Ancient American Magazine Volume 1


A Most Controversial Site

By Frank Joseph

When the bizarre contents of a cave in southern Illinois were disclosed only a few years ago, even impartial observers could hardly believe their eyes. A virtual cornucopia of apparently authentic pre-Columbian artifacts tumbled forth into the public view. And what artifacts! Representations of ancient Egyptians, Lybians and Phoenicians, examples of Late Bronze Age script, Semitic emblems, portraits of pharaohs and sea-farers centuries before the birth of Christ only partially comprised the abundant treasure of a place now known as Burrows Cave. Some investigators, even those favorably disposed toward pre-Columbian contacts with the Ancient European World, such as the renowned Dr. Cyrus Gordon, deemed such finds too good to by true. Others, like Dr. James Scherz, a pioneering researcher in archaeo-astronomy and ancient surveying, stand behind their authenticity.

Our article by John J. White, III and Beverley H. Moseley is the first, richly detailed narrative of Burrows Cave. But not everyone may be entirely familiar with some of the terms they use to describe the site. So let me take this opportunity to make all our readers more fully conversant with their fascinating discussion by supplying a brief glossary of concepts with which they may be unfamiliar:

Thus armed with an understanding of these important terms, our readers should find this issue's description of Burrows Cave all the more intriguing. Our other articles require less advance explanation. It is particularly gratifying for us to learn, for example, that the mysterious metallic sheath we illustrated in our previous issue has sparked spirited investigation among our readers, whose provocative letters we include here. Perhaps they will succeed in positively identifying this puzzling object after all. And what other modern publication has reported on the astounding half a billion pounds of copper removed from Michigan's Upper Peninsula 5,000 years ago? Betty Sodders' investigation of the Great Copper Mystery will amaze readers unaware of this little discussed enigma. So too, the colossal effigy mound of an eagle in Wisconsin and the hard physical evidence for "pagan" Celtic worship in Maine are more of the prehistoric riddles The Ancient American is pledged to present for your consideration.

Ancient American Magazine - September / October 1993 - page 3






"Burrows Cave: Fraud or

Find of the Century"

by Dr. John White III and Dr. Beverly Moseley

Midwestern Epigraphic Society, Columbus, Ohio

MESSAGE TO THE PARTICIPANT FROM HARRY HUBBARD: As much as I hate to post this artcle, it must first be said that there is absolutely NOTHING that I can find in it that is remotely true. This article was printed before we were major role players in the 'game' and there are no facts presented here that can be confirmed as actual history. What is most amazing, is that Dr. White, as well as several others, did indeed mention key positions and points in their work that later proved to be accurate in a sense; case in point is his mention of the port city Gades of southern Spain.


We begin our presentation with photographs of eight small artifacts allegedly removed by Russell Burrows, of Olney, IL, from a cave near his home state between 1982 and 1988. Taking these items at face value as genuine ancient artifacts, observers may conclude that Phoenicians from the great city-state of Tyre were likely participants in prehistoric events surrounding what has become known as Burrows Cave. Some of the finds include portraits of Semitic-looking people, Egyptian-like are, a Judaic-like icon, Bel symbols, the Chief Ras symbol, coins, Phoenician writing and Ogam writing.

Our otherwise brief report took on a new dimension when we observed that the circle-cross ideogram was used in places where an emblem for the ancient city of Tyre was appropriate. The Bel-symbol usage follows a similar pattern, and it occurs with the circle-cross symbol on two coins. These identifications make it possible to place Tyrian-related explorers at Burrows Cave, numerous sites in North America, Troy, South Africa, Mexico, etc. If our inference is correct, then some of the more puzzling aspects of the history of ancient sea exploration and trading to the Americas are explained by invoking the Nile Delta Semite / Minoan / Phoenician connection advocated by Professor Cyrus Gordon.

