Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Ohman Stone Musical: Art Imitates Life

Yesterday, Janet and I attended the Minneapolis Fringe Festival play, “The Ohman Stone” written by Sheridan (Tom) O’Keefe.  Darwin Ohman, his wife Ginny, and his son Brian, saw the play and afterward we all met for a beer with the cast to congratulate them on a moving and thoroughly entertaining performance.  Darwin and I will both admit the play struck nerves particularly close and along with much laughter also brought a tear to our eyes more than once.  Many months ago, Tom Contacted Darwin and I after reading my book, The Kensington Rune Stone: Compelling New Evidence, to discuss certain aspects of the book and how it could be made into a play.  It was clear Tom was very passionate about getting two important aspects to the KRS saga across in his play; first was the obvious authenticity of the artifact, and second, the devastating toll the often maniacal detractors had on the lives of the Ohman family.  Tom and his cast succeeded on both accounts.

The play includes real-life deceased characters who were on both sides of the authenticity debate that appear as ghosts.  On the pro-authenticity side were Sven Folgelbald, the scholar-preacher who taught the local schoolchildren, including the Ohman children at one point, who died a year before the KRS was discovered and was played by Jim Christensen; Hjalmar Holand, who championed the authenticity of over fifty years and was played by Mark Olson, Newton Winchell, the First Minnesota State geologist whose 1909-10 investigation concluded the KRS was genuine was played by Daniel Wolfe, and of course, the discoverer of the artifact, Olof Ohman, played with a convincing Scandinavian accent by Tom O’Keefe.  The three skeptics were Erik Walgren, the Professor of Scandinavian Languages at USC , Theodore Blegen, former director of the Minnesota Historical Society and author of the 1968 book, Kensington Rune Stone: New Light on an Old Riddle, played by Ron Giroux, and the real-life villain obsessed with proving the stone a fake, Johan Holvik.  The Wahlgren and Holvik characters were played by women, Holly O’Keefe, and the Hitler-like persona many who knew Holvik said he reminded them of was humorously played by Jenni Charrier.  The entire cast did a great job of distilling a lot of KRS evidence and finformation into a concise and entertaining presentation.

The other main ghost character was Amanda Ohman, played by Emily Stephenson, who brought the torment and tragedy of Amanda’s finals days to heart with her beautiful singing.  The only living character was a scientist named Brian Storm, played by Andy Rakerd, and was based loosely on, well, me.  It was really strange to watch the play unveil much of my own research in such a different venue.  We all laughed, sang along, and fought back tears as the debate, and romance, unfolded.  Anyone who sees the play will be struck by the clear and obvious conclusion reached on the authenticity of the artifact.  Attendees will also be moved and disturbed by the passionate portrayal of the abuse suffered by the Ohman family as a whole and by Amanda Ohman from a maniacally obsessed Johan Holvik.  

The play prompted me to go back and read the chapters in ‘Compelling New Evidence’ (pages 133-186) I’d written about the scandals perpetrated by not just Holvik, but of the conspiracy of lies, deception, and incompetence in the so-called scholarship of the likes of Wahlgren, Erik Moltke, Einar Haugen, Birgitta Wallace, and sadly, my former co-author Richard Nielsen.   The play told the story of the human tragedy that results when, scholars in this case, are more concerned with being “right” than getting the “right answer.”  The cast did a beautiful job of demonstrating how facts trump the beliefs of so many scholars who abused (and continue to abuse) their positions of perceived authority and credibility.  In an age where science and technology rules, I’m often dumbfounded how so many intelligent people still don’t understand the basic principles of evidence and logic.  It just goes to show how far we as humans have not progressed.

As I sipped my beer at the Bulldog Bar, I watched as Darwin laughed with the cast after their stirring performance.  It was nice to see his generation enjoy the positive attention his father and grandfather rarely saw.  Darwin knows the truth as does his son Brian and daughter Kari.  They, and other Ohman descendants will pass on the great family legacy that will be enhanced as more and more of the public, and eventually academia, come to realize the truth behind this amazing discovery.   One hopes that Olof, Amanda, and the rest of the Olof and Karin Ohman Family have found peace in “Valhalla” already knowing what the world is only now beginning to truly understand.

