The Tarkheena, Aravis, tells her story.
Image Credit: Narnia Wikia
The Tarkheena, Aravis, tells her story.
Image Credit: Narnia Wikia
What are some of the most common references for giant humanoids? The Christian Bible, European legends and fairy tales, cultural folk tales, the Q’ran, ancient Chinese mythology, Hindu mythology, ancient Norse mythology, and the list goes on and on.
What about artifacts? Is there archaeological evidence to support the existence of a giant humanoid race in earth’s ancient history? Of course, there are lots of fringe science groups who claim all sorts of archaeological evidence indicating a giant race. The most credible testimony, however, would come from accredited colleges and groups like the Smithsonian and National Geographic who have conducted exhaustive efforts to verify claims of researchers. So, what do they say?
Well, sometimes that’s not always clear. News agencies have published reports referencing respectable institutions. These types of hoaxes have been going on for some time. However, with the advent of social media and its ability to create viral content, once a fake story is out there, it is difficult to ever overwhelm it with the truth. Especially if the truth is boring.
But, dear reader, the gringa says, “Not so fast!”. Although a fake news story about National Geographic discovering giant remains did occur, a REAL story about REAL giant humanoid remains WAS published by National Geographic itself. See how confusing chasing the truth can get? So, let’s disseminate some of the more common giant-related news stories and separate fact from fiction.
FAKE News: Published in 2014 by World News Daily Report, an article claimed that the US Supreme Court ruled in a case that would force the Smithsonian Institute to de-classify documents that covered up an archaeological find in the 1900s of thousands of giant humanoid skeletons. And plenty of fake pictures accompanied this fake story. Unknown to many readers of this “news site” is what is clearly stated in the website’s fine print: it is a news satire publication. In other words, they intentionally publish fake news. So, reader beware!
FAKE News: In 2004 a hoax was perpetrated involving a doctored photo of an “archaeologist” who had uncovered the remains of a giant in a dig in Saudi Arabia. National Geographic was credited as funding the expedition and breaking the story but that was simply untrue. Stories like this often have a financial motive to stimulate tourism.
REAL News: Published in 2012 by National Geographic is a report on ancient skeletal remains of a giant humanoid in what would have once been ancient Rome. The entire skeleton was intact and stood, get this, a whopping 6’8″. Yeah, not fake news but not really that much of an impressive “giant” either. Although this ancient Roman would have stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries, by today’s standards, among many Americans and Europeans, um, not so much. He probably wouldn’t even generate a second glance at the shopping mall. If he played on a professional basketball team he would simply be “average”.
Now, there is no doubt that occasionally a person is born with a genetic condition that will result in giantism. But the question about the past is if an entire race of giants existed, not just a blip on the genetic radar from time to time.
And think about this. Giantism is really a matter of perspective. In the US, the gringa’s considered short at 5’4″. However, I was in for quite a surprise the first time I traveled outside the US to a south-of-the-border country. In photo after photo of the gringa with locals or family from Peru, I am, practically, a giant in comparison. There is actually a related story that is quite amusing.
On one of our first trips to Peru we planned to go to the deep jungle. It is difficult for villages to get US goods, especially textiles. I decided to pack favorite name-brand clothing and shoes and give them all away when we arrived. While there I would purchase locally crafted textiles. Sure, the gringa arrived home with a wardrobe that was intrinsically linked to Incan culture, bright fabrics, vibrant patterns, etc. The only problem was that “pants” were “pedal-pushers” and “long-sleeve” shirts were actually “three-quarter” sleeve shirts. As for shoes, the best I could find to fit my big American feet was a pair of men’s sneakers and several pairs of flip-flops. So, giantism is relative to time and place.
