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Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall


Friday, March 4, 2011

Location of the "Phoenician" stones in Patagonia

 
Map showing where the Patagonian "Phoenician" inscriptions were found.
 
See Index on all my posts on Phoenicians in America.
 
Map of Chubut showing location of Phoenician inscriptions
Map showing the main sites and locations of the Phoenician inscribed stones of Patagonia. Copyright © 2011 by Austin Whittall

Let's take a look at the places where the "Phoenician" inscriptions were found. As I mentioned in my previous post, they are very different to the authentic native (Tehuelche) rock inscriptions, though they appear in the region which was the former homeland of these natives.

The places

Garcés [3] says that he bought (paid for, purchased - this is interesting as we will see in the next post) an inscribed stone from a Mr. Miguel Terraza, who told him that these stones come from the central part of the province.

Terraza indicated that they came from the area between Cerro Negro, Sierra Nevada, Sierra Rosada and the Chico River. A barren area. Just to the south of this region are lakes Colhue Huapi and Musters, fed by the Senguer River, which provides water to irrigate an agricultural colony settled by Boers who fled from the war that was raging between them and the British in South Africa in the last years of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. They settled around the current town of Sarmiento in southern Chubut.

According to Garcés, the custodian at the Rawson Museum (in 1943), [3] told him that there were over one hundred of those stones and that the Boers collected most of those stones and took them back to South Africa with them. He also noted that many foreigners also took them abroad.

To the east is Comodoro Rivadavia, an oil city, on the coast, which housed the "Lady of Elche" of the Patagonia, now lost.

Just north, along the coast is Punta Visser, where one of the Phoenician stones was found.

Still further north, is the original Welsh colony, at Madryn, Trelew, Rawson and Dolavon. The Museo Salesiano at Rawson, holds many of these "Phoenician" inscribed stones in its collection.

To the northwest of Rawson is Sierra Colorada. This is where I have managed to locate the site of another stone, which was said to come from "Chullucurá".

The name does not exist, there is no "Chullu" anywhere in Chubut. And regarding the second part of the place name, "Curá", fortunately there is only one place with the word "Curá" in it, and it is known as "Quelle Curá". [2]

This sounds very lie "Chullu", so it may be a typo or a spelling mistake. The place name means, in Mapuche language: "Quillá" or "Clá" = three, and "Curá" = Stones; therefore it is "three stones". [1] It is described as being located about 50 km to the northeast of the small village of Telsen, in northern Chubut. Exactly where I marked it on the map.

Garcés also mentions some stones that were collected by the wife of Dr. Elizagaray, the District Attorney at Trelew, one of which came from a place close to Puerto Lobos dug up when they laid the natural gas pipe from Patagonia to Buenos Aires. This place (which I did not mark on the map above) is located where the northern border of Chubut (white dashed line) meets the ocean, to the east of Sierra Colorada.

Then we have the inscription with the Yaz symbol (ⵣ) at Lake Puelo, in the western part of the province, in the Andean foothills, just to the north of the second Welsh colony (they moved west as their population grew in the late 1800s), at Esquel and Trevelin.

Remarks

The stones seem to come from two distinct areas. One along the northern part of the province, just north of the Chubut River, at is western sources (close to Lake Puelo) and on the coastal area north of its mouth on the Atlantic. The other is the central part of the province, a barren desolate place. What would people be doing there sculpting stones? Is there mineral wealth there?

I do recall however reading a remark by a Welsh explorer, Llywd ap Ewan who returning from an expedition to the Andes of Chubut and Santa Cruz, cut across from the fork where the Mayo and Senguer rivers meet and followed a route that lies roughly along the blue line (see map) that joins the Sierra Nevada and Sierra Rosada, and he wrote in his diary that he saw a strange stone columns or monoliths. I, just like the editor believed that it was some natural artifact, a rock carved by erosion (sandblasted by the relentless Patagonian winds) but, now, I am looking at it with another point of view. It may have been man made.

I will check the book and quote him here later.[4]

The City of Caesars and the Phoenicians

The “City of Caesars” was an “El Dorado” which is a tale that deserves a book of its own, yet it can be summarized as follows: The legend of the City of Caesars began in the mid XVIth century. It revolved around an incredibly rich city set in the hidden mountains of western Patagonia (i.e. its roads were paved with gold) and was inhabited by people of European origin who led secluded lives there. Several expeditions were sent to find it, and it was not until the late XVIIIth century that it lost credibility and searches were discontinued.

So you can imagine my surprise when I came across a map drawn by French scientist Martini de Moussy [5] showing it!

He had been commissioned by the Argentine government to study the geography of the country. After traveling throughout the country he produced his Description Geographique et Statistique de la Confederation Argentine (1860-1864) and an Atlas (1869). This Atlas contains several maps, and I reproduce part of one below:

De Moussy map of City of Caesars Patagonia
Map showing the City of Caesars in 1869, Patagonia. Adapted from [5] by Austin Whittall

To the left (West) and quite far from its usual location in the Andes, is the City of "Los Cesares" (of Caesars), on one of the rivers that flows from the Andean foothills to form the Chubut River (in those days also known as Chupat). The Welsh colony figures in the map as a project. Note that above the colony are the "Calli he ches" Indians (exactly where the "Quelle" or "Chullu" site is). In Spanish, "Calli" "Quelle" and "Chullu" sound very similar.

What is the City of Caesars doing so far away from the Andes and the forests? Why is it set there in the middle of the steppe? Perhaps there was some mineral resource there?

