The Bat Creek inscription (also called the Bat Creek stone or Bat Creek tablet) is an inscribed stone collected as part of a Native American burial mound excavation in Loudon County, Tennessee, in 1889 by the Smithsonian Bureau of Ethnology’s Mound Survey, directed by entomologist Cyrus Thomas.
The stone became the subject of contention in 1970 when Semitist Cyrus H. Gordon proposed that the letters of inscription are Paleo-Hebrew of the 1st or 2nd century AD rather than Cherokee, and therefore evidence of pre-Columbian transatlantic contact. According to Gordon, five of the eight letters could be read as “for Judea.”
The Bat Creek Stone received scant attention (even in Thomas’ later publications) until the 1960s when ethnologist Joseph Mahan, puzzled by Thomas’ conclusion that the inscription was Cherokee, sent a photograph of the inscription to Cyrus H. Gordon— a professor of Mediterranean Studies at Brandeis University and a well-known proponent of Pre-Columbian transatlantic contact theories. Gordon published a series of articles in the early 1970s arguing that when the stone is turned so that the straighter edge is at the bottom, the letters are actually a version of Paleo-Hebrew text used in the 1st century BC through the 2nd century AD. According to Gordon, the five letters to the left of the comma-shaped word divider read (right to left) LYHWD, which he interpreted as “for Judea,” or, including the broken letter at the far left, LYHWD[M], “for the Jews.” Gordon provided only tentative Paleo-Hebrew readings of the other three letters. His findings were published in Newsweek and in newspapers across the nation, sparking a renewed interest in the inscription.
The Grave Creek Stone is a small sandstone disk inscribed on one side with some twenty-five characters, purportedly discovered in 1838 at Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville, West Virginia. If genuine, it could provide evidence of a primitive alphabet, but the discovery that the characters can be found in a 1752 book suggests that it is probably a fraud. The only known image of the actual stone is a photograph of items in the E.H. Davis collection (circa 1878) before the majority of the collection was sold to the Blackmore Museum (now part of the British Museum).
The sandstone disk is about 1.875 inches (4.76 cm) wide, and 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) high. One side of the stone is inscribed with 23 alphabetical / pseudo-alphabetical characters arranged in three lines with a final non-alphabetical symbol on the lower portion. There are no inscriptions on the reverse side. The stone passed through various collections, but its current location is unknown. While it was in E.H. Davis’s collection in the late 1800s, he made a cast of it which he deposited to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. The Smithsonian now has four casts of the stone. The National Anthropological Association also has a wax impression of the stone made by Davis. 6 facsimile drawings were also made of the stone.
The 23 alphabetical / pseudo-alphabetical symbols inscribed on the Grave Creek Stone have been the object of much controversy. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft was the first to study this aspect of the stone. He strove to determine whether or not the symbols were alphabetical by consulting experts on the subject. His correspondence with “noted antiquarians” led him to the conclusion that inscription contains “four characters corresponding to the Ancient Greek; four Etruscan; five Runic; six ancient Gallic; seven old Erse; ten Phoenician; fourteen old British; sixteen Celtiberic, with some resemblance to the Hebrew”. However, he was “inclined to regard the whole inscription as Celtiberic”.
The Newark Holy Stones refer to a set of artifacts allegedly discovered by David Wyrick in 1860 within a cluster of ancient Indian burial mounds near Newark, Ohio. The set consists of the Keystone, a stone bowl, and the Decalogue with its sandstone box. They can be viewed at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum in Coshocton, Ohio. The site where the objects were found is known as The Newark Earthworks, one of the biggest collections from an ancient American Indian culture known as the Hopewell that existed from approximately 100 BC to AD 500.
The first of these artifacts, popularly known as the Keystone due to its shape, was excavated in June 1860. Unlike other ancient artifacts found previously in this region, the Keystone was inscribed with Hebrew. It contains one phrase on each side:
- Holy of Holies
- King of the Earth
- The Law of God
- The Word of God
The second find came later in November 1860 when Wyrick and his excavation team came across a sandstone box which contained a small, black rock within it. The black rock was identified as limestone by geologists Dave Hawkins and Ken Bork of Denison University. On this stone were carved Hebrew text that was translated as a condensed version of the Ten Commandments. The name Decalogue Stone, comes from the translation of the Hebrew letters that outline the religious and moral codes described in Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21, which refer to the Decalogue or Ten Commandments. The inscription begins on the front at the top of an arch above the figure of a bearded man who is wearing a turban, robe, and appears to be holding a tablet. It runs down the left side, continues around all sides, and makes its way back to the front up the right side to where it began. This pattern indicates that the inscription was meant to be read repetitively. Right above the figure of the man is a separate inscription which translates to “Moses”. This rock was carved with a unique form of Hebrew, which gave the appearance of ancient post-Exilic square Hebrew letters that later was shown to be derived from the modern Hebrew alphabet.
