NEWARK HOLY STONE IS FEATURED ON AMERICA UNEARTHED

I have largely avoided watching the popular History Channel program America Unearthed, because I had read enough about Scott Wolter and his show to know that I probably wouldn’t enjoy it. I decided to watch the latest episode entitled “Ark of the Covenant,” however, because I heard it included information about the Newark Holy Stones, which I have been studying for years. I was morbidly curious to see what Wolter would have to say about it.

Jason Colovito, a serious student of pseudoscience, has reviewed every episode of America Unearthed, on his website, which I highly recommend to your attention. Rather than repeat his analysis of this episode, I will restrict my comments to the segment of the show that dealt with the Newark Decalogue Stone.

Holy Stones Decalogue

The Decalogue Stone. Image courtesy of the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum.

The Decalogue Stone is one of the several artifacts known collectively as the Newark Holy Stones, because they were found in the vicinity of Newark, Ohio. It is a small, roughly tombstone-shaped object carved from black limestone. It is completely covered with a Hebrew inscription comprising the Ten Commandments and there is a rendering of a turbaned individual identified as Moses. It reportedly was found beneath a small earthen mound that, in turn, had been buried beneath an enormous stone mound. The bulk of the stone had been hauled away during the 19th century revealing a number of small, earthen mounds, which promptly were dug into by various parties and one of these expeditions resulted in the apparent discovery of the Decalogue Stone.

For more details about this fascinating object and why I am sure it is a 19th century forgery, you can refer to the several publications that I and various co-authors, particularly my colleague Jeff Gill, have written on the subject. A list is appended to this post.

In “Ark of the Covenant,” Wolter and his guest expert, Huston McCulloch, appear to be unaware of this body of research for they make no mention of it whatsoever. They conclude the Decalogue Stone is an authentic relic of prehistory and that it is a key piece of evidence pointing towards North America as the repository of the fabled Ark of the Covenant.

As a quick summary, here are the arguments they offer in support of the authenticity of the Decalogue Stone:

1. Wolter asserted that the Hebrew text inscribed upon the Decalogue Stone had passed the scrutiny of the skeptics.

2. McCulloch pointed out that the small stone box in which the Decalogue Stone was found would have taken a lot of work to make and asserted that if the Decalogue Stone was a fake, the forgers wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of making such an elaborate box for it.

3. After a microscopic examination of the Decalogue Stone, Wolter concluded it was not made by modern machinery and no geological data indicated it was a hoax. He observed scratches on the back of the stone, but McCulloch asserted the scratches likely were made when the Decalogue Stone was being placed in or removed from the stone box.

4. Wolter concluded there was no reason not to accept the Decalogue Stone as genuine, but that academics have dismissed it, because it didn’t “fit the paradigm.”

All of these claims are rubbish.

1. Not only has the inscription on the Decalogue Stone not passed the scrutiny of skeptics, no less an authority than the late Frank Moore Cross, Harvard University Professor of Near Eastern Languages, declared it to be a “grotesque” forgery. Jeff Gill has demonstrated that the archaic-looking Hebrew letters on the Decalogue Stone are based on the standard Hebrew alphabet used in the 19th century. It is a 19th century artifact made to look as if it were ancient.

2. Why would anyone go to all the trouble of creating such an elaborate hoax? Jeff Gill and I have thoroughly addressed this point in our published analyses of the Holy Stones. We do not think the stones were mere pranks. They were sophisticated forgeries intended to address the most important scientific debate of the age, a debate with profound political and religious implications. Of course the perpetrators would have gone to great lengths to make them look authentic.

3. The back of the Decalogue Stone does, indeed, preserve evidence that it was made with 19th century technology. Jim Hahn, an avocational archaeologist employed by the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum to make fine, cast replicas of the Decalogue Stone, told me that at least one set of scratches on the back of the Decalogue Stone actually was a small patch of grinding marks made by a 19th century grinding wheel. Evidently, the stone carver had missed this patch when he was finishing the stone.

4. The idea that my colleagues and I are hiding the supposed truth about the Decalogue Stone, because we are part of some kind of Machiavellian conspiracy to maintain the current paradigm is the most absurd claim of all. If we had actual evidence to prove that Hebrews had traveled to ancient America, we would get our pictures on the cover of National Geographic magazine. Large grants would be lavished upon us to undertake excavations and we would get to re-write the textbooks. Why would I choose to remain an underpaid museum archaeologist when “fortune and glory” were within my grasp? I can’t speak for all my colleagues, but my commitment to the current paradigm is not strong enough to pass up such an opportunity.

As a final note, Huston McCulloch is identified in the program as an “Historian.” Actually, he is a retired professor of economics and, to my knowledge, has no training as an historian. If he were an historian, then he might have had a better appreciation of the historic context in which the Holy Stones and similar frauds emerged. Matthew Canfield Read, a 19th century archaeologist from my hometown of Hudson, Ohio, had the right of it. He wrote that such frauds “will always in some way represent the ideas of the time of the forgery.” That’s why none of the hundreds of professional archaeological excavations conducted in Ohio during the 20th and 21st centuries has ever uncovered anything remotely like the Decalogue Stone.

Brad Lepper

For further reading:

Bolnick, Deborah A., Feder, Kenneth L., Bradley T. Lepper, and Terry A. Barnhart
2011 Civilizations lost and found: fabricating history. Part Three: real messages in DNA. Skeptical Inquirer 35(5):48-51.

Feder, Kenneth L., Bradley T. Lepper, Terry A. Barnhart, and Deborah A. Bolnick
2011 Civilizations lost and found: fabricating history. Part One: an alternative reality. Skeptical Inquirer 35(5):38-45.

Lepper, Bradley T.
1992 Just how holy are the Newark “Holy Stones?” In Vanishing Heritage, edited by P. E. Hooge and B. T. Lepper, pp. 58‑64. Licking County Archaeology and Landmarks Society, Newark.

1999 Newark’s “Holy Stones”: the resurrection of a controversy. In Newark “Holy Stones”: Context for Controversy, edited by P. Malenke, pp. 15-21. Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, Coshocton, Ohio.

Lepper, Bradley T., Kenneth L. Feder, Terry A. Barnhart, and Deborah A. Bolnick
2011 Civilizations lost and found: fabricating history. Part Two: false messages in stone. Skeptical Inquirer 35(6):48-54.

Lepper, Bradley T. and Jeff B. Gill
2000 The Newark Holy Stones. Timeline 17(3):16-25.

2008 The Newark “Holy Stones”: the social context of an enduring scientific forgery. Current Research in Ohio Archaeology 2008.

39 thoughts on “NEWARK HOLY STONE IS FEATURED ON AMERICA UNEARTHED

  1. Just to pile on:

    1. Wolter asserted that the Hebrew text inscribed upon the Decalogue Stone had passed the scrutiny of the skeptics. // Not even close. McCulloch himself, in his own analysis of the Decalogue Stone, states that it’s a transposition from standard (read: modern) Hebrew to this anomalous alphabet. http://economics.sbs.ohio-state.edu/jhm/arch/wyrick/transcrpt.pdf

    2. McCulloch pointed out that the small stone box in which the Decalogue Stone was found would have taken a lot of work to make and asserted that if the Decalogue Stone was a fake, the forgers wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of making such an elaborate box for it. // This is simply Bob Alrutz’s plaintive point, made to Hu, to me, and to anyone who would listen: “why would you go to this much trouble just to make a hoax?” It was a good question, and it provoked both Brad and myself to dig deeper, and learn about polygenesis and monogenesis — and as it turns out, trying to prevent a continent-wide Civil War would be worth a great deal of trouble, don’t you think?

    3. After a microscopic examination of the Decalogue Stone, Wolter concluded it was not made by modern machinery and no geological data indicated it was a hoax. He observed scratches on the back of the stone, but McCulloch asserted the scratches likely were made when the Decalogue Stone was being placed in or removed from the stone box. // Brad pointed out that the machine-made scratches are so deep on this very hard stone they even show up in second-generation casts. ‘Nuff said.

