Evidences of Ancient Civilization Are Found West of Tucson (Arizona Star, Feb. 23, 1919)

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Evidences of Ancient Civilization Are Found West of Tucson


Arizona Star, February 23, 1919


Ruins of Fortress and House with 250 Rooms on “Mountain of Horned Toad” Found to Surprise of Scientists


The following is the substance of an address delivered by Robert F. Gilder, archeologist of the University of Nebraska in Omaha telling of the ancient fortress on the Desert Laboratory hill just west of Tucson. The title of the address is:  “The Mountain of the Horned Toad.”

“Among the many wonders of southern Arizona there is none more astonishing than Mount Tumomoc [sic], at the western edge of the ancient city of Tucson, and as its history is buried in a remote past such facts as have been brought to light can be regarded as a beginning of the process of unraveling the mass of evidence tending to prove that the mountain and its environment was once the center of an ancient civilization, just as no doubt attached to Casa Grande in olden days.

Tumomoc in the Papago tongue means horned toad, hence the Indians call the eminence the “Mountain of the Horned Toad,” and that very name is one of the proofs that the present aboriginal inhabitants of the surrounding desert know little or nothing of a people who lived on and about the mountain in the remote period when the present remains of their pueblos and fortifications were new.

Looking at the mountain from the northwest the summit is shown as a straight line, a line too even to be a natural formation and in reality a wall made by the people who built a pueblo upon the summit of about 250 separate rooms for the protection of their homes against the attacks of some foe equally unknown.

Fortification Lines.

Upon all sides of the mountain where it is possible to reach the summit without scaling a perpendicular wall there are three well-constructed lines of fortifications. These are not in a straight line surrounding the mountain, but are laid out with a knowledge of the military value of the salient and they zigzag around, offering to those on the inside of the fort the opportunity of an enfilading fire against an attack foe.

A series of bumps when seen from below give the mountain its name. These bumps or elevations are most noticeable at the north-west corner of the mountain and no doubt conveyed to the primitive mind of the Indian an idea of their similarity to the bumps upon the anatomy of the horned toad. These elevations are lookouts nearly circular in shape with walls slightly higher than other portions of the wall of which they are a part.

All three forts today are in ruins and appear as long lines or rounded stones covering a ground space of about fifteen to twenty feet and generally are about four to five feet thick or deep. The stones are usually about the size of a bushel measure, but there are many smaller stones that evidently fit into spaces between the larger stones. Some of these forts are several thousand feet long, and the work of construction must have taken a long time in years or else a vast army of workmen.

Mortars in Rocks.

The summit of Tumomoc is about 4,000 feet above the surrounding desert and the area is possibly three acres. Today the lower courses of stone are all that remain of the ancient pueblo. The rooms vary in size, but are in the main 10×15 feet inside dimensions and are connected, that is, the wall of one, is the wall of those surrounding on all sides but one. The houses were probably one-room affairs and were erected about a central plaza, streets radiating from the central point like the spokes of a wheel. What appears to have been a large reservoir is also discernable and about thirty mortars for grinding corn have been made in some of the larger rocks.

From the summit the view of the surrounding desert for miles in every direction excepting to the southeast is unimpaired and one can see mountain peaks sixty miles off very distinctly.

Three thousand feet below the summit, located on a considerable shelf or elevated plateau are the group of buildings of the Carnegie desert laboratory and between the summit and the buildings, a small group of rooms can be traced and pottery and flint chips were obtained there.

Pictographs Found.

At various elevations are groups of pictographs cut into the volcanic rock of which the mountain is composed. Near the summit is a large groups of pictures one of which seems as if it might have been intended for a ground plan of the summit pueblo, nothing exactly like it having come to the attention of the writer heretofore.

On the northwest side where the slope is particularly steep, I had noticed at a distance of a couple of miles what appeared to be a paved roadway leading toward the mountain top and realizing that it could not be a paved road I followed a wagon track which wound about toward the stonework until I came to the lower side and was able to examine what had excited my curiosity closely.

Measurements showed the stonework to be 120 feet wide and about 600 feet long and even a casual investigation showed the remains of walls and I came to the conclusion then, and afterward had a confirmation of it, that the stonework was the ruin of a collection of small one-room stone houses that had been built upon the sloping side of the mountain, one above the other like stone steps.

Discovery Commented On.

The few remaining walls were of large interest. They were built of stones over a foot in diameter from the mountain-sides and adjacent desert close to the foot of the mountain. In the crevices between the large stones, smaller stones had been inserted until quite a compact wall had been formed. I also noticed that slow growing lichens had grown over the walls sometimes covering several stones.

I afterward visited the ruined pueblo with Prof. Byron Cummings, head of the department of archeology, University of Arizona, who agreed that I had discovered a remarkable ruin.

Dr. Cummings stated that the ruins had not been heretofore discovered as ruins, meaning that whoever used the volcanic boulders for building purposes had no knowledge that the stones were once walls of an ancient stone structure of over 100 rooms.

