AA#23 - Who were the Mound Builders?

ANCIENT AMERICAN
©
Archaeology of the Americas Before Columbus
A Maya Temple
found in Illinois?
Peru’s Puzzling
Petroglyphs
Japan’s Megalithic link
to America
400,000 year-old
German Javelins
Welsh King Murdered
in 7th Century America
Search and Discovery
at the Bahamas
Carbon-14 Dating
in Trouble
Landbridge Theory
Beginning to Collapse
Ecuador’s Prehistoric
Port of Call
Who were the
Mound Builders?
VOLUME 3 ISSUE NUMBER 23 • APRIL/MAY • $4.95 U.S./ $5.50 CAN.
PHARAOH’S BREW
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ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Project Alta: Search and Discovery
in the Bahamas
by Frank Joseph
A
number of dramatic discoveries
which could radically alter present
notions of the pre-Columbian past
were made in a recent expedition to the
Bahamas. Although these finds were
made last autumn, they are described for
the first time in this report. As such, their
publication is an Ancient American exclusive.
Designated Project Alta-III, the
expedition was headed by archaeologist,
William Donato, founder and president of
The Atlantis Organization (CA). He similarly led teams of divers (during 1993 and
1995) to investigate possible archaeological remains in the immediate vicinity of
Bimini, a small, Bahamian island located
55 miles east of Miami, Florida. But last
year's effort was the most fruitful, with
enough new information to force the rewriting of American prehistory.
No sooner had the Project Alta
volunteers arrived in Bimini on Saturday
afternoon, October 18th, when they were
informed of a major discovery made by
one of the team members, Donnie Fields.
Although her find took place four years
earlier, only recently had it been positively verified by a qualified expert. In 1993,
she was carefully examining a remote,
rarely visited and largely undisturbed
stretch of beach in Bimini for any clues
suggesting human presence in prehistoric times. What Donnie saw, as she
cleared away the dense, jungle vegetation, was far more than she ever hoped to
find. There, close to the ocean's edge, was
the clear impression of a human footprint
embedded in stone. Expanding her investigation, she soon found another footprint, then others. In all, she uncovered
two dozen footprints comprising three,
different sets, perhaps made by an adult
man and woman accompanied by a child.
The footprints lead directly from
the beach and out into and under the
water toward East Bimini and the position of several effigy mounds configured
to resemble a fish, cat and rectangle.
Plaster casts, showing the typical strikeand-ball marks made while striding
through clay or mud, prove that the footprints were manmade, and reveal that
one of the adults stood approximately 5
feet, 4 inches tall. Interestingly, the casts
also evidence the toes in relation to a
high arch often associated with Cro
Magnon humans and some Amerindian
peoples.
After her discovery, Donnie pre-
A Project Alta expedition member peers into the mangrove swamp of East Bimini, providing some conception of the jungle’s dense foliage. Photograph by William Donato.
sented photographs of the casts she
made to a geologist, Dr. John Gifford.
Although skeptical of many so-called
finds claimed by enthusiasts over the
years at Bimini, he was convinced that
the footprints were authentic and offered
his opinion that they are 7,000 years old,
making them the oldest of their kind in
the New World. They were made by persons walking across a clay area of mud
that over the millennia turned to stone.
At that time, sea-levels were lower than
now, so the two Bimini islands, currently
separated by shallow water, were then
part of a single land-mass.
The discovery of America's oldest footprints in Bimini, of all places, is
particularly remarkable, because they
prove that human beings were crossing
the open ocean at a time when standard
archaeological opinion portrays them as
landlubber, hunter-gatherer primitives.
Clearly, the appearance of 7,000 year-old
human footprints on this tiny, Atlantic
island is physical proof that man was a
seafarer from deep antiquity. Great credit goes to Donnie Fields for having made
such a provocative find. She is an indefatigable investigator of Bimini history
and prehistory, with a nurturing care for
the island's people and ecology.
2
B
ut why would anyone attempt an
ocean voyage to Bimini 7,000
years ago? What could have possibly drawn them there? When the island
was discovered by Spanish explorers in
the late 15th Century it was inhabited by
a pre-ceramic culture belonging to the
Ciboney Indians, whose traditions
regarding their island have not survived.
Origins and possible meanings of "Bimini" are not known, although in the language of the pharaonic Egyptians, the
name translates handily as "Ba-Mininini," or "Homage to the Soul of Min."
Min was the god sacred to long-distance
travelers and the Egyptian version of
Heracles, or Hercules, himself portrayed
in Greco-Roman myth as a far-ranging
voyager. Could Bimini have formerly been
a way-station or supply-point for sailors
traveling from the distant Eastern
Mediterranean?
The Lucayans, who originated in
far-off Brazil, inhabited several islands
throughout the Bahamas by the 13th
Century, and curiously referred to Bimini as "the Place of the Wall" or "Place of
the Crown." Modern investigators believe
this descriptive name is a direct reference
to the controversial structure lying under
19 feet of water only a mile off Bimini's
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Turned to stone by time, a set of human footprints lead from Bimini’s shore into the water. Dated to 7,000 years, they are the oldest
known footprints in the Americas. First-time publication of photograph (highlighted to show detail) by Donnie Fields.
north point. Discovered in 1968, the feature runs in a perfectly straight line for
some 1,300 feet before terminating in a
J-section and is composed of often massive, usually square-cut blocks of limestone. Known as "the Bimini Road," it
more resembles a massive wall which
once belonged to a harbor facility of some
kind, probably a quay or dock for large
sailing ships.
Dimitri Rebikoff, a renowned
scientist who completed the first survey
of the Bimini Road in 1969, concluded
that the structure was "identical to the
parallel harbor piers found by us at the
Zembra Phoenician harbor in Tunisia."
Andre Poidebard, the pioneer of aerial
archaeology and credited as the discoverer of the Phoenician port-cities of Tyre
and Sidon, noticed that "the characteristic mark of Bronze Age harbor installation is that all major foundations and
wherever possible the seawalls themselves are cut out of the live rock itself,
providing maximum strength against the
onslaught of storm waves" --- the same
technique displayed in the Bimini Road.
Rebikoff similarly observed, "It is
obvious that, as in the Bronze Age ports
of the Mediterranean, such an extensive
deep cut in the live rock is by far the
strongest possible sea-resistant foundation method." Combined with fluctuating,
lower sea-levels from the late 4th Millennium through the early 2nd Millennium
B.C., the parallels made by Rebikoff suggest the Bimini Road was, in fact, originally part of a harbor facility culturally
resembling similar docking facilities in
the Mediterranean Bronze Age, from
roughly 2500 to 1200 B.C. Still other
investigators believe the structure could
be considerably older, and point to the
drastically lowered sea-levels of the 10th
Millennium B.C.
Although still dismissed by professional skeptics, who, in most cases,
have never gone to Bimini or examined
the Road in person, the site's authenticity was given a large dose of credibility by
a Colorado geologist. While visiting Bimini on holiday, he was shown a block
3
removed directly from the sunken structure by William Keefe. Together with his
wife, Nowdla, he owns and operates
Atlantis Diving Tours, near Bimini's south
end. Despite the name of his company,
Mr. Keefe refused to believe the so-called
Road was anything more than a natural
formation of beach rock.
uring a usual dive to the site in
1995, however, a particular stone
caught his eye for the regularity of
its appearance. With great difficulty, he
later pried it from its place in the Road
and floated it to the surface with the
makeshift arrangement of a buoyancycontrol device more ordinarily used by
scuba divers to maintain their position
under water. On shore, the stone
appeared even more artificial than when
Mr. Keefe first saw it three fathoms deep.
He brought it back to his dive shop,
where Nowdla washed off centuries of
marine accretions. Later, using bleach to
scour the stone, she was surprised to
find a triangular notch on one side,
something far more typical of a manmade
D
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
construction feature than anything naturally occurring in the sea.
This was the curious stone the
visiting geologist examined. Returning to
Colorado in November, he put his findings on paper, but refrained from adding
his name for fear of peer pressure from
his conservative colleagues. He knew
only too well that professional careers are
often ruined by powerful academics with
financial investment in the scientific status quo, and who strenuously oppose
any unconventional find that challenges
their rigid paradigm. The results of his
observations nonetheless go a long way
to confirm the stone's artifactual identity
and are published here for the first time
(see page 6), courtesy of Nowdla and her
dive shop.
With these exciting, new discoveries behind us, Project Alta III finally got
under way on Sunday, October 19th,
when expedition-leader William Donato
led team member, Jonathan Eagle, and
myself into the mangrove swamps of East
Bimini. There we used G.P.S. (global
positioning systems) instruments to
measure the corners of the so-called Rectangle Mound. Some investigators speculated this enormous geoglyph, about 200
by 300 feet, had been intentionally oriented to specific astronomical phenomenon, perhaps alignments with certain
positions of constellations, such as the
Pleiades. While our findings strongly suggested that the feature had been terraformed by human beings in prehistoric
times, G.P.S. results could not confirm
that the Rectangle Mound possessed any
deliberate celestial orientations. Further
tests could show that one or more alignments are inherent in the structure, but
these may have only been used to establish its linear proportions and were not
necessarily part of any astronomical
fixes.
The following day, we took to the
air in a twin-engine aircraft for an extensive aerial survey of Bimini and the surrounding waters and islands. From altitude, the huge Fish, Cat, Cobra and Rectangle Mounds of East Bimini stood out
in high relief from the jungle floor.
inging our way over the northern part of the Bahama Banks,
30 miles northeast of Bimini we
were somewhat amazed to see what
appeared to be a perfectly straight line
running from horizon to horizon, beneath
the surface of the sea. West of the line,
the water was light turquoise; east, a
deep indigo. This peculiar feature was
first brought to Donato’s attention by
Herbert Sawinski, a prominent investigator, who noticed the line in a satellite
photograph. Now its existence was confirmed by aerial surveillance. The prodigious length of the line and the appar-
Atlantean debris-field? Some of the fallen blocks, apparently scattered by centuries of
tropical storms, at Moselle Shoal, just north of the island of Bimini. Photograph by
William Donato.
ently straight perfection of its course
make the sub-surface feature something
of a geologic anomaly that may prove
more valuable archaeologically: it may
have been recognized and used by
ancient seafarers to the Bahamas,
because currents of the deeper water
(the dark blue area) may run up against
shallower water to generate currents that
a ship could ride directly to Bimini.
Our aircraft turned north east,
and we flew over a feature known as the
Moselle Shoal. Visited by fishermen for
its abundant catch-grounds, the Shoal,
while seldom sought out by divers more
attracted by the Road site, appeared suspiciously, however abstractly manmade,
and we vowed to dive on it as part of our
expedition.
ext on our itinerary was more distant Andros Island and its surrounding islets, mostly uninhabited specks of territory set like fragments
of alabaster in a malachite sea. We made
several fly-overs of Andros and the smaller Pine Cay, where we observed a large,
N
W
One of Moselle Shoals’ enormous blocks, half lost in the sandy ocean-bottom. Was it
once a pillar in a temple or palace built by sea-kings from Atlantis? Photograph by
William Donato.
4
ANCIENT AMERICAN
The Voice of Alternative
Viewpoints
Volume 3, Issue Number 23
WAYNE N. MAY....PUBLISHER
SYDNEY J. TANNER....COPY EDITOR
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The purpose of Ancient American is to describe the
true prehistory of our continent, regardless of
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.....ADVISORS....
WILLIAM DONATO, MA, PRESIDENT
THE ATLANTIS ORGANIZATION
BUENA PARK, CALIFORNIA
DR. JAMES E. GILLIHAN
ARCHAEOLOGIST & ARTIFACT APPRAISER
NEW HARMONY, INDIANA
JAMES E. LOCKWOOD, JR.
ALUMNUS ASSOCIATE
CARIBBEAN ANTHROPOLOGY,
BELOIT COLLEGE, WISCONSIN,
ANDREW E. ROTHOVIUS
THE GUNGYWAMP SOCIETY
MILFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE
FRED RYDHOLM
AUTHOR, HISTORIAN
MARQUETTE, MICHIGAN
DR. JAMES P. SCHERZ
ANCIENT EARTHWORKS SOCIETY
MADISON, WISCONSIN
IN THIS ISSUE
Volume 3, Issue #23
News
Project Alta: Search and Discovery
in the Bahamas .......................................................... 2
Frank Joseph
A Mayan Temple found in Illinois? ........................... 11
John Miller
Lost legacy found in Wisconsin..................................12
Bering “Land-Bridge” Theory Collapsing .................. 27
David Burton
Photographic Preservation of Peru’s
Puzzling Petroglyphs ................................................ 38
Frank Ciampa
Features
Radiocarbon Dating: Tool or Magic Wand? ................ 8
Robert F. Helfinstine
The Mound Builder Myth: What did Squier
and Davis Actually say? .......................................... 16
John J. White, III
Ecuador, America’s Prehistoric Port of Call .............. 19
Bruce Scofield
NEIL STEEDE
CONSULTANT ARCHAEOLOGIST
INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI
Germany’s 400,000 year-old Javelins ..................... 26
IRON THUNDERHORSE,
POWWAMANTOWE
ALGONQUIAN CONFEDERACY,
ANISHINAABEG
AUTHOR, COLUMNIST, LINGUIST
Missouri’s Mystery Weapon ..................................... 28
DR. JOHN WHITE, III
MIDWEST EPIGRAPHICAL SOCIETY
COLUMBUS, OHIO
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Keith Bennett
Keenan Newell
Japan’s Megalithic Links to Ancient America
and Europe ............................................................... 30
Professor Nobuhiro Yoshida
Welsh King murdered in 7th Century America ......... 36
Jim Michael
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Front Cover: Ceremonial vessel excavated from
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5
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
The square-cut pillars of a ruined, roofless building in the Bolivian High Andes, near
the pre-Inca city of Tiahuaniku, bear a striking resemblance to the stone blocks lying
underwater at Bimini’s Moselle Shoals. Were both sites built by the same culture-bearers? A.A. staff photo.
circular structure, perhaps 100 feet or
more in diameter. Years before, Dimitri
Rebikoff photographed a feature resembling three concentric rings from 22,000
feet. Though he did not see it, several
other questionable structures were
observed, such as apparent rectangles
and a pair of curved lines off of one of the
islets. In his 4th Century B.C. story of
Atlantis, the Kritias, the Classical Greek
philosopher, Plato, described the sunken
capital as composed of alternating rings
of land and water. The structure we saw
was no city. But it did appear too large
for the sponge pens used and abandoned
throughout the Bahamas by Greek fishermen in the 1920s. For the present, we
got a fix on the enigmatic feature's position and promised ourselves to dive on it
in the future.
Pine Cay offered another peculiar sighting. Some distance from the first
contact, we saw a sub-surface target,
previously photographed by Rebikoff,
that appeared precisely like the lowercase letter "e." G.P.S. coordinates were
obtained for the structure. Although its
natural formation seemed doubtful, its
function or identity were elusive. In any
case, these unusual structures, in conjunction with those of the Moselle Shoal
and the Bimini Road, suggest traces of an
alien race of civilizers who once, so very
long ago, populated this part of the
Bahamas and raised their monumental
culture, which scarcely survives in the
shadowy outlines of uncertain shapes
below the sea.
To be sure, during the Bronze
Age and before, the Bahamas were not a
scattered collection of little islands like
Bimini or Andros. Following the last Ice
Age, about 10,000 years ago, they were
part of a mighty island larger than the
State of Texas. Over the subsequent millennia, rising sea-levels inundated this
island, referred to sometimes as "Poseidia" or "Alta," until, by the modern era,
the Bahamas assumed their present configuration. Even today, the waters
around Andros and Bimini are often only
several feet deep for many miles in all
directions. It does not require much
imagination to envision a vast territory
suddenly arising in this part of the
Atlantic, if present sea-levels were to
drop marginally.
he following day, October 21st,
Donato, Eagle and I were joined by
Donnie Fields and her husband,
Morris, in a dive on the Bimini Road.
Although underwater clarity was reduced
to less than 20 feet by heavy wave action,
we retrieved new samples of the site and
completed several measurement surveys
of massive stone blocks neglected during
previous expeditions. While the agitated
surface waves hampered visibility, they
did temporarily scour sand away from
the base of the Road, revealing several
courses of stones arranged on top of each
other --- hardly a natural arrangement of
beach rock. Moreover, a number of the
lower course blocks were positively
beveled, just like shaped masonry. Donato noticed that the stones in the Road
slanted slightly toward the Bimini shoreline, an important observation on behalf
the the site's artificial provenance,
because naturally formed beachrock
slants away from shore. Doubtless, if the
waters surrounding the Bimini Road
were pushed aside and the structure
beheld in its entirety, no one would ques-
T
6
tion its manmade identity.
The next day, on the 22nd, we
completed our G.P.S. survey of East
Bimini's effigy mounds. We motored as
far as possible through the mangrove
jungle in our shallow-draft boat, while
the fleeting apparitions of manta-rays
seemed to fly rather than swim through
the depths over which we skidded. Then
we disembarked to wade waist-high
through
brackish,
shark-inhabited
waters. The animal's unpredictable
behavior was dramatically demonstrated
several years before our expedition
began, when Donnie Fields had a meterlong lemon shark suddenly wriggle up
her leg toward her breast. The mercifully
brief encounter left her shaken but
unhurt.
