Jason Colavito has an informative post on the “big-business-factual-data-be-damned” approach of Ancient Aliens. The early section of his post notes connections between ancient astronaut theory and pop-culture, specifically with respect to Marvel comics.
The connections between ancient astronaut worldview and the sort of science fiction of comic books are deep. The comic book worlds pre-date the work of Sitchin and von Daniken. As Jason notes, there are secure roots in the writings of Lovecraft and others, but the more “vulgar” genre of the comic book also plays a significant role in where ancient astronaut theory really gets its “data”.
I recommend to readers two works in this regard. The first is a popular work of non-fiction. The second is a scholarly work (Univ of Chicago Press). Both are fascinating. The second, naturally, is dense and a harder read.
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 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 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.
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.
This is a steal, folks – especially if you can work in Akkadian. But even if not, Andrew George’s magisterial work on the Gilgamesh Epic is a must. It’s the most current scholarship on the original cuneiform text. The file features tablet transcriptions, transliteration, translation, and critical commentary on all that.
If you look this up on Amazon it’s $450. Here it is free.
I recently came this post on Ben Stanhope’s Remythologized blog: “Bart Ehrman Spanks Acharya S’ Christ Conspiracy.” It really does reflect the attitude of mainstream scholars toward the über skepticism of the Jesus-myther school (the wacky Zeitgeist conspiratorial hermeneutic). Ehrman of course describes himself as an near-atheist agnostic, so he’s no friend of conservative thinking about Jesus. But he knows nonsense when he reads it.
I’ve had the personal experience of being at academic conferences and dropping specific names of PaleoBabblers that multitudes out there on the internet presume know what they’re talking about only to have scholars laugh (literally). Real scholars are aware of the nonsense out on the web about Jesus being an amalgam of pagan gods, ancient astronauts, and [fill in the blank with some other point of nonsense]. They think it hilarious, not threatening. They don’t write about it because they consider it beneath them or a waste of the time they want to devote to publishing.
Anyone out there believe this primary data will stem the tide of the nonsensical hysteria? Nope; me neither. If the heretofore known Mayan primary material (which also does not predict the end of the world) didn’t rebut the quackery, this won’t either. But I assume readers will be interested.
Two years ago I blogged about alleged “structures” detected under the waters of the Caribbean via Google earth. Naturally, the paleobabble lobe in the brains of many people began throbbing away, directing them to the “truth” that Atlantis had been found. Fortunately for me, I had someone in one of the college classes I was teaching who knew something about imaging. She said right away that the “structures” were imaging quirks — something Google later proposed as well. I can now direct readers to this short post on the images from the Skeptophilia blog. Google re-imaged the areas and guess what? No structures.
All of those interested in PaleoBabble should be aware of the work of Jason Colavito. Jason has done a lot of work tracing the common ancient astronaut motifs back through science fiction of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His primary focus is H.P. Lovecraft. You can read a fairly lengthy overview on his site, entitled, “From Cthulhu to Cloning.” It’s fascinating stuff. Check out his book: The Cult of Alien Gods: H.P. Lovecraft and Extraterrestial Pop Culture.
I recently discovered a book that I can’t wait to read called Adam’s Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins (author: David Livingstone; Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008). The book is about how, in response to Darwinism, certain 19th and 20th century preachers and biblical scholars came up with the idea that there were races *before* Adam. They justified the idea with some truly bizarre Bible interpretation. Whether theologically conservative Christians and Jews who imbibe such ideas realize it or not, much of this is similar to “root race” theories peddled by occultists like Helena Blavatsky, whose esoteric teachings were one thread in the racial theories of people like Adolf Hitler. (And in case you think these ideas aren’t still around, spend some time on the internet).
Here are two reviews of this important academic work (an antidote to nonsensical Bible interpretation and misguided apologetics):
Have they been found? You don’t know how badly I want to say they were inside Noah’s ark and now brought forth by the Chinese team. (You do now).
A link to this article was sent to me today (thanks to Doug in Colorado). Here’s my favorite part of the piece:
“Further tests are now being carried out on the remains, and the country’s culture minister, Vezhdi Rashidov, declared that people should wait for results before making ‘emotional statements‘ about the identity of the bones’ original owner.”
Yes, by all means, let’s not rush to make emotional statements about the bones’ owner — or stupid ones, either.
I’ve seen a lot of CSI shows in the last few years, but I’m baffled as to how an exact identification with John the Baptist could be made from the remains (parts of a cranium, tooth and arm bone). Usually in CSI work, a DNA sample from the missing person or person of interest is compared to that of physical remains. Or perhaps comparisons on the basis of dental records. Last time I checked, neither method could be a possibility in this case. Even if they had all the neck vertebrae and could determine that one of the vertebrae had suffered an axe wound that wouldn’t point to John (he’d be a candidate, obviously). All we have here is a few bones and medieval tradition. And we all know how reliable medieval traditions are. I am reminded of the relic of the true cross of Christ and the spear of destiny right off the top of my head.
At least the article notes that dozens of other sites have claimed to have John’s head (or parts of it) or physical remains. I’ll bet the splinters from the true cross would be sufficient to build a museum for all the pieces of John’s body. The again they might require too much space.