Category Archives: U.S.A

The life and death of one of America’s most mysterious trees

The life and death of one of America’s most mysterious trees

In the Centre of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, a towering ponderous tree, known as the “Plaza Tree,” was once built to be a symbol of life and a center of the world for an ancient pueblo town. But new research suggests it may have been just a giant log no one bothered to move for 800 years, and maybe didn’t hold significant meaning. 

The “Plaza Tree of Pueblo Bonito” was thought to be a living “world tree” for ancestral Puebloans. But researchers have found that it grew 50 miles away and was dead when it was hauled there.

“I believe the tree was dead when it had been taken into the canyon,” said Chris Guiterman, a research assistant scientist studying ancient trees at the Tucson University of Arizona.

For over a hundred years, people assumed the tree had meaning; it was regarded as a “tree of life”, according to one researcher, or a “world tree.” The solitary tree was once thought to represent the living “center of the world” for the people of Pueblo Bonito, the largest of Chaco Canyon’s “great houses,” which was occupied between A.D. 850 and 1150.

Some speculations placed the tree at the center of a religious cult, and an illustration of a growing “Plaza Tree of Pueblo Bonito” appears in a brochure from the National Park Service.

Guiterman and his colleagues discovered that the Plaza Tree probably didn’t grow at Chaco Canyon, but more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) away. They also found no evidence that the tree had a religious role — it might have been a pole, or a beam for a house, or firewood.

“I actually have no idea whether it did, does, or ever had religious significance,” Guiterman told Live Science in an email. “I don’t know what it was used for, or why it was located in the plaza where it was found.”

Pueblo Bonito is the largest of the adobe “great houses” in Chaco Canyon. It was occupied between 850 and 1158 AD and is considered the center of the Chaco world.

“Tree of life”

The researchers studied three aspects of the Plaza Tree: documents about the discovery of its 20 foot (6 meters) long trunk in Pueblo Bonito in 1924; the levels of isotopes of the chemical element strontium within samples of its wood, which can identify where it came from; and the width of its tree rings, which can show seasonal growth.

Ideally, the tree rings would have been compared to rings from trees of the same age, wrote the researchers in the study, published online March 13 in the journal American Antiquity — but that wasn’t possible, so they used the rings in modern trees to determine distinctive growth patterns based on the climate of particular areas.

The researchers found that the tree ring width and the strontium isotopes of the Plaza Tree didn’t match those of ponderosa pine trees that grew around Chaco Canyon — instead, they closely matched trees that grew in the Chuska Mountains, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west.

The Chuska Mountains region “also happens to be the primary source for architectural wood used to construct Pueblo Bonito and other Chaco great houses,” Guiterman said.

The researchers determined that archaeologist Neil Judd of the Smithsonian Institution, who excavated Pueblo Bonito in the 1920s, failed to find any sign of deep roots from the tree in the plaza where it was found, and initially dismissed the idea that it had been growing there.

But Judd’s dismissal seems to have been overlooked in his following interpretation in the 1950s when he described the Plaza Tree as the last living remnant of an ancient forest that once existed at Chaco Canyon.

The researchers studied the width of the ancient tree rings and their levels of isotopes of strontium in the wood of the Plaza Tree to determine how old it was and where it came from.

Ancient pueblos

Recent research has shown that logs were often hauled for dozens of miles to build the pueblos at Chaco Canyon, Guiterman said: “hundreds of thousands of timbers were used in the construction of [the] great house structures.”

The Plaza Tree is one of only two logs found in an ancestral Puebloan structure that were not parts of buildings. The other is a 32 foot (10 m) long log of white fir at the Kiet Siel cliff dwelling in Arizona, discovered in the 1890s. That unexpected find may have prompted Judd’s more elaborate interpretation of the Plaza Tree, Guiterman said.

“It was a puzzling discovery — one of a kind, really,” he said. “It served as evidence for an early idea that Chaco Canyon was heavily forested before the great houses were constructed, and that the hundreds of thousands of beams came from that local forest.”

