Weird Archaeology

The Dare Stones

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.

dare_stones_brenau_university_haywood_pearce_jr_center_with_emory_colleagues_james_g_lester_left_and_ben_w_gibson

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


Resources:

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

https://www.brenau.edu/darestones/

http://accesswdun.com/article/2015/10/346553/retired-brenau-professor-tv-docudrama-helps-establish-authenticity-of-dare-stone-collection

History Channel

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

 

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The Origins of the Oak Island Saga Pt2: Smith’s Cove and Boobie Traps.

Smith's Cove

Oak island showing Smith’s Cove via Google Earth 2016

Despite the lack of treasure found on Oak Island, there appears to be something strange about the whole thing, and that’s enough for some adventurers. The Money Pit is far from the most intriguing thing on, or around rather, the island. Many think this possibly man-made feature is the reason for flooding in the Money Pit. Since the discovery of the Money Pit, six more companies have tried, and failed, to recover treasure from the island and many blame this watery obstacle for it.

What is this most dastardly foil of an obstacle?

Smith’s Cove appears to have come into the Oak Island Saga some time in 1965. Robert Dunfield agreed that the Money Pit was flooding due to some kind of boobie trap, and he thought the source was probably the beach (Oak 2015). He drew several diagrams, outlining what he thought had occurred to create a funnel system, starting at Smith’s Cove and ending at the Money Pit (Oak 2015). This idea caught on quickly with other treasure hunters and became part of the cannon of the Oak Island Saga.

When the Triton Company took over excavations in 1971 they made note of what they thought were man made structures:

“Historians and archaeologists who have worked closely with Triton throughout the operations believe that this structure is probably the remains of the original builders’ coffer dam[sic] erected during excavation of the flood tunnel and its underwater collector drains. Other discoveries made by Triton at Smiths Cove include: matted organic material identified by the National Research Council as coconut fibre[sic] (which is consistent with 1850 reports of masses of coconut fiber underlying the beach where it seems to have been used as a filter to keep the collector drains from clogging); the remains of a ruler or framing square; an unusual antique wooden box; and a wrought iron caulking tool.” (Oak 2015)

Now, a cofferdam is often constructed as a way to enclose an area in order to pump it dry so that it can be used as a staging ground of other work or other land use. It’s also a practice that’s been around for along time. So it’s not unusual to see something like this in action dating back to the earlier centuries, especially on an island that has a historical connection to shipping and fishing.

Much has been made of the artifacts found around Smith’s Cove, but as these were discovered as part of a treasure hunt and not an actual archaeological dig, thereby implying the context of these artifacts is completely gone, the reliability of these artifacts is questionable. Take for example Triton Co.’s interpretation of the wooden box found being used for rock removal during tunnel digging (Oak 2015). There is absolutely no reason to assume this based on what has been presented to us. The only evidence offered up by the sympathetic website, Oak Island Treasure, is that the movie ‘The Great Escape’ used what they assume is a similar process in a digging scene (Oak 2015). Not exactly convincing.

There are other issues with the idea of a flood system boobie trap.

An independent study was done by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) for Triton Co. and their results were not exactly supportive of this idea. Despite being very limited in their ability to collect data, WHOI, was able to do some testing.

The major issue WHOI encountered was Triton’s control over what they were allow to even look at. The chief researcher involved in the investigation stated that the researchers were led to the spot and handed material supposedly retrieved from under the sand (Joltes 2002b). No archaeological excavation was conducted and the WHOI researchers were not allowed to collect their own samples for comparison (Joltes 2002b).

Despite this, WHOI did a variety tests and looked at a few key points of evidence offered by Triton Co. The first of which was getting a C14 date for the coconut husks allegedly found on the island and inside the Money Pit. The dates obtained by the C14 tests indeed show a date of 1130, +/-70 years. The major issue here is that these samples were handed to WHOI and they were not allowed to collect comparative samples to make sure that these samples were legitimate and from the area in question. As we know from historical documents, Oak Island was used for shipping and fishing (O’Connor 2004, Bartram 2005), and many guess that it was used for pirate smuggling (Nickell 2000, O’Connor 2004, Oak 2008). These coconut husks could easily have gotten there as part of packing marital used in cargo shipping (Joltes 2002b). Or the dates could be compromised by mishandling or other contaminates. As WHOI couldn’t collect comparison samples, there’s no way to know or trust this date.

WHOI also poured a sensitive dye into Borehole 10-X, who’s water levels vary at the same rate as the Money Pit, and then monitored the coastline around the island to check for evidence of the dye (Joltes 2002b). No dye was detected emerging anywhere around the island (Joltes 2002b). They also conducted side-scan sonar studies of the area looking for any kind of channels between the Money Pit and the shoreline, finding nothing (Joltes 2002b). Thus concluding that:

‘no direct connection to the surrounding ocean was found during the study (Gallo, 2002).’ (Joltes 2002b)

So where is the water coming from if not the sea?

Well for starts the water in the hole and the Money Pit is not actually seawater. It’s ‘brackish’ indicating  a freshwater lens on the island (Joltes 2002b, Bartram 2005 ). Geologically this is possible as Graham Harris explains:

Geologically the island is a drumlin. Composed almost entirely of dense glacial till, it is a remnant of the last Ice Age. This till overlies anhydrite bedrock, with which is associated some minor limestone. Anhydrite possesses the dubious property of being exceedingly soluble, more so in salt water than in fresh. Paradoxically Oak Island is the only island in the region to be underlain by anhydrite. On the adjacent mainland, and on other islands in the region, sounder limestones and slates can be found at shallow depth.

…digging the first shaft through dense till into the underlying anhydrite is a simple operation fraught with little peril. But once the excavation fills up with water, drawn into it through systemic seepage paths within the anhydrite, these seepage paths will enlarge progressively. The greater the pumping activity the greater the rate of solution of the anhydrite and, of course, the greater the rate of inflow. Once started it is a vicious circle, and one likely to prove catastrophic as the solution passages enlarge.

Treasure-seekers centuries later would repeatedly attempt to dewater the workings by pumping – an exercise as fruitless as trying to pump the Atlantic Ocean dry! In recent years, massive sinkholes have developed offshore showing that the seepage paths radiating outwards from the base of the Money Pit have grown great indeed.

– Recovering the Oak Island Treasure, Graham Harris, C&G Association Journal, Spring 2002. (Bartram 2005).

If Smith Cove isn’t connected to the Money Pit via a drainage system, why are there man made structures there?

Aside from possible shipping use, there is another interesting and plausible suggestion for man-made structures in Smith’s Cove. The production of salt from sea water.
Salt was important back before the invention of refrigerated shipping for preservation of perishable cargo, especially fish  (King 2010). The first recorded owners of Oak Island were Gifford and Smith, two New York fishing agents in 1753 (King 2010). As salt was both an expensive and important part of the fishing industry, its perfectly acceptable that Gifford and Smith were also manufacturing their own salt. More support of this is in the shape and location of the five finger troughs that are found in Smith Cove (King 2010). There is also evidence of boiling pits used in the manufacture of salt and this whole process easily explains the presence of the artificial beach created by the cofferdam (King 2010).
Last and probably least, when Triton Co. brought in WHOI to examine their evidence, they showed the WHOI researchers a video. This enhanced CBC video, taken from the bottom of Borhole 10-X, supposedly shows a wooden casket and an severed hand. WHOI researchers were unable to see anything in the film. The water was so murky and the video so badly lit, that it was impossible to distinguish objects clearly (Joltes 2002b).

There is one last factor to consider here, Oak Island is irrecoverable compromised as a site.

Since the late 1700’s Oak Island has been a treasure hunters’ paradise, peaking in the 1960’s with as many as 40 active treasure pits (Bartram 2005). As such there are more holes on that island than in Swiss cheese. What little archaeological evidence recovered shows this to true. Not to mention all the stories about Oak Island’s Treasure are just that, Stories.

There are no known hard records for the discovery of the Money Pit or excavations of the Onslow or Truro companies from the 1800’s (Bartram 2005). There is, however, a strong oral tradition passed from McInnis, Smith and Vaughan that spawned several newspaper articles during the time (Bartram 2005). From these, the folklore of the island was born properly and has since been handed down as fact and evidence even when devoid of both.

The truly sad part of all this is that any actual archaeology that may have been on that island is now probably distorted beyond recovery. All in the name of some rumored treasure that no one is really clear what it might be. It really give new meaning to the terms ‘Fool’s Gold’ and ‘Wild Goose Chase’.

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Want more on this topic? Go to: The Oak Island Saga.
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com


 

Resources :

Bartram, John A.
2005     Appendix: On the claim for a flood tunnel. History, Hoax, and Hype: The Oak Island Legend.  CriticalEnquiry.org. Sun 19 of June. http://www.criticalenquiry.org/oakisland/floodtunnel.shtml  Retrieved 1/19/2016

Crystalinks
Nd    Oak Island Mystery. Crystalinks.com. http://www.crystalinks.com/oakislandmystery.html Retrieved 1/19/2016.
McCully, J.B.
1862    Correspondence in the Liverpool Transcript. October 1862. Liverpool, Nova Scotia. https://web.archive.org/web/20080517112423/http://www.oakislandtreasure.co.uk/content/view/74/97/ Retrieved 1/19/2016.

Forks, J.P.
1857    Correspondence in the Liverpool Transcript.  20 August 1857 Vol. 4 No. 32. S.J.M. Allen Editor. Liverpool, Nova Scotia.  http://web.archive.org/web/20150106084107/http://novascotia.ca/archives/virtual/newspapers/archives.asp?ID=2941 Retrieved 1/19/2016.

Joltes, Richard
2002a    Oak Island Research. CriticalEnquiry.org. p. 1. August 2002. >http://criticalenquiry.org/wp/oak-island-information/ Retrieved 1/19/2016

2002b    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Report. History, Hoax, and Hype: The Oak Island Legend.  CriticalEnquiry.org.  http://www.criticalenquiry.org/oakisland/whoi.shtml.
Retrieved 1/19/2016.

King, Dennis
2010    A Solution To The Mystery Of The Oak Island Five Finger Drains. CriticalEnquiry.org. February 2010.http://www.criticalenquiry.org/oakisland/Dennis_King_Mar_2010.shtml. Retrieved 1/19/2016.

Nickell, Joe
2000    The Secrets of Oak Island. Skepitcal Inquirer. Vol 24.2, March/April 2000. http://www.csicop.org/si/show/secrets_of_oak_island Accessed 1/19/2016

Oak Island Treasure
2008    History. Oak Island Treasure.  https://web.archive.org/web/20080509165300/http://www.oakislandtreasure.co.uk/content/section/5/35/ Retrieved 1/19/2016.

2015    Smith’s Cove – a closer look at Oak Island’s artificial beach. Oak Island Treasure.co.uk. October 15, 2015.  http://www.oakislandtreasure.co.uk/smiths-cove-a-closer-look-at-oak-islands-artificial-beach/. Retrieved 1/19/2016.

O’Connor, D’Arcy
2004    The Secret Treasure of Oak Island: The Amazing True Story of a Centuries-Old Treasure Hunt. The Lyons Press. Guilford, CT. https://books.google.com/books?id=QLoZMFzjWtQC&pg=PA269&dq=O%27Connor,+D%27Arcy.+1988.+The+Big+Dig.+New+York:+Ballantine.&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwin2-WT877KAhWFpR4KHYyKCrwQ6AEIJjAA#v=onepage&q&f=false Retrieved 1/19/2016.

Woods Hole 10x dye test. Forum Discussion on the Oak Island Treasure forum. http://forum.oakislandtreasure.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=3355&start=40 Retrieved 1/19/2016

Categories: Curse of Oak Island, Mystery Sties That Aren't, The Oak Island Saga | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

The American Stonehenge on Mystery Hill – America Unearthed S1, Ep 6.

