Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"Strange Visitors" Season 1 Episode 2

The episode "Strange Visitors" first aired on April 24, 1977 . It was written by Robert Long and Deborah Blum and produced by .

Nimoy starts out this episode by declaring there are men in any civilization looking to take risks. He then makes reference to "Mystery Hill" in New Hampshire. Living not for from there I now want to go check it out! A little research by me reveals the more contemporary name, "America's Stonehenge". I have heard of this site and have wanted to visit it for a long time.

(America's Stonehenge)

After this "teaser" Nimoy begins to talk about how little is known about the first humans and how interesting what few things they left behind are. He then gets into the "Stone ruin near New Salem". He claims that in the past year new evidence has surfaced that advanced civilzations existed in the New World much earlier than previously thought. Being a historian I know this to be true. Historians assumed Native people were primitive. This would have been true for even the most educated people in 1977. This more old fashion view comes up again when Nimoy says, "whatever their common origin might have been, the old and new worlds peoples had little in common." Recent scholarship in 2015 suggests this statement to be false. Only in the last twenty years or so  recently have historians recognized the evidence from Cahokia and similar places, as evidence that these Native people were actually part of quite advanced civilizations. Cue the stereotypical footage of Native Americans singing and dancing! It is the seventies after all , so I guess we cant be too shocked that this is what they decide to show while talking about Native Americans.

But Nimoy is talking about "Mystery Hill" specifically...

Nimoy tells us about Robert Stone from Boston who bought the land on which "Mystery Hill" exists. His goal was to preserve it for study and for tourism. Professor Hans Holzer (who also wrote and produced this episode) is shown talking with Stone while looking at the stones at "Mystery Hill".

Apparently Holzer is a "noted author and student of antiquity" (did i mention he wrote the episode?). Nimoy tells us Holzer is trying to answer the questions "Who passed this way? and why?"

Nimoy next narrates while we look at images from stone dwellings in the American Southwest and from Medicine Wheel in Montana. He explains the similarities, but points out the stark differences. Conclucing these cannot be the same people who built Mystery Hill. Nimoy tells us, "The very lack of a settlement area, breaks the tie to Mystery Hill."

Nimoy then compares some of the structures at Mystery Hill to structures found in Europe from Medieval times. He explains that Professor Holzer believes that in the center is what remains of a temple. Maybe a link to the great cities of central Europe? Nimoy disucsses the evidence that Leif Erricson made landfall in North America, but not near New Hampshire. Nimoy makes a brief digression into other explorers form Europe that made their way to North America. "Did the strange visitors who built Mystery Hill arrive from the East by ship?" You may have noticed there have been a lot of questions in this episode and very little answers!

(stereotypical reference to Columbus)
Charcoal has been discovered at Mystery Hill and Nimoy is quick to let us know that through the process of Radiocarbon dating, the age of this material can be determined.
(creepy image of scientist conducting the Radiocarbon dating)

The results are interesting. They determine that it is at least 3000 years old. That means the fire that produced the charcoal was lit "a thousand years before the birth of Christ". We still don't know who lit the fire though!

Shifting gears to astronomy now! We see some interesting stones that seem to align with the location of the sun durng different seasons. Now we begin to see why the name of Mystery Hill today is "America's Stonehenge". Nimoy mentions the Druids and Stonehenge in England. The similiarities are discussed. In the "darkened recesses of Mystery Hill" a chamber was discovered  known as the Oracle Chamber. Professor Holzer has seen this type of grotto before. Chambers like this were discovered among the ancient ruins of the peoples of the Mediterranean. Nimoy points out Holzer needs more evidence to advance his theory that these cultures were connected.

Now we are introduced to Harvard archaeologist Barry Fell. Mr. Fell claims that Basques, Celts, and Phoenicians all came from Europe to North America. A quick search of Fell's wikipedia page reveals "His writings on epigraphy and archaeology are generally rejected by those mainstream scholars who have considered them."

Niomy then spends some time talking about the Phoenicians and Minoans and showing us some ancient artifacts associated with these people. The theory is that maybe as a result of fishing explorations they stumbled onto North America, and then later developed a culture there. This happened either because they couldn't get back home or some other unknown reason. Fell shows some carvings to try and show how similar they to the carvings at Mystery Hill.

(The "G Stone" inscription is claimed to be similar to carvings found on the island of Crete)
So this is the evidence and Nimoy seems convinced. In his typical dry fashion he tells us, "when one looks around one could imagine they are on the island of Crete if not for the yankee accents and smell of pine needles." Yeah those are the only differences!

In closing, Nimoy compares the supposed journey from Europe to North America by "Bronze Age peoples" to a voyage humans may make one day to the stars. Shout out to his Star Trek fame? You bet! Nimoy reminds us that Mystery Hill may be evidence that Europeans came to North America long before the birth of Christ. "Much of what those strange visitors new may be lost to us forever".

While I have no doubt that advanced civilizations existed in North America, I remain unconvinced it was because of Europeans getting lost fishing and showing up on the shores of New Hampshire! I
m not really sure what this episode tells us other than there are some really old, strange and cool stones in New Hampshire?

I'm still waiting for something a little more intriguing and with a bit more evidence! Bring on Bigfoot!

You can watch this episode "Strange Visitors" below.

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