The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoaxes Throughout History
Middle AgesEarly Modern1700s1800-1840s1850-1890s
1900s1910s1920s1930s1940s1950s1960s1970s1980s1990s21st Century2014
Medieval Travel Lies
As the western Roman empire declined during the fourth and fifth centuries AD, Europe lost contact with the rest of the world. Classical knowledge of the outside world receded, and what emerged in its place was a peculiar mixture of fact and fiction. European scholars inhabited the lands to their east with unicorns, cyclops, and other fantastic creatures. One persistent rumor spoke of the barbarian tribes of Gog and Magog whom Alexander the Great had supposedly imprisoned behind giant brass gates somewhere in the East. It was said that the escape of Gog and Magog would signal the imminent end of the world.

With the gradual revival of commerce during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Europeans once more began to venture beyond their borders and returned to tell of what they had seen. But these travellers, upon their return from faraway lands, seldom gave what we would consider to be factual accounts. Instead, they related bizarre stories that confirmed the existence of the imaginary kingdoms and creatures that Europeans had so long dreamed about and feared.
Exploration and TravelHoaxes of the Middle Ages

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.