Fantastic Archaeologist: Stephen Williams and the Perennial Task of Debunking Pseudoarchaeology

Author(s): John Hoopes

Year: 2018


The history of archaeology is replete with assertions about lost tribes, sunken continents, and ancient aliens in the context of failed hypotheses, deliberate hoaxes, and intentional frauds. Williams chronicled these, in the process helping others hone skills in critical thinking. New technologies proliferate spurious explanations of the past that archaeologists must continually address. As the Talmud says, "It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either". This paper offers strategies based on Williams’ methodology, ones based in meticulous historiography and evaluations of the cultural and historical contexts of specific individuals, their possible motivations, and critical examination of the specific paradigms, theories, and evidence that conditioned their claims. Williams demonstrated that many myths promulgated today have deep roots in American history and that familiarity with this background is a valuable element of successful, ongoing, scholarly refutation of claims from the "wild side" on the fringes of science.

Cite this Record

Fantastic Archaeologist: Stephen Williams and the Perennial Task of Debunking Pseudoarchaeology. John Hoopes. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445119)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -168.574; min lat: 7.014 ; max long: -54.844; max lat: 74.683 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20340