The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
Hoaxes Throughout History
Middle AgesEarly Modern1700s1800-1840s1850-1890s
1900s1910s1920s1930s1940s1950s1960s1970s1980s1990s21st Century2014
The Bat Creek Stone
image In 1889 a curiously engraved stone was found in an Indian mound near Bat Creek, Ohio. The discoverer of the stone was John Emmert, who was working for the Smithsonian's Mound Survey Project. Emmert thought (or said he thought) that the inscription was written in Cherokee and sent the 'Bat Creek Stone' off to the Smithsonian, which accepted the stone as authentic. The Smithsonian then included a reference to the stone in its final report on the Mounds--the report in which it concluded that the mounds had been built by ancient American Indians, not by an ancient tribe of world-wandering Europeans or Israelites (the origin of the Indian mounds was a huge debate back in the 19th century and spawned numerous fanciful theories). Fast-forward to the 1960s when Hebrew scholar Cyrus Gordon realized that the Bat Creek Stone was actually inscribed with an ancient form of Hebrew, not Cherokee. Then in the late 1980s artifacts discovered alongside the stone were radiocarbon dated and found to be over 1500 years old. Some saw this as dramatic evidence of the presence of 'Hebrew sailors' in North America way back when. Perhaps a lost tribe of Israelites really had built the mounds? Or perhaps not. In the most recent issue of American Antiquity, Robert Mainfort and Mary Kwas (archaeologists at the University of Arkansas) expose the Bat Creek Stone as a forgery (The Columbus Dispatch has an article about this, but won't let people see it for free). Mainfort and Kwas discovered that the inscription was copied from an illustration that appeared in a widely available book titled General History, Cyclopedia, and Dictionary of Freemasonry, published in 1870 (nineteen years before the finding of the stone). As for who the forger was, the obvious suspect is John Emmert, since he was alone when he dug the stone out of the mound. So much for those Hebrew sailors in ancient America.
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 15, 2004

makes sense to me. Hebrews wouldn't write "KXENLY'P" on a rock and throw it into a river for no reason.
Posted by John  on  Wed Dec 15, 2004  at  10:06 PM
Now what does the carvings mean when translated into English? "Lost Tribe of Israel. If found please return to Jerusalem"?
Posted by Fay-Fay  on  Thu Dec 16, 2004  at  02:37 AM
Those markings look a bit like the Elder Futhark, but it is kind of hard to tell from the small picture.
Posted by Myst  on  Thu Dec 16, 2004  at  02:50 AM
The original article can be found here:
Posted by Captain DaFt  on  Thu Dec 16, 2004  at  04:45 AM
Whoops! That link was to the second article, the first is:
Posted by Captain DaFt  on  Thu Dec 16, 2004  at  04:52 AM
Carbon dating isn't accurate. Once, to test the process, scientists took brick pieces & mortar from a castle that they KNEW was 800 yrs old. When they tested it using the method, the returned result was that the items were 4,000 years old. Besides, I thought carbon dating was taking the dirt, & deciding how old it was to determine the age of the object, & in turn the object would say how old the dirt was. Sort of like a little circle. Never made sense to me.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Thu Dec 16, 2004  at  10:29 AM
Fay-Fay, according to the articles that Captain DaFt linked to, the markings mean 'For the Jews'.

And thanks for finding those articles, Captain DaFt. I've been trying to see if the most recent article in which they reveal the 'smoking gun' evidence of where the inscription came from is online, but haven't found it anywhere.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Dec 16, 2004  at  12:11 PM
I, ignorantly I guess, thought that there were no written languages from the american indians. I guess that only applies to some of the tribes. This was useful in WW2, they used Navaho, I think to send radio messages. I had a discussion with a native american on a message board a while back, long story short he stated that white man never got their story right in any of the books, so I asked if there were any original books written in native language, He stated that there were no native american written languages back then, just books written after the tribes were taught french or some other language or phonetic writing. Anybody else know of any books written in native american languages?
Posted by Oscar  on  Thu Dec 16, 2004  at  04:50 PM
In general, Native peoples of what is now the U.S. and Canada didn't have writing as we think of it before the European conquest, though some groups did have systems of pictorial symbols. Those don't qualify as full-fledged writing because it wasn't possible to fully write all sentences or words from their languages, as it is with modern writing systems. In the western half of the U.S., many natives did make "petrographs" (rock writing) in ancient times, but nobody now knows what most of these pictures and symbols were intended to mean, or indeed whether they were a kind of writing, religious iconography, or just doodling.
In Mexico, though, several of the indigenous nations did have sophisticated systems of writing. The Aztecs and the Maya and several of their neighbors and predecessors wrote stone inscriptions and many books and scrolls, thousands of which were burned by Spanish conquistadors who associated them with pagan religions.
Cherokee has a literary history, but it doesn't go back to pre-conquest times. In the early 19th century, a Cherokee man named Sequoyah developed an "alphabet" (actually a set of syllabic characters) for writing the Cherokee language. His system was a new invention, not an adaptation of other alphabets. Sequoyah's system was widely adopted among the Cherokees, and books and newspapers were published in Cherokee for many years, although I understand the system has fallen into relative disuse in the present generation. There was, and I suppose still is, a statue of Sequoyah in the U.S. Captiol building.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Thu Dec 16, 2004  at  09:06 PM
The Lenape (Delaware) Indians also had some kind of writing system, which was the inspiration for a hoax that I've described here:
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Dec 16, 2004  at  09:45 PM
The idea that ancient Hebrews or Europeans MUST have built things like the Mounds is just thinly-veiled racism. The underlying notion is that such marvels of architecture could only have been built by "superior" (wink wink) people, not "savages". 19th-century thinking.