    4. Wolter concluded there was no reason not to accept the Decalogue Stone as genuine, but that academics have dismissed it, because it didn’t “fit the paradigm.” // What paradigm? They don’t fit into anything, unless you accept umpteen dicey propositions about the Bat Creek Stone, at which point they become a set of precisely TWO. (Keep in mind that even Hu McCulloch has thrown the Keystone aside, although I would argue that there are multiple morphological and paleographical reasons to say that the Keystone & Decalogue stones either stand or fall together.) But the idea that the Decalogue is ignored because it’s just “an outlier” is neither credible nor supportable — it’s been reviewed by many reputable scholars, and the flaws and error patterns in the “Hebrew” transcription of the Ten Commandments simply reinforce the original observation of McCulloch: this is a transcription from “book Hebrew” into a made-up alphabet. Any argument that this scenario is itself proof of antiquity has to provide more evidence than anyone has even tried to offer. And as Brad has so delightfully explained, there’s nothing about the “current paradigm” that is so compelling or personally rewarding as to make me hide facts and possibilities that would get me on the cover of “National Geographic” or even the “National Enquirer” let alone “Tiger Beat” with my new proof of the possibility that ancient Hebrews built the Ohio ceremonial earthworks. There’s nothing about that idea that’s distasteful to me per se, it’s just that it’s not even remotely plausible, utterly unsupported by the evidence at hand, and the explanation we’ve discovered in the monogenesis/polygenesis debate of the 1850’s is not only more elegantly simple, it’s a compelling narrative of our nation’s critical moment in seeking the meaning of citizenship, humanity, and justice. Why would I trade that for ungrounded speculations about a single lost boatload of refugees who perversely left only a smattering of artifacts, and somehow never once even coughed near a Native American in their journey from the Atlantic coast to central Ohio, expiring conveniently without ever sharing their diseases, and transcribing misremembered apothegms into an anomalous alphabet just before their demise?

    C’mon. That’s not even *interesting* by comparison. And it’s not even worth pulling out Occam’s Razor to shave off.

  2. From pg. 60, ESOP vol. 21, Hu McCulloch – http://economics.sbs.ohio-state.edu/jhm/arch/wyrick/transcrpt.pdf

    The above three considerations would argue that the author of the stone was someone who was conversant in a dialect of Hebrew and wrote down the Decalogue text from memory, giving the essential sense of it, if not the exact wording. On the other hand, a few other discrepancies point instead to someone’s having slavishly copied a standard Hebrew text without understanding all the words.

  3. Dr.Lepper what do you think about the notion that the stones we made by an overzealous Mormon group passing though the area in the 19th century, to perpetuate their own agenda / mound revelation myths? No disrespect intended to modern Mormons, but that is a notion i had heard put forth before and wondered about .

    • Michael, A number of diverse groups in 19th century Ohio could have been motivated to perpetrate such a forgery — from Mormons to Freemasons. That’s one of the reasons it has been so hard to solve the mystery of whodunnit. My colleague Jeff Gill and I have settled upon the opponents of the doctrine of polygenesis — and therefore opponents of slavery — as the most likely people behind the forgery. The Holy Stones appear to be tailor-made to address the particular arguments of Josiah Nott, the foremost proponent of polygenesis and defender of the institution of slavery. Read our article in the magazine “Timeline” (see the reference in the blog post) for the fullest presentation of our arguments.

      • I’m guessing that Michael’s idea that Mormons may have fashioned the Newark Stones has its roots in another known forgery, the Los Lunas Decalogue Stone. That one also purports to be evidence of Hebrews in the New World, although it stretches the boundaries of credibility they made it all the way to New Mexico no matter where they made landfall in this hemisphere. It is a historical fact the Mormon Battalion passed through that area in 1846. A number of relatives of the Pratt Family (primarily the Browns), the “intellectual wing” of the early LDS Church, were members, and one of them could’ve forged the inscription.

        By the time of the discovery of the Newark Stones in 1860, most of the Mormons were settled in Utah Territory.

        • Randy, That didn’t stop the Mormons from climbing on the bandwagon. In October of 1866, in the Mormon newspaper the Millennial Star, Orson Pratt referred to the “Sacred Stones of Ohio” as evidence confirming the Book of Mormon.

    • Michael, That sounds more sensible than america manifest destiny and discovery doctrine theft of america. making sure to hide any evidence of a christian/hebrew people here in america. American History does have a lot to hide. You probably did not learn about the dishonesty of america in how they obtained the land. they don’t teach that in american history. No disrespect to Mormons but plenty of disrepect to native Americans.

      • “Hugh” I am old enough and well educated enough to know what really went down under the flag of Manifest Destiny. I would be stunned if Dr. Lepper does not know also i am sure he does. The real issue is in my view who built SM and how old is it, really? Much progress to answering that question has been made in the last few decades, but in my “Hummel” opinion ;) much more needs to be known/discovered. In my 30 years of reading everything i could and talking to everyone I have met from “New Agers” to “NA’s to “Academics” to “Astro-Archaeologists” to “Archeo-Aviarians” (“Hugh”). I find no absolute answer, but grains of truth in all. Personally I lean toward the view that SM is an Adena site, originally with FA culture taking the role of ‘caretaker’ afterwards. That is just my view not a manifesto. For the Shawanose to lay claim / ancestral connection to the site is a good start, as i do believe they were likely connected by blood to the ancients who built (or at least took turns caretaking) the site. However in my view Hugh ANY NA culture with Eastern Woodland Algonkian roots (the language group of most of the Eastern Woodland pre-contact NA’s) could do the same with equal validity. Today most folks lump NAs in the “New World” together as a homogeneously persecuted group. Which they of course WERE, but not as a single entity united against the barrage of Euro-migration. Tecumseh tried for example to unite all against the common enemy but failed to accomplish it that feat. If he Pontiac and others had succeeded things might be different today. I could ramble on this subject but i will stop here, and conclude with this “Hugh”. Dr. Lepper does not strike me as arrogant on the subject, simply unconvinced at this point in time, but open to changes in thinking that is on the near horizon. I respect Dr. Lepper for speaking his mind and in my opinion being more open-minded than he is given credit for by some. He is as he should be a man of the scientific method who wants concrete evidence before he dispells the prevailing academic view. Not a damned thing wrong with
        that.

  4. I DVR’d this program to watch it after reading your blog, Brad. What a bunch of nonsense. I’m glad you took the time to address the part of the show that involved the Decalogue Stone. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think champions of the kind of baloney that is the stock of shows like “America Unearthed” depend on people with actual expertise remaining silent so as not to ruin a good story. Thank you for taking the time to share your insights.

  5. Mr Leper,

    Your arrogance is really quite comical because from a native point of view. If the Dec stone have a hebrew connection then America is engaged in discrediting concrete proof that could stand up in a court that America is Illegally obtained and if presented properly could point to that fact. So What is manifest destiny? truth or Genocidal Bullying? You can’t have it both ways and early researchers I am sure were smart enough to know that what they were doing in taking the lands from the natives was wrong. Discovery Doctrine I repeat was absolutely wrong and Discovery Doctrine was adopted by america evidenced by the Johnson vs MacIntosh case. I realize you are an Archeologist but your history expertise really stinks. You should just go and do a little more history on Discovery Doctrine and you will find out that Discovery Doctrine is Pre Columbian law brought to america via a Papal Bull. So America would have no interest in hiring you to explore hebrew findings in america cuz you would be researching truth where america wants Natives to be savages and ignorant and (unchristian). America will never throw grants at evidence they want hidden. If the native are christian (pre columbia) Then america needs to give the land back according to Discovery doctrine. Your Grant money will continue to be spent on hiding the truth of america’s theft.

