Hindu Corn Goddesses and Tobacco Mummies: New World Plants and Old World Trade.

IMG_20170115_061833_processed-01.jpegThe second article in The Lost History of Ancient America is titled ‘Plants Connect the Old and New Worlds’. It’s penned by Dr. Carl L. Johannessen (2017), a retired professor of geography from the University of Oregon.

Johannessen’s article is the longest in the first section of the book and claims that there are 14 plants that were present in both the Old World and the New before 1492. It’s obvious that this article was meant to be a powerhouse of evidence for the book, yet the evidence provided is less than convincing.

The article itself suffers from the same shortcomings as the rest of the articles in the book. There are no citations to back up the claims made or to document research. Everything in the article revolves around the unverified assumption that transoceanic travelers did exist and that they did participate in trade with pre-Columbia Peoples. Johannessen even goes on to assign value to certain commodities, declaring some “moneymakers”, and creating transportation methods for other “attractive” commodities. He muses that Annona was probably used to combat scurvy on long cross ocean trips and that beans and peas would have been good food stuff for these travelers because they could be dried and are high in protein.

Johannessen spends a lot of the article weaving an intriguing story about how and why “tropical sailors” would have been coming to and from the New World. He even references “new evidence of dated discoveries” (Johannessen 2017) that support the reality of these sailors, yet fails to provide any information about what these are or even provide citations in the article documenting them.

Johannessen then acknowledges the “evidence and contributions” of the Norse in pre-Columbian times:

“The fact that there is acknowledged genetic, artistic, cultural, and biological evidence for regular and repeated contact between these Nordic peoples and populations of the northeastern region of North America simply strengthens the hypothesis we are proposing about the tropical sailors of Southeast Asia, India, Africa, and the Middle East. (Johannessen 2017)”

This statement is not supported by any evidence that I am aware of, nor does Johannessen provide any. I can guess that he’s referring to the actual Viking settlement in L’Anse aux Meadows, and mixing in fringe theories such as the Kensington Runestone, the Newport Tower, and other various ‘Viking’ claims.

Johannessen then makes an appeal to authority by shoehorning a quote by Stephen J. Gould (1941-2002) into his article. With this quote, he is trying to set the groundwork for his argument of transoceanic trade by implying that the probability of an identical plant species evolving in two sperate places on earth would be astronomical. Therefore the only explanation would be trade. He then makes the correct observation that when people travel to new places they always leave behind traces of their presence and often bring back evidence of their travels. In this case, Johannessen argues the evidence is plants. What argues against Johannessen’s claim is the exact observation he made earlier, there is no physical evidence that any of the cultures Johannessen mentions interacted in any way.

There are also no shipwrecks to support pre-Columbian trade routes or massive shipping expeditions. There are no settlements that demonstrate massive (or any) transoceanic trade among pre-Colombian people. There are no artifacts here in the New World that can be traced directly to trade in the Old World that date to pre-Columbian times. Simply, there is no real evidence to support Johannessen’s claims.

Johannessen then mentions John Sorenson, a professor emeritus of anthropology at Brigham Young University. Sorenson is known for his insistence that the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) view the Book of Mormon (BoM) as a scientific document. (They rejected that request.) He’s also written several books and articles trying to prove the BoM to be factual. In one such project, Sorenson tried to catalog all known sources of available literature supposedly providing evidence of pre-Columbian transoceanic diffusion. It’s from this project that Johannessen appears to pull the majority of his claims and evidence for trade, but I can really only extrapolate this as there are no citations given.

Johannessen claims that there are an upwards of 97 plant species that could be used to prove transoceanic trade, but he narrows it down to his top 14 (Johannessen 2017).

These plants are:

  1. Tobacco
  2. Coca
  3. Marijuana
  4. Datura
  5. Prickly Poppy
  6. Corn (Zea Mays)
  7. Amaranths
  8. Agave
  9. Annona
  10. Peanut
  11. Kidney beans
  12. Lima Beans
  13. Phasey Bean
  14. Spice Basil

I’m not going to go over every one of these right now. I will fill them in as I have the time. However, I do want to go over a few that are of particular interest.

Tobacco, Coca, and Marijuana.

Using Johannessen’s list, we begin with Tobacco, Coca, and Marijuana. Johannessen brings up the mummy of Ramesses II. Legend has is that there is evidence for tobacco in the remains of Ramesses. However, Buckland and Panagiotakopu (2001) suggest, with cited documentation, that this is actually evidence of body preservation techniques in the 19th cen.

Radioimmunoassay showed that nicotine was generally distributed through the body, and it is probable that this reflects the application of tobacco water as an insecticide during conservation in the 19th century. This explanation is also probable for the group’s other findings from Central Europe (Parsche et al. 1993) and China (Balabanova et al. 1995), although the lack of care shown by many archaeologists and conservators even in the recent past makes contamination by cigarette smoke always a possibility. (Buckland and Panagiotakopu 2001)”

There is also the presence of an insect,  Lasioderma serricorne, or the tobacco beetle, that was supposedly found in association with wrappings that came from Ramesses’ mummy. Buckland and Panagiotakopu (2001) point out that L. Serricorne is native to the Old World and there is a fossil record in the Mediterranean to back this up.

“The third beetle from Rameses’ mummy, Lasioderma serricorne, has led to most speculation, inevitably, because of its vernacular names, all of which seem to refer to tobacco (Steffan 1985). Described by Fabricius (1798) from dried American plants (‘in Americae plantis siccatis’), it was assumed that the species was associated with Nicotiana tabacum, yet despite widespread earlier cultivation of tobacco, the species was first recorded in the United States in 1886 (Reed & Vinzand 1942), and has several congeners, largely feeding on thistles in the Old World (Steffan 1985); Hill (1994) regarded the species as of tropical origin. There are Mediterranean fossil records, which would support this interpretation. As well as Alfieri’s (1931) examples from the tomb of Tutankhamun, Panagiotakopulu (2000) reports the species from Bronze Age Akrotiri on Santorini in the Aegean, and has more recently [in press) found it in the midden deposits associated with the Workmen’s Village at Amarna in Egypt (Buckland and Panagiotakopu 2001).”

Buckland and Panagiotakopu also point out that this pest prevention is the most likely cause of the presence of Cocoa and THC, pointing out that Egyptian culture was more than aware of the narcotic properties of plants:

“The Egyptians were fully aware of the narcotic qualities of certain plants (cf. Emboden 1989), and Andrew Sherratt (pers. comm.) has drawn attention to the symbolism of alternating poppy, mandrake and lotus on the throne of Tutankhamun as an example, but it is surprising that the abundant archaeological, pictorial and documentary record from Egypt does not provide any evidence not only for the use of hashish, but also for the use of hemp fibres, derived from Cannabis spp., for ropes and fabrics (Germer 1985; Vogelsang-Eastwood 2000: 269). (Buckland and Panagiotakopu 2001)”

Wrapping up their paper Buckland and Panagiotakopu (2001) leave us with a warning about testing evidence out of context:

“Scientific techniques without context do not produce valid answers, and there is a real need for researching individual artefact biographies before each method is applied. Lack of information produces unacceptable stories, which often enter the literature as fact. Artefacts and their history have to be viewed as an entity, and the application of scientific techniques cannot be effectively carried out in fragments; each intervention has to be seen as a dialogue with the artefact  itself.” (Buckland and Panagiotakopu 2001)”


This one had me at a loss for a moment. It wasn’t that I believed Johannessen’s claim that there are images of corn cobs on Hindu temples. It was that I couldn’t readily discover what these cob like images were. However, it didn’t take too much research into the divine images on the shrines to finally find out what this plant is.