On dry land, we once again
hacked our way through the virtually
impenetrable vegetation festooned with
the ghostly webs of bizarre spiders, their
square abdomens decorated in red and
black designs. East Bimini's more attractive denizens were the big pelicans who
roosted high in the palm trees, from
which they launched themselves with
inspiring grace.
Finally arriving at the Fish
Mound, we commenced our measurement survey. I could easily make out its
piscine configuration from a ground-level
vantage point at the tip of its snout. At its
opposite end, the fin, too, was distinct--remarkably, considering the immense
size of the geoglyph, which may only be
appreciated in its entirety and full proportions from the high perspective of a
circling airplane. Unlike the Rectangle
Mound surveyed several days before, the
527 foot-long Fish Mound appeared to
exhibit at least a single, deliberate orientation to the west and the setting sun.
Moving on the the Cat Mound,
Donato determined that its tail was
aligned to magnetic north, underscoring
the site's archaeological character.
We returned to the Bimini Road
on Thursday, but conditions were not
much improved over our previous
attempt, and only a half-dozen typical
samples were retrieved. Friday, our last
full day on the island, we experienced our
most profitable and dramatic dive.
Intrigued by aerial sighting of suggestive
shapes at the Moselle Shoal earlier in the
week, we chartered a local boat that took
us to the location some three miles off
Bimini's northern coast. There we found
a native fisherman, who, in answer to our
questions, said our keel was almost
directly over what he sometimes could
make out in the mirrory depths as "big
stones" different from those he saw elsewhere.
Excitedly pulling on our gear,
Donato and I went over the gunwale.
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Jonathan Eagle had taken ill with pneumonia the day before, so could not join
us. Donnie Fields, too, was not feeling
well, and Morris felt he should remain at
her side. They missed a most spectacular
dive.
Immediately
after
sinking
beneath the surface, we were enveloped
in a vast panorama of luminous, azure
visibility extending for literally hundreds
of feet in all directions. In 35 years of
scuba diving, I have never seen such
incredible clarity. The white, sandy bottom was only 19 feet below, but to the
west, in the distance, loomed a fantastic
jumble of evocative shapes. We swam
toward them and reached our goal after
long, strenuous kicks through a surging
sea.
ven before we came close enough
to touch them, we could see that
the colossal stones were totally
unlike the pillow-shaped blocks laid flat
and fitted together in the Bimini Road.
These looked like massive, square-cut,
rectangular supports. A few were still
standing up-right, or mostly so. All the
rest had fallen over, were leaning at precarious angles or sunk deeper into the
sandy bottom. The whole scene, beheld
by us in its entirety, made an impression
of tremendous catastrophe. Perhaps we
were not looking at the remains of a city,
but of a once gigantic building of some
kind, erected thousands of years ago
when Moselle Shoal was above sea-level
as an island. These immense blocks may
have been all that remained of an otherwise perishable edifice, probably of wood.
Their scattered condition was less likely
the result of some Atlantean cataclysm,
than of the centuries of hurricanes
which have swept through this part of
the Atlantic Ocean. Donato worked for
ten minutes with his hammer, trying
unsuccessfully to remove a single chip
from one of the stones. It was the hardest granite he ever encountered. Only on
the fourth stone was he able to remove
two, small samples.
Meanwhile, great clouds of tropical fish swirled in electric colors all
around us and throughout the site, lending it an unworldly atmosphere, made all
the more so by the somber appearance of
a huge, spotted ray gliding watchfully
among the ruins. They swam among
modern ruins, too. In 1925, a salvage
operator from Florida, hearing of
Moselle's big stones, tried to quarry them
for sale back in Miami. But their prodigious weight was greater than he
guessed, and they broke through the
bottom of the hull, sinking his ship. That
explained a few of the imposing blocks I
E
Colorado Geologist’s Report on the Bimini Stone
The material examined was that of a fine grain granite. It resulted from very
rapid cooling to produce so small a grain in its structure. Since ancient times, stone of
this type has been sought after by construction engineers for foundational support in
large-scale building projects. The retrieved specimen is not native to the Bahamas, nor
to any nearby source in the U.S. Quarries where it may be found are located in Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington State and Italy. Upon its examination, the following observations, comparisons and conclusions were noted:
1) The rock showed definite tool marks made by a stonesmith.
2) The sample has been deliberately shaped, versus impact by natural erosional forces.
3) A black line across the cracked edge of its surface shows functional wear,
which might have been caused by the application of heavy loads. If the block was once
part of a major cartway or walkway, the granite crystals in its surface would have
been compressed over time, forming such a black line as now appears.
4) The Bimini stone displays some erosional features similar to those commonly found of a set of old granite library steps.
5) The block appears to have been formerly located in a climate with a minimum of two seasons, in which significant heating and cooling took place.
6) The sample displays natural erosion by surface wave-action, not that
caused by underwater conditions, implying that it was above sea-level for many years
(centuries?) before it being removed.
saw lying on top of a large boiler, surrounded by other artifacts of that vessel---a smashed galley, an oversized
capstan, decomposing machinery---that
went down 72 years ago.
The square-cut “pillars” were
more than we could count, all laid out
within a roughly rectangular field of differing sizes and shapes, some evidencing serious erosion, others in relative
good condition. Like the Bimini Road, if
Moselle Shoal could be raised above the
surface of the sea, the world might recognize it for the ancient ruin it is.
ear the end of our air supplies, we
reluctantly surfaced and, adhering to our schedule, sped back
toward the Bimini Road for a final dive
with the last of our tanks. Again, visibility was poor, but Donato did find an
unusual hole that appeared to have
been drilled into the bedrock, perhaps
N
7
as part of some constructional technique to fasten or hold in place part of
the ancient harbor works. It is 10 inches deep with a 14 inch radius. Whatever the hole's actual purpose, its discovery contributes to the growing body of
evidence on behalf of the Bimini Road's
manmade origins.
In the evening, we met at our
base of operations, the Ellis Cottage, on
Bimini's eastern shore, for the last time
to assess our week-long efforts. They
succeeded beyond our early hopes and
laid a firm foundation for our return to
Bimini in the next Project Alta.
Quotes from the Bahamas Quincentennial Edition of History of Bimini, Volume 2, by Ashley B. Saunders, available
from New World Press, PO Box 652, Bimini, Bahamas. 81/2 X 11 inch softcover,
illustrated. $20.00, plus $5.00 s.&h.
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Radiocarbon Dating: Tool or Magic Wand?
by Robert F. Helfinstine, retired professional engineer
A
rchaeologists, anthropologists and
others involved in researching things
of the past have used the tools of
radiocarbon (14C) dating as a supposedly
accurate measurement of time in past history by which they could correlate activities
from remote parts of the world. As the
method has been used and the procedures
improved with modern technology, the
assumptions on which the method has
been based have been brought into question. And if the assumptions are questionable, what about the results? How many
individuals who submit samples for dating
understand the limitations of the dating
results? What have been some of the objectives in obtaining 14C dates?
In Literature of the American Indians, by Sanders and Peek, the authors use
14
C dating of ancient Indian sites to “prove”
that the Indian culture was older than that
of the Egyptians, which was dated by a different method. Charles Ginenthal stated,
“...radiocarbon dating is not employed to
test theories, but to support them...radiocarbon always gives a scattered set of
dates. The theorists then pick the ones
they believe to be correct.”1 The ages of
organic fossils, such as once living plant or
animal remains, are often determined by
the radiocarbon method.
A certain amount of carbon in the
living plant or animal tissue is 14C, usually
obtained in the form of 14CO2 from its environment. In a stable environment, the
amount of 14C is in equilibrium; that is, the
amount of decay equals the amount of new
14
C taken in. When a plant or animal dies,
there is no additional 14C taken into the tissue, and the 14C decreases as a function of
time with a half-life of 5,700 years. By measuring the remaining 14C/12C ratio in a sample of wood, leather or ashes from an
ancient campfire and compared with a
“standard” ratio, a theoretical age of the
sample is obtained. How accurate is that
age?
The assumptions2 on which the
dating is made are: 1. It is independent of
time for 70,000 years. 2. The value is independent of geologic location. 3. The percent
of 14C is not species dependent. 4. The generation activity of 14C is a known constant.
5. There is no 14C contamination with modern 14C. 6. There is no loss of 14C except by
radioactive decay.
Radiocarbon is generated in the
upper atmosphere primarily by cosmic ray
bombardment of nitrogen (14N), converting
it to 14C. The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of
Science and Technology states that the concentration of 14C in the Earth’s atmosphere,
hydrosphere and biosphere is “relatively”
uniform. It then goes on to explain how the
relatively uniform condition is really a variable. A key factor in the 14C generation rate
Were radio carbon tests seriously off the mark in dating this lower jaw of an extinct
sloth, a megathere, at 20,000 years old? A.A. staff photograph.
is the strength of the Earth’s magnetic
field. According to the technical monograph, Origin and Destiny of the Earth’s
Magnetic Field,3 the magnetic field is decaying as a first order exponential with a half
life of 1,400 years, a number much less
than the 5,700 year half life of 14C.
The consequence of this decay is
that there is a corresponding exponential;
increase of the generation rate of 14C. Using
present conditions as a reference will result
in an increase in the apparent age of older
samples. The cosmic ray flux is an
unknown for past ages. The eleven-year
sun-spot cycle also has a cyclic effect on
the generation rate. Dilution of 14C in the
atmosphere is caused by burning of hydrocarbon fuel or by release of 12C from CO2
sinks4 as the result of atmosphere and
hydrosphere warming. Geographic location
is probably one of the biggest variables in
the 14C process, yet it seems to be systematically ignored.
A few examples include a living
tree growing next to an airport dated as
being 10,000 years old,5 and living aquatic
plants from Montezuma Well in Arizona,
which shows apparent ages from 17,300 to
24,750 years.6 Why the erroneous numbers? It is assumed that the tree by the airport has obtained carbon from the exhaust
fumes of aircraft which diluted the natural
14
C in the atmosphere. The plants at Montezuma Well are evidently getting much of
their carbon from the well water, carbon
that has lost most of its 14C content by
being aged in the ground for many years.
This apparent aging is known as the Seuss
effect. Plants, and the animals that feed on
8
them, are influenced by the amount of “old
carbon” in their immediate environment.
Studies of soil and water conditions show
that CO2 concentration in water under
grasslands is approximately 1,000 times
greater than CO2 concentrations in water
in equilibrium with air.
orest areas showed an increase of
CO2 concentrations in both soil and
F
water 100 times that of rain water.7
Therefore, both plants and animals from
zones with high concentrations of old carbon will provide specimens that appear
older by conventional 14C standards than
they actually are. There are also assumptions of ages of certain rock formations.
Yet, radiocarbon dating old wood samples
extracted from the rock show dates radically different from the assumed age.
An example is a partly burned but
unfossilized branch found in Cretaceous
limestone in Texas that was dated as
12,800+/-200 years B.P. (Before Present).8
Spruce wood, described as being in near
normal condition, taken from the buried
forest of Upper Michigan, was dated at
10,200 years B.P. Other fossil wood found
along the north shore of Lake Superior
shows similar dates.9 The relatively narrow
dates for fossil wood is a problem for some
researchers who have definite presuppositions about the time period of certain fossils. Wood found around the carcass of a
baby mammoth, Dima, was dated between
9,000 and 10,000 years B.P. Samples of the
carcass tissue were dated at 26,000 and
40,000 years B.P.10 Fat and blood samples
from the Berezovka mammoth were dated
at 39,000 years B.P., but the plant and
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
pollen remains found in its stomach were
dated between 6,000 and 7,000 years B.P.11
These examples tend to indicate that older
samples can give a variety of dates, many of
which may have little direct correlation to
dates obtained by other methods. This
brings to question the validity of many 14C
dates found in the literature. When the
material being dated has an unknown past
history, how can the measured date be considered valid?
ontamination is a potential problem
with old samples if the containers
they are kept in are made of wood or
wood products or are exposed to the air.
Carbon 14 can be absorbed by the sample
and made to appear younger than its normal 14C date. How much this effects the real
date is questionable because of the other
variables in the system. This brief summary of the 14C dating problem shows that the
assumptions on which the process was
originally established need to be reconsidered. It is not independent of time; it is
dependent on geographical location; it is
species dependent; the generation activity
is changing, and it is subject to contamination.
There have been a number of “correction factors” proposed in attempts to
normalize 14C dating. Tree ring dating has
been used, but that process has its own
limitations. The influence of the Earth’s
magnetic field can be compensated to some
C
extent, but the large differences due to geographical locations can only be guessed at.
Carbon 14 is not the useful tool it was
thought to be, but it is often used as a kind
of magic wand in attempts to provide validity for establishing dates of ancient fossils.
And because of the general commitment to
using 14C dates, Charles Ginenthal commented, “I believe that because radiocarbon dating is the one, great backbone and
support of the superstructure of the uniformitarian history of the past,...all of this evidence for a distorted ration of 14C/12C,...will
be denied.”12
A word to the wise is said to be
sufficient. Let’s hope that there are some
wise individuals willing to acknowledge the
problem. Old paradigms are hard to
replace.
References:
1. Ginenthal, Charles, “The Extinction of
the Mammoth,” The Velikovskian, special
edition, 1997, p. 160.
2. Faure, Gunter, Principles of Isotope Geology, 1977, p. 307.
3. Barnes, Thomas G., “Origin and Destiny
of the Earth’s Magnetic Field,” Technical
Monograph No. 4, Second Ed., 1983, p. 17.
4. Ginenthal, op cit., pp. 178-180. The two
main sinks for old carbon are the Arctic
tundra, which absorbs CO2 from the
atmosphere, and methane hydrate, a
9
frozen mixture of methane and water found
in the tundra and the ocean.
5. Huber, Bruno, “Recording Gaseous
Exchange under Field Conditions,” The
Physiology of Trees, K.V. Thinmann, ed.,
(New York, 1958), p. 194, cited in Ginenthal, op. cit., p. 174.
6. Ogden, J. Gordon III, “Radiocarbon and
Pollen Evidence for a Sudden Change in
Climate in the Great Lake Region 10,000
Years Ago,” Quaternary Paleoecology, E.J.
Cushing, H. E. Wright, eds., (New Haven,
CT., 1967), p. 119, cited in Ginenthal, op
cit., p. 176.
7. Encyclopedia Britannica, Macropedia,
Vol. 7, p. 733, cited in Ginenthal, op cit., p.
176.
8. Found by Wilbur Fields of Joplin, MO;
radiocarbon
dating: UCLA-2088,
10/23/78. 9. Information obtained from
Professor W. James Merry, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI., on a personal visit to discuss the buried forest,
1978. 10. Guthrie, R. Dale, Frozen Fauna of
the Mammoth Steppe, 1990, pp. 9-10.
11. Ginenthal, op cit., p. 163.
12. Ginenthal, op cit., p. 184.
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
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ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
A Maya Temple found in Illinois?
by John Miller
Monks’ Mound in its present state of preservation. Does it conceal a 10th Century Mayan temple? Some appreciation of the earthwork’s incredible size may be possible when we realize that the white specks on the second stairway are people. A.A. staff photo.
M
onks’ Mound is a modern
name given to the grandest
ancient structure north of the
Rio Grande. Completed about a thousand years ago, the earthen pyramid
originally rose to more than a hundred
feet above the banks of the Mississippi
River, across from St. Louis, Missouri,
in what is now west-central Illinois.
Fourteen square acres at its
base, it covers more ground than
Egypt’s Great Pyramid, and stood as
the centerpiece of a forty-acre plaza
surrounded by a twenty-foot high
stockaded wall more than four miles
long. With a population larger than
contemporary London, “Cahokia” (its
real name is unknown) featured an
observatory referred to by archaeologists as “Woodhenge.” This was a large
circle of cedar posts aligned to various
celestial events---solstices, the vernal
and autumnal equinoxes and the positions of certain stars and constellations.
The ancient Illinois city was
the capital of an immense commercial
network that imported copper from the
Upper Great Lakes, ceremonial shells
from the Gulf of Mexico, huge, waferthin sheets of translucent mica from
the Eastern Seaboard and bear claws
from the Rocky Mountains. Yet, after
only 200 years of cultural magnificence, Cahokia was suddenly and
inexplicably abandoned. Long
in
ruins at the time of its discovery by
French explorers in the late 17th Century, the colossal earthwork’s summit
was briefly occupied by Trappist
Monks, after whom the structure was
named.
Today, Cahokia is a major
archaeological park and a no less
major archaeological mystery. Who
11
built the Middle West prehistoric city
and why they left it at the apparent
height of its prosperity are questions
science has so far been unable to
answer. Diffusionists long argued for
the location as a neo-Maya site,
because Cahokia arose suddenly
around 900 A.D., the same period that
witnessed the equally abrupt and
unaccountable abandonment of the
Mayas’ ceremonial centers throughout
Yucatan. They excelled in astronomy,
recalling Cahokia’s Woodhenge. The
Mayas were experienced organizers of
large-scale labor and designed templeplatforms not unlike Monks Mound.