  6. I saw it and even bought a replica of it to show my family. This world is filled with so many opinionated know it all’s that they become filled with so much darkness that they can’t see the light of truth if they looked directly at it. The Holy Stones are only a few of the items that have been found that verify an intelligent people who came here from Jerusalem about 600 B.C. and wrote in Ancient Hebrew. What is also most important is that they took with them The Plates of Laban which contained the writings of the Old Testament which verify that many precious parts were then out of the Bible during the days of Constantine and were lost to us today. The Lord knew this would happen and “for a wise purpose” he commanded that the record called The Book of Mormon be written which contains many more words of scripture and writings of the Lord Jesus Christ as He appeared to those people in “The Promised Land” of North America after He was resurrected. The prophets wrote His words and they are a second witness to the Bible that Jesus is the Christ!
    Jesus said, “Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?” 2 Nephi 29:7
    So open your hearts and your eyes and ears and listen to the Spirit of the Lord burn within you and testify of the truthfulness of these things.

  7. Brad,

    I know this is an old article, but I just wanted to say thank you. As a Native American (Anishinaabe around Lake Superior) I feel Archaeologists, Anthropologists and Historians are the only credible defenders of our history. It seems like there is a growing trend in the History Channel to cater to alternative history theorists and their questionable evidence. What gets painted as speculative fun is usually an offensive hi-jacking of historically or religiously significant sites. Worse, there’s a theme to transform America into the new Christian Holy Land by linking religious artifacts to pre-Columbian America without any thought as to how the Native People would interact and respond to the individuals moving those artifacts (The book of Mormon doesn’t count).

    Also, I feel Hugh Jones was not speaking from the stand point of a Native American. Discovery Doctrine is far less concerning than the idea that aliens instructed Native Americans to build the Great Serpent Mound, or better yet, we didn’t build it at all.

    • Stephen — Thanks very much for your note! It is immensely gratifying to have a Native American express the view that archaeologists can play a role in defending your history. That is precisely what I have tried to do in this post and in others that address popular pseudoscientific claims about Ohio’s ancient American Indian heritage. I have colleagues that think such posts are a waste of time and your comment helps to reassure me that this is not the case.

  8. Brad,

    While you make some convincing ‘sounding’ arguments regarding the Decalogue Stone, the fact is you have nothing but hearsay evidence at the time of discovery along conjecture and unsupported opinion from other “experts.” Therefore, while you are welcome to your long-held ‘belief’ the stones are fake/hoax/not old, whatever, you have no factual evidence to support it.

    Think about it this way, what admit able evidence would you have to support your position if asked to present your case in a court of law? Remember, the other side would shoot down the unsupported speculation of your PhD witnesses. Bottom line is you can shout “fake” and “pseudoscience” as a way to try and discredit me from the highest hilltop as loud as you want; but that doesn’t make you right. A responsible academic should take the obvious and correct position that the stones remain an open question.

    Because people like you don’t do that is why my so many people watch our show and understand that people like yourself need to rethink your approach these historical mysteries like these stones. They should considered opportunities instead of problems.

    • Scott,

      My arguments against the Holy Stone are not merely conjectures and unsupported opinions. And science is not a court of law. I don’t have to prove the Holy Stones are fakes. Simply based on what we now know of the archaeology of pre-contact America and the genetics of contemporary and ancient American Indian populations, there is no reason whatsoever to take the Newark Holy Stones seriously.

      If you take the position that the Holy Stones are authentic relics of prehistory, then the burden of proof is on you to provide compelling evidence and arguments to support your extraordinary notion. My blog post simply points out that, so far at least, you have not presented any compelling evidence for us to think that the Holy Stones might be ancient.

      None of the several points I make in my post are mere opinions. Your statement that the inscription on the Decalogue Stone had passed the scrutiny of the skeptics is demonstrably false. It has not passed my scrutiny to name one unconvinced skeptic. There are others.

      The rhetorical question of why anyone would go to the trouble to create such an elaborate hoax has a plausible and well-supported answer: simply look at the historical context in which the Holy Stones appeared. And consider the long and fascinating history of frauds and forgeries – archaeological and otherwise. What is more likely, that an ancient Hebrew civilization came to America and left no traces of their existence other than a couple of curiously carved stones, or that these out-of-place artifacts are another in a long series of deceits and deceptions?

      The small patch of scratches on the back of the Decalogue Stone provides plausible evidence that relatively modern machinery was used in the initial shaping of the stone. If McCulloch thinks the scratches were made by moving the stone in and out of its carved box, why then doesn’t he show corresponding scratches or rounding of some sort on the edge of the box where it supposedly repeatedly rubbed against it?

      Finally, I have not dismissed the Decalogue Stone because it doesn’t fit the generally accepted paradigm, I have dismissed it only after years of historical research on the Holy Stones and even more years of my own archaeological investigations in the region in which, if your ideas are correct, ancient Hebrews once lived.

      The position you wish a “responsible academic” to take is neither obvious nor correct. Until and unless you or others can provide compelling evidence and arguments for scholars to take the Newark Holy Stones seriously there is no reason whatsoever for their authenticity to remain an open question. If you want to reopen the question, it is necessary for you or others to come up with the evidence or arguments to justify doing so. In my opinion, you have not done this.

  9. Mr. Wolter, my advice to you is to take your pseudoscience and fictional nonsense elsewhere. You’re way over your head in this poker game, and the manufactured claims you regularly offer up on “The Bigfoot Channel”–or is it the UFO Channel?–would be better suited for the Weekly World Newsthan the legitimate scholarly discussions on subjects Dr. Lepper brings to this forum.
    Just for starters, your claim regarding the authenticity of the Kensington Runestone is utter nonsense. A quick study of the history of the St. Lawrence River is sufficient to prove it would’ve been impossible for a Viking ship to enter the Great Lakes; in addition to encountering Niagra Falls, the LaChine Rapids made the river unnavigable until the construction of the canal in 1825.
    Here’s a nice discussion of the KR and why serious scholars reject claims of its authenticity.
    http://www.badarchaeology.com/?page_id=1311
    Even the alternative route that Holand advocated required extensive portaging to “move their ships across watersheds.”
    As for your other fantasy, “The Holy Grail in America,” your unfamiliarity with the technology and requirements for transcoceanic voyages are on display with that one. No maritime compass meant no ocean crossing, period.
    Well, unless they were transported via Erich Von Däniken’s UFO’s.
    I do congratulate you though, for attracting the attention of some legitimate scientists with your junk science. Most of the time these reputable individuals can’t be bothered.

  10. Scott —
    Hi, Brad’s co-author here. The Hebrew is flawed in a very indicative way. Even some Holy Stones enthusiasts have conceded that the pattern is one of someone taking (at least fairly) modern book/print Hebrew and transposing it imperfectly into a “coded” square Hebrew of the Decalogue alphabet. We checked with Frank Moore Cross, who at that point had forgotten more Hebrew epigraphy than most of us will ever know, and he confirmed my interpretation that there’s no grammatical reason for the pattern of mis-stated word endings; they’re transpositions of similar looking terminal forms in printing press Hebrew into the wrong Decalogue letter. That alone, plus the morphological similarities with the Keystone (which everyone, even Hu McCullough, concedes is a modern forgery, with steel tool marks within clearly printing press letter form serifs on the letters carved into a sharpening stone ground into a plumb-bob), means that there are, in fact, factual arguments for the hoax.

    And personally, I’d like to invite you to discuss with us the implications of what it means for someone to do such a hoax. That’s what makes these objects truly interesting — they are a sort of time capsule of passions and opinions preceding the start of the Civil War, the event everyone could see coming, and that everyone wanted to forestall, at whatever cost. I argue that, given the clear evidences that these two items are forgeries, people like Israel Dille were willing to risk time, money, energy, and even reputations, in order to create artifacts that might prevent that Civil War . . . which in Dille’s case, killed his only son; in McCarty’s case, it ultimately killed him. So they were right, even as I would argue scientifically their approach was unethical and wrong. It is, I would argue further, more interesting than ignoring the epigraphy, paleography, and morphology (let alone the archaeology) and just saying “there were a few Hebrews who got lost in a storm and wandered inland and left a few odd objects in a grave after living out their lives as exiles among the Indians.” That’s one story, one with some key data against it (disease being the largest, but more piled up behind it), but the story of “why put so much time and care and risk into a hoax” is much more intrinsically interesting . . . and answers so many more questions about the entire context of the Holy Stones activity around Newark, Ohio and across the United States.
    Regards,
    Jeff Gill
    Granville OH

  11. As some of you may know, Scott Wolter took part in “The Third International Conference on Authentic History and the First Amendment”, alongside Holocaust deniers and other assorted Barnes Review folk:

    https://www.stormfront.org/forum/t25432/

    Judge him for lecturing people about intellectual honesty and standards of evidence in light of that.

