There was at least one individual that broke 6', but most were shorter.
Nephilim. Under 6'. Go figure.
If you heard the "tick . . . tick . . . tick . . ." of another dumb Nephilim story yesterday, you're not alone: less than 24 hours after the report of the discovery of a "graveyard of not-so-tall 'giants'" excavated in China, the 5'11" remains have been interpreted as those of the Biblical Nephilim.
There was at least one individual that broke 6', but most were shorter.
Nephilim. Under 6'. Go figure.
Giantologist Goes Full Nazi, States that Trump Ascendancy "Has Been Positive" for Aryan Fringe Agenda
For those of us that pay attention to how "fringe" claims about the human past are related to racist political agendas, the connections are often so obvious as to border on the mundane. The last time I wrote about such things (in my discussion of the cartoon-like ideas about race and prehistory that underpin the Alt-Right's vision of making America great again) I got an earful from people uncomfortable with the notion that there is or could be a real connection between the fake history promulgated by white supremacists and the decisions made by our new government. In my opinion, it's clearly evident that our interpretations of the past matter a great deal to our actions in the present. And it's incredibly naive to assume that there's some kind of natural firewall that insulates the levers of power from the demonstrably false ideas about the past that are the stock-in-trade of "fringe" theorists.
It's an objective fact that white supremacists were not disappointed that Donald Trump was elected president. Whether they will be disappointed by what the Trump administration actually does, of course, is a different question. Whatever happens, however, it's clear that Trump's ascendancy has encouraged and emboldened white supremacists across the country.
My example today provides another data point illustrating the triangulation of white supremacy, "fringe" history, and contemporary politics.
Patrick Chouinard's book Lost Race of the Giants was published in 2013. I bought it back then as I began working to understand where all this business about giants was coming from. I read the first part of it but then gave up and didn't finish -- my impression was that it was a poorly organized, unoriginal mess that recycled much of the same material as the other books on giants that I had already been through. I got bored, so I stopped reading.
Lost Race of Giants was published by Simon & Schuster, which maintains an author page for Chouinard. Just yesterday, Simon & Schuster announced that it was dropping a book deal with Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulous in the wake of his recent remarks about pedophilia.
Since the publication of his 2013 book on giants, Chouinard (aka Patrick Fox) has shifted his focus to positioning himself as a vocal proponent of a basket of "lost white superior Aryan giant Atlantean race" ideas that can be sold to and consumed by white supremacists. Here is a flyer, for example, promoting Chouinard's services:
Here is Chouinard's Twitter page:
There's no ambiguity about where Chouinard stands on the relationship between his white supremacist agenda and his claims about the human past.
In this interview from January of 2017, Chouinard (going by the name of Patrick Fox) says that he is "forever dedicated to the pro white cause" and joined the National Socialist Movement in 2016. As far as our current political situation, Chouinard states that
". . . we should promote a reverse or counter youth culture based on NS straight-edge values that could take advantage of the increasing awareness of pro-white values and ideas that have been launched by the success of Donald Trump. I do not think Trump is our man by any means, but his effect is clear and has been positive for us. I see NS Straight-edge youth as the shock troops or our movement and can be used the way Tom Metzger used the skinheads several decades ago."
Setting aside questions about the quality of Chouinard's "research" and my feelings about his political views, I find myself oddly appreciative of his decision to clearly identify as a white supremacist. His forthright declaration stands in contrast to the milquetoast evasions of others who have written on a similar set of "fringe" topics in the same publications as Chouinard. Say what you want about his claims, but at least he's clear about where he's coming from.
My Forbidden Archaeology class wrapped up at the beginning of last week. Since going through the final projects and getting grades submitted, I've been occupied with prepping for my upcoming field school, finalizing a paper on the minimum size of demographically viable hunter-gatherer populations, and participating in a family-wide wave of coughing, aching, and vomiting. Good times.
Some of the student projects were pretty interesting, and I plan to put some of them up on the course website eventually. After that I'll weave the website content into the Argumentative Archaeologist site. It might be a while before any of that gets done (don't expect anything before the holidays are over).