Maegan, carbon-dating is more accurate than you think WHEN DONE PROPERLY by EXPERTS, you don't seem to have a full grasp of the underlying technology and physics involved. Questioning such established facts in public makes you sound like one of those dippy Creationist fools.
Posted by Barghest  on  Fri Dec 17, 2004  at  04:15 AM
Ociyo! (Hello, in Cherokee)
The Cherokee Syllabary is most definitely still in wide use, and is actively taught today in many Native American language programmes. Our newspaper, Cherokee Observer, is written in both and English version, and a Tsa-La-Gi (Cherokee) version.
I love those old westerns where a flaming arrow flies into the fort with a 'note' on it, written in 'indian', and they have to call someone over to translate. Sometimes I think every print of those old films should just be burned. And while we're at it, most Pocahontas films, especially DISNEY!!!! They're perpetrating the lie that John Smith told time and again.
Posted by Catlady  on  Fri Dec 17, 2004  at  06:07 AM
Actually, the markings read something like raq lihud[im], "only for the Jews". The late Cyrus Gordon, mentioned in the article, adopted Robert Stieglitz's proposal that the inscription read ziq lihudim, "a comet for the Jews," presumably in reference to some quasi-messianic figure believed to be the fulfillment to a prophecy(Gordon, who was a polymath and a particularly brilliant linguist, had a strong poetic streak).

Gordon was also known for his publication of the infamous Paraiba Text, aka the Phoenician Text from Brazil. Later in life (shortly before he passed away) he told me that he had come to believe that the text was a masonic forgery.
Posted by Charles  in  Cambridge  on  Fri Dec 17, 2004  at  08:44 PM
"raq lihud" literally means "only to the jews"

Only for the jews would literally be "raq bishvil hayehud"

Then again, i'm not so great at hebrew and prepositions don't translate directly. From looking at the picture, it must be really old hebrew because it doesn't even look familiar.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Fri Dec 17, 2004  at  11:13 PM
To Maegan :

Your story doesn't add up. Bricks and mortar CANNOT be carbon dated, carbon dating can ONLY happen on organic materials.
Hence the carbon dating of the stone is based on "artifacts found alongside", which I presume are made out of bone or something.
Lastly and most importantly : carbon dating is usually very accurate, so I'm afraid it's damning in this case.
Posted by Nathan  on  Sat Dec 18, 2004  at  09:50 PM
I was going to ask, how does carbon dating a bit of rock tell you how old an inscription on the rock is, surely it's just gonna tell you how old the rock is.

I wasn't aware of the organics only rule that Nathan pointed out, but I guess you learn something new every day smile
Posted by Sharruma  on  Sun Dec 19, 2004  at  01:15 AM
"Your story doesn't add up. Bricks and mortar CANNOT be carbon dated, carbon dating can ONLY happen on organic materials."
-Wasn't aware of the organic rule here....
*Main Entry: carbon dating
Function: noun
: the determination of the age of old material (as an archaeological or paleontological specimen) by means of the content of carbon 14.
*Main Entry: carbon 14
Pronunciation: see FOURTEEN
Function: noun
: a heavy radioactive isotope of carbon of mass number 14 used especially in tracer studies and in dating archaeological and geological materials.
-Geological is rock stuff right? Bricks are like rocks made up of mud. Mortar is...mud? (If this stuff was from the 1100's or 1200's I don't think the people who made the castle just ran up to the local Castle Depot & picked up from Quick-crete)

"carbon-dating is more accurate than you think WHEN DONE PROPERLY by EXPERTS"
-Yeah, I guess they would have not used experts to test this. Geeze, if I have to find the whole damn piece and post it, I will...but I used it in a particular curriculum that I no longer have (it burned in a house fire), & the teacher who created it was a microbiologist & researches her information before she give it to someone to use as a teaching tool. I taught her stuff 8 times, & still don't remember all of it...there was a lot of stuff. Here's her web page, I don't think she's got the info up on've got to pay for the stuff.. She used to live in my town...& taught at a homeschool conference I went to.

