#63 – Great First Impression – 1991

Written by Fred Rydholm:

In the fall of 1990, my son Dan, who is in a PhD program at Union Theological Seminary in New York, called with a message for me. Dan had become very interested in the cave, naturally, and had by this time stepped beyond the bounds of skepticism and was truly trying to help out. Almost monthly he was sending me packets of background material that he had run across.

Dan had met a man from the Peabody Museum in Massachusetts and had spoken to him about the cave.

Not wanting to get into too deep a conversation with his limited knowledge of the cave, he obtained a telephone number and asked me to contact the gentleman.

I made the call. The fellow was obviously interested and made an effort to be helpful.

He asked, “What kind of a cave is it, and where is it?”

I told him it was in Illinois and had any number of inscribed rocks and numerous other artifacts but it was buried and filled with silt.

“From what I’ve seen of the stuff it seems to represent many Old World cultures but there is definitely a strong Egyptian influence there.” I said.

“Well, it wouldn’t be Egyptian, they never went anyplace and there are any number of other groups it could be.” And he listed several.

“I didn’t mean to say it is Egyptian, but there seems to be Egyptian infl-“

“Not Egyptian,” he said emphatically.

I didn’t want to press the point; after all, the man was trying to be helpful.

He went on, “We could get a team together and go there to investigate it.”

“I don’t have the right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to that,” I said, “I am only one of a committee. But I’ll tell you what you could do. Could you give me the name of an American whom you feel is a respected authority on the early Mediterranean people?”

Without hesitation, he said, “If I were you I would contact Dr. Cyrus Gordon.”

Though I knew a little about Cyrus Gordon, and had never met him, I had definitely heard of him. In fact, I had in my library at the time a book by him, Forgotten Scripts.

I called Dr. Joe Mahan, president of the ISAC organization.

“Do you happen to know Dr. Cyrus Gordon?” I asked.

“Know him? Why, I consider him a good friend,” said Dr. Mahan.

“Does he know about Burrows’ Cave?” I questioned.

“Oh, yes,” was the reply, “In fact he is to be the main speaker at the 1991 ISAC conference; you plan to be there, don’t you?”

“Yes, I guess so – at least right now it looks like I’ll be able to make it.”

“You’re going to have to be there, because we want to have the first sale of Ethel Stewart’s book there and we want to have some kind of a reception – do something nice for Ethel. That book is the most remarkable piece of research that’s come along in years.”

Dr. Mahan was speaking of Ethel G. Stewart of Ottawa, Canada; her remarkable book is called The Dene and Na-Dene Indian Migration – 1233 A.D.: Escape from Genghis Khan to America.

Here was the story, amply documented and in minute detail, of the penultimate great migration to America from Asia.23 The Americanist establishment holds that this group (the Athapascan-speakers) are quite recent migrants to the Cree country in Canada and to the Navaho-Apache country in the Southwest, but they perhaps find it very disturbing to have this migration recorded in extant Asian documents. For whatever reason, Ethel was having trouble finding a publisher.

The ISAC Press thought it appropriate to help this great scholar get the word out. I took care of the publishing details for her. Like the message of the cave, few have yet grasped the full meaning of her years of research. (Ethel’s book is now being translated into Turkish; her findings have already generated an avid response in Turkey.)