The Bat Creek Stone and Ancient Jews in America

The Bat Creek Inscription is a small stone approximately 4.5 by 1.75 inches which was found in 1889 by the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology. Excavator John W. Emmert was excavating Indian burial mounds in Bat Creek, Tennessee, about 40 miles south of Knoxville.

In one mound was discovered 9 skeletons, eight with their heads pointing north, and one with its head facing south. Under the head of the one facing south was found the Bat Creek Stone and 2 bracelets.

The inscription was originally thought to be Cherokee and was annotated as such. The stone was then archived in the Smithsonian for almost 100 years. However, in the 1960s, some researchers noted that when a photo of the stone was held upside down, it looked like Phoenician and Canaanite scripts. The letters were similar to those used in the 4th century BC on letter seals and in the 11Q paleo Leviticus in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In English, the translation is: "But for the Judeans" or "A comet for the Judeans." It is believed to be dated to the 1st or 2nd century AD.

Although some archaeologists today dispute the findings, saying it was planted by Emmert so he could gain notoriety, many believe that it is authentic; especially since Emmert didn't gain any notoriety from it at all. Finding a Hebrew inscription would have been a greater discovery than finding a Cherokee inscription. Had he planted it would have been a greater chance at fame by claiming the Semitic characters.

Next, the two bracelets found with the Bat Creek stone were originally classified as copper and later found to be leaded yellow brass. Either way, this suggests the use of copper by the Nephites or other Hebrews that found their way to the Americas,often a point of early criticism of Mormonism. Once again, archaeology doesn't prove anything, but shows that the Book of Mormon is plausible. (Information from "Did Judean Refugees Escape to Tennessee?" J. Huston McCulloch,Biblical Archaeological Review v19 n4, Jul/Aug 93, pp 46-53).