Bring me some new ancient astronauts. I like not the ones I have.

Back when I was a kid, the latest woo-de-jour involved ‘ancient’ aliens who’d apparently arrived in the ‘ancient’ world to help humanity build pyramids and become civilised. Stupid humans! The idea wasn’t original – Arthur C. Clarke had been toying with it for decades in his science fiction. But as he well knew, it was … More Bring me some new ancient astronauts. I like not the ones I have.

Neanderthal cave talk on any day in the Dordogne, 46,000 years ago

La Ferassie cave, 46,000 years before the present. About lunch time. Krogg: [using foot to push bellows fanning the camp-fire] Krogg see funny thin people with big foreheads yesterday. Thog: Thog see them too. Krogg: Krogg think they not human. Face too small. Weak. We better. Thog: Hargh hargh hargh. Stupid funny people. Grorg: Grorg … More Neanderthal cave talk on any day in the Dordogne, 46,000 years ago

King Tut’s latest tomb mystery doesn’t mean we’ll be infested by mummies

News that Tutankhamen’s tomb might contain yet more secrets 93 years after it was revealed – possibly including the crypt of his stepmother, Queen Nefertiti, is mildly surprising. You’d think by now that ancient Egypt had been pretty thoroughly raked over. But maybe not. The logic goes like this. Tutankhamen died aged around 18, probably from … More King Tut’s latest tomb mystery doesn’t mean we’ll be infested by mummies

Making ancient mysteries like Gobekli Tepe go away – with science!

I am always intrigued by the way ‘ancient mysteries’ go away with new science discoveries. All without recourse to secret ancient civilisations or helpful aliens. Take Gobekli Tepe. This construction in southeastern Turkey is made of 7-10 ton upright stones, elaborately carved, and was recognised for what it was in the early 1990s by archaeologist Klaus Schmidt. Current … More Making ancient mysteries like Gobekli Tepe go away – with science!

Where woo woo comes from and why it’s so seductive

If we are to explore some of the woo woo that’s been peddled about perfectly ordinary – and hugely spectacular – things on the planet, like ancient pyramids or apparently mysterious rock formations, I guess the first port of call is to understand why these things get turned into mysteries in the first place. Some 20 … More Where woo woo comes from and why it’s so seductive