Amanda & Ida Ohman Circa 1915

Amanda 1920

Darwin Ohman, Sheridan O'Keefe (Olof Ohman) and Scott

Hjalmar Holand Circa 1900

Ida & Amanda Circa 1912

Johan Holvik Circa 1950

Newton H. Winchell 1901

Scott and Emily Stephenson (Amanda OHman)

Theodore Blegen

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Reviewing Peer Review

While waiting for our flight to the other side of the world for our latest Seasons 3 shoot on America Unearthed, I decided to write a blog post about the subject of so many posts: peer review. For years I’ve heard academics complain about peer review of my work on the Kensington Rune Stone and other “taboo” artifacts. They argue and posture hoping they can somehow negate the conclusions I’ve drawn. The fact is all my work has been peer reviewed by some of the most competent, qualified, knowledgeable, objective, and experienced professionals and academics one could want in the hard science disciplines of geology and engineering. The problem skeptical archaeologists, anthropologists, linguists, and historians have is they are trying to assert that the “academic” peer review process is the only acceptable way to truth. Besides trying to frame the argument to their distinct advantage, they couldn’t be more wrong.

Academic peer review in principle works well to a certain degree; if you have the luxury of time and are in an environment immune to the problems commonly seen in academia such as territoriality, competition for funding, runaway egos, intimidation, threats of retribution, favoritism, and ordinary personal pique. In the fourteen years I’ve been involved in the investigation of mysterious artifacts and sites I’ve encountered all of these failings in my dealings with many academics. They insist there is no legitimacy to my or anyone else’s work unless I have gone through the process they dictate is the only acceptable way. Readers of this blog know what I’m talking about.

If this review process is so perfect, then why has it not been able to accurately answer the question of the authenticity of the Kensington Rune Stone, Bat Creek Stone, Spirit Pond Rune Stones, the Newport Tower, and Tucson Lead Artifacts? The fact is academic peer review and publishing process has failed miserably. Further, defenders of the “faith” refuse to look inward and take a critical look of their sacred process to try and figure out what went wrong. Instead, they turn a blind eye to obvious failures, dig their heels in and attack those who dare to question. Allow me to present a particularly egregious example I have been personally involved in that still has reverberations with on-going research.

In 2006, Richard Nielsen and I published our 5-year collaborative work titled, The Kensington Rune Stone: Compelling New Evidence. Nielsen and I became close friends and the collaboration of his runological and linguistic work and my geological work on the artifact produced voluminous new factual data and discoveries that were all consistent with the artifact being a genuine medieval artifact. Shortly after our book was released, financial and personal issues - details of which can be found on the Internet - prompted Nielsen to publically announce that our professional and personal relationship was over. The details of the “breakup” are not important. What is important is the well-documented course of actions Nielsen then chose to pursue.

Nielsen reached out to the academic community in Sweden by admitting he was “bad” for working with the lowly professional geologist and asked forgiveness. Once accepted by one scholar in particular, he then went about things the “academic way” and set his sights on the Runestone Museum. Using the goodwill generated by the previous five years he gained their trust and suggested research that in principal was a good idea. He proposed a digital 3D scan of the artifact using the latest technology. This was performed in November of 2008. In the cleverly worded contract he drafted for the museum, he made himself the sole benefactor of the entire digital data-base. He then refused to provide a copy of that data. To date, that data is still not available to anyone except his sole Swedish academic contact and his then girlfriend/advisor who both apparently believe this is the proper “academic way.”

Now armed with the 3D data base, Nielsen then wrote and published on his own personal website a series of “academic” papers essentially undoing our joint KRS work and bashing me personally. When I eventually read these papers that I assume were “peer reviewed” by his Swedish colleague, it was obvious to me what was going on. Nielsen’s plan was to try to undermine everything I had done and paint himself as the now worthy “academic” and resurrect the KRS in his image. Crazy as it sounds, this story is true. Hardly bitter or angry (well, I was angry when I read the garbage he had written knowing full well he, too, knew it was crap), I feel sorry for my former colleague for the damage he’s done to himself and the Kensington Rune Stone. As of April of 2014, Nielsen still has not released the digital 3D data to the Runestone Museum or any other competent researchers, academic or otherwise.

So what do we take away from this sordid affair? Well, one of the unfortunate events is opportunistic skeptics cite Nielsen’s bogus research as legitimate criticism of my work. I’m sure most don’t realize the “research” they cite is blatantly bias, never had legitimate peer review, and self-published on his own website. Even the writer of a blatantly anti-diffusion page on Wikipedia felt it was appropriate to use Nielsen’s “academic” work to criticize my research on my own Wiki page. Upon deleting the garbage I was chided for editing my own page which incited a debate among the Wiki editors.