In 2014, Bradley Lepper of the Ohio History Connection discovered that a fragment of the wooden burial platform underneath which the Decalogue Stone was found had been preserved at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History. This sample yielded a calibrated radiocarbon date range of CAL AD 85 to CAL AD 135 (95% probability). Since the platform had been made from an approximately 2-foot (0.61 m) diameter oak tree, the burial itself could have been several decades later than this tree growth. These dates are consistent with the Hopewell culture that would have constructed the mound.
The Los Lunas Decalogue Stone is a large boulder on the side of Hidden Mountain, near Los Lunas, New Mexico, about 35 miles (56 km) south of Albuquerque, that bears a very regular inscription carved into a flat panel. The stone is also known as the Los Lunas Mystery Stone or Commandment Rock. The stone is controversial in that some claim the inscription is Pre-Columbian, and therefore proof of early Semitic contact with the Americas.
The first recorded mention of the stone is in 1933, when professor Frank Hibben (1910-2002), an archaeologist from the University of New Mexico, saw it. According to a 1996 interview, Hibben was “convinced the inscription is ancient and thus authentic. He report[ed] that he first saw the text in 1933. At the time it was covered with lichen and patination and was hardly visible. He claimed he was taken to the site by a guide who claimed he had seen it as a boy, back in the 1880s.” However, Hibben’s testimony is tainted by charges that in at least two separate incidents, he fabricated some or all of his archaeological data to support his pre-Clovis migration theory.
The reported 1880s date of discovery is important to those who believe that the stone is pre-Columbian. However, the Paleo-Hebrew script, which is closely related to the Phoenician script, was known to scholars by at least 1870
Archaeolinguist Cyrus Gordon has proposed that the Los Lunas Decalogue is a Samaritan mezuzah. The familiar Jewish mezuzah is a tiny scroll placed in a small container mounted by the entrance to a house. The ancient Samaritan mezuzah, on the other hand, was commonly a large stone slab placed by the gateway to a property or synagogue, and bearing an abridged version of the Decalogue. On historical and epigraphic grounds, Gordon regards the Byzantine period as the most likely for the inscription. The Samaritan alphabet is a direct descendant of the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet.
A number of runestones have been found in Oklahoma. All of them are likely of modern origin, with some of them possibly dating to the 19th century “Viking revival” or being produced by 19th-century Scandinavian settlers.
The oldest find is the “Heavener Runestone,” first documented in 1923. It is most likely a 19th-century artifact made by a Scandinavian immigrant (possibly a Swede working at the local train depot). Two other “Heavener Runestones” are most likely not runic at all but exhibit incisions of Native American origin. Three other runestones, found in Poteau, Shawnee and Pawnee, are of modern date.
The Heavener Runestone is located in Heavener Runestone Park in Le Flore County, Oklahoma, near Heavener, Oklahoma.
The runes on the stone are ᚷᛆᛟᛗᛖᛞᚨᛐ. Most of these characters belong to the Elder Futhark, but the final “L” is reversed compared with the last “A”, and the second character is a short-twig “A” from the Younger Futhark. The transcription is then gaomedal, but is generally thought that the intention is that the second character should be an elder futhark “N” (also reversed). The inscription then reads gnomedal (either “gnome valley”, or a personal name “G. Nomedal”). Media presented at the Visitor’s Center translate the ᛆ as an “L,” and state that the inscription was probably a claim marker meaning “valley belonging to Glome,” or “Glome’s Valley.”
The Tucson artifacts, sometimes called the Tucson Lead Crosses, Tucson Crosses, Silverbell Road artifacts, or Silverbell artifacts, were thirty-one lead objects that Charles E. Manier and his family found in 1924 near Picture Rocks, Arizona which were initially thought by some to be created by early Mediterranean civilizations that had crossed the Atlantic in the first century.
The find consisted of thirty-one lead objects, including crosses, swords, and religious/ceremonial paraphernalia, most of which bore Hebrew or Latin engraved inscriptions, pictures of temples, leaders’ portraits, angels, and a dinosaur (inscribed on the lead blade of a sword). One contained the phrase “Calalus, the unknown land”, which was used by believers as the name of the settlement. The objects also have Roman numerals ranging from 790 to 900 inscribed on them, which were sometimes interpreted to represent the date of their creation. The site contains no other artifacts, no pottery sherds, no broken glass, no human or animal remains, and no sign of hearths or housing.
