Bast Worshiping Hopewellian Egyptians in Pre-Columbian Ancient America.

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Our third chapter in in the Lost History of Ancient America edited by Frank Joseph is an article titled Egyptian Style Cat Burial in Illinois written by Professor Julia Patterson (1931-2015). I can find nothing about Professor Patterson professionally, and other than this article in the edited volume, I can’t find anything else she may have written. She is presented in the book as a former professor of archeology and anthropology at London College and the University of Illinois, Urbana (Joseph 2017:17). So I would expect to find something with her name on it. I have nothing to compare this article too as far as her writing style. If anyone has anything they can share about Professor Patterson with me, it would be appreciated.

The article sufferers from the shortcomings of a lot of the other articles in this volume. There are exactly two footnotes in the article and they both refer to a magazine article in Science from 2015 written by David Grimm. Beyond that there are no citations, footnotes or otherwise, and the actual site is never referenced nor is the actual paper about the site. I find this strange as an academic, especially in the field of archeology working at a university or college, would have had access to the site report. Another slight anomaly is that the volume indicates that Patterson passed away in 2015, which is the same year that both the paper and the article about the site were published. It’s a quick turn-around, not impossible, just quick.

The article begins with a description of a site in St. Louis, Missouri. This is the Elizabeth Site, a 2000 year old Hopewell mound site. The article then makes an incredible claim:

“The Hopewell were a mound builder people of far-flung Traders and skilled Artisans who florist from Circa 600 BCE to their extermination at the hands of Native American tribes by 400, CE. (Patterson 2017)” (emphasis added)

There’s a great deal wrong with this statement. To start, ‘Hopewell’ refers to a culture movement that began around 200 B.C.E It encompasses a large group of Native American tribes, not a single people. Hopewell culture stretched from as far North as Michigan, as far South as Florida, as fear West as Nebraska and all the way to Virginia. The Hopewell center of culture appears to be in Ohio with its impressive Mound City, and Newark Earthworks, and Serpent Mound. Hopewell sites share artistic traditions along with their mound building skills. They also maintained an impressively large trading network taking advantage of the large waterways they routinely built their bigger settlements along. Sometime around 350-400 C.E the Hopewell tradition began to decline. There’s no clear reason for this, but several factors appear to play into the decline:

“Little is known about why Hopewell mound-building ended, either about AD 200 in the lower Illinois Valley, and about AD 350-400 in the Scioto river valley. There is no evidence of failure, no evidence of widespread diseases or heightened death rates: basically, the smaller Hopewell sites simply aggregated into larger communities, located away from the Hopewell heartland, and the valleys were largely abandoned. (Hurst 2016)”

“Around 400 A.D Hopewell culture began to decline for an unknown reason. Archaeologists hypothesize is that there was a cultural collapse within the communities, as the succeeding settlements showed signs of a large-scale societal transition to larger, permanent, more isolated communities. Also, technological developments — including the introduction of the bow and arrow — made for a shift in hunting, gathering, and war, which may have forced Hopewell societies to become more secluded for survival. Earthen mounds became less prominent and the trading routes diminished in this period; but the legacy of the Hopewell cultures can still be seen today. (OHC N.d)”

There is no evidence to support the article’s claim that ‘The Hopewell’ were wiped out by ‘Native Americans’. Most likely the Hopewell culture simple did as all culture movements do, and simple evolved and was absorbed into other culture groups around them. Spawning new traditions that then continue the pattern of one culture evolving from another.

However, this opening statement by the article set up the actual argument the article is trying to make. That the Hopewell, were not Native Americans, but some other culture that was either influenced or directly descended from Ancient Egypt. The article tries to defend this by using the unusual burial of a bobcat kitten.

The burial in question is known as Burial 22 (Perri et. al. 2015), and was originally marked as a ‘canid skeleton’ by the original excavators. It wasn’t until Angela R. Perri, Terrance J. Martin, & Kenneth B. Farnsworth reexamined the remains that they discovered the classification error.

“The burial did not appear to represent the ritual sacrifice of an animal but instead paralleled the mortuary treatment of humans from the mound, with care taken to position the remains and to include grave goods. (Perri et. al. 2015)”

Perri et. al. (2015) did an extensive look at the bobcat, and found some interesting things. One such detail that the article focuses on is the necklace found with the bobcat kitten.

