Ark of the Covenant, Nazca etc: Some questions answered… 27Jan10

Sorry for the delay replying to your questions… but thank you for all those who have been writing. Finally clearing backlog of work and concentrate on the important things… In the future I’ll try to answer within the week and answer after the relevant blog entry… but in the meantime, here are some thoughts… thanks again and hope you enjoy El Dorado… the Lost City of Gold…

Tan: how did I get away with impersonating a priest? Long story. Sorry cant reveal the secrets of my trade except it’s amazing what you can buy online… plus it was during the final days of the JPII, so there were lots of priests around ;-) And I certainly cant tell you about the transvestite experience in Reading or dancing as the Devil! I’ll never work again ;-)

CC Richards: Would you consider investigation into the yet unsolved staggering number of sexual homicides of Ciudad de Juarez? Some of my colleagues at Unreported World I think have been looking into it…

Tessie: I’m sorry that you think I had no respect for the guardian in the Ark film. Sadly not everything makes the edit and we spent a lot longer with him, explaining our situation, listening to his position than ever makes the edit. He was incredibly media savvy and I took my lead from my contact featured in the film, who had spent years living with monks on Tana and knew the Guardian well. He felt he was knew what was going on and was just playing with us regarding the cameras. At no time did I or the others feel we were disrespecting his beliefs and culture. As I hope this is evident with all my work as a journalist and working with indigenous groups (Kombai, Mek and Machigenga), cultural respect is always the backbone of my work, and I apologise that you feel that this was not clearly conveyed.

Evie: Solving history in the UK? I hope so… looks like mid May…

Amanda: I have always loved to travel – it was rooted in me by my folks – my father told me insane stories about his adventures whilst my mother instilled a social context to my work, encouraging me not to wander around the world, but have focus to what I do and ensure I give something back. I don’t think there’s any hard and fast rules for having a career like this one, (I don’t have a degree in journalism – instead Politics and Mandarin), but the most important thing to have is insatiable curiosity and not be afraid to make mistakes!

Chris: Neo-Nazis in Pittsburg? Sorry, cant tell you yet! Tune into Hitler’s Mummies (in a month or so to find out;-))

Reen and Lissa: Many thanks for the invitation in NYC. Sadly, I wasn’t there long enough this time, but hopefully next time! I’ll let you know when I’m next coming through and hope to have time to share a coffee…


Steve: grave-robbers: thank you for your concern about meeting the grave-robbers. Sadly I don’t share you belief that we were facilitators by not reporting them. I feel that if we had bought their skulls etc we would have been party to their crimes and encouraging further grave-robbing. Instead, as journalists and documentary makers, we felt we were recording what they had done, making their crimes better known and hopefully contributing to a wider awareness of what is happening, and we hope subsequently contributing to ending their crimes. It is a difficult subject to know what to do but we feel we are not policemen, rather journalists and think it should be the mandate and responsibility of Peruvian authorities to tackle these crimes, rather than us.

Aliens: well far from me to say that Aliens don’t exist. Steve Hawking and other far more intelligent than me, reckon that by the laws of probability, there is a very high chance that intelligent extra-terrestrial life does exist somewhere in the Universe. However, I do think that aliens had nothing to do with making these lines, mostly because it does assume that prehistoric peoples (in this case the Nazca) were helpless, incompetent and forgetful savages. On the other hand, if the Nazca lines were alien runways as Erich von Daniken and others postulate, then surely the aliens would have been rather baffled by the giant lizards, spiders, monkeys, llamas, dogs, humming birds, criss-crossing lines etc. If aliens had made them, then it seems unusually considerate of them to have drawn out animals etc of relevance to the ancient peoples. And whilst I’m ranting, with so many lines, it would have been quite a busy airport and having made one, myself, it seems a little difficult to believe that they could have landed without disturbing any of the artwork! For me the more interesting question is why do people believe in aliens? Of all the indigenous peoples I have met, not one person has ever spoken and described an alien and their cultures are some of the most important living links to the ancient world – and surely an alien visitation would have been passed down through spoken word through the generations…. It seems that it is a product of our recent, sci-fi times. Personally, I think alien and UFO sightings are the mythology of the Space Age, rather than angels or witches, we now have extra-terresterials as products of our creative imaginations, providing the same poetic and existential function to give us deeper roots and bearing in our universe whilst expressing our hunger for mystery. As Einstein said: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious”. We don’t know the answers to everything, so we should celebrate that ;-) As Lolita and others have said, proofs in the pudding and there’s no concrete pudding yet… I look forward to trying to eat one though ;-) I’m pretty confident we’ll all know about it when we do have meaningful contact with intelligent extra-terrestrial life-forms!