"dippy Creationist fools."
-That's open-minded of you.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Sun Dec 19, 2004  at  12:19 PM
I think you missed my point Meagan
If I inscribe a piece of rock that is 1500 years old does that mean the inscription must be 1500 years old?

If I build a castle out of bricks that were formed 4000 years ago, then the carbon dating might well claim the castle is 4000 years old even if I built it yesterday.

Remember stuff like concrete wasn't around 800 years ago, the bricks in castles were cut directly from a quarry as they are.
Posted by Sharruma  on  Sun Dec 19, 2004  at  03:31 PM
I think I did miss your point. ...But in now seeing your point...

If I dug a hole in my yard & used that dirt to make mud...that might be what? 20-30 years of deposit? I would have to go so deeply & dig for so long that I might as well live in the hole I dug, rather than a castle made from the mud. So I'd give about 50-100 yrs of error on either end...but not thousands.

I'm seeing your point in...the rock could very well be 1,000 yrs old...but the inscription would be 10 minutes old. Which means that the inscription would be fake. do you date an inscription? (Honest questions here...can anyone shed some light on this?)
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Tue Dec 21, 2004  at  10:47 AM
Maegan, the only way you can date any kind of stone object (or inscribed stone object) is by looking at what you find around it. That's why archaeology is so full of hoaxes. It's easy to slip something into the ground when no one is looking.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Tue Dec 21, 2004  at  12:01 PM
So...if I DID find a 1,500 yr old stone, & wrote, "ALL HAIL FUTURE QUEEN MAEGAN!" Then, no one could really be able to prove me wrong?
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Wed Dec 22, 2004  at  01:31 PM
Not wishing to nit-pick Sharruna, but concrete has been around for at least 2,000 years. The Pantheon in Rome (,_Rome), for example, has a concrete dome, and it's 2nd Century. Sorry - nothing to do with the debate, I just thought I'd mention it
Posted by Siobhan  in  UK  on  Thu Dec 23, 2004  at  07:26 AM
Are you sure?
I'm not a fountain of all knowledge and wisdom, even if I like to think I am at times.
but I understood Concrete to be a very recent invention
1756 by John Smeaton to be more precise
Posted by Sharruma  on  Fri Dec 24, 2004  at  09:02 PM
Mainfort and Kwas are criticised very effectively as a lot of biased emotional handwaving here:

My favorite part is #4 (p. 12), where J. Huston McCulloch points out that if Emmerts wanted to impress his employer, who believed the mounds were Cherokee, the last thing he would do is forge a Hebrew inscription, especially since he knew many Cherokee who could have helped him with their script.

Whether the inscription is real or not, I don't know. But after reading the Ohio State paper, I'm inclined to believe that Mainfort and Kwas are about as reliable as they accuse the stone's Emmerts of being.. Their arguments show nothing but their own bias.

For a better view of the stone:
Posted by yonaton  on  Sun Oct 09, 2005  at  01:10 AM
The stone referred to here is just one of the many artifacts that prove that the natives of the continents we now call North and South America are Hebrews. 12 tribes make up the nation of Israel, 10 of them seemed to have vanished from the middle east after the reign of the Assyrians over the land of Palestine. The reason that the script on this particular stone looks different from the Hebrew script people are acustomed to seeing today is because it is different. This is how the original language was written. The Hebrew you will find today dates back only to the time of Ezra the prophet and priest of the tribe of Levi who was one of the men who published the new form of Hebrew script. All of the ancient scrolls that predate Ezra and some of the scrolls found written after his time were written in this ancient Hebrew script. The name "Indian" applied to Native Americans is broadly excepted even though most people would not argue against the fact that the natives are not from India. The name "Israelite" applied to the natives of America will continue to be scorned although there are many things that prove that is the true ethnicity.
Posted by Wohali  in  New York  on  Thu Jun 14, 2007  at  07:01 AM
How exactly does that prove Native Americans are Hebrews, and not that some small number of ancient Hebrews visited North America? Sorry, that's actually the more like choice of the two*.

