congratulations to ucla’s aaron a. burke and krystal v. lords on their latest near eastern archaeology article entitled ‘egyptians in jaffa: a portrait of egyptian presence in jaffa during the late bronze age.’ it is currently out in near eastern archaeology vol. 73, no. 1. go there and read it now.
new near eastern archaeology article by ucla’s aaron burke and krystal lords entitled ‘egyptians in jaffa’
harvard university is the latest major university to begin placing their university courses on itunes u. categories include science and health, history, arts and culture, and national and world affairs. and while their offerings are still limited, it will only be a matter of time before harvard’s course offerings are as robust as yale’s ‘open yale‘ courses and itunes u offerings, duke university, and, of course, ucla’s itunes u courses.
progress is a good thing, as is making university-level learning available directly to the public.
Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has launched an investigation into claims by a research team named Noah’s Ark Ministries International that they have found Noah’s Ark.
The ministry has also initiated an investigation into state officials of the province of Ağrı, including Deputy Governor Murat Güven, Provincial Tourism Director Muhsin Bulut and an official from the district governor’s office in Doğubeyazıt, who were present at the press conference in Hong Kong where the explorers made their finding public.
“A statement was made from abroad, claiming that Noah’s Ark has been found. There were Turkish state officials present when the statement was made. We are investigating the technical and legal aspects of the issue. How did these objects get there [to Hong Kong] and under whose authority were the officials present there? We are investigating this,” Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said.
Günay also stated that they were happy for the Hong Kong explorers to carry out research on Mount Ağrı but noted that the ministry doubted they asked for permission before doing their research. He also sent a strong message to Turkish scientists who claim that Noah’s Ark is not in Turkey.
is it too early to say it???
Filed under: anonymity, bible, pseudoscience, religion, robert cargill | Tagged: archaeology, chinese, documentary, exhibition, film, fraud, genesis, hoax, hong kong, media evangelism limited, mt. ararat, noah, noah’s ark, noah’s ark ministries international, richard bartholomew, theme park, turkey, yeung wing-cheung | 12 Comments »
here’s a piece from a friend and colleague, jason boyett. the picture’s a little older (beard is thicker w/ fewer grays), but the interview is new. he interviewed me about the recent claims of the discovery of noah’s ark and other issues of archaeology and faith. read it.
about this time every year, something sensational happens…literally. every spring, as dig season approaches, we are treated to a little hoax disguised as hope. every spring, faith is once again used to sell something, and every year, science pays the price in the form of a reduced credibility at the hands of pseudo-scientists, who peddle their claims and cheapen the name of science.
i am speaking, of course, about the annual, sensational claims by some group that purports to have discovered the ark of the covenant, noah’s ark, the true cross of christ, or some other biblical relic that is supposed to prove once and for all that the narratives recorded in the bible are true. this year is no exception, but this time it appears that something far more sinister may be at work. late-breaking news indicates that the whole thing may be a hoax.
an evangelical group out of hong kong calling itself noah’s ark ministries international, and its partner organization, the media evangelism limited are claiming to all who will listen (except scholars) that they have discovered noah’s ark. their claim is based upon their ‘discovery’ of wooden ‘rooms’ or compartments atop turkey’s mt. ararat. they claim that it must be the ark because no one would possibly build a building at that altitude. they claim to have carbon-14 samples, but won’t reveal who performed them. and of course, they can’t tell us where the secret location of the site is, because, well…it’s a secret. still, according to the sun, group member yeung wing-cheung says:
It’s not 100 per cent that it is Noah’s Ark, but we think it is 99.9 per cent that this is it.
well, allow me to explore that .1%. in fact, let me just come right out and say it:
no, no you didn’t find noah’s ark.
this group was put together to do one thing and one thing only: make money and spread ideology by pimping both archaeology and religion. let me explain:
the media evangelism limited is a media company which states on its website that its background, vision and mission are:
- In 1987, a group of young Christians in Hong Kong envisioned a society where multi-media businesses would proliferate, and they saw the chance to capitalize on the advance technologies to serve the society. Their vision gave birth to an organization, known as “The Media Evangelism” (TME). The Media Evangelism Limited was officially incorporated in Hong Kong in 1991.