The researchers looked again at several theories surrounding the Plaza Tree, including that it served as a gnomon — the upright that casts a shadow — of an ancient sundial. “Although we cannot confirm that [the Plaza Tree] was actually long enough to be a gnomon, it is certainly possible,” they wrote.

The tree may also have served as an upright pole in ceremonies and festivals, such as the pole-climbing that features in some Native American festivals and which may have originated in ancient Mesoamerica, the researchers wrote. The branches and logs of pine trees are used in some Puebloan ceremonies today. 

But the Plaza Tree also could have had a much more mundane use. “It might have been a log staged for construction of a new room, or to replace a damaged beam in an existing room,” they wrote. “It could have been a bench, or intended for fuelwood [firewood].”

The Mystery behind the 18 Giant Skeletons found in the USA

The Mystery behind the 18 Giant Skeletons found in the USA

18 Strange Skeletons Found in Wisconsin Nine-foot Skeletons with Huge Heads and Strange Facial Features Shocked Scientists When They Were Uncovered 107 Year Ago Scientists are remaining stubbornly silent about a lost race of giants found in burial mounds near Lake Delavan, Wisconsin, in May 1912.

The dig site at Lake Delavan was overseen by Beloit College and it included more than 200 effigy mounds that proved to be classic examples of 8th century Woodland Culture. But the enormous size of the skeletons and elongated skulls found in May 1912 did not fit very neatly into anyone’s concept of a textbook standard.

They were enormous. These were not average human beings.

Strange Skulls

First reported in the 4 May 1912 issue of the New York Times, the 18 skeletons found by the Peterson brothers on Lake Lawn Farm in southwest Wisconsin exhibited several strange and freakish features.

Their heights ranged between seven and nine feet and their skulls “presumably those of men, are much larger than the heads of any race which inhabit America to-day.”

Above the eye sockets, “the head slopes straight back and the nasal bones protrude far above the cheekbones. The jawbones are long and pointed, bearing a minute resemblance to the head of the monkey. The teeth in the front of the jaw are regular molars.”

Their heights ranged between 7.6ft and 10 feet and their skulls “presumably those of men, are much larger than the heads of any race which inhabit America to-day.” They tend to have a double row of teeth, 6 fingers, 6 toes and like humans came in different races. The teeth in the front of the jaw are regular molars. Heads usually found are elongated believed due to longer than normal life span.

The mystery of The Wisconsin Giants

Was this some sort of prank, a hoax played by local farm boys or a demented taxidermist for fun and the attention of the press? The answer is no.

The Lake Delavan find of May 1912 was only one of the dozens and dozens of similar finds that were reported in local newspapers from 1851 forward to the present day. It was not even the first set of giant skeletons found in Wisconsin.

On 10 August 1891, the New York Times reported that scientists from the Smithsonian Institution had discovered several large “pyramidal monuments” on Lake Mills, near Madison, Wisconsin. “Madison was in ancient days the center of a teeming population numbering not less than 200,000,” the Times said. The excavators found an elaborate system of defensive works which they named Fort Aztalan.

“The celebrated mounds of Ohio and Indiana can bear no comparison, either in size, design or the skill displayed in their construction with these gigantic and mysterious monuments of the earth — erected we know not by whom, and for what purpose we can only conjecture,” said the Times.

On 20 December 1897, the Times followed up with a report on three large burial mounds that had been discovered in Maple Creek, Wisconsin. One had recently been opened.

“In it was found the skeleton of a man of gigantic size. The bones measured from head to foot over nine feet and were in a fair state of preservation. The skull was as large as a half bushel measure. Some finely tempered rods of copper and other relics were lying near the bones.”

Giant skulls and skeletons of a race of “Goliaths” have been found on a very regular basis throughout the Midwestern states for more than 100 years. Giants have been found in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, and New York, and their burial sites are similar to the well-known mounds of the Mound Builder people.

