Talk:Bat Creek inscription

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It's funny that the same "experts" who argue so vehemently that the inscription isn't Hebrew also argue that it is a forgery by a member of the Smithsonian team who wanted noteriety. How bright can the detractors be if they don't recognize those positions are mutually exclusive? On the one hand, you'd have to be an idiot to think it's Hebrew -- then at the same time, it is Hebrew, but it's a forgery.
I have copies of some of the articles, and will try to add footnotes (if I have not thrown the articles away) in the next few months. For the record, I am not Mormon (meaning I did not initiate this article to further a religious agenda) nor am I convinced that this is a first century trans-oceanic voyage. However, I am originally from Tennessee and view this as a fascinating bit of U.S. history that is worth an article. --Baxterguy (talk) 17:27, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Who makes those conflicting claims? I've put a link to one of the two Kwas and Mainfort articles I have on my web site.--Dougweller (talk) 11:00, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Incidentally, if Mormons have a special interest in this artifact, then the article should state so. Can someone add this? Tempshill (talk) 17:34, 28 October 2008 (UTC)


What does this article have to do with Geology? Bms4880 (talk) 20:44, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

I guess it must of snuck in there by being part of Category:Stones, maybe that's been done automatically? I have to say that I don't think it should be included, as the rock type doesn't even get a mention. Mikenorton (talk) 20:54, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
There we go, I removed the banner. Also removed the Stones category and the Ancient Roman Jewish History categories from the article.Doug Weller (talk) 21:27, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

Photo request[edit]

I put a photo request tag on this article - the current image appears to be a drawing (or a rubbing?) from a late-1800s book. Since the artifact is currently at the Frank H. McClung Museum, it'd be great if someone could take a good photo of it for this article. Tempshill (talk) 17:37, 28 October 2008 (UTC)


Just though I'd summarise the findings to date:

  1. It's real (that is, that the inscription was made before it was buried).
  2. No one can figure out what the characters mean.
    1. It can't be Cherokee.
    2. It probably isn't Hebrew (proto or otherwise).
    3. A third language has yet to be suggested.

--Auric (talk) 22:26, 25 June 2012 (UTC)

They've shown conclusively that it wasn't a hoax?? Bms4880 (talk) 13:14, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
They've shown that the inscription predates its discovery by John W. Emmert. In my mind that rules out a hoax.--Auric (talk) 20:38, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
This debate is really more suitable for a web forum. Our opinions as to whether it's a hoax or not shouldn't affect the article. Dougweller (talk) 20:42, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
This is not a debate. Also this is not my opinion. I was simply summarizing, which I cannot do in the article, for the benefit of people who are confused about the science. Please feel free to suggest a proper forum.--Auric (talk) 13:10, 27 June 2012 (UTC)
Keep in mind Wolter's findings (as with his Kensington findings) are controversial, and should be considered evidence, not a "last word" on the subject. We need to wait for the response from U.T. archaeologists before ruling out a hoax. Bms4880 (talk) 13:26, 27 June 2012 (UTC)
And until the mainstream view changes, it's still considered a hoax. I was on a break when Wolter was added to this article and if it belongs here at all, it shouldn't be laid out like that and needs to be balanced by possibly something from [1]. Wolter is a fringe writer and his opinions shouldn't be given as much weight as those of actual archaeologists. Dougweller (talk) 14:44, 27 June 2012 (UTC)
And this [2]. Dougweller (talk) 14:48, 27 June 2012 (UTC)
This topic is currently being discussed
on the Fringe Theories Noticeboard.

Blockinblox (talk) 15:28, 27 June 2012 (UTC)

Transliteration from Paleo-hebrew[edit]

According to the ancient hebrew (and cenaanite) writing systems I've seen so far, the Macoy inscription clearly says:

The "paleo hebrew" inscription published in the 1870 Masonic text book General History, Cyclopedia and Dictionary of Fremasonry, by Robert Macoy.

קדש ליהוה

In english consonants:

qdsh lyhwh

meaning "holy to God"

While the Bat creek inscription also quite clearly bear the following characters:

Lithograph of the Bat Creek inscription


In english consonants:


which could mean "...[?] for Jud[?]...", Unless we knew that on the ancient hebrew writing "Jude[a]" was written "יהד" ("yhd") and not "יהוד" ("yhwd"), because only consonants were written, no vowels. This means that the writing cannot mean anything which has to do with judea - It's simply not written that way.

It seems to me that except for the leftmost "d" on the bat creek, the other characters do seem to resemble the Macoy ones. That "d" is seem to be taken from quite a different level of the development of this writing system than the one which gave inspiration to the Macoy writing.

So as far as mentioning Judea here - there's no case.

--The duke (talk) 16:58, 21 October 2012 (UTC)

Gordon explains that while the W would not have been used except as a consonant in 1st temple Hebrew, in 2nd Temple times Y, W, ayin, etc began to be used as a "matres lectiones" to indicate stressed vowels, so that YHWDH is equivalent to YHDH. He notes that strictly speaking, Hebrew should contain the final H. However, in Aramaic the word was YHD or YHWD -- YHWD appears 15 times in the Aramaic Peshitta. Go to and click on "Show verses". While PH was ordinarily used to write Hebrew language (Jewish War & Bar Kokhba coins, scriptures), it was occasionally used for Aramaic language (Ptolemaic/Hellenistic YHD coins, the Abba inscription shown in my BAR article). I'm no expert on either Hebrew or Aramaic, but I am therefore thinking that the language is actually Aramaic, though either Hebrew or Aramaic would be equally remarkable and equally significant. But this is a pretty fine point.
In any event, the Bat Creek D is not perfectly made, in that the vertical should not extend up above the diagonal cap line. But if this were a "D. Boone Kilt a Bar Here" dendrograph, one would actually be suspicious if the letters were perfectly made, or the spelling completely standard. HuMcCulloch (talk) 14:18, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
My bad -- a "dendrograph" is a record of the growth of a tree (or an instrument for measuring that growth). I should have written "dendroglyph" -- a picture or inscription carved into a tree. — Preceding unsigned comment added by HuMcCulloch (talkcontribs) 23:53, 19 February 2013 (UTC)


The citations in this article are a mess, since it is not specified which of several articles by same authors is intended. I suggest we gravitate to "short citations", i.e. author (year, page) in footnotes or inline, with a complete list of references, if no one objects. The implicit "ibid" format now used is strongly discouraged in WP:Citing sources. (WP:IBID at present does not go to correct paragraph in the Citing sources article.) HuMcCulloch (talk) 16:02, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

How about parenthetical referencing? see WP:HARV - I think that is much better as it is clear what/who is being used. Dougweller (talk) 17:29, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
Agreed, though it will take some time to figure out which reference is which. HuMcCulloch (talk) 18:46, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

Although there are two paragraphs about the 1970s salvage study, which did not find the stone, did not reexcavate Mound #3, and did not even mention the already controversial inscription, there is nothing about the Mound Survey itself. so that the discovery just comes out of the blue. I'm adding a short paragraph on it, relying on Feder (1999) for the consensus archaeology view of its authority. (I can't get ahold of a later edition, but nothing has changed about it since 1999.) HuMcCulloch (talk) 15:47, 16 February 2013 (UTC)

2 paragraphs deleted[edit]

Scott Wolter's self-published report is not a reliable source. We've discussed him before at WP:FTN, eg [3] and even had him edit-warring on this page. Hu, you are mentioned there also. Pre-Columbiana: A Journal of Long-Distance Contacts is also not a reliable source (I'm referring to our criteria at WP:VERIFY and WP:RS and in any case I'm sorry but you aren't the right person to be inserting this. I haven't actually looked at your other edits in total but I think it's time to ask others to review it so I'll ask at WP:FTN. Most of what I've seen when using popups on your diffs have looked constructive. Dougweller (talk) 09:53, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

Early last summer, there was an entire section on Wolter and Stehly's petrographic report, with a 3-point numbered list of conclusions. On 6/17/12, you had argued (above on Talk) that this gave undue weight to their report, but that it might be reasonable to include a shorter mention that did not give it such prominence, and that perhaps it could be balanced with Jason Colavito's blog post. On 7/7/12, "Agricolae" removed the mention entirely, on the grounds that it had not been mentioned in the secondary literature.

This month I added a three-sentence paragraph on their study, buried in the concluding section on recent studies, right next to the paragraph on Lowell Kirk's Luther Blackman theory, and giving only their principal finding and principal conclusion. That seems like a reasonable response to your earlier comment. Why is it now unacceptable? If the Beta Analytic C-14 date had only been reported in a self-published PDF instead of my article in TA, would it have been off-limits?
Colavito's off-the-cuff blog post seems dubious to me, but you're the administrator, so if you want to add it for balance go ahead. Note that he had a follow-up post a few days later, in response to some comments I raised. An alternative petrographic report by other trained geologists would seem more appropriate to me, but until such a study is done, Wolter and Stehly are the latest word on the subject.
Kirk and Cook are essentially self-published -- The Tellico Mountain News is not exactly the New York Times, and I assume POI is run by Mr. Cook. However, I strongly think that their carefully considered and researched statements should be included for completeness. Before my recent revision, Cook was mentioned first and Kirk only as an afterthought. which made no sense, so I rearranged it and shortened it so as not to give them undue weight. Where else than here can you learn about Reconstruction politics, the Cherokee syllabary, and Paleo-Hebrew script all on one Wikipedia page?  ;-) (Kirk's piece is unfortunatly not dated, but it says he began his study "10 years ago", in 1988, so that "c. 1998" seems appropriate.) HuMcCulloch (talk) 15:02, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
If there's no objection, I'll put the short allustion to Wolter and Stehly back in. HuMcCulloch (talk) 03:25, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, I've been distracted. Cook's work is self-published and shouldn't be in the article. Kirk's a history professor so that should be ok. If the Beta Analytic C-14 date had only been reported in a self-published PDF then it probably wouldn't belong in the article. Even in your article one could argue that you aren't a C-14 expert. I'm removing the comment in a footnote about Feder as unsourced. Dougweller (talk) 14:48, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
You probably know about the noticeboard at WP:RSN but if you think some of these are actually reliable sources you can raise them there - just put a note here if you do. Dougweller (talk) 14:50, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
How about we make Cook an "External Link" with no certification of reliability, but making the URL available for interested readers? — Preceding unsigned comment added by HuMcCulloch (talkcontribs) 16:59, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
Ok for Cook as ELs don't have to be reliable, but I'm sorry if I wasn't explicit enough - I was suggesting that if you think Wolter should be included you go to RSN - that was meant to show that I still object. I've removed this again. And we did delete the article on Wolter as not notable enough. If Wolter's findings get discussed in reliable sources, then they can be included. Dougweller (talk) 08:09, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

I've added Cook as an EL per above.

