This book is an attempt to record, as factually as possible, the last fortyfive years of my research into the prehistory of America which pertains to visitations or colonization by people who were not American Indians.
Although some of this research had been done with endless hours at the typewriter and in libraries, most of it was pursued by climbing cliffs and crawling into caves, searching mountains and rivers in interior America for certain stones (Fig. 11). The search did not pertain to geology but to epigraphy. The search was for stones bearing ancient inscriptions made by people using letters which were not part of the English alphabet. I finally gained the title of "Epigraphic Explorer." To those who said they did not understand its meaning, I replied, "Don't let it bother you. I was one for twentysix years before I knew it."
Fig. 11 Cartoon by Donal Buchanan.
Epigraphy is the study and interpretation of ancient inscriptions, especially those carved on stone. The specialized field of epigraphy is but one academic discipline used to study the idea of diffusionism, the belief that cultures on different continents were shared by means of early transoceanic voyages. Diffusionists stand in direct opposition to the independent inventionists (sometimes call isolationists), who believe that anything similar on different continents arose independently. The latter theory has been disproved in other ways than by epigraphy. As George F. Carter says, when commenting on ancient agricultural products found so far away from their place of origin, "Who is able to invent a sweet potato or a chicken?" Sweet potatoes cannot float from continent to continent without rotting; chickens really cannot fly that far.
Why has this search consumed every spare moment for so many years? My curiosity is insatiable. A minister once said to me, in a critical tone, "You have an UNGODLY curiosity! Everything from an ant to an oil rig, you have to know all about it!"
My curiosity about inscriptions on stone began at age twelve. This was when I first saw, on Poteau Mountain above my hometown of Heavener, Oklahoma, the twelvefoot standing stone deeply pecked with eight strange symbols, locally called "Indian Rock." Twenty years later, in 1948, I began to believe that the symbols on the stone indicated that Norsemen had visited the area before the time of Columbus. I renamed the rock "The Heavener Runestone" and began my search for similar inscriptions in the area.
In the years after 1950 the Arkansas River Valley was combed in search of other runestones. During this time many stones were located which were carved with lettering which could not be read in English. My purpose was to correctly record any of these inscriptions which appeared to be anciently made. Initially I thought only the ones that were similar to the runic alphabets of Scandinavia were important. Many other inscriptions on stone were found which were definitely not runic. At the time, their significance was not known. Fortunately, they all were correctly recorded and the material filed away.
The Oklahoma Runestones represent but a small part of my quest, which has led me to twentyfour states, British Columbia, Egypt, and Nubia. It would have been a surprise in the early years to know that my continued work would contribute to the knowledge that not only the Norse, but many other Old World people had apparently visited America before Columbus. Some even appear to have been here before the birth of Christ.
After working for twentyseven years almost alone, with accomplishments slowly gained, I was fortunate to channel my work into the mainstream of epigraphic research, particularly the efforts of Dr. Barry Fell of Harvard University. It was not until 1975, when I finally met him, that I found a person who seemed to be able to make sense of the scores of inscriptions in my files. He was able to propose decipherments based on the Old World scripts he was studying, which actually predicted and explained my findings. He was also the founder and President of the Epigraphic Society, an organization devoted to the study of ancient inscriptions worldwide. He has also acted as editor of the
Epigraphic Society Occasional Publications, in which has been published articles by me and many other authors. The story of my acquaintance with him and other members of the Society will be found in the Postscript of this book. However, some points should be made here to help introduce his proposed decipherments which are presented in this book.
Fell's work in linguistics is pioneering. Although there has been speculation about ancient visits from the Old World ever since the European colonization of North America began in the sixteenth century, Fell was able to provide startling evidence in the form of ancient translatable inscriptions. It was his first book on the subject, America B.C., which stirred some historians and linguists into a heated controversy which continues. Fell had realized that he was setting the stage for future scholarship, for in 1975 he had said to me "I am not always 100% correct, this is the way I see it now. I learn as I go along, and if I find I am wrong, I will say so." Although this attitude is definitely in the true scientific tradition, he has been severely attacked by some scholars who had already published material contrary to his ideas.
As I realize that Fell's opinions may change with additional information, any implied conclusions in this book must be viewed with this in mind. Although he has sent me some updates, he can not constantly be asked to reconsider the decipherments he has offered.
People throughout the ages have found it difficult to change entrenched but erroneous dogma which passes for knowledge. By adopting Fell's flexible attitude, I have been free to pursue the truth by reevaluating my own material as new evidence was found. Many times when Fell was doubted, it was found later that he was correct. Most of the translations in this book were originally provided by him. A few proposed translations have been attempted by other individuals and are so credited.
