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Ancient Travels to the Americas or a Modern Forgery? Who Made the Bat Creek Inscription?

Ancient Travels to the Americas or a Modern Forgery? Who Made the Bat Creek Inscription?

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The Bat Creek stone was discovered in a small mound near Knoxville, Tennessee, USA. The archaeologists who dug it up in 1889 discovered a small stone tablet engraved with several mysterious alphabetic characters.

The stone was discovered by a team led by entomologist Cyrus Thomas from the Smithsonian Bureau of Ethnology's Mound Survey. Eight years earlier, Congress assigned the Institute to complete archaeological excavations. The main goal was to explore the prehistoric mounds. After just a few years of work, archaeologists had collected over 40,000 artifacts and wrote a seven-hundred-page report of their findings, which was presented in 1894.

Thomas wondered if the tablet with the inscription was created in a pre-Columbian language. He was fascinated with the tablet and its secrets, however he didn't have enough knowledge or tools to examine the discovery properly. Now, his reports from the excavations are not considered a serious archaeological resource. Nonetheless, one of his discoveries, known as the Bat Creek stone, helped Thomas leave his mark.

A Strange Language

Soon after the discovery, Cyrus Thomas was convinced that the inscription was created with the Cherokee alphabet. The Cherokee alphabet was created by Sequoyah, a Cherokee silversmith. His English name was George Gist or Guess, and he created a syllabary to write down the Cherokee language. The syllabary was adopted in 1825 by the Cherokee Nation, which was illiterate before that. The syllabary was firstly created with logograms, but with time Sequoyah created a system of 85 characters to write down the Cherokee language. The symbols look similar to Greek, Latin, and Cyrillic.

Thomas’ publication of the inscription in his ‘The Cherokees in Pre-Columbian Times’ (1890).

Thomas’ publication of the inscription in his ‘The Cherokees in Pre-Columbian Times’ (1890). (Public Domain)

Over seven decades later, in the 1960s, two other researchers, Henriette Mertz and Corey Ayoob, noticed that the inscription looks like ancient Semitic writing. Moreover, the specialist in late Semitic languages, Cyrus Gordon, asserted in the 1970s that the language identified previously as Cherokee is a Paleo-Hebrew language. He dated the inscription to the first or second century AD. He also read the five letters from the right to the left (as it should be read in a Hebrew language) and transcribed LYHWD, meaning ''for Judea''. Other interpretations suggest that the text reads LYHWD(M), ''for the Judeans'', ''only for Judea'', or ''only for the Judeans''. According to these interpretations, the ancient Hebrew language used in the inscription was something between the language used in the Siloam inscription and the Qumran Paleo-Hebrew Leviticus scroll.

Masonic artist's impression of Biblical phrase QDSh LYHWH in Paleo-Hebrew script (Macoy 1868: 134).

Masonic artist's impression of Biblical phrase QDSh LYHWH in Paleo-Hebrew script (Macoy 1868: 134). (Public Domain)

Another theory suggests that the writing could be a Welsh Coelbren language. According to Alan Wilson, Baram A. Blackett, and Jim Michael, the tablet was inscribed with the ancient Welsh Coelbren alphabet. The researchers read it as ''Madoc the ruler he is''. They suppose that the Bat Creek tumulus was found in the tomb of Prince Madoc, who sailed to America in 1170 AD, or the brother of King Arthur II, who sailed there in 562 AD.

Both of the hypotheses have been well researched but there is no clear answer to this problem. Thus, scientists must look for other ways to find the origins of the artifact.

More Unsolved Features of an Ancient Tablet

The dating of the tablet is also a controversial issue. Radiocarbon dating suggests that it was created between 32 and 769 AD or 45 BC – 200 AD. The dates were made with fragments of artifacts discovered near the tablet. It is impossible to receive satisfactory results of the radiocarbon tests for the tablet because it was touched by too many people and influenced by too many substances after its discovery.

Currently the Bat Creek stone belongs to the Smithsonian Institution in the Department of Anthropology collection. It was loaned to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee and was also on display in the Frank H. McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville for a time.

Bat Creek in Loudon County, Tennessee.

Bat Creek in Loudon County, Tennessee. (Brian Stansberry/ CC BY 3.0)

The mound the tablet was found in has been plowed flat, so its location is forgotten - only descriptions of it have survived. According to the notes written by 19th century archaeologists, the Bat Creek Mound contained 9 burials. The owner of the land cut down trees growing on the mound 40 years before the excavations began. He discovered that something interesting was located under the trees. Years later, archaeologists found out that he was right. The roots of the trees entered the tombs and went down to the skeletons.

