Kensington Rune Stone
Douglas County, Minnesota
A large stone slab covered in
runic symbols, found in 1898 in a rural county of Minnesota.
It was found by a famer who was clearing a small knoll
overlooking a marsh. According to the farmer, it was well
tangled into the root system of a large tree.
Initially, it was thought to be
American Indian in origin. Under later examination it was
identified as Nordic runes. (The stone is 30x16x6 inches
and about 200 lbs.)
If authentic, it would offer strong evidence that Scandinavian
explorers or settlers had reached into the mid-continent of
North America in the 14th century (the 1300's).
The scientific community has examined the stone extensively and
are at odds on an opinion. Geologists argue that in
studying the physical evidence and weathered nature of the
stone, that the inscriptions are at least 500 years old.
Linguists and rune experts argue that the language used in the
inscription appears too modern when compared to Nordic languages
of the 14th century. So, unable to explain it
definitively, many simply dismiss it as a hoax.
While I have not had the opportunity to see this stone in
person, as an archaeologist myself, I know that stone displays
definite and unmistakable signs of aging and weathering.
While the inscriptions are certainly millions of years younger
then the stone itself, there would be a very good indication of
the aging and weathering process visible on the carved grooves
forming the inscription.
I would have to agree with the geologists.
And, one can not dismiss the fact that there are many other
pieces of physical evidence spread across North America
suggesting Nordic visits or colonization in the 14th Century.
The Maine Penny
In 1957, archaeologists working in Brooklin, Maine were
excavating an important Native American settlement at Naskeag
Point. Little did they know that the site, known as the Goddard
site, would reveal an artifact that would turn archeology on its
The prehistoric Indian settlement they were excavating had
offered evidence of being the hub of a large trade network for
the northern native tribes so it was not too uncommon to find
artifacts from other tribes. What was a surprise however, was a
small silver coin with a perforation on the coins edge,
presumably to be worn as a pendant. (The perforated edge has
since crumbled away due to the effects of age and corrosion).
The coin was initially thought to be a 12th century English coin
but after examination by numismatic experts from London, it was
identified as a Norse coin. The coin was also determined to have
been minted between 1065 and 1080 AD (9th Century) during the
reign of Olaf Kyrre, roughly 50 years after the last of the
Vinland voyages recounted in Norse sagas.
This could indicate Norse (European) contact with Native
Americans well before the popularized 1492 event.
coin has been examined by numerous experts and scientists and is
generally regarded as genuine. The Goddard site is
scientifically dated at 1180-1235.
The "Maine Penny" is one of the very few (pre-contact or
pre-Colombian) Norse artifacts that have been found in the
United States. Norse settlements and related artifacts
have been found along Canada's northern seacoast with increasing
frequency. The most notable is the settlement at L'Anse
aux Meadows in the Province of Newfoundland (see below).
The Goddard site in Maine, produced over 30,000 artifacts that
were donated to the Maine State Museum, the coin was one of
those artifacts and it currently resides in the state's
(Coin photo courtesy of the Maine State Museum)
The reconstructed Viking settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows, in
the Province of Newfoundland, the only "fully authenticated"
Viking settlement in North America.
The Salzburg Cube, also known as The Wolfsegg Iron, is a
relatively small block of iron that was found buried in a coal
seam in Wolfsegg, Austria, in 1865.
It weighs 785 grams (about 1 and 3/4 lbs.) and measures 2.6
inches high by 2.6 inches long by 1.85 inches wide and has a
deep incision running around its circumference. Its origin is
unknown, and while it somewhat resembles a meteorite it is not.
The Baghdad Battery
In 1938, the Director of the Baghdader
Antikenverwaltung (the Baghdad Antiquities'
Administration) Wilhelm König, was working an excavation
on a Parthian site at Khujut Rubu'a, for the Iraqi
Museum. At this site, he found a rather unusual ceramic
vessel which contained a cylinder made of a thin sheet
of rolled copper, soldered with a lead/tin alloy. The
cylinder was capped at the bottom with a crimped copper
disk and sealed with asphalt (bitumen).
There was an insulating
layer of asphalt holding the copper tube in place at the
top of the jar. Under further examination, it was
discovered that suspended inside the copper cylinder was
an iron rod.
The unusual assemblage showed signs of acid corrosion.
König concluded that the ancient jar was some form of
electric battery. Reconstruction experiments (with
copies) showed that the device was capable of producing
a charge of about one volt. Over the course of time
additional jars of the same construction were unearthed.
The devices were identified as being constructed in the
3rd century BC (the Parthian period).
Various speculations have suggested that the electric
cells provide evidence of a technologically advanced
civilization (or influence of one) in these ancient
times. Other speculations suggest that they were used by
the Mesopotamians in the electroplating of silvered
copper vessels (later proven to be false).
Alternative speculations focus on the probable
inefficiencies of the devices in producing much current
and suggest they were used in some form of storage or
To date, no corresponding artifacts that would make use
of these energy cells have been found, so for now, the
intended purpose of the Baghdad battery is still a
All articles by: Dr. Von Zuko