“The only available plan-view photograph taken during the excavation that exposed Burial 22 indicates that the fully articulated animal was placed on its left side with its head oriented northeast (Figure 8) and was not associated with any human remains. Burial pits were not observed for any of the burials (human or felid) on the ramp extension. Two carved bone pendants and four shell beads were found posterior to the front legs and positioned in the area of the animal’s chest in an arrangement that suggested to the excavators a necklace or collar (Charles, Leigh, and Albertson 1988:165; Leigh and Morey 1988:281). (Perri et. al. 2015)”

“Included on the bobcat’s necklace (Figures 8 and 9) was a pair of effigy carnivore canine teeth that were carved from mammal bone. (Perri et. al. 2015)”

“The bulbous outline is more reminiscent of a black bear (Ursus americanus) canine than a canine from a canid or felid. The Elizabeth Mound 7 bobcat and a domesticated dog from the habitation site of Dickson Camp (Fulton County) (Cantwell 1980:484) are the only two Illinois Hopewellian animals known to have been buried with bear-canine or bear canine-effigy pendants. (Perri et. al. 2015)”

The article concludes with important, and cautious observations about what this burial means to the archaeological record:

“Nevertheless, the bobcat appears to have survived long enough for the inhabitants of the Elizabeth site to form an attachment that merited an elaborate burial in a sacred mound: the first and only of its kind known. The inclusion of grave goods commonly found in human burials, which have been strung into an apparent necklace (see Figure 1), further alludes to a close bond. Elizabeth Mound 7 Burial 22 is the only decorated wild cat burial known from the prehistoric archaeological record. Though the burial of an individual bobcat is not evidence for domestication, the Elizabeth Mound 7 bobcat burial enhances our understanding of the relationship between prehistoric people and wild cats, revealing strong evidence for the taming of at least some early felids in the Americas. (Perri et. al. 2015)”

Yet the conclusion that the article pulls from all this is a massive, unsubstantiated leap.

“It had been adorned with a necklace reminiscent of ancient Egyptian representations of Bast. (Patterson 2017)”

Bast aka Bastet, an Egyptian cat headed goddess whose history is more evidence of cultural evolution. What she doesn’t have, is any evidence of connection to this bobcat burial. Unlike what the article argues.

The author of the article makes very little effort to actually connect the two things as well. We move from talking about the bobcat burial to talking about unrelated cat burials and mummifications in Egypt, most of which predate the Elizabeth site by almost 3000 years. The author attempts to create an argument that since Egyptian households often mourned the loss of a cat, that this bobcat burial, showing signs of being an ‘elaborate burial’, must be the same thing.

The problem here is, we don’t know why the bobcat was buried. Remember, there are no human burials in relation to it and no other grave goods beyond the necklace. It is not, as the article will have you believe (Patterson 2017), in relation to one of the infant burials from the same site (Perri et. al. 2015). So the article’s divergence into some idea that Bast is a goddess of childbirth and there for the bobcat is somehow a representation of her protecting the infant (which is only one of several infant/child burials at the site) is a major leap of logic.

The article then sums up it’s original argument thusly:

“These comparisons join a vast body of complementary evidence acclimated on behalf of a pharaonic influence at work in pre-Columbian America. At very least, they suggest that, although the Hopewell or not themselves transplanted Egyptians, they were none the less inheritors of cultural legacies left behind by visitors from the Nile Valley to our continent during prehistory. (Patterson 2017)”

There is simply no evidence to support this, and the article doesn’t provide any either.

Summary:

  • There are no citations beyond an already reduce popular science article that is hardly a complete report of the findings of Perri et. al. Grimm’s (2015) article does a fine job of breaking down the work that Perri et. al. did into a brief snapshot, but it shouldn’t be used a the entire basis of an article attempting to do what this article is. What’s more confusing is the lack of use of the actual work of Perri et. al. and their published findings, which are as available as Grimm’s article. There was a clear choice made here, and the one made is confusing coming from a professional archaeologist. I have a personal theory here, but will keep it to myself as I have nothing to back it up just yet.
  • The underlying statement that ‘The Hopewell’ were somehow not Native American and were subsequently destroyed by ‘The Native Americans’ is simply wrong. To continue to try and support this narrative of non-native cultures being the actual creators of Native American culture is insulting and damming. With this being the third articles in the Lost History book, the actual agenda of this edited volume is quite clear, and it’s not friendly.
  • Lastly, the jump from Hopewell bobcat kitten burial to Bast worship is unfounded and unsupported. Beyond the article simply telling us that’s what we should believe, it provided no evidence to support this. There are no identifiable similarities between the burial and Egyptian cat mummifications, just as there are no similarities between Hopewell culture and Egyptian culture.

