Category Archives: U.S.A

Mississippian Period Cave Art Tells A Tale From 6,500 Years Ago

Mississippian Period Cave Art Tells A Tale From 6,500 Years Ago

On a cold winter’s day in 1980, a group of recreational cavers entered a narrow, wet stream passage south of Knoxville, Tennessee. They navigated a slippery mud slope and a tight keyhole through the cave wall, trudged through the stream itself, ducked through another keyhole and climbed more mud. Eventually, they entered a high and relatively dry passage deep in the cave’s “dark zone” – beyond the reach of external light.

Human figure from Mud Glyph Cave with raised right hand and Chunkey game piece in left hand. Alan Cressler

On the walls around them, they began to see lines and figures traced into remnant mud banks laid down long ago when the stream flowed at this higher level. No modern or historic graffiti marred the surfaces. They saw images of animals, people and transformational characters blending human characteristics with those of birds, and those of snakes with mammals.

Ancient cave art has long been one of the most compelling of all artefacts from the human past, fascinating both to scientists and to the public at large. Its visual expressions resonate across the ages as if the ancients speak to us from deep in time. And this group of cavers in 1980 had happened upon the first ancient cave art site in North America.

Since then archaeologists like me have discovered dozens more of these cave art sites in the Southeast. We’ve been able to learn details about when cave art first appeared in the region, when it was most frequently produced and what it might have been used for. We have also learned a great deal by working with the living descendants of the cave art makers, the present-day Native American peoples of the Southeast, about what cave art means and how important it was and is to Indigenous communities.

From the outside, these caves betray no hint of the ancient art that might be inside. Alan Cressler

Cave art in America?

Few people think of North America when they think about ancient cave art. A century before the Tennessee cavers made their own discovery, the world’s first modern discovery of cave art was made in 1879, at Altamira in northern Spain. The scientific establishment of the day immediately denied the authenticity of the site.

Subsequent discoveries served to authenticate this and other ancient sites. As the earliest expressions of human creativity, some perhaps 40,000 years old, European palaeolithic cave art is now justifiably famous worldwide.

But similar cave art had never been found anywhere in North America, although Native American rock art outside of caves has been recorded since Europeans arrived. Artwork deep under the ground was unknown in 1980, and the Southeast was an unlikely place to find it given how much archaeology had been done there since the colonial period.

Nevertheless, the Tennessee cavers recognized that they were seeing something extraordinary and brought archaeologist Charles Faulkner to the cave. He initiated a research project there, naming the site Mud Glyph Cave. His archaeological work showed that the art was from the Mississippian culture, some 800 years old, and depicted imagery characteristic of ancient Native American religious beliefs. Many of those beliefs are still held by the descendants of Mississippian peoples: the modern Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Coushatta, Muscogee, Seminole and Yuchi, among others.

After the Mud Glyph Cave discovery, archaeologists here at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville initiated systematic cave surveys. Today, we have catalogued 92 dark-zone cave art sites in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. There are also a few sites known in Arkansas, Missouri and Wisconsin.

What did they depict?

There are three forms of southeastern cave art.

  • Mud glyphs are drawings traced into pliable mud surfaces preserved in caves, like those from Mud Glyph Cave.
  • Petroglyphs are drawings incised directly into the limestone of the cave walls.
  • Pictographs are paintings, usually made with charcoal-based pigments, placed on the cave walls.

Sometimes, more than one technique is found in the same cave, and none of the methods seems to appear earlier or later in time that the others.

Archaic Period pictograph of a hunter and prey dated to 6,500 years ago. Alan Cressler

Some southeastern cave art is quite ancient. The oldest cave art sites date to some 6,500 years ago, during the Archaic Period (10,000-1000 B.C.). These early sites are rare and seem to be clustered on the modern Kentucky-Tennessee state line. The imagery was simple and often abstract, although representational pictures do exist.

Woodland Period petroglyph of a box-shaped human-like creature with a long neck and u-shaped head. Alan Cressler

Cave art sites increase in number over time. The Woodland Period (1000 B.C. – A.D. 1000) saw more common and more widespread art production. Abstract art was still abundant and less worldly. Probably more spiritual subject matter was common. During the Woodland, conflations between humans and animals, like “bird-humans,” made their first appearance.

The Mississippian Period (A.D. 1000-1500) is the last precontact phase in the Southeast before Europeans arrived, and this was when much of the dark-zone cave art was produced. The subject matter is clearly 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, with images organized through the cave passages in systematic ways to suggest stories or narratives told through their locations and relations.

