Because of the impending religio-cultural holiday I’ll be participating in tomorrow and the surrounding social madness, this Thursday’s post is just a quick one.
The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced that a six-month mystery has been solved, and the answer is “pseudoscientific nonsense.” I don’t mean that the answer itself is nonsense — let me explain.
Six months ago a groundskeeper at a very old cemetery found an object he couldn’t identify. After the all-clear had been given that the thing wasn’t some kind of bomb, it was handed over to the Antiquities Authority’s department of theft prevention to see if they could determine what it was. The thing is, they couldn’t figure it out. Nobody had ever seen anything quite like the object, which, as you can see in the picture above, is covered in gold and looks like something out of a science-fiction (or maybe steampunk) film. They did an x-ray scan of it, which wasn’t of much help. They looked up old scriptures to try to figure out what it might be.
And finally, they turned …to the internet!
Just hours later they had their answer.
The object, reports the Guardian, is a “Gilded Weber Isis Beamer.” It’s sold by a German “bio-energy” company in a variety of sizes and is intended to… uh.. “harmonize geopathic and electromagnetic radiation fields” and has an “effective range” (at this size) of up to six meters. This is all to say it’s new-age pseudoscientific nonsense.
The Antiquities Authority posted to Facebook thanking one Micah Barak from Italy for solving the mystery for them, adding that they “hope that those responsible for hiding the object in the cemetery will contact us, tell us why it was buried in the ancient structure and to whom amongst the dead and buried they wanted to give positive energy.” Tongue planted, I should think, firmly in cheek.
I can’t even blame them for not knowing what it was, or for suspecting it was something ancient. If you found something gold in an old graveyard, it’s really not that unreasonable to think it had been dug up rather than deposited. Still, if the story teaches us anything, it’s that you should always challenge your initial assumptions.
Well, that, and that the Internet knows everything (even if a lot of the things it knows aren’t true).
Richard Ford Burley is a writer and doctoral candidate at Boston College, as well as an editor at Ledger, the first academic journal devoted to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In his spare time he writes about science, skepticism, feminism, and futurism here at This Week In Tomorrow.