Bad Archaeologists tend to focus on a small number of special places, usually spectacular monuments or ruins, exotic or poorly known locations, sunken or extraterrestrial civilisations. Many of these places are known to Good Archaeologists, who understand them quite differently.

Special places

Archaeological monuments

There are certain well known monuments that crop up time and again in Bad Archaeological texts. Each variety of Bad Archaeology has a different explanation for them: they were built by aliens, by Celtic explorers of North America, by refugees from Atlantis, by Chinese circumnavigators, by a Lost Civilisation of the Ice Age… If any one of these claims is true, the others are automatically false. How do we set about testing them?


Pyramids have long fascinated people, from ancient tomb robbers intent on stealing Pharaoh’s gold to Victorian adventurers in the Mexican rainforest. They are among the most awe inspiring monuments left by our ancestors, but do we really know how they were built and what they were for?


Some ancient cities are places of mystery: because they are often set in remote locations, abandoned for centuries or millennia, not rediscovered until recent times, they can appear to be testimony to the existence of prodigiously ancient civilisations. But are they?

Places of questionable significance

Bad Archaeologists sometimes use places that have escaped the attention of Good Archaeologists. Is this because recognising them as ancient sites would upset the neat hypotheses of Good Archaeology or is it because the Good Archaeologists know they are not really archaeological monuments?

Mistaken and controversial identifications

The location of Noah’s Ark (why would it even survive?), the city of El Dorado, the lost city of Atlantis in the Sahara Desert: so many Bad Archaeologists claim to have found these dubious attractions. Why do their amazing discoveries fail to make archaeological textbooks, only tabloid headlines?

Natural formations

From sunken formations off the coast of Yonaguni in Japan to eroded ‘pyramids’ at Cydonia on Mars, Bad Archaeologists have been making claims that things other people have thought to be products of geology and erosion are in fact ancient monuments. Has the Good Archaeological community overlooked them?