With Darwin Ohman
next to a modern rune stone
I carved to commemorate
the 2006 book:
“Kensington Rune Stone:
Compelling New Evidence.”
After a week of condescending discussion of my demanding that they either delete the fraudulent citations or remove my Wiki page altogether, they removed my page. No doubt they were quite happy to see any mention of the “heretic’s” KRS work go dark. So much for the academic peer review process in this case. For readers interested in an unbiased take on this latest sad chapter in the history of the Kensington Rune Stone, I suggest Darwin Ohman’s, Taking a StandClick Here. Darwin takes no pride in writing this article but felt it had to be done.

Let’s get back to peer review. I’m quite sure most academics don’t fully understand what we do in the professional world with regard to peer review which I would argue is just as thorough, faster and, in cases like the Kensington Rune Stone, is more accurate and reliable. The reason I’ve been the principal geologist in over 7,000 forensic projects in almost 30 years is because we have to produce. Academia doesn’t have deadlines and the review process can take years which I don’t believe has produced a better end product.

The other major difference between academic and professional peer review is accountability. As licensed professionals we have taken an oath to perform our work professionally, ethically, and to protect the health and welfare of the public. If licensed professionals are found guilty of incompetent work or unethical practice, we risk losing our license to practice. Further, we are required to testify to our facts, interpretations and conclusions in a court of law under oath. What accountability does a tenured professor have?

When all is said and done, I’m fully prepared to testify and defend my peer-reviewed work on all the artifacts and sites I’ve published results on. I’m really tired of listening to “academic” bloggers and Amazon power-trippers using arrogant posturing and name-calling trying to claim sovereignty over scientific method and the peer review process. Instead, we would all appreciate it if these people would stop trying to dictate what they think is proper scientific method and start practicing it. If you are truly curious about the Kensington Rune Stone and other artifacts and sites, then ask intelligent questions and let’s discuss it like adults. If you don’t “believe” they are genuine, then be happy in your “faith” and take your complaints somewhere else.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

America Unearthed - Lincoln's Secret Assassins

The Lincoln Assassination is one of those historical events that as you dig deeper into the characters involved and behind the scenes, the more interesting it gets.  John DeSalvo opened my eyes to the almost certainty there was a much larger conspiracy behind the murder of the president than most people realize.  The vast network of people involved in the Knights of the Golden Circle and the sophistication of their operation was impressive.  It’s fascinated to imagine what the country, and indeed the world would look like had the South Confederacy won the Civil War and the goals of the KGC realized.  That so many believe there are still supporters of this group around today is a reflection of the commitment to the cause of its members and their literal and ideological ancestors.

Once again I was able to meet some interesting and very knowledgeable people like my friend John DeSalvo, Mark Stout, and Warren Getler.  Warren has delved deep into finding the locations of the hidden KGC gold and silver stashes and proved to my satisfaction the KGC still has vast wealth hidden in many locations that is still being guarded by loyalists.

This episode also gave me a chance to again work with another good friend from Minnesota, Don Shelby.  I know Don enjoyed sharing the history behind his ancestor and Confederate General, Joe Shelby.  It was also fun for both of us to get on horses for one of our scenes even though I don’t consider myself a cowboy.  Don was very comfortable riding and had a near permanent smirk watching me try to keep up with him.  After a long and successful career as an investigative journalist and local television anchor, he didn’t agree to appear on our show “to be on TV.”  He’s doing for fun and all of us associated with America Unearthed appreciate the opportunity to work with a real pro!

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the uncanny coincidence of the airing of our episode with the announcement of the discovery of 10 million dollars in gold coins by a couple in California.  While not enough information has been released to know for sure, I wouldn't be the least bit shocked if the cache was related to Knights of the Golden Circle.  If this was a KGC cache of gold, there likely are many more out there!

Warren Getler and Scott pose at the statue of Albert Pike in Washington, D.C.

Don Shelby and Scott Clown for the camera.

Do you think Director Raul Cadena is proud to be from Texas?

After a long day of filming Don Shelby reaps the benfit of Raul's muscle power.

