going to the House in Prayer”: Theology, Cultic Topography, and Cosmology in the Emesal Prayers of Ancient Mesopotamia. Uri Gabbay
11. Temporary Ritual Structures and Their Cosmological Symbolism in Ancient
Mesopotamia. Claus Ambos
12. Sacred Space and Ritual Practice at the End of Prehistory in the Southern Levant. Yorke M. Rowan

Part V: Architecture, Power, and the State
13. Egyptian Temple Graffiti and the Gods: Appropriation and Ritualization in Karnak and Luxor. Elizabeth Frood
14. The Transformation of Sacred Space, Topography, and Royal Ritual in Persia and the Ancient Iranian World. Matthew P Canepa
15. The Cattlepen and the Sheepfold: Cities, Temples, and Pastoral Power in Ancient Mesopotamia. Omur Harmansah

Part VI: Images of Ritual
16. Sources of Egyptian Temple Cosmology: Divine Image, King, and Ritual Performer. John Baines
17. Mirror and Memory: Images of Ritual Actions in Greek Temple Decoration. Clemente Marconi

PART VII: Responses
18. Temples of the Depths, Pillars of the Heights, Gates in Between. Davíd Carrasco
19. Cosmos and Discipline. Richard Neer

Technorati Tags: , , , ,