Forbidden Archeology

Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson’s Hindu fundamentalist creationism

Forbidden Archeology
Forbidden Archeology: Cremo and Thompson’s magnum opus

Most creationists belong to fundamentalist Christian protestant sects. These two don’t, which is perhaps part of the popular appeal of their work. Their massive book Forbidden Archeology (published in 1994 – note the spelling of ‘archaeology’, which is usually a give-away that the writer is not an archaeologist, not even an American archaeologist) and its companion shortened ‘popular’ version, The Hidden History of the Human Race present evidence designed to back up their claims that human beings have been around much longer than the 200,000-odd years allowed by conventional palaeoanthropology.

The foreword to The Hidden History of the Human Race was written by Graham Hancock, which is an interesting comment on both his scholarship and the nature of the book. He claims that the book is “one of the landmark intellectual achievements of the late twentieth century… [that] will take more conservative scholars a long while, probably many years, to come to terms with… almost everything we have been taught to believe about the origins and evolution of our species rests on the shaky foundation of academic opinion, and on a highly selective sampling of research results…”. Graham Hancock’s critique of the methods of modern palaeoanthropology is at much the same level as his understanding of archaeological technique: he believes that there is a conspiracy perpetrated by science to keep the truth from the public, either as a face-saving exercise or for more sinister reasons. Once again, he demonstrates a faith in the anomalous to topple orthodoxy.

What makes his naive faith in the anomalies of palaeoanthropology all the more charming is his willingness to accept Cremo and Thompson’s Fort-like listing of other people’s work. Not only is it not their own work (and, to their credit, at no point do they claim it is), it is also predominantly nineteenth-century in date. They cite examples of anatomically modern human skeletons excavated from deposits of Tertiary date (in other words, from about 60 million to 2 million years ago), quoting the scientific papers in which the discoveries were first announced. They mention out-of-place artefacts (objects that appear to be of human manufacture found in deposits that appear to be geological), although in many cases, these come not from peer-reviewed scientific journals but from more popular accounts, sometimes even from newspapers. The evidence is all carefully documented and referenced in Forbidden Archeology, which is what makes it unusual among fringe publications.

At the same time, it is through following up the references that the claims are most easily disproved. Many of the scientific articles they quote were controversial at the time of publication and the source of lively debate before the matter was settled in favour of what would now be regarded as ‘orthodox’ interpretations. For instance, anatomically modern human burials in Tertiary strata were excavated before the principles of archaeological stratigraphy were fully understood; they were certainly not understood in even a rudimentary fashion by the excavators of these burials. The fact remains that, if these burials were really found in strata tens of millions of years old, more would have been found in the twentieth century. Some would have been subjected to scientific dating techniques. None have ever been reported, except by those committed to particular (usually religious) viewpoints; many have been exposed as crude hoaxes.

Cremo and Thompson are members of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, a branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Essentially, they are Hindu fundamentalist creationists whose reading of the Vedic literature of India has convinced them that humanity is a great deal older than conventional science will allow. This is precisely the opposite of the Christian fundamentalist creationists who nevertheless use the same evidence to back up their claims for a humanity little more than 6,000 years old! This highlights one of the principal flaws in this body of evidence: its interpretation is uncertain because the quality of the original data is poor.

17 Replies to “Forbidden Archeology”

  1. Sounds like a book I read a few years ago which was full of stuff like a photograph of a human footprint next to a dinosaur one. Apparently the original cast was exhibited at US fairgrounds in the 19th (I think) century. Along with all the other ‘proofs’ of similar stuff the original has been conveniently lost.

  2. I fear that in focusing on Christians you may be underestimating the scope of the opposition to the scientific understanding of human origins and our place in the Earth’s chronological history. There are also Muslim Young-Earth Creationists who have distributed very expensively produced anti-Darwinian tomes to large numbers of academics in the West. I do not know how wide their influence is within the Islamic world, but given the surge of fundamentalism and rejection of secular authority in other respects within many Islamic societies over the past few decades, I suspect that it is on the rise.

    Here is a discussion from a major US blog about the efforts of one Turkish creationist author and his organisation.

    1. I have to agree with Henri. You concentrate on Christian fundamentalists in the USA, but it is much more widespread than that. All religions have a fundamentalist group within them that will not accept an account of “the truth” that is not theirs. That’s the real problem.

      1. Agreed. I deal largely with Christian fundamentalism in these pages because that is what I am most familiar with, but I am also aware of Islamic creationism (promoted largely by the pseudonymous Harun Yahya, actually the Turkish fundamentalist Adnan Oktar), Hindu creationism of the type represented by Michael Cremo, Jewish creationism and many others. One day, when I have time, I may well write some pages dealing with these.

  3. Not all of the original data is of poor quality although the majority of it could be considered less than ideal by mainstream standards. That is precisely why a myriad of cases are explored leaving the reader to decide for him/herself whether the information is worth taking note. Some may not be, much is. At some point the sheer quantity is enough to (at the very least) poke holes in the current theories of mankind’s origins.

    1. The quantity of data presented by Cremo and Thompson is not “enough to (at the very least) poke holes in the current theories of mankind’s origins”. The data set is poor, includes known hoaxes (the Calaveras skull, for instance) and all comes from an era before archaeological stratigraphy was widely understood.

