The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Monday, January 17, 2011

Me and Noah's Ark

One morning, about four years ago, I arrived at work, turned on my computer, and checked me email to find that two friends of mine, both field archaeologists who had worked for me, had sent me emails sent around the same time the previous night wishing me luck on my search for Noah's Ark. Knowing these two, I just figured that they were a few bottles in and decided that that it would be funny to send me emails wishing me well on an imaginary Indiana Jones-esque expedition.

As the day went on, I received further emails from these two, and it eventually became clear that the both of them were referring to something and assuming that I know what the hell they were talking about. So, naturally, I sent them emails asking them just what the hell they were talking about. As it turns out, they had received emails from my University of California account that requested donations in order to sponsor an expedition to search for Noah's expedition that the emails stated I was going on.

Obviously, I wasn't keen on someone sending out emails to my colleagues allegedly from me, asking for money for an idiotic pseudo-scientific pursuit. So, I went to a university laboratory computer that evening and followed the link, which led to a Paypal page. I worked out who the owner of the account was, and found their web page (it is no longer up, so I can not link to it here). They were, indeed, planning a trip to Noah's Ark.

I wrote to them and asked if they could explain why my email account was hacked and an email sent out with a link to their Paypal account claiming that I was working for them. A few hours later, I received an email from the fellow behind the website, the would-be explorer, who wrote that he had no idea how the emails had been sent out, but that he would look into it. I responded asking that he keep his word on that. I never heard back.

To this day, I'm not sure what happened. It's possible that the fellow is telling the truth, that he's deluded but honest and someone hacked my account as a prank on he and I (and maybe a few other archaeologists).

On the other hand, a promised expedition for Noah's Ark would get the donations from many people who were looking for physical evidence to support their beliefs, and as such would be a smooth operation for a con man. In this case, I wouldn't put it past someone to hack the email of actual archaeologists in an attempt to con the faithful of their cash.

In the end, I never did find out what, precisely, was going on. So it goes.

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