Essay on Cherokee
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Example Essay on Cherokee
Cherokee North American tribe, set in the ancient territory of the Louisiana could have near-oriental origins. It’s what some members of the tribe believed, according to them, in their oral legend, it is hand down that their ancestors came from the sea from a place called “Masada”.. This is the incredible declaration of Beverly Baker Northup, the spokesman of the moderns Cherokee. According to Northup, the proof that the Masada of the Cherokee legends is Masada of Judea, on the shore of the Dead Sea, would be not only in the ancient legends but also in some resemblances between Cherokee and Semitic words. So, Beverly Northup thinks there is a connection between his people and the Hebrew set around Masada during the Roman Age, who, for instance, plaited their hair like North American Indians. The legend, kept alive between Cherokee people, is the one of Sicarii ran away from Masada. They were the ancestors that managed to cross the wide expanse of water till to reach the modern land of Cherokee (from Chiuluk-ki, literally “caves people”, Editor’s note). About this it’s interesting– as says Northop – the likeness between the words si’cari’, Cherokee and the Semitic tsa’ra-gi’.. Besides, the Indian spokesman, underlined that in the documents of the historian Giuseppe Flavio, Jewish Antiquity, there are some passages in which is described the escape of some Jews from the impregnable fortress of Masada, which name means “castle of the mountain”. The incident refers to the Jews wars period, during which the Romans besieged the fortress, last bulwark of the Jews. The fact that a group of people went out from the stronghold to escape coincides with what is told in Indians myths and could represent the proof of the oral tradition of the Cherokee legends.
In addition to these statements there is the belief of the American Natives, that a stone, discovered in Tennessee in 1889, called Bat Creek Stone, could give evidence of the link between Cherokee and Hebrews. Northup believes that the engravings on the stone show the find belong to the first Hebrews who cross the Atlantic to set in the modern lands of the Cherokee. But what is it, as a matter of fact, the Bat Creek Stone?
The stone was discovered in 1889, in a grave into the homonym mound, in Tennessee, during excavations led by researchers of the Smithsonian’s Mound Survey Project. In1971, doctor Cyrus Gordon succeed to identify the contents. The characters looked like a kind of spelling used in the I-II century B.C. According to this study, the first five letters from left, were words with a clear meaning: lyhwd, that is to say “for Judea”.. But the most important result arrived in 1988, when some fragments of wood inserted into the stone, were analysed in a lab and dated with the C-14. The results confirmed an age between the 32 and the 769 A.D. But some experts believe that the Bat Creek Stone was counterfeit during the XIX century for politic reasons, to demonstrate the presence, from ancient time, of the Hebrews in America, an hypothesis that must not be underestimated
A lot of scholars consider the America’s discovery by Colombo as “discover again” countries already inhabited from oriental people. To share these suppositions is doctor Cyrus Gordon, prestigious historian of ancient civilizations; he believes ancient people of Near West, including Jews, could arrive in the New World before the famous Colombo. Gordon is not the only one to believe in this hypothesis, which could be supported with the numerous oriental finds discovered in North America. One of this finds was unhearted in Albuquerque (New Mexico), in a small village called Los Lunas. Here there is a mountain well known from the local inhabitants with the name of Mystery Mountain. At its foot was discovered a stone decorated with a set of strange engravings. These engravings has been catalogued by some scholars as belonging to the palaeo-hebrew spelling, while the text seems to belong to a summarized version of the Ten Commandments. One of the researchers that have studied a lot Los Lunas stone is professor Frank Hibben, Historian and archaeologist at the University of the New Mexico. After many studies and analysis he is convinced that the inscription is authentic and was made by the ancient Jews arrived in New Mexico several centuries before the Spanish. Hibben, interviewed in 1996 by professor James D. Tabor of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of the North Carolina, said he had already seen the find in 1933, when a local guide bring him in the place of the discovery and, according to the guide statements, the object was already in that place in 1880. In 1933, said Hibben, patina and impurities made difficult the reading and the analysis of the text. For the inscription were used some characters of the Greek Alphabet, t (tau), z (zeta), d (delta), k (key), but on the contrary in respect to the normal spelling, and in the place of the correspondents Jewish characters tau, zayn, daleth, e kaf. The characters yod, qof and shin are clearly belonging to the Samaritan graphic system, as underlined Mark Lidzbarsky (1). Gordon said the Samaritan community were very widespread in Greece, particularly under Theodosius Kingdom in 390 A.D. So, the Los Lunas stone could be dated to Hellenic or Byzantine Age. A researcher that shares this hypothesis is Michael Skupin, who wrote his theories in The Los Lunas errata (2). He analysed the spelling errors of the inscription and concluded that the text could be wrote from a people whom first language was Greek, but who knew Jewish, at least the oral but not the write language. The author of the inscription used Semitic aleph as a vowel, instead of the Greek a (alpha) (but remember that in Jewish, as in other Semitic languages, aleph is classified as a consonant, never as a vowel, editor’s note), this is in contrast with the Semitic orthographic system. Beside, the writer confused the Semitic characters qof e kaf, a typical error of a Hellenic speaker that, not having emphatic consonants as qof in his spelling system, uses only one voiceless guttural, k (key), to produce these two sounds. There are, however, other evidences Greek Samaritans, gathered by professor Reinhard Pummer in How to tell a Samaritan Synagogue from Jewish Synagogue (2), which show the attribution of the Los Lunas find is a non Samaritan document.
