Sunday, November 4, 2012

Three Odd Collections:Two Duds and a Maybe.

There are three famous [infamous??] collections of alleged archaeological objects in the anomalies literature which will not die. Two of them should. The third? I'm not yet sure. In each case, when I first heard about the collection, I thought: "Too good to be true". Most of the time you're right when that happens. What's the case here?

Let's take the easiest first [and quickly]. The Ica Stones, or as they were called when I first encountered them: Cabrera's Rocks. These things are pebbles of fairly heavy Andean Mountain rock, some of quite large size, which emerged in Ica Peru [Ica is near the Nazca Plain and a nice little Peruvian vacation town]. The owner of the things is a local Doctor named Cabrera. He has an office in the downtown square and appears well-to-do. I know a bit more about this, vividly, because I once was there.

Originally the claims for the collection were astounding but actually became moreso as "new" ones were found and released to the public, publication-wise. Initially one would hear about dinosaur carvings but not humans actually riding a Triceratops. But there was plenty of over-the-top stuff from the beginning going on.

Above is the Cabrera Rock version of Jurassic Park. I didn't see any of these either when I was down there in the 1980s. What I did see were boulders carved with maps and scenes from very prehistoric times, claiming to be representative of things from the Atlantaean Civilization. The owner claimed to have, with great labor, cracked some symbolic code on the rocks and could read their story. This writing [I never saw anything remotely resembling even the unexpected nature of Mayan Glyphics while I was in the private rooms of the collection] allegedly was learned by primitive slave humans, observing their Atlantaean superiors, just before those superiors abandoned them for Outer Space fleeing world catastrophe. These stones were therefore a "library" of Atlantaean knowledge scratched down by our loyal human ancestors, and stored away for someone [Cabrera] to locate and reveal.

Well, hey, great!! I showed up at Cabrera's and was greeted by the gentleman in the spotless white suit behind his desk in a perfunctory manner. He was happy to accept our money to visit the stones in the next rooms, but that was it. He called for a servant or an associate [he spoke Spanish and I didn't] who walked us [I had a guide] through the rather dark and dusty "museum". The associate kept pointing to different stones and actually yelling out things like "CAPTATION ENERGY!!!". Which I thought was rather odd itself. Anyway, the fee was well spent --- no regrets at all. High entertainment actually.

After this trip "Out Proctor on a side road", my guide asked me if I'd like to meet the fellow who really makes all the stone carvings that Cabrera buys? I thought that would be a really good idea. Well, we couldn't that day, and it was the only free day that I had in southern Peru, so too bad. But he did show me several stones that the fellow had recently carved --- looking exactly like Cabrera's in style and content but a lot cleaner --- and I bought [CHEAP] my own Atlantaean collection of a dinosaur and a Heart-transplant operation.

Didn't see the Dragon while I was down there --- really upset about that --- would probably have paid triple to get that one. Suffice it to say, these rocks are bogus; well, the rocks are real, but the carvings "date" from about yesterday.

The second collection is just as bogus, well very likely anyway, but with a nicer story. The not-so-nice element of it is that these objects became used by Erich von Daniken, lying through his teeth, as the central "proofs" for what he was selling in the book Gold of the Gods. That, and von Daniken in general, stand as some of the lowest points in the history of UFO-related publications --- completely negative on almost any scale of valuation one chooses to construct. The nice thing about the collection is that it is/was owned by an old priest who was a walking saint.

The Crespi collection is also a Latin American collection of several thousand objects. Father Crespi was a Salesian priest who worked in Ecuador, doing most of his service for poor local peoples even to jungle mission work. He was a nice man, and from all accounts the people loved him. Thus came about his collection. Father Crespi was a man who loved the people but was also a man who took delight in physical things. Art and Craftworks were great joys to him, and his local people began to bring him all manner of such things, many mindboggling in what was pictured upon them.

Just as happens with all these things there were whispers of Egypt and Atlantis and, inevitably, even dinosaurs. Some of the artifacts really DO seem to have been made of beaten gold, very thin but gold nevertheless. {I'd REALLY like to see a responsible study of the collection, but I can't find one anywhere}. Some items seem to be thin gold verniers over baser metal. Some seem to be bright brass which Crespi only thought was gold. Some are completely obvious NOT to be gold. So, the collection is a very mixed bag, and wholly uncharacterized to my knowledge. [and probably eternally so, as a story is out there than fire destroyed much of it, as well as conspiracy theories saying that much was stolen from him in the last years of his life --- the conspiracies being "by whom?"; even out-of-date rampant Nazis are fingered].