In the meantime, I wanted to post a link to a short video that two of the students produced of their interview of Jim Vieira. I wrote a bit about Vieira's visit here. The students have possession of a lot more footage of Vieira in class, as well as he and discussing such compelling issues as "double rows of teeth." The students have told me that they'll still be working with that footage, and I hope that it happens (both are taking my field school, so I will be able to ask them about it weekly).
Here is the video they submitted as part of their final project:
If you have anything more than a passing interest in understanding the "fringe" world, you're familiar with the Nephilim. These offspring of angels and humans, despite being mentioned by name only three times in the bible (Genesis 6, Ezekiel 32, and Numbers 13), are a growth industry. Their resume is no longer limited to serving as the whip hand of the conspiracy-rich bowels of occult Christianity but now also includes significant penetration into popular culture. They've been adopted by vampire enthusiasts and they've got their own band and a role-playing game. The concept of human-supernatural sex was given some good PR by this Katy Perry song.
While the Nephilim haven't reached Ancient Aliens and Atlantis status yet, they're clearly going in the right direction. At this rate, they'll probably be openly fielding political candidates by the time the 2020 election cycle begins.
Expanding the Nephilim franchise won't be without it's tensions. In traditional circles, Nephilim (at least in Genesis 6:4) are thought to be the offspring of male angels and female humans. Those "mighty men" apparently continued to pass on the supernatural genes, corrupting the human bloodline with their Nephilim DNA (albeit in a more diluted form as time went on). While I'm not sure what Nephilim fundamentalists think of the possibility of female Nephilim in this scenario, market realists will immediately recognize that limiting the illicit/supernatural Nephilim sex fantasies to males on females (and males on animals, as the case may be) will constrain growth. For those of you worried about the stagnation of Nephilim market capitalization, I'm happy to report a data point that suggests the forces of democratization continue to gain ground:
As readers of my blog know, I find the topic of "giants" fascinating. It was a no-brainer to include it as one of the three topical areas to be covered in the inaugural run of Forbidden Archaeology. As I've said before, the main premise of the class is that credible ideas about the human past can withstand scrutiny and challenges, while incorrect ideas can be shown to be incorrect. Forbidden Archaeology is a course in critical thinking, argument, and communication. How do you know whether a claim about the past is credible or not? My goal is to give the students the confidence, tools, and information they need to understand the history of ideas and critically evaluate claims based on evidence.
Part of the work the students are doing in the course is writing blog posts. The point of the posts is to help students learn to communicate persuasive, insightful, evidence-based arguments through writing. The student blog posts related to "giants" are listed here. I wanted to integrate those posts into a synthesis of what we discussed in the class.
Our discussion of "giants" began with some background, tracing the origins of western giant mythology through the Bible, Greek and Roman writings, and early European sources. We discussed the somewhat isomorphic narratives found in ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean writings (e.g., Hesiod's Five Ages of Man, the Old Testament, the Book of Enoch, and The Epic of Gilgamesh), noting the parallels in some ancient notions about a past world populated by giant, quasi-supernatural, human-like beings. One student wrote about the association between giant mythology and cannibalism (the giants often tend to be cannibals).
I introduced the idea (following Adrienne Mayor and others) that at least some ideas about giants may have been related to ancient peoples finding a way to accommodate into their worldview the remains of large, extinct animals that they would have no doubt encountered from time to time. It's an easy enough mistake to make, especially for people with no formal training in comparative anatomy confronting the remains of Ice Age megafauna in an era before the concept of extinction took hold.
That human societies use mythology to make sense of the world around them and to shape their views of themselves is not surprising, of course, and I think we can see this sort of thing play out repeatedly through time with respect to "giants." We discussed how giants played into the mythologies of post-Roman Europe in a number of interesting ways. The Historia Britonnum (a "history" of the indigenous people of Britain written around AD 828), for example, borrowed heavily from Roman and Greek mythology. Europeans continued the tradition of interpreting the bones of extinct megafauna as those of human giants, whether wicked or noble. The stone constructions left by the Romans themselves were later regarded as the work of giants from a past age. Interpreting megalithic constructions as the work of giants is common today, despite plenty of positive evidence that normal-sized people can and do move big rocks.
