DOUBTFUL: OR FRAUDS AND HOAXES.

I began this page in response to the lies and fraudulent information being passed off on the television program America Unearthed as scientific fact, but I believe that I now need to expand it to include other frauds related to rock art and archaeology.
Indeed, if you are at all interested in how bizarre some people's beliefs (or how unscrupulous their hoaxes) can be please also refer to my page of Certifiable Rock Art Prevarication (C.R.A.P.) Awards where I point out my candidate for the best hoax (or sometimes just outrageous attitudes) of the year.
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WHERE BARRY FELL - MIMBRES, NEW MEXICO:


Fish design on a Mimbres bowl (printed in reverse, see below). 
Barry Fell, America BC, 1976, p. 179.

In his 1976 book America B.C., Barry Fell illustrated a Mimbres dish from New Mexico on which he claimed to read a Libyan inscription within the image of a catfish. Fells’ caption for the catfish photo reads:

“Ancient Libya was a kingdom located around the shores of the Gulf of Sirte, to the west of Egypt. Its light-skinned inhabitants were drawn from the mixed population of Anatolian sea-peoples who invaded Libya around 1250 B.C., native Berbers, and Spartan Greeks who settled the eastern margin of the Gulf coast. The Greek influence persisted in the American Libyan settlements at least until circa 1100 A.D. when the tortoise at left was painted by a Mimbres Valley potter in New Mexico. The Libyan language, written alphabetically from left to right or from right to left, and also vertically, was used in New Mexico, as the painting of the American catfish, above, shows, for the three letters on the fish spell the Libyo-Egyptian N-A-R, meaning “catfish.” The photograph has been printed in reverse, and in this state the letters read from left to right. The painting is dated by tree-ring evidence to circa 1100 A.D. Top photo courtesy Peabody Museum, Harvard University, left photo courtesy of Gerald Heslinga, Buffalo Museum.” (Fell 1976:179)

“During the 1930s excavations in New Mexico by a Harvard team and associated investigators, including Harold Gladwin, brought to light a previously unknown style of pottery now called the Mimbres ware, from the type locality of the find. The vessels are decorated in black, white, and red and carry paintings of people and animals, together with other motifs that have been regarded as merely decorative. However, in my opinion these motifs are actually derived from original inscriptions in the Libyan alphabet and descriptive of the scenes depicted in the paintings. Gladwin’s dating of the finds by dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) indicates a date of about 1200 AD. The question of the supposed inscriptions requires further study.” (Fell 1976:175)

“In ancient Numidia (part of modern Tunisia) the Libyans wrote from left to right, but in areas adjacent to Phoenician settlements, as in the neighborhood of Carthage, and in southern Spain, Libyans who settled there adopted the Semitic habit of writing from right to left. In southern Spain the Libyan immigrants adopted some of the southern Iberian forms of letters, such as the triangular sight used for the stressed semivowel aleph (accented a), and the mirror-image-D-shaped sign used for r. This the Libyan word for catfish, Nar, would be written raN by Libyan writers in southern Spain. Now it is a remarkable fact that on Mimbres pottery from New Mexico a painting of an American catfish occurs (genus Ictalurus, having 8 barbels, as opposed to the Libyan species, which has 5 barbels), and painted on the fish are the Libyan letters reading raN. This can only mean that Libyan settlers brought to America both the writing system and the actual word for catfish used in North Africa, and somehow the people of the Mimbres valley were using this around 1200 AD when the pottery was made.” (the underlining is mine)(Fell 1976:190)

In other words Fell claimed that the Mimbres dish is indeed portraying a catfish with eight barbels and a Libyan inscription for catfish on its body, and that the name portrayed is used to describe a catfish in Libya that only has five barbels.


Libyan catfish, clarius gariepinus, clearly showing eight barbels.

Now this is very easy to check on; simply look up indigenous catfish in New Mexico, and in Libya. According to the New Mexico State Department of Wildlife website (http://wildlife.state.nm.us/recreation/fishing/warm_water_species/Catfish.htm) there are three species of catfish indigenous to New Mexico, the Blue, the Channel, and the Flathead catfish, and all have eight barbels. Whichever species (if this is indeed a catfish) is being portrayed is irrelevant as they all have eight barbels. The only species of catfish listed as indigenous to Libya is the North African catfish (Clarius gariepinus) (http://fish.mongabay.com/data/Libya.htm) and Wikipedia describes it as follows:

“The African sharp tooth catfish is a large, eel-like fish, usually of dark gray or black coloration on the back, fading to a white belly. In Africa, this catfish is second in size only to the vundu of the Zambesian  Siluris, and broad, terminal mouths with four pairs of barbels. They also have large accessory breathing organs composed of modified gill arches. Also, only the pectoral fins have spines. They can weigh up to 29 kg." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarias_gariepinus)  
Note: it is described as having four pairs (8) of barbels.