They constructed it of earth instead of
stone, the diffusionists suggest, only
because suitable quarries in the Mississippi Valley were not known to
them.
Isolationists countered that
any apparent parallels between
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Cahokia and Maya Civilization were
just circumstantial, and pointed out
that no written records, unlike the
inscribed stele of the literate Mayans,
have ever been found in the vicinity of
Monks’ Mound. With a recent discovery at the Illinois pyramid, however,
the on-going controversy may fall to
diffusionists.
ast March, archaeologists organized a project to stabilize the
structure’s west side. They were
drilling for the installation of horizontal pipes to drain water that had accumulated within the earthwork, causing part of it to slump over the last
twelve years. About forty feet below the
top of the second terrace, the drill was
transecting some sixty feet above the
ground, when it struck a stone
obstruction a little more than 140 feet
into Monks’ Mound. After burrowing
through some 32 feet of cobbled stone,
the bit broke off and the drill was
removed.
Referring to the mysterious
obstruction, Cahokia’s Public Relations Director, Bill Iseminger, said, “It
should not be there. No stone has ever
been found in other mounds here or
other Mississippian mounds that we
are aware of at this time. It might have
been some kind of ceremonial platform, or something else. We just do
not know.”
If the internal obstruction
does indeed prove to be a stone ceremonial platform, Cahokia’s identity as
a neo-Maya site could be confirmed.
Already, some investigators speculate
that the Mayans, before leaving
Yucatan, disassembled one of their
most sacred temples and transported
it piece by piece along the eastern
shores of Mexico, up the Mississippi
River and to Cahokia. There it was put
back together and finally buried under
Monks’ Mound. Such a scenario is not
as far-fetched as critics believe, since
the Mayans did indeed cover older ceremonial buildings under later, larger
structures.
This summer, archaeologists
from Southern Illinois University
(Edwardsville) will conduct mostly
non-invasive research of the stone
enigma in Monks’ Mound with the aid
of seismic sounding and electro-magnetic testing. They will also sink a few
vertical cores to determine the extent
and dimensions of the stone feature.
Forthcoming issues of Ancient American will report on their mid-July
investigations.
L
Lost Legacy in
Waukesha County, WI
from Ancient Earthworks Society of Madison, Wisconsin
G
ordon Schmidt, an engineering technician who spends
much of his time in the field,
painted a detailed portrait of the natural and human history of the
glacial moraine region of southeastern Wisconsin. Gordon focused on
the Fox River Valley, much of which
sits astride a limestone sheet that
creates an intriguing set of natural
phenomenona,
including
hot
springs, in his presentation to AES
members in January. He used maps
and statistical data to illustrate
microclimatic features in the region
and to show the importance of the
area’s extensive wetlands that produce other natural resources.
Gordon’s professional life
gives him plenty of exposure to the
region’s changing physical environment. His personal interest in the
history and archaeology of the area
has led to many hours in libraries
and land record offices seeking clues
to a rapidly vanishing heritage.
Both were evident in a presentation that showed the known
location of many mounds in the City
of Waukesha and the probable location of others. Using 19th Century
records, he demonstrated apparent
geometrical relationships linking the
most important sites. He also suggests that two well-known effigy
mound shapes may be closely related by showing that two “panther”
mounds placed in an overlapping
pattern produced a “turtle” mound.
Waukesha County is one of
the state’s fastest growing regions,
which places its ancient heritage at
risk. While Gordon reported the loss
of many mounds (that exist only on
paper now), he also noted that public officials are showing increased
awareness of their importance and
are taking steps to preserve a few
intact mound groups. For example,
he described one group located on
private land that still includes one
deer, three bird, three panther and
12
three turtle effigy mounds, in addition to many conical and linear
mounds. The group also has stones
associated with it. While the property is in the path of development, Gordon is hopeful that the site can be
preserved intact.
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Letters to the Editor • Letters to the Editor • Letters to the Editor • Letters to the Editor
“That’s religion, not science.”
With respect to Paul Barton’s
article, “New Evidence for Ancient AfroAmericans,” (issue 22), I question the
editorial preface to the article. How on
earth could this series of negroid
heads, though well executed, but totally lacking in provenance, prove anything at all? The “Olmeca,” who had a
toe-hold on the area near La Venta, on
the gulf coast of Mexico, are the real
proof of this point.
The late Dr. Alexander Von
Wuthenau, professor at the University
of the Americas in Mexico City, published Unexpected Faces in Ancient
America, 1979, with later editions. His
work clearly shows a large body of artifacts with African faces found in the
Americas from very ancient times.
Many have accurately rendered scarification patterns sculpted in clay, not to
mention the few Ubangi styled lip
spools. These artifacts have provenance, from professional archaeological
digs in Mexico. To Dr. Von Wuthenau
goes the credit, not to artifacts from the
spurious “Burrows Cave.” Archaeologists called his finds “monkeys.” It has
been a fight of reason to have them
even accepted by professionals as true
black faces, yet anyone with a reasonable mind can see. Now, this Burrows’
Cave “proof” demeans Von Wuthenau's
hard-fought work.
To add to my criticism of the
artifacts, the Hebrew writing (lower left,
p. 23) states in the cartouche that the
person’s name is “KHL TLT” meaning
“profane female mounds,” or “profane
female dew.” [Strong’s #2455, 8510 &
2920] Either choice is rather idiotic and
poor Hebrew syntax. Next to him we
have a black African whose name is
expressed in Consinine Irish Ogham
which states that he is “Doña
Gachiñet” (or Gachañot ). He bears a
woman’s title (Doña means Lady, in
Iberian/Spanish). In other examples,
Hebrew/Phoenician, is intermixed with
what appears to be some kind of Libyan
or Iberic inspired gibberish, with IrishGaulish Ogham thrown in for flavor,
which mixes alphabets within words.
Prior to Dr Fell’s work, in America BC,
Ogham was virtually unknown here in
America. This means that these blackfaced, Irish speaking representations
have to fall into one of two categories:
authentic
black-African,
Hebrew,
Phoenician, Iberic, and Keltic ogham
writers (hardly a believable circumstance), or fakes! I prefer the later.
I have personally seen these
so-called “Burrows’ Cave” artifacts, and
indeed, they are well executed, pieces.
However, I have absolutely no confidence in them. The provenance is not
“questionable,” but rather, non-existent, regardless that a “growing number believe” in them. That’s religion,
not science.
Let us not forget the pioneering
and excellent work of Dr Von Wuthenau
when speaking of proof!
I suggest a review of his great
work for anyone interested in facts.
David Allen Deal
Vista, CA
A $100 to $1,000 Question
About once a month, I receive
what amounts to a request to send all
that is available to know about the
alleged Burrows Cave of southern Illinois. First of all, I wish I knew enough
to provide an intelligent answer. Secondly, it is a $100 to $1,000 question,
depending on what you think is suitable information. The facts are: I don’t
want to spend this kind of money on
curious strangers, and I don’t have a
paid secretary to type letters, copy photos and drawings, and to prepare and
mail packages.
As I understand it, Russell
Burrows is the only person with a name
who has been in the alleged cave. The
owners apparently do not want to give
the property to the State of Illinois, and
they have not decided to spend their
own money on an excavation performed under their control. Some critics claim this situation means that
there is no cave in reality. Maybe Burrows found the artifacts in a plain cave
shelter.
Out of a total of perhaps 4,000
alleged Burrows Cave stone artifacts, I
have seen at least 1,000 in person and
perhaps another 1,000 in photographs.
They look like feasible artifacts from
the proposed North African (midRoman era) visit to the Mississippi Valley scenario. No one has spent money
on scientific tests of these artifacts.
The opinions of fraud offered by some
alleged experts are remarkably shallow
(this comment is not intended to be a
defense for Burrows Cave advocates
who make mistakes in writing their
papers). The research explaining the
artifacts culturally and linguistically is
succeeding slowly but surely.
Russell Burrows is indeed my foxhole-sharing buddy, and based on my
experience I don’t think he or his
friends fabricated the Burrows Cave
artifacts.
He could have bought a
13
truckload of phony artifacts from a
stranger, but I don’t know of any
archaeologists with the money, time,
interest, education, skill, or inclination
to get involved in such a huge enterprise. An important test for the BC
artifacts will occur if the writing cannot
be deciphered or turns out to contain
foolishness or modern information.
To become informed on the
positive side of the Burrows Cave Culture, I propose that the interested
researcher read some of the many
items listed in my “Burrows Cave
Research Bibliography”, which is
updated annually in the Midwestern
Epigraphic Journal.
The two books
written by Russell Burrows, Fred Rydholm, and James Scherz are a must
(see Items #3 and #4). It also could be
beneficial to subscribe to Ancient American magazine (see Item #10) and to
join the Midwestern Epigraphic Society
(see Item #11).
John J White, III, PhD, PE
Burrows Cave Society Fellow
Columbus, OH
Prehistoric Blacks in America
Allow me to express my total
and full appreciation and thanks to
Ancient American and staff for publishing my article, “New Evidence for
Ancient Afro-Americans,” (Issue *22).
I must point out that without
even noticing it, the stone engravings of
heads which portray people of obviously Black Semitic-Hamitic types (a group
of people spread from Senegal to East
Africa, who speak the most ancient
forms of the Black [Bantu]-HamitoSemitic languages, mixed with the
Niger-Congo Language-A family), are
accompanied by a clue which connects
the people represented to a nationality
in Cameroon called the Bamun.
These people are a branch of
the Afro-Asiatic speakers whose languages originated in the Sahara among
the original Black African nationalities
and spread to parts of the Middle East
long before the emergence of the Semitic (Caucasian) types.
In fact, the
Bamun may be a branch of the original
Pre~Semitic, a people who were of the
Black race and gave birth to the later
Middle Eastern (more or less) presentday, mixed-race and Caucasian-Semitic types. According to C.A. Diop (1978,
p. 200, M.D.W). Jefferies is convinced
of cultural connections between
Bamun and ancient Egypt.
The characters presented are
identical to scripts used used also by
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Letters to the Editor • Letters to the Editor • Letters to the Editor • Letters to the Editor
the Nilotics still employed by some cattle-keepers to identify their livestock.
The two scripts mentioned are used in
an area from the Cameroon region,
south to Angola and Kushite-speaking
regions of East Africa.
Did ancient Africans carry
their scripts to the Americas? Ivan Van
Sertima and others have introduced
provocative evidence worth checking
out---eg., African Presence in Early
America, Transaction Pub., New
Brunswick, NJ, 1992, p.23.
Paul Barton
Hanford, CA
Viking-Algonquian affinities
I note with interest a considerable physical similarity between some
of the Algonquin Nation groups and the
Norwegians I have met---the main difference being skin/hair pigmentation.
The body build appeared to be about
the same. Also, at the library of the
Arizona State Museum, in Tucson,
there is a work (a 2-volume set, if I
remember correctly), comparing the
Algonquian language with Old Norse.
The Algonquian language is so close
that it could be considered a dialect of
that Viking tongue. Unfortunately, I
have forgotten the title of that book,
but it seems to me that it was published by the American Ethnography
series many years ago. Anyway, your
magazine is fascinating, and I thank
you for It.
Maria Abdin
Seattle, WA
Wannabes on the Edge of Science
I have refrained from replying
to the crackpot utterings of David Barron because, as David Deal put it,
“answer not a fool lest he appear wise
in his own eyes”. To my knowledge, Mr.
Barron has not studied actual BC artifacts and, even if he had, he has no
qualifications. He states in his letter to
the editor that the likes of Barry Fell
and Donal Buchanan have condemned
the BC script as gibberish.
As for Barry Fell, his work has
been proven to be faulty far too many
times to be taken seriously, plus he
never actually saw any of the artifacts.
Buchanan, on the other hand, has, and
he says he can’t read them; therefore,
they must be fraudulent. Buchanan
told him once that he had been a cryptographer with the C.I.A. in World War
2. C.I.A. in World War 2? W.W. 2 ended
in 1945. The C.I.A. vas not formed until
1948!
I had no confidence in Barry
Fell and, I have no confidence in Donal
Buchanan. I certainly have no confidence in David P. Barron. There are far
too many “wannabe” types out there
hanging around the edges of science.
They do nothing but create problems
for those seeking the truth.
Russell Burrows
Chestnut, CO
“Noah’s Ark” geologically unsound
Your article in the November/December, 1997 Ancient American
(issue 21) describes possible remains of
Noah’s Ark. This Ark hypothesis is disproved by geologic history interpreted
from analysis of the photographs. On
page 4:
l. Yellow to light brown areas in
the upper right and lower two thirds of
the photograph are sedimentary rocks.
2. These sediments are folded
into a series of anticlines and a syncline as shown by exposures of dipping
sedimentary layers.
3. The up-turned beds of these
sediments are eroded and the younger
light grey sediments in the upper portion of the photo are deposited on the
erosion surface (unconformity).
The remains of “Noah’s Ark” is
an exposure of resistant sedimentary
rock in a doubly plunging syncline.
Based on the time required for the
sequence of deposition and folding of
sediments forming the “Ark”, erosion
and deposition of sediments above the
unconformity, the rocks forming the
Ark-syncline are at least one million
years old.
Two “Arks” are indicated on
page 10, where the upper Ark is identified as “original landing site of Ark;” the
lower Ark is “Noah’s Ark remains”. The
article suggests that the upper Ark site
is an imprint left by the original landing
of the Ark, and that the Ark subsequently slid down the “downhill
sluice~second descent” to the position
shown at the lower edge of the photograph. This hypothesis is absurd
because:
1. A mudflow would remove or
obscure the original imprint of the Ark;
the clear outline of the Ark-structure at
the upper landing site makes the
mudflow hypothesis untenable.
2. Although study of stereopair photos would be desirable to verify
this deduction, the upper “Ark imprint”
appears to be an exposure of an anticlinal dome, whereas the photos on
pages 4 and 14 show that the lower
14
“Ark” is a doubly plunging syncline.
The article states that a natural explanation is impossible because the two
Ark related structures are unique; not
so, two other anticlinal domes can be
seen in the upper left of the photo; similar to page 4 photo, a series of anticlines and synclines can be seen.
3. The dimensions of the Arks
are as follows upper Ark---length: 20.0
mm; width: 4.0 mm; length/width
ratio: 5.0 lower Ark: length: 18.5 mm;
width: 5.0 mm; length/width ratio: 3.8.
Although distances on an airphoto vary
with position on the photo and photogrammetric analysis of a stereo pair
is required to establish absolute
dimensions, the different length/width
ratios are difficult to explain if the
upper and lower structures are both
related to the Ark.
It would be extraordinary if a
wooden ark parked on land survived
4,000 years, considering the number
of wood-eating and scavenging animals, including man. On page 11, the
Ark ruins are equated to a “lumberyard,” which supports the likelihood
that the Ark was long ago scavenged for
wood. Because of the effects of mass
wasting (landslides, soil creep and mud
flows) it is also unlikely that the Ark or
its imprint would survive 40 centuries
on a hillside.
It is argued that the structure
must be the Ark because it is situated
next to the lost city of Naxuan, but
Naxuan is identified because of its
position near the Ark. Circular reasoning.
David Deal’s lengthy article
presents no credible evidence for the
Ark, thus for careful readers, the reality of his story is undermined. Readers
of Ancient American deserve better.
Donald L. LaMar
(professional geologist)
Eugene. Oregon
A narrow view of prehistory
Put one spinning whorl dug up
by an archeologist in Newfoundland
against five identical axes found by
Americans in their own back yards: all
have well documented counterparts in
European museums. Should there be a
conflict in interpretation? Certainly,
there is none except in the narrow way
America is allowed to view her pre-history.
Add the embarrassing Kensington Runestone dated 1362, which
the Smithsonian Institution honored in
exhibit and then rejected as an imita-
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Letters to the Editor • Letters to the Editor • Letters to the Editor • Letters to the Editor
tion. How can the biased academics
save face? Just admit that new evidence
changes the propaganda historians
once believed. There is room for everyone in America’s past. On to celebration
of the Millennium and Leif Erikson’s
landings!
And thank you for publishing
“Viking War Axes found in the Upper
Midwest” (issue #22).
Margaret Leuthner
Alexandria, Mn
(The Kensington Runestone, discovered 100 years ago in a farmer’s
field, was inscribed by 14th Century
Norse voyagers to North America and
is today on display in Alexandria,
Minnesota. Editor)
Hakenkreuz Hoopla
I am writing in response to Mr.
Victor Kachur’s letter in your issue #21
concerning swastikas, “Ancient Symbol,
Modern Counterfeit.”
Mr. Kachur attempts to tell us
the difference between the Nazi swastika and the swastika of ancient history
used by many cultures, including
Native Americans. Being both a Native
American and a student of World War II
(but by no means a Nazi or Nazi sympathizer), I would like to point out some
very obvious historical mistakes. First
of all, the Nazi swastika definitely faces
or moves in a counter-clockwise direction; the Native American version moves
in a clockwise or, as we say, “with the
sun,” as the sun moves east to west.