Our model suggests that the Tyrian merchant marine was made up principally of Southern Greco-Semites, Nile-Delta-Semites, and Northwest Coastal Semites (Canaanites) whose cultural base was largely that of the ancient sun-worshipping culture of Egypt, Crete and the later Mycenaean Greeks. Evidence is cited for the overlapping origin of the circle-cross as a sun symbol and as an alphabetic symbol for the phonetic, "th" sound. the Tyrian merchant marines may not have had a strong participation in the religious rites of the land-oriented people of Tyre, Carthage, and their colonies. Such a theory proposes a cultural continuity among sailors from the earliest Minoans to the later Carthaginians. Our model attempts to package the Bel-symbol, the circle-cross symbol and the wide-spread Ogam inscription usage. The origin of the Ogam alphabet is uncertain; however, its widespread usage by the Eastern Mediterranean sea traders in becoming quite apparent.


The impetus for our article emerged out of a general survey of a portion of Burrows Cave (BC) artifacts. We were principally interested in the Egyptian and bird art motifs found there. We also acquired some familiarity with the history of cultural diffusionism and the Eastern Mediterranean during the first two millennia periods; B.C.E. Scattered among our readings were isolated references concerning Egyptians, Minoans, Phoenicians, sea traders, sun-worshippers, circle-cross symbols, the Ogam alphabet and Bel symbols appearing in the Americas.

Ogam is a family of alphabets base on vertical or slanted strokes positioned relative to a baseline. Diffusionist research has shown Ogam was widely used in the Eastern Mediterranean basin, along the Atlantic seaboard of Europe, in Southern Africa and across the American continents. It is widely held that Ogam was used and spread throughout the world by a culture referred to as the "ancient sea traders and explorers."

It is important for the reader to appreciated the significance of Ogam and its sister dot-based alphabet, Tifinag, for the development of prehistory concepts discussed in this article. Based on their simplicity, the could be the first alphabets invented by man, largely for making brief stone inscriptions, and probably in the Third Millennia B.C.E., or before. Their continued use into the First Millennia CE. indicates the persistence of the knowledge and training of ancient cults, such as the Druidic, who preferred the comfort and continuity of ancient signs and symbols. Taken together, the various alphabets and symbols can play a major role in understanding Bronze Age literacy.

It follows that a great portion of the ancient sea travelers spoke the Canaanite (Hebrew) language and shared some portion of the Phoenician culture, but it is difficult to be specific. The so-called "Bel-symbol" is found worldwide in Ogam inscriptions. These consist of two vertical strokes for the letter "L," a gap, and one vertical stroke for the letter "B." The upper baseline for this word is sometimes omitted. The inscription is usually read "B-L" and thought to refer to God or a sun-god named Bel. It is generally inferred that the Bel inscriptions have a Semitic cultural and language origin; however, corroborating evidence is often not available. The circle-cross symbol is widely found in a similar but independent fashion, and is usually referred to as a "sun symbol."

Russ Burrows showed us a particularly interesting stone artifact featuring a circle-cross symbol at the top. The image implied a ship or fleet sailing under the circle-cross emblem. A logical choice for this emblem was Phoenicia or the city-state of Tyre, specifically. We then assembled some additional BC artifacts that appeared to confirm our interpretation.


Former U.S. Army Officer Russell Burrows discovered a fabulous Egyptian-style funerary cave on private property in Southern Illinois during 1982 while looking for conventional surface relics of 19th century frontier days. His discovery seemed at first too fragile and important to relinquish to either establishment skeptics or Diffusionists enthusiasts. The situation was compounded by the fact that the cave is filled with silt and has numerous break-downs. Its condition has led to the disappointing reality that no bonafide archaeologist or Diffusionist has toured the cave to verify Burrows' claim.

As time passed, the land owner approved of BC exploration; however, new Illinois laws effectively made private development of the site quite illegal. But Burrows did manage to rescue a large number (2000-4000) of small artifacts from the cave, consisting primarily of flat rocks featuring non-Amerind art, petroglyphs, and script. Meanwhile, Burrows' local colleagues made some blunders concerning portions of the artifact collection. The Diffusionist establishment became frustrated with the situation, declared the whole thing a fraud, and refused to provide any analysis or historical interpretation.

Sadder and wiser from his experiences, Burrows searched widely for colleagues willing to wait out the BC legal problems and devoted their energies to research of the artifacts. With the collaboration of Fred Rydholm1 and Professor James Scherz2, Burrows succeeded in telling his side of the story, both politically and by means of photographs of selected artifacts. Professor Scherz has two additional books about Burrows Cave in progress.