Johannessen says in his article that unnamed archaeologists have found evidence of corn stalks and seeds, along with peanuts and annona in an unspecified cave. As there is no citation for this discovery, we can set it aside. However, he does get a bit more specific when talking about the Hindu Temples. He mentions temples in Karnataka Pradesh, India that date to the fifth and eighth centuries. Though he provided no actual images in the article to compare his claims too, some unprovenanced images can be found on the internet (see below).

I was able to locate a few images on the internet that do seem to depict voluptuous women posing with what can be thought to be ears of corn. That said, the objects the women (and apparently some men) are holding can be identified in the context of the native plants in the area. The Muktaphala, or Whipcord Cobra Lilly, produces a vibrantly red cob of berries and are native to India, being known for their narcotic properties.

arisaema_tortuosum2_at corn3

Payak and Sachan (1993) explain how carvings, like the above images, found in Kesav Temple at Somnathpur near the city of Mysore, Karnataka State, India, couldn’t be corn. They point out that there is no connecting linguistic, religious, sculptural, archaeological, agricultural, or botanical evidence for this (Payak and Sachan 1993):

“The stone inscriptions associated with the temple list items or commodities used in worship, maize is not included. We find no evidence for maize figuring in any kind of religious ritual or worship. The word for maize used currently in the Kannada language is “Musukin Jola” which refers to a kind of millet resembling sorghum (“jola”). (Payak and Sachan 1993)”

“We hold that these temple sculptures do not represent maize or its ear but an imaginary fruit bearing pearls known in Sanskrit as “Muktaphala.” (Payak and Sachan 1993)”

It is far more likely that the cob like images in the hands of gods and goddesses on Hindu temples represent something familiar to the culture that was carving it. As there are no ancient references to corn in Hindu mythology, traditional food-stuffs, or anywhere really, it is highly unlikely that these cobs are corn. Rather, it is much more likely that this is the fruit of the  Whipcord Cobra Lilly, also known as Muktaphala. A familiar, traditional, and native plant to India.


Though I didn’t go over all 14 plants mentioned, it’s clear to see a developing pattern in the presentation of this evidence. Mainly that, Johannessen falls back on familiar habits that the fringe often exhibits.

  • There are no citations or documentation of sources for any of the plants.
  • Johannessen tell us what ‘is’ and provides no specific evidence to back it up. At best we are given vague accounts of someone, often given a generic academic title, who might have found something, somewhere, that is evidence of his claim. Who these people are and where they found these things is often left out.
  • Johannessen’s transoceanic sailors must have been a very busy lot as well. They not only needed to be expert sailors, by master botanists, traders, and farmers as well.
  • Where are the sunk ships? Every culture that has ever done trade on the water has lost ships, so where are these? Where is the other evidence of trade? What were they paying for these plant stuffs with?

Most of the evidence that Johannessen attempts to supply is far from irrefutable. Its mear presentation makes it questionable, and the easy that inconsistencies can be found in his data points to issues with its validity. His evidence is neither clear nor rock solid and falls far from the mark of proving transoceanic travel and trade.

If you’d like to support this blog, consider donating on Patreon or PayPal under ArchyFantasies@gmail.com
Want more on this topic? Go to: ArchyFantasies Reviews – The Lost History of Ancient America.
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com.


Buckland, P.C. and E. Panagiotakopu
2001    Rameses II and the Tobacco Beetle. Antiquity Vol 75 (2001): 549-56 http://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/homes/rgroves/panagiotakopulupub4.pdf Retrieved 1/14/17

Edlin, Duncan
N.d    The Stoned Age? A look at the Evidence for Cocaine in Mummies. The Hall of Ma’at. http://www.hallofmaat.com/modules.php?name=Articles&file=article&sid=45

Johannessen, Carl L.
2017    Plants Connect the Old and New Worlds’. The Lost History of Ancient America. Edited Volume Frank Joseph. The Career Press. Wayne, NJ.

National Museum of Natural History (NMNH)
N.D    Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon. National Museum of Natural History. Smithsonian Institution Washington D.C. http://www.lds-mormon.com/smithson.shtml Retrieved 1/14/17

Panagiotakopu, E.
2003    Insect Remains from the Collections in the Egyptian Museum of Turin. Archaeometry Vol 45, 2 (2003) 355–362 http://www.eeo.ed.ac.uk/globalchange/group5b/QuatEnt/Panagiotakopulu2003Arc.pdf Retrieved 1/14/17

Payak, Mukesh and J. K. S. Sachan
1993   Maize ears not sculpted in 13th century Somnathpur temple in India. Economic Botany 47(2). April 1993. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257220756_Maize_ears_not_sculpted_in_13th_century_Somnathpur_temple_in_India Retrieved 1/14/17

Sorenson, John L.
1995     A New Evaluation of the Smithsonian Institution “Statement regarding the Book of Mormon”, (28 March 1995), Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute. http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/transcripts/?id=40 Retrieved 1/14/17

Wells, S.A.
N.d.    American Drugs in Egyptian Mummies. http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/ethnic/mummy.htm Retrieved 1/14/17

Categories: Columbus was Second-ish: Who Discovered America Anyway, The Lost History of Ancient America, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two Years of Archeological Fantasies!



That’s right! This will be year three of the Archeological Fantasies Podcast! We’ve got two years behind us and we haven’t run out of material to debunk yet.  It helps that new stuff pops up almost daily anymore, even if it is all recycled.

We decided to christen the New Year by rehashing the goals of the podcast and letting ourselves react a little to upcoming 4 years.  Ken,  Jeb,  and Sara have a few moments of political ranting and explaining why it’s even more important now for a show like ours to be on the air.

If you haven’t given our first recorded show of the year a listen yet,  click on the link to do so.  Let us know what you think!

Categories: Archeology Podcasting Network, Podcast, Rants | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

A Horse is a Horse, Unless it’s an American Horse.


Our first full chapter in The Lost History of Ancient America is ‘Horses in America Before Columbus’ by Dr. Steven E. Jones.

Dr. Jones is a retired physicist from Brigham Young University known for his 9/11 Truther theories about Muon-Catalysed Fusion melting steel beams and for his ideas about Cold Nuclear Fusion. He’s active on several websites involved in proving the Book of Mormon as factually true and has chosen American Horses as his evidence. From his interactions on these sites, it is apparent that Jones believes that the wild American horse was not brought over by the Spanish but by an earlier people. From his on-line affiliations, we can guess that these people are connected to the Mormon faith somehow, probably as the lost tribes of Israel. This is all based on Jones on-line presence, his article as presented here appears to be a rehashing of previously published posts that follow this article nearly verbatim (Jones Nd.). The subtle changes are mostly in the use of BCE/CE and BP/AP for time notation.

Jones makes several claims in his article that are a bit problematic for me. I summarize them at the end of this post, but let’s work through them as we go. There’s a fair amount to unpack here.

First I want to give a small bit of background to the history of the American Horse:

There were American horses. They existed on the continent during the Pleistocene (roughly 3 mya), and appear to have used the Bering Land Bridge to migrate themselves over to what is modern Asia, Russia, and then Europe and elsewhere. From there they split up and were eventually domesticated into what we now know and love. At some point during, or after, the land bridge was lost, American horses, like almost all American megafauna, went extinct (about 8,000 – 10,000 years ago). Is this directly due to human occupation? I can’t answer that definitively, but we do know that early Americans were hunting and eating horses, as they did with any of the other animals they could catch. Climate change probably added a helping hand, and you can factor in diseases as well, just cause.