This article is not an article I would have selected to help support an argument of pre-Columbian, transoceanic trailers coming to America. It has far too many flaws to overlook, and offerers no actual evidence of anything. It’s more like reading a book-report on a magazine article than anything resembling actual academic research. It’s a strange choice, and not a helpful one for Frank Joseph’s arguments.


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


 

References:

Grimm, David
2015 Ancient bobcat buried like a human being . Science Magazine Online. July 2, 2015. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/07/ancient-bobcat-buried-human-being
Retrieved 1/10/17

Hurst, K. Kris
2016 Hopewell Culture – North America’s Mound Building Horticulturalists. About.com. January 09, 2016. http://archaeology.about.com/od/athroughadterms/g/adena.htm. Retrieved 1/10/17

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

Ohio History Central (OHC)
N.d Hopewell Culture. http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Hopewell_Culture. Retrieved 1/10/17

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

Perri, Angela R., Terrance J. Martin & Kenneth B. Farnsworth.
2015 A Bobcat Burial and Other Reported Intentional Animal Burials from Illinois Hopewell Mounds. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology. Volume 40, Issue 3. Pages 282-301 | Published online: 01 Jul 2015 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1179/2327427115Y.0000000007. Retrieved 1/10/17

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New Patreon Only Content Coming In February!

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I’ve been tossing this idea around for a while, and with the success of the podcast I’m interested to see how well this will work out.

Recently, I’ve been playing around with the idea of an Audio Blog. Nothing fancy really, just me literally reading the blog posts. Maybe a little background music, but no real embellishments. When I suggested this to the Facebook page, they were excited about the idea. Many people commented that listening to podcasts and audiobooks is a growing pastime, and that they would enjoy hearing the blog on top of (on instead of) reading the blog.

I’ve done a few test recordings, and found that the resulting episodes are about 10 to 15 min in length. They’re quick to record and have forced me to look at my older posts and correct or expand. So there’s that.

What I have decided to do is make these Audio-blogs available to my Patreon supporters first. I’m thinking about making them available to everyone later down the road, but I want my Patreon folks to get something unique as a thanks for their support.

So if you are interested in this new content, you can get access to it easily by joining my Patreon page and pledging a small amount, or more if you’re feeling generous!  And if you’re already a Patreon patron, get ready in February for what I think will be fun and cool new content.

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Welsh Indians and Lewis’ Murder: America Unearthed S1Ep 9.

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As with previous blog posts in this series, I’m going to summarize things at the bottom for you to make following all the claims in the show easier, but I’m driven to break this down. If you don’t want to read the whole post just skip to ‘In Summary’ at the bottom. Don’t be surprised, though, if you ask me a question, I refer you to read the whole post first.

Despite the horror film introduction and the warning of the graphic nature of the imagined suicide/murder of Meriwether Lewis, this show isn’t actually about any of that. The actual premises of the show is a buried a bit and is a little hard to swallow.

The apparent premise of the episode is that Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame, was killed to keep secret the truth of the things he found out while investigating the American frontier.

Now, there is a bit of a controversy on how and why Lewis died on his trip up the Natchez Trace. Many historians agree that Lewis killed himself during a depressive episode, and this news appearers to have made sense to close friends of Lewis’ at the time (SHSND 2017). However, the Lewis family insisted it must have been murder, but no inquest into the possible murder ever apparently happened. This is all compounded by the three conflicting stored from the night of Lewis’ death by attributed to Mrs. Grinder, the innkeeper where Lewis was staying at the time of his death.