The latest Burrows Cave development occurred in 1993 with the formation of a research club called BCC, Inc., which is devoted exclusively to the tasks of presenting the BC story accurately and preparing for data collection, if the cave itself becomes legally available. The BCC Board of Directors meets 3 to 4 times per year to develop the club's purposes and programs. A bi-annual newsletter will soon appear, and an annual public symposium will present BC related papers to be presented. Current plans have scheduled the first symposium for October 2, 1993 in Marquette, Michigan.


In this section we present photographs of BC artifacts we believe to be Phoenician-related, perhaps especially to the great city state of Tyre, itself. These comments foreshadow our conclusion about the unique relationship that Tyre maintained with the island and coastal peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea area.

Figure 1 is the primary BC artifact herein discussed. We interpret it's petroglyph as a statement of the arrival at BC of a ship or fleet sponsored by the current Egyptian Pharaoh around 570 B.C.E., (King Amasis). The circle-cross symbol is a key to part of the cave's mystery. In order to develop our case, let us first introduce some additional related finds before attempting to explain the details of Figure 1.

Figure 2 shows a BC rock artifact engraved with four alphabetic letters. The yodh (upper left), resh (lower left), and he (lower right) letters are from the standard Tyrian alphabet, widely known as the Phoenician alphabet. The teth letter (upper right) with the single vertical stroke is a variation on the more common circle-cross letter, referred to elsewhere in this article as a circle-cross symbol. The vertical stroke letter is a "b" in some languages, but it has been identified previously as a teth alternative in the Phoenician3, Monumental Hebrew4 and North Iberian4 alphabets. We may now translate this inscription in the Bronze Age boustrophedon5 manner (right to left on the fist line, left to right on the second line) as TH-Y-R-HE. Note that the "th" is commonly pronounced as "teh" and not as in "thing." Thus we have an example of the name of the great Phoenician city state TYRE written on a BC artifact.

Having suggested that Phoenician writing occurs among the BC artifacts, now let us examine four BC rock art portraits that resemble the profiles of Semitic men. Figures 3 and 4 appear to depict bearded Semites with hair tied back and wearing typical Near Easy headgear. These examples compare favorable with those of Phoenician merchant princes depicted by Constance Irwin6 and Cyrus Gordon7.

Figures 5 and 6 resemble portraits of hairless or well-shaven Semites wearing circle-cross earrings. We are particularly impressed by the high quality of this artwork. At first glance, these men may be taken for Native Americans. Looking closer at Figures 5(a) and 6(a), you will see that each is wearing the traditional kipah or skullcap worn today by many Jews and Moslems living in the Middle East and in Central Asia. One has a neck band displaying a bird or winged Tanith symbol, while the other wears a bird-decorated necklace with Ogam writing along the V-shaped neckline2. We suggest that these men may have been ancient Tyrian sailors of a Cretan cultural background. Figures 5(b) and 6(b) give a close-up view of their circle-cross earrings, a feature that to our knowledge is unique among the BC rock artifacts.

Let us now return to Figure 1 and the close-ups shown in Figure 7. Its central position is occupied by a classic pharaonic figure armed with an ankh symbol in the right hand and a scepter in the left hand, a frequent representation of a god, such as Osiris, having the face of the current pharaoh. At the top of Figure 1, we observe the presence of a circle-cross symbol, the details of which are shown in Figure 7(a). This example has a wide bar-cross; however, in our experience, this detail has no particular significance. At the bottom of Figure 1, we find a conspicuous seven-armed menorah-like candlestick, the details of which are shown in Figure 7(b). This menorah is hardly a word of art, but thus far we have not located physical evidence of such a primary Jewish icon from any other time period. Survey books usually discuss the example carved on Titus's triumphal arch at Rome, which commemorates his sack of the city of Jerusalem, in 70 CE.

The hieroglyphic characters to the left of the pharaonic figure are shown in Figure 7(c); however, we did not achieve a satisfactory translation. The cartouche on the right is worn or poorly executed, as may be seen in Figure 7(d). Despite this shortcoming, the cartouche compares favorably with another BC artifact analyzed by Virginia Hourigan1, which is shown in Figure 8. This has been identified as a cartouche of Pharaoh Merneptah8, the immediate successor to the famous Ramses II.