What we don’t have, and what Jones seems to try to imply, is any evidence of either domestication or the use of American horse as beasts of burden.
The American continent wouldn’t see horses again till Spanish colonists brought domestic horses from Europe with them in the 1500’s. As soon as they arrived, these horses began to escape and quickly established large feral herds, becoming both boon and bane to Native Peoples. From this point forward, America held onto the Horse again, and do to our love affair with them, we’re probably not going to hunt and eat them into extinction again anytime soon.

Jones states that he began seeking out horse bones from North America and Mesoamerica for the purpose of radiocarbon (C14) dating them (Jones 2017). He pulled a team of researchers around him, all of which are hard to track down, some of which have dubious research along similar lines but still make the work look more legitimate.

Jones expresses his interest in finding dates that range:

“The time frame of interest can be expressed in terms of “Before Present” by convention and extends from 10,000 BP (thus after the last ice age) to 500 BP (when Spaniards soon after Columbus brought horses to America). The prevailing paradigm holds that there were no horses in the Americas during this time interval; the Book of Mormon and a number of native (sic) American oral traditions hold otherwise.” (Jones 2017)

Let’s put aside the generalized “Native American oral traditions” for now. The biggest flaw here is the use of the Book of Mormon (BoM) as a legitimate source of historical fact, and therefore a starting point for research. I know many may feel this is unfair, but as it stands, there is no reason to accept the BoM as an actual, factual document.

Jones does appear to find several samples that he appears to successfully get date ranges for. But again, treating all Equus as the same Equus causes Jones to miss major issues with his study.

The first he mentions is from Pratt Cave:

“The first of these was found in Pratt Cave near El Paso, Texas, by Prof. Ernest Lundelius of Texas A&M University. Prof. Lundelius responded to my inquiries and provided a horse bone from Pratt Cave which dated to BCE 6020 – 5890. This date is well since the last ice age, into the time frame when all American horses should have been absent according to the prevailing paradigm.” (Jones 2017)

Pratt Cave is roundly accepted to be a Holocene (starting roughly 11,700 ya) site (Harris 2013) and within the collection of artifacts associated with that time period, no extinct species are found (Harris 2013). This means, that there are no horse bones found that are related to the actual findings for the cave assemblage. Lundelius did indeed find two specimens of Equus the cave (Harris 2013). These two bones were found on or very near the surface, not in the associated artifact assemblage of Pratt Cave. Lundelius also concluded that “Their [the bones] position in the cave and their preservation indicate they represent [modern horses] (Lundelius 1979:246).” and that “they represent a small form about the size of an ass” (Lundelius 1979:246).

As for Jones’ date. Jones provides no context for the date that he apparently got from his own testing. There’s no evidence or citation proving that testing even occurred. Charitably, we could say that he failed to show his work. (Though there is a small part of me that wonders if some of this, and other articles, citations were removed at the time of editing. Though the reasoning behind this is beyond me.) He also ignores Lundelius’ own date range that places the bones firmly inside the expected date range for modern, post-Columbus, horses.

Jones next mentions a bone from Wolf Spider Cave in Colorado. Here he claims that the date range is 1260 to 1400 CE and he tells us he used thermoluminescence methods to date it (Jones 2017). He invokes the name of the late Elaine Anderson (1936-2002)  of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (formerly the Denver Museum of Natural History), saying that she was an expert of an expert on Equus identification (Jones 2017). This is only true in that Anderson was an expert in vertebrate paleontology and mammals (Graham 2002), a far cry from what Jones is trying to imply here. To be clear, I’m not saying she isn’t an expert, I am saying that Jones appears to be playing up her focus on ‘Equus’ to make his claim sound truer.

Likewise, I can find only one mention of the Wolf Cave site beyond Jones’ brief mention of it. Craig C. Downer’s paper in the American Journal of Life Sciences. Downer (2014) is using the bone to argue for better habitat preservation for Wild Horse, seeing the alternative, and frankly more plausible, theory to Jones’, that Wild Horses didn’t die out of the Americas as early as thought. (We’ll get back to that.)

Jones also mentions Horsethief Cave in Wyoming. A very popular caving destination. He states that a bone was found there that dates to roughly 1100 BCE (Jones 2017). His team tried to re-date the bone but were unable, do to a lack of collagen. He then references an unprovenanced bone, also from Wyoming. He gives it a date range of 1426-1481 CE (Jones 2017), but since we know nothing about the bone; where it’s from, how it was dated, or if it even exists, there is no reason to accept this bone as any form of evidence.

Jones then points us to a few Canadian bones, but he also says:

“The complete expiration of ancestral horse stock in Canada has yet to be completely confirmed…” (Jones 2017)

Which basically means that there is no hard extinction data for the wild horse in Canada. Personally, this statement should throw a major wrench in Jones’ whole article here, again I’ll address this in a bit.

Jones also references the oral histories of Native Americans, lumping them all together and not giving any specific examples to bolster his argument, beyond these histories mentioning horses. He does mention the Appaloosa horse breed, created and maintained by the Nez Perce people. However, he only does so to suggest that this breed may have been in the Americas earlier than thought (Jones 2017), effectively removing the Nez Perce people from the picture. He gives no evidence to support this statement, it just stands.

With that Jones wraps up his article, leaving the reader a little confused from lack of hard evidence to support his claims.

Keep in mind that, as stated by the introduction of this section, the purpose of this article was to provide us with incontrovertible evidence of transoceanic travelers in America’s prehistory. I’ve summarized my observations and criticisms below as to if the article managed to achieve this goal:


    • Jones’ presentation of his evidence is lacking. The origin of his evidence is sketchy due to his chronic lack of citation. He doesn’t tell us where he’s gotten his information or data from. He barely tells us where the bones he’s using come from, and he never provides an explanation or examples of his dating methods. Most (basically all) professional articles will have tables showing the results of dating methods, showing the variance in the data and then the resulting data range. They will also provide a clear explanation of the methods used to obtain the data and explain any issues or outliers encountered while getting said data. None of this was present here. We were simply given dates and expected to accept them. One could say that he might have gotten them from another source, but this is where my complaint about the lack of citing comes in. If he had received this data from another source, he needed to tell us where, and briefly explain their methods. I’m not looking for an encyclopedic entry here, just a name and a publication date that ties into a paper in the reference section. Something to tell me that the data isn’t just made up.
    • Along these lines, Jones doesn’t provide adequate identification of the bones he mentions in his report. There are no provinces for the bones, no descriptions of the bones, no images of the bones, nothing to tell us anything about these artifacts other than they exist. Knowing that is not enough. We also don’t know what shape these bones are in. Beyond a single comment of a lack of collagen on one bone, we know nothing about them. Are there cut marks? Are there gnaw marks? Is there evidence of burning? Were the other bones in good condition preservation-wise? What other morphological characteristics were there about the bones? Were they from small Equus or large ones? Was it even possible to tell from the condition of the bones?
    • It’s important to know these things so we can deduce why the horses were there. If there were cut marks and gnawing marks on the bones, even evidence of burning, we can surmise the horses were being eaten. Pot-polish likewise tells us that the bones were most likely used as food. Stress marks or the like could tell us if the horses were being used as labor or not. Animal tooth marks, like those of predators gnawing on the bones, could show that the horse was simply brought down by a larger animal, or drug there by a scavenger. But we don’t know any of these things beyond possible data ranges for age.
    • The bones mentioned are small in number. There are six sites (ish) mentioned in total containing roughly the same number of bones. This is not a great sample given the vastly larger number of sites that date within Jones’ proposed date-range of 10,000 BP – 500 BP. If the dates Jones’s suggests he got are true, it’s an interesting anomaly, but still requires more evidence to support.
    • Other researchers mentioned by Jones in this article, are used in ways that either make them sound like they agree with Jones, or gives them more weight on a topic than is due.
    • Lastly, and I fear this is going to be an ongoing complaint with most of the articles in this book, is a whitewashing of history in favor of mysterious European founders. It’s perhaps more subtle here than elsewhere in the book. Jones’ suggestion that the Appaloosa horse breed, created and maintained by the Nez Perce people, is perhaps older than that. This subtly does two things simultaneously; it robs the Nez Perce of a horse breed that is clearly theirs, and it suggests that the horses must have come from some other culture. Since the point of this section is to prove transoceanic travel, it effectively says that this unknown horse breeding culture isn’t Native American.