The Nazis used the swastika in
many different modes, not just contained within a circle and tilted at a 45
degree angle. As`example, most all Luftwaffe planes had a 45-degree tilt swastika without a circle around it on their
vertical tails. Many buildings, such as
the Reichstag, had a non-tilted, non-circled swastika mounted on them. Nontilted swastikas appeared on SS belt
buckles, Nazi party flags and many
other items. The Germans used the
swastika in many forms. The only thing
constant about it was that it definitely
always faced in a counter-clockwise
direction.
Though I have to agree that the
Nazi use of the swastika resulted in a
political symbol, I must disagree that it
was a “counterfeit” or “fake”. The Nazi
use was just as valid as any other society’s use of the swastika. They were a
valid culture and an established society, just like the Mesopotamians, Middle Eastern or any Native American cul-
ture.
I would hope that anyone who
would take the time to write a letter to
the editor for publication would also
take a bit more time for some credible
research.
Michael Terry
Deadwood,OR
(The swastika was and is
used by various Native American
Indian tribes, although with some
variation. To the Hopi, it symbolizes
their ancestral migrations in the
southwest, first from the east---the
counter-clockwise swastika---then
from the west---clockwise. Copper
swastikas have been excavated from
several pre-Columbian digs, most
notably, at Hopewell sites in the
Ohio Valley.
The appearance of this
unique design, together with its common symbolism, in prehistoric America is sited by diffusionists as evidence for contacts with the ancient
world, where virtually every European people at one time or another
adopted the Hooked Cross as their
tribal emblem. Editor)
Jeremiah as Moroni
With regard to Richard Hensley’s valuable and informative article,
“The Indian Legend of Moroni,” and
your editorial on the same subject, in
the January/February, 1998 issue of
Ancient American, I would like to
respectfully suggest the following
hypothesis. Namely, that the tale of
Moroni may indeed be a genuine Indian
legend, a concise legendary memory of
the life and work of the biblical prophet,
Jeremiah.
Hensley speaks of the Ancient
Ones and the Spiritual Ones who
taught people religion and preserved
the records of the Great Spirit’s dealings
with a mighty race of people. After many
years of blessings, these people turned
from the old ways, Hensley relates,
while others “began to war with different clans, until soon this great civilization began to break up into fractious
tribes.” This occurred, in Hensley’s
words, “because the people no longer
listened to the Ancient Ones and the
Holy Men.”
Hensley speaks of “great wars”
and the people scattering in all directions. This account sounds very much
like the story of the decline of the
empire of David and Solomon, which
was more influential and worldwide in
15
scope, with Phoenician help, than is
commonly supposed. The “fractious
tribes” are the Twelve Tribes of Israel
who broke up into two nations after the
death of Solomon; the “mighty people”
are the Israelites; the “great wars” are
the invasions of Israel and Judah by the
Assyrians; the “Holy Men” are the
prophets who continually exhorted the
people to return to the “old ways” of religion.
The name Moroni is Hebrew.
The M-r (reading left to right) is the first
two consonants of the Hebrew name
Yeremiya (Jeremiah, reading from right
to left. The n may be the Hebrew first
person pronoun, the name Moroni thus
translating as “I, Jeremiah” or “Jeremiah, myself.” The “holy document” that
Moroni hid within Mother Earth,
referred to by Hensley, could have been
the title deeds to Palestine hidden by
Jeremiah’s scribe in an “earthen vessel”
(Jeremiah 32:14), or it may be a copy of
the Scriptures as they were then known
or a copy of Jeremiah’s own writings.
The names Woconda and
Wonca, referred to in Hensley’s article,
are easily recognizable as the Hebrew kh-n (cohen), meaning “priest.” Wonca
Tolka simply means “priest of the
Torah,” the l and the r, and the k and
the h, being interchangeable, as is common in linguistics. Jeremiah was a
priest of the law (Torah, Jeremiah 1:1),
and in the biblical book that bears his
name, priesthood and law are commonly juxtaposed (Jeremiah 18:18, for
example). “Among the most beautiful
prophesies” associated with Moroni,
writes Hensley, is that the Son of the
Creator would walk among men (native
people, according to the legend). This
echoes the Messianic tone of many of
the Hebrew prophets’ writings, including Jeremiah.
James E. Wall
Altona, Manitoba, Canada
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ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
THE MOUND BUILDER MYTH:
What Did Squier and Davis Actually Say?
by John J. White, III
Ancient Science and Technology Center,
Midwestern Epigraphic Society, Columbus, Ohio
T
he famous American archaeology
monograph, Ancient Monuments of
the Mississippi Valley by E.G.
Squier and E.H. Davis, was published by
the Smithsonian Institution in 1848.1
New Yorker EG Squier (1821-1888) was a
bright new star on the archaeology stage
of life, and he had the great fortune to
team with a knowledgeable Ohioan, E.H.
Davis, M.D. (1811-1888).
Squier had raw, ambitious talent, and it is a major credit to his physics
professor Joseph Henry (1797-1878) of
Princeton University, the first secretary
of the Smithsonian, that he coerced and
guided Squier sufficiently for this work to
be the first publication of the Smithsonian. Squier was only 27 years old when
this monumental work was published, a
self-taught civil engineer and journalist,
who was awarded an honorary AM degree
by Princeton University.
A major tool of archaeological
“science” is criticism of and unkindness
to field-investigators, particularly amateurs and dead men.2 Squier and Davis1
did better in this respect than most amateurs, because they were qualified for the
effort, accomplished enough research to
obtain some solid results, listened to
their more talented contemporaries, and
had no competition from “professional”
archaeologists during the 1846-1847
period. There is quite naturally a history
of discussion of such an important project, and the research3 of historian Terry
Barnhart in this regard is to be commended for its thoroughness and objectivity. A certain amount of the Squier and
Davis criticism differs from my evaluations,2,4 and thus I have chosen to give a
brief reply.
Silverberg & Thomas
obert Silverberg’s The Mound
Builders is the current popular
story of the early investigations in
America.4 I found his book quite enjoyable and easy to read. It is available at
the Ohio Historical Society Bookstore.
And I recommend it to our readers,
because The Mound Builders is a good
introduction to some of the prehistory of
North America. I was especially satisfied
to find that Silverberg did not pander to
the absurd Beringia Theory of Alex
Hrdlicka, ie, that all Native American
R
Alabama’s largest ancient earthwork at Moundville Archaeological Park, outside
Tuscaloosa. Did Plains Indians really invent such huge monuments? A.A. staff photo.
peoples entered North America as big
animal hunters when the Ice Age was
ending 10 to 12 thousand years ago.
The Establishment is going to
choke on this idea for a long time to
come. The point of this paper is to complain that Silverberg has sided with the
Establishment over ownership of a parcel
of moral high ground that is difficult to
discern. His basic idea is to champion
the research of Cyrus Thomas (18251910), an entomologist, botanist and
geologist from southern Illinois, who is
the alleged slayer of the Mound Builder
Myth. He was one of the first “archaeologists” hired by the Bureau of Ethnology,
and he deserves his reputation as an outstanding field researcher.
The Mound Builder Myth
n simple terms, the Mound Builder
Myth is a dispute over the nature--culturally, ethnically, and racially
speaking---of the people who built the
mounds of North America. We are, of
course, discussing the origins of the
chief-shaman class who owned the trade
goods, valuables, and slaves and were eligible to be buried in certain of the
I
16
mounds. Many of the mound builders,
per se, could have been primitives, not
much different in cultural attainment
than the Native Americans of the 1500 to
1900 A.D. era.
The initial European American
reaction of 1800 A.D. was to conclude
that the current red race of North America was incapable of having sophisticated
ancestry with the skills, leadership, and
enthusiasm needed for building mounds.
Of course, the same has been said for the
recent cultures of Egypt, Mexico, and
Peru. A little greater credibility exists for
the peoples of Brittany, China, England,
Iberia, India, Ireland, Malta, and Mayaland. Much of our worldwide ancient history has been discovered and researched
since 1800 A.D.
At that time, educated persons
could only think of Egyptians, Greeks,
Hebrews, Phoenicians, Vikings, etc., as
possible sources of a higher culture
needed to stimulate an interest in mound
building. As you might suppose, there
were several examples of biblical interpretations of this situation, especially
involving the alleged Lost Tribes of
Israel.4 The Cyrus Thomas act of slaying
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
the Mound Builder Myth is largely a ceremonial shooting of fish in a barrel, with
Squier and Davis1 as accomplices
through their relative silence.
They wouldn’t have been comfortable in 1848 to have publically
ridiculed the interpretations of a notable
citizen like Caleb Atwater. What I mean
is that Squier and Davis chose to ignore
most of the old interpretations and to
concentrate on the monuments and artifacts at hand. From my point of view,
they were remarkably restrained at
pointing out the numerous cultural diffusion issues that could have been identified. Proof of ideas in this arena is quite
difficult, but some ideas are far more
probable. You do know that the identity
of Christopher Columbus and the first
island he landed on in the Americas are
subjects of great dispute!
The Establishment
t is a fact that Squier wrote the book1
in about one year and then spent
another year getting it edited and
upgraded to Joseph Henry’s standards.3
Surely he made some mistakes that were
mercifully corrected. In the process the
book became more representative of the
views of the current eastern archaeology
Establishment. Now the issue with the
subsequent Establishment of the last
100 years is that a few mistakes
remained in the Squier and Davis magnum opus.1
There are, for example, worthy
disputes over the correct identification of
some animal effigies found on the numerous pipes dug from the mounds.3,4 What
is not proper is the attempt to use these
mistakes to make Squier and Davis look
like fools who supported the strange
beliefs held by some so-called myth-makers. That is simply not the case! I don’t
take a charitable view of these tactics.
I don’t understand how any field
of research can develop without its interpretations starting with something primitive and subject to widely differing models and then moving to something more
sophisticated and relatively stable. In the
true scientific world, researchers are
indebted to their predecessors (they
“stand on the shoulders of giants”) and
are basically respectful of their elders. I
think you can grasp my concern when
the Establishment claims4 that great
moral high ground was found by Cyrus
Thomas as something much higher and
widely separated from that of Squier and
Davis.
The Establishment thinks that
the Mound Builders were the ancestors of
all Native Americans of the 1500 to 1900
A.D. era, and no outsiders ever gave
them a cultural boost. That certainly was
valid in 1846, but I don’t know of a single
observer who speculated that this trait
I
Mound City, an early Hopewell site, circa 100 B.C., near Chilicothe, Ohio. A.A. staff photo
limited Squier’s ability to contribute to
archaeology, geography, history, journalism, etc. It is a fact that Squier was
short, slender, good looking, and ambitious. Is Williams inferring that Squier’s
work is unreliable because he was
allegedly vain on a few occasions in his
life?
Professor Williams criticizes
Squier and Davis1 for being capable of
publishing only six pages of conclusions
about their mound studies. While some
of the material may be diluted by common knowledge, I think that as many as
50 pages of “Ancient Monuments” could
be regarded as results of careful thinking
and evaluation of the subject.1 Their predecessors were not nearly as good at
basic archaeology. It is not clear that the
work of the later generations of the
Establishment could now supply as
many as six more pages of conclusions to
the work of Squier and Davis.
I am not aware that Williams
ever proved via publication that writing
these six pages of additional conclusions
was straightforward for him. Now Robert
Silverberg is a writer who does his homework rather well. But I read his book4
with care, and there are a few drawbacks;
namely, some important issues that were
not reported. I choose not to quarrel
about this, except to point out one mistake that occurs on page 97.
There he gives a brief summary
of the eventual sale of the Squier-Davis
artifacts to the Englishman William
Blackmore in 1864. Attributing this sale
to E.G. Squier surely made E.H. Davis
turn over in his grave. Factually, Squier
wrote the book and Davis paid for the
excavations and acquired the artifacts.
Thus it was Dr. Davis who sold the artifact collection long after he moved to New
York City. Squier and Davis had long
17
since parted company. The interested
reader should start with the nice article
written by Dr Terry Barnhart.5
What did Squier & Davis actually say?
have discovered a pitfall in the writings of E.G. Squier that becomes
ammunition for the politically-oriented archaeologist. It leads to the crime of
judging things out of context. Squier
claimed the scientific high ground of
abandoning preconceived notions and
judging the new material objectively
(page xxxviii1).
He is not just speaking of himself; he is actually lecturing his readers.
Squier introduces discussions of two or
more explanations of a subject without
stating which he prefers. He relishes
I
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Observations,” quote Gallatin7 (page
3031): “that it (Mound Builder Culture)
originated in America itself; that it was
not imported from abroad; and that it
was the result of the natural progress
from barbarism to a more refined social
state by the race of red men, insulated,
left to themselves, and without any aid or
communication from any foreign country”. Hence we learn that Squier and
Davis elected to stand on the moral high
ground defined by Albert Gallatin in 1845
or before.
Silverberg4 conveniently overlooks this episode of American archaeology history, setting the stage for the
admiration of Cyrus Thomas, the alleged
myth-debunker. Silverberg does make it
clear, however, that the Establishment
has not been able to live up to its ambition to connect the Adena and Hopewell
peoples to the Fort Ancient peoples and
then to the modern Algonquin and Iroquois peoples. Thus there remains a
good possibility for a semi-diffusionist
model of the Ohio Mound Builders involving a small cadre of Mediterranean foreigners from someplace like the alleged
Burrows Cave of southern Illinois.
I would venture to suggest that
some of the Burrows Cave artifacts might
come close to proving this argument if
they could achieve prehistorical legitimacy themselves. Stay tuned!
Squier and Davis were the first to survey Ohio’s gargantuan enclosures at Newark,
but shied away from ascribing their construction to culture-bearers from overseas.
explaining his thoughts about the Hindu
or Buddhist characteristics common to
many features of New World archaeology.
When you are ready for him to stick his
dagger into the helpless dummy of isolationist hum-bug, he throws up his hands
and states that the evidences far from
conclusive.6 Amen!
That is often the case with prehistory data. The thrill of diffusionist
research is in the hunt. We are primarily appalled by the close-minded pseudoscientists. Have you noticed that biological evolution is even harder to prove
than cultural diffusion? Now let me
remind you of a deadly item Silverberg4
takes directly from Squier and Davis. On
page 87 (page 421), he quotes one of
many nearly poetical praises of the
Mound Builder people. For Squier the
Ohio mounds gave similar feelings as
with a visit to the great monuments of
Egypt, Mayaland, Mexico City, or Peru.
He recognized their judgment,
skill, industry, mathematics, knowledge
of defense, etc. He observed that the
Mound Builders “had a degree of knowledge much superior to that known to
have been possessed by the hunter tribes
of North America previous to the discov-
ery by Columbus”. How often is a concept so obvious expressed in any branch
of archaeology? But the Establishment
manages to take great umbrage to
Squier’s statement and hence Silverberg
crows “thus Squier joined the ranks of
believers in the fabled Mound Builders”.
Me, too!
Squier, it appears, was frequently attracted to diffusion-related comparisons of cultures.1,6 For example, he was
quite taken by a perception that Hopewell
pottery had a relation to Peruvian pottery
(page 1881, page 934). But he argued
consistently that the data was insufficient and that other explanations might
occur in the future. Thus on the Mound
Builders issue he finally yielded to the
published views of his archaeology mentor Albert Gallatin (1761-1849) of the
American Ethnological Society. Gallatin,
you may recall, was a French-Swiss
American who played a major role in
early United States politics as a U.S. Senator and as a U.S. Secretary of Treasury.
Now it was the amateur Gallatin
who insisted that mastery of agriculture
is needed in the development of any form
of advanced civilization. Thus Squier and
Davis in their Chapter XIX, “Concluding
18
References
1. E.G. Squier and E.H. Davis, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley: Comprising
the Results of Extensive Original Surveys
and Explorations,
Smithsonian Institution Contributions to Knowledge, Vol 1,
Washington, DC, 1848, p. 306.
2. Stephen Williams, Fantastic Archaeology:
The Wild Side of North American Prehistory,
Univ of Penn Press, Philadelphia, 1991, pp
44-48, 239-251.
3. T.A. Barnhart, The Journalist and the
Physician: An Inquiry into the Career Association of Ephraim George Squier and Edwin
Hamilton Davis, Pioneer American Archaeologists, Masters Thesis, Miami University,
Oxford, Ohio, 1980, pp 53-66.
4. Robert Silverberg, The Mound Builders,
Ohio University Press, Athens, OH, 1970,
276p.
5. T.A. Barnhart, “An American Menagerie:
The Cabinet of Squier and Davis”, Timeline
2(6), Ohio Hist. Soc, 2-17 (December, 1985January, 1986).
6. See, eg, E.G. Squier, The Serpent Symbol
and the Worship of the Reciprocal Principle of
Nature in America, GP Putnam, New York,
1851, 254p.
7. Albert Gallatin, “Notes on the
Semi-Civilized Nations of Mexico”, Transactions of the American Ethnological Society 1,
207ff (1845).
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Ecuador, America’s
Prehistoric Port of Call
by Bruce Scofield
T
here are two locations in the Americas where the archaeological evidence for diffusionism is so convincing that discussions of ancient
transoceanic voyages actually appear in
school textbooks. One of these is the
Atlantic coast of Canada where there is
concrete evidence of Norse occupation.