Mississippian Period pictograph showing an animal with talons for feet, a blunt forehead and long snout, with a long curving tail over the back. Alan Cressler

Cave art continued into the modern era

In recent years, researchers have realized that cave art has strong connections to the historic tribes that occupied the Southeast at the time of the European invasion.

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

On a cave wall in Alabama, an 1828 Cherokee syllabary inscription relating to a stickball ceremony. Alan Cressler

Cherokee archaeologists, historians and language experts have joined forces with nonnative archaeologists like me to document and translate these cave writings. As it turns out, they refer to various important religious ceremonies and spiritual concepts that emphasize the sacred nature of caves, their isolation and their connection to powerful spirits. These texts reflect similar religious ideas to those represented by graphic images in earlier, precontact time periods.

Based on all the rediscoveries researchers have made since Mud Glyph Cave was first explored more than four decades ago, cave art in the Southeast was created over a long period of time. These artists worked in ancient times when ancestral Native Americans lived by foraging in the rich natural landscapes of the Southeast all the way through to the historic period just before the Trail of Tears saw the forced removal of indigenous people east of the Mississippi River in the 1830s.

As surveys continue, researchers uncover more dark cave sites every year – in fact, four new caves were found in the first half of 2021. With each new discovery, the tradition is beginning to approach the richness and diversity of the Paleolithic art of Europe, where 350 sites are currently known. That archaeologists were unaware of the dark-zone cave art of the American Southeast even 40 years ago demonstrates the kinds of new discoveries that can be made even in regions that have been explored for centuries.

The Ancient Giants Of Nevada And The Mystery Of Lovelock Cave

The Ancient Giants Of Nevada And The Mystery Of Lovelock Cave

Was North America once inhabited by a race of giants? According to an old legend supported by several challenging archaeological finds, it is possible. Many Native American tribes tell stories about the long-forgotten existence of a race of humans that were much taller and stronger than ordinary men.

These giants are described as both brave and barbaric and legends often mention their cruelty towards whomever they pleased.

The Paiute, a tribe that settled in the Nevada region thousands of years ago, have an outstanding legend about a race of red-haired giants called the Si-Te-Cah.

The Ancient Giants Of Nevada And The Mystery Of Lovelock Cave
The ancestors of the Paiute described them as savage and inhospitable cannibals.

In the Northern Paiute language, ‘Si-Te-Cah’ literally means ‘tule-eaters.’

Legend has it that the giants came from a distant island by crossing the ocean on rafts built using the fibrous tule plant.

As odd as it may sound, this legend repeats itself all over the Americas, suggesting it might be an incomplete chronicle of a real event that happened long ago.

In Crónicas del Perú, sixteenth-century Spanish conquistador Pedro Cieza de León recorded an ancient Peruvian tale about the origin of the South American giants.

According to legend, they “came by sea in rafts of reeds after the manner of large boats; some of the men were so tall that from the knee down they were as big as the length of an ordinary fair-sized man.”

Could the giants of Peru and the Si-Te-Cah have been survivors of a massive cataclysm who took refuge on the American continent?

Legend tells that the Si-Te-Cah waged war on the Paiute and all other neighbouring tribes, spreading terror and devastation. Finally, after years of conflict, the tribes united against the common enemy and began to decimate them.

The last remaining red-haired giants were chased off and sought shelter inside a cave. The tribes started a fire at the cave entrance, suffocating and burning alive the Si-Te-Cah. Those driven out by the smoke were also killed.

The tribes then sealed off the mouth of the cave so that no one might set eyes on those who had once plagued their land. They were all but forgotten until a random event brought them back to light.

In 1886, a mining engineer named John T. Reid happened to hear the legend from a group of Paiutes while prospecting near Lovelock, Nevada.

The Indians told him that the legend was real and the cave was located nearby. When he saw the cave for himself, Reid knew he was onto something.

Reid was unable to begin digging himself but news spread and soon, Lovelock cave was attracting attention. Unfortunately, the attention was profit-driven as guano deposits were discovered inside.

A company started by miners David Pugh and James Hart began excavating the precious resource in 1911 and had soon shipped more than 250 tons to a fertilizer company in San Francisco.

Any artefacts that might have been discovered were probably neglected or lost.

After the surface layer of guano had been mined, strange objects started to surface.

This led to an official excavation being performed in 1912 by the University of California and another one took place in 1924. Reports told about thousands of artifacts being recovered, some of them being truly unusual.