If Kirk's newspaper column is noteworthy (if not definitive) because he is a history professor, why is Wolter and Stehly's geological report not equally noteworthy (if not definitive) by virtue of their being professional geologists? For all I know, Kirk may have oddball views on non-historical subjects, but would that be relevant to his status as an historian? HuMcCulloch (talk) 20:56, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

Take it to WP:RSN or remove it, I don't really mind. Dougweller (talk) 13:57, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
For balance, I've moved Kirk down to External Links with Cook, and removed the mention in the text. HuMcCulloch (talk) 21:05, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

I've learned from Scott Wolter that he is the sole author of the petrographic report, which he signed in his capacity as a state board certified geologist (PG, MN License 30024). As is customary in such engineering-type reports, a second expert, Richard Stehly (PE, MN License 12856), who is not affiliated with Wolter's firm and who was past president of the American Concrete Institute, co-signed, in essence as a peer-reviewer. This means that either of them can be called into court to vouch for the findings, a much stronger commitment than mere academic journal articles. Do you still maintain, Doug, that this is not a Reliable Source (RS)? In any event, I'm re-adding Wolter for the time being as an EL. See [4]. HuMcCulloch (talk) 21:27, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

Not affiliated with Wolter's firm? How could someone who was a founder of APS be described as not affiliated with it? And he wasn't a geologist, he was an engineer. He wasn't qualified to do anything like peer review on a geological paper. And courts don't make decisions on the accuracy of such findings. I think you've got that wrong. I imagine he co-signed simply because they had worked together for such a long time and he trusted Wolter. Dougweller (talk) 22:08, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
My mistake -- They'd worked closely together for some time, prior to Stehly's death at 58 in Sept. 2010. However, Stehly founded American Engineering and Testing (AET), not Wolter's firm American Petographic Services (APS). The APS webpage (which must be a little out of date) gives Stehly as a VP of APS, and says that the two firms are "affiliated." Of course this doesn't mean that he didn't give the paper a thorough review before signing it. Concrete is essentially a synthetic sedimentary rock, so that petrography and concretography (?) are closely related. HuMcCulloch (talk) 22:12, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
I can only go by what the sources say, and they call him a founder.[5], [6], [7]. Closely related doesn't make him qualified to write such a paper. Not that any of this makes any great difference to the issue. Dougweller (talk) 10:18, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

Hoax categories vs NPOV[edit]

This article is included in the Wikipedia categories Archaeological Forgeries, Hoaxes in the United States, and 19th Century Hoaxes. While the AVM Runestone, the Cardiff Giant, and the Piltdown Man are clear-cut hoaxes, the otherwise authoritative Mound Survey's Bat Creek Stone is at worst an alleged hoax. According to wp:Neutral Point of View, "Articles mustn't take sides." Furthermore, wp:Categories states that "Categories must maintain a NPOV". By including this article in these categories, Wikipedia's voice is used to endorse the position that this controversial artifact is a hoax. If there are no objections, I therefore plan to remove it from those categories.

A further issue is that none of these three categories explains the criteria for inclusion, as required at wp:Categories. A category of "Artifacts of disputed authenticity" would be fine, since Mainfort and Kwas, McCarter, and others indeed argue that it's some sort of fraud. HuMcCulloch (talk) 03:32, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

Raised at WP:FTN as a general issue relating to fringe articles and for this specific issue. Most American archaeological hoaxes are believed to be genuine by some people. For this one it seems to me as though current archaeological opinion says it is a hoax, and you are the main person saying it is not - and of course this is not in your field of expertise. Dougweller (talk) 14:20, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
Sorry Doug, there are too many dissenters for you to isolate all of them in this controversy. I agree with the OP that "hoax" is not neutral. The Bat Creek Inscriptions is a current School of Thought that can easily be found elsewhere, the question is will Wikipedia acknowledge it or like many other things does it exist only to "TELL" readers what the "correct" point-of-view and opinion about it must be? Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 14:39, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
Basically we are an encyclopedia which represents mainstream thought, something I think you know. We have articles on notable fringe subjects and we include fringe opinions in some articles on mainstream subjects, and I think that is right. However, we are not neutral. You'd probably prefer us to support Creationism, but I think our articles on subjects such as that and evolution make it pretty clear to readers what scientific opinion is on these. Virtually every American archaeologist today disagrees with 'they all came to America before Columbus' and we need to be upfront about that. I expect you to disagree. Dougweller (talk) 15:46, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
"However, we are not neutral." I know; that pretty much says it all, don't it? That succinctly stated discrepancy from the cornerstone policy of WP:NPOV has been the biggest single black mark on Wikipedia. It's as if certain editors are afraid to let readers make up their own minds from the evidence, they need to be addressed as children and told what opinion is "correct". Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 16:38, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
You'd prefer Conservapedia or a Creationist wiki? They aren't neutral. Nor is any paper encyclopedia I've ever seen. We at least allow dissenting opinions, unlike others. Dougweller (talk) 17:50, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
In any case, the main discussion is at WP:FTN right now, so the categories should stay until that discussion comes to a conclusion. I hope you will both read the discussion there and respond. Dougweller (talk) 21:56, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
Doug, there are numerous authorities who regard Bat Creek as authentic. First, there's Cyrus Thomas, who originally certified it as an authentic inscription from his Mound Survey. He's dead now, but certified hoax-busters like Ken Feder (1999) and Stephen Williams (Fantastic Archaeology, 1991) continue to praise his report as authoritative to this day. Then, there's Cyrus Gordon, Prof. of Hebrew and other ancient Middle Eastern languages at Brandeis and then NYU. Then, there's Robert Stieglitz, Prof. of Archaeology (with Hebrew emphasis) at Rutgers (letter to BAR, Nov./Dec. 1993). Then, there's prominent hoax-buster Marshall McKusick, who continued to support the stone as an authentic early-Cherokee inscription, even after McCarter (1993), in a letter to BAR, Jan/Feb 1994. Then, least of all, there's myself, with two articles in the professional archaeology journal Tennessee Anthropologist, and one invited article in the highly respected Biblical Archaeology Review. BAR is admittedly a popular magazine, but that shouldn't prevent McCarter's article there from being cited in this discussion. It's true that I'm just a lowly economist, but then the authoritative Cyrus Thomas was just an entomologist, and a self-trained one at that. The article should definitely make it clear that Mainfort and Kwas and McCarter regard it as a forgery, but Wikipedia's voice should remain neutral. (Feder 2010 brands it as a hoax, despite his 1999 enthusiasm for the Mound Survey, but as you well know, he claims that the C-14 date was performed on charcoal that had no reported relation to the grave goods.)
This seems like the most appropriate place to discuss the status of this specific page. HuMcCulloch (talk) 22:00, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
Actually it's not the place to discuss the use of categories. As has been pointed out at FTN, categories are navigation tools.
Your comment on Feder is a BLP violation, if you don't remove it I will.
Of course BAR published it - they love that sort of thing. As to who highly respects it, that's another issue.
And you are missing the point. It's the nature of fringe subjects that they get very little attention from the professionals in the relevant field of study. But if you took a survey of archaeologists who specialise in the archaeology of the Americas and asked them if any historical cultures (Celts, Jews, Egyptians, etc) visited the Americas before the Vikings - you know what the virtually unanimous conclusion would be. Almost all of them would agree that this is a hoax. Dougweller (talk) 08:09, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for keeping me civil, Doug. I've revised two of my sentences.
You're certainly welcome to add more authorities to the effect that it is a hoax.
Incidentally, your reference to BLP is a violation of WP:WTF. (An actual wiki-policy.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by HuMcCulloch (talkcontribs) 14:35, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
No, Hu, I was just assuming that like a lot of people you didn't realise that BLP applies to talk pages. Dougweller (talk) 17:08, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
(EC) Yeah but those guys haven't PROVED it is a hoax. At least they haven't convinced me, and apparently any number of people who have written books covering it either. So basically it is just their unsubstantiated opinion relying on authority rather than conclusive proof. Why is it so far fetched? Why is it a priori impossible that Phoenicians (Canaanites) and or Jews, (or Catholics from Portugal in the case of the Tucson crosses) or elsewhere could have ever made trips across the Atlantic that most people in Europe never knew about? Where's the proof this is a hoax? (I mean proof enough to convince everyone and settle the ongoing controversy among all the sources) Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 14:38, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
No proof would ever be enough to convince everyone, Til. Partially because the desire to believe overcomes rational thought at times, more often probably because people just don't understand the issues. I doubt that any evidence would convince you that the Bible isn't literally true and that Creationism is wrong. Dougweller (talk) 17:08, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
When the best argument you've got this is a hoax is an appeal to authority, that usually doesn't make everyone else go away nicely and quietly. The Bible-Creationism thing is an argument by analogy, but not really parallel because there you've got one appeal to authority from scholars who insist on interpreting the Bible their way and say there is no other, and then you've got another appeal to the authority of priests who interpret it a different way. For many people, the authority of their own priests on the Bible is always going to be stronger than some faceless scholar or scribe who says "No, interpret the Bible MY way, not your priest's way!" Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 17:48, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
No, you have scientists saying that evolution really takes place and there was no global flood that destroyed mankind - all of this with evidence, and others, you included, who deny this. It isn't all about interpretation of the Bible. To interpret the Bible literally you need to deny science. But you are right, scientific evidence won't change the minds of true believers. Dougweller (talk) 18:31, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

I've started a discussion of the issue at hand (Hoax categories vs NPOV, not creationism) over at WP:Neutral point of view/Noticeboard, mentioning Doug Weller. (BTW, NPOV stands for Neutral Point of View. And BTW for By the Way.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by HuMcCulloch (talkcontribs) 22:48, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

I've just added the following over at WP:Neutral point of view/Noticeboard: "It looks like this discussion is bogging down. I don't have any experience with WP disputes, but I gather from WP:Disputes that before requesting mediation, I should request a less formal third opinion from a disinterested volunteer editor. I'll wait a couple of days to see if anything else develops before proceding." HuMcCulloch (talk) 14:55, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

1) I don't think it's commonly accepted as being of ancient Hebrew origin by authorities on Biblical history or archaeology.
2) However, it should only be labelled as a "hoax" if there's evidence that somebody was trying to deceive some other person or persons, which seems to be lacking in this case... AnonMoos (talk) 03:12, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