Ancient Travelers to the Americas

Legends about ancient travelers to the Americas have not been accepted by conventional history. Apart from medieval Norse expeditions, Polynesians, Japanese, and other peoples supposedly reached the Americas before Columbus did. It has even been proposed that in ancient times the Phoenicians may have traveled to lands that were later called the “New World.” This civilization could have brought other Semitic cultures on their ships - a possible explanation for the inscription of the Bat Creek tablet.

Not all researchers are convinced on the antiquity of the Black Creek tablet. They claim that it could have been created by people in the 19th century. There are plenty of reasons behind this view as well. Some believe that it could have been related to the growing influence of Masons.

Apart from this, many theories related to the Bat Creek tablet suggest that it was meant to confirm theories about the origins of the early inhabitants of the Americas. Supporters of this hypothesis say that Europeans wanted to prove that the land colonized by them belonged to them in antiquity too. Faking evidence to support their ownership could be a possibility. Unfortunately, as long as the mound remains lost and no more evidence appears, it seems that the problem of the Bat Creek stone will remain unsolved.

By Natalia Klimczak

Top Image: A reflected light image of the controversial Bat Creek Stone. Source:Scott Wolter


The Bat Creek Stone by J. Huston McCulloch, available from:

The Bat Creek Stone. The inscription of a Judean fleeing the AD70 desolation found in Tennessee? Available from:

Stone inscription found in Tennessee proves that America was discovered 1, 500 years before Columbus, By Dr. Cyrus Gordon, USA, Roy Bongartz, USA, available from:

The Bat Creek stone revisited: a reply to Mainfort and Kwas in American Antiquity, by J. Huston McCulloch, available from:



Steve Byrd's picture

It is possible that the Jewish people could haver been in that particular aera long before anyone else except native people.

Please never apologize for sharing knowledge and untold stories the mainstream would rather not hear no matter how extensive it is! I personally appreciate this much more than you can imagine!

Sorry for the delay...I keep getting interrupted with work. First a little humor relating to the Rice Story. When I was much younger and during one of many cycles of “hard times” I had to take a job in the Refuse Business. We called them “Wiggly Rice” so I can totally relate to the Metaphor in that.

You raised several theories and points coming from the establishment in your great comment I would like to share a few thoughts about.

The new thoughts about the traditional Land Bridge may be wrong, from what I understand there were plenty of Fauna species, (not to mention the bounty from the sea it’s self) to survive the Younger Dryas cold interval 13,000 years ago. Apparently the only imports following this event that were added to those that did indeed survive were People and the Moose. But I absolutely agree with you and feel a “land Bridge” was not required for Humans to expand from as far as Siberia to the Northern Regions or farther South by Sea long before this event. Traditional thought is that all early Man were Hydrophobic and feared water. One can literally “See” the Diomede Islands from Russia and Alaska from the Diomedes Islands. To think that not one Early Man ever looked across watching Birds fly back and forth following schools of Fish and was curious enough to try and float there in seach of better Hunting Grounds would be irrational and naive at the least. It is like trying to say the Earth is still flat...

You are absolutely right that we need to stop dismissing ancient indigenous Legends about their past. They may not have understood the full truth of the events but had to explain them in the best way they knew how. To them everything was explained in terms coming from their devoute observation of the Natural world around them. We need to stop taking them literally and understand them with objectivity then try to associate the Metaphors to possible real events rather than discredit them as ignorant pagan superstition because they may actually relate to real events and Scientific fact.

Take the ancient “Red Paint People” of Canada for example, They are said to have been Giants with two rows of Teeth. Now to a people that could not grow a mustache seeing  6 foot tall men with their Mustaches caked with Ice could indeed fit this description. There are just so many of these that start to make sense if one opens their mind to see the metaphors based on and related to observations of nature they were using to explain to their children about how the world works. They were never intended to be taken literally in the first place, they are associations to examples taken from nature.

A little while back there was this earthquake and tsunami that hit the east coast of Japan. Causing wide spread destruction and the loss of many lives. I am sure many who are reading this are familiar with what happened.

