Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Don Feliz Martinez inscritption, El Morro, New
Mexico. National Park Service photograph.
One site that has seen much history is El Morro rock in Cibola County, in western New Mexico. This large rock outcrop has a permanent pool of water in an arid environment, and pre-historically had a pueblo built on top of the rock. Ancestral Puebloan rock art can be found on the cliffs and spires of El Morro, as can the inscriptions and names of later comers. One of the historic records found there is the Martinez inscription. This records that in the "Year of 1716 on the 26 of August passed by here the Governor Don Feliz Martinez, Governor and Captain-General of this Realm to the reduction and conquest of Moqui and (obliteration: possibly the word "conversion") by order of the Reverend Padre Friar Antonio Camargo, Custodian and Ecclesiastical Judge." (

This records an expedition sent against the Hopi in 1716. “In 1716, Gov. Don Feliz Martinez marched against the Moqui (Hopi) villages. With him were missionaries who intended to "convert" the Indians after they were conquered. Passing El Morro, Martinez left the following inscription: "Year of 1716 on the 26 of August passed by here the Governor Don Feliz Martinez, Governor and Captain-General of this Realm to the reduction and conquest of Moqui and (obliteration: possibly the word "conversion") by order of the Reverend Padre Friar Antonio Camargo, Custodian and Ecclesiastical Judge."
"But the expedition was not successful. Meeting strong opposition from the Hopis, Martinez merely destroyed their cornfields and returned to Santa Fe. He was later relieved of his office as Governor."

“The residencia, or judicial review of every governor’s administration upon leaving office, offered the Pueblos a means of expressing their grievances, that is, when the residencia judge was impartial, unbribed, or an enemy of the departing executive. In the case of the controversial rags-to-riches opportunist don Félix Martínez, whose residencia was held belatedly in 1723, there were Spaniards, including the aging Pecos alcalde mayor Alfonso Rail de Aguilar, who for one reason or another wanted the Indians to speak up. The Pecos demanded compensation from Martínez for the personal labor that had caused them to lose their crops, payment for two thousand boards he ordered them to cut, dress, and haul to “his palace or houses he built,” and two horses, the agreed-upon price, owed to Chistoe for an Indian boy acquired from heathens and sold to Martínez. In this case, the judge ordered Martínez to pay.” (Kessell 1979:321)

"The agreed-upon price for an Indian boy," in other words slavery. Another interesting record illuminating events from the history of the American southwest.


Kessell, John L.
1979    Kiva, Cross, and Crown, the Pecos Indians and New Mexico, 1540-1840, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington D.C.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Ica stone of a man riding a triceratops. Wikipedia.

Whenever the conversation on dinosaurs in rock art is brought up one will invariably hear about the Ica Stones from Peru.

“The Ica stones are a collection of andesite stones found in Ica Province, Peru that bear a variety of diagrams. Some of them have depictions of dinosaurs and what is alleged to be advanced technology, and these are easily recognized as modern curiosities or hoaxes.

From the 1960s Javier Cabrera Darquea collected and popularized the stones, obtaining many of them from a farmer named Basilio Uschuya. Uschuya, after claiming them to be real ancient artifacts, admitted to creating the carvings he had sold and said he produced a patina by baking the stones in cow dung.

This is, by the way, also the method used to produce the black finish on the pots made by the famous potter Maria from San Ildefonso. It is not part of a natural weathering process at all.

Ica stone of a man fighting dinosaurs
(allosaurs or tyrannosaurs). Internet.

Some of the images are of flowers, fish, or living animals of various sorts. Others appear to depict scenes which would be anachronistic in pre-Columbian art, namely extinct animals, such as dinosaurs, advanced medical works and maps.

Ica stone illustrating brain surgery. Internet.