By the way, what Fell reads as Libyan characters I see as a decorative elaboration of the edge of the gill flap of the fish. Why Fell chose to describe the Libyan catfish (Clarias gariepinus) as having only five barbels is a mystery to me as it is so easy to confirm that it indeed has eight. Fell is even supposed to be a marine biologist and so, I would think, would know better.
Fell also explained that although Libyans write their characters from left to right, that the Libyans who settled in southern Spain began to write it from right to left so he has had the image of the Mimbres dish reversed to show it that way. This indicates that the particular Libyans who visited Mimbres did so by way of southern Spain. Do you think we really need to get so anal-ytical about one small statement about a picture of a fish? It means little in the long run except as an indicator of Fell’s intellectual sloppiness and lack of real scientific method. How can anyone take this seriously?

Harold Sterling Gladwin, 1957,History
 of the Ancient Southwest, p.225.

What I really find much more interesting in this is summed up clearly in Gladwin’s statement: “Many of the birds, animals, and insects which they drew on their pottery were locally familiar, but some were purely phantoms of their imagination. This, however, could not have been true of the fish which are so common in Mimbres designs. The Mimbres river heads in the mountains about fifteen miles north of Mimbres P.O. and dies out in the sands around Deming about forty miles to the south, and as the stream sometimes almost disappears, it is rather doubtful if there are any fish at all in it. Queerly enough most of the drawings give the impression of salt-water fish, yet the distance to the Gulf of California is over three hundred and fifty airline miles and to the Gulf of Mexico over seven hundred. I have therefore given a number of drawings taken from Mimbres bowls in the hope that someone may be able to recognize a face, a shape, or a tail and give us some hint as to how and where the Mimbres women got their icthyological ideas.” (Gladwin 1957:224-31)

Note: Gladwin’s book illustrated this with a page of twenty-four Mimbres fish drawings including the supposed catfish.

REFERENCES:

Fell, Barry
1976    America B.C., Demeter Press, New York.

Gladwin, Harold Sterling
1957    A History of the Ancient Southwest, The Bond Wheelwright Company, Portland, Maine.



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March 17, 2013
Well we have finally reached the end of Season 1 of America Unearthed and I can put this away for awhile.  In this episode Scott Wolter was proving that the Templars (or was it the Teamsters?) had buried the Holy Grail (or was it Jimmy Hoffa?) down a well on an island (or was it an on-ramp?) off of Nova Scotia. What can I really say? In a world that has so many genuine mysteries, so much to discover and understand, why would you choose to waste so much time with these phony issues backed up by manufactured evidence? And, what wonders will Season 2 bring us? Stay tuned.

February 24. 2013

We have now gotten to the point of absurdity. The episode of America Unearthed that aired on Feb.22, 2013, examined a hoard of cast lead artifacts that they dated to 800 A.D. Apparently, some group of pre-Templar Templars (don't ask me, just watch the show) visited here and left the record. There were a number of cast lead crosses as well as other items including swords. Now if the pre-Templar Templars were actually trying to use swords cast from lead no wonder they lost the Holy Land to Arabs in the Crusades.
I think that I may have erred below in awarding this show only one star out of five based upon its poor science and ridiculous assertions about archaeology and history. I should have given it a much highter rating - for humor!

February 11, 2013
I posted a couple of comments on RockArtBlog.com about episodes of this program called AMERICA UNEARTHED, on History2 channel. It very quickly became obvious that if I used RockArtBlog.com to point out errors and inconsistencies of that particular show, I would never get any other postings up for my readers. To that end I have created this page which I will devote to any comments I wish to pass on about AMERICA UNEARTHED and perhaps other such fictions (see below).
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AMERICA UNEARTHED: The Great Lakes Copper Heist:
February 1, 2013.
Season 1, Episode 3 of this show followed the path set by the first two with a program called The Great Lakes Copper Heist, which used petroglyphs as well as much more dubious evidence to prove that the ancient Minoans and Mycenaeans traveled to North America and mined the Great Lakes copper deposits. Some of the petroglyphs were the sort of typical abstract markings and lines that can be found almost anywhere, and if you look hard enough you can find a few lines and shapes that represent characters in almost any script.


Copper Harbor ship peetroglyph, Michigan. 
httppasty.comdiscusmessages57656412.html.

Other evidence was provided by the Copper Harbor (Michigan) ship petroglyph which Wolter and many others have identified as a Minoan ship. While I admit that it looks somewhat like a Minoan ship, I do not believe it is that old. The carved lines look to me as if they were done with modern tools.