As far as proving, or even being decent evidence for transoceanic travel, this article falls short. It certainly isn’t incontrovertible, and far from convincing. There is no evidence here that horses were reintroduced to the Americas before the Spanish. The best this article has done is created doubt that horses went extinct in America when originally thought, though this is tepid at best. This is also not a new idea among professionals. The date of the extinction of the American wild horse is not written in stone, and if adequate evidence it provided to shift the date, the date will move. Such evidence needs to be provided first, however, in both cases.

If you’d like to support this blog, consider donating on Patreon or PayPal under ArchyFantasies@gmail.com
Want more on this topic? Go to: ArchyFantasies Reviews – The Lost History of Ancient America.
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com.


Clarkson, Neil
2012 Why did horses die out in North America? Horse Talk. November 29, 2012. http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2012/11/29/why-did-horses-die-out-in-north-america/. Retrieved 12/31/2016

Downer, Craig C.
2014 The Horse and Burro as Positively Contributing Returned Natives in North America. American Journal of Life Sciences. Vol. 2, No. 1, 2014, pp. 5-23. http://article.sciencepublishinggroup.com/pdf/10.11648.j.ajls.20140201.12.pdf. Retrieved 12/31/2016

Graham, Russell Wm and H. Gregory McDonald
2002 In Memoriam: Elaine Anderson, 1936-2002. Mammoth Trumpet, Volume 17 No 3:8-9. http://csfa.tamu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/vol17_num3.pdf. Retrieved 12/31/2016

Harris, Arthur H.
2013 Pratt Cave. Pleistocene Vertebrates of Southwestern USA and Northwestern Mexico https://www.utep.edu/leb/pleistnm/default.htm. Last Update: 28 Jan 2013. https://www.utep.edu/leb/pleistnm/sites/prattcave.htm. Retrieved 11/16/2016

Jones, Steven E.
2017 Horses in America Before Columbus. The Lost History of Ancient America. Pg. 15-18. Frank Joseph Editor. The Career Press. Wayne, NJ.

Jones, Steven E.
Nd. Exciting article about by Ph.D. Steven Jones re: more recent surviving native horse in North America. The Wild Horse Conspiracy. http://thewildhorseconspiracy.org/2013/07/02/exciting-article-about-by-phd-steven-jones-re-more-recent-surviving-native-horse-in-north-america/. Retrieved 12/31/2016

Joseph, Frank
2017 The Lost History of Ancient America. Edited Volume. The Career Press. Wayne, NJ.

Kirkpatrick, Jay F. and Patricia M. Fazio
2008 The Surprising History of America’s Wild Horses. Live Science. July, 24th. 2008.
http://www.livescience.com/9589-surprising-history-america-wild-horses.html Retrieved 12/31/2016

Lundelius, E. L., Jr.
1979 Post-Pleistocene mammals from Pratt Cave and their environmental significance. Pp. 239-258, in Biological investigations in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park (H. H. Genoways and R. J. Baker, eds.), National Park Service Proceedings and Transactions Series 4:1-442. https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/gumo/gumo_biological_investigations.pdf. Retrieved 11/16/2016

Categories: ArchyFantasy Reviews, The Lost History of Ancient America, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Transoceanic Flora and Fauna, Not Just Swallows with Coconuts.


The introduction to Section 1 of The Lost History of Ancient America opens with a complicated statement:

“Perhaps never before has so much incontrovertible evidence in so few words establishing beyond question that humans reached and occupied America long before 1492, …” (Joseph 2017:13)

Let’s unpackaged this statement a little. ‘Incontrovertible’ is a bit strong. Most of the evidence offered in this section is unreliable or proven false. Clearly, there is room to argue the validity of said evidence. To even call some of this ‘evidence’ is a stretch, but we’ll address this as we come to it. Yet, this opening was a misplaced humble-brag. The real impact of the opening statement is in the following description:

“… in so few words …”

This small string of words encapsulates the four articles reprinted here. They are brief, and for the most part lacking any explanation on why we should trust them. Not just in the lack of credentials of the authors, but also in the strength of the sources cited, if they cited at all. There’s so little citation in these, one is right to wonder if it’s all made up.

This little snippet also illuminates another problem the fringe communities seem to encounter with the professional world; the wordiness of academic publications. Even the briefest of reports are often filled with jargon and five-dollar words. There’s no particular reason for this beyond the professional environment and the concept of writing to one’s peers

As a professional archaeologist, I should expect that other professionals who are reading my writing should be able to understand the meaning of my words. This does, however, create an issue when the public comes in contact with such writing. Unfamiliarity with the field causes misunderstandings when trying to read archaeological jargon. Even simplified concepts that seem basic to us, but are much more complicated in practice. Is there a solution to this? Perhaps. Should we as professionals reduce or remove our professional language to make it more accessible to the public? No. What we should be doing is providing adequate explanations to the public as well.

All that aside, Joseph’s lauding of “so few words” speaks volumes to the Fringe’s ideas that simple language is best. They see the use of big words, detailed concepts, or long reports akin to obfuscating information. Yet, Joseph’s and his cohorts, over-simplification of language and reporting creates articles that are void of content, analysis, citation, and evidence. Readers are simply told what is and what isn’t, and not offered any explanation on why these things could be true.

Lastly, in the opening statement, we have:

“… that humans reached and occupied America long before 1492 …”.

This is an important concept to keep in mind as we work through this section and the book in general. The main argument of the book is that mainstream archaeologists don’t believe that anyone made it to the Americas before Columbus. That we are so invested in this belief that we actively hide any evidence that contradicts it. This argument is a problem. It overlooks completely, the presence of Native peoples, reducing them to nothing more than background noise to the clamor of all the white European, “transoceanic travelers” that Joseph and his cohorts believe came here long before Columbus, the Vikings, and in some cases the Native American’s themselves

After this dubious introductory sentence, the authors of the articles reprinted in this section are introduced. Joseph makes an attempt to provide credentials that make each author sound like an authority in their subject. A deeper look into each author shows potential problems with these claims of authority.

Frank Joseph is listed on the back of the book as a veteran scuba diver and amateur underwater excavator. It even mentions his time as past editor of Ancient American magazine (Joseph 2017).There are many issues with Joseph’s background. These issues shouldn’t be ignored when considering this edited volume. As I’ve already stated, however, they are not to focus of these critiques.

Dr. Steven E. Jones is a retired physicist from Brigham Young University (Joseph 2017:14) known for his 9/11 Truther theories about Muon-Catalysed Fusion melting steel beams and for his ideas about Cold Nuclear Fusion. He’s criticized by his peers for his ideas on the above topics. Archaeologists find his ideas about ancient American horses proving the validity of the Book of Mormon invalid as well.