NEVER Debunked: In 1912 an archaeological dig conducted by Beloit College found giant skeletal remains in several ancient mounds, thought to be burial mounds, in Wisconsin. Beloit College is a credentialed higher education institution still instructing students today. The site was near Delavan Lake, which was probably a prime habitat location for ancient peoples. It is thought that humans inhabited the area as early as 1000 BC and at one point, a mound building culture thrived in the area for centuries. And, apparently, they were quite large!
The Wisconsin Historical Society states that archaeologial evidence indicates that more than 200 mounds were studied by the college in the 1800s. At that time the area around the lake was still populated by the Potawotomi Indians.
Delving into the mounds revealed skeletal remains of individuals ranging in height from 7’6″ to an extraordinary 10′. Their skulls were enormous, even by today’s standards. Even stranger, many had an extra digit on their hands and feet. Their jaws featured a double row of teeth and, instead of having incisors for their front teeth, there were molars. Considering that incisors evolved to tear the flesh of meat and tough-skinned fruits, it is possible that these ancient giant humanoids were vegetarians. There was also evidence that they were different races.
This was not the only archeological dig in Wisconsin to find giants interred in burial mounds. They were also found in Maple Creek, Lake Mills, and Lake Lawn Farm. The Wisconsin remains have never been debunked as a hoax. So, they are either the real deal or the most successful prank ever perpetrated on the historical sciences communities about ancient mound builder societies.
JUDGE For Yourself: This is the story that the gringa hopes is true. Although skeletal remains were not found in an ancient Prague Castle to indicate a past population of giants, there is evidence to suggest that Slavic giants did exist and that they might have been scholars and intellectuals. The gringa’s talking about the legendary “Giant Library of Prague Castle”. Considering, however, that curators of the castle’s historical artifacts claim no connection with the photograph that gave birth to this legend, and no giant tomes have ever been found, the gringa believes she must remain disappointed.
And the credibility of these curators really shouldn’t be in question. Prague Castle is the largest castle in the Czech Republic. Construction began in 880 and was inhabited by royalty well into the mid-1900s. Wars often resulted in damage but the castle would faithfully be repaired. Now accessible to the public, visitors can enjoy acres upon acres of gardens, stables, historical architecture, period furniture, priceless art and the coveted opportunity to take a peek at the Czech Crown Jewels.
But even if no giants ever lived there and the library features no books big enough to swallow the gringa whole, it is still a delightful and entertaining prospect to imagine giant Czech kings and queens. The gringa can picture in her mind’s eye a sedate and very mindful giant mentoring a pint-sized human who sits upon the knee like a child. Perhaps they argue heatedly over a particular philosophical point, the tiny human hopping up to stand on the giant’s lap, attempting to make eye contact and poking a stubby finger into the giant’s chest in frustration, trying to make his point. And then there would be the rumble of speech that would come forth from enormous lungs and vocal chords that might create enough force to blow back the itty-bitty antagonist’s hair from his face. The good-natured, intellectual giant would chuckle at the audacity of the little creature. His good humor would surely be infectious and the two would soon be best friends again. The gringa can totally see this happening. But, alas, it can only happen in our imaginations! But, what else is our imagination for?
Image Credit: Mission Galactic Freedom
If you’ve ever indulged in the fantasy of an Indiana Jones-style adventure, the gringa knows EXACTLY how you feel! Epic excitement and mystery! But what the heck is up with all of those curses? Are they real? Have people died mysteriously because they explored ancient Egyptian tombs? Is there any science to explain how it happened? Were ancient Egyptians magical booby-trap designers?
Let’s look at the curse of all curses, the Curse of the Pharaohs. It claims that if you disturb the resting place of any ancient Egyptian (not just a pharaoh), you are in for big trouble. So, that would stand to reason, in the gringa’s mind, that if you messed about with a pharaoh’s tomb, you should get trouble on an exponential level.
