PureInsight | January 3, 2001
Out-of-place metal objects
It is one thing to find evidence of human skeletal remains and footprints in the incredible past, but it is something else again to discover artifacts that prove the existence of advanced cultures in the strata as well. One of the characteristics of any high civilization is its ability to work metals. Conservative historians and archaeologists, who hold to the concept of linear cultural development, point to the ancient Middle East as the home of the very first metal production. Here, they claim, man began to melt and shape copper, iron, gold, and silver only 8,000 years ago. But unusual relics brought up from the depths of the rocky earth tell a different story.
In 1826, a well dug near the Ohio river in north Cincinnati failed to produce water, but did produce the unexpected. From a level 94 feet down, a buried tree stump was brought to the surface which showed the marks of an ax. The marks were deep and well-cut, indicating the use of a sharp and durable blade. The suspicion that the ax had been made of metal was confirmed when, embedded in the top of the stump, an advanced oxidized wedge of iron was found. The layer from which the stump came was estimated to be between 50,000 and 75,000 years old - nearly 10 times the accepted age of the supposed first metal usage.
A letter kept in the Archives of Madrid and dated 1572, records the account of the Spanish Viceroy in Peru and a strange artifact which came into his possession. In the year the letter was written, Indian miners removed from a subsurface layer of gravel a large conglomerate boulder, and broke it into pieces for easier disposal. As the mass shattered to the hammer blow, out of the center of it fell a perfect six-inch nail. The nail was later given to the Viceroy as a souvenir, who had it thoroughly examined, and verified its finding. The first mystery is that iron was unknown to the Peruvian Indians, so the nail did not originate with them. And the second mystery is that the rock from which the nail was freed was in the neighborhood of 75,000 to 100,000 years in age.
In the June, 1851 issue of Scientific American (volume 7, pages 298-299), a report was reprinted from the Boston Transcript about two parts of a metallic vase dynamited out of solid rock on Meeting House Hill, Dorchester, Massachusetts. When the two parts were put together, they formed a bell-shaped vase, 4 1/2 inches high, 6 1/2 inches at the base, 2 1/2 inches at the top and an eighth of an inch thick. The metal of the vase was composed of an alloy of zinc and a considerable portion of silver. On the sides were six figures of a flower in bouquet arrangements, inlaid with pure silver, and around the lower part a vine, or wreath, also inlaid with silver. The chasing, carving, and inlaying are exquisitely done by the art of some unknown craftsman - yet this curiosity was blown out of solid pudding stone from 15 feet below the surface. Estimated age - 100,000 years. Unfortunately, the vase was circulated from museum to museum, and then disappeared. It is probably gathering dust in some curator's basement, its identity or source long forgotten.
At Lawn Ridge, 20 miles north of Peoria, Illinois, in August of 1870, three men were drilling an artesian well, when - from a depth of over a hundred feet - the pump brought up a small metal medallion to the surface. One of the workmen, Jacob W. Moffit, from Chillicothe, was the first to discover it in the drill residue. A noted scholar of the time, Professor Alexander Winchell, reported in his book Sparks From a Geologist's Hammer, that he received from another eye-witness, W.H. Wilmot, a detailed statement, dated December 4, 1871, of the deposits and depths of materials made during the boring, and the position where the metal 'coin' was uncovered. The stratification took this form: Soil - 3 feet; yellow clay - 17 feet; blue clay - 44 feet; dark vegetable matter - 4 feet; hard purplish clay - 18 feet; bright green clay - 8 feet; mottled clay - 18 feet; paleosol (ancient soils) - 2 feet; coin location; yellowish clay - 1 foot; sand, clay and water - 11 feet. The strange 'coin-medallion' was composed of an unidentified copper alloy, about the size and thickness of a U.S. quarter of that period. It was remarkably uniform in thickness, round, and the edges appeared to have been cut. Researcher William E. Dubois, who presented his investigation of the medallion to the American Philosophical Society, was convinced that the object had in fact passed through a rolling mill, the edges showed 'further evidence of the machine shop.' Despite its 'modern characteristics', however, Dubois plainly saw that, upon the object, 'the tooth of time is plainly visible.'
