Post-mortem on the 'Bloodline' hoax

Some readers may remember (or not, it's been four years already) that a sensationalist documentary, Bloodline, came out in 2008 claiming to reveal new evidence that Mary Magdalene traveled to Southern France, that she and Jesus married, and most damning of all that the resurrection was a big hoax. There was just enough to the story to make me worried that this might actually be the real deal, so I did quite a bit of research and wrote a substantial critique soon after the documentary came out. Even back then, the story was already starting to crumble under the weight of very substantial criticisms, which I documented in my critique (not all of the links are still working, this was four years ago after all, nearly a century in Internet time!). But the 'explorer' who had unearthed these 'artifacts', who went by the pseudonym Ben Hammott, kept stringing people along, promising that a full investigation was underway by the French authorities, which however never came to anything.

At long last, however, after trying to hoodwink the media and authorities about other sensationalist findings, including Loch Ness and the Ark of the Covenant, Ben Hammott finally admitted that it was all a hoax:
Everything I said I discovered is a hoax, planted by me and only me...I have no idea why I did it, or carried on what was at first a stupid prank that escalated out of control. My intention was never to deceive, but then of course it was by doing what I did. Perhaps I did it for the money, though very little was ever forthcoming and realised early on that it probably never would. Did I do it for fame and attention? Perhaps. I did enjoy it at times but it wasn’t the driving force behind it. Maybe I just carried on to see what I could get away with. I really don’t know...I have had nothing since bad luck since I become involved with the Rennes-le-Chateau affair, bad karma, almost certainly. Today I have no money, no family life, no home and now probably very few friends. It is perhaps a well deserved outcome.
A well-deserved outcome indeed. I had quite a few people tell me that I really shouldn't waste my time on this piece, that it was definitely a hoax, but I sometimes get paranoid about these things and Hammott's allegations kept me up many a night worrying whether my faith was all a hoax. That worry has long since dissipated, and I came upon Hammott's confession quite by accident, but it is a fitting coda to the sad story of a seeker of fame and fortune who ended up without either. May God have mercy on him.


Jason Pratt said…
Allow me to pre-emptively note that the last time JD critiqued "Ben Hammott"'s (actually Bill Wilkinson's) portion of the Bloodline documentary, several people from competing RLC theories showed up in the comments to ad hom each other instead of to discuss the details of JD's original post. JD gave fair warning a couple of times that the comment section was not intended for that purpose, and eventually instituted a deletion protocol on anyone showing up to post for that purpose.

This pre-emptive deletion protocol is still in effect: site admins such as JD and myself will take down posts from RLC camps sniping one another. Keep it on your own forums, guys.

Jason Pratt said…
(Sometimes I hate Blogger... recommenting to register for email alerts. {wry g})
what is RLC. I thnk that stuff a threw back to Holy Blood Holy Grail. isn't it connected to that big movie Ron Howard did?
Jason Pratt said…
RLC is the abbreviation for the area the whole thing is located in, Rennes-le-Château.

Yes it's connected to the Dan Brown Da Vinci Code mess (Ron Howard's film adaptation included), and to Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

Weekend Fisher said…
What's the connection to the Da Vinci Code?
Jason Pratt said…

Both are heavily involved in the idea that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, and that she had a child by him, and that she and her family either finally emigrated to Rennes-le-Château or their remains ended up there thanks to the Templars (for a while anyway before being moved).

Bill Wilkenson/Ben Hammott added some more spice to the basic conspiracy setup by pretending that RLC had been or even was still currently the resting place of Jesus' unResurrected body (having been moved there by the Templars). This was supposed to explain why the abbot who built up much of the region in the late 19th century, Berenger Sauniere, was able to spend ridiculous amounts of money doing so despite being dirt poor: he was bribing the Roman Catholic Church to stay quiet about his discovery. (This is a standard part of RLC conspiracy theories, including for The Da Vinci Code, that Sauniere discovered something in the region that not only inspired him to build up the area with its peculiar features but also allowed him to blackmail someone, typically the Roman Catholic Church, for huge sums of money.)

Weekend Fisher said…
So there's not a direct dependency of DVC on Hammott's work, just that they were working the same material?
Jason Pratt said…
No, I gather that Hammott postdates DVC. JD may be able to clarify that for us. (But I don't think he registered for comment tracking, so he may not know we're talking about it here. {lopped g})

Henotheist11 said…
No, I don't typically register for tracking, but I check in every few days:)

The connection is that both Ben Hammott and Dan Brown drew inspiration from Holy Blood and Holy Grail, which was published in 1982, although speculation about Berenger Sauniere and Rennes-le-Chateau had been going on ever since the priest died. HBHG was the first English language popularization of the French conspiracy theories. Hammott is only the most recent of a long line of 'journalists' and 'archeologists' who have tried to unearth the 'secrets' of RLC, and my impression is he started in the early 2000s, around the time DVC came out. I don't think there was any connection between DVC and Hammott other than their common inspiration.

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