The most famous ancient Egyptian pharaoh tomb in modern history to be explored is that of Tutankhamun, discovered by Howard Carter November 4, 1922. Was a curse released when the tomb’s seal was broken 3 months later on February 16, 1923? Well, apparently there were quite a few deaths that occurred:
George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, Earl of Carnarvon (we’ll just call him George-and, Downtown Abbey fans, yes, THAT Carnarvon!), was the fella who paid for the adventure. About 5 weeks after the seal was broken, March 25, 1923, rich, ol’ George dropped dead from a mosquito bite that became infected when he cut himself shaving shortly after he arrived in Cairo.
Was such a death a rare occurrence, thus indicative of supernatural causes? Nope. According to industrial records from 1923, contained within “The Industrial Bulletin, Volumes 1-5”, 16 deaths were filed with the US Workmen’s Compensation Bureas in a single MONTH, deaths caused by infection of cuts received on the job. As recent as 2010 more than 27,000 people died from sepsis specifically related to bedsores. In other words, they died when their wounds and sores became infected.
The gringa’s inclined to think that ol’ George’s death was not because of a pharaoh’s curse but just bad hygiene and bad luck. He also had a reputation for being a rather sickly fellow in the first place. No wonder, then, that a tiny mosquito back and contaminated razor cut did him in. But what of the other folks said to have died from Tut’s curse?
George had a half-brother, Colonel Aubrey Herbert, MP. He was a radiologist and X-rayed King Tut. He died six months after his brother, September 26, 1923, from arsenic poisoning. Now, brother Aubrey had bad eyesight all of his life. He was practically blind and a dentist thought he could solve the problem. Instead, he got poisoned. Crazy as it sounds, arsenic has a long and illustrious history of use in dentistry, often used as a pain reliever and root canal treatment. Was brother Aubrey a victim of supernatural vengeance? Probably not. Just another victim in a long line of dental victims. Even today you get your teeth capped or drilled at your own risk. A dentist patient dies, on average in America, every other day.
So what about the American railway mogul, George Jay Gould? He died from a fever after he visited the tomb. Also quite common.
Then there’s Egyptian prince, Ali Kamel Fah. His wife shot him dead not long after he enjoyed a photo safari of the tomb. The gringa thinks the wrath of a wife probably has nothing at all to do with anyone that’s been dead for millennia.
Another guy who X-rayed the mummy, Sir Archibald Douglas Reid, also died. Supposedly from a mystery illness but the gringa’s pretty sure that travel to exotic places often resulted in all kinds of mystery illnesses in 1924 that are, today, considered quite common.
Another victim of gun violence who visited the tomb was the governor of Sudan, Sir Lee Stack. He was shot while driving through the streets of Cairo. Methinks the possibility of an assassin’s bullet, inspired by nationalist fervor, angry at all of these foreigners desecrating the revered resting places of their ancestors is more likely than a curse. Maybe it was a politically motivated assassination by factions unhappy with foreign powers involved in the Sudan. Or, it could have been the work of a greedy tomb raider who wants all these folks gone so they can stage a raid and enjoy some profit.
And then tragedy strikes George’s family, yet again, when his other brother, Mervyn Herbert, dies of malaria related pneumonia. But, there again, dying from malaria, even today, when visiting an exotic locale, is nothing mysterious.
Another guy on George’s team, A. C. Mace, also died of arsenic poisoning in 1928. Rather than think sinister spirits were flitting about for five years wreaking havoc on unsuspecting curiosity seekers, the gringa thinks it’s more likely that Mace made an unfortunate visit to the dentist.
And what of Captain Richard Bethell? Dead from self-inflicted poisoning, munching on toxic tidbits in bed, much like how the gringa snacks on bon-bons while enjoying a good book. Stupidity or suicide, I say, not a curse. Most likely suicide because, a year later, his father committed suicide by jumping from the seventh floor of an apartment building.
