About Bad Archaeology

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Bad Archaeology is the brainchild of a couple of archaeologists who are fed up with the distorted view of the past that passes for knowledge in popular culture. We are unhappy that books written by people with no knowledge of real archaeology dominate the shelves at respectable bookshops. We do not appreciate news programmes that talk about ley lines (for example) as if they are real.



  1. I am so happy to have found your blog. I’d like to see you take a look at Marija Gimbuta’s later work “feminist archaeology” as an example of a good archaeologist indulging in bad archaeology. I am female, and at the time of reading her work, I was an active and enthusiastic pagan. And still rational enough to be appalled by her mixing up religion with science to make unsupported conclusions…. the pagan community embraced these books with the same fervour as Christians embrace those that “prove” Christ was a real person. I have since become an atheist, which is working out well for me, though I do find myself yelling at the Discovery Channel every time they present a psuedo documentary attempting to validate superstition. It is a good time to become a fortune teller, methinks. In fact…you know someone named David, don’t you?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. While I accept and approve the motive behind this site, as a result of my personal experiences in anacient sites, I can say that “ley line” energy is real.

    I am not saying that ALL experiences and theories recorded are “true”, but I know that amazing things happen to me in such places, and that those things have had a very positive effect on my life journey.



    1. When you state with confidence that “ley line” energy is real, what do you mean by “ley line” energy? Energy is a well defined physical phenomenon, a measurable force that can be transformed into several different forms (including kinetic, potential, thermal, gravitational, sound, elastic and electromagnetic energy). Does “ley line” energy fall into this kind of defintion? If so, which type of energy is it? How is it manifested? How is it detected? Is it one of the “subtle energies” so beloved of the New Age, that believers insist cannot be detected by the types of instruments that are used to detect the energies recognised by physicists?

      Secondly, how do you define a “ley line”? Can they be detected by measuring the “energy” that emanates from them? Are they defined by recognising marker points placed along them in antiquity? If so, which marker points are acceptable? Can they be only prehistoric monuments or is it legitimate to include medieval churches? Crossroads that exist today?

      As I say on the main site, there are serious grounds for doubting the existence of ley lines because the alignments do not stand up to critical scrutiny. Tom Williamson and Liz Bellamy published the results of their investigation into them in Ley Lines in Question in 1983, where they demonstrate that many alignments are due to chance and that many longer alignments do not work. The explanation is simple: the method used to find leys has been to use maps and seek out alignments between points, but because all map-making involves distorting the three-dimensional surface of the earth to fit it on to a two-dimensional sheet, the distortion produces measurable inaccuracies between the corners of the map. It is also difficult to understand the logic behind the use of marker points of widely differing dates. Alfred Watkins had originally hypothesised the alignments to be of Neolithic date, as this was the date of the oldest sites on them, which is the reverse of the well established archaeological principle of the terminus post quem, by which something cannot be older than the youngest thing in it. Thus a ley containing crossroads established by early nineteenth-century surveyors enclosing formerly open field systems can be no older than the early nineteenth century. Yet we know the no-one at that time had the faintest notions of establishing a system of alignments that would cover the whole of Great Britain.

      The solution used by ley hunters assumes that more recent features replace ancient marks, yet not a single shred of archaeological evidence is ever adduced to support the assertion. Never mind that not one excavated church site has proved to be on top of a Neolithic (or other prehistoric) sacred site, never mind that not one excavated church site has yielded unequivocal evidence for a pagan Anglo-Saxon sacred site. Ley lines were a bad enough idea when Alfred Watkins first suggested that they were Neolithic trackways. In most cases, the sites that are supposed to mark them are not Neolithic and in some cases, they do not even lie on the supposed leys. This is why archaeologists do not accept their existence. However, their adoption by the New Age community and the ascription of spiritual, psychic or ufological meanings to them has taken them out of the realm of archaeology and orthodox science and has made them an article of faith. In doing so, they have been brought into mainstream popular culture in a form that Alfred Watkins would never have recognised. Like so many fringe ideas, they are easily refuted and can be consigned to the dustbin. Unfortunately, their influence has pervaded modern culture and it will take a serious effort to convince the general public that they do not exist, if that can be done at all.