The spectrum of Mound builder history spans a period of more than 5,000 years (from 3400 BCE to the 16th CE), a period greater than the history of Ancient Egypt and all of its dynasties.

There is a “prevailing scholarly consensus” that we have an adequate historical understanding of the peoples who lived in North America during this period. However, the long record of anomalous finds like those at Lake Delavan suggests otherwise.

The Great Smithsonian Cover-Up

Has there been a giant cover-up? Why aren’t there public displays of gigantic Native American skeletons at natural history museums?

The skeletons of some Mound Builders are certainly on display. There is a wonderful exhibit, for example, at the Aztalan State Park where one may see the skeleton of a “Princess of Aztalan” in the museum.

But the skeletons placed on display are normal-sized, and according to some sources, the skeletons of giants have been covered up. Specifically, the Smithsonian Institution has been accused of making a deliberate effort to hide the “telling of the bones” and to keep the giant skeletons locked away.

In the words of Vine Deloria, a Native American author, and professor of law:

“Modern day archaeology and anthropology have nearly sealed the door on our imaginations, broadly interpreting the North American past as devoid of anything unusual in the way of great cultures characterized by a people of unusual demeanor. The great interloper of ancient burial grounds, the nineteenth century Smithsonian Institution, created a one-way portal, through which uncounted bones have been spirited. This door and the contents of its vault are virtually sealed off to anyone, but government officials. Among these bones may lay answers not even sought by these officials concerning the deep past.”

Maize, not metal, the key to native settlements’ history in New York

Maize, not metal, the key to native settlements’ history in New York

The Recent Cornell University research offers a more detailed historical timeline for the occupation of Native American sites in upstate New York, based on radiocarbon dating of organic materials and statistical modeling.

Reports from the study of a dozen sites in Mohawk Valley were recently published by Sturt Manning in the online journal PLoS ONE, the professor of classical archeology; and John Hart, curator in the research and collections division of the New York State Museum in Albany.

The findings, Manning said, are helping to refine our understanding of the social, political, and economic history of the Mohawk Valley region at the time of early European intervention.

The Iroquoian Study

The work is part of the Dating Iroquoia Project, involving researchers from Cornell, the University of Georgia, and the New York State Museum, and supported by the National Science Foundation.

The new paper continues and expands upon research on four Iroquoian ( Wendat) sites in southern Ontario, published by the project team in 2018. Using similar radiocarbon dating and statistical analysis methods, the 2018 findings also impacted the timelines of Iroquoian history and European contact.

A map showing the Mohawk Valley region in northeast North America and all the Iroquoian sites analyzed in this study.

“The Mohawk case was chosen because it is an iconic series of indigenous sites and was subject to one of the first big dating efforts in the 1990s,” said Manning. “We have now examined a southern Iroquois ( Haudenosaunee) case as well as a northern Iroquois (Wendat) case, and we again find that the previous dating scheme is flawed and needs revision.”

The Mohawk and Hudson river valleys were key inland routes for Europeans entering the region from the coast in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Colonization of the new world enriched Europe (Manning has described this period as “the beginning of the globalized world”) but brought disease and genocide to indigenous peoples, and their history during this time is often viewed in terms of trade and migration.

Iroquoian Trade Goods

The standard timeline created for historical narratives of indigenous settlement, Manning noted, has largely been based on the presence or absence of types of European trade goods – e.g., metal items or glass beads. Belying this Eurocentric colonial lens, trade practices differed from one native community to another, and not all of them accepted contact with, or goods from, European settlers.

Iroquois engaging in trade with Europeans.

To clarify the origins of metal goods found in the upstate New York settlements, the team used portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) analysis to determine whether copper artifacts were of native or European origin. They then also re-assessed the dates of the sites using radiocarbon dating coupled with Bayesian statistical analysis.