An enhanced image of a scene on horses being filmed along the Rio Grand in Texas.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

America Unearthed Notes on The Spearhead Conspiracy

First, let me apologize for getting behind in the blog.  I just returned from nine days of filming in Europe for season 3 and had limited access to email.  However, it was an incredible trip!  Can't go into details as I'm sure you understand, but I will say what we have filmed so far will become some of our best episodes so far.

The final episode of Season 2 was really a good one and has generated a lot of buzz.  Kennewick Man having distinctly Polynesian features and not typical Native American features is sure to complicate the debate.  The Burke Museum should stop trying to hide the skeleton and allow qualified researchers to examine it properly and let the chips (data) fall where they may.  If I've learned anything from the investigations we've conducted this season it's the peopling of the America's is much more complicated than the "Bering Strait Land Bridge" migration from Asia theory.  Some scholars are still adhering to it in spite of ever-mounting evidence to the contrary.  I'm guessing it'll get more complicated in the future as more evidence is discovered and researched.  Stay tuned.

The crazy events that unfolded in the days leading up to my interview with Bryan Axtell and Trevor Carter were bizarre, but not out of character for a government agency.  The hypocrisy of the whole sting operation to get the obsidian point back is alarming.  We need to remember Trevor and his friends tried to get officials at the Park Service interested in the days shortly after they discovered the point.  The Park Service expressed no interest until less than a week before filming the interview when its importance was suddenly elevated to the point where a sting operation was deemed necessary.  The Park Service has since issued a blow-off response to the multiple requests by media outlets for more information about the artifact:

"Thank you for your inquiry about the America Unearthed episode that included Haleakala National Park.

Haleakala NP is part of the national park system and there are a number of laws that protect natural and cultural resources in these parks for the benefit of future generations. If resources are taken from a park then it is hard to understand the context of their natural or cultural history or how to best protect them.

One of these laws is the Archaeological Resource Protection Act (APRA), which mandates us to "secure, for the present and future benefit of the American people, the protection of archaeological resources and sites which are on public lands and Indian lands..."

Under this law it is illegal to damage, deface, remove, or excavate archaeological resources. We regularly work with researchers to set up ways that they can research objects while still meeting the requirements of this law.

There is an ongoing criminal investigation. As part of that case, the object you referenced was seized as evidence. Tests and analysis of this object are also part of the investigation. There is no typical time frame for how long an investigation lasts. The time frame varies on a case by case basis.


Polly Angelakis
Chief of Interpretation & Education

Ms. Angelakis referring to this matter as criminal investigation is a joke since she is well aware of the hiker's attempts to contact authorities about their discovery nearly four years ago.

In the final scene where I was standing in front of the 3D printer flanked by Dr's. Jim Chatters and Duane Storti I was reminded that not all scholars are the narrow thinking, close-minded people who have let us all down when it comes to the unknown history of this continent.  Surely more of the historical truth would have been revealed by now if those doing the work were as thorough, professional, and open-minded as Jim and Duane.  The academic world and the American public need more like them.

Duane Storti and Jim Chatters watch as Scott reacts with shock a split second after accidentally crushing the just finished 3D printer-made skull of Kennewick Man.

Will Thomas Stands near the site where he found Kennewick Man.

Bryan Axtell, Scott, and Trevor Carter pose after riding the zip line.

Chumash Shaman with Scott on the Beach in Santa Barbara.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Scott Wolter Lightens Up - America Unearthed "Swamp Mammoth"

Since last week's episode and post were pretty intense, I'd like to keep it a bit lighter this week. I have to first say that both Dr's Rachel Wentz and Dennis Stanford were a joy to spend time with. They were intelligent, forthcoming, fun and I learned a lot from them. Candida was a class act too, but I had an absolute blast with James Kennedy. We hit it off immediately and it made the whole experience with him a ton of fun. The two highlights of our two days with James were impromptu moments; one while he and I were searching for fossils without the camera's rolling (Yes, we recreated the fossil tooth discovery, but it was so soon after we were both still jazzed up), and one with the camera's rolling.

