World Archaeology News:
April 2006 (c) World Archaeology Review:
A team of archaeologists from London University School of History and from the New York University Department of Antiquities and Archaeology have made what they describe as a “remarkable” archaeological discovery in New York State.
In a press statement professor Josh Petshim of London University said: “In some woods close to the small town of Manchester, in Ontario county, New York, a field walk found an area that had clearly been disturbed at some time in the past.
“We returned some days later and, with the permission of the owners of the land and, after undertaking magnetometer and ground radar geophysical surveys, established the size and nature of the disturbance.
“We dug a small exploratory trench and discovered areas of burning which we believed were associated with some form of furnace. “To our astonishment and after extensive further digging we became convinced that someone had created a crude type of metal smelting facility, there. Analysis of the nearby soil produced an unexpected result. We found significant traces of gold in the soil. It therefore became evident that someone had, at some time in the past, melted gold at the site.”
Professor Petshim went on to say: “Radio Carbon dating indicated that the work had been undertaken in a period of CE 1700 to CE 1900. Archeological finds in the area (several coins and a brass button) did narrow it down to the earlier part of the 19th century. We also found fragments of what could have been a stone box made from sandstone, which had been smashed to pieces.
“Careful and painstaking work in the area found a small fragment of thin gold sheet that had somehow been overlooked by whomever had worked the crude furnace. The fragment was sent for analysis at the Cambridge, England, Institute for Metallurgical Analysis. Experts there were of the opinion that the gold sheet was produced during antiquity, provisionally dating it at about 5,000 to 10,000 years old.
“After conservation work it was noticed that there were scratches on the fragment. Language expert Professor M. A. Smith has identified these as being in Sumerian Cuneiform. Professor M. A. Smith believes it to be part of a much larger document, written on beaten gold sheets, in order for it to be better preserved.
"It was possibly part of a royal proclamation of some kind. Speculation that it was some form of multi-page (for want of a better description) proclamation of the annexation of what is now modern America by a roving Sumerian adventurer can be neither supported or denied, due to the fact that this priceless archaeological artifact or artifacts was wantonly destroyed by the discoverer who only sought to realise the crude monetary value of the discovery.
“We can only speculate on who brought the gold sheets to America, for what purpose they brought them and what uncouth, uncultivated, uncultured creature destroyed this archaeological treasure.”
It is expected that, when funding is available, more work will be undertaken in the surrounding area.