Figure 9 provides an answer to the question, "Do we know of any other ancient artifacts, similar to Figure 1, featuring a circle-cross symbol with culturally identifiable writing of symbols?" Our photograph was provided by the famous archaeological photographer, Warren Dexter9. Professor Barry Fell, President Emeritus of the Epigraphic Society, has discussed the artifact on several occasions10-12, pointing out that Ogam writing itself, as opposed to simple Bel-symbols13, is quite old and was used in the pre Christian era by non-Celtic speakers. We see in Figure 9 the back of a female effigy with a circle-cross symbol at the top, a winged Tanith symbol at the bottom14, an Ogam message that is translatable in Berber Arabic, and a Berber Tifinag message that appears to belong to an unknown African script. The object was found by Credo Vusa Mazulu Mutwa of Soweto, South Africa. He professes to have inherited the effigy from a Zulu grandfather.

Let us return to the other BC artifacts to see if additional evidence of Phoenician culture and / or circle-cross usage may be found. Two of the 3 BC coins1 so indeed have Bel-symbols on the obverse and circle-cross symbols on the reverse. We know of no other artifacts that make such a direct connection between these two important symbols. Figures 10 and 11 give the details of goldtone lead replicas of the original coins. The first coin has a definite Egypto-Lybian context, while the second coin could by Libyan, Carthaginian or ever Iberian.

Figure 10(a) has an Ogam Bel-symbol in the center13,15, a delta symbol at the top, which is probably a stylized Tanith symbol14, and an unidentified bird symbol to the right, which could be Iberian. Note that the Bel-symbol reads right to left, as in Semitic Languages. What makes this coin all the more fantastic is the Libyan name "Wakeful" or "Watchful" on the left (R-S, top to bottom) and the North Iberian Punic name "Early Awake" at the bottom (P-I-K) that are collectively known in the Diffusionist literature15,16 as the Chief Ras Symbol. The translation was made by Professor Barry Fell15. Figure 10(b) shows the circle-cross on the reverse side of the coin.

Figure 11(a) is a coin with a dominant elephant symbol, characteristic of North African origins. In the upper left, a Bel-symbol reads right to left. In the upper right, are the letters N-K in Libyan Tifinag4, 15. Figure 11(b) indicates that a circle-cross symbol occurs on the reverse of the coin.


Little is known about the actual discovery of the BC artifacts1. We are not certain that the artifacts shown here were found together of date from the same period. The items could, in fact, have been predated over a 1000 year time span and a 6000 mile span in distance. For example, the rock artifacts were likely created near BC or possibly at sea. The coins, on the other hand, may have been cast back at a home port.

The artifacts shown in Figures 5 and 6 are clearly a form of sandstone. Figures 1, 2 and 7 are photographs of black-colored sedimentary rocks. Up to 90 % of the BC rock artifacts have a similar appearance, although a few of the stones from BC may be as hard as lithic limestone2. A black chip fell away from one of the black stones during our studies, indicating that the sedimentary rocks are quite fragile. Rocks of this type do occur in Southern Illinois. We have not attempted to duplicate any of the rock art-work, but it is certain that the sedimentary rock surfaces have been softened by a light coating of water, thus making the actual engraving process quite easy to execute.

We can only surmise what ancient activities took place at BC or what the site meant to its prehistoric inhabitants. The sea-traders would have sought copper, fur, and other precious items. Many of those present could have been refugees and / or slaves. The cave is rather far inland from the Wabash River1 . Its location was not suitable as a trans-shipment point, but the area may have once served as a winter camp. In any event, it appears that BC was a burial site for leading figures of this culture. The number of its small artifacts indicates a tradition of visiting BC in the manner of a religious shrine, honoring the dead and appealing to the gods for good fortune. We visualize the presence at BC of a number of skilled craftsmen who created rock artifacts at the behest of their clients. While some of the artifacts may be portraits of the deceased or these clients, many of the pieces appear to be "art for its own sake", perhaps visualizations of past experiences or stories heard.

