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Sunday 18 February 2024

From Atlantis to the Roswell Incident, via Wikipedia


There's a game where players compete to get from one specified Wikipedia article to another in the minimum number of jumps, just by clicking on internal wiki-links within an article. I thought I'd try a fortean variation on this, navigating my way from the Atlantis article to the Roswell Incident. But instead of going for the shortest route, I've tried to make it more interesting by, wherever possible, including items from the tag cloud on the right-hand side of this blog. Here's the route I came up with:

STEP 0: Atlantis. A long-time favourite topic of mine, this scores 12 in my tag cloud (meaning this is its 12th appearance on this blog). My most recent brush with it was a video I made last year based on an old comic story by Steve Ditko. Historically, the oldest surviving references to Atlantis appear in the writings of the Greek philosopher Plato, who consequently is one of the very first wiki-links in Wikipedia's Atlantis article.

STEP 1: Plato. Wikipedia's article on him mentions his prominent appearance in Raphael's painting The School of Athens, with an onward link to its article on that subject.

STEP 2: The School of Athens. This is one of my all-time favourite "fine art" paintings - a fanciful depiction of a host of famous philosophers of various time periods all congregated together in a classical architectural setting. I've seen the original in the Vatican, and written a blog post about the fortean credentials of some of the people featured in it. An interesting bit of trivia mentioned early in the Wikipedia article is that Raphael's depiction of Plato (top left in the montage at the start of this post) is modelled on Leonardo da Vinci - whose article Wikipedia then links to.

STEP 3: Leonardo da Vinci. The second "hit" for my tag cloud, Leonardo scores 8 in it (which is either a measure of his fortean relevance, or my interest in him, or both). I've seen the originals of several of his paintings, including the most famous, the Mona Lisa, and the most interesting, The Last Supper. Both of them are linked from his Wikipedia article,  but there are no prizes for guessing which one we're going to click on.

STEP 4: The Last Supper (Leonardo). This, of course, is prominently featured in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, which scores 11 in my tag cloud. And since Wikipedia's article on The Last Supper links to the one on The Da Vinci Code, that's where we're going next.

STEP 5: The Da Vinci Code. Of the many interesting links in this wiki-article, the one I'm going to pick out is another item from my tag cloud (with a score of 9), the Knights Templar.

STEP 6: Knights Templar. More than anything else, I associate this mediaeval organization with the legend of the Ark of the Covenant, but surprisingly their Wikipedia article doesn't mention it. So we'll have to take a roundabout route via something it does link to, the Temple of Solomon.

STEP 7: Solomon's Temple. OK, now there's a link to the Ark of the Covenant, so without further ado let's click on that.

STEP 8: Ark of the Covenant. This is another favourite fortean topic of mine, with 5 hits in my tag cloud. To most people, however, it just means one thing - Steven Spielberg's 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark - which Wikipedia conveniently links to.

STEP 9: Raiders of the Lost Ark. Astute readers will probably see where we're going now (if they haven't worked it out already)! This, of course, was the film that introduced everyone's favourite archaeologist, Indiana Jones - and the Wikipedia article helpfully links to all his subsequent appearances, including Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).

STEP 10: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. By far the most fortean instalment in the series, I love this film - and it neatly provides the last (wiki-) link in the chain, straight to our target destination: the Roswell Incident.

STEP 11: Roswell Incident. With a count of 5 in my tag cloud, this is the ultimate "modern myth", which I thought was a fitting final destination after starting out from the "ancient myth" of Atlantis. Hope you enjoyed the tour!


Colin Jones said...

When 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' was released I thought it was referring to Noah's Ark as I hadn't heard of the Ark of the Covenant at that point.

The Roswell incident may be the ultimate modern myth, Andrew, but when did that myth become widely known? For Christmas 1978 I received a book called 'Mysteries Of The Unknown' which was divided into three sections on monsters, ghosts and UFOs but the UFO section didn't mention Roswell at all. I think I first heard of Roswell sometime in the 1980s.

Kid said...

Speaking of Indiana Jones, I saw Crystal Skull in the cinema when it first came out, but was a little underwhelmed by it. However, it was on TV a couple or so weeks ago and I really enjoyed it. 'Twas good to see Karen Allen again, back where she belonged. I also bought the DVD of Dial Of Destiny recently and thoroughly enjoyed that as well. Can't quite understand why it seemingly got such a lukewarm reception from moviegoers.

Andrew May said...

Thanks Kid - I'd actually avoided watching Dial of Destiny because of the poor reviews it got, but if you liked it then maybe I will too. I'll check it out, anyway!

Yes, Colin, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is a confusing title when you first encounter it. Like you, when I first came across it back in the 1980s, I assumed it meant Noah's Ark, which was also something that fringe archaeologists spent a lot of time searching for.

And I agree that the one of the strangest things about the Roswell Incident of 1947 is that it didn't become well known, even among ufologists, until the 1980s (I think it was the early 90s before I heard of it myself). I was intending to mention it in this post, together with a link to a long article I wrote about it on the Mysterious Universe site, but when I came to look it up I discovered that it's now behind a paywall. But there's a post on my own blog that mentions (among many other things) someone else's theory as to why Roswell dropped off the radar for so long: Fifty Years of British UFO Research (scroll down to the para starting "John’s take on the Roswell incident..."

Colin Jones said...

An interesting theory, Andrew, and I suppose it must be correct as there's no other reasonable explanation for why Roswell was ignored for so long.

Andrew May said...

I think there must be a grain of truth in it too, Colin. Bear in mind that I was reporting something that I'd heard said in a public lecture, so my account of it may not do it proper justice. But as a general rule I think it's true that in the immediate post-war years the public was inclined to believe everything the government said, and it was only after the Watergate scandal that modern-day cynicism set in. And the big thing about Roswell is that it only makes sense if you assume the authorities have been consistently lying about it for the last 77 years.