Hey, and welcome to the short stuff, I'm Josh, there's Chuck. Producer Dave is out there somewhere in spirit, which means it's short stuff.
Homina homina - plus tax. Plus what? My friend Meredith used to say, homina homina, plus tax, is that not a thing? What does homina homina mean?
And I mean, how many how many is this kind of like an old vaudevillian thing? I'm not exactly sure what it means or where it came from, but I always associate it with, like, old timey vaudeville stuff.
Please don't let it be racist. Oh, as I was saying vaudeville. I was like, oh, God.
I feel like maybe like uh, Jackie Gleason or Laurel and Hardy, not Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, maybe, yeah, as long as its not from a minstrel show.
Right. Yeah, but yeah, I think it's like a exclamation of excitement or I'm looking forward to something. All right. Well, I see Jackie Gleason on the Internet, so hopefully we're covered.
You see Jackie Gleason on the Internet saying homina homina, OK, good good, let's just get going.
So, yeah, this is a short stuff, Chuck, and we're never going to be able to end this. Now, we're talking today about Brazil, the country that was first landed as far as Europeans go by a guy from Portugal named Pedro Alvarez Cabral. Right. And he landed there in fifteen hundred. And things went pretty poorly for the local populations as a result.
Yeah. And I think Cabral was one of those people that Brazil had always celebrated as the first European to show up there. Yeah. And like, you know, this is our person and let's celebrate this person. And then in the 70s, something happened. I don't know where he found this is very interesting, but something happened to kind of put that all in doubt.
I found a contemporary New York Times article about it. I don't remember how, but I did. And I said, by God, this is a gift from Zeus himself.
So here's what was happening for a while. There were fishermen off of Guanabara Bay near Rio, who for years had been fishing and saying, hey, we pull up our fishing nets a lot of times and we'll get these jars in our nets. And we think this might just be like the local native tribes used to offer these up, you know, before Cabral actually landed on the scene. And maybe these are ancient who-knows. And then in 76, a man named Jose Tachira was diving there, brought two of them to the surface and said, I think these are really, really, really old.
Yeah. And not just really old, too, because they could have been accounted for by the native tribes, but they were in a shape that people hadn't seen before. And Tachira brought them ashore and I guess handed them over to the Navy, I think, who kept them in a tank of seawater for a very long time until they were they were they caught the attention of a guy named Robert Marks who went on to become I don't know if he was or not by this time.
I think he was fairly famous, but he wanted to become a world famous, deeply renowned underwater archaeologist. In fact, he's known as the father of underwater archaeology, but he caught wind of these jars being found and had a look at them or got his hands on some pictures of him and said, these are not supposed to be here. These are not some local Brazilian jar. These look a lot like Roman amphora and Roman amphora were jars that were used very famous, like vase jars with the double handles at the top.
They were used by Romans, Phoenicians and Greeks back around the turn of the last millennia. And there's no good reason that these should be here in this bay in Brazil.
Yes. So after first thinking it might be a hoax, he did say he thinks they're real. And let me get some other divers and go down there and check out and see what's going on. And about 90 feet down, sure enough, they found about 200 intact and broken amphora. And they were he said they were kind of concentrated in an area about the size of three tennis courts. And he was like, sure. And he said there's no there's no way that these were planted here.
He said, you know, these things. Some of these were like five feet under the mud. We had to dig them out with our hands out of the mud. And there's just there barnacle encrusted. Some of them have coral in this coral was killed off like thirty or forty years earlier. So there's no way these were planted down there any time recently.
Yeah, he became pretty convinced that it wasn't a hoax. And his suspicions were backed up by an expert that he enlisted from UMass named Elizabeth Will, who was an expert in ancient Roman amphorae, which is like that is a that is a very. Specific. Focus of study, but she basically she looked at the type of them, looked at their manufacture like the what they she got her hands on some of the samples that to share had brought up, I think.
And she said not only are these Roman amphorae, I can tell you exactly where they were made and roughly when. And she traced the design of these particular M for you to a place called Kouass, in what is now present day Morocco and the coast. Amphorae of this design were being made around the third century S.E So about twelve hundred thirteen hundred years before Pedro Alvarez Cabral showed up in Brazil in 1900.
Yeah. So Marx puts that together and says, all right, I have a theory. He said they used to have boats back then and ships that could make, you know, that certainly could have traveled over here from the Mediterranean. And I think of what might have happened is they were blown off course maybe, and they ended up kind of ship wrecking after they anchored off Rio. Maybe there was a big storm or something that drove this ship onto a reef.
And these jars just kind of ended up here. And and no one knew that they were here until these fishermen started pulling them up.
Yeah. So, I mean, that's a pretty good assumption, especially considering that these jars are spread out over about a three tennis court size area that's maybe the size of a Roman ship's hold.
And it's possible since they had seaworthy ships. But the thing is, as if that were true, that would totally rewrite history like it was how there used to be vague legends about how Vikings made it to North America. And we suddenly found that settlement.
I can't remember the name of it that that was a Viking settlement in North America that said unequivocally they had been here before. This would basically be like that. But there had been no legend before it. No one had any idea that the Romans had made it to Brazil in the third century.
