Epigrapher since 1977 andcolleague ofmany advocates of ancient America
for over a quarter century.
SLIDE 4 Imagine the amazement of early Colonial explorers when they crossed the Appalachian Mountains. There they discovered hundreds of conical mounds and geometric earthworks in the upper Ohio River and Kanawha River valleys. Who built these mounds? Why? SLIDE 5
The Adena Moundbuilders built their mounds to bury their honored dead. The Adena culture occupied valleys along the Ohio River and its tributaries from about 1000 B.C. to 400 A.D. Later the Hopewell and Mississippian people also built mounds. SLIDE 6 The Adena culture was an ancient American culture that existed from 3000 to 1600 years ago (ya), in a time known as the Early Woodland Period.
SLIDE 7 The Adena Culture was replaced by the Hopewell Tradition, which had villages from the mouth of the Mississippi to the copper country of Lake Superior and through the Adena area to Lake Ontario. SLIDE 8 The world had a terrible catastrophe about 1465 years ago. The Adena and Hopewell cultures vanished. About 1200 years ago the Mississippi culture began to develop. The Mississippi culture existed until the Europeans came to North America. SLIDE 9 The Adena people were named after the estate of the Ohio Governor, Worthington. A mound on his Adena estate was excavated in 1901. The Adena mound contained distinctive artifacts that identify the Adena group. SLIDE 10 This Adena pipe shows a squat male, with goitered neck, and stylized hair. He wears ear spools and a loin cloth feathered in back. SLIDE 11 This replica of an Adena Shaman with a wolf head dress is shown holding the Adena pipe. A shaman is similar to a priest. The Adena people may have migrated from Mexico. The evidence for this statement is their physical type and their use of similar decorative designs. Both groups erected mounds over burial tombs. SLIDE 12 Other authorities maintain Adena mounds evolved from burial practice of earlier native people living in the Midwest or Northeast. SLIDE 13 Burials of Adena elite contained:
tablets incised with symbols, and
tablets with ancient writing.
SLIDE 14 This is the historic marker for Grave Creek Mound at Moundsville, West Virginia. Notice that the mound was originally 69 feet high and 295 in diameter. The mount was encircled by a moat. The two log tombs, burials and grave offerings were found in 1838. SLIDE 15 The Grave Creek Mound is on a plateau above the Ohio River. Early explorers said that earthen circles, squares, octagons, and walls accompanied the mounds. Mounds and earthworks extended 10-12 miles along the Ohio River in the Grave Creek Mound vicinity. Their construction was an enormous project, and workers carried dirt one bucket at a time to build them. What motivated them to do this? This so called “Mammoth Mound” was located on the Tomlinson farm in 1838.
SLIDE 16 Owner Jesse Tomlinson permitted the mound excavation. His grandson, Abelard Tomlinson, assisted by Abelard’s brother-in-law, Thomas Biggs, was in charge of the excavation. Local residents helped. They started by digging a tunnel at ground level to the center of the mound. There they found a log tomb and skeletons buried beneath the ground level. Then they decided to sink a shaft from the top. The men abandoned digging down from the top of the mound fearful that the shaft would collapse. They probed upward from the lower tomb until they struck stone and guessed it was an upper tomb. This proved to be true when they dug a second tunnel 34 feet above ground level and struck an 18 x 8 foot log tomb filled with rotten wood, stones, earth, one large and badly decayed skeleton, and many artifacts. SLIDE 17 This is a plaster replica of the Grave Creek Tablet, which was found near the skeleton with other artifacts in the upper tomb.
The Grave Creek Tablet was considered to be an authentic artifact by the men participating in the mound excavation
SLIDE 18 The Grave Creek Tablet was a 1 ½ by 2 ¼ inch grayish sandstone tablet. A hieroglyphic sign beneath the script resembles a cross with elongated arms and the profile of a bird’s head on the end of the right arm and a dot under the left arm. Distinguished ethnologist, Henry R. Schoolcraft personally examined the tablet, which he believed was authentic. He found that characters on the tablet resembled similar characters in numerous foreign writing systems. Schoolcraft concluded the alphabet on the tablet was Celtiberic or Anglo Saxon. The three lines of Southwest Iberic script were finally translated to read “The mound raised-on-high for Tasach. This tile his queen caused-to-be made.” SLIDE 19 Meanwhile, the mysterious letters were puzzling, so individuals and the Smithsonian Institution made copies of the tablet and sent them abroad to foreign translators. Some of the characters were not copied accurately, so decipherments and translations varied. The disparity of early decipherments in different foreign languages caused some people to question the tablet’s authenticity. These questions were the source of much controversy about the inscription's meaning and whether the tablet was “planted.” The authentic translation of the tablet was published by Dr Barry Fell in 1975.
The script on the tablet is more than 2,100 years old. SLIDE 20 School children Blaine Wilson and his sister found the Blaine Wilson Tablet beside the stump of a tree near Triplett Creek in Braxton County, West Virginia, in 1931. The 4 1/8 x 3 3/16 inch tablet is micaceous sandstone. Its three rows of Southwest Iberic script are curvilinear rather than rectilinear like the Grave Creek Tablet. A similar elongated arm cross is beneath the inscription. They took the inscribed tablet to their school teacher, who brought it to the attention of Mrs. Innis C. Davis, director of the West Virginia Department of Archives where it was stored
SLIDE 21 Consider what these inscriptions imply. Did Iberian scribes reach West Virginia by 100 B.C.? Did they inscribe the tablets or teach Adena scribes their alphabet and language? SLIDE 22 Robert C. Dunnell found the Ohio County Tablet in 1956 when he was a teenager. The tablet measures I ¾ by 1 ½ inches. An elongated cross with a head on the end of the right arm and a dot beneath the left arm is below the last line of the 16 character inscription SLIDE 23 Dunnell took the tablet to archaeologist Delf Norona who worked for the Grave Creek Mound Museum. Norona’s original opinion that the Ohio county Tablet was authentic changed because other archaeologists were calling it a fake. SLIDE 24 Norona said the tablet was planted to legitimize other finds. The tablet is “lost.” Fortunately, Sam Shaw, editor of the Moundsville Daily Echo newspaper ,photographed the tablet and interviewed Dunnell and Norona. SLIDE 24 Donal Buchanan, a noted decipherer of Southwest Iberic, translated the funerary message on the Ohio County tablet. “This was set up for Lydia, wife, Jacob engraved it.” SLIDE 26 The Morristown Tablet was found near Morristown, Tennessee. Dr. Paul Cheesman brought it to the attention of epigraphic scholars in 1981.
SLIDE 27 It’s inscription is comparable to the message on the Grave Creek Tablet. Donal Buchanan found that all of the symbols on the Morristown Tablet could be equated with those on the Grave Creek Tablet, which led to his conclusion. SLIDE 28 Conclusion: the inscription must be a funerary formula. He suggested that the name “Tadach” either is not a personal name or there were two people named Tadach who were buried in different areas. SLIDE 29 Did someone made a copy of the Grave Creek Tablet? Was the Morristown Tablet ancient or modern? What do you think? An elongated arm cross with a bird’s head on the right end and a dot beneath the left arm is beneath the inscription. SLIDE 30 The Genesee Tablet is dense granular rock measuring 2 x 3 inches. William Johnson found the Genesee Tablet in the Genesee River bed near Belfast, New York in 1975. High water and erosion often change the river’s course. Epigrapher Donald Eckler spotted the tablet in Dana Klein’s collection. SLIDE 31 Eckler forwarded a photograph of it to Dr. Barry Fell. Dr. Fell deciphered the two lines of Iberic script noting that the tablet is a trader’s token. He translated the tablet in Arabic-related Iberian to say: “Confirmation. I have pledged to pay in full.”
SLIDE 32 The Genesee River was part of a water route used by Amerindian trading parties. The discovery of the Genesee Tablet on a known trading route suggests that native people led foreign traders to America’s interior by following the waterways and the Indian paths that connected them. The St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes provided access to America’s heartland from the Atlantic Ocean. The Susquehanna River empties into Chesapeake Bay, and the Ohio and other tributaries flow into the Mississippi River that terminates in the Gulf of Mexico.
SLIDE 33 QUESTIONS Was it possible for Iberian People to cross the Atlantic Ocean by 100 B.C.? Why would Iberians come to America? Did an Iberian scribe introduce Iberic script to Adena Moundbuilders? If Adena Tablet script was invented by native people, what was its source? SLIDE 34 CONCLUSIONS THE ADENA TABLET IS GENUINE THE SCRIPT IS FROM IBERIA SCRIPT IS OLDER \THAN 2000 YEARS AGO SLIDE 35 This is the end slide. This is the time for class discussion. The following slides may be used by the teacher as desired. SLIDE 36 The Gaithskill Tablet is an example of a figural tablet. Hands, serpents, birds, and sun circles were some of the symbols carved on tablets. Dating of mound burials can be estimated by the sophistication of tablet designs. The turtle tablet (right) represents an Adena cultural symbol.
SLIDE 37 The upper tomb burial was dated at about 100 B. C. The grave goods consisted of 1,700 disk shell beads, 500 marginella shell beads strung in a necklace source: Florida or West Indes), a gorget, five copper bracelets (source: Lake Superior copper), mica, and a small inscribed sandstone tablet called the Grave Creek Tablet. This curious tablet became the source of great controversy. Excavator Peter B. Catlett reported that the skeleton measured 7’4” when the bones were wired together. He stated, “I took the lower jawbone and put it over my chin, and it did not touch my face, and I was at that time a man who weighed 181.” Some Adena people were very large. They had round heads that were flattened in back. The Hopewell moundbuilders had long heads and slender bodies indicating that they were a different physical type. SLIDE 38 Dr. Barry Fell made the first sensible decipherment of the Grave Creek Tablet in Southwest Iberic. David Diringer’s 1968 recovery of ancient Iberic vowel values enabled Fell to make his 1972 translation of the funerary inscription: “Tumulus in honor of Tadach. His wife caused this engraved tile to be inscribed.” (Note: Southwest Iberic reads from right to left.) SLIDE 39 Archaeologists became embroiled in the controversy and many rejected the Grave Creek Tablet as a fake. They did not accept the theory that early Iberians had been in Adena territory. Their argument that the tablet was one of a kind has been disproven. SLIDE 40 Burial mounds have been constructed world-wide. One example is King Midas’ Tomb. It is similar in construction to Adena mounds. The Phrygian elite of Turkey were buried in log tombs that were hilled-over with clay, rocks, and dirt. The legendary King Midas – everything he touched supposedly turned to gold - died about 696 B. C. Many burial mounds are near his tomb at the confluence of the Porsuk and Sakarya Rivers. Why would burial mounds be similar in construction world-wide?