Year: 2010

The “megaliths” of New Zealand

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By Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews

Earlier this week, I gave a talk to the South-West Hertfordshire Archaeological Society on the subject of Bad Archaeology. Among the questions at the end, most of which were generally supportive of my sceptical tone, I was challenged to explain the evidence for pre-Maori “megaliths” in New Zealand and, more specifically, the work of Martin Doutré, an American citizen living in New Zealand. At the time, I mentioned that I had heard of Doutré’s work and that I was aware of its links with extreme right-wing politics. For me, that ought to be enough to dismiss the implications of his so-called “discoveries”, but it was clearly not enough for my questioner.

Back-track to July 2008. I received an email from a “Badger H Bloomfield” of Dannevirke, New Zealand, in which I was challenged to “check out if you are interested.A find of buried clay sculptures ,siltstone carvings,Script,glyphs, pyramids all in New Zealand at Dannevirke ,Motea .Waione. Horoeka,Tararua District… A very objective find …Obviously out of Africa ..3D.carved face profiles with large lips …Everybody has  been skeptical BUT nobody has come to have a look!!? Remember ..”Seeing is Believing:”…I challenge you to prove this as “Bad Archaeology””. A bit of googling revealed a few websites that contain comments by Mr Bloomfield. He seems to turn up from time to time in discussions of New Zealand prehistory, sometimes promoting his Tararua Ancient Sites Project, which has no real web presence. Indeed, this is what he did in a reply email to me: “While you guys argue and debate the misnomer of “Bad Archaeology “.We are uncovering a dig of enormous proportion …No one wanted to know only wanted to argue whether we were qualified to dig or not ,so we called in some overseas Prof:s,Academics ,and interested researchers .…What we have retrieved to date are hundreds of stone carvings ,sculptures ,ancient script ,settlement sites.We have retrieved a lot ,restoring as we go ,with a lot still in the ground being destroyed by quarry machinery it can’t stay in the ground forever ,it has to be retrieved and analised,So instead of yapping about something you know nothing about ,make the effort to come and view at “Tararua Ancient Sites Projects Restoration Studio“.

Some of Badger H Bloomfield's alleged Neolithic tools

Some of Badger H Bloomfield’s alleged “Neolithic tools”

It’s actually very difficult to find information about the Tararua Ancient Sites Project, although a photograph posted by Badger Bloomfield on a site dealing with dinosaur fossils purports to depict Neolithic tools. I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that they are from Tararua; however, this may be confirmed by his comment on the Maori News blog that “the exhibition of Taumata atua sculptures and carved Ma-Uri stones retrieved from Ancient sites by the “Tararu Ancient Sites Project”… want our original “Tangata Whenua”recognised as to whoever they were !!!A culture of Neolithic artisans capable of creating a group{tribe}of very efficient carvers ,seamen,gardeners,builders,all the carved face profiles on the carvings and sculptures only represent “Men”..So!! who did they breed with?? Maeroero ?”. According to the caption of the photograph, “on close inspection carved faces and designs are visible” on the stones. I have to say that I can’t see any evidence for carving, for faces or even for an anthropogenic origin for these bits of stone, although I’m basing my opinion purely on a photograph.

Unfortunately, the New Zealand Archaeological Association declined to comment on Badger Bloomfield’s project when I asked them for further information. A spokesperson did confirm, though, that she was aware of him and had received emails similar in tone to those he had sent me.

Part of the Doutré hypothesis is that orthodox academics are actively suppressing or wrongfully discrediting his discoveries. He manages to get respectful press attention, although some have complained about it. He is also something of a revisionist when it comes to interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Trying to research this subject drags us into the murky subculture of White Supremacists, who are determined to show that Europeans settled various places (in this case New Zealand) before the inhabitants discovered by the first European explorers. Sometimes, these people hide behind innocuous enough (but often poorly designed) websites; sometimes they are more brazen about their beliefs. Now, I’m not suggesting that either Martin Doutré or Badger Bloomfield are white supremacists (indeed, Badger Bloomfield seems to be as enthusiastic about Maori archaeology as his clearly is about supposedly pre-Maori archaeology); what is evident, though, is that the alleged discoveries they are keen to promote are taken up with glee by extreme right wing racists. Moreover, Doutré very publicly endorsed David Irving and holocaust denialism in a comment on a post in the Scoop Review of Books.