The site called L’Anse aux Meadows, in
northern Newfoundland, is now a government-operated historical site with a visitor center and costumed guides. Archaeologists say it was probably occupied for
about 30 years sometime during the 10th
century, long before the time of Columbus.
The other major location that
supports the diffusionist perspective, and
has also been taken seriously by the academic establishment, is on the Pacific
coast of Ecuador in South America.
Named for the fact that it lies astride the
equator, Ecuador has many interesting
geographic features.
It is a land of many climates,
including those of the tropical Pacific
coast, the temperate highlands, and the
humid Amazon basin. On its Pacific
coast, the Guayas River, the largest river
on South America’s west coast, has created an immense gulf and estuary where
Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, is
located. This major port city was founded
by the Spanish on the site of earlier
native towns. The distinctive opening of
this river’s mouth on an otherwise featureless west coast of South America is
suggestive of its importance as a port or
landmark.
The general region, known as
the Guayas Basin, is also blessed with a
long shoreline and an abundance of vegetation, including balsa trees. In preColombian times, the region was dotted
with villages, the first major signs of civilization that Pizarro encountered on his
trip south from Panama. At the southern
end of the Gulf of Guayaquil, right on the
border, is the old Peruvian port of Tumbez (Tumbes), the gateway to the realm of
the Incas and the place where Pizarro
landed and began his conquest of that
civilization.
Traveling east from the Pacific
coastal plain, the land in Ecuador rises
quickly and reaches a highland region
dotted with volcanoes, some still quite
This well-made mythic figure of an animal-headed man carrying an incense pouch
was allegedly found in the Ecuadorian jungle by native parishioners of the late Father
Crespi. It appears to represent Marduck, the supreme god in the Babylonian religion.
active. In this mountainous region snowcapped volcanic peaks occur in two parallel bands running roughly north and
south, a feature called the “Avenue of the
Volcanoes.” The land between these high
peaks is quite fertile and the climate temperate, strikingly attractive when you
consider that this area lies on the equator.
The highlands have also been
19
inhabited since ancient times, and the
natural corridor formed by the volcanoes
has long served as a transportation route
between Peru and Columbia. Civilization
existed here many centuries before the
arrival of the Incas. The pre-Colombian
kingdom of Quito and the fierce Canari of
Tomebamba in the southern highlands
were highly sophisticated, purely
Ecuadorian cultural centers that resisted
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Guayaquil, on the Pacific coast of
Ecuador is the small town of Valdivia.
There, in 1956, a distinctive type of pottery was found that excited archaeologists for several reasons. First, this pottery was dated as early as 3000 B.C.,
making it, at the time of discovery the
oldest known pottery in all of the Americas.(1) Second, the archaeologists who
discovered it believed that this pottery
appeared abruptly in the archaeological
record, in a fully developed form.
Third, a close resemblance to
Japanese pottery of the same era led
these archaeologists to speculate about
contact with the ancient Japanese
Jomon culture. So serious were these
speculations that they were published in
the Smithsonian Institution’s Contributions to Archaeology, Volume I (1965) and
were included in an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
few years after the discovery of the
Valdivia pottery, a large-scale dig
took place where thousands of
pottery shards and other artifacts were
sorted and classified. Valdivia pottery is
characterized by deeply incised designs
and decorations on jars and bowls. One
interesting type of artifact found were
distinctive female (Venus) figurines with
emphasized hair treatments. The supervising archaeologists of the dig were
Betty J. Meggers, Clifford Evans, and
Emilio Estrada. As they sorted through
the artifacts, they established a chronology of Valdivia phase periods lettered A
through D.
The earliest phase A is dated
from about 3000 to 2200 B.C. Period B is
2300 to 2,000 B.C.; Period C 2000 to
1400 B.C; and Period D 1400 to 1000
B.C. Interestingly, other early pottery
sites in South or Central America that
share traits with Valdivia pottery were
dated to Period C or D. In their report,
these archaeologists noted that Valdivia
A pottery shared the most number of
common traits with pottery from ancient
Japan, where the oldest known pottery in
the world is found.2)
The diffusionist hypothesis
described by Meggers, Evans, and Estrada in their first reports suggests that
Japanese fishermen of the Middle Jomon
Period drifted out to sea and were caught
by the Japanese Current. Months later,
having been swept along by ocean currents for some 9,000 miles, they landed
in Ecuador. Ashore in Ecuador, they
mixed with the native populations,
taught them to make pottery, and also
established some burial customs (which
the two cultures also appeared to share).
In other words their view was that it was
only by chance that contact between
ancient Japan and ancient Ecuador
occurred, and it was probably a one-time
occurrence.
A
A Jomon-IV vessel (Tokyo City Museum)
dating to the 13th Century B.C. Examples of even earlier phases have been
found in Ecuador. A.A. staff photo.
Peruvian expansion for years. Although
most surviving Incan ruins are located in
Peru, and most people associate the
Incas with that country, Quito was the
northern Incan capital and the last two
Inca rulers were born in Ecuador.
To the east of the Ecuadorian
highlands are the rivers that feed the
Amazon and the vast rain forest, a region
called “El Oriente.” Rainfall on the highlands drains into several major tributaries of the Amazon, including the huge
Rio Napo. In 1542, just a few years into
the Spanish Conquest of Andean civilization, the explorer Francisco de Orellana
descended from Quito to the Ecuadorian
rain forest. He followed the rivers eastward, and seven months later reached
the Atlantic Ocean. He gave the Amazon
its name.
What we find in Ecuador is a
major Pacific port surrounded by forests
that approach the coast, a major northsouth land route, and a water route east
to the Atlantic. Such a unique location
invites human culture in two ways, as a
permanent feature but also as place on
the way to somewhere else. It is therefore
not surprising that some evidence for
contact with a distant culture has been
discovered there and become part of the
typical (albeit somewhat controversial)
curriculum for the student of South
American archaeology.
This particular evidence is called
the Valdivia pottery. Just to the north of
20
Later discoveries at the Valdivia
site showed that the chronology proposed
by Meggers, Evans, and Estrada may
have been incorrect. Estrada thought
that similarities with Jomon pottery are
more characteristic of the Valdivia B period. Also, a pre-Valdivia pottery was discovered and a new chronology has since
been established (Valdivia I-VIII) that
puts Valdivia A in a category called Valdivia II. Valdivia I refers to a previously
undescribed occupation with early
ceramics. The situation has become more
complex, and thinking about the JapanEcuador connection has changed during
recent years.
At present, the trend in mainstream archaeology is to seek indigenous
causes for cultural development. The discovery of Japanese artifacts dated to
about 500 B.C. at another site in
Ecuador was reported by Estrada that
suggests a more complex linkage
between Japan and Ecuador than was
previously thought. Also, some artifacts
similar to those of the Han Dynasty
China (about 200 B.C.) were also found
in this small country (Estrada, 1961).
Records show that the ancient
Chinese did know of a land to the east,
and they even had a name for it, “FuSang.” Chinese voyages in this direction
This Chinese Yin-Yang symbol was found
at Mexico’s foremost archaeological site,
the ceremonial city of Teotihuacan, dating
to around 500 A.D. A.A. Staff photograph.
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
are believed to have occurred in 219,
210, 100 B.C., and 500 A.D. (See photo
below) Interestingly, a fleet of boats carrying some 3,000 people, funded by the
emperor and led by a man called Hsu Fu,
was known to have sailed to Fu-Sang in
219 B.C. They never returned (Needham,
1971, p. 533). There is no doubt that
coastal Ecuador and the Guayas Basin
have been occupied since very early
times.
The
Formative
Period
in
Ecuador, which includes the Valdivia
Culture, was centered in this region. The
Machalilla and Chorreara style of pottery
(1500 to 1000 B.C.) produced just to the
north of this region, had a tremendous
influence on distant cultures, including
those in Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru.
More recently, between 500 B.C. and
500 A.D., the urban Bahia culture flourished. The earliest metal-work in the New
World began about this time in Ecuador.
Later, the Mateno culture-bearers, who
were said to be excellent sailors, inhabited the region.
Ecuador was not a backwater to
Peru in ancient times; it was a thriving
center of human activity and, apparently,
an exporter of culture. The Gulf of
Guayaquil itself may have been an
important feature for ancient navigators.
It has been suggested by Gunnar Thompson that this geographical feature is
actually noted on a number of European
pre-Colombian maps.(3) If this is so, it
implies that ancient voyagers from the
West were able to reach this part of South
America.
Thompson also suggests that
the ancient Incan city of Cajamarca, just
south of the Gulf of Guayaquil, may have
been the “Cattigara” on ancient Roman
maps that was located in the biblical land
of Ophir. There is certainly something of
a match between the Ecuadorian coastline and a mysterious body of land shown
on the DeVirga map of 1414, though it
could also be said that this body of land
may refer to the northern portion of Australia. As already mentioned, it is also
possible that ancient voyagers from
China or Southeast Asia reached the
South American coast.
Until recent times, these peoples
were ahead of the West in the development of water-craft and navigational
techniques, including the use of the compass. As Thor Heyerdahl has long pointed out, navigating the Pacific is most easily done by using the powerful Japanese
and Humboldt Currents. Ocean travelers
coming from China or Japan would utilize the Japanese current which would
take them to the North American west
coast by a route that runs north of
Hawaii and south of Alaska. While this
may seem like a round-about way to
reach America, it is actually shorter than
sailing due east from China or Japan.
The curvature of the globe is
such that real distances are difficult to
grasp on a two dimensional map, particularly a Mercator projection. On reaching
the American coast, navigation further
south would be more difficult, but possible. Near the equator, in particular, the
currents and winds are more complex
and subject to changes. Ocean travelers
leaving South America and heading west
would utilize the Humboldt Current,
which is easily reached from Peru and
Ecuador.
As Heyerdahl himself proved, it
is possible to sail from South America to
the Polynesian Islands and beyond. Aside
from the Valdivia pottery and possible
transpacific contacts, Ecuador has other
surprises. There is the strange case of
Father Crespi and his collection of
unclassifiable artifacts. South of the
“Avenue of the Volcanoes,” in the old
town of Cuenca, an eccentric priest
named Crespi amassed a collection of the
most bizarre artifacts one can imagine.
First of all, consider that Cuenca is just
the latest settlement in an area that has
a very long history. It was built over an
Incan city called Tomebamba, which was
completely destroyed.
In its heyday it was said to have
rivaled Cuzco in grandeur. Tomebamba
itself was built over a major Canari city;
the Canari being the native Ecuadorian
Indians who held back the expansionistic
Incas for decades. Father Crespi was a
friend to the local Indians, who have been
generally despised by those of Spanish
descent. They repaid his kindness and
concern for them with gifts of archaeological artifacts that they reportedly
found in deserted cities and deep tunnels
to the east of Cuenca.
ver the years, Father Crespi’s collection came to include large
pieces of hammered sheet metal
with highly sophisticated engravings,
sculptures that are clearly reminiscent of
the ancient Near East, and curious
objects that are difficult to place in the
context of ordinary archaeology. He also
had artifacts with images of llamas,
bronze Phoenician calendars, enigmatic
inscriptions, and even the engraving of a
dinosaur! There were also metal and
stone mechanical devices, bronze air
pipes, and woven copper radiator-like
objects.
Author Richard Wingate photographed a portion of the collection and
published some of the photos in his book,
Lost Outpost of Atlantis. Father Crespi
was known to have accepted from hungry
Indians, whom he fed, artifacts that were
obvious fakes. His mission was one of
compassion, not science. Unfortunately,
this approach, and also his eccentricity
(he collected Charlie Chaplin movies)
O
21
A skillfully wrought, though culturally
unidentifiable artwork from the Father
Crespi Collection.
worked against the credibility of his collection.
Even worse, in 1962, his museum was partially destroyed in an arsonist’s fire. The remains of his collection are
now owned by the Central Bank of
Ecuador. In a conversation with a private
collector in Cuenca, I learned that Crespi
was locally regarded as a man who had
been duped by the Indians. He wanted to
believe that the artifacts given to him by
the Indians were proof that the early cultures of Ecuador were in contact with the
cultures of the Ancient Mediterranean
world. He believed that the Amazon was
the transportation route between these
two worlds and that the artifacts came
from an undiscovered ancient city on the
eastern side of the Andes.
Aside from the artifacts of his
own collection, Crespi would point to the
resemblance between Valdivia Venus figurines and ancient Egyptian figures
known as shabaktis. It’s true that these
two categories of artifact share similar
hair treatments. Despite the questionable
nature of some of Crespi’s artifacts, a diffusionist explanation seems logical from
a geographical standpoint. Movement
from the Atlantic to the Pacific via mostly waterway is possible in several places
in northern South America.
One is up the huge Amazon
River to one of several rivers that drain
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
the highlands. From these rivers (the
Napo, Pastaza, and Santiago), it is only
about 100 miles up and over the highlands to the Guayaquil region. A combination of waterway and land crossing
through Ecuador to the Pacific is also
possible from the Caribbean. Near the
city of Cartegena, the rivers Cauca and
Magdalena (where the oldest pottery in
Colombia is found) can be followed south
almost to the Ecuadorian border. From
there, one can follow the Avenue of the
Volcanoes down to the Pacific near present-day Guayaquil. This was a well-traveled route in ancient times.
There are other intriguing speculations about Ecuador and cultural diffusionism. A recent book on Mesoamerican calendrics (Malmstrom 1971) presents a case for the origins of Mesoamerican culture on the Pacific coast near the
ancient city of Izapa. This region, called
Soconusco (today’s coastal Chiapas and
in
the
general
vicinity
of
the
Mexican/Guatemalan border) is characterized by abundant wildlife, fertile soils,
and an extreme diversity of habitat within a small area. Vincent Malmstrom, the
author, argues that this is the only comfortably habitable stretch of land along
the Pacific coast north of Ecuador. In
between are inhospitable mangrove
forests.
rchaeological evidence dates the
earliest significant cultural developments in Soconusco to about
1800 B.C. Around this time the people
living there were farming, building large
houses on raised mounds, and making
elaborate pottery. About 1500 B.C., it
A
Another enigma from the Crespi Collection, suggestive of Iberian influences.
appears that newcomers arrived in the
Soconusco region by sea and the native
pottery styles began to change and evolve
rapidly.
Eventually, the Soconusco culture moved north and east across the
Tehuantepec gap between the Oaxaca
and Chiapas highlands to establish the
early Mesoamerican sites identified as
Olmec. Malmstrom argues that the most
significant innovations of the Soconusco
culture are to be found in their astronomy and calendrics. According to him,
Soconusco is the place of origin for the
260-day astrological calendar, a key component of the Mayan calendar. Malmstrom and others have suggested that
voyagers from Ecuador may have significantly influenced Mesoamerican civilization in their explorations up and down
the Pacific coast around 1500 B.C.
Similarities in ceramics, burials,
clothing, metallurgy, and the distribution
of dogs and jays have been cited as evidence for possible links between Ecuador
and Mexico (Anawalt, 1997). Geography,
Malmstrom’s field, is also an important
argument for him. He points out that it is
only north of the western point of the
Ecuadorian coast that the Equatorial
Countercurrent sweeps northward along
the coast of Central America, reaching as
far as Soconusco. He also notes that
balsa trees for making rafts were far
more available from the huge Guayas
River estuary than from the banks of the
small desert rivers that empty into the
Pacific along the shoreline of Peru.
In his view, it may have been
Ecuadorians, as carriers of the earliest
Andean cultures, that stimulated the
development of high civilization to
Mesoamerica. A single carving on a wall
of the ballcourt at the ruins of Izapa, a
major site in Soconusco, holds an interesting image that suggests that this
area’s contact with seafarers was an
important part of their heritage. This
enigmatic carving suggests that outside
contacts may not have been limited to
Ecuadorians on rafts. The carving
appears to be a bearded man in a seaboat with outstretched arms holding a
cross of some sort. There is no question
that ancient South Americans set out
into the Pacific Ocean on rafts made of
balsa logs. These rafts, called “balsas,”
were made of huge balsa logs arranged so
that the central log was longest, with the
others flanking it laid in decreasing
length, creating the effect of a prow.
A wooden cabin and a bipod
mast for a sail sat atop the main logs.
Boards shoved between the logs served
as small keels, allowing the raft to sail at
an angle to the winds. Bartolomew Ruiz,
one of Pizarro’s pilots who was on a
reconnaissance voyage south of Panama
22
to the equator, reported sighting a native
raft 100 miles off the coast in 1526. The
raft, about as big as his ship, was carrying 20 well-dressed natives and about 30
tons of cargo. The raft was also sailing
against the current. Ruiz had eleven
natives thrown overboard, took three
women to be trained as translators, and
let the rest go free.
