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Archaeotrek—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, April 2015

The Most Mind-Numbing, Stinking Pile of Archaeocrap Ever Spewed: Ancient Europeans and the People in the Middle East Did Not Build Mounds or Earthworks!

by: Dr. Greg Little

For centuries, there have been theories about America’s “Mysterious Mound Builders.” “Who were they, how did they get here, were they Hebrew, were they Celts, could they possibly have been Native American?” The answers to these questions were recently answered on episode number 4 of “Archyfantasies,” a podcast on the “The Archaeology Podcast Network.” After relating the questions above, co-host Sara says, “We’re gonna look at the evidence and discuss the facts.”

Good, fair enough. Sara, who I believe to be archaeologist Sara Head, has also apparently gone by the name Sara H, Serra Head, and Serra Zander in various blogs and audios, serves as the primary host. On this particular 72-minute audio, archaeologist Ken Feder served as the guest. Feder is archaeology’s main media guy, their point man in attacking the pseudoscience that archaeology seems to believe is rotting the minds of Americans by touting “facts” that aren’t facts. So, as Sara or Serra related, “get ready to think critically.” Okay then, let’s think critically.

The main point of the show is that the ancestors of Native American tribes built the mounds and that all other theories about Vikings, Europeans, and Hebrews being involved are completely myth. As Ken Feder relates at 2:50 into the show, “It’s the myth that keeps on giving.”

Side note: There really is no doubt that the ancestors of Native Americans were the Mound Builders. I know that some will disagree with that, but the actual evidence of this is overwhelming. In several books and countless articles I have personally affirmed that assertion is true. (Contrary to the information cited on this show, I believe the strongest evidence is genetics research.) However, I can’t assert that there were never any intrusions into ancient America by outsiders. In fact, I think that there is genuine evidence that such intrusions did happen. How much these intruders might have influenced the people already in the Americas, I don’t know. Rather than overt racism, which is usually asserted as the motive for believing the “Mound Builder Myth,” it’s likely that the genuine evidence of intruders into America drives what archaeologists call the “myth.” However, the facts and reasoning cited in this podcast I simply find astonishing.

Of course the show begins by telling how the myths of the mound builders were begun by the early explorers and settlers who would not attribute the mound building cultures to the indigenous tribes. Later in the show, this myth, and the people who assert it, is generally described as racist. Sara says that, “it’s aggravating that modern people want to believe that the mounds were built by white Europeans who had come across way before contact” (4:30). I’m sure that some people want to believe that, but I don’t know anyone who does. But how do they dispel this myth?

Feder accurately relates that inhabited mound complexes and mound construction was witnessed by De Soto and others in the 1500s when they encountered the indigenous tribes. At the 12:00 point Feder relates that, because of all the fake “Hebrew” scripts from mounds, some people reason that “Jews came to the New World 2000-years ago and built these mounds.” Then he states, “never mind that they weren’t doing it [building mounds and earthworks] in the Old World, but as soon as they got to Ohio they said, ‘you know what, let’s build some earthworks.’” Sara then states, “all of these cultures being attributed to do with mound building, it’s like, ‘but they don’t do that.’ They don’t do that in Europe, why would they come to America and start doing that here?” Feder replies, “It doesn’t make a lick of sense, does it?” “No,” says Sara. “Absolutely not,” Feder responds.

So there is the starting logic. It can be easily summarized in two sentences. The ancient people of the Middle East (Jews/Hebrews) and ancient Europeans didn’t build mounds or earthworks. Therefore, it’s illogical to conclude they would have started building mounds and earthworks if they migrated to America. And this “logical” assertion has to rank at the top of the most mind-numbing, stinking pile of archaeocrap ever spewed by anyone, ever.