With the receding waters a far amount of debris ended up in the ocean. A little while afterwards there was some for casting that some/much of this debris would travel along certain ocean currents and would be deposited onto the west coast of North America. Over the last number of months there have been reports of said debris.

Off the coast of the Canadian province of British Columbia there lies a group of islands called the Haida Gwaii, formerly the Queen Charlotte’s. On Graham island at the northern tip and east side there is the Naikon Provincal Park with a very long stretch of beach.

For decades if not centuries this has been a common spot for locals and visitors to beach comb, discovering any number of objects. One of the most prized to find have been the round glass floats that are used by the Japanese (perhaps others) to float fishing nets off the coast of Japan. These floats having been lost one way or other.

The significance of this is that we have modern recent accounts of objects that are in the ocean off the coast of Japan, Korea perhaps even China which will float along ‘naturally’ with the currents ending up on the west coast of North America. Is it not possible that the locals (Haida’s) of these areas while beach combing would find various objects and wonder where they are coming from?

Perhaps even thinking that there may be some truth to their grand fathers and mothers tales of where they ‘the people’ came from? Artifacts suggest that these islands have been inhabited by humans for 12,000 to 14,000 years or older. The Haida people’s oral history traditional teaching place a figure in the range of 17,000 years.

Some time around 1890, give or take a few years ( not absolutely sure of the correct date ), reports where brought to the attention of the authorities in Victoria BC., in regards to there being two Japanese fishermen being held on Graham Island. They had been fishing off the coast of Japan, got caught in a storm, their boat wrecked and ended up ashore on this island. So, we have a report of a couple of people surviving, floating across the pacific, ending up on the Haida Gwaii Islands.

Could this have happened in the past, perhaps many times? Over hundreds perhaps thousands of years? Is it that hard to entertain the possibility that their could have been folks travelling, migrating from Asia to North America via a water route? Separate and perhaps earlier then a land route? Or perhaps, in conjunction with a land route, or shortly after a land route?

In the Haida creation story of mankind the Raven plays a pivotal role. While beach combing along Rose Spit beach, the Raven comes across protruding from the beach a strange clam shell. Protruding between the two halves of the clam shell are the limbs of a number of critters the Raven has never seen before. The Raven also known as the Trickster pries open the top shell and encourages these first humans to join him in this new to them, his world.

I have always found this tale interesting for a couple of reasons.

There is a stretch of Rose Spit beach starting from Toll Hill and running eastward curving to the north where at high tide it is very shallow (inches). At low tide this area becomes a really good spot to harvest from. Traditionally used to harvest various foods, but especially clams, razor clams to be exact. With the Raven coming across this strange clam with limbs sticking out, this would be what any critter human or other would ‘see’ if you think of a group of people in a canoe or some other water craft where paddles are being used. Their limbs sticking out over the rim of the canoe (shell ) with their paddles in hand paddling on the water. Another point of interest. This part of the island is flat and not that for above sea level. Tow Hill is the highest point. Any one crossing on water from the north northeast direction, this high point would have been the ‘first’ land sighted.

Strangers in a strange land. Hesitant at the ‘new’ world they have come across. Thus the Raven is encouraging them to come out of their shell and join him. Who amongst us has not had a similar experience when travelling to a new land until we can get our bearings with the help of someone. I seem to see an association in that the clam shell is from the ocean and the first humans arriving to the Haida Gwaii also coming from the ocean via a strange clamshell (canoe?). When Raven finds this strange shell ‘protruding from the beach’, I picture a canoe riding/sitting atop the water. Also the location at a beach which was/is used to harvest from is of some importance.

The Raven is also a significant Spirit to those of the Chukchi and Koryaks of Siberia and the Itelmons of Kamchatka. In these areas of modern day eastern Russia the Raven (Kutka ) is also seen as a powerful Spirit. Kutka plays a key role in creation. A fertile ancestor for humans, a shaman and the trickster.

There is an interesting tale amongst the Haida. An oral history that predates the arrival of the Europeans. It is told, that amongst their people (in the days of yea), there where some who travelled to the land where the sun sets (and returned from their voyage) where they had meet those who ate “maggots”. The individual who wrote this oral tale down was of the opinion that what was being described where those who ate rice (maggots ). A reasonable thought. The area visited by these Haida people could have been either Korea, Japan or even China. Lands where rice is grown.

