The Mystery Cave – Preface

CONVENTIONAL THEORY of inconsequential transoceanic contact with America before either Columbus, Leif Ericson, Brendan, circumpolar Red Paint People, Shan hai jing explorers, Hwui Shan, Madoc of Wales, or Mandinga Emperor Abu Bakr II (whichever discussant’s 5th-grade teacher happened to know enough to recognize) retreats in ever more frantic epicycles which may work to the good in the long run; the fellow who finally proved continental drift had set out to disprove it. We should welcome sceptics willing to test instead of burn Copernicans at the stake. Col. Burrows did not plan to plunge suddenly into a death-trapped cavern in 1982. Neither did Niède Guidon in 1991 expect hearth charcoal she excavated from Pedra Furada, Piauí (Brazil) to carbondate 48,500 years ago (perhaps 13,000 later than the first sea-peopling of Northern Territory Australia). Neanderthals rafting by Gulf Stream to Brazil! Unthinkable as tectonic plates.

In this surreal perspective let us skip back to the death-trap cave that officially did not exist before 1982 though indefinitely longer than 1 2/3 football fields (“no end in sight”) situated at a strategic hub of water communication in all directions – the very vicinity, Joseph Mahan relates, where Yuchi sun-kings ruled before a 17th-century AD Iroquois invasion drove them to Georgia.

WE ENCOUNTER two basic logical intelligent objections to Burrows’ preliminary (tip of iceberg) discoveries; viz.

1) Outside of Egyptian ankh here & there, the inscriptions make no ready sense in the languages of their scripts (Punic, Libyan, Iberic, ogam, Arabic, Greek). So take your choice: a) somebody faked them; b) their many illiterate authors of different ethnic groups were merely decorating with traditional marks they no longer understood; c) they are coded cult messages which only initiates could read; d) they adapt these scripts to languages other than Punic, etc., as Greeks adapted Luvian Linear A with Greek Linear B, later the Phoenician syllabary to Greek; Etruscans the Greek alphabet to Etruscan; Cherokees Sanskrit to Cherokee; Anglo-Saxons runes then Latin to English; etc.

Various sets of symbols on the stones show this curious consistency of Mediterranean derivation, as if at a fluid time like the 8th or 7th century BC (in origin) when characters of different systems ran interchangeable in some degree, like early Hebrew that appropriated mostly Phoenician symbols with an occasional Greek delta. We might track languages of participating tribes. Joseph Mahan knows that the Yuchis, in addition to Yuchi, spoke “Redman’s Language” ceremonially. Some anthropologists dismiss any evidence they can dub “isolated” even if found massively in whole languages, art styles, customs, religions, regions-or sparsely in consistent recurrent widespread patterns. Accumulating “isolated” evidence hints a ritual language older than Punic or Greek.

Latin/Hebrew/Greek/Dutch-learned Puritan clergy in first-generation Massachusetts thought Algonquin sounded Hebrew. To Roger Williams, who wrote the first Algonquin dictionary, it sounded more like Greek, with which he noted syntactical convergences. The great genius Barry Fell found it in fact did contain Greek, also Norse, Arabic, Gaelic or Welsh but, above all, Egyptian. (Fell recently identified Tunica on the Gulf of Mexico as Egyptian.) Our Puritan forefathers did not know Egyptian, Akkadian, or Lykian, let alone Libyan, Sanskrit, Turkic, or Mandingan, though they could readily recognize Celtic.

2) a. The engravings do not quite accord with precedents we knew. (Unprecedented artifacts could as well prove authentic originality, like the Ebla tablets Cyrus Gordon has epochally been translating.)

b. The obvious Egyptian influence is not “pure’ (notwithstanding that the form of the Mediterranean symbols postdates Egyptian dynasties we had studied, not to mention 22 hybridizing and creolizing subsequent centuries in another hemisphere.)

