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Series / America Unearthed

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America Unearthed Title Card

"The history that we were all taught growing up is wrong... there's a hidden history in this country that nobody knows about. There are pyramids here, chambers, tombs, inscriptions, they're all over this country. We're going to investigate these artifacts and sites and we're gonna get to the truth. Sometimes history isn't what we've been told."

The history we all know may not always be the whole story, at least that's what Forensic Geologist Scott Wolter attempts to show us in the H2 series America Unearthed. Scott takes us around the United States and elsewhere to find the hidden history of America.

Scott explores a wide range of topics but the over-arching theme is investigating potential pre-Columbian European or Asian contact with America.

America Unearthed stemmed in part from a 2009 documentary called Holy Grail in America which featured Scott Wolter as an expert in a form of Early-Installment Weirdness or a potential Backdoor Pilot.

The show originally ran from December 21, 2012 to January 31, 2015, being cancelled as a result of H2 being sold (with the History Channel having no interest in bringing it to their main channel). However, in 2019, the show was revived for 10 episodes on the Travel Channel.

This series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Act Break: Used in every episode, often with a Commercial Break Cliffhanger discovery and followed on by a Ad-Break Double-Take as well as often a visual and verbal recap of the previous segment.
  • Alternate Landmark History: Major basis of the show.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: If Dan Brown wrote about it, odds are good that Scott Wolter believes it and investigates it.
  • Arc Symbol: The Hooked X and the Cross of Lorraine, also the Freemason compass and square. According to a Season 1 episode, Scott thinks that hooked x represents the sex organs of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
  • As You Know: Scott will often start an interview with this, plus his many recaps.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Whenever part of a segment is scripted, often as part of the initial setup for the episode, it is painfully obvious due to Wolter's poor acting and wooden demeanor. It's a stark contrast to Wolter's otherwise pretty dynamic presentation.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Frequently used; Lewis and Clark were really looking for Welsh settlements, Marco Polo was a Vatican spy, Davy Crockett survived the Alamo and led a secret life afterward, Jarl Henry Sinclair came to America before Columbus as a Knight Templar (not the trope) and with the Holy Grail. Just as a few examples.
  • Berserk Button: Any time Wolter is kept out of a site, especially if a government agency is involved.
  • Captain Obvious: Forget "show, don't tell"! Scott Wolter will tell, show, then tell again after it's been shown (and yet again after he's back from commercial break).
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Wolter in spades, as well as a large fraction of his guests/experts/victims.
  • Continuity Snarl: Often Wolter's theory in one episode will contradict previous episodes. If all the theories Wolter espouses on the show are true, North America has had Jews, The Knights Templar, Norse (other than L'anse aux Meadows), Phoenicians, Chinese, Polynesians, Egyptians and Welsh. All lost to history.
  • Corrupt Church: The Catholic Church or the Vatican is often referenced as part of the people hiding the true history or through their negative actions, setting the events in motion for groups to come to America.
  • Demonization: Anyone that doesn't subscribe to Scott's theories or doesn't believe his supposed evidence is subject to this, including most academia.
  • Determinator: Scott Wolter never rests, even Scott's vacations turn into investigations (he always has a film crew handy).
  • Distant Prologue: Historical re-enactment cold-open scenes.
  • Distress Call: Scott often receives calls for his help and expertise. While they are not literal distress calls, they usually play a similar role in driving the plot and in some cases are a literal call to save them from the 'academics'.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: America Unearthed stemed from the one-time documentary Holy Grail in America which followed Wolter as he searched for the Holy Grail and discussed the Kensington Runestone, but not in the format of having him as host and narrator.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Some things are too crazy even for Scott Wolter. The Knights Templar came to America in the 12th century and hid the Holy Grail. Secret societies hide their symbols in Oreo cookies. But aliens? Now that's crazy talk!
  • Exposition: Scott's well-timed phone calls which he just happens to receive while there's a camera on him.
  • Flashback: Occasionally and in sepia, often same or similar to cold open Distant Prologue.
  • The Fundamentalist: Scott Wolter
  • Geek Physiques: Subverted (with a vengeance) in Wolter himself, but not always in his guests.
  • Geometric Magic: The Season 2 episode 'Secret Blueprint of America' is the most explicit of several examples.
  • Holy Grail: The main artifact searched for in the first season, culminating in an ill-fated dig during the season finale, as well as one of the over-arching themes of the show.
  • Ignored Expert: What Scott thinks he is. What some of his less "peculiar" guests actually end up being.
    • A real example would be Scott Dawson in the first season episode 'Mystery of Roanoke'.
  • I Invented X: Archaeopetrography. Also, the term Hooked X, which Wolter had trademarked even though it's a fairly standard term in linguistics.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Scott telling a Native American woman that America was 'stolen' by the French from other European settlers.
