EVANSTON — A mysterious stone tablet discovered in southwest Wyoming nearly 80 years ago will be featured on a season 4 episode of The Travel Channel’s “America Unearthed” airing on Tuesday, June 25. Check local listings for times.
A story appearing in the Herald on Nov. 19, 1982, detailed the strange tablet’s mysterious origins. Discovered near Rock Springs in the 1940s by Lorene Bolen, who lived in Evanston in the 1980s, the small sandstone tablet was kept by Bolen as a “conversation piece.” Trying to discover both who carved the tablet and what its strange markings said, Bolen sent the tablet to both the University of Wyoming and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
The university returned the tablet and said the writing was possibly Scandinavian runes. The Herald reported Bolen said the Smithsonian doubted the tablet’s authenticity because of how recently the carvings had been made.
However, Bolen then sent the tablet to the Epigraphic Society, whose members decipher old writing, and from there it was sent to Barry Fell, “a Harvard marine biologist turned amateur archaeologist.” Fell reportedly claimed the markings were a Cypriot script using a Hittitte-Minoan language and deciphered it as saying, “Keep safe, do not break the stone; Misfortune it turns away, it protects against evil, strikes harm and turns it aside.”
Two expert archaeologists, however, were less than convinced by Fell’s claims, citing lack of any evidence to substantiate Fell’s theories of transatlantic settlers from Ireland, Spain and North Africa arriving on the eastern shores of the United States as early as 1200 B.C.
The decades old controversy and mystery surrounding the tablet will be part of “America Unearthed: Phoenicians in America,” with host forensic geologist Scott Wolter. The show is described on the Travel Channel website as turning “what we know about U.S. history on its head” and proving “there are plenty of secrets buried in America’s past.”
“America Unearthed” aired for three seasons from 2012-2015 before being canceled but has recently been revived. Previous episodes have included searches for religious relics, investigations into Bigfoot and hunts for lost treasures of ancient civilizations.