Yes, actually, close to the sources of the Chubut River, at the town of Esquel there is gold, and the locals have been battling large mining concerns for years, to keep them from ruining the scenery and polluting the area if they ever get the necessary permits to mine the stuff.[6]

Could the City of Caesars by a Phoenician mining village? Were these wealthy people of "European" origin actually surviving "Phoenicians" or "Carthaginians"?
Intriguing, and something that I haven't seen written elsewhere. So it is an original idea! and backed by some (though I must admit tenuous) evidence.

We still have to look into the authenticity of these stones and consider the possibility that they are fake.

Sources.

[1] Lázaro Fleury, (1944). Guiliches, Tradiciones, leyendas, apuntes gramaticales y vocabulario de la zona pampa-araucana. Universidad de Córdoba. pp. 61.
[2] Rodolfo M. Casamiquela, (2000). Toponimia indígena del Chubut. Author's edition. pp. 213.
[3] Antonio Garcés,(1951). Libro del Cincuentenario de Comodoro Rivadavia, 1901-1951. Aspectos de la Arqueología Patagónica. Chap. 29.
[4] Roberts, T. and Gavirati, M., (2008) Diarios del Explorador Llywd ap Iwan. Villa Adelina: Patagonia Sur Libros; Gral. Roca: La Bitácora Patagónica.
[5] Martin de Moussy, (1865). Carte de la Patagonie et des archipels de la Terre de Feu, des Malouines et des cotes occidentales jusqu'au Golfe de Reloncavi.
[6] Gold at Esquel


Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia
2011 International Year of Forests
2011 International Year of Forests Copyright 2009-2011 by Austin Whittall © 

Tehuelche rock inscriptions. Comparison to "Phoenician" stones

 
The authentic Tehuelche rock inscriptions look very different to those of a supposed "Phoenician" origin.
 
See Index on all my posts on Phoenicians in America.
 
Cover of Diseños nativos de la Argentina (Clásicos y Actuales), by Juan José Rossi. From: [1]

Above is the cover of a very nice book which reproduces traditional designs of the different native Americans who peopled Argentina. Its name: "Diseños nativos de la Argentina (Clásicos y Actuales)", by Juan José Rossi (Ed. Galerna, 2000). The idea of the book is to introduce the motifs used by our natives to modern designers so that they can use authentic designs in modern artifacts (clothes, handicrafts, art, etc.).

It is part of my library, so I decided to check if it had any references to the Tehuelche and their inscribed stones. Well, it does. Below (click to enlarge) is a photograph that I took of two (out of three) pages with images depicting their inscriptions: [1]

Inscribed stones. Tehuelche
Inscribed Stones by Tehuelche natives. From: [1]

You can clearly see that the style of these genuine Tehuelche inscriptions is completely different from the one used in the "engraved stones" of alleged "Phoenician" inspiration or origin:

Tehuelche : Small size. Thin and with a rectangular shaped.
Phoenician: Large size. Thick. Any shape.

Tehuelche : Scratched or etched on a "soft" surface such as slate.
Phoenician: Carved or sculpted in bas-relief on a hard granite or basaltic or porphyric rock.

Tehuelche : Simple lineal or geometric patterns. Only one out of eighteen stones depicted has a representative image: a crude drawing of the sun.
Phoenician: Complex drawings that combine geometric figures (generally as a border or fringe around a central area that is clearly representative and has well drawn images of: hearts, arrow heads, natives, animals -guanaco, cryptid, ñandu, snakes, sun and moon. Some even include symbols that appear to be letters.

The "Phoenician" stones were definitively not made by native Tehuelche or Mapuche people, they are very different. And we can therefore conclude that they are either:

  • Fake. A forgery, a hoax. That is: someone deliberately crafted these stones with "native" motifs, with the intention of making them appear as authentic native or Phoenician crafts (hence the use of Semitic letters), to sell them to gullible amateur archaeologists.
  • Genuine, made by some non-native people. By genuine I mean that the persons who made them, did so for some religious, cultural, social reason, and left them behind when they returned to their homeland or disappeared (famine, illness, war).

My analysis and opinion in the next post.

Sources.

[1] Juan José Rossi, (2000). Diseños nativos de la Argentina (Clásicos y Actuales). Ed. Galerna, 2000,


Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia
2011 International Year of Forests
2011 International Year of Forests Copyright 2009-2011 by Austin Whittall © 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ancient Greeks in the River Plate!

 
Map showing the location of Dolores, Uruguay, site of the "Greek" remains.
Copyright © 20011 by Austin Whittall


This post is about a farmer who, in the early 1800s, lived close to the Uruguayan town of Dolores. He made an amazing finding: an inscribed stone and some ancient body armor, which was supposedly identified as belonging to a Greek explorer from the days of Alexander the Great. This story, sounds like a hoax, but since I have been posting on Phoenicians in America, I thought, ok why not! So here it is:

The original text is worth quoting from its source (a local magazine published in Soriano, the Uruguayan District where Dolores is located), a 1963 article:

A farmer [...] had discovered an ancient stone, sunk in the ground, on which some unknown letters were written. Picking up the stone, he came across a small stone chamber , inside of which were two very ancient swords, a helmet and a shield, very rusty, and a regular sized amphora. He took those pieces to Montevideo, and the priest Martínez managed to decipher the coarse and worn greek characters, whose translation was: "During the reign of Alexander king of Macedonia, son of Phillip, on the 63 olympics, here Ptolemy...", the rest of the phrase could not be read. On the hilt of one of the swords, whose blades were completely destroyed, a relief with the head of Alexander could be made out. The helmet still displayed a delicate work of metal craftmanship, representing in relief Aquiles dragging Hector's body around Troy. [1]

The sources

Text about Ptolemy, the "Greek" from 320 BC whose remains were found in Uruguay. From [1].


