If you're still interested in the origin of the Fake Hercules Swords, check out Hartman Krug's Sword and Sandals Movie Poster video posted on our dedicated Facebook group. I don't know at what rate they were making these Hercules movies in the 1950's and 1960's, but if Krug's compilation is any indication, the arms-above-head pose was what you wanted on your poster. The lion skin, present on the Fake Hercules Swords, is absent from the posters. It is present on the Hercules depicted in the Campana relief, however. Feel free to join the group if you'd like up-to-the minute, open information about all the publicly-known Fake Hercules Swords in existence.
I'm behind on everything and don't have time to write, as usual, but I wanted to pass on a few things while I'm eating my lunch.
In the interest of historic preservation, I'd like to pass on these two images (both by Killbuck Norman) to add to your Fake Hercules Sword dank meme stash:
Fair is fair, so it's legitimate to pass on this link to a fascinating video that cuts right to the heart of the matter and makes excellent use of clipart images. For added fun, I recommend turning on the auto-generated captioning. Enjoy!
Finally, some of you are no doubt aware of the ongoing discussion on last week's blog post about calcite weathering and the Kensington Rune Stone. As of this writing there are 155 comments, many of which are useful and some of which are not. I was recently made aware that there's been a somewhat parallel discussion about the issues raised in the post in the Kensington Rune Stone International Supporters Club group on Facebook (it's an open group, so you can go and read what's there if you like). This is, I think, a useful statement to have on the record:
If you've been paying attention, that statement speaks volumes. Moving on.
A day may come when Swordgate is over
When we are out of swords
And all analysis stops,
But it is not this day.
Peter Geuzen emailed me his latest #Swordgate poster (version 5), which includes updated information on Swords 1-16. There are at least two more out there that we haven't yet incorporated into our assemblage of Fake Hercules Swords, so this will not be the final poster. You can download the full size version here (click ‘Download This File’).
Here is what Geuzen has changed from the last version:
I haven't gone over it in detail, but it looks pretty nice to me. I need to make some time to add in the other known swords that are lurking around out there and update the database. That will happen some day, but it is not this day.
Enjoy Swordgate Poster Version 5!
This is a guest blog post contributed by Fake Hercules Sword Whisperer Pablo Benavente. I have yet to update the database with the information from Sword 14 . . . and there are at least two more that we know of but haven't written about yet. The plot thickens.
"We all can't shine at the same time."
The timeless wisdom of Rapper Juicy J. becomes reality with Fake Hercules Sword 16: "The Brassy One."
JA Sterling (freelance writer, Friend of Swordgate, and frequent contributor to the Fraudulent Archaeology Wall of Shame group on Facebook) stumbled upon Sword 16 on this blog (you'll need to scroll down a bit in order to see the original photo) while searching for something else. Here is the only image we have so far, cropped and rotated:
The description next to the sword image can be translated as "Photo: Votive sword with Commodus-Hercules hilt". The writer mentions his name on the post and that he lives in the Catalonia region of Spain.
The photo seems to be mirrored (i.e., reversed -- Hercules is facing the opposite direction from the other swords), and upon close inspection, it seems to be a "J" type sword. I have enhanced the original photo for better appreciation of the details.
The most interesting characteristic of Sword 16 is its lack of heavy, green patina. Is this a photo of a finished sword "as is" (without addition of the heavy artificial patina we see in the other swords) or of a sword that's been cleaned?
We have no information about when the photo was taken or any other details about the sword. I have made several attempts to contact the webpage's author with no luck yet. Hopefully he will see my requests and tell us more about it.
Note (Andy White): My hunch is that, unlike the other swords, a heavy artificial patina was never applied to Sword 16. It seems that the "fake" patina was applied to the other swords to increase their appeal as antiques (perhaps so they could be marketed not as authentic ancient Roman artifacts but as relics related to the nineteenth century Grand Tour). This makes Sword 16 very interesting: why was no fake patina applied to this particular sword? Where was this sword "found" and photographed?
This is a guest blog post contributed by Peter Geuzen. Peter is familiar to fans of #Swordgate as the producer of numerous illustrations documenting the proliferation of Fake Hercules Swords since last December. I'll get the Fake Hercules Sword page and database updated in the next couple of days. I'm hoping that Peter puts together a new #Swordgate poster soon. In the meantime, please enjoy his analysis of Sword 14!
