This past weekend caught a repeat showing of what was sold as a sensational take on the Mayan Long-Count calendar by visiting a mysterious island. I should have known better as it was short on real information and long on faux-drama. This two hour show is called Apocalypse Island and is supposed to recount the quest of a chap named James Turner.
It seems back in 1996, after coming off two years at the Palenque Mayan site in the Yucatan peninsula, Turner took a break to visit Juan Fernandez Island. After a bruising tumble and a night asleep he wakes to behold what he takes to be a monument to the Mayan sun god with a crouching jaguar behind it. So he spends the next decade plus doing research. So History Channel decides to broadcast his quest. Including way too many minutes getting from Valparaiso, Chile to the island on a small fishing boat. Along the way, they interview such heavyweights in Mayan lore as Whitley Streiber. Turner opines that a Mayan king from Palenque built the monument and his tomb, which has never been found, might be on the island. And then when they reach this monument, they clamber atop it. And thus ends two hours of your life.
Now there are lots of issues with this whole theory that I have not found addressed in Turner's web-site yet. And it seems others also have issues as this History Channel forum bears out. I will give Turner some kudos for logging in there to defend himself.
My largest issue I have with this show is, they never show how the Mayans got from Yucatan, across the Equator, and south to flyspeck islands off Chile that a guy named Selkirk got abandoned on for four years. Which explains why one island is called Alexander Selkirk Island and another is Robinson Crusoe Island. There is evidence or suggestions the Mayans made it to Florida, but no evidence is offered in the show on how the Mayans got to these islands. Unless they hopped a ride on Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki, except Thor left from Peru on the Humbolt current.
The show also pitches this hazardous trip by boat is the first time Turner has returned to these islands since 1996. As Turner's own postings in the History Channel forum shows, he has used the airstrip many times to get back to the islands and his monument. Which shows how deceitful this show is. Again it purports this is Turner's first return visit. And it endangers Turner's basic premise, this is Mayan built for the solar and Venus transits in 2012. If Turner has visited here many times, then why hasn't he taken some random debris samples from the base of his sun-god/crouching jaguar to see if there are signs of humans working the rock. Oh wait, its a UNESCO site these islands. But would it be truly hard to get permission to take a few rocks for study? Its the hummingbird that is endangered. And it seems an American millionaire, Bernard Keiser, easily got permission to search the island for lost pirate gold.
Before I forget, the whole story angle of the island being the burial place of a lost Mayan king from Palenque. How can anyone categorically state that everywhere in Palenque has been explored and no tomb has been found hence this king must be buried elsewhere? It is very strange considering only recently the Valley of the Kings in Egypt surrendered another tomb, KV-63, for study. And before Howard Carter found KV-62, King Tutankhamun, everyone in 1921 thought the valley was fully explored. I have to place this as another example of shoddy reasoning for simple sensationalism.
And again I return to the History Channel forums and Turner's own web-site where he says that what ended up on the screen was not what he wanted. That they dictated what would be shown because they did not want it to be boring. I have to wonder what kind of contract Turner signed that would prevent him from yanking his name from this show if he thought this show was truly bad since what is in the show reflects upon his professional reputation.
So overall, everyone involved in the making of this show come off as shabby and unprofessional. I have to wonder if this is the same crew that gave us Simcha and his Lost Tomb special on the James ossuary. Seems that way.