The above text was originally published in 1835 in the Montevideo newspaper "El Universal", who in turn took it from the December 9, 1934 issue of the "Jornal do Comercio" of Rio de Janeiro. The Brazilian journal informed that it had got the news from the "Gaceta de Francia" of Paris, which had taken it from the "Le Temps" of April 11, 1832, and this paper from the "Messager des Chambres " of March 22, 1832.

The article seems to have been published before that date in the "Giornale del Regno delle Due Sicilie" on June 11, 1829 and before that, in the "Gaceta Universal" of Bogotá Colombia.

Criticism and comments

The first flaw found in the story was the date. The 63rd Olympic games took place around 528 - 524 BC, long before Alexander's regin (Alexander died in 323 BC).

However, if instead of 63, you read 113, the Olympic games date would fit neatly within Alexander's reign over Macedonia and most of the "known" world.

The thing is that at the time (1829) Uruguay was just coming out of a war against Brazil, in which it won its independence (with the help of Argentina), and political turmoil would have covered up the news, which was disclosed through a distant paper in Colombia instead of locally, in Montevideo.

What would a Greek ship be doing at Dolores? In those days, the delta of the Paraná River was several tens of kilometers up stream from its current position just 20 km (12.5 mi.) north of Buenos Aires.

The delta advances at about 25 to 100 m/year (82 to 328 ft/year),[2] so over the last 2,320 years it would have been located between 58 and 232 km further north (36 to 144 mi.), upstream. See the map below.

The Uruguay River lacks a delta and drains into the eastern side of the River Plate as a wide river.

Dolores, the site of the finding, is located on the San Salvador River which drains into the Uruguay River. Perhaps it offered a good port for the Greek sailors. Actually, Sebastian Cabot, the first to explore the region after Magellan and Solis, actually built a fort on the mouth of the San Salvador. He must have chosen it for some strategic reason. This fort is the first Spanish settlement in Uruguay (1527). He would later sail up the Paraná and establish Sancti Spiritus at Carcaraña, Argentina.

Could the Greek soldier be a dead member of Cabot's expedition?

Map showing coastline in 320 BC with the possible maximum and minimum area covered by water. This area in now occupied by the Delta of the Paraná River.
Copyright © 20011 by Austin Whittall


The map above shows the maximum and minimum extent of the River Plate in the days of Alexander the Great. The delta did not extend beyond Rosario or Zarate based on the max. and min. advance of the delta (58 and 232 km) mentioned above.

Sources.

[1] Un Enigma histórico. Ptolomeo fue enterrado en Dolores. Revista Histórica de soriano. May 31, 1963. No. 8. pp. 8.
[2] Marcos Pittau, Alejo Sarubbi, Angel N. Menéndez Analisis del avance del frente del delta del rio Parana


Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia
2011 International Year of Forests
2011 International Year of Forests Copyright 2009-2011 by Austin Whittall © 

Phoenician inscription at Rochedo dos Arvoredos

 
A "Phoenician" rock inscription in the south of Brazil.
 
See Index on all my posts on Phoenicians in America.
 
We have already written about the Phoenician inscriptions on the Pedra da Gavea, at Rio de Janeiro. They are not the only ones in Brazil. Thera are more: according to an article published in 1829 [1], there are Phoenician inscriptions at the mouth of the Amargoso River, in Rio Grande do Norte (though the article does not describe them), and it also mentions those at Arboredo.

Rochedo dos Arvoredos

The article says the following:

Arboredo [sic], whose alleged Phoenician characters are deeply etched and measure no less than 40 feet [12.2 m] tall and can be seen from half a league away at sea.[1]

This crag, a rugged rocky island, is known, in Portuguese as the “Rochedo dos Arvoredos” (or "rock of the groves"). It is located at a short distance from the entrance to the Bay of Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil.

The island, now known as Ilha do Arvoredo(27° 17'S, 48° 21'W), is located about 12 km north of the large Island of Santa Catarina, where Florianopolis, the capital of the state of Santa Catarina is located.

It was depicted by the French artist Debret, [2] and his painting shows the characters. The image’s caption says that it “has an inscription in Phoenician characters very similar to others noted by Humboldt around America.”. (I should look up what Humboldt wrote about the Phoenicians in America!).

The following image [3] shows the “inscriptions”:

Phoenician inscriptions at rochedo arvoredos
"Phoenician" inscriptions on the Rochedo dos Arvoredos, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Arrows show the inscriptions and a detail of them. Image by Debret [2][3].

Interestingly, Santa Catarina was during the period of conquest and discovery of South America, a key port, from which the Spaniards reached Asunción in Paraguay, by cutting across Santa Catarina (Brazil), Misiones (Argentina) and eastern Paraguay. It was shorter than going through the River Plate and Paraná and Paraguay rivers.

Sebastian Cabot and Sol&is (who discovered the River Plate) were shipwrecked there. It is likely that Phoenician sailors, moving south along the Brazilian coast would have found a safe port here. It also conforms to their chosen layout for settlements: a coastal island close to the shore with a well protected harbor. Santa Catarina Island is just like that.

Sources.