Although their claims have not been verified (it comes as no surprise), sources said the mummified remains of several red-haired ancient giants were found buried in the cave.

Measuring between 8 to 10 feet in height, these mummies have since been referred to as the Lovelock Giants.

Another intriguing find was a pair of 15 inch-long sandals that showed signs of having been worn. Allegedly, other unusually large items were recovered but have since been locked away in museum warehouses and private collection.

A piece of evidence that remains on-site until this day is a giant hand print, embedded on a boulder inside Lovelock Cave. We won’t go into further debate pertaining to this aspect and its implications.

Needless to say, this discovery has led many into believing the Paiute legend of the Si-Te-Cah might be more than just folklore.

Around the same time as the second Lovelock Cave excavation, another dig revealed a set of equally-disturbing finds.

According to a 1931 article published in the Nevada Review-Miner, two giant skeletons had been found buried in a dry lake bed close to Lovelock, Nevada.

The oversized remains measured 8.5, respectively 10 feet in height and were mummified in a manner similar to the one employed by ancient Egyptians.

Another common trait between these mummified giant remains and the ones discovered as far south as Lake Titicaca is the presence of red hair.

While some scientists believe the reddish colour is a result of the interaction with the environment in which they were buried, the mummies verify the legends, which described the Si-Te-Cah and their kin as red-haired giants.

Proponents of alternative history believe these violent giants were none other than the biblical Nephilim, the forsworn offspring of the ‘Sons of God’ with the ‘daughters of men.’

If this is true, there’s little chance we might get to see any of the giant mummies. Those interested in keeping history secret will never disclose their location.

Lost Ancient City Discovered In The Heart Of The USA

Lost Ancient City Discovered In The Heart Of The USA

When speaking about lost cities, the first thing that jumps to mind is a lost city, buried beneath the sands somewhere in Egypt. Or a lost city located somewhere in the most unexplored parts of the Amazon. However, sometimes, lost cities are found in the mundane of places. If you travel to Arkansas City, Kansas you’ll find evidence of one such ancient city.

by Janice Friedman

Archaeologists believe they have come across the city of Etzanoa (the “Great Settlement”), an ancient settlement mentioned by Spanish explorers during the 16th century.

Image: One of the few maps allegedly showing the location of the Native American city of Etzanoa (labelled in the top middle)

For hundreds of years, the ‘Great Settlement’ is thought to have been the home of more than 20,000 people.

This fact places the city of Etzanoa as one of the oldest native American settlements in the United States, second only to the ancient ‘Pyramid’ city of Cahokia, in central Illinois.

The first accounts mentioning the ancient city of Etzanoa come from Spanish gold-seeking conquistadores.

Translated records from the 1600’s tell the story of Juan de Oñate, a Spanish conquistador, founder, and governor of New Mexico who travelled from New Mexico into southern Kansas, in search of the lost city of Quivira—one of the mythical “Seven Cities of Gold” that were never found.

Juan de Oñate’s expedition was greeted peacefully by the inhabitants of Etzanoa.

However, after the Spaniards started taking hostages, the residents fled.

Eventually, the conquistadores explored the area, and their homes searching for valuables but decided it was too risky as the Natives could attack them at any moment.

Eventually, they decided to return to New Mexico, but de Oñate’s expedition was attacked by one thousand warriors belonging to the Escanxaque tribe.

After suffering heavy losses, the conquistadores returned to New Mexico.

Nearly a century later, French explorers travelled to the region but found nothing. The entire city vanished, and the French found no evidence of the people of the city of Etzanoa.

A Discovery That Changes Early American History

For years have people in present-day Arkansas City come across a number of ancient artefacts like arrowheads, and pottery, but no one was aware of the fact that there was a massive, archaeological gold mine hidden beneath their feet.

That is until Anthropologist and archaeologist professor Donald Blakeslee decided to take a more detailed look.

According to the L.A. Times, Blakeslee used translated documents written by the Spanish conquistadors (the expedition led by Juan de Oñate) who came across the land more than 400 years ago to conclude that these ancient artefacts were the remnants of the Native American lost city of Etzanoa.

“‘I thought, ‘Wow, their eyewitness descriptions are so clear it’s like you were there,’” Blakeslee told the Times about reading the conquistador’s accounts. “I wanted to see if the archaeology fit their descriptions. Every single detail matched this place.”

Based on ancient accounts, maps as well as artefacts that have so far been recorded, it is estimated that the Native American city of Etzanoa was in fact home to a massive population of Native American Indians.

