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Lost Tribes, Sunken Continents, and Ancient Astronauts On the Wild Side of Midwestern Archaeology Larry Zimmerman Department of Anthropology/Museum Studies.

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Presentation on theme: "Lost Tribes, Sunken Continents, and Ancient Astronauts On the Wild Side of Midwestern Archaeology Larry Zimmerman Department of Anthropology/Museum Studies."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lost Tribes, Sunken Continents, and Ancient Astronauts On the Wild Side of Midwestern Archaeology Larry Zimmerman Department of Anthropology/Museum Studies IUPUI

2 Ancient Mysteries?

3 Why Search Elsewhere When The Midwest has it all? Ancient Tablets The Moundbuilder Myth Atlantis Bigfoot Sunken Pyramids UFOs

4 Why People Believe Weird Things Fun Fantasy and escapism The truth is too simple Mistrust of science Poor science education “Received” wisdom 1.To show some examples of fantastic archaeology in the Midwest 2.To provide some tools for examining fantastic claims 3.To have some fun Purposes of this lecture:

5 The Mound Builders The Archaeology of a Myth The Core belief: Indians could not have built the mounds and other amazing earthworks, therefore someone else must have. Who? Almost anyone—Irish, Scandinavians, Libyans, Tartars, Lost Tribes of Israel, and many others Why? Lack of reliable data, theological modes of explanation, non-existence of a tradition of scientific thought, a continuing sense of wonder at the exotic nature of the New World The Result? Wild speculation

6 A European (i.e., white) History of America? There was an apparent need for an heroic past that would resemble that of Europe. The reasons are complex: The colonists were in one sense a "people without a history" Those living in Europe thought that something must be wrong with the environment here to cause such revolutions Needed a "white" history to claim the land - a precursor to Manifest Destiny

7 A Case from Iowa, 1877 The Davenport Conspiracy Jacob Gass

8 Goodbye to the Mound Builders Or was it?

9 Mound Builder Survivals In religion In science In cult archaeology Kennewick & the “Solutrean Connection”

10 Hyper-Diffusionists Ignatius Donnelly and Atlantis, 1882Barry Fell and Epigraphy Graham Hancock’s Lost Civilization at 12,500 BP

11 The Problem of Hoaxes Hoaxes thrived from the late 1800s onward. Social contexts similar to Mound Builder Myth Piltdown Man, 1912 Cardiff Giant, 1868 : An Iowa Connection “There’s a sucker born every minute.” David Hannum

12 Grave Creek Stone 1838, Ohio River

13 Bat Creek Stone discovered in 1885 in Smithsonian archaeological dig in Tennessee. Hebrew writing dates to 135 AD. The Pre-Columbian explorers really must have been “stoned.” In 1860 David Wyrick found a stone box and tablet with the Ten Commandments in Hebrew in a Newark, Ohio, burial mound One of many recent “discoveries” from Burrows Cave, Illinois

14 One of the relatively few marble slabs removed from the Illinois site portrays either a Mauritanian ruler or high priest of the 1st Century A.D. The Saga of Burrows Cave―Olney, Illinois The scarification of this man identifies him as Senegalese. A Mauritanian warship A cache of Mauritanian coins from the cave The Crucifixion

15 Hoax or not? The Kensington Runestone Olaf Ohman, 1898 “2nd Minn. Runestone a hoax, say carvers” AVM stone inscription Not Olaf Ohman, 2003

16 “This is a very interesting and informative review of both the Kensington Runestone and the process of archaeological (and historical) inquiry. In true Kehoe style, it is not only well written and organized, but also provocative. Although the artifact has long ago been discounted and forgotten by most archaeologists, Kehoe argues convincingly that it deserves a second look.” — George Nicholas, Simon Fraser University “Kehoe challenges readers to evaluate their own attachment to taken-for-granted paradigms. An ideal, fittingly controversial topic for critical thinking.” — Guy Gibbon, University of Minnesota “Larry Zimmerman for once didn’t see eye to eye with me, but we had good discussions; maybe seeing the argument laid out here will satisfy him.” From the acknowledgements. The Kensington Runestone Approaching a Research Question Holistically Alice Beck Kehoe 2005 On and on and on…


18 They really got around! Kensington Runestone - April 24th, 1362 Heavener Runestone - November 11th, 1012 Poteau Runestone - November 11th 1017 Shawnee Runestone - November 24th, 1024 Tulsa Runestone - December 2nd, 1022 They really got around!

19 Too many people have too much of their identity wrapped up in whether a stone is real or a hoax. Why won’t such controversies go away?

20 Just how many Vikings came? This book says there are now fewer than 42 Viking settlements in Chickasaw, Howard, and Mitchell Counties in Iowa and Mower County in Minnesota. Mooring stone?

21 Apparently, quite a few! Map of the grave of 12 Vikings found by dowsing near Spring Grove, MN

22 Based on the painter George Catlin’s comments: The Mandans spoke Welsh (he didn’t know Welsh!) They used a boat which was know as the Welsh Coracle Many of the Mandans had blond hair and blue eyes Prince Madoc: The Founder of Clark County Indiana …and progenitor of the Mandan Indians of the Missouri River A fortification against hostile Indians? Coracle or “bull boat” DAR Plaque at Mobile Bay Welsh armor from a grave?