Bayesian analysis, Manning explained, is “a statistical method that integrates prior knowledge in order to better define the probability parameters around a question or unknown. In this case, archaeological and ethnohistorical information was combined with data from a large set of radiocarbon dates in order to estimate occupation dates for a set of Mohawk villages across the 13th to early 17th centuries.”

The focus was on the period from the late 15th to the early 17th century, he said, or “the long 16th century of change in the northeast”. The results “add to a growing appreciation of the interregional variations in the circulation and adoption patterns of European goods in northeastern North America in the 16th to earlier 17th centuries,” Manning said.

Iroquoian History Reevaluated

In previous indigenous site studies, where artifacts indicated trade interactions, researchers might assume “that trade goods were equally available, and wanted, all over the region,” and that different indigenous groups shared common trade practices, he said. Direct radiocarbon dating of organic matter, such as maize kernels, tests those assumptions and removes the colonial lens, allowing an independent timeframe for historical narratives, Manning said.

At several major Iroquois sites lacking close European connections, independent radiocarbon studies indicate substantially different date ranges from the previous estimates based on trade goods.

“The re-dating of a number of Iroquoian sites also raises questions about the social, political and economic history of indigenous communities from the 14th to the 17th centuries,” Manning said. “For example … a shift to larger and fortified communities, and evidence of increased conflict,” was previously thought to have occurred around the mid-15th century.

The study of the Iroquoian sites also raises questions about the dating of conflicts.

But the radiocarbon findings from some larger sites in Ontario and their cultivated maize fields ¬- 2,000 acres or more in some instances — date the sites from the mid-16th to the start of the 17th century, he said. “However, as this New York state study shows, other areas had their own and differing trajectories. Thus with direct dating we start to see real, lived, histories of communities, and not some imposed generic assessment,” Manning said.

“The emerging new and independent timeframe for northeast North America will now form the basis of a wider indigenous history,” Manning stated, “free from a Eurocentric bias, with several past assumptions open for an overdue rethink.” Cornell University has dedicated television and audio studios available for media interviews supporting full HD, ISDN, and web-based platforms.

200 million-year-old shoe print found on a lump of coal

200 million-year-old shoe print found on a lump of coal

In the past, there have been countless mysterious discoveries that point to the fact that modern humans lived on Earth much earlier than scholars say. Such unexplained observations referred to by many authors as ‘ ooparts — or out of place artifacts’, these enigmatic findings push the boundaries set forth by mainstream scholars, challenging everything we know about modern humans and life on Earth.

A hundred years ago, a Nevada Mining Company employee named Albert E. Knapp made the enigmatic — and somewhat controversial — discovery. To be precise in January 1917.  In an article at creationism.org, we find a letter written by Mr. Knapp—the discoverer—dating back to January 15, 1917.

“I was intrigued by the fossil, which laid on the stone side among some loose rocks, as I descended the hill my attention was attracted by the fossil. I took it and placed it in my pocket for further analysis and it came to the conclusion that it is a layer from the heel of a shoe which had been pulled from the balance of the heel by suction; the rock was in a plastic state at that time. It was found in LIMESTONE OF THE TRIASSIC PERIOD, a belt of which runs through that section of the hills.”

There are however several websites that wrongly concluded that the ‘ 200 million-year-old fossilized shoeprint ‘ was found in Triassic rock near Fisher Canyon, Pershing County, Nevada by John Reid in 1922.

The enigmatic object caught the attention of several researchers who were looking forward to analyzing it. The object also caught the eyes of the media as we find two reports about the discovery in a March 19, 1922 story in the New York Times: “It would fit nicely a boy of ten or twelve years. The edges are as smooth as if freshly cut. The surprising part of it is what seems to be a double line of stitches, one near the outside edge of the sole and the other about a third of an inch inside the first. The ‘leather’ is thicker inside the inner welting and appears to be slightly bevelled, so that at the margin, half an inch wide, which runs outside, the sole is something like an eighth of an inch thick.