Both sides of the medallion were marked with artwork and hieroglyphs, but these had not been metal-engraved or stamped. Rather, the figures had somehow been etched in acid, to a remarkable degree of intricacy. One side showed the figure of a woman wearing a crown or headdress; her left arm is raised as if in benediction, and her right arm holds a small child, also crowned. The woman appears to be speaking. On the opposite side is another central figure, that looks like a crouching animal: it has long, pointed ears, large eyes and mouth, claw-like arms, and a long tail frayed at the very end. Below and to the left of it is another animal, which bears a strong resemblance to a horse. Around the outer edges of both sides of the coin are undecipherable glyphs - they are of very definite character, and show all the signs of a form of alphabetic writing.
In 1876, the medallion was presented by Professor Winchell to a meeting of the Geological Section of the American Association in Buffalo. There was much speculation, but few answers. One participant, a conservative historian, Professor J.R. Lesley, tried to explain the object as a 'practical joke' dropped into a hole by a passing French or Spanish explorer. The professor even claimed to see the coin's figures as the astrological signs of Pisces and Leo, and read into the glyphs the date 1572. However, Winchell countered with these arguments against such an interpretation: 1. By no stretch of the imagination were the figures and glyphs decipherable in terms of any known symbology or script. 2. Who, as a practical joke, would have dropped a metal object into a hole and known that someone several hundred years later would happen to drill at that precise spot (within a 4-inch tolerance) and find it? The odds would be phenomenal. And 3. There is the very real problem of explaining the accumulation of 114 feet of deposit over the buried coin. Having examined all the evidence, Winchell was convinced the coin had indeed come from this depth. It had not fallen into a hole in the past - the sediments drilled through were uniform and undisturbed. And the amount of sedimentation was not what would have settled in only a few centuries. In fact, recent calculations based on uniform rates of alluvium deposition and radioisotope dates for this region estimate an age for materials from just below a depth of 100 feet to be between 100,000 and 150,000 years.
What conclusions can we draw about the mystery coin? A lost civilization once existed on the North American continent which worked in copper and other metals; possessed art and writing; attired themselves with crowns and other clothing; knew of and perhaps domesticated several animals including the horse; utilized acids for etching in a manner that is still not understood today; and perhaps the most disturbing, possessed forms of machinery for the cutting, rolling and processing of metal pieces.
As a sidelight, the enigmatic coin was not the only item that came from deep levels in Illinois. In 1851, in Whiteside County, another well-drilling bit brought up from a sand stratum 120 feet deep two copper artifacts: What appears to be a hook, and a ring. Their age is thought to be the same as that of the coin - about 150,000 years old.
On February 13,1961, three rock hunters - Mike Mikesell, Wallace Lane and Virginia Maxey - were collecting geodes about 12 miles east-southeast of Olancha, California. Geodes are spherical stones with hollow interiors lined with crystals. On this particular day, while searching in the Coso Mountains, they found one stone located near the top of a peak approximately 4,300 feet in elevation and about 340 feet above the dry bed of Owens Lake.
The rockhounds took it to be a geode, but later found it was not, because it bore traces of fossil shells. The next day when Mikesell cut the stone in half, he nearly ruined a ten-inch diamond saw in the process, for it did not contain crystals, but rather something totally unexpected. Inside were the remains of some form of mechanical device: Beneath the outer layer of hardened clay, pebbles and fossil inclusions is a hexagonal shaped layer of a substance resembling wood, softer than agate or jasper. This layer forms a casing around a three-quarter inch wide cylinder made of solid white porcelain or ceramic, and in the center of the cylinder is a two millimeter shaft of bright, brassy metal. This shaft, the rock hunters discovered, is magnetic, and after several years of exposure never showed traces of oxidation. Also, surrounding the ceramic cylinder are rings of copper, much of them now corroded. Embedded too in the rock, though separate from the cylinder, are two more man-made items - what look like a nail and a washer.
EDITOR¡¯S COMMENT: Several readers have stated that this artifact is indeed a spark plug from the 1920¡¯s.