23 Do people in Indiana take Madoc seriously? The people at the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center certainly seem to. Perhaps the location of the Welsh warrior at the rear end of the mammoth is entirely appropriate.

24 Does all of this start to seem familiar?

25 …and by the way, the Romans got to the Falls of the Ohio too. Claudius II (left, 268 AD), Maximinus I (right, 312 AD) Roman coins found at the Falls of the Ohio in 1963, purportedly part of a cache left by Roman explorers

26 There were giants in the earth in those days… (Gen.6:1-4) George W. Hill, M.D., dug out a skeleton "of unusual size" in a mound of Ashland County, Ohio. In 1879, a nine-foot, eight-inch skeleton was excavated from a mound near Brewersville, Indiana. The bones, which were stored in a grain mill, were swept away in the 1937 Flood (Indianapolis News, Nov 10, 1975). Photo is a 2004 Web hoax Could this be the remains of one?

27 In his books Erich von Däniken suggests that many of the earth’s monuments were built by ancient astronauts. Ancient Astronauts? “Looking into his past, we should not be too surprised to find that his rather broad criterion of truthfulness has, at times, brought him into conflict with the law. A court in his native Switzerland found Von Däniken guilty of embezzlement, forgery, and fraud, sentencing him to three and a half years in prison” (Ref: New York Times Book Review). “A court psychiatrist called him a pathological liar” (Ref. Playboy).

28 Von Däniken’s Swiss Mystery Park Themenpavillons Vimana Orient Maya MegaStones Contact Nazca Challenge Vimana Orient Maya MegaStones Contact Nazca Challenge MegaStones – a time machine for the high priests? On the Salisbury Plains of southwest England, one finds Stonehenge, a cult worship site that was built thousands of years ago. Is Stonehenge a megalithic time machine that reaches not only into the past but also far into the future? From the MegaStones Pavillion, a Stonehenge lightshow.

29 Ancient Astronauts: An industry in itself

30 Ancient Astronauts and The Pyramids of Rock Lake,Wisconsin Could Wisconsin’s pyramids have been built by ancestors of the occupants of this UFO (left) reported in in West Central Minnesota, November, 2003, as suggested initially by Fate magazine writer Frank Joseph?. Mutual UFO Network of Indiana logo

31 Maybe this UFO photographed over Indiana made the crop circles near Ft. Wayne… …or the ones near Wausau, Wisconsin. After all, both places are in the

32 Artist Lee Krystek’s conception of the Iceman The Minnesota Iceman A juvenile Bigfoot? Frank Hansen and the Iceman The tour trucks ” [I]f there is a Barnum Award, my vote would go to Frank D. Hansen.” Anthropologist John Napier, 1972

33 Bigfoot and Other Critters Mike Quast and Bigfoot sightings in Minnesota A few of the reported monsters in the Midwest Illinois:The Hardin Monster, Murphysboro Mud Monster, Indiana: The Beast of Busco (Churubusco), The Crawfordsville Monster Wisconsin: The Lake Koshkonong Monster, Long Lake, Elkhart Lake, Lake Geneva, Lake Kegonsa, Lake Michigan, Oconomowoc Lake, Pewaukee Lake, Red Cedar Lake,Rock Lake, Lake Superior, Sturgeon Lakes, Mendota and Monona in Madison

34 Yep, even right here in good ol’ Indiana. 30 reported Bigfoot sightings just since 1997, the majority in southern Indiana Sound? Bigfoot “talk” from near Akron, OH

35 Whats’ the Harm? Many diminish human abilities & accomplishments. They deprive people of knowledge about their real history. They draw funding away from scientific research. Other than that, not much. Belief in pseudoscientific ideas about “harmless” notions supports belief in pseudoscientific belief about harmful notions, such as false medical claims.

36 Recognizing Pseudoscientific Claims about the Past Sometimes you can read a book by its cover! Are seemingly outrageous claims made? Does the claimant have any training or credentials in the subject about which the claim is made? Are leading questions being asked? Are real scientists talking about it? Be a skeptic…

37 …but have the good sense to recognize when a belief or belief system about the past is profoundly important to an individual or culture. Unfortunately, some archaeologists don’t. "Traditional knowledge" has produced flat earths, geocentricism, mice spontaneously generated out of piles of rubbish, women arising from men's ribs, talking ravens, polygenesis, the superiority or inferiority of this group or that, and the historically latest "first people" of the Black Hills upwelling from holes in the ground. Science, by its very nature, must challenge, not "respect" or "acknowledge as valid," such folk renditions of the past. Ronald Mason (SAA Bulletin)

38 A Skeptic’s Tools Irrefutable hypothesis Argument by authority Appeal to myth Argument by spurious similarity Heresy does not equal correctness Occam's razor Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof Good old common sense Always keep an open mind, but use these tools: /

39 Satan’s Corpse in South Dakota?

40 Some good places for more information on cult archaeology Diversity in Archaeology The Skeptics Society

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