[1] Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País (Cuba), Cuba. Real Junta de Fomento de Agricultura y Comercio, (1829). Memorias. pp. 27
[2] Debret. Voyage pittoresque et historique au Brésil: ou Séjour d'un artiste français au Brésil, depuis 1816 jusqu'en 1831 inclusivement, epoque de l'avénement et de l'abdication de S. M. D. Pedro 1er, fondateur de l'Empire brésilien Re-edited by Livraria Martins, 1972>Vol 2. pp 228
[3] NYPL Digital Gallery:
Vue de chateau impérial de San... Digital ID: 1224160. New York Public Library


Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia
2011 International Year of Forests
2011 International Year of Forests Copyright 2009-2011 by Austin Whittall © 

Cryptid on Phoenician - Tehuelche carving

 
A cryptid on a Tehuelche engraved stone with Phoenician symbols.
 
See Index on all my posts on Phoenicians in America.
 
stone engraved with a Patagonian cryptid
Stone with an engraving of a Patagonian cryptid (and some Phoenician characters).
Is it a guanaco (left), wolf (center) or horse (right)?
Copyright © 2011 by Austin Whittall

The strange "engraved stones" of Patagonia, which are unlike any other artistic expression of the Patagonian natives, besides having odd symbols that seem to be of Semitic (i.e. Phoenician or even Hebrew letters) origin, also depict animals. Some stones portray snakes (we will post on them separately, from a cryptozoological point of view) which I have already dealt with from a historical point of view (celtic or phoenician intertwined snakes)

The image shown above is form one of the stones from the Museo Salesiano at Rawson, Chubut, Argentina.

The stone, is a round boulder, which has several engravings. In its central part, a mammal, of unknown origin. Just above it, three symbols or letters. Above right an arrow head and below it, a geometric fringe or border with triangles.

This is not the usual native style, as already mentioned (Genuine Tehuelche inscribed stones), and all these "Phoenicians in Patagonia" posts aim at trying to validate if they are genuine, and if so, are they native or made by ancient Mediterranean mariners.

The Cryptid

The animal is shown sideways, only one fore leg and one back leg are depicted. It has a triangular shaped head with upright ears. Its legs are short in comparison to its body, and its tail is also short and bulky.

The local fauna, includes pumas (which as the engraving is definitively not a feline, we will discard), foxes (the animal seems dog-like), and guanacos.

I have included, just because the creature also has a horse-like air, an image of a Trapan (a rare Eurasian wild horse), officially there were no native horses in Patagonia until the arrival of the Europeans who brought horses with them to America, however I have posted elsewhere about the possible survival of prehistoric native American horses, so I decided to include one, just in case. (Also see: Patagonian donkeys)

I also included a wolf (nowadays there are no wolves in Patagona, and the maned wolf has long legs, so it is not the animal portrayed on the stone), because it may be a representation of an "Andean Wolf", another Patagonian cryptid.

In my opinion, the animal is some kind of canid. It may be an Andean Wolf, or even a variety of "warrah" (Falkland Islands / Malvinas fox-wolf).

The stone was apparently found in Chubut province, in the northern part of Patagonia. It is unusual for the Tehuelche to depict a dog. They usually painted guanaco or hunters, as well as pumas of feline looking animals. I have not seen any dog - wolf - fox in their rock paintings. So, this is indeed a very peculiar stone which differs from the standard native artistic expression.



Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia
2011 International Year of Forests
2011 International Year of Forests Copyright 2009-2011 by Austin Whittall © 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Phoenician symbol at Lake Puelo, Chubut, Argentina

 
An unusual symbol ⵣ (Yaz) found in Patagonia. A link to Phoenicians?
 
See Index on all my posts on Phoenicians in America.
 
Phoenician symbol Lake Puelo, Patagonia
Phoenician symbol found at Lake Puelo, Chubut, Patagonia.
Adapted by Austin Whittall from [3]

The location of Lake Puelo is shown in the following map:

Lake puelo map, Phoenician symbol location
Map of Lake Puelo showing possible location of the Phoenician rock carving.
Copyright © 2011 by Austin Whittall

In previous posts I pointed out a symbol that appeared in several stones supposedly carved by “Phoenicians”, which were found in the Patagonian province of Chubut in the early 1900s.

The symbol is the following: .

Although it looks like a drawing of a person (anthropomorphic), it is actually a letter, known as "YAZ", which sounds like our letter "Z", and belongs to the ancient Tifinagh alphabet of North Africa.

It appears in Patagonia, as can be seen in the following composite image:

"Yaz" symbol of North African Punic origin, depicted at several Patagonian locations. Copyright © 2011 by Austin Whittall

The images [a], [b] and [e] are part of some strange "Tehuelche" sculptures said to have a Phoenician style or influence.
Image [c] was painted on a rock wall in Neuqueén province, probably Tehuelche or Mapuche. [2]
Image [d] is from the Museo Etnográfico UNBA, it is a small Leather bag painted red and blue (I omitted the crosses that are in between the Yaz symbol.

Phoenician not ET

While browsing the Internet I came upon a website (Reference [3] below) that deals with the paranormal (UFOs and that sort of stuff), something that I am definitively not into. However, something caught my eye, the YAZ symbol.

The book deals with some strange extraterrestrials, the Ummites. If you are into the extravagantly unusual paranormal junk, check out this site Ummo, Ummite physics and metaphysics it is, literally (ha, ha) "out of this world". It is decorated with the ⵣ symbol as its favicon (the one that appears in the browser tab).

Among all the concocted fantasies in the book [3], the image appeared, in relation to Patagonian rock art. Which naturally drew my attention.

The text does not mention a word, but the photograph's caption says the following: "sign engraved in granite. Stone found close to Lake Puelo, in Argentina. The relief may have been sculpted by the native Indians of the area (Mapuches, Tehuelches, Araucanos) [Araucano and Mapuche are the same people! so much for accuracy]..." [3]

It attributes the image to Sergio Oscar Rinaldi's work published (?) in 1984. No references given so I can't trace the source. The image gives some details which I included above: it was found in 1906 some 6 leagues (30 km roughly 18 miles) south of the lake by a local farm hand.