In fact, according to Blakeslee, Etzanoa is most likely the second-largest settlement in the modern-day United States. The city spanned more than 5 miles between the Walnut and Arkansas rivers, where 20,000 people lived in “thatched, beehive-shaped houses.”

Forbidden History: Back In 1969, Construction Workers Found A 200,000-Year-Old Structure In Oklahoma

Forbidden History: Back In 1969, Construction Workers Found A 200,000-Year-Old Structure In Oklahoma

In 1969, construction workers in Oklahoma stumbled across a structure that according to many authors could rewrite history. The team of workers discovered the remains of a 200,000-year-old structure. Newspaper The Oklahoman covered the story in 1969, creating a heated debate among experts.

Could Oklahoma’s “Ancient Mosaic Floor”—containing mystery post holes—rewrite the history of not only North America but the entire planet as well?

According to a newspaper report published in 1969, the structure found by construction workers in Oklahoma dates back around 200,000 years. In nearly all corners of the world have researchers and archaeologists stumbled across things they can hardly explain. One such discovery was made in Oklahoma in 1969, when an archaeologist stumbled across what is described as a ‘massive mosaic floor, with strange post holes’.

Soon questions started popping out, and scientists kick-started a great debate. How old was the alleged floor? Is it man-made, or a natural formation?

Many questions appeared that scientists were not able to answer, some even speculated that the enigmatic floor dated back a staggering 200,000 years. Many were convinced that the tile floor was a result of man and not mother nature, but if it was in fact so old, who could have created it? And what if the enigmatic floor is the only remnant of a much greater structure?

But let’s go through the details by step.

Obviously, the wildest thing about the discovery is the age of the structure. How on Earth did they conclude it was 200,000 years old?

The first mentions of the enigmatic discovery can be traced back to The Oklahoman— the largest daily newspaper in Oklahoma and is the only regional daily that covers the Greater Oklahoma City area.

Forbidden History: Back In 1969, Construction Workers Found A 200,000-Year-Old Structure In Oklahoma

In June of 1969, The Oklahoman wrote:

“On June 27, 1969, workmen cutting into a rock shelf situated on the Broadway Extension of 122nd Street, between Edmond and Oklahoma City, came upon a find that was to create much controversy among the experts.“

“To the layman, the site looked like an inlaid mosaic floor. It apparently looked very much like someone’s floor to some of the experts, as well.”

“‘I am sure this was man-made because the stones are placed in perfect sets of parallel lines which intersect to form a diamond shape, all pointing to the east,’ said Durwood Pate, an Oklahoma City geologist who studied the site.”

“We found post holes which measure a perfect two rods from the other two.

“The top of the stone is very smooth, and if you lift one of them, you will find it is very jagged, which indicates wear on the surface. Everything is too well-placed to be a natural formation.’”

“Dr. Robert Bell, an archaeologist from the University of Oklahoma, expressed his opinion that the find was a natural formation.

“Dr. Bell said that he could see no evidence of any mortaring substance. But Pate, on the other hand, was able to distinguish some kind of mud between each stone.”

“Delbert Smith, a geologist, president of the Oklahoma Seismograph Company, said the formation, which was discovered about three feet (0.9 meters) beneath the surface, appeared to cover several thousand square feet.”

“The Tulsa World quoted Smith as saying: ‘There is no question about it. It has been laid there, but I have no idea by whom.’”

According to the newspaper, Delbert Smith, president of the Oklahoma Seismograph Co. and past president of the Oklahoma City Geophysical Society, and Durwood Pate, independent petroleum geologist, traveled to the site to study the area and take samples.

“I am satisfied that it is not a natural earth formation and that it is manmade,” Smith later said.

Here are three clippings from The Lawton [Oklahoma] Constitution from the summer of 1969 (6/29/69, p. 4A; 7/8/69, p. 18; 7/10/69, p. 5A) that describe the then-differences of opinion about the nature of this (geological) discovery.

Delbert Smith, a geologist, and president of the Oklahoma Seismograph Company, summed up the mystery concerning the tile floor in the Tulsa World of June 29, 1969:

“There is no question about it. It had been laid there, but I have no idea by whom.” Yet another facet of the mystery involved the question of age. There are some differing opinions as to the geology involved, but the best estimate places the tiles at 200,000 years old.”

On July 1, 1969, The Oklahoman again reported about “the discovery of a second hole through the rock strata. Measurements revealed the two holes to be exactly 16 1/2 feet apart or precisely one rod. According to Pate, the rock is Permian limestone laced with quartz grains.”