Meanwhile, in 1966, Peruvian physician Javier Cabrera Darquea was presented with a stone that had a carved picture of a fish, which Cabrera believed to be of an extinct species. Cabrera's father had begun a collection of similar stones in the 1930s, and based on his interest in Peruvian prehistory, Cabrera began collecting more. He initially purchased more than 300 from two brothers, Carlos and Pablo Soldi, who also collected pre-Incan artifacts, who claimed they had unsuccessfully attempted to interest archaeologists in them. Cabrera later found another source of the stones, a farmer named Basilio Uschuya, who sold him thousands more. Cabrera's collection burgeoned, reaching more than 11,000 stones in the 1970s. Cabrera published a book, The Message of the Engraved Stones of Ica on the subject, discussing his theories of the origins and meaning of the stones. In this he argued that the stones show "that man is at least 405 million years old" and that what he calls gliptolithic man, humans from another planet, and that "Through the transplantation of cognitive codes to highly intelligent primates, the men from outer space created new men on earth." The Ica stones achieved greater popular interest when Cabrera abandoned his medical career and opened a museum to feature several thousand of the stones in 1996. In 1973 during an interview with Erich von Däniken, Uschuya stated he had faked the stones that he had sold“. (Wikipedia) 

Ica stone with dinosaurs. Wikipedia.

What is so surprising to me is that some people take these things seriously. We know the old inhabitants of this area as well or better than we know the ancient inhabitants of anywhere on earth except possibly Egypt. Not only are there Spanish colonial records of what they found when they conquered their South American territories, we have a long running record of archaeological investigations. Ica is found on the coastal desert of Peru along the Pacific ocean. This is one of the driest regions in the world and preservation of organic remains is better here than almost anywhere else known to archaeologists. And in all of this there is a total lack of artifactual evidence to back up the Ica stones. What concrete evidence could we expect to find if humans and dinosaurs had coexisted in Peru? You might examine burials for injuries caused by dinosaur teeth, or for artifacts made of dinosaur teeth or bones, you might even look for the remains of small pet dinosaurs in human burials, or human remains in the stomach area of excavated dinosaurs. You would find dinosaur bones and human burials in the same soil horizons during excavations that could be dated and demonstrated to have been laid down concurrently, and the truth is we find none of that. Indeed, I have been unable to find any reference to dinosaur remains found in that area at all.

Ica stone, man attacked by dinosaur.

In his book Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology: From Atlantis to the Walam Olum, Kenneth Feder (2010) stated: “There is, I hope needless to say, not a shred of evidence for any of this positively crazy stuff. Although he has been very difficult to pin down and while he has recanted just about every version of the story he has told, Cabrera’s major source for the Ica Stones, Basilio Uschuya, has admitted to being not the discoverer of the stones but their fabricator. Basing the images on photographs, drawings, and illustrations in magazines and books, he engraves the images onto and through the dark surface of the stones using metal knives, chisels, and a dental drill. Then, to add a patina of age to the stones, he bakes them in donkey and cow dung, which seems poetically appropriate. The Ica Stones clearly are not the most sophisticated of the archaeological hoaxes discussed in this book, but they certainly rank up there as the most preposterous.” (Feder 2010:143)

Indeed, these are so obviously fakes I have to wonder why anyone with any education or common sense at all would espouse their case. The only conclusion I can reach is that their motivation is venality, material gain from selling books, and speaker’s honorariums from giving travel speeches and creationist symposia. To me, far from supporting the bible by their position, they are dishonoring it by associating it with these prevarications and falsehoods by the most vocal proponents. 

And remember, far from reinforcing the Creationist’s belief that humans have only existed for 6,000 years, the Ica stones convinced their first investigator, Cabrera, that we have existed for 405 million years. Let’s see you fit that into Bishop Usher’s dating scheme.

Now, if you take violent exception to my statements above and wish to discuss this in a rational manner, I will be happy to correspond about it. Those of you named Anonymous who wish to only insult and threaten me, please keep your frustration to yourselves, but to all others, conversation is an art. Let us practice it together.


Feder, Kenneth L.
2010    Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology: From Atlantis to the Walam Olum, Greenwood, Santa Barbara, Denver, and Oxford.


Saturday, April 18, 2015


Negative image of the Holly Oak Pendant from the cover
of Science Magazine, 21 May, 1976. Note, the mammoth
image has been picked out from background details.
It is easy to see the lack of feet.

In this column I have periodically presented examples of what have been claimed to be very early examples of art in North America. These examples have included some rock art, but also other images in different media. So far, I fear, the extant examples have all proven to be hoaxes.

The Holly Oak Pendant is a fraudulent artifact created as a shell gorget bearing the image of a mammoth on the converse side. It was originally presented in 1889 as an authentic Paleolithic artifact from North America, given the image of the mammoth engraved on it.

