Conference at Lehigh University.
Dr. Himanshu Jain and Dr. Masashi Watanabe, in a conference room at Lehigh Microcopy School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Monday, September 18th, met for one and a half hours with John Lefgren, Boyd Tuttle, and Blaise Colasante to discuss the focus of research for engraved stones that come from the Mississippi River Valley. The scientists are recognized as among the foremost experts in the field of microscopy. Over the last fifty years, Lehigh University has had 7,000 graduates from its research programs. No other school has had such an impact on the ability of modern science to see all kinds of materials under ultra-high magnification. Professors and students from Lehigh have seen more materials under high magnification than any other group of people. With power as high as twenty million times, they view objects at the atomic level.
We gave a slide presentation showing our efforts to restore the world’s oldest ship replica that sailed 33,000 miles around Africa and from Tunisia to Florida.
Connection of Ancient Ship to Engraved Stones.
The first question was how a 2,600-year-old ship replica connects to the stones from the middle of America. We told the scientists that we believed that Phoenician technology made it possible for ancient seamen to come to America 2,000 years before Columbus. We also explained that the Phoenicians came to America with their language and culture. After all, they invented a system of writing that is the origin of our alphabet. We said that the evidence of their presence in America is in these stones.
Dr. Watanabe was quick and direct in his thinking. He asked why we needed the electron microscope to determine the methods and tools for engraving the stones. Dr. Watanabe reminded us that the field of view decreases as we increase the power of magnification. He suggested that our research should start with optical magnification. He said that he has little experience looking at rocks and that we should bring a geologist who knows the crystal structure of the stones into the project. Viruses, molecules, and atoms are beyond the capabilities of compound microscopes and can be viewed only with an electron microscope. But with the power of 2000x, we can see what we seek. At that level of magnification, we will know the fracture mechanics of the engraved portions of the stones. At that level of investigation, we can determine the tools and methods of cutting the stones.
Framework for Moving Forward.
Having received directions from these leading scientists, we suggested a framework for analyzing the engraved stones. We will make a comparative analysis of three objects. The first object is the original stone. The second is a similar stone cut by a jeweler with modern tools. Blaise Colasante would engrave the third stone with tools available in ancient times.
Fortunately, Blaise has twenty-five years of experience working with a large group interested in ancient tools. Blaise explained how he and his colleagues could use a burin of handheld lithic flake with a chisel-like edge to engrave the characters and drawings found in the original stone. Blaise offered to carve the stone with this ancient method of cutting.
On a large screen, we looked at a close-up picture of characters found on Stone 32 from the John White Collection. Blaise identified the fracture mechanics of the stone from the attached photo. He also noted that the cutting of the “O” shows the manufacture of the cut has straight lines from the hand working of the burin. See the photo for details.