      I do not doubt that you have experienced many things in special places. I did as a child and continue to do so as an adult, especially on sites of historic significance. I suspect that the difference is that I regard them as entirely subjective experiences, arising from my imagination and the power of places to affect us emotionally, whereas you ascribe them to a “ley line” energy that cannot be detected in the way that all other forms of energy can be detected, on monuments that cannot be shown to exist.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello sir,

    I just recently dove head first into bad archeology via the 2012 phenomenon. The Maya and Egyptian fields seem filled with odd new age ideas. I was wondering if in the future you would comment on the situation? I would also love to see a review of Graham Hancock’s Finger Prints of the Gods. As a novice, I have found several basic errors in the book. However, my knowledge of archeology in general is extremely limited. It would please me to hear it from experts in the field. I hope to read more soon!

    Thanks greatly and best wishes,



  4. QUOTE: Never mind that not one excavated church site has proved to be on top of a Neolithic (or other prehistoric) sacred site, never mind that not one excavated church site has yielded unequivocal evidence for a pagan Anglo-Saxon sacred site. ~END QUOTE.

    Your “education” has made you stupid Mr Matthews. Like most “Trained” people you are blinkered by the lack of imagination and provable-in-a- laboratory facts. I could, if I thought for one millisecond it would be worth the effort, show you to several churches within a few miles of where I live which are proven to be on pre-christian sites. In fact I would go so far as to say suggest that almost ALL pre-reformation ecclesiastical buildings are positioned on such places. You should get out more, feel the rain and wind on your face, get yourself frightened of the dark – oh sorry, you already are! Well, try walking in a straight line across a muddy field at night in mooonlight, then you might get some inkling of the worlds you scoff at so much in your articles.


    1. I find it amusing how true believers descend into insults when they don’t have a real answer.

      Can you name these churches “proven to be on pre-christian sites?” and reveal the evidence that allows you to identify them as such? In reading reports of church excavations, it is very rare to find that there is any kind of religious or ritual activity pre-dating the use of the site of the church. Sometimes they may be built on top of Roman masonry buildings (perhaps because they were used as churches int he fourth century, or were mausolea associated with people considered holy), but I have yet to hear of one set over an Iron Age shrine, for instance, or a pagan Saxon religious site.


    2. Mick,
      You write, “get yourself frightened of the dark – oh sorry, you already are!
      What makes you so sure that Keith is frightened of the dark?
      Do you know him personally?


  5. Hi,

    I don’t know how to get in touch with you more directly, but I wanted to draw your attention on a blatant case of ‘biblical archeology’, therefore, bad archeology, I stumbled upon recently while browsing wikipedia (I know, not a reputable publication, but please bear with me, I’m not a professional). It’s here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebra_skydisk , in section titled “Nebra Sky Disk, A Record Of The Earth Longest Day?” [retrieved on 2011, January the 29th]. While less impressive than Noa’s ark or other biblical objects chase, the ‘leap of faith’ displayed here is, to put it in your words, quite astounding.

    I leave to your appreciation if there is enough material here for an article, a rebuttal or a blog entry – or just silent contempt.

    Cheers, and keep up high the standards of true science spirit !


  6. Hi,

    Just though I would give you all a heads up- your RSS feed on your website does not connect to this new blog, it’s connected to your old blog. So it’s a bit hard to subscribe to this site on something other then a wordpress account.


  7. You guys are a joke.

    The archaeology police – hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    omg – Indiana Jones is poisoning our youth, flash the bat signal – we will not stand for this academic debauchery. WE are the archeo-patrol!!!!!

    get a fkn life boys, no – better yet – get girl friends, even if you have to buy them


  8. I love this site! I’ve always been a fan of archeology, and I read just about everything about it that I could get my hands on as a child. As you’ve probably guessed, that also included a lot of less-than-reputable sources, and I was led to believe in all sorts of wacky things. As an adult, I’ve had to look back and reexamine everything I’d spent many many hours memorizing as a child to determine just what was actually true and what wasn’t. I found it very frustrating.

    But I still love archeology, Egyptology in particular, and I’ve very much enjoyed reading this blog.

    I was recently in a discussion with someone about Exodus and they said that it had to be true because Ron Wyatt discovered the remnants of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea. It looks very suspicious to me, but I was wondering if you might be able to comment on that “finding.” Cheers!