However, having neo-Nazi sympathies does not automatically invalidate Martin Doutré’s hypothesis. People can hold vile political views and still make important discoveries. So, what is his evidence for “Celtic New Zealand”? He makes much use of things he identifies as standing stones or megaliths, comparing them with examples known in the British Isles. Many of the stones he claims as megaliths look more like glacial erratics. However, his surveys of their locations have suggested that they incorporate significant astronomical alignments and may even be laid out according to the ‘Megalithic Yard’. His surveying is based on what he has learned in his profession as a carpenter, rather than archaeologist or surveyor, but Alexander Thom, doyen of astro-archaeologists, was an engineer by profession, so this isn’t a damning observation.

However, without evidence that all these recumbent stones were once deliberately arranged in the landscape, some standing upright, they remain boulders that have not been shown to be megaliths. The carved and shaped stones of Badger H Bloomfield resemble nothing more than the “artefacts” from the Bay of Cambay touted by Graham Hancock as evidence for his ‘lost civilisation’; in other words, they are of natural, not anthropogenic, origin. And the precise measurements using ‘megalithic yards’? Well, for one thing, the stones are claimed to have fallen from their original upright positions, so Martin Doutré has to “reconstruct” the original appearance of the “stone circles”, meaning that these precise measurements are based not on the stones themselves, nor on archaeological evidence showing where they originally stood, but on Doutré’s beliefs about where they ought to have stood. Alexander Thom’s ‘megalithic yard’ was debunked in much the same way: his very accurate surveys were of stone circles that were sometimes incomplete or otherwise not in their original forms, or had been ‘restored’ in some way, so his surveys were of the twentieth-century appearance of the circles, not their Early Bronze Age forms. The ‘megalithic yard’ is pretty much the average human pace, not an accurate system of measurement.

A supposedly 150,000 year old carved tree stump from New Zealand

A supposedly 150,000 year old “carved tree stump” from New Zealand

There is more, inevitably. Claims for a 150,000 year old carved tree stump associated with a stone adze have been recycled. A nineteenth-century print of the stump does not inspire confidence in claims that it really was carved by humans. I have not been able to find an illustration of the “adze”; why would someone ‘carving’ a tree stump leave the tool with which they had done the job next to the finished article, anyway?

All in all, Martin Doutré’s “Celtic New Zealand” claims are rubbish. There is no politer way of putting it. Used to bolster some rather unpleasant extreme right-wing political views, it is an hypothesis born of what he wants the past to have been, not what it actually was.

Perhaps one reason for the enthusiasm with which some have taken up the “Celtic New Zealand” hypothesis is the fact that many of the nineteenth-century European immigrants in New Zealand were of Scottish or Irish ancestry. It remains the case, though, that not a single shred of credible evidence for pre-Maori settlement has ever been found; although its proponents claim an academic conspiracy to silence them and suppress their discoveries, not only are they able to publish them, any real archaeologist who discovered pre-Maori settlers on the islands would have their career made in an instant!

Did the Knights Templar leave a nail from the Crucifixion in Madeira?

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By Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews

A nail said to be from the Crucifixion of Jesus

A nail said to be from the Crucifixion of Jesus, found in Madeira

Supposedly serious up-market newspapers are increasingly prone to printing the most ridiculous stories sent them as press releases (a practice rightly derided as ‘churnalism’). I’ve already had cause to mock The Daily Telegraph for its silly and unnecessary promotion of ‘prehistoric sat-nav’ and now, up pops another, this time claiming that “[a] nail dating from the time of Christ’s crucifixion has been found at a remote fort believed to have once been a stronghold of the Knights Templar’. Worryingly, the anonymous Telegraph article cites The Daily Mirror as a source for a quote from an archaeologist, and simply rewords a story written by Euan Stretch. This rewriting of someone else’s story is a feature of churnalism and it ought to ring alarm bells.

Firstly, the staff writer at The Telegraph should have done some checking. They could have contacted Bryn Walters, the archaeologist who provides a quote about the date and condition of the nail. He is the Director and Secretary of the Association for Roman Archaeology, a respectable organisation composed of professional and amateur archaeologists. Why simply recycle what the Daily Mirror quoted him as saying? They could also have contacted Christopher Macklin of the Knights Templar of Britannia, whose website conveniently displays a press cutting from the original Daily Mirror article. The Knights Templar of Britannia are one of many groups claiming a relationship with the original Knights Templar (more correctly, the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon) and, according to their website, a “Former Vatican Priest… confirmed that the Knights Templar of Britannia linked to the Original Knights Templars in England and that our Grand Master was by hereditary birthright the ancestral true Grand Master of the Knights Templars of Britannia”. But a quick glance at, say, Wikipedia, would soon confirm that the order was disbanded in 1312 and that none of the groups claiming descent from them has a legitimate claim: all are recreations of recent centuries.