Mycenaean period bronze "ox hide" ingot. Wikipedia.

The Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations were the period of the Bronze Age in ancient Greece and covered roughly 1600 – 1100 BCE (Wikipedia).  Indeed it was Wolter’s contention that they essentially mined much of the free copper out of the Great Lakes region in North America and depleted the deposits. All this based upon misrepresenting a handful of Archaic petroglyphs and markings on the stone, plus reading supposed Minoan characters upon another of the dubious tablets that seem to keep turning up. Known as the Newberry Tablet it still exists but in a very degraded and damaged pile of fragments. Wolter did find some markings on a couple of the fragments which he believed showed Minoan characters.

Wolter's clincher was a PIXE (Proton Induced X-ray Emission) analysis of a fragment of copper retrieved from a Minoan shipwreck in the Mediterranean, and a piece of native copper that he bought in a rock shop in Michigan. When the two fragments came back with supposedly the same degree of purity he declared that they must have come from the same source. Sourcing copper does not, however, depend only upon the purity of the sample, it depends upon the identity and percentages of other metals alloyed with them. If those are the same, one can begin to suspect that the copper samples came from the same area. Purity only speaks to the ability and knowledge of the smelter.

When he can show me a Bronze Age Greek shipwreck in one of the Great Lakes I might be a little more sympathetic to these claims, especially if the wreck contains a load of the well-known oxhide shaped copper ingots. Until then I fear that I will have to review this program as barely one star.

REFERENCES:
Wikipedia
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A DEADLY SACRIFICE: America Unearthed, Season 1/Episode 5:


Egyptian Apis bull, Wikipedia.

At the opening of this episode, the host Scott Wolter was shown a carving of a bull on 500 lb. block of sandstone that had been retrieved from the Arkansas river near Tulsa, OK. It was supposedly an Egyptian Apis bull but was obviously phony. Whoever had done the carving had made the amateur mistake of not blocking out the design ahead of time so they ran out of space at the front end of the bull which ran up against a spalled area on the rock. To fit it all in the head was made ridiculously, and unnaturally, small. This is a mistake that no Egyptian carver trained in carving sacred scenes for temples and in carving the Pharoah’s tombs would ever have made. This is, however, an early mistake that virtually all beginning art students make, and apparently anyone creating a phony Apis bull in Tulsa, Oklahoma as well.




Ogam? inscription and portrait of Gwinn, Turkey Mountain, OK. 
www.gloriafarley.com/chap3.htm.

Then they jumped to the Turkey Mountain petroglyphs in Oklahoma. These had been originally recorded by Gloria Farley in 1976 and interpreted by her and Barry Fell to be an ogam inscription of the name Gwynn, and a portrait of a Spanish Celt who was probably Gwynn himself (http://gloriafarley.com/chap3.htm). Wolter, to his credit, did not buy into the portrait although they did study it and highlight it with special effects for the program. He did take the supposed ogam seriously though. As I have stated earlier I never had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Farley. We had a few friends in common, and from everything I have heard I believe I would have liked her a lot. I do, however, disagree almost totally with everything she has ever written about rock art.

The program then jumped about 400 miles upriver to the so-called Anubis Caves in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, way out on the end of the panhandle. Now this is a site that I have personal knowledge of having visited it back in 1986. It is truly a remarkable site with a huge number of pictures and markings in a grouping of rock shelters and caves. Cave #2 is the one that Wolter focused on. He visited it in the company of Phil Leonard whom I have known since that trip in 1986. Phil firmly believes in diffusionism as supported by the translation of ogam inscriptions throughout this area. I know Phil to be a dedicated and serious researcher and, although I disagree with his conclusions as well, I admire his dedication and his perseverance in his explorations to develop and back up his theories. 

 Bison, Anubis Cave #2, Cimmarron County, OK.
Photograph: Peter Faris, 21 Sept. 1986.

Phil showed Wolter the imagery in Anubis Cave #2 that pertained to the theme of his program, that ancient Celts who believed in Mithraism had visited there and left inscriptions. The material around Tulsa, Oklahoma, was downstream from Cimarron County and these Celts would have passed through that area on their journey to the Oklahoma Panhandle. The pertinent images are a bovine that they identified as another Apis bull, it is actually a bison. An anthropomorph in full frontal pose with his arms outstretched who they decided represents Mithras himself. And an eye-shaped, fringed petroglyph which may represent the half disc of a setting sun.

 Claimed Mithras figure, Anubis Cave #2, Cimmarron County, OK.

Photograph: Peter Faris, 21 Sept. 1986.