  9. Hello i love this site. its exactly what i was looking for. However can i ask you a few more questions? Er- im guessing via email. Im going through a drastic decision and i need help from someone out in the actual field. Please?


  10. who died and elected you the authority over who can or cannot write about or do archaeology? so you are tired of those who present their perspective on the past, seems like they are doing exactly what you do, so i guess you better police yourselves and remove your blogs and websites from the internet and all public access. that is if you want any credibility and avoid the hypocrite label.

    your opinion on what is or isn’t archaeology is no greater than mine or anyone else’s and i have several degrees in the field.


    1. It’s called “freedom of speech”, Dr Tee.

      Why would some have to die to give me the right? Human sacrifice is an odious and barbaric practice.

      Congratulations on your “several degrees in the field”, by the way. I hope that you gained some insights into the past from them.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Great to see this site is still going! I was an active member of the forum before that got shut down. Keep up the good work!


  12. Thank you, thank you, thank you! A breath of fresh air from the tomb as it were. I love John Romer’s little annecdote and I thought Rameses II had a day job that kept him too busy to be a non-existant Jewish king. I have seen his mummy and he is definitely NOT circumcised. There are a few shiny bits on him however, which were probably caused by all that spinning in his grave. Again, thank you.


  13. Hey, let’s talk about preconcieved prejudices… “We do not appreciate news programmes that talk about ley lines (for example) as if they are real.”

    Question: (college level philosophy): How can you discover something when you have already determined that it does not exist (I might try this as an assignment for a 500 word essay…)?

    Delima: If you cannot prove something to be true when you have already accepted that it is not true, then do you have to believe the opposite first, i.e., that it is true? Well, that would only deepen the rabbit hole as the author of this article has stated that “If a discovery confirms your pre-held…beliefs, then it’s wishful thinking at best and even more likely to be a fraud.”

    Talk about painting yourself into a corner, this clown does it with pizazz!!!

    By the way, I have a couple of college degrees, one of which is in history, and NONE, NO NOT ONE, of my professors ever accepted a Wikipedia quote in a paper, and the same was true with my psychology professors. So, my question is this, what college did this…clown…go to that enabled him to use Wikipedia quotes enough for him to become comfortable with such? And now that he is educated, why is he still quoting from Wiki instead of doing his own research?


    1. randy does it again! In his arrogant way, he parades his “couple of college degrees, one of which is in history”, as if that makes him some kind of authority whose words cannot be gainsaid, and chides me for using Wikipedia.

      Now, he may or may not have noticed (careful reading does not appear to be one of his strong points) that this is a blog, not an academic essay. I, too, would refuse to accept Wikipedia as an authority in a paper submitted to me by a student. But, equally, I would not choose to cite papers from learned journals when pointing the reader of a blog post in the direction of further information. I assume that the readers of this blog are adults who are aware of the limitations of Wikipedia as a source of information (although I have to say that its credibility has improved over the past couple of years, since the policy of source citation has been more rigorously enforced); let them decide how useful (or not) these links are.

      randy appears unaware of the archaeological literature that shows that ley lines are a worthless concept, made up in the 1920s on the basis of very poor evidence. If he’s unwilling to accept that, then he may as well complain that stating that the moon is not made of green cheese prevents us from learning about it.

      randy, the whole point of this blog is that we need to understand the evidence behind assertions about the past, not accept things because of the perceived authority of the source. Wikipedia has its place, so long as the user recognises its limitations; I’m willing to believe that you understand evidence and how to marshal it in an argument. Unfortunately, you also have untrammelled faith in your own authority. Talking down to me is not going to persuade me that your criticisms have any validity whatsoever.


  14. Really enjoy this blog but I’m not sure where you’re going with this stuff about there being no christian sites on top of neolithic sites. That’s well… that’s just bad archaeology.
    Assuming English Heritage aren’t part of some grand conspiracy, we really ought to be able to trust their website…


    And I know it’s kind of by default becuse the great circle does include an entire Norman village, but there does appear to be a Medieval church inside that there Avebury…

    I also think the people of Rudston in Yorkshire might want to have a quiet word too….