    (Oh, and he also mishandled the Kensington Rune Stone to the point where it’s been deemed incapable of yeilding evidence.)

  12. Hi Jeff. Fun to see this issue raised again. I’ve read the papers and articles, but I don’t recall seeing the full letter from Frank Moorel Cross dated September 15, 1991 to Brad. Is that letter available somewhere online? Can you provide a link? So far all I’ve seen are isolated quotations from it.
    Thanks, and keep up the good work.

  13. Let me get it out and scan it, there’s nothing personal in there. Thanks for the question, just give me time to get through the weekend — unless Brad already has a copy cued up and ready to post.

  14. It would seem that Brad has fixated upon the speculation that the making of the Holy Stones were produced in consequence of a debate over issues of polygenesis vs. monogenesis and slavery. Since David Wyrick is the one who claimed to have found the stone and the man whom Brad and others have accused of forging it, what evidence exists that Wyrick was involved in said debate deeply enough to motivate him to produce a forgery? Wouldn’t it be important to establish that Wyrick himself held strong enough opinions on the subject that he would do something that his character was never known to have done previously, that is, fake an artifact?
    Wyrick was a well respected man of the community and the city of Newark’s formal surveyor. What evidence has Brad or others provided that Wyrick’s personal character and testament regarding his discovery of the stone and its authenticity be impugned? Wyrick was rebuffed on a number of occasions for his testimony of the circumstances surrounding the unearthing of the stone, yet he never capitulated or deviated from his original story. What would he possibly have to gain by resolutely standing by it? He endured persecution over it. Why wouldn’t he, once others pronounced the stone a fake, simply admit his wrongdoing or just ignore the accusations rather than openly and actively defend his position? What did he have to gain by perpetuating his supposed fraud? More character assassinations?
    So far as is known, Wyrick never received significant compensation for the stone. Had his political or religious convictions been such that he would resort to forgery, then shouldn’t there be some historical documentation that would establish this fact, or that his character was nefarious or that he was a known liar? If he faked the stone for money or fame, isn’t it significant that he received neither? If Brad has documentation, to establish Wyrick’s character flaws and motivations, shouldn’t he site them before jumping to presumptive conclusions, as appears to be the case in this instance? If no such evidence exists, then why not take Wyrick at his word that he dug it out of an undisturbed earth mound made by the ancient inhabitants of Ohio? He should then ask the question, is there any possible explanation for the existence of such a stone in the Heartland of ancient North America? Are there any other corroborative indications of Hebrew culture here anciently?
    Brad appears to be unaware of or ignoring what should be considered the most important aspect of Scott’s work, that of bringing together a significant number of possible indications of Hebrews inhabiting America’s Heartland long before Columbus. What of Scott’s analysis of the Bat Creek stone’s Hebrew inscription, dug out of a mound in Tennessee in an official archaeological dig by the Smithsonian and incorrectly labeled in their publication as “palio-Cherokee” when later Hebrew scholars found the characters to be well-formed ancient Hebrew? What of the gigantic menorah-shaped mound , one of the Hebrews most sacred and distinctive symbols, surveyed by Squier and Davis in central Ohio and published in 1849 by the Smithsonian?
    These, and many other stones with ancient Hebrew writing have been dismissed because, it was claimed, there were no other corroborating evidence at the time of their discoveries. What Scott has done is something experts like Brad should have been doing all along; bringing all the evidence together and examining it objectively to try to ascertain what new knowledge can be had from it, rather than playing it down and attempting to discredit it because of a previous notion that it didn’t happen or exist.
    Brad claims that such an inscription as that on the Decalogue stone has “profound political and religious implications” and to be sure, this is a fact. However, how can it be known that the ‘experts’ who implicated the stone didn’t themselves hold any religious or political bias? Isn’t it possible that those who proclaimed the stone a hoax had strong political and religious motivations for declaring it so? Of course they did. If the stone is authentic then it would have to be admitted that 1. there were ancient people here that knew of the Holy Bible or at the very least the Ten Commandments of Moses anciently and long before the Bible had been compiled in Europe, 2. that these people were Hebrews or at least knew of the Hebrew written language, 3. that the Biblical Ten Commandments were known in another part of the planet besides the Middle East, 4. that there would be a possible earlier claim to America by Israelite’s rather than later European settlers, and 5 that the claims of the finding of the ancient history of America on metal plates in New York by Mormon leader, Joseph Smith could valid. Are these not possible motivations that would cause the ‘experts’ to want to reject, dismiss and even attack any such evidence?
    The fact that such political heavy-weights as John Wesley Powell, whose father was a Methodist minister in Palmyra, New York during the time-frame of Joseph Smith, and others allowed “the wanton destruction” of the remains of the Mound Builder civilization demonstrates their willingness to go to extremes to promote their viewpoints. These viewpoints are well documented in their own writings and historical commentaries.
    Brad is either unaware of or ignoring the fact that David Wyrick couldn’t even make a correct wooden replica of the stone even when he had the original to draw from. Nor does Brad disclose the fact that this particular “monumental” or “block-style” Hebrew was unknown at the time of its being unearthed. This form of Hebrew was not found until decades later. How could anyone fake a distinctive script that was unknown at the time? For a would-be forger, it would be tantamount to attempting to write the Ten Commandments in Klingon.
    The remarkable thing is that it was unearthed from a mound that dates to the Middle Woodland Period (@ 300 B.C.-400 AD) and has the Ten Commandments inscribed into its surfaces. The Bible was compiled around 300-400 AD so how could the Ten Commandments have been known in America before that? According to the historical record purportedly translated by Joseph Smith, known as the Book of Mormon, ancient Hebrews left Jerusalem 600 BC with an historical account of Hebrew history written on brass plates that included the five books of Moses – which obviously included the Ten Commandments. If it were true, couldn’t this provide a viable explanation for the discovery of Hebrew characters and culture on ancient stones and earthen monuments? And if Hebrew immigrants were to come to inhabit North America anciently, wouldn’t it be feasible that over generations of time some of the intricacies of their earlier written language might become lost or changed, thereby creating characters that, when compared to the former characters, were malformed? Why couldn’t this explain at least some of the discrepancies thought to occur on these stones?
    Brad claims that “If we had actual evidence to prove that Hebrews traveled to ancient America, we would get our pictures on the cover of National Geographic magazine. Large grants would be lavished upon us to undertake excavations and we would get to re-write the textbooks.” How does Brad know what this would be the reaction from the archaeological community, should he prove such a discovery? The fact is that such a claim would likely end Brads career because it directly challenges and would undermine the foundational theories of not only archaeology, but anthropology, human genetics and other closely held theories as well. Such a career ending move could hardly be considered the “fortune and glory” opportunity Brad speculates he would enjoy.
    Unfortunately, speculation is one of the hallmarks of Brads dismissal of these evidences of Hebrew people in North America. At least Scott is willing to look objectively at the actual physical evidence, rather than reliance on speculations about the motives that may or may not have even existed in the mind of Wyrick, or dismissals based on nothing more than the fact that the inscribed characters are not precisely those found in ancient Israel. Brad openly admits that “My colleague Jeff Gill and I have settled upon the opponents of the doctrine of polygenesis — and therefore opponents of slavery — as the most likely people behind the forgery.” That Brad and his colleague have “settled” upon a conclusion can in no way be considered establishing that conclusion as fact. Scott’s physical microscopic and weathering/erosional analysis of the antiquity of the stone’s inscription trumps even “settled upon” speculations made by ‘experts.’
    Any finally, even genetic (DNA) evidence strongly supports the possibility that ancient Hebrews occupied America. DNA sequences from Hopewell Mound Builder burials that carbon date to Middle Woodland time frames do indeed have multiple markers that link these ancient Americans with Hebrew populations in the Middle East, namely the Druze of Israel (BMC Evolutionary Biology 7:32, 2007), Iraqi Jews (American Journal of Human Genetics 70:1411-1420, 2002), Ashkenazi Jews (BMC Genomics 9:198, April 2008), and Libyan, Tunisian and Moroccan Jewish populations (PLOS ONE 3(4):1-16, 2008). So strong are the genetic indicators of such ancestry among North American Native’s that even National Geographic recently published an article titled, “Great Surprise” – Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins” and then summarized the article by stating, “Nearly one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian people linked to the Middle East and Europe, rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought…” (National Geographic – Daily News Nov. 20, 2013) That the genetic evidence of Native American peoples correspond so dramatically with the ‘in-the-ground’ archaeological evidence for Hebrew occupation of ancient America, should cause a serious re-consideration of the possibility such might very well have been the case.
    Scott Wolter may well be onto something significant about America’s past, and Brad Lepper and others may be unwittingly or deliberately withholding that information because of their being ‘settled’ on a preliminary and speculative conclusion.