On where the stone was found, in what circumstances, where it is now, no information is given.

Trivia

This is the region where the "plesiosaur lake" is located.

Further reading on the ⵣ "yaz" symbol and more here on "yaz"!

Sources.

[1] Image from fig. 30. of Los Cueros pintados Tehuelches.
[2] Image Source.
[3] Planeta Benitez, excerpt from the book: Benitez, J. J., El hombre que susurraba a los Ummitas. pp. 218.


Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia
2011 International Year of Forests
2011 International Year of Forests Copyright 2009-2011 by Austin Whittall © 

The “Phoenician” inscriptions from Paraiba, Brazil

 
Second part on the "Phoenician" inscriptions found in Brazil.
 
See Index on all my posts on Phoenicians in America.
 
The Paraíba Inscription is a very interesting story which involves mystery, gullibility, deceit and, perhaps forgery. The inscription itself is lost, and all that exists (if there ever was a stone) is a transcription of the text. A text which tells of “Sidonian Canaanites”, that is, Phoenicians, who set sail around Africa and wound up on the shores of Brazil during the nineteenth year of the reign of King Hiram, some 500 years BC.

Today I will tell you the story of the Paraíba inscription.

It all began in 1872...

On September 13, 1872, the Instituto Historico – Geographico do Brasil (IHGB) at Rio de Janeiro received a letter posted in Rio de Janeiro addressed to the Vicecount of Sapucahy, President of the Institute. [7]

It was signed by a man named Joaquim Alves da Costa . He said that at his place at “Pouso-Alto on the shores of the Parahyba”, [7] one of his slaves had found a stone with some strange inscriptions which were transcribed by the son of Alves da Costa, who had an artistic vein.[7] The letter enclosed a paper on which the characters had been drawn.

So, it seems that the stone was not sent to Rio de Janeiro, only a transcription of the characters. The stone must have remained at Pouso Alto.

The director of the Rio de Janeiro National Museum, Ladislao Souza Mello Neto quickly disclosed this information to the local newspapers adding a translation of the text. The news was picked up by other papers around the world. And quite soon it was subjected to deep scrutiny by other scientists.

In the meantime, the IHGB attempted in vain to locate Alves da Costa and the stone. They did not appear.[7]

The site Paraíba

Actually, all references that I have found regarding the inscription assume that Parahyba is actually Paraí a small state in northeastern Brazil (on the tip of the easternmost part of the country).

I think that among the different options regarding Paraiba, they placed it here because it was closest to Africa, and the most likely place to be visited by Phoenician sailors. In my humble opinion, it is a big mistake. But we will get back to that later.

Criticism and denial

The original text of the inscription and his translation is shown in the following image:

Parahiba phoenician inscription
Netto's transcription of the Parahyba (or Paraíba) stone inscription, and his translation. From [7]

Of course, Netto was not an expert, and his knowledge of ancient languages was rudimentary to say the least (he had some working knowledge in Hebrew, which is very similar to the Phoenician symbols used in the inscription). So, as could be expected, in 1874, two epigraphists (those who study inscriptions as writing) S. Euting and K. Schlottmann claimed that it was a hoax.

Schlottman’s paper, “Die sogenannte Inschrift von Parahyba"( ZDMG xxviii, (1874) pp. 481-487) included a facsimile of the inscription (which you can compare to the one shown above).

In view of the relentless criticism, Neto himself, had the moral courage to admit that he had been carried away by his enthusiasm, and was mistaken. So he wrote a letter to his mentor (Renan) in 1885 –you can download the pdf document at the site indicated in our Source number [7], it is written in French.

Netto admitted that he had believed it was original due to the excellent navigation skills of the Phoenicians (Hanno, Aritoteles’ island), the possible action of sea currents (like the ones that took Cabral on his discovery voyage to Brazil in 1500), but that as there were several Parahyba rivers, and many places named Pouso Alto in Brazil, he could not track down Mr. Alves da Costa.

He concluded that: “The Phoenician inscription of Parahyba is a apocryphal inscription”.[7]

A hoax?

Currently many investigators believe that Neto had been the author of the hoax.

Though some believe that it was done by the French epigraphist Count de La Hure in revenge for the IHGB's the lack of financial support of his investigations. [1] (More on the Count, below)

Netto, had studied in Paris, under Enerst Renan “at that time, an authority on Punic archaeology” and had become imbued in Phoenicia and its wonderful culture. He was therefore predisposed towards them (he himself admitted this in his letter).[7] After studying, upon his return to Brazil, he was appointed as Director of the Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro, and was eager to promote investigations into Brazil's mysterious past.[2]

The stone: reviewed again in the late 1960s

So, the inscription remained ignored, having been classified as a forgery until the 1960s, when it was inspected once again.

Dr. Cyrus Herzl Gordon (1908-2001), was a leading Semitic languages scholar, who besides publishing hundreds of "serious" or "orthodox" papers, also used his knowledge to comment on strange anomalous Middle Eastern-style inscriptions found in the Americas such as the Metcalf stone and the Paraíba Inscription which he backed and for that received plenty of criticism.