It was pointed out at NPOVN that 3O doesn't apply as there has been more than 2 editors involved. Did you read the discussion there? Categories are navigation aids. To quote PaulB: "They are as has repeatedly been pointed out, navigational tools. They are not official declarations about the status of something. Many artcles have several contradictory captions, which is perfectly fine. Their purpose is to group articles on a topic. The same is true of Wikprojects and some infoboxes. I've experienced many disputes about all sorts of related issue. Should Hitler be in the category "vegetarians", since some veggie activists have tried to deny it? Should peson X be included in a the "Category:LGBT history", since it's disputed whether he/she was anything but dead straight. In my experience the answer is almost alweays "yes". It doesn't matter if I think, say, Shakepseare was 100% stright. If an article on him discusses disputed sexuality then it should be in the category, because their whole function is to help people find artivles on specific topics. Nothing more. They absolutely do not mean that the Wikpedian community have determined that somehing or someone is fake, gay, mentally ill or whatever. Paul B (talk) 9:16 pm, 1 March 2013, last Friday (1 day ago) (UTC+0)" Dougweller (talkcontribs) 06:16, 3 March 2013 (UTC)
Dougweller -- I really don't think that it's authentically ancient Hebrew, so there's no need to soften the blow for me in that way. However, the idea that the stone was produced with intent to deceive seems to be based upon hypothetical speculation unsupported by direct non-circumstantial evidence. If was intended as a hoax, it was a singularly unsuccesful one, since it was 90 years before anybody made a Hebrew connection... AnonMoos (talk) 08:33, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
But as I say below, modern day archaeologists call it a hoax - our opinions as to whether or not it's a hoax don't change that, so people looking for American hoaxes might expect to find this article. Dougweller (talk) 08:52, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
They know that it's a fake if intended to be understood as an authentic ancient Israelite artifact, so they speculate that it may have been a hoax. But I don't think that they know whether it's a hoax any better than anybody else does. Their academic archeological credentials don't help them too much there -- a historian of the nineteenth-century United States would actually be more reliable for that... AnonMoos (talk) 09:12, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
What exactly would be a situation where it is not a hoax? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 15:46, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
If it helps, one of the articles by archaeologists Robert C. Mainfort, Jr., and Mary L. Kwas calls it a fraud and a hoax, although this isn't mentioned in the article but probably should be. You can see the article at [8]. Dougweller (talk) 06:25, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

"The highly respected Biblical Archaeology Review" indeed! BAR is in fact regarded with a high degree of contempt by professional academics. PiCo (talk) 13:43, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

Opinions are getting off topic. Myself I have nothing but admiration for BAR because they are nver afraid to tell people about things the professional academics don't want talked about, and lets be honest, by "professional" we mean salaried by the State of Israel, so it's no wonder these "professional" academics hold the opinion of BAR they are paid to hold. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 14:02, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
There's a long-standing feud between some at the Israel antiquities authority and Hershel Shanks, partly over the fact that the antiquities authority supports archaeologically destructive construction works by the temple mount waqf, partly over the long-drawn-out Oded Golan trial fiasco, etc. AnonMoos (talk) 08:42, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Over on WP:Neutral point of view/Noticeboard, I've proposed a "Gunfight at the 3O Corral" between Dougweller and myself to settle this issue (at least as far as the two of us go). Please discuss this over there. HuMcCulloch (talk) 16:07, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

Over on WP:Neutral point of view/Noticeboard, Doug has declined my offer to resolve our dispute with Wikipedia's WP:Third Opinion process. Rather than start an unseemly edit war here, I've simply declared a moral victory, and announded my intention to let this issue rest. HuMcCulloch (talk) 16:23, 5 March 2013 (UTC)


Can't resist putting in my 2 cents worth! Hi Doug, glad to see your posts. After much perusal of texts on archaeology of Americas, I am flummoxed by the sheer number of found artifacts/images/inscriptions/etc. in (particularly) North America which, upon any indication of a preColumbian eastern hemispheric connection, have been dismissed upon various grounds, very often as hoaxes. There have been at least 10's of thousands. I refer to Barry Fell's books "America BC" and "Saga America", Sorensen and Johanneson's "World Trade and Biological Exchanges Before 1492, Revised and Expanded Edition", Constance Irwin's "Fair Gods and Stone Faces", de Jonge and Wakefield's "Rocks and Rows" and "When the Sun God Came to America", Frank Joseph's "The Lost Worlds of Ancient America" and "The Lost Colonies of Ancient America". These alone should support the large number mentioned because there are often many extant examples of a particular kind of artifact/etc. ". The Bat Creek Stone is being held up as though it is a singular instance, but it is definitely not. Given this history of bias in the treatment of American artifacts (how many Clovis or Folsum points, atlatl weights or tipi rings are similarly disputed?) it seems that more of a neutral treatment is called for, in line with Wikipedia's policy of neutrality. Jwilsonjwilson (talk) 00:22, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

"They All Discovered America" by Boland is an early example that coined the term "NEBC Principle" (which I think ought to have an explanatory article). Yeah it is funny how hoaxers and forgers living near the Atlantic coast from Labrador to Tierra Del Fuego all picked the same archaic Phoenician alphabet to conduct their pseudo-archaeology in, isn't it? However I am aware that Doug has been one of the most active voices on the Internet pointing this out since at least ca. 1995. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 21:58, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
Tens of thousands? Hardly. And don't blame me if interpreting various scratches, inscriptions, whatever as Phoenician has been popular, I'd say it has more to do with their being famous as seafarers so a n obvious choice for anyone who wants to say there were ancient visitors. Jwilson, I don't think you understand NPOV yet. Have you read it thoroughly? Dougweller (talk) 22:15, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
Hi Doug. Guess I'll have to peruse NPOV more thoroughly. Evidently it has nuances which have escaped me. Thanks for your input. By the bye, many inscriptions (or scratches if you prefer) found in the eastern US, seem interpretable as samples of the Q Celtic script called Ogam, which to be sure does bear much resemblance to scratches (plow scrapings?). The particular type mentioned by Barry Fell is Hinge Ogam, script No. 3 as noted in the Irish Book of Ballymote. I am impressed that some of Fell's decipherings of Ogam-like scratches from Pennsylvania enabled European epigraphers to be able to read some previously unreadable inscriptions engraved on stones on the Iberian peninsula. Jwilsonjwilson (talk) 06:54, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
Ah! I see. Whether or not a piece of evidence is perhaps included in a class of things which are judged in a particular way is not itself an indicator of a lack of neutrality vis-a-vis pieces of evidence not so judged. Likewise there is the criteria of reliable sources, where-in my sources mentioned will be less likely to be given the current climate in American archaeology, Also they don't tend to concentrate on the Bat Creek stone, particularly. Oh well. Jwilsonjwilson (talk) 07:51, 11 March 2014 (UTC)

Jwilsonjwilson -- Unfortunately Barry Fell has absolutely zero credibility among mainstream professional scholars and archaeologists... AnonMoos (talk) 03:06, 21 March 2014 (UTC)

Certainly not! A star bellied sneech? Never! Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 04:34, 21 March 2014 (UTC)

Codes need explaining[edit]

To help the global readership, codes such as 40LD24 need explanation when first used, either in footnotes or in text. It appears such codes are Smithsonian trinomials. From the Tennessee Archaeology Network:County Abbreviations for Archaeological Site Numbers I suspect 40LD24 is decoded as 40=Tennessee, LD=Loudon, 24=serial number of site. I modified the article accordingly in this edit --Senra (talk) 23:09, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

Lead section and Photo credits[edit]

The lead section became garbled with TheRedPenofDoom's 04:06 3 March 13 edit, which mixed up the early 19th c discovery of the Cherokee syllabary with the date of the Mound Survey. Pico tried to correct the resulting inconsistencies, but the section only became more confused.

I suggest we revert the lead section to its 04:02 3 March 13 status (right after TheRedPenOfDoom deleted the lead photo credit), and procede from there. Dougweller's and my suggestions for rewording the "most archaeologists" statement would still need to be addressed, but that would be a lot simpler than proceding from where we are. (I still prefer "a number of archaeologists and other experts", but that can be discussed.)

Meanwhile, Ukexport has called to my attention that the WP manual of style at wp:credits calls for no photo credits in captions. This has been vigorously discussed in the talk page there (5 times in the past 5 years), but the policy remains, so I'll concede on the credits. HuMcCulloch (talk) 14:26, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

I have no problem with PiCo's "...inscription is an inscribed stone" rather than "carved stone" change, but it would be easier to revert to 04:02 3 March and then reintroduce this. HuMcCulloch (talk) 14:43, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

I also concur with PiCo that the two synonyms should go up front, but again it's easier to revert to yesterday 04:03 and then reapply this change. I don't see a one-step way to revert this section, but at worst it would involve 3 cut-and-pastes. HuMcCulloch (talk) 15:02, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