The fourteenth sword came in under the radar and I felt compelled to jump on it. Without further ado, here it is:
Like the very first sword, Sword 14 hails from Nova Scotia. Keeping with our establish naming scheme but trying to avoid confusion, let's call this one "Nova Scotia eBay." This will be the fourth example with a connection to the Canadian Maritimes, the ‘go to’ region for Fake Hercules Swords!
The background story is generally in line with both what we know and what we assume. The sword was bought on vacation in Rome in 1988 from an antiques market vendor in the tourist zone close to the Vatican. It was sold as a supposed antique, with the dealer saying turn of the century or Grand Tour era. It was the only one in the shop and the only one seen on the trip. Knowing the purchase year is helpful because it aids in fine tuning the database. We now have six with confirmed original purchase dates and locations, with 1988 being the second oldest (the original purchase locations are tellingly limited to Pompeii and Rome).
Compared to the swords already in the database, the general matching physical qualities are obvious. The casting is a little rough and the verdigris patina is heavy and slightly worn from high spots. The patina is not worn so much, however, that burnished brass/bronze is showing. The bivalve mold seams are clearly visible and look similar to other database examples including Nova Scotia (Sword 1). There are signs of coarse grinding and filing to smooth out the seam burs. The blade is a thick, dull, uneven rectangular cross-section shape, and clearly not functional.
There is one key physical point to note, and one distinct anomaly not seen before. The key feature is the backwards "J" on the back of the blade. The new anomaly is a distinct circular spot also on the back of the blade.
Sword 14 falls into Type J based on the salient "J" mark. The backwards J is a casting mold anomaly already seen in four previous examples: Nova Scotia (Sword 1), Florida (Sword 2), Italian eBay (Sword 4), and France (Sword 6). As noted, the backwards J is on the back of the blade and not the front like the others, so let's call it subtype "(r)", for "reverse."
There are a couple possible reasons for the J being on the back. Assuming new molds were made periodically or old molds were retrofitted into new models, and assuming that the bivalve components may have come in two parts, one for the blade and one for the hilt, perhaps blade halves were accidentally reversed, from one model to the next. Similarly, maybe an accident caused a mold to break at the splice and the repair accidentally reversed the blade halves. Conversely, maybe a new mold version reversed the blade halves on purpose to hide the obviousness of the J. Without more data it’s hard to say if there is a chronology of blade mold variations directly within the J group. It’s clear, however, that there must have been a time step where the blade component was reversed, and thus there are time steps with the J on the front, either earlier or later, or possibly both, than the J on the back.
The other anomaly of interest is the relatively distinct spot on the back of the blade which is slightly proud or almost embossed looking due to the way brighter patina encircles it. This is unique so far in the database. If it needs a name, maybe the Jupiter spot works. I was hoping it was a Spanish Maravedi coin stuck to the blade, but no such luck. On the front of the blade in reverse to the Jupiter spot, there is some wavy roughness and loss of thickness. Possibly some contamination or foreign material in the mold, or some other quality control issue would result in these anomalies. There is also a chance it is actually an after-the-fact patch.
Other minor characteristics are irregular shape near the tip and along blade edges, plus a small distinct dot beside the backwards J. There is a subtle match to the ridge line seen mid-blade in other examples in the same group. There are a couple of pitted marks on the back of the hilt, similar to random examples seen on other swords, which are likely caused by foreign bits of debris or simply bubbles trapped in the casting process.
Some initial research testing of Sword 14 has already been done. Testing of the alleged magical lodestone compass properties that would make the sword an authentic “ancient ocean navigational device” was undertaken using two methodologies. Firstly, using multiple redundant pieces of testing equipment (i.e., all the fridge magnets I could find), no magnetic qualities were determined that would pull you northerly with a firm grip on the sword, while sitting on or in a period replication of land or sea travel (i.e., an old skateboard or my inflatable beach lounge chair). Secondly, using a hydrostatic flotation platform (i.e., scrap plywood), the sword was placed in a hydraulic testing flume (i.e., my bathtub), upon which the entire assemblage did not spin to point the hilt north but rather it sank. Increasing the buoyancy of the flotation platform may be attempted with future efforts if more funding becomes available – fingers crossed that my research grant application pans out.
If you disagree with this summary analysis, then Sword 14 can be yours by sending me a certified check for $10,000, the same bamboozle price applied to Sword 1.