Reproduction crucifixion nails

Reproduction “crucifixion nails”: as real as that from Madeira

Then one might have hoped that the journalist would speak to somebody who knows a little about ancient nails. Until the nineteenth century, most nails were square-sectioned, with tapering points and a large, flat, circular head. They were made by hand by blacksmiths working with red hot iron. A nail made in the first century AD looks exactly like a nail made in the eighteenth century AD because they were made in almost identical ways. There is no way – despite Bryn Walters’s certainty – of dating an iron nail except from the context in which it was found.

A little further investigation would reveal that the find-spot of the nail,  Ilhéu da Pontinha (which the newspapers uniformly misspell ‘Ilheu de Pontinha’), an atoll off the coast of Madeira, cannot have been “a former Knights Templar stronghold” as the archipelago was not discovered until 1418×20, more than a century after the order was disbanded. Now, the Portuguese Templars simply renamed themselves the Military Order of Christ (Real Ordem dos Cavaleiros de Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo) and their then Grand Master, Prince Henry the Navigator (Henrique o Navegador) was a prime mover in the Portuguese discovery of further islands in the Atlantic Ocean and the west coast of Africa as wall as the colonisation of Madeira. The excavation of Forte São José on Ilhéu da Pontinha (which is a self-declared sovereign principality) has been announced by the website of the fort, which took place in 2004-6. The archaeologist in charge of the excavation, Élvio Duarte Martins Sousa from the Centro de Estudos de Arqueologia Moderna e Contmporânea (Centre for the Study of Modern and Contemporary Archaeology) in Madeira, has condemned the announcement of the nail’s discovery as “sensationalist” and “a fantasy” in an official statement. There were no skeletons, no Templar relics and no Roman artefacts. There were, however, plenty of nails resembling the one claimed to be from the Crucifixion of Jesus; they were held to be structural nails dating from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century construction works.

What appals me about this story is the sheer laziness of the reporter. Armed with nothing more than Google and an email client, it would have been possible to recognise in no more than ten minutes that this was not a story. The purported facts don’t add up and it doesn’t take an expert in archaeology or history to see why they don’t. It is all the more shocking that a so-called ‘quality’ newspaper would not even bother to do some basic checking. Suppose this were a story about something much more important that could directly affect someone’s life and happiness, such as identifying the wrong person as a convicted paedophile, say? The Daily Telegraph would never do something as awful as that through laziness and failing to check the facts. Would it?

A “Celtic Dolmen in Oregon?” – well, at least it’s a question!

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By Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews

The supposed "Celtic dolmen" in Oregon (USA)

The supposed “Celtic dolmen” in Pike Creek Canyon (Oregon, USA)

I couldn’t quite believe it when I saw this “story”. It seems to be constructed partly from quotations from Webster’s Universal College Dictionary and “Wickipedia” (sic) and is based on research using Google Earth. In fact, it’s written by the “Oregon Nature Examiner” for The Examiner (the “insider source for everything local”), one Dave Sandersfield, who has a degree in Technical Journalism, so we can excuse the lack of archaeological knowledge displayed by the article.

It’s actually quite difficult to understand what the article is really about. It seems that, somewhere in Pike Creek Canyon, north-west of Alvord Hot Springs in Oregon  (USA) (the article says that Pike Creek is west, but it’s clear from Google Earth that it isn’t), there is a dolmen that can be seen as “a big pile of rocks”. It is in the canyon, close to Baltazar Spring. Trawling Google Earth, there are plenty of piles of rock in the canyon, but I can’t make out one that resembles a dolmen. What is interesting (to me, at any rate) is that in the canyon, there’s a photograph by timland (a photographer with an eye for interesting landscapes), showing glacial erratics.

Unfortunately, Dave Sandersfield doesn’t include a screenshot of the right bit of Google Earth, so I can’t be certain that I’ve located the right area. Mind you, he does say that it’s best “to physically walk along side this oddity and touch these unmovable rocks placed together by some prehistoric hands”, so that might well be why I can’t see anything. However, he does include a photograph showing “the round red rock pinched by the horizontal roof stone against the orange boulder on left to make the roof rock shed rain water”. Most of the photographs on the website appear to have been taken with a camera phone, to judge from the poor quality and camera shake, so there isn’t a great deal that can be judged about the nature of the alleged dolmen.