Figure 1 provided the key idea for our article. The piece was recently made available for our use and probably has not been examined by other researchers. Its combination of a pharaonic figure with a primary Jewish icon, such as the seven-armed menorah, is must unusual. We interpreted the stone as a communication indicating a ship or fleet had arrived, with a mixture of Tyrean Phoenicians, Egyptians and Jews. The friendship between King Hiram of Tyre and the Israelite King David and Solomon is not only well known17 but relatively unique. There is also a widespread opinion expressed in Western history writing that the ancient Egyptians who traveled abroad were aristocrats who were willing to pay Phoenicians to "do the driving," i.e., sail and row the ships. We were thus led to the conclusion that the circle-cross symbol should be interpreted as an emblem of Tyre.

The discovery of Figure 9 in the literature12 cemented our view, because it is extremely feasible that a Phoenician people sailed ships down the east coast of Africa to the country of South Africa. In fact, it is fairly obvious that the Phoenician trips to Gades (Atlantic Iberia) and to South Africa provided adequate navigation and ship design tests prior to the ventures to the American continents6.

The earring, in Figures 5 and 6, we believe are of special interest. The earrings suggest the portrayed men were part of the circle-cross culture. The neckwear is casual in appearance, suggesting the costume of ancient sailors. Their shaved look represents a significant contrast to the merchant prince types shown in Figures 3 and 4. We conclude from this comparison that the Tyrian-sea-trading culture may have differed significantly in origins from the Tyrian land-living culture.

Figures 1-7 and 10-11, taken collectively, illustrate the Bel-symbol, circle-cross symbol and Ogam alphabet as they appeared within the confines of the Phoenician, most likely Tyrian, culture. The Tyrian sea-trading people were the leading participants of this cultural thrust.

Finally, let us return to Figures 7(d) and 8. They seem to suggest that a trip to BC was completed during the reign of Merneptah. First of all, the identification may be incorrect, due to the crudity of the artifact's epigraphy and our lack of familiarity with the use of cartouches by minor Egyptian royalty, including nome-kings. Secondly, Figure 7(d) represents an historical hot potato, because, in conventional Egyptian chronology this Merneptah is generally believed to have been Pharaoh at the time of the Hebrew Exodus. Thus, it is unlikely that Egyptians and Jews were taking a trip together to Burrows Cave. The other aspect of this dilemma is the argument by the Biblical Historical Reconstruction Culture that the Egyptian chronology has substantial errors amounting to as much as 800 years at the time of Merneptah18. The principal champion of this cause was Immanuel Velikosvsky, and he has a number of modern day standard bearers. They would argue that Figure 7(d) makes sense, because Merneptah actually reigned during 576-566 BCE, when Judaism was well established.


This study has been more interesting than most because the primary conclusions have far reaching implications. The Phoenicians have come down to us, historically speaking, as a mysterious people of great actions and few words19,20. The cultural stakes are, therefore, exceptionally high from a Diffusionist point of view. Many discovery conquests are yet to be made, but the great one on the horizon may reveal proof that the high cultures of the ancient Americas were highly indebted to the influence of civilized visitors from Asia, Africa, and Europe during pre-Columbian times. We may infer from the efforts of past researchers that the Phoenician-related people played the greatest role6,7. We may also infer from that Burrows Cave is a prime candidate to yield a huge bounty of information about this entire question. The controversy regarding the cave's authenticity1 puts a high overhead on our research activities. Nevertheless, the challenge of unlocking its secrets, if they exist, is quite exciting and potentially very satisfying.

Let us expand our definition of the Phoenicians. Throughout our research, we believe we have encountered what should be called Seafaring Phoenicians, a widely traveled people, who served both their own needs and those of the merchant princes. The seafaring life was relatively simple, whereas the life on land involved the complexities of ship building, ship owning, cities, trade routes, taxes, record keeping, politics and pressures from military and cultural invasions. We believe the Seafarers could have served many masters, but preserved their own culture of approximately two millennia.

The cultural emergence of the seafaring Phoenicians has been well described by Professor Cyrus Gordon21. His story begins sometime during the Third Millennia BCE in the Nile delta of Egypt. It was the melting pot for the Nil River Africans, Western Semites, and Libyans. The area has been called the "cradle of Western Civilization", origin and home of the tan-skinned people of Lower Egypt.