HOW MUCH OF THE KNOWN had we ignored or just not put together? If we take the stones themselves at face value (one way to take them), we easily discern non-Egyptian ethnic types that tend to correspond to those who spoke the languages of the caption scripts endeavoring to carry on Egyptian practice.

The engravings depict mostly warrior profiles, sometimes straight-on views, sometimes subjects such as geometric designs, lined texts, animals, ships, etc., of many periods and traditions. The cave is a mausoleum containing a double series of crypts enclosing skeletons and grave furniture such as marble and bronze doubleax heads, bronze spears and daggers, urns. (Just wait till we can analyze the pottery, which tells voluminously.) The thousands of stones Burrows found in silt outside the crypts, whether votive offerings or memorials, are funerary, suggesting either dead soldiers or living soldiers paying loyal respects to the latest dead king and that king’s sacrificed family.

TO LEAVE THE STONES a moment, we may note that though inscribed foil wrapping of a mummy-wrapped royal corpse accompanied by canopic jars and serpentine ushabtis, etc. within masonry walls follows Egyptian custom, this sacrifice of family (and possibly attendants, we will eventually see) was not Egyptian.

It was Shumerian, Nubian, Shang, Mongolian for starters. Not to belabor the point, our Egyptianesque culture of the cave vicinity did not represent a pure mainline pharaonic practice. The stones depict a pharaoh’s uraeus and false beard correctly, but Anubis’s staff points the wrong way, a sphinx wears the wrong crown, and other “errors” indicate peripheral or provincial groups rather than insiders. Even the many elephants suggest Carthage, Numidia, or Morocco (where in Hannibal’s time a smaller species was not yet extinct) more than Egypt.

The numerous warrior headdresses do not typify Egyptians’ except possibly the leather “Olmec” helmets of Blacks (carved on black stones, e.g. Virginia Hourigan’s photo AF35) that correspond to Nubian guardsmen of pharoahs at Memphis or Delta capitals. (Jackson Judge has traced this Afro strain in the Burrows stones.)

The crest of another type of head insignia on the stones recalls a warrior’s right profile as a recurring syllable on the Phaistos Disk (which probably reached Crete from Asia Minor and which Fell cracked as a prescription for bird-divination in Luvian poetry.) This crest prevailed in preclassical times throughout Asia Minor and the Aegean and reappears in Ramesu III’s Medinet Habu reliefs distinguishing Trojan and Philistine warriors undifferentiably (isn’t that interesting?). Burrows-stone warriors bearing a single long feather or three long feathers recall the IIIC Warrior Vase from Mycenae.

The flotilla depicted on a gray-brown stone (Hourigan V6a) recalls the Mycenaean West-House Miniature-Frieze raiding-fleet at Akritori that the Thera eruption buried in Late Minoan Ib and which no faker before 1979 AD could have known. That unique frieze, like pots dug from beneath the pumice mountain, dates from LM Ia. Warning rumblings evacuated the island 10 to 30 years (geomagnetically determined) before its terminal top-blowing followed by 50-acre collapse/submergence. Either Mycenaeans had already taken over Thera in la before this last blast or served as mercenaries of Minoan merchants. (The Greenland glacier dates derive from an earlier eruption centuries before LM style could have materialized.) The Thera collapse/tsunami occurred most probably Year 9 of Amonhotpe II (1446/45 BC), a disaster the Greeks remembered as Deukalion’s Flood and Plato, thrown off by the bogus Assyrian chronology of Ktesias and his own knowledge of a Carthaginian empire in the Atlantic, plus Greek memory-loss of Minoan and Mycenean periods (except final three generations), did not realize was the sinking of Atlantis, which had to occur in the Aegean to denude Attika simultaneously. We need to mention this eruption/earthquake/tsunami because of Yuchi belief that it affected Yuchi folk-wandering. The people most closely related to Yuchi Zoya (“Sun-filled”) called themselves Zoyaha or Yuqeeha, “sky/earth” people; which is what Ach-[glaian and Ae[k]-gean liteally mean, although Dorian shepherds who invaded Greece exterminatively at the demise of the Mycenaean civilization never knew the etymologies and invented new ones. The advanced evacuees of Thera (four centuries before Dorian destruction) scattered by boat to many new homes, raising the civilized standard everywhere they resettled. Classical legends call them Telchines.