It's WP:CREDITS actually and thank you for sticking to the MOS.--ukexpat (talk) 16:04, 4 March 2013 (UTC) (and it's ukexpat).
If there are no objections, I'll revert and then update the intro section this evening or tomorrow morning (EST). HuMcCulloch (talk) 22:25, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
whatever version you go to, it must not be one that leaves the first sentence/paragraph ending with the completely out dated declaration of "proof" without the debunking of that claim immediately thereafter. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 00:07, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
The old first paragraph merely quotes the authoritative Mound Explorations report to the effect that it is clearly Cherokee. The second paragraph then immediately contradicts this with Gordon's statement that it is clearly Hebrew. The next paragraph then contradicts this with the observation that most (or many or several or some or a few, depending on what can be documented) archaeologists believe it's just another 19th c fraud. Did you want this "proof" that it's a fraud to be debunked in the intro as well? (talk) 03:48, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Per the policies of WP:LEAD / WP:V / WP:NPOV etc, the lead sentence and paragraph must accurately summarize the current state of knowledge and not leave outdated misinformation hanging for 3 paragraphs before being corrected. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 04:32, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
I made some more, minor, edits to the lead aimed at providing readers with clarification on a few points that I thought were a little hazy, like what the "Cherokee alphabet" was and when it was invented. I have no problem if people want to re-write the lead though. It's interesting that Gordon was actually correct in saying it was Hebrew rather than Cherokee - it's just that it was a lot more recent than he imagined. PiCo (talk) 04:43, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
The "lead" referred to by WP:LEAD is the lead section, not the lead sentence or paragraph. The version of 04:02 3 March 13, which I attempted to restore before you (RedPen) reversed me, did a good job of contradicting everyone in the first two paragraphs. It kept everything in chronological order: the discovery, the identification as Cherokee, the re-identification as Hebrew, and the charges of forgery. The third paragraph then brought up Emmert and the 1970s salvage excavations, without going into the detail reserved for the article itself. This was an excellent organization before your muddled conflation of the invention of Cherokee by Sequoyah and the Mound Survey Report by Cyrus Thomas. HuMcCulloch (talk) 05:00, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
"The first sentence should tell the nonspecialist reader what (or who) the subject is." in this case, the subject is a fraud. "The first paragraph should define the topic with a neutral point of view, but without being overly specific. It should establish the context in which the topic is being considered by supplying the set of circumstances or facts that surround it." and again, the NPOV context of the stone is that it is a fraud with a long history of debunked explanations. (emph added)-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 05:06, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Your definition of "NPOV" is perfectly Orwellian. That's not taking a bird's eye view of the conflicting positions, that's jumping down in the fray and helping out one party attack another party. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 05:14, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
When the mainstream academics are in conflict with fringe theorists, YES we jump into the fray and "help" the non-fringe theorists. perfectly NPOVian-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 05:19, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
No, this wikipedia INSISTS on Neutrality as a non negotiable cornerstone policy, and rather than honestly admit what the word NEUTRALITY truly means you would rather redefine the word and the concept of "Neutrality" until "Neutrality" to you means agreeing with YOUR POV that it is a fraud. Again, without ANY CONCLUSIVE PROOF that it is a fraud, only thumping the "authority" of YOUR books that say it is, over OUR books that say it isn't. You don't seem to be able to see past the ends of your own nose and acknowledge that there are other POVs beside yours and they must be treated neutrally by policy whether you like it or not. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 05:25, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Conclusive PROOF that it is a fraud is exactly what you DON'T have, so that's why ALL you have to rely on are these painfully outdated and desperate marginalization / ostracization tactics It may as well be "Don't listen to them... because WE said so and EVERYONE knows they're not cool...!" My friend you have much to learn of the true meaning of Neutrality. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 05:32, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
The book that the inscription was copied from has been identified - that looks like conclusive proof to me :). Also you have experts like Frank Moore Cross and Lyle McCarter saying it's a fraud, and no experts on the other side saying otherwise. (Cyrus Gordon merely said it was Hebrew, and he was right - and he no doubt sincerely believed it was old, and he was wrong). By the way, this final sentence in the lead seems to me to be incorrect: " Recent studies by archaeologists and an expert in Northwest Semitic languages reject Gordon's assertion, arguing instead that the inscription is a fraud typical of late-19th century archaeological hoaxes." McCarter and Cross aren't rejecting Gordon's identification of the script and language as Hebrew, they're just saying it's not old. PiCo (talk) 05:48, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
PiCo, that's not "proof", that's one of the hypotheses... actually a flimsy one, mainly because the inscription on the stone does NOT copy the one in the book, but actually has a different word "YHWD" instead of YHWH", and both would be extremely common phrases in Hebrew in any event so if you have the impression this really built a solid case, clearly there is room for doubt and many are not convinced, and neither am I. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 05:57, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Masonic artist's impression of Biblical phrase QDSh LYHWH in paleo-Hebrew script. (Macoy 1868: 134), compared with the inscribed stone.

I've copied the illustration here so we can look at it. Your Hebrew is, of course, far better than mine, and I'll just look at letter-forms.

In general, it seems the QD of QDSH are there in the inscription, but not the SH - is that right?

Then the inscription has a small stroke that isn't in the book-illustration. Gordon (I think) said this was a word-divider, but I think word-dividers were dots placed in the middle, between words - is that right?If not a word divider it might just be a random mark. But it looks deliberate.

Then the next word, LYHWH - the inscription tracks the book closely, except that the final H is strange - not clear at all. To me it looks too similar to be accidental. What do you say? PiCo (talk) 06:06, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

What we say can only go so far as our opinions, because we aren't a published source. But I have seen sources that discuss these very questions. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 06:10, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
I'm asking your opinion because I respect it (honestly). PiCo (talk) 06:12, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Thank you. My opinion as I gave it just above is that there is room for doubt. Especially what that last letter is, and personally no I don't think it's an H, especially looking at the image up close. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 06:21, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Is this discussion really appropriate here? No disrespect but you all know we discourage forum type discussions, no matter how much fun they are - and I have managed to forget that myself at times. And Til is right of course - we can't use our opinions. Dougweller (talk) 08:48, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Although now that Pico's asked me, I'm going really out on a limb here, but I will venture to say that I don't see the S on the rock either, supposedly spelling 'QDS' as in the book illustration...
Going even further, if I had to use my own common sense instead of relying on the verifiability of those more awesome than I, I wouldn't call that a D in the first word on the rock either. Ignoring its provenience, the whole thing to my eyes would have looked like QETS LEYIHUD[IM] (fulfillment for the Jews), not a theoretical bad copy of QDS LYHWH.Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 12:47, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Although the points Til and PiCo raise are crucial, I concur with Doug that this is not the place to discuss them. My own take on them is at , q.v. I'll be happy to discuss these with them by e-mail, but this page should stick with what's actually in (or should be in) the article. HuMcCulloch (talk) 14:36, 5 March 2013 (UTC)


I may have, quite inadvertently, made the lead worse instead of better. If so I apologise. If anyone would like to revise it, even heavily, please go ahead. PiCo (talk) 05:59, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

It has improved in many ways since RedPen's 04:02 3 March revision. I now see RedPen's point that the Cherokee theory shouldn't be by itelf in the first paragraph. Moving it down to the beginning of the second paragraph puts all 3 theories together, for better balance. However, the entire old 3rd paragraph is now in the first paragraph, where it gives too much detail. I like the idea of adding just the year and locational details to the first paragraph, but leaving the details of Emmert and the 1970s salvage excavations in a restored third paragraph.
Furthermore, the details of who owns it, where it is on display, and what its NMNH accesion number is are better left out of the lead section. The concluding section (where they at present repeated) is the only place these details need to be.
Unless there are objections I'll make these moves and delete the redundant last paragraph. Meanwhile I'm going to try to add an Edit button to the lead section so it can be edited by itself if desired. HuMcCulloch (talk) 14:51, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Question about 1870 (or is it 1868) book[edit]

The file source information for the image gives the source as follows:

Original publication: Macoy, Robert, General History, Cyclopedia and Dictionary of Freemasonry, Masonic Publishing Co., New York, 3rd ed., 1868, p. 134.
Immediate source: Original source, in library of Worthington OH Masonic Lodge.

I have never seen any of Macoy's books, but I have seen Youtube videos that show and extensively quote several of his books, sneaked out of Masonic Lodge libraries over the years, and explaining that these books aren't intended to be accessible to anyone unless they have been indoctrinated in Freemasonry a number of years. This is getting into heavy stuff and makes verification of the source more difficult. So with a book like that, I can't help but wonder how it came to just "turn up" in the debate as a source in response to the recent proposed reading of the language as Hebrew. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 13:30, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Mainfort and Kwas cite it, as does Hu, as does Jason Colavito. It's on page 169 of the 1870 edition and you can see it here.[9] I don't see how verifying it's a problem. Dougweller (talk) 14:04, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Wow, thanks, Doug. I'm looking over that book now and it is a trip. Macoy evidently didn't mean it to be read or even known about by the general public, so if someone used it for a hoax, they would probably have to be a high level freemason, right? Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 14:48, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
It may have been closely guarded in the 19th c, but in order to get this scan, I just called up the Worthington lodge, asked if they had it, and if so could I see it. They welcomed my visit, and even scanned it for me on their machine. They had several editions, including the 1868 edition with the illustration, but not the 1870 edition M&K happened to cite. I've seen the reprint edition for sale at Half Priced Books, so it's not exactly inaccessible today. In any event, in the 19th c, a great many people were freemasons, so many people would have had access even if it was guarded then. HuMcCulloch (talk) 15:21, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
The big mystery is why Thomas or someone else in the BAE didn't spot the inscription as obviously Hebrew. Fortunately they didn't or we would probably never have known of it. HuMcCulloch (talk) 15:24, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
I wonder if Thomas identified it as Cherokee because he was expecting Cherokees. PiCo (talk) 03:01, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Neutrality dispute[edit]

RedPenOfDoom evidently endorses Feder 2010. Which is great for him personally, but he feel so strognly he is right that he feels the article itself should endorse and promote Feder 2010 rather than stay neutral and attribute Feder's point of view to Feder. He feels the reason the article is allowed to endorse Feder as being correct dogma, is because he KNOWS FRINGE when he sees it. I think he is pushing his point of view and calling any source that says different from his conclusions "FRINGE" simply because he disagrees with them. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 22:30, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