    • Rod,

      First of all, if you’d actually read the arguments put forward by Jeff Gill and me you would know that we don’t think David Wyrick forged the Holy Stones. In fact, in a letter to Joseph Henry at the Smithsonian, Wyrick expressed the fear that he had been hoaxed. Gill and I think the person behind the forgery was the local Episcopal minister John W. McCarty — probably the only person in the community who could read and write Hebrew. And his bishop had written the preface to a popular book expressing confidence that one day someone would find evidence in America’s mounds to prove the truth of monogenesis. After the Holy Stones, McCarty was appointed to be the minister of the bishop’s church in Cincinnati. That’s motive, method, and opportunity. McCarty was also the guy who told Charles Whittlesey that Wyrick was the forger.

      As for the Bat Creek Stone, we now know that it, too, was a hoax:
      http://apps.ohiohistory.org/ohioarchaeology/additional-digging-uncovers-source-of-bat-creek-hoax/

      Finally, all the available genetic data actually refutes the possibility that there was any ancient interbreeding between American Indians and Hebrews. If Hebrews ever came to ancient Ohio, they appear to have left no progeny:
      http://apps.ohiohistory.org/ohioarchaeology/responding-to-the-lost-civilizations-of-north-america-dvd-part-3-real-messages-in-dna/

  15. Hi, Rod — we’ve met before on some of your visits to Newark. I’d invite you to read my comments above as well; I think the hoax was one undertaken for actually quite idealistic purposes, and would add the name of Israel Dille, a lawyer, politico, and polymath of early Newark, whose associations with both McCarty & Bishop McIlvaine put some context on the question not just of monogenesis, but of slavery and preventing a Civil War . . . a war which would, in fact, kill Dille’s only son. Dille, you may be interested to know, also maintained close relationships with a younger brother, David Buell Dille, who helped to build the Kirtland Temple, later was converted to the Latter Day Saints, led a handcart company from his mission in England to Independence MO and then stayed with a larger company to ultimately work on the Nauvoo and Salt Lake Temples, and lived out his years in Power County, Idaho. His last trip back through Ohio was with that handcart company in 1856-7; no idea if he met up with his older brother or not, but he had named his oldest son after him some years earlier, so I suspect so. Dille knew a little bit of everything, and was Wyrick’s political mentor in the nascent Republican movement, of which both were early adherents — and of the branch called “Black Republicans” for their passion to see not only freedom but the vote given to both “Blacks” and “Red Indians.”

    I think the case can be clearly made that Bishop McIlvaine, Rev. McCarty, and their mutual friend and colleague Israel Dille, all firmly believed that artifacts existed to prove “the ancient unity of mankind” and the necessity for equality between racial groups of one common humanity. If one didn’t show up soon, the nation would (they thought in 1859, quite rightly) erupt into a civil war. Perhaps one could . . . push things a bit.

    That’s one side of the pincers. The other side is the error patterns in the Decalogue Hebrew that show clearly they are simply transposed letters from modern Hebrew in a book (not Wyrick’s book, that was Whittlesey’s story, which he got from Wyrick’s executor . . . Israel Dille), and made to appear as a made-up square Hebrew alphabet on the Decalogue Stone. Which is morphologically quite like unto the Keystone, which no one wants to claim as ancient . . . but that Wyrick found first, and was rejected. Add in this: the Keystone was found just a week before the national primary election which ended up with Douglas, Breckinridge, Bell, and Lincoln on the presidential ballot; the Decalogue stone was found the week before the split election that launched Lincoln into the White House, caused secession to begin, and had Fort Sumter invested before the year was out. Civil War had begun, and locally, the Holy Stones were not mentioned again — because their purpose, the reason for the attempted hoax, was no longer operative. They did their best, and fell short. The war went on . . . and so, in a later generation, did the Holy Stones.

  16. Hi Brad,
    Your theory regarding minister McCarty, whom you speculate was “probably the only person in the community who could read and write in Hebrew” is based on what evidence? Is there some documented evidence that the minister knew any Hebrew? Even if he did, what would be the purpose in his creating the stones with some strange new style that surely would clue in would-be skeptics to his ruse? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to inscribe the stones with a known script if he was trying to deceived others? Even if McCarty expressed his opinion that one day evidence from the mounds would prove monogenesis, how does that equate to anything but conjecture that he actually created the hoax? Just because someone may have a reason for doing something does not in any way prove they did it, right?

    The historical fact is that Wyrick never denied his story and fought to vindicate his good name and reputation, McCarty told Whittlesey that Wyrick was the forger, probably to clear his name and reputation, and Whittlesey was also attempting to clear his name. They were all pointing the finger at each other. Why? Because the stones had been declared as hoaxes almost from the very beginning and they wanted out of the fray, would be my guess. Yes, now I’m speculating, but isn’t speculation and conjecture really all that you have against the stones authenticity?

    The fact is that no one has any hard historical proof of the stone being forged, which means that other methods of coming to such conclusions must be employed. You cannot convict these stones on conjecture and speculations. You need something more robust…like taking a hard scientific look at the inscribed characters to determine if there is evidence that the stone was created more recently or anciently…and that is exactly what Scott did!

    Since there is no method of directly age dating the inscription at this time, Wolter’s method of examining the erosion rates on the stones surface rind seems to make the most sense, and if it can be demonstrated that the inscription could not be of modern creation, then doesn’t it stand to reason that this hard evidence trumps speculations about motives and whodunit theories? Isn’t it possible that none of these men admitted to the alleged forgery because none of them committed it? Why can’t you accept the possibility that the stone was exactly as Wyrick and others formally attested? Why do you feel so driven to find some angle to attempt to discredit the stones authenticity rather than objectively look at the facts and realize that maybe these men could not bring themselves to admit their wrongdoing because by so doing they would be lying.

    Also, Brad, quoting oneself is hardly admissible evidence for sourcing the truth. While you may feel that you are an expert on petrographic analysis and genetics (DNA) most experts would not point to their own articles to back up their claims. I find it interesting that I referenced a number of peer reviewed scientific journals in support of my claims, and you reference yourself in your own article on the website you control. Is there any wonder why someone might question your objectivity?

    The truth is that you don’t “know” that either the Decalogue stone or the Bat Creek stone are forgeries. You are welcome to express your considered opinion that you believe that the evidence points to these being hoaxes, but it is quite presumptive of you to declare it as fact when the facts don’t support your conclusions. Simply declaring something as a fact and then quoting yourself in support of your position hardly makes it true.

