Wednesday, March 30, 2011

News on the Newark Stones

THE NEWARK STONES are back in the press, as a salutary reminder that supposedly ancient Hebrew inscriptions of dubious origin are nothing new.
Newark archaeologist lectures about holy stones

3:27 AM, Mar. 28, 2011 |

JAN MYERS, Newark Advocate

COSHOCTON -- More than 30 people attended a lecture about the Newark Holy Stones at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum.

The speaker was Dr. Bradley T. Lepper, a Newark resident who is curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society.


This has been such a fascinating search," Lepper said. "I've researched several of the players involved in the discovery and those who authenticated them at the time to try to determine who might have been behind this. We have to immerse ourselves in the time period of 1860 and understand what was going on with science, religion and politics to see why this hoax would have been done.

"I believe these stones are scientific forgeries designed to answer the polygenist arguments (claiming there were distinct racial types) which were popular justifications for slavery. The stones represent an attempt to encompass the prehistory of the New World within the biblical history of the Old. I also believe Rev. McCarty was instrumental in this forgery and that David Wyrick was just a pawn. It would appear that the Newark Holy Stones were aptly named since they may have been created for a holy purpose -- the freeing of America's slaves."

Patti Malenke, director at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, said the Newark Holy Stones are a popular attraction at the museum.

"The Johnson brothers purchased the Holy Stones in the 1870s and later tried to sell them when they learned they may be fakes," she said. "It's a good thing they didn't sell because today the Holy Stones are our 'claim to fame.' We have bus loads of people who come here from all over to see them, and we've shipped replicas of the stones throughout the world."
The article includes a (bad) picture of the artifacts. Rochelle Altman has argued that the Newark stones are not so much forged as misunderstood, but others seem to think they are straightforward forgeries. More on them here (noting a mention by Glenn Beck that also drummed up some business for Newark) and follow the links.

(HT Dorothy Lobel King.)