Just why the pueblo had been so placed on a site so difficult of access, can only be conjectured.

To the north of the mountain stretch away the foothills of the Tucson range of saw-toothed crags and pinnacles and the never-ending stretches of arid cactus-covered land through which the Rio del Santa Cruz runs when there is water in its bed, which is seldom nowadays. Along the river wherever water can be secured are some of the richest lands imaginable and it was the presence of these lands, capable of irrigation, which had drawn the people who lived upon the mountain to that part of the world.

This may be called a theory, but facts concerning other localities where extensive farming was carried on by a prehistoric people, remove elements of conjecture and establish the fact in bold characters.

At the base of Tumamoc, one today finds a number of small hillocks which experience told me covered the ruins of ancient pueblos and houses. Arroyos have cut through the desert here and the sides of the streams to a depth of five feet are thickly studded with pottery fragments and village refuse. The industrious badger with claws over three inches in length seems to delight in confining his burrowing activities to these hillocks with the result of placing under the eyes of the explorer all sorts of objects used by the ancients who occupied the houses covered by the desert winds and mountain torrents.

Find Prehistoric Pottery.

Every archeologist takes advantage of the badger’s industry and shell bracelets, turquois beads and a great variety of other material is secured in looking over the dirt thrown out by badgers. Mortars and mutates weighing ten or more pounds are thrown out by badgers, and it was their work, in fact, which led me to excavate one of the hillocks.

Prof. Cummings was my digging companion on one occasion. That day we went down three feet and found a very fine specimen of decorated and glazed prehistoric pottery. Announcement of the positive existence of glazed pottery in the valley of the Santa Cruz River is here made for the first time. It had been previously reported that specimens of glazed pottery had been found farther north in Arizona, but confirmation of such discoveries had not been made in the knowledge of Dr. Cummings or myself.

Other Discoveries Made.

The same day in a nearby section of an arroyo our expedition discovered three complete pieces of rare aboriginal pottery. One was an olia of about thirty quarts measurement, another was a finely made bowl, while the third, covered with a calcerious accretion when found, proved to be a mortuary urn, vermillion in color, decorated externally with an unique scroll and triangle in green and black nearly an inch wide.

Returning the following day at the place Dr. Cummings and I had found the glazed pottery, further excavation disclosed the side of a partly ruined adobe wall. I followed the wall down, and at about five and a half feet struck the floor which my spade penetrated. Beneath the floor reposed the skeleton of a human being. The long bones had been placed together, and at one side was the skull. The bones were exceedingly fragile, and did not last on exposure to the air, but the skull was removed entirely and proved to be of a long-headed type, while the desert Indians today are a round-headed people. This skull and the strange pots and olias found nearby are the only things of their kind ever found in Arizona or elsewhere, and they are now among the valued acquisitions of the great archeological museum in the University of Arizona.

It might be stated that other strange shapes and styles of pottery discovered in the ruined pueblo—at the foot of Mount Tumamoc are also in the Arizona museum.

It must not be supposed that no other pottery has been found in that part of Arizona. The fact is, the whole state iS filled with most wonderful evidences of a vast and ancient population, but the Mount Tumamoc skull and pottery show an entirely different method of construction and embellishment when compared with other specimens from Tucson or any other section of the state.”

Byron Cummings Was Fooled Once (The Old Pueblo Chronicle, Tucson)

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Byron Cummings Was Fooled Once


The Old Pueblo Chronicle: A 75-Year History of the Old Pueblo Club (1907-1982), April 12, 1934


Dr. Byron Cummings, Professor of Archeology at the University of Arizona, Director of the Arizona State Museum, and President of the University of Arizona, was famed world-wide as an archeologist, but once he became the victim of a Tucson hoax


            Dr. Byron Cummings (OPC), professor of archeology at the University of Arizona, Director of the Arizona State Museum on the UA campus, and President of UA, was famed world-wide as an archeologist but once he became the victim of a Tucson hoax.

Cummings was an instructor of languages, Greek and Latin, and Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Utah. He came to the UA in 1915, and rose to its presidency in 1927. He had discovered ancient temples in Mexico and early Indian ruins in this country.

In September, 1924, two Tucson men, C. E. Manier and T. W. Bent, discovered artifacts made of a metallic alloy of lead in an old lime kiln near Silverbell road, north of Tucson. They brought several items of crosses, swords and spears to Cummings. The artifacts were engraved with Latin and Hebrew words.

Cummings and other UA scientists determined that the objects were made prior to 1539, the coming of the Spaniards to this part of the world. They bore different dates ranging from 560 A.D. to 900 A.D.Cummings was confinced of their authenticity, as was Dr. A.E. Douglass (OPC) and Charles T. Vorhies (OPC), UA scientists.

If they are authentic, they would “wholly upset American history,” because they were thought to have been carried to this locality by an unknown band of Roman visitors.

The artifacts were displayed in the state museum. The university planned to buy them from their discoverers. The UA appropriated $15,000 to continue excavations at the site.

