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Bob Lind chalking some apparently quite genuine cupmarks, a ubiquitous type of Bronze Age rock art.

Alternative archaeoastronomer Bob Lind (note that I do not call him an unhinged man with crackpot theories) felt himself vindicated this past summer by the Swedish Heritage Board. On a set of new visitors’ signs, the Board didn’t actually endorse Lind’s alternative interpretation of the stone ship of Ales stenar, but the signs recounted his ideas alongside the scholarly consensus interpretation without taking a stand on the issue. This was enough to make Lind a very happy man.

Now, local Scanian media report (here, here and here) that Lind has moved on to a new project of grandiose scope. No longer is Lind reinterpreting a famous, scenic and well-preserved ancient monument. He has found a previously unknown “monument” of his own — and it’s 180 meters long!

Independent archaeoastronomical researcher Bob G. Lind’s theories about Ales stenar put the entire academic elite firmly in their place. His new discovery makes Ales stenar pale in comparison.

“Without any doubt the largest one ever in Northern Europe!”

[...]

A 180 meters long stone setting, shaped in an extremely intricate way according to the various equinoxes [!] of the year.

“I was walking in this great big meadow with friends and instinctively felt a tension. [And with the aid of aerial photography:] Suddenly I saw the entire big picture. My measurements confirmed all theories. It was a highly exact solar clock and also a sacrificial site.”

To top it all in this giant structure, there is a magnificent phallus.

[...]

Most of the many stones that form the cult site reach c. 60-80 centimeters into the ground, while many only protrude a few decimeters above the surface of the modern soil.

This is good news. When Bob Lind unveils an interpretation that is so plainly nuts and doesn’t even touch upon a real ancient monument, it will be easier to repair the damage done to the public’s perception of the area’s archaeology by the Heritage Board’s new signs at Ales stenar. There’s even an endorsement by dowsing-rod enthusiast and former geology professor Nils-Axel Mörner, whose very name is a solid guarantee for high-grade woo.

Those journalists really don’t know jack shit about archaeology.

Thanks to Hexmaster for the links.


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Göteborgsposten and Svenska Dagbladet are both running a news agency story about the thing uncritically. Mörner gets called an archaeologist. This is a fricking disgrace.

Sveriges Radio P4 Malmö too.

But thankfully, Clas Svahn at Dagens Nyheter offers a far more skeptical perspective.

Update 10 December: Oh great. Turns out that Lind hasn’t actually found a new site after all. He’s just stumbled upon a small and rather mundane Early Iron Age cemetery that’s been known to scholarship at least since the 1930s. David at Arkeologiforum identifies it as registered site Ravlunda 169:1. The site is known to local tradition as Höga stenar, “the tall stones” or “the mound stones”. Lind, however, calls the place “the stones of Heimdallr”. How cosmic.

Update 12 December: Clas Svahn at Dagens Nyheter gleefully reports that Lind hasn’t in fact discovered anything new.

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Comments

  1. #1 Thadd
    December 8, 2007

    I think you are missing a point here, its not that journalists don’t know about archaeology, its that journalists know what will get readers. This is a lot more interesting seeming than someone spending all day moving and screening earth to find a couple flakes or rusty nails.

  2. #2 Martin R
    December 8, 2007

    I see your point. But on most issues — medicine, celebrity gossip, sports, foreign affairs, the TV schedule — a standard daily newspaper will attempt to give its readers truthful and correct information. It saddens me that journalists consider archaeology so unimportant that they don’t apply the same standards there,

  3. #3 afarensis, FCD
    December 8, 2007

    What, no pictures of the “magnificent phallus”? You will never get PZ’s level of traffic without pictures:)

  4. #4 thadd
    December 8, 2007

    “I see your point. But on most issues — medicine, celebrity gossip, sports, foreign affairs, the TV schedule — a standard daily newspaper will attempt to give its readers truthful and correct information. It saddens me that journalists consider archaeology so unimportant that they don’t apply the same standards there,”

    Do they really give truthful information on those things?
    take medicine for example, how often does the media spotlight some bogus or pointless study full of false statistics, or look at woo woo cures based on pseudo science? They love having the next study linking something to cancer, even if the statistics or studies are completely ambiguous.
    foreign affairs begs similar questions, like the debate over what the Iranian president said concerning Israel. No network news station or paper is bothering to cover the argument some are making that he did not say he would wipe Israel of the map.
    Celebrity gossip is based on potentially false reports, like the big hype over whether or not Tom Cruise built a 10 million dollar bunker. There were no real facts or news there, but it got ratings.
    TV listings only get them readers if they are accurate, so we can look at that as a bit of a different story.

