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.
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.
I can second Jason Colavito’s thoughts on Aaron Adair’s recent post on the very human technology used to move the trilithon stones at Baalbek (and other such stones at other locations). It’s a very good post and, for critical thinkers at least, lays to rest the myths about alien participation at Baalbek.
Here’s a link to an interesting article about recent archaeological research in the village that housed the pyramid builders. It focuses on the evidence for large settled herds that generated food and served as a food source.
Why is it on Paleobabble?
Well, it’s sort of odd that this sort of thing would be needed at the Giza pyramid complex if the ancient Egyptians used the advance alien technology of levitation. We *know* it couldn’t be human. So, if they had levitation, one would think the pyramid would take very little time. Maybe a week with all those stones floating around — no need to drag them. Oh, and the lasers to cut them like butter. The pyramid would be a short-term project. Hmmm.
Or maybe it wasn’t aliens with technology advanced far beyond our own.
Readers will be thrilled to know that Simcha Jacobovici is keeping his “just so you know that Easter is really about me and my ideas” streak alive. In the past, Simcha has partnered with James Tabor to bunny hop all over the Christian holy day. James is along for the ride again, but keeping a bit of distance. A good idea, since Simcha’s newest academic resource is Scott Wolter, a researcher with a reputation for shell-game research and less-than-coherent thinking about ancient America and masonic conspiracies.1
This time Simcha and James want the world to know that Scott has made an amazing discovery that validates their earlier interpretation of the “Jesus Family Tomb” of East Talpiot: a “Knights Templar” coin that pictures Jesus emerging from a tomb — and it must be the Talpiot tomb, since the coin bears a Chevron symbol.
Setting aside the fact that Simcha and James deny that Jesus emerged from the Talpiot tomb — which would slightly mar the new analogy just a bit — there are problems with Wolter’s idea.
Jason Colavito has put together a worthwhile essay addressing this claim. As Jason so succinctly puts it, “The longer you look the less there is to see.” Indeed. Any leap from the first century to the high Middle Ages is problematic. But for so many who want to connect dots no matter where in space and time that they are, a non-sequitur is a bridge to understanding.2
Jason Colavito has documented Wolter’s flawed material and its presentation in a number of posts on his blog. ↩
And think about this case: “That shape on a medieval coin looks like that shape on a first century tomb — they must be related.” Pretty stunning. I’m glad we don’t have people who think like this working on the space shuttle or doing internal medicine. I’m happy to keep them in Washington, DC and the History Channel. ↩
Immanuel Velikovsky’s name is, for many, synonymous with paleobabble. I can think of a few other candidates I’d move ahead of him for such an honor, but Velikovsky indeed belongs to the “modern classical period” of wacky stuff related to study of the ancient world. You can read his Wikipedia page if you’re unfamiliar with him.
I recently came across this link: “Top Ten Reasons Why Velikovsky is Wrong About Worlds in Collision.” The essay at the link is long, dense, and technical. It’s also got terrible formatting (as in no formatting) so it’s hard on the eyes. I link to it because of the pedigree of its author, Leroy Ellenberger, who describes himself as follows:
This Top Ten list is based on 30 years exposure to Velikovsky’s ideas which includes 8 years as an insider at the Velikovsky journal Kronos (1978 – 1986), confidant to Velikovsky (4/78 – 11/79), invited “Devil’s Advocate” at Aeon (’88 – ’91), and 13 years as a turncoat/critic interacting with Velikovsky’s defenders and/or successors at conferences, in private, and in Usenet (’94 -’96) & list-serve forums.
In other words, he knows Velikovsky’s material really, really well. So all the haters can just email him to defend Velikovsky. And good luck with that.
This recent post on the Bad Archaeology blog provides a much-needed antidote against the Piri Reis paleobabble contagion. As author Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews notes at the outset:
Maps of the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries are a favourite source of information for fringe writers, who use them to make a wide variety of claims. To Erich von Däniken, for instance, they are evidence for a survey of the Earth from space, carried out by extraterrestrials, while for Graham Hancock, they are evidence for an ancient sea-faring civilisation, lost beneath the sea after the melting of glacial ice at the end of the Pleistocene.
Anyone who’s put any time into the Piri Reis issue knows the above is on target. What you may not have known is that the Piri Reis discussion is based in part on selective use of evidence. I highly recommend the essay, as it covers the alleged anomalies (e.g., knowledge of Antarctica before it became ice-covered) and the Charles Hapgood trajectories that are so frequently used to defend the paleobabbling perspective of Piri Reis.
PaleoBabble readers have likely heard about Dr. Robert Schoch’s theory of water erosion and the Sphinx. It’s been used by alternative researchers to argue for an advanced Egyptian civilization back to 10,500 BC, far earlier than the beginning of dynastic Egypt. Schoch is a geologist, and so his work has garnered serious attention. Dr. Colin Reader is also a geologist, and he isn’t buying what Schoch is selling. I’d invite readers to check out this recent essay by Chris White on the Reader-Schoch debate to get up to speed.
Colin Reader’s views on the Sphinx have been around for some time, as this lengthy 1997/1999 piece posted on Ian Lawton’s website indicates. Reader postulates an early dynastic origin for the monument that we know as the Sphinx (it underwent an evolution in appearance by human hands up to and including the reign of Khafre). This idea pre-dates an Old Kingdom (Khafre) origin, but is nowhere near the chronologically distant past where Schoch has it. He writes (see the Ian Lawton link):
The origins of the Sphinx as an icon are unclear. On the basis of the sequence of development that I propose, I consider that the concept of the man-headed lion was an evolutionary one, originating in the Early Dynastic association of the lion with solar worship and culminating in the Fourth Dynasty association of the Pharaoh with the sun-god – an association made manifest by re-carving the head of the Great Sphinx in the form of the divine king, perhaps during the reign of Khafre.
If you’ve ever visited underground caverns (or ridden a subway), you know that getting from Point A to Point B underground (hence, without the stars, sun, or landmarks for assistance) over any meaningful distance requires planning and intelligence. This is yet another telling find documenting the intelligence and applied aptitude of ancient humans. Sure, prehistoric people weren’t using electricity or computers, but they weren’t sitting on their duffs waiting for star visitors to solve their problems, either.