      The technique used in Forbidden Archeology is simply to bombard the unsuspecting reader with masses of data that the average reader does not have the background knowledge to assess.


  4. Hello,

    I am writing a paper on Michael Cremo’s book for my pseudohistory class. Your page has been extremely helpful and I was wondering if you had any other information as to how this book is inaccurate? I am not an expert in archaeology by any means so any help you could offer would be much appreciated!



  5. Could you please provide one example of source checking that you may use as a premise to soundly satisfy the conclusion that implies Forbidden Archeology is misleading?

    1. How about their use of the Castenedolo skull as an example of supposedly modern humans in the Pliocene? They are happy to quote the initial reports, but mention only Oakley’s work on fluorine content and are highly dismissive of the radiocarbon determination of 1969, hinting darkly that “[t]he young dates obtained on the Castenedolo ribs and vertebrae could thus have resulted from extensive contamination with modern carbon” but provide no evidence for such contamination. The way in which collagen is separated from bone for radiocarbon dating removes the effects of contamination.
      Forbidden Archeology is a massive work, piling up what Cremo and Thompson consider evidence in support of their hypothesis. What they fail to do is account for the lack of similar finds once archaeological stratigraphy was understood from the early twentieth century onward. If there are genuinely Pliocene human remains, why have none been announced in the scientific literature? Far from being suppressed in an academic conspiracy, as Cremo and Thompson assert without evidence, such a discovery, if supported with decent evidence and documentation, would make the career of the discoverer.

  6. “Essentially, they are Hindu fundamentalist creationists whose reading of the Vedic literature of India has convinced them that humanity is a great deal older than conventional science will allow.” Could you provide firm argumentation replete with sources for this assertion?

    1. Michael Cremo, ‘An insider’s view of an alternative archaeology’ in A Simandiraki-Grimshaw and E Stefanou eds From archaeology to archaeologies: the ‘other’ past (British Archaeological Reports International Series 2409, 2012): “… I write about archaeology and history of archaeology from a perspective derived from my study of the Puranas, the ancient historical writings of India… In the early 1970s, when I was in my early twenties, I found myself attracted to the yoga and meditation systems of India, and became a student of an Indian guru, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977)…”.
      From his own pen (or keyboard).

  7. “note the spelling of ‘archaeology’, which is usually a give-away that the writer is not an archaeologist” – What mark of credibility is granted to those that ARE true archaeologists? Even if one is a true archaeologist, is not his/her reason subject to the same possibilities of error as NON- archaeologists? What makes one a true archaeologist anyway sir?

    1. What makes a true archaeologist is studying the subject, gaining good and wide-ranging practical experience and in-depth knowledge of a specialist area. Sadly, that’s something that people like Cremo and Thompson seem to think is quite unnecessary.

  8. Ok, so there’s a range of cases, some who are not as strong. What about the rest ? Even of those you say, there are some that are strong cases. Even if no dating tools were found at the moment with the accuracy of modern tools one only needs to know if the findings were honest and serious, if they were undisturbed and if the current tools date the things surrounding the area of that date range or not. Even if there are no current measurings(which I’m sure for many there are) it’s still evidence, although not conclusive one.

  9. Keith, as soon as I read <<>>, you lost my interest. I could immediately tell your bias to attempt to discredit Cremo and Thompson, both of who I have assisted.What you expressed is a form of ad hominem / character asassination, used when the other party doesnt have much content to debate with, and thus have to resort to discrediting the other party. This is not a very honorable debating method. A true seeker of truth welcomes to be defeated because he is more interested in the truth than their ego or whether one is a better debater..

    I know both Dr. Thompson ( now deceased ) and Dr. Cremo, and they are both men of the highest integrity. I was Dr. Cremo’s navigator, helping him to get to a half dozen speaking engagements at various universities and other venues in the Toronto region when he was last here.

    Dr. Cremo and Dr. Thompson spent ten years in research to write “Forbidden Archeology”, and it is filled with proof of a knowledge filter existing within modern science to favor their atheistic view of no higher nature than what we can perceive with our defective senses. Dr. Frog in his well can never imagine the size of the Atlantic Ocean, so he thinks his well is everything. Cremo and Thompson prove that any evidence ( which they present a great deal of) that defies Darwinism, is supressed by the knowledge filer of mechanistic science, or the professors with alternative views lose their tenure, etc…

    Society is made up of the cheaters and cheated. If you want to be cheated, then don’t read this book and blow it off as something negligible as I saw one person doing here

    In better times, scientists were also metaphysicians like Newton and Louis Pasteur until materialism became more rampant, it took over the educational system as well, separating the physical from the meta-physical until looking at both matter and anti-matter / consciousness or spiritual energy. Even Darwin admitted in his “Origin Of The Species” that it was speculation. Don’t let Darwin make a monkey out of you, or if you like you can claim your ancestors were monkeys, but not mine, thank you. Here is a recent interview with Michael Cremo. He is one of the most important men in science today:

    Oh, by the way, the new spelling for archeology was coined by Americans, contrary to your allegation “not even an American archaeologist”

    Here is a fre download of Dr Richard Thompson’s cutting edge book discussing consciousness:

    Definitely worth the read!

    Thank you for allowing me to comment

    With gratitude,
    Glenn Powell

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