yes, it is fairly easy to spot fringe theories when they are called out by experts on fringe theories who are reporting the work of others who have identified the fringe theories and published their debunking of the fringe theory in peer reviewed journals.
What is your basis for wanting to remove the descriptor of the of "inaccurate" to the 1821 claim that the inscriptions are "beyond question" Cherokee?
What is your basis for removing the statement that inscriptions were initially described as Cherokee, then later shown to be from a Freemason book and determined to be not authentic? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:02, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Because that is a Point of View, there are people who disagree with that point of view (not just editors but sources) and you know this but you are claiming some kind of magical precedence for the sources YOU like over the ones you don't, when the whole point is - please get it this time - NOTHING HAS BEEN CONCLUSIVELY PROVEN TO EVERYONE'S SATISFACTION. You seem incapable of telling both sides of the story and can only be happy as long as only the story YOU agree with is being favored and endorsed. Continued uncompromising thumping the appeal to authority that declares these to be fringe theories, fraud and hoax is endorsing a point of view, but that's all you've got, an appeal to authority, and the controversy isn't going anywhere just because you and your sources pretend like you've got all the answers sorted out according to your theory and it's all settled now, no more debate is permissible, go home now please (don't hold your breath) There will be a neutrality dispute until this article refrains from endorsing a POV, treats readers like adults, and allows them to make up their own minds without having it made up for them by your POV-pushing editing. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 00:14, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
it doesnt have to be proven to "everyone's" belief - just to the mainstream academic experts in the area. and it has. and yes, I am appealing to authority because that is how wikipedia determines how we value and interpret and present content. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:21, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
No, the "Macoy copy" POV has not been established, it is a very recent hypothesis (one of several) that has not been proven in the least and is not even bloody likely if you ask me. Just because it happens to be YOUR favorite hypothesis, doesn't give you the right to proclaim it correct, everything else wrong, force it down other wikipedians' throats, and hypocritically call that "neutrality". That is the very antithesis of "neutrality". You seem to enjoy making sure the article will get in the faces of readers who disagree or hold a different opinion, and you seem fearful to let both sides of the story be told without magisterially informing the reader whose view you deem "correct" and "acceptable", and whose view you deem "incorrect" and "unacceptable". I will not sit quietly as long as only half the story is allowed to be told from your biased point of view that is anything but "NPOV". Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 01:42, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
for the last time , we most absolutely DO NOT present all views equally, we present them in the proportion that they are held by the mainstream academic experts and we call out wingnut fringe theories as wingnut fringe theories. THAT is how we apply NPOV. Read the fucking policies. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:48, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
And I say your attitude that NPOV doesn't apply to you here because you're so convinced your opinion is the only correct one, is completely out of place on wikipedia, and your redefinition of "neutrality" as "helping out one position to attack the others" is in fact orwellian, or at least complete hypocrisy. WP:NPOV is non negotiable, cornerstone policy and your totally skewed and biased misinterpretation of it notwithstanding, it will remain non-negotiable. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 03:09, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
RedPen: "What is your basis for wanting to remove the descriptor of the of 'inaccurate' to the 1821 claim that the inscriptions are 'beyond question' Cherokee?" RedPen continues to conflate Sequoyah (1821) with Cyrus Thomas (1894). Perhaps he or she should leave editing this page to those who are remotely familiar with the basic facts.
In any event, the new material RedPen has added to the lead is way too detailed for the lead. It already has a reference to archaeologists and others who think it's a fraud, but the details should go in the body, not in the lead.
BTW, how do we know what Conflicts of Interest (COI) the many pseudonymous editors have? We all know who Dougweller, MandelCook, and myself are, but who are all these other editors? Are they plugging their own work? Not necessarily wrong, but it would be nice to know who's adding and promoting the references. — Preceding unsigned comment added by HuMcCulloch (talkcontribs) 02:06, 6 March 2013 (UTC) HuMcCulloch (talk) 02:08, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
I can understand your concerns, but if you find out please do not mention it anywhere on Wikipedia. Unless an editor mentions his real life identity on Wikipedia, even suggestions about who the editor might be in real life violate WP:OUTING. And I have no reason at all to think any of them have a COI. It's really only you and MandelCook who have COIs as I haven't published anything on this subject. Dougweller (talk) 09:09, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
The content in the lead clearly presents a summary of the subject, the content i added is not weighed down by unnecessary specifics and is well within the parameters for recommended length for an article of this size. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 02:19, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
I have stopped editing because mine would be a COI. I would like to point out however, that my book was published by POL Publishing owned by WA Brock. I just do their websites and do freelance work with them. Not that that matters. Mandelcook (talk) 02:38, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

The idea that the inscription is "beyond question" Cherokee is clearly wrong, as Cyrus Gordon questioned it (and he should know). Not to mention McCarter and Cross, who are top experts. PiCo (talk) 02:59, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Cyrus Gordon was a Semitic expert (with no ascertainable professional expertise in Cherokee), and many of his fellow Semitic experts felt that he went off the rails in his semi-infamous 1971 book. AnonMoos (talk) 03:33, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
Cyrus may have lost his grip a little in his later years, but he knew what Paleo-Hebrew looked like. Likewise McCarter and Cross - they can all recognise a waw when they see one. The only difference between Gordon and McCarter/Cross is that M/C say that though the letters look sort-of Hebrew, the inscription is a fake. On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be any line of experts forming to say it's Cherokee. PiCo (talk) 04:29, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
No, but believe it or not, the Cherokee hypothesis was the old "Official Doctrine" (and everything else a hoax or fringe - especially anyone suggesting the letters were Semitic!) as recently as 2009. Do you start to sense the frustration here, when all scoffers have to do is brush it out from under the carpet long enough to revise their official story, give no credit where due, sweep it back under and pretend they've been right all along? They have a VERY low bar of standard that they set for themselves (where else would different texts with different letters be considered a "match"?), while holding others to impossible standards of proof that they know they themselves could never meet. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 04:45, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
PiCo, the assertion that the letters "are beyond question letters of the Cherokee alphabet" is a direct quote from Thomas (1894). It may or may not be true (in my 1988 article I argued that it is not), but that is what he said in his authoritative Mound Explorations and hence is an important part of the history of this artifact. Of course, authorities are not always right, which is part of what makes this an interesting story. We don't have a direct statement from Cross, but as filtered through M&K (1991), he's merely saying that it is not Paleo-Hebrew. That of course does not preclude Cherokee, or any other writing system, and does not in itself make it fake. McCarter does say it clearly is an attempt to write Hebrew, but an incompetent one, and therefore most likely a fake. Personally, I don't see the logic of this -- while it's true that the scribes who write the manuscripts and monumental inscriptions that modern scholars study all got A's in penmanship, it doesn't follow that no one in antiquity ever flunked penmanship, yet went ahead and did their best to write anyway. Be that as it may, if it's any attempt to write Hebrew, it can't be Cherokee (unless Cherokee derives from Hebrew, but I don't think that works at all), so that McCarter, at least, may be placed in the non-Cherokee camp. But veteran hoax-buster Marshall McKusick (1989, 1994) insists that it really is Cherokee anyway, and his view must be recognized as an alternative (if not definitive) viewpoint. HuMcCulloch (talk) 04:50, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
The fact that you and many other have "questioned" whether or not the figures are Cherokee is flat out proof that the assertion that the letters "are beyond question letters of the Cherokee alphabet" is inaccurate. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 16:00, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
The statement that Cyrus Thomas's otherwise authoritative Mound Explorations report asserts that the symbols "are beyond question letters of the Cherokee alphabet" is 100% accurate, regardless of the accuracy of the assertion. Merely paraphrasing this crazy assertion would just raise issues of who could ever think such a thing. The article goes on to present other points of view (Hebrew, according to Gordon, M&K 2004, myself, not Hebrew according to Cross as filtered by M&K 1991), and to contest its authenticity (M&K 1991, 2004) . Sounds pretty balanced to me. You can add Feder's (2010) endorsement of M&K (2004) to the section on "Recent comments" if you like, but it's inappropriate for the lead section. I'll manually restore the status prior to your inclusion of this in the lead when I get a chance. (Automatic undo no longer works because of intervening edits) HuMcCulloch (talk) 16:48, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
Maybe the article should take a thematic approach instead of (or in addition to) a narrative one? Have a section on Provenance, another an Language/Script. Also, what I notice as being missing is a discussion of the background to why the mounds survey was undertaken - the mounds mystery (or whatever it was called) of the 19th century, in which learned opinion was divided between those who felt the Indians had built the mounds, and those who couldn't believe that such a primitive people could have been responsible and it must have been Egyptian, Sumerians, Jews or some other civilised immigrants. So the Smithsonian made the survey to settle the question. The Bat Creek stone seems to have been about the only artefact that suggested a non-Native American origin, but it only suggests that if it's in Hebrew; if it's Cherokee, then it fits in with all the rest that was found. This, I think, is what lies behind Thomas' categorical statement that it's Cherokee - Jews would have been too hard to explain. (There was also the possibility that someone had seeded the results, that would have been opening a real can of worms back in the 1890s, and to be charitable, the thought might never have crossed Thomas' mind). PiCo (talk) 05:09, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
Precisely -- the hypothesis that Thomas was supposed to be testing (are there pre-Columbian alphabetic inscriptions or other evidence of contact in the mounds?) never entered his mind. The one inscribed tablet he found, in the heart of Overhill Cherokee territory, therefore must have been modern Cherokee. The accompanying cupreous bracelets must have been [native] copper. That's where it stood until Gordon came along and claimed he could read Hebrew when he saw it. He was dismissed as a "wingnut fringe theorist" as RedPen puts it, and the stone ceased to be mentioned in polite society for 18 years. Stephen Williams' Fantastic Archaeology, and Schroedl and Chapman's reports on the 1970s UT/TVA salvage operation make absolutely no mention of the stone, despite the publicity surrounding Gordon's claim. I mentioned it in 1988, but then I wasn't considered to be very polite... HuMcCulloch (talk) 13:39, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Til -- You added the POV-check tag to the article as a whole on 3/5 at 22:18. I think it would be helpful to instead tag specific claims for POV, to narrow the issue down to something manageable. I just removed Feder's opinions from the lead section per TALK, but invited RedPen to add them in the appropriate sections as quotes from Feder. So at the moment there may not even be a POV-check issue for the article as a whole. I'll leave it to you to remove it or pinpoint specific claims. HuMcCulloch (talk) 19:09, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

there is no consensus to remove the content which appropriately places the subject into the appropriate consensus view of current mainstream academics as is required by WP:UNDUE and clearly described in WP:LEAD. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:25, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Who was John W. Emmert?[edit]

Basically it all comes down to Mr Emmert - if the stone is a fake, he was the one who put it there. If he did, what was his motive? He wanted to find a "Cherokee" inscription to please his boss, who wanted Indians to be the mound-builders? In which case, why choose Hebrew letters? It wouldn't have been too hard to find a guide to Cherokee, tho maybe a bit harder to compose a message that would make sense. And the fact that it does make (sort-of) sense in Hebrew is more suggestion that it was never meant to be taken for Cherokee. But could Emmert have composed anything in Hebrew? I must say I'm taken by Til's suggestion that the final word should be read as "for/of the Hebrews" - if you're trying to plant convincing evidence that Hebrews built the mounds, you couldn't do better than put that explicit word on the stone. But was Emmert capable of writing sensible Hebrew, even this one word? Who was he? PiCo (talk) 05:24, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Answering my own question: is this mentioned/used at all in our article? PiCo (talk) 05:27, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Note: to clarify for the record, that proposed reading is "Jews" not "Hebrews", and I can't claim any credit for that reading regardless, because if you look at all the published sources, one of the authors had already suggested that - they noticed the beginnings of an 'M' where the tablet is broken, and they suggested the second word as "for the Jews". [I have never written or published any books about the topic of Bat Creek inscription and have no potential conflict] A true test of impartiality is to suppose hypothetically for a moment if the identical inscription had been found in the Dead Sea; then I bet nobody would ever have any trouble seeing the Hebrew letters on it and reading what they say clearly. If the only reason our minds might be closed is because of where it was found, then don't pretend it is for other reasons, and keep changing the reasons as convenient. I must say I agree with the scholar who says there is definitely a clearly carved sixth letter on the left edge that is broken off. This makes it far less likely to be a copy of Macoy 1868. All Macoy 1868 proves is that some people still knew how to make those letter shapes correctly in 1868, the fact that they are the same letter shapes shouldn't surprise us, when the only matching string between the two is one of the most common in Hebrew. Macoy is evidence that it may have been technically possible to forge those letter shapes correctly in the 1880s, but it is a hypothesis, it isn't PROOF, except for those willing to make the leap of faith that the stone could have been copied from a text reading QDS LYHWH which doesn't appear likely at all on closer analysis. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 14:31, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
Please see the talk page guidelines. This page is for discussing how to accurately represent what the reliable sources have published about the subject and not present our own speculation about the subject. -- originally posted in the wrong place at TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 14:34, 6 March 2013 (UTC) -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 15:24, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
Once again, the point of my above paragraph, in case it was confusing for you, is that the reading of the final -M on LYHWD- where the edge is broken to read "for the Jews', is categorically NOT my "own speculation". I picked all of that up from one of the published sources on the topic I had read. (Readers may have to go back in the page history archives to find some of these links to the sources that talk seriously about this stone, because unfortunately, when some people find certain facts uncomfortable, they become fearful and look for excuses to hide the facts they don't like, I suppose on the "ostrich" principle that if they can't see it, they can pretend it's no longer there - but indeed they are still there for all to see on those parts of the web where such people cannot censor them and squelch open debate.) Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 16:53, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
I do believe there should be more on Emmert, if not his own page. However, a lot of the info on him is self published. There is some though. Good fact is that he did spend a lot of time with the Cherokee. Mandelcook (talk) 05:43, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
I'd like to see an article on Emmert - if self-published sources are all that's available, then that fact could/should be mentioned in the article, but use them anyway. The fact that he was working on an archaeological survey suggests that he already had an interest in matters like this. PiCo (talk) 06:28, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
You can like all you want, but if you create something with only self published sources it will fail the basic requirements for a stand alone article and will be subject to immediate deletion. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 06:32, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
Are letters that he wrote that are at the Smithsonian considered Reliable, or do they have to be published?Mandelcook (talk) 06:34, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
the letters he wrote would be considered primary source documents and can be used for very limited purposes but would not be able to be used to establish notability which third party published content. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 06:48, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
They were quoted and cited extensively in the Tennessee Anthropogist exchange between Mainfort and Kwas and myself, and then again in M&K (2004). HuMcCulloch (talk) 13:48, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
But is there significant coverage in third party reliably published sources about the subject of the potential article? And is he notable for anything other than his relationship to the Bat Creek Stone?-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 14:35, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
PiCo, Emmert's letter to Thomas of 12/19/1888 (cited by McCulloch 1988, p. 113) states that he had spent the summer of 1888 with the Cherokee in NC. Even if he didn't understand the language or the writing, he could easily have asked someone to compose a plausible personal name or slogan in Cherokee, and copied it onto the stone. While it turned out to be true that the "experts" at the Smithsonian's BAE couldn't tell Hebrew from Cherokee, there is no reason to think that Emmert would have taken that chance by using a Hebrew model instead.
I don't think this article is the place to go in detail into Emmert, but I do believe readers should be directed to the thoughtful online articles by Lowell Kirk and Mandel Cook (codename MandelCook), if only as ELs. Dougweller, who has been editing this page a lot longer than me, is fine with this. Kirk raises very interesting historical facts about Reconstruction party politics in Eastern TN, rivalries over patronage jobs, etc. I think he goes overboard with his Blackman hypothesis, but Mandel's article is a good counterpoise. Readers deserve to know this stuff, and besides, it's fun history! For a long time it was in the article, but I'm satisfied with EL status for now. HuMcCulloch (talk) 14:17, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

::Please see the talk page guidelines. This page is for discussing how to accurately represent what the reliable sources have published about the subject and not present our own speculation about the subject. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 14:34, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

RedPen, we're discussing whether Kirk and Cook (which you pulled despite Doug's inclusion of them) belong in the ELs. Incidentally, the Smithsonian Archives correspondence concerning Emmert is transcribed and discussed at length in my July 1987 background paper, "John Emmert, Demon Rum, and Bat Creek: Excavations in the Smithsonian Archives," at But again, this is all too detailed to go into the body of the article itself. HuMcCulloch (talk) 14:57, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
oops the above was posted in the wrong location. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 15:24, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
but regarding the external links, [10] is merely linking to a promotional commercial site to buy a book, which is clearly not acceptable per WP:EL. and the [11] is what appears to be a self published website by Jack Waters who does not seem to meet the qualifictions for WP:SPS. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 15:31, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
The link to Kirk's essay is, which is available for free. The hotlink to the Tellico Plains Mountain Press homepage merely puts it in perspective as to where it was published. The hotlink to TPMP can be removed if you wish, since anyone who is interested can easily google it. Mandel's book is being offered for sale, (much as paywalled journal articles are offered for sale online), but that's a separate issue. How about we restore Kirk as an EL without the hotlink to TPMP, and think about how to handle Mandel's book for now? HuMcCulloch (talk) 16:19, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
To skip the front page of my site and see about the stone is here It still has purchase links at the bottom though. Not sure if that still counts. Mandelcook (talk) 16:36, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Conflict of interest discussion[edit]

The matter of conflict of interest impacting the NPOV of this article are being discussed Wikipedia:Conflict_of_interest/Noticeboard#Bat_Creek_inscription_and_User:HuMcCulloch. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:35, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Lead again[edit]

I've revised the lead with a summary of the post-Cyrus Gordon controversy, taken from the body of the article. And that, I think, concludes my interest in this article. I hope I've improved it, but you never know. For what it's worth, it seems to me pretty clear that the inscription is a forgery - Gordon, Cross and McCarter all say it's Hebrew, and Cross and McCarter say it's fake Hebrew (and Gordon had a bee in his bonnet). The mystery is how it got in the mound. I somehow doubt that Emmert did it - if he planted a fake it would have been one that tended to prove the mound-builders were Cherokees, not Jews. The purpose seems to have been the opposite. But what exactly happened, we shall probably never know. This article by Chris Rollston is a fascinating study of what motivates forgers in these arcane areas.PiCo (talk) 01:17, 7 March 2013 (UTC)

Well thanks for sharing your opinions on this subject - but come on, do we all have to share the identical opinion? Or may we share different opinions? I may as well share mine as well then. My opinion is that the evidence of fraud is extraordinarily weak, he chirps about the 'string of letters' while ignoring that this particular string of letters is so common in Ancient Hebrew, you would practically expect to see it on most authentic inscriptions. The rarer and more unusual a sequence of letters is matched, the stronger indication of certain copying becomes; but inversely, the more common the sequence of letters, the more it weakens the evidence as anything meaningful, and that's what he ignores. It's comparable to finding the English string " the ...", a very common string. Say an artifact 10,000 years from now has only the words " the ...". That doesn't prove whoever found it necessarily forged it from the "Romancing the Stone" album cover on display in the local museum. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 02:07, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
PiCo -- This seems like an awful lot of detail for the lead section, particularly since it's all in the body. HuMcCulloch (talk) 02:17, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
I was trying to summarise the modern arguments - I don't mind if you revert, but see if you can reduce it further first. PiCo (talk) 07:13, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
I wouldn't revert it, but I'll try to pare it down some later today. You did a good job of just stating the various positions, without interjecting your own POV. HuMcCulloch (talk) 16:22, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
My "shortening" of the lead somehow added 42 bytes despite the fact that I took a lot of detail out! I did add mentions of Cyrus Thomas and the C-14 date, and expanded on M&K(2004) a little. — Preceding unsigned comment added by HuMcCulloch (talkcontribs) 05:27, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Now I'm down 117 bytes from PiCo's version. This isn't much, but I think the information/byte ratio has increased. HuMcCulloch (talk) 14:39, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Til -- Once again the POV-check tag you added 3/5 at 22:18, which appears as part of the lead, strikes me as overly general. If there are specific points you or others want to flag for their NPOV, they should be tagged individually. For the moment, the specific point you were objecting to is not even present. I'm inclined to remove the POV-check tag, but will wait to hear from you. HuMcCulloch (talk) 15:51, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Sorry for not responding the first time, there's been too many other things going on all at once now! You said you would leave it to me to flag specific points and/or remove the generic tag. But actually I would rather leave it back to you again to tag any specific points if you see any, since I trust your judgement to identify any POV issues there may be left. And feel free to remove the generic tag too, if the specific issue seems to be resolved satisfactorily. I think that tag goes with a different version that keeps getting reverted to from time to time, but if that version gets reverted to any more, then of course the tag, or some tag, should return as well. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 16:57, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

POV tag still applicable[edit]

"Articles which cover controversial, disputed, or discounted ideas in detail should document (with reliable sources) the current level of their acceptance among the relevant academic community. If proper attribution cannot be found among reliable sources of an idea's standing, it should be assumed that the idea has not received consideration or acceptance; ideas should not be portrayed as accepted unless such claims can be documented in reliable sources." - The POV issues will not be considered addressed until the fringe/hoax-iness of the object is clearly covered by the end of the first paragraph although preferably the lead sentence. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:52, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
Ironically, the POV-check tag originally posted by Til Eulenspiegel, but which he then allowed to be withdrawn, has now been restored by RedPen, so that this in effect is a new tag by RedPen, independent of the previous one. It is supposed to be discussed here in a section by itself, so I suggest that RedPen should up a new section for discussion of the new tag. (The above few paragraphs properly should have been in the earlier POV section that Til set up, but we got diverted.) HuMcCulloch (talk) 07:11, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
as you wish.
They are both much more experienced Wikipedians than you, you would do well to ask them actual questions rather than rhetorical ones seeking to advance your point of view. Guy (Help!) 22:09, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
I have added content to the lead "documenting (with reliable sources) the current level of their acceptance among the relevant academic community." and so I have also removed the POV tag. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:54, 12 March 2013 (UTC)

Please note that RedPen has initiated a Conflict of Interest charge against me over at WP:Conflict of interest/Noticeboard, for recently reversing one of his edits. HuMcCulloch (talk) 18:53, 12 March 2013 (UTC)

They may have already noted it. It was announced in its own section at the time the discussion was opened: Talk:Bat_Creek_inscription#Conflict_of_interest_discussion. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:12, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, RedPen -- my oversight. HuMcCulloch (talk) 22:50, 12 March 2013 (UTC)

RedPen's Lead Section[edit]

In a series of posts on 3/12, 19:33-19:59, RedPen replaced the last sentence of the first paragraph of the lead section with the following: "The inscriptions were initially described as Cherokee, but in 2010, similarities to an inscription that was circulating in a Freemason book were discovered. Hoax expert Kenneth Feder says the peer reviewed work of Mary L. Kwas and Robert Mainfort has 'demolished' any claims of the stone's authenticity.[1] Mainfort and Kwas themselves state 'The Bat Creek stone is a fraud.'[2]" He also added the word "inaccurately" to Thomas's interpretation of the inscription as Cherokee in the second paragraph, and adds a footnote to the end of the third paragraph, attributing a quotation from McCarter (1993) to Mainfort and Kwas (1993). In one of the comment lines, he adds, "My concerns are now addressed." He had added this earlier, but I had cut it, so that we are now essentially back to where we were earlier.