Science began to chip away at the evidence for giants in the 1700's, marked first perhaps by Hans Sloane's argument that some of the bones identified as those of giants actually belonged to elephants. Pushback came in the form of the famous 1735 "list of giants" by Claude-Nicholas Le Cat. Le Cat's address was reprinted in the Encyclopedia Britannica and hopped across the Atlantic at some point in the late 1700's (the earliest American printing I have found so far in a 1765 Maryland newspaper). Abridged versions of Le Cat's address were printed time and again in American newspapers from the 1840's until the 1890's as the reporting of giant bones ramped up and reached its peak.
The decades-long American fad of giant skeleton reports differs from what happened in Europe earlier, and it remains a fascinating subject to try to understand. The "giant phenomenon" occurred in the context of the appearance of new information technologies (i.e., telegraph and rotary printing press), the forced removal of Native Americans from the eastern U.S., and the debate over the "Mound Builders," among other things. A couple of students wrote about the historic contexts of ideas about a "giant race" that preceded Native Americans: the "white giant" myth of the Comanche didn't hold up to scrutiny, and early excavations of earthen mounds in Wisconsin found no evidence of giants.
Despite the lack of evidence, the "Mound Builder" myth survives in the public imagination. It is used as a hook in a recent travel piece written for a West Virginia newspaper, for example, and the "Adena giant" narrative is still regularly pressed into service. Two students looked at specific cases related to claims of "giant" skeletons in North America: one found that a "missing" giant skull from Texas was neither missing nor giant and another fleshed out the case of "giant skeletons" from Branch County, Michigan.
The main agendas underlying modern beliefs in giants in the United States are related to two main Christian communities: (1) Young Earth Creationists; and (2) Nephilim enthusiasts. (After teaching this class, I think there is more overlap between these two orientations than I previously recognized). The relationship between Christianity and giants was one of the subjects of an attempted survey about beliefs in giants.
The appeal of giants to the YEC crowd is that the existence of giants would prove evolution to be false and the Bible to be true (that's the rationale, anyway, based on the flawed argument that giants would show that things get smaller over time rather than bigger). The struggle against evolution has compelled Young Earth Creationists to somehow deal with the accumulation of fossil evidence that is consistent with a very long (i.e., six million years) human evolutionary timeline rather than a very short (i.e., six thousand years) Biblical timeline. One student wrote about how creationists have tried to characterize the fragmentary remains of Meganthropus as a giant, and another wrote about the idea that Neanderthals were the Biblical Nephilim. In both of these cases, just as in ancient Britain and the ancient Near East, we see the struggle to somehow reconcile and explain facts of the natural world.
Even after teaching this course, it is still not clear to me exactly what the Nephilim enthusiasts are all about (other than monetizing gullibility). The Nephilim Whirlpool is an absurd mishmash of giants, religion, mythology, aliens, paranormal, and conspiracy theory that takes Genesis 6.4 as the "Rosetta stone" to understanding the world. One of my goals in talking about it was to illustrate that, in the absence of a mechanism for discriminating between credible and non-credible "evidence," you are compelled to concoct a story that can incorporate, literally, everything. Thus, for example, all of the stories from all mythology, extra-biblical or not, can be accepted literally and scooped up into the Nephilim dragnet.
Another was to show how the absence of evidence (i.e., where are the bones?) is used by Nephilim enthusiasts to support the claim of a "multi-thousand year cover up" rather than the much more parsimonious position that the lack of giant bones suggests a lack of giants. It's impossible to have a conversation about evidence in that kind of framework.
