by Gloria Moss
History through a lens
the importance of questioning history.
Source: Valentyna / Adobe stock
According to George Orwell, Sir Walter Raleigh stopped
writing his History of the World after he was unable to identify the
cause of the scuffle and murder that took place outside his cell in
the Tower of London.
A favorite of Queen
Elizabeth I and a leading intellectual, this reaction singled
him out from many future historians.
For example, the renowned Oxford philosopher, historian and
archaeologist R.G. Collingwood (1889-1943), viewed people as
driven by reason rather than emotion, assumptions that bedeviled
classical economists until behavioral economists challenged their
models in the 1970s.
Should we now be
returning to Raleigh's skepticism as a historian and viewing history
through the lens of those who write it?
We will take two cases of
...and see how interpretations may have been influenced by the
personalities of the archaeologists involved and show the importance
of questioning history...
The Maltese archipelago lies about 90km to the south of the
south-eastern tip of Sicily to which it is thought it may originally
have been linked until about 5 million years ago.
Then, tectonic activity
resulted in a re-opening of the Gibraltar Straits filling up the
Mediterranean and isolating the Maltese Islands area from the
Even today, the sea
between the Maltese Islands and Sicily is mostly less than 90m in
A map of when Malta and Sicily
may have been joined.
Image courtesy of Lenie Reedijk
So, Sicily may have been the land of origin of Malta's first
colonizers, millions of years ago...
It may then, arguably,
have been home to peoples who lived there and created a temple
culture in Paleolithic times, a period spanning 40,000 to 10,000
years before our time.
The evidence for this
dating comes from teeth found near Ghar Dalam in 1918 (Keith, 1918
and 1924; Mifsud and Mifsud, 1997) as well as a temple system
aligned to the constellation
of Sirius, whose movements can be
accurately documented (Reedijk, 2018).
Despite this, official
history of Malta is focused on a temple culture beginning in at
least 5,000 years later, in 4,000-3,000 BC.
Photograph of the teeth found in 1917
suggesting evidence of
Paleolithic humans in Malta.
Giuseppe Despott / Sir Arthur Keith
Sir Arthur Evans
One of the people said to be responsible for the later dating of
Malta was the British archaeologist, Sir
Arthur Evans, the
archaeologist of Knossos.
According to a recent
account of Maltese prehistory (Reedjik, 2018), Evans
maintained that Knossos was the Bronze Age cradle of European
civilization and this thinking not only marginalized the
considerable evidence of Neolithic inhabitation but also skewed
the thinking of generations of archaeologists.
You might say that vested interests were at work since Evans had
purchased the land at Knossos and created huge reconstructions
of Bronze Age palaces.
This investment paid
off since the site is the second most popular tourist attraction
in all of Greece after the Acropolis but the ethics of combining
the roles of archaeologist and business owner role must be
considered problematic, particularly in view of descriptions of
the reconstructions as 'inaccurate' and 'damaging' (German,
Unknown / CC BY 4.0
How did Evans achieve his influence?
Whilst a modern
history undergraduate at Oxford, he showed himself unable in his
finals to answer a single question about the twelfth century or
beyond, and it was just the intervention of an examiner,
Edward Augustus Freeman, that produced a first class degree
Then, four years
later, in 1878, Arthur married Freeman's eldest daughter and six
years later, he was appointed Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum in
Oxford, with no apparently relevant experience.
It was in the same
year, 1884, that he used family money to buy the site of
Knossos, branding it as the Bronze Age cradle of European
Malta at this time was a British colony and no sensible
archaeologist would suggest an earlier date for Malta's
monuments than those given to
Knossos by Evans (Reedjik, ibid).
There were two people
who argued for a Paleolithic past for Malta.
One was the respected
archaeologist, Themistocles Zammit but he died in 1935,
and the other, a talented Italian archaeologist, Ugolini but he
died in 1936 at the young age of 41.
So, with these two
influential archaeologists out of the way,
non-British archaeologist was ever allowed to take the lead
in excavating or interpreting a Maltese prehistoric temple
If discussion of a Paleolithic has become the kiss of death to
an aspiring archaeologist, so too is discussion
of Giants. This
is despite the somewhat abundant evidence of their earlier
existence on the islands.
What form does this evidence take?
In terms of documentary
evidence, a printed account of the Maltese Islands published in
Lyon in 1536, written by Jean Quintin d'Autun (auditor to
Grandmaster Philippe Vilier de L'Isle Adam) spoke of an
antediluvian race of giants who lived there.
Then, in 1647, we
have an account from Abela of the ancient habitation of the
Cyclops in Malta,
citing burial places "often of enormous size"
(e.g. between Madonna della Gratia and the Tower of Blata el
Baidha, and another near Zurrico) and the "gigantic bones found
in Malta" (one used as a cross-bar for a door) as well as teeth
"the thickness of a finger."
In terms of the temples, Gozo's
Ggantija, a site meaning
'Giant's Place/Lair' in Maltese, or 'belonging to the giant'
reflects the popular connotations these sites possessed.
