PseudoArchaeology Research Archive


  • Mainstream archaeology needs to engage critically with pseudoarchaeology, because its serious evidentiary, methodological, and theoretical flaws demand attention. It is never sufficient to allow pseudoscience to remain unchallenged.
  • Pseudoarchaeology cannot be defined solely as non-academic archaeology. Ideas that emerge from professional archaeologists and other academics must be subject to equally careful scrutiny, and may in fact be pseudoarchaeological. Pseudoarchaeology is defined by its practices, not by its practitioners.
  • Pseudoarchaeology reflects a flawed set of attitudes towards evidence and reasoning about the past. Careful criticism of the evidence and reasoning of pseudoarchaeology is essential in identifying fallacious theories.
  • Pseudoarchaeology, being less constrained by evidence, is more subject to influence from social, political, or personal biases than mainstream archaeology. All archaeology has some such bias, but the analysis of bias helps improve archaeological theory and practice.
  • Pseudoarchaeology succeeds in attracting popular attention and achieving commercial success precisely because it is pseudoscientific. It uses rhetorical techniques, and relies on the social assumptions of readers, in order to persuade, manipulate, and even to deceive. Because scholarship is not a democracy, popularity is not inherently a sign of merit.
  • While many pseudoarchaeological notions are held by well-intentioned and honest advocates of misguided ideas, this does not immunize these ideas from careful scrutiny. There is an even greater obligation to challenge hoaxers, fraudsters and other deceptive individuals.
  • The principles of scholarly and scientific inquiry are not merely one value system among many. They comprise a set of valuable guidelines and methodologies for producing knowledge about the real world. Science is fallible, but it is far better than the alternatives.


Both academic and non-academic research can be pseudoarchaeological. It is the use of particular rhetorical styles and canons of evidence that distinguish pseudoarchaeology, not the authority of its practitioners. No author is perfect - every archaeological work, and indeed every scholarly work, will occasionally demonstrate one or more of the following problems. An author whose work regularly exhibits many of these characteristics, however, is very likely to be pseudoarchaeological. None of these are ever acceptable practices.
  • Does not cite the sources of facts offered as evidence for theories.
  • Does not cite scholarship outside a small circle of supporters.
  • Does not make the concepts or assumptions of the research undertaken clear to their audience.
  • Does not address criticisms or contradictory evidence except dismissively.
  • Does not include well-supported chronological or spatial evidence for archaeological materials.
  • Relies on outdated or antiquated theories and evidence without examining recent scholarship on the subject.
  • Fails to include information on the nature, time, and methodologies of any research conducted in the collection of evidence.
  • Uses unfalsifiable theories that can neither be verified nor disproven through the further collection of evidence.
  • Uses an overconfident writing style that does not permit any uncertainty : 'obviously'; 'there can be no doubt'; 'irrefutably'.
  • Relies on unrepeatable or impressionistic observations of archaeological materials.
  • Employs irrelevant or gratuitous images to support a theory.
  • Uses their theory's popular appeal or popularity as evidence for its correctness.
  • Uses their theory's lack of popularity as evidence of reactionary or conspiratorial forces against new ideas such as their own.
  • Cites, thanks, or mentions academic authors to boost the credibility of their work, without describing the nature of this support.

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