I’m a big fan of educational shows. I’ve recently been streaming through Netflix, the show, Myth Hunters. It is a UK series, originally entitled Raiders of the Lost Past. For one, why do the names have the change when they get to the US? That was a perfectly wonderful name for a show. Overall, I have been enjoying the show. Take the example, I’m sure you’ve all experienced it, where you know the information, or most of it, but someone lays it all out and you have an ‘Ah-ha!’ moment? Yeah, that’s happened a lot. The other times, it was a subject I really knew nothing on, like Captain William Kidd. I’d heard his name, but didn’t know anything about him, so that was quite an interesting epi, even if it was sad.
But a few of the epi’s have bothered me greatly, The Search for the Crystal Skulls was one of them. It was the way all the facts and evidence were laid out. It was completely illogical. Here, I’ll give a synopsis.
In 1924 a girl is on a dig in Central America with her father. She finds a crystal skull. They give it to the Mayan descendents, but they give it right back to the father for all the work he did. The daughter and father go back to England and sit on this skull until the 1950s when he writes a book about the incident and tells everyone he has the skull. That was Mitchell Hedges. You’ve probably heard his name and the term ‘The Mitchell Hedges Skull’ thrown around. That is this.
So, there were other crystal skulls, one in France and one in England, in museums, and then someone left one for The Smithsonian in the US. The Smithsonian decided to test theirs. They deemed it a fake because of certain ridges. The ridges, under microscopic investigation, meant that the skull was created with diamond cutting technology, which was only first available in the mid-late 1800s. They go on to test the other two skulls, and after Hedges’ daughter dies, her skull as well.
They gave other reasons for the one’s in France and England being fake. But when they get to the Mitchell Hedges Skull they show you a microscopically magnified image showing ridges just like The Smithsonian skull, but go on to say that it is a hand carved 3,000 year old Mayan something or another. Then go on to say that the Mitchell Hedges Skull has the same ridges (as well as The Smithsonian skull) and those are therefore fake because of the diamond cutting technology.
Wait, what? I didn’t hear that incorrectly, because I went back and listened to it again. I’m aware that there could be differences in the ridges, but since they weren’t mentioned, the photo’s were EXACTLY the same, the womans statements were that they were exactly the same. So, this is poor follow through. With the information they have supplied to me, the conclusion is illogical. With the information they supplied me it’s either A) Two crystal skulls are not fakes. or B) this jade decorative object we thought was real, is actually a fake.
They also said that crystal isn’t something that the Mesoamerican cultures really had, so they didn’t carve it. Then they show me a chunk of rock crystal that the Mesoamerican’s carved into a goblet and it is thousands of years old. What?!
Then they go on to say that Mitchell Hedges’ daughter was not on the dig with him in 1924, but that she was on a dig with him there in 1926. And then not two minutes later they state that she’d never stepped foot in Central America until the 1980s. Huh? Which is it? Was she there in ’26 or not? It’s not like they said, “A source puts her there in 1926, but proof and documentation put here there, for the first time, in the ’80s.” Nope.
The errors and contradictions in that episode were blinding! It really agitated me. It doesn’t matter to me one way or the other whether they prove or disprove the skulls, but the unreasonable discrepancies were just appalling!
The Quest for the True Cross bothered me as well. Mainly with its carbon testing bullshit. I have watched enough educational shows to know that carbon testing is a fickle friend. It seems to be up to the scientists performing the testing as to what reading they choose.
“We wanted to date the pyramids in Egypt. We took samples and carbon tested them, but they only tested to about 600 AD and we know they are much older, so there must have been a contaminate.” If the scientist believes the item is from a certain time, they will keep carbon testing until they hit a correct date. If they don’t believe in the project to begin with, they do one test and boom that’s your answer.
This is not how science is supposed to work! Science is neutral; it does not believe nor disbelieve until there is proof. And even when you find proof, you keep testing! Science is all about constants and variables and testing and testing and more testing to see an outcome. One should never perform one test and call it a day, nor should one over test to get their desired result. Yet, I have watched a plethora of educational shows from the 1960s to the present day, since my childhood, and this is exactly what happens. Even though a scientist might say there could be contaminants or we are supposed to keep testing, they will turn around and not follow their own rules. Or a scientist might scoff at someone for wanting said item to be from said time so badly they won’t see the truth, yet they will turn around and do it for their own item. It is not just carbon dating, though that one gets abused a lot.
