Rivals in Archaeology

A little less flamboyant than the Indiana Jones / Belloc feud, but it's close to home.

Thornton declares that an area near Brasstown Bald is “possibly the site of the fabled city of Yupaha, which Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto failed to find in 1540, and (is) certainly one of the most important archaeological discoveries in recent times.” 
Thornton uses Williams’ research on Indian mounds and the studies of archaeologist Johannes Loubser, who excavated the north Georgia site, to bolster his claims. 
Williams couldn’t disagree more. “This is total and complete bunk,” Williams wrote on Facebook. “There is no evidence of Maya in Georgia. Move along now.” 
Williams’ reaction brought forth legions of bloggers and Internet experts calling him “arrogant” and “dismissive.”
It was certainly the latter!

There are some very interesting prehistoric sites in Georgia, but this is the first time I've ever heard it floated that they might be Mayan.  I'd wager that Dr. Williams is right:  this sounds more like cashing in on the 2012 Maya-mania than a highly probable theory.  Nevertheless, here's the article; the author claims he'll answer questions on his website.  Maybe I'll ride up there sometime soon and take a look.


MikeD said...

Williams broke the cardinal rule of those folks, "don't take away the magic". Nothing upsets folks more than revealing that what they thought was magical was actually mundane. Bill Whittle had a wonderful essay on this where he describes having people get angry at him when he announced that the multiple UFOs people were calling alien ships were, in fact, geese. He took away the magic.

From the instant I heard the "Mayan ruins in Georgia", I thought "nonsense". Occam's Razor tells me that most likely, Central American Indians would not travel into North Georgia (skipping past coastal areas and rivers) to settle, leaving no settlements anywhere else in the region. If the idea of Mayans in Georgia excites you, then you need to be doubly skeptical of such claims. If you WANT Bigfoot to be real, you need to be MORE skeptical than everyone else. If you WANT to see the truly supernatural, you MUST be a skeptic. Otherwise, you will face disappointment after disappointment as one scammer after another takes advantage of you.

Grim said...

True. Still, don't forget Grim's Corollary to Occam's Razor: if your trimming leaves you without the original phenomenon, you're missing at least one entity that you didn't think you needed. Very often the preference is to substitute one invisible entity for another, but one that suits your own prejudices better.

Chesterton puts this well: "Because we cannot believe in what a saint did, we are to pretend that we know exactly what he felt." We can't see his feelings, any more than we can see the angels that are supposed to have spoken to him; but it suits our preference for psychology over religion, though the claims of psychology are often at least as fantastic.