Michigan Relics

By Chad Stuemke

“All matter must be in a constant state of flux to insure progress, for what was wrong yesterday might be right tomorrow.”

— Henriette Mertz

In the late 1800’s farmers and laymen alike were migrating to different areas in Michigan and claiming their newly acquired parcels of land. These common folk were unaware of the amazing discoveries that would soon be unearthed from the many ancient mounds that dotted the landscape. Farmers destroyed many of the mounds while preparing their lands for crops, meantime other citizens were digging into the mounds out of pure curiosity.  Imagine the disbelief when they began uncovering what was perceived to be ancient relics from a forgotten time.  Estimates on the number of relics recovered ranges from 10,000 to 30,000.  These artifact were mainly comprised of clay, copper, and slate.  The majority of the relics contained strange inscriptions that were unrecognizable to those who discovered them.  The thousands of relics bearing an unrecognizable language were almost immediately declared a hoax of unprecedented proportions.  Although this was, and is, the conclusion of mainstream archeologist, there were, and are others who disagree.

The hope of this article will not be to prove or disprove the authenticity of the artifacts, but to bring awareness to them.  They have been all but forgotten by the general public. If they did turn out to be authentic they would be one of the most important archeological discoveries of all time.   That said, lets see what the authorities say in regard to what they feel could be the greatest hoax of all time.

In the era of the unearthing of the relics it did not take long for the authorities to dismiss them as forgeries. Not only did the relics contain inscriptions that seem to be a mix of several ancient languages, but the tablets contained depictions of ancient religious art.  The art on the tablets contained depictions of Noah’s Arc, the Tower of Babel, and the Crucifixion among others.  Many times the stories depicted had a slight variation to the known beliefs of the 18 and 1900’s, also making no sense to those analyzing them.  Considering the scrambled language and the “cartoon like” religious art, they were dismissed as forgeries. They even had a group of culprits!

Although no one was ever “charged”, the authorities main culprits were James Scotford, Daniel Soper, and Father James Savage.

Daniel Soper

Father James Savage

Soper was a former Secretary of State, and Father James Savage was pastor of Detroit’s’ Most Holy Trinity. James Scotford was a relics collector and a supposed expert at “slight-of-hand” maneuvers.  It was postulated by some that these men,Scotford in particular, would forge the artifacts and then bury them in mounds around the state of Michigan. At a later time they would then take groups of artifact hunters out and unearth what were perceived to be ancient relics.  Others thought that Scotford may have introduced the relics (sometimes large tablets) by a slight-of-hand, consistently fooling fellow treasure hunters.  In general all digs were said to have been accompanied by highly acclaimed witnesses who later signed affidavits in regards to their discoveries. Unconvinced authorities proclaimed the artifacts hoaxed leading to the “Michigan Relics” largely being forgotten for much of the 20th century.

After Father Savage passed away his collection of artifacts was eventually relocated to Notre Dame.  The main bulk of the artifacts remained there until an authority from the L.D.S. church showed enough interest that the university gifted him the collection in its entirety1.  Milton R. Hunter also purchased Daniel Soper’s collection from his son around the same time.   With the death of Hunter the relics were finally deeded to the Church of L.D.S..  Here they remained in storage for years, unavailable for viewing for the most part. Then in 2001  Associated Professor of Anthropology at Oakland University,Dr. Richard Stamps, was asked to do an analysis of the relics. After analyzing several relics with modern technologies Dr. Stamps conclude they were forgeries2. On some of the slate tablets he has discovered what he feels are modern saw and file marks left by the hoaxers.  In regards to some of the images, he points out that the use of perspective wasn’t in use until the 15th century.  He also had several of the copper relics analyzed by a metallurgist and concluded the copper wasn’t necessarily pounded as one would expect from the natives, but rather smelted. It should be noted that one of the tablets portrayed a possible smelting process.