The symmetry is maintained perfectly throughout. The perfect lines pursued by the welting, and the appearance of hundreds of minute holes through which the sole was sewed to the shoe are the things which make the object such an extraordinary freak in the eyes of the scientists who examined it.

And an October 8, 1922 article by W. H. Ballou in the American Weekly section of the New York Sunday American titled: “Mystery of the Petrified Shoe Sole”:

“…Some time ago, while he was prospecting for fossils in Nevada, John T. Reid, a distinguished mining engineer, and geologist stopped suddenly and looked down in utter bewilderment and amazement at a rock near his feet. For there, a part of the rock itself was what seemed to be a human footprint! Closer inspection showed that it was not a mark of a naked foot, but was, apparently, a shoe sole which had been turned into stone.

The forepart was missing. But there was the outline of at least two-thirds of it, and around this outline ran a well-defined sewn thread which had, it appeared, attached the welt to the sole. Further on was another line of sewing, and in the center, where the foot would have rested had the object really been a shoe sole, there was an indentation, exactly such as would have been made by the bone of the heel rubbing upon and wearing down the material of which the sole had been made. Thus was found a fossil which is the foremost mystery of science today. For the rock in which it was found is at least 5 million years old…”

However, as noted by paleo.cc, the article that appeared in New York Sunday American mistakenly credits Reid instead of Knapp as the person who discovered it, but it offers misleading details about the age to the artifact.

Several authors concluded upon closer inspection that the rock shows “a layer from the heel of a shoe which had been pulled up from the balance of the heel by suction, the rock being in a plastic state at the time.”

Furthermore, it is noted that the alleged shoe print was in a marvelous state of preservation—as the edges of the heel were smooth and rounded off as if cut and its right side appeared more worn than the left—an indicative sign that it had been worn on the right foot.

However, many authors and websites—who disagree with mainstream history mostly—argue that what Knapp found really amazing was that the rock in which the heel mark was made, was a Triassic rock—believed to be at least 220 million years old—which runs in a belt through the canyon hills where the enigmatic shoeprint was discovered.

But author Glen J. Kuban notes that there are several issues with the shoeprint interpretation.

The Kuban notes that from the only photographs from the artifact, we can deduce that it seems to be a broken ironstone concretion, one that may have suffered from erosion. Interestingly, such concretions tend to display ovoid shapes and concentric banding like the one discovered in the alleged 200 million-year-old shoe print.

As noted by essayfarm.com, Concretions are hard to compact accumulations of mineral matter and are found inside sedimentary rocks. Often concretions are mistaken for bones, fossils, meteorites and other odd objects. They can be so small that it requires a magnifying glass to be visible or as large as 10 feet in diameter and weigh hundreds of pounds.  Concretions can also have somewhat of regular shapes such as boxes, blocks, flat disks, pipes, cannonballs and have even been known to resemble parts of a human body such as a foot or ribs.

As noted in the book God-Or Gorilla by McCann, Alfred Watterson, 1879-1931, the Rockefeller Institute conducted microscopic photography of the print, which showed that the object in question contained the presence of two rows of stitching, about 1/3″ apart, with the appearance of hundreds of minute holes through which the soul was sewed to the shoe. Regrettably, no microscopy images were published to back the claims.

“The edges are rounded off smoothly as if it were freshly cut leather from an expert cobbler. The stone to which it is attached is about the size of a brick. The heel and part of the sole appear, the toe-end being missing.”

Creationsim.org states that the above-mentioned microphotographs showed very clearly that it bore a minute resemblance to a well-made piece of leather, stitched by hand, and at one time worn by a human foot.

The photographs showed the stitches very plainly; at one place it was double-stitched, and the twist of the thread could be clearly seen. The thread is smaller than any used by shoemakers of today. Minute crystals of sulphide of mercury are to be noticed throughout the spaces of this fossil shoe-sole, these minerals having been deposited in the long ago by waters which carried them in solution.

Regrettably, the present location of the artifact is unknown, so further studies cannot be conducted.