But doubts began to arise in the scientific world. In 1926, Dr. Frank Fowler, nationally known architect, charged that they were a hoax. The engravings on the pieces, he said, were copied material. Inscriptions on the crosses, he said, could be found word for word and often in the same chronological order in various books on Latin grammar.

In 1928, Harvard archeologist Dr. G. C. Vaillard called them fakes. He said, however, that the “Explanation of their discovery under a heavy layer of caliche presented an archeological problem.”

There were other charges of fakery from the scientific community. Embarrassing doubts began to form in Dr. Cummings’ mind and finally in January, 1930, he concluded that the discoveries were fakes. He wrote a memorandum to the state, recommending that the relics, still on display in the museum, not be purchased. Holes had been cut into the hard caliche and the relics had been inserted. One hole, holding a piece of a spear, was longer than the fragment itself. One cross, originally thought to have been carried by the visiting Romans, weighed 64 pounds, a burdensome piece too heavy to be carried on a march. The most devastating pieces of evidence were that the metal was found to be similar to a common present-day alloy and imbedded in the side of a cross was a piece of copper ore, classed by mining experts as coming from the Bisbee, AZ area.

Cummings was chagrinned but not permanently turned away from further archeological discoveries. He continued to discover and explore ancient Indian ruins. He died in 1954 in Tucson at the age of 93.

Lori Davisson, head researcher at the Arizona Historical Society, says that occasional requests still come from outside of Arizona, asking for information on the “Roman” artifacts. There is little more that she can offer. She says the Manier and Bent descendants, now living in California, say they know nothing of the location of the relics.

Neither apparently, does anyone else.



Aboriginal Workman Not Revealed in Artifacts Found on Silverbell Road (Tucson Daily Citizen, Jan. 21, 1930)

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Aboriginal Workman Not Revealed In Artifacts Found On Silverbell Road


Tucson Citizen, January 21, 1930


University Professors Report On Nature of Artifacts


“That a race of Romans fought to carve out an empire in Southern Arizona many centuries ago or that some other pre-Columbian people of European descent lived here, as was hinted five years ago when crosses, swords and spears of lead were found just off the Silverbell road, eight miles from Tucson, have been definitely discredited by Dr. Byron Cummings, director of the University of Arizona’s Department of Archaeology.

“The conclusions of Dr. Cummings agree in general with those derived by the Tucson Daily Citizen in a series of interviews and articles published following discovery of the alleged artifacts.

“Dr. Cummings indicates that the artifacts in no sense conform to previous expectations. They are too heavy for combat, made evidently from some rasp, the inscriptions in Latin have no coherent meaning and no other signs of occupation were found nearby. These are the reasons for doubt as summed up in a report submitted to Dr. H. L. Shantz, president of the University of Arizona.

“The objects which would appear to be objects of aboriginal workmanship were found by T. W. Bent and Charles E. Manier in September, 1924, and the university was loaned the artifacts with the understanding that purchase would be considered. Dr. Cumming’s report given as purchase was being contemplated. No reflection whatsoever was cast by the report on the finders of the artifacts.

“Those studying the artifacts were Dr. Byron Cummings, Dr. A. E. Douglass, Dr. C. J. Sarle, Dr. Charles T. Vorhies, and Dr. Frank Fowler.

Report of Experts

“The articles found would seem to indicate the presence in this region of a band of Europeans previous to the coming of the Spaniards in 1539 and 1540,” says Dr. Cummings’ report, in part. “The articles with one exception are crosses and weapons. This exception is a peculiar fan-shaped plate of lead carved on both sides and one side showing a strange geometric design that has its counterpart on several of the other articles. The swords and spears are mostly broken and two pieces show that they have been hammered on the end by some implement like a rasp. Lead is a poor material for weapons, and the hacks and nicks on the swords do not look as though they had been made in combat.

“These articles were not in a cache, they were scattered over quite an area. If they were brought there by flood at the same time the rock, sand and gravel was brought down from the higher benches of the Tucson mountains. Then they were deposited some time before 560 A.D. The earliest date in any of the inscriptions. The articles themselves and the conditions under which they were found do not seem in harmony with any events our imagination can picture.

“Careful analysis of the metal employed shows a content and texture unlike the crude metal that we thought might have come from the Tucson mountains or some other place nearby. The metal is strikingly similar to common type metal. Imbedded in the side of the first cross that was found is a piece of copper ore that is classed by mining experts as ore from the Bisbee district.”

Bearded White Man of Toltecs May be Israel III of Artifact Fame (Arizona Daily Star, ca. 1926)

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Bearded White Man of Toltecs May Be Israel III of Artifact Fame


Arizona Daily Star, February 17, 1926 (?)


Quetzalcoatl, “the bearded white man” whom the Toltec Indians of Mexico worshipped as their god, may have been Israel III, leader of the mysterious wanderers who are believed by some to have left the leaden artifacts recently unearthed near Tucson.