Long distance balsa raft navigation was an Ecuadorian tradition. Spanish historians recorded an interesting
story about a voyage led by the Inca
Tupac Yupanqui. He was, at the time,
engaged in conquering Ecuador, specifically the regions along the Gulf of
Guayaquil, and had heard stories from
seafaring merchants of lands to the west,
lands that he wanted to add to the Inca
empire. Tupac Yupanqui apparently set
sail with 20,000 men on a flotilla of rafts
in search of two distant populated
islands supposedly rich in gold. His expedition was gone for perhaps a year, but
the Inca did return with some metal and
prisoners. Some think his voyage took
him to the Galapagos (Means, 1931: 270272), other suggest he had reached Easter Island (Heyerdahl, 1979: 190ff).
Thor Heyerdahl, who challenged
academic resistance to the idea of the
feasibility of ancient voyages by doing
them himself, went to Ecuador to find the
logs to build his raft, the Kon-Tiki. After
felling huge balsa trees on a tributary of
the Guayas, he floated them downstream
to Guayaquil and then had them shipped
to Peru where they were assembled.
Heyerdahl modeled the Kon Tiki
after the rafts of the Mateno, a coastal
Ecuadorian people, who were known as
excellent seafarers. The tradition of balsa
raft navigation in Ecuador was made
possible by both the abundance of balsa
trees in the region, and also the nearby
powerful ocean currents. Heyerdahl, a
man who puts his money where his
mouth is, has said that the Guayas
region of Ecuador and northern Peru was
the center of ancient American maritime
activity.
It was certainly a center for commerce, as was observed by the first
Spaniards who sailed into the region.
They found huge rafts loaded with tons of
products sailing (not drifting) miles offshore. Reports of “distant traders” who
came to the port of Zacatula in West Mexico, were sent to the king in 1525. (Interestingly, this port is at the mouth of the
Rio Balsas.) These distant traders apparently remained at the port for months at
a time before they attempted a return
voyage (Anawalt, 1997).
There is evidence, in the form of
pre-Colombian ceramic remains, of routine 600-mile voyages to the Galapagos
Islands. It is certainly possible to sail
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
A Moche terra-cotta vessel from northcoastal Peru (Trujillo Museum) contemporary with a documented Chinese transpacific voyage. A.A. staff photograph.
great distances on seaworthy balsa rafts.
Since Heyerdahl’s famous Kon-Tiki voyage in 1947, many others have sailed the
Pacific Ocean on balsa rafts successfully.
In 1969 and 1973, Vitale Alsar led voyages that began in Ecuador and reached
Australia. In spite of all this, Western
archaeologists, historians, and alleged
experts on the peopling of Polynesia have
resisted accepting that ancient South
Americans were capable of such voyages.
Some responded to Heyerdahl’s voyage
by saying he only proved that Norwegians
are good sailors.
he more one studies the ancient
history of Ecuador, the more one
realizes its importance as both a
long-distance sailing center and a point
of cultural diffusion. The pottery alone
suggests that, in very early times, this
region may have been a major originpoint in the New World from which culture was diffused. If so, it was probably
diffused more by sea than by land. Some
mainstream archaeologists are now taking seriously the idea that the Olmec culture, the earliest civilization in
Mesoamerica, was “jump-started” by
ancient Ecuadorian trading voyages, and
that later Mesoamerican cultures benefited from repeated contact with “distant
traders.” Whether or not voyagers from
other continents reached Ecuador regularly in ancient times is still open to
question, though evidence suggests that
there may have been at least some contacts with ancient Japan, and possibly
also Han Dynasty China. Whether or not
ancient Mediterranean travelers sailed
up the Amazon to trade with the early
cultures of Ecuador and Peru is even
more questionable.
T
But where did at least some of
Father Crespi’s collection originate? Heyerdahl has shown that Polynesia was visited and settled (along with immigrants
from other places) by ancient South
Americans who most likely sailed from
northern Peru and Ecuador.
This is still disputed by experts
on Polynesia, who, as Heyerdahl repeatedly points out, are not experts on South
America. One thing for certain is that
Ecuador was where the Conquest of
Peru began. When Pizarro sailed into the
Gulf of Guayaquil, he found civilization
in South America. At the southern end of
the Gulf he found Tumbez, the gateway
to the kingdom of the Incas and the point
from which the conquest of the Inca
Empire began. Strangely enough, this
may have been the same place where an
earlier, and probably more benign, influence on Andean civilization began as
well.
A Peruvian legend recalled that
in ancient times bearded gods had
arrived on these shores (Heyerdahl,
1979, p.104 ff). In these two instances,
one history and the other legend, coastal
Ecuador was indeed a “point of contact.”
As mainstream archaeologists continue
their efforts to reconstruct South American pre-history, they will no doubt find
that Ecuador’s cultural role in preColumbian times was wider and more
complex than previously thought.
Footnotes
1) Currently, the oldest New World pottery is the Amazonian of eastern Brazil.
Shards found at Taperinha have been
dated to about 5600 B.C. The next oldest
pottery sites are in Columbia, which have
been dated to about 4500 B.C. Valdivia
pottery comes next with dating to about
3200 B.C. The earliest Peruvian and
Mesoamerican pottery dates to 2500 and
1800 B.C., respectively. See the relevant
articles in Barnett and Hoopes, editors,
The Emergence of Pottery. 1995.
2) Jomon, Japan’s oldest pottery tradition, has its origins about 10,700 B.C.
See Aikens, Melvin. “First in the World:
The Jomon Pottery of Early Japan,” in
The Emergence of Pottery (ibid).
3) See “The Search for Ophir, King
Solomon’s Isle” by Dr. Gunnar Thompson. Ancient American, Vol. 3, #19-20,
pp. 9-11.
References
Anawalt, Patricia Rieff. “Traders of the
Ecuadorian Littoral,” in Archaeology,
November/December, 1997.
Barnett, William K., and John W.
Hoopes. The Emergence of Pottery: Technology and Innovation in Ancient Societies. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995.
23
Doran, Edwin J. “The Sailing Raft as a
Great Tradition,” in Man Across the Sea.
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.
1971.
Estrada, E., and B.J. Meggers. “A complex of traits of probably transpacific origin on the coast of Ecuador.” American
Anthropology, 63: 913-939. 1961.
Heyerdahl, Thor. Kon-Tiki. New York: Ballantine Books. 1950.
Heyerdahl, Thor. Pyramids of Tucume.
New York: Thames and Hudson,1995.
Heyerdahl, Thor. Early Man and the
Ocean. New York: Doubleday & Co.,
Inc..,1979.
Jennings, Jesse D. Ancient South Americans. New York: W.H.Freeman and Company, 1983.
Johnstone, Paul. The Sea-craft of Prehistory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press, 1980.
Malmstrom, Vincent. Cycles of the Sun,
Mysteries of the Moon. Austin: University
of Texas Press. 1997
Means, Philip Ainsworth. Ancient Civilizations of the Andes. New York: Charles
Scribner’s Sons, 1931
Meggers, Betty J., Clifford Evans, and
Emilio Estrada. “Early Formative Period
of Coastal Ecuador.” Smithsonian Contributions to Archaeology. Volume I. Washington D.C: 1965
Needham, J. Science and Civilization in
China, Vol. 4. Cambridge, England. 1971.
Wingate, Richard. Lost Outpost of
Atlantis. New York: Everest House. 1980.
The Southeast Asian facial features of
this 12th Century B.C, terra-cotta statuette (National Museum of Anthropology
and Archaeology, Mexico City) from Oaxaca, Mexico, are unmistakable. It
belongs to the Olmec Culture, Middle
America’s first civilization, which suddenly sprouted as a fully developed
society about 300 years earlier. An
abundance of similar evidence suggests
overseas’ origins for the mysterious
Olmecs. But Mesoamerican ideograms
cannot be deciphered by contemporary
Chinese written language, challenging
direct comparisons between preColumbian Mexico and the ancient Far
East. A.A. staff photograph.
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
You’re invited to Ancient American’s
National Symposium June 19 & 20!
V
isitors to Ancient American’s
first symposium last summer
are still talking about the fascinating speakers and exhibits they
experienced at our Western States
Conference. Based on last summer’s
popular success, we have decided to
schedule another public meeting,
again in Utah.
This year’s symposium will
feature artifact displays, hard-to-find
books for sale and speakers from
around the country. Among their topics will be Legends of Fair-Skinned
Foreigners in Pre-Columbian America,
An ancient Hebrew Holy Stone from
Ohio, Prehistoric Michigan’s Biblical
Tablets, Latest News on the Megalithic
Monuments of America and Europe,
Related Themes in Rock Art from
America to Japan, The Great Serpent
Mound, Wyoming’s Ancient Mysteries,
Toltec Origins of the Cherokee, The Art
of Overseas’ Visitors in Pre-Columbian
America.
Their presentations will be
accompanied by slide-shows featuring never-before-seen photographs
illustrating the lost world of America
B.C.---Before Columbus. The two-day
event will host ten presenters, all
dynamic speakers and renowned
authorities in their fields of expertise.
Some include Ancient American
researcher, David Deal; Professor
James Scherz, from the University of
Wisconsin at Madison; John White of
the Midwest Epigraphic Society;
worldwide investigator, Fred Rydholm; and Wayne May, Founder and
Publisher of Ancient American magazine.
Ancient American’s Western
States Conference will be a convocation for diffusionists, professionals
and enthusiasts alike, to share their
revolutionary evidence contradicting
the official (erroneous) dogma that
Columbus was the first overseas’ visitor to arrive on our continent’s
shores.
Our Second National Symposium opens its doors at 11:00, Friday morning, June 19th. Presentations begin with Mr. May’s introduction at 1:00, followed by two
A popular display at last year’s Ancient American Western States Conference, demonstrating the variety of racial types that inhabited our continent in pre-columbian times.
This year’s symposium will not lack for controversy, either! A.A. staff photograph.
speakers until a half-hour break at
3:15. Presentations will be made from
3:45 to 6:00.
The Symposium resumes the
next day, June 20th, Saturday
morning, with featured speakers
beginning at 9:00. Following a noonhour lunch, the final presentations,
with a half-hour break at 3:00, conclude by 6:00. Question-and-answer
periods follow the lectures, allowing
members of the audience to speak
directly with our presenters.
Last year’s Symposium was a
memorable occasion for good fellowship. Similarly, at 1998’s Western
States Conference, you will be able to
meet and mix with like-minded
enthusiasts and swap interests.
Advance registration for both days
is $30.00 (Mastercard, Visa &
American Express accepted or personal check). Those wishing to
attend only one of the two days can
purchase tickets at the door. However, attendance capacity is far more
restricted than last year, with seating
for little more than 200 persons. We
24
therefore strongly urge anyone considering attendance at the Conference
to pre-register at their earliest convenience to secure seating. Local Firecodes will be observed. There will be
no overflow seating available. Register now!
Ancient American’s 1998
Symposium will be held at the private
facilities of the Murray Academy, easily reached by State Street, in Murray,
Utah, a close suburb of Salt Lake
City.
For hotel reservations in the
immediate vicinity, telephone the following toll-free “800” numbers---Best
Western: 528-1234; Motel 6: 4668356; Super 8: 800-8000. It is important to reserve your accommodations
as early as possible!
For further information, contact Ancient American magazine, P.O.
Box 370, Colfax, WI 54763. E-mail:
[email protected] Fax
(715) 235-3343. Telephone (during
regular business hours only): (715)
962-3299 or (715) 235-3322 ask for
Wayne or Kris.
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Conference Address:
Murray Academy
184 East Vine Street
Murray, Utah
Ju
ne
19
&
20
On State Street, traveling south from Temple Square, you will turn left at
the intersection of Vine and State Street, which is approximately at 50th
South. After you’ve turned left, go 1/2 block and the Murray Academy is
on your right. If you passed the Murray Theater on the left side of State
Street while traveling south, you just missed your turn. The Academy
Parking lot is limited, so it will be necessary for many attendees to park
cars on the residential streets around the Academy. Please be courteous
and mindful of the local residents: do not block driveways or access openings of any kind. Do not use the business parking lots which are nearby; otherwise, you will be towed! Thank you for your cooperation. See
you June 19th!
Salt Lake City map, courtesy of the Salt Lake Visitors Guide 1997-1998 Fall/Winter issue
Murray
Academy
184 East Vine
(intersection of
State and Vine)
*
25
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Germany’s 400,000
Year-Old Javelins
ACPAC:
Skeletons in
the Closet
by Keith Bennett
F
irst described as “spears 400,000
years old,” the objects found at a
local coal mine in Schoningen,
Germany recently are now known to be
far more sophisticated weapons: a trio of
hunting javelins, radio-carbon dated to
380,000 to 400,000 years B.P. (Before
Present).
When the report was published
in Europe last year (February), some
mainstream archaeologists attempted to
dismiss the three six-to-seven foot
spruce shafts as oversized digging sticks
or probes for locating carcasses beneath
the snow. A spokesman from England’s
University of Sheffield, countered, “the
Schoningen discoveries are unquestionably spears. To regard them as snowprobes or digging sticks is like claiming
power drills are paper weights.” German
archaeologist Hartmut Thieme (Hannover) claims the shafts are more than
simple spears. They are, he says,
sophisticated throwing javelins. Their
spruce shafts are weighted with the
heaviest portion one-third of the length
back of the front end, exactly as in modern javelins.
The shafts were made with the
heaviest and densest wood from the
base of a tree as the point at the head,
Thieme adds. He found them while excavating ahead of a rotary coal-cutting
machine, in 1983, after very ancient
artifacts surfaced earlier in the mine. No
one, however, had expected to find complete weapons of such advanced age.
Other finds included flint-cutting tools
and grooved, wooden implements that
may have held flint blades, and parts of
horse, elephant and deer bones; thousands of them. Also in England, at Boxton, a fossilized rhinoceros shoulder
blade still carries a wound inflicted by a
manmade projectile dated at 500,000
B.P. In Germany, an apparent spearshaft was found in an elephant skeleton,
fifty years ago. Along with the newly
found spruce shafts, the digging team
recovered other animal remains and
parts of ten butchered horses.
Until these discoveries, anthropologists believed early man was only a
scavenger, not a hunter. This view still
persists among some in the academic
community, despite the Schoningen
finds and other evidence for the use of
hunting weapons far earlier than previously thought possible. For example, a
yew-wood spear dated 400,000 years old
was unearthed at Claxton-on-the-Sea,
England, in 1911.
While evidence for hunting
spears and javelins keeps piling up, the
arrow likewise emerges as a weapon
much older than has been officially
assumed. A recent re-examination of the
bones of a young woman buried in Sicily about 13,000 years ago found an
arrowhead, or part of it, buried in her
pelvis. She appears to have recovered
from the wound, as bone had grown
around the stone blade. It represents a
second find of its kind in the Italian
area. A child burial, similarly dated to
13,000 B.P., had a small arrow wound
in one of its vertebrae.
ntil such current discoveries, the
only evidence for the use of
arrows dated to 8500 B.C. It
comprised, archaeologists assumed, the
first indication of violent human behavior against their own kind. But the new
German find shows that early men were
better armed hunters far longer ago
than deemed possible. Were they warriors, too?
In any case, their weapons have
already touched off new scholarly battles in Europe. The argument is over
who carried those German javelins to
the hunt. Thieme, in residence at Hannover’s Institute for the Preservation of
Historical Monuments, believes homo
erectus was the first spear-carrier.
Researchers at London’s University College, who directed digs at Boxgrove,
where the yew-spear tip was found, contend an early form of homo sapiens
made such weapons. Even colleagues
from the British Museum leapt into the
fray, postulating that the first premesolithic spear-carrier was a creature
on his way to becoming Neanderthal
man.
With superior European armament around 400,000 B.P., Siberian
Man could have been better equipped
than the experts used to claim. And
from Siberia comes new dating technology to prove he was there about 270,000
years earlier than previously thought.
Thermo-luminescence dating by Texas A
& M University scientists puts Siberian
Man into a range between 260,000 to
370,00 B.P. Plenty in time for an early
movement into North America ...
U
26
A
long, lead article (with the above
headline in City Pages (News &
Arts Weekly of the Twin Cities, Minnesota) on September 24, 1997 by
Joseph Hart covered early archaeological investigations in Minnesota as well
as the present situation. In 1989, the
state formed the Minnesota Indian
Affairs Council (MIAC) and gave it
title to all affiliated and unaffiliated
human remains. MIAC works with
tribes and has so far returned 800
skeletons for reburial. Council officials hope the rest of the bones will be
reburied within a year.
Approximately 2,000 skeletal
remains, dating back to 10,000 years
ago were gathered over the last 100
years by scientists and collectors.
These bones, from the University of
Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical
Society, the Science Museum, and
other agencies around the state, are
sent to osteologist Barbara O’Connell
at the Hamline University lab.
One of the skeletons, called
Browns Valley Man, was recovered by
UM professor Albert E. Jenks in the
1930s and has been dated to nearly
10,000 years old. The “Minnesota
Man”, now known to be “Minnesota
Girl”, was also collected by Jenks in
1932 and dates to about 8,000 years
ago.
According to Minnesota law,
the skeletons already belong to the
MIAC but Jim Jones, MIAC repatriation director, says he expects trouble.
“When and if the skeleton is buried,
along with a projectile point worth
thousands on the black market, only
Jones and a handful of tribal elders
will know where.”