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Yay! We’re about half way through the first season! I grossly underestimated how long it would take to review this series. There is just so much that needs to be addressed in each episode, it’s daunting. I am learning to break-up the posts into smaller posts that I can then link you too for more information. It’s still a lot of research and reviewing though, but I think it’s worth it.

As usual if you don’t want to read through the whole break down, feel free to skip to the In Summary section at the bottom, but as always, if you have a comment or question, witch I do welcome, don’t be surprised if I tell you to read the whole post first.

AU s1e6 1

We open this episode with a sepia toned film of a man getting his hair cut while listing to the old-timmey radio. An announcer is telling us, H.G.Wells style, about a mysterious collection of stone structures that has been discovered. We then see haircut man walking though the woods and stopping, awestruck, when he finds several piles of stone.

Wolter does a voice over here talking about Stonehenge, calming that it’s origins and meaning are still shrouded in mystery. This is not true in the way Wolter means it, but hey, we have to set a tone right?

Wolter goes on:

“Some advanced civilization that knew enough about the sun moon and stars to align theses stones in a very specific way.”

Yah, it’s called every ancient civilization ever, Wolter, seriously.

He then goes on to make the extraordinary claim of the the show, that there is a Stonehenge in America and that this henge and actual Stonehenge were built by the same people.

We start in Salem, New Hampshire at a place now called American Stonehenge, but what was once called Mystery Hill.  We meet Kenlsey Stone, son of the owner, who meets us at what is the central observatory of area. It’s a large covered gazebo. (Your +25 sword of BS slaying has no effect on it, and it’s not on fire.) There are small ‘standing stones’ that are arranged around the central point. It’s apparent from a casual glance that these stones were placed in a deliberate pattern and probably line up with something, probably solstices, equinoxes, and cross quarter days.

AU s1e6 2

Wolter correctly points out here that many ancient cultures all over the world made note of these points of the year. He then ruins it by throwing up a simplistic definition of  archaeoastronomy. He tells us that he saw archaeoastronomy in Georgia and that somehow connected Native Americans to the Mayans. (spoiler: he didn’t and it doesn’t)

He then makes another claim that caught my attention:

“The ancient practice of archaeoastronomy seems to tie many advanced cultures together.”…”and it also seems to tie them to America”

Couple of things her.

  1. Archaeoastronomy is a very common practice in most, if not all, prehistoric, ancient, and some modern cultures. It’s not a definitive sign of advance vrs not-advanced cultures. It was a tool necessary for everyday life, especially among agricultural societies. It was practiced in large scale, as seen in Stonehenge and the like, as well as on a small scale. My point here is it’s not a mystical magical unifying secret that only elite cultures were capable of understanding. It was part of basic everyday life, and was common because anyone can keep an eye on the sky and see that things change up there according to the seasons. It’s pretty much common sense.
  2. I think Wolter just made the claim that the  diffusionism of archaeoastronomy came out of America. I may just be confused here, but if that is true, this is a major deviation from his normal claims that everything was brought to America by white people.

Now we’re focusing on one stone in particular, and we get to watch Wolter rubbing it as epic music swells in the background. Wolter asks Stone what happens in the circle and Stone tells us that the sun rises in the middle of the stone, but that they think it might have risen at the top point of the stone at some point in the past. Wolter agrees and there is a fancy computer generated model to show us where the sun might have been in 1800BC. We’re not immediately told why this date is important, but hey, we’re building anticipation here!

AU s1e6 4

Wolter tells us that things can move the axis of the earth, like earthquakes, (or just the natural wobble of the planet), and we can use that for dating purposes. He then makes the claim that archaeoastronomy is more accurate for dating than C14 dating. This argument is, weird, and important for the story Wolter is trying to tell here and I’ll get to that in a minute.

Wolter tells us that the stones in the circle look weathered, which really means nothing. Any stone exposed to the elements will be weathered and Wotler has admitted as much in previous episodes of the show. I’m guessing he’s just talking out loud here.

Before we move on to how this henge is connected to Stonehenge, let’s recap a little here.

  • We are being grossly misled here by not being given the full story of Mystery Hill and Americans Stonehenge. I cover it detail in my blog post here, but to briefly recap:
    • The area known as Mystery Hill was once owned by Jonathan Pattee in 1837 (Gilbert 1907) and always had a bunch of natural caves and rock outcroppings. Pattee also built tons of structures on the land himself and these were commented on historically (Gilbert 1907, Starbuck 2006).
    • The land passed into the hands of William Goodwin in 1937 who dubbed the area Mystery Hill (Wright 1998, Starbuck 2006, Crystalinks N.d.). He then began to move and quarry the rocks and structures already on the land in order to “restore” what he thought was Irish monastery (Starbuck 2006, Crystalinks N.d.) completely destroying the context of the area.
    • Robert Stone bought the land in 1967 and the Stones have made a few improvements of their own (Starbuck 2006, Crystalinks N.d.). Adding a museum and changing the name to “America’s Stonehenge” trying to link the area to Stonehenge in England (Starbuck 2006).
    • Several archaeological digs have been done in the area. Of them, the one led by Gary Vescelius in 1955 recovered over 7000 artifacts, all of which were Native American or 18th and 19th century in origin (Starbuck 2006, Crystalinks N.d.).
    • What all this means is that American Stonehenge is completely out of context and even if it had been an actual ancient site, there is no way to ever know this due to the activities of Goodwin et al. Also, nothing has ever been found to suggest the area was ever settled by Ancient -Europeans.
  • Wolter makes a claim that archaeoastronomy is a more accurate way to date a site than C14 dating. He’s not entirely wrong, in some situations this can be correct. However, the reasons he’s making this claim isn’t because of these unique situations.
    • Mystery Hill has been excavated several times in the past, and one of the most recent excavations sent off charcoal samples to an actual lab to be c14 dated. The dates that came back do not support Wolter’s claims that the site dates back to  3800 ya. or 1800 BC.
    • Wolter is also neglecting to mention that you can make the sun line up with pretty much any single object if you just move around it till the sun lines up. You can probably witness something in your back yard (if you have one) lining up with the sun rise/set by chance. Or you can do what was probably done here, and deliberately put something there (see my note above about Goodwin et al).
    • Wolter’s computer generated model, though cool to look at, would only be valid if there wasn’t evidence that the stone he was using was probably moved and set up there intentionally by Goodwin et al.
    • Wolter appears to be trying to obfuscate the actual facts here in order to manufacture a mystery where there is none. Which is the show’s M.O., it’s just way more pronounced here this time.

But, we’re not done here yet.

After Wolter get’s done rubbing all the stones and making weird claims about archaeoastronomy, Stone tells us that he’s got more to show us. Stone claims that this evidence will tie America’s Stonehenge to the actual Stonehenge. Of course Wotler wants to see it!

What is this amazing evidence you ask?

Lines on a map.

Stone takes us to his computer and pulls up Google Earth, and then proceeds to draw a line between to points. What two points? Why, Americas Stonehenge and actual Stonehenge! Amazing!

Unless you remember your basic math and graphing skills here and remember that you can draw a straight line between any two arbitrary points.

To add to the drama of this magical line, Stone proceeds to show us that the line continues (as all lines do) and then “ends” in Beirut. Why does it end here? Because why not? There is no explanation as to why our arbitrary line between two arbitrary points must end in Beirut, it just does. That’s good enough for Wolter who immediately begins making up a connection for it. It has something to do with Phoenicians around 1200 bc, and the math is all bad, but whatever! We have our connection!

At this point we get to meet Dennis Stone, father of Kenlsey Stone, and we get a very brief and sterilized history of Mystery Hill. We’re told about Johnathan Pattee and how the area used to be called  Pattee’s Caves back in 1907. We’re even taken to what is possibly Pattee’s old house and Wolter makes his proclamation that Pattee couldn’t have made any of the structures on the site because:

“There’s no way Pattee could have built this, it just wreaks of being really old”

Very scientific of you Wolter.

Wolter tells us that if it’s old, it’s important. Not important enough to actually research, but hey, we’re busy building a mystery here. Wolter also dismisses Pettee’s ability to have built structures on his own land despite evidence that he in-fact did:

“He built massive stones walls when he had all these trees and he could have used wood? I don’t buy that”

Yes, it’s much more believable that Ancient Phoenician-European-Irish Monks came to New Hampshire in 1800 BC to build a monastery in the middle of nowhere so they could recreate Stonehenge and worship Baal. Oh wait, we haven’t gotten there yet.

So now Wotler is telling us that large flat rocks are like clocks and indicate the age of a structure. He doesn’t tell us how this works, but it apparently confirms something of his story. Stone tells us that there’s more on site to connect it to the Phoenicians and we’re introduced to the Baal Stone.

AU s1e6 baal stone

 

The stone, with it’s random scratching, was supposedly translated by Barry Fell back in the 1970’s and apparently is a dedication to the god Baal. Wolter makes a big production out of examining the stone, and eventually decides that the stone is old.

Personally, anything translated by Barry Fell is immediately invalid. Also the writing doesn’t look anything like the Phoenician alphabet. So I’m not going to beat this dead horse.

phonician alphabet

Phoenician alphabet. By Luca – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2311779

The Stones inform us that they have one more mega piece of evidence that connects the site to the Phoenicians, a giant sacrificial table.

4233092_orig

Image from Ken Feder during his visit to Americas Stonehenge in the 1990’s

The table is an impressive structure. It’s roughly 9′ by 6′ and has an inner groove running the perimeter of it. It appears to be set up on stone supports and the drainage groove feeds directly into what appears to be a chamber of some sort.

Wolter is suitably impressed and begins talking about Exfoliation Weathering, defining it as loss of stone surface due to changes in moisture and temperature. Basically the stone was exposed to the elements, as is clearly the case. He tells us again that such weathering can be used like a clock, but never really gets beyond the whole “looks old to me” thing.

What the table is supposedly set up over is what the Stones are calling the Oracle Chamber. It looks to  me like a natural chamber that was used as a cold cellar, probably by Pattee. The Stones explain that the table was purposefully set up over the chamber so that when a sacrifice was done someone else, a priest possibly, would stand below and speak. The voice that would come from under the table would have been a “god” voice.

Wolter makes a reference to his idea that ancient Celtic Egyptian Mithra Cults existed in Oklahoma, and then throws out a new buzzword; Archaeoacoustics which he says is the ancient architectural sound design that played a part in rituals. Which, as usual, is simplistic enough as to be misleading.

Well, needless to say, Wolter has decided that this site is now actually the handy-work of  Phoenicians, based on nothing, and we’re off to find more not-evidence to support this already decided conclusion.

Before we go though, I want to spend a moment with this new dump of information.

  • Things to remember about the Mystery Hill/American Stonehenge site.
    1. Goodwin et al moved things around. There’s actually pretty well documented evidence of this via pictures throughout the years. The website Mystery Hill NH, Americas Stonehenge provides a lot of this themselves. Whether they knowingly throw doubt onto the site or not, they have historical pictures that clearly show the progress of the changes at the site.
      1. Jason Colavito, also has an excellent show and tell of the changes started by Goodwin and continued into at least the 1990’s. His photos cover not only the movement of the the “sacrificial table” but also the renovation of several of the stone structures on the site.
      2. The pictorial sequence of the “sacrificial table” is of most interest here because you can see where it was originally located. It’s clearly set close to the ground, with perhaps enough space for a small jug or large bowl. Which is exactly what one would expect to see of a Lye Stone or Cider Press (more on that in a moment). In subsequent images you can tell that the stone has been moved and set up on legs, presumably over the so called “Oracle Chamber”, and that other stones have been added and subtracted over the years.
    2. It is well documented that when Johnathan Pattee bought the land there were numerous natural caves and rock outcroppings that he was known for using for storage and quarrying purposes.
    3. Of all the archaeological excavations that have been done on the site, none have ever found anything that was unexpected or out of place. All artifacts have been Native American or 18th-19th Century in origin.
  • Let’s talk about the Cider Press, aka the sacrificial table.
    • As stated above, the stone was obviously moved after Goodwin purchased the land and has been updated ever since.
    • Before it was moved, it was in the appropriate configuration to be what it actually is, a cider press or lye stone. It’s large size and square shape make me more comfortable saying it’s a cider press over a lye stone, but honestly the construction for both is similar and if you google cider press stones, you will see identical stones found all over the country.
    • Both cider presses and lye stones were a common household item in the 18th and 19th centuries. One was necessary for making soap, the other necessary for making hard cider, which is as American as apple pie.