Gordon believed that the text followed the pattern of similar known commemorative inscriptions and that it included information that was unknown at the time that it was found, and that therefore could not be a hoax. [3][4] Nevertheless he received criticism. [5] Gordon’s translation is the following:

We are Sidonian Canaanites from the city of the Mercantile King. We were cast up on this distant shore, a land of mountains. We sacrificed a youth to the celestial gods and goddesses in the nineteenth year of our mighty King Hiram and embarked from Ezion-geber into the Red Sea. We voyaged with ten ships and were at sea together for two years around Africa [Ham]. Then we were separated by the hand of Baal and were no longer with our companions. So we have come here, twelve men and three women, into New Shore. Am I, the Admiral, a man who would flee? Nay! May the celestial gods and goddesses favour us well!

Comments

So, we have a letter with a transcription of inscriptions found on a stone, that was never actually seen by scientists, it was posted from an unknown place on an ambiguous river by a person who could not be found later. It's text was, according to some scholars badly written and therefore a hoax, but, according to others (i.e. Gordon), genuine.

It is up to each of us to analyze the information and decide.

But why forge the inscription?

One of skeptic explanations about the forgery suggests that the "paper" was a remnant of some Freemasonic ritual in the nineteenth century Brazil.

Freemasonry. Is a worldwide fraternal organization, formerly a "secret society" fashioned after the Middle Ages guilds. Its members believe in a Supreme Being and share other beliefs of moral and metaphysical nature. Many aspects of its internal work are not generally revealed to the public; it is a "a peculiar system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." [9]

Gordon, in his analysis, dated the inscription to the period of Tyrian King Hiram III who reigned between 554 and 533 BC. [6] The Freemason theory points out that Hiram inspired the character Hiram Abif in the Freemason initiation rituals, and this is the (in my opinion tenuous) link between Masons and the inscription. [6]

The other reason, already mentioned above could be revenge, by the Count de la Hure,

This is an interesting option because he was intimately involved with Brazil and had plenty of information to commit the "crime".

Monsieur Baril, V. L., comte de la Hure, knew Brazil quite well, as he wrote two books about the country, one of them, curiously mentions the name “Parahyba”: Voyage sur le rio Parahyba (Douai, 1861). This is the southern river, the one that flows through the state of Rio de Janeiro, into the Atlantic Ocean.

The other book, a detailed geographic report on the country, L’empire du Brésil (Paris, 1862) mentions both Parahyba rivers, but, and this is remarkable, only one village named Pouso Alto. [8]

This place, which still exists, and can be seen in the map below:


View Larger Map
Pouso Alegre, Minas Gerais. Map.

It is a town, also known as Pouso-Alegre, located three hundred and sixty kilometers south- south west of Ouro Preto, in the state of Minas Gerais, which, as I mentioned in a previous post Phoenicians Part 5 (The Gold of Ophir), could have been the place where the Phoenicians got their gold from (the mythical biblical land of Ophir).

The Southern Paraíba River runs parallel to the Atlantic seabord, a few miles from the border between the states of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais and very close to Pouso-Alto.

The town of Pouso-Alto is a few kilometers to the west of the Paraiba river, but not on it.

And, although a river (the do Mandu and Itaim rivers meet at Pouso Alto) runs through the town, it does not drain towards the Atlantic (Paraiba Basin), but to the west (Paraná River Basin) because it is separated from the former by a high mountain range (1700 m altitude - 5575 ft.) the Serra da Mantiqueira, that runs parallel to the coast.

Nevertheless, it would be likely that a settler at Pouso Alto would have mentioned the Paraiba River as a place where he found the stone. He probably lived at Pouso Alto and owned land on the Paraiba.

I believe that the "Paraiba" mentioned in the letter is this river and not the northeastern state of "Paraiba". Why? For the following reasons:

  • Paraiba river offers a clear inland route from the Atlantic coast towards the Serra da Mantiqueira and Minas Gerais Region.
  • Minas Gerais has gold and diamonds. Something that would have interested the Phoenicians.
  • A landlord at Pouso Alto would have been able to visit Rio de Janeiro and post a letter there as they are very close to each other.
  • Other Phoenician evidence was found in Minas Gerais:
    "Another Jesuit reported that in 1641 gold prospectors had located some strange buildings in the area that is now the state of Minas Gerais. They brought back to Salvador several strange ceramic pots and three bronze figurines with undecipherable inscriptions on them. These objects were sent to the Jesuit headquarters in Rome and three years later, after careful study were declared to be Phoenician.”[10]

I frankly don't believe that the Count de la Hure forged the text. He was a well known scholar, employed by the Brazilian government. Though he knew the place, he had no real reason to forge a Phoenician text. In my opinion the inscription may be genuine.

More posts are on the way regarding Phoenicians in Brazil. Some are very flimsy and lack proof, but I will include them just to provide a thorough background on the subject (that is what this blog is all about: reliable references and substantiated evidence).

Thank you!

Sources

[1] Langer, Jhonni, (2002). Fenicios No Brasil. 20.06.2002
[2] Gabriela Martin, (2008). Pré-história do Nordeste do Brasil Editora Universitária UFPE. pp. 26
[3] Cirus Gordon, (1968). The Authenticity of the Phoenician Text from Paraiba. Orientalia, No. 37, 1968, pp. 75-80,
[4] Cirus Gordon, (1968). The Canaanite Text from Brazil, Orientalia, No. 37, 1968, pp. 425-436,
[5] Frank Moore Cross, Jr. (1979). Phoenicians in Brazil?, Biblical Archaeology Review, Jan/Feb 19 79, pp. 36-43.
[6] Richard Flavin. Online. Fell and Egyptian
[7] Ladislau Netto, (1885). Lettre a Monsieur Ernest Renan a propos de l’inscrioption Phenicienne apocryphe soumise en 1872 a l’Institut historique, geographique et ethnograpicque du Bresil. Rio de Janeiro, Lombarts et Comp. Online at the: Biblioteca Digital do Museu Nacional, UFRJ.
[8] V. L. Baril (Comte de la Hure), (1862). L'empire du Brésil: monographie complete de l'empire sud-am&eaucte;ricain.... F. Sartorius, pp. 443.
[9] Freemasonry.
[10] Robert F. Marx and Jenifer Marx, (1992). In quest of the great white gods: contact between the Old and New World from the dawn of history Crown. pp. 308.


Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia
2011 International Year of Forests
2011 International Year of Forests Copyright 2009-2011 by Austin Whittall © 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The “Phoenician” inscriptions in Brazil. Pedra da Gavea

 
First part on the "Phoenician" inscriptions found in Brazil.
 
See Index on all my posts on Phoenicians in America.
 
Pedra da Gavea mountain in Rio de Janeiro. Phoenician inscriptions
Pedra da Gavea in Rio de Janeiro. The "Phoenician inscriptions" seen from afar. Adapted by A. Whittall form a photograph by Paulo Afonso de A. Teixeira

In the southern part of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, right beside the beach, there is a steep mountain that rises 842 m (2,760 ft.) above sea level. It has a sheer rock face and is known as Pedra de Gávea (“topsail” rock, in Portuguese).

Besides being a beautiful sight, with rugged face and its base covered with lush tropical vegetation, it is also intriguing, because it has some strange marks on its face that have been said to be man-made inscriptions.

This is just one of the many alleged pre-Hispanic inscriptions found in Brazil. Today’s post will review them with a critical eye.

LAABHTEJRABRIZDABNAISNEOFRUZT

In 1839, Januário da Cunha Barbosa and Araújo Porto-Alegre published a paper in the Intituto Histórico e Gegráfico Brasileiro (IHGB) journal on the possible existence of ancient inscriptions on the Pedra da Gavea.

In their article (Relatório sobre a Inscricao da Gávea”, RIHGB (1): 77-81), they concluded that after an “in loco” inspection that their were not sure if these inscriptions were real or not, and suggested that the Institute should undertake a deeper investigation.[1]

Neary one century later, in 1920 the matter was taken up again by a "scholar", actually a retired industrial magnate (who of humble origins, and became an orphan at a young age, later made his fortune as a natural rubber tapper) named Bernardo Azevedo Silva Ramos (1858-1931).

Silva Ramos was a self educated archaeologist and historian, president of the Instituto Geografico de Manaos. Living in Manaos, in the Amazon, he compiled several hundreds of “Phoenician inscriptions” from that region, which [2]

He published, with government support a book on the native inscriptions in Amreica: “ Inscricoes e Tradicoes da America Prehistorica — Especialmente do Brasil”, in two volumes ( R. de Janeiro, 1930-39), in which he dealt with Gavea's inscriptions. Below is an image of these inscriptions and their translation according to Silva Ramos:

Gavea Phoenician inscriptions
Pedra da Gavea "Phoenician" inscriptions.

Ramos interpreted the inscriptions (which, by the way, the Brazilian government and most scholars consider the work of erosion and natural weathering of the mountain's rock face) as follows:

LAABHTEJ - RAB - RIZDAB - NAISINEOF - RUZT

And, considering that the Phoenicians wrote from right to left (like modern Hebrew, the opposite to the way Western languages are written), he inverted the phrase:

TZUR - FOENISIAN - BADZIR – RAB - JETHBAAL

Which, he translated as:

Tyro Phoenicia, Firstborn Jethbaal”.

A cryptic phrase which has a historical backing: Badezir ruled Phoenicia from 855 to 850 BC, and he was the son of Jehtbaal, who ruled from 887 to 856 BC.

This would be so neat and nice if, (there is always an if!) it had said “Canaan” instead of “Phoenicia”, because, “Phoenicians” is a name given to them by the Greeks, and as Western science derives from Greece, we use their words as our own. But, real Phoenicians didn’t call themselves that way. They used the name “Canaan”.

This may hint at (if the "letters" were not formed by natural weathering) a "forced" interpretation of symbols.

You may expect that Badezir was some name made up by Silva Ramos, and therefore lacking evidence to back it up. However, the name is true and it exists, in a list of the “Kings that had reigned at Tyre” published by Romano-Jewish historian Josephus (37 – c.100 AD), and he in turn cites a Phoenician author of the second century BC, Menander of Ephesus:

...Pheles who took the kingdom and reigned but eight months though he lived fifty years he was slain by Ithobalus the priest of Astarte who reigned thirty two ye ars and lived sixty eight years he was succeeded by his son Badezorus who lived forty five years and reigned six years he was succeeded by Matgenus his son...[6]

Text mentioning Ithobalus and Badezorus
Text mentioning Phoenician kings Ithobalus and Badezorus. From [3]

Where Ithobalus is Jethbaal and Badezorus is Badezir (by the way, I have seen in the Internet an outlandish comment suggesting that the name Brazil comes from Badezorus!).

By the way, the biblical Jezebel is the daughter of Jethbaal (she married the King of Israel Ahab, and led him astray from Jehova inducing him to tolerate the cult of Baal - 1 kings 16:31).

Closing comments.

As I said above, the marks according to most "reliable" sources are natural. And I tend to believe the same thing. Why would the Phoenicians climb up a sheer rock face to carve a strange phrase there?.

Then we have the use of the word "Phoenician" instead of "Canaan". It is as if an American expedition after reaching the Moon would have left a plaque there and signed it "Gringos" instead of "Americans".

