Category Archives: U.S.A

Archaeological dig reveals participants in California’s Gold Rush dined on salted Atlantic cod

Archaeological dig reveals participants in California’s Gold Rush dined on salted Atlantic cod

It turns out San Francisco has been a destination for lovers of imported delicacies since its earliest Gold Rush days. According to results published recently in the peer-reviewed Journal of Anthropological Research, an excavation at Thompson’s Cove in San Francisco has shown “Atlantic cod were imported during the 1850s, likely as a (largely) deboned, dried and salted product from the East Coast of the United States.”

Archaeological dig reveals participants in California’s Gold Rush dined on salted Atlantic cod
Drying codfish in Flake Yard in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Credit: Historic photograph courtesy of the University of Washington.

The results underscore the importance of global maritime trade in northern California during the Gold Rush. Co-author Brittany Bingham, a doctoral student in anthropology at the University of Kansas, performed genetic analysis on 18 cod bones recovered from Thompson’s Cove to determine if they came from cod caught in the deep nearby waters of the Pacific or were shipped in packages by boat from Atlantic fisheries. Her results on five specimens for ancient DNA show Atlantic cod were imported during the debut of the Gold Rush.

Bingham said bones tend to be better preserved and more suitable for analysis than other materials left behind from the rapid surge in San Francisco’s population. (In the first year of the Gold Rush, between 1848-49, the area’s 800 residents quickly swelled to more than 20,000.)

Caudal vertebra from an Atlantic cod at Thompson’s Cove analyzed in the study versus (b) Pacific cod caudal vertebra from a contemporary comparative collection.

“Bones preserve better than other things that don’t last in the archaeological record as well,” she said. “You won’t get a quality DNA sample from every bone — some are burned, and soil and other factors can affect preservation, so we typically check for DNA and determine what we’re looking at. But often people move bones elsewhere and maybe they’re thrown in a different place than the rest of the bones, so you don’t have the whole specimen to look at. That’s where people like me come into play, and we’ll take the one tiny piece of bone that might have been found and figure out what it actually came from.”

The results of Bingham’s analysis were among the first archaeological results to confirm findings from historical newspapers and invoices: The early history of San Francisco included the importation of a wide range of fish and seafood to support the population boom.

The project came about when the Musto Building built-in 1907 at Thompson’s Cove — where the city was first settled — undertook a mandatory retrofitting to be more resilient to earthquakes, triggering a California compliance law requiring archaeological work in conjunction with construction at the site. Today, the building is home to a private social club.

Kale Bruner, who earned her doctorate in anthropology at KU, worked on the Thompson’s Cove site as construction took place. Today, Bruner serves as a research associate at the Museum of the Aleutians.

“Compliance work is challenging in a lot of ways because you don’t really get a lot of control over the excavations, and this case was kind of an extreme example of that — the fieldwork conditions were overwhelming — and I was the only archaeologist on-site,” Bruner said. “They were fortunately only excavating dirt in one location at a time, so I only had one piece of machinery to be watching, but we were hitting archaeologically significant material constantly. It was two years essentially of monitoring that kind of activity and documenting as rapidly as possible everything that was being uncovered.”

Aside from evidence of Atlantic cod, the authors reported about 8,000 total specimens or fragments of animal bone, and a total number of artefacts collected that numbered nearly 70,000. The work will yield more academic papers on the historical significance of the site.

Lead author Cyler Conrad, adjunct assistant professor of anthropology at the University of New Mexico and archaeologist with Los Alamos National Laboratory, has published other findings from work at Thompson’s Cove, including evidence of a California hide and tallow trade, eating of wild game, hunting of ducks and geese, and even importation of Galapagos tortoise.

He described the Gold Rush era as exciting and chaotic, a time that in some ways mirrored the supply chain problems plaguing the world in the COVID-19 era.

“During the Gold Rush, it took many months for vessels to arrive in San Francisco, so often when you needed things is not when they would arrive, and when things would arrive, they were often not needed anymore,” Conrad said. “You find these descriptions of San Francisco as this kind of a muddy mess, a kind of a tent city where there were shacks built upon shacks all the way up until the shoreline, just stacked with crates and boxes.