Although it is disturbing to see the number of deaths that occurred within just a few years of opening King Tut’s tomb, the details reveal credible reasons, some with scientific evidence, to explain them as quite normal and of this world. So, if you plan to visit Egypt, don’t be afraid of any, ol’ curse. Visit the tombs. Explore the pyramids. Ride some camels. But get inoculated for malaria before you go, sleep under mosquito netting, use insect repellant, and wear long sleeves!
Image Credit: Unrated Film
Two things the gringa loves most are science and history. When the two collide I believe I am in Paradise. Add the spice of controversy and there is simply no going back for the gringa. Archaeologists in Greece have made this dream combination come true for the gringa.
Let us travel back 3,000 years to the bleak mountaintop of Mount Lykaion in southern Greece, which some ancient Greeks believed to be the birthplace of Zeus, rather than Crete. This is the revered resting place of an altar featuring a grisly design of sheep bone construction. This is where the religious leaders of Greece hoped to pacify their god of gods, Zeus himself. Offered up are the bloody sacrifices of what one would expect to be sheep or goats, considering what the altar is made of. Think again dear readers.
For those schooled in literature and philosophy, when Greece is mentioned, you hearken back to the days of Plato and Socrates. You believe these sophisticated thinkers of Greece gave birth to civilized society as we know it. As you cruise about town, passing homes with columned porches, you remind yourself that this bit of architecture was passed down from an exceptionally cultured society. Or not. Not when the skeletal remains of a teenage boy near Zeus’ altar indicates that young, human sacrifices were being bled out on top of a table made from sheep bones in efforts to gain favor with a god that might rain down lightning if he got pissed.
But Mount Lykaion is historically linked to Greek athletic festivals, isn’t it? Isn’t it one of the ancient sites with a stadium and hippodrome, all indicators of a culture that appreciated athletic competitions? The gringa wonders, was death the price for losing or, could it have been the price for winning, or, could it have been the “opening ceremony” after which a priest turns around and commands, “Let the games begin!” Who really knows at this time because this is a recent discovery.
And some scholars are not too happy about revelations of human sacrifice as part of ancient Greek religious ceremonies. I mean, after all, Greece way back then liked to call rival foreign nations nasty names like barbarians and cannibals. But, really, who do they think they are fooling? Remember, Socrates asked Adeimantos if he had heard the latest gossip about religious zealouts feasting on the remains of their human sacrifice. Socrates includes a gruesome description of a terrible recipe of mixing the entrails of different victims which, if ingested by some hapless cannibal, transforms them into a wolf. Considering that Adeimantos had already heard the story, it seems that the nasty religious practices going on atop Mount Lykaion were no big secret among the ancient Greeks. It’s just big news to us.
So what kind of science goes into the decision that the remains of this young man belong to a specific era and culture? Scientists have to analyze the composition of the altar itself. Considered an “ash altar”, the gringa’s depiction of it being constructed in the fashion of, say, a dining room table and made completely out of sheep bones is not an altogether clear picture of what scientists are dealing with. Imagine, if you will, that ancient priests led sheep and goats to a sacred place, slit their throat, then burned the remains. Each sacrifice slaughtered and burned atop the ones that went before. Eventually a mound of ash accumulates and becomes a ritual platform. At Mount Lykaion the mound was almost five feet high.
So, the scientists use their handy-dandy equipment to measure remains of bones to see which animal (or human) they belong to. If human, they measure the pelvis to see if it is male or female. Then they need to determine the age of the remains. The first thing that comes to mind is ye aulde carbon dating technique. But there are other methods that can be used on other objects and archaeological sites to determine age:
So, if history, science and drama are appealing to someone you know, remind them that there are still exciting discoveries to be made, particularly in Greece. For young people who long for the curiosities that are found in archaeological digs, remind them that not every ancient puzzle has been solved. Along with history, they should also have a strong foundation in STEM studies. And lucky for me this archaeological site has its own website keeping fascinated individuals like myself up-to-date on their latest discoveries. Because the gringa really wants to know just went on up there.
Image Source: tse4.mm.bing.net