I have led several different teams to Peru in order to validate one way or the other whether or not the Paracas Elongated Skulls (see picture to the left) are genetic, or the results of cradle boarding. We are still in the process of trying to get genetic material out of Peru, to do further testing.
The process is arduous to say the least. The team has had different archaeologist starting in 2013, which was our first trip but our lead archaeologist is Mondo Gonzales.
In Watchers Ultimate Collection, the cover of the DVD shows a very elongated skull. This artifact had been in a private collection for decades. Richard Shaw, the co-producer and director of our series, Mondo Gonzales and yours truly, went to the location in the United States and extracted fresh DNA powder. We did this under the supervision of the Paleo DNA lab in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. The suits we wore were provided by them, along with precise instructions on how to collect the samples.
Mondo returned later and was able to extract even more material. Both times we were dressed in full lab-suits, from head-to-toe. The results, while preliminary, show a Haplo-group from Turkey and Syria. If this data holds it does point to the validity of my hypothesis that people travelled to Peru well in advance of 1492. The other samples resulted in a European Haplo-group.
All of the results of our preliminary testing is shown in Watchers 10 and my book, Nephilim Hybrids. We were transparent with what we found.
It has come to my attention that Mike Heiser has written what can only be called a disparaging post which impugns the integrity of our research and our team. Heiser has done this before and I’m reluctant to engage him because it’s exactly what he wants.
I wonder why he has to go to an atheist to find someone who will support his views. It would appear he has an ax to grind. Too bad, I have nothing against Mike and think he raises some good points in his books. However, enough is enough. Here’s Mondo’s rebuttal. You be the judge. L. A. Marzulli
The Pretentious Path of Being an Armchair Critic
This article is a response to a short blog post by Dr. Michael Heiser on his website. Before addressing this article, I want to say upfront that I appreciate Mike Heiser’s scholarship in Old Testament studies and languages. I received my master’s degree in these disciplines as well as archaeology, so I feel a camaraderie with his work. Yet, I feel much of his comments and criticisms of the research being done seeking to understand possible connections between ancient trans-Atlantic migration theories and the Bible are unfair and uncharitable. It’s wise to be a critical thinker, but as far as I know he hasn’t sought to understand fully the intentions and hypothesis of our team. As he should know, the scientific pursuit of testing theories and hypotheses is never a smooth road. It involves interacting with methodological challenges, politics (in our case, the nature of Peruvian laxness within the governmental Ministry of Culture), funding, research team dynamics, biased (or ignorant) media focus, scientific technological accessibility, etc.
He didn’t write much in this particular post, but ironically, he did take the time to recommend another blog post by genetics professor, Dr. Jennifer Raff, who strongly criticized our efforts at ascertaining the genetic history of the Paracas skulls. I say this because Heiser is a vocal proponent of the Biblical truths of fallen angels taking human women as wives and producing hybrid Nephilim. If he respects Dr. Raff’s ability, as an anthropologist and geneticist, to look beyond her evolutionary and secular training to make comments on the research being done by L.A. Marzulli and his team, he should also ask her to comment on his own writings and books concerning his belief of human/angelic hybrids. I imagine someone might say that Mike Heiser is simply bringing to the forefront a criticism he found of some of the genetic research being done by the several teams that have gone to Peru. This is understandable, but we need to be honest. Not a single secular geneticist would ever even consider the possibility of angelic/human hybrids as taught in Genesis 6 being even remotely accurate. Hopefully, Heiser would conclude (based on his published works) and admit that the Nephilim that existed in the past certainly did have a real physical genetic code. I admire him as an Old Testament scholar, but he is clearly being selective and hypocritical in endorsing a secular professor’s criticism, which if inquired, would certainly include him in her category of “pseudoscience” or “mythology” due to his views on Genesis 6. Before he throws stones too far in promoting her criticism of our work, he should be careful that those same stones aren’t finding their way back to mock his own viewpoints.
I am writing this response because three years ago, I became part of the team which has participated in the pursuit to establish a more definitive history of the Paracas people of Peru. I cannot vouch for the protocols of the team before I became a participant because I wasn’t there. However, I know that from the beginning of my interactions with L.A. Marzulli, he has sought to move beyond any past deficiencies that he became aware of and to always pursue the strictest level of scientific practice. We have consulted a variety of secular PhD scientists and archaeologists in order to integrate their guidance and instruction for the purpose of having an above the board research methodology. Every scientific endeavor has one, if not several, hypotheses. In addition, every scientific researcher has presuppositions and a basic worldview from which they seek to implement empirical research. Our team is not different. We are researching and it is our desire to wade our way through the various data that we are receiving. This takes time and no end all conclusion has been made. It is common in our discussions to hear the phrase, “more research needs to be done”.
