Events famously recorded in history books are are not always what they seem…
In fact, some ‘history' is way off the mark. Personal bias and propaganda can influence which events are recorded and how the details are set down. Even when records are set down with every intention of being objective, errors may creep in, such as when the version that makes it onto the recorded page is assembled from reports.
Some common ‘facts' you think you know are just a historian's best guess based on third-hand reports about events that may have happened miles away and years in the past.
See how many of these debunked, yet still famous events you knew about. Then take note of the ones that may stump your friends.
For example, we all know the ancient Clovis people were wiped out by an asteroid, right? Oops…Not so fast. That's the first debunked ‘fact' on our list:
The Clovis People Weren't Wiped Out By An Asteroid, After All
It sounds like an exciting theory and maybe the basis for the plot of a Hollywood movie: The American continent was originally settled 13,000 years ago by the so-called Clovis people migrating from Asia, but their civilization disappeared in a sudden catastrophic event.
After venturing to the unexplored American continent via the Bering land bridge, a large number of these people migrated south through North America and parts of Central America, probably hunting mammoths. Archaeologists have identified fossil remains to support this part of the theory. Various sites show these people used a distinctive shape of stone spearhead. But sites with the Clovis-style spearhead abruptly stop appearing after a certain point in pre-history.
The prevailing wisdom since 2006 was that a huge asteroid or comet struck the Earth, triggering widespread fires and other devastation that either killed the Clovis people outright or led to conditions too harsh for them to survive. Thus, this single cataclysm theoretically explains why the distinctive spearheads the Clovis people used suddenly disappeared from the fossil record.
But in 2011, archaeologists Vance Holliday and David Meltzer refuted this theory. One strong argument they presented was that there is no evidence of extraterrestrial particles at the many Clovis excavation sites. Also, they demonstrated that other data show the population in North America did not actually drop after the time the theoretical comet would have struck. So why do archaeologists find Clovis spearheads that were made about 12,900 years ago, but none from more recent excavations?
Holliday and Meltzer offered a different interpretation: the Clovis people were not wiped out. They didn't disappear at all, they just started using a different spearhead design and stopped using the old style, just like when a new model of cell phone is released!
Let's zoom ahead in time several thousand years and see what might be fishy about the origin of a ground-breaking technology.
Next up: Lightbulbs!