Sword Number: 14
Sword name: Nova Scotia eBay
Type: J(r) (J with blade faces reversed)
Material: copper alloy (assumed brass)
Total length: 46cm
Blade length: 28.5
Hilt length: 17.5cm
Proximal blade width: 42mm
Original purchase date: 1988
Original purchase location: Rome, Italy
Pablo Benavente obtained these great images of the Friocero Sword (Sword 15) from the sword's owner. There are a lot of things to look at here in comparison to the other swords. Unfortunately for me, I don't have time to do a close inspection right now. I thought the best thing to do would be to just make the images available so that those of you out there in Swordgate land can have a look. Enjoy!
This is a guest blog post contributed by Pablo Benavente. As a #Swordgate enthusiast, Pablo has made several significant contributions to locating, documenting, and understanding an ever-growing assemblage of Fake Hercules Swords. In real life, he is an architect and photographer.
Nueva Espada Romana!
As many of you, I have been following the #Swordgate drama since the beginning. I have used my Spanish speaking skills to collaborate with the investigation and have found a couple of them. I did a quick search over lunch about two weeks ago and . . . Behold: Sword 15!
The online magazine Red Historia was one of many online outlets that published a story about the "Roman sword" allegedly found in Nova Scotia. When they tweeted the link to their story, Twitter user @Frioacero tweeted back: "It looks a lot like this one "discovered" by me in Pompeii. Can also be found on Ebay".
When I asked if he could share some details about his sword, @Frioacero told me "It was bought in Pompeii on a small souvenir store around 2006."
I've been promised more photos that will be useful to compare this sword to the others in the Fake Hercules Sword database, but for now there is just the photo from Twitter.
Given what we know, I think that these swords were most likely manufactured to be sold to visitors to the National Museum of Archaeology or the Vesuvius National Park. In order to increase the appeal of the souvenir, someone might have invented that it is a copy of an existing sword in the Museum, giving birth to the legend that there is an "original in the Naples Museum." No-one has produced any evidence that an "original sword" actually exists in the museum.
Two notes (Andy White):
The comments on my post from the other day about the Wolter-Pulitzer "plan" for excavating what they claim are giant human remains have largely shifted to a discussion about Pulitzer's "Roman sword" claim. The only substantive statement that Pulitzer made about their purported giant was this:
"we can assure you the individuals involved are ALL at the University Level, very well respected, far and wide published and heralded within their field. Even more exciting than the discovery is all the incredible academic talent attracted to the find. The way this works, is there are countless experts, scientists, academics, archaeologists and anthropologists who have seen our work on TV and Books."
You can add that promise to his tab, I guess: many incredible, respected academics all clamoring to work with him on giant bones. We'll see how that goes.
But on to the "Roman sword."
The subject of Pulitzer's sword claims naturally comes up whenever he makes an evidence-free assertion, as it speaks directly to his credibility when he says "trust me." You're welcome to wade though the comments in the previous post, but I thought I'd pull from the weeds and reiterate my response (moderately edited but substantively the same) to his goading attempt to get me to debate him about the sword.
I'm open to the idea of having a debate (or some kind of structured conversation) with Pulitzer about the "Roman sword" and the other Hercules-hilted swords. It would probably be a more effective and less problematic way to communicate my thoughts to a different audience than my proposal to publish a piece in Ancient American magazine. I have two main concerns that would have to be addressed in order to move forward with the idea of a "debate, both having to do with transparency.
1) First, there is no way I would collaborate with Pulitzer on something that he controls and that would be part of his "brand." Why? Because he has repeatedly shown himself to be untrustworthy. He has shown that using distortion, misrepresentation, and outright lies is part of his standard operating procedure: his silly behavior has no place in an honest discussion. I've been in a lot of disagreements with colleagues, but none of those professional colleagues has ever questioned my credentials, my expertise, and my intentions. That sort of thing is just not a normal part of a professional discussion about facts, evidence, and interpretation. But Pulitzer does it frequently (including in the comments on the last post, where he implied that I was an anti-Semite). In short, Pulitzer has not provided any reason for me to take his word on anything and plenty of reasons to be skeptical. It would be stupid to trust him with producing content that is unbiased, and it would be wrong to give him control over how that content is made available.
2) Second: data! When professionals have a debate, they refer to data. I have been open with mine, but Pulitzer has never provided his. You cannot have a debate where one side says "I have that data but I'm not going to show it to you, so you'll just have to believe me" (there's that credibility issue again). It may work that way in "forbidden truth" circus, but it doesn't work that way in the real world. Pulitzer has made reference to his XRF data numerous times to support his claim(s), but has not provided it. How could I fairly evaluate claims about his data when I don't actually have access to the data? That would be like agreeing to a poker game where I show my hand at the end but Pulitzer just gets to state what's in his without actually revealing it. Why would anyone agree to those rules? In order for me to have a real discussion about the sword with Pulitzer, he'll need to provide his data ahead of time so that we both have access to the same information. And I'll need a copy of Commodus's Secret so I can refer to Pulitzer's argument about the sword there. If he wants to have a discussion about evidence, he needs to stop being so slippery and put his cards down so we can see them.