  • I Reject Your Reality: Scott's hypotheses start to border on this, especially when confronting 'academics'.
  • Ironic Name: Season 3 episode 'The Guardians of Superstition Mountain'.
  • It Runs in the Family: Scott's son occasionally helped during the first season. Scott's wife would also occasionally provide tips, send information or act as a sounding board over the phone in the first season.
  • It's the Journey That Counts: Scott's default position when he doesn't find what he's looking for. After all, "the spirit of adventure" is what's really important!
  • Just One Man: The show is pretty much entirely Scott Wolter, and while he does interview and consult others, he's the only consistent person in the show and does all the investigating (on-screen at-least)
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Scott Wolter
  • Leitmotif: A certain theme similar to the opening credits blares whenever Scott is summarizing or making some sort of major headway.
  • MacGuffin: Scott's artifact of the week, he almost never finds it and if he does, it lends no real meaning to anything.
  • Manipulative Editing: The show has been accused of this by several guests that claim they were edited to make it seem they agreed with Scott's claims when they did not.
  • Modern Major General: Arguably, Scott Wolter himself. He is a former varsity football player, a successful professional geologist, and an energetic and charismatic television host. However, his historical scholarship, archaeological know-how and reasoning skills are, to put it mildly, questionable.
  • Monochrome Past: Black and White or Sepia Tone depending on period.
  • Motive Decay: The first season was episodic but still built up a narrative that became clear toward the end of the season culminating in a dig for the Holy Grail. Fast forward to the third season and Scott spends half the season pretending to be chasing treasure that is known not to exist and doesn't emphasize the Templar-Grail narrative or even the conspiratorial 'history is wrong' alegations.
  • Mysterious Note: If it's not a phone call that get's Scott going, it's often one of these. Usually anonymous. Because people who believe they have located ancient treasures never want either riches or fame, apparently.
  • Myth Arc: The Knights Templar/Freemason colonization hypothesis.
  • Nerd Action Hero: Scott 'real-life Indiana Jones' Wolter
  • No Antagonist: Typically the case, though sometimes a government agency, greedy developers, the academic establishment, or the Smithsonian are setup as a weak antagonist.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted in the Scott vs Scott confrontation with Scott Dawson regarding the Dare Stones. Lampshaded in Secrets of the Alamo when discussing others named 'Davy Crocket' contemporary with that Davy Crocket.
  • One World Order: Scott Wolter spent an episode (Season 2, 'The New World Order') investigating whether The Conspiracy left hints of the coming Freemason/United Nations takeover of America in the design of the Denver Airport. Why would they do it? Because shut up, that's why!
  • Opening Narration: "The history that we were all taught growing up is wrong..."
  • Phony Degree: While Scott Wolter does hold a real Bachelor's Degree in Geology, until two years ago he also claimed an honorary Master's Degree as well from the University of Minnesota, this was listed on several public versions of his resume and referenced by him on radio appearances. Blogger and Wolter critic Jason Colavito uncovered that the University of Minnesota has no record of this honorary Master's Degree. Wolter explained it as follows:
    "I was invited by the UMD Geology Department to give a lecture at the college about my research. Afterword, six of my former professors asked me technical questions which I answered to their satisfaction. Afterward, they had an informal reception in the Professor’s lounge where they gave me an honorary degree with a whipped cream-topped coffee as my “certificate.” Was it officially recognized by the University? No. They gave it to me as I have always presented it to be, a sympathy degree. At the time I was quite proud and when I told my then supervisors at my new job at Twin City Testing, they published the story in the company newsletter and added it to my resume’." And that's how Scott Wolter received his 'honorary honorary degree'.
  • Previously on…: Used during each season finale and occasionally in other episodes.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Many rational people who don't know the historical facts take Wolter's statements as fact both because Wolter comes off very credible at face value but also because they are audacious enough for people to be easily swept in.
  • Science Is Wrong: The basis of the show - "The history that we were all taught growing up is wrong."
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Occasionally occurs but more frequently subverted as Scott tucks tail and won't violate any major laws to find his true history. Broadly construed to include things like principles of proper archaeological investigation, it's ubiquitous.
  • Speculative Documentary: What America Unearthed is when at its best.
  • The Teaser: Almost every episode, usually a historical re-enactment but sometimes it's a setup of Scott doing something.
  • There Are No Good Executives: The Government and the Smithsonian (in Scott's view).
  • Title Montage: Opening credits
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Often the myth or legend that Wolter starts from is this. Usually, it is very, VERY loosely based on a true story.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Scott's wife in the first season.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Let's drill randomly into the ground where the Holy Grail may be...
  • Windmill Crusader: Wolter certainly fits. Literally, in the case of the Newport Tower, which is an early modern windmill in Rhode Island Scott thinks has something to do with the Templars and sacred geometry.

Alternative Title(s): Holy Grail In America