The Church of L.D.S. was convinced with Dr. Stamps results declaring the relics frauds, and in 2003 returned them to their original home of Michigan.   They were briefly displayed in an exhibit at the Michigan Historical Museum called “Digging Up The Controversy.” They now reside in a back storage room due to renovations at the museum. Michigan’s lead archeologist says ,”They may be in this condition for the next five to six years.” He wonders if anyone will see them again.  According to not only the Smithsonian Institute, but mainstream archeologist, these artifacts were hoaxed. Their mind is made up. It should be noted at this juncture, for an archeologist to admit the “ white-man” could have pre-dated Columbus in North America is akin to a scientist contemplating u.f.o.’s, career suicide.

There have been several other top minds over the years who have full heartedly disagreed with the conclusions of the authorities in regards to the Michigan relics. In 1986 Henriette Mertz eye opening book “The Mystic Symbol” was released.  Henriette Mertz was born in 1896 and passed in 1985. She was a patent lawyer who was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Patent Office, the Canadian Patent Office, and the Supreme Court of Illinois.  Henriette also worked on the Manhattan Project as well as contributed to the Greek encyclopedia3. As if those weren’t enough credentials, she also was considered an expert in cryptanalysis and was extremely interested in ancient artifacts.  Known for her expertise in analyzing writing and language she was asked to analyze the Michigan artifacts.

Photos – Henriette Mertz:The Mystic Symbol:courtesy of Ancient American Magazine

Before the actual language(s) were analyzed Henrietee made some basic observations.  The first, and most obvious observation made was that every relic seemed to bear a three character symbol, or the “Mystic Symbol”.  She postulated that this three character symbol may be akin to the Greek symbol of IHS (Jesus), which made its appearance around 312 A.D.4. The artifacts and tablets mainly consisted of clay, copper, and slate. The tablets were then able to be categorized again into ones that were covered in writing, tablets containing writing and pictures, and those containing mostly depictions with few words.  She then was able to categorize the relics containing both writings and depictions into three more groups: Biblical, battle scenes, and calendar records.  Upon analysis Henriette noticed something almost immediately that others had failed to recognize.  She said.”One peculiar thing stood out-even though the letters be a mixture ,the mixture within itself appeared consistently uniform.”  Continuing analysis she discovered that the measured symmetry indicated that whomever  engraved the plates must have been familiar with the language(s) in which they wrote.  She felt that, “Copied writing lacks fluency “and” no one could doubt that but one person engraved both sides and understood what he wrote with fluency, sureness, and no slight of hesitation.”  Henriette claimed,” Analysis, such as would be acceptable in any recognizable court, showed that the writing had not been forged.  Each tablet had been written by a different hand-no two tablets bore characteristics stemming from one single hand.”

Turning her attention to the larger questions, Henriette began to focus on “who” could have manufactured these amazing relics.  Postulating that who ever inscribed the tablets must have had prior knowledge of the region, a connection was made. Here the link is made between the ancient copper mines on Isle Royal Michigan( carbon dated to 1800-1000 B.C.), and the Greek and Egyptians extensive use of copper in the same time period.  Both Greek and Egyptian records spoke of an alien people who were thought to be closely connected with the import of copper. Egyptian records had referred to them as the “Keftiu” or” Keftians”.  The “Keftiu” were said to be “red-skinned”, and came from the “Isles of the Sea”.  It was believed that it took approximately three years to return with the copper from the “Isles of the Sea”, and was postulated that the “Keftiu” may have road upon Phoenician ships.  She now had a possible explanation for an alien people who may have once visited North America and retained the knowledge.  Now it was possible to speculate on whom may have  actually created and deposited the ancient Michigan artifacts.

After the Council of Nicea in 325A.D. the early Christian world was plunged into turmoil, and many Christians were forced to flee for their lives, “many sailing away to parts unknown.”  Henriette contemplated  could the depositors of these texts have been the Coptic’s who had been forced to flee from persecutions?  She felt, “If inscribing on the Michigan tablets arose about the same time as Coptic, the mixture of Egyptian hieroglyphs with Greek alphabet letters would not be unrealistic for those times.”