While the crew was eating lunch and knowing how limited our time was, James and I used that time to go fossil hunting. We paddled up to this tiny beach on the island and as we beached our kayak's, we both saw the tooth about ten feet away. Instantly, we looked at each other and with sly smiles forming we both knew what the other was thinking. First one to grab it, get's it. We then scrambled out of the kayak's crawling through the water and sand, pushing and wrestling trying to get the advantage while laughing at the same time. Having gained an ever so slight lead, I reached to grab the tooth and was inches above it when to my horror, James knifed his hand under mine and grabbed it. "Shit", I thought, and just I would have done, he taunted me with the prize for a good ten minutes. He got there first and I said, "Good on you man." Just as we were about to leave, James tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Here, it's yours" and gave me the tooth. It now sits proudly on a shelf in my display case as a wonderful memento of that trip and of James.

The other moment happened the next day while filming at James's home. I was asking him questions in front of his garage at a point in the show coming out of a commercial. This is when I had to do a reset that so many find annoying. I'm not wild about the recaps either, but it's necessary to get people just joining the show, or those who weren't paying full attention before the commercial, to get caught up. I had all these bullets points of info crammed into my head ready to deliver and with camera's rolling I said, "OK, I'm ready." Josh said, "Action" and away I went. I looked at James and meaning to say, "Let me give you a rundown", I instead said, "Let me give you a rubdown." Needless to say the take was shot as everyone burst out laughing. Some were literally in tears and the only I could think of was how could I be so dumb…

The crew poses with our guest and airboat captains after a fun day shooting on the water.

Scott and Dr. Dennis Stanford share a laugh at the Smithsonian.

James Kennedy shows Scott his amazing discovery.

Dr. Rachel Wentz and Scott discuss something important at the Windover bog site.

The piece of mastodon tooth moments after its discovery on the beach.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Smithsonian Responds to America Unearthed - "Lost Relics of the Bible" Episode

Something truly ironic happened the same week the Bat Creek Stone (Lost Relics of the Bible) episode aired; the artifact was returned to the Eastern Band of Cherokee where it will be displayed as a Woodland Era artifact in the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, North Carolina.  This exciting and historic news was tempered by a curiously timed statement issued by Dr. Bruce Smith, of the Smithsonian Institution on Thursday, January 29th.  I wasn’t the only person to find this to be very interesting timing for the Smithsonian to issue such a proclamation:

“Bruce D. Smith, Curator of North American Archaeology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, shares the opinion of other professional archaeologists that the Bat Creek Stone is an obvious fraud, as most recently documented in the article by Robert Mainfort and Mary Kwas ‘The Bat Creek Stone Revisited: A Fraud Exposed’, American Antiquity 2004. Along with other known fraudulent artifacts, we retain it in our collections as part of the cultural history of archaeological frauds, which were quite popular in the second half of the 19th century.

Long known to be a fake, The Bat Creek Stone has none the less been a source of entertaining and fanciful alternative interpretations for more than a century, and as is the case with mermaids and unicorns, it will no doubt continue to be the subject of speculation by people of all ages for years to come.”

I then issued a response:

"This statement borders on ridiculous.  For the Smithsonian to issue a statement like this indicates one of two possibilities:

  1. Mr. Smith and his colleagues do not understand the scientific testing of the artifacts to date that are consistent with a circa 1500 year-old date.
  2. Mr. Smith and his colleagues are willfully ignoring scientific data and siding with unsupported speculation to continue to preserve an historical paradigm of the Smithsonian Institution’s choosing.

I don’t believe Mr. Smith doesn’t understand the scientific data which is consistent and conclusive with authenticity.  Therefore, to accept unsupported speculation of Mainfort and Kwas and thereby disparaging the reputation of John Emmert, and by association casting doubt on all of the Smithsonian’s excavations and findings of this era, reeks of an agenda.

The seriousness of this situation, in my opinion, demands a Congressional investigation since the Smithsonian receives government funding.  The tax-payers of this country, and indeed the world, deserve better given the Smithsonian’s perceived reputation of competency.  In light of the extensive scientific evidence that appears to be being ignored in favor of an apparent agenda, this statement by Mr. Smith on behalf of the institution casts doubt on that competency.

I plan to do all I can to see this investigation happens.”

Dr. Smith then responded making sure to list all his credentials while trying to belittle my own qualifications:

“This about the response I expected from Scott Wolter - should make for good publicity for Wolter and the exhibition.

I am looking forward to reading of Mr. Wolter's "scientific data" once it is published in a peer reviewed scientific journal.  I Hadn't heard of Mr. Wolter previously, but a brief scan of internet entries provides a clear profile of his qualifications and his reputation as a researcher (An undergraduate degree in Geology, it appears).