But we’re off to Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA. to talk with Professor Mark McMenamin who is presented to us as a Phoenician Researcher. Dr. McMenamin is a professor at Mt. Holyoke College, but his field is geology and paleontology. Dr. McManamin dose however have an interesting hobby, and that’s proving Phoenicians made it to America before anyone else. His evidence? Seven unprovenanced coins found across the US. He’s published several books and articles touting support for his theory, but in the end, it falls short in the evidence category.

With this in mind though, it’s no wonder Wotler wants to talk to him. As we watch Wolter drive (he drives a lot) while epic music plays, trying desperately to convince us we’re not just filling time, Wolter provides a voice over. He’s still trying to tell us that the arbitrary line drawn through the two Stonehenges is legitimate and that the Phoenicians did it deliberately because they knew about the sky.

“If the Phoenicians knew about the Polaris star, chances are they knew about the rest of the sky too.”

Apparently, it was easy to not notice the sky back in ancient times. I mean, looking up was hard and all, so ancient man didn’t bother with it much. Unless they knew about one star in particular, then they might have noticed the rest of the sky was up there too, maybe.

Once we get to Dr. McMeanamin, he tells us about his idea that there is a map on the back of Carthaginian coins. He says the strange shapes found at the bottom of some coins are actually maps of the world.

AU s1e6 9

To make this true, you have to add squiggles where there aren’t any (Africa in the picture) and ignore bumps that are clearly there (between Sardinia, Sicily and Italy and again between Italy and India in the picture) Also why is everything so badly out of proportion? You’re telling me they can sail across an ocean, trek inland to Salem, New Hampshire, rebuild Stonehenge with perfect alignment with not just actual Stonehenge but also Beirut, but they can’t get land masses in proper proportion on their stunningly artistically detailed coins? Of which they apparently only brought seven with them?

But Wolter is A-Ok with all this and loves the whole idea of secret, nearly illegible, maps on coins. How would you even use such a tiny and imperfect image to navigate anyway? There’s so much wrong with this.

Anyway, since History Channel has more money than it know what to do with, it sends Wolter off to England to visit actual Stonehenge. We meet Dr. Henry Chapman and Wolter immediately launches into his hard sell that the Phoenicians built the American Stonehenge. Not only that but the Phoenicians actually built both Stonehenges! Wolter shows Dr. Chapman his line on Google Maps, and Dr. Chapman give him a hearty Nope.

Dr. Chapman points out several flaws in Wolter’s story, one of which being math. There’s an 800 year difference between the Phoenician culture and the building of Stonehenge. Dr. Chapman also brings up that we know Stonehenge is an ancient calendar and that it’s not surprising that since humanity is similar and is observing similar things, they would develop similar ways of tracking such things. Or what we call convergence in the field.

Predictably Wolter doesn’t like this answer, but Dr. Chapman doesn’t budge. So we cut that interview short and race back to America so we can watch the summer solstice at America’s Stonehenge.

We fade out around this point with Wolter’s insistence that these structures are built by ancient people. Wolter is now telling us that Stonehenge was somehow used for navigation, and that the people who came here were proto-Phoenicians. I guess at lest he’s adapted his story based on new information…kinda. Wolter makes a bunch of  “I believe” statements and says:

“Someone had to assemble those stones, someone with a vast knowledge of archaeoastromnomy”

Someone like Johnathan Pattee, William Goodwin, and the Stone family?

In Summary

What you really wanted to read.

There was a surprising amount in this episode, but most of it was easily debunked.

The two man cruxes of Wolter’s argument can be basically eliminated.

  1. The site known as Mystery Hill/Americans Stonehenge is out of context and comprised. This is documented by not only Goodwin’s own work but by historical photographs. Everything there has been altered, the Stonehenge, the Table, the Oracle Chamber. Walls have been built, structures have been renovated. And these changes have persisted up into the 1990’s. If there ever was a site there, it’s gone and there’s no way to get it back.
  2. Barry Fell is not a reliable translator and the Baal Stone is clearly not Phoenician. You don’t have to be an expert to see that.

Everything else about this place is just trimmings. It’s typical speculation with no evidence to support it. Even Wolter’s line through both Stonehenges is complete bunk since I can link Stonehenge with any other point on a map, two points make a line! Math!

What evidence there is consistently links the site to both Native American occupation and 18th -19th century occupation. There is nothing to support the presence of anyone else being there.

Wolter’s dismissive attitude towards the actual evidence in support of his own unsupported ideas is distressing, and is getting worse as the series goes on. Just something to keep in mind.


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Want more on this topic? Go to Reviews: America Unearthed.
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com

 

References.

Crystalinks
N.d.    Americas Stonehenge. http://www.crystalinks.com/AmericasStonehenge.html. Accessed 1/15/2016

Feder, Kenneth
2010    Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology: From Atlantis to the Walam Olum.  pg 10 – 12 https://books.google.com/books?id=xmDnhPNLwYwC&q=mystery+hill#v=snippet&q=mystery%20hill&f=false Accessed 1/15/16

Gilbert, Edgar<
1907    The History of Salem, N.H. Rumford Press. p. 418 https://ia601403.us.archive.org/17/items/historyofsalemnh00gilb/historyofsalemnh00gilb.pdf Accessed 1/15/2016

Starbuck, David R.
2006   The Archeology of New Hampshire: Exploring 10,000 Years in the Granite State. pgs 106-109. University of New Hampshire Press. https://books.google.com/books?id=DcKQoMp9Qv0C&pg=PR4&lpg=PR4&dq=Starbuck,+David+R.+(2006).+The+Archeology+of+New+Hampshire:+Exploring+10,000+Years+in+the+Granite+State.+University+of+New+Hampshire+Press.+ISBN+978-1-58465-562-6.&source=bl&ots=5VH1937Wgk&sig=C1NVrWpFv_d_fXEYMAOl13xO0vw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiBpLnRhMbKAhVGNj4KHT-kAUEQ6AEIHzAB#v=onepage&q&f=false Accessed 1/15/2016

Wagg, Jeff

2009    “Lie Leaching”. JREF Swift Blog. James Randi Educational Foundation. July 24,2009. http://web.archive.org/web/20151005192537/http://archive.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/647-lie-leaching.html Accessed 1/15/2016

Wright, Karen
1998    Light Elements: Yankee Doodle Druid
What were people in New Hampshire doing 4,000 years ago with a sacrificial table? Discover.http://www.discovermagazine.com Sunday Feb 01, 1998
http://discovermagazine.com/1998/feb/lightelementsyan1410 Accessed 1/15/2016

Categories: America Unearthed, Columbus was Second-ish: Who Discovered America Anyway, History Channel, Mystery Sties That Aren't, What the Phoenicians Weren't Doing in America | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Pyramids That Are Not, The Bosnian Pyramids.

Episode 29 of the Archaeology Fantasies Podcast is live. If you haven’t given it a listen, go do it now! I apologize ahead of time for the fact that I can’t say Sam Osmanagich’s name correctly.

hills

We’re talking about the Bosnian Pyramids.

For those who don’t know, the Bosnian Pyramids are not actual pyramids, they are a cluster of natural hills in central Bosnia and Herzegovina that started life off roughly pyramid in shape. I say they started that way because years of “excavation” on the hills has transformed them into what Sam Osmanagich, the ‘founder’ of said not-pyramids, wants them to be.

Osmanagich has decided that several of the hills in the range are actually pyramids and he’s renamed them as he sees fit. Visocica Hill, at 720 feet, is renamed the Pyramid of the Sun. Pljesevica Hill, at 350 feet, is renamed the Pyramid of the Moon. He claims there are others, a Pyramid of Love, A Pyramid of Earth, one to a Dragon, ect. I’m not entirely sure why any of them have the names that they do, but it made sense to Osmanagich, so we’ll run with it.

Osmanagich also makes the claim that there are labyrinths under the pyramids and long man-made tunnels. These tunnels supposedly connected the pyramids at one point and then filled in with sea water when the glaciers melted.

Let me state here that no professional archaeologist believes these are pyramids, calling it:

“A cruel hoax on an unsuspecting public [which] has no place in the world of genuine science (Bohannon 2006).”

That hasn’t stopped Osmanagich, who in true fringe style has tried to connect the names of actual archaeologist, geologists, and other scientists to his work. Most have either denied association with the project or been exposed as either unqualified or frauds (Rose 2006).

But what of the claims?

Aside from claiming hills are pyramids when they are clearly not, Osmanagich claims they are the oldest pyramids in the world. He says they are 12,000 years old putting their construction during a time when most of Europe was under a glacier and agriculture wasn’t really a thing yet (Woodward 2009). I’ve never really seen how he proposes prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers managed to build the largest pyramids on earth or why they would bother. He’s made a lukewarm argument that they are burial mounds, but there are no bodies associated with them.

What’s more, these incredibly advanced Hunter-Gatherers also apparently knew how to make and pour cement, and that is how they covered the sides of the pyramids (Woodward 2009). Never-mind that the geology of the hills matches that of the surrounding area, and the ‘cement’ Osmanagich is finding is actually alternating layers of conglomerate, clay and sandstone (Woodward 2009). Osmanagich’s cement idea is supported by French materials scientist, Joseph Davidovits, who also thinks the real pyramids in Egypt were made with poured concrete blocks (Woodward 2009). Because of this idea, Osmanagich instructed his workers to carve the hillside to create the impression of a stepped pyramid for the Pyramid of the Moon (Woodward 2009). So, like other fringe researchers in the past, he’s altered the area to fit his expectations, and then wants to pass it off as being authentic.

In this vein, Osmanagich has started digging in the ‘tunnels’ beneath the hills. Stating that he is going to widen these tunnels and extend them so that they will connect  witht the other pyramids (Woodward 2009),  never mind if they don’t currently. He claims that there are boulders that bear carvings that date back to 15,000 years ago, but that claim was challenged by a geologist and former employee who claimed the carvings appeared overnight, put there by another one of Osmanagich’s workers (Woodward 2009).

Yet Osmanagich is unapologetic in his blatant alteration of the area, and why shouldn’t he be?

Osmanagich says he plans to dig all the way to Visocica Hill, 1.4 miles away, adding that, with additional donations, he could reach it in as few as three years. “Ten years from now nobody will remember my critics,” he says as we start back toward the light, “and a million people will come to see what we have.” (Woodward 2009)

Osmanagich has official backing from the Bosnian Government (Woodward 2009). The Pyramid of the Sun Foundation, owned by Osmanagich, rakes in hundreds of thousands of dollars in public donations and thousands more from state-owned companies (Woodward 2009). He’s got copious amounts of attention from the media and was awarded a seat on a scientific council in Russia (Woodward 2009). Creating fake archaeology and history is quite lucrative.

All that said, Osmanagich still can’t answer basic questions about the construction of the site. Things like, where did the workers come from? Where did they live while they worked? Who fed them? How did they make the cement? Where are the mixing stations, the pouring platforms, the tools? Where is the trash from all these people living one place? Where is the graveyard for the workers that died? Who organized them? What compelled them to build? And so on, and so on, and so on.