Carl L. Johannessen is a professor emeritus of geography from the University of Oregon (Joseph 2017:14). He refers to himself as a Biogeographer on his website Archives of Cultural Exchange.org. He appears very invested in the idea of transoceanic contact. Archaeologists and botanists find his ideas about transoceanic trade unsupported by evidence.

Julia Patterson (1931-2015), is presented as a former professor of archeology and anthropology at London College and the University of Illinois, Urbana (Joseph 2017:14). I can’t find anything about her through my usual sources. This does not negate the book’s claims of her credentials. It is difficult to check her expertise on any particular topic, however. I can find no mention of her at either institution nor can I find any academic papers with her name on them. If anyone is familiar with her or her work, please feel free to send me a link or file, and I will update this section.

After introducing the sections authors, Joseph finishes off the section by suggesting that the Hopewell culture is somehow controversial. He makes the claim that the Hopewell people are racially and culturally different from the “indigenous societies” because they have more gracile cranial features and what appears to him to be a more elegant and sophisticated society (Joseph 2017:14). There is no reason to accept this statement, and I am unaware of any actual controversies about the Hopewell culture that run along these lines. However, it’s not the first time I’ve seen a prehistoric native culture marked as ‘other’ by the Fringe.

Joseph’s closing statement serves two purposes as far as I can tell. Firstly, to create doubt in the mind of the reader, suggesting that the Hopewell culture is in question academically and there is a controversy about it being fully ‘native’. Secondly, to create a space in prehistory that might be populated with non-native people. Said people must have originated from some other location, thus creating room for the possibility of transoceanic travelers to be real.

It is from this section that we begin delving deeper into the meat of the book itself. Keeping in mind that the purpose is to provide us with incontrovertible evidence of transoceanic travelers in America’s prehistory.

Chapters in this section:

Chapter 1: Horses in America
Chapter 2: Plants Connect the Old and New Worlds
Chapter 3: Egyptian Style Cat Burial in Illinois
Chapter 4: Eyewitness Engravings of Ancient American Mammoths

If you’d like to support this blog, consider donating on Patreon or PayPal under ArchyFantasies@gmail.com
Want more on this topic? Go to: ArchyFantasies Reviews – The Lost History of Ancient America.
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com.


Joseph, Frank
2017    The Lost History of Ancient America. Edited Volume. The Career Press. Wayne, NJ.

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ArchyFantasy Reviews: The Lost History of Ancient America: Introduction


I was sent an early copy of Frank Joseph’s newest edited volume titled, The Lost History of Ancient America, to review. Someone thought this was a good idea.

I’ve been pouring over this, rather brief, fact free, and poorly argued volume for some time now. It’s easy to dismiss a book like this out of hand. Its editor alone is enough for some to write it off. But that’s not what we’re about here at the blog. We want to look things over, examine the arguments, look over any ‘evidence’ provided, and evaluate these claims.

Once we’re past the obvious errors of the book, we’re left with a lot to unpack here. We’ll move through the book as it is laid out, but let’s begin at the beginning.

In the introduction, written by Frank Joseph aka Frank Collins, Joseph makes a rather strange argument starting with the title of the chapter, and continuing throughout the introduction. It’s a blatant strawman argument, starts with the title “Columbus was Last” (archaeologists already know this), and continues with Joseph hounding on the false assumption that archaeologists think that Columbus was the first European to come to the Americas. He attacks a false paradigm that he desperately needs to be true in order for his arguments to hold up. Sadly, they do not.

Not long after introducing this narrative, he branches off to start making claims that this book is a “breakthrough”, “Radically Innovative”, and that this book shall reveal “The Truth”,

“Never before and nowhere else has so much valid evidence been assembled on behalf of overseas’ visitors in America before Columbus. (Joseph 2017:11)”

“With the publication of this, the fourth in a series of articles from Ancient American magazine, skeptics no longer have an academic leg to stand on…(Joseph 2017:11)”

He then begins a preemptive attack on said ‘academics’, prematurely martyring himself to argumentum ad hominem and argumentum ad verecundiam (which this book is the very definition of). He then begins his own attacks on these faceless academics,  all the while lauding himself and this collection of articles as being the real research, not just a collection of ‘dry facts, and ‘techno-jargon’.

He closes with an odd statement, more a declaration than an offering:

“History, we affirm, belongs to anyone who can appreciate it, and is not the exclusive privilege of salaried professional. But our agenda is not theirs, and we go our way.”

Here I have to break with my stated purpose, as knowing Joseph’s background and the agenda of the Ancient American magazine, make the above statement almost ludicrous. Joseph seems to be trying to make a bold statement about owning his own history, not letting ‘privileged, salaried professionals’ tell him what that history is. The chilling irony here that he’s doing this at the expense of actual native peoples, appropriating and reinterpreting, or flat out denying their recorded, known, and evidence backed histories.

It is from this launching point that we are led into the book. It promises to be both a comical and aggravating experience. There is more to this series, just follow the link: ArchyFantasies Reviews – The Lost History of Ancient America. 

If you’d like to support this blog, consider donating on Patreon or PayPal under ArchyFantasies@gmail.com
Want more on this topic? Go to: ArchyFantasies Reviews – The Lost History of Ancient America. 
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com

Categories: ArchyFantasy Reviews, The Lost History of Ancient America | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Archaeological Fantasies Podcast Halloween Line-up!


Just in time for our big MonsterTalk Halloween Special, due out Monday on Halloween, here’s a list of our spookiest episodes to date! Go catch up on a year’s worth of archaeological notes about Ghosts, Witches, Mummies and Vampires!








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The Dare Stones


The Dare Stones are one of those ‘artifacts’ that I find the belief in them hard to understand. There is so much that I find to be obviously wrong with them, that I have a hard time figuring out why anyone would believe them to be real. Though to be honest, it seems not a whole lot of people really do find them to be authentic, just a few who might have an investment in them.

So what are the Dare Stones?

AU s1e7 dare stones 4

One of the Dare Stones. Image via America Unearthed screen shot.

Like many of the questionable artifacts we’ve looked at over the years, these also have dubious origins. In 1937, one L. E. Hammond, claimed to have found a stone he thought was inscribed by Eleanor Dare, the daughter of the John White, Governor of the lost colony of Roanoke (Childs 2013). Hammond said he found the stone off Highway 17 in North Carolina, while hunting for hickory nuts (Childs 2013).

Hammond claimed that he struggled to decipher the stone himself, and decided to seek help (Pearce 1938). Hammond took the stone to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia,  where it was examined by Dr. Haywood Jefferson Pearce, Jr., professor of American history. Pearce seems to have been convinced of the authenticity of the stone, and penned a preliminary examination of the stone, published in The Journal of Southern History (Pearce 1938). In his article, Pearce uses cautionary language about the authenticity of the stone, but writes as if he is certain it’s real. He makes several assumptions (Pearce 1938) based on the Stone being real:

  1. That the colonists didn’t go to Croatoan as has been usually assumed by Historians.
  2. The colonists did not go to the mainland opposite Roanaoke island.
  3. The colonists did go inland to the lower reaches of the east bank of the Chowan River.
  4. The colonists for two years…suffered ‘misery and war’ and in two more years were reduced by sickness to ’24’.
  5. Of these 24, all but 7 were massacred by the Indians in 1591.
  6. Among the dead were Ananias and Virginia Dare, the husband and daughter of Eleanor Dare.
  7. The massacre was reported to the Jamestown people and was instigated by the priest.
  8. The approximate burial-place of the massacred was a small hill, four miles east of the Chowan River on which a rock inscribed with their names was placed.

