Cumberland Academy

CHEROKEES SPOKE GREEK AND CAME FROM EAST MEDITERRANEAN

Keynote address for Ancient American History and Archeology Conference, Sandy, Utah, April 2, 2010

SUMMARY  Three examples of North American rock art are discussed and placed in the context of ancient Greek and Hebrew civilization.

The Red Bird Petroglyph is a Greek inscription from the 2nd to 3rd century CE, not a crude Cherokee scratching of around 1800 as announced recently by the Archeological Institute of America and the New York Times. It occurs above what is, in all likelihood, an inscription in Maccabean-era Hebrew.

The Bat Creek Stone

The Bat Creek Stone was professionally excavated in 1889 from an undisturbed burial mound in Eastern Tennessee by the Smithsonian’s Mound Survey project. The director of the project, Cyrus Thomas, initially declared that the curious inscription on the stone were “beyond question letters of the Cherokee alphabet.”

In the 1960s, Henriette Mertz and Corey Ayoob both noticed that the inscription, when inverted from Thomas’s orientation to that of the above photograph, instead appeared to be ancient Semitic. The late Semitic languages scholar Cyrus Gordon (1971a, 1971b, 1972) confirmed that it is Semitic, and specifically Paleo-Hebrew of approximately the first or second century A.D

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