POPULARIZERS, together with our mismatched correlations now resolved, have confused the rather simple multiple catastrophe which brought down the Hittite Empire, fatally weakened the Egyptian, and dissolved the Achaian (which yes was an empire, as Hittite, Egyptian, and Linear B texts, together with Mycenaean homogeneity, make clear) rather than the loose confederation Homer understood after the model of his Archaic period 4+ centuries afterward. Mycenaean prosperity depended basically on luxury trade to Egypt in perfumed olive oil and opium-laced laudanum. Nearly if not 100% of the pottery in the ruins of Akhnaton’s capital Akhet-Aton was Mycenaean IIIA:1. (Here we encounter another Ak which, as Ag, Ok, or Oc – Mahan teaches – means “sky”; aton of course – “sun-disk.”) Classical Greeks could barely remember as far back as swollen-thighed Akhnaton of 1350-1334 BC (Bronze Age), but did model Oedipus (“Swollen Leg”) transferred to Thebes in Boeotia. Systematic suppression of the Aton heresy forced it underground and out; aton rays recur on Burrows stones and the cult persisted in Punic as far as Pontotoc Co., Oklahoma.

When Khattushilish III concluded a peace with Ramesu II, their treaty provided that neither party trade with an enemy of the other. Ramesu therefore boycotted Achaia, an avowed enemy of Khatti; which is why Mycenaean IIIB pottery ceased to appear in Egypt long before that style phase terminates, and why wrecked-economy Achaia mounted a coalition against both Khatti, by then under Khammurapi II, and Egypt, then under Ramesu’s son Merenptah (1208 BC). This coalition overran the Hittite Empire and systematically destroyed cities down the Palestinian coast of the Egyptian Empire until Merenpthah finally intercepted short of the Delta. Achaia had had the help of the Trojan / Akhkhiyauwa Asia-Minor-coast coalition, which however stayed intact to resist Achaia’s assault against it 22 years later. This was the Trojan war. Achaia’s victory after a decade meant wholesale destruction down the urban Asia Minor coast and all the way to Egypt again, on the heels of refugee hordes. It was refugees who took Palestine, holed up on Cyprus, and assaulted the Delta in Year 8 of Ramesu III (1175). The meantime c.1186 palace coup at the Achaian imperial capital Mycenae meant independence of Mycenaean cities but also loss of imperial union.

Whole regions of mainland Greece now stood as vulnerable as the Troad after the Hittite kingdom had gone down behind it. The Trojan losers took revenge in a reverse movement that destroyed Tiryns, Knossos, Pylos, etc. one by one while the pottery-style was still the IIC:1 of Troy’s VIIa’s fall. Ramesu III and his sons managed to recover most of Philistine dominated Palestine, as well as set massive numbers taken captive in 1175 to till plantations and row ships.

City-destructions following imperial Achaian collapse meant the same victor pursuit of enemies and spoils that had taken place on the populous eastern coasts and a continuation on into the western Mediterranean where some of the Trojan coalition tarried in Italy (thus Etruria), Men-of-Sardis on Sardinia (which became Sardinia), etc., and others on to the Atlantic, founding Cadiz. Did still other of these Sea Peoples go on across? Notice that both winners and losers of the Trojan War (who then reversed roles) were Mycenean in culture although speaking evidently separate Greek and Luvian dialects. The results of this mammoth breakdown included drastic depopulation, total literacy loss outside Cyprus, the freeing of Phoenician-cities’ merchant marine from Mycenaean bottling, and finally the Dorian transhumant-shepherd incursion from Illyria and Epiros. This era suffered a servere drought throughout which in itself was driving peoples to desperation.

