"In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue". Most kids learn this rhyme to help them in history class. For years we have been taught and generally believed that Christopher Columbus was the first European to set foot on American soil. It turns out, he may not have been even close. There have been a number of finds in the United States that suggests that others where here long before Columbus made his famous voyage. Vikings, Romans and quite possibly even Egyptians. The experts are quick to trounce such nonsense, of course, but facts may prove the "experts" may not be such experts after all.
Amazingly, there is about 5 million hits on Roman artifacts found in the state of Arizona, yet oddly, this is not a very well known event. Much of what you will find on those web pages are repeats of a few main stories about this find, which is understandable. How much can you possibly say about a few dozen artifacts found in the same location? But it does deserve further research and investigation into the matter. If not for history's sake, then just for the insane probability of actual Romans having found their way to Arizona, given the nearest beaches are along the Sea of Cortez, in Rocky Point, Mexico. That is about 60 miles from Arizona. The nearest ocean is the Pacific Ocean in California, which is about 173 miles away from the Arizona border. If the Romans were there, they traveled some distance over land to get there.
The artifacts in question, were found in September of 1924, by Charles Manier and Thomas Bent, both World War I Veterans. They were found actually sticking out of a dry wash bed about 8 miles north of Tucson, Arizona. 32 artifacts were eventually unearthed including lead alloy crosses, swords and other items with phrases and dates inscribed on them ranging from A.D. 760 to A.D. 900 in Latin.
A local teacher in Tuscon named Laura Coleman Ostrander translated the Latin inscriptions. They told the story of an 8th century battle between the settlement of Roman Jews and the local Native American tribe of the area that was called the Toltezus, who were the ancestors of the Aztecs. Also written on the first piece found, a 62 pound cross, was the inscription "Calalus, the unknown land" in Latin.
The Director of the Arizona State Museum and Dean of the Tuscon University, Byron Cummings, was asked if he would look at the objects and determine their authenticity, which he did. After examining the items, Cummings came to the conclusion that the artifacts were indeed genuine. Of course, there were experts from the Eastern United States that dismissed the artifacts quickly as forgeries. This was done, of course, without having seen or examining the items for themselves.
Of course, other arguments have ensued since that time, ranging from the AD dating used on the items to whether or not the artifacts were placed where they were to be "found". I have to wonder about the last argument, which was raised by Raymond Thompson, a former Director of the Arizona State Museum, who claims evidence was found by Emil Haury. Haury, who had been a student of Dean Byron Cummings, stated he had investigated the wash and found some pre-drilled holes running parallel to the surface in it, and the items could have been placed in one of those. My question would be, why?
If you were in possession of actual Roman artifacts, why would you bury them in Arizona just to have them dug up? If the artifacts were fakes, who would have done it that would have had enough knowledge of Ancient Roman weapons and items, as well as being experienced enough in Latin, to do it? One of the two World War I Veterans? I suppose it is possible, but for me, it would seem highly unlikely.
The mystery behind the find and the truth of the artifacts found is still being debated to this day. Real or hoaxed? You be the judge. The artifacts remain in possession of the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson, Arizona.
Some websites with more information: