Skip to comments.Cave Skeleton Is European, 1,300 Years Old
Posted on 09/30/2002 3:47:50 PM PDT by blam
Cave skeleton is European, 1,300 years old, man says
Archaeologist group wants a look at evidence
Sunday September 29, 2002
By Rick Steelhammer
MORGANTOWN The man who first advanced the theory that markings carved on in a Wyoming County cave are actually characters from an ancient Irish alphabet has found human remains at the site, which tests indicate are European in origin and date back to A.D. 710, he maintains.
Robert Pyle of Morgantown says that a DNA analysis of material from the skeletons teeth roots was conducted by Brigham Young University. That analysis, he says, shows that the skeletons DNA, when compared to samples from Native American groups and an array of European sources, most closely matches samples from the British Isles.
Pyle says the DNA test, plus a radiocarbon test that dates the skeleton to 710, suggest the presence of a European visitor to the North American continent nearly 800 years before the arrival of Columbus, and nearly 300 years before Viking Leif Erickson.
Found near the skeleton was a bone needle etched with markings similar to those on the cave walls.
Pyle says his findings and the test results help validate his hypothesis that the markings at the Wyoming County site were done by seafaring people, probably monks, probably from the British Isles.
Based on the available data, thats doubtful, counters Robert Maslowski, president of the Council for West Virginia Archaeology, a state association of professional archaeologists with research interests in West Virginia.
Pyles findings, Maslowski says, while interesting, still need to be examined by the professional community. We would welcome the opportunity to go over the evidence to look at the skeletal material, the archaeological material, the radiocarbon data and the DNA data, then draw our own conclusions, he says.
Pyle, who performed archaeological surveys for the state Division of Highways in late 1970s and early 1980s, does not have a degree in archaeology. He says he is a federally certified archaeologist who has studied the subject at Northwestern University, and has taken geology courses at WVU.
He says he would be interested in having another group examine his work, including additional DNA and Carbon-14 testing, which he paid for using privately raised funds totaling about $7,000.
He also wants to raise money to preserve the site and continue his research.
Pyle first visited the cave, known as the Cook petroglyph site, in 1981, while in the area to conduct archeological surveys for the DOH.
I was visiting my sister when someone mentioned some Indian scratchings on the top of a nearby ridge, he said.
When he arrived at the site, I saw an elongated group of markings along the right side, he recalls. Id just read a book on Norse runes, and my first thought was that these were archaic runes.
He later read about carvings found in Ireland and Wales, usually on the edges of grave markers, that made use of an ancient Celtic alphabet of connected lines and slashes known as Ogam.
Joined by Dr. William Grant of Edinburgh University in Scotland and Dr. John Grant of Oakland, Md., both Celtic linguists who had studied at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., Pyle continued to study the Wyoming County carvings, plus similar markings near Dingess in Mingo County and in Manchester, Ky., eventually hypothesizing that they were Ogam.
In the 1980s, Wonderful West Virginia magazine ran a series of stories about the Wyoming County site and the carvings, and their links to Ogam.
In 1989, West Virginia Archaeologist Magazine published an issue devoted to debunking that theory. Editor Janet Brashler, then an archaeologist for the Monongahela National Forest, concluded that the turkey foot patterns carved in the rock are design elements in common with other acknowledged prehistoric Native American petroglyphs.
Pyle maintains the carvings contain crosses, rebuses and other markings unique to Ogam.
He traveled to Ireland to study the markings in 1998, and in 2000, was invited to take part in the examination of a newly found 8-feet-high, 20-feet-long Irish Ogam petroglyph panel, which closely resembles the Wyoming County markings. The latter visit to Ireland was filmed for a public television special.
Pyle says his findings and the recent test results will make it possible to validate a hypothesis I didnt think it would be possible to validate in a lifetime.
He says he expected his findings to generate controversy.
Thats science, he says. No one totally, 100 percent endorses a new idea. ... Ill let science decide where to go from here. But I would like to have credit for this discovery.
We know the Vikings were here before him, but I wouldnt stop celebrating Columbus Day, yet, Maslowski says. Hopefully, well be able to go over the findings and have this resolved by the end of October West Virginia Archaeology Month.
Pyle plans to post his findings on the Internet at www.prehistoricplanet.com/wv/. The site already contains material on Ogam and the West Virginia petroglyphs.
To contact staff writer Rick Steelhammer, use e-mail or call 348-5169.
"Faith, Paddy, now doesn't 'Missoula' sound loik a foin Oirish name?"
That's funny....I thought ^THIS^ was the only 1300 yr old skeleton in the U.S., and he's from W. Virginia.
I may see Barry Fell and Gloria Farley vindicated in my life time. That would be nice.
With closer reading, it does look that way, thanks. No less significant, huh?
There's nothing too improbable about people sailing from Britain to North America the same way the Vikings are recorded as having done so. Rest stops at Iceland and Greenland, and then go down the Canadian coast, maybe sail up the St Lawrence.
The notion that whites stole the land and killed off the Indians is important for maintaining that guilt.
Since the end justifies the means....this man and his findings must be defamed, hidden, or lied about.
Probably one of the Kennedy clan. ;^)