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In this episode, Dr. Schuldenrein and special guest Dr. Kenneth Feder deal with an assumption that underpins a lot of pseudoarchaeology: the notion that the archaeological record is full of evidence of technological achievements that “primitive” people would not have been capable of on their own. By this reckoning, the native people of North America were not capable of constructing the burial and temple mounds that are found in the American midwest and mid-south, and the pyramids were too big an achievement for the ancient people of Egypt or Mexico. Therefore, they must have been taught the requisite technology by folks from Atlantis…or maybe it was an extraterrestrial peace corps that visited Earth and taught ancient people how to build them. Again, the underlying libel is that ancient people (almost always non-white, non-Europeans) were too dumb to progress without some outside help. Why do these assumptions lead to bad archaeology? How does pseudoarchaeology effect the perception of archaeology as a field? Find out the answers to these questions and more on tonight’s show.
Kenneth L. “Kenny” Feder (born August 1, 1952) is a professor of archaeology at Central Connecticut State University and the author of several books on archaeology and criticism of pseudoarchaeology such as Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology. His book Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology: From Atlantis to the Walam Olum was published in 2010. He is the founder and director of the Farmington River Archaeological Project, which studies the prehistory of the region in northwest Connecticut. Dr. Feder’s next book is tentatively called Archaeological Odysseys: 50 sites in the United States You Should See Before You Die, and he is traveling all over the U.S. visiting these sites.