If Pulitzer really wants a sword discussion, it will have to be something that isn't controlled by him and he'll have to (finally) let us all see the fabled XRF data that he's been hanging his claims on. And he needs to provide his interpretation(s) of the sword in a stable format (i.e., in his book, which he says is now complete) where the claims are in black and white and can be evaluated on their merits. Those are reasonable, fair, and logical conditions. Without transparency in the medium and data, a "debate" would be nothing but an empty exercise. Without transparency, I'll pass.
I have been living in South Carolina for less than a year. While I still have a lot to learn about local and regional culture, I have picked up a few things. In the spirit of my adopted home, I made this card for J. Hutton Pulitzer:
If you don't understand the meaning of the phrase, look it up in the Urban Dictionary.
Pulitzer has been taking "pre-order" money for books titled Solomon's Secret and Commodus's Secret since at least November of 2014. He's been taking money and providing in return a "100% guarantee" that those who pre-ordered the book(s) can get their money back at any time. The estimated shipping date, meanwhile, has been a moving target. When I wrote about all of this during #Swordgate, the websites and videos advertising the books suddenly disappeared. I've been contacted by several people who tell me they've tried to contact Pulitzer to get their money back, but their emails go unanswered (PayPal does not refund money after 180 days, so that's no longer an option for those that ordered the package long ago). The last online presence for marketing the books that I'm aware of (a Facebook page) became inaccessible last night as Pulitzer made this promise on the Fake Hercules Swords Facebook group through a third party:
J. Hutton Pulitzer, bless your heart!
It's hard to know exactly where to begin with this farce.
There is no evidence that there are, or ever have been, any books to ship. This isn't a matter of a few people not getting their orders: as far as I know, no-one who has paid has gotten anything. Making it seem like it's just a problem with a few errant orders is ridiculous.
The tech mogul doesn't keep records of payments? He's trying to shift the burden to you now to prove that you already paid your money? No-one has gotten the books, and yet now each person who paid has to demonstrate that they paid in order to be put on a list of those who haven't gotten the books? It's a joke that's not funny anymore.
I got an email just a few days ago from someone (who wishes to remain anonymous) explaining his situation to me. He forwarded to me what he received when he paid for the books back in November of 2014. Here is a transcript of the communication he got from the National Treasure Society:
"From: National Treasure Society <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Thursday, November 20 xxxxxxx
Subject: Solomon's Secret LIMITED EDITION KIT Purchase
You can download Solomon's Secret LIMITED EDITION KIT at
Please note, the download link will expire after 5 attempts.
Thank you for your PRE-ORDER of Solomon's Secret. You will get a downlad link so you can downlaod your ORDER COPY- this is NOT THE BOOK. The BOOK COMES IN HARD COPY! The downlod is just your recepit and instructions."
You can tell by the typos and the ALL CAPS that Pulitzer is the probable author of the email.
When I click the link it takes me to this:
And when I click on that link, I get this message:
"This download link (https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/df.php?txn_id=XXXXX) has expired. Please contact the merchant at email@example.com."
That's it. You're at a dead end. Several people have told me that Pulitzer and/or whoever is supposed to be answering the emails is not replying to their requests for instructions on getting a refund. Notice that this person ordered in 2014, so the 180 day PayPal window has long since closed. I wrote an email to publisher@InvestigatingHistory.org (as the Rip-Off Report response stated I should) but have not gotten a response. The person who emailed me the receipt wrote this:
This is what I got when I pre-ordered the Solomon's secret book. The link never gave me anything when I clicked it. Now its expired. No one responds to emails at the gmail account. I finally got Pulitzer to respond to a message on Facebook. He told me I had to get a refund through PayPal. But, PayPal only lets you do that for 6 months. Then you are out of luck."
I extend an open invitation to Pulitzer to visit us on Facebook and explain what is going on with these book orders.
My unsolicited advice is this: refund all the money to everyone and then let those who still want the books (should they ever be produced) order them again. That would be the responsible thing to do at this point.
I think there are probably legal options available to those of you who have attempted to get your money back but have been unsuccessful.
