Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public

Front Cover
Garrett G. Fagan
Psychology Press, 2006 - Social Science - 417 pages
Did aliens build the pyramids? Do all the world's civilizations owe a debt of gratitude to a single super-civilization in ancient times? Was Egypt the home of magicians? Is there a fantastic body of ancient wisdom awaiting discovery, which will help solve the world's problems? These and other scenarios are thrown up by purveyors of what is often dubbed alternative, fringe or popular archaeology and ancient history. In reality, such work is properly called pseudoarchaeology since it is a muddled imitation of the real thing. In this collection of stimulating and engaging essays, a diverse group of scholars, scientists, and writers consider the phenomenon of pseudoarchaeology from a variety of perspectives. They contemplate what differentiates it from real archaeology; its defining characteristics; the reasons for its popular appeal and how television documentaries contribute to its popularity; how nationalist agendas can warp genuine archaeology in to a pseudo-version; and the links between pseudoarchaeology and other brands of false history and pseudo science. Case studies include surveys of esoteric Egypt and the supposedly mystical Maya, Nazi pseudoarchaeology, and ancient pseudohistory in modern India.
 

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Contents

Diagnosing pseudoarchaeology
23
The attraction of nonrational archaeological hypotheses The individual and sociological factors
47
Skeptics fence sitters and true believers student acceptance of an improbable prehistory
71
Memoirs of a true believer
96
Five case studies
107
Esoteric Egypt
109
The mystique of the ancient Maya
129
Pseudoarchaeology and nationalism essentializing difference
154
Ramas realm Indocentric rewritings of early South Asian archaeology and history
203
Pseudoarchaeology in its wider context
233
The Atlantean box
235
The colonization of the past and the pedagogy of the future
259
Pseudoscience and postmodernism Antagonists or fellow travelers?
286
Concluding observations
362
Bibliography
368
Index
405

Archaeology and the politics of origins the search for pyramids in Greece
180

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