However, the one decent photograph, reproduced at the start of this post (and originally named, bizarrely, Copy_of_Celtic_shack.JPG), shows a group of reddish rocks with a larger flat slab perched above several others. This fits the definition quoted from Webster’s Universal College Dictionary that a dolmen consists of “two or more large, upright stones set with a space between and capped by a horizontal stone”. However, the photograph doesn’t really resemble anything that might be regarded as a dolmen by a European archaeologist (quite what Dave Sandersfield’s “Palaeo-archaeologist” is supposed to be isn’t explained in the article). Dolmens are found in a number of locations in western Europe and were once thought to be evidence for the diffusion of farmers from Syria-Palestine into Europe. Radiocarbon dating demolished that particular hypothesis back in the 1970s, but the monuments remain as a phenomenon of the earliest Neolithic and are part of the wider phenomenon of collective burial in stone-lined tombs.

The dolmen de Saint-Nectaire (France)

The dolmen de Saint-Nectaire (France)

So far, so good. Dolmens are the denuded remains of such tombs, whose original coverings of earth or stone have long since been lost. There is a possibility that some were built as free-standing structures, but this remains unproven. It is untrue to suggest, though that “later they were built for seasonal, especially winter equinox, observation stations”, as many early examples incorporate astronomically significant alignments; none was built principally as an “observation station” as they were always tombs. The fourth photograph, showing “Dolmen’s View looking east towards winter solstice” is presumably meant to reassure us that, like other dolmens, this one incorporates the most important of these alignments. There is no evidence, as Dave Sandersfield claims, that they were “placed near geothermal pools”.

Astérix the Gaul

Astérix le Gaulois: the fictional archetypal Celt

According to the author, dolmens “are associated with an ancient Celtic culture that built Stonehenge and other odd standing rock structures” and his quotation from Wikipedia gives us a slightly old-fashioned view of Celtic culture. There are two problems with this view. Firstly, even the latest phases of Stonehenge pre-date a recognisably Celtic culture by almost a thousand years; it’s even worse for dolmens, which pre-date it by more than two thousand. The equation of dolmens with Celts might have been put to entertaining use by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo in the Astérix comic books, but it’s utterly unhistorical. It belongs to a time before prehistorians were able to date the pre-Roman monuments of Europe and is thus more than a century and a half out of date.

The second problem is with the entire concept of the “ancient Celtic culture”. Yes, there was a common élite culture across western Europe during much of the first millennium BC and the label given to it by art historians and archaeologists is “Celtic”. However, that is simply a descriptive label. A century ago, when prehistoric cultural change was thought to be associated with the migrations of ethnically distinct groups of peoples, that “Celtic culture” was assumed to be associated with a group of peoples described by classical authors as living north and west of the Alps. There are enormous problems with associating material culture forms with ethnic identity, which I summarised in an article published ten years ago. The so-called “Celtic culture” includes too much diversity to be associated simply with one single ethnic group. A simple example will suffice: we know that the people called Celts by their contemporaries in the classical world lived in rectangular houses; the Britons and Irish, whose descendants think of themselves as “Celts”, lived in round houses, as their ancestors had done for several thousand years. No classical author ever describes the inhabitants of the British Isles as Celts (indeed, the late fifth-century writer Zozimos actually contrasts the Britons with the Celts) and it was on purely linguistic grounds that the identification was first made.

The supposed "Celtic Empire"

The supposed (but non-existent) “Celtic Empire”

This does not worry popular writers, such as Peter Berresford Ellis, who treat “Celtic culture” as if it is a monolithic phenomenon. It also rouses the anger of self-identifying “Celts” in Britain, Ireland and Brittany, who see any attempt to examine the concept critically as a phenomenon of English imperialism or, worse, as racism. However, it is clear to the disinterested observer that the claims made for a unified “Celtic Empire” are just plain wrong: there never was any such entity, just lots of warring tribes and kingdoms, who spoke closely related languages, valued similar artistic styles but whose basic cultures were quite distinct.

