An 1870 OOPArt found in Illinois Rock
During the drilling of an artesian well at Lawn Ridge, 20 miles north of Peoria, Illinois, in August 1870, one of the workmen, Jacob W Moffitt (1841-1922) of Chillicothe, discovered a coin-like object (usually referred to as a ‘medallion’, although it lacks any hole or loop by which it might have been suspended) when the bit had reached a depth of about 114 feet according to Peter Kolosimo. The object was made from an indeterminate copper alloy, about the size and thickness of a U.S. quarter of that period and was decorated on both sides.
On one side there were two human figures, one large and one small; the larger is wearing a headdress. This is usually described as a crowned woman holding a crowned child, but the sketch does not bear this out: it looks more like a warrior in a feathered headdress about to strike a fallen enemy.
The other side is said to have depicted a central crouching animal with long, pointed ears, large eyes and mouth, claw-like arms and a long tail, frayed at the tip, with a horse below it and to the left; again, the drawing seems to show something slightly different from this. Around the edges of the ‘medallion’ were obscure symbols that are usually described as hieroglyphs, although they resemble no known script. It was of uniform thickness and appeared to have cut edges.
|A sketch of the medallion from Lawn Ridge, Illinois.|
Professor Winchell presented the object to a meeting of the Geological Section of the American Association at its meeting in Buffalo (New York) in 1876. One participant, J.R. Lesley, suggested that the artifact was a practical joke and that it might have been dropped into a hole by a passing French or Spanish explorer centuries earlier. He also suggested that the figures on either side of the object represented the astrological signs of Pisces and Leo, and claimed to find the date 1572 in the symbols.
Winchell was adamant that the symbols were indecipherable in terms of any known script and that the practical joke hypothesis failed on the grounds that no-one could have dropped an object into a hole in the expectation that someone several hundred years later would happen to drill at that precise spot. He was convinced the coin had been in the deposit from between 200,000 to 400,000 years ago at a depth of 114 to 125 feet before its discovery and had not just fallen into a hole.
It is difficult to know what to make of this curious object when we have only descriptions and an inadequate sketch. It was clearly not a coin of recent date, but there are problems in accepting it as being ancient or pre-Columbian in date.
There are good reasons for this. Firstly, coinage is a historically specific development, beginning in the first millennium BC in the eastern Mediterranean region: all coins and coin-like medallions derive from these original models. Secondly, copper alloy production was unknown in pre-Columbian North America. If it was not a hoax, which is possible, it may have been a curio or souvenir of the nineteenth-century.
An 1891 OOPArt found in Illinois Coal
According to the World Coal Association, the process responsible for the formation of coal began 360 to 290 million years ago. With this in mind, it would seem absolutely impossible for any human artifacts to be found within this ancient substance; but incredibly, many items have reportedly been found in such deposits, either buried inside the coal itself or found buried deep down within coal veins found in mines which have been tunneled out far beneath the Earth’s surface. OOPArts found in coal and stone are some of the strangest of unexplained artifacts.
The Morrisonville Times, an Illinois newspaper, reported on June 11, 1891, the unusual discovery of a modern artifact found embedded in a lump of coal that had originated from a Southern Illinois mine, which the Illinois State Geological Survey said had formed between 320 and 260 million years ago, at some time during the Carboniferous Period (about 359 to 299 million years ago) or the Permian Period (about 299–252 million years ago).
The bizarre report printed as follows:
"A curious find was brought to light by Mrs. S.W. Culp last Tuesday morning. As she was breaking a lump of coal preparatory to putting it in the scuttle, she discovered, as the lump fell apart, embedded in a circular shape a small gold chain about ten inches in length of antique and quaint workmanship."According to the report, Mrs. Culp initially suspected that the chain must have accidentally been dropped into the coal container, but as she went to pick up the chain she saw that it was actually still attached in the coal itself.
|No picture of the fine gold chain exists.|
"The idea of its having been recently dropped was at once made fallacious, for as the lump of coal broke, it separated almost in the middle, and the circular position of the chain placed the two ends near to each other; and as the lump separated, the middle of the chain became loosened while each end remained fastened to the coal."Finding a human artifact such as this with the possibility of being crafted hundreds of millions of years ago raises the most unlikely of questions, should we choose to accept that the object was actually located inside the coal as reported and not simply discovered alongside it and the geological age of coal itself has been accurately dated. Should these two factors prove to be correct as they initially appear, one must then question civilized man’s place in history.
An examination of the item clearly displayed some hard fragments of the coal that still clung on to the links of the chain, while the part of the coal that had broken apart also still bore the distinct impression of where the chain had been encased in it. True or false, this is still a part of Illinois history!
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.