That was the suggestion made by Mrs. Laura Coleman Ostrander, history teacher in the public schools of Tucson, in an address this afternoon before the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

After tracing Roman-Jewish history as “a possible cause for migration” of the unknown band, Mrs. Ostrander discussed the “cultural impress” of the wanderers upon the natives they encountered in America.

“In so far as the Latin records show the period of occupancy on this continent must have been about 125 years,” Mrs. Ostrander said. “It would be impossible for a civilized people of so much higher plane to have had contact with the natives whom the Scribe designates as ‘a people ruling widely,’ without having left some cultural impress. In the time allotted to me I cannot consider in detail each possible influence but may merely point the road of our investigation.

“The general consensus of opinion among archaeologists and ethnologists is that from 700 to 900 A.D. the Toltecs were ascendant in the plateau sections of the mid-Americas, moving from the north into Mexico and establishing their kingdom at Tolan. This date coincides closely therefore with the occupancy of these Roman Jewish immigrants. During the period of 125 years of contact with the natives, these wanderers must have left some material impress upon them, which may be recognized.

May Be Banished King

“To their god, Quetzalcoatl, ‘The bearded white man,’ who was first known as high priest and after death exalted and worshipped as their God, they attribute their forms of religion, government and superior craftsmanship. In the Toltec sculpturing he is always represented as bearded, with high forehead, long nose and thin lips and is often referred to as, ‘The Long-nosed God.’ He wears a Roman tunic embroidered with crosses.

“In the Dresden Codex, Quetzalcoatl is described as tall, blue-eyed and bearded, and in one of the drawings of the same manuscript he is shown holding a snake in his hand. May not this bearded white man be the banished king, Israel III?

“Toltec tradition further relates that while their country was at the height of its prosperity under Quetzalcoatl’s wise rule, there appeared one day before this high priest a bearded old man of his own race. Coming from the north this visitor revealed what the Toltecs believed to be the will of the Gods that he should return to his own people. This message he accepted as imperative and immediately started northward. He took with him some young noblemen as far as Cholula where he sent them back charging them to say that he would return at the head of a group of white men. Gradually news seeped through that Quetzalcoatl had died, but because of this message, the Aztecs, descendants of this ancient tribe, received the Spaniards as long expected guests. A study of the Toltec religion shows it to be a mixture of Indian myth and Hebrew legends and religious rites, but fundamentally Hebraic. The Toltecs had a hereditary priesthood who crowned their kings, they burned incense, offered fresh fruits as substitute for human sacrifice, attributed to Quetzalcoatl, and many other rites pointing to a Hebraic source.

“The establishment of a civil calendar of 365 days which was independent of the religious calendar and leaving to the High Priests to determine the time for intercalation of the extra days required to fill out the year, is an institution established at a meeting of the High Priests at Tolan, called together by Quetzalcoatl and agrees with the prerogative conferred upon the Sanhedran by the Jews.

“The cross is found sculptured upon many temples and is seldom found without some representation of the serpent.

Tells of Chornay’s Find

“Chornay, while excavating at Palpan brought to light a Toltec house recalling in minute details the Roman impluvium–another unearthed at Teothuan by the same party was almost identical to the first. Lord Kingsborough and Thorogood spend many years in trying to establish the fact that the American aborigines are descendants of the lost tribe of Israel. They found overwhelming evidence pointing to Hebrew cultural influence but failed to establish their hypothesis.

“It must not be inferred that we assert that Israel III was the Toltec God Quetzalcoatl. We have simply raised the question of what became of him after he had liberated the Toltezus (Indian chieftains). There are those among eminent ethnologists who believe that the American aboriginal cultures are purely indigenous. In face of the great volume of evidence gleaned from diverse fields of investigation in recent years pointing to exotic influences impressed upon the lower aboriginal cultures their position seems very much like that of a person who once having cast a die, sees it through regardless of later developments.”

Regarding the “European background” for the supposed expedition to “Calalus,” the unknown land, Mrs. Ostrander said:

“Roman-Jewish history shows us a possible cause for migration. From Alexandria, drawn by the lively commercial intercourse between cities, there migrated in the second century B. C. a large colony of Jews, who established themselves on the right bank of the Tiber where they lived as traders. They identified themselves with politicians and as early . . . held offices of power. While some were building up their tracts of land, others moved with her armies into the northern provinces and established in these countries colonies of Hebrews who later occupied numerous high places in the governments of their adopted lands and whose descendants returned as foreigners to Rome to help in the usurpation of her power.

Jews Prosperous

“The history of the Jews in Rome is one of great prosperity. The trade in slaves from northern Africa brought them great wealth. Their status as citizens depended directly upon the rulers in power. Under some they were treated justly, others allowed them great privileges while others persecuted them. During the fourth century Rome suffered much from the invasion of barbarous tribes and in the midst of these invasions and the political convulsions naturally entailed, the Jews gradually became masters of the commerce, for which the conquerors cared nothing. This place they held during the following centuries.