  5. #5 Martin R
    December 8, 2007

    What you’re saying is true for tabloids, not for the standard dailies I mentioned. But I realise that I don’t really know what kind of paper Kvallsposten is, the one I quoted at length. Wikipedia tells me that it’s a regional edition of Expressen, which is not exactly a tabloid, nor a very serious newspaper. I would never read Expressen myself.

  6. #6 Lennart Nilsson
    December 8, 2007

    If you look through a large enough scanian field, you will most likely find any number of lines connecting two stones in the direction of the summer, winter, spring or autumn solarstice or Disneyland Paris for that matter. I am tempted to go out and find a couple of stones here in Nacka, preferably “phallos” shaped, producing a line pointing in the direction of ICA Maxi, and invent a much more interesting theory…

  7. #7 Martin R
    December 8, 2007

    Gimme the coordinates of your holy site once you’ve “found” it, will you? Then my wife and I can go there on the summer solstice, dance around the holy stones, sprinkle them with beer and have ritual intercourse!

  8. #8 Mats
    December 9, 2007

    So that’s why the summer solstice is called ‘sommarsolstŚndet’ (summer sun erection) in Swedish :)

  9. #9 Martin R
    December 9, 2007

    Paaa-haaa! (-;

  10. #10 Theres
    December 9, 2007

    Well, at least the man seems to be able to recognize cupmarks…but how can he date them? As far as I know they were made from the Stoneage until at least the Middle ages in some places! Wishful thinking?

  11. #11 Zem
    December 9, 2007

    Populšr astronomi (Popular Astronomy) is writing about you on their blogg here:
    http://astromalte.blogspot.com/2007/12/skepsis-om-nyupptckt-forntida-solur.html

  12. #12 Lennart Nilsson
    December 9, 2007

    Inspired by Bob Lind I made an astonishing discovery. The very house that I live in has a tower on top of it for no apparent reason. But facts are that in reality it works as an enormous sun-dial. At summer solarstice, when the sun rises, the shadow creates a line connecting the cathedral in Lyon and the Sagreda Familia in Barcelona, it also connects these two holy places with the northern tip of Antarctica and Chatham Islands, the furthest inhabited place from where I live. The line from the sunset-dial at summer solstice connects Odessa, Mekkah, Mauritius and Hollywood. Now, this can’t be a coincidence, supernatural intelligence must be involved… scary…

  13. #13 thadd
    December 9, 2007

    Apparently news agencies are different in the US, they constantly post news about pseudo scientific, or at least extremely low quality health issues. In general they take whichever issues can get ratings at the expense of quality, even if they are likely of little legitimacy.

  14. #14 HP
    December 9, 2007

    I understand that the site is so intricately conceived that any given pair of stones can be connected by a straight line. What are the odds of that happening by chance?

  15. #15 Phil
    December 10, 2007

    Excellent blog entry! I visited Ales Stones this summer, and was pretty appalled to see a Lindite guiding tourists whilst carrying a County Administrative Board (Länstyrelsen) bag (got the photo if you want it :) ).

    A bit off topic, but as thadd says above, you might be giving the standard dailies a bit too much credit, especially in their capacity to produce independent, objective journalism. Check the various articles and you’ll see that they are very nearly identical, most likely bought in from a central news agency and published with minimal editing. Many local dailies in Sweden are unfortunately now owned by the same people as Expressen et al. Independent journalism is on its way out, perhaps?

    PS. Lind wouldn’t be the first archaeologist to make a trend, or even a ritual, out of two points…

  16. #16 Martin R
    December 10, 2007

    Lennart, like, woah, man! That’s DEEP.

    HP, I won’t believe it until Bob Lind can show me a SINGLE stone through which a straight line can be drawn.

  17. #17 Lennart Nilsson
    December 10, 2007

    The really fascinating and truly magic thing with the place Bob Lind found is that at every (!) equinox of the year, the sun rises in the east and settles in the west! It only happens there and at ICA Maxi…

  18. #18 Tengill Rex
    December 14, 2007

    http://tv4.se/player/categories.aspx?treeId=100715

    Here you can see whats going on in “this field”. This guy will create jobs and touristmoney will flow in…

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