In the Depths of Antiquity:

Fraud and Suppression of Information in Archeology

In Forbidden Archeology I documented many cases of fraud and suppression of information in archeology. Of course, this is just what you would expect to find in a book with a title like that, coming from someone like me—a renegade and an outsider. You can therefore imagine my pleasant surprise to find acknowledgment of such things in a recent editorial in the pages of Antiquity, one of the literary pillars of the archeological establishment. You can find this extremely frank editorial, by editor Simon Stoddard and deputy editor Caroline Malone, in the June 2001 issue of Antiquity. I’ve met both Simon and Caroline at various archaeological conferences where I’ve spoken, such as the World Archeological Congress. There I’ve seen them in the publication display areas, standing at a table humbly promoting their journal, like junior staff. I’ve chatted with each of them a bit on such occasions. Of course, they are both professional archeologists, and I heard Stoddard present a paper at one conference, about settlement patterns in Greco-Roman Sicily.

It happens I have my own little history with Antiquity. In 1993, when Forbidden Archeology first appeared, Cyprian Broodbank described it in Antiquity’s new book section like this: “All the reasons and evidence why modern humans are not rather recent but most ancient, a very large, very odd compilation of every anomaly in a very pink jacket.” I included Broodbank’s remarks in Forbidden Archeology’s Impact, which also drew a notice in Antiquity’s new book section, this time (March 1999) from Nicholas James: “Antiquity’s receptiveness to alternative archaeologies has been rewarded with mention in Cremo’s review of the world’s responses to his previous opus. Part of our comment is even quoted on the dustjacket, along with those of Richard Leaky [sic] and—Oyez!—Graham Hancock. Drawing the tome open, we find our whole review faithfully reproduced.” And now here’s the Broodbank review again —in Atlantis Rising!

But let’s return to the matter at hand. In their June 2001 editorial, Stoddard and Malone first note that the Taliban in Afghanistan, who recently destroyed large stone statues of the Buddha in the Bamihan valley, are not the only iconoclasts in the history of archeology. They note that the early Christians destroyed quite a bit of Greek and Roman statuary and architecture. Stoddard and Malone then move on to what they call “a distinctly archaelogical iconoclasm. . . . the non-publication of fieldwork.” Archeologists have a habit of digging things up, and then delaying, sometimes for decades, any publications about them. Therefore, as far as the world of archeology is concerned, the things that were dug up don’t exist—because the circumstances of their discovery have not been officially reported to colleagues. So, in this sense, nonpublication is a kind of destruction of archeological evidence. During the time of nonpublication, archeologists often deny their colleagues access to the artifacts that have been recovered. One critic noted that 80 percent of all Italian archeological material has not been published. That’s interesting. But there’s more. Stoddard and Malone go on to speak of “another dimension of archeological iconoclasm . . . that of falsification,” thus entering deeply into my territory, the territory of forbidden archeology. They note that archeologists are under such pressure to produce spectacular results that they sometimes cheat: “We personally remember meeting a brilliant colleague who over-extended the distribution of Mycenaean sherds in Tuscany by creative re-use of sherds from a museum store.” In other words, their brilliant colleague took Mycenaean potsherds from a museum’s storage rooms, and planted them in sites in Tuscany, claiming that he found them there. His cheating was exposed when suspicious colleagues took the pieces he claimed to have discovered in the field and fitted their edges to the edges of pieces he left in the museum. Stoddard and Malone, observing that their brilliant colleague’s cheating would not have been detected simply by study of his published work, remind us: “Archeological research is ultimately based on trust . . . a trust that what we publish is a truthful account.” Such trust is often misplaced, it seems.

Stoddard and Malone included in their editorial some thoughts on contemporary archeological fraud written by archeologist Paul Bahn. He found the case of senior Japanese archeologist Shinichi Fujimara especially troubling. Late last year, Fujimara was videotaped planting artifacts at a site in Japan, and photographs from the tape were published on the front page of a leading national newspaper (Manichi Shimbun). Fujimara, deputy director of the Tohoku Palaeolithic Institute, admitted planting 61 of 65 artifacts found at the Kamitakamori site and all 29 artifacts found at the Soshinfudozaka site. Bahn had included artifacts from the Kamitakamori site in an archeology textbook he coauthored with Colin Renfrew.

In addition to deliberate faking of discoveries, Bahn (p. 237) listed several other kinds of dishonesty prevalent in archeology, including : (1) “the distortion or extremely partisan selection of evidence;” (2) “exaggerated claims;” (3) “the prevention of colleagues’ access to objects or data;” (4) “the prevention of publication by critics or opponents, together with blockage of their representation in the media;” (5) “ferocious and bullying reactions to the slightest criticism, especially aimed at intimidating younger colleagues.” And the list goes on.

Bahn states (p. 238): “In archaeology as a whole the above types of dishonesty have flourished for the simple reason that nobody is willing or able to expose the culprits publicly, although there are frequent mutterings in conference corridors or behind closed doors. Even here, I am unable to name names, since it would expose both me and this journal to litigation—although I could cite specific examples for all of the above.” Bahn says that the dishonesty goes on because “no one, least of all the media, checks the facts; or simply because most people find it hard to believe that scholars could lie and cheat so brazenly.”

Maybe we should start a legal defense fund for Antiquity so that Stoddard and Malone could allow Bahn to name the names in a future issue?

Anyway, none of this fraudulent behavior among archeologists is surprising to students of forbidden archeology, least of all to me. (And I have named a few names in my day.) The case of Virginia Steen-McIntyre is instructive. She and her colleagues, using a variety of techniques, obtained an age of about 250,000 to 300,000 years for the Hueyatlaco site in Mexico, where stone tools of a type made only by anatomically modern humans were uncovered by archeologists. The archeologists, committed to a recent origin of modern humans (100,000 years) and an even more recent entry of modern humans into the Americas (25,000 years), refused to accept the dates. And when Virginia Steen-McIntyre refused to accept their denial, she was subjected to the kind of pressures that Bahn lists above, ending a promising career. I myself have had some personal experience of these things. When working with producer Bill Cote on the NBC television special The Mysterious Origins of Man, I found we were blocked from seeing the anomalous artifacts from the California gold mines, which were being kept out of sight in the storage rooms of a museum controlled by the University of California at Berkeley. We also found that orthodox scientists, led by UC Berkeley paleontologist Jere Lipps, engaged in an organized effort to stop NBC from broadcasting the program. When that failed, another paleontologist, Allison R. Palmer of the Institute for Cambrian Studies, tried to get the Federal Communications Commission to punish NBC for having shown this program, which directly contradicted the sacrosanct Darwinian account of human origins.

But there is a more fundamental issue at stake. In my studies of Vedic epistemology, I have learned that all varieties of material knowledge are infected by four defects. These are (1) karanaapatava, imperfect senses; (2) bhrama, mistakes; (3) pramada, illusion; and (4) vipralipsa, cheating. If you look carefully enough, you will find abundant examples of each in every field of material knowledge, including archeology. This certainly calls into question the conclusions arrived at by such systems of knowledge, especially when compared to the process of acquiring knowledge through other methods, such as accepting knowledge from divinely inspired records of ancient wisdom traditions. In my own work, I have relied on accounts of extreme human antiquity found in the ancient Sanskrit writings of India to guide my research into the history of modern archeology. The Babylonian king lists, Chinese emperor lists, Egyptian pharoah lists, and Mayan calendars may also be added to the list of ancient wisdom sources that can help guide researchers into the history of humans beings on our planet (and other planets).