“It was given to them without protest by Honorius, Theodoric and Pope Gregory I and thus they gained peace, time and strength. During the reign of Gregory I they did much for their fellow countrymen in Southern Greece who were constantly at war with the Greek people. From the death of Gregory in 604 to the 9th century the years were dark and turbulent for the Jews. They could not own property, were forced to pay heavy taxes and to become wanderers. Their troubles were culminated by Ludwig II, who in 855 ordered all Italian Jews to leave the country by October 1st of that year. Even those who had been baptized as Christians were very similarly treated, for they were always suspected of pretending Christianity to avoid the heavy taxes levied upon Jews. It is not surprising then but rather a confirmation of a fact that many of them left Rome to seek new homes and not surprising that considering their knowledge of navigation, they should have sought them in a strange land.

“One definite link with European history is the story told by O.L. of the Hebrew ruler Benjaminus, who ‘Came from Seine to Rome, the bravest of the Gauls. He came to the assistance of the people, to lay the foundation of the city. He built a wall around the city to resist the enemy. Benjamin, mighty in strength. He filled the multitude with religion. He was slain by the Thebans.’ Thus his story comes to us from O.L. who ‘heard this from his father 500 years after, behind the mountain, in memory of his father, Joseph.’

“The story of Benjamin is very probable. Since this inscription is dated 895, the incident related must have occurred during the fourth century, and it is during these years that the northern peoples began to overrun the Roman Empire, and during these centuries that the Jews and Greeks throughout the length and breadth of the Roman Empire were at constant warfare, and many Jews were killed by Thebans. If the European background is correct, let us hope to definitely locate Benjamin. From the European setting we turn to the American.”

Mrs. Ostrander closed her address by stressing the importance of the Tucson discoveries and paying a tribute to the two men responsible for them:

“To date, the record carved upon these leaden, cruciform tablets comprises the earliest definite record of old and new world maritime intercommunication found in the new world.”

“When excavations are complete a monument made from the flood-washed boulders covering the place of burial will permanently commemorate the struggle of these Romans to found a nation while working against great odds, and paying tribute to the men who, through their energy and purpose, have made this discovery known, Messrs. C. E. Manier and Thomas W. Bent.”

“These conclusions must be regarded as tentative since excavation is still in progress but in its last analysis this discovery must be regarded as opening a new chapter in the pre-Columbian history of America.”

Note: Laura Coleman Ostrander was a high school art teacher, born Dec. 12, 1890, died July 11, 1942. Her parents were B.A. Coleman and Alice Kowgill. She was buried in Evergreen Memorial Park in Tucson. According to Cyclone Covey, “Mrs. Ostrander, a tall, impressive woman, had transferred to the University of Arizona from Spearfish Normal School in South Dakota to take a degree in education with art and history minors, then gone on to art-history study at U.C.L.A. and two years in the Art Institute of Chicago. Her Preliminary Survey of these first thirteen artifacts discovered before May 1925 demonstrated her advanced powers of analysis and provided translations of the texts…she concluded that the texts presented a consistent account, agreeing with the pictured symbols, which also pointed without exception to Roman Jewish origin” (Calalus: A Roman Jewish Colony in American from the Time of Charlemagne through Alfred the Great, New York, Vantage Press, 1975, p. 82).

Leaden Spear-Shaft Found in Location of Famed Artifacts (Arizona Daily Star, Feb. 17, 1928, by Gilbert Cosulich)

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Leaden Spear-Shaft Found in Location of Famed Artifacts


Arizona Daily Star, February 17, 1928

Gilbert Cosulich


Many Scientists Present at Excavation of Newest Silverbell Archaeologic Discovery; Dean Butler Attests to Fact They Are Not ‘Planted’


Imbedded in caliche and gravel that apparently had been undisturbed for hundreds of years, two fragments of a leaden spear-shaft were found at the third lime kiln on the Silverbell road, seven and a half miles from Stone avenue and Congress street by university scientists yesterday.

The site of the find is the same as that of numerous leaden artifacts, said to be of pre-Columbian origin, which were brought to light about two and a half years ago. The tract is the property of Thomas W. Bent and Charles E. Manier.

The lead shaft was encountered Wednesday afternoon by John Hand, who is conducting excavations at the lime kiln for the University of Arizona. The artifact was permitted to lie in place until it could be extracted from the soil by university scientists.

Yesterday morning, the shaft was taken out by Dr. Gordon Montague Butler, dean of the college of mines and engineering of the university.

Dr. Butler declared that the overlying soil gave no evidence of having been disturbed recently.

“Even if we accept the hypothesis that the soil was washed down by the rains, it is ridiculous to contend that the objects were buried there within recent years,” Dr. Butler declared. “There is no evidence of burial or recent disturbance. To have ‘planted’ the soil in place would have necessitated moving tons of it at a time.”