Well, what's in the darned thing? The item above is a carved stone I believe. Jurassic Park again. When I got into this shallow study about the Crespi collection, I discovered that apparently NO ONE really had any handle on it as to a decent description. This was stressing so I quit my studies briefly, cooked Ohgi uh Bokum, consumed a large portion, and felt a lot better about the Universe. I then discovered that I was still bonehead ignorant about the subject [at least; no further comments necessary, please], but didn't care nearly so much. It HAD, however, become clear to me that no one should be making many authoritative claims about this collection if no one really knows what it is.

We can say a few useful things though. These artifacts have nothing to do with the infamous Tajos caves in Ecuador lied about by von Daniken. Both those candidate caves have been explored [even by tourists] and there is nothing there. The vast Metal Library of Atlantis [or Shangri-la West or Patiti or the Deros of Richard Shaver] does not exist at least there. Secondly, local people admit that they brought Fr. Crespi many things because that always made him happy. Thirdly, even von Daniken admitted in a weak moment, that Fr. Crespi couldn't distinguish between gold and polished brass. Fourthly, some of the artifacts are obviously completely in fun.

Case in point: Fr. Crespi loved music and in his youth was a musician himself. So one of the locals made him a giant "ancient" guitar/ viola as a present. Yep, "ancient astronauts rock".

With no proper study to draw upon, we are left with our prejudices which will then be interpreted by us as "probabilities". We know that "some" of these things are modern-made. Everyone seems to give in to that. We have to ask ourselves whether we believe that local "indians" have discovered a massive treasure trove of Atlantaean or astronautic or Out-of-place Egyptian artifacts,or something-quite-astounding, and began delivering them as presents to this nice old man.

Because a]. the von Daniken/Juan Moricz story of the golden caves is known to be bogus; and b]. the collection contains many items agreed to be bogus; and c]. there was plenty of reason for locals to craft and give as presents items which are bogus; and d]. the subject matter depicted on these things is often unsupported by even responsibly-gained data from sympathetic anomalies researchers, which leaves one stranded without any lifeline to reality.... well, call me prejudiced but this looks... uh... bogus.

But it's hard not to like Father Crespi.

So, onwards? The third collection is the Julsrud collection, often called the Acambaro figurines. And this is the reason that I decided to make a post. Poking about in the SITU trash boxes, out spilled a document which indicated that Ivan Sanderson himself, while doing a biological survey in Mexico [yep. Ivan did real science occasionally alongside his writing about nature and anomalies], took a close sidetrip to Acambaro and had a few days to study the figurines [with the complete and friendly cooperation of Waldemar Julsrud].

This was a very nice report --- MUCH better data to work from than one gets with the Cabrera or Crespi stuff. But first a thumbnail intro: Julsrud was an immigrant from Germany of Scandinavian descent who came to Mexico and had a modestly successful business. He enjoyed many things, archaeology being one of them. It is said that one day he noticed some artifacts exposed near a hillside, and later asked a local man/ employee to see if he could retrieve them. This was done at small cost, and led to an ongoing stream of artifacts produced by this man for Julsrud's purchasing and storing. Over the years the collection grew into thousands of items and dominated every surface of Julsrud's home turning it into a chaotic and too-crowded-to-walk-through utter mess. It was this mess that Ivan and a friend walked into.

Ivan's interactions with this collection began very early in the game, when he was contacted about it by Julsrud's son in 1948. The son had read Ivan's Saturday Evening Post article "There Could Be Dinosaurs". The son sent photographs of several of the dinosaur-like figures, Ivan corresponded then with the father, and received a booklet written by him [in Spanish, I believe], and in that booklet were Julsrud's early theories about the figures as coming from some very ancient society.

Two years later Ivan was introduced to Arthur Young and Charles Hapgood, both of whom had learnt of the collection and were interested. They both visited Acambaro and saw the figurines. Hapgood then in 1955 wrote up a report on his trip, but it lacked any systematic approach to studying the collection. In 1956, all of them were going to travel there together, but this fell through. Only Young went. In 1959 then came Sanderson's chance to parlay his biological species trip into a sidetrip to the Julsrud collection.

I'm going to call it quits on this and say that it's part one of two {my back is killing me and has slid out at least three times during this session} { I refuse to believe that Ohgi uh Bokum has anything to do with this --- tricksters maybe, broccoli possibly, Korean Spicy Squid, never! --- don't even want to hear about it}.

I'll leave you with an Ivan quote: "The first impression of the whole is of complete awe."

Till next time, in a couple of days.

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