The historical / biblical part of the translation is coherent, and neat (too neat in fact), which makes me wonder if the symbols were interpreted with the intention of finding what was in fact found: the name of Jethbaal, father of Jezebel and Badezir (aka "Brazil").

It is wishful thinking. Not the work of Phoenicians.

Next post will deal with some other inscriptions and, the famous Paraíba (or Parahyba) inscription.


Sources.

[1] Manoel Luiz Lima Salgado Guimarães, Carlos Fico, (2006). Estudos sobre a escrita da história: anais do Encontro de Historiografia e História Política : 10 e 11 de outubro de 2005. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Programa de Pós-Graduação em História Social. 7 Letras , pp 103
[2] Stone inscriptions and escutcheons. American Anthropologist vol. 22. pp. 388+
[3] Flavius Josephus, William Whiston, (1810). The genuine works of Flavius Josephus: containing five books of the Antiquities of the Jews : to which are prefixed three dissertations, Volume 6. Printed for Evert Duyckinck, John Tiebout, and M. & W. Ward pp. 216


Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia
2011 International Year of Forests
2011 International Year of Forests Copyright 2009-2011 by Austin Whittall © 

Phoenician gods in Patagonia: horned demons

 
Seeking a link between horned Phoenician gods and the horned deities of Patagonia
 
See Index on all my posts on Phoenicians in America.
 
Baal, Phoenician horned god
Baal, supreme Phoenician god. Note the horns sprouting from his head. Source: Internet

Moloch, Ammonite horned god
Biblical "Molech" horned god revered by the Ammonites and also the Phoenicians. Source: Internet

We have mentioned the possibility that the Phoenicians or their Carthaginian descendants reached America some 2200 – 2700 years ago, trading Brazil wood dye, precious metals and gems of American origin in their Mediterranean markets. Perhaps they even set up colonies here (in future posts I will keep on providing “evidence” on their alleged presence in South America). In today’s post we will take a peek at their gods and review the possibility that these deities could have left an indelible impression on the local natives, especially in Patagonia, which is where there is evidence (in the form of Phoenician inscriptions) of their presence.

See my post on the Cattle like creatures in Patagonia (cows and bulls were unknown in Patagonia until they were introduced by the Spaniards in the early 1500s): the options are that (a) there was some now extinct "bovid" in Patagonia or (b) they came across cattle brought by pre-Hispanic mariners, either in effigy (such as a horned-god cult) or in person, with cattle on board these sailor's ships.

Horned gods. Molech

Molech was the main god of the Ammonite pantheon, he was also worshiped by the Phoenicians as we can see from inscriptions bearing his name “Melek. A name that meant “king” (that is, the great leader, or “top” god).[3]

Moloch derives from the word Melkarth and is abbreviated in the Phoenician inscriptions as Melkar, Mokarth and also Mokar.[3]

Each of the independent city-states of Phoenicia had their “male” deity which despite having different names, shared the same features: at Tyre he was Melqart, at Sidon Eshmun and at Byblos, Baal. They also had a female partner (who is most commonly known as Astarte). The name Baal, in Phoenician meant “lord” or “master”, and may have been referred to as adonai (my lord), which was adopted by the Greek as Adonis, their young hunter god.[4]

We find juicy references to Moloch in the Bible, who mentions it in reference to the hated enemies of the people of Israel, the Ammonites, whose religion included the worship of Moloch or Molech whom they represented as a horned bull-like deity.

Ammonites: People of Semitic origin who lived on the eastern side of the Jordan River (Transjordan), just to the northeast of the Dead Sea in what is now Jordan. [1]

We find reference to him in the Bible, in 1 KingS 11:7: “Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon”.

According to the Bible, the cult of Moloch was bloody and demanded the sacrifice of children. As the Jewish people sporadically took to adoring Moloch (abandoning the worship of Jehovah), God’s word, as recorded in the Bible, strictly prohibits this horrible kind of sacrifice.

For instance, in Leviticus 18:21 God orders: “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.”.
His ban is repeated in Leviticus 20:2-5 (Where he tells Moses: “Say to the Israelites: 'Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death. The people of the community are to stone him…”) and in 2 Kings. 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35, Isaiah 30:33 and 57:5, etc.
However not all agree with this monstrous behavior:

Some are of opinion that the devotees contented themselves with making their children leap over a fire sacred to Moloch by this action consecrating them to that false deity and as by a lustration purifying them this being a usual ceremony on other occasions among the heathen. Others believe that they made them pass between two fires opposite each other with the same intention...[2]

There is even a place mentioned in the Valley of Hinnom, on the hill where Jerusalem is built, this site is known as Topheth, or “fire pit”.
The burning took place in a brazen idol (depicted above), which had the head of a bull and arms of a person. They would build a fire, and heat the idol until it was red-hot and glowing, then they would take their newborn babies and place them in those searing arms, so that they burned to death. [2]

Apparently the Carthaginians also sacrificed children, though there are many who doubt this (read both sides of the story - external link.)

Baal the other horned god

There is a stele of Baal, from a site in modern Syria, Ugarit. It dates back to the period between the 1500 and 1800 years BC. If you are in Paris, drop by the Musee du Louvre and take a look at it. Baal has two cow-like horns sprouting from his head.

Sources.

[1] Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard, (1990). The Mercer dictionary of the Bible. Mercer University Press, 1990. pp. 23.
[2] Agustin Clamet, (1832) Dictionary of the Holy Bible. Crocker and Brewster, pp. 677.
[3] George Rawlinson, The Religions of the Ancient World. pp. 146.
[4] Glenn Markoe, (2000) Phoenicians. Vol 2 of Peoples of the past. University of California Press, pp. 117.


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