So this was a complete it required a complete revision of history, even if it was just this tangential, fleeting contact between one small group of Roman sailors and prehistoric Brazilian tribes. It still was a big deal to to find these things there. All right.
Maybe we should take our break and come back and talk about the response of Brazil right after this.
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All right, so Markes has this theory, he's got these jars, the Brazilian government steps in and they don't say, this is amazing, thank you. I don't we're going to have a press conference and here's a podium and we want to hear all about it. They said, you know what? You're shut down. We're shutting down your operation. We don't like the looks of this. He started excavate excavating again, I think, in eighty three.
Or was that the first one?
No, that was the second time. The first time was when he found them and said he found like a couple hundred of them and that they were spread out over a tennis court. This is when he returned the next year to really excavate the site in earnest.
And he also found out the Navy, the Brazilian navy, like, literally covered this stuff up. It dumped a bunch of dirt over the site and said, you know what? We we think you're a plunderer. We want to keep it from being plundered. And we covered it up and you're banned. You can't even come into our country anymore.
Yes. He was accused of having stolen artifacts from other sites in Brazil and selling them on European auction houses, essentially on the black market. But out in the open, they had just been basically stolen from Brazil. That's a huge accusation to leveled against somebody. But apparently the Brazilian authorities were convinced enough by it that they actually banned him from Brazil and shut down all marine archaeological excavations in the country. There is just all like a blanket ban on them because they they had just been so, I guess, rattled by the the perceived theft of of relics.
The thing is, is, you know, if if Robert Marx had been anybody else, just some dude, it would have you know, you would have been easy to buy that that had happened. But he really had a good reputation, especially by the end of his life in twenty nineteen. Right?
Yeah. He was knighted in three countries. He he wrote the UNESCO laws about underwater archaeological digs and he was a book writer. I think he's kind of the the granddaddy of underwater archaeology. He's very much not a plunderer of things. So it seemed like Brazil was being a jerk. It does.
So that seems like a bit of a twist that they would literally cover up this history rewriting site. And at the time, in that New York Times article, I think Robert Marks suspected that it was because they were so venerating of Cabral that they couldn't stand the idea of somebody, some other Europeans having beaten them there by hundreds of years. The thing is, it's entirely possible that the the Brazilians didn't cover up that site and that there wasn't 200 of those amphorae and that there was no Roman Gallie that sunk in Brazil.
There's a it's possible none of this happened at all. Yeah, I mean, this is the real cool twist here is in 1983, there was a diver, a free diver name a medical santorelli, and America said, hey, you know, all this hullabaloo about these amphora, these are mine, these are replicas.
And I buried these out there to try and age them adrup 16 of these things out there to age them. And that's what they are. Yeah.
He'd spent some time in Rome and had kind of fallen for amphorae. They were his thing. Kind of like how some people collect different outfits to put on their concrete geese that they keep out in the front yard. This guy was in the amphorae like that. Sure. The thing is, is, OK, so Americo Santarelli claimed that those were his amphorae after this world famous underwater archaeologist had declared there were 200 of them buried five feet beneath the muck.
That UMass expert had declared that they were made from class in Morocco in the third century. This guy says, no, they were mine and there were only 16 of them. And I dropped them there in the 60s. Yeah, that's the one thing I couldn't reckon with were they're not two hundred. Was that just B.S.?
Here's the thing. It's kind of like the end of the usual suspects. If you go back and look at all of the evidence we have, it's right there on the almost almost all of it is coming out of Robert Marx's mouth. He's the one who saw the two hundred and four. He's the one who said that they were spread out over a few tennis court sized fields. He's the one who said they were encrusted by barnacles.
He's the one who sang in a barbershop quartet in Skokie, Illinois. That's exactly right. And when you go back and you look at this, you say, well, wait a minute, there's there's not really much other evidence there's that to back up this idea that he has the side from him saying all this stuff. And I think the most telling thing about how they actually were America's Santarelli 16 amphorae that he dropped in the Beda age is that Robert Marks kind of dropped the whole thing.
Nothing like the whole thing goes cold after that.
Yeah. And that weird. It is very weird. He even wrote a book in 1992 that was about prehistoric contact between Europe and the Americas. And as far as I know, he didn't mention the jars in the bay in Brazil. And that's that's that as far as I'm concerned. You know, I think since we mentioned usual suspects, we should shout out friend of the show, Kevin Pollak, one of the stars of the usual suspects in a role where he gets to play the rare heavy.
Mm hmm. And Kevin has a great improv comedy show on a network called Alchemy. This.
Yeah, that is a great show. And actually, he has a a cameo in our book, too. I can't remember what part we talk about, but there's one of the footnotes is about the live show in L.A. where he brought us water because we said we were thirsty. You brought us water up on stage.
And he also played the role of Christopher Walken in my movie Crush April Fool's interview a couple of years ago that delighted a lot of people and angered you.
Hey, man, if you're delighting in angering at the same time, you're doing something right. So hats off to both of you for the love public. Good, good dude. Good dude.
Well, I think that's it, right. You got anything else about Kevin Pollak or Brazilian Jar's now?
I want to get my hands on one of these. Well, just start diving and you will find one in Brazil off the coast of Rio. Great. And since I said everybody, that means short stuff is out.
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