 An engraving of the mammoth carving from La Madelaine,
France. Note this image is missing its feet.

Late in 1863, Edouard Lartet, the paleontologist, with Henry Christy, his friend and benefactor, had turned a few shovels of earth in the rock shelter of La Madeleine by the side of the Vezere River in France. They found remains of stone, bone and ivory tools so they returned in the Spring of 1864. That May, Lartet’s dig crew recovered five fragments of an ivory plate. When reassembled they displayed a wonderful engraved mammoth with almost all of the details of its appearance clearly defined. All this engraving lacked was the feet, which may have been on an un-recovered piece of the plaque or may have never existed because of lack of space on the surface.

Illustration of the Holly Oak pendant

In 1889, an archaeological assistant at Harvard's Peabody Museum named Hillborne T. Cresson, announced that he had discovered a prehistoric seashell pendant/gorget that bore the engraving of a woolly mammoth on one surface. He stated that he had discovered it near Holly Oak railroad station, in northern Delaware, in a layer of peat in the forest. This find was suspected of being fake by some establishment figures. One reason for suspicion was the unusual circumstance of its discovery. Cresson claimed he had discovered it in 1864, when he was a teenager, in the company of his music teacher, Mr. Saurault. He offered no explanation for why he had waited twenty-five years to share the discovery, even though its significance should have been obvious to him — especially since his music teacher was himself a student of archaeology. (
“The Holly Oak Pendant was accepted as authentic by many when it was discovered in the middle of the nineteenth century. The pendant, found in Delaware, appeared to be an incised drawing on shell of a prehistoric woolly mammoth. It reminded many of the Paleolithic cave paintings and carvings of the Europe of 20,000 years ago, convincing some of the existence of a similar – and similarly ancient – artistic tradition in North America.
The Holly Oak Pendant, if genuine, should have dated to more than 10,000 years ago, since that is about the time that woolly mammoths became extinct – obviously, people would not have been drawing mammoths long after they had disappeared. In fact, the shell turned out to be only about 1,000 years old. The artifact was a fake, though cleverly carved on an old piece of shell. “(Feder 2010:139)
Mammoth carving on mammoth ivory,
La Madelaine, France. Note in this ink
drawing the mammoth's feet are missing.

The 1864 Holly Oak Pendant/Gorget bears a very similar engraved mammoth to the one portrayed on the ivory plaque from La Madeleine – even down to the missing feet. That is the first detail that gave rise to suspicion that the image was fraudulent. The mammoth on the Holly Oak Pendant/Gorget had been copied from a published image of the ivory plaque from La Madeleine and the feet could not be included, even though there was sufficient room on the shell, because the forger did not know what they should have looked like.

“Thus something is terribly wrong with the context Cresson provided or created. Occam’s Razor slices right through this one – the Holly Oak Gorget, with its wonderful wooly mammoth, is not a genuine prehistoric artifact of any significant age. Indeed, the shell gorget itself, with no engraving on it, may well be from the very late Fort Ancient culture of Ohio. Cresson dug on one such site, and he was fired for stealing artifacts in Ohio. A radiocarbon date recently run on the shell gorget dates it to less than a thousand years ago. Even (Barry) Fell’s Epigraphic Society Occasional Publication volume branded it a fake based on the carbon 14 finding!” (Williams 1991:127)
This strongly suggests that the shell gorget in question was one of the artifacts stolen by Cresson, with the mammoth image later added to manufacture the evidence that would ensure his fame. The dating was carried out by Accelerator Mass Spectrometer C14 analysis, and resulted in a date of AD 885 within a range of AD 750 to AD 1000. (Meltzer 1990:55) The irony of this all is, of course, that we now know that not only were there also mammoths here in the New World, but there were people here hunting and eating them – only somewhat earlier than Cresson claimed, and just not carving their pictures on shells.

Note: Readers who find these subjects to be of interest will be well served to read the books referenced above, and listed below in my References list.

Feder, Kenneth L.
2010    Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology: From Atlantis to the Walam Olum, Greenwood, Santa Barbara, Denver, and Oxford.
Meltzer, David
1990    In Search of a Mammoth Fraud, New Scientist, July 14, 1990, Volume 127, No. 1725, p. 51-55.
Williams, Stephen
1991    Fantastic Archaeology, The Wild Side of North American Archaeology, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.


