#62 – Strong Support – 1991

Written By Fred Rydholm:

Two men who have never faltered in their support for the cave’s authenticity and colossal historical importance are Dr. Joseph Mahan of Columbus, Georgia and Dr. Cyclone Covey, professor emeritus of history at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Both of these men have known the Yuchi Indians intimately and have written extensively on pre-Columbian history.

These men certainly stand among the most highly qualified of the scholars who have shown an interest in Burrows’ Cave and who have continued to defend its authenticity.

Dr. Covey is a native of Oklahoma; he grew up in Creek County, in the heart of Yuchi country. He received his BA and PhD at Stanford and did graduate work at the Universities of Chicago and Oklahoma. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard (1953-54) and has taught history, foreign languages and humanities in the Northwest, Southwest, Midwest, Northeast and Southeast parts of the country (at Reed, Stanford, Oklahoma State, McKendree, Amherst, and Wake Forest.)

His training is grounded in antiquity and in colonial North and South America. He pioneered a pre-Columbian course in the early 1970s and participated in research expeditions to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the Four Corners, Turkey, Egypt, Ireland, Spain and many other places.

Among some other activities that further qualified Dr. Covey as an authority on the cave artifacts were the fact that he had taught a class on Crete (Minoan-Mycenaean) and had published numerous relevant books and papers, including Homeric Troy and the Sea Peoples, Gulf of the Past, The Gentle Radical, and Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America.

Like many others who support the cave’s authenticity, Dr. Covey, though in his 70s, has never stopped studying, learning or writing. At present he is working on a monumental study of the Middle East and Greece from the middle Pleistocene period to the Bronze Age.

In 1991 Cyclone Covey was appointed chairman of ISAC’s ad-hoc committee to study Burrows’ Cave.

When Bill McGlone’s and Jim Whittall’s article appeared in the Louisiana Mounds Society Newsletter (#41, Aug 15,1991) asking Russell Burrows to “put up or shut up,” Cyclone Covey answered promptly in the next issue (#42, Oct 1, 1991). From his years of experience his wisdom shows through in the following comments:

In your [LMSN] #41 Aug. 15, my voluble friends McGlone and Whittall call on laconic Burrows to shut up (instead of vice versa) and also to put up instantly, not-withstanding that he has labored the most constantly of anybody to elucidate the Cave which Warren Cook, totally convinced of the burials’ antiquity, named for him. Burrows has felt the same impatience as the rest of us and same concern for irreproachable excavation. I quite understand impatience, but wonder how science can be invoked for libel or prejudgment. The vast mausoleum has reposed where found for unknown centuries and will likely endure oblivious of deadlines the living set.

Our famed duo have first-hand awareness of the damage to Anubis Cave for conceiving a possible reason to restrict Burrows’ Cave traffic. They also know the gross injustice premature disdain did Wegener, Holand, Gordon, Knorozov, Fell, et al. Our committee has included and welcomed skeptics. We by no means discountenance McGlone and Whittall for demanding any empirical test.

They might reflect on realities they have not experienced so formidably at sites they have worked:

1) Strict federal and state laws regarding disturbance of Indian burials and permit to excavate. Burrows has secured Indian cooperation and proceeded with legal counsel, as has ISAC. If it should unlikely happen that the April 1992 date set to begin digging cannot be met, it will be bureaucracy beyond Burrows’ control that blocks.

2) Property ownership, which did not devolve to Burrows until this June, as neither did authorization of Prof. James Sherz as CEO of ground operations.

3) The campaign of advance discrediting that put reputations of original owner and prospective archaeologists at risk, holding up excavation at least two years. Maligners not only maligned but acted to prevent further investigation – several of the same “scientists” who now call for instant production.

4) Underground reflooding in recent regional disasters.

5) Squeeze-hole entrance, unfeasible for either tourists or excavators. The main entrance remains undiscovered and the cave’s reach unknown.

6) Remoteness from a base of operations, which must be created at the site as when drilling an oil well in rural Oklahoma, except that wildcatters had negligible security worries. Burrows must make a 120-mile round trip each time he checks and has been shot at (probably unrelated to the cave, but indicative of environment).

7) Magnitude of contents, requiring extra precautions against. plunder.

8) Magnitude of costs and labor. Critics knowledgeable of smaller, often pre-looted, nonburial sites have suggested turning amateurs loose, but our operations team rather grimly assess a colossal undertaking.

9) Professional survey of vicinity has taken time. Arrangements for fencing, photography, and much else besides expert digging are taking time.

10) Bafflingness of artifacts found has retarded further search in that familiarity/unfamiliarity aroused suspicion as well as curiosity and triggered surprising passions in professedly cool scientists.

11) Three deaths of persons privy to the cave following its discovery have complicated investigation: Cook; the curator [Ward] who stored the inscribed stones in his museum; and the youth who “confessed” he had faked one of several variant elephant stones resembling the “corrected” Cuenca Stone, then later confessed he had merely told Burrows in a panic what he thought Burrows wanted to hear. (The boy’s motorcycle slammed into a bridge abutment.) That he at one time led Burrows to suspect him of faking certain stones, but that Burrows subsequently rejected this improbability, can clarify as reflecting honest understanding at the respective times. Everyone’s mind is going to change as evidence develops, unless self-closed along the line.

12) Pottery, metal, bone, stone, style, symbols, and script are subject to analysis. We should analyze them rather than abstract suspicions. A broad evaluation would consider the Yuchi tradition of just such a mausoleum in just this vicinity of their former homeland before the 17th-century Iroquois conquest; Ethel Stewart’s break-through tracing of Turkic Buddhist Athapascans from the Tarim Basin which ISAC published this summer; Joan Price’s detection of symbolism-identity of Burrows’ Cave specimens with those of an evanescent seafaring tribe of India (cf. the American Saks); Fell’s recent identification of the Tunica language with that of two other small Gulf of Mexico tribes as Egyptian; and Fell’s epochal earlier detection (1976, 1980) of the very elements in the Algonquin language (Egyptian, Semitic, Gaelic, Greek, Norse) that appear in inscriptions on the Burrows stones.

When the world’s greatest Maya authority, J. Eric Thompson, admitted he had been wrong about Mayan glyphs, he had thrown his mighty weight against the advance of his own cause for 40 years. Even the most expert cocksure scholars can erroneously dismiss. Learned Hand said: “The spirit of liberty is the spirit that’s not too sure it’s right.” – Dr. Cyclone Covey, Chairman, ISAC Burrows’ Cave Committee.

Few can grasp the full importance and enormity of the discovery of the cave, but the eloquence of Dr. Covey thoroughly explains the unusual difficulties surrounding its excavation. The study will indeed take years.