There are even newer claims that Lewis was neither killed nor committed suicide, but rather died of malaria. This newer idea is outlined by co-authors Thomas Danisi and John Jackson, who explain this theory in their book, “Meriwether Lewis: A New Biography.” Published in 2009 (Hansen 2009). This particular theory, though not particularly popular among historians, isn’t completely discounted by the State Historical Society of North Dakota (SHSND):

“It should be noted, however, that there is the possibility that Lewis suffered from malaria, a disease that is known, in its later stages, to cause forms of dementia and erratic behavior.” (SHSND 2017)

Wolter does a good job of keeping up the ruse that this is the premise of the episode. We get a graphic recreation of Lewis’ death, we get a brief story about Lewis and Louisiana purchase, and we meet Wolter’s friend, Don Shelby who has some nice first editions books. One such book appears to be Lewis’ notebook from his expedition.

old-book

It’s around here that we start to veer from the apparent topic. Shelby tells us that Lewis and Clark didn’t record everything they saw on the trip. He claims there are missing pages from the journals, and no one knows what’s in them. But there could have been something that someone would want Lewis dead to keep secret!

So far this is in keeping with the apparent episode premise. Then Shelby drops a huge hint on us. He tells us that Lewis and Clark were instructed by President Jefferson to look for evidence of pre-Columbian Welsh in the Louisiana Purchase.

So here’s the interesting part about this bit of information. Jason Colavito on his blog took it upon himself to search through and read all of the Jefferson papers at the Library of Congress, the Monticello Museum, the New York Historical Society, and all of the existing correspondence to and from Lewis about the expedition (thanks for that BTW). What he came up with is a lot different from the prevailing story out there, bolstered no doubt by this show. Colavito comes up with an explanation that is a lot more rational.

“Jefferson wrote to Lewis on January 22, 1804 his only mention of Welsh Indians:

“In that of the 13th inst. I inclosed [sic] you the map of a Mr. Evans, a Welshman, employed by the Spanish government for that purpose, but whose original object I believe had been to go in search of the Welsh Indians, said to be up the Missouri. On this subject, a Mr. Rees of the same nation, established in the Western parts of Pennsylvania, will write to you.”” (Jefferson 1804)

Note that Jefferson is either uncertain or unconcerned whether Evans had been in search of Welsh Indians. Instead, his concern is to get Lewis a useful map that will help the expedition. It is reasonable to conclude from this letter that in order to obtain the map, Jefferson agreed to let Rhys write to Lewis about his pet subject, the Welsh Indians. However, Jefferson doesn’t seem at all interested in the subject, and is content to let Rhys write under his own name (i.e. unofficially) about any such inquiry.” (Colavito 2013)

Colavito then points out that neither Lewis nor Clark ever wrote about Welsh Indians in their journals. That was done by Joseph Whitehouse in his own journals that he apparently intended to publish (Colavito 2013). Whitehouse (1805a, 1805b) only mentions them twice and uses the descriptor of ‘Welch [sic]’ to explain their difficult language. Whitehouse makes no effort to express extraordinary interest in the group, or even to point out how these Natives were different from others they encountered beyond saying how nice they were (Whitehouse 1805a, 1805b).

I’ve read the above-mentioned letter from Jefferson (1804), and clearly, Jefferson is not telling Lewis to look for anything. He seems to be informing Lewis of why Mr. Evans has a map of the Missouri, and never mentions it again. Hardly a direct, or secretive, order to look for mysterious Welsh Indians.

So at this point you could be forgiven if you think that the premise of this episode is that Meriwether Lewis was murdered in order to keep the secret that there were Welsh Indians living in the Louisiana Purchase. You’d almost be correct too. Almost.

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The show takes us to Brandenburg, KY to meet with Gerry Fischer, a retired archaeologist. He is there to present us with a new stone to add to our collection. This one is the Brandenburg Stone, and the show would have us believe it’s a land claim written in Welsh. Fischer tells us that it’s been translated by professionals, but doesn’t say who, and that he believes it’s real. Wolter is all about this stone, and tells us, that if the stone is real, then it will call into question the legitimacy of the US.

No, it really wouldn’t, it would have no discernible effect at all, but we need a little drama, so…

Wolter’s Ah-Ha moment is that the Welsh made it to America first and left this land claim stone, thereby giving them true sovereignty over the America’s. Also, that Lewis found this out through his interactions with the Welsh Indians and was killed to keep this a secret so that North America could stay firmly in the hands of the new US government. Native Americas need not apply for ownership of America, Europeans only.

And now you have the actual premises of the episode. Hidden in the attention grabbing murder mystery, is the claim that the Welsh were the first transoceanic travelers to make it to the Americas, interbred with the Native Americans they found here, and somehow that makes them the true inheritors of the Americas. Wolter and the show never come out and say this in plain English, but the claim is clear there once you realize what is being said.