At the end of yesterday's blog post about Ancient American and the non-sword article in the latest issue, I wondered aloud if the magazine would publish a piece by me about the swords. This morning I emailed Wayne May (publisher) to ask him that very question and got a speedy response:
"Yes, definitely, submit your article, we will publish it."
With some quick correspondence, I established that it should be no longer than about 2000-3000 words and that I would be allowed to publish my article on my own website 30 days after the issue is released. The deadline to make the September issue is August 1. I'm hoping to make that deadline even given everything that's going on -- I've already written who-in-the-hell-knows-how-many words about the swords, so it shouldn't be that tough. I'll keep you posted.
I'll break the suspense and answer the question right away with a quote from page five of the latest issue:
"The purpose of Ancient American is to describe the true prehistory of the American continent, regardless of presently fashionable belief systems, and provide a public forum for certified experts and non-professionals alike to freely express their views without fear or favor."
My experience with Ancient American has been limited. My wife bought me an issue about a year and a half ago that had a cover story about a "giant skeleton" from New York (I wrote about it here), and I bought another issue last spring while I was trying to track down the story of the "oxhide ingot" from Michigan.
I bought the latest issue (111) this morning because it has the "Roman sword" on the cover and an article titled "The Cursed Oak Island Artifacts" by J. Hutton Pulitzer. I skimmed through the article and didn't see anything about the sword. If you can't get enough of Pulitzer's sour grapes "tech-mogul-turned-explorer-turned-warrior-for-truth" puffery, then by all means you should spend your own $4.95 to read about the latitudes and longitudes of where he takes phone calls from important people who think he's awesome. Otherwise, save your money.
As I flipped through the rest of the pdf, I couldn't help but wonder about the audience for this publication. The first "news" piece in this issue ("Traces Of A 9,000-Year-Old Lost Unknown Civilization Discovered in Lake Huron, Michigan") is a word-for-word reprinting of a piece that has been available free online at the Message To Eagle website since August of 2014. Well, it's not quite word-for-word, as the printed copy that was cut-and-pasted into the magazine includes one of the photo captions out-of-place in the text and the phrase "Lake Huron lost civilization" (presumably a page header) inserted into the narrative twice. My colleagues at Michigan who are doing this work may be surprised to learn that they're uncovering a "lost, unknown civilization" rather than the remains hunting blinds for driving caribou.
Reading on in this issue, you'll find a story about a rock from Michigan that was somehow determined by Wayne May (the publisher) to be an idol of a human head dating to the period 1000 BC - AD 400, Pulitzer's piece, an article about bison that was also reprinted straight from content that's freely accessible online, a review of the almost-forty-year-old Brad Steiger book Worlds Before Our Own by former Nazi Frank Joseph, a misleading article about the Kennewick Man controversy, some advertisements for books . . . finally there are a few pieces which may actually contain some content related to original scholarship. Since I paid my $4.95, I'll actually read through those and see if there's anything I'm interested in writing about.
Ancient American has been in print since 1993. As far as I can tell, much of the content has been directed at promoting just about anything that fits within a hyper-diffusionist paradigm: everyone, everywhere, all the time. The great irony in how the magazine bills itself (quoted above) is that it's really impossible to both "describe the true prehistory" and allow all ideas equal weight "without fear or favor." Not all ideas about prehistory can be "true," of course, so how do you separate the credible from the non-credible within some kind of "safe space" where we all pledge not to think critically? You can't. An unwillingness to try to falsify anything means you have to accept everything and somehow fit it all into a narrative. When you're mired only on the induction side of the inductive-deductive process (trying to concoct a story to explain the "facts" that you've got in front you), you really run into a problem if you have no means or desire to winnow out good pieces of evidence from the garbage (see this post for an expanded discussion). So paint me a picture of the "true prehistory" of North America that incorporates everyone's bad ideas, misinterpretations, and fraudulent artifacts. I'd like to see that.
The stated purpose of Ancient American makes me wonder if the magazine would be amenable to a Fake Hercules Sword article written by me? Or perhaps a point-counterpoint where Pulitzer and I can discuss the key issues around the sword(s). If you really want to get beyond "fashionable belief systems," you might want to try embracing the self-correcting nature of science. It tends to produce some pretty good results if you let it.
And you may also want to invest in some additional proofreading.
All views expressed in my blog posts are my own. The views of those that comment are their own. That's how it works.
I reserve the right to take down comments that I deem to be defamatory or harassing.
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