Civilization Lost premieres this Sunday!

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You guys! It’s finally happening! The show that I spent 7 months working on is finally premiering!! 

Sunday, 12/11 at 9pm on H2 (the *other* History Channel)

http://www.history.com/schedule/h2/12/11/2011

Give it a watch? 😀

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Just a quick note…

…as I’m currently at work, but the good citizens at Reddit brought this article to my attention:

…and more accurately, the actual blog post in question (Bad Archaeology)

I just wanted to get my two cents out into the interwebs in case there was any doubt/confusion/shenaniganry, etc.

I am indeed an archaeologist and I do in fact work for the company that makes Ancient Aliens. I worked on season 2 and a bit of season 3. (For the curious: s2ep4 and s2 ep8. Episode 8 had the highest ratings of the season [haaay]). This job will always mean something to me because it quite literally rescued me from financial (and general life) ruin after two long periods of unemployment. The people here are lovely and while the actual process of making the show is hilarious, maddening, stressful and occasionally downright ridiculous, it’s a good job and it could be a whole lot worse. Is it a proper job in academia? Lord no. I never really fit in there anyway and even though I’d like to get a Ph.D. someday, I don’t think my place will even be fully in the academic community. I’m not exactly a paper-writing person but I do love conventions and seeing what everyone has been up to over the past year and what exciting new discoveries people are making. (Bonus: free snacks!) I love learning and being around people who are just as excited about 1,000+ yr old stuff as I am. I love being out in the field and getting down and dirty in a trench somewhere, even if it makes my tendonitis go ballistic. There is nothing more exciting than troweling on your merry way and then finding something that’s not a rock.

I’ve been lamenting the state of historically-themed television for many years now and have definitely yelled at many a History program before angrily changing the channel but the unfortunate reality is that, well, people want sensationalism and escapism even if it’s in the form of someone else’s reality. The world is a pretty tough place right now and the last thing most people want when they turn on the TV is something that requires them to pay attention and devote more of their already taxed and frazzled mind, so they turn to the more mindless programs to attempt to take their mind off of the usual woes of the modern human. That’s why reality programming is so popular. It allows people to live someone else’s reality and forget about their own for 30 minutes or an hour. Obviously, the farther removed it is from their life experience the better (Swamps! Celebrities doing things! People living in remote/ridiculous places! Cakes!) so those shows get the viewers and the networks choose and create shows accordingly. Unfortunately, this means those of us who actually like to learn things get the short end of the viewership straw. If I want to turn on the TV and learn about something other than creating a sugar sculpture in an hour I’m SOL until the next showing of ‘Wonders of the Universe’ (Hands down the best show on TV right now. There is no debate.) History International is usually pretty good about having non-alien shows, but if you’re like me and no longer get any of the fancy extra HD channels it’s back to square one. I’d love for something like Time Team America to actually take hold in the US and get people as excited here as they are in the UK about history. Granted, it’s a bit easier to get excited if there are Roman ruins in your back garden, but we’ll work with what we’ve got. We’ve got about 300 years of history in our little baby of a country and most of it’s on the East Coast. What we also have is a whole population of people who want to learn about everyone else’s history and those people watch TV! So until we can elbow our way back into network priorities, I guess we’ll just keep pirating BBC documentaries and scribbling down ideas for what will hopefully be amazing shows someday. I’ll keep helping make silly shows for History and maybe someday I can help make a difference.

TL;DR I don’t even know what this post has turned into, but yeah. There you have it. I’ve got to get back to work 😛

Archaeology in the news! Medieval Irish zombies! Aaahhh!

Did zombies roam medieval Ireland?

Two 8th-century skeletons with stones shoved in their mouths suggest that the people of the time thought so.

  • -Archaeologists in Ireland have unearthed two 8th-century skeletons buried with stones stuck into their mouths.
  • -They believe this could have been a way to ensure the dead did not rise up like zombies.
  • -Bodies identified as revenants or the “walking dead” tended to be people who had lived as outsiders.

Two early medieval skeletons were unearthed recently in Ireland with large stones wedged into their mouths — evidence, archaeologists say, that it was feared the individuals would rise from their graves like zombies.

The skeletons, which were featured in a British documentary last week, emerged during a series of digs carried out between 2005 and 2009 at Kilteasheen, near Loch Key in Ireland by a team of archaeologists led by Chris Read from the Institute of Technology in Sligo, Ireland and Thomas Finan from the University of St. Louis.

The project recovered a total of 137 skeletons, although archaeologists believe that some 3,000 skeletons spanning from 700 to 1400 are still buried at the site.

Fun fact! This was also the preferred early method of dealing with suspected vampires.

Archaeology in the news! The latest on Irish bog bodies

Just in case your Tuesday morning needed some bog folks up in it…[[posterous-content:BysqxCzjzHIIIcwIkhyJ]]

Bog bodies are kings sacrificed by Celts says experts

An expert has stated that the latest bog body found in Ireland has proven that belief that the Celts ritually sacrificed their kings to the Gods.

The body also proves  they underwent horrible deaths, if the times turned bad under their reign.