After much research and analysis Henriette Mertz came to the conclusion, “Analysis indicated that each individual tablet containing writing originated with a different hand. No two specimens examined produced identical characteristics- a humanly impossible feat if one person alone would have been guilty of forging the entire group of 3000.”  And,” As noted earlier we believe the persons who inscribed this material were Christian refugees fleeing from the Decian or Diocleclian persecutions and sailing out from the harbors of Dome, Naples, Alexandria, Carthage and other Eastern Mediterranean ports and assumed lost in the turbulent waters of the North Atlantic.” Unfortunately Henriette Mertz passed on in 1985 leaving her legacy of research behind for others.

Another researcher into the relics is David Allen Deal, he has helped to pick up where Mertz had left off(among a few others), yet coming from a slightly different perspective.  A few details may differ between the two, but the conclusions are strikingly similar.  Mr. Deal feels the three character “Mystical Symbol” is the equivalent to (YHW), a shortened form of HWHY-Yahweh. David came to the conclusion independently that the relics must have been manufactured and transplanted by 4th century Coptic, Egyptian Christians.

The first clue to lead him down this in particular path was the Theology incorporated upon the majority of artifacts.  He has demonstrated that many of the tablets incorporate two sub- ordinate di’etes; a son of the right hand and a son of the left hand.5
He says, “The Copts identified these two as high angels, as Little Yahu “Yao” sabboth the good, messiah “son of the right hand” and”Sama-el” the evil, messiah “son of the left hand……Satan”.” It is these repetitive pictorial elements that has lead to the speculations that the creators of the artifacts may have been in all probability with the Coptic brand of Christianity. Deal feels this is an extremely important discovery pointing out, “The theology incorporated on the plates was largely unknown until the translation in 1895 of the 3rd century Coptic,Gnostic”Christian””, Pistis Sophia.”This in essence may negate the possibility of a hoaxer(s) having this knowledge prior to the date of 1895.

Obviously this was a good piece to the puzzle. Now having an estimated time frame to play around with it was decided to take a closer look at the tablets containing calendar systems.  What was to be discovered on one tablet in particular was nothing short of amazing.   David Allen Deal discovered a tablet showing a 13 month calendar system portraying a Solar eclipse in conjunction with a meteorite!6  The tablet was unearthed on September 3rd 1896.  On the tablet there is a figure of a mans head and nose which are seemingly pointing to an area of the calendar that would correspond with the end of July. Mr. Deal estimated that the time would correspond to the dates 325A.D.-425A.D. in conjunction with the Nicean Council when the Egyptian Coptic’s may have been forced to flee from persecutions.  Speculations were confirmed when it was later discovered that on July 27th, 352A.D. at 10:54 there was a Solar eclipse.  It also happened to pass precisely over Rowland Twp.,where Isabella County would someday be, and where the artifact was unearthed!  In regards to the meteorite depicted in front of the eclipse….July 27th 352 A.D. just happened to be one of two days of maximum intensity for the annual Delta Aquarid meteor shower!  David conclude that,” Who ever made these tablets were depicting an actual event.”  This scenario begs the question: could hoaxers have had both the knowledge of the Coptic’s in conjunction with astronomical information  from 352 A.D. in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s? Mr. Deal feels’ “This single artifact has proven the time, or at least a moment in time, that the Coptic Christians were there.”

The Michigan relics now reside in storage due to renovations at the Michigan Historical Museum collecting dust.  Both sides of an extremely important discovery have been presented in hopes of bringing awareness to a portion of Michigan history that has been all but forgotten.

Photos courtesy : Wayne May and Ancient American Magazine

Michigan Relics Update!! 