Even at Thompson’s Cove, I think Kale excavated several essentially intact crates of frying pans and shovelheads. You can imagine shiploads of shovels might arrive, but maybe everyone had a shovel already or maybe it was winter, and no one was in the goldfields and you have all this material that accumulates right along the shoreline — but that was convenient for our work.”

Conrad said the work to determine the Atlantic origins of cod bones found at the site was a significant contribution to understanding maritime trade of the era when Atlantic cod was either shipped by boat all the way around Cape Horn — or shipped to Panama, then hauled across the isthmus, before being shipped up to the Northern California goldfields.

“We have this really fascinating aggregation of material, and it’s remarkable we only found 18 bones we can identify to the genus of cod from the Atlantic,” he said. “Brittany’s DNA work was critical for this because it’s difficult to distinguish between bones of Atlantic versus Pacific cod — their bone morphology is virtually the same. We’ve been able to tie the DNA from Brittany’s work with some slight differences in the very far tail vertebrae. If you think how cod was prepped and salted, they removed almost all bones, except for the very last few bones. Perhaps this was rapidly prepared and exported cod from the East Coast, because of this rush to the goldfields and demand for food.

Perhaps they were just kind of shipping out whatever they could. There are some interesting details in the cod bones, and we would never have been able to answer these questions without DNA — and it really supports this identification that, yes, these are Atlantic cod — and that opens up a whole new window into this human experience.”

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. The university’s mission is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world. The KU News Service is the central public relations office for the Lawrence campus.

Massive 1,100 Year Old Maya Site Discovered In Georgia’s Mountains

Massive 1,100 Year Old Maya Site Discovered In Georgia’s Mountains

In Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, the Mayans constructed astonishing temples – but now some assume that the ancient people fled their dissolving civilization and ended up in Georgia.

A 1,100-year-old archaeological site is believed by the historian and architect Richard Thornton to show that Mayan refugees fled Central America and ended up near Blairsville in the North Georgian mountains.

His amazing theory is based on the discovery of 300 to 500 rock terraces and mounds that date to 900AD on the side of the Brasstown Bald mountain – around the time the Mayans started to die out.

This 3D virtual reality image was made from the Johannes Loubser site plan.

Mr Thornton’s blockbuster theory revolves around the area near Brasstown Bald potentially being the ‘fabled city of Yupaha, which Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto failed to find in 1540’. He described it as ‘certainly one of the most important archaeological discoveries in recent times.

The Mayans died out around 900AD for reasons still debated by scholars – although drought, overpopulation and war are the most popular theories, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The remains were first found by retired engineer Carey Waldrip when he went walking in the area in the 1990s. Archaeologist Johannes Loubser excavated part of the site and wrote a report about it in 2010, but does not believe the rock terraces are Mayan.

Look at this: The remains were first found by retired engineer Carey Waldrip, pictured when he went walking in the area in the 1990s

‘I think that (Mr Thornton) selectively presents the evidence,’ Mr Loubser told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ‘But he’s a better marketer than I and other archaeologists are.’

Mr Loubser, who excavated a rock wall and small mound, added that claims like this must be backed up with ‘hard evidence’ because of the various conflicting opinions in the archaeological world.’

Mr Loubser believes the structures could have been built by the Cherokee Indians or an earlier tribe between 800AD and 1100AD. He stopped digging because he realized the site could be a grave.

Still, Mr Thornton claims early maps of the location named two villages ‘Itsate’, which was how Itza Mayans described themselves. The terrace structures and dates helped him reach his conclusion.

‘It was commonplace for the Itza Maya to sculpt a hill into a pentagonal mound,’ he argues. ‘There are dozens of such structures in Central America.’

But not everyone is impressed by Mr Thornton’s theory. He cited University of Georgia archaeology professor Mark Williams in an article on Examiner.com.

‘I am the archaeologist Mark Williams mentioned in this article,’ Professor Williams said on Facebook. ‘This is total and complete bunk. There is no evidence of Maya in Georgia. Move along now.’

‘The sites are certainly those of Native Americans of prehistoric Georgia,’ Professor Williams told ABC News. ‘Wild theories are not new, but the web simply spreads them faster than ever.’