As before, this addition duplicates material pertaining to Mainfort and Kwas (2004) that is already in the fourth paragraph of the lead section. There is no need to pack the entire story into the first paragraph. In fact, WP:lead calls for the first paragraph of the lead (out of as many as 4) to focus on bare facts like what, where, when, and who. It is therefore entirely unnecessary and counterproductive to add this material in the first paragraph.

RedPen starts off with the obvious error of placing Mainfort and Kwas (2004) in 2010. He evidently is conflating Mainfort and Kwas (2004) with Feder's 2010 Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology, even though these are in fact two separate sources, much as he had earlier repeatedly conflated Sequoyah (1821) with Cyrus Thomas (1894). He goes on to give Mainfort and Kwas (1993) as the source of a direct quote from McCarter (1993), even though the correct source is given in the body of the article. RedPen makes a point of emphasizing that M&K (1993) is peer-reviewed, but then gives as its bibliographical information as Doug Weller's archaeology website at, rather than the journal Tennessee Anthropologist where it really was published, even though the correct bibliographical citation is in the Sources section.

RedPen goes on to add the word "incorrectly" to Thomas's identification of the letters as Cherokee, with a footnote to Feder (2010). While I am in full agreement (see McCulloch 1988) that the letters are not Cherokee, this is just Feder's and my opinion, and should not be asserted in the article as fact. RedPen qualifies Feder as a "hoax expert," but McKusick (The Davenport Conspiracy) has exactly the same qualification and should not be dismissed out of hand.

RedPen is obviously anxious to get M&K's 2004 assessment of the stone as a "fraud" into the lead section. This is already implicit in the fourth pargraph's summary of M&K(2004). However, I would have no objection if the last sentence of the fourth paragraph were modifed to read, "They conclude that the inscription is a fraud and that Emmert most likely copied the inscription from the Masonic illustration, ...." (proposed addition initalics).

RedPen also wants to include Feder's 2010 opinion of M&K's 2004 opinion of the stone. This is a bit much for the lead, though it could be appropriate for the final section of the article, where M&K 2004 is discussed, as an endorsement of their interpretation. I had added a reference to Feder 2010 earlier in a footnote, but Doug quickly deleted it.

If there is some endorsement from other editors (aside from Til, who usually agrees with me on these matters), I propose that we reverse RedPen's indicated changes to the lead, but with the indicated addition to the last sentence of the fourth paragraph, leaving it to RedPen to work Feder's 2010 endorsement of M&K 2004 into the last section. In particular, I would like to hear what Doug thinks of RedPen's changes. HuMcCulloch (talk) 03:41, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Doug -- There has been no adjudication over on WP:Conflict of interest/Noticeboard of RedPen's COI complaint against me. Meanwhile, RedPen has made the changes I discuss above, and someone named "Stalwart111" has threatened me with Wikipedia's equivalent of a fatwa if I ever dare edit this page again. Should I just ignore this as an empty threat and make the changes I proposed above (and which no one has objected to), or can I expect some sort of resolution over there? I ask you since you are an Administrator and have long experience with Wikipedia proceedings. Thanks! HuMcCulloch (talk) 15:09, 17 March 2013 (UTC)
I've been trying to avoid all of this, but I guess I can't. Stalwart111 had made it clear that there's no fatwa, just a friendly warning. Resolution doesn't always happened at COIN. Could you start a new section here with your preferred lead? That would make it easier for me. Dougweller (talk) 09:43, 18 March 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, Doug. I'm in the middle of an interstate move right now, so it may be a few days before I can find the time. HuMcCulloch (talk) 11:20, 18 March 2013 (UTC)
You seem be be patently ignoring parts of WP:LEAD, except for your desire for "consise" which you wish to use to chop out or hide information. But to remind you yet again, "The first sentence should tell the nonspecialist reader what (or who) the subject is. ... If its subject is definable, then the first sentence should give a concise definition: where possible, one that puts the article in context for the nonspecialist. For topics notable for only one reason, this reason should usually be given in the first sentence. If the article is about a fictional character or place, say so." This article is about a faux artifact and that MUST be clear from the intro sentence. Additional information about its inauthenticity should then be expanded upon in more general manner in the rest of the lead. "summariz(ing) the most important points covered in an article in such a way that it can stand on its own as a concise version of the article. ..(With) emphasis given to material should reflect its relative importance to the subject, according to published reliable sources. "
I am open to wordsmithing and correcting content to reflect the sources, but I am not open to an introductory paragraph that does not reflect our MOS on lead and our policies on NPOV/UNDUE. Any opening paragraph that does not read as: It is a fake artifact. Claims have been made that it was A and B, but the scholarly consensus is that those claims were wrong. is not acceptable.
But, per HuMcCulloch's assertion that the first paragraph must only cover the "Who what where why when", for a fraud, the "Who what where why when" is the fact that it is a fraud.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:06, 18 March 2013 (UTC)
Red Pen, it seems you have made your mind up that it's a fake. However, not being content with that, you wish for wikipedia to endorse your decision as proven fact, to take an involved stand and declare the sources that call it a fake "right" and the others "wrong". I continue to object to this iverturning of wikipedia's cornerstone NPOV policy. There are more than one scholars on both sides of the question, and you have no right to play referee and determine on behalf of everybody else "who is right and who is wrong". It is an insult to everybody's intelligence. Clearly more RFCs are in order. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 21:32, 18 March 2013 (UTC)
WP:V WP:RS WP:UNDUE show me any peer reviewed content that suggests anything other than a fake, and we can include that as well. But based on the reliable sources' representation of the mainstream academic view, its a fake and we present it as such. and as you have been told numerous times, the NPOV policy does NOT mean represent all views neutrally. We present views in proportion that they are held by mainstream academia and we call out fringe theories as fringe theories and identify previously held views that are no longer accepted as being overturned by modern scholars. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:35, 18 March 2013 (UTC)
Why, because you get to say who's mainstream and who's fringe in a controversy? None of those authors have proven a damn thing, and you certainly haven't proven a damn thing, it's all just a lot of hand waving, for real. And since YOU'RE the one who's been told numerous times this will be a neutral project and not one to push YOUR p.o.v. , and YOU still DIDNTHEARTHAT, I think YOU'RE the one beating the dead horse now. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 21:43, 18 March 2013 (UTC)
You obviously still have not read and / or understood WP:UNDUE / WP:RS / WP:FRINGE. I see no use in attempting to continue this discussion until you have. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:47, 18 March 2013 (UTC)
  • I've restored the sourced material which Till appears to have removed based on his personal beliefs surrounding the issue. IRWolfie- (talk) 22:18, 18 March 2013 (UTC)
Would it be helpful to say that "Feder asserts that Thomas inaccurately identified the characters" so that the voice is not Wikipedias? Theroadislong (talk) 22:27, 18 March 2013 (UTC)
If you balance out "more neutral" versus "less neutral", that would clearly be on the "more neutral" side, plus comply with WP:ATTRIB, but some here don't want "moreneutral", they want Feder 2010 to be declared the hands down winner in the debate (despite his not having proved anything at all) Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 22:31, 18 March 2013 (UTC)
While I'm deeply flattered that RedPen and now IRWolfie both endorse my 1988 position that the inscription is not Cherokee, I am but a humble economist who can know nothing of these matters. Credentialed Archaeologist and Certified Hoax Buster Marshall McKusick (1979, 1994), on the other hand, insists that it is Cherokee. (Please read body of the article if you haven't already.) This is not Til's Original Research, but rather a validly and independently sourced opinion. There is no way my POV on this issue should be presented in Wikipedia's voice anywhere in the article. "Inaccurately" should go, per Til's edit.. HuMcCulloch (talk) 23:59, 18 March 2013 (UTC)
I don't endorse anything of yours, have not read anything you have written and have no intention to. My statement is based purely on the book of which you are not the author. Assessing it's reliability, and verifying cited text is the only thing I have done as is consistent with Wikipedia:No original research. IRWolfie- (talk) 01:07, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
IRWolfie, I must admit I stand in awe of your ignorance of the peer-reviewed literature of the topic on which you edit so confidently. HuMcCulloch (talk) 02:06, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
Ignorance is bliss; you are editing from the perspective of someone who "knows the truth", thus your edits reflect your own biases. I have no particular opinions as to whether the inscription is real or not, and I don't really care. We work from secondary and tertiary sources on wikipedia, and a summary of them dictates what we say. IRWolfie- (talk) 10:37, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
You have hit the nail on the head. That is my thought also.Theroadislong (talk) 10:48, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
No, I'm afraid you missed the nail by a country mile. This is one of those topics where you actually have to pay attention to know what is being talked about. The main reason is because the party of "scientists" who wave their arms all around and scream "FRINGE! FRINGE! nothing to see, look no further, please keep moving along" (it's their version of the 'scientific method!') actually have come full circle as new evidence comes out, and are now claiming the exact opposite of what they used to claim. A few short years ago, the "hoax busters" insisted the inscription WAS Cherokee, and tried their damned best to discourage any further inquiry. "It just simply IS Cherokee, that explains it, case closed, no further questions" was the line of all "hoax busters". Also: "Anyone who says these are Palaeo-Hebrew letters is clearly deluded with a mind full of ~FRINGE~, because we already TOLD you they are Cherokee".
This all changed a few years ago when one of the "hoax busters" revealed the Masonic book with some of the same letters. Now suddenly all of the hoax busters agree with what Gordon's been saying for years, that it represents Hebrew and not Cherokee after all, except they think they've got a smoking gun that shows it was forged from the Masonic inscription. What they don't want you to notice is that this hypothesis is held together with bandaids and chewing gum, mainly because any expert who looks at the rock and the Masonic inscription can immediately discern that they are A) not an exact copy B) the one sequence that does match, only happens to be one of the most common strings in Ancient Hebrew, LYHW- (comparable to finding a fragment "-ing the" in English as far as proving anything regarding copying) and C) Published studies have shown that where the rock letters and the Masonic letters do differ, it is because the rock letters are more authentic shape and better match for contemporary coin letters, than the Masonic ones. So not to belabor the point, but if the rock was copied from the Masonic book, that would still leave it to be explained how the forger ended up with something that was more authentic than the Masonic book.
Finally, if you will note, Hu does not think the letters are Cherokee, and that's not what I am saying either. It's just that our understanding of NPOV policy is that it doesn't matter what we as editors think, and as long as some of the sources and experts still want to think it's Cherokee, we are obliged to defend this POV by treating it neutrally, even though we don't share it. The attitude of some of the other editors toward NPOV on the other hand seems to be that they somehow KNOW the truth, and therefore anything else must be eradicated and not even mentioned, and readers must be TOLD what (according to these editors) the "TRUTH" is. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 12:37, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
We care only what the current academic consensus is and then place the previous beliefs in their order and then talk about the fringe theories. Period. Until you you can bring forth current academic sources showing anything otherwise, we are done discussing. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 14:46, 19 March 2013 (UTC)