    And this is a pretty damn fine example in Jersey, if you have a look…


    Actually I could do that all day. There is lots of evidence for this association, it’s just the way you have chosen to make the statement, basically saying it hasn’t turned up in church excavations, is very misleading. Also if you move beyond the UK it keeps happening, the church at Tara in Ireland for instance or all those Dolmens in Portugal that have tiny chapels built into them.

    None of which has any bearing on the Ley Lines, which as you point out, are a methodological error rather than anything real. I would say I think you’re a bit harsh on Watkins, it wasn’t a terrible idea at the time, it was I felt quite reasonable, and quite on par with other early 20th century work (I may not be a believer, I just kind of like the Old Straight Track, it’s a good read) and the fact that it took until the 1980’s to really disprove the phenomenon I actually feel is a testament to how plausible the idea was. Many other ideas from the 1910’s to 30’s were shown to be nonsense in a far shorter time span. Unfortunately Watkin’s subsequent fame in New Age circles leaves him in a difficult position, what we are seeing is early landscape archaeology, but his reputation has been unfairly tarnished (If you don’t believe that, re read Hoskins Making of the Englsih Landscape…. an awful lot of his conclusions have now been shown to be incorrect and yet his reputation has been upheld…). There’s some papers in Antiquity about large enclosures in southern England formed of boundaries of various different ages, and enclosing vast areas. I think we would mostly be happy to dismiss those as folly now, and of a very similar scale and cause as the Ley Lines, but we don’t go peeing on the reputation of those authors just because the new agers haven’t picked up on their work.


    1. I’ve never said that there are no Neolithic sites beneath Christian sites: that would be foolish. What I do take issue with is the lay-hunters’ assertion that many, if not most, medieval churches were built on sites that have a history of continuous religious use from the Neolithic onwards. Yes, there are plenty of churches built close to or within Neolithic monuments, but they are the exception rather than the rule.


  15. Yeah, you kind of did…

    “Can you name these churches “proven to be on pre-christian sites?”

    Well I named a few. I could have named a lot more.

    “In reading reports of church excavations, it is very rare to find that there is any kind of religious or ritual activity pre-dating the use of the site of the church.”

    Not that rare obviously.

    Sorry, I should point out that I don’t disagree with you in any way. Even to my mind you have kind of under emphasised this particular relationship, (and don’t forget all the examples of megaliths that have been christianised) and I think it’s related to quite a well understood process of christianising older sites, it has no real bearing on the reasons you are dismissing the lay lines. The main reason being… they don’t really line up.


  16. I just stumbled on this great site! Good job. I’ve been fascinated by bad archaeology ever since I heard a ridiculous talk by Barry Fell near the beginning of his pseudo-archaeological career.


  17. A thought occurs to me. Some of the markers on ley-lines are hill-forts. Now, it seems to me that the main reason to put a fort on top of a hill is not to gain the benefit of some magical energy stream which, as far as I can make out, doesn’t actually do anything other than allowing people holding forked twigs who believe in ley-lines to detect that they’re standing on one so long as they already know that. Which doesn’t seem to me to be all that strategically useful. No, you put forts on top of hills because attackers will get shagged out running up the hill.

    So my question is this. If ley-line energy exists, as so many people know that it does, is one of its properties to create hills? I suggest that it would be very simple to test this scientifically. All you need to do is to re-erect some of the fallen parts of Stonehenge, and see whether the UK is struck by violent earthquakes that throw up new hills. Or, alternatively, you could knock the whole thing down and see if Britain suddenly goes all flat. Unfortunately English Heritage probably wouldn’t agree to this, even in the interests of science, but I can’t see any logical flaw in this argument. What do you think?


  18. Hello, I have been following your site and blog for several years and i can found only one fault… it´s in English.

    Other people and I have translated and subtitled the documentary “debunking ancient aliens” by Chris White,


    And I wish to ask your permission to translate some material from you blog, specially the last one about Hanckock that analyze in more detail some of the claims made by the “ancient astronauts” series.

    I hope you would aprove.

    javier Delgado AKA Nanahuatzin.


  19. Keith,
    I am a publicity specialist with Archaeological Legacy Institute and our annual film festival, The 2014 TAC International Film and Video Festival, will be taking place May 9th-13th in Eugene, OR. We were wondering if you would be interested in sharing this festival with your readers, as we are a non-profit and don’t have much money for publicity. Any help in publicizing the event would be greatly appreciated! Feel free to shoot me an email if you’re interested.