Vision & Mission
- The Media Evangelism Limited is a charitable Christian organization committed to building a Christian media presence by using every modern means of communication to promote the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our missions are:
- To take the message of our Lord Jesus Christ to all by means of high quality audio and visual products and services.
- To foster biblical standard and Christian values in Chinese communities worldwide.
- To enhance the moral and spiritual fabric of our society through creative media.
- To pull together the collective wisdom of Evangelical Christians who are talented and gifted in media arts, and to collaborate with other Christian groups for the advance of the Kingdom of God.
as one might expect, the group filmed the expedition and now has a documentary movie to sell (note the director’s name: yeung wing-cheung). it is also interesting that noah’s ark ministries international runs a noah’s ark theme park and needs to sell tickets. of course, you could make even more money if you host an exhibition entitled, ‘lost in the noah’s ark’ and advertised it with bizarre posters. and, of course, the whole marketing must be kicked off in a coordinated manner. according to their web site:
The “We Touched Noah’s Ark: The Search for A Carpenter’s Heart” Evangelistic Campaign was launched. Worldwide press conferences, exhibitions and sharing are carried out to spread the Gospel through the Noah’s Ark discovery.
follow the money and follow the ideology. every ark expedition is about the same thing: raising funds and spreading a fundamentalist christian ideology. this may all be well and good if you’re a ministry, but for a group feigning to be archaeologists, it’s a dead giveaway.
my colleague and co-chair of asor‘s media relations committee, dr. eric cline of george washington university, appeared on good morning america wednesday, april 28, 2010 and later on fox news on thursday, april 29, and discussed the group’s claims. dr. cline mocked the ’99.9%’ claim, incurring the wrath and claims of bias and unfairness over at cbn (which means he’s got it right).
rather than ridicule or bash them, dr. cline addressed the fundamental archaeological methods that are lacking with noah’s ark ministries international (the name still cracks me up). they are keeping the location of the find secret, haven’t invited any scientists to provide outside verification, and haven’t revealed the source of the carbon-14 data they claim they have. as i said in an interview with rich buhler on 740 am kbrt this afternoon, any credible excavation knows that it must do the following:
- reveal the location. all credible excavations publish when and where they will be digging. in fact, they are usually begging for volunteers. but, this group has not yet even revealed the location of their find. here’s a rule of thumb to live by: any time someone promises you, ‘i have evidence that will prove that the bible is true, but i can’t show it to you,’ be suspicious.
- publish your data and get outside verification and corroboration. all credible excavations publish their data and make it available for peer-review and cross-examination. this is usually done at a professional conference. this is how scholarship works. this group has not done this.
- announce to scholars first. it is not enough to make a press release direct to the public. those who publicize their finds with direct-to-the-media marketing campaigns and bypass scholars do so because they rely on the buzz of the media and know that the scholars will end their 15 minutes of fame before it starts. they prey on the curiosity of the public, and hope that no one pays attention to scholars’ rebuttal on the back pages of the same newspapers and websites that ran the initial story in the headlines. (see: foxnews, msnbc, nat geo, abc, etc.)
this is how the academy works. and this is how it should work. there should be a system of checks and balances between the academy and institutions of faith. it keeps both groups honest.
archaeologists look at these untrained, amateur, evangelical groups doing archaeology and making claims about noah’s ark with well-deserved suspicion. it is the exact same suspicion that evangelicals would show towards a group of untrained, amateur hindu explorers claiming to have found a mace, a chakra and a conch shell in kurukshetra that prove the existence of the hindu god vishnu. just because you find reindeer bones at the north pole does not mean you have proved the existence of santa claus. and, just because you find a boat doesn’t mean you’ve proved the flood. and in this case, noah’s ark ministries international hasn’t even demonstrated that they’ve found a boat! they’ve found wood. finding a wooden structure on a mountain in turkey does not mean you’ve discovered noah’s ark. it means you’ve found a wooden building. it could be a barn. it could be a small cottage. it could be a tool shed.
however, this story may be even more sinister than a simple sensationalist claim. there is evidence that it may have all been a hoax. an article by stephen kurczy in the christian science monitor is now claiming that fellow ark hunter, dr. randall price of liberty university, who once worked with the noah’s ark ministries international group and was the archaeologist on the chinese-led team in 2008 when this alleged discovery was first made, may have been participants in an elaborate hoax. according to the article:
“If the world wants to think this is a wonderful discovery, that’s fine. My problem is that, in the end, proper analysis may show this to be a hoax and negatively reflect how gullible Christians can be,” he says. He says he has “difficulties with a number of issues related to the evidence at hand.”