Plummer underlines, in v. 8 of the Los Lunas text, the author followed the Masoretic punctuation (the system of diacritics used in the classic Jewish to distinguish, for instance vowels or punctuation signs, started in VI-VII A.D. and ended in IX A.D.). The Los Lunas Indian text tells: “[…] Remember the day of Sabbath and consider it Holy”, while in Samaritan text is write: “[…] Preserve the day of Sabbath and consider it Holy” and more, Samaritans add to the Ten Commandment a clause, invoked for the building of a temple on the Mount Gerizim, but in Los Lunas text this addition is absent. So, we had a lot but contrasting elements, and the debate is again without a definitive solution.
To confound more is the discovery made by another researcher, David Deal, around Los Lunas he found an interesting and curious design between the petroglyphs. In appearance, the engraving represents an astronomic map, with the position of the constellations and the planets and a Sun’s eclipse.
After many analysis, Deal established the eclipse was on September 15th of the 107 B.C., curiously the same date of an important Jewish celebration, (Yom Kippur or Yom Hakippurмm, the period the Torаh intends for the expiation of the sin committed in the year, both to God and to the men, editor’s note)
Ohio’s Tables of the Law
Many orthodox researchers consider Los Lunas finding anomalous or false but it’s true that discoveries with these characteristics don’t represent a sporadic episode on the American land. In fact we have information about a Newark (Ohio) resident, David Wyrick who, in 1860, discovered a stone with many engravings illegible for him, near a mountain few kilometres far from the city. Another find was unearthed in a burial site belonged to the Hopewell culture (100 B.C. – 500 B.C..), defined Keystone by the scholars, with the same characteristics: Jewish letters within the Indian framework, made of a material identified as novaculite by geologist Charles Whittlesey, a siliceous rock, in Archaeological frauds: inscriptions attributed to the Mound Builders (4). The stone lay into an ancient authentic well, but it’s absolutely difficult establish when it was let down the well. Keystone shows a kind of spelling characteristic of the Hebrew period between 200 and 100 B.C., corresponding to the age of Qumran’s Rolls. The text is: “qedosh qedoshim melek eretz torath devor” that is to say “Saint of the Saints, king of the earth, God Law, God word”. Many incongruities make think to a falsification of the find in this case too, and especially of the text. First of all, in the Keystone, in the expression “melek ertetz”, aleph and mem were lengthened to reach the end of the support. Letters’ dilatation appears by chance in I millennium B.C. Hebrew manuscripts, in fact, A.D. Birnbaum in The Hebrew scripts (5), marks “[…] we don’t know when the “letters’ dilatation” expedient started,” however it is absent from Qumran manuscripts”. Besides, in Hebrew spellings, letter shin is usually wrote with the inferior part in V shape, while on the first side of the Keystone appears a less common shape, with flat base, that could probably give indications about its own origin, but doesn’t prove much. November 1860, David Wyrick discovered a second find into a mound about 10 Km far from Newark: a whole engraved stone with a text, and as for Los Lunas, researchers believed it was a Ten Commandments “reduced” version. It was called “Decalogue” and was analysed by geologists Ken Bork and Dave Hawkins of the University of Denison, they said it was a calcareous stone. Besides the engravings there was a human image with a long beard, they interpreted it was Moses and the Tables of the Law. Some historians like David Deal and James Trimm put forward the hypothesis that could be a Jewish find date back to the Second Temple period, while doctor Cyrus Gordon is inclined to consider it a samaritan mezuzah (Hebrew “door-post”, to indicate a parchment roll with Deuteronomy verses, closed in a case and hung to the right door-post in a Hebrew house, editor’s note). Both hypotheses seem formulate the theory of a Jewish presence on the American land, before Columbus’ travel.