Among the members of the scientific party that witnessed the removal of the shaft by Dr. Butler were Dr. Byron Cummings, president of the University of Arizona, and the premier archaeologist of the southwest; Dr. Alexander A. Stoyanow, professor of geology; Dr. Raymond J. Leonard, assistant professor of geology; Dr. William Horatio Brown, assistant professor of geology; Dr. T. T. Waterman, associate professor of anthropology; Robert Heineman, fellow in geology; Robert Reid, fellow in geology; Emil Walter Haury, fellow in archeology; Miss Clara Lee Fraps, fellow in archaeology; John C. McGregor, Miss Florence Hawley and Lyndon Hardgrave, members of Dr. Cummings’ class in archeology.

Commenting on the significance of the find, Dr. Cummings yesterday made the following statement to the Arizona Daily Star:

“The two fragments removed today were found at the same horizon level as those excavated two and a half years ago. There are indications that they were washed down with the soil to their present position.

“A few feet from the two fragments we have found three other pieces of another spear. These three pieces were several feet apart. One was discovered two and a half years ago, when the original find was made: another last summer, by Mr. Manier, and a third, the other day.

“Since none of these spear fragments bear inscriptions there is no direct evidence to be had from them as to their antiquity. But I regard as significant in this connection Dr. Butler’s observations regarding geological evidence of antiquity. His conclusions, of course, I accept.”

The larger fragment of shaft is about eight inches long, one inch wide and less than a fourth of an inch thick. The smaller piece, about two inches long, was lying across the larger fragment when the relic was first encountered. It fits into the end of the larger fragment, but only imperfectly, indicating, it was pointed out, that it was broken off violently, probably by a blow.

The fragments were found five and one-half feet below the surface of the ground.

Manier, one of the owners of the property, resides at 1722 East First street. Bent has a home on the property itself.

Silverbell Road Artifacts to Be Bought by University for $15,000 If Found Valid (Arizona Daily Star, 1927)

Silverbell Road Artifacts to Be Bought by University for $15,000 If Found Valid (Arizona Daily Star, 1927)

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Silverbell Road Artifacts to Be Bought by University for $15,000 If Found Valid


Arizona Daily Star, 1927

“An agreement whereby the archaeology department of the university will immediately take over the work of excavation where the leaden crosses and swords were unearthed on the Silverbell road in 1925, and which provides for the payment of $15,000 to Thomas W. Bent and Charles Manier, discoverers, as compensation for their previous expenditures and claims providing that future explorations prove conclusively that the artifacts are pre-Columbian, was reached by the board of regents at its meeting Monday.

Under the terms of the contract made with Bent and Manier, it is provided that all artifacts found by university archaeologists will be kept until work is completed, after which equal division of the finds between the university and the discoverers of the first artifacts will be made.

It was claimed when the crosses and swords were found two years ago, that they dated back to a period prior to the discovery of America by Columbus in 1492. Authorities differed as to the meaning of the Latin inscriptions and crude drawings which had been made in the metal, some believing that they established the finds as pre-Columbian while others contended that they indicated that the artifacts had been buried in recent times by persons attempting to perpetrate a hoax.

According to President Byron Cummings, who is also head of the archaeology department, the work of further exploration in the vicinity of the other finds will start immediately and continue until the university is satisfied as to the age of the artifacts. Lack of sufficient funds will make the excavation progress slowly, however, he says.”

Three Latin Text Books Contain All Phrases on Artifacts, Says Fowler (Arizona Daily Star, March 3, 1926)

Three Latin Text Books Contain All Phrases on Artifacts, Says Fowler (Arizona Daily Star, March 3, 1926)

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Three Latin Text Books Contain All Phrases on Artifacts, Says Fowler


Arizona Daily Star, March 7, 1926


Dean Cummings Still Unconvinced Find on Silverbell Road Is Hoax as Charged by Classic Language Professor


Dr. Fowler, Professor of Classical Languages for the University of Arizona, continues to insist that the Latin phrases on the crosses are copied by an individual who was ignorant of Latin, and copied phrases from several Latin textbooks. He states, “The Silverbell artifacts are either a gigantic hoax, beside which all noted scientific fakes of history pale into insignificance, or else they are the work of a demented or obsessed person.”

Dean Cummings, Professor of Archeology of the University of Arizona, said, “The inscriptions did record an annal or tale of some sort, and that the inscriber must have had at least a rudimentary knowledge of Latin.”

He continues, “I am not able to refute Dr. Fowler’s citations and references and he may be correct, but how can it be possible that the crosses were inscribed within the past 20 years, when we have positive proof that the relics have been buried in the caliche formation for at least 50, 100 or a longer term of years?”

Dr. Fowler is certain that he has proved that the relics could not have been manufactured more than 20 or 30 years ago, although he is unable to explain the undisturbed condition in which the articles were found.

Mission Once Stood on Spot Where Lead Relics Were Found, Is Revealed




Possibility that the leaden artifacts found on the Silverbell road might have been left there by the Jesuit fathers of the “Santa Catharina”-afterwards known as the “Santa Catalina” mission, was suggested yesterday by J. V. G. Loftfield, assistant county engineer, who is also in charge of grazing investigation and ecological work for the Desert Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution.

