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.

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Giant Sarcophagus Leads to Discovery of Previously Unknown (and Normal-Sized) Pharaoh

News of this discovery (also here) has been circulating around the web today. An archaeological team from the University of Pennsylvania (on of my alma matres) has uncovered a Second Intermediate Period necropolis at Abydos, Egypt. The discovery includes the remains of a previously unknown pharaoh named Woseribre Senebkay.

I thought it noteworthy to point out that the sarcophagus was over-sized (probably in the 8-9 foot range), but the actual remains of the Pharaoh tell us he was about 5′ 10″. You’ll often see large sarcophagi like this one touted as evidence that the occupant was a giant. Not so. You can’t tell anything about a person’s height from the box he’s buried in. The photos below come from the links above.

28554sarcoph

 

 

 

 

 

 

28554skel_egypt

 

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Giant Skeleton Hoaxes and Mis-Identifications

I’ve blogged several times about the pictures of giant human skeletons on the web that aren’t what they seem to be. They fall into two categories: hoaxes and mis-identification of the remains of either dinosaurs or (more often) mastodons or mammoths.

I recently came across this site, which conveniently displays several of the most widely circulated phony giant photos. If you go there, please click on the link mentioned in the article that is the source of most of these hoaxed photos: Worth1000.com. The site runs contests for image fakery. Here is the archaeology archive where you’ll find most of the fake giant photos out there on the web.

I also recently came across a good scholarly article on the other category — mis-identification. It’s by James Howard and entitled, “Fossil Proboscidians and Myths of Giant Men.” It can be downloaded for free.

On the term “proboscidian” (in the context of this post, an animal with a large trunk), here is the entry from dictionary.com:

pro·bos·cid·e·an

1. pertaining to or resembling a proboscis.

2. having a proboscis.
3. belonging or pertaining to the mammals of the order Proboscidea, characterized by a flexible trunk formed of the nostrils and upper lip, large tusks, a massive body, and columnar legs, comprising the elephant and the now-extinct mammoth and mastodon.

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Sanctified Gullibility is Still Gullibility

It doesn’t get much more embarrassing than this.

Jason Colavito has a short write up on how Christian apologists are using a prop — a giant human skeleton that isn’t a skeleton at all — from von Daniken’s ancient astronaut theme park for the gullible.

Since when is defending one’s faith with a lie a good idea?

Pretty pathetic. It leads people to follow several bogus thought trajectories:

1. That belief in a creator needs to be defended via the idea of giants (it doesn’t, and that “approach” is absurd).

2. That belief in a creator is synonymous with young earth creationism and rigid biblical literalism (it isn’t).

3. That those who defend the young earth view of creationism will basically stoop to any level to do so (many would not; that is, they aren’t ethically challenged).

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Discoveries of Giants and Giant Human Remains – Stretching the Truth or Just Tall Tales?

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:

Did Diego de Ordaz Find the Body of a Giant in Mexico?

Did Alvarez de Pineda Find Giants in Texas in 1519?

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Scholarly Papers on 1 Enoch Available For Free

Hey book of Enoch fans …

This link from the Ancient World Online (AWOL) will take you to a few dozen SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) seminar papers that have been made available for free. There were several academic papers on 1 Enoch that caught my eye:

Annette Yoshiko Reed, McMaster University Beyond Revealed Wisdom and Apocalyptic Epistemology: The Redeployment of Enochic Traditions about Knowledge in Early Christianity

Leslie Baynes, Missouri State University Enoch, the Angels, and Heavenly Books

Rebecca Lesses, Ithaca College Women, Magic, and the History of 1 Enoch

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Another Giant Human Skeleton That Isn’t

I’ve blogged before about giant human skeletons that aren’t giant human skeletons. The first two examples I blogged about were hoaxes, created with image editing software (see here and here). The Remnant of the Giants blog recently had an interesting post about a presumed giant human skeleton discovered in Belgium in 1643. Turned out the giant was a mammoth. This is typical, both in the ancient world (as chronicled by Adrienne Mayor) and, as this article points out, in modern times as well.

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Giant Mistaken Identity

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.

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The Cardiff Giant Hoax

Many of you have no doubt heard of the Cardiff giant — supposedly a genuine fossilized human giant discovered in 1869. Despite the conclusive evidence for a hoax, one can still find pictures of the giant on obscure websites where it is assumed tobe evidence for biblical giants. There’s a new book out on the hoax (2010) that looks like a definitive work. It’s entitled, “A Colossal Hoax: The Giant from Cardiff that Fooled America.” You can check out the book’s website here. It just went on my wish list.

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