Reena, Kasumi: San Pedro different to the Machigenga drug? It was pretty bitter with the consistency of snot. Not recommended. And a lot weaker that the potent mix I had with the Machigenga shaman – in the Amazon, I think I tripped for 4 days, this was 12hours or so… and fortunately no imaginary cats this time.. but I did end up back in Nazca town in the middle of the night, having a few drinks with a gaudy band of transvestites who turned out to be hairdressers (I was assured the following morning, that was NOT my imagination playing tricks on me, but advised to stay out of the hairdressing salons after that ;-))

Martin: Testicles taste: well not wanting to spoil the fun for you – try them yourself!

Martin: Fear for your life: usually not, and a couple of times in the making of this series – but only for a few passing seconds when the fear gets the better of me.

Martin: back home? The one thing I miss and look forward to the most, is hanging out with friends and family. Too much time on the road makes this tricky.

Martin: Pets: nope. Although I did have a tabby cat called Octopussy as a kid – he was leading the way when I imagined hundreds of domestic cats whilst tripping with a Machigenga shaman last year.

Martin: Keep in touch with Mark? On and off – we’ve been through a lot together and whilst we’re now doing different things, we’ll always be bought together by those incredible shared experiences with the Kombai, Mek and Machigenga.

Glenda: Ceremonies at particular times of the year? Not as far as we know but its difficult to know. If anything I imagine that they would have been more often during the dry seasons when they needed to ask their Gods for rain, although it was dry most of the time in the desert! Camelot? May be next series!

Carmen: flat mountains in Nazca: I think there is a geological answer to that one that I don’t know… although there are flat mountains all around the world… Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa…

Carmen: Impact of San Pedro: the drug would have certainly altered their state… and this is the traditional use of drugs in the ancient world – to aid transformation and access the spirit world. So without being able to prove it, I can postulate that it would have been key to their relationship with the lines, the creation of the lines and their interaction – the ceremonial acts were an expression of their spirituality and perhaps even a way for them to communicate their spiritual thoughts or even engage with their spirit world. But unfortunately, without being able to prove it, we’re getting into the realm of fantasy, projection and imagination… where it is all possible! However, there is some evidence of soot and carbon deposits on the lines that they would have been used during the night, perhaps by torch-light processions and in fact the practice of ceremonial procession both during the day and night is something that was and still is practiced by Andean peoples before and after the Nazca.

Lissa: Do you think the same theory also applies to other geoglyphs in other parts of the world? Not sure – I think we’d need to examine them on a case by case basis. Although I would speculate that there is some similarities in methods of expression, although presumably for different reasons.

Lissa: Nazca Farmers Plant in their farms? To be honest I don’t know! But the original home of the potato is peru, some may be potatos!

Lissa: San Pedro duration: 12 hours!

Lissa: Inca heads? – ‘cone-heads’? Although the practice of binding skulls to elongate their shapes was practices by the Nazca and other neighbouring ancient Andean Peoples. Although I haven’t seen them anywhere else.