Although Nephilim theorists exemplify the baloney cannon approach to the human past, they're not alone. Manufactured and misinterpreted "evidence" related to giants is everywhere. One student wrote about Klaus Dona, for example, one wrote about the "giant's armor" at Schloss Ambras, one wrote about the taxidermied giant Kap Dwa, and another wrote about claims connected to the "Balanced Rock" of upstate New York. On the biological side, one student explored claims about Rh negative blood (commonly related to Nephilim heritage) and another asked if there were any known genetic disorders that could have contributed to the often-cited (but never demonstrated) triumvirate of large stature, dental anomalies, and polydactyly.
When you discard the desire to use evidence to discriminate credible ideas from non-credible ones, you're just throwing it all into a blender and drinking whatever comes out. Is there anything left after we do that to "giants"? In reality, probably not much. That doesn't mean it isn't worth exploring further and still trying to understand why people believe what they believe. In eastern North America, are you left with anything after you throw out the obvious hoaxes, fabrications, and gross misrepresentations, disregard the "double rows of teeth" mirage, and adjust for some patterned over-estimates of height? Maybe, and maybe not. Perhaps we're still left with the possibility that relatively tall individuals are over-represented in the earthen mounds of eastern North America. Perhaps the "Adena royalty" hypothesis will still be standing after the dust settles. Or maybe it too, like so many reported "giant" bones, will crumble away when exposed to the air.
An important part of my Forbidden Archaeology class this semester is teaching students to independently understand, evaluate, and communicate about claims concerning the human past. The topical subject matter of the course is, obviously, focused on so-called "fringe" claims that fall outside of what mainstream archaeologists typically spend energy considering but are strongly represented in popular media. The students should come out of the class having a general understanding of the tools and processes we use to learn about the past and discriminate credible from non-credible explanations.
Each student will be writing three blog posts. The topics of the posts for the "giants" section, in general, are concerned with understanding or evaluating claims, evidence, or context related to historic or contemporary ideas about giants. I tried to assign topics that would encourage students do a little online digging and, hopefully, contribute something new to the discussion.
Effective communication in a blog post is not the same as effective communication in a term paper. This is the first time that many of these students have written in this kind of format, and it is my first time working simultaneously with twenty different individuals writing about twenty different topics. Ideally the process will get smoother and faster as the course continues.
Here are the first of the "giants" posts to go live:
Please feel free to leave comments for the students: it's in their job description to interact with people about their posts (as long as it stays constructive).
Well, that was fun!
And because I know that it's sometimes hard to reliably detect the presence/absence of sarcasm in the written word, I'll clarify and say that I'm not being sarcastic: Jim Vieira's visit to my Forbidden Archaeology class was legitimately fun.
Those of you who followed this blog prior to the #Swordgate debacle know that I spent a lot of my writing energy in 2014 and 2015 discussing issues related to "giants." It's a topic that has interested me since I stumbled across accounts of "giant skeletons with a double row of teeth" in the nineteenth century county histories of Indiana while preparing CRM reports in the early 1990's. The story of my arrival to the topic is not that different from Vieira's (he came across the stories by accident, also). I had recently become aware of the online newspaper archives of the Library of Congress and was working on the "double rows of teeth" issue when Search for the Lost Giants aired. It was strange for me to watch that program, because I found myself hoping that I didn't get scooped on my linguistic solution to the strange dental descriptions but also wishing that their intense focus on the topic would help dispel some of the bizarre claims about "double rows of teeth" that have been around at least since Brad Steiger's 1978 book World's Before Our Own.
I went at the issue of "double rows of teeth" pretty hard in my blog after that original post, gathering documentary evidence (primarily in the form of newspaper accounts and dictionary entries) to demonstrate how changes in the popularity of a combination of linguistic idioms explains most of the cases of "double rows of teeth." I used specific examples to illustrate my case, including several that Vieira had discussed repeatedly. I admit to being frustrated that my ideas about "double rows of teeth," which I felt constituted a well-researched, relatively elegant, and original solution to an interesting riddle seemed to go unacknowledged by Vieira. That frustration came through in my last post on the subject.
