Your antidote to cyber-twaddle and misguided research about the ancient world. Lots of people do research on the mysteries of antiquity. Some insights are valuable; others are insanely stupid. PaleoBabble exists because insisting that conclusions be drawn from data is a coherent idea, because conjecture isn’t evidence, and because appealing to conspiracy to validate ideas is intellectually lazy.Paleobabble RSS
Paleobabble Blog Entries
Once you see the home videos of its creator doing the work, the mystery evaporates. Nothing supernatural or advanced for its own time. Just simple, well-known tools and engineering.
The structures aren’t ancient, but the same sort of paleobabbling “explanations” used for Coral Castle are used for those structures, too. Enjoy!
Kudos to Chris White once again. Chris is the guy who created the free, three-hour documentary, Ancient Aliens Debunked, of which I was a part. Give that a watch, too (nearly five million people already have).
GAIAM TV just sent me a link to the show episode. There’s a preview you can watch, but the episode isn’t free (this isn’t YouTube).
Keep in mind this interview with George Noory was for folks with little to no background on the Bible of biblical prophecy, and no theological / religious commitment was presumed. In other words, this is the normal Coast to Coast AM audience, which ranges far and wide, from what confessional Christians would call New Age spirituality to no religious inclination at all.
One trivia note: I had to do the interview without glasses. That was a first. Felt awkward (I could see George, but he was basically amorphous – my eyesight is terrible).
This was my second time on Conspirinormal. This one spends a little time on items in The Unseen Realm, but actually jumps around on a lot of topics.
I encourage all of you to read Jason Colavito’s lengthy review of Hancock’s latest tome devoted to alternative history. But if you want the short version, Colavito offers this summary thought:
Speaking as someone who found Fingerprints of the Gods to be entertaining and engaging, even when it was wrong, I can say that Magicians of the Gods is not a good book by either the standards of entertainment or science. It is Hancock at his worst: angry, petulant, and slipshod. Hancock assumes readers have already read and remembered all of his previous books going back decades, and his new book fails to stand on its own either as an argument or as a piece of literature. It is an update and an appendix masquerading as a revelation. This much is evident from the amount of material Hancock asks readers to return to Fingerprints to consult, and the number of references—bad, secondary ones—he copies wholesale from the earlier book, or cites directly to himself in that book.
I hope you all won’t settle for that, as Jason’s review includes some telling observations and critique of Hancock’s sources and method.
Review of Edited Volume of Papers Delivered at Jerusalem Conference on the Alleged Jesus Family Tomb
The Society of Biblical Literature’s Review of Biblical Literature just published a review of James H. Charlesworth’s edited volume, The Tomb of Jesus and His Family? Exploring Ancient Jewish Tombs Near Jerusalem’s Walls (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013). The review is by Jodi Magness, who begins the review this way:
This volume contains twenty-six papers (plus an introduction and conclusion by the editor) presented at a conference that was held Jerusalem in January 2008 on “Jewish Views of the After Life and Burial Practices in Second Temple Judaism: Evaluating the Talpiot Tomb in Context.” Although most of the papers focus on some aspect of the Talpiyot (or Talpiot)tomb and its ossuaries and/or the “James ossuary,” they are written by scholars with widely varying perspectives and fields of expertise, including archaeology, epigraphy and paleography, theology, social history, biology, statistics, New Testament, rabbinics, religious studies, geology, women’s studies, and mathematics.
For those who may not remember, in March 2007the Discovery Channel broadcast a documentary by Simcha Jacobovici in which he claimed that the lost tomb of Jesus and his family had been discovered in Jerusalem (also published in a related book). This was none other than the Talpiyot tomb (so-called after the Jerusalem neighborhood in which it is located), which was excavated by archaeologists in 1980 after it was discovered during construction work. A final report on the Talpiyot tomb excavation was published in ‘Atiqot in 1996. The tomb contained ten ossuaries, six of them inscribed (five in Aramaic and one in Greek), while the remaining four are plain (one is now missing). Archaeologists noted that some of the names in the inscriptions (e.g., Yeshua son of Yehoseph; Marya; Mariam/Mariame; Yoseh [apparently a diminutive of Yehosef]) recall individuals associated with Jesus in the NewTestament accounts but considered this a coincidence, as these were common names among the Jewish population at the time. However, in the documentary Jacobovici claimed that the inscriptions identify this as the tomb of Jesus and his family, marshalling an array of supporting evidence that includes statistical and DNA analyses. The implications of this claim are that Jesus was not resurrected (as his physical remains were placed in an ossuary), that he was married to Mary Magdalene (who supposedly is named in one of the inscriptions), and that he had a son named Judah (as one of the ossuaries is inscribed Yehudah bar Yeshua). Jacobovici also has attempted to prove that an adjacent, unexcavated tomb (the Patio tomb) contains the remains of followers of Jesus and that the James ossuary (which has no archaeological provenience but surfaced in a private collection) is the tenth (now missing) ossuary from the Talpiyot tomb.
The review isn’t long, but it’s informative. Highly recommended.
I’ll be on Reddit tomorrow at 12:30pm Pacific time for an AMA – “Ask Me Anything” – session. I’ve never been on Reddit before, so I can’t tell you much. This is a first for me. I’ve been told I’ll be for 1.5-2 hrs and will have to type my answers. Lexham / Faithlife social media marketers did the grunt work to set this up. We’re all hoping I’ll get some questions relating to content in The Unseen Realm, but folks can ask me anything.
To view the session click here.