The latest Iron Age bog body dating back to at least 2,000 BC was discovered near Portlaoise in the Irish midlands by an alert bog worker and it bears the same hallmarks of ritual torture that two other famous bodies have.

Ned Kelly, keeper of antiquities at the National Museum of Ireland told the Irish Examiner that a clear pattern has emerged in each case.

Source

 

A post! For real this time!

Here is the site in question: Warning, contains aliens

And here are my thoughts on such matters as an individual with experience in the field of ancient things…and also alien-related silliness. You’ll probably notice a theme as the list goes on.

6. Baalbek (any/all parts)
I’m just going to come out and say it. This is 100% manmade. It’s a fabulous multi-period site of worship that’s most known for it’s GIGANTIC stone blocks. The big daddy of all of those blocks never even made it into the finished Roman-era temple and is instead half-buried in the ground where it was quarried. It weighs tons. Lots of tons! Too many tons for a mere human to lift! Surely it must have been advanced, engineering-having extraterrestrial visitors who helped the poor little humans build their mighty temple? In short, no. ‘No’ is also the long answer. Honestly, if you combine a massive human workforce with some good ol’ fashioned Roman engineering, you can accomplish almost anything. People got real ambitious with their building projects back in the day and the multiple periods of building at Baalbek are a prime example of what people can do. Achieve your goals, kids!

5. Nazca Lines
Have you ever been to Chartres? Or are you at least aware of the labyrinth there? Hopefully you are now. I’m a fan of the theory that the Nazca Lines were similar creations, a sort of meditative maze to be walked as part of a personal or larger spiritual event to help the walker gain a deeper spiritual connection to the divinity of their choice. It should be noted that folks in South America liked to build big so it should come as no surprise that their mazes would also be big.

4. Palpa Flat Mountain (left)
Geology. End of discussion. Moving on.

3.Sacsayhuamán (right)
Pronounced close to ‘sexy woman’, this site is near and dear to my professional heart since I spent a good chunk of last fall learning all about this site in Peru. Once an Inca fortress and sun temple, it was mostly dismantled by the Spanish after they took Cuzco and the smaller stones were used to build the current cathedral and other bits of the city. The stones that remain were too big for the Conquistadors to move and so they’re left as a reminder of how impressive the fort used to be. Remember how I mentioned a paragraph or 2 up that South American cultures liked to build big? This would be another example of that. Even though people like to focus on the ‘OMG how did a culture without writing build things?!?’ part of all this, it’s more important to know that the Inca DID have a system of notation (they were ORGANIZED) and they truly mastered the art of Cyclopean masonry. There were no mystical spirit birds lifting stones into place, no UFOs beaming the giant stones from the quarry to the mystical site, none of that. Again, if you have some engineering ingenuity and a massive human workforce (plus a bit of motivation) you can do pretty much anything.

2. Pyramids of Giza
No. Just no. I truly cannot with people who are still trying to make the ‘aliens built the pyramids’ thing happen. We know SO MUCH about the buildings, the people who build them and to be honest, it’s no surprise that what was meant to be a ginormous tomb ended up being a ginormous empty tomb. It’s a giant, flashing, neon sign saying ‘Treasure In Here!’ to all of the ancient world. It was extremely common for tomb workers to re-enter tombs they had just finished building and walk out with bags of epic loot. This was not a new practice. In fact, it’s probably one of the oldest out there! We have physical evidence of many kinds that has helped us learn about the daily life of pyramid workers, we have documented scribbles on the stones that show how the different work gangs took responsibility for moving the stones where they needed to go and there is a whole mess of other artifacts, inscriptions and remains (of many sorts) that have allowed us to learn about how a ton of humans combined with some pretty amazing engineering smarts made, you guessed it, something big. Honestly, I think it’s a bit insulting that so many people are willing to sell our ancient ancestors so short and continue to claim that the people of Old Kingdom Egypt had neither the intelligence nor the ability to construct something just because *we* can’t wrap our heads around the idea that humans could do something like this.

1. Puma Punku
Lordy. This again? Please see the above paragraphs where I discuss large-scale South American building projects, Cyclopean masonry, and the wonders one can accomplish with a massive work force, ingenuity, engineering and a WHOLE lot of time.

Moral of the story: Just because we as 21st century humans don’t understand how something was build hundreds/thousands of years ago does not mean aliens built it. On a related note, just because something was created without use of what we deem ‘modern’ things like geometry (Pythagorean or otherwise), hydraulic machinery and forklifts doesn’t mean humans couldn’t have created it. If anything, our understanding of how the people of the ancient world worked is being hampered by our need to make things conform to what we perceive as the only way to do things. We’ll probably never fully understand the train of thought required to go from ‘Hey, this is a really big rock’ to ‘Let’s get this rock out of the bedrock, haul it 20 miles that way and then stack a bunch of them so we can create this awesome thing!’. Such things have come and gone from the human experience (booo) but the fact that they happened and we can still see the results of such thinking is still pretty darn cool.

And with that, back to work! I hope you’re all enjoying the new season of Ancient Aliens and I’ll post updates when I get them for the soon-to-be-epic Civilization Lost!