Archiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2007-09 > 1190547507

From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [WORLD-OBITS] SAVOY: Douglas Eugene Savoy 11.sep,2007
Date: Sun, 23 Sep 2007 12:38:27 +0100

Gene Savoy
Last Updated: 3:54am BST 21/09/2007

Gene Savoy, who died on September 11 aged 80, was an American adventurer and
amateur archaeologist whose reputation as the "real Indiana Jones" and his
founding of a new religion excited a degree of scepticism in academic

Gene Savoy on the expedition to the Peruvian highlands during which he found
Gran Vilaya

A flamboyant figure who sported a Zapata moustache and shoulder-length hair
above a variety of costumes (depending on whether he was being the intrepid
jungle explorer or The Most Right Reverend Bishop Eugene Savoy, head of the
International Community of Christ, Church of the Second Coming, president of
the Jamilian University of the Ordained, Chancellor of the Sacred College of
Jamilian Theology and president of the Advocates for Religious Rights and
Freedoms), Savoy could cite some genuine achievements. In particular he was
credited with finding, at a site in Espiritu Pampa, the lost stronghold of
Vilcabamba, the Peruvian Incans' last refuge from the Spanish Conquistadors
and the place Hiram Bingham believed he had found when he chanced upon Machu
Picchu in 1911.

He also claimed to have found Gran Pajaten, a pre-Incan stone city, and Gran
Vilaya, a network of 24,000 stone structures in the dense Peruvian jungle
which indicated that a high civilisation had existed in Peru in the interior
as well as on the coast and in the Andes.

Savoy's purpose in exploring the Peruvian jungle extended beyond
archaeology. His goals included finding the Fountain of Youth; the treasure
of El Dorado; proof that Solomon's gold had come from South America; and,
not least, "the ancient roots of a universal religion".

In 1959, two years after his first archaeological expedition to Peru, he
founded his new religion, its theology supposedly based on the teachings of
the Essenes of Biblical times, with elements derived from other faiths. This
espoused the notion that the Second Coming of Christ had already become a
reality through a miraculous (though unspecified) celestial event and
propounded a philosophy which Savoy called "Cosolargy", described as "a
practical means for personal use of the ultradimensional forces manifesting
through cosmic/solar energies that can be utilised to assist the growth of
the human and spiritual natures".

Savoy lost no opportunity to publicise his adventures, often calling news
conferences to announce his latest discoveries and entertaining interviewers
with tales of being chased by guerrillas and bitten by deadly snakes like
the cadonga - "a testy little rattler but without the rattles".

But some of his claimed achievements were questioned by archaeologists
("fuddy-duddy academics", in Savoy's view) who pointed out that many sites
had already been mapped and reported by Peruvian archaeologists or were
known to locals; one sceptic had the effrontery to suggest that finding
ruins in the area in which Savoy had made some of his major discoveries was
"about as hard as going to the zoo and finding elephants".

Curmudgeonly critics also alleged that, by publicising their locations
without arranging proper scientific analysis, Savoy had opened sites to
looting and environmental damage. There were even unkind suggestions that
his practice of charging would-be explorers $10,160 (in the 1960s) to
accompany him on his trips might have tempted him to overinflate their
significance. "It's hard work being a pioneer," Savoy explained. "The wheels
grind very slowly in science. Every explorer, every great person...
struggles with this fact. But without us, civilisation dies."

Douglas Eugene Savoy was born at Bellingham, Washington state, on May 11
1927 and grew up in the Pacific north-west of America. Aged 17 he joined the
US Navy and served during the war in the Naval Air Service as a gunner on a
Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber. He then attended Multnomah Business College
for a year before enrolling in 1947 at the Roman Catholic University of
Portland, Oregon, to train for the priesthood. But, encouraged by a Jesuit
scholar to get to know something of other religions, he studied mystic
Judaism and Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Zoroastrianism and read
Chinese and Gnostic texts, after which he gave up the idea of taking Holy
Orders and embraced a more syncretic approach.

After graduating, Savoy worked as a journalist in Portland, becoming editor
of the Lombard Booster, a local business paper. In 1955, with his brother
Bill, he founded the Expeditionary Society, and two years later he left the
United States for his first expedition to Peru.

Over the next 40 years, Savoy claimed to have discovered more than 40
ancient stone cities and settlements. In addition, he took to the water,
organising several missions designed to prove that ancient civilisations had
been connected by sea travel. From 1977 to 1982 he led a round-the-world
trip on a schooner to show that the ancient Egyptians, the Japanese, the
Incas and the Jews could have been in touch. In 1997 he took a trip by
catamaran from Callau, Peru, to Hilo, Hawaii, in search of the true location
of the Biblical land of Ophir and the secret of immortality.

He also wrote dozens of books about his adventures and discoveries and on
religious themes.

Savoy's three marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by a son and
daughter of his first marriage.

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