Unfortunately, Dr. Jennifer Raff did not reach out to any of us on our team before haughtily criticizing our work. Instead, she uses condescending labels such as mythology, pseudoscientific, and fantasy. I have spent much of my life in academia and I have much respect for those who are experts in their field. Nevertheless, it doesn’t presuppose that they are correct in all their criticisms, nor is it right for them to avoid the basic etiquette of getting the facts before disparaging another’s work. All that being said, there were several criticisms she made which were accurate, but unfortunately selective on her part. Many of those criticisms she has made have since been corrected and according to her own comments in her blog post, she was quite aware that these were corrected. Yet, she failed to be transparent and mention that improvements in the methodology had been implemented.
She begins her criticism by highlighting that ancient cultures practiced cranial deformation and proceeds to give quotations from experts in this field of study. The reader is left to conclude that this evidence of cranial head boarding is clearly the only explanation for all elongated skulls studied by the experts. We are well aware of the literature concerning this form of cultural modification. We have visited the national museums highlighting Julio Tello’s archaeological research and also the actual sites where these specimens were found. There is no doubt that cranial deformation existed in various forms, but even Peruvian scholars acknowledge that their understanding of the material culture is not fully explained by simple cranial deformation only. There are anomalies in many of the skulls that we have analyzed that cannot be attributed to cranial deformation, but instead strongly suggest genetic differences. Additionally, there are data that show the skulls of fetuses in utero showing signs of elongation which obviously could not have been modified culturally. These are just two examples of the research that we are doing which is not based on “alien mythology” or other “nonsense” as Dr. Raff says. We have made no final conclusions, but instead are keeping an open mind and pursuing the evidence. There are academic papers in the works on these exact subjects, but we are doing our due diligence before they are released.
Dr. Raff continues her critique by bringing up Brian Forester’s publicizing his efforts of seeking to get DNA analyzed and interpreted. She calls this “science by press release”. She makes a valid point here and this is the exact thing our team has been seeking to avoid. We have been very intentional about going through all the appropriate legal and scientific channels so that when a conclusion is finally reached, we can avoid this sort of dismissive response. She commits the fallacy of guilt by association in condemning our team simply because we are researching a similar project. Our protocols and methodologies are our own and we should be assessed on our own merits.
She continues her reproach by bringing up the extractions that took place concerning the privately held skull in Oregon. I was part of this expedition and personally did the extractions. I was there and I am fully aware of the procedures we used to make sure that none or minimal contamination could occur. It is virtually impossible for anyone to guarantee that absolutely no contamination could exist in doing an extraction of DNA from an ancient skull. She makes the claim that “Based on their [“the legitimate lab” in her words] reports to him, they cautioned him [L.A. Marzulli] extensively about their concerns regarding contamination of the sample, and he ignored those cautions to promote his own ideas.” This is absolutely untrue and there is no way she can be confident that this is the case because she has not spoken with any of the 4 people that were there when we took the extraction. In fact, we asked the lab for their instructions and they sent us much of the equipment that we needed to conduct as best as possible a contamination-free extraction. This included full body suits covering every area of exposed skins as well as goggles, etc. She is just plain wrong in her dismissive accusations here.
After briefly discussing the Oregon skull she presents a video of the extraction of the baby skull and shows a picture with arrows on it demonstrating the way in which contamination “most likely” occurred. She makes several valid criticisms here and that is where opportunities to correct past mistakes exist.
Incidentally, after this baby extraction and BEFORE the Oregon skull extraction, L.A. and myself had already put into practice the correction of these errors and instituted the proper techniques to minimize contamination. Dr. Raff posts a picture of her in proper attire to perform an extraction and this is precisely the method we used in the Oregon skull extraction. We also immediately put our specimens in sealed, sterile bags which were only opened later by the laboratory which she called legitimate. We were told that, in agreement with what Dr. Raff claims is proper procedure, they were bleached and irradiated to remove any contamination. We followed the procedures as she outlined them. If she would have contacted us, we could have communicated to her what we did and didn’t do. Instead, she used older material to unfairly make her criticisms which we subsequently had already corrected!
Further, when we did further extractions under the auspices and permission of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture at one of their regional museums in Peru, we maintained these protocols throughout ALL our procedures. Interestingly, she failed to mention that these changes indeed had taken place.
Returning to her condemning remarks concerning the extraction of the Oregon Skull she notes that the skull was most likely handled by many people over the years and contained a varnish. It certainly did! This is not something that we have ever hid nor denied. This is exactly why we felt the need to take samples from deep into the bone in order to minimize the possibility of contamination or surface DNA leeching into the bone from the surface. Dr. Raff makes the statement that “No bleach or UV were used to decontaminate either the tools used to collect the bone sample, nor the sample itself.” This is where she deserves to lose credibility. How can she make this claim? Was she there? I personally purchased the bleach that we used not only to decontaminate the tools, but also the sample itself! By stating these ignorant criticisms, she is ironically proving that we were following good DNA extraction techniques. We did the exact things she said we didn’t do. Further, we were instructed by geneticists that gas dusters would not contaminate our process. If this is not the case and there is evidence to show this, we will immediate implement different procedures.