The problem with this claim is that it requires two things to be true. One, that the Brandenburg Stone is authentic (it’s not) and two, that the Welsh Indians are a real people (they are not).

Wolter spends the next third of the episode trying to convince us that the stone is authentic, doing his usual “I can tell the carving is old, because reasons” routine followed by his “if I can find similar stone in the area, then it must be true!” shtick.

wolter-looking-at-rock

He tries to make a big deal out of the Oolitic limestone that the stone appears to be carved from, implying that finding similar limestone in the area somehow makes the Brandenburg Stone real. Problem with this is that according to the Kentucky Geological Survey, 50% of the surface rocks in Kentucky are limestone. There’s so much of it, that Kentucky actually exports it for use in road surfacing and making concrete. Basically, it’d be more impressive if Wolter didn’t find limestone.

As for authenticating the stone via carving. I have always had issues with Wolter’s 3D scanning magic that he never really explains or seems to understand. When I see the pictures of the scans, tool marks always look sharp and fresh to me, but Wolter always says they are eroded and weathered. And that’s assuming we even get to see the actual images and not just some weird, fast rotating 3D topo map that could possibly be anything from a ditch to a scratch mark. I know a little about 3D imaging, I don’t like what I see on this show.

All that said, it’s all basically irrelevant because of the alphabet used to create the message on the stone. According to Jon Whitfield, Baram Blackett, and Alan Wilson, the script on the stone is called Coelbren or Coelbren y Beirdd. It’s a Welsh script that supposedly shares characteristics with other ancient scripts like Etruscan, Pelasgian, and Nordic runes (Pennington 2012). The problem is that it’s fairly well documented that Coelbren is a made up language from the 1790’s (Museum of Wales N.d.). Edward Williams aka Iolo Morganwg created the runic-like language and claimed it was a druidic script (McCulloch 2010).

But to bring the show back around to what it was pretending to be about, we head out to Natchez Trace, Hohenwald, TN meet with Meriwether Lewis descendant, Keith Vanstone. Vanstone is also a proponent of exhuming Lewis’ body to have it examined by modern forensics to better determine the cause of death (Vanstone 2009, VOA 2010). This knowledge makes Wolter’s later suggesting to exhume Lewis’ body seem less shocking. However, the show doesn’t mention this so it just sounds like Wolter is being a ghoul on the show. Not sure what the reason for this editing decision was, but it was a bad one IMO.

Since we can’t dig up a 200-year-old American hero, we do the next best thing and examine the monument erected over the general area of his grave. Wolter acts surprised when he sees a Masonic grave symbol on the monument. Somehow this is a sign of a deeper conspiracy, as always. It’s not a secret that Lewis was a Mason, nor should it be surprising to anyone who knows history well. It would honestly be more surprising to me to find out that Lewis wasn’t a Mason, since pretty much every male of any public standing was in the 1800’s.

Vanstone mentions that Lewis’ Masonic apron supposedly has his blood on it and Wolter gets a new idea. If he can’t dig up Lewis, maybe he can test the blood on the apron and that would somehow prove there was a struggle. This isn’t how forensics works, but that’s not going to slow Wolter down.

We jet off to the Grand Masonic Lodge in Halana, MT. to meet Ried Gardiner, Masonic Grand Secretary and curator of the museum at the Lodge, and Thom Chisholm – Masonic grand Master of Montana. They show us Lewis’ very decorative apron. They tell us that there are traces of human and deer blood on it and that it has been tested before. They were not pleased with the former testing and that makes them reluctant to allow Wolter to test the apron now.

tjs-apron

To his credit, Wolter is very nice and patient with the Masons, and they eventually agree to let him take swab samples.

While we wait for the DNA lab to get us results, Wolter talks with Don Shelby again. We get a translation from the stone;

“Toward strength (to promote unity), divide the land we are spread over, purely (or justly) between offspring in wisdom.”

Wolter decides this is a land deed, it sounds like gibberish to me. To be fair, most of the translations that this show produces sounds like gibberish to me. Shelby then explains the whole Coelbren being a fake language to which Wolter replies;

“Just because this isn’t real, doesn’t mean the Welsh weren’t here.”

Well, yah, it kinda does.

Wolter brings up John Dee again and suggests that he might be the originator of the whole Welsh in America thing. He pretty much admits there is no way to know if any of this is true.

