Pseudoarchaeology is a very attractive topic for the public. Even though this topic exposes the uneducated person into the world of archaeology, it does not do so correctly. These “fun” and “glamorous” topics are harmful to the preservation of our history and can be harmful to the public (especially if those employing the archaeological fallacies using public interest to make a profit or gain power.) Although pseudoarchaeology is ubiquitous today, it has also played a drastic role in history. The particular extension of pseudoarchaeology I will explore is Nazi archaeology.
During Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler was on the quest for tangible proof that Germanic people were the descendants of the Aryan race using archaeology. He also aimed to use this research as an explanation for why it was okay for the Germans to invade other countries. Himmeler, who was under Hitler’s command, was responsible for founding a research institute called the Ahnenerbe. The institute’s goal was to discover German ancestry “using exact scientific methods.” Those who were a part of the institute were sent to places like Bulgaria, Greece, Russia, Iceland and North Africa to excavate. They took a special interest in Iceland because it was there that was believed to be where the origin of the Aryan race began. They had found a cave believed to have been a place of worship for ancient Aryans. However, the cave later was proved to not have been inhabited until the 18th century, debunking any proof of the area being used by the ancient civilization. According to “How Stuff Works,” there was little or no evidence that Germanic people were linked to ruling in prehistoric times and out of 18 funded excavations, none of them provided evidence that Hitler and Himmeler were searching for.
The Nazi Party’s quest for archaeological “breakthroughs” is an excellent example of promoting pseudoarchaeology for power and ethnocentric reasons. They used their findings as propaganda to gain followers and excuse their actions. The sources that I have used state that motivations to pursue archaeology had little to do with scientific curiosity and more to do with political motives. For instance, the Nazi party tried to use archaeological finds to excuse their invasion of Poland in 1940 because they had “legitimate claims” to the land. Also, the fact that there was virtually no evidence to any of the claims made by the archaeologists is another reason why Nazi Archaeology falls short. There is no science to back up any of the “evidence” they did find (including the cave found in Iceland.) And as discussed in class today, the belief of the Aryan race stems from a fictional continent conceived in the mind of the philosopher Plato. Nazi archaeology has no scientific foundation in which to be structured upon. Thus it falls flat.