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.
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:
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.
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?
Rosslyn Chapel and its medieval associations are chronologically out of order for this blog, but since the chapel figures in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code quackery, I thought this was worth a mention. No, the remains aren’t that of Mary Magdalene or any of Jesus’ descendants. As one archaeologist at Archeoblog explains in an excerpt:
Archaeologists now believe the skeletons were placed there when the chapel was abandoned during the Reformation, in the 17th century, by local people who wanted to bury their relatives on consecrated ground. They lay under the stone for more than three centuries until the slabs were lifted two years ago.
I can hardly wait until $imcha Jacobovici gets wind of this. Just wait … he’ll find some way to match the DNA from one of these Rosslyn skeletons to the bone fragments of his “Jesus family tomb” and voila! … another TV special and revenue stream!
Yesterday I received an email containing some pictures of alleged giant skeletons. PaleoBabble readers know that I’ve posted before on this topic before, noting how Photoshop is certainly the solution to many of these pictures you see circulating on the web. Whenever I get photos like these (see below), I wish I had the time to comb the web for the originals that were used to create the hoaxes. Sometimes you find someone who’s already done that work (like my earlier post, linked above). But this sort of thing could take dozens of hours. Fortunately, among the two photos sent to me are two that are easily demonstrated to be fakes. Here’s the first of the two:
Now here’s the second:
Can you spot the problem? Look at the skulls side by side below:
See it? What are the odds that two skulls, at two allegedly different archaeological digs, would be missing the exact same teeth? A billion to one, I’d say. Take a closer look at the comparison picture. You can see that the fracture lines on the two photos at the bridge of the nose are also exactly the same. It’s the same skull, photo-shopped into two different pictures, with adjustments made in tinting.
You can find these pictures on several creationist websites. That’s a shame. Readers should know that I am no enemy of the idea of a divine creator. Frankly, I think creation is much more philosophically coherent than naturalistic materialism. But this is simply unethical.