11 Responses to “Ark of the Covenant, Nazca etc: Some questions answered…”

  1. Amanda Says:

    Hi olly,
    i just want to say thanks for the response to my soul searchful question. I am so full of curiostiy that i find sometimes that is the problem with me. i cant contain myself, and it makes people feel the need to lock me in a room in order to drain out the noise! Like your parents, my own mom and dad push me towards wanting things that will make my life more worth while. I get my curiosity from my father, he is one of those philosophical Cuban men who stare into space, smoking a cigar, until they finally have the answer to thier problems, and my mother has taught me that humility, although it can be your enemy, it can always be a true friend. I guess i dont have to go to some fancy school and major in journalism in order to accomplish my dream. so thanks again olly, and best wishes to you and your accomplishments!

  2. Glenda Says:

    Hi olly thank you for your response to all the question:) I hope you look in to camlot I think it would be fun to find out about in the second series and I just have to ask I know it’s a long shot in your second season I would like to be a intern on the show I know a little bit about tv production and I know how to carrie bags;) You probably have a lot of people who like to be intern on the show that are more qualifed then me but I know I can do it Even if it’s for just one episode I would learn all I could and appreciate the time I had.

  3. Lissa Says:

    Thanks for your answers, Olly. Looking forward to your next visit to NYC.

  4. Tan Says:

    Hi, Olly
    Thank you for trying to answer my questions, I guess you can keeps your secrets ’cause I stills want you to keep on working, you are the most inspired person. You make me wants to go out and see/travel the world, and not being afraid, even sometimes we do failed or make mistakes. You make it easy to laugh at our misfits and just keep on going. Thank you for showed the ways. Take care and stay safe, Tan.

  5. cheryl stafford Says:

    your show was so worth watching i loved it I’m talking about the ark of the covenant wowed was i thank you so much.

  6. Todd Bergman Says:

    Mr. Steeds, I was extremely interested in your Ark of the Covenant episode. As a United Methodist clergy and as a historian, I was curious to see where your investigations led.

    There is one question that jumped out. When you were describing the physical construction of the ark, you stated (and based your “escape” theory upon the idea) that the ark was able to be disassembled. I am curious what historical record you gained developed this theory from?

    I am not claiming that your theory is faulty. I am curious since my study (from studies of the Old Testament) points to a different style of construction. If I have missed some sources, I would like to add them to my study library.

  7. admin Says:

    Hi Todd – good question -I’ll dig up the source and email it over to you… good pick up! we should have cited the source… such is TV that sometimes we cant cover all the details, complexities and contradictions!

  8. Yosh Says:

    Ollie, you need to go to Japan and investigate the Ark of the Covenant there, which is purported to be buried on the island of Shikoku, one of the main islands in Japan:

  9. KH Says:

    “Everyone” has been looking for the Ark in the wrong place. It is not in Jerusalem, anywhere in Israel, Africa or in Europe. It is located in the ancient Kingdom of Moab, where it can be found today.

  10. pete Says:

    Dear Ollie,

    I have just watched your docu on the Ark of the Covenant and feel very disappointed. I was shocked to hear you even considering ‘barging past people’ to see what you wanted and then astonished to see that you covertly filmed ‘The Guardian’ of the final location where the Ark allegedly is. To behave in such a manner when you have so clearly gained the confidence of certain people by professing to ‘respect their religion’ is appalling. It showed a real immaturity and lack of earthly knowledge about which things are to be truly respected in life. I’m so glad you didn’t get in to the final temple, if the Ark is really there, I don’t think it was ever intended for greedy, egotistical liars to view. I think you should be thoroughly ashamed. Should you ever come to understand the deeper soul within you and find some sort of faith, I trust you will seek forgiveness for this torrid and disrespectful display.

  11. Leong Chew Says:

    Hi Olly,

    Great to visit your website and great thanks to your info.

    Very curious of how Nazca people has extinct. How do they waste the scare resources?

    Lastly, solar storm is emerging. How does this impact on us?

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