Saturday, April 11, 2015



Sprouting bean petroglyph? Petroglyph Park,
Albuquerque, Bernal County, New Mexico.
Photograph Peter Faris, Sept. 1988.
There are petroglyphs on the West Mesa at Albuquerque, that some people identify as arrow fletching, but others tend to see sprouting seeds, particularly beans, in their shapes. The agricultural Ancestral Puebloan peoples relied to a great extent on the three important crops; maize, beans, and squash. We do know that maize or corn is portrayed in rock art, and squash blossoms are an occasional subject in southwestern U.S. rock art. As one of these three staples of their diet, it makes a certain amount of sense that beans would also be included in the catalog of subject matter in rock art of the Puebloan peoples.

Sprouting bean petroglyph? Petroglyph Park,
Albuquerque, Bernal County, New Mexico.
Photograph Peter Faris, Sept. 1988.
Not only were beans an important food source, they had a role in the ceremonial life of the Puebloan peoples of the American southwest. Sprouted beans play a role in the important ceremony of Powamu in February during which the kachina reappear to the villages. "This ceremony is referred to as the Powamu, or the Bean Dance. The significance of this ceremony is the hope for a successful germination of the crops to be planted later in the spring. During this ceremony dancers distribute bean sprouts that have been grown in heated kivas prior to the ceremony." (

The Powamu ceremony is opened by the Hopi kachina Ahola, one of the chief kachinas for First and Second Mesas, by rituals inside a kiva before going with the Powamu chief to take prayer feathers to Kachina Spring at the dawn. Afterwards, they visit all of the kivas giving sprouted bean and corn plants. (Wikipedia)

Sprouting bean seed.

When a bean seed germinates and sprouts the two halves of the seed split apart and the sprout emerges from between them. This is a fairly good description of the petroglyphs on the West Mesa at Albuquerque, New Mexico, leading to the possibility that they were intended to represent the bean sprouts so vital to this important yearly ceremonial occasion, as well as an important food source to the people who created this rock art.



Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Mile-36, 9-Mile Canyon, Utah. Photograph:
Peter Faris, August 1993. The arrows point
to the images in question #1 and #2.

Petroglyphs of Aepycamelus, an extinct giraffe/camel relative have been identified in Nine-Mile Canyon, Utah. The creature lived during the Miocene epoch, between 23 and 5.3 million years ago.
Long-necked quadruped #1 in upper left.
Mile-36, 9-Mile Canyon, Utah. Photograph:
Peter Faris, August 1993.


Long-necked quadruped #2 on left side.
Mile-36, 9-Mile Canyon, Utah. Photograph:
Peter Faris, August 1993.
Aepycamelus was a prairie dweller of North America (Colorado, etc.). It was a highly specialized animal. Its head was relatively small compared with the rest of its body, its neck was long, as a result of giraffe-like lengthening of the cervical vertebrae, and its legs were long and stilt-like, with the elbow and knee joints on the same level. The top of its head would have been about 3 meters (9.8 ft) above the ground“. (Wikipedia)
Aepycamelus, formerly called Alticamelus,
Aepycamelus, formerly called Alticamelus,
“Its strange body structure gives us plenty of information on its mode of life and habits. Aepycamelus obviously inhabited dry grasslands with groups of trees. It is presumed to have moved about singly or in small groups, like today's giraffes, and like them, browsed high up in the trees. In this respect it had no competitors. It survived a relatively long time, through most of the Miocene epoch, and died out prior to the start of the Pliocene, possibly due to climatic changes.” (Wikipedia)

The Miocene epoch covered the period of roughly 23 to 5.3 million years ago. So, could there have possibly been a rock artist back in the Miocene who carved these images of Aepycamelus at that time? Perhaps there was a relic population of Aepycamelus that lasted longer in northeastern Utah, until the great extinction of North American megafauna at the end of the Pleistocene period 13,000 years ago. How else can we explain these pictures?
Well, we could explain them by pointing to the fact that it is April 1st – APRIL FOOL’S DAY!
(NOTE: The rock art is real, it is the explanation that is bogus.)

SOURCE:  Wikipedia