  20. Please consider converting this into a Facebook page. It makes it so much easier to keep up with new posts if they’re part of the Facebook news stream that pretty much everyone checks regularly,


  21. The thing that drives me bonkers are the claims about “ancient aliens”! That’s all there is on TV nowadays about history! I wonder what the ancient people who built the monuments would think about aliens stealing all the the credit! I write my own history blog called “History is Interesting :)”. http://historyisfascinating.wordpress.com/


  22. I have just discovered your site and think I’m in love! A great example of clear writing and rational scientific arguments. It’s already been added to my feed and I’m pretty sure some of my more gullible friends will be hating me soon. Keep up the good work!


  23. THANK YOU so much for existing. I am an editor working on a documentary television series that asserts every one of these crazy claims you debunk here. As the daughter of an anthropologist, I have been routinely outraged by the shoddy claims and connections they make in support of the ancient astronaut theory. Even though I KNOW they’re wrong, I feel the compulsive need to read the true story of these amazing places. Stumbled upon your site in search of an explanation of the elongated skulls missing that central seam, and you provided exactly the answer I was looking for (and had already guessed). THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for existing and for doing all this hard work on this blog. There is hope for humanity after all…..


  24. Hi!
    your blog and website are amazing. You’re really helping with the explanations.
    May I ask if you have any information, or you could retrieve any, about the so called Kupang artfact? This is a old stone, on which are supposedly carved some signs recalling those on the golden disk flying on Voyager space probes. It might surely be a good subject for one of your next posts.
    Thank you!


  25. So lemme guess… in your opinion Cynthia Irwin-Williams and Virginia Steen-McIntyre are just a couple of evidence/data faking, pseudoscientific nutters as well?

    Just curious what you guys think. I was figuring those two gals just menstruated too much and became retarded from really severe iron deficiency anemia. Or possibly that they have some other form of weird uterine induced hysteria.

    I mean really… 250,000 years? Yeah, and I’ll bet that the space alien that gave them THAT number had been riding the white cotton pony herself for the same length of time, fer shur!


    1. Well, it’s been a year. Still waiting to find out if “Archeology” is going to admit to misogyny and politicization or if it will continue to thumb it’s nose at the Biologists and Geologists as having better science than they do. Can’t wait to find out!


      1. Well, Robert, it’s been more like five-and-a-half months, but who’s counting when you’re flinging insults?

        The Hueyatlaco site is an interesting one, though I have to say that I don’t know too much about it. From what I’ve been able to find out, the site was well excavated and both Irwin-Williams and Steen-McIntire were perfectly good archaeologists. Irwin-Williams never favoured dates as old as those preferred by Steen-McIntire and the two had a bit of a falling-out over them.

        The issue seems to be the discrepancies between the radiocarbon dates and the geological dates. There are ways of explaining these issues, but either way, the date for human activity at the site is anomalously ancient.

        My view? I’m prepared to accept an earlier arrival for small groups of humans in the Americas than is currently believed. Irwin-Williams seems to have preferred a date around 20,000 bp; I see no reason to mistrust the radiocarbon determination of 35,000 bp.

        You weren’t expecting that answer, were you?

        By the way, it’s your original post that strikes me as horribly misogynistic.

        Also, it’s spelled “Archaeology”, even in a-deficient American English.


  26. Hey Keith,

    I just encountered your commentary on Ravenscroft’s Spear of Destiny. Overall, I can say that I’ve really enjoyed the book. If one manages to put the historical innacuracy and the fabricated lunacy of the book behind, it is a fun read. There is a lot of historical accuracy in the book distributed amongst the general innaccuracy. Many readers focus solely on the innaccuracy and simply dismiss the text. Anyways, like all books of this nature, one must take it with a large heap of salt and just enjoy it for what it is.

    Regardless, I think your analysis of it was spot on.


  27. Love the blog. I am CRM archaeologist with PhD. In anthropology and MA in History. I specialize in native north American archaeology, but study and specialize in ancient metallurgy. I’m a skeptic an archaeologist and historian. If you ever need any help. Let me know. Great work.


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