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Chief Joseph’s Cuneiform Tablet Still Mystifies

In 1877 Chief Joseph, the revered leader of the Native American tribe Nez Perce, gave General Nelson Appleton Miles a Mesopotamian cuneiform tablet. The event was well documented, but to this day, scholars are unable to explain where the chief got the artifact. The website, TheIndigenousAmerican.com, citing research by Vine Deloria, Jr. in the book Red Earth, White Lies, recounted the story in April.

The tablet was presented at the surrender of Nez Perce to the U.S. Army. Chief Joseph claimed that it had been passed down in his family for generations. The white man, he said, had come among his ancestors long ago. Ultimately translated by Robert Biggs, a professor of Assyriology at the Oriental Institute of Chicago, the tablet was determined to be an authentic sales receipt dating to 2042 BC for a lamb. Cuneiform had been translated for the first time in 1846, but any forger would have needed very advanced and specialized knowledge of both the language and tablets created by scribes.

Although directly contradicting the standard academic cultural diffusion timeline, the Chief Joseph case is far from being the only one. Harvard professor Dr. Barry Fell, in his 1976 book on ancient epigraphy, America B.C., cited many such examples. Inscriptions found throughout the Americas were offered by Fell as evidence of contact between the Old World and the Americas long before Columbus. The arguments made Fell an outcast from the academic world, but many unsolved riddles, like Chief Joseph’s tablet, continue to vex the conventional wisdom.


Atlantis Alloy Turns Up in Ancient Greek Shipwreck

Atlantis prized one particular metal more than all others, said Plato. In his Critias dialogue we were told that the temple of Poseidon was covered, both within and without, by orichalcum, a shiny red-tinted metal valued more highly than gold. Indeed, a pillar of orichalcum found in the temple was said to be inscribed with the laws of Poseidon.

A brass-like alloy, orichalcum, by the time of Plato, had ceased to be so treasured; nevertheless, it was still considered precious. Consequently, the discovery in February of 2017 of 47 ingots of orichalcum in a 2600-year-old shipwreck off the coast of southern Sicily caused considerable excitement among Atlantologists and archaeologists. First discovered in 2015, the wreck had previously given up 39 lumps of the metal, along with a jar and two Corinthian helmets. Divers continue to explore the wreck.

Greek mythology credits the Phoenician founder of Thebes, Cadmus, with inventing orichalcum. Several other classical writers, including the poet Hesiod, mentioned it. Plato, though, was the one who made it famous. In more recent times, researcher Richard Wingate argued in his 1980s book, Lost Outpost of Atlantis, that strips of profusely decorated metal wall covering claimed to be taken from mysterious structures in the Ecuadorian jungle were relics of actual Atlantean orichalcum. Wingate found the strips in a small museum operated in Cuenca by Selesian priest Carlo Crespi. The collection still exists in the vaults of the Central Bank of Ecuador, but the origin of the strange metal wall coverings remains a mystery.


ISIS Leaves Clues for Archaeologists

ISIS–the terrorist organization, not the Egyptian mother goddess–may have just demonstrated, unwittingly, that the old gods are not through yet. In their determination to rid the world of all beliefs other than their own, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has destroyed many ancient ruins. One of their rampages in the ancient city of Nimrud, 30 miles south of Mosul, Iraq, in July 2014, it now turns out, has opened the door to ruins far older, and potentially much more ‘offensive’ to ISIS, than those that they had destroyed.

According to Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, reporting on the liberation of Mosul, ISIS has made a systematic effort to destroy shrines, departing from its brand of Islamic fundamentalism and, it might say, ‘blaspheming’ Islam. One such site in Nimrud was the mosque of the prophet Yunis, also known as Jonah, of whale fame. Now, archaeologists assessing the damage and exploring ISIS tunnels deep beneath, have unexpectedly stumbled upon a previously unknown Assyrian palace from 600 BC. Even though ISIS had been pilfering and selling the artifacts; many that are still intact remain.

Thought to be linked to a long succession of Assyrian kings, the palace was, scholars say, built for King Sennacherib, remodeled by Esarhaddon (681–669 BC), and renovated again by Ashurbanipal (669–627 BC).

CAPTION: Fragment of Assyrian-era relief shows an image of a genie holding a pinecone at ancient Nimrud site, destroyed by Islamic State near Mosul, Iraq. Nov. 28, 2016. (Photo: Maya Alleruzzo/AP)