Pearce, seeming to sense that there would be fall out for his examination of the stone, asked a few valid questions about the stone. Two of which were, why was Croatoan written on the palisade door if they didn’t go there, and why didn’t Eleanor state her exact whereabouts in the message inscribed on the stone?

Pearce states that he was impressed by the stone for a few reasons, including how well the account on the back of the stone adheres to known historical sources from the time, including the mention of 7 survivors (Pearce 1938). He was also impressed by the authenticity of the language and grammar used on the stone, which matched the known language of the time (Pearce 1938). He did mention the unconventional 3 letter signature of Eleanor at the end of the stone, it was almost unheard of for women to sign their names this way, usually it was with only 2 letters (Pearce 1938).

Hammond, after being well received at the university, worked with researchers there to decipher the stone and even took them to see approximately where he claims to have found the stone (Pearce 1938). There is no report to say if any further examination of the stone was ever made.


A photograph of professors (l to r) James G. Lester, Haywood Pearce, Jr., and Ben W. Gibson examining the first Dare Stone. Image courtesy of Brenau University, Gainesville, Ga. (Childs 2013)


Pearce managed to convince his father, Pearce Sr., owner of private school Brenau College in Gainesville, Georgia, to buy the stone (Childs 2013). Pearce also knew he needed more evidence to confirm the authenticity of the stone, and he knew if he could find the second stone alluded to in the first stone’s inscription, it would go a long way to proving the stone was real.

After the publication of his article, Pearce was contacted by a Capt. J. P. Wiggins, a former mayor of Edenton, North Carolina. Wiggins seemed to remember as a young man seeing a moss covered stone up on a knoll, or small hill (Sparks 1941). He said he could take Pearce to the location, but he couldn’t promise that the stone was still there. The location and description seemed to match the first stone’s story of the burial place of the 17 dead. Pearce lead his first survey of the area in February of 1938, and the found the large stone. When it was uncovered though, there was no writing on it. Still convinced that it was an unmarked grave Pearce went back in August of that year and excavated the entire hill. Nothing was found. He returned to the area one last time in March of 1939, with the same results (Sparks 1941).

Frustrated but not defeated, Pearce decided to tackle this another way, he offered a $500 reward for information on the second stone (Childs 2013). With money on the line, Pearce’s luck was about to change.

Enter Eberhardt.

In the summer of 1939, William “Bill” Eberhardt, a stone cutter, told Pearce that he’d found the second stone (Childs 2013). Not only that, he’d found a total of 13 other stones there as well. He said he’d found them near Pelzer, SC, and showed Pearce the site (Childs 2013).  To his credit, Pearce didn’t immediately take to Eberhardt’s claims at first (Sparks 1941). Pearce told Eberhardt that the first stone presented was probably a Spanish grave marker, and the second two stones were dated wrong, not to mention the 300 mile difference (Sparks 1941). Pearce made the mistake of telling Eberhardt what he was looking for, that an authentic stone would have been dated 1591 and have seventeen names inscribed on it (Sparks 1941). A week later Eberhardt showed up with just the right stone (Sparks 1941). Of greatest interest on this new stone was the inscription on the side of it; “Father wee goe sw.(Sparks 1941).” This seemingly small detail was quite a clever ruse set in place to make the distance seem more logical and more plausible. Eberhardt was paid for his discoveries, and over the course of time he managed to ‘find’ 42 more stones, bilking the Pearce’s for $2000 in total (Childs 2013).

Eberhardt’s stones expanded the story started on the original Dare Stone, and now there was a proper epic. Adding to the story of woe and misery on the first stone, the Eberhardt stones expanded on the story creating a world where the seven:

“survivors journeyed southwest from the Edenton, N.C. area through South Carolina to Georgia. Eleanor and the six survivors found refuge with friendly Cherokees in “Hontaoase.” Eleanor married an American Indian chief in 1593, gave birth to his daughter Agnes, and finally died in a cave on the Chattahoochee River near present-day Atlanta in 1599 (Childs 2013).”

Reinvigorated by this new discovery, Perce had Eberhardt show him where the stones had been found, and sure enough, there were still indentations in the ground (Sparks 1941). Bolstered by this, and that all investigations into the stones and Eberhardt showed that the stones were authentic and Eberhardt so uneducated to have forged them (Sparks 1941), Pearce bought the hill the where the stones were found and began excavations. Despite their efforts, nothing was found here either.

In August of 1939, Pearce received a new bit of information, this time from one I. A. Turner, of Atlanta, GA. He to had found a rock and this one furthered the goose chance that Pearce was on (Sparks 1941). Still seemingly unaware of the situation, Pearce sent Eberhardt to investigate harder in Georgia and sure enough, just outside of Gainesville, GA, Eberhardt found nine more stones, all with the date 1591 on them (Sparks 1941). Over the next few years more stones would be found, with the direct aid of Eberhardt, and the winding saga of Eleanor Dare would wrap up nicely, carved in stone.

But this is where things get weird.

In April of 1941, Boyden Sparkes published a very critical article in the Saturday Evening Post, claiming the whole thing was a hoax and that Eberhardt was behind it along with Pearce himself. (Sparks 1941, Childs 2013).

Sparkes’ story in the Saturday Evening Post uses strong language and makes direct assertions. However, Sparks makes a very convincing argument trying to prove the stones are an elaborate hoax, including interviewing almost all of the parties involved.

Sparks begins his unraveling with an account from 1937, a year before Pearce publishes his article. In this account an unnamed man was routinely was coming to Roanoke trying to sell several get-rich scams, including proposing a hoax whereby a “bogus stone relic” would be ‘discovered’ and point to the fate of the Lost Colony (Sparks 1941). This man claimed that he had workers who could carve the stones, and presumably hide and then discover said stones (Sparks 1941).  This all seemed to have something to do with an upcoming production about the history of the lost colony, and the man was trying to get rich off of this. No one took the bait, that time. Sparks was able to track Hammond’s whereabouts at the time, and they appeared to correlate strongly with the unnamed man trying to sell a fake stone and a hoax (Sparks 1941).

Sparks makes the assertion that at the time of the publication of his article, Pearce would have been aware that the stone he was writing about was the same stone (Sparks 1941). Pearce even admitted to Sparks that he never bothered to investigate the correlation (Sparks 1941). This didn’t sit well with Sparks, who decided to really delve into Hammond and Eberhart’s backgrounds.

Eberhart himself was well acquainted with creating and selling fake artifacts. He even had an antique dealer who refused to deal with him anymore, since they couldn’t sell any of Eberhart’s forged Aztec or Mayan relics (Sparks 1941). This same dealer had been able to sell Eberhart’s other “Indiana Relics” before (Sparks 1941). Perhaps these were stretching the imagination too much (Sparks 1941).

When these forgeries were investigated, there appeared to be evidence of the soapstone pieces being treated with a blowtorch to make them seem older (Sparks 1941). The State Geologist of the time, said the carving on the relics had been recently made (Sparks 1941). All this would have been knowable to Pearce, so how did Pearce not know about this part of Eberhart’s past?

Sparks discovered that Eberhart and I. A. Turner had been friends, or at least acquaintances, for 10 years or more (Sparks 1941). He also discovered that the “four different people” that are credited with finding more stones, were either linked back to Eberhart or Turner, or were led by the nose by the two men in their ‘discoveries’ (Sparks 1941). Eberhart was involved in finding all but two of the 42 Dare stones, the exceptions being the first stone found by Turner and a stone found by William Bruce (Sparks 1941). Even the stones supposedly recalled by a man named Jett from his childhood, would never have been rediscovered had it not been for Turner’s involvement, and both of those stones have serious flaws of their own (Sparks 1941).