Jones acts as a buffer between
scientists and Indian activists. He also
soothes the activists when the NAGPRA law moves too slowly while, all
the time, “working on his primary
charge to get the bodies back.”
AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR
THE PRESERVATION OF
ARCHAEOLOGICAL
COLLECTIONS
P.O. Box 1171
Whittier, CA 90609-1171
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Bering “Land-Bridge” Theory
Collapsing
by David Burton
T
he first humans entering America
arrived about 11,000 or 12,000
years ago by crossing over a nowsunken land-bridge from Siberia into
Alaska. Or so we have been told by generations
of
anthropologists.
They
preached their so-called Bering Strait
Theory dogma from school rooms to television documentaries. And it is still
upheld by a majority of academics. They
condemned their critics as rank amateurs, denizens of a pseudo-scientific
lunatic fringe.
Despite decades of official
ridicule and neglect, Diffusionists, mostly
non-professionals, patiently pursued
their scorned investigations and continued to point out an abundance of evidence demonstrating human occupation
of our continent tens of thousands of
years earlier, with origins across the
Atlantic and Pacific, as well as landroutes from Asia. Ancient American was
founded four years ago to deliberately
provide these maverick antiquarians with
a forum for their shunned and denigrated
research. Now, after years of opposition,
their day has begun to dawn!
“We are on a major threshold in
the development of ideas about the peopling of the Americas,” admitted Dennis
Stanford, the Smithsonian Institution’s
chief archaeologist, in a March 3rd press
release for the Cox News Service. “I think
the whole picture is going to change real
fast.” He was referring to new discoveries
which indisputably place human habitation here 40,000 or more years ago. An
even more bitter pill for Stanford and his
Establishment colleagues to swallow is
the equally persuasive evidence for a
Caucasian presence in the deep preColumbian past.
He sited the growing number of
ancient Europoid skeletal remains discovered from Washington State to the
Dakotas, and the findings of Emory University geneticist, Douglas Wallace.
Together with anthropologist, Theodore
Schurr; their studies of inherited traits
among Native Americans demonstrate
that man had already spread throughout
South America at least 20,000 Before
Present.
Standford said he expects a
surge of secret disclosures from archaeologists who were hitherto afraid of official
opposition. The waited :”surge” could very
well transform dogmatic interpretations
of America’s prehistory. Stanford also
mentioned a 13,000 to 16,000 year-old
sites presently being excavated near
Richmond, Virginia and Nashville, Tennessee. He conceded that the apparent
clustering of older settlements such as
these in the south east suggests that the
ancient inhabitants were not Asian, but
came from Europe, even at that early
date.
The first major crack to appear
in the Bering Strait Dogma appeared last
year, when University of Kentucky
anthropologist, Thomas Dillehay, conclusively established the presence of toolusing humans at Monte Verde, Chile, dating to 13,000 B.P. He is presently uncovering another Chilean site settled 33,000
years ago by seafarers who arrived from
over the Pacific Ocean.
Since the 1950s, the controversial Thor Heyerdahl, so long disparaged
by his less-adventurous colleagues, successfully recreated several ancient
transatlantic and transpacific voyages to
show that prehistoric man could have
indeed crossed the oceans of our planet
to influence civilizations around the
world.
D
illehay believes there are 15 to 20
settlement sites in South America
more than 11,500 years old. Supporting his conclusion is the research of
University of California linguist, Johanna
Nichols, who estimated the time required
for some 142 New World language families to have evolved. Her studies reveal
the diversity of native languages in the
Americas is so great that it would have
taken at least 19,500 years, but more
likely 35,000 to 40,000 years for as many
diverse language groups to develop.
When Dillehay announced his
discoveries, the entire archaeological system fell on him with vicious criticism and
belittling denial. But he courageously
stood his ground, kept repeating and validating his conclusions, until he began to
be taken seriously by a few fellow professionals. Today, Dillehay's work stands
unchallenged and the re-writing of American prehistory has begun.
Diffusionists around the world
have cause to rejoice, as their ideas are at
long last being vindicated.
A Sign of the Time: “Immigration of Ancient Peoples”
So read the words over a large billboard (pictured above) welcoming visitors to
Louisiana’s Poverty Point, one of our country’s most important archaeological
parks. It is refreshing to realize that, together with shop-worn theories of migration
through the Bering Strait, the curators at Poverty Point have dared to include Norse
routes across the North Atlantic, European and North African voyages into Middle
America and transpacific arrivals in Ecuador from southeast Asia. Inadequate dogmas of the past are finally yielding to the truth about pre-Columbian influences
from overseas. The map of Ancient America is changing.
27
Missouri’s Mystery Weapon
by Keenan Newell
I
n the summer of 1952, some boys
playing down by a river bank in
northern Missouri noticed a large,
peculiar shape in the water. Word soon
spread of their discovery among the
townspeople. A dealer in scrap-iron,
used a powerful motor-winch to drag the
lads’ find out into the open. It turned out
to be a large grindstone, that was all. But
clinging to its underside was an unusual
conglomeration of bluish mud with the
merest suggestion of something else
slightly visible trapped inside.
William Krebs, the man with the
winch, scraped off the amorphous accretion and carried it home, where he
planned to remove the mud and reveal
its secret. The process was more difficult
than he anticipated. Scrubbing off the
river slime, Krebs encountered an apparently much older substance that had
assumed the hardness of a calcified
shell. Hoping to remove the strange
object without damaging it, he steeped
the whole mess in a bath of cleaning
solution for half a year. It took him
another month to carefully wash away
the last remnants of clinging material
with penetrating oil.
But the item that emerged was
worthy of his patience. It was the most
unusual weapon he, or anyone else in
Missouri, had ever seen. Slowly withdrawing it from the curved sheath, he
was surprised to see, not one, but three
blades emerge. The peculiar triple-threat
measured fourteen inches from the point
of its center blade, the largest, to the
extreme end of its handle.
Krebs examined the weapon’s
fine workmanship, alien to anything
comparable he knew. It was decorated
with somewhat faded, although clearly
discernable images of strangely dressed
women accompanied with other human
figures wearing bizarre headdresses.
Seated or possibly dancing in a garden
inhabited by mythical birds, the women
appeared to be signalling one another
with meaningful hand gestures of some
kind. All the images seemed to have been
engraved by some non-mechanical
method.
Looking at the dagger point-on,
Krebs noticed that its only non-metallic
component was a piece of bone nicely cut
and inserted at the front of the pommel
where the bladed trio was connected at
its base.
He took his find to the Missouri
state archaeologist, who, typically,
declared at first glance that such a knife
could only be a modern fake of some
The unusual, triple-bladed dagger beside its Arabian Nights-like scabbard.
kind, but offered to take it off the discoverer’s hands, just the same. Sensing dishonesty, Krebs returned home with the
artifact.
or the next quarter century, he
found no one who could identify it
until he met David McCuen, a Utah
metallurgist with 35 years experience.
He determined that the unusual weapon
had been manufactured by heating its
steel to high temperatures, then pounding it with heavy wooden mallets and
dousing it with water, a process repeated
over and over until the desired shape
and resilient strength were obtained.
McCuen pointed out that such a primitive manufacturing process was no
longer used anywhere in the world, but
had been common throughout Europe
and Asia up until the Middle Ages.
Underscoring its Late Dark Age
forging process, his analysis showed that
the Missouri knife was 1,000 to 1,200
years old. He was able to determine that
its mineral composition is 3% copper,
but the mine from which such metal was
excavated is not known. McCuen
believes, however, that the object came
from India possibly sometime in the 9th
or 11th centuries. He found that triplebladed weapons were used throughout
the Sub-Continent in Medieval times,
when headdresses similar to those
depicted on the scabbard of Mr. Krebs’
discovery were also in fashion.
Moreover, hand gestures made
by the dagger’s incised female figures
F
28
The Missouri weapon sheathed as it was
found, 45 years ago.
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
The faded, possibly floral images of the knife’s handle suggest long-time wear.
One of the scabbard's many female figures gesturing with her hands. Is she
signing to us with a mudra, still used by
classical dancers from India?
could be mudras. These are a series of
subtle hand movements employed by
India’s classical dancers to express specific emotions.
If further testing determines
that Mr. Krebs’ find is authentic, its loss
by a modern collector of Sub Continental
antiquities in a Missouri river seems farfetched. Instead, it is probably evidence
for the arrival of seafarers from India a
thousand or more years ago. These
transoceanic visitors may have traveled
far inland, but, more likely, they landed
on the Pacific coast, where Native Americans somehow obtained the knife and, in
their wanderings, lost it in the Midwest.
n American Discovery, the Real Story
(available from the Ancient American
Bookclub), Dr. Gunnar Thompson
writes, “Hindu geographers identified
lands across the Pacific on the other side
of the Earth. The lands were known as
Pantala---which is variously translated
as ‘The Opposite Land’ or ‘The Land of
Gold’”. On the same page (217), he reproduces a 7th Century Tibetan map actually indicating the location of Pantala
across the Pacific. Among the abundant
evidence on behalf of influences from
India in America, Dr. Thompson sites the
singular eye-in-the hand religious motif
found in India and, appropriately, the
Mississippi Valley, around 1200 A.D.,
recalling the unusual emphasis of the
girls’ hands depicted on the Missouri
weapon. It may be physical proof confirming the arrival in prehistoric America
of sailors from Medieval India.
Mr. Krebs is anxious to contact
anyone who may be able to shed further
light on his intriguing discovery. He is
particularly interested to learn if what
may be a written script on the object can
be deciphered. Persons wishing to share
their impressions with William Krebs
may do so by writing to him care of
Ancient American, P.O. Box 370, Colfax,
WI 54763. E-mail [email protected] Fax (715) 235-3343. Perhaps
one of our readers holds the key to this
Missouri mystery.
Close-up of the bone inserted at the front
of the dagger’s pommel where it holds the
base of the three blades.
I
Inscrutable script or fanciful design covers full-length the right side of the Missouri dagger’s right blade. All photographs pages 28, 29, Ancient American Photo Library.
29
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Japan’s Megalithic Links to
Ancient America and Europe
by Professor Nobuhiro Yoshida, President of the Japan Petrograph Society
S
hikoku, one of the four big islands
of Japan, has been attracting
archaeological and cultural interest
since last October. At that time, many
prehistoric, stone ruins were coming to
light for the first time, mostly at five
towns, two villages and even a city in
Tokushima Province.
As big as the island of Hawaii,
Shikoku was already known for its 88
temples built from the late 8th to mid-9th
Centuries by Kukai, the founder of Shingon-shu, a Japanese school of Buddhism.
It was to these shrines that his pious followers went for blessings, particularly
since the Shikoku Pilgrimage, as it came
to be known, became popular in the
1400s. Previous to the 15th Century,
such pilgrimages were undertaken only
by priests. Interestingly, Kukai’s 88 temples are located in close proximity to the
far older, prehistoric structures recently
found over the past seven months by a
number of discoverers. These include
municipal officers, local members of the
Board of Education, historians and, most
notably, chapter members of the Japan
Petrograph Society.
One of the most successful
attempts to locate and identify Tokushima’s ancient ruins was conducted at
Mima Province. The expedition comprised interested citizens from surrounding villages and towns, together with
J.P.S. colleagues, Ancient American’s
Frank Joseph (who was visiting Japan as
a guest speaker) and myself. Arriving at
the town of Anabuki last January 19th,
we sought out one of the area’s most
sacred sites, Iwasaka Shinmei Jinja, or
“Rock Heap Shrine,” at the summit of a
steep hill. The structure’s antiquity is
great, pre-dating nearby Buddhist monuments by many centuries, if not millennia.
The very well-preserved ruins of
Iwasaka Shinmei Jinja resemble a low,
stone fortress 7 meters wide, 22 meters
long and 1.5-2 meters high. Three gateways open to a trio of corresponding
altars set in the inside wall, facing south.
Mr. Joseph was struck by the site’s
remarkable resemblance to a similar
structure in the eastern United States.
Known as “America’s Stonehenge” (previously, “Mystery Hill”), New Hampshire’s
neolithic-like formation also sits atop a
hill with a southern orientation.
He added that such formations
Anabuki’s Iwasaka Shinmei Jinja. Its resemblance to ritual structures in the Hawaiian
islands and North America imply important transpacific cultural contacts in deeply prehistoric times.
also appear in a virtually straight line
some 120 miles long connecting the Mississippi with the Ohio Rivers on hill-tops
across the southern part of the State of
Illinois. At least a dozen such Illinois
structures, so very like those found in
Tokushima, are known to archaeologists,
who have tentatively dated them to 2,000
B.P. “It is a strange coincidence,” Joseph
said, “that similar types of rock shrines
are found in Japan, Hawaii and the U.S.
We may conjecture that there was at one
time a cultural flow between the Far East
and North America, with Hawaii in
between. Doubtless, all these structures,
despite the great distances separating
them, were raised by people belonging to
the same culture.”
Locations physically related to
Iwasaka Shinmei Jinja occur in the prefectures of Tokushima, Yamaguchi and
Fukuoka. On the coastal hill of Yumezaki (“Dream-Point”), at the Tsunoshima
islet of Yamaguchi Prefecture, another
stone fortress was identified a few years
ago by Harvard University’s Dr. Barry Fell
and Professor Eiichi Imoto (Osaka’s Foreign Language University) as a refuge for
Sumerian sailors, who were known to
construct such shelters along their
extensive sea-lanes.
Dr. Fell once appeared on
Japanese television to offer his opinion
that “the Sumerians apparently reached
30
ancient America, and it is sure they
reached the Far East by another route.”
Three similar stone shrines are located in
Shikoku, with another at the Hiraodai
Plateau, in Fukuoka Prefecture, Kyushu.
Some investigators conclude these large
rock shrines tell of the coming of Sumerian seafarers before the 16th Century
B.C., because these ruins bear engraved
characters which suggest either ProtoSumerian hieroglyphs or Sumerian
cuneiform.
ut what the Japanese stone shelters most resemble are the sacred
enclosures known as heiau on the
big island of Hawaii. These far-off correspondents were said to have been places
of worship by Karakaua, the first king of
the Hawaiian Islands. Enduring legends
among the islanders recount that the
heiau and their accompanying petroglyphs were made by a prehistoric people
who arrived in Hawaii from their homeland in the distant west. Although the
exact location of this ancient source is
never specified, researchers believe the
land mythically referred to is either
Japan or some intermediary kingdom,
long since vanished. But when we
observe such wonderful similarities
between Japanese stone enclosures and
Hawaiian heiau---to say nothing of additional resemblances Japanese petroglyphs share with Hawaiian examples---
B
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
The “Heavenly Shrine’ of Amatsu-miya atop Mt. Nakatsu-yama, 2,320 feet above sea-level.
we cannot doubt some real cultural connection with the Far East in prehistoric
times.
At the summits of three higher
hills in Shikoku, my colleagues found
stone ruins I personally investigated
March 1st. Guided by my chapter ,members, I reached the top of Mt. Nakatsuyama, 773 meters above sea-level. There
I saw an oval-shaped fortress known
locally as Amatsu-miya, or “The Heavenly
Shrine.” With an overall height of approximately 1.4 meters, its 15 by 10 meter
long walls have two entrances; one is
positioned to the north and features
steps leading into the enclosure, while
the other opens in the southeast corner.
he stonework here is remarkably
close to Inca masonry, but the
overall impression Amatsu-miya
makes on the visitor is reminiscent of a
famous neolithic site in the Orkney
Islands of the North Atlantic, Skara Brae,
off the coast of Scotland. Certainly, they
resemble nothing else in the Far East,
save only those structures related in time
and culture.
In their Guide to Ancient Sites of
Britain, Janet and Colin Board, while
describing Skara Brae, write, “Opposite
the hearth is an upright stone structure
with compartments, possibly a ‘dresser’
used for storage purposes.” So too, the
altar shrine at Anabuki features a kind of
“dresser” precisely as described in the
Guide. Some 4,000 or more years ago,
the neolithic inhabitants of the Orknies
were worshipping ancestral and/or tribal
spirits, just as the pious natives of
Tokushima Province did at their very
similar stone enclosures. If so, then the
objects mentioned by Janet and Colin
T
Bord are not “dressers” but altar shrines.
Moreover, neolithic huts in Skara Brae’s
immediate vicinity measured 6.4 by 6.1
meters with low (1.1 meter) and narrow
(6 meter) doorways cut through the thick
walls (1.2 meters on the average); these
measurements fit very closely to Orkneylike stone structures located at Japan’s
Mt. Myojin, Yuki, Amabe Province in
Shikoku.
Here, especially in the province
of Tokushima, occur the gigantic capstones of cromlechs and a so-called
“giant’s table” virtually identical to better
known examples in England and Scotland. The Obtabi-ishi, or “The Resting
Stone of the Gods,” is the center of an
annual festival, when local people carry a
portable shrine, a kind of ark in proces-
sion. As they proceed from one sacred
site to the next, they set the ark down on
the Obtabi-ishi, the surface of which is
decorated with cupules, just like those
found at megalithic sites throughout
Western Europe.
