Sunday, August 8, 2010

Olmecs and The History Channel

The Olmecs were an ancient South American civilization that predates the Mayans and Aztecs. We know almost nothing about them aside from aside from the fact that they made these enourmous stone heads, that have distinctly negroid features. So lets take a look at how both archeologists and The History Channel take this subject on.

First up, archeology. What do they deduce from the Negroid features? Well, since they know, yes, know, that people from Africa could not have crossed the Atlantic, then the features must not be Negroid. Yes, that is how it works, denial is king. They know no such thing, and instead of looking at this as potential proof of such a journey, they go the other way, the illogical way, because they don't like to have to rewrite history. Now, the history channel's narrator states that the Olmecs are the first structures society in south America, that they just walked out of the jungle and there they were. They state this as fact, despite knowing nothing about them. What I mean by that is this, we have no idea if there were earlier cultures. To be factual, it should be stated that the Olmecs (and if I remember right, we have no idea what they called themselves, we named them the Olmecs) are the earliest South American Culture that we know of. Oftentimes in this field, and especially when the media gets involved, 'facts' are thrown around that simply aren't facts. There may have been earlier cultures that we have yet to discover, or may never discover, that the Olmecs may have evolved from. If all we have from them are their megalithic heads, then who knows how many cultures were there before them that may not have made such lasting structures.

Now, since all we have are the heads, how do they make this subject last an hour? Well, speculation of course. So they have these huge heads, they know they moved them to where they are, and they have no idea how. So they start by talking to archeologists who tell them that we don't know how the Olmecs moved their heads. We have absolutely no idea. Followed by, well, maybe to speculate we should look at how other cultures moved large stones. Well the Egyptians moved their large stones with large amounts of slave labor. (Ok, problem number one. They did not. This is a theory that is thrown around but has been disproved over and over, in fact the idea that there was widespread slavery in Egypt is wrong, much less that they were used to move their massive stones. Simply wrong) So now let's take this wrong assumption and bind it to our current dilemma.  Now let's test this on much smaller stones. Hey, large amounts of people can move much smaller stones. Great, really doesn't prove or explain anything, but they can treat it like a discovery because it's TV. So, they come back from commercial doing just that, they state that they now know that the Olmecs moved these large heads with large amounts of human labor, as they have now proved. The wording is so important. If you don't know much about this stuff, you will walk away thinking that you know something you don't, because in essence, they are lying to you. They are telling that, that because a whole lot of people can pull a 1/2 ton stone a ways, that the Olmecs did this to move their 20 ton heads, they just used more people. There is no evidence that this is what they did. None. Yet, now, according to this show, Digging for the Truth, we now know how it was done. They don't state that MAYBE it could have been done this way, the narrator says, "We now know that they used many people to pull the stones along..."  But we don't. That is simply a lie.

When they come back, they are talking to an archeologist about how they moved the stones across the water. He tells them, clearly, that they have no idea. They speculate that MAYBE they used boats, but since absolutely nothing of said boats has survived, they can only guess. So with this guess, they make a boat out of the resources that the Olmecs would have had available to them. They barely get their ½ ton stone on three boats lashed together. On the up side, they did not claim that this is definitely how they did it, this time. But they then ‘did the math’ and stated that it would only take 14 much larger boats lashed together to hold one of the 20 ton heads. Yeah, only 14 boats. On top of this, they could barely get the ½ ton rock on the boat, yet clearly you just need more people to get a 20 ton rock up on a boat, right?

I admit, I find these shows interesting. They talked about a dig where they found the heads, and some floors of buildings they found and how one the heads was intentionally buried, a fact that I knew, but had forgotten. The problem with archeology, and oftentimes cosmology, is assumption. For example, the place where they found the heads is the center of the Olmec culture. This is what they state, yet, having found no trace of it anywhere else, how can you really say that. The same with saying that they were the first real culture in South America. They state this as if they know for sure, because it fits with their other theories about human migration. They, however, ignore the facts that don’t fit, like the distinct negroid cast to the heads, implying that they are not part of the typical migration into the area. This is the same behavior that causes Egyptologists to ignore the water damage to the Sphinx, because it disrupts their theories with those pesky facts. And then you let the media get a hold of this information, and it gets cast into a whole new light, despite the FACT that we know little to nothing about the Olmecs, we now have discovered all this new stuff while filming this show. We now know they dragged them like the Egyptians (didn’t) and they made incredibly massive boats to float them down rivers. Yet, despite having the know how to make these massive vessels, they never ventured off into the oceans or anywhere far from home, because people back then simply couldn’t. Despite the fact that I sometimes enjoy these shows, the problem with the misdirection of information, the lying, the assuming, makes them pretty useless. A casual viewer won’t know that, and then they will further on these lies and such. Some of these shows are worse than others. Some episodes are worse than others. So really, if this type of thing interests you, pick up various books on the subject, from various sides. Compare the information and make your own decisions. Sadly, like most other television, even the ‘historical’ documentaries are flash and garbage for the most part now.

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