The Michigan relics now reside in storage, collecting dust,  due to renovations at the Michigan Historical Museum.  After a few months of conversing back and forth with Michigan’s lead archeologist, John Halsey, I was generously granted the opportunity to see and photograph the relics first hand.  I would like to thank Mr. Halsey and Mr. Perkins for taking the time to pull the relics from storage and openly sharing their thoughts.  That said, I halfway expected to leave the museum convinced by the professionals that the amazing collection was nothing more than a hoax of enormous proportions.  This was not the case!  I was given the classic reasons that these relics were considered forgeries, including that the slate tablets were not as finely polished as other recovered Native American artifacts.  Another was that many of these tablets seem to have file marks left on them.   And finally the copper was smelted, and then cold hammered, possibly using modern sheet copper, and then cut with a saw. And the main debate of course that they think no white-man could have pre-dated Columbus.  Initially these may sound convincing, but digging deeper, some of these scenarios just don’t hold up.

Copper ax (Michigan Historical Museum)

 In regard to civilizations prior to Columbus visiting the America’s there is quite an overwhelming amount of evidence.  Ancient relics depicting earlier visitors have been unearthed not only in the Great Lakes region, but also throughout the continental U.S.  The scenario of ancient ocean travel to the land of the Blessed is found quite readily in Greek and Egyptian myth and lore.  Manly P. Hall has said, “Descriptions of ancient voyages seem to indicate that the Greeks not only reached the coast of America, but explored the St. Laurence River and part of the Great Lakes area in particular.”  And, ”Greek mythology perpetuates the knowledge of a blessed land beyond the Western boundaries of the ocean.”  America! {7} In reference to the tablets not being as finely polished as some of the Native American artifacts,  the circumstance would have been different.  If it was an ancient civilization, their main intentions would have been to deposit the knowledge, not necessarily to polish the tablets as if they were ornamental pieces.  Another of the archeologists’ main complaints, with the tablets in particular, is that several of them contain file marks. Since files have been found in the mounds accompanying some of the relics with the Mystical symbol engraved on them, the archeologist feel the “hoaxers” must have placed the files there also. My question is this: If these hoaxers were as gifted at their trade as we are being led to believe, why would they leave these file marks to be discovered?  It seems more likely to me that an ancient group would have been less concerned with the craftsmanship, and more concerned with the depositing of their knowledge. These are very important questions to postulate, yet there is one more fact of great importance that the experts disregard.  The archeologist claim the first relics were discovered in 1890 by the “culprits”, and it was these gentlemen who forged the entire collection!

What the “experts” fail to realize is that in the 1869 Encyclopedia it states, “The Michigan Relics appear”!    I am obviously not an archeologist, but strongly believe these relics have a good possibility of being genuine. Hopefully with growing awareness of the  “Michigan Relics” they can be examined by more than just a select few.   Recently I was contacted by a gentleman by the name of Ted Bell. He has in his possession a collection of around 25 ancient relics that his grandfather dug up in the 20’s from ancient burial mounds with his own two hands while excavating a basement in Detroit!  If this story was to turn out to be true it could be a “game changer”.  That being said this kind gentleman has allowed me to show a few of these Michigan Relics.

Newly discovered Michigan Relics!! (Ted Bell Collection)
(Ted Bell Collection)
Both sides of an extremely important discovery have been presented in hopes of bringing awareness to a portion of Michigan history that has been all but forgotten.  This leaves us with two scenarios. 1. The relics are one of the most elaborate (channeled?) hoaxes of all time….2. The history of the Americas, and Michigan in particular are not as we have been lead to believe.  At minimum should we not ponder the possibility? Investigation ongoing…………….
All photos have been courtesy: Michigan Historical Museum, Ancient American Magazine(Wayne May), & photos I have personally taken.


1.    “Digging for the Truth” ; Michigan Historical Museum Exhibit; 2004
2.    “Tools leave Marks”; Dr. Richard Stamps; 2001
3.    “Trashing America’s “Pollitically Incorrect” Prehistory” ; Fred Rydholm; Ancient American Magazine#32
4.    “The Mystic Symbol (Mark of the Michigan Mound Builders); Henriette Mertz; 1986
5.    “The Mystic Symbol Demystified”; David A. Deal
6.    “Michigan Solar Eclipse Tablet and Mound Builder City”; David A. Deal; excerpt from (The Mystic Symbol)Mertz; 1986