The Middle East, does of course, have a lot of ancient mounds. Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf, once had 76,000 burial mounds, which dated to 2050 B.C. These were conical burial mounds, many of which had stone tombs that are so similar to many American burial mounds that they could be called identical. Many of them (tens of thousands) still exist. Ancient Israel, called the Levant region, had many burial mounds as well as large dwelling mounds. The Semitic people also erected circular camps from earthen embankments. Turkey, Greece, and virtually every Asian country had ancient burial mounds. Every European country has burial mounds from the same ancient time period. The UK is dotted with mounds and earthworks, many of which are built and laid out in identical sizes and shapes to American mound sites. In Scandinavia, all of the countries have ancient mounds, both conical burial mounds and truncated pyramid mounds. The Netherlands has 3,000 mounds remaining today. Norway has several thousand mounds. Denmark has over 20,000 mounds that remain preserved today. Sweden has about 3,000 mounds. A few years ago my wife and I spent 2 weeks in Sweden visiting mound sites. The truncated pyramid mounds were astonishing and identical to American mounds. At one site in Sweden we saw a series of large horseshoe-shaped earthworks at a mound complex. These were virtually identical to various horseshoe-shaped earthworks I have visited in Ohio and elsewhere. I could continue with these facts that refute Feder and Sara’s assertions and go into much more detail, but that’s pointless. All of these facts are easy to find. The counterpoint to this false argument cited by Feder and Head is simple. All of those ancient people did build mounds: Lots of them. Mound and earthwork construction was seen virtually everywhere in the ancient world and was being done elsewhere at the same time it was taking place in America. That is ONE MAJOR REASON that the early settlers in America thought that people from those places might have built the American mounds. These early settlers saw mounds in America that were very similar to the mounds of their homelands. It may have been more the pride in one’s heritage that led them to conclude that Native Americans didn’t build the mounds. But in Smithsonian reports and many books and articles from that time case after case is cited where Native Americans told the settlers that they didn’t know who built the mounds. Few of the early settlers knew that the tribes had been decimated by disease to the extent that the native culture had what archaeologist Charles Hudson called a “virtual amnesia” —their past history had been largely forgotten after 90% of the population died from disease and warfare.

For mainstream American archaeologists to assert that the ancient people in Europe and the people from the ‘land of the Jews’ didn’t build mounds is simply mind-boggling. How can anyone believe American archaeologists when their premier spokespeople spout such utter claptrap? Feder is right about one thing, it is “the myth that keeps on giving.”

I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t want to write any of this. I generally like Ken Feder and have had an interaction with him in the past that showed me he wanted to be accurate in his skepticism. But this was way over the top. I find it hard to understand how they could get so worked up to make such a massive blunder. In a response on their website, Sara wrote that their claims had to be taken in context. Okay, what I wrote above is in a completely accurate and full context. They said those ridiculous things. I suspect their students are told the same things. If you can listen to their entire show and if you have the ability to listen to both what they say and how they say it, you are likely to come to some rather disheartening conclusions. It is sad that mainstream archaeology has come to this. But they won’t be criticized by any other academic archaeologists.

Listen to their show: Here
Archaeotrek—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, May 2015

Borderland (Massachusetts) State Park
Stone Walls & Stone Chambers

by: Dr. Greg Little

Borderland is a Massachusetts State Park located about 30-miles south of Boston near the towns of Easton and Sharon. The large park is a major recreation area with nearly 1,800 acres and 20 miles of trails. A mansion built in 1910 is the focal point of the park along with ponds and dense wood trails used by hikers and bikers. Brochures and other information about the park cite a stone “potato chamber” built in the early 1900s along with the existence of numerous stone walls that snake around the wooded areas and rocky outcrops. Staff at the park will point out the locations of the stone walls on trail maps and relate that they were all built in historic times, but the only mention of underground stone chambers is the historic potato chamber found behind the mansion. In fact, on our recent visit the staff related that the only stone chamber at the site was the historic “potato chamber.”

The walls in the park are all located in the woods and are very curious with most of them being a few feet high and composed of various sized boulders. Some of them are well made while others are obviously older, showing less skill in their construction. They form a bizarre, seemingly nonsensical maze in some areas where stone outcrops are found in the center of them. Many of these walls enclose small areas and have several diagonal walls running off them often curving around the high outcrops.

The construction of such stone walls was actively done by farmers in New England starting in the early 1800s, basically as a result of laws requiring fencing for animals and property lines. Many of the stone walls constructed by farmers actually had split rail fences built on top of them to raise the height to required levels. The dense woodlands had been cleared by early farmers, but the deforestation caused so much erosion that the soil became useless for food production or grazing. Eventually the farms were abandoned and the forests returned, leaving the walls in their midst. Thus, it’s asserted by mainstream archaeologists that all the walls and associated stone chambers were built by farmers. But many people, including Jim Vieira, believe that “some” of the walls that are found nearly everywhere in New England were made by Native American tribes in pre-historic times. It is accepted that many pre-historic tribes built stonewalls in many areas including New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and elsewhere. Thus, it is likely that some of the walls constructed in New England were not made by settlers in historic times.

After being told that the only stone chamber at Borderland was found behind the mansion, we were somewhat surprised to find at least three of them were hidden on the rocky outcrops among the walls. We found the first one by walking a snaking wall that curved up the side of a hill ending at one of the large rocky outcrops. There, covered by leaves, was the entrance to a stone chamber. It had been blocked or concealed by large rocks placed just inside its entrance—nearly obscuring it. It appeared to descend far into the outcrop. We then began to follow other walls that curved up these outcrops and soon found another manmade chamber. It was well formed and had the appearance of a burial chamber. Then, while walking along another wall, we came to circular wall that had yellow caution tape around it. In the back portion of this circular wall enclosure, there was another stone chamber with the roof propped up with large wooden logs that had apparently been placed recently. The interior walls of the chamber were formed by irregular shaped rocks carefully placed together. The chamber was rounded with a stone slab roof about 4 feet above the floor. It was about 6-feet deep. It was exceedingly well made without mortar and had obviously been excavated recently. Later we found that at least one other well-formed stone chamber was on top of another stone outcrop located in a different area of the park.