Since some of the
stones weighed more than 50 tons, it is not unreasonable to
assume the involvement of giant in the construction of this
Gozo's Ggantija Temple.
robnaw / Adobe stock
Beyond this evidence, there are statues with six fingers or six
toes, features identified in the Old Testament
with Giants or sons of giants
(see 2 Samuel 21:20 and I Chronicles XX:4).
Then, there is the
the elongated skulls, with 44
investigated by Professor Anton Mifsud and 95.5% declared
to be longheaded.
He also stated that a
local workman in
Gozo shared how he had found a giant while
excavating the foundations of a building complex.
The laborer had
hidden the bones so that he would not be stopped by the
authorities from continuing his work and from the evidence he
showed Mifsud, it seems that between 4000 and 6000 years ago a
man, 2.64 meters tall, was buried upright in the soil.
What is more, in the mid 1930s, a lady working for the British
Embassy in Malta, Lois Jessop, wrote of how she saw
creatures "of giant stature," about twenty to twenty-five feet
high, in the lower level of
the Hypogeum in Malta.
Despite this abundance of evidence, Nicholas Vella,
currently a Professor at the University of Malta has alluded to
the fact that,
paleontological discoveries poured cold water on the
evidence for giants" but the nature of this evidence is
We do know that much
of the evidence for giants has been removed from the Smithsonian
Museum under the influence of Major John Wesley Powell,
the Director of the Smithsonian Bureau of Ethnology from
1879 to 1902 and pro-pounder of Evolution theory - and the
removal of the elongated skulls from the Valletta archaeological
museum, together with orders to clean away a six-digit hand
print from an ancient monument in Malta, are perhaps parallel
In the same way, we read that orders were given for the
handprint to be effaced from the cave wall.
If you read Gary
The Genesis 6 Conspiracy, you will see
the view that a Biblical race of giants spawned a giant/human
the Nephilim, who still rule over us today.
Could removal of all
reference to giants be an attempt to divert attention from the
role played by this group in society today?
Ghar Hasan cave
where the cave paintings were
originally found and later disappeared.
2. Dead Sea
Scrolls site of Qumran - One of World's Most Controversial Sites
In 1946, a Bedouin shepherd and two others discovered the
Scrolls in caves near the site of
This was fêted as one of
the more important finds in the history of modern archaeology
(Encyclopedia Britannica) and what we know about the site relies
extensively on the excavations of Qumran took place over a period of
six seasons (1951-1956) under the direction of Roland de Vaux,
head of the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem.
The excavation site of the
Sea Scrolls at Qumran.
This community of Dominican friars was established to,
studies at a time when modern criticism (history, philology,
etc.) was challenging the traditional understanding of the
sacred text and unsettling the faith of many Christians" (see
...and De Vaux was put in
charge despite not being an archaeologist, and having only learned
about archaeology from his contact with archaeologists.
One of Dead Sea Scrolls
displayed in Shrine of the Book
in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
vadiml / Adobe stock
Concerning De Vaux
Was he best placed to be put in charge of excavations of this
highly important site?
Three factors suggest
Firstly, the interpretation of the site assumes a monastic
function to the site, with the designation of areas of the site
- for example the 'refectory', the 'scriptorium' - mirroring the
wording and functions of a monastic community.
So, the assumption
that the site was home to an ascetic, pre-Christian Jewish sect
may be a projection of De Vaux's own monastic inclinations.
Then, his lack of
archaeological training may explain why one third of the coin
evidence from the site has gone missing, something that
undermines attempts to date the site.
Finally, when Pauline Donceel-Voûte, Professor of
Archaeology and History at the Catholic University of Louvain,
was asked to re-examine finds against De Vaux's original
inventory, she found many objects, which had not been noted down
caves where the
Dead Sea Scrolls were found.
Could this have been
because these appeared to sit ill with the interpretation of
Qumran as a site for an ascetic sect?
For she found
stoppers with tubular orifices (suitable for aerating or testing
a substance at regular intervals) as well as a number of glass
Some of the juglets
were described as containers for balsam.
This is extraordinary...
Balsam was one of the
most precious substances of the day, worth twice as much as
silver and considered,
remedy for headache, incipient cataract and dimness of
vision" (Strabo of Amaseia).
It is possible that
the tight neck of the juglets, allowing only a few drops through
at a time, would have ensured that this precious substance was
What is more, it may
have been cultivated at Qumran since its inhabitants, the
"were expert in
the sowing of seeds and the cultivation of plants,"
employing people to "collect the revenue and gather the
various products of the soil".
They may then have
been processed in the shallow pools, all part of a manufacturing
process, according to Donceel-Voûte that,
"took place in a
remarkably neat, hygienic environment".
Photo of the
Dead Sea Scrolls excavation site
Qumran with the caves and cemetery
in the Cemetery
Donceel-Voûte used this evidence to argue that Qumran was the
site of a luxury villa.
However, other facts
about the site sit ill with this interpretation.
although the site is small, there are no fewer than four
adjoining cemeteries, the largest, in the east, containing 1,100
grave plots, some with two corpses.