As is so often with the fringe, they see something big and shinny, and don’t think about the details. The details that real archaeologists want, the details that are real evidence. The details that every actual archaeological site possesses. These are always lacking because they are overlooked. As Ken likes to say, you can fake an artifact, but you can’t fake a whole site. Osmanagich had already run up against this with the international archaeological community, and it’s starting to catch up to him at home as well. We’ll just wait and see were all this ends up, but I’m guessing it’s not going to end well.

In the meantime go listen to episode 29 of the Archaeology Fantasies Podcast and hear what Ken and I have to say on the matter.


If you’d like to support this blog, consider donating on Patreon.
Want more on this topic? Go to: Mystery Sites That Aren’t.
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com


Resources:

Bosnian Pyramids Website.
http://www.bosnianpyramids.org/. Accessed 2/19/16

Open Protest Letter to the Bosnian Government. written by the The European Association of Archaeologists – (EAA)
 http://www.robertschoch.net/bosnia%20eaa%20denounces%20semir%20osmanagic%20pyramid%20archaeology%20dowell%20ct.htm. Accessed 2/19/16

Woodard, Colin
The Mystery of Bosnia’s Ancient Pyramids. Smithsonian Magazine Online. December 2009. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-mystery-of-bosnias-ancient-pyramids-148990462/#6JECjwhBkxuU6aDb.99. Accessed 2/19/16

Rose, Mark
2006    Bosnian “Pyramids” Update. Archaeology Magazine Online. 14 June 2006.
http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/osmanagic/update.html. Accessed 2/19/16

John Bohannon, 2006 “Researchers Helpless as Bosnian Pyramid Bandwagon Gathers Pace”. Science. 314:1862. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/314/5807/1862.1 Accessed 2/19/16

 

Categories: Mystery Sties That Aren't, Podcast, Weird Archaeology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Dubious Mystery of Mystery Hill and America’s Stonehenge.

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Now dubbed “America’s Stonehenge” in Salem, New Hampshire, the location once known as Mystery Hill continues to draw tourists to what is touted as being evidence of pre-Columbian contact. Evidence of who is still up for debate.

The site itself is about 30 acres of land just off route 111 in Salem. It’s a sprawling complex of stone structures, walls, natural caves, and some would say Megaliths that are no taller than tree saplings (Wright 1998). It’s a well known tourist destination that is open to the public for a fee, and hosts hiking trails, llama pins, and an interpretive museum.

The site itself is supposedly shrouded in mystery as to it’s origins and purpose. It has multiple claims to it’s origins, all of which appear to be pre-Columbian in nature. Few even acknowledge the possibly that prehistoric Native peoples lived in the area before White settlers came. All of them ignore the documented history of the site, or the damage done to it by it’s prior inhabitants. So what is this mysterious hill all about?

The Known History of Mystery Hill.

We know the area was owned back in 1837 by Jonathan Pattee, and that he built most of the structures originally on the property (Gilbert 1907). We know at that time the area had a good number of natural boulders and rock outcroppings, and that there were several natural caves that Pattee used as storage (Gilbert 1907). We know this based on evidence including drill marks on the stone used to build the structures that match 19830’s quarrying practice (Starbuck 2006).

We also know that William Goodwin bought 20 acres of the land in 1937 and dubbed the area Mystery Hill (Wright 1998, Starbuck 2006, Crystalinks N.d.). The overall layout of the area was drastically altered by Goodwin who was convinced the area was evidence of Culdees in America (Starbuck 2006, Crystalinks N.d.). Goodwin apparently believed these Irish monks came over to America in the 20th century and constructed the caves around the site as part of their monastery (Starbuck 2006). Due to this belief, Goodwin and his supporters apparently further quarried the area and moved stones and structures around to what they believed were the ‘original’ locations in order to further support their ideas (Starbuck 2006, Crystalinks N.d).

In 1957 the land was leased to Robert Stone, and ten years later the Stone family bought the land (Starbuck 2006). The land still belongs to the Stone family, and they have made a few improvements of their own (Crystalinks N.d.). Adding a museum and changing the name to “America’s Stonehenge” due to the parallels that Stone sees to the great megaliths of Stonehenge in England and other Celtic sites (Starbuck 2006). There is still no evidence of ancient Celts in the area.

Several archaeological digs have been done in the area. One of importance was led by Gary Vescelius in 1955 (Starbuck 2006). His team recovered over 7000 artifacts, all of which were Native American or 18th and 19th century in origin (Starbuck 2006, Crystalinks N.d.). These artifacts were noting out of the ordinary for the area and line up perfectly with what is expected from the archaeology in the area. There was no evidence of anything related to Irish monks or Celts.

The Stone family still owns the land and it has become a bit of a tourist location. The museum there acts as an interpretation center for the site and offers a variety of ideas for the visitor to chew over, and appears to display the artifacts discovered during the actual archaeological digs done on the site.

What’s so Mysterious about Mystery Hill aka America’s Stonehenge?

To answer that we’d have to look a the variety of claims made about the site. They run quite the gambit, and none of them go for the ordinary or the everyday.

We already know of Goodwin’s belief that Irish monks made their way to America and picked this area as the site for their monastery. But there is also the belief that the site is far older than that. An idea put forth by Barry Fell in his book America B.C. claims that the site was occupied by Iberian Celts due to scripts he saw around the area (Wright 1998, Starbuck 2006, Crystalinks N.d). Fell claims to have found inscriptions that link the site to Baal worshipers as well (Wright 1998, Starbuck 2006). These scripts are only seen as such by Mr. Fell and no authority on Ogham, Phoenician or Iberian scripts believes them to be authentic in any way.

The current popular idea about America’s Stonehenge is that the site is actually a giant astrological calendar set up by Bronze Age peoples of unknown origin (Feder 2010, Crystalinks N.d.) The date commonly pitched for the site is 4,000 years old, and is claimed to have been gotten from retrograding the alinement’s of the sun with the standing stones (Wright 1998, Cryistalinks N.d.). The two major issues with this is the known relocation of most of the site by Goodwin and, presumably, the Stone family (Wright 1998, Starbuck 2006, Feder 2010, Crystalinks N.d.). Because of this, no reliable information can be gleaned from the positions of any of the stones, standing or otherwise.

The second major issue with this is that there is no physical evidence of Bronze Age peoples on or around the site. When Ken Feder toured the site, he noticed a lack of bronze artifacts. When he asked about their absence he was told. “You don’t think those ancient people would have left all those valuable bronze tools just laying around, do you? (Feder 2010).” Actually yes, that’s exactly what we expect. Bronze artifacts are found all over Europe, Africa, and Asia. It’s the reason we know there was a bronze age.

Other fun stories about the site come from David Starbuck when he visited the site in 1970 his guide told him that the whole site , stone chambers, trails, walls, and all were actually a giant representation of an Indian or Asian face wearing a peaked hat. This image was a ancient mental concept that had crossed the Bering Straights ten thousand years ago and that this image had been repeated in ‘Indian’ art all across American for thousand of years (Starbuck 2006). Starbuck rightly points out that “Every time another absurd theory is added to the mix, it becomes harder to accept any of the elaborate tails told about the site. (2006)”

So Where is the Evidence for Mystery Hill?

There are two major pieces of evidence offered up regularly. The first is a large flat stone carved with grooves set above an empty chamber that is called the “Sacrificial Table”, The second is a series of Carbon-14 dates. Unfortunately neither are terribly convincing.

The “sacrificial table” as it’s called, is clearly a cider press or rather large lye stone. Pretty much anyone familiar with 18th -19th century homesteading knows what these are as both were pretty indicative of everyday life. You can even Google either term and see lots of images of stones that are similar to identical to the “sacrificial table”. I can only assumed here that the owners of the site still call it that to drum up drama. As for the “Oracle Chamber” underneath it , it’s merely a happy coincidence that the chamber produces echoes. Obviously it was meant for liquid collection and probably storage as well.

The C-14 dates are a little more inserting. Normally C-14 dates would be good forms of evidence. Especially when taken with care and taken in context. Apparently however, the samples taken from the Mystery Hill site don’t quite fulfill this criteria. C-14 dates are taken from charcoal samples at a site, preferably taken from the feature meant to the be dated. According to Starbuck, the charcoal samples from Mystery Hill were taken randomly from the site with nothing of human origin in association with them. Meaning they were completely random samples of charcoal that had no known association with features. What this means in greater context is that the dates are meaningless. I have seen pieces of the testing results report created by Geochron Laboratories, Inc as linked on the Mystery Hill site. Irregardless of the date given, if the samples were taken willy-nilly from wherever on the site and nothing of context was associated with them, it really doesn’t mater.

Now, if we assumes that the samples are good, and were taken with care and context, the dates provided still aren’t that shocking. with a date of 2995 BPE +/- 180 years. That still puts the site well within the expected habitation for prehistoric Native peoples. It’s also still not evidence of anything European or Celtic in nature. As all of the archaeology done on the site backs up the presences of Native peoples on the site (Wright 1998, Starbuck 2006, Feder 2010, including at the quarry sites (Crystalinks N.d) there is no reason to think that these C-14 dates are indicative of anything out of the ordinary.

So What’s Left?

Not much really. Evidence shows that the Mystery Hill/American Stonehenge site is what it appears to be to the trained eye. A multicomponent site having both a prehistorical component and evidence of 18-19th century habitation. Which should surprise no one. There is even documentation of Johnathan Pattee owing and building on his land. Natural caves were known to exist there, as were natural outcroppings of rock. As we move forward there is documentation and evidence of William Goodwin et all moving and changing the site, thereby destroying any context the site had. There is even some suggestion that the alteration of the site continues to modern day, making it impossible to trust any interpretation of the site’s structures

There is no evidence of anything else.

Bob Goodgy, then president of the New Hampshire Archaeological Society, put it best when interviewed by Karen Wright in 1998:

“Goodby assured me that no reputable archaeologist took the pre-Colombian lure seriously. The inscriptions were bogus, and there was no other evidence that an ancient, old-world culture had ever occupied Mystery Hill: no signs of the food preparation, garbage disposal, living areas, or burial grounds that are associated with other megalithic sites. Although there is an unusual amount of stonework on the hill, he said, it doesn’t differ in kind from other structures built by New Englanders in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. (Wright 1998)”

Starbuck adds a few words of his own about the whole deal:

“The moment the first stone was moved to a new location by William Goodwin, the entire site lost any chance of being taken seriously by scholarly community.  … Yet site integrity is everything to an archaeologist, and this site is severely compromised. (Starbuck 2006)”

And

“If an early site truly has merit, it doesn’t require bizarre interpretations. (Starbuck 2006)”

 


 

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Resources:

Crystalinks
N.d.    Americas Stonehenge. http://www.crystalinks.com/AmericasStonehenge.html. Accessed 1/15/2016

Feder, Kenneth
2010    Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology: From Atlantis to the Walam Olum.  pg 10 – 12 https://books.google.com/books?id=xmDnhPNLwYwC&q=mystery+hill#v=snippet&q=mystery%20hill&f=false Accessed 1/15/16

Gilbert, Edgar<
1907    The History of Salem, N.H. Rumford Press. p. 418 https://ia601403.us.archive.org/17/items/historyofsalemnh00gilb/historyofsalemnh00gilb.pdf Accessed 1/15/2016

Starbuck, David R.
2006   The Archeology of New Hampshire: Exploring 10,000 Years in the Granite State. pgs 106-109. University of New Hampshire Press. https://books.google.com/books?id=DcKQoMp9Qv0C&pg=PR4&lpg=PR4&dq=Starbuck,+David+R.+(2006).+The+Archeology+of+New+Hampshire:+Exploring+10,000+Years+in+the+Granite+State.+University+of+New+Hampshire+Press.+ISBN+978-1-58465-562-6.&source=bl&ots=5VH1937Wgk&sig=C1NVrWpFv_d_fXEYMAOl13xO0vw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiBpLnRhMbKAhVGNj4KHT-kAUEQ6AEIHzAB#v=onepage&q&f=false Accessed 1/15/2016

Wagg, Jeff

2009    “Lie Leaching”. JREF Swift Blog. James Randi Educational Foundation. July 24,2009. http://web.archive.org/web/20151005192537/http://archive.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/647-lie-leaching.html Accessed 1/15/2016

Wright, Karen
1998    Light Elements: Yankee Doodle Druid
What were people in New Hampshire doing 4,000 years ago with a sacrificial table? Discover. http://www.discovermagazine.com Sunday Feb 01, 1998
http://discovermagazine.com/1998/feb/lightelementsyan1410 Accessed 1/15/2016

Categories: Columbus was Second-ish: Who Discovered America Anyway, Mystery Sties That Aren't, Weird Archaeology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Ancient Celtic Egyptian Mithra Cults in Oklahoma – America Unearthed S1, Ep 5.