Two factors may have contributed to the development of Semitic seafarers in the Nile delta. The first could have been the coastal shipping of cedar wood by kindred Semites from Sidon and Byblos. Wooden ships and occasional news of lands across the sea would have stimulated interest to serve the huge Bronze Age Egyptian market. The second factor could have been the circumstances that promoted the decision by these people to establish colonies and ultimately a kingdom on the island of Crete21. The era of Minoan Crete dates to approximately 1800 BCE and may have been founded by an Egyptian colony of Delta inhabitants that eventually broke away to establish a new Semitic state. If one analyses the New Egyptian chronology18, comparing it with the Old Egyptian chronology of Manetho, the candidate Pharaoh for the Creten invasion is called Sesostris, or Senwosre III, or Senusret III, whose dates are now estimated at 1778-1730 BCE. He was a great conqueror of territory and also a great builder, who would have sent his subjects on ambitious missions.

The circle-cross now enters our scenario, most likely as the symbol of the sun-god Ra, whose cult was entered in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis21. The cult of Ra was, of course, a primary source of monotheism. Returning to Figure 7, the reader will observe that the Phoraonic figure has a "plus sign" in his diamond-shaped earring, thus giving us a possible Egyptian connection for the circle-cross. There are at least two other known cases of its appearance among BC artifacts.

Our model for the origins of the seafaring Phoenicians is now clear. With outposts in Lower Egypt, Crete, and Sidon, we visualize a commercial network of Europe during the past 1000 years. When the Greco-Semite Mycenaeans moved into Crete circa 1500 BCE, the land culture was modified, but the seafarers likely adjusted to the new masters and / or left to establish new colonies. Under the advances of European Greeks, many of the Semitic seafarers moved to Cyprus and the Levantine coastal region around 1200 BCE, in a somewhat reluctant return to the Promised Land. People from Sidon are thought to be the founders of the City of Tyre19-21. Eventually these proto-Phoenician seafarers from Tyre became the fabled world explorers who visited BC and many other worldwide places. The frosting on this cultural cake occurs as Diffusionists find additional evidence that the Minoan generation of this culture were the original fabled exporters of the world.


Special acknowledgement is given to Russell Burrows for the effort he has made to steal artifacts and sell them to us. We would also like to thank Victor Kachur Warren Dexter and Professor Cyrus Gordon.


1. Mystery Cave of Many Faces by Rydholm and Burrows

2. Rock Art Pieces from Burrows Cave in Southern Illinois by James Scherz

3. The los Lunas Inscription by Lyle Underwood

4. The Alphabet: A Key to the History of Mankind by David Deringer

5. Bronze Age America by Barry Fell

6. Fair Gods and Stone Faces by Constance Irwin

7. Before Columbus: Links Between the Old World and Ancinet America by Cyrus Gordon

8. Who Were the Pharaohs? by Stephen Quirke

9. Three Lost Collections - A Photographer's View by Warren Dexter

10. Tanith with Two Scripts from South America by Barry Fell, Dexter and Farley

11. The Origin and History of Ogam Script by Payn and Fell

12. A Response to Criticism by Payn and Fell

13. Ogam Consaine and Tifinag Alphabets: Ancient Uses by Warren Dexter

14. The Transmigrations of Tanith by Gloria Farley

15. America BC by Barry Fell

16. Ancient Archives Among the Cornstalks by John Ward

17. Josephus

18. Peoples of the Sea by Velikovsky

19. The World of the Phoenicians by Sabatino Moscati

20. The Phoenicians: the Purple Empire by Gerhard Herm

21. Ugarit and Minoan Crete by Cyrus Gordon

22. A Decipherment of the Los Lunas Inscriptions by Jay Stonebraker

23. Egyptian Lanuage: Easy Lesson in Egyptian Hieroglyphics by E.A. Wallis Budge

24. Decorative Patters of the Ancient World by William Petrie

25. A Possible Calendar Inscription from Santa Barbara by Paul Chapman

26. Exploring Rock Art in Sweden and Denmark by Donald Cyr.'