The first object removed from the caliche by Manier was a crudely cast metal cross that weighed 62 pounds (28 kg); after cleaning it was revealed to be two separate crosses riveted together. After his find, Manier took the cross to Professor Frank H. Fowler, Head of the Department of Classical Languages of the University of Arizona, at Tucson, who determined the language on the artifacts was Latin. He also translated one line as reading “Calalus, the unknown land“, giving a name for the supposed Latin colony.
The Latin inscriptions on the alleged artifacts supposedly record the conflicts of the leaders of Calalus against a barbarian enemy known as the “Toltezus“, which some have interpreted as a supposed reference to the Mesoamerican Toltec civilization. However, the Latin on the artifacts appears to either be badly inflected original Latin, or inscriptions brazenly plagiarized from Classical authors such as Virgil, Cicero, Livy, Cornelius Nepos, and Horace, among several others. This has led many experts to condemn the artifacts as frauds. What is perhaps most suspicious, however, is that most of the inscriptions are identical to what appeared in widely available Latin grammar books, like Harkness’s Latin Grammar and Allen and Greenough’s Latin Grammar, as well as dictionaries like The Standard Dictionary of Facts.
Manier took the first item to the Arizona State Museum to be studied by archaeologist Karl Ruppert. Ruppert was impressed with the item, and went with Manier to the site the next day where he found a caliche plaque weighing 7 pounds (3.2 kg), with inscriptions that included a date of 800 A.D.
The Ohio Hanukkiah Mound was a mound believed to be in the shape of a menorah and oil lamp, located near the Little Miami River in Milford, Ohio. Its origins are typically attributed to the Hopewell culture.
In 1803, William Lytle II was a surveyor in Clermont County, Ohio, and first recorded the mound in one of his maps. The mound was further recorded in 1811, in Observations on the Climate in Different Parts of America by Hugh Williamson, and in 1834 by Maj. Isaac Roberdeau. This site is not located in Milford, Ohio. It is located north of Williamsburg in Clermont County, Ohio. The site is not located north of Williamsburg, but rather, the bottom of East Fork Lake in Clermont County, Ohio.
The East Fork Earthwork is a Native American Earthwork and is attributed to the Middle woodland Hopewell culture, from about 100 BC to 500 AD. Its location is on the east fork of the Little Miami River north of Williamsburg in Clermont County, Ohio. The “Hanukkiah” mound has been described as having a 9-branched section resembling a menorah, surrounded by an oil lamp. Each branch was noted to have been 66 feet apart, and the base of the mound being 902 feet long. Some academics have identified the site as a bird effigy.
The Great Serpent Mound is a 1,348-foot-long (411 m), three-foot-high prehistoric effigy mound on a plateau of the Serpent Mound crater along Ohio Brush Creek in Adams County, Ohio. Maintained within a park by Ohio History Connection, it has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of Interior. The Serpent Mound of Ohio was first reported from surveys by Ephraim Squier and Edwin Davis in their historic volume Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, published in 1848 by the newly founded Smithsonian Museum. The Serpent Mound is the largest serpent effigy in the world.
Archaeologists are still debating the origin of Serpent Mound. The mound contains no artifacts and no burials that would help establish the age of the mound. The two leading theories are that the mound was built by either the Adena Culture (800 BC to 100 AD) around 320 BC, or the Fort Ancient Culture (1000 to 1750 AD) around 1070 AD.
Archaeologists began attributing the mound to the Fort Ancient culture (circa 1070 AD) with the publication of “Serpent Mound: A Fort Ancient Icon?” in 1996. A 2017 article, “Radiocarbon Dates Reveal Serpent Mound Is More than Two Thousand Years Old”, argues for a construction by the Adena culture circa 320 BC. The academic debate continues with multiple rebuttals to each theory published in the Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology.
The Kensington Runestone is a 202-pound (92 kg) slab of greywacke stone covered in runes that was allegedly discovered in central Minnesota in 1898. Olof Öhman, a Swedish immigrant, reported that he unearthed it from a field in the largely rural township of Solem in Douglas County. It was later named after the nearest settlement, Kensington.
The inscription purports to be a record left behind by Scandinavian explorers in the 14th century (internally dated to the year 1362).