On July 3, The Oklahoman continued its coverage and “reported archaeologists discovered an ancient stone hammer at the site.”

“The mystery of a dolomitic limestone formation unearthed between Oklahoma City and Edmond was compounded Wednesday by the discovery of an object on the site which resembles a stone hammer.

Geologists who have focused their attention on the unusual formation…. were at a loss to explain the origin of either the formation or the artifact.

John M. Ware, an Oklahoma City geologist, said, ‘it simply can’t be explained within the field of geology – we need an archaeologist to give a final opinion.’

However, its age and origin may remain a mystery unless an archaeologist can be persuaded to take on the project soon. Within 20 days, construction workers will continue their job of digging out the area to begin building a foodstuffs warehouse….

Another intriguing point about the rock is that it contains marine deposits, indicating that it was laid down in the ocean…. Pate said that the formation, 100 feet by 60 feet in area, is rapidly becoming a tourist attraction.

‘People are flocking there and taking pieces of the rock away,’ he said. ‘We need to preserve it until something can be done about determining its origin.”

It seems that a couple of old newspaper lines managed to create a massive hype about a discovery that would have been treated totally differently, had no one mentioned the age of 200,000 years.

However, there are a couple of curious things that have been found in Oklahoma. One of them was discovered in 1912 in a mine in Wilburton, Oklahoma, by Frank J. Kennard; an Iron cup embedded inside a piece of coal that is 300 million years old.

Kennard, who was in 1948 a Benton Co-worker, said:

“While I was working in the Municipal Electric Plant in Thomas, Oklahoma in 1912, I came upon a solid chunk of coal which was too large to use. I broke it with a sledgehammer.

“This iron pot fell from the centre leaving the impression mould of the pot in the piece of coal. Jim Stall (an employee of the company) witnessed the breaking of the coal and saw the pot fall out. I traced the source of the coal, and found that it came from the Wilburton, Oklahoma, Mines.”

The coal that originated from the mines of Wilburton, Oklahoma, is estimated to be around 300 million years old.

More Evidence That Humans Co-Existed With Dinosaurs: The 290-Million-Year-Old Human Footprint

More Evidence That Humans Co-Existed With Dinosaurs: The 290-Million-Year-Old Human Footprint

The rock — which belongs to the Permian Period 299 to 251 million years ago — was discovered in New Mexico and featured a human footprint, left behind — apparently — nearly 299 million years ago. But, there weren’t any humans on Earth at that time, were there?

More Evidence That Humans Co-Existed With Dinosaurs: The 290-Million-Year-Old Human Footprint

Many authors would agree with the fact that countless discoveries that have been made in the last couple of decades on Earth suggest history as we have been taught is anything but complete.

Imagine if society finally accepted the fact that our planet has been inhabited by countless ancient civilizations in the past, and that life on Earth — advanced life — has existed for millions of years?

Today, this is only a theory — a wild guess — which seems to be backed up by several ‘controversial’ discoveries.

One of them is the so-called ‘Zapata Print’ or ‘Zapata track’, discovered in New Mexico.

The Zapata track features a HUMAN footprint in Permian limestone, analyzed by palaeontologist Jerry MacDonald who discovered a few kilometres from the Zapata track traces of preserved fossil footprints in Permian strata.

The enigmatic footprint has been researched by Dr. Don Patton who claims that the Permian rock from New Mexico contains a genuine human footprint.

According to, Dr. Don Patton attempted to cut this print out of the rock, but wore out four carborundum blades trying to make the one cut!

Patton reports having personally seen a photograph of four, virtually identical tracks in an obvious right-left pattern taken about one-quarter mile from the Zapata track.

The controversial part, of course, is the AGE of the rock where the footprint was left — The Permian Period which lasted from 299 to 251 million years ago, at a time way before birds, dinosaurs, and MAN, was supposed to exist.

Curiously, the Permian (along with the Paleozoic) ended with the Permian–Triassic extinction event, the largest mass extinction in Earth’s history. Nearly 90% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial species died out.

Recovery from the Permian-Triassic extinction event was protracted; on land, ecosystems took 30 million years to recover

Anyway, returning to the curious footprint, there are many who favour it and there are others who believe it is not real — because it displays several ‘unnatural features’.

Don Patton with the so-called “Zapata Track”

As noted by author Glen J. Kuban, the controversial footprint shows some features not typical of genuine human prints. The line and position of the toes are somewhat unnatural, and the ball is narrower and round compare to most genuine prints. A few individuals have emphasised that the print shows some mud up-push (a rim of raised relief around the print).