Turner, when interviewed directly by Spacks, admitted that he and Eberhart had planned to go in half with the profits from the stones (Sparks 1941). He also has an interesting story that appears to link Hammond, who apparently came to Turner looking for a someone who could fake a rock with the word “Yahoo” on it (Sparks 1941). He offered to pay $30,000. for it, but Turner didn’t think he had the money, so refused the work (Sparks 1941).

Sparks directly investigated the discovery location of the half stone produced by Jett’s wife (stone no. 46), and went to talk directly with her father, J. H. Whitmire. He was shown the chest where the stone that she produced was stored, and the chest was apparently a large storage chest where all kinds of items were tossed. These items included heavy farm tools and used millstones, along with other ‘Indian Rocks’. Sparks notes that anyone could have come and planted the broken stone here, and since the Jetts were approached by Turner to produce their stones,  Sparks seems to think it was a good chance that this was the case.

To support that claim, Sparks points out that the stone (No. 46) had been stored in the chest for somewhere around 15 years. Yet the stone itself was nearly pristine when found presented by Mrs. Jett. Sparks says:

“One of the least credible facts about the collection is that the half of Stone No. 46 represented to have been for twenty-six years part of a barn pillar, and then for fifteen other years somewhere on the ground, and the half that had been knocked around fifteen years in a chest of heavy tools, after such varied experiences fit as neatly as a freshly broken teacup. (Sparks 1941)”

This isn’t the first time the neat and unworn conditions of the stones were questioned. Sparks mentions that it appeared to be Eberhart’s habit to present stones that were “clean” (Sparks 1941). The stones had been repeatedly scrubbed with steel-wool and had their in inscriptions scraped out (Sparks 1941). Whatever the reasoning given for this activity, it effectively made it impossible to glean anything useful from the stone itself, and I agree with Sparks in that Pearce should have known better.

The Language of the Stones.

This ‘clean’ condition spurred Sparks to interview other authorities in the field to get their opinions on the Dare Stones. He spoke with Professor Jim Lester, who was working at Emory college. Lester commented on the “freshness” of the stones and the groves of the engravings. On Stone no. 25 he noticed the strange manner that the letters were engraved on the stone. They appeared to be done in a way as to not disturb the lichen already growing on the stone (Sparks 1941). Lester notes:

“. . .I am forced to believe less in the authenticity of this stone. than in any. . . . It makes me believe it has been doctored . . . the lack of lichenous material in the grooves seems to be the first glaring drawback to any of the stones that I have seen.” (Sparks 1941)

It was Lester’s opinion that the stone he looked at was a fake (Sparks 1941).

Sparks began to look at Pearce’s own writing on the stone, and started to take his argument apart one bit at a time. Starting with Pearce’s claim that the methods used to inscribe the stones couldn’t be replicated with modern techniques. Sparks looked up the first stone cutting company in the New York phone directory and asked them if they could reproduce the stones:

In New York I took photographs and geological descriptions of the stones to the Mount Airy Granite Company. The telephone directory showed it to be the most convenient. I asked Abe Goldsmith, in charge, “Could you do work like this?” “Sure. Any stonecutter could.” “Could you make the work look old?” “All stones are old. But it would be easy enough to ‘age’ the surface-tumble it in a barrel. Acids. Wrap the stone with wet sacking sprinkled with iron filings. Any number of ways.” (Sparks 1941)

Next he looked at Pearce’s claims that the lettering was consistent with the time period. He spoke to  Dr. Samuel Tannenbaum, an Elizabethan scholar and paleographer, and an expert in historical writing styles. The problem that Tannenbaum discovered was that the very shape of the letters was all wrong:

“There isn’t a Gothic letter here. And this settles the whole matter! The forgery becomes obvious to anyone who knows how the Elizabethans wrote. In England in 1590 only men like Francis Bacon, Edmund Spenser, Walter Raleigh, Philip Sidney could write Roman script. Few enough could write at all. Even those men wrote their text in Gothic, but as a mark of culture used Roman letters in their signatures. Every letter on these stones is a Roman letter. The best man in England would have slipped, made here and there a Gothic letter.” (Sparks 1941)

Finally, Sparks looked at the language on the stones because Pearce claimed it was acceptable for the time period. Sparks had 712 words from the stones analysed and found issues with the variation in spelling, namely that there wasn’t any:

“No Elizabethan was ever so consistent in spelling.” Said Tannenbaum. “Francis Bacon spelled his own name something like thirty different ways. Walter Raleigh spelled his name, I think, forty-five ways. Elizabethans had no principles of spelling because they had no dictionary. Here the consistency is supposed to have been observed through twelve years of forest wandering by people shut off from white civilization. “Shakespeare had a vocabulary of fifteen thousand words. Next best was John Milton with eight thousand words. The average person today has at most three thousand words. Isn’t it extraordinary to find ‘primeval’ and ‘reconnoitre’ when they do not appear in Shakespeare . . . ?” (Sparks 1941)

A simple check of the Oxford Dictionary finds that the earliest known use of “primeval” was in Urquhart’s Rabelais, 1653 (Sparks 1941, Oxford Dictionary). “ Reconnoitre,” wasn’t in used before 1707 in English (Sparks 1941, Oxford Dictionary). The word “trale” [trail] was used to denote the scent of a quarry rather than a pathway in the 1590’s (Sparks 1941). The presence of these words on stones that were supposed to date to 1591 should be enough to debunk the stones (Sparks 1941). Unless you want to argue that these are really the first recorded uses of these words. (please don’t)

The last interesting bit of Sparks’ investigation into the stones was an exchange he had with Paul Green, the author of the historical play we mentioned way back at the beginning.

He told me: “Whoever inscribed those stones plagiarized at least the framework of my play. There is no basis in history for such an Eleanor Dare. Her name is mentioned; she had a child, Virginia. After research, I conceived the need of a pioneering type of woman, capable of leadership. (Sparks 1941)

When Sparks published this article, it understandably angered Pearce. At some point afterwards Perce confronted Eberhardt. In response Eberhardt forged another stone with the inscription “Pearce and Dare Historical Hoaxes. We Dare Anything (Childs 2013).” He threatened to turn it over the the Saturday Evening Post and admit to faking the stones if Pearce didn’t pay him to stop (Childs 2013). At this point, Pearce admitted being duped publicly (Childs 2013).

But despite all this, the Dare Stones still have their faithful followers. Retired Brenau history professor, Jim Southerland, thinks the first Dare Stone is authentic, and the stones have enjoyed renewed popularity thanks to shows like America Unearthed and the History Channel’s production Roanoke : Search for the Lost Colony (AccessWDUN 2015). Unfortunately for them, both shows did more to prove the stones were fake than real.

All of the Dare Stones follow a predictable pattern that should be familiar at this point; mysterious and unreliable discoveries, dubious finders, no documentation, and no archaeological evidence to support them. Throw in this very well documented conspiracy that appears between Eberhardt, Turner, and possibly Pearce, and you simply can’t trust these artifacts at all.

It’s interesting to think that the first stone might be real. It’s a nice bit of closure for a missing colony. However, all evidence that we have suggested that the colonists went to Roanoke island, and there is some archaeological evidence to support this. What’s the complete story? Probably nothing close to the epic written in stone by Eberhardt and Turner. Still, they get points for creativity.