Historically, researchers first attributed the mound to the Adena culture (1000 BC – 100 AD). William Webb, noted Adena exponent, found evidence through carbon dating for Kentucky Adena as early as 1200 BC. As there are Adena graves near the Serpent Mound, scholars thought the same people constructed the mound. The skeletal remains of the Adena type uncovered in the 1880s at Serpent Mound indicate that these people were unique among the ancient Ohio Valley peoples.
An eight-member team led by archaeologist William F Romain has been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. The team found much older charcoal samples in less-damaged sections of the mound. The investigators conjecture that the mound was originally built between 381 BC and 44 BC, with a mean date of 321 BC.
The Kinderhook plates were a set of six small, bell-shaped pieces of brass with strange engravings, surreptitiously buried and then dug up at an Indian mound near Kinderhook, Illinois.
On April 16, 1843, Wiley began to dig a deep shaft in the center of an Indian mound near the village. It was reported in the Quincy Whig that the reason for Wiley’s sudden interest in archaeology was that he had dreamed for three nights in a row that there was treasure buried beneath the mound. At first, he undertook the excavation alone, and reached a depth of about ten feet (3 m) before he abandoned the work, finding it too laborious an undertaking. On April 23, he returned with a group of ten or twelve companions to assist him. They soon reached a bed of limestone, apparently charred by fire. Another two feet (60 cm) down, they discovered human bones, also charred, and “six plates of brass of a bell shape, each having a hole near the small end, and a ring through them all, and clasped with two clasps”. A member of the excavation team, W. P. Harris, took the plates home, washed them, and treated them with sulphuric acid. Once they were clean, they were found to be covered in strange characters resembling hieroglyphics.
Joseph Smith planned to translate the plates in their entirety. The editors of the Nauvoo Neighbor (apostles John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff), promised in a June 1843 article that “The contents of the plates, together with a Fac-simile of the same, will be published in the ‘Times and Seasons,’ as soon as the translation is completed.”
The History of the Church also states Smith said the following:
I have translated a portion of [the plates] and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth.
The Dighton Rock is a 40-ton boulder, originally located in the riverbed of the Taunton River at Berkley, Massachusetts (formerly part of the town of Dighton). The rock is noted for its petroglyphs (“primarily lines, geometric shapes, and schematic drawings of people, along with writing, both verified and not.”), carved designs of ancient and uncertain origin, and the controversy about their creators. In 1963, during construction of a coffer dam, state officials removed the rock from the river for preservation. It was installed in a museum in a nearby park, Dighton Rock State Park. In 1971 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
In 1680, the English colonist Rev. John Danforth made a drawing of the petroglyphs, which has been preserved in the British Museum. His drawing conflicts with the reports of others and the current markings on the rock. In 1690 Rev. Cotton Mather described the rock in his book The Wonderful Works of God Commemorated:
Among the other Curiosities of New-England, one is that of a mighty Rock, on a perpendicular side whereof by a River, which at High Tide covers part of it, there are very deeply Engraved, no man alive knows How or When about half a score Lines, near Ten Foot Long, and a foot and half broad, filled with strange Characters: which would suggest as odd Thoughts about them that were here before us, as there are odd Shapes in that Elaborate Monument.
The Newport Tower, also known as the Old Stone Mill, is a round stone tower located in Touro Park in Newport, Rhode Island, the remains of a windmill built in the mid-17th century. It has received attention due to speculation that it is actually several centuries older and would thus represent evidence of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact. Carbon dating shows this belief to be incorrect.
Other names given to the tower include Round Tower, Touro Tower, Viking Tower, and Newport Stone Tower.
The Newport Tower is not exactly circular. From southeast to northwest, the diameter reportedly measures 22 feet 2 inches (6.76 m) but, when measured from east to west, the diameter lengthens to 23 feet 3 inches (7.09 m). However, the 19th-century measurements of the interior gave an east–west dimension of 18 feet 4 inches (5.59 m), which was slightly shorter than the north–south measurement of 19 feet 9 inches (6.02 m), suggesting that the discrepancies may be due to the unevenness of the rubble masonry. The tower has a height of 28 feet (8.5 m) and an exterior width of 24 feet (7.3 m). At one time, the interior of the tower was coated with smooth white plaster, the remnants of which may be seen on the interior faces of several pillars. It is supported by eight cylindrical columns that form stone arches, two of which are slightly broader than the other six. Above the arches and inside the tower is evidence of a floor that once supported an interior chamber. The walls are approximately 3 feet (0.91 m) thick, and the diameter of the inner chamber is approximately 18 feet (5.5 m). The chamber has four windows on what used to be the main floor, and three very small ones at the upper level. Almost directly opposite the west window is a fireplace backed with grey stone and flanked by nooks.