Of course, the most likely choice is that it's simply a hoax, but that wouldn't be any fun at all, would it?

*yes I'm well aware that this is an incredibly unlikely scenario, I'm only using it as an example
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Thu Jun 14, 2007  at  11:29 AM
That alone doesn't prove it. But we will consider this artifact with many others and important documents including accounts given by the early European settlers in the Americas. I know that many people don't believe the Bible to be a divinely inspired book or an accurate account of history as true as it is... All races of people living today come from Noah and his 3 sons. This is because the flood covered the entire earth killing all people and land animals except for those preserved in the ark Noah built. How does this relate to our topic? The natives of America must descend from either Shem and/or Ham and/or Japeth (the 3 sons of Noah). Following the history recorded in the bible the land first inhabited was Asia, Africa, and Europe. The descendants of Japheth settled in Europe for the most part and the nearby islands. The descendants of Ham settled in Africa and parts of the Middle East. The descendants of Shem settled in the Middle East and parts of northern Africa. When the continents later to be called the Americas were to be found and inhabited the people referred to it as a "new found land" because thats exactly what it was. If you read 2nd Esdras 13:39-45 (Esdras is Ezra in the bible) you can see that 10 tribes out of the 12 tribes nation of Israel, after leaving Assyrian captivity journed to a land called Arzareth from the Hebrew words (אַחֶרֶת אֶרֶץ) (Deuteronomy 29:28) The meaning of that is another land, implying a land besides the land that was known and inhabited. This land most definitely could have been the 'Americas'. Another important book to consider is James Adair's History of the American Indians written in the 1700s, also Lost Tribes and Promise Land, just to name a couple. The fringes wore on the clothes of many of the native tribes (often laced with a border of blue wampum beads or blue dye) is a custom kept by the Israelites as a law given to them through Moses (Numbers 15:37-40). There is a cave in New Mexico where in the 10 commandments had been written in ancient Hebrew ("Los Lunas Hebrew Inscription").

The Wampanoag tribe as well as several other tribes used the shield of David (6 point star) as a common emblem. There have been found coins buried with Hebrew inscriptions. Circumcision was practiced among many tribes before the Europeans ever came. The name used by many tribes for the "One God" in many of the ancient native dialects is the same as the tetragram YHWH (the Hebrew name for God). There are countless other clues that prove that the native Americans are descendents of the lost tribes of Israel. But if any of the readers here can argue against this, offer also some "proof" that what I am saying is incorrect.
Posted by Wohali  in  New York  on  Fri Jun 15, 2007  at  03:43 AM
Fortunately we don't have to rely on the Bible or doubtful 'artifacts' as our sources - we have modern science.

A simple DNA test would show how closely related Native Americans are to modern Jews. I find it hard to believe such a thing hasn't already occurred, many groups are involved in DNA mapping humans across the world. The people who believe they've found a genetic marker from Ghengis Khan made international headlines, you'd think proving conclusively that Native Americans were ancient Hebrews would be even bigger news, yet I haven't heard anything about it.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Fri Jun 15, 2007  at  11:10 AM
Oh, and lets not forget the simple fact that there were people in North and South America millenia before the first Hebrews appeared. In fact, millenia before the Bible states the world was created, which puts something of a shadow on the Bible's claim to authenticity.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Fri Jun 15, 2007  at  11:13 AM
The DNA test to show how closely related the "modern Jews" are to the Native Americans as you stated...??? A DNA test would also show how unrelated the "modern Jews" are to the actual ethnic tribes of Israel (the sons of Jacob). Concerning these "modern Jews" as you called them, the mass majority of them are in no way physically related to the original tribe of Judah. Ask any "rabbi" who is knowledgable enough and honest enough to tell you the facts and he will admit that most of the European Jews are Jewish by religion because they converted to Judaism between the 8th and 9th century. There are several documents to prove this but a good book that consolodates this information was written by a very knowledgable "modern Jew" Arthur Koestler.
As to your last comment, ..."In fact, millenia before the Bible states the world was created, which puts something of a shadow on the Bible's claim to authenticity." What year did the Bible say that the world was created? If you have seen this somewhere in the Bible I would like to know which bible you are referring to. IT'S NOT IN THERE! What it does say is, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..." "In the beginning" doesn't tell you exactly when.
Posted by Wohali  in  New York  on  Fri Jun 15, 2007  at  09:33 PM
Comments: Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 > 
Commenting is no longer available in this channel entry.
All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.