You perhaps have had the experience of flying hours on end over the Mediterranean without seeing a single ship, then longer hours over the Atlantic ditto. We find it hard to imagine boat people in antiquity, even though their ships doubled Santa Maria size, behaving like boat people in the 20th century AD who also may never before have gone to sea. Yet distance never deterred hardy, desperate, gregarious folk so long as they could travel by river or sea. They lived their brief lives as if they had all the time in the world.

Phoenician Tarshish ships, as Gordon clarified, were oceangoing. Phoenicians contested IIIC Mycenaeans and then Archaic-Classical Greek colonists for control of the Gibraltar Strait; founded Carthage, Lixos far down the Atlantic coast of Africa, circumnavigated Africa, and got to Rio harbor (at a minimum). Carthage extended a Punic empire to Britain, along the Amazon, to Pennsylvania, and beyond. Punic inscriptions have turned up widely in the U.S. Gloria Farley has found the distinctive Carthaginian goddess Tanit equally far afield. Tanit appears as a sunburst and triangle on a Burrows stone. Punic also survives in U.S.-Indian languages, e.g. Pima. Carthaginian allies, subjects, and slaves included Etruscans, Libyans, Greeks, Numidians, Gauls, and Black West Africans-components showing up in Burrows pictures. A Carthaginian chariot trail ran all the way from Tripoli to Timbuctu, which lay in river communication with the Atlantic.

Romans never learned or cared to investigate the total extent of the Carthaginian Empire. We can feel sure that many peoples in that empire retained Punic and Celtic seamanship after Rome gained control of the Mediterranean and that the 2nd and 3rd Punic Wars resulted in mass boat-people exoduses overseas. Fell cracked a Libyan/Lydian inscription from Big Bend National Park, Texas, as a prayer to Mithras on a December day (Fell thought from writing style c.300 AD) by a desperately sick party, whom I suggest were lost Libyan soldiers in the Roman army.

WE MAY WONDER at the vast Egyptian substrate in the Americas. Egyptians surely preceded displaced Mycenaeans and Carthaginians to become hosts. We can assume Myceneans (also Minoans and Akkadians before them), as well as Phoenicians and Carthaginians, voyaged into the Atlantic with their respective imperial expansions and metal-searchings, then again in flight with their calamitous reverses. Predynastic Gerzeans of Upper Egypt had seaworthy ships, represented on vases, knife handles, and in a unique king’s-tomb mural at Nekhen (Hierakonpolis). The last includes a black Mesopotamian-type ship among Egyptian ships in the pre-Shumerian-dynastic Jamdat-Nazr Protoliterate period of Iraq.

Narmer’s conquest of the densely populated Delta, uniting the Two Lands as the first superpower of history, undoubtedly flushed great numbers of refugees to Crete (cf. Gordon) and far beyond the seas. The Maya calendar base date, 13 Aug. 3114 BC Gregorian, comes as close as we have managed to pinpoint the founding of the 1st Dynasty and may commemorate this era-change. The solar Maya calendar of 365 days like the Egyptian that had evolved by the dynasty-founding and, like the Egyptian, omitting leap years, had to rest on observations antedating by two millennia and two centuries observations the Maya could have made themselves in America-as also the Olmec/Aztec lunar calendar rested on observations made when paired constellations were visible millennia before Mesoamericans using the calendar could have seen the constellations in Mexico [Hugh Moran & David Kelley 1969]. The Egyptian and Semitic character of Maya civilization [cf. David Deal 1984 & since] has been obscured by Central-and-SE-Asiatic Buddhist overlays.