Price declined to elaborate. However, a leaked email from Price – which he confirms that he wrote – shows that he has reason to believe that a group of local Kurdish men trucked wood up to the mountain and staged an elaborate hoax for the Chinese team.
A group of Kurdish workers “are said to have planted large wood beams taken from an old structure in the Black Sea area (where the photos were originally taken) at the Mt. Ararat site. … During the summer of 2009 more wood was planted inside a cave at the site. The Chinese team went in the late summer of 2009 (I was there at the time and knew about the hoax) and was shown the cave with the wood and made their film,” Price writes in the email.
michael heiser at paleobabble.com offers even more details. he writes:
I also got an email today from one of Randall Price’s students. The email contains a message from Dr. Price about this expedition. (Dr. Price, as some of you may recall, has been doing a lot of searching for the ark lately.) Here is an excerpt from his message:
I was the archaeologist with the Chinese expedition in the summer of 2008 and was given photos of what they now are reporting to be the inside of the Ark. I and my partners invested $100,000 in this expedition (described below) which they have retained, despite their promise and our requests to return it, since it was not used for the expedition. The information given below is my opinion based on what I have seen and heard (from others who claim to have been eyewitnesses or know the exact details).
To make a long story short: this is all reported to be a fake. The photos were reputed to have been taken off site near the Black Sea, but the film footage the Chinese now have was shot on location on Mt. Ararat. In the late summer of 2008 ten Kurdish workers hired by Parasut, the guide used by the Chinese, are said to have planted large wood beams taken from an old structure in the Black Sea area (where the photos were originally taken) at the Mt. Ararat site. In the winter of 2008 a Chinese climber taken by Parasut’s men to the site saw the wood, but couldn’t get inside because of the severe weather conditions. During the summer of 2009 more wood was planted inside a cave at the site. The Chinese team went in the late summer of 2009 (I was there at the time and knew about the hoax) and was shown the cave with the wood and made their film. As I said, I have the photos of the inside of the so-called Ark (that show cobwebs in the corners of rafters – something just not possible in these conditions) and our Kurdish partner in Dogubabyazit (the village at the foot of Mt. Ararat) has all of the facts about the location, the men who planted the wood, and even the truck that transported it.
so it appears that the whole thing may have been rigged. an ark-eologist got duped by other ark-eologists. this is simply sad.
the problem with this is that both religion and science lose. people of faith look like a bunch of liars that will do or say anything to prove their faith, including lie, cheat, steal, and rig an elaborate hoax to raise money and spread their faith. but because they use science to make their claim, religious fundamentalists will claim that scientists are elaborate tricksters that manipulate data in an attempt to prove the bible is false. and somewhere in between these two extremes are honest people of faith and honest scientists trying to have an honest debate about the feasibility and historicity of a flood and an ark, questioning why different numbers of animals on the ark are given in the bible, (gen 6:19 vs. gen 7:2), and how wood could have survived and not decomposed over time. these arguments are lost because both extremes-the religious fundamentalists and the militant agnostics-retreat to their extreme positions, and the media loves extreme anything.
science and faith both lose. both can co-exist, but episodes like this one don’t help.
this unfortunate episode also reveals that there are two levels of ‘sensational’. the first is the sensationalism that we find when someone makes an unsubstantiated archaeological claim. whenever someone finds a piece of wood on top of a mountain in turkey, someone is always sure to claim they’ve found noah’s ark. there is no evidence, but this speculation is sure to raise eyebrows, and so someone always irresponsibly makes that claim. but, there is a far more egregious form of sensationalism: the hoax. this is when evidence is planted so that said sensational claim can be made. this hoax should be met with outrage, and both noah’s ark ministries international, their sponsors, and the local turkish government officials should be sanctioned for their participation in the charade.
so no, you didn’t find noah’s ark. but you did get to be honorable citizens for the day. and you got your name in the paper. and you got you picture taken. and you’ve become the latest chapter in the seemingly never ending story of the quest for things that we’ll never find, if they ever existed at all.
and one more thing: my hat is off to all of the scholars and the cadre of bloggers that came forward to research this story and expose this charade. hats off to the news organizations that quickly posted responses to the initial story like time and the christian science monitor. and hats off to randall price, whom i previously ripped in this very space, for admitting his mistake and exposing this nonsense. you did the right thing and i respect that.