Mr Thornton wasn’t bothered by the ensuing debate, in fact, that’s exactly what he wanted. ‘I’m not an archaeologist. I’m a big picture man,’ said Mr Thorton to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ‘We’re hoping this article stirs up some interest. I was just trying to get the archaeologists to work some more on the site and they come back snapping like mad dogs.’

He works with a company called His pared his map of the Georgia site, it reminded him of other Mayan works. ‘It’s identical to sites in Belize,’ he argued.

The Mayans have been under intense scrutiny over the past few years as rumours abound about their mysterious 5,125-year calendar allegedly predicting the apocalypse on December 21 2012.

But various experts have spoken out against Doomsday, including Mexico’s ‘Grand Warlock’ Antonio Vazquez, to say that the Mayan calendar instead will just reset and a new time-span will begin.

Large discovery of Native American artefacts in Willamette Valley

Large discovery of Native American artifacts in Willamette Valley

Volunteer archaeologist Megan Wonderly discovers an obsidian Native American tool during the excavation. The tool, known as a biface, is an estimated 1,000 to 4,000 years old and could help researchers better understand early trade routes.

The 14 original obsidian bifaces were found in the cache. Archaeologists later found a fifteenth obsidian biface and several other stone tools on the site.

Thanks to a discovery by a local landowner, archaeologists unearthed the first recorded Native American tools of their kind in the Willamette Valley this summer.

While building a pond on his property, the landowner, who was not identified, found 15 obsidian hand axes. He reported his discovery to the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, which led an archaeological dig at the site in June.

The tools, known as bifaces, are a rare find, said assistant state archaeologist John Pouley, who led the dig.

“Of approximately 35,000 recorded archaeological sites in Oregon, few, likely less than 25, consist of biface caches,” he said.

The tools are an estimated 1,000 to 4,000 years old. They were found on the traditional territory of the Santiam Band of the Kalapuya, which stretches between present-day Portland and Roseburg.

During the dig, archaeologists consulted the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde, the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation.

With the assistance of the tribes, local universities and private archaeological firms, Pouley and his team determined that the unfinished tools were from the Obsidian Cliffs in the Central Oregon Cascades. They likely would have been used in trades before being worked into finished tools, Pouley said.

It’s unusual to find unfinished tools and the discovery will help archaeologists better understand prehistoric trade networks in the Pacific Northwest, Pouley said.

Pouley plans to write a report on the tools after the excavation is complete. He and his team will also present their findings at an anthropological conference in Spokane, Washington next year.

None of this would have been possible without the landowner, Pouley said.

“This site makes you wonder how many archaeological sites with the potential to shed light on the history of human occupation within Oregon have been found before, and never reported,” Pouley said. “We encourage anyone that finds artefacts on their property to contact us.”

Billionaire hands over $70 million of stolen artefacts

Billionaire hands over $70 million of stolen artefacts

Michael H. Steinhardt, the billionaire hedge fund pioneer and one of New York’s most prolific antiquities collectors, has surrendered 180 stolen objects valued at $70 million and been barred for life from acquiring any other relics, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said in a statement Monday.

The prosecutor’s office struck an agreement with Mr. Steinhardt after a four-year multinational investigation that determined that the seized pieces had been looted and smuggled from 11 countries, trafficked by 12 illicit networks and appeared on the international art market without lawful paperwork, the office said.

“For decades, Michael Steinhardt displayed a rapacious appetite for plundered artifacts without concern for the legality of his actions, the legitimacy of the pieces he bought and sold, or the grievous cultural damage he wrought across the globe,” District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said, adding: “This agreement establishes that Steinhardt will be subject to an unprecedented lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.”

Mr. Steinhardt, a Brooklyn native who turns 81 on Tuesday, is a major contributor to New York University and to numerous Jewish philanthropies. There is a Steinhardt conservatory at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and a Steinhardt Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In a statement on Monday, his lawyer, Andrew J. Levander, said: “Mr. Steinhardt is pleased that the District Attorney’s yearslong investigation has concluded without any charges, and that items wrongfully taken by others will be returned to their native countries.

Many of the dealers from whom Mr. Steinhardt bought these items made specific representations as to the dealers’ lawful title to the items, and to their alleged provenance. To the extent these representations were false, Mr. Steinhardt has reserved his rights to seek recompense from the dealers involved.”

