PureInsight | January 3, 2001
Images and messages from the incredible past
One of the most convincing signs of a high civilization is the written word. In the early spring of 1891, a farmer named J.H. Hooper was examining a wooded ridge on his property, located in Bradley County, 13 miles from Cleveland, Tennessee. A peculiar stone caught his attention, which he first took to be a grave marker. But digging around it, he soon discovered that the stone was only a surface projection of a subterranean structure that extended into the depths below. Hopper spent the next several weeks in an attempt to uncover his unusual find: A length of wall, traced for a thousand feet, on the average 2 feet thick and 8 feet high, with numerous projections - like the first one - spaced along the top every 25 to 30 feet. The wall ran roughly at an angle of 15 to 20 degrees east. The structure continues on beyond the section exposed, in both directions, following the crest of a ridge that extends from the Hiawassee river north of Chattanooga southward, where it dips beneath the Tennessee river. Its position dates it geologically to near the beginning of the Quaternary - well over a million years old.
The wall is composed of red sandstone blocks constructed in three courses, cemented together with a dark red clay mixed with salt, and in numerous places is plastered over with red, slate and yellow clays. Along one stretch of wall, near the northern end a distance of 16 feet, Hooper made without a doubt the most important discovery: Hidden beneath the outer clay plasterings, a number of the sandstone block surfaces were covered with the hieroglyphs of a lost language. The letters were arranged in wavy, parallel and diagonal lines, interspersed with small pictures of strange animals, many unidentifiable. there were other symbols too, of the sun and crescent moon, which appear to have some astronomical significance. All together, 872 individual characters were made out, many repeated - suggesting the script is a form of pictographic writing, like Chinese.
Despite the implications of the wall, and the challenge of the discovery of an unknown writing, the find was met by the scientific community with overwhelming apathy. A short notice on the Tennessee mystery wall appeared in the Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences (11:26-29), written by A.L. Rawson, who examined the structure and script first-hand, as well as published copies he had made of some of the glyphs and pictures. But that was all; no further study was ever made.
In 1936, Tom Kenny, a resident of Plateau Valley, a town located on the western slope of the Rockies in Colorado, was excavating for a winter cellar to store vegetables, when at a depth of 10 feet his spade hit a barrier. Clearing the covering material away, he unearthed a pavement made of tiles, each man-made and five inches square. The tiles were laid in mortar, the chemical composition of which later analysis showed was different from all materials found in the valley. The perplexing problem is that the strange pavement was found in the same layer containing the three-toed Miocene horse - upwards of 30 million years old.
In November, 1829, a block of marble measuring over 30 cubic feet was excavated from a depth of between 60 to 70 feet, from the Henderson quarry, located 12 miles northwest of Philadelphia. The block was sent to the Savage marble saw mill in nearby Norristown for cutting into slabs for construction. After taking off one slab about 3 feet wide and 6 feet long, workmen noticed something strange: They had exposed an unnaturally straight-edged, rectangular indentation. Several respectable townsmen were called to the scene, and in their presence the rest of the block surface was carefully removed. Revealed were two sharply defined engraved letters, resembling an 'I,' and a 'U' with a squared base. The indentations were 11/2 inches long and five-eighths of an inch in width. There was no way the letters could have been of recent origin - they were deeply embedded in the marble. More mysterious, the marble had come from a very old lime rock. Estimated age: About 65 million years.
The Los Angeles News of December 17, 1869 printed an account supplied to the paper by a correspondent of the Cleveland Herald, writing from Wellsville, Ohio. The account described how in the autumn of the year, at a coal mine operated by a Captain Lacey of Hammondville, a miner named James Parsons was loosening a large mass at a depth of 100 feet, when he suddenly exposed a smooth slate wall covered with strange alphabetic writing. The letters were raised and well defined. The coal that had covered the wall bore their distinct impression - which means the letters date to a time when the coal was in a vegetable state, and had molded itself against the wall. Each sign was three-quarters of an inch in size, and arranged in rows precisely spaced 3 inches apart. The first line of letters contained 25. Local teachers and ministers examined the find, but could offer no explanations. Unfortunately, just before a number of university professors arrived to verify the discovery, the slate surface disintegrated from exposure to air, and the script was lost. Nevertheless, the find was well-documented, and attested to by several reliable witnesses. But the most disturbing fact about the mysterious slate wall and its glyphs was their undeniable presence in coal - coal from the Carboniferous era, well over 200 million years old.
A naturalist named Isaac Lea reported in the American Journal of Science (volume I, number 1, page 155), in 1822, a find he had made in a stretch of sandstone located a quarter mile north of Pittsburgh, on the same side of the Monongahela river. Lea described it as the most singular specimen he had ever seen: An unusually flat rectangular surface, 3 feet long and varying from 5 to 6 inches wide. One end was cut off by a break in the rock - so there is no way of knowing the real length of the original impression. The other end terminated in the middle of the rock face in a straight, square line -as if a roll of paper had been torn off clean. On this flat surface were row after row of evenly spaced, perfect diamond shapes, each with an oblique, raised band across its center. Lea was mystified as to how to classify the impression, as belonging to the animal or vegetable kingdom. The answer is neither: The pattern is too precise to be natural, the diamond shapes too square to be designed by anything but an intelligent hand. Luckily, Lea had forethought enough to make accurate measurements and draw sketches of the impression, for when he returned to remove it for further study, he found that a quarryman had beaten him to it, and had done his work. The naturalist also took meticulous note of the position of the rock surface in relation to the geology of the surrounding area. The hill in which it existed is not high enough to take in the bed of carboniferous coal found in a horizontal stratum about 250 feet above the locality. In fragments of the impressed rock, Lea found fossils of primitive jointed plants - the type which made its appearance in the Devonian era, 400 million years ago.
What exactly was the mysterious pattern in rock? We do not know, but the fact remains that it bore the artistic and measuring hand of man. That hand was contemporary with purportedly the earliest plant life on earth.