The most sceptical archaeologists considered both finds as absolutely false, underlined how strange is the same person could have discovered two finds so similar and especially in so short time. So, they believed Wyrick made the forged find. In 1861, the year following the two discoveries, Wyrick published a little book with the reproduction of the two engravings. Of the 256 letters he transcribed, at least 38 had significant errors that made the text incomprehensible. Besides, find authenticity supporters underlined if Wyrick had forge the engravings, for sure he would not have made such errors. But in one of the copied pictures, Wyrick confused hebrew “he” with “taw”, so that he interpreted the text as hwrt yhwh, that is to say “God’s Horah”.. It could be a reference to an Israeli folk dance while on the stone there is the inscription:“twrt yhwh”, that is to say “Torah yhwh” and therefore “Tables of the Law”.. To this opposed archaeologist Stephen Williams in Fantastic Archaeology (6), he stated that Wyrick forged the find to confirm his own theories, which said there was a connection between Mound Builders and the lost tribes of Israel, that does not seem far from the true. In 1838, during Grave Creek Mound excavation, in Moundsville, West Virginia, on the river Ohio banks, few kilometres far from Wheeling, was discover what was then called Grave Creek Stone. The find is a little disc of arenaria, with some signs engraved on one side only. The excavation discovered the largest mound at that time, belonged to the Adena (7) culture and now part of the Grave Creek Mound State Park, while about its dating is believed it could date back to an epoch between 250 and 150 B.C. Today find location is unknown, but from the news of that time we know that in 1868 it was kept in H. Davis collection and it was then take to the Blackmore Museum, now part of the British Museum, but the information given from the English museum confirm that the find was probably part of Will de Hass collection, at least till 1910. Davis, in 1868, made two casts of the stone: one went to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and the other one to the National Anthropological Archive.
Events linked to this find are very confused, made of renewals and denials, statement not proved and debatable interpretations. Maybe this is the most misunderstood among the finds presented here. The text, if such it is, seems to have links with Phoenician or Libyan runes, but in all these cases there are not enough elements to start a detailed linguistic study. Is not clear if the text was wrote using an alphabetic spelling or a syllabic one, geometric signs could be a symbol or a whole sentence, if the beginning language had been a native-american language, only one word can express the meaning of a whole sentence.
For much could be incredible, these finds represent only one of the many sets of finds discovered in America, which could give evidence of a Semitic frequentation of that lands. In fact, besides petroglyphs and engravings on vary supports, there are also coins belonging to the near west area. In 1952, Robert Cox, shopkeeper at Clay City, Kentucky, discovered a curious coin in a field; it was easy to catalogue it after the experts’ exam. Doctor Ralph Marcus of the University of Chicago, identified it as belonged to the time of the second Jewish rebellion against Rome in 132-135 A.D. On the obverse of the coin was represented Second Salomon Temple front, destroyed by Titus emperor’s roman armies, after the siege in the spring of 70 A.D., while on the reverse was engraved the inscription “Second year of Israeli freedom”, corresponding to 133 A.D. Numismatist Yaakov Meshorer, expert of jewish coins, once inspected the coin, said it was a copy, therefore a forge, made probably at the begin of the XX century, a souvenir usually bought by pilgrims in Holy Land. Find’s authenticity supporters answered there was no reason for a jewish coin’s copy to be in a field of Kentucky, and as in the others also in this case the controversy is still open. Unfortunately a lot of finds date back to a period in which archaeological stratigraphy principles were not fixed yet, so, completely lacking an archaeological contest and a systematic documentation, is certainly difficult to get out from the numerous true and false informations. Nevertheless Cherokee “nation” supports these informations today.