According to prosecutors, 171 of the 180 seized antiquities first surfaced in the possession of accused antiquities traffickers, including two who have been convicted in Italy — Giacomo Medici and Giovanni Becchina.

They said the investigation revealed that 101 of the items, all covered in dirt and encrustations, were visible and identifiable in photographs found in the possession of known traffickers.

Christos Tsirogiannis, an associate professor at the University of Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies in Denmark, who specializes in searching photographic archives seized from antiquities dealers, said traffickers use such photos to advertise their looted wares to small groups of wealthy collectors. Dr. Tsirogiannis is one of about 60 researchers, investigators and foreign law enforcement officials credited by the prosecutors’ office with assisting in the case.

As part of its inquiry, Mr. Vance’s office said, prosecutors executed 17 search warrants and worked with officials in 11 countries — Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, and Turkey.

In explaining the agreement not to prosecute so long as Mr. Steinhardt abides by all its terms, Mr. Vance said the arrangement would allow for the items to be “returned expeditiously to their rightful owners” rather than being held as evidence. It would also help his office to “shield the identity of the many witnesses here and abroad whose names would be released at any trial.”

Nonetheless, the case and other recent seizures demonstrate that the office’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit is ready to reach far back in time to confiscate objects based on a New York state statute that allows prosecutors to return stolen property to its “rightful owners” regardless of when a theft might have occurred.

Mr. Steinhardt’s dealings with prosecutors over suspect antiquities date back to the 1990s. In 1997, a federal judge ruled that Mr. Steinhardt had illegally imported a golden bowl, known as a phiale, from Italy in 1992.

The object, dating to 450 B.C. and costing $1 million, was seized from Mr. Steinhardt’s home in 1995. The judge rejected his contention at the time that he was an “innocent owner” with no knowledge of irregularities.

In 2018, investigators raided his office and Fifth Avenue home and took away several ancient works they said had been looted from Greece and Italy. That seizure came on the heels of a 2017 seizure of a marble statue stolen from a temple in Sidon, Lebanon, which Mr. Steinhardt relinquished and which has been returned.

The 2017 seizure led to the formation of the trafficking unit, which pressed the case that was resolved on Monday. Officials said the unit has recovered more than 3,000 items valued at $200 million, and that at least 1,500 have been returned to their owners and countries of origin. It said hundreds are ready to be repatriated “as soon as the relevant countries are able to receive them amid the pandemic,” and more than 1,000 objects are being held awaiting the outcome of criminal proceedings.

(Separately, in March 2019, Mr. Steinhardt was accused of a pattern of sexual harassment by several women who worked for the nonprofits he supported.)

The confiscated items, which decorated Mr. Steinhardt’s homes and offices, and which he often lent to major museums, came mostly from Italy, Greece and Israel, according to a list compiled by investigators.

Billionaire hands over $70 million of stolen artefacts
The Stag’s Head Rhyton dates back to 400 BC and was looted from Milas, Turkey.
The Larnax, a 1400-1200 BC chest for human remains taken from Crete.
The Ercolano Fresco, looted from a Roman villa in Herculaneum, near Naples.

They include:

A ceremonial libations vessel, or rhyton, that depicts a stag’s head, purchased from the Merrin Gallery of Manhattan for $2.6 million in November 1991. Officials said the item, which dates to 400 B.C., first appeared on the international art market without provenance after rampant looting in Milas, Turkey. In March 1993, prosecutors said, Mr. Steinhardt lent it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it was when law enforcement officials seized it. It has since been repatriated.

A larnax, or small chest for human remains, from Crete, that dates between 1400-1200 B.C. Officials said the item, valued at $1 million, was purchased from a known antiquities trafficker and traced to Mr. Steinhardt through a financial institution based in Malta.

The “Ercolano Fresco,” purchased from Robert Hecht, who had faced accusations of trafficking in antiquities, “with no prior provenance” for $650,000 in November 1995. Dating to 50 B.C. and valued at $1 million, it depicts an infant Hercules strangling a snake sent by Hera to slay him. The fresco was looted in 1995 from a Roman villa in the ruins of Herculaneum, near Naples, officials said.