Vieira and I talked about all that and a lot more during his visit to Columbia. Some of those conversations were private and some were in front of the class. We more-or-less beat to death numerous inter-connected issues related to the topic of "giants" over the course of three days. We talked about the nature of science, the nature of evidence, the many and varied motivations and psychologies of the "fringe" world, the relationships between the "fringe" and "mainstream," strategies for communication, human anatomy, the price of tea in China, etc. In my opinion, there really wasn't much of substance about which we had significant disagreement (including "double rows of teeth"). One sticking point was my contention, in which I remain firm, that the New England Patriots are, in fact, evil cheaters. That's part of my belief system and I'm not budging. I think we did tentatively agree, however, that all New York City professional sports teams suck, and also that the Dallas Cowboys suck, have always sucked, and will suck until the end of time. I may be embellishing that a little bit.
A couple of the students in Forbidden Archaeology collected video of Vieira (totalling about six hours, including both class sessions, a one-on-one interview with him, and Vieira and me discussing various issues related to giants) for their final project. They've got control of all that footage for now. It will be really interesting to see what they produce from it. Vieira and I agreed that we both need to give their project the green light before it will be made public. I'll keep you posted on that.
In the meantime, here's a short clip of Vieira in class yesterday. I don't remember the exact question to which he was responding, but his answer speaks for itself.
If you've been following the progress of Forbidden Archaeology this semester, you know that the next few classes we'll be bringing our focused discussion of giants to an end (I say "focused" because ideas about giants also play into the upcoming sections on Ice Age civilization and pre-Columbian transoceanic contact). We've talked about the ancient origins of giant mythologies, shreds of which are found in some of the world's earliest known written documents. We've talked about the giant mythologies of post-Roman Europe and the early engagement of science with the physical "evidence" for giants. We talked about how European ideas about giants were transplanted to the United States in the late 1700's and how those ideas apparently changed to fit the social, political, and archaeological circumstances that were present in the young United States. We discussed current ideas about giants connected to Young Earth Creationism, and we dipped our toes in the Nephilim Whirlpool just long enough to see that it is, frankly, ridiculous. On Friday, we circled back around to the question of an "ancient race of giants in North America."
This week we'll be talking more about the question of "giants" in prehistoric North America. It's going to be a fun week: the first blog posts are due, we're going to have a debate on Friday, and we're going to have Jim Vieira as our guest in class on Monday and Wednesday.
I'll be going to the airport in a few hours to get Vieira, feed him, and take him to his hotel. He'll be talking to the class tomorrow morning -- I'll have a little bit of housekeeping to discuss with the students, but after that Vieira will have the floor. We're going to use Wednesday's class with him for questions and discussion.
On Monday after class I'll give Vieira a walking tour of campus and downtown, lunch included. Two of my students are going to interview him on Monday afternoon for part of a project they're working on. Those same students are going to tape a co-interview with me and Vieira on Wednesday afternoon. I'm not yet sure what we'll be doing on Tuesday, which I have kept open to remain flexible. He'll be coming to my house for dinner tomorrow night. Vieira will return to Vieira Land on Thursday afternoon.
I'm really curious to see where Vieira is on issues related to giants and other things he's been working on for a long time. My opinion is that after you throw out the obvious hoaxes, fabrications, and gross misrepresentations, disregard the "double rows of teeth" (which I think I have demonstrated pretty conclusively is just a linguistic mirage), and adjust for some patterned over-estimates of height, you're still left with the possibility that relatively tall individuals are over-represented in the earthen mounds of eastern North America. In other words, I think there's a legitimate question buried in all of this. That's what I'd like to talk about, and I hope we can get there.
One could write a book about this topic, but I'm going to limit myself to a few paragraphs. The kids were up early, I've already had three cups of coffee, and it's still not light enough to go outside and play.
One of Jason Colavito's readers made this comment on his blog post yesterday about L. A. Marzulli:
This issue came up in my Forbidden Archaeology class this week during our discussion of the Nephilim, when one student noted the apparent logical disconnect between (1) the idea that angel-human matings produced the wicked offspring at the root of a long Nephilim bloodline and (2) the idea that those wicked offspring were homosexuals.