Scholars of our Japan Petrograph Society over the years have discovered no less than 3,500 examples of
cupule rocks. The intaglios were usually
found engraved in flat rocks or naturally
standing stones of great size. But in
Shikoku, we were surprised to find
cupules appearing on man-cut stone
structures.
Both settings, natural and manmade, likewise occur in megalithic
Britain, where phallic stones are associated with the island’s neolithic culture.
So too, a huge phallic stone accompanied
by another configured into a vaginal
shape are the symbolic features found in
Japan; the former occur at Yata, while a
“Female Shrine” is found at Tokushima.
Known as Hime-miya, its philogistic
resemblance to the hymenal, an Ancient
Greek marriage song, is striking. Appropriately, the English word hymen, which
derives from Hymen, the Greek marriagegod, is a fold of mucous membrane partially closing the external orifice of a virgin’s vagina. Linguistic and architectural
parallels point to some form of important
contact between Japan and Western
Europe in the ancient past.
Kukai, mentioned earlier, preserved such megalithic sites in Japan by
building a kind of defensive barrier of
Buddhist shrines around them. Thus, he
wisely regarded his new religion as a continuation of the spirit of the old. In fact, I
think he may have been a secret worshipper of the megalithic rites, who incorporated them into his Shingon-shu cult.
My suspicions are reinforced by the
Kokubunji temple, built by the Emperor
This Hawaiian heiau, or sacred enclosure, at Puukohara, matches Japanese counterparts in Shikoku, even to the size of the stones used at both sites.
31
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
for Kukai, because there was installed a
megalithic shrine like those found at the
hill-top enclosures.
Above, one of the numerous megalithic walls, still revered by local people as a sacred
site, scattered throughout Shikoku. Below, grand-scale stonework of a neolithic character such as these two examples in southern Japan are evidence for a large, ceremonially active population during prehistoric times. Professor Yoshida and his colleagues
in the Japan Petrograph Society continue to discover a growing number of such ruins
belonging to some pre-Buddhist civilization with ties to other parts of the Ancient World.
32
Nor should we ignore the fact
that all these evocative, ancient structures we examine today were not
harmed, even after the Emperor, Shomu
Tenno, made Buddhism Japan’s “official”
religion in the 740s. The prehistoric
shrines did not suffer vandalism because
they continued to be venerated, as they
are today. In view of so many megalithic
structures presently being found in
Japan, I urge and welcome Ancient American readers to see the intriguing structures for themselves, especially those in
Shikoku. Although the local people may
not be aware of the ruins’ incomparable
archaeological value, at every one of the
sites you will definitely sense the long
history of Japan, extending far back in
time and across the oceans of the world,
even to Europe and America.
These ancient connections could
be among the most significant points of
reference for understanding the roots of
human culture and related origins. In
these international comparisons, Japan’s
ancient stone monuments tell us that
distance and time do not matter. What
really counts is our willingness to be
open-minded about the past.
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Left, this wooden Buddhist shrine was built over a far older megalithic site with cupules,
the same features found on similar structures in Western Europe. Above, the vaginal
Hime-miya at Tokushima. Its functional and linguistic relationship to ancient European
correspondents is remarkable. Below, left: Tokushima’s Kokubunji Temple. Below, right:
the altar-stone at Jorakuji. All photographs pages 30 through 33 by Nobuhiro Yoshida.
33
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
What was the Piasu Bird?
by Iron Thunderhorse
I
ssue Number 5 of Ancient American published “Ancient Sauk Cosmology Tradition and Artifacts,”
authored by Dr. J.E. Price and
Lawrence Kahbah, Sr., Sauk Tribal
Elder. The article presented traditional lore of the Sauk tribe, an integral part of the Illini Confederacy,
whose ancient homelands consisted
of the areas known today as the
states of Wisconsin and Missouri. As
noted in their informative article,
this confederacy consisted of the Illini, Miami, Kaskaskia, Mandan, Peoria, Piankaskaw, Arrika, Cahokia
and Piasu tribes.
In the Proto-Algonquian language-family, the name Illini derives
from the Algonquian word, liniwok,
or “men.” In the Cree dialect, it is
Iyiniwok. According to Miami oral
tradition, as pointed out in the article, the Miami and Metchigamies
fought with two Piasu birds in an
ancient battle. The leader of the
Miami was subsequently carried into
the air by the mythical bird and
dropped to his death. The name
Piasu or Piasa (variously spelled), in
the Illini signifies, “The Bird which
devours Men,” according to the late
William McAdams, formerly of Alton,
Illinois.
Several historical accounts
and graphic illustrations give us a
better idea of the traditions and artifacts known as “Piasa Rock,” or
“Piasi Bird Hieroglyphs,” referred to
by the missionary explorer, Marquette, between 1670 and 1675. His
remarks were transcribed by Dr.
Francis Parkman as follows: “On the
flat face of a high rock were painted
in red, black and green a pair of
monsters, each as large as a calf,
with horns like a deer, red eyes, a
beard like a tiger, and a frightful
expression of countenance.
“The face is something like
that of a man, the body covered with
scales; and the tail so long that it
passes entirely around the body,
over the head and between the legs,
ending like that of a fish.”
Additional comments by Davison and
Struve add a bit more to the picture
Figure 1
The Piasa as it once appeared in a large polychrome representation high atop a cliffface in Alton, Illinois, over-looking the Mississippi River. The great beard bespeaks
European influences. Indeed, the beast’s overall appearance suggests a Celtic griffin,
an impression underscored by the antler-horned god of the forest or wilderness worshiped by the Celts. Editor.
in their following notation: “Again,
they (Marquette and Joliet) were
floating on the broad bosom of the
unknown stream. Passing the mouth
of the Illinois, they soon fell into the
shadow of a tall promontory, and
with great astonishment beheld the
representation of two monsters
painted on its lofty limestone
front...It was an object of Indian worship and greatly impressed the mind
of the pious missionary with the
necessity of substituting for this
monstrous idolatry the worship of
the true God.”
A footnote associated with
the foregoing excerpt added the following remarks: “Near the mouth of
the Piasa Creek, on the bluff, there is
a smooth rock in a cavernous cleft,
under an overhanging cliff, on whose
face, 50 feet from the base, are painted some ancient pictures or hieroglyphs. They are placed in a horizontal line from east to west, representing man, plants and animals. The
paintings, though protected from
dampness and storms, are in great
part destroyed, marred by portions
of the rock becoming detached and
falling down.”
Figure 1 is a facsimile of a
drawing provided by McAdams, a
pen and ink sketch, originally measuring 12 by 15 inches, as he recreated it from the site on April 3rd,
1825. He also published a reproduction of another account, shown here
in Figure 2,
with the following
34
remarks: “One of the most satisfactory pictures of the Piasa we have ever
seem is in an old German publication entitled, The Valley of the Mississippi Illustrated.
”One of the large, full-page
plates in this work gives a fine view
of the bluff at Alton, with the figure
of the Piasa on the face of the rock. It
is represented to have been taken on
the spot by artists from Germany.
We reproduce that part of the bluff
(the whole picture being too large for
this work) which shows the pictographs.
“In the German picture,
there is shown that just behind the
rather dim outlines of the second
face a ragged crevice, as though of a
fracture. Part of the bluff’s face
might have fallen and thus nearly
destroyed one of the monsters, for in
later years writers speak of but one
figure.”
Although the German depiction claims to be the truest likeness,
the McAdams rendition clearly
adheres to the descriptions recorded
by Marquette. McAdams did his pen
and ink sketch about two decades
before the entire face of the bluff was
quarried away from 1846 to 1847.
Marquette’s verbal description is consistent with other Algonquian composite motifs of anthropomorphic and theriomorphic figures. For example, the Menomonie
tradition (the Menomonie were part
of the Middle Mississippian-Wiscon-
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
sin Federation), a figure known as
the Great White Bear (Figure 3) was
a manitou of the underworld, a
guardian of the deposits of native
copper.
nterestingly, the tail of the Great
White Bear encircled the entire
animal much like the Piasu Bird.
This is similar to the snake that bites
its own tail, and known in epigraphy
as the ouroboros (see “The Enigmatic
Moundville Disc,” Ancient American,
#13). The Ojibway and Winnebago
have similarly styled composite
motifs which incorporate long
antlers, tails encircling the whole
body, etc., such as their notion of the
Underground Wildcat, Gitche-a-mahmi-e-be-zhew.
The Piasu Bird is also an
Algonquian manitou, a mythic,
anthropomorphic creature which
possibly acted as a totemic guardian
of the area known as Piasu Creek, on
the Missouri River. The ancient
Mound builders used to depict such
images, such as the the sacred
twins, Wisaka and Yapato-e (excavated in 1859 at Union County, Illinois).
Wisaka has since become
the manitou “of all culture (Thunderhorse, infra., page 46), and is one of
the sacred twins who taught our
ancestors everything we now know
as our traditions.
Figure 2
A RTI CLE
S UB MI S S I ON
REQUI REMENTS :
I
Bibliography
Davison, Alexander & Struve,
Bernard, History of Illinois from 1673
to 1884, Springfield: 1884, p. 62.
Mallery, Garrick, Picture-Writing of the
American Indians, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 1972, two volumes (I:78-79,
II: 481-482).
McAdams, William, Records of Ancient
Races in the Mississippi Valley, Being
an Account of Some of the Pictographs,
Sculpted Hieroglyphics, Symbolic
Devices, Emblems and Traditions of
the Prehistoric Races of America, With
Suggestions as to their Origins, St.
Louis, 1887.
Parkman, Dr. Francis, The Conspiracy of Pontiac and and the Indian War
after the Conquest of Canada, Boston,
1883, two volumes, II: p. 265.
Thunderhorse, Iron, Return of the
Thunderbeings, Santa Fe: Bear & Co.,
1990, co-authored by Don LeVie, Jr.
This rendition of the Alton Piasa by German eye-witnesses in the mid-19th
Century differs substantially from Pere
Marquette’s earlier description. The
appearance of a second figure, a disembodied head to the rear of the creature, implies they saw additional illustrations missed by the famous missionary or, less likely, added after he left
the site. The bearded head at left
recalls the sacred head-hunting cult
practiced by Celtic tribes in Western
Europe as late as the 5th Century.
Figure 3
The Piasa, “the bird which devours
men,” according to the Illini Indians,
may have been a symbolic characterization of the Piasu Tribe, accused of
cannibalism. In the same way, other
tribes labeled Wisconsin’s Ho-Chunk
as the Winnebago, or “Fish Eaters,” a
similar metaphor for cannibalism. In
any case, representations of the Piasa
may be found throughout Native American art and spirituality.
The same creature was known
as the Drache in Medieval Europe,
especially among the Norse, who
depicted it in funeral and other art as a
protective dragon or griffin. The horned
helmets worn by some Vikings (less in
war than in religious rites) were part of
the ritualistic regalia of the Berserker,
warriors who whipped themselves up
into wild frenzies previous to battle.
Here, too, an American connection is suggested: the Norse “Berserker,” who sought soul-possession by the
conquering spirit of a furious bear recall
the Menomonie Indians’ Great White
Bear (likewise envisioned as a Piasa),
a manitou or “high spirit” of the Underworld. Editor.
35
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ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Welsh King murdered in
7th Century America
by Jim Michael, President of the Ancient Kentucke Historical Association
I
n 1972, in the little town of Stoke
Dry, England, (near the Welsh
border), workers removed the
white-wash from an old church
waIl. There they found the mural of
a young king shaven in the British
(now called Welsh) tradition. It
depicted the king struck by the
arrows of savages whom the townspeople referred to as “Native Americans.”
Discovery of this perplexing
mural was a surprise to the townspeople, who knew nothing of the
events it portrayed. Some of them
jumped to the conclusion that “It is
proof the Vikings made it to America, came back to Britain dressed as
Native Americans, and killed King
Edmond!” But Edmond died in 860
A.D., 140 years before the Icelandic
Sagas tell us the Vikings sailed for
North America.
Stoke Dry centuries ago
occupied an area controlled by the
sons of Madoc, the 7th Century
Welsh monarch, and his descendants. The young king depicted in
the discovered mural was Arthur II,
Madoc’s brother, who was killed in
America. His corpse was mummified, then shipped to his Welsh
homeland for burial.
Although these events have
long been forgotten, the name
“Stoke Dry” still preserves something of their memory. No one would
give such an evil, dastardly name to
a town, unless they wanted to
memorialize a particularly important incident. For “Stoke Dry” translates from Old British as “Evil
Bow”!
Madoc’s story is available on video
tape for $29.95. Contact Jim Michael
at 502-241-7484 or write:
Ancient Kentucke Association
4109 Suwanee Drive
LaGrange, KY 40031
36
Medieval painting uncovered beneath the white-washed wall of England’s Stoke Dry Church, depicting King Arthur II’s death at the hands of Native Americans. Its discovery represents documented proof of European arrivals some nine centuries before Columbus set sail from Spain for the New World. Photograph ©, Jim Michael, 1998.
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
37
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
Photographic Preservation of Prehistoric
Peru’s Puzzling Petroglyphs by Frank Ciampa
A
s sited in my Ancient American article (issue #22), little is known about
the "lost" Chachapoyan temple and
its environs (“The City of Tiers”). Some
scholars simply try to force them into an
Inca mold. But this does not work.
Other orthodox academics scoff
at the claim by Peru’s National Cultural
Institute, that the remains of the
Chachapoyans prove they were "Caucasian-like." The Caucasian claim comes
from those who have studied the mummies, and the scoffs and ridicule from
those who have not even seen them. A subsequent article in Archeology magazine on
the same site avoided this question as the
Devil does holy water. Author Von Hagen
didn't come out and state the Caucasian
connection, but at least she did mention
that the Chachapoyans and Incas
belonged to “different races.” Her late and
famous father, Victor von Hagen, likewise
did a lot of work exploring Chachapoyan
lands. He is best remembered for his many
popular books, written mostly in the
1950s, about the Aztecs and Mayas. These
titles sometimes discuss the strange
glyphs infrequently associated with
Mesoamerican cultures.
The scoffers also deny that the
Chachapoyans even possessed a written
form of communication beyond very simple
and primitive pictoglyphs. This despite the
fact that the region is filled with glyphs
that go beyond basic "pictures."
There are two categories of
Chachapoyan glyphs: basic pictoglyphs
and glyphs that appear to be letters of
some sort. The pictoglyphs were probably
used as mnemonic devices to help the
ancients recall stories, prophecies, and
histories. The letter-like characters may
have spelled out whole words, or, like
ancient Hebrew, they could represent only
part of the word, again acting mainly as a
mnemonic device. We do not yet have a
Chachapoyan Rosetta Stone to solve their
mystery.
Some investigators have attempted to crack the ancient code by using Inca,
Semitic, Celtic, and universal symbolism
as their guides. An Ancient American reader used universal interpretation to translate "The Wall" in issue 22 as follows: The
"hare" figure is symbolic of a solar storm,
which has occurred during various major
historical events, such as the destruction of
the Temple Mount and the Mayan civilization. The next solar coronal mass ejection is
scheduled for December 1999 through July
2000.
Using Carl G. Longman’s Dictionary of Symbols as my primary source, I
came up with a similar, possible, meaning
to that same portion of "The Wall," near
San Pablo.
Assuming such general interpretations, the symbols appear tell the story
of a very significant person who came to
the Chachapoyans and will come again (or
has already returned). The sun or a comet
is also tied into the story somehow. Many
Chachapoyan glyphs bear a striking
resemblance to Aryan/Celtic and even
Semitic glyphs, however coincidental they
may appear. Nevertheless, the similarities
between Chachapoyan glyphs and some
Celtic examples are uncanny and warrant
further investigation.
ragically, many of the painted glyphs
are rapidly disappearing. They had
been protected for centuries by
Chachapoyan sarcophagi built against the
rocks’ surface (dirt and vegetation have
also aided in their protection). But in
recent years, many of the sarcophagi have
been destroyed, allowing the elements to
gradually wipe away the irreplaceable
images. They are at least being documented in photographs, particularly in the collection of Gene Savoy, whose invaluable
efforts paved my own way to the discovery
of “True Calpunta,” described in Ancient
American’s last issue (#22). By participating in his Gran Vilaya/El Dorado VII Expedition, I learned that many petroglyphs
T
38
ANCIENT AMERICAN • ISSUE #23
could be found near rivers and burial sites.
Mr. Savoy presently owns the largest
assemblage of photographs documenting
the Chachapoyan petroglyphs.
For further information about
this rich site and the ceremonial imagery
of its ancient artists, readers may contact
me directly at:101 Daniel Low Terrace, 3B,
Staten Island, NY 10301.
Photo Captions by Number.
1. 2. 3. & 5. Glyphs from San Pablo Tablets
discovered by Gene Savoy.
4. Glyphs near the Acosbamba River.
6. Horned man, a common Chachapoyan
motiff.
7. Ogham-like writing near the San Pablo
River, Amazonas, Peru.
8. Glyphs or symbols found at the Caclic
City of the Dead. They were once concealed
and protected by surrounding sarcophagi
since destroyed by tomb-robbers.
9. Monkey bas-relief. These Chachapoyan
stones were used to build a modern village
wall.
10. Chachapoyan cross at Caclic City of the
Dead.
39