A gold bowl looted from Nimrud, Iraq, and purchased without provenance papers, officials said, for $150,000 in July 2020, at a time when objects from Nimrud were being trafficked by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Made of gold with a scalloped-flower design, the object surfaced in October 2019 when a Customs and Border Protection officer notified Mr. Vance’s office that someone on a flight from Hong Kong to Newark was hand-carrying the bowl for Mr. Steinhardt.

Three stone death masks that appeared to be encrusted with soil in photographs recovered by the Israeli authorities. They date to 6000 B.C. and were purchased by Mr. Steinhardt for $400,000 in October 2007.

Prosecutors said Mr. Steinhardt had owned and traded more than 1,000 antiquities since 1987, and his art collection was valued at about $200 million.

Another “Erased” Black Cemetery Identified in Florida

Another “Erased” Black Cemetery Identified in Florida

An unmarked African American cemetery with hundreds of graves has been found at the site of a downtown office building in Clearwater, Fla. It’s at least the fourth abandoned African American cemetery rediscovered in recent years in Florida. The finds are forcing communities to come to terms with their history and racist policies that targeted Black neighbourhoods.

Barbara Sorey-Love has experienced some of that history firsthand. She was born in the basement of Clearwater’s hospital 69 years ago and grew up in Clearwater Heights, a neighbourhood that no longer exists.

“Back then we were called coloured,” she says. “That’s where the coloured mothers and children were housed.”

Another “Erased” Black Cemetery Identified in Florida
Archaeologists work to uncover graves at the former site of the Zion cemetery found underneath the Robles Park Village housing complex in Tampa, Fla. Another unmarked African-American cemetery with hundreds of graves has been found at the site of a downtown office building in Clearwater, Fla.

Several years ago, Sorey-Love helped form the Clearwater Heights Reunion Committee, a group of people who grew up in the neighbourhood before it became a victim of urban renewal. The group began asking questions about the old St. Matthews cemetery. It was closed in the mid-1950s and sold to developers who were supposed to move the graves to a new location.

Using ground-penetrating radar and later by excavating, archaeologists found something many residents had suspected — most of the graves had never been moved. Sorey-Love recently visited the excavation site, now an office building’s parking lot.

“I went over and looked in the burial site,” she says. “And it was like the skeleton was looking up at me saying, ‘Thank God you found me.'”

Archaeologists believe several hundred people may be buried under the parking lot and a building that now stands on the site. It’s not the only African American cemetery recently rediscovered in Clearwater. A little over a mile away, an investigation has found dozens of graves at the site of a now shuttered public school. In both cases, community members are working with local officials to decide what to do next.

And it’s not just happening in Clearwater. Just across the bay in Tampa, investigations conducted by the Tampa Bay Times helped uncover at least two more African American cemeteries that were abandoned and built over. Some of the graves are under the parking lot at Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. Hundreds more were found at the site of a public housing complex.

In all these cases, Black residents were told the graves had been relocated.

“There were bodies still there and a large number of them,” says Antoinette Jackson, chair of the anthropology department at the University of South Florida says. “That caught everybody’s attention.”

The cemeteries were all closed in the 1950s, as cities around Florida’s Tampa Bay began to grow rapidly in the post-war era. Property that had been developed and used by the Black community was taken for other uses and neighbourhoods were wiped out by interstate exchanges. Jackson says the cemeteries were deliberately forgotten.

“Oftentimes,” she says, “we don’t use the word lost or abandoned. We are really saying erased, physically erased from the landscape for other purposes.”

In Clearwater, city council records from the mid-1950s show officials discussed using road improvements as an “inducement to confine Negro home building and purchasing to the existing area.”

Jeff Moates, with the Florida Public Archaeology Network, worked on the cemetery investigation in Clearwater. He says assessments levied by the city were “used as a tactic to kind of isolate the African American community. There were certain policies that further marginalized an already marginalized group of people.”

The land was used for a new shopping centre. The city paid the developers to move the graves to a new location. But, with the discovery of hundreds of graves still on the site, Clearwater officials are facing tough decisions. The company that now owns the property says it received assurances that the graves had been moved.

At a recent meeting, city councilman Mark Bunker said he was struck by what he saw in the archaeological report.

“We weren’t on the commission at that time,” he says, “but, the city does have some responsibility in dealing with this.”

