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Lost Crosses of Silverbell Road


Photo of lead Crosses Courtesy of AZPM











Recently I watched an episode of America Unearthed with host Scott Wolter, a forensic geologist, about the buried artifacts found at Silverbell road near Tucson. These artifacts consist of 32 Roman aged religious and warlike items ranging from crosses to spears and swords. But why in the world would these be found in Tucson of all places? Did Roman, or as some people speculate, the Lost Tribe of Israel really make it to America?


Photo courtesy of Mark Duggan












In 1925, Charles Mainer and his family were out for a day trip roaming the desert, just like a lot of us do every weekend. They were driving on Silverbell road, just north of Tucson, when they spotted an old kiln by the road and decided to explore it and the surrounding area. In a nearby dry wash, Mainer noticed something sticking out of the sand, it was two lead crosses with Latin inscriptions. The next day Mainer did the most logical thing, and that was to get an expert opinion. He packed up one of the artifacts, and brought them to Karl Ruppert, an archeologist at the Arizona State Museum. Intrigued, the museum along with Mainer and Thomas Bent, owner of the property, went out to see what else they could find.  At a depth of about five feet they found a seven pound chunk of caliche with the date 800 A. D. inscribed in it. The date would become important later. After further testing, the caliche proved that the artifacts were indeed from Roman times.

The Morning Sun ( Yuma AZ ) Dec 15 1925

The Morning Sun ( Yuma AZ ) Dec 15 1925








This is the same test as Scott performed with the same results. Caliche, according to Scott, can not be duplicated. It’s what scientist use to be able to date particular finds, kinda like a DNA result for geologists. So if the relics were in the ground for 8-900 years, as the caliche suggests, who put them there and why? It was obvious that further testing was needed, but meanwhile, in the December 15th edition of the Morning Sun newspaper out of Yuma, the artifacts were being considered real.

” Dr Byron Cumming head of the department of archeology of the University of Arizona: Dr. Charles Voorhies entomologist: Dr A. E. Douglas director of the Steward Observatory here and Dr. Frank Fowler head of his department of classical languages at the university inspected the work of the excavating several times in the last six months and each declared today that there was no possibility that the crosses were fraudulent or that they had been buried within the last eight or nine hundred years”

So why then do people today call them a hoax and why do the academics stay away from these artifacts? Most likely because the above named professors, were in quick time, ridiculed for their beliefs. Only days later, the Morning Sun also reported that the items were fake, according to E. S. Blair a Tucson attorney from New York City and a Cornell University graduate. The Latin inscriptions can be taken word for word from Julius Caesar’s DeBello Gallico and even a few days later again, Dr. Fred Tabor Cooper scholar of Greek, Latin, Sanskrit and ancient Persian also debunked the language

Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle Jan 29 1926

Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle Jan 29 1926

But the big question is who did it, who buried these items, when and why? Because if Mainer and Bent didn’t do it, and I tend to believe they didn’t, then who? In 1926 there is a report according to a pioneer cattleman Leandro Ruiz, that a Vicenti and Timitio Odohui lived on the property forty years ago ( 1886 ). The Odohui’s were forced out of Mexico when the revolution began after the French left. The young Timitio was known to have made items in a ” soft alloy metal ” and was not considered a talented sculptor but was a ” student of the classics”.

Is it possible that his buried works were found in 1925 by Mainer? Sure, and that answer is most likely the truth. Here is just a simple story of a misunderstanding of what was found. Did Scott Wolter reach the correct conclusion? Kinda, as an expert in his field of forensic geology, and he was correct on the age of the caliche. So yes he was correct on this fact. But as someone, just like anyone of us, who may have been got up in the moment he declared the relics true. With all due respect to Scott, he is not language expert nor a academic historian. He is a man with passion for what he does and I honestly can not fault that by any means. Scott is the star of the show, and has a complete team of people working behind the scenes.

The true question is, who did the research for him and if, he/she still has a job at the History Channel, why?