Supposedly this confirms its authenticity.

“The fossil tracks that MacDonald has collected include a number of what palaeontologists like to call ‘problematica.’ On one trackway, for example, a three-toed creature apparently took a few steps, then disappeared–as though it took off and flew.

“‘We don’t know of any three-toed animals in the Permian,’ MacDonald pointed out. ‘And there aren’t supposed to be any birds.’ He’s got several tracks where creatures appear to be walking on their hind legs, others that look almost simian.

“On one pair of siltstone tablets, I notice some unusually large, deep and scary-looking footprints, each with five arched toe marks, like nails. I comment that they look just like bear tracks.

“‘Yeah,’ MacDonald says reluctantly, ‘they sure do.’ Mammals evolved long after the Permian period, scientists agree, yet these tracks are clearly Permian.” (“Petrified Footprints: A Puzzling Parade of Permian Beasts,” The Smithsonian, Vol. 23, July 1992, p.70.) (Source)

In the book “Fossil Facts and Fantasies” by Joe Taylor, the footprint” appears to be a female, barefoot print.”

Taylor states that it was found in 1929, and that “it is said that at that time, one half of a second track was visible at the edge of the ledge bearing both tracks. The edge of this ledge has since fallen off.”

Taylor does not say where he learned these details and does not cite any literature, scientific or popular, regarding it. Author Jeff A. Benner stated that “the Creationist community agree that the print is human in origin and proof that humans existed during the time of the dinosaur.”

Yellow Brick Path Found At Bottom Of Pacific Ocean, Scientists Wonder If It’s “Road To Atlantis”

Yellow Brick Path Found At Bottom Of Pacific Ocean, Scientists Wonder If It’s “Road To Atlantis”

An expedition to a deep-sea ridge, just north of the Hawaiian Islands, has revealed an ancient dried-out lake bed paved with what looks like a yellow brick road.

The eerie scene was chanced upon by the exploration vessel Nautilus, which is currently surveying the Liliʻuokalani ridge within Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM).

PMNM is one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world, larger than all the national parks in the United States combined, and we’ve only explored about 3 per cent of its seafloor.

Researchers at the Ocean Exploration Trust are pushing the frontiers of this wilderness, which lies more than 3,000 meters below the waves, and the best part is, that anyone can watch the exploration.

All-day every day, researchers provide live footage, and a recently published highlight reel on YouTube captures the moment researchers operating the deep-sea vehicle stumbled upon the road to Oz.

“It’s the road to Atlantis,” a researcher on the radio can be heard exclaiming.

“The yellow brick road?” another voice countered.

“This is bizarre,” added another member of the team.

“Are you kidding me? This is crazy.”

Despite being located under about a thousand meters of the ocean, the lake bed discovered by researchers on the summit of the Nootka seamount looks surprisingly dry. On the radio, the team notes that the ground looks almost like “baked crust” that could be peeled off.

In one tiny section, the volcanic rock has fractured in a way that looks strikingly similar to bricks.

“The unique 90-degree fractures are likely related to heating and cooling stress from multiple eruptions at this baked margin,” reads a caption to the YouTube video.

At first glance, the effect is easily mistaken for a path to a wonderful new world. And in a way, that’s not altogether wrong.

E/V Nautilus is taking us on a journey to parts of our planet we’ve never seen before. Following the brick road is a sign we’re headed in the right direction and could soon learn a whole lot more about Earth’s hidden geology.

You can read more about the 2022 E/V Nautilus expedition here.

Debacle Over 8,000-year-old Human Skull Posted On Facebook

Debacle Over 8,000-year-old Human Skull Posted On Facebook

The two kayakers were enjoying the last glimmers of summer on the Minnesota River last September when they spotted an odd brown chunk along the bank. They paddled toward it and looked closer. It appeared to be a bone, so they called the Renville County Sheriff’s Office.

Two kayakers found part of a skull in the Minnesota River in September. The bone is believed to be about 8,000 years old.

When Sheriff Scott Hable was told of the kayakers’ discovery near the city of Sacred Heart, about 110 miles west of Minneapolis, his mind raced to the first possible explanation: Maybe it was the remains of a missing person from a nearby county?

“I don’t think anybody was anticipating the news to come,” Sheriff Hable said.