The anthropomorphic figure identified in this program as Mithras could be anyone. It has no dagger or none of the accessories usually associated with Mithras in traditional representations. The bison that they identified as the bull is more deeply carved than the anthropomorph, and in this part of the country that suggests considerably more age. In other words, they are not part of the same intentionally created composition. Now a true believer will say that the celts could have seen the bovine image and added their elements to it. Yes, you can explain the discrepancies away, but I suggest if you have to start explaining parts in this way you have probably already disproved your own case.


Half Sun disk, next to figure, Anubis Cave #2, Cimmarron County, OK.
Photograph: Peter Faris, 21 Sept. 1986.

Now comes the good part. The half sun disc is part of an archeoastronomical interaction with a shadow cast on the wall of the cave by the setting sun on the Equinox. This part is for real, I saw it on my visit in 1986 and it was quite impressive, and convincing. As the sun sets on the equinox the shadow of a projection of rock in the cave creeps across the panel and just as it fills the area of the half disc solar portrayal, if you look to the west out of the entrance of the cave the actual sun is half set behind a mesa, the cave interaction being apparently a portrayal of the actual event in the west. I saw it, and I agree it works. I just don’t think it has anything to do with a Mithraic shrine of Spanish Celts who were traveling in the Oklahoma panhandle many centuries before Columbus.

Once again, America Unearthed has taken a handful of dubious facts, and blown them up into a huge falsehood. Why didn’t I think of that? I could have been on television too.

NOTE: I suggest that anyone interested in a serious appraisal of the imagery of the Anubis Caves read pages 159 – 182 of Ancient American Inscriptions: Plow Marks or History?, by William R. McGlone, Phillip Leonard, James Guthrie, Rollin Gillespie, and James P. Whittall, Jr., Early Sites Research Society, Sutton, MA, 1993. I still do not agree with the conclusions, but they do a detailed job of researching the site and explaining their conclusions.

REFERENCES:

gloriafarley.com/chap3.htm

Wikipedia

6 comments:

  1. I happened to sit down yo watch America Unearthed with one of my children when I heard Wolter say that the Newberry tablet had disappeared. I had read about the Newberry tablet before and felt that Wolter stated that it had disappeared to add mystery or even hint at a coverup.

    I used to love watching In Search Of when I was a kid. If learned as I got older how that show was more fiction than fact. I take America Unearthed the same way.

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  2. I caught the Great Lakes Copper Heist this morning. I know these shows really stretch, but this was so stretch it bordered on the bizarre. Wolter's contention...ancients from the Easter Mediterranean sailed to Lake Superior around 2000 BC and mined Michigan's copper, took 1 - 1 1/2 BILLION tons home using upwards of 10000 workers over 1000 years.

    OK...any mention of artifacts or evidence dealing with harbors, shipyards, encampments for 10,000 folks, kitchens, settlements, refuse, evidence of mine tailings from pulling one BILLION tons of ore out of the earth, anything dealing with evidence of a large human presence, anything in any historical records from eastern Mediterranean cultures that they were sailing to the North American continent for a 1000 years...you know, real evidence...

    Nada, zilch, zip...

    It was basically some dudes found a tablet in late 1800's upper Michigan with strange writing on it (those artifacts have already been debunked as fakes), the purity of copper from souvenir shops in Michigan matches that from one sample found in the Mediterranean...therefore the ancients were mining Michigan....

    Again, I like a good sea story, but it is nice if there is at least a shred of, 'the facts might line up...'

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    Replies
    1. Study the mound people of America. You will be amazed and more confused than ever. The Smithsonian destroyed tens of thousands of recovered skeletons from these same mounds around the 1900s. From my readings (most put through my filter) I can honestly say the Smithsonian is covering ancient american history to suit the manifest destiny garbage that makes it ok to "tame the savages" and steal their land for the good of settlers. If you like history you will also enjoy reading about the Beaver River community that was discovered in Oklahoma very recently. Dating for this city came in around 10,500 years old.
      If you want to know more truth about the mounds you can look up the Phillips brothers and their mineral right claims that gave them plundering rights to these same mounds for artifacts to resale. Yes that is Frank Phillips the Conoco Phillips refinery.
      If you want to feel safe and warm keep reading the lame stream medias news and forget your history. Thats what they are doing for the sake of humanity lol.

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  3. How do you know how many barbels catfish had 2000 or so years ago? It's entirely possible there were both and one became extinct. Did that occur to you? I doubt it. The problem with taking one little item or fact and running about dismissing every thing that doesn't fit it is that sometimes you DO miss the bigger picture. I agree sometimes the "fish stories" the show comes up with are far-fetched, (the copper story) but some make sense (the lost Dutchman mine) and have some validity.

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  4. Crazy show , obviously fake stuff , but fun to watch .

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