I’m going to try and reign these reviews in a little. As much fun as they are to write, they get a little epic. As usual if you don’t want to read through the whole break down, feel free to skip to the In Summary section at the bottom, but as always, if you have a comment or question don’t be surprised if I tell you to read the whole post first.

We start this episode with the opening to a bloody horror movie that accidentally got spliced into the show’s footage:

A man stands in a dark hole, the only light come from some wide spaced planks above him. Suddenly the man begins to scream as blood pours down over him from above. Just when we’re convinced we’re watching a Slasher Flick and not a TV show, Wolter’s serious voice breaks in to tell us how wrong history is and how he’s on a search for the truth.

As part of the setup for the show, Wolter tells us that there is a 500lb rock carving that was pulled out of the Arkansas River near Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2010.

After a lot of flashy buildup and random panning over the carving in question, we’re told that the carving is of a bull, which it clearly is, and then Wolter tells us that this is a cult symbol. Not just any symbol, it’s a symbol from *pause* Ancient Egypt.

So here’s where the Bull, um…, starts piling up.

The short art-school horror flick we were subjected to at the beginning of the show was actually the show’s interpretation of what a Mithric Rite might have looked like. Mithra was worshiped in Rome, by soldiers mainly. Egypt did have a very small Mithric cult. However, any bull symbol that would have been in Egypt would have probably been attributed to Apis or Hapis, the Egyptian bull god, who is not Mithra in any way, shape, or form.

Back in Wolter’s lab we get watch him examine the bull carving while he tells us how he gets all these “relics” all the time, but this one has vexed him for two years. This statement triggers a flashback to March of 2011 when Wolter receives the carving from it’s discoverer Nick Johnson.

Johnson admits that he was hunting for artifacts when he found this one. Which is always what I like to hear when people find ‘artifacts’ and then rip them out of context. Take pictures people, document things, don’t just snatch and grab things and then get cranky when no one wants to believe you. Probably though, there was no context for this rock carving anyway, so.

Wolter takes us back to his lab and tells us that the carving isn’t recent and has early signs of age. He says there is mineralization that overlaps the carvings. He doesn’t really explain much more as to what “early signs of age” are or why the mineralization is important. As always, we’re just supposed to take his word for it.

We do get a nice closeup of the carved lines, and there is obvious evidence of grooved tool marks, much like those left by modern metal carving instruments. These are not mentioned nor explained.

Wolter tells us about other cultures that have used bull imagery, but decides that this is Egyptian, specifically an Apis bull. Wolter is correct in in assertion that “it just doesn’t make sense.” That sentiment hasn’t ever stopped this show before, so on we go to peddle this not-Apis bull carving.

First, Wolter goes to talk with an actual real Egyptologist, Nigel Hetherington.

After being asked about it, Dr. Hetherington gives us an abbreviated history of the Bull in Ancient Egypt, leading up to the Apis Bull. Wolter tells us the Apis Bull is a sacred deity that symbolized the Pharaoh’s strength, and was a protector of the dead. Wolter isn’t completely correct here, but if he got corrected, that didn’t make it into this obviously heavily edited segment.

Wolter then shows his bull carving to Hetherington with much dramatic flair. Hetherington seems unimpressed, as he should. Hetherington tells us that it does resemble an Apis bull on the top, and then asks Wolter what he think the wavy lines are.

Screenshot of Wolter's Apis Bull

Screenshot of Wolter’s Apis Bull

Wolter tell us that it’s probably a decoration put on the bull, and then admits that without provenance or context there is no way to date the carving (or really to get anything useful from said carving). So basically, Wolter just admitted that there is no way to even begin to argue that this thing is real, but he’s going to anyway.

Screenshot of an actual Apis Bull.

Screenshot of an actual Apis Bull.

Hetherington asks why Wolter thinks this is an Egyptian bull and not a Native American rendition of such? Wolter says Native American would have revered the Bison (all the Native Americans, everywhere, because it seems like in Wolter’s mind they are all one imaginary entity that never actually existed in America until recently). Then Wolter tells us how none of the actual archaeologist around him would accept the carving as real, but he thinks it might be just because there is weathering on it. Or maybe it’s because this carving shows signs of not being a real artifact? Maybe?

Wolter then asks if the ancient Egyptians coming to America would have carved a bull.

I like this question because it’s apparent there’s no doubt in Wolter’s mind that ancient Egyptians did come to America somehow, even though there is not evidence what-so-ever to support this belief. I also like that Hetherington tells him ‘no’ so quickly, then explains that they would have carved the Pharaoh’s name in a kartush. He then explains that they never would have sailed over here because they hated the sea. Hetherington tells Wolter that, as usual, there is no evidence for ancient Egyptians being over here. Unfortunately he makes a joke at this point, that maybe one individual got lost all the way out in Oklahoma, but that would be a long way to get lost wouldn’t it? He even smiles a little when he says it. Either Wolter doesn’t understand jokes, or he’s desperate to twist anything anyone says to fit his theory.

Wolter tells Hetherington that he’s decided that the carving is an Apis bull, despite being told two minutes earlier that it clearly is not. Then like a Bond villain he tells Hetherington what his next steps are in his plan to expose the TRUTH. I always find it funny when Wolter starts running down the list of things he’s going to do while talking to his guests, as if they had asked him what his next steps are, which so far they’ve never done, but maybe that was edited out.

Wolter tells us that he needs a sample of the rock the bull is carved on to find out if the rock was carved in Tulsa. This, I’m guessing, is an attempt to fill time because what difference dose this even make?  This will prove nothing about ether the age or the authenticity of the carving. If anything it will verify that the carving is recent and therefore not evidence of ancient Egyptians.

So we go back to Tulsa, Oklahoma somewhere along the Arkansas River. We meet Nick Johnson and Aaron Neighbors there. They tell us their discovery story about finding the rock in the water of the Arkansas River.

Wolter does point out to the men that water can erode rock quickly. Which is especially true about sandstone, the kind of rock that the bull was craved on. Still, we spend time looking for any random piece of sandstone to use as a control sample. So lets look over the errors here:

1) Random rock from random location that may or may not be related to the site of discovery of any artifact does not a “control sample” make. Actual control samples the way Wolter is using the term, are from known locations and are verified to be what we need them to be. We already know what they are, hence why we are using it for a comparison. If I have two random unknowns, as Wolter now has, I can compare them to each other, but that is all. They tell me nothing verifiable, and therefore are basically useless.

2) At this point we’ve been told by an expert that the Apis bull is not an Apis bull, there is no way that ancient Egyptians either came here or carved it, and now we know that all the evidence of age is actually water erosion.

But the show is randomly changing topics now, so let’s keep up.

We’re told here is a location in Turkey Mountain that has carvings on it. Wolter decides he needs to see this. So we all hike out to somewhere based on feels and epic hiking music till we find some rock outcroppings that are heavily scared with obvious modern graffiti. Despite this, Wolter decides that he can see some authentic Ogham and reads it to spell GWN, or the name Gwyne. Wolter decided right there that some Celtic explorer carved his name on the rock.

Screenshot of the not-Ogham not spelling GWYN

Screenshot of the not-Ogham not spelling GWN

Wolter tries to link a bunch of unrelated things together, saying that if a Celtic explorer started down in the Gulf of Mexico and then went up the Mississippi they then could have followed the Arkansas River to this area. Then they would have wondered into the land till they came to these rocks, and carved just their name into the rock, because reasons.

Actually, if you try to connect the two waterways that Wolter is trying to connect in this show, they don’t connect. Also, it’s over 350+ miles in a straight-ish line to get from Tulsa to the pan-handle of Oklahoma where the Anubis caves (spoilers) are roughly located. It’s considerably more than that by water since the local waterways don’t flow in straight lines and the major waterways don’t connect, you can see as much on a map. It’s just a very long distance is what I’m saying.

Screenshot of the distance between sites.

Screenshot of the distance between the sites.

Apparently, even though Wolter can read and translate Ogham at the drop of a hat, we still need to learn more about actual Ogham. So we fly all the way to Dublin, Ireland because History Channel’s got deep deep pockets and after some epic tourist music and vapid film of Wolter driving, we arrive at Trinity Collage to speak with Dr. Damian McManus, Professor of Irish Studies.

Dr. McManus listens carefully to Wolter’s assertion that there is Ogham in America, a claim McManus has clearly dealt with before judging by his reactions to this. He also tells us that  Ogham is exclusive to Ireland in the 5th to 7th centuries, which creates a linear time issue for Wolter, but we skip over that. McManus tells Wolter that the Irish definitively got as far as Iceland, but there is no evidence they got any further than that. He then shows us what actually Ogham looks like, which is nothing like anything Wolter has ever offered up as Ogham.

Screenshot of actual Ogham.

Screenshot of actual Ogham.

Wolter shows McManus the ‘Ogham’ he translated at the Turkey Mountain rock outcropping, and McManus firmly shuts Wolter down. Still, he encourages Wolter to keep looking, and then randomly tells Wolter to go check out a place in America called the Anubis Cave, which just so happed to be in Oklahoma as well!

So lets go over the Not-Evidence here before we finish this up.

  1. Wolter insists he has an Apis Bull carving even though he’s been clearly told he doesn’t.
  2. Wolter insists that said Not-Apis Bull carving is evidence of Mithra worship, completely ignoring that Apis is an actual god on his own, also that Mithra was a Roman god worshiped by Solders.
  3. Wolter insists that he’s got Ogham at Turkey Mountain, despite being told that he clearly does not and after seeing actual Ogham with his own eyes.

This last part of the show is really where the meat is, it’s also where Wolter really tries hard to convince us that Egyptian Celtics traveled up the Arkansas River to practice their Mithric Religious Worship. There’s a lot here, So I’m going to try and get right to it.

We meet Phil Leonard, a retired medical researcher, who is presented to us as a “Cave Researcher”. Wolter gives Leonard his Celtic Egyptian Mithra cult spiel. Leonard not only agrees with all this but tells Wolter that this Anubis cave has all that and more! Leonard tells us that this is the best example of Pre-Columbian Celtic explorers in America.

We get a brief, and not quite accurate, explanation of who the God Anubis is and Leonard gives us a vague discovery story about the some “famous female researcher” who was brought to the caves and instantly recognized the Anubis figure.

I’m guessing he’s referring to Gloria Farley, who claims to be the discoverer of the Anubis cave on her website and books. Ms. Farley is also a proponent of the whole Supper Advanced Olmec culture story and supports viking rune-stones in America. I have no idea what her qualifications are, but as far as I can tell, she is not an archaeologist or authority in Egyptology. Apparently, any records she made of her research are inaccessible to the public (Thompsen 2011), so there is no way to verify what she has written in her numerous books.