The sheriff’s office sent the bone to a medical examiner and then to a forensic anthropologist with the F.B.I., who was not able to pinpoint an identity but did make a startling discovery on Tuesday through carbon dating. The bone was part of a skull and most likely was from a young man who lived as many as 8,000 years ago, between 5500 and 6000 B.C., Sheriff Hable said, citing the anthropologist’s findings.

“We have this sort of bizarre report that it’s ancient,” Sheriff Hable said by phone on Wednesday. The young man had likely traversed through parts of what is now Minnesota during the Archaic period in North America, Sheriff Hable said, when people ate primarily nuts and seeds before the time of subsistence farming, according to a report by the Archaeology Laboratory at Augustana University, in South Dakota.

Kathleen Blue, a professor of anthropology at Minnesota State University, said on Wednesday that the young man would have likely eaten a diet of plants, deer, fish, turtles and freshwater mussels in a small area, rather than following mammals and bison as they migrate for miles.

“There’s probably not that many people at that time wandering around Minnesota 8,000 years ago, because, as I said, the glaciers have only retreated a few thousands of years before that,” Dr. Blue said. “That period, we don’t know much about it.”

Minnesota has three other remains from that time period that have been studied, she said, adding that it is rare for Native American tribes in the state to allow the bones of their ancestors to be examined for archaeological purposes. The F.B.I. anthropologist had examined a depression on the skull and determined that the man had sustained a severe head wound, which Sheriff Hable said was evidence of “blunt force trauma.” It’s unclear if that is how the young man died.

Dr. Blue noted that the edges of the wound appear smooth and rounded on the skull in pictures, indications that it had healed and not been his cause of death.

Debacle Over 8,000-year-old Human Skull Posted On Facebook
The bone’s age was determined by carbon dating.
The human skull has been tested and appears to have suffered blunt force trauma.

“It would have been something he actually survived,” Dr. Blue said. “Bone has an amazing ability to try to sort of fix itself after there’s been a traumatic injury.”

She said the skull might have drifted in the river for thousands of years, or been placed in a burial site close to the water and carried away over time.

On Wednesday, when the Renville County Sheriff’s Office posted a news release about the skull and pictures of it on Facebook, Sheriff Hable said, his office was contacted by various Native American groups in the state, including the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council. They informed the sheriff’s office that publishing photos of the skull was “very offensive to the Native American culture,” he said.

“Because there’s a chance that the bones belong to somebody with Native American heritage, we’re just going to honor their request,” Sheriff Hable said, adding that the post was taken down on Wednesday afternoon.

Dylan Goetsch, a cultural resources specialist with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, said in a statement on Thursday that the sheriff’s office “showed a complete lack of cultural sensitivity by their failure to reference the individual as being Native American, their treatment of the individual as a piece of history and their lack of tribal consultation.”

He added that the council had not been made aware of the discovery until seeing the Facebook post.

“Seeing Native American ancestors being displayed and treated as a piece of history is traumatic for many Native Americans as, for centuries, Native American burials were looted, vandalized and destroyed,” Mr. Goetsch said.

Dr. Blue said the skull was definitely from an ancestor of one of the tribes in the area today.

“The Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and other ones are very protective of any remains,” she said. “Usually there would not be any sort of invasive analysis and photos are not allowed.”

The Private Cemeteries Act in Minnesota states that it is a felony “to willfully disturb a burial ground.” If the sheriff had not sent the skull to the medical examiner’s office — believing that it may have been from a recent murder victim — the skull most likely would never have been analyzed by an anthropologist, Dr. Blue said.

The skull is expected to be returned to Native American tribes in the state, Sheriff Hable said. Environmental circumstances played a role in the skull’s discovery. A severe drought overtook the state last year, with above-normal temperatures depleting rivers and exposing banks that are typically awash, according to a report from Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources.

“In some parts of the state, the drought was as serious as anything experienced in over 40 years,” the report said, “though for most of the state it was the worst drought in 10 to 30 years.”

Global warming increases the likelihood of drought. Climate change can also affect precipitation patterns around the world, making dry areas drier. Sheriff Hable said that parts of the Minnesota River “were exposed that hadn’t been before” because of the drought.

“Of course, in a kayak, they’re right there, and they happened to spot it,” he said of the people who found the skull. The sheriff’s office did not release their names.

Similarly, a drought made worse by climate change in the Southwest had dropped the water levels in Nevada’s Lake Mead, exposing a metal barrel this month that contained the remains of a person killed about four decades ago, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Officials there had said that the water level drop could result in other bodies being found at the lake.