    Scott’s physical examination of these stones corroborate the genetic findings that have demonstrated beyond any doubt that some Native American peoples have Middle Eastern ancestry. The DNA sequences derived from the bones of the Mound Builder populations of Ohio show that they had five specific markers indicative of Jewish populations around the world. There is no doubt in the genetics community that some Native American ancestry comes from the Middle East, the only real question is when it arrived in the Americas. As you should know, there are four founding mitochondrial haplotypes among Native Americans…four Asian (haplogroups A, B, C, and D and one European (haplogroup X). Among the Y-chromosomal haplotypes lineage” R” demonstrates a similar regional pattern of being found in highest concentration around the Great Lakes, and, like X, is not found in Central or South America, meaning that this DNA type was inserted into the Asiatic populations that originated the Native American populations.

    You of all people should know that Deborah Bolnick’s work showed that the DNA of the Mound Builders was the source population for modern day Native Americans of the Algonquian language group, comprising more than 100 Indian tribes in the upper midwest of the US and Canada.

    While you and she may not like the fact that the Mound Builders show evidences for Hebrews in America’s Heartland, your dislike of the facts does not a truth make. As Scott Wolter so succinctly stated, “the academics don’t like them because they don’t fit the paradigm, but unfortunately for them, you can’t dismiss things simply because you don’t like them.”

    Repeatedly proclaiming that something has been proven false doesn’t make it so. As a scientist, I’m sure you know that. I would hope that you would discontinue expressing your opinions as some kind of “proof” or fact when they are not. I would suggest simply stating that in your opinion these stones are fakes and why you feel that way. I hope that I have shown that there are uncertainties and even some holes in the theory you are purporting to be ‘proven fact.’ That is one thing I enjoy about Scott’s approach. He didn’t declare the stones to be authentic, only that in his opinion there was no reason not accept them as genuine, legitimate artifacts based on real scientific analysis rather than conjecture and finger pointing, which appears, to me, to be the case in your assertions.

    BTW… THANK YOU for all the marvelous work you have done in preserving many of these ancient sites for future generations. I also appreciate your work on the Great Hopewell road and the wonderful displays in your museum. Please keep up the good work you are doing and we all hope that you’ll be successful in making some of these sites World Heritage Sites.

    • Hi Rod,

      First of all, thanks for your kind words on my work that is not directly related to the Holy Stones.

      The evidence for McCarty’s knowledge of Hebrew is based primarily on the articles he published in a Cincinnati newspaper that provided the first translations of the Hebrew on the two principal Holy Stones. I also have done extensive research on McCarty, including a detailed look at his academic record at Kenyon College, the results of which are presented in the Timeline article I co-authored with Jeff. You should get a copy and read it.

      You ask why he (or whoever perpetrated the forgery) didn’t inscribe the Holy Stone with a known script. The simple answer is that this is exactly what he did do in the first fraud — the Keystone. And it didn’t work. Whittlesey concluded the Keystone was a legitimate historic artifact unrelated to the mounds principally because the script was entirely modern. This is why a second Holy Stone needed to be crafted — to answer all of the things that made the first one unsuccessful. The “strange new style” of the script on the Decalogue Stone is precisely what deceived many people into accepting it as a legitimate artifact of antiquity.

      And contrary to your assertion, Wyrick did, indeed, question the validity of the Holy Stones. In a letter to Joseph Henry he wrote “I wish to God some one else had found them [the Holy Stones] than myself. The evidences figured here of the immense antiquity of these works, and that too long prior to the Hebrew or Jewish dispensations, has always raised a fear in my mind that some one has been trying to hoax me. Especially as my opinions have been strong and firmly held.” As person dedicated to science, he wouldn’t have questioned the validity of his own discoveries, regardless of what they appeared to indicate, unless he thought he had grounds for suspecting a hoax.

      Finally, the blog I cited in support of the genetic evidence was actually a reference to an article I co-authored with, among others, Deborah Bolnick. The conclusive refutation of the idea that the X haplotype was introduced into America by the arrival of Middle Easterners only 2,000 years ago was her contribution to that article. You are quite right that some Native American ancestry comes from Eurasia, but it arrived in America in the genomes of the ancestors of today’s American Indians who either crossed the Bering Land Bridge on foot or paddled along its coastline somewhere between 18,000 and 15,000 years ago: http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2013/11/26/the-first-americans-were-europeans-sort-of-its-complicated/

  17. Hi Jeff, good to hear from you and thank you and Brad both for allowing my long comments! While we obviously disagree on some things, we are all passionate about trying to find the truth and love learning more about these ancient civilizations of America.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your historical commentary regarding the Dille brothers and the Mormon Church, but I feel it speculative to assume that these stones were faked simply because these men held certain views. Again, isn’t it possible that these men held out these stones as being proof not because they faked them, but because they honestly believed they were indeed the remains of an ancient Hebrew civilization?

    Also, while it may be interesting that the stones were discovered in proximity to the timing of certain political events, such possible correlations can hardly be held out as some kind of proof. It could have been pure coincidence, don’t you agree?

    How would the discovery of the keystone, with ancient Hebrew spiritual phrases, dramatically affect the outcome of a primary election, especially only one week prior to it. The same for the Decalogue stone. How would a stone with the Ten Commandments inscribed in ancient Hebrew sway the electorate one way or another, especially in only one week beginning from an obscure frontier town in Ohio? Remember, communication was much slower back then. Why wouldn’t they have brought out said forgery much earlier to attract more attention and thereby exert greater influence on the election? What evidence is there that the reason the stones were not mentioned again (which I doubt) was because they were no longer relevant to the election. Isn’t it possible that the reason they were not mentioned again was because these falsely accused men simply wanted the whole affair to blow over? I am sorry, but this, again, smacks of conjecture and speculation, rather than established fact.

    All I am attempting to do here is to help you and others to see that making bold and hard claims against the authenticity of these stones is problematic because they are based on a number of speculations and conjecture rather than quantifiable scientific analysis. Attacking Scott for sticking to his more robust scientific findings using the latest state of the art analysis methodology, rather than blindly accepting the opinions of experts like yourself and Brad, to me demonstrates his desire to find the truth and your overabundance of self confidence or borderline arrogance. Let us strive to find the truth and not simply defend our own positions. That goes for all of us… myself included.

  18. Rod, fair point, except that’s not what I’m doing. That’s the “pincer” movement I spoke of — on one branch, there is the information that leads people like Brad and myself to argue that they are undoubtedly hoaxes, or “faked artifacts.” That’s the more data related material like the hardened-metal tool marks in the letters of the Keystone that are themselves identical to typeface Hebrew, not any paleography of serifs or terminal forms that you can find in written or carved Hebrew letters; or the grinding tool marks on the Decalogue Stone and the error pattern that makes no sense other than mistakes, but consistent mistakes, which are directly explainable by visual similarities NOT in the “square Hebrew” of the Decalogue alphabet, but are visually almost the same in (again) typeface modern Hebrew…indicating that the text on the Decalogue stone is a simple transposition from a print Hebrew Bible into a made-up “code” of square Hebrew Decalogue alphabet.

    That, along with some other matters of context and general anthropological setting (including what to me is an overwhelming final argument — if there had been Old World arrivals more than a handful who lived more than a matter of weeks among Native peoples in the thousand or two years before 1491, the immunological response of the entire continent wide population to influenza and smallpox would have been quite different), is all to *one* side of our argument. The other half of the pincers is the question I call the “Bob Alrutz dilemma.”

    Bob was a good Christian gentleman and no mean scholar in his own field here in Licking County, and he said to many, and he said to me before his death: “Jeff. I look at the box alone of the Decalogue Stone, and I ask myself ‘why?’ Why would busy, public spirited people put this much time and effort into a hoax? Why?”

    Bob was sincere in this concern, and I think he raises an excellent point — this could not have been done as a whim, or overnight. If this is a hoax, there has to be a reason for putting all this time, effort, and care into the crafting of the objects.