Together with George J. Roskruge, Tucson pioneer, and Miss Marjorie Taylor, a senior at the University of Arizona, Loftfield has conducted extensive historical researches which establish the fact that the Santa Catalina mission stood near the site of the present excavations, which are close to the Nine Mile Water Hole.

The Santa Catalina mission was built before the St. Augustine (“Sanctus Augustinus”) mission at Tucson, Loftfield said. The former mission was destroyed a few years after the opening of the eighteenth century, about 1705, presumably by Apaches.

“I want to be clearly understood as not vouching for the theory that the Jesuits left these artifacts,” the Carnegie scientist asserted.

“I am merely giving the results of our investigations, which tend to connect the mission fathers with the relics.”

“Whether this connection actually exists is a matter for the archeologists to solve, from the data that is produced.”

The three investigators looked up the map made by Father Kino, a Jesuit missionary, and consulted his accounts of the region near which the artifacts were found. They also checked up the records left by Pumpelly, an American mining man of Belgian descent who worked in Tucson about 1860, and those left by Bishop Salpointe and the Franciscan fathers.

“All our researches have led us to believe that the Santa Catalina mission stood very near where the artifacts were found,” Loftfield said yesterday.

“Pumpelly, by the way, refers to the mountains that we now know as the Catalinas, by the name of ‘Santa Catharina,’ which was the name of the mission.

“We found several pieces of Jesuit brick near the lime kiln where the excavations have been carried on. Jesuit brick is flat, is longer, thicker, and about twice as broad as ordinary brick. One of the fragments we found was quite large.”

“Father Kino (or Kuhn) visited the Santa Catalina mission in 1698. His description of the spot, together with our own investigations made on the scene, convince me that the mission stood on a spot very close to that where the excavations have been made.

“We also found mounds of adobe, probably of Indian origin, near the Nine Mile Water Hole.”

Arizona Discoveries of Ancient Hebrew Culture Branded As Fake (California Review of Mormonism, Jan. 25, 1926)

Arizona Discoveries of Ancient Hebrew Culture Branded As Fake (California Review of Mormonism, Jan. 25, 1926)

mormon newspaper

Arizona Discoveries of Ancient Hebrew Culture Branded As Fake


California Jewish Review of Mormonism, January 25, 1926, Dr. E. C. Getsinger


Dr. E. C. Getsinger, Famous Archaeologist, Advances Theory That Crosses Were Planted There About Seventy-five Years Ago by Founder


Dr. Getsinger writes his theories upon reviewing photographs of Silverbell Road artifacts:


The fact that these crosses contain the names of “kings” such as Jacobus, Israel the first, second and third, Benjamin, and James, has caused considerable stir among scientists and Hebrew scholars. The latter invariably brand these relics as forgeries.

Should these objects prove to be authentic, then it would tend to establish the fact that more than 700 years before Columbus discovered America, a band of Askenazim from Rome had been blown across the sea, by a terrible gale, to the shores of this then unknown land, the adventurers finally finding their way to Arizona. Here, according to the inscriptions, they built a city, but were continually at war with the Toltec Indians, until, after 125 years of strife, the Askenazim were entirely exterminated. The crosses are supposed to bear a record of these eventful times.

I am of the opinion that these relics are forgeries. In this country such forgeries are frequently met with. Hundreds of cases full of various forgeries alone are stored in the New York Museum.

Thus about 75 years ago, I believe these Lost-Tribes-of-Israel crosses were planted, waiting the time for Joseph Smith to have a “revelation” concerning them. But the Indians went on the warpath soon after the burial of these “relics.” Had he been able to carry out his plans, he would have supplied proofs to his followers that at some remote period in American history, some of the Lost Tribes of Israel, who were likewise Christians, were transported by Divine Providence to Arizona, not far from Salt Lake. There, a later contingent was striving for existence where it could be free to worship as it saw fit.

Experts in geology are preparing to study the caliche formation under which these crosses have been buried, in order to determine how long it has taken for the earth to harden since their burial.

The mineral kingdom also points its accusing finger at Joseph Smith. Consequently in my opinion, the carbonate of lead of which these crosses are composed, was found by the early Mormons near the surface at Salt Lake and mined by them for a number of years.

Explode One Theory Concerning Relics (New York Times, Dec. 16, 1925)

Explode One Theory Concerning Relics (New York Times, Dec. 16, 1925)

nyt masthead the right one

Explode One Theory Concerning Relics – Experts Hold Arizona Inscriptions Were Written in Classical Latin, No Roman-Jewish Colony


New York Times, December 16, 1925


One Sword Bears Likeness of Dinosaur, Unknown In Drawings of Ancient Times


            The theory that the leaden relics excavated on the desert in the Santa Cruz River Valley, seven miles from here, indicated that an expedition of Roman Jews came to America seven centuries before Columbus was finally exploded today by a statement from Dr. Frank Fowler, Professor of Classical Literature at the University of Arizona.