But Sheriff Hable said he didn’t expect more skulls, let alone one from a different millennium, to be unearthed in his area anytime soon.

“This,” he said, “is extremely rare.”

Artefacts Hint at Chinese American Life in Early 20th-Century Oregon

Artefacts Hint at Chinese American Life in Early 20th-Century Oregon

Uncovering the past of historically under-represented communities sometimes means having to do a little digging, through newspapers, archives and even the ground.

Artefacts Hint at Chinese American Life in Early 20th-Century Oregon
The Westfall family lived in the Osburn Hotel in downtown Eugene for a number of years. While they lived there, the hotel boasted a ‘Japanese Tea Room,’ a lavish meeting space filled with Asian art.

A new affordable housing construction project in downtown Eugene tapped archaeologists from the Museum of Natural and Cultural History to conduct an archaeological study at the site. Located in Eugene’s downtown commercial core, the project offered what researchers thought were several exciting prospects.

The downtown area has been in continuous use for more than a century, and a recent survey by museum archaeologists of the 5th Street Public Market expansion yielded a number of artefacts. The area was also mapped extensively, thanks to a 1912 fire insurance mapping project from the Sanborn Map Company.

Most exciting to archaeologists, however, was that city directories from the early 20th century listed a Chinese restaurant and Hung Wo Chang & Co. gift shop near the site.

“We expected we might find archaeological material based on the Sanborn maps,” said Chris Ruiz, a museum archaeologist working on the project.

As expected, archaeologists were able to identify several artefacts dating back to the early 20th century, including pieces of a Chinese stoneware bowl, a porcelain teacup, three Chinese brown stoneware liquor bottles, and a Japanese porcelain vessel.

“We were really excited when we found the artefacts and we were able to associate the ceramics with businesses in the area,” Ruiz said.

In an article published in Oregon Historical Quarterly’s winter 2021 issue, Ruiz and museum archaeologists Marlene Jampolsky and Jon Krier detail how the artefacts help reveal an untold story of the Chinese diaspora and Chinese American history in Eugene.

“The information was all there,” Ruiz said, “but nobody had really pulled it all together. No archaeologists or historians had really written about these businesses before.”

Museum archaeologists dug into city directories, newspaper archives and historical maps. They weren’t starting from scratch, Ruiz said.

“We had the address, which could point us to the names of the businesses,” he said. “From there, we could do research on the owners and discover who they were and when they lived in Eugene.”

The owners, Wing Kee and Marie Westfall, were operating their businesses at a time when Americans were embracing the trappings and aesthetics of Asian culture but actively discriminating against Asian people.

Wing Kee’s father, Jim Westfall, was a prominent figure in the Corvallis and business communities. He attempted to become a U.S. citizen in 1886 but was denied due to the Chinese Exclusion Act. Wing Kee was born in Oregon in 1875 and was registered for the draft, indicating he was a native-born U.S. citizen.

Meanwhile, Eugene was becoming more diverse. Although located on Kalapuya ilihi, the traditional homelands of the Kalapuya people, the city of Eugene was largely Euro-American throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. Ruiz said there were no records of Chinese people in Eugene before the late 1870s. It was in this environment that Wing Kee moved to Eugene.

By 1911, Wing Kee was the proprietor of the Smeede Hotel Grill, which advertised serving a “Chinese Bill of Fare.” He later opened a restaurant of his own, which newspaper articles often referred to with just his name or as the China Noodle House.

In 1914, Wing Kee opened Hung Wo Chang & Co gift shop on Sixth Avenue, marketing Chinese products to non-Chinese consumers. Marie, Wing Kee’s wife, was listed as the proprietor of the businesses in newspapers and on official city directories in the 1920s.

According to a Eugene Daily Guard article from 1917, the family was involved in the war effort during World War I. The Guard reports that “a volunteer in the food conservation campaign” signed Wing Kee up as a “member of the United States food administration in the war against Germany.” The same article mentions Wing Kee’s wife, Marie, as a Red Cross volunteer who went to “sew for the soldiers.”

In the 1920s, Wing Kee turned the operation of the restaurant over to his wife and relocated to Astoria to start a new business. In 1928, Marie’s move to Astoria was significant enough to get stories in multiple newspapers.

“There’s some hope that archaeology can help illuminate those past lives that are not well-represented in the historical narrative,” Ruiz said. “Eugene has a lot of interesting history pertaining to historically underrepresented communities. We still have a lot to do to uncover those stories.”

—By Lexie Briggs, Museum of Natural and Cultural History.