I've watched several Nephilim-centric videos during the last week that I've never seen before, including this 2015 presentation by Joe Taylor, a portion of the round table discussion from that same conference (I'm still working my way through that one), and this 2013 video by Discover Ministries titled "Nephilim Among Us: Human-Animal Hybrids, Eugenics, GMOs & Transhumanism."
I think the content of these videos provides an answer to Ken's question: for Nephilim enthusiasts, it's all about what constitutes a "normal" mating and what constitutes a "wicked" mating. Human males and human females? That's normal. Angels and human females? Wicked. Angels and animals? Wicked. Males and other males? Wicked. The Nephilim are constantly doing things that go against nature and, therefore, against God. I'm guessing that homosexuality is thrown into that "wicked" basket as part of the generalized bundle of "unnatural" matings from which the Nephilim arose and subsequently partake in. That's my theory right now.
Without going through these videos again to carefully build and support an argument about what they mean, I'll make the following broad observations:
I'm guessing that this "hybrid theory" and its attendant capacity to suck all of human mythology into the Nephilim whirlpool is not new. Having only just been exposed to it, its hard to know where and when it started or how long it has been brewing. The ridiculousness of Nephilim fetishists bears watching not because of the absurd claims related to non-existent physical evidence but because of the way it connects with various political, social, and religious agendas. One doesn't have to look too far back in history to find examples of how definitions of "natural" and "unnatural" matings articulated with policies used to define and oppress human populations in this country.
Here's my second attempt at privileging the quick over the perfect.
In this 2015 presentation (which we discussed this week in my Forbidden Archaeology class), Joe Taylor claims the following (starting about 55:20):
"Enoch says there were men . . . I think he says 1200 feet tall, or ells, or 450 feet, you know. I think there's evidence of a 450-foot-tall man that's been found. There's a tibia that used to be used as a bridge somewhere in the Middle East, somewhere. Four hundred and fifty feet tall. There's a tiba,a human tibia, supposedly . . . there's no dinosaur on the whole earth with a tibia more than 10 feet long. Maybe there will be, but a 450-foot man has a 100-foot-long tibia. So let's say he's buried in the Flood, well there's a lot of bulk, a lot of fat and stuff around that. Maybe he's covered in a hundred feet of mud, well then in a few hundred years that erodes away. In a few thousand years he's down to his bones. They still have a lot of fat in them. And this one bone is long enough to make a bridge with. Okay, so . . . he had to have been buried in the Flood, so maybe that report is true. Maybe there were men 450 feet tall."
I had never before heard the claim of a 100-foot-long tibia used as a bridge, so I tried to track down the source.
First, I found this 14th-century account by Bavarian traveler Johann Schiltberger (English translation published in 1879 in The Bondage and Travels of Johann Schiltberger; I copied this text from Jason Colavito's "Fragments of Giants" page):
"It is to be noted, that in Egypt there was a giant, who was called in the Infidel tongue, Allenklaisser. In this country is the city called Missir, but the Christians call it Kayr [i.e. Cairo], and it is the capital of the king-sultan. In this same city are twelve thousand baking ovens. Now the said giant was so strong, that one day he brought into the city a bundle of wood to heat all the ovens, and one bundle was enough; each baker gave him a loaf, which makes twelve thousand loaves. All these he ate in one day. The shin-bone of this giant is in Arabia, in a valley between two mountains. There is a deep valley between the rocks, where flows a river at such a depth that no person can see it, one only hears its rush. It is in this same valley that the shin-bone of the giant serves as a bridge; and whoever comes there, whether they are riding or on foot, must pass over this shin-bone. It is also on a road where traders pass, coming and going, because the defile is so narrow, that people cannot pass by any other way; and the Infidels say that this bone is one frysen [i.e. parasang—about 3 miles] in length, which is equal to an arrow's flight, or more. There, a toll is taken from traders; with the same, they buy oil to anoint the bone that it may not rot. It is not a long time since a king-sultan had a bridge built near the bone; it is about two hundred years [ago], according to an inscription on the bridge. When a lord comes there with many people, he passes over the bridge, and does not pass over the bone; but whoever wishes to pass over this wonder, may do so, that he may say of it that in this country there is an incredible thing, and which is nevertheless surely true. And if it were not true, or had I not seen it, I would not have spoken or written about it."