German dude probably really did find the Titulus Crucis, but no scientist believed in it enough to keep carbon testing (or trying other tests) like they would their own find that they believe in so much. Complete and utter malarkey!
The other one that bothered me, but was not the fault of the show, nor the science community, was The Lost Spanish Galleon. It was about Mel Fischer and his passions for diving and underwater exploration and his ingenious tactics to find lost ships; and they were ingenious! The old WWII sub sonar device retrofitted to use without the sub to track iron underwater and his “mail boxes”, which were curved tubes to push the propeller water down through them to get the clearer water to the bottom and the murkier water to the top. That last is amazing ingenuity.
So, the main part of the show was the great Spanish shipwreck of 1622, in which a fleet of ships sank off the Florida Keys. The main ship was the Nuestra Señora de Atocha; or simply called now The Atocha (ah-toe-shuh). It was reported to have half a billion dollars worth of gold, silver, and jewels by todays standards. It took Mel and his crew almost 20 years to find most of the treasure, because apparently the hurricane kept smashing and rolling the ship. The crew found the anchor and followed the line, only finding random bits and pieces here and there, finally finding one of the huge cargo holds full of treasure. The other cargo hold has yet to be found. Also, his oldest son drowned at sea trying to find this treasure.
The problem is with treasure and the way the world sees it. Mel Fischer thinks, “If I find it, it’s mine.” One might not argue with that, especially since the sea (& that treasure) claimed his son’s life. I’m personally surprised I could find no evidence of Spain saying, “Hey! That’s ours we want it back!” And one might not argue with that either. In the end, any of all treasure found belongs to Mel Fischer (or heirs) and 20% goes back to the state of Florida to protect underwater archaeological sites. I can get on board with a percentage going to Florida for that. I can even get on board with Mel Fischer getting some of the treasure, after all he did spend 20 years of his life and all that work trying to find it.
But all of those jewels and gold and silver were stolen from the peoples of South America. The general consensus then, and it hasn’t much changed today, is that the New World was ripe for the taking, so the Europeans took. They enslaved the native peoples to mine out all of that gold, silver and gems and then absconded with it back to their European home lands. They also murdered and raped the native populations.
People still scoff at this today, which I find incredulous. Pretend I come to your home; your land, property, and house. I stake a flag in it and say it now belongs to me. I take all of your belongings, rape your women, force you all to go out and find me more of the same that I just stole from you, from your bank accounts and your relatives homes. Then I kill some of you and take some of you with me back to my land. Tell me you wouldn’t be pissed about that. Tell me you wouldn’t think that I was in the wrong.
What if I also said you were inferior to me because you didn’t wear the clothes, or live in a house that I thought worthy enough. And I used your inferiority to exclaim that you couldn’t possibly know how to do anything, therefore this land and anything it contained wasn’t yours because you were too stupid to know what to do with it. You would still be pissed and think that I was an idiot. But what if most of the world felt the same as I did? What if most of the world sided with me and not you?
And there you have the entire story of the native peoples of the America’s and their plight, in a nutshell. How the Europeans stole from them but rationalized it with their supposed superiority and right. You might even want to say, “But it’s been 363 years (from 1622 to the finding in 1985), so it’s not theirs anymore and it’s in the past, so who cares.”
If all of that happened to you, would you honestly have forgotten about it? No, you would not have and you are lying if you say otherwise. You *might* have forgiven and moved on, but you did not forget about it.
I personally think that the bulk of the treasure should go back to South America. If it’s easy enough to find what was on that ship and where it sailed from and supposedly the Spanish kept exemplary records then it should be no problem to find exactly who (as in tribe) they got to mine all of that for them or where. So, you give it to the present day country. You could even do a stipulation that the money is to go for the preservation of native sites. Or if South America didn’t want it (which I doubt), an agreement could be made for the treasure to help any and all native sites, or to help native peoples that no longer have anything; help them build up their communities and that can go for anyone in the America’s if there’s enough.
I personally don’t think Spain should have any of it, but if we want to be super nice, they could have a small percentage, I suppose. But if someone stole from you, would you be nice enough to give them more?