So we end the episode in a DNA lab where the swabs Wolter took have been tested and we’re ready for the results. We meet Stephen Fratpietro, the forensic examiner. He tells us that none of the blood on the apron matches Lewis’, but there appear to be two individuals represented by the stains. He tries to explain that this could be a case of contamination.

Wolter’s not hearing any of it and begins to explain to everyone in the room how important a Manson’s apron is to him, and how a Mason would never have a dirty apron. Therefore the blood would have to have been deposited the night of the murder. He pulls his; “That’s all that makes sense to me!” thing that he does and begins to fabricate a story about how this supports his original idea that Lewis was murdered in order to keep the knowledge that the Welsh discovered America first secret. Everyone else in the room tries not to look uncomfortable, and we cut away to recap pictures and Wolter’s voice over telling us that he’s “blown a hole into history.”

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I see what you did there. Tacky.

Summary:

Despite the meandering of the episode and the show once again debunking it’s own evidence, the premise of the episode was that the Welsh were the first ones to make it to the Americas, interbred with the Native Americans they found here, and therefore are the true inheritors of the Americas. This is the typical white-washing of prehistoric America that I’ve come to expect from the show. I know a few readers don’t like when I point out this white-out tendency of shows and books like this, but I’m going to keep calling it out when I see it.

This episode is also a bit weird in that it pretty much debunks itself, but in order to beat a dead horse, we’re going forward.

1) Lewis’ Suicide/ Murder – Honestly, this is irrelevant to the whole episode. It was the attention-grabbing, click bait headline that made us all want to watch it. It doesn’t matter how Lewis died, though to be fair, there is some controversy over his death. Whether or not he was murdered, the show did not provide any reason for us to think it was to keep the Welsh land claim a secret.

2) The Brandenburg Stone – So fake the show debunks it, which is refreshing.

3) The Welsh Indians – Oh god where to start. Clearly, if you follow the reasoning behind this, you can see that the idea of the Welsh being in the Americas starts way back. It was a political move by Britain to secure their claims to the newly discovered Americas. It was then adopted by Welsh nationalists, and become popular in the 1800’s when Victorian ideals didn’t allow for ‘uncivilized’ Indians to be human enough to have any contribution to the past. It has roundly been debunked and isn’t even tolerated as a theory in academic, and decent, circles anymore. The mention of Welsh Indians to Lewis by Jefferson was clearly as a way of identifying an individual that would be sending an unrelated map to help Lewis and Clark on their expedition. It was not an order to look for them. Lewis never mentioned them in his own notes, that was done by an enlisted man on the expedition who was basically using it to say that the language of the Natives they were trading with was hard to understand.

Wolter’s use of this ‘Welsh Indians’ idea in modern times is incredibly troubling and should be seen a blatant white-washing. This show in general has an amazingly bad track record when it comes to acknowledging Native peoples. It constantly reimagines prehistory in a way as to remove Native Americans from the picture, commandeer their cultural achievements, and awarding them to a rotating collection of white, eurocentric, conquerors. Wolter’s and America Unearthed’s desperate need for there to be a white connection in America is blatant and tiresome. What’s worse, is they even often admit Native peoples were present at the time of these mysterious Europeans arrival, yet this never seems to matter. Whoever the White people were who were first to get here, they are the ones who are owed the land, not the folks who were actually here first.

4) Blood DNA – This is another one that is hard to deal with. Firstly, blood on the apron could never explain if Lewis’ death was a suicide or murder. Blood is simply blood. It can give you DNA, but without a lot more context, it can’t do much more. This particular blood was over 200 years old, had been handled by who knows how many hands, exposed to who knows what, and probably wasn’t kept in the best preservation conditions until recently. Secondly, the first DNA testing done on the apron told us there was deer blood on it, so some of that blood wasn’t even human. Take all of that and add in that the comparison sample came from decent 200 years removed, and you have a recipe for failure right off the bat. I don’t mean to say anything bad about Mr. Vanstone, but 200 years is a long time. Lots of things could have happened in 200 years that could complicate a genetic connection. Even if Vanstone is a direct genetic descendant (and I’m not saying he’s isn’t), the first and second complications alone are enough to pretty much guarantee DNA testing won’t work.

So did the show manage to prove either of its premises? No. All it did was speculate from start to finish, and then debunked its own physical evidence.

