News of the Weird (Archaeology)

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

This exciting symposium examines the interplay between archaeological fact and fantasy. Archaeological discoveries contribute to the public's consciousness of the ancient world. Unfortunately, fantastic elements also merge with verifiable data in disconcerting ways. Fanciful elements of the ancient world will be addressed along with how the media perceives archaeological data. This symposium is sponsored by the Media Relations Committee.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-8 of 8)

  • Documents (8)

  • Atlantis and the Hall of the Ancients (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Zachary Nelson.

    The enduring myth of Atlantis is an amazing example of probable history turned fable and developing a life of its own. While the subject is vast, a careful synopsis of new tales and discoveries will be presented and contrasted with the Hall of the Ancients - a purported repository of ancient documents believed to be located at Piedras Negras, Guatemala. Belief systems and archaeological data will be examined to understand the interplay between fact and fiction. SAA 2015 abstracts made available...

  • Faked but Not Forgotten: The Enduring Appeal of the Crystal Skulls (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Meredith Wismer-Lanoe. Zachary Nelson.

    Supposedly originating from pre-Columbian Mesoamerican sites, the crystal skulls are one of the most iconic sets of fake artifacts which have graced museum shelves and the public’s imagination. The first crystal skulls appeared in collections during the late 1800’s, and well-known specimens are housed today as modern fakes at the Smithsonian and British Museums. Most media coverage of the skulls has revolved around the privately owned, so-called "Skull of Doom", claimed to be of Mayan origin and...

  • Maya Apocalypse 2012 in the Media -- The Cataclysm that Never Was. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Andrea Messer.

    December 21, 2012 was supposed to be the Maya apocalypse, the end of the world as we know it. In reality, it was only the end of one Maya calendar cycle of 5122 years -- the end of the 13th Baktun. Even at that, the Maya saw the ending of calendars as a renewal, not an end. But somehow, somewhere this event was interpreted as a coming cataclysm of immense proportion. In the popular press and online, the Maya apocalypse was imminent. How was the coming of this supposed event covered by the press...

  • Media Portrayals of Viking Rune Stones in North America (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lauren Milideo.

    In North America, rune stones of purported Viking origin have been the subjects of excitement, scrutiny, and dispute. The stones have been called hoaxes, and archaeologists and other workers remain unconvinced about the stones’ Viking origin and validity; nevertheless, claims have appeared over time that rune stones, which have turned up in such diverse locations as underwater and on hillsides, contain the inscriptions of Scandinavian explorers in North America, including inland areas, long...

    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kimball Banks.

    Over a span of some 30 years, the Combined Prehistoric Expedition conducted investigations of Neolithic occupations at Nabta Playa in Egypt’s Western Desert. The most startling discovery was an elaborate expression of Late and Final Neolithic ceremonialism unprecedented in Africa. The expression included a "sacred mountain", tumuli burials, ceremonial burials, stellae and megaliths, and an astronomical calendar circle. The publication of the results has had unintended consequences: it not only...

  • Noah's Ark: The Temptation of Media (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gina Buckley-Yost.

    Genesis tells us a story about a man cast out by God to build an ark during a great storm sent to cleanse the earth of all that was corrupt. "Noah’s Ark" is a biblical narrative that has captured the attention of people, both religious and agnostic, for hundreds of years. Hollywood producers, recognizing an enduring tale of destruction and rebirth, have spent decades recreating this story, most recently in the 2014 blockbuster Noah starring Russell Crowe. Additionally, renewed interest among the...

  • Research with an Agenda: Creationist Media on Archaeological Discoveries (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Krystal Hammond.

    Young Earth creationists view the natural world in a manner far different from the average anthropologist. Very little secular media support a Young Earth creationist perspective. Therefore, pursuant to conveying the world in a manner that is in keeping with their worldview, Young Earth creationists have produced magazines and other forms of media that specifically address science and theological topics relating to the age of the earth as well as archaeological finds relevant to the veracity of...

  • Rock Art and Aliens (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Renata Wolynec.

    Some archaeologists remember reading articles which link rock art with alien or extraterrestrial visitors to earth. However, an examination of English language newspapers suggests that although rock art is a popular topic, the extraterrestrial connection is less commonly made. The World Wide Web, however, is full of entries which eagerly make this connection. There appears to be a niche audience which will believe what it wants to believe. SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of...