Proposed Lead revisions by HuMcCulloch[edit]

As requested by Dougweller in the previous talk section, here is my proposed lead section. It's basically the version of 3/9, 1:39, with concessions to RedPen as explained above, plus mention of Feder's 2010 opinion, relocated to the last paragraph which discusses M&K 2004:

The Bat Creek inscription (also called the Bat Creek stone or Bat Creek tablet) is an inscribed stone collected as part of a Native American burial mound excavation in Loudon County, Tennessee, in 1889 by the Smithsonian Bureau of Ethnology's Mound Survey, directed by entomologist Cyrus Thomas. The mound was located at the confluence of the Little Tennessee River and Bat Creek, in historical Overhill Cherokee territory a few miles north of modern Vonore.
Thomas himself identified the characters on the stone as "beyond question letters of the Cherokee alphabet," a writing system for the Cherokee language invented by Sequoyah in the early 19th century.[1] The stone became the subject of contention in 1970 when Semitist Cyrus H. Gordon proposed that the letters of inscription are Paleo-Hebrew of the 1st or 2nd century AD rather than Cherokee, and therefore evidence of pre-Columbian transatlantic contact.[2] According to Gordon, five of the eight letters could be read as "for Judea." Archaeologist Marshall McKusick countered that "Despite some difficulties, Cherokee script is a closer match to that on the tablet than the late-Canaanite proposed by Gordon,"[3] but gave no details.
In a 1988 article in Tennessee Anthropologist, economist J. Huston McCulloch compared the letters of the inscription to both Paleo-Hebrew and Cherokee and concluded that the fit as Paleo-Hebrew was substantially better than Cherokee. He also reported a radiocarbon date on associated wood fragments consistent with Gordon's dating of the script. In a 1991 reply, archaeologists Robert Mainfort and Mary Kwas, relying on a communication from Semitist Frank Moore Cross, concluded that the inscription is not genuine paleo-Hebrew but rather a 19th century forgery, with John W. Emmert, the Smithsonian agent who performed the excavation, the most likely responsible party. In a 1993 article in Biblical Archaeology Review, Semitist P. Kyle McCarter, Jr. stated that although the inscription "is not an authentic paleo-Hebrew inscription," it "clearly imitates one in certain features," and does contain "an intelligible sequence of five letters -- too much for coincidence." McCarter concluded, "It seems probable that we are dealing here not with a coincidental similarity but with a fraud."
Mainfort and Kwas published a further article in American Antiquity in 2004, reporting their discovery of an illustration in an 1870 Masonic reference book giving an artist's impression of how the Biblical phrase "holy to Yahweh" would have appeared in Paleo-Hebrew, which bears striking similarities to the Bat Creek inscription. They conclude that the inscription is a fraud and that Emmert most likely copied the inscription from the Masonic illustration, in order to please Thomas with an artifact that he would mistake for Cherokee. Hoax expert Kenneth Feder says that their work has "demolished" any claims of the stone's authenticity [Feder (2010: 39).]
(The last sentence of the first paragraph has been in the lead section since long before I became involved. RedPen wants to cut it, but it is factual "where" information that helps explain why Thomas would jump to the conclusion that it is Cherokee, so I favor keeping it. It used to be at the end of the lead section, along with another sentence about the 1970s salvage excavations which I cut as being too much detail for the lead. The first sentence of the proposed first paragraph, as originally written by PiCo, is a little run-on, but we can tinker with style later.) (talk) 14:12, 19 March 2013 (UTC) (additions in italics) (talk) 14:15, 19 March 2013 (UTC) (forgot to log in before sigging) HuMcCulloch (talk) 14:16, 19 March 2013 (UTC)

discussion on above proposal[edit]

Completely unacceptable. It fails numerous portions of WP:LEAD and WP:UNDUE. the lead sentence and the lead paragraph MUST identify the object as a hoax reflecting the current academic consensus. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 14:43, 19 March 2013 (UTC)

It seems that your proposal, Red Pen, involves accepting you as the expert arbiter of which sources are acceptable and which sources are out to lunch, and it involves accepting your chosen sources as the authority that they themselves have the correct opinion, while those they are attacking are mistaken. All this in the absence of anything like conclusive proof one way or the other, only hypotheses. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 15:02, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
No, it involves accepting the sourced peer reviewed experts as experts and the lack of any academically published work to the contrary to be evidence that the peer reviewed work is accepted by the mainstream academics. It is up to you to show otherwise by providing academically published work showing otherwise. Your still seem not to have read or understood basic policies of WP:RS and WP:UNDUE. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 17:33, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
Whoah, looking at our various sources in the article, it appears they are all "academically published". Is this some special rolling redefinition of "academically published" not found in any dictionary, but that Red Pen knows when he sees? Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 17:43, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
RedPen, I think you've misunderstood the N in WP's policy of NPOV. In fact, it stands for Neutral, not Negative. It does not give you a license to put your own Negative POV anywhere in the article, let alone the first sentence of the lead section. I've accommodated you in my proposal by including the word "fraud" in the summary of M&K (2004), and even by including Feder's (2010) endorsement of M&K (2004) at the very end, thereby actually giving him the last word on the matter insofar as the lead section goes. HuMcCulloch (talk) 13:14, 21 March 2013 (UTC)
when "negative" is representative of the mainstream academic views, "negative" = "neutral" as far as our WP:NPOV policy is concerned. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 13:28, 23 March 2013 (UTC)
I must find time (not today) to look at this. Hopefully now that Til has exploded (you probably missed his rather vicious attack on me and another Administrator on his talk page and the current discussion at WP:ANI it might be easier to have a serious conversation here without personal attacks. Dougweller (talk) 17:09, 21 March 2013 (UTC)

RedPen has removed Til's POV tag on the word "incorrectly" on Thomas's identification of the letters as Cherokee, with the explanation, "(there has been no evidence provided that there is any academic that doesnt believe that there is in fact significant doubt that the letters are beyond question Cherokee)". If RedPen had just read the remainder of the paragraph in question (instead of just Feder 2010 and M&K 1993 as seems to be the case), he or she would have discovered that veteran hoax-buster Marshall McKusick (1994) reaffirmed in BAR that it is Cherokee, as he had claimed in 1979, despite McCarter's 1993 statement there that it is clearly an imperfect (and therefore, according to McCarter, fraudulent) attempt to write Paleo-Hebrew. I think that most readers who compare the inscription to the Masonic illustration provided would conclude that McKusick is totally up a tree on that one, but WP should not decide that for them. HuMcCulloch (talk) 00:15, 23 March 2013 (UTC)

I think it is too long and detailed, as is the current lead - they aren't easy for a lay person to follow. I'm not convinced we need to mention any names in the lead. Two paragraphs are probably enough. I think the first sentence should include the word 'controversial' or some form of that to make it clear from the start there's a dispute. The second paragraph can briefly summarise the dispute. Somewhere in the lead we need to say that contemporary interested archaeologists consider it to be a fraud/hoax. Dougweller (talk) 12:27, 23 March 2013 (UTC)
As Dougweller says. The lead is a summary, and it doesn't need to mention every exchange between scholars. --Enric Naval (talk) 09:02, 24 March 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Doug that it is too detailed and doesn't need all the names. They were added by outside observer PiCo in a complete overhaul of the lead section after a protracted exchange between RedPen and myself, so I've been trying to adhere to PiCo's framework while shortening what he put together. Would something like the following be more like what you have in mind? (It's the version of 3/3, 13:06, minus its unnecessary last sentence.):
The Bat Creek inscription is a carved stone reportedly found in a Native American burial mound in Loudon County, Tennessee, by the Smithsonian Bureau of Ethnology's Mound Survey. The Mound Survey report identified the characters on the stone as "beyond question letters of the Cherokee alphabet" invented by Sequoyah in the early 19th century.[1]
In the early 1970s, the inscription became a source of controversy when linguist Cyrus Gordon argued it was actually a Paleo-Hebrew inscription, and thus provided evidence of Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact.[2] However, a number of archaeologists and other experts reject Gordon's assertion, arguing instead that the inscription is a fraud typical of late-19th century archaeological hoaxes.
The stone was reported to have been found in 1889 by a burial mound survey team led by John W. Emmert of the Smithsonian Institution. The mound was located at the confluence of the Little Tennessee River and Bat Creek, in historical Overhill Cherokee territory a few miles north of modern Vonore. HuMcCulloch (talk) 04:46, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
Actually, shortly after this, RedPen in one of his first revisions added the useful synonyms Bat Creek stone and Bat Creek tablet to the first sentence, so this should stay in. — Preceding unsigned comment added by HuMcCulloch (talkcontribs) 04:51, 25 March 2013 (UTC) HuMcCulloch (talk) 04:54, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

Relocation and Smithsonian Statement[edit]

I've added a statement about the relocation of the stone from the McClung Museum to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, per statements to me by Tim Baumann of McClung and Barbara Duncan of the Museum of the Cherokee. These facts are not controversial. I've also added the Smithsonian's new statement on the stone, citing an e-mail from Jake Homiak at the Smithsonian to Barbara Duncan that was widely circulated. Unfortunately, there is no press release to this effect on the Smithsonian's page at, but if someone could find one, that would be a better reference. The Smithsonian is basically now on record that the inscription is a Smithsonian hoax (!), and, following Mainfort and Kwas, that LYHWD and LYHWH are the same word (!). This is the same institution that assured the public it was genuine and Cherokee back in 1894. Perhaps this new statement will stimulate some more public discussion. In particular, does the Smithsonian now repudiate the entire Mound Survey, or just the substantial portion that was due to John Emmert? And if the latter, which sections and artifacts are now disavowed? HuMcCulloch (talk) 17:40, 25 March 2014 (UTC)