 


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

 

Resources:

Callahan, Jim
2000    Lest We Forget: The Melungeon Colony of Newman’s Ridge. Overmountain Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-1570721670. Retrieved 1/3/17

Colavito, Jason
2013     Did Lewis and Clark Seek Welsh Indians? http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/did-lewis-and-clark-seek-welsh-indians Retrieved 1/3/17

Hansen, Liane
2009    How Meriwether Lewis Might Have Really Died. NPR interview.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113712695 Retrieved 1/3/17

Jefferson, Thomas
1804    Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis, January 22, 1804.
http://jeffersonswest.unl.edu/archive/view_doc.php?id=jef.00033 Retrieved 1/3/17

1903    The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 10
By Thomas Jefferson 1903 The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association. Washington, D.C.
https://books.google.com/books?id=4dnSClToke0C&pg=PA441#v=onepage&q&f=false Retrieved 1/3/17

Jones, Mary
2004    Edward Williams/Iolo Morganwg/Iolo Morgannwg. From Jones’ Celtic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11 June 2009 (only USA, see: WayBackMachine). Retrieved 1/3/17

Pennington, Lee
2012 Ch. 11: A Map of Pre-Columbian America. The Lost Worlds of Ancient America edited by Frank Joseph (2012). Retrieved 1/3/17

See, Larry Jr.
2008    Archaeologists gather to hear story of Brandenburg Stone”. (March 19, 2008). Meade County Messenger. Retrieved March 24, 2013. Retrieved 1/3/17

State Historical Society of North Dakota (SHSND)
2017    Was Meriwether Lewis Murdered or Did He Commit Suicide? Corps of Discovery. http://history.nd.gov/exhibits/lewisclark/suicide.html. Retrieved 1/3/17

Vanstone, Keith
2009    Letter to the Secretary of the Interior. http://www.solvethemystery.org/docs/vanstone_letter051909.pdf Retrieved 1/3/17

Voice of America (VOA)
2010    Mystery Still Surrounds Death of Explorer Meriwether Lewis
October 04, 2010
http://www.voanews.com/a/mystery-surrounds-death-of-explorer-meriwether-lewis-200-years-later-104375894/127388.html Retrieved 1/3/17

Whitehouse, Joseph
1805a    Journal Entry for September 5th Thursday 1805. Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. https://lewisandclarkjournals.unl.edu/item/lc.jrn.1805-09-05#ln22090501 Retrieved 1/3/17

1805b    Journal Entry for September 6th Friday 1805. Journals of the
Lewis & Clark Expedition. https://lewisandclarkjournals.unl.edu/item/lc.jrn.1805-09-06  Retrieved 1/3/17

Categories: America Unearthed | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These plants are:

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

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

Tobacco, Coca, and Marijuana.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corn/Maize

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

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

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

arisaema_tortuosum2_at corn3

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

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

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

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

Summary:

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

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

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


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


References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Columbus was Second-ish: Who Discovered America Anyway, The Lost History of Ancient America, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Two Years of Archeological Fantasies!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jones expresses his interest in finding dates that range:

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

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

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

The first he mentions is from Pratt Cave:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary:

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

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


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


References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transoceanic Flora and Fauna, Not Just Swallows with Coconuts.

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

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

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

“… in so few words …”

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

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

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

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

Lastly, in the opening statement, we have:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Chapters in this section:

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


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


References:

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

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

ArchyFantasy Reviews: The Lost History of Ancient America: Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Categories: ArchyFantasy Reviews, The Lost History of Ancient America | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Archaeological Fantasies Podcast Halloween Line-up!

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

WITCHES, SHAMANS, AND LOOTERS WITH STACY DUNN – EPISODE 39

DIGGING NEW ENGLAND VAMPIRES – ENCORE EPISODE 40

GHOST HUNTING – EPISODE 41

HEXHAM HEADS, LEY LINES, AND WEAR-SHEEP-MEN – EPISODE 51

UNLUCKY MUMMIES AND WONDERFUL THINGS – EPISODE 52

CTHULHU WITH JASON COLAVITO – ARCHYFANTASIES 56

MARGARET MURRAY, WITCHCRAFT AND MURDER – EPISODE 58

Categories: ArchyFantasies Podcasts, Podcast, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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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Want more on this topic? Go to Reviews:Artifacts That Aren’t .
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

 

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

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