The idea that all of the walls and stone chambers in New England were built in Colonial or historic times is simply far fetched. It is likely that Jim Vieira is correct. Some of these are clearly Native American in origin. Some of them are burial chambers identical to stone burial chambers found in mounds in the South. However, the long-term occupation of these sites by Native Americans and settlers makes definitive answers on them a nearly insurmountable task.
Archaeotrek—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, June 2015

The Truth About “Tennessee’s Ancient Egyptian Temple” Excavated in 1935 from a Burial Mound

by: Dr. Greg Little

The background of Tennessee’s ancient “Egyptian Temple” is not a great secret. But it appears to remain enigmatic to many who are interested in alternative archaeology as well as proof to others that ancient America was visited in ancient times by people from the Middle East. I do believe that ancient America was populated by an astonishing blend of people migrating from many parts of the world over many thousands of years. And it’s possible that some ancient Egyptians made it to America. I’m sure archaeologists will scoff at that idea, but all I’m saying is that it is possible. But the assertion that this particular site was “Egyptian” is a stretch—a long, long stretch based on just about nothing whatsoever. The Egyptian Temple assertion was made solely on the speculations of a respected British manuscript curator after he saw a photo of the excavated mound in the “New York Times” in 1934.

The British curator, J. Rendel Harris, was a respected biblical scholar and was 82 years old when he saw the newspaper photo. He was very impressed by the photo he saw in the newspaper article describing a site that had been excavated in Tennessee. In 1935 he published a brief article about it entitled, “A Temple in Tennessee,” as part of essays he routinely issued. Much earlier in his life Harris had become convinced that Egyptians visited America well before Columbus. He thought that they initially visited the Bahamas and eventually moved into the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi. He also speculated that Egyptian traders took copper from the Americas back to the Mediterranean and that they established a large colony in East Tennessee. The excavation of a building structure under a mound in Tennessee—and the photo from the excavation—was enough to convince him he was correct.

When the photo was published, Harris saw what looked like standing stones forming the perimeter of a square building. It had been excavated from under what is assumed to be a Hopewell-era mound, but it’s more likely it was Mississippian. There were two large “standing stones” next to each other Harris interpreted as pylons, which was a common feature in Egyptian temples. That, in essence, is the story of how Tennessee’s Egyptian temple came to be. Over time it has been embellished, altered, and made increasingly mysterious. It is cited as evidence of a cover-up of ancient Egyptians in America by Tennessee Valley Authority “Irrigationists”!!?? Indeed, the mound sites involved have been covered by water but I’m utterly clueless why anyone would have applied the term “irrigationists.” In September 2007 an article in “Ancient American” retraced the basics of the story and brought it back to life. However, various internet sources assert that the excavation of the mound was halted when the Egyptian temple was found and that Harris, described as an archaeologist specializing in Egyptian sites, was called in to finish the work. It is also widely asserted that here were two huge standing stones forming an entranceway into this “temple” and that the walls of the building were stone. None of this is true, but the story is intriguing. Other internet sources claim that many of the excavated sites near the temple had large standing stones, many in straight rows, associated with them. That is true, depending on what “large” means.

The TVA Mound Excavations—1933-1934

In December 1933 the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) convened a conference in Knoxville, TN with several university representatives and other governmental agencies for the purpose of planning a survey of Native American sites that were to be inundated after the Norris Dam was completed. The dam on the Clinch River was to be the first hydroelectric dam for the TVA. By August 1933 the survey project was planned and the survey and large excavations were conducted by the Civil Works Administration and later through Federal Emergency Relief Administration funds. The project was done by late 1934. The TVA’s supervising archaeologist was William S. Webb. Webb was then the Chairman of the University of Kentucky’s Department of Anthropology and Archaeology and also the Chairman of the university’s Physics Department. All of the actual excavation work was carried out primarily by students who were guided by a host of supervisors.

The project identified 23 sites in the area that soon became the bottom of a series of lakes created by the dam. There were 29 mounds at the sites: 20 earth mounds, 9 stone mounds, and several village areas. Twelve of the mounds were found to be burial mounds and 17 had prehistoric structures associated with them. A total of 54 wooden structures were identified. The subsequent report on the project related that all of important sites were excavated and all of the artifacts and other archaeologically important materials were preserved. The full report was published by the Smithsonian as “Ethnology Bulletin 118” and was written by Webb. The report contains dozens of intriguing photos of the mounds, excavations, artifacts, and skeletal remains.