Filed under: archaeology, idiocy, nonsense, pseudoscience, religion | Tagged: 740 am, archaeology, cbn, chinese, documentary, eric cline, exhibition, film, fraud, genesis, hoax, hong kong, jim west, kbrt, media evangelism limited, mt. ararat, noah, noah's ark, noah’s ark ministries international, randall price, rich buhler, richard bartholomew, theme park, turkey, yeung wing-cheung | 72 Comments »
i have annotated a portion of a lecture i gave as a part of my ‘jerusalem, the holy city‘ class at ucla and uploaded it to youtube. it discusses the israelite coronation ceremony, zechariah’s prophecy in chapter 9, and the description of the triumphal entry of jesus in matthew 21. give it a look, and feel free to use it in your classes if you’d like.
Filed under: bible, education, israel, Jerusalem, judaism, religion, robert cargill, scholarship, theology, ucla | Tagged: ceremony, colt, coronation, donkey, gihon spring, holy city, israelite, Jerusalem, Jesus, kidron valley, king, matthew 21, monarchy, robert cargill, triumphal entry, zechariah 9 | 1 Comment »
i have begun posting clips from my jerusalem, the holy city class on youtube. you can see portions of other lectures here on my youtube channel. the full course lectures are also available on itunes u.
here’s a clip discussing the archaeological debate over the existence of david and solomon. the discussion looks at the debate over the interpretation of megiddo stratum va/ivb (5a/4b) and how that affects the discussion of the existence of david and solomon.
Filed under: archaeology, bible, education, islam, israel, Jerusalem, judaism, palestine, religion, robert cargill, scholarship, ucla | Tagged: absence, course, david, evidence, free, holy city, itunes u, Jerusalem, lecture, maximalism, megiddo, minimalism, robert cargill, solomon, stratum VA/IVB, ucla, youtube | 2 Comments »
news of a peculiar lawsuit caught my attention this afternoon. according to the article:
Three bisexual men are suing a national gay-athletic organization, saying they were discriminated against during the Gay Softball World Series held in the Seattle area two years ago.
The three Bay Area men say the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance in essence deemed them not gay enough to participate in the series.
the problem is that the league is set up for gay athletes. banning non-gay athletes from the league is a form of discrimination based upon sexual preference. while the league does allow for two straight players to play on each team, the limitation of players based upon sexual preference appears to be a curb against teams who might recruit ‘ringers,’ that is, players who are exceptionally skilled at softball, but who may have no other affiliation with the group. (this happens a lot in church softball leagues, where teams will field a team full of exceptional softball players who may have never set foot in the sponsoring church, but there’s really no way to stop it. do league officials or members of the other team ask their opponents to quote bible verses to prove that they are actually christians? and does the ability to quote scripture make one a christian? church leagues usually leave the enforcement of team membership to each team. but i digress…)
there is really no way to stop a straight ringer from saying, ‘yep, i’m gay’ and then playing on the team. so, to prevent teams from fielding teams of ringers, and to preserve the gay nature of the league, the league put a limit on the number of straight players a team can have. i am guessing that the allowance for any straight players at all was itself a concession to avoid accusations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation while gay advocacy groups are lobbying hard for same-sex marriage around the country.
but this raises another question: how does one test for appropriate level of ‘homosexuality’? is not a man having sexual encounters with another man (among other encounters with women) homosexual and therefore gay? and how does one test for gayness? apparently, the league had a way. according to the article:
Each of the three plaintiffs was called into a conference room in front of more than 25 people, and was asked “personal and intrusive questions” about his sexual attractions and desires, purportedly to determine if the player was heterosexual or gay, the lawsuit alleges.