Back on the show Wolter has launched into another pipe-dream telling us that we have Ogham (we don’t), evidence of Celtic religious practices (we don’t), and evidence of Egyptian iconography (still don’t have that either). Leonard takes us to Cave 2 and we see more scratching that again, looks nothing like real Ogham, and Wolter is fascinated.  Leonard tells us that all this was put here on the cave wall 1500 years ago by Celts to show their god Mithra (who is not a Celtic god).

Screenshot of more not-Ogham

Screenshot of more not-Ogham in the Anubis Cave 2

Screenshot of not-Mithra carvings in the Anubis Cave 2

Screenshot of not-Mithra carvings in the Anubis Cave 2

Wolter gives us a very basic breakdown of what Mitharism is, leaving out important details like, it was Roman god, and a favored religion among soldiers of the era, not explorers. It also has nothing to do with Anubis or the Celts.

Screenshot of carvings in the Anubis Cave 2

Screenshot of carvings in the Anubis Cave 2

We’re then shown a amoebic like carving that we’re told is the rising and setting sun, not sure what this has to do with anything, then a sun god with a rayed head and crown and he’s pointing at a second smaller amoebic looking carving, then we’re shown the Anubis looking thing and told it has a white crown and a flail stuck in it’s back “just like they do in Egypt.” No, no “they” don’t.

Screenshot of not-Anubis carvings in the Anubis Cave 2

Screenshot of not-Anubis carvings in the Anubis Cave 2

We’re also ignoring all the other markings around these markings, small lines and circles, repeating motifs and such that overlap and intersect the lines we’re being asked to only look at. We’re also ignoring all the graffiti that can be clearly seen despite the carefully tight camera angels. This whole exercise is a lot like cloud gazing.

Leonard tells us that they’ve dated this to 3-500 AD, which is way more than 1500 years ago. Also, it makes this almost too old to be Ogham. So again, math is screwing with Wolter’s ideas here. Also, how the hell did they date this? You can’t date rock. Are there artifacts around that we’re not getting to see? Is there some organic material around that they aren’t mentioning? Or are they just making up a number they think might be interesting?

Once again Wolter invokes the mighty and ridiculously misused Archaeoastronomy, which Wolter is now passing himself off as an expert on now, and Leonard tells us about a very special event on the equinox, a Shadow play! We’re told that on the equinox that the light play over this set of carvings and tells the story of Mithra, where their soul came down from the heavens and then returned back to the heaven and their god Mithra. Which is spectacularly not true. Mithra has nothing to do with souls or reincarnation or anything we’ve just been told. Also there is no Celtic god Mithra but why let that stop us?

Wolter gets all excited about this and agrees to come back on the equinox to see the Shadow play. Which we do, and this time he brings Joe Rose, who is presented to us as a Comparative Religion Expert. Rose, from what I can tell, is/was a masterful book binder and a “Student of the Western Mystery Tradition” which is a branch of the Golden Dawn (the religious group not the Greek one). I had to use the Wayback Machine to find any of this out by the way.

Rose does try and reinforce Wolter’s whole Apis Bull = Mithra story, and we get to watch the horror flick from the beginning of the show again. We finally get the story behind the gore fest at the beginning telling us that this was a baptism by blood, which wasn’t that uncommon of a practice in ancient Rome. Several different cults at the time used similar practices, not all were attached to Mithra.

Wolter recollects his conversation with Nigel Hetherington where Hetherington wouldn’t translate the wavy lines on the not-Apis bull carving to be blood. Would Rose translate them as such? Why yes, yes he would.

At this point Wolter tries to make up some hypothesis that somehow Mithraism evolved out of Apis Bull worship, and Rose agrees again. Rose tries to tell us that Mithraism was a reforming of the Apis Bull of Egyptian Religion. But this completely not true. Not only are there no similarities between the two religions, there is no evidence to believe this is true.

Wolter however, sees how this can all make sense, and that is because the Celts craved the bull. Never mind that nothing we’ve seen so far looks anything like the incredibly distinctive art style known to be Celtic, or that this bull looks nothing like how the Celts depicted bulls.

Rose suggests that the Celts came all the way to Oklahoma to escape religious persecution by early Christians. This gets Wolter on a religious freedom and the U.S. rant and how awesome it was that people had been coming here for this reason for so long.

Wolter randomly mentions the rock sample he took from the river, and that it matched the rock that the not-Apis bull was carved one. Which should be a surprise to no one, also, it doesn’t prove anything. Wolter tell us that because of this match he believes the bull was carved somewhere near that site, why? There are several geologically different kinds of sandstone in Oklahoma alone, Wolter never even bothers to tell us what kind it is? As a geologist, shouldn’t he be able too? And why not share that information, it would only strengthen his argument, especially if it was unique kind of sandstone that was only found in the Tulsa area of the Arkansas River. This would in no way prove that the bull wasn’t a recent carving, but it would narrow the area that the raw material could have been gleaned from. Again, this doesn’t prove authenticity, but still would have been interesting.

Side note: Geological maps are hard to read, but you can give it a shot at the Oklahoma geological survey site. http://www.ogs.ou.edu/homepage.php

Back on the show Wolter just flat out says, “If it’s ancient, it has to be ancient Celts.” Why? What have we been presented with to make this statement true? He follows this up with “Someone was in those caves thousands of years ago.” This is true, but since Wolter and this show refuse to acknowledge that Native Americans exist, it couldn’t possibly have been them.

It’s finally time for the Shadow-Play. Rose just repeats what Leonard told Wolter the first time they met, nearly verbatim, which makes me wonder who wrote the script for this show? Rose also agrees that the cave carvings are clearly Mithric symbols, even though they don’t look anything like actual Mithric symbols.<

So lets talk about this “ Shadow Play” for a minute.

Yes, Archaeolastronomy exists, and it was practiced by just about every ancient culture because that was how they kept track of time and their seasons. This isn’t a grand mystery to anyone in the archaeological community. Also, yes, there were indeed religious connections to the seasons and religious overtures to buildings and earthworks that were aligned with seasonal markers, also, another given that is not a mystery. Yes, the effects are rather cool and frankly humbling to think about and experience, that was kind of the point aside form keeping track of time.

I can’t help but have major reservations on this particular piece of Wolter’s “Archaeoastronomy”, mainly because, after going on and on about how important these carvings are and how perfectly they align, the only part of the carvings that do align is the “head” of the “Sun God”. Now, I can’t personally attest to the alignment of the small circle that is the called the head and the placement of the sun. However, that is a really small piece of the overall “rock carving”.

It is far more likely to my mind that this is a coincidence. This suspicion is fed by the fact that nothing else that we are shown lines up with this event. Also, the size of this seasonal marker is rather small. Compare this one glyph to the massive and impressive earthworks that Native Americans, and even the Celts, are known to build to mark seasonal and astronomical events. Numerous Native American cultures worked these details into the placement of their very walls, making massive and quite noticeable structures and alterations to the landscape. If there are seasonal markers in these caves, we are not seeing them in this show, because Wolter is trying too hard to make something out of nothing.

Wolter wraps up this show with a quote that sums up pretty much everything and makes me wonder why we even bothered with this episode.

“The only reasonable people who could have done this was the Celts, I can’t think of anyone else.”

 

I’m sure the Shawnee, Apache, Caddo, Comanche Nation, Kiowa, Wichita, and other tribes and nations that I’ve missed think the same thing too.

In Summary

Admit it, you just skipped down here.

So let’s look over all the not-evidence Wolter bombarded us with this episode.

Egyptian Apis Bull Carving – We’re told early on by an actual Egyptologist that this is not an Apis bull.

Wolter also tries to make a big deal out of matching the type of rock up. I feel this is a huge red herring in the show. It proves nothing about ether the age or the authenticity of the carving, and Wolter never bothers to tell us if there was anything unusual or unique about the stones, thus proving some kind of connection. It’s such a non-deal that Wolter almost forgets to bring it up again at the end of the show.

Anubis Figure in the cave – Not an Anubis figure, doesn’t look anything like an Anubis figure. Without Wolter’s helpful lines, it almost looks like a figure standing on a horse’s back. Also, we must ignore all the other lines around it to make it look anything like what Wolter wants it to be.

Ogham in Turkey Mountain and Anubis Cave – Not only are we told that the Ogham in Turkey Mountain isn’t actual Ogham, but we’re shown actual Ogham in Ireland. Said actual Ogham looks nothing like the Ogham in the Anubis Cave.

An interesting note about “American Ogham” here. Apparently it’s a well known phenomenon with American Ogham that it rarely if ever has vowels. Actual Ogham does have vowels, but for some reason, when the ancient Celts or Irish or what have you, got over here to America, they forgot how to write vowels. Ogham in America enthusiast have for along time, been trying to get the academic community to accept American Ogham as a different form of Irish Ogham. The problem here is that none of the American Ogham can be proven to be authentic, missing vowels is one of many problems with it. Other’s include, gibberish, questionable translations (Barry Fell), and the fact that there is no evidence that ancient Irish peoples ever made it to America.

Mithra Connection – There is no connection that I am aware of between the Celtic/Irish people and Mithra worship. Mithra was a Roman deity worshiped primarily by Soldiers. Yes, there were temples to Mithra in Egypt and a few in England. These were built by the Romans, and used by such. The image of the Bull in Egypt is always connected to their own gods, Apis being a big one.

The Shadow Play – My reservations are above, and Wolter’s attempt to tie this into Archaeoastronomy is cringe-worthy. I’m not saying that this couldn’t be an example of Archaeoastronomy (I doubt it), but it’s definitely not they way Wolter wants it to be.

There is evidence of the use of the natural features of the caves to keep track of the seasons. The small tic marks that Wolter wants so badly to be Ogham, are a well know way that the pre-contact tribes kept track of the seasons by tracking the progress of shadow features along the cave walls. This is a type of Archaeoastronomy, but I doubt that Wolter would ever recognize it as such. Especially since Wolter doesn’t seem to recognize Native American tribes and peoples as real.


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

 

References:

Tompsen, Lyle
2011    An Archaeologist Looks at the Oklahoma Runestones. In The Epigraphic Society Occasional Papers. Vol 29, February 2011. Pgs 5-43. https://www.academia.edu/2332282/An_Archaeologist_Looks_at_the_Oklahoma_Runestones_ESOP_29_2011_5-43. Accessed June 2015.

Categories: America Unearthed, Cult Science | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Coso Artifact! Now for your Ears!

The Archaeology Fantasies Podcast episode 10 is live, (so I might have skipped #9 by accident…oops)

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This episode Ken and I chew over the Coso Artifact. It’s a fun episode since, as per the blog post on this topic, we already know what it really is. We still look over the origin story and the impact this little Oopart has today.

On an important note, The Archaeology Podcast Network is looking for people willing donate time to edit all of our wonderful and informative podcasts, including this one. If you’ve got the know-how to edit a .wav file and create a cohesive show out of our run-on sentences, drop Chris an email at chris@archaeologypodcastnetwork.com and make sure to put “Show Editing” in the subject line.

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Want more on this topic? Go to ArchyFantasies Podcasts.

If you want to send us your questions or comments email us at archyfantasies@gmail.com.

Categories: ArchyFantasies Podcasts, Weird Archaeology | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

The Archaeology Fantasies Podcast is Two Months Old! Get Caught-Up Now!

In January we launched the Archaeology Fantasies Podcast over at the Archaeology Podcast Network. It’s Co-hosted by Sara H. and Dr. Kenneth Feder, who is the author of Dubious Archaeology and Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries, and they deconstruct a variety of pseudoarchaeology topics. It’s been two months now and the show just continues to get better, if I may say so myself. Seeing that we’ve got several episodes in the can, I wanted to recap them and let all of you get a chance to get caught up.

