Dismissed as fakes for a century, enigmatic Puerto Rican stones could rewrite history – Repeating Islands
Jesse Walter Fewkes, an anthropologist with the Bureau of American Ethnology, began visiting Puerto Rico in 1902 to catalog pre-Columbian artifacts and study indigenous culture. After he declared a batch of etched stones frauds, they went unappreciated and unstudied for more than a century. Now there are indications that the “Father Nazario Stones” are real and may provide clues to a lost language.
Another key piece of evidence came from the University of Haifa in Israel. Using state-of-the-art microscopes, researchers determined that the “weathering” of the stones — subtle changes due to prolonged exposure to the elements — proved that they had been out in the open for years after they had been engraved. That is, the stones weren’t etched during the era that Father Nazario found them.
In addition, while Fewkes said the stones were carved with “iron instruments” — further proof that they were modern-day forgeries and not stone-age relics — the Israeli researchers cast doubt on that theory. If they had been made with metal instruments, the researchers expected to find microscopic traces of the metal in the grooves. They didn’t.