I am looking forward to hearing from Duane King and Anne Rodgers on this.


Dr. Bruce D. Smith
Past President, Southeastern Archaeological Conference
Past President, Society for American Archaeology
Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Member, National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A.

Bruce D. Smith
Curator of North American Archaeology
Senior Research Scientist
Program in Human Ecology and Archaeobiology
Department of Anthropology
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
Washington D.C. 20560

Don Rose, a senior elder with the Cherokee was not pleased and made his feelings known that he considered the Smithsonian’s statement to be an insult and if they insist in calling it a hoax, then the elders will rebury it:


It is my understanding that the Smithsonian has, in a recent correspondence, declared the Bat Creek Stone to be a fraudulent artifact and not worthy of further historical or scientific interest or investigation.  That position is entirely inconsistent with the criteria the Smithsonian has imposed on us to protect the artifact; if it is a fake, then why be concerned with its welfare.  However, since they have formally declared it to be a fraud, then I, as a tribal member and a member of the Museum Board, must oppose further effort to acquire an expensive display arena for an item that has been determined to be fraudulent.  I respectfully suggest the relic be placed in storage or returned to the Smithsonian; or, if it is a fact that it was recovered from a Cherokee Mound, then the Tribe reclaims the worthless stone and return it to a burial site, as is our custom.

Donald E. Rose
Treasurer, Museum Board”

I wasn’t pleased either and made my feelings known as well:

"Dr. Smith,

With all due respect, I would have expected a more creative response than the old fall-back lines of academia such as personal attacks by criticizing credentials and reverting to the tired old phrase of, "Published in a peer reviewed scientific journal."  If you are going to use the word "scientific", you better know what it means.  The fact of the matter is we come from two different worlds.  I am a licensed professional whose primary responsibility is the health and safety of the public.  We are responsible for building and maintaining our country's buildings, roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure.  When those structures fail, that is when they call me.

I certainly consider myself a researcher, but my primary work is material forensics.  The standard I have to meet is to be able to testify in a court of law, under oath, to my scientific findings which must be supported by factual evidence.  If I were to be found guilty of substandard work, or unethical behavior, I risk losing my license to practice and potentially could go to jail.  I would ask you Dr. Smith, what accountability does a tenured professor have?

The fact is this lowly undergrad was formally trained in the scientific method and has used it in my work for nearly 30 years now.  I can easily see when it has not been used properly.  The Smithsonian's handling of the Bat Creek Stone, the Kensington Rune Stone, the Tucson Lead Artifacts, and other historical artifacts are textbook examples of the improper use of the scientific method.

My geological work on the Bat Creek Stone was professionally peer-reviewed in accordance with ASTM and AASHTO standards.  It is those scientific standards that the building of our nation in the modern age was based upon.  You can criticize me all you want, but it'll be interesting to see how the academic, opinion-driven peer-review process holds up during questioning, under oath, against factual scientific evidence."

I later added the following to the discussion:

Don (Rose),

“You, me, the Tribe and the Smithsonian (including Dr. Smith) know the artifact is genuine.  Academia in Washington is defending a centuries old paradigm and we all know it.  They know that, once one of these obvious genuine "anomalies" is accepted, the historical house of cards crumbles.

They know as we do, trying to scapegoat Emmert is unfounded and unethical, but it's all they've got.

As I said Friday, we need to wipe away the past 100 years and encourage the scientists do the work with fresh, objective eyes.

I'm confident the facts will lead to the truth.”

I stand by my comments and also wonder, if the Bat Creek Stone were such an obvious fake, why do they care so much about the artifact?  Why did they bother for years to prominently display the artifact in the McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee, in Knoxville.  And why did they make the Cherokee wait so long (almost three years), and fill out mounds of paperwork for a fake?  The reason is because they know it’s not a hoax and is really an important historical artifact they lost control of thinking it was a Cherokee inscription back in 1889.  This begs the question: Does anybody think it would have ever seen the light of day had the Smithsonian realized it was a Hebrew inscription back then?

This also begs another question for the skeptics who accused the discoverer, John W. Emmert, of planting a hoax to impress his bosses: If he was the one who carved it to allegedly impress his boss, why didn’t he point out that it was Hebrew? It wasn't realized that it was Hebrew for another 80 years. Emmert had no idea it was Hebrew!