Another councilman said he wasn’t sure the city should be held responsible for something done nearly 70 years ago. Meanwhile, investigations will continue on the site. The rediscovery of lost or erased Black cemeteries raises many issues, including who’s liable for righting past wrongs. A task force created by the state legislature will soon issue a report with recommendations for local and state officials.

University of South Florida anthropologist Antoinette Jackson recently helped create the Black cemetery network, a website and organization linking African American cemeteries that are being rediscovered and investigated around the country. The idea, she says is “to put a face and stories and people and communities on the map and in the public domain.”

A bill is also in the works in Congress that would create an African American Burial Grounds Network under the direction of the National Park Service.

Alien-like fish with a translucent head that exposes its green eyes is spotted near California

Alien-like fish with a translucent head that exposes its green eyes is spotted near California

There is an alien-like fish that lives some 2,000 feet below the ocean off the coast of California that has a translucent head that exposes its glowing eyes. Called the barreley fish, the deep-sea creature was spotted by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) using its remote-operated vehicle (ROV).

‘MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles Ventana and Doc Ricketts have logged more than 5,600 successful dives and recorded more than 27,600 hours of video—yet we’ve only encountered this fish nine times,’ the video description reads.

The elusive fish has two small indentations where its eyes would normally be, but instead, its eyes are two glowing green orbs behind its face that gaze up towards the top of its head.

Alien-like fish with a translucent head that exposes its green eyes is spotted near California
There is an alien-like fish that lives some 2,000 feet below ocean off the coast of California that has a see-through head that exposes its glowing eyes

Its eyes are in that position to allow the creature to scan the waters above it for food, since it lives so deep where food is scarce, along with allowing it to rotate its eyes forward.

The barreley fish was spotted on an expedition led by Rachel Carson in Monterey Bay off the coast of California last week, but it was first described in 1939, CNET reports.

While its body is mostly dark, the top part of its head is transparent and its eyes are clearly visible. According to evolutionary biologists, the fish developed such a powerful sense of sight as a result of the harsh environment it lives in, where no sunlight can reach.

Its eyes are known as tubular eyes, which are typically among deep-sea creatures, consisting of a multi-layer retina and a big lens, which allows them to detect the maximum quantity of light in one direction.

The elusive fish has two small indentations where its eyes would normally be, but instead, its eyes are two glowing green orbs behind its face that gaze up towards the top of its head

However, the eyes were believed to be fixed in place and seemed to provide only a ‘tunnel-vision’ view of whatever was directly above the fish’s head – this was the theory until 2019.

In 2019, a new study showed that the fish’s unusual eyes can rotate within a transparent shield that covers its head, allowing it to look up for food and forward to see what it is eating. 

The marine biologists also found that it uses its large, flat fins to remain motionless in the water.

The barreley fish was spotted on an expedition led by Rachel Carson in Monterey Bay off the coast of California last week, but it was first described in 1939

This means that creatures around it cannot see it clearly. Predators lurking above it cannot spot it either, however, it can look upwards to hunt for the small fish and plankton it lives off.

When a suitable morsel is identified, the barreleye fish attacks out of the darkness and swiftly engulfs its prey.

To avoid looking at the sun when it moves into shallower waters, the creature’s eyes can rotate to look forward so it can see where it is swimming.

Its amazing eyes glow a bright green and researchers believe it may have developed a form of light filter which allows it to ignore the sunlight and spot the bioluminescence of small fish and jellyfish – its favourite food.

Ancient Americans made art deep within the dark zones of caves throughout the Southeast

Ancient Americans made art deep within the dark zones of caves throughout the Southeast

On a cold winter day in 1980, a group of recreational cavemen entered the course of a narrow, wet stream south of Knoxville, Tennessee. He navigated a slippery mud slope and a tight keyhole through the cave wall, trampled himself through the stream, sank through another keyhole and climbed more mud. Eventually, they entered a high and relatively dry passage deep in the “dark zone” of the cave – beyond the reach of outside light.

On the walls around them, they began to see lines and shapes in the remains of the soil laid long ago, when the stream flowed at this high level. No modern or historical graffiti intersected the surfaces. He saw images of animals, people and transformational characters with birds with human characteristics and mammals with snakes.

Ancient cave art has long been the most compelling of all artefacts from the human past, fascinating to both scientists and the public. Its visible manifestations resonate through the ages, as to speak to us from ancient times. And in 1980 this group of caves occurred at the first ancient cave art site in North America.