DEBUNKING PSEUDO-ARCHAEOLOGY – EPISODE 1

The intro episode where we discussed what exactly pseudoarchaeology is and how Cult Science influences the average archaeology enthusiasts. We talk about how the media is out for ratings and not so much to inform, and how that is actually making it more difficult to correct misconceptions about archaeology.

THE GENETIC DISK – EPISODE 2

Ken gets introduced to one of the more popular pseudoarchaeology topics on the internet right now in the form of the Genetic Disk. We discuss how pseudoarchaeologists try to lend validity to a fraudulent artifact by attempting to use actual scientists by quoting them way out of context. We show what happens when those same scientists find out their being misquoted, and we go over Ken’s check-list for how to spot pseudoarchaeology.

FRINGE ARCHAEOLOGY AND GIANTS – EPISODE 3

We delve a little deeper into the fringe and start to explore the world of Giants. There’s been a lot of talk about them lately so we thought we’d examine why they are so popular, and why there is exactly no evidence supporting their existence.

THOSE MYSTERIOUS MOUND BUILDERS – EPISODE 4

We examine the recent revival of the Mound Builder Myth. Ken walks us through the origins of the myth and how Cyrus Thomas proved the mounds were built by Native Americans. We discuss why there is a modern revival of the myth and what’s contributing to it. We also encourage everyone to take a mound to lunch and go visit your local mound parks.

GLOBAL FLOODS AND NOAH’S ARK – EPISODE 5

We start to wade into the murky waters of the Creationism by tackling the global flood myth and the story of Noah’s Ark. We explain what kinds of geological and archaeological evidence we would expect to see if the global myth was true, and how we see exactly the opposite.

We’ve got a lot of great content coming up, including interviews with a variety of experts and researchers. With two episodes a month coming out on Mondays, there’s a lot to hear and learn. Get caught up now before you get too far behind. There’s not much more I can say except, Go listen and comment!

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Want more on this topic? Go to ArchyFantasies Podcasts.

If you want to send us your questions or comments email us at archyfantasies@gmail.com.

Categories: ArchyFantasies Podcasts, Creation Science and Intelligent Design, Those Mysterious Mound Builders, Weird Archaeology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Newberry Tablet

While I was critiquing the 3rd episode of America Unearthed Season 1, I came upon a few new artifacts/concepts in pseudoarchaeology. One in particular caught my attention, because as I worked to debunk it, the red flags around it grew. I realized that it really needs it’s own entry into the blog, because there is a lot of well meaning buk out there, there are no attempts to explain why this artifact is a hoax.

The Newberry Tablet.

Screen shot of pictures of the Newberry Tablet from 1888, via America Unearthed S01E03 on The History Channel 2

Screen shot of pictures of the Newberry Tablet from 1898, via America Unearthed S01E03 on The History Channel 2

This artifact has a classic hoax origin story. It has multiple versions of the story, vague details, conflicting information, and no actual documentation to back it up. The story as per the Fort de Buade Museum and America Unearthed S01E03 (Wolter 2013), Two unnamed lumberjacks were working to clear some trees in 1896 in the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) near Newberry, Michigan, when they discovered the tablet. It’s not entirely clear how or where exactly the Tablet was when discovered. Another source, says the Tablet was found in 1897 on the McGruer farm near Newberry, MI (Pohlen 2014). This story tells us that the tablet was found after felling a tree where it was tangled up in the roots of said tree (Pohlen 2014). This sounds familiar to me, it’s almost exactly the Kensington Runestone origin story verbatim. Pholen’s version of the story says that stone figures were found with the tablet, and the Fort de Buade Museum supports this.

The St. Ignace News has a completely different story all together:

“The most common story of their discovery, according Fort de Buade’s curator, Bill Peek, takes place in 1896. Two hunters were pursuing a mink near Newberry that had run into the root area of a fallen tree. They grabbed shovels and began to dig, but hit stone. They dug up the three statues and tablet.” (Coe 2012)

The Fort de Buade Museum and America Unearthed (Wolter 2013) versions loose track of the Tablet around this point, only mentioning that pictures were taken of the the Tablet in 1898 (Fort N.d, Wolter 2013). Pholen’s (2014) version says that McGruer tossed the Tablet in his barn where it got broken. This could be where the whole idea that the Tablet was destroyed come from, as was thought at first in America Unearthed (Wolter 2013). The pictures were allegedly sent to the Smithsonian Museum who declared the Tablet a hoax. All sources of the story accuse the Smithsonian of not knowing what the 140 symbols on the tablet were. The Fort de Buade Museum and America Unearthed (Wolter 2013) versions accuse the Smithsonian of trying to cover up the existence of the Tablet by claiming to have lost the pictures they had been sent.

According to the The Fort de Buade website, the controversial Dr. Barry Fell, got ahold of the images in 1988 and was able to identify the writing as written in ancient Hittite-Minoan. He was able to translate it as being instructions for getting good luck from the gods. According to Pholen’s (2014) version the symbols were describing how birds ate grain that was scattered before them. America Unearthed (Wolter 2013) version says the tablet is Minoan script, and the it’s untranslatable, but Wolter speculates that it’s probably some form of record keeping for Bronze Age Copper Mining.

According to the Fort de Buade website and The St. Ignace News (Coe 2012), in 2007 the Tablet and it’s associated bits were perched from Dr. Donald Benson when he passed away. He had kept it in his private collection for 30+ years and the condition of the items had degraded significantly. However, they now reside in the Fort de Buade Museum in Michigan, and due to this, is sometimes referred to as the the Fort de Buade Tablet as well.

Now that we have the story, let’s break this all down.

We’ve covered the issues with the origin of the Tablet. It has multiple versions and conflicting information. It invokes the idea of conspiracy of a cover-up at the academic level, and most importantly, it has no documentation. It’s also interesting to me how closely at least one of the versions is to the Kensington Runestone, especially since the Tablet is being used to prove Pre-Columbian European contact.

The multiple translations of the Tablet are also problematic. If we set aside Wolter’s speculation, because he doesn’t offer a hardcore translation, we’re still left with three options. 1) It’s a good luck spell, 2) It’s about birds eating grain, or 3) it’s not translatable. The third option comes about because of what the writing is supposed to be, at least two of the possibilities have never been deciphered.

Hittite – Minoan Cryptic/Cuneiform. I have no clue what kind of writing this is supposed to be. There is Cypro-Minoan which post-dates Minoan Linear A, both of which are currently untranslatable, and there is Hittite Cuneiform, which has several dialects. As far as I understand, the Minoan and Hittite writing systems are not related, despite being part of the Indo-European language family. This language family is the largest in the world, btw, so this really shouldn’t be surprising.

Examle of Cypro-Minoan via "Tablet cypro-minoan 2 Louvre AM2336" by Unknown. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tablet_cypro-minoan_2_Louvre_AM2336.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Tablet_cypro-minoan_2_Louvre_AM2336.jpg

Example of Cypro-Minoan via “Tablet cypro-minoan 2 Louvre AM2336″ by Unknown. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

0726 La Canée musée linéaire A by Ursus - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - httpcommons.wikimedia.orgwikiFile0726_La_Can%C3%A9e_mus%C3%A9e_lin%C3%A9aire_A.JPG#mediaviewerFile0726_La_Can%C3%A9e_mus%C3%A9e_lin%C3%A9aire_A.JPG

Example of Minoan Linear A via 0726 La Canée musée linéaire A by Ursus – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Example of Hittite_Cuneiform via "Hittite Cuneiform Tablet- Cultic Festival Script" by Mr. Granger - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hittite_Cuneiform_Tablet-_Cultic_Festival_Script.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Hittite_Cuneiform_Tablet-_Cultic_Festival_Script.jpg

Example of Hittite Cuneiform via “Hittite Cuneiform Tablet- Cultic Festival Script” by Mr. Granger – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication via Wikimedia Commons

Also, none of these forms of writing look like what was presented to us as the Newberry Tablet:

Screen shot of pictures of the Newberry Tablet from 1888, via America Unearthed S01E03 on The History Channel 2

Screen shot of pictures of the Newberry Tablet from 1898, via America Unearthed S01E03 on The History Channel 2

So basically, the writing on the Tablet is not any of the scripts it’s claimed to be, and even if it was, the two most commonly picked candidates are unreadable anyway. All this tells us there is no way it could be translated to anything. It also negates the argument that the Tablet couldn’t possibly be a fake since it was found in 1896 and the Minoan civilization was not discovered till the 1900’s by archaeologists. It’s not Minoan, so that’s not a valid argument. It’s also clearly not Viking, Phoenician, or Hebrew, so no luck there either.

There is also the issue of the condition of the modern tablet.

Screen shot of the Newberry Tablet

Screen shot of the Newberry Tablet as it is currently  in the the Fort de Buade Museum via America Unearthed S01E03 on The History Channel 2.

When Wolter is shown the Tablet on America Unearthed (2013) it sets off red flags for me. It looks nothing like the pictures we’re shown from 1898. Yes, as the story goes the tablet was lost and not cared for very well, but again, there is no documentation for any of this. Personally, and this is all my opinion based on the pictures and the stories given, this modern Tablet and the Tablet in the picture do not look the same. Obviously, there is no way to prove this one way or the other, but it’s still a red flag for me.

There’s also the story of the how the Smithsonian was trying to cover up the existence of the Tablet. There’s no reason to believe this story, there’s no reason to not. Simple fact is, there’s no evidence other than hearsay that the images were ever sent, looked at, or lost. When the images were discovered again they apparently were in the Michigan Archives, according to the the Fort de Buade Museum. I suppose the Smithsonian could have sent the pictures back secretly and hid them in the Michigan Archives, since there’s no evidence one way or the other, or maybe the pictures were never sent in the first place. There’s no way to prove either story. Interestingly however, Pholen’s (2014) version of the story has the Smithsonian backing off their declaration that the Tablet was a hoax. He speculates that the Tablet is genuine but doesn’t go as far as to claim the Smithsonian thinks the Tablet is proof of anything. I’d like to know who he talked to in order to get that information, it would be nice to have better documentation on this Tablet in general.

A final thing to add here, there was, in the late 1880’s and early 1900’s a rush of fraudulent artifacts that were found in Michigan. Some 3000 or more hoaxes were recovered during this time, most were immediately dismissed, some still have staying power.  None of them are seen as authentic by professional archaeologists. I find it interesting that the tablet and its associated figures were somehow spared this examination, since they were ‘found’ in the same time period and the same area. I suspect, especially since all versions of the story have the Smithsonian declaring them frauds, that they were part of the Michigan Relic hoax, if not directly, indirectly. Again however, since there is a timespan of nearly 60 years where the tablet was missing, so there is no way to verify this.

So what do we have left with the Newberry Tablet?

What we can say for sure is that the tablet is not Minoan, Hittite, or any of the other cultures it’s supposed to be written by. Since it’s not any of those cultures, there is no way it could be translated. So any claims that the Tablet proves contact with Pre-Columbian peoples is not valid.

It is my opinion that the Tablet in the Museum is not the same Tablet as the one in the pictures from 1898. I base this on the images as they have been provided. It’s not the best way to evaluate them,  I admit that, which is why this is my opinion on the matter and not a fact of any kind. If evidence comes to light that can prove the Tablet’s existence and location over the 60+ year gap between photographing and being purchased by Dr. Donald Benson, then I would re-evaluate my position.

With all of that, I must declare this Tablet a hoax. Neither the facts about the Tablet, nor the speculation is convincing enough to say otherwise.