Dr. Raff begins to conclude her diatribe by stating, “As a reviewer I wouldn’t accept either result as endogenous DNA: it would need to be redone under proper conditions, verified by at least two independent extractions, and include comparative sequences from the individuals sampling the DNA to ensure that the sequences recovered weren’t from them.” I find it fascinating that she lists out what she would “need” in order to accept the results. It is again ironic, because in fact, we have provided our personal DNA to the lab in order to make sure any samples being sequenced will clearly have all facts needed. Everything she listed as being acceptable above is the exact protocols that we have taken. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that she would receive the evidence no matter what “acceptable” procedures we followed. It is too easy for an armchair critic to simply say “I can’t accept the conclusion. The DNA has been contaminated”. It reminds me of the high-profile research done by Mary Schweitzer of North Carolina State University. As far back as 1997, she discovered flexible blood vessels inside the fossilized thigh bone of a supposed 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex. The concept of soft tissue surviving for this length of time did not fit within conventional thinking and so instead of encouraging her research to ascertain the physiological mechanism needed to preserve such tissue, they instead berated her experiments as being “contaminated”. She adamantly refused these accusations of contamination and it took 10 years of repeated experiments with the same results before her stubborn (and arrogant?) peer scientists accepted her findings!
I will be fair in saying that Dr. Raff is a very intelligent and knowledgeable scholar. Many of her criticisms are justified and many of them are not. She continues in her blog post to poke fun at some of the writings of L.A. Marzulli in his book on Nephilim hybrids and the various haplo groups. It is true that L.A. has a hypothesis that he believes. That is the first step of any scientific endeavor, having a hypothesis. In my personal conversations with him, he has told me that he will submit to wherever the evidence leads. We have over a dozen more samples from various locations awaiting analysis that were procured with the exact methods Dr. Raff describes in her blog post. We have no final conclusion as yet, but when we get to that point, we will publish an article highlighting all our research and methods.
Dr. Raff concludes, “I hope that interested readers will be better equipped to think critically about ancient DNA claims in the future. Ancient DNA is a useful tool, but only when it’s employed under the most stringent conditions. You simply can’t be sloppy with these methods, or you’ll end up with meaningless results.” I agree with her whole heartedly and these stringent conditions are exactly what we are employing in our research.
Even though we are currently researching the specific genetic history of the Paracas peoples, our overall research is related to trans-Atlantic migration theory as well as assessing how this interacts with the Beringian theory of native American populations.
Interestingly, in a separate blog post about this topic, Dr. Raff writes in response to a question as to whether they are claiming that the Beringian theory is an undisputed fact,
“It is of course possible that genetic evidence of an ancient trans-Atlantic migration event simply has not been found yet. Should credible evidence of direct gene flow from an ancient Solutrean (or Middle Eastern) population be found within ancient Native American genomes, it would require the field to reassess the “Beringian only” model of prehistoric Native American migration. However, no such evidence has been found, and the Beringian migration model remains the best interpretation of the genetic, archaeological, and paleoclimate data to date.
We don’t think it’s likely that new evidence will suddenly crop up showing another source of ancestry for Native Americans, but it remains a formal, albeit remote, possibility. Should such evidence be found, it will require us to reexamine our models. But we can’t incorporate hypothetical results into our interpretations. That would be unscientific.”
What Dr. Raff fails to mention is how much (or little) active genetic research on ancient native American peoples is taking place. This is the exact thing we are doing and it seems that her commitment to the Beringian theory is potentially blinding her to any research that might contradict this viewpoint. Instead of engaging the data or asking us for more information, she attacks our research in a condescending way without getting all the pertinent facts. What she reluctantly admits as an “albeit remote, possibility” has become the hypothesis we are exploring. She should be cheering us on or even offering to join us (even if her tone is to make sure we do it right).
We are patiently waiting for much more data to be processed, analyzed, and interpreted, but we are persevering.
As we are fond of saying, “We are on the trail”. There is more to come!
~Mondo Gonzales, MA
Paracas DNA Team
From the Folks
Just read through the rebuttal.
A sad necessity these days.
Academic hubris and arogance never cease to amaze and irritate me.
Its amazing (well not really) that lack of insight or awareness “scientists” show into the impact of their own biases yet regularly acuse others of the same thing.
Keep up the good work and stay on the trail.
You are in the arena and the critics are in the stands doing nothing.