If you’ve done any research on the Hartland Model or Ancient Hebrews in North America you’ll have come across the Newark Stones. If you haven’t JosephKnew.com and Wikipedia are a decent starting place. (Featured image from JosephKnew).
Instead of rehashing all the other material that’s already out there I’ll just give a quick sum up and then simply add some additional sources of information that I think help answer the ultimate question, “are they fake?”
So what are they?
The Newark Stones or Newark Holy Stones were two stones found in Newark, OH in 1860 by a man named David Wyrick in a cluster of pre-columbian burial mounds. The set consists of two stones, the first being the Keystone and the second the Decalogue stone. The Keystone is inscribed with Hebrew and contains the phrases
- Holy of the Holies
- King of the Earth
- The Law of God
- The Word of God
The Decalogue stone contains a depiction of a man in the center with an inscription of the name Moses written in block Hebrew. Covering the rest of the Decalogue stone is a copy Ten Commandments found in Exodus and Deuteronomy in the Bible.
If the stones are accepted as authentic then it throws into question much of what is commonly believed about pre-columbian contact between the old world and the new world.
Who’s claiming they’re a hoax?
While there is no definitive proof that either stone was faked there was definitely some controversy when they were unveiled by David Wyrick to the public. The skepticism that most of the scientific community met the revelation with, cast a shadow over the Newark Stones that holds to this day. And more recent critical analysis from experts on Hopewell culture has done little to dispel or dissuade that shadow.
Instead of rehashing the arguments and covering much of the same material that has already been covered as mentioned above I would rather focus on two pieces of evidence that in my research I felt like were generally overlooked
So what’s the evidence?
The first source is an Ohio State University symposium that was held in November of 1999 titled “Newark “Holy Stones”: Context for Controversy”.
At the symposium, Dr. J. Huston McCulloch, Professor of Economics and Finance at Ohio State University, gives a very compelling argument for the authenticity of the Newark Stones, a copy of which can be found here. In this article among other well-written counters to Wyrick having faked the stones, he states,
“Archaeologist Stephen Williams claims that Wyrick was “very committed to the Lost Tribes of Israel as the origin of the Moundbuilders” prior to his discovery of the Keystone, with the implication that Wyrick may therefore have fabricated the Keystone and Decalogue in order to support his pet theory (1991:168).
However, Wyrick somehow neglected to mention this alleged obsession in any of his surviving correspondence or even in his very pamphlet on the stones.”
Dr. McCullock also counters Dr. Bradley T. Lepper’s argument that Rev. McCarty was the fabricator attempting to push agenda by saying,
“It seems rather hasty to convict McCarty of composing the two Wyrick stones, simply on the grounds that he happened to be the first Hebrew scholar to come along. This is particularly true, given that there is not yet so much as a corpus delicti to indicate that a fraud has occurred in the first place”
Dr. McCullock has very well constructed arguments in favor of accepting the stones as authentic and I would suggest a thorough reading of the paper.
If they’re real, when were they made?
The second source I want to touch on comes from the same Dr. Bradley Lepper who at the time of this writing is a Curator of Archaeology at the Ohio History Center. In 2015 Dr Lepper reported on the radiocarbon dating of a piece of wood from the burial mound that the decalog stone was reportedly found under. The full article can be found here. The excerpt included in the Ohio Archeology website states,
“A fragment of wood from a unique wooden burial platform excavated from the mound in 1860 has yielded a radiocarbon date of between cal A.D. 85 and 135 situating it in the early Middle Woodland period. Artifacts reportedly found in association with the burial platform suggest an Adena cultural affiliation for the mound.”
While it’s clear that Dr Lepper believes the stones to be a well-crafted hoax meant to push a social/political agenda (see The Newark “Holy Stones”: The Social Context of an Enduring Scientific Forgery), I must refer back the Dr McCullock’s argument that had that been the case Wyrick did an incredibly poor job of pushing said agenda and there appears to be no evidence supporting that Rev. McCarty had the expertise to create or even supervise the creation of them. And if you accept their authenticity then their dating becomes a matter of fact now.
What do I think?
At the end of the day, I’m inclined to believe the Newark Stones are authentic. Does this mean that ancient Israelites settled North America and became the Native Americans we know today, not necessarily. I think at most it proves that cultural diffusion took place in much more profound ways than history classes taught in our public schools would have us believe.
For a sampling of possible pre-Columbian contact theories, you can start here on Wikipedia but be warned, it’s a deep rabbit hole.