Promoting a myth of North American Celts

Promoting a myth of North American Celts

There is a more sinister and worrying aspect to the author’s identification of a purported “Celtic” monument in North America. Similar claims are made by white supremacist groups (only follow the link if you are prepared to read falsifications of the past promoted by racists; here is a resource for dealing with this type of hate-mongering). Some of the claims seem innocuous enough and often quote Professor Barry Fell as an authority. Fell was an invertebrate biologist who became enthused by epigraphy, claiming to detect traces of ogham inscriptions across the United States of America, and he developed a wide following. His work has not been well received by academics but is accepted uncritically by many amateurs as well as by those with a religious or political interest in seeing European settlers in North America millennia before Columbus. The plain fact of the matter is that there is not a shred of credible evidence for the settlement in North America of large numbers of people from western Europe before 1492.

So, are these rocks in Oregon the remains of a “Celtic dolmen”, if we leave out the bit about astronomical observations and the bit about the Celts? It should be obvious by now what my answer is going to be. The solution comes in the second paragraph. timland’s landscape photographs demonstrate what this “Celtic dolmen” really is: it’s a group of glacial erratics, left after the ice that carved out Pike Creek Canyon had melted. It wasn’t “ancient Celts” who put the “capstone” in place, but Mother Nature.

More alien nonsense: the Lolladoff plate

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By Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews

The cover of Sungods in Exile

Sungods in Exile: the only known publication of Karyl Robin-Evans

According to Sungods in exile: secrets of the Dzopa of Tibet, a book published in 1978 and attributed to an Oxford Professor of ethnology, Karyl Robin-Evans (1914-74) but edited form his papers by his secretary David Agamon, a Polish Professor Sergei Lolladoff made an intriguing discovery in India. Shortly after the end of the Second World War in 1945, Lolladoff had purchased a Tibetan or Nepalese disc at the nineteenth-century hill station of Mussoorie (मसूरी Masūrī, Uttarakhand, India), which was attributed to the Dzopa people of the region. He showed the disc to Robin-Evans, who subsequently mounted an expedition to Tibet in 1947. Robin-Evans was received by Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (ལྷ་མོ་དོན་འགྲུབ་) the fourteenth Dalai Lama (born Lhamo Döndrub) but, after his Tibetan guides deserted him, he befriended the people of the Baian-Kara-Ula region and learned their language, from which he was able to piece together the story behind the disc.

The Lolladoff Plate

The “Lolladoff Plate”

The disc was made from stone, although its dimensions do not seem to be recorded. It is flat, with a sun-like design at its centre, from which two spiral arms turn in a clockwise diection through about 450° to its edge. There are designs on the disc partly superimposed over the spirals and partly following them. The most striking is a humanoid figure depicted (naked?) facing forward with arms and legs away from the central axis of the body, and a large domed bald head, resembling the archetypal ‘Grey’ alien. To its left are two spider-like objects, with circular “bodies” and eight sinuous “legs”. Beyond these is a reptilian creature seen in profile resembling a bearded dragon. To the right of the humanoid, beyond a poorly defined mushroom-shaped smudge, there is a series of character-like impressions apparently in two registers of six characters each. Beyond these is a lenticular shape with a central bar; beyond that are four more characters and finally, another quadruped seen in profile with a tail that suggests something mammalian rather than reptilian. All these designs occupy one of the spiral arms, the other being blank. The humanoid figure is the only design to extend beyond this decorated spiral into the blank.

The Lolladoff Plate colourised

The “Lolladoff Plate” colourised

All the available images of the disc appear to derive from a single pair of photographs from Robin-Evans’s book, which show it from above and from an angle of around 45°. The two published photographs are monochrome, but there is a version commonly found on the web that has evidently been colourised. As the disc is said to be in a Berlin museum (although it is not specified which, at least one source says that it was a museum in the former East Berlin, so it ought to be a relatively simple task to identify which), it is curious that no-one has approached the museum for a better image than the two currently available.

What are we supposed to make of the disc? The humanoid figure is presumably meant to represent an alien, which, according to Professor Robin-Evans, would be one of the Dzopa. The lenticular shape is probably supposed to be an archetypal UFO of “flying saucer” type, although it also resembles ancient depictions of female genitalia. Quite what the two (perhaps terrestrial) animals are meant to mean is unclear. According to Robin-Evans’s research and conversations with their religious leader Lurgan-La, the Dzopa crashed in Tibet in 1014 CE following a previous exploratory visit around 20,000 years ago. They had arrived from a planet in the Sirius star system and were unable to return home.