The accusations don’t follow simple logic, have no basis in fact, and are clearly unethical since Emmert can’t defend himself since he is long dead.  The accusations bring up another troubling fact for the Smithsonian.  Since they have plainly questioned the integrity of Emmert in this dig; doesn’t it throw doubt on all the other digs he did for the institution?  Apparently, the Smithsonian believes it can pick and choose who and what is credible based on what is found.  On February 6th, Dr. Hu McCulloch asked Dr. Smith for clarification on this very point:

 Dear Dr. Smith,
   Thank you for clarifying the Smithsonian’s official opinion on the Bat Creek stone.
   Does this mean that the Smithsonian now officially renounces the entire Mound Survey as unreliable, or just the substantial portion that was due to John Emmert?  In the latter case, would it be possible to make public a list of the sections and artifacts that he was responsible for and which may now be disregarded?  For the most part, the field agents responsible for the various sections were not identified by name in the Mound Survey report.
   You mention the 2004 Mainfort and Kwas article as reflecting your position.   You may be interested in my reply to that article, which is forthcoming (very shortly) in Pre-Columbiana.  A preprint is online at .
   Sincerely yours,
Hu McCulloch

While the Smithsonian has long basked in the glory and respect of being one of the world’s finest museums, their handling of the Bat Creek Stone transfer to the Cherokee over this past week was disrespectful to the tribe and created a large crack to form through its integrity.  That crack can be fixed with the appropriate action moving forward.  Otherwise, other cracks are sure to be found that could lead to serious structural damage.

Phil and Leslie Kalen outside the cave.

Phil and Leslie Kalen work with the Committee Films crew inside the illuminated cave.

Colin Thrienen works in a precarious spot inside the beautiful limestone cave.

Scott and Jim Morgan initiate three worthy guests onto their squad in the hotel lobby.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

America Unearthed: Mystery of the Serpents

I have to say the Serpent Mound in Ohio, is one of the most impressive ancient mound structures I've ever seen.  It is truly amazing in size and scope with regard to archaeoastronomy alignments.  One thing many people don't realize is in the 1840's, early surveyors, Squire and Davis, reported a circle of large standing stones inside the egg of the Serpent Mound.  These stones were pushed over the nearby cliff by early farmers and one of these monolith's is still visible at the base today.  I photographed this large monolith the night before Ross and I took our helicopter tour of the Serpent Mound.

Dr. Jim Sherz shared some amazing information about the ancient Native traditions of trans-continental contact of priests or shaman who traveled abroad sharing knowledge much like visiting students and professors do today.  Jim has lived among the Ho Chunck for years and learned a great deal about matters that many academics dismiss.  Maybe skeptical scholars could learn more about past contact by listening to Native elders instead of trying to tell them what their history was.

Dr. Peter N. Peregrine was a terrific guest who acknowledged the short-sighted thinking of some in academia, but also defended colleagues who are open-minded and willing to investigate once taboo ideas.  We agreed that theories are a great place to start, but you have to have sound evidence for any thesis to have traction.

Of course, it was fun yet again to spend time with my good friend, Alan Butler, this time in Scotland at such a beautiful site.  Glacial/Quaternary geology was one of my areas of interest in college and the Serpent Mound site in Scotland was a valley-glacial wonderland.  Minnesota was once covered by a continental-sized glacier where the ice was over a mile thick where I live now.  When Alan recently visited us in Minnesota we gave him both the geological, and the more recent historical tour of the Twin Cities which included Mounds Park in St. Paul.  So many amazing geological and archaeological wonders on this continent and so little time...

America Unearthed Fan Letter of the Week

Dear Scott Wolter of America Unearthed,

Let me start by saying I'm a huge fan of the show and look forward to every episode. I appreciate how you back up your findings with science and logic, it's truly stunning how this great nation has covered up so much of its history and how so much of the public will never question the History books we learned from throughout school. As a patriot I'm gonna contact my Representative and will also place a call to the Smithsonian to ask about their cover up tendencies. Once again, keep up the awesome work.

Semper Fi,

Thanks Stan and all the fans of America Unearthed. You're why our show is such a success.

Monk's Mound as seen from the air with Cahokia Visitor's Center in the distance.

A selfy of Scott next to one of the standing stones below the cliff next to the Serpent Mound.

The Committee Films crew prepares for a take while Dr. Peter Peregrine watches the action.

Ross Hamilton and Scott pose next to an airplane wing.