GIANTS! The Tall Tales of Archaeological Hoaxes

Giants have long fascinated us humans and seem to be a never-ending resource for archaeological hoaxes. Towards the end of the 19th century, there almost became a trend to create giant hoaxes. In some cases, this was just to amuse; in others, it was to prove the Bible right.

In this episode, we will look at three cases. The Lovelock giant. The San Diego giant. And, of course, the most famous of them all, the Cardiff giant. Let's investigate the origins of these giants and see what archaeology has to say about these cases. What are the sources telling us, and what have other people invented afterward?

In Digging up Ancient Aliens, our host Fredrik uses his background in archaeology to discover what is genuine, fake, and somewhere in between in popular media, such as Ancient Aliens, Ancient Apocalypse, and many other places.

In this episode:

The Lovelock Giant

San Diego Giant

Cardiff Giant

Sources, resources and further reading suggestions

Sources, resources, and further reading suggestions

Colavito, J. (2013). How David Childress Created the Myth of a Smithsonian Archaeological Conspiracy. [online] Jason Colavito. Available here

Dunning, B. (2013). The Red Haired Giants of Lovelock Cave. [online] Skeptoid. Available here

Feder, K.L. (2020). Frauds, myths, and mysteries : science and pseudoscience in archaeology. 10th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lepper, B. (2020). Archaeology: Newspapers have been debunking giant hoaxes for a long time. [online] The Columbus Dispatch. Available here

Loud, L.L. and Harrington, M.R. (1929). Lovelock Cave. [online] Barkley: University of California Press. Available here

Owen, J. (2007). Find Out How the Giant Skeleton Hoax Started. [online] National Geographic. Available here

Pettit, M. (2006). ‘The Joy in Believing’. Isis, 97(4), pp.659–677. doi:

The Onondaga Giant. (1869). The Fort Wayne Gazette. 27 Oct.

Tribble, S. (2008). A Colossal Hoax. Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Watkins, J.E. (1908). Cheat and Hoaxes Recalled by National Gallery Forgeries. Salt Lake Tribune, [online] 7 Jun., p.17. Available here

Watts, E. (2020). Colonizing the past. University of Virginia Press.

White, A. (2016). The " Giants" Section in Forbidden Archaeology. [online] Andy White Anthropology. Available here

Winnemucca Hopkins, S. (1882). Life among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims. [online] Boston, New York: CUPPLES, UPHAM & CO / G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS. Available here


“Folie hatt” by Trallskruv

Lily of the woods by Sandra Marteleur