Even if we were to
assume that the site was home to the Essenes, this would be an
excessive number since scholars have assumed the community to
consist of a maximum of 200 people living, according to Josephus
to advanced age in a period spanning 200 years.
Moreover, of the
forty-seven skeletons exhumed, only seven (15%) were aged over
forty, a fact that fits ill with the exceptional longevity of
Moreover, quite apart from the surprisingly large number of
grave plots, the reports of these exhumations indicated
attributed diverse ethnic origins and occupations to those
buried (it is thought that they were laborers, horsemen and
scribes) and this diversity is not consistent with our knowledge
of the Essenes.
What is more, the
bone marrow, teeth and base of the cranium had all been
impregnated with madder dye (Moss, 1998).
The dye could not
have leached from clothing since madder has outstanding fastness
properties and, in attaching to bones, was probably ingested.
Since according to a contemporary herbalist, Dioscorides,
madder was a powerful diuretic and Pliny supposed it to
be effective against jaundice, sciatica and paralysis in
conjunction with daily baths (ibid), it may have been ingested
for medicinal reasons.
Note that the main
feature greeting the visitor to Qumran will be struck by the
number of large baths present.
at the Site's Entrance
Another anachronism with Donceel-Voûte's interpretation is the
presence of a commanding tower at the entrance to the site.
The walls are four to
five feet thick and its rooms communicate with each internally
but not externally.
Perhaps it was storing precious commodities
such as balsam since a similar tower at En Gedi, further south,
was interpreted as being used to store precious aromatics.
would be consistent with the recording of immense treasures in
the Copper Scroll, content that has been dismissed by Biblical
scholars as pure fantasy.
The tower guards the entrance to the site
but has walls 4-5 feet
thick and rooms that
communicate with each other but not
Is there something precious stored here?
What does this all mean?
Qumran was being run
as a medical center visited by throngs of sick people seeking
(Moss, 1998; 2000a; 2000b; 2010)
This theory fits the
evidence more convincingly than many other theories emerging
from 'Biblical' mainstream academics.
Historians and Archaeologists
If economics has been transformed by an understanding of the
role played by psychology in economic behavior, so too must our
understanding of the role that psychology plays in shaping
Our focus has been on
pre-historic and ancient history but the words of a modern
historian, Gerry Docherty, are nonetheless applicable.
According to him,
promote their version of history with lecturers and
professors repeating the accepted story.
graduates, fresh with their new degrees, take it into the
classroom, and examination boards award only the students
who regurgitate the approved learning."
The lessons are
"We, the general
public, are continually lied to. We are. We have been today.
We will be tomorrow, unless we begin to question for
It becomes our duty
therefore to question the past and to usher in a new behavioral
approach to the study of history, mirroring the sea-change
achieved in the field of economics.
We can do this
through re-writing histories and also running 'Questioning
History' events that bring a sharp, evidence-based approach to
events and history.
This questioning will lead us to the place spoken of in a
"there are two
official history, lying...
where you find the real causes of events"...
"who controls the
past, controls the future: who controls the present,
controls the past",
from Winston in Orwell's
1984 - we will change our understanding
of the present...
(1932), Big Blockade, London, Hutchinson and Co
Docherty, G and J. MacDonald (2013), Hidden History: the secret
origins of the First World War, Edinburgh and London, Mainstream
Donceel-Voûte, P. (1994a), Les ruines de Qumran reinterpretées,
Archaeologia, 298, 25-35
Donceel-Voûte, P. (1994b), Archaeology of Qumran, Annals of the
New York Academy of Sciences, 722, 1-38
Dupont-Sommer, A. (1961), The Essene writings from Qumran.
Translation by G Vermez, Oxford: Basil Blackwell
Hirshfield, (1996), The balm of Gilead, BAR, September/ October,
Keith, A. (1918), Keith, A., Letter to Nature, July 25, 1918:
Keith, A., 1924. Neanderthal Man in Malta, in Journal of the
Royal Anthropological Institute, 56, pp. 251-260
Mifsud, A. and Mifsud, S. (1997), Dossier Malta Evidence for the
Magdalenian, Proprint CO Ltd, Malta
Moss, G. (1998), Religion and medicine: the case of Qumran,
Faith and Freedom, 51 (146), 44-61
Moss, G. (2000a), Medicine 2000 years ago: the case of Qumran
and other biblical sites, 120 (4), 255-261
Moss, G. (2000b), Qumran cover-up, The Fortean Times, 131,
Moss, G. (2010), Water and health: A forgotten connection? The
Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health, 130
Reedjik, L. (2018), Sirius: the star of the Maltese Temples,
Netherlands, Malet Books
Taylor, J, (2015), The Essenes, the Scrolls and the Dead Sea,
Oxford University Press, Oxford
Vella, N. (2007), From Cabiri to goddesses: cult, ritual and
context in the formative years of Maltese archaeology, 61-71, In
Cult in context : reconsidering ritual in archaeology / edited
by David A. Barrowclough and Caroline Malone. Oxford: Oxbow
Books Accessed on 17 January 2020