The first script that I encountered was the old Germanic Futhark used by the Scandinavians, which appears on the Heavener Runestone, and on some other inscriptions apparently left by the Norse in America. Later, many scripts were found more closely related to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern alphabets. These include South Arabian, scattered Egyptian hieroglyphs, and the Cypriot script. I have recorded many inscriptions written in Numidian letters, an alphabet used by the Libyans; in the Carthaginians' Punic script, an alphabet which evolved from the Phoenician; also in North African Greek, Kufic, and the ancient Tifinag, which is still used. From the Iberian peninsula, there are Tartessian, Iberic, and Portuguesestyle Ogam. Most of the messages I have recorded in America appear to be written in the Ogam alphabet used principally by the Celts in Iberia, Ireland and Scotland. The Ogam inscriptions have included the specialized Bricren Ogam written with dots. My recordings include the only inscriptions found so far in America in the Gaelic alphabet. All of these mentioned scripts were identified by Fell. There are other scripts recorded by me which have never been identified, and remain for future study.
It must be realized that standard references are often incomplete. The examples of scripts given in this book are mostly as presented by Fell in his own publications. Through his research, he has added symbols to those charts found in the standard references. Appendix A of this book gives some examples and explanation of the types of scripts with which I have worked. Appendix B lists those figures which came from the same site.
Variations in the inscriptions made by individual writers must also be considered. If twenty people were asked to print carefully on paper the preceding paragraph, the result would be twenty slightly different versions of the alphabetic characters. However, regardless of the minor differences, each could be read by a person who was familiar with Roman script and the English language. Ancient scribes laboriously incising or pecking their symbols into boulders and cliffs would likewise use different styles and forms of individual symbols. The above mentioned lack of mass distribution of written material would probably encourage a certain amount of individual creativity. But most of the scripts they left are identifiable, and most do translate well.
Many of the inscriptions which I have recorded are bilingual or even trilingual, where the same message is in more than one script or language. Such inscriptions have precedent in the Old World. This bewildering trait, plus the number of ancient scripts recorded, is mindboggling unless one understands the extent of the integration of cultures in the Old World. For example, the Phoenicians were aggressive traders who established colonies in Spain and North Africa. Carthage was the most successful of these colonies, becoming a power in its own right until it was destroyed by Rome in the Punic Wars. Carthage in turn established colonies elsewhere, including in Spain and on the Mediterranean islands. The Iberian Peninsula became the "melting Pot" for many western European and Mediterranean people.
The Straits of Gibraltar (referred to in those days as the "Pillars of Hercules"), and the nearby Phoenician colony of Gades (Cadiz) were the focal points of the Iberian Peninsula. Northern Europeans trading or moving south were channelled there, where the Mediterranean crossing was the shortest. The ships of the Phoenicians and their colonies were large and seaworthy, as were other ancient Mediterranean ships, fully capable of sailing in the Atlantic Ocean.
How did this mixed group of explorers get to Oklahoma and Colorado? They came in ships, up the Mississippi and into its tributaries.
As my work progressed, new doors of understanding constantly opened. In the beginning of the research, very few of us realized that preColombian Old World explorations of America had occurred, although this had been proposed by some during the last century. It was heretical to imagine that they were commonplace. Now thousands of people recognize the truth in this. Although all of America appears to be full of this evidence, my recordings have been mostly limited to my native Oklahoma and to the neighboring states of Arkansas, Missouri, Colorado and New Mexico, the places most easily reached. But anywhere I go with open eyes and open mind, I seem to find other evidence.
It was a wonderful experience, watching and helping this knowledge grow; but now, after research spanning four and a half decades, it is time to make my archives available for a new generation of researchers, and to summarize what I have found. A start has already been made. My collection of evidence now numbers hundreds of latex molds and plaster casts, thousands of slides and photographic prints, and a few wonderful artifacts. Additionally, there has accumulated three tall files of correspondence, and a personal resource library. This collection will probably be donated to some university or organization which will agree to keep it intact, under my name, in a research center.
I have presented more than fifty slide lectures all
over the United States, and have published sixtysix articles,
to promote understanding of my findings and their significance.
I have been featured in various television, radio, and print interviews
throughout the years. But nowhere is the material I have gathered
available in a single, comprehensive source. That is the role
of this book; these are my reasons for writing it.
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