Since then archaeologists like me have discovered dozens of cave art sites in the southeast.

We have been able to learn details about when cave art first appeared in the region, when it was mostly produced and what it might be used for. We have also learned a great deal by working with the surviving descendants of cave art makers, the present-day Native American peoples of the Southeast, about what cave art means and how important it is to indigenous communities.

From the outside, these caves give no indication of the ancient art that may have been inside.

Cave Art in America?

Some people think of North America when they think of ancient cave art.

The world’s first modern discovery of cave art was made in Altamira, northern Spain, in 1879, a century before Tennessee cavers made their discovery. The scientific establishment of that day immediately denied the authenticity of the site. Later discoveries served to substantiate this and other ancient sites. As the earliest manifestations of human creativity, perhaps 40,000 years old, European Palaeolithic cave art is now justifiably famous around the world.

But similar cave art was not found anywhere in North America, although Native American rock art has been recorded outside the caves since the arrival of Europeans. The artefact deep beneath the ground was unknown in the 1980s, and the Southeast was an impossible place to find it, given how much archaeology had been done there since the colonial period.

Nevertheless, Tennessee cavers assumed they were seeing something extraordinary and brought archaeologist Charles Faulkner to the cave. He started a research project there, named Mud Glyph Cave. His archaeological works have shown that the art was from the Mississippian culture, about 800 years old, and depicts imagery characteristic of ancient Native American religious beliefs. Many of those beliefs are still held by descendants of Mississippian peoples: the modern Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Kaushatta, Muskogee, Seminole and Yuchi, among others.

Following the discovery of Mud Glyph Cave, archaeologists at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, began systematic cave surveys. Today, we’ve listed 92 dark-zone cave art sites in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia. Some sites are also known in Arkansas, Missouri and Wisconsin.

What did he paint?

There are three forms of southeastern cave art.

  • Mud glyphs, like Mud Glyphs Cave, are images found in soil surfaces preserved in caves.
  • Petroglyphs are images carved directly into the limestone of the cave walls.
  • Pictographs are paintings, usually made with charcoal-based pigments, that are placed on cave walls.
  • Sometimes, more than one technique is found in the same cave, and neither method appears in other ways at an earlier or later time.
The Archaic picture of a hunter and a hunt dates back to 6,500 years.

Some southeastern cave art is quite ancient. The oldest cave art sites date back to about 6,500 years, during the Archaic period (10,000–1000 BC). These early sites are rare and appear to be clustered on the modern Kentucky–Tennessee state line. The imagery was simple and often abstract, although representational images do exist.

Woodland period Petroglyph of a box-shaped human-like creature with a long neck and U-shaped head.

The number of cave art sites increases with time. The Woodland period (1000 BC – 1000 AD) saw a more general and more widespread art production. Abstract art was still abundant and less mundane. Perhaps more spiritual subject matter was common. During the woodland, collisions between humans and animals such as “bird-man” made their first appearance.

The Mississippian period (AD 1000–1500) is the last contact stage in the Southeast before the arrival of Europeans, and it was when most dark-zone cave arts were produced. The theme is explicitly religious and includes spirit people and animals that do not exist in the natural world. There is also strong evidence that Mississippian art caves were compositions, in which images were arranged through cave passages to suggest stories or narratives in a systematic way, however, their locations and relationships were told.

The painting from the Mississippian period depicts an animal with toes, a blunt forehead and a long muzzle, with a long curved tail on its back.

Cave art continued into the modern era

In recent years, researchers have realized that cave art has a strong connection with the historical tribes that occupied the Southeast at the time of the European invasion.

In several caves in Alabama and Tennessee, inscriptions from the mid-19th century were inscribed on the cave walls in the Cherokee course. This writing system was invented by Cherokee scholar Sequoyah between 1800 and 1824 and was quickly adopted as the tribe’s primary means of written expression.

An 1828 Cherokee syllabic inscription relating to a stickball ceremony, on the wall of a cave in Alabama.

Cherokee archaeologists, historians, and linguists, along with non-native archaeologists like me, have documented and translated these cave writings. As it turns out, they refer to various important religious ceremonies and spiritual concepts that emphasize the sacred nature of the caves, their isolation and their connection to powerful spirits. These texts reflect similar religious ideas represented by graphic images in the earlier, pre-Contact time period.