Now before we dismiss that there is not any truth to any oral history, there is another oral tale I would relate. On the west coast of Vancouver Island British Columbia there is a river that empties into the Pacific Ocean at Pachena Bay. The oral history of the locals relates that one day there was a village here, then the next day it was gone.

Some one took this oral history and made a guesstamation of when this happened. As part of their research they took this oral history and travelled along the east coast of Japan visiting various temples reading the records that where kept in regards to tsunami’s. They found a record of a tsunami striking the coast of Japan within a few years of their guesstamation to the oral history regarding Pachena Bay.

What is significant about this is that there is an oral history of an event and a written record of an event, which appears to support each other. From 2 different cultures literally from opposites sides of the same ocean. Perhaps with an earthquake triggering a tsunami that hits the east coast of Japan was the same tsunami hitting Pachena Bay and wipeing out the locals village.

Just a couple more things about this part of the world, the Haida Gwaii islands. These island are separated from the mainland of BC by the Hectate Strait. In 2014 while scanning this Strait some ‘strange’ objects where recorded (at a depth of 122 m) that are thought to be ‘man made’.

It has been suggested that this strait might be a suitable site for a land route to North America from Asia, instead of the much further inland route. The difference here is with the recent report that the ‘original’ site of a land route could not be possible, in that there could not have been any fauna of any sorts that could sustain those that would have taken said route. With the Hectate Strait, it’s suggested that due to no glaciers having ever made it to this area (so it is thought), with the water locked up in glaciers this strait would have been dry land with fauna present that would support anyone travelling by land.

Some archaeologists consider these islands as an option for a Pacific coastal route (west coast of the islands if considering that the Hectate Strait was not underwater, or the east coast). The Haida people where skilled seafarers and traders. They had trade links to the coastal waters of Alaska, to mainland BC, Vancouver Island, down the coast to Washington, Oregon and California. Some are of the opinion that they may also have migrated to Mexico, Central America and South America due to the close genetic links.

A number of years ago on San Miguel Island 27 miles off the coast of California a dart head with tiny barbs was found, dated to about 12,000 years ago. This dart head had been designed to lodge into any critter that was being hunted. Similar items have been found scattered along the rim of the north Pacific as well as coastal areas of Peru and Chile. The oldest found to date is from the coast of Japan which has been dated to about 15,600 years ago.

Well, that’s it. My apologies for the length of this comment but there was just a little bit to say and cover.

So many different historical references being ignored. For example there are never any mentions or references to the historical accounts that have been shared by the indigenous peoples of Canada in any of this “Coming to North America”. 

New World discovery stops at the Canadian border and is not allowed to go any farther South. I have found some amazing accounts coming from North of the Border in my quest to prove historical Pre-Columbian trading routes by Sea around the North Pole via the Circumpolar Currents.

Take the Mystery of the ancient Copper Mines in Michigan near Lake Superior. When Henry Hudson first entered Hudson’s bay to start his Fur Trade he discovered that the Indigenous already had an ancient well established network of trade routes by Canoe and Portage from Lake Superior to the Arctic Ocean. WHY?

The explanation shared by the Indigenous stories were that these routes had been used for ages by their ancestors who traded Copper to the “Red Paint People" from the Sea. They apparently called them the Red Paint People because these people from the Sea had a Ritual of covering their Dead with Red Ocher before Burial.

Where in the World have we seen this before? The deception here would be the almost forced use of the Mercator Projection in all studies about the “Discovery of America” and the premise that all Early Man were "Hydrophobic". If one was to use a Polar Projection of the Arctic Sea the Earth becomes a whole lot smaller and the very viable early intercontinental travel by Sea becomes not quite such a huge challenge.

Well,Jason the Realist, the United Stars did not exist in1492,America was named much later by another person, and no history book I have ever read or heard of suggest that Columbus and his band of sea pirates landed anywhere close to the northern American continent. He made the history books because he was the first person in a LITERATE AGE that made the journey across the Atlantic. He took the trip and talked himself up. It may be the Chinese, Phonecians, Irish priests or whomever non-native persons who first set foot upon this continent, but we have NO HARD PROOF, just a few possible clues and apcriphal legends. So you may not like Columbus, but he made history for a reason, reasons you would do well to brush up on........



Natalia Klimczak is an historian, journalist and writer and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at the Faculty of Languages, University of Gdansk. Natalia does research in Narratology, Historiography, History of Galicia (Spain) and Ancient History of Egypt, Rome and Celts. She... Read More

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