    So with what I trust is proper respect and appreciation for Bob, yourself, and any others who ask “are you taking this question seriously?” I would answer: that’s a fair point, and I think we’ve been given extra motivation by realizing that Bob Alrutz was correct in a very interesting way. The evidence against them as 2,000 or even 1,200 years old is still, to my reading of it, overwhelming — and if so, then I also am entirely obligated to come up with an explanation of the detail and interpretation intended for objects that received so much time and attention to make and to place.

    It is with that intention that we come to our researches and our proposals about the interests and agendas of the proposed “hoaxers.” And my own one small hesitation about that word is the very attribution you and Scott and others have given us — that by saying they’re a hoax, we’re saying some combination of Wyrick and McCarty and Dille et alia were up to some mean-spirited, malicious, petty prank. We do NOT think that in any way, shape, or form. This clearly was a labor, if not of love, at least of passionate concern. And as we immersed ourselves in the intellectual history of the 1850s, it has become clearer and clearer that the Holy Stones…. hoaxers (I can’t find a better word!) had some very honorable motivations for what they did, and how they did it.

    I teach my son that you can’t do the wrong thing for right reasons. I also try to teach him that there are times when the temptation to take a short cut to accomplish an admirable end can be incredibly strong. I know that temptation, and my work with the Holy Stones has truly intensified my realization of that dilemma when such options arise. I think some good men did a “bad” thing for what they felt were the overwhelming reasons of keeping a nation united, and a continent from going to war over truths they were utterly certain of — the unity of humankind, and the call from God for justice to what today we call “people of color,” and that they would have called “Blacks and Indians.” It’s a compelling narrative, made all the more poignant for the fact that Dille does, in fact, lose his only son, and McCarty dies just after the Civil War ends of tuberculosis almost certainly caught in the camps outside of Vicksburg.

    But I advance this narrative, and the Dille family’s other interests in carvings and antiquities and the true humanity of Native Americans, only because it is the complement to the primary argument against the Holy Stones by way of data. Having argued my case for the circumstances of the artifacts as such having a modern (19th century) origin, the narrative of monogenesis and human justice and holding the nation together in freedom and peace is how Brad and I explain WHY the hoax was undertaken. And it is, in so many ways, a much more compelling, let alone more comprehensive explanation of the Holy Stones than saying they are accidental leavings of a random remnant that stumbled into the Midwest from the Atlantic coast and died leaving no other trace of their impact on the culture or genome of the people they passed through.

    Sadly, that’s the shortest answer I can manage today — it would take me a couple of weeks to come up with anything more succinct!

  19. Brad, it’s fascinating to see Rodney Meldrum sermonising about objectivity and seeking hard evidence and facts while shunning speculation and conjecture. “Let us strive to find truth and not simply defend our own positions” – noble words Brother Meldrum. It would be good if he could apply them to himself.

    These are some of the “positions” that Brother Meldrum currently holds.

    1. Rodney knows (not just believes) that the human inhabited earth is roughly 6,000 years old.

    2. He knows there was a universal flood that killed most living things about 4,500 years ago.

    3. He knows that all continents were colonised by the descendants of Noah within the last 4,000 years.

    4. He knows the Book of Mormon is true and that Native Americans have Jewish ancestors

    5. He believes God has called him to present evidences for the Book of Mormon

    This is from the introduction to his book Rediscovering the Book of Mormon Remnant through DNA.

    “My position as the author of this work is that when there is an inferred conflict between scientific theories and scriptural truths, the scriptures will always be demonstrated true, and the theories of men, put forward through science, will eventually conform to the truths of the gospel, not the other way around. Of course error can be made in the interpretation of scripture; however when they (the Scriptures) are clear and supported by prophetic or revelatory understanding, and if they cannot be reconciled with the current theories of science, then it should be understood that eventually the scientific theories will be altered to comply with God’s truth, even if that means waiting until the next life.”

    Rodney appeals for “quantifiable scientific analysis” but he has no scientific training himself. When it comes to Native American history he is convinced the vast majority of the scientific community is deluded and his interpretation of scientific evidence is correct. He does this by cherry picking “evidence” that fits his fixed positions and rejecting anything that challenges them. Cherry picking is much easier than rigorous scientific analysis.

    For example, he has a fixed view that the X lineage among Native Americans is derived from the Jews. So while the scientific community knows the X lineage arrived over 15,000 years ago, Rodney focuses on and misinterprets a single out-dated research paper to back up his belief that the X arrived a few thousand years ago.

    Like most Mormons, Brother Meldrum believes that he can KNOW things by revelation. Due to his faith-based knowledge he knows Native Americans didn’t migrate across the Bering Strait over 15,000 years ago. He knows they have Hebrew ancestors who arrived a few thousand years ago. He knows he is right and science will eventually agree with him. That’s why he will NEVER let go of these hoaxes. This isn’t about an honest search for truth and letting the chips fall where they may. The chips have fallen and the conclusions are fixed.

    • Well Hello there Simon! Glad to know you are still out there trolling for anything that I might comment on. I’m honored that you would take your time to lash out (again) as you typically do.

      I don’t think I’ve ever had someone claim to know me so perfectly that they would actually write what you did. The only problem is that you ‘know’ so very little of what I do or don’t believe, or the reasons I believe what I do. As one who was a former bishop of the Mormon Church and was excommunicated for your sexual infidelity (adultery), I understand your distaste of all things Mormon now. You have an axe you feel compelled to grind and you think that I am somehow intimidated by your comments. Just for the record, I am not.

      Simon, you do have some things right, but others are wrong. Perhaps your definition of what it means to ‘know’ something is different than mine. To me to ‘know’ something means that you have had actual experience with it and that it has been shown to be consistent over time. As you should know, most scientists would decline to make claims of any absolute ‘knowing’ or knowledge since it is impossible to know absolutely if the things we experience today will always continue that way. So I don’t know how you missed the fact that I very rarely, if ever, use the word ‘know’ in my research. I don’t claim to ‘know’ the things you have falsely claimed. Therefore you, Simon, are blatantly putting words into my mouth that I have not utilized for the precise reason so that someone like you could not honestly say that I have made such a claim.

      I have a strong faith and belief in most of the concepts you describe, but I virtually always refrain from claiming that I ‘know’ them. You have badly misjudged me… but I’m confident it won’t have been the first bad judgment you have made in your life. As I clearly indicated in my quoted statement, I enjoy a strong belief in scriptural understandings, tempered by the realization that they may be misunderstood or misinterpreted. I do not claim to know the mind of God. I do believe that the truth of God’s word and the truths of science will one day be shown to be fully compatible, but what we have today in many respects seems irreconcilable. My beliefs are, admittedly, based on faith, but what you don’t know is that many of my beliefs are also based on many years of scientific study and research in scientific journals and through observable, empirical and repeatable experiments with numerous colleagues involving a natural science textbook project. So let me help you with your false claims about me.

      1. I do believe that when God said he placed Adam and Eve on the earth about 6,000 years ago that he’s got it right. However, I also believe that physical matter cannot be created or destroyed (so said Joseph Smith, Mormon founder), that it has always existed. Yes, it can be changed (transformed) into differing materials and energy, etc. but the building blocks of the universe have always existed. I don’t blindly accept the theoretical notion that everything came from nothing (yes this claim has been made repeatedly by theoretical physicists) and this ‘nothing’ suddenly coalesced in all the matter in the universe, packed so tightly that it would fit inside the period at the end of this sentence. Yes, Simon, that has also been stated as fact by scientists. Then that matter suddenly began expanding (the Big Bang) which ultimately created chemicals that magically created life that magically grew more and more complex and advanced until it created mammals and humans, etc. It all came from nothing… according to science. So which is harder to believe, that everything came from nothing, or that there is an overseeing, benevolent God? Either position is a belief. We were not there to verify the origins of the universe, so we must choose which we are going to have faith in. I choose God’s word over theoretical physicists. One day they may be reconciled, and when that day comes, I believe that it will be found that God was right.