After a long investigation, Professor Fowler announced that virtually all the Latin inscriptions on the crosses, swords and other objects were either quotations from Latin writers, such as Virgil, Horace, Caesar and Cicero, or common Latin expressions such as are found in Latin grammars and Latin glossaries of English dictionaries. Dr. Fowler pointed out that this shows that whoever made the inscriptions was not telling a narrative.

The theory of the Roman-Jewish expedition was based upon the dates, 775 A.D. to 900 A.D. contained on some of the relics and upon the belief of the discoverers of the relics that the Latin inscriptions were a record of an eighth century transatlantic passage.

Dinosaur Picture a Puzzle

Professor Fowler agreed with Professor Shotwell of Columbia University that the use of the Anno Domini system of dating time did not come into general European use until the tenth century and said that it was first used in the sixth century and was adopted in Britain in the seventh century and in France in the eighth century. He also agreed with New York scholars that the English word “Gaul” was not adopted for the Latin “Gallia” until 1600.

The Latin inscriptions on the Tucson relics include “Gaul,” “A. D.” and “Anno Domini.”

Another fact developed today was that one of the swords is inscribed with a correct representation about six inches long of a dinosaur, although this pre-historic animal was not reconstructed and drawn in picture form until well within the last 100 years. Dr. Byron Cummings, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arizona, Director of the State Museum and a nationally-known archaeologist, who yesterday staked his professional reputation on the genuineness and antiquity of the relics, admitted that the dinosaur was the most puzzling feature of the problem that had yet come to light.

He could not explain how the dinosaur could have been known either to the Roman Jews in the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries or to the Spanish priests; and explorers who came here in the sixteenth century and later, and who are believed by some to have left the articles. Nevertheless Dean Cummings and Professor Fowler insisted that if a hoax was committed, it was not in recent years. Professor Fowler, who saw some of the objects excavated and has made a written statement that there appeared to have been no recent disturbance of the caliche formations from which they were taken, said it was his personal opinion that the relics were at least 200 years old. Dean Cummings repeated his statement that the condition of the ground where the excavations were made convinced him that the articles had lain there undisturbed several centuries and that the problem as to who left them there and just when they were left there would require a long and patient investigation for solving.

Dean Gordon M. Butler of the School of Mines and Engineering at the university, who has inspected the site of the excavations, also declared that the geological evidence was conclusive that the objects could not have been “planted” there in recent years, and that they must have lain there for several hundred years. He scouted the suggestion that the caliche in which the relics were found might have been removed and replaced within the last few years. If that had occurred, evidence of the hoax could have been discovered by geologists.

Professor Fowler’s Statement

“Granting that these inscriptions were simply copied from Latin writers, grammars and glossaries,” said Professor Fowler, “all this shows is that the compiler of these expressions was not telling a narrative. The problem still remains as to his motive. If it was a hoax committed several hundred years ago, it is almost as interesting as if it had been the work of the people whose history it purported to tell.”

Professor Fowler’s statement on the result of his work on the Latin inscriptions follows:

“The character of the Latin on the lead plates is understood. It will be seen at once that any attempt to derive from them a connected story is futile. What we have is a collection of phrases and sentences strung together, sometimes with some slight connection, sometimes with none. For the most part these words and phrases have a common characteristic. Each, for one reason or another, has some striking peculiarity which would tend to make it stick in the memory.”  A large number are simply expressions of general application and hence suitable for quotation. They may be found in lists of Latin expressions common in English literature. In a hasty examination of the list in Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, I counted twenty-seven such expressions found on the plates.”

Tucson Artifacts Bear Out Mormon Traditions Except Dates, Says Elder (Arizona Daily Star, Dec. 16, 1925)

Tucson Artifacts Bear Out Mormon Traditions Except Dates, Says Elder (Arizona Daily Star, Dec. 16, 1925)

arizona daily star masthead 2

Tucson Artifacts Bear Out Mormon Traditions Except Dates, Says Elder


Arizona Daily Star, December 16, 1925


But President of Church Doubts Kimball Is Qualified to Speak; Withholds Church’s Opinion


            Gordon Kimball, first counselor to the presiding elder, A. B. Ballantyne, points out the definite resemblance between “the inscriptions on the artifacts and the story as told in the Book of Mormon of the landing of the tribes of Chile, of their later wanderings through the ‘narrow neck of land’ (the Isthmus of Panama), their villages and towns in the west and southwest and their final extinction by their accursed brethren, the tribe of Laman, which, he said, is supposed to have occurred at the Hill Cumorah in Ontario County, New York.”

The Golden Book, which was written on thin plates of gold, was hidden by Mormon, the last of the white race and found years later by Joseph Smith, Kimball said. “Its history dates from 600 B.C. to 400 A. D., and in those dates, which do not agree exactly with the dates after 700 A. D. as contained on the artifact, the Mormons see the only discrepancy.”

Heber J. Grant, President of the Mormon Church, said, “We do not care to make any statements at this time.”