ouch. i can just see the right latching onto this as an example of a gay organization using a litmus test to determine one’s level of gayness, so that one can either be granted or denied benefits and access to something. sound familiar? it’s the very this that gay advocacy groups are arguing against in states with pending same-sex marriage legislation.
the lawsuit is even more interesting because it is not three straight players attempting to play in the league, but three bisexual players. three bisexual men were apparently prohibited from playing because as bisexuals, they apparently weren’t gay enough. i’m not sure if ucla’s lesbian gay bisexual transgender (lgbt) campus resource center would buy that argument. while some draw a distinction between the two, most consider bisexual to be at least a subset of homosexual. ask the question: how is bisexual not gay? if the definition of bisexual is a person who has sexual attraction to or sexual encounters with members of both sexes, and a homosexual is a person that has sexual attraction to or sexual encounters with members of the same sex, then by definition, bisexuals should be considered gay. all squares are also rectangles, etc.
so, as ridiculous as this lawsuit may sound at first, it will actually be a problem for the league, as well as for gay advocacy groups. again, how does one determine if one is gay? and why should sexual orientation be a determining factor for eligibility in a softball league?
the plaintifs realize the absurdity of the league’s rules and are therefore challenging them. they wanted to travel and play in the tournament, but couldn’t because of their sexual orientation. even if the league is a private league, they will lose because the league take’s advertising and solicit sponsorships. besides, imagine a ‘straights only’ softball league. would that stand up in court? would there be protests?
here’s what will happen: the plaintiffs will win this case. the north american gay amateur athletic alliance should immediately settle this case, apologize, fly the three men to wherever they want to go, let them play, and change their rules. in a world where even gender is being challenged (girls can now play little league and boys can play softball), and where the olympics and women’s sports leagues are encountering issues of transgender and hermaphroditic/intersexual competitors, it seems a ‘gay’ softball league will lose in court every time.
this lawsuit is bigger than softball: same-sex marriage equality is at stake and this case will be used to argue against allowing gay marriage. this case could cause irreparable damage to legitimate efforts to legalize same-sex marriage. opponents of same-sex marriage will tout this case as discrimination against others by homosexuals, and this will not help the cause.
the leagues rules are bad. settle the case, change the rules, apologize, and move on. besides, why not let straight men show support for gay rights by playing in a gay softball league? if straight men are willing to play in a ‘gay softball league,’ then let them. it’s a form of support for the cause and a sign of the straight man’s comfort with his own masculinity. if men who neither have breasts or cancer can walk in a breast cancer walk, why not let straight men play in a gay softball league?
here’s fox news’ attempt at being funny.
Filed under: i'm not making this up, justice and legal, sexuality, sports | Tagged: bisexual, court, gay, hermaphrodite, homosexual, intersexual, lawsuit, north american gay amateur athletic alliance, prop 8, same-sex marriage, softball | 1 Comment »
most of you know i’m an advocate for the environment. i recycle my coffee grounds, use my organic npr cotton tote bags when i go to trader joe’s, drive an original, pre-hatchback toyota prius (175,000+ miles), advocate for the voter-approved super train from la to the central valley, want desperately a metro train in los angeles, grow my own vegetables and herbs, and belong to several environmental organizations including the national geographic society, global green usa, ducks unlimited, sierra club, and santa monica mountain trails council inc. (yes, i believe i’m the only living member of du and the the sierra club.) so, i can safely say that i take the environment fairly seriously.
that said, i don’t like militants, obnoxious nutjobs, or people who yell for any reason. replanting trees is just as much an environmental exercise as is eating what you kill when you hunt. humans eating other animals is just as ‘natural’ as when other animals do it. and as for research and testing on animals, as long as it is done as humanely as possible, i’m all for it; that’s all part of being a natural animal on the top of the food chain, and it’s how we evolved to be where we are as a species. thus, as much as i am an advocate for the environment, i cannot stand environmental militants. to me, they are just as disdainful as religious or political militants.
therefore, in honor of earth day, i offer to you what is without exception the single greatest environmental protest fail video ever. enjoy!
Filed under: environment, humor, robert cargill | Tagged: animal testing, california high speed rail, ducks unlimited, earth day, environment, fail, global green usa, national geographic society, npr, protest, santa monica mountain trails council, sierra club, tote bag, trader joe's | Leave a comment »