Mud Glyph Cave was first discovered more than four decades ago, based on all the rediscoveries, the cave art in the Southeast for a long time. These artists worked in ancient times when ancestral Native Americans lived in the rich natural landscapes of the Southeast all the way through historical times, before forcibly removing indigenous people east of the Mississippi River in the 1830s. Trail of Tears was seen.

As the survey continues, researchers uncover more dark cave sites each year – in fact, four new caves were found in the first half of 2021. With each new discovery, the tradition began to reach the richness and diversity of the Palaeolithic art of Europe, where 350 sites are currently known. Archaeologists were unaware of the dark-zone cave art of the American Southeast even 40 years ago, indicating that new finds may be discovered in areas that have been explored for centuries.

Man finds Nephilim giants in Utah

Man finds Nephilim giants in Utah

If people in the desert are looking into this for the first time then you should really look at www.snopes.com and see what they think about some of the photos that have been posted on the Internet. So if you looked at the above link, who do you believe? At the bottom of the page on Snopes, you’ll see a link to the square-cube law which purposes that large humans are not possible. Well, I disagree.

They have been found and some are even living today. I’m sure you’ve seen them on TV shown as anomalies to the human race. So what should you take away from all this? Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Even Snopes, which some people believe in and follow like a religion, can be wrong.

Now whoever decided the Square-cube law had anything to do with people or animals certainly could never convince me, at least not showing examples of boxes. If you believe this then do you believe there was ever a Mastodon roaming the earth, or how about dinosaurs? Take it all (including this article) with a grain of salt!

Man finds Nephilim giants in Utah

To give you a good example of what we’re talking about here, we’ll dwell for a minute on this one “photo” that is presented in many, many videos on YouTube as evidence of Giant Ancients in the world and in the desert southwest. With a little research, you’ll find that this is a doctored photo that was entered into a contest on a graphics site called Worth1000.

There are many examples of fantastic graphics manipulations on this site. HERE is the original entry.

Someone found this and used it to make bogus claims about the Ancient Giants in the desert. Of course, this may not be the case for some of the information found on the Internet. So what about the archaeologists and anthropologists and their viewpoint on this subject? If you don’t know this then it’s about time you did.

If the artefacts weren’t found by a person with a degree and documented then it doesn’t exist, period! And even if it was found by a person with a degree they are unlikely to verify it. Why, because it goes against all the verified info they have and goes against other more qualified persons.

In other words, they will be ridiculed, so they forget it or write it off as a hoax. This kind of thinking is like the dark ages but continues today in our society of scholars. Would the government acknowledge these findings? Absolutely not. Can you imagine the ramifications to follow? People with Viking backgrounds like myself who have relatives on the Isle of Man could come forth and ask for their land back or payment for it. Plus a lot of other options. So much information is censored because of this it’s no wonder we live like blind people.

Manti, Utah

Let’s look at some of the findings that may or may not support the Giant Ancients in the desert. First here is a finding in the centre of Utah near the town of Manti.

In 1955 a man by the name of John Brewer found a set of stone stairs carved on the floor of a cave near Manti, Utah. After gaining access he discovered a tomb or chamber where he found large coffins and mummies with red and blond hair of very large stature. He also found boxes with metal plates inscribed in an ancient text. He showed this to a friend, Dr Robert Heinerman, PhD in anthropology. No photos exist of the coffins or mummies. Only photos of the plates were taken. Some of the plates were made of gold, some of the copper.

It is told that Mr Brewer found other caves with more artefacts, but no more mummies. He wouldn’t show the cave to anyone else.

It has been rumoured that the LDS church may have had something to do with this decision? Of course, this may be just a rumour. So to this date, there exists no physical proof of this tale. Below is a map for reference so you’ll know where Manti, Utah is located.

Los Angeles, California

This was published in the early 1900s in the San Diego Union Newspaper. There was no follow up on this find. Did the paper just use this for a fill-in or something to boost sales of the paper? The Paiute Indians have a legend about Egyptian-like people with long dark hair that arrived here in sailing ships and made their home in Death Valley in caves near the Panamint Mountains. Could these be the same people?