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Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com


Sparkes, Boyden
1941    “Writ on Rocke: Has America’s 1941 First Murder Mystery Been Solved?” The Saturday Evening Post. (26 April 1941) http://www.angelfire.com/ego/iammagi/dare_writ_on_rocke.htm  Retrieved 7/13/2016

Childs, T. Mike
2013    The Dare Stones.
NC Government & History Library, 2013. http://ncpedia.org/dare-stones. Retrieved 7/13/2016

Pearce, Haywood J.
1938    “New Light on the Roanoke Colony: A Preliminary Examination of a Stone Found in Chowan County, North Carolina.” The Journal of Southern History 4.2 (1938): 148-63. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2192000?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents. Retrieved 7/13/2016

Brenau University Homepage for the Dare Stones



History Channel

2013    Roanoke: Search for the Lost Colony. http://www.history.com/specials/roanoke-search-for-the-lost-colony


Categories: Artifacts That Aren't, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Unlucky Mummies Get a Bad Wrap.



On episode 52 of the Archaeological Fantasies Podcast we talk about Mummies!

We all think we know about the story of King Tut, but a lot of it was embellishment at the time, as well as confusing the story of Tut’s discovery with stories of other mummies at the time. Ken, Jeb, and I talk about the reality of the Mummy’s curse, in this episode. We’re also able to sus out where some of the myths about the Mummy’s curse come from, who probably started them. We also make some possible connections between King Tut and Cthulhu (noting a trend?) and talk about the long term impacts of the idea of the mummy. It’s a great episode, go give it a listen!

Categories: Archaeology, ArchyFantasies Podcasts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Were-sheep-man and the Hexham Heads

The Hexham Heads are a fun little discovery that took on a life of their own…almost literally. We talk about them on episode 51 of the Archaeological Fantasies Podcast. Go give it a listen!

Supposedly, found sometime in 1971 by two young boys, Colin Robson and his brother Leslie, in their back garden in Hexham, England (Andrew 2012, Ferrol 2012, Urban 2014), these two tiny stone heads created a stir almost as soon as they were found. Kept in the home of the two boys, the heads were said to have the power to rotate around as if looking at things (Urban 2014), pull hair (Ferrol 2012), cause random items to break without reason (Andrew 2012), and other supernatural like occurrences. It’s also claimed that during Christmas, a strange flower blossomed on the location one (or both?) head was found, and that a strange light glowed there (Andrew 2012). The pinnacle of strange phenomena attributed to the heads actually happened to the neighbor, Ellen Dodd.

Dodd owned the other half of the duplex the families shared. According to the story, she woke one night to see a half-sheep, half-human creature in her bedroom. It reportedly “padded” it’s way downstairs and put the front door as she watched (Urban 2014). It is interesting to note that also that evening there was an apparent prank involving a drunk who had stolen a sheep’s carcass and was staggering down the road Dodd lived on, carrying the thing on his shoulders (Ferrol 2012, Urban 2014). Dodd also claims the same night, she heard a scream next door and the sound of something breaking (Andrew 2012). The Robsons claim the noises had to do with a werewolf sighting in their side of the house (Andrew 2012).

The heads themselves look like petrified apple-doll heads. They are made out of what turned out to be cement, and were carved as toys by Des Craigie, a former resident at the duplex that Robson and Dodd shared (Ferrol 2012, Urban 2014). He made them for his children to play with back in the 1950’s, and reproduced them on the spot when asked (Ferrol 2012, Urban 2014). So case closed right? Well…

‘I really don’t think it matters too much when the heads were made, or who made them, the things worked and that’s what matters.’ (Clarke 2012)

The story of the Hexham heads really doesn’t take off until Dr. Anne Ross becomes involved. Ross was a well known expert on Celtic culture. Unfortunately, the heads appeared to have confounded her. Ross erroneously dated the heads to be about 1800 years old and said that they were originally used during Celtic head-rituals (Andrew 2012). Ross kept the heads with her in her home for some time to study them, and during that time, she experienced paranormal phenomena of her own, including a visit from a werewolf (Andrew 2012, Clarke 2012, Ferrol 2012, Urban 2014).

Dr Ross, in whose home the stones were temporarily stored. When I interviewed Ross in 1994 she told me the stones brought an “evil presence” with them: “There was no doubt the haunting was that of a werewolf,” she told me. “The thing took form very gradually, and when it actually became not just audible and hinted at but tangible and visible, something had to be done, because it was definitely growing…” (the house was subsequently exorcised, but that’s another story….) Clarke 2011

The Heads change hands a few more times after Ross is done studying them, and like all good paranormal artifacts, they vanish. The current location of the heads is not known.

The Heads are an interesting tail for other reasons though, and most of that stems from the hype that formed around them. Jeb and I talk about this in the podcast episode. Like the quote above says, despite the Heads being confirmed as non-paranormal in origin, there is still a belief that they possess paranormal powers, this time brought on by the mere belief that they should possess such powers.

The reasoning behind this is akin to the ideas in the 1972 movie by Nigel Kneal called The Stone Tapes. In the movie, the team is studying stones that apper to have recorded paranormal phenomena cause by the strong emotions felt by the victims at the time of their demise (its a decent movie, go watch it). Ross and others make a similar plea here, that since so many people experienced what they thought was paranormal activity in the presence of the Heads, the Heads now actually possess paranormal powers similar to those originally experienced.

Can this really happen? Well, it is certainly well documented that if someone believes something strongly enough, their minds will create the desired effect. There are enough placebo studies to prove that, not to mention studies on superstition and witchcraft. So, do I think the Heads now possess supernatural powers that they didn’t before? No. Do I think that people believe that they do? Yes.

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Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com



2012    The Curse Of The Hexham Heads? April 20, 2012 http://www.paranormal-encounters.com/wp/the-curse-of-the-hexham-heads/. Accessed 9/10/2016

Clarke, David
2011    Celtic curse tested? http://www.drdavidclarke.co.uk May 4, 2011.  https://drdavidclarke.co.uk/2011/05/04/update-on-campaign-to-protect-celtic-shrine/  Accessed 9/10/2016

2012    Heads and Tales. http://www.drdavidclarke.co.uk. December 22, 2012. https://drdavidclarke.co.uk/2012/12/22/heads-and-tales/  Accessed 9/10/2016

Ferrol, Stuart
2012    “In Search of the Hexham Heads, part one”. Fortean Times (294). pp. 42–7 (November 2012). Accessed 9/10/201

Screeton, Paul
2012    Quest for the Hexham Heads. https://www.amazon.com/Quest-Hexham-Heads-Paul-Screeton/dp/1905723946

The Urban Prehistorian
2014    The Hexham Heads part 1 – the discovery. The Urban Prehistorian blog. Jan 27 2014. https://theurbanprehistorian.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/the-hexham-heads-part-1-the-discovery/. Accessed 9/10/2016

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

DNA in Archaeology with Jennifer Raff



Episode 50 of the Archaeological Fantasies is live, and Ken and I were able to finally sit down with someone who knows quite a bit about the use of DNA and genetics in archaeology. Jennifer Raff, who’s covered all this wonderfully over at her own blog Violent Metaphors, was just the podcast guest I’ve been looking for to help us sus out all the ins and outs of genetic evidence in archaeology.

We’ve mentioned Jennifer and her co-author Deborah A. Bolnick’s work before when Ken and I talked about the Solutrean-Clovis hypothesis. Her and Dr. Bolnick’s paper really digs into the supposed genetics that are supposed to support this rather flawed hypothesis.

I’m not going to rehash all of this in this post, Jennifer has don the lions share on her blog and paper, and then again on the podcast. I suggest you go give it all a read and a listen . It really clarifies questions I had about ancient genetics and prehistoric DNA.

If you’d like to support this blog, consider donating on Patreon.
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com

Categories: Columbus was Second-ish: Who Discovered America Anyway, Podcast, Women in Archaeology | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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