Some PaleoBabble readers may be familiar with the longstanding controversy over whether certain “inscriptions” found in the United States were written thousands of years ago by ancient Semitic peoples from the Mediterranean (Phoenicians, Canaanites, Hebrews, etc.). Obviously, they would have been here long before any European and by means of more primitive technology (the term being relative to the 15th and 16th centuries).  This idea got wide exposure through the 1976 book by Barry Fell (a Harvard zoologist) entitled American B.C. and is still promoted with enthusiasm by the popular research publication Ancient American Magazine.Today Dr. Fell’s work continues through the Epigraphic Society that he founded.

While I’m not opposed in principle to ancient seafarers (like the Phoenicians) being able to cross the Atlantic, I don’t know of any actual evidence for it. To my knowledge, no proposed “American Canaanite” inscription has ever persuaded any scholars who work in the field of Semitic epigraphy. If readers know of any, pass it on, as I enjoy Semitic epigraphy and have an interest in this issue. I just like things to be data-driven. And people in Semitic epigraphy and other relevant fields have looked at this material.  Fell’s work (and that of others) did get the attention of specialists in epigraphy and anthropology. Here are two reviews (one, two) of books promoting such contact. Perhaps less surprisingly, there is some evidence of fakery with respect to certain inscriptions offered as proof of ancient trans-Atlantic sea travel. One of more famous inscriptions is known as the Bat Creek Inscription. It was shown conclusively to be a fake after getting serious attention for many years.