One mound, the “Irvin Mound,” had a row of 10 standing stones, most of which were about 2-4 feet in height. Adjacent to the line of standing stones was the remains of a rectangular building formed by cedar posts. Inside this rectangular building was another line of small standing stones. Oddly, a copper coin, button, and bead were found at a depth of 18 inches inside another structure under a smaller adjacent mound. The coin was identified as a 1787 coin minted by New Jersey. Still another line of 10 standing stones was found at an adjacent structure uncovered at the same site.

The photograph that so intrigued the British curator was of the Cox Mound located about 9 miles west of Clinton, TN. It is Plate 108 in the Smithsonian Bulletin. When the Cox Mound was excavated, a series of structures was found to have been built progressively, one of top of another, forming an 8-foot high mound. A total of 49 burials were uncovered during the excavation of the mound. The photograph (Plate 108 shown at the top of this article) shows the floor of the mound. The nearly square building (that had originally been constructed before the mound was formed over it) was 37.5 feet by 36.5 feet. The outer walls were formed by upright red cedar posts about 14 inches in diameter embedded from 4 to 30 inches into the soil. This structure had a roof covered with sod. At some point the sod roof collapsed and another structure was built on top of it. The second structure eventually collapsed and a third structure was erected on the top of the earlier two buildings. However, some of the cedar posts from the original building remained in place and they appear to have been incorporated into the later structures. When the excavation was done in 1934, the excavators carefully dug around the remaining cedar posts leaving numerous irregularly shaped vertical “cylinders” which appear, at first glance, to be standing stones. Two of these posts were 72 and 82 inches tall, the tallest at the site. The remains of the cedar posts were treated with a liquid that hardened the rotted wood, and the dirt surrounding the cedar posts was later removed.

Inside the building the excavators found 72 limestone and sandstone blocks scattered around. Another pile of 200 “irregular rocks” was found in a different area of the building. These can be seen on the photo at the top of this page and were the only rocks found in this excavated structure. While standing stones were found at other mounds, strangely, none of the features shown in the photo that so impressed Harris were actually standing stones. All of the vertical features shown in this mound were the remains of excavated cedar posts. A careful review of the pottery and other artifacts found during the excavation are typical Native American objects characteristic of Mississippian villages active in that region in the 1200’s to historic times. All of the sites that were excavated by the TVA project have now been underwater nearly 80 years.

Out of my own curiosity, all of the measurements of skeletal remains found during the TVA were examined in the Bulletin report. Several hundred skeletal remains were found during the TVA’s excavations and measurements were made on every bone and skull found. About 100 skeletons were sufficiently intact to make good measurements. The most consistent measurement of bones was the femur and as a guideline I used the usual estimation formula (2.32 x femur in cm + 65.53 cm). Using this formula, the tallest skeleton found would have been just under 5 feet 10 inches in height. The average size of male skeletons was about 5’ 6”. In 1950 Webb was involved in the excavation of the Dover Mound in Kentucky. A total of 55 burials were found in the mound, but in a log-lined tomb at the base of the mound, a skeleton 7-feet tall was found. I have no reason to suspect that Webb underreported the size of the skeletons. In fact, it seems apparent that if he had found unusually tall skeletons, he would have reported them and I also believe that if he had found Egyptian artifacts, he would have reported those as well.
Archaeotrek—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, July 2015

Kentucky’s Lost City

by: Dr. Greg Little

In The Illustrated Enyclopedia of Native American Mounds & Earthworks I briefly summarized the “Lost City” using the correct archaeological name for the site: the Page Site. It is a huge Mississippian era village site with platform mounds, burial mounds, and earthworks located on private land. We made a brief visit to the site a few months ago in preparation for a new version on the Encyclopedia. I anticipate that the book will double in size and list over 5,000 sites.

The Page Site had 67 mounds but today less than 30 are visible. It was called the “Lost City” until the 1960’s when a private museum on one of the platform mounds was closed and torn down. It is believed that Rafinesque visited the site in the early 1800s while it was still inhabited by some Native American tribal members—thus the term “Lost City.” I do not recommend trying to visit the site, Kentucky farmers are not known for allowing free and friendly access to their land and the site has been extensively excavated and looted. In 1928-29 Webb and Funkhouser of the University of Kentucky surveyed the site and excavated about half the mounds. They found stone graves, many large, well-formed stone lined burial chambers in the mounds, and many skulls and skeletal remains along with countless cremated remains. According to a later excavator, Raymond Vietzen, the 1929 excavation took out wagonloads of bones. In the 1940’s Vietzen excavated several of the remaining mounds finding more stone burial chambers and skeletal remains. It is an intriguing site little-known to the public.



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