Earlier today, archaeologist David S. Anderson of Roanoke College hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread on Reddit, in which he teed off on "pseudoarchaeological" theories about ancient aliens, Atlantis and other related topics that have flourished in popularity in recent years.
Anderson begins, "Hi r/AskHistorians, my name is David S. Anderson. I am an archaeologist who has a traditional career focused on studying the origins and development of early Maya culture in Central America, and a somewhat less traditional career dedicated to understanding pseudoarchaeological claims. Due to popular television shows, books, and more then a few stray websites out there, when someone learns that I am an archaeologist, they are far more likely to ask me about Ancient Aliens or Lost Cities then the Ancient Maya. Over the past several years I have focused my research on trying understanding why claims that are often easily debunked are nonethless so popular in the public imagination of the past."
Here's what he had to say about some of the hottest topics in "pseudoarchaeology."
"The site of Göbekli Tepe has indeed become extremely popular among pseudo authors, and in the paranormal and spiritualists circles writ large. While the archaeological site is extremely interesting and worthy of serious discussion, I think that most of the public (and then pseudo) fascination with this site came with some early popular articles about the site that exagerated its basic nature."
"...Raising and moving stone pillars is just not that hard. We have plenty of evidence from other sites around the world, and experimental archaeology, that demonstrate that people with relatively basic tools at their disposal could carve and raise stone blocks. We also have come to learn that Hunter Gatherer groups in productive environments often had plenty of free time on their hand to carry out construction like this."
"What is often over looked in this discussion is that we have archaeological evidence of people living in Egypt 10,000 years ago. They were hunter-gatherers living along the Nile, in the Delta, and the in the Oaises. If a lost super civilization carved the Sphinx, they didn't leave any other evidence, but they're Hunter-Gatherer neighbors sure did. There is a significant problem if mobile hunter gatherers are leaving more stuff behind then a super civilization."
"Hancock, as well as many other authors, have a tendency to look at ancient monuments and presume that every symbol, every line, every dot, must carry tremendous meaning, and in particular that they must relate to something from the objective world around us. To me, that is over interpretation. It is insisting that the images found on the Göbekli Tepe uprights must be profoundly important rather then perhaps just decoration of a sacred space."
Reddit - r/IAmA
You can read the full AMA here.