It’s a desert mystery that has baffled Tucsonans and historians for nearly nine decades.
In 1924, Tucsonan Charles Manier was traveling with his family to Picture Rocks, when he discovered what is now known as “The Silverbell Artifacts”, along Silverbell Road.
The collection includes more than 30 lead crosses and swords. To this day, nobody knows where they came from. “Some people say the Romans lived here, others say they’re from the lost tribe of Israel, all sorts of theories,” says Julia Arriola, Curator of the Arizona History Museum.
Many of the artifacts have Latin words written all over them. “Some of the professors who looked at them found out the text was actually lifted right from textbooks,” Arriola says.
She says one other strange characteristic about the artifacts is that they were embedded in caliche, which is a type of cement. “So whoever did it went through a lot of work,” Arriola says.
The artifacts will be on display for the next few months. Many archaeologists think they are one big hoax. You can’t blame the museum for wanting to cash in on the interest. But there is a lack of critical thinking here. Lost tribes of Israel? The Romans? In ARIZONA? Unlikely. And it feels icky to suggest there is something more mysterious to them. It feels unethical.
As Jason Colavito notes: There is not a single archaeological trace of a colony of Europeans anywhere in Arizona. No trash middens with European artifacts, no foundations of European-style structures, no graves with European artifacts. Nothing.
The caliche mystery? Can be created in just hours.
It gets funnier. There is a dinosaur depicted on one of the artifacts.
Check out this piece for a review of the America Unearthed episode. As far as I can tell, these have virtually ZERO credibility, no supporting evidence, and should have been displayed as a “famous hoax”.
Tip: Jason Colavito