Hat tip to Mark Goodacre via Twitter for this update on the forgery. The post is by Coptologist Christian Askeland.
Nice to have some change of (interview) pace. Check out the interview with the hosts of the Stary Time (not a misspelling) podcast.
I’ve gotten a couple questions recently about the Angel Scroll. It seems a fair number of people out there think it’s real. If that’s you, get ready to be disappointed.
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, over ten years ago (probably closer to fifteen as I was still in grad school) I saw an article in the Jerusalem Post about a new ancient scroll — termed the Angel Scroll. The article gave a brief description of an alleged scroll of unknown provenance but which had begun to circulate among a handful of scholars, one of whom was Stephen Pfann. That fall of the same year I went to Orlando for the November academic meetings. I bumped into a friend of mine who was living in Jerusalem. We chatted a bit and he introduced me to the man with him, whom I had never met. It turned out that the man was Stephen Pfann. We hit it off. Stephen was quite genial. I asked him about this alleged Angel Scroll. His answer took me by surprise: “Would you like to see it?” I said sure. He said he’d let me have a look while we listened to a session, so off we went (my apologies to Bruce Waltke here — I didn’t hear a word of your lecture that hour).
We sat down and Stephen opened his briefcase. There amid the candy wrappers, pens, and sundry papers was a hand-drawn transcription of a scroll. He handed it to me. It’s been so long that I don’t quite remember if Stephen said he’d made the drawing from a photo or if he’d been given the drawing in photocopy. At any rate, he explained that the hand drawing was all there was. He’d been shown that much by a couple men who told him they had the actual scroll. They wanted him to have a look and perhaps publish it. (Stephen lives in Israel. His expertise is the Dead Sea Scrolls and epigraphy. His dissertation was on cryptic texts from Qumran). Stephen told me he wasn’t publishing anything until he saw the actual scroll and examined it for authenticity. I sat there and perused the whole thing. I couldn’t read it all at sight, but I could read enough of the content to have my attention caught. There was one specific line that was quite odd and memorable. The scroll was at least in part apocalyptic. Jerusalem was surrounded by “thousands of sun disks.”
I can’t recall at this point (and don’t have the old files) whether I mentioned this scroll (with a slightly altered name) in the original edition of The Facade. I think I did. I know I mentioned this scroll in at least one interview — and was careful to point out that there was no verification for its authenticity. I recall L. A. Marzulli asking me about it over the phone or email (again, I don’t recall which). He said he wanted to include it in one of his novels. I only read his first one, so I don’t know if he actually did that. At any rate, I was again clear that all I saw was a transcription, not the real thing. It could have been entirely made up, and I said so — and always have. (In any event, L. A.’s novels are fiction [!]).
I usually chat with Stephen each year at the meetings. Up until about 3-4 years ago I’d ask for updates on the Angel Scroll. The answer was always the same — the men who had contacted him, and of whom Stephen demanded to see the actual scroll, never produced anything. I say up until 3-4 years ago because the last time I asked Stephen told me he had washed his hands of the whole thing. He had concluded it was all bogus since no evidence (going on ten years) had ever been produced that the scroll from which the transcription he showed me actually existed. Anyone with reasonable artistic talent and a knowledge of Hebrew paleography could draw the transcription he had in his possession and which I saw. That’s how scrolls show up in journals — a photo that usually looks awful (things a couple millennia old tend to not produce great photos) along with a hand drawing done from tracing or a good eye. It’s normal procedure. (Same for how clay tablet inscriptions are hand drawn for easier reading).
So is there an Angel Scroll? No. There is no evidence that such a scroll is real. You’re hearing that from someone who held the transcription, read through it, and has had several conversations with the guy who possesses the transcription (the only one that has ever surfaced). If you or anyone you know or have read is saying this is a real text and assigning any “truth” to it, you shouldn’t. Without someone bringing forth an actual scroll, this text is a fiction. But, unfortunately, people like to believe in things for which no data exist. That isn’t new. It’s just sad that Christians are among the gullible. The whole thing was likely a scam designed to extract some money from a scholar or institution who collected such things. If you don’t think antiquities forgery is a problem, think again.
Vaughn, Andrew G., and Christopher A. Rollston. “The Antiquities Market, Sensationalized Textual Data, and Modern Forgeries.” Near Eastern Archaeology (2005): 61-65.
This puts me in the mood to ask Stephen about the scroll again this year just to see him roll his eyes.
You can listen to the interview here. The planned subject was ancient astronaut material, but the interview wound up going in all sorts of directions.
Toward the end I talk about the importance of peer-review in scholarly publishing. I mentioned Robert Bauval’s Orion correlation theory as an example of what ought to happen — someone from an alternative perspective submits their ideas to peer review. Experts are smart enough to know if what’s being submitted is worth talking about, and Bauval has been published in journals like Discussions in Egyptology. Bauval is living proof that (in the humanities at least) the peer review process doesn’t just reflexively reject alternative ideas. Most (all?) mainstream Egyptologists don’t buy Bauval’s theory, but it was still published and has drawn a lot of interaction. Most of the interaction has occurred in journals that are not freely accessible to the public (I’ve collected at least thirty articles). But here are two examples that are publicly accessible:
G. Magli, “Akhet Khufu: Archaeo-astronomical hints at a common project of the two main pyramids of Giza, Egypt” (Akhet Khufu = “the horizon of Khufu” in ancient Egyptian)
No aliens needed, by the way. This is all naked-eye astronomy and math.