      2. Yes, I believe that there was a universal ‘biblical’ flood. The evidence for such a deluge all around the earth testifies to it. Every continent has geological features that indicate the forces of water at work. If I had hours and hours to explain why I take this position, you might find that I am not as ignorant and blinded by religion as you seem to think I am. BTW, this universal flood was responsible for many of the supposed indictors of great age found upon the earth, such as petrified wood and bone, a process that has, until now, been unknown. All I can tell you at this point is that I have been involved in empirical scientific experiments that will demonstrate the actual time that is necessary for carbon-based materials, like wood and bone, to be turned into quartz-based rock (agate, chert, etc). I am confident that you will be surprised by the observable truth… and this process doesn’t take millions of years. All of geologic time rests upon the underlying assumptions of rock dating, and rock dating rests on assumptions of fossilization processes that have heretofore been unknown. Unfortunately this is a subject for another time in the future. I just wanted you to know I’m not pulling this stuff out of my hat, as you have so unwittingly assumed. This has been a multi-year project involving dozens of scientific experts from numerous fields of study.

      3. Yes, I believe that all the continents of the earth were colonized by the descendants of Noah about 4,000 years ago. Population growth studies have shown this to be easily within the realm of fact, once a correct understanding of fossilization is had.

      4. Yes, I believe the Book of Mormon is a literal history of some of the ancient inhabitants of America, but certainly not all Native Americans. As you know, the vast majority of First Nations peoples are of Asiatic descent. An interesting thing about the Book of Mormon is that it made the outrageous claim of Hebrews (not technically Jews -i.e. from Judah- as you incorrectly claimed) coming to the New World clear back in 1830, and today truth seekers, like Scott Wolter and many others, are finally letting the public know the truth about aspects of the history of this country that have been previously unknown…even deliberately hidden – because of American Manifest Destiny doctrine issues with the Indians, and other potential motives regarding the beginnings of Mormonism.

      5. That one was truly laughable. Yes, I do believe in God and, to me, that includes prayer. So, yes, I pray about the things I do in my life, and I do feel that at times I have had answers to my prayers, but this can hardly be construed as believing that God had called me to present evidences for the Book of Mormon. I don’t know for sure if God wants me to do this or not, but my faith in the validity of the book encourages me to look objectively at the possibilities while maintaining my faith unless shown otherwise. And no, Simon, you haven’t shown me otherwise.

      So I truly enjoy both my religion and science and am fascinated by both. I hope that one day they will be reconciled, but until then I am not planning to abandon my faith as you have done. What I find fascinating about your analysis of me is that you could be so overwhelmingly confident in your belief that you would publicly claim to know practically everything about me, my training, knowledge, expertise and beliefs without the slightest real knowledge of it. Speculation seems to be the ruling dynamic for you, which is a bit unnerving since you claim to be a scientist. Until you have the chance to read the scientific book my colleagues are currently working on, you cannot know from where I am coming. We do not, as you have speculated, feel that the scientific community is deluded (don’t know where you pulled that one out of…your hat?). I also find it funny that you use the word “cherry picking” if we don’t agree with every word in a scientific journal article. Simon, this is called ‘science’ – to question things. Just because a scientist agrees with some aspect of another scientists work, does not necessarily mean that he/she agrees with all of it. Many times we have some things right and some things wrong, and pointing out where something may be incorrect is not ‘cherry picking’, it may be honest disagreement. I have attempted to explain why I disagree and on what grounds I base that disagreement on.

      A case in point. You claim that the scientific community “knows” that “the X lineage arrived over 15,000 years ago,” yet you seem to have forgotten that this number has ranged from 40,000 to 25,000 for a number of years before coming to a more recent consensus on the 15,000 year figure. So, by your definition, was anyone who disagreed with the earlier numbers ‘cherry picking’ the numbers? And even if a consensus has been achieved, do you really believe that this establishes the agreed upon idea as the final truth? If so, you are no real scientist. Science is all about open debate and challenging the status quo. Yet if I engage in this, I am accused of all sorts of nefarious mall intent.

      Oh, and since you have indicated you read my book (thanks for the compliment! Oh, sorry I haven’t read yours) then why are you misleading the readers of this blog about my using “a single out-dated research paper” to back up my beliefs? There are dozens of articles discussing the serious problem of the discrepancies between phylogenetic dating methods and pedigree dating methods…often causing several orders of magnitude difference in the dating outcomes. I only referenced a few of the most pertinent ones. For anyone who would like to read the book and associated reference material, you can download the entire book FREE at my website downloads page at http://www.BookofMormonEvidence.org. Many of the articles questioning the dating were published in 2008, which is relatively recent in scientific terms. I simply have not had time to follow up on the controversy for the most recent material. The fact that there is such a huge discrepancy between the theoretical phylogenetic dating and the actual observed mitochondrial mutation rate seems not to bother you in the least. Maybe it should. The theory doesn’t match reality, but then again, that happens more often than one might think. Theories are usually adjusted to match the reality, but in the case of really entrenched, dogmatic theories, sometimes reality is forced to take a back seat.

      Simon, yes, I do believe in prayers being answered by a loving God, and there are certain things I believe anyone who is seeking for answers can gain from those answers, but your categorically labeling “most Mormons” as blind zealots that talk with God for all of their answers is simply untrue, and you know it.

      Did some Asiatic peoples migrate to America across the Bering strait? Possibly, but those that did weren’t Hebrews IMHO as you again incorrectly assumed. The Book of Mormon indicates a small group of Hebrews left from around Saudi Arabia and sailed by ship to America. Obviously they were not the same groups that came from Asia. That is why I am interested in the possibility that these ancient stones may actually demonstrate Hebrew incursions into America. Your and Brad’s closed mindedness against the hard physical evidence provided by Scott Wolter’s actual, physical analysis is disturbing. You are a part of the problem – academics who desperately hold to a theoretical position regardless of the hard evidence. Such closed mindedness is hardly scientific. The only chips that have fallen and conclusions that are fixed are the ones in your imagination. The hard physical facts are in favor of their authenticity. I am grateful for people like Scott who are knowledgeable and gutsy enough to not let attacks like you have attempted on me let them be swayed from the truth.
      Carry on, Scott!

  20. Thank you Brother Meldrum for confirming virtually everything I said.
    In future you should probably resist the temptation to attack my character, given the church’s recent admissions regarding the predatory sexual behaviour of Joseph Smith. Compared to him I am a saint.

    BTW, I was excommunicated 7 years after resigning as a bishop and after 6 years of public questioning of the historicity of the Book of Mormon. I was not excommunicated for adultery.

  21. Brad,
    Thank you for an excellent blog. Great information.

    It’s too bad one individual felt the need to post such lengthy spam in your comments section about a fictional book that purports to be a story about ancient America. Kind of ironic since this blog is talking about fraudulent stones.

    And then to make ad hominem attacks on Mr. Southerton was very low brow.

    Besides, it is funny to read Rod berate Mr. Southerton over the issue of “knowing” vs. “Believing” when everyone who has been around Mormons for any amount of time knows how they love to claim they know their church is true, they know their book is true, and they know their leaders. Is Rod really a believer then? Seems not.

  22. Hey, guys…

    An archaeology forum such as this one is not an appropriate venue for promoting one’s religious beliefs, much less for spewing ad hominem diatribes. The late science writer Stephen Jay Gould got it right saying science and religion each have “a legitimate magisterium, or domain of teaching authority”, and these two domains do not overlap. Archaeology is putatively a scientific pursuit (I sometimes wonder) dealing with testable hypotheses based on the often less-than-unequivocal physical evidence our predecessors left us from thousands of years ago, and it’s these testable hypotheses that should be presented and discussed here. We are all, scientists included, in this earthly realm just common carbon-based life forms trying to understand the human condition from tangible evidence we are more or less capable of processing. A little humility seems in order all the way around…

  23. Just want to thank Brad and Jeff for their research and for making this information available. I’m looking forward to reading Frank Moore Cross’s letter. When will it be posted? And also a thank you to Simon Southerton.

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