In The History of the Mongols, from the 9th to the 19th Century (Henry Howarth, 1880) there is this passage describing a meeting between the Mongol ruler Berebe and some envoys from Sultan Bibar of Egypt (1223-1277):
"They had several audiences with Bereke, who asked them many questions about Egypt, about elephants and giraffes, and one day asked if the report was true that there was a giant's bone thrown across the Nile which served as a bridge. The envoys replied that they had not heard of such a thing.*
*In regard to this report, M. Quartremere tells us it was founded on a very ancient Arabic tradition. In "The History of the Conquest of Egypt," written by Abd al Hakam, we are told that a giant named Auj, having been killed by Moses, his body fell across the Nile and made a bridge. Schlitberger, the Bavarian traveller, tells us that there was a bridge in Arabia made out of a giant's leg bone, which united two rocks separated by a deep chasm. Travellers to Arabia had to cross this bridge. A toll was charged, from the proceeds of which oil was bought with which to oil the bone, and thus prevent it decaying. (Op. cit., 218. Note.)."
This 1880 version of The Bondage and Travels of Johann Schiltberger contains notes (pp. 216-217) that attempt to reconcile the Schlitberger and Mongol versions of the bridge story:
"We read in Abd-el-Hakam's history of the conquest of Egypt (Makrizi by Quatremere, I, i, 218), that the body of a giant killed by Moses fell across the Nile and served as a bridge. With this legend may be associated Schiltberger's tale, and his credulity need not be wondered at when we consider, that in the 13th century the story was thought worthy of being related; and some there were even bold enough to tell it to the powerful ruler of the Golden Horde, Bereke Khan, who enquired of the ambassadors sent to him in 1263 by the sultan Bibars, whether it was true that the bone of a giant, laid across the Nile, was being used as a bridge! The ambassadors, who had been probably selected from among the most enlightened of the sultan's minsters, replied that they had never seen it, and answer that may have been elicited by the nature of the question, because the strange bridge seen by Schiltberger must have been in Arabia and not in Egypt. It united two rocks separated by a profound ravine in the depths of which coursed a torrent, and as it afforded the only practicable means for crossing the ravine on the high road, travelers were obliged to pass over it.
"I cannot believe that these topographic details were invented by Schiltberger, and am therefore inclined to think that he alludes to the neighborhood of the fortresses of Kerak and Shaubek, places that acquired considerable importance during the Crusades in consequence of their admirable situations. They are easily identified with "Crach" and "Sebach" mentioned by De Lannoy . . .
"Shaubek, the "Mons regalis" of the Crusaders, thirty-six miles from Kerak, was also a strong place. Burckhardt tells us that a ravine, three hundred feet in depth, encircles the citadel . . .
"According to an Arabian author quoted by Quatremere (l. c. II, i, 245), the road near these two cities was so peculiar that it could have been held by one man against a hundred horsemen. Another reason for the supposition that the bridge seen by Schlitberger was in one of these passages, lies in the fact that the same writer includes the tomb of Iskender among the holy places of pilgrimage in this ancient country; but he does not determine the individuality of that Iskender.
On the hypothesis that "Allenklaisser's" limb was near the tomb of Iskender, I should be inclined to look in the same locality for the bridge that was constructed, according to the inscription it bore, two hundred years before Schiltberger saw it. . . . This circumstance, no doubt, induced the "king-sultan" to order the construction of a bridge for keeping up communication between two parts of his kingdom, the new bridge being near the old one that was kept smeared with oil, a condition that had the effect of persuading the guileless Bavarian that it was indeed a gigantic bone."
I haven't had time to look into the geography of area that the last writer identifies as a possible source of Schiltberger's tale of a giant bone used as a bridge. That will have to wait, as lightning time is over for the day.
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