An alleged photograph of the fourteenth Dalai Lama receiving Professor Robin-Evans in 1947

An alleged photograph of the fourteenth Dalai Lama receiving Professor Robin-Evans: remember that this is supposed to be in 1947!

Does any further information exist among the papers of Professor Robin-Evans who, as Professor of Ethnology at the University of Oxford, must have left a collection of research notes, diaries and other materials? There is a problem. There is no record, outside Sungods in exile of anyone called Karyl Robin-Evans, professor or not. If he went to Tibet in 1947, he cannot have met the fourteenth Dalai Lama, as the thirteenth Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso, had died in 1933 and Lhamo Döndrub was still plain twelve-year-old Lhamo Döndrub; after his recognition as the reincarnation of his predecessor in 1935, he was educated to become the next Dalai Lama but was not enthroned until 17 November 1950. Phillip Coppens has published a photograph which, although not captioned, has a name (evansdaililama.jpg) that makes it clear is supposed to depict the Dalai Lama receiving the Professor. If the Dalai Lama was really twelve when this photograph was taken, he was a remarkably precocious developer (not to mention prematurely aged), while the good Professor does not look as if he would live another thirty years. The Dzopa’s technology was also evidently very advanced, as the Dalai Lama appears to be looking at a laptop computer, the likes of which would not be seen again until the 1980s! Clearly, the photograph was not taken in 1947 (or, for that matter, at any date before Robin-Evans’s supposed death in 1974). Sergei Lolladoff is as elusive as Robin-Evans. All records of the two, outside the story of the “Lolladoff Plate”, have vanished. What is going on?

Tibetan nomadic herders, known as dropka

Tibetan nomadic herders, known as dropka

Actually, the whole thing is resolved very easily. A quick check of Sungods in exile reveals that it was published as a work of fiction. French Ufologist Patrick Gross found the real David H Gamon (not Agamon!), the author of Sungods in exile and asked him about the story. He was quite open about it being fiction, describing it as “his best hoax” (as he told Fortean Times in 1992 (Volume 62: 63)). The ‘Dropa’ – David Gamon seems to have been the first to spell the name ‘Dzopa’ – are more correctly know as Dropka, a nomadic people of western Tibet and Nepal and not an alien species at all! In fact, the name means “herder” and is not an ethnic designation at all.

One of the alleged Dropa Stones

One of the alleged “Dropa Stones”

So why has it been taken seriously (by some, at least)? The way it has been treated as factual is symptomatic of the nature of what passes for “research” among fringe authors, including Bad Archaeologists and Ufologists. Too often, statements made by one fringe writer are accepted as truthful without further checking (and, all too frequently, without acknowledging the original source). Worse, they are often unaware of the debunking work of others (or perhaps they choose to ignore it) and rarely seem to recognise acknowledged hoaxes. This is not the way that real scientists (and even archaeologists!) work: contentious statements need to be checked and re-checked, the reasoning behind unusual deductions must be stated in full, the hypotheses of others can never be repeated as facts and possible objections must be addressed before following new ideas to their conclusions. It is disappointing when even well regarded Ufologists such as Jacques Vallée repeat poorly researched (or even, it must be suspected, unresearched) assertions taken from earlier writers: this is particularly the case when such writers are dealing with historical documents or fieldwork carried out more than twenty or so years earlier.

The reason why the “Lolladoff Plate” has been welcomed in some alternative circles is that it appears to be independent verification of the so-called Dropa stones. The Bad Archaeology website deals with this alleged discovery in some detail; the basic story is that a 1938 expedition to a remote part of China located the graves of a mysterious short people known as the Dropa together with 716 stone discs which, after translation, recorded the arrival of these people when their space-ship crashed. Although there are still those who maintain that it first appeared in the German magazine Das Vegetärische Universum in July 1962, the story can be traced back to a magazine called Новое Русское Слово (Russian Digest) published in 1960; it was called “Were Alien Visitors on Earth?” and was written by V Ritch and M Chernenko. None of the people it mentions ever existed and the story was clearly a hoax. The “Lolladoff Plate” has been the only apparently confirmatory discovery; both stories turn out, with little research, to be fictional. And the picture? David Gamon told Patrick Gross that “he probably made a rough sketch of the plate for one of his friends who had a forgery talent and who made a black and white painting of the plate and photographed it just enough out of focus so that it appears real”. The “Lolladoff Plate” is testimony to the laziness of some “researchers” and their willingness to accept wild tales that happen to confirm their beliefs, nothing more.