Queen Hatshepsut’s reliefs at Deir el-Bahri depict Red Sea sailships of her voyage to Punt (probably Somalia). Her napoleonic nephew Tutmosy III struck to the Orontes in his sixth campaign by sea in 1475 BC; so Egypt had a navy in the Mediterranean at least by that date. Like Assyria and Persia later, Egypt could also comandeer the Phoenician merchant marine. In recovering Palestine for a long while after the Sea Peoples’ disorder, the Ramessids re-Egyptianized it. The Renaissance Era of Egypt, officially so called, began 1100 BC in the late 20th Dynasty. Solomon and David adopted the Egyptian system, scribal bureaucracy, wisdom literature and all. Sheshonq I, founder of the Libyan Dynasty, invaded Israel and looted the Temple. Assyria’s defeat of Egypt saddened Jeremiah. Assyrian devastation all the way to Thebes must have meant a floodtide of Egyptians west.

In the Hellenistic period when Ptolemies ruled Egypt, kings comandeered the Libyan navy, when the former dominator of Egypt became a province. Thus Libyan, Greek, and Egyptian mixed, as in texts of an Egyptian voyage of Libyans to test Eratosthenes’ theory of the earth’s circumference, as Fell laid out momentously. He also found Micmac a form of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Bobbie Smith has found an Egyptian prescription for determining the solstice in Inyo Co., California, which reads ambiguously Chinese to the degree that Hmong people from Laos left a note they could read it. The recent discovery of pre-Japanese petroglyphs in Protoliterate Shumerian in Japan gives pause, as does the detection of a Japanese component in the Zuni language, which Fell has shown has all Arab roots. George Carter found Japanese and Sanskrit words used for “chicken” over vast areas of Latin America which correspond to the pre-Spanish Japanese and India races of chickens. These allusions lead us astray, except that nations like the Yuchi came into intimate contact with both Algonquin and Asiatic languages, which also must be considered in deciphering Burrows stones.

Arabs, the most vigorous traders across Asia, got to both Pacific and Atlantic before Islam, then with Islam got from Morocco and/or Portugal to the Canaries, Azores, and Colombia (at a minimum).

ON THIS TACK we should finally remark the primacy of Buddhism over Islam as a shaping force in pre-Columbian America. Buddhist Athapaskans brought the thunderbird with them to North American Pacific coast and desert Southwest. Ethel Stewart’s great breakthrough has clarified Athapaskan and Uto-Aztecan origins in oasis towns of the South Tarim Basin of Central Asia. Uighur-Turkic Athapaskan soldiers in the defeated Xi-Xia army escaped Genghis Khan and as unaccustomed boat people voyaged from the mouth of the Amu 1233 AD. Athapaskan means “Protected by the Buddha [King],” conceiving the king of Xi-Xia a reincarnation of the Buddha. The founding Yuchi emperor Kanishka I of the Kushan empire which comprised Afghanistan, much of India and Central Asia, was a Buddhist. This Yuchi empire maintained direct contact with Persia, Rome, and China. The thunderbird probably originated as the Imdug, or Shower Bird of Shumer. Buddhism eventually appropriated and transmitted it. It appears on the Hohokam Picture Rock near Tucson but widely in America, including Burrows Cave, e.g. Hourigan AQ5 & 12, in addition to the Minoan upraised-wing bird such as adorns Writing Rock near Pierre SD along with the Phaistos-Disk “button” pictograph. This Rock otherwise maps the river system of the region [Farnham 1979] which Shan hai jing explorers were tracing along this route. A variant thunderbird form appears on the helmet-front of AF20 (slate or slate-like) from the cave depicting a very Chinese-looking mask with downturned mustache and goatee.

– Cyclone Covey, 23 February, 1992

[Dr. Covey, emeritus professor of history at Wake Forest University, has for decades been professionally engaged with migration patterns and the ancient world. He has been actively involved with Burrows’ Cave since 1990. For a more complete description of his scholarly interests and background, see #65 “Strong Support.” See Index for an Abstract of this Preface, Ed.]