Resources:

Coe, Aabra
2012    Unknown Origin of Artifacts in St. Ignace Museum Piques Curiosity of Many. The St. Ignace News, 8/23/2014. http://www.stignacenews.com/news/2012-08-23/News/Unknown_Origin_of_Artifacts_in_St_Ignace_Museum_Pi.html?print=1. Retrieved 12/09/2014

Fort de Buade Museum
N.d    Newberry Stones. http://fortdebuade.com/newberry.aspx. Retrieved 12/09/2014

Pohlen, Jerome

2014    Oddball Michigan: A Guide to 450 Really Strange Places. Pgs 39-40. Chicago Review Press, Chicago, IL.  https://books.google.com/books?id=_qo2AwAAQBAJ&pg=PA321&lpg=PA321&dq=Fort+de+Buade+Tablet&source=bl&ots=ZJ8y_71P0t&sig=FkFTyFYK6kf8cNDyOAFywidg4MA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=VmGHVMGCMJCyyAS0gYLICw&ved=0CFsQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=Fort%20de%20Buade%20Tablet&f=false. Retrieved 12/09/2014

Wolter, Scott
2013    Great Lakes Copper Heist. America Unearthed, Season 01 Episode 03. History Channel 2. January 4.

 

Categories: America Unearthed, America Unearthed, Columbus was Second-ish: Who Discovered America Anyway, History Channel, How Bronze Age Minoans Were Not in America., Weird Archaeology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Genetic Disk (Updated)

NOTE: In an earlier version of this post I mentioned that I had been unsuccessful at contacting Dr. Vera M. F. Hammer to get her comments on the Genetic Disk. After this post was published, and through the wonders of twitter, I was able to get in contact with her and she gave me some great insights into her involvement with the disk. Also, I’ve learned a bit about mineralogy and the differences between chert and schits and so have changed parts of the post due to this new information. I will note the areas that have been changed with an UPDATED tag. Thanks again to Dr. Hammer and to Edward Habsburg (@EdwardHabsburg)  who connected us. 

The red flags on this one just fly through the air. Just about nothing about this “artifact” makes sense. Honestly, it’s a little hard to know where to start here with this one.  I guess a description is in order.

The disk is said to be made out of lydite and measures 22 cm in diameter and weighs 2 Kg.  It’s apparently solid black in color and shaped like a Bi Disk. It’s carved on both faces, and has random images carved on it depicting what some are calling “the cycle of life.”

I can’t find any official origin story for the disk. What I can cobble together from the websites that focus on the disk is only that it was found somewhere in Columbia by a gentleman named Jaime Gutierrez-Lega, who  is a well known industrial designer in Columbia. At some point after it was found it was taken to the Museum of Natural Sciences of Vienna, Austria, and reportedly studied by Dr. Vera M. F. Hammer. She somehow managed to date the stone and apparently assigned it to the Pre-Columbian Muisca-culture.

Now, lets really begin to break this one down, because I’m rather surprised this one fools anyone once you really start to look at it.

First, There is no account or record of the Genetic Disk ever being discovered. This is kind of unusual because even fake artifacts have origin stories usually listing time(s) and place(s), often giving details of how the artifacts were found and by who. This time all we have is “The Disk was found in Columbia by Jaime Gutierrez-Lega.” This doesn’t tell us anything, and it’s sure  doesn’t help create confidence in authenticity.  Columbia is a big place, where in Columbia was it found? How did Gutierrez-Lega discover it? Was he digging with a group or did he just stub his toe on it? Why is there no record of it being discovered? Are there any other witnesses to the discovery? What did he do to preserve it? Where did he take it? Who else saw this artifact? Does Mr. Gutierrez-Lega even know he’s associated with the Disk or is he a convenient target for the conspiratorial minded?

What I have been able to cobble together about the Genetic Disk I’ve found on a variety of personal blogs, that I will list in the resources below. However, other than repeating the same shoddy details, they mainly just marvel over how cool the carvings are on the Disk and how they clearly show “the process of life” including two naked individuals, images of sperm, fertilized eggs, embryos, and some other random squiggles.  I mean, these are cool images, very sleek and modern looking, but they are not evidence of anything by themselves.

(UPDATE) Second. The claim here is that lydite is as hard as granite and is also delicate and flaky, making it too hard for prehistoric people to carve and too delicate for them to carve in such detail anyway. The first problem is that the way people are trying to support these claims is comparing the MOHS scale reading of lydite to that of granite. Never-minding that lydite and granite are two completely different types of rock (Hammer 2013), the MOHS scale  does not apply to rock, so the hardness of the rock used to carve the disk is not relevant (Hammer 2013)

As to not being able to carve something like this mysterious delicate and flaky rock, I’d like to point out that prehistoric peoples were incredibly gifted at carving shell and thin sheets of Mica into gorgets and other forms of jewelry. They were just as capable at carving delicate materials as they were crafting stone tools.

Now, that’s not saying I believe that the Genetic Disk is made out of any of these materials. There is nothing supporting the descriptions of the Disk. It is my opinion that the stone the Disk is made of is not lydite at all. Dr. Hammer gave a good deal of information on the actual  composition of the material of the disk, and I am leaving that for the section below.

(UPDATED) Third. Lets begin to look at the people involved with the disk.

The supposed finder of the Genetic Disk is Jaime Gutierrez-Lega, who  is an Industrial Designer known for his modern and sleek designs in his artwork. We know Gutierrez-Lega is a real person, but I have no idea what, if anything, he has to do with archaeology. I can’t really say more than that with any certainty. I have not been able to find a way to contact him. However, if this story is remotely true, I find it very suspicious that an modern artist found an artifact out of the blue, that looks very sleek and very modern in design. I’m not saying Mr. Gutierrez-Lega has done anything, it’s my guess he’s probably not involved, or if he is, he’s been horribly taken out of context and his goodwill taken advantage of.

Which brings us to the next participant. As I stated at the beginning of this post, Dr. Vera M.F. Hammer recently contacted me to answer my questions about her involvement with the disk. She was very kind to do so, and it was very exciting to talk to someone living who is involved in something like this. I have reproduced  Dr. Hammer’s account here.

Dr. Hammer is a Mineralogist, not a Geologist as some sites (myself included, sorry.) have said.  Since 1992 she has worked as a curator for the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Department of Mineralogy and Petrography.  According to Dr. Hammer she first encountered the disk in 2001 through Mr. Klaus Dona, an individual I didn’t touch on last time, but will get to this time. But first, Dr. Hammer’s account:

“I was asked in the year 2001 by Mr. Klaus Dona, who curated the exhibition “Unsolved Mysteries” in the same year in Vienna, to make XRD analyses of some of the exhibited objects. Most of the objects include new materials and I told him that this were fakes, but this is not what he wants to hear… Even other scientists from our Museum told the owners of the objects, and Mr. Klaus Dona, that all that stuff is not what they believed. Some of the exhibited objects were curiosities by the nature, others man made new stuff which you can buy in any touristic shop in that areas. But anyway, our comment about the so called „genetic disc“ was only that it consists of feldspar, quartz and mica, which was proved by XRD measurement.

My former director who was petrologist said, that this rock could be lydite (a grey to black fine grained schist) or an artificial product made of this minerals. I never classified the disk or any other of these objects to a special cultural period or give any statement of age, which in fact are not part of my competence. So, this was the only information we gave, not more! All interpretation of symbols and signs, age or anything else arise in the head of the owner and/or the curator of the exhibition! There was no author given in the catalogue about “Unsolved Mysteries”, so in fact, I don’t know who writes all that nonsense!”

Dr. Hammer’s statement pretty much concludes this whole thing. The one and only official researcher who is mentioned as having studied the Disk tells us it is a fake.

So let’s take that closer look at Mr. Klaus Dona.

Mr. Dona appears to be based out of Austria and calls himself a Spiritual Archaeologist. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m pretty skeptical it’s a real sub-field of archaeology. Mr. Dona’s website is Unsolved Mysteries, where he sells some books, has some more extensive explanations of the Genetic Disk and other artifacts. In his explanation for the Disk he says “Geologists at the University of Bogotá date it to a prehistoric epoch. The most recent examinations were unable to find evidence of faking.” Except for the researchers at Natural History Museum in Vienna telling him they were fakes and also the fact that Geologists aren’t going to be able to date an artifact, also I notice he’s stopped giving the names of his researchers.

Mr. Dona also has a hard time keeping his own facts straight. In a video on YouTube titled “Klaus Dona – The Hidden History of the Human Race – Must Watch” at about 25:50 he begins to talk about the Disk. He says there is no way to identify the culture that produced the artifacts and that the way the artifacts were dated was by guessing the artifacts were older than any known civilization in the area, therefore they must be 6,000 years old. Very scientific. He doesn’t mention how any of these things were found, where exactly they were found, why they are considered older than all other civilizations in the area, or who the researchers were that helped date and identify and interpret the Disk et al. He gives no evidence whatsoever to back up any of his claims.

Fourth. It is really hard to date rock, and assuming you could get a date, you would literally be dating the rock itself, not the artifact that was made out of the rock. There is often no organic material on rock to date to get an age for the artifact, and so, often the age of rock artifacts is reliant on the context of the area it was found in, or, as in the case of stone tools, the style in which the artifact was made.  So how they got a date for the Disk is beyond me. Unless people are trying to say that the age of the rock is concurrent with the age of the Muisca-culture, in that case, there is no evidence to support this. Though according the Mr. Dona, they are basically just making it up. 

Fifth and lastly. I don’t see any similarities between the artwork on the Disk and the artwork left behind by the Muisca-culture. The few Muisca items I’ve seen don’t look anything like the Disk. Which I guess is the point, but if this was a culture that lived along side of the Muisca, why is there no other evidence of their presence? If this was a more advanced people, visiting their vast knowledge on an ancient peoples, why is there no further evidence for their presence? If this was the work of aliens, then why is there no further evidence….well you get the point.

(Updated) My Observations.

The Genetic Disk is just so bizarre to me because, if you ask any questions at all about it, the whole story begins to fall apart. The one named researcher who supposedly helped date and decode the disk clearly did not. Not only that, she clearly told Mr. Dona that the Disk and it’s related artifacts were fakes. The museum where the Disk was supposedly studied is a fake place. There is no documentation, fake or otherwise, to support where and how the disk was found. The material of the disk could probably be man-made, meaning that the Disk could have been (probably is) a cast. Mr. Dona, being informed of this, continues to change his story about the Disk, evolving it to meet his needs. I mean, the only thing I am convinced of is that somewhere there is an object that looks like the picture above.  There is absolutely nothing supporting the validity or reality of the disk.


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Resources:

Hammer, Vera M. F.

2013    Personal Correspondence via Email. December 17, 2013.

N.d    Personal reference page – http://www.nhm-wien.ac.at/en/research/mineralogy__petrography/staff/vera_m_f_hammer. Accessed 12/11/2013

Hurst, K. Kris.

N.d.   Musica Culture. About.com http://archaeology.about.com/cs/glossary/g/muisca.htm”>http://archaeology.about.com/cs/glossary/g/muisca.htm. Accessed 12/11/2013

Questionable Resources:

Above Top Secret. The Awesome Mystery of the Pre Columbian “Genetic Disc”. Astonishing Knowledge!  http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread770144/pg1.  Accessed 12/11/2013

Klaus Dona, Spiritual Archaeologist. http://projectcamelot.org/klaus_dona.html. Accessed 12/11/2013

Onovus: Ancient Mysteries and Present Discoveries. Genetic Disc | Advanced Biological Knowledge in Ancient Times. https://onovus.wordpress.com/tag/genetic-disk/. Accessed 12/11/2013

Unsolved Mysteries: The Genetic Disc. http://unsolved-mysteries.info/english/objects/e01_01c.htm. Accessed 12/11/2013

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