Ten Key Points on the Authenticity of Artifacts
Article in Ancient America, Volume 17, number 99, pp. 21-24.
Ancient America is a really good magazine that holds that there were numerous ancient civilizations that visited the Americas with the purpose of obtaining natural resources and trade. There's a massive difference between the archaeologists (who are in the majority) that hold that the civilization of America did not start until Columbus landed.
The other group, in the minority, hold that there are many artifacts and structures in America that had to have been made by ancient cultures that were here for a relatively short time. This include things like writings on stone tablets, coins and certain structures they seem to have left behind. The archaeologists who are pro-Columbus put down virtually all such findings, saying that they are all hoaxes or things that have been misinterpreted by the cultural diffusionists, those who believe a number of other cultures were here long before Columbus.
This group of visitors included Egyptians, Chinese, Japanese, Celts, Vikings and even more. The argument between the two groups is quite nasty and, in this article, there is an attempt to work out a list of things that should be done to help clear up the question about whether the artifacts found are real or fakes or misinterpretations.
I'll just put down the points with a few comments. However, if you can hold of the magazine it will be well worth your time.
1. When an attempt is made to determine if an artifact is real or not certain things need to be considered about the person making the claim, including their expertise, knowledge and experience. There should not be an immediate claim that the items are fakes or hoaxes especially if the person finding them is actually knowledgeable in their field which happens a lot.
2. The reality or lack of reality of an artifact needs to be done with consideration of various other factors such as the history of the culture, it's language, it's relation to other things found and so on. It's a rather complicated process. For example, if someone says an artifact is a written tablet from x civilization then it's necessary to find out if x civilization even existed at that time and if was at all possible for them to cross the ocean to America and successfully return.
One of the questions I have is how did these civilizations find out about the natural resources that would be useful to them? Was it actually cost-effective, at that time in history, to send boats over here, mine or trade for what they want and then get back to their home country?
3. Determine whether or not certain artifacts are real takes time. I've read of many examples of when someone says they have found a pre-Columbian artifact they are jumped on immediately by non-diffusionist archaeologists who claim the object is a hoax or something else even, at times, without actually examining the artifact in person.
It takes time to clean the artifact, study the object (especially if it is writing) and determine if the object is real or not. If not, then why would someone go to the trouble of putting such an object somewhere and trying to pass it off as real? The process has to be objective, totally. Any prejudice, one way or another, can lead to false conclusions.
4, No committee of scholars or court of law should decide the authenticity of any artifact. There are charges that some major organizations associated with history and archaeological work have already decided that no one of any importance was in America before Columbus and thus any artifacts that are pre-Columbian in nature (other than Olmec, Aztec, Mayan, etc) are not even worth considering.
5. Just because an artifact is found that could cause a major shake-up in the story of American history does not mean it is therefore automatically a hoax, fake or a misinterpretation. This approach reminds me of the Bugblatter Beast of Traal from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. If you put a towel over your head, the beast (or the bit of history-challenging artifact ) will simply go away in enough time and things will return to the Columbus-is-great viewpoint.
6. Yes, there are planted fakes that are found to time to time. This does not mean that all pre-Columbian artifacts are automatically fakes.
7. If one has an artifact that has writing on it and the writing is not done exactly in the format of the ancient language does not automatically mean it's fake. There are changes in any language over time, even English. It also depends on the intelligence and knowledge of their own language of the person making an inscription on a stone. A scholar will write a more readable message then someone who is barely literate in their own language.
8. It has to be hoped that any scholars publishing material on ancient artifacts have integrity and are trying to be as objective as they can be. This has been a problem in the paranormal field, for example, where some authors are considered not exactly qualified, trying to push their own ideas of the way things happened while not offering good proof of that they are presenting as facts.
9. The community of archaeologists should assume that someone who writes something is probably honest, at least until definitely shown to be otherwise. Character-assassination is a major tool of those in politics and, unfortunately, even a few in science. This has a long, long history, of course, going back to Galileo and others who the Church automatically assumed were heretics. A lot of people died in the witchcraft trials because the assumption was made that these people were all evil. At least give a person writing something a chance.
10. Studying something and trying to figure out how all the pieces fit together, and even which of those pieces are worthwhile, takes time. The more objective study is carried out the more likely it is that a realistic explanation of something will be found.
For example, if a number of inscriptions are found in a certain area over a period of years and objective study of the writings and deciphering of them goes well then the more likely it is that there is truth to an assumption about a particular culture coming to America and exploring and trading.
I consider the entire article to be very rational and logical and something that believers on both sides of the Columbus-as-discover should adhere to.
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