Ancient American Inscriptions: Plow Marks or History?

The authors of this book have been actively studying for a decade and a half the apparent inscriptions throughout North America claimed by some (notably Barry Fell; see BYU Studies 17 [Spring 1977]: 373–75) to be in pre-Columbian scripts and languages from Europe and Africa. This “American epigraphy” and resulting purported decipherments have been condemned as fraudulent or ignorantly serf-deceptive by conventional archaeologists. However, these archaeologists have not put forth serious effort to research the material firsthand.

These five authors (scientists in fields other than archaeology) have produced a genuinely critical book about American epigraphy as a basis for reliable investigation to replace past name-calling. They summarize what is known about scores of purported inscriptions, point out weaknesses in the arguments of the proponents, and make clear how baseless are many of the counterclaims of establishment experts. Despite serious problems they see with the evidence, they conclude it “is sufficiently strong to justify formal evaluation . . . by conventional scholarship” (339). To that end, they make systematic, operational suggestions about methods for further study that could break the impasse.

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