Mystery of the Ancient “Skeleton in Armor”

(ORDO NEWS) — The armored skeleton was a human skeleton, wearing a bronze breastplate and belt, and buried with artifacts, including metal arrowheads, that were exhumed during excavations at Fall River, Bristol, Massachusetts in 1831 and subsequently destroyed in the Great Fire 1843 during an exhibition at the Fall River Athenaeum.

Prior to their destruction, the skeletal remains and funerary artifacts were the subject of speculation as to their provenance, with many suggesting that they belonged to local aborigines, while others hypothesized that they were Phoenician or Scandinavian.

Stark, John (July 1837), Hawthorne, Nathaniel, ed., Antiquities of North America, American Journal of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge

A description of what we consider to be the most interesting relic of antiquity ever discovered in North America, the remains of a human body armed with a breastplate, a kind of chain mail and brass arrows ; the remains, we assume, belonged either to one of the representatives of the race that inhabited this country some time before the appearance of the so-called natives, and then settled in Mexico or Guatemala, or one of the crew members of some Phoenician ship, which exploded its course, thus discovered the Western world long before the Christian era.

These remains were found in the town of Fall River in Bristol County, Massachusetts about eighteen months ago.

During the excavation of a hill near the village, a large mass of earth slipped off, leaving on the shore a partially open human skull, which, upon examination, turned out to belong to a body buried in a sitting position; the head was about one foot below what had been the surface of the earth for many years.

The surrounding earth was carefully removed, and the body was wrapped in a covering of rough, dark-colored bark. Inside this envelope were found the remains of another made from a coarse fabric made from thin bark, the texture reminiscent of a Manilla coffee bag.

On the chest was a copper plate thirteen inches long, six wide at the top, and five at the bottom. This plate appears to have been cast and ranges in thickness from one eighth to three thirty seconds of an inch. It is so corroded that it has not yet been established whether anything was engraved on it.

It is oval in shape with jagged edges, apparently due to corrosion. Below the breastplate, and completely encircling the body, was a belt of brass tubes, each four and a half inches long and three sixteenths inches in diameter, arranged lengthwise and close together; the length of the tube is equal to the width of the belt.

The tubes are made of thin brass, cast on hollow reeds and held together with pieces of sinew. This belt was positioned so as to protect the lower parts of the body below the breastplate. Brass arrows, thin, flat, triangular in shape, with a round hole cut at the base.

The shaft was attached to the point by inserting the latter into a hole at the end of the tree, and then tying it with sinew through a round hole – a method of making weapons never used by the Indians, even with their thin shell arrows.

Some of them still have parts of the rampart. When the arrows were first discovered, they were in a kind of bark quiver that shattered into pieces in the air.

The following sketch will give our readers an idea of ​​the posture of the figure and the position of the armor. When the remains were found, the hands were brought closer to the body than in the engraving. The arrows were near the right knee. Create carousel Add a description… the pose of the figure and the position of the armor.

The skull is badly damaged, but the teeth are healthy and appear to be those of a young man. The pelvis is badly destroyed, and the smaller bones of the lower limbs have disappeared. The skin of the right knee, four or five inches above and below, is well preserved, apparently life-sized and shaped, though completely black.

A significant amount of meat was still preserved on the hands and forearms, but more on the shoulders and elbows. On the back, under the belt and two inches above and below, the skin and meat are in good condition and have a tanned appearance.

The chest is strongly compressed, but the upper entrails are probably intact. Arms bent up, not crossed; so that the arms turned inward touch the shoulders. About five and a half feet tall. Most of the outer shell has decayed, and the inner one, apparently, has survived only where it came into contact with brass.

The preservation of this body may be the result of some process of embalming; and this hypothesis is supported by the fact that the skin looks tanned; or it may be an accidental result of the action of brass salts in the oxidation; and this last hypothesis is supported by the fact that the skin and meat are preserved only where they were in contact with brass or very close to it; or we can explain the preservation of the whole by assuming the presence of saltpeter in the soil at the time of deposition.

In any case, the preservation of the remains is fully explained by known chemical principles.

The fact that the body did not belong to one of the Indians, in our opinion, does not need arguments. We have seen some drawings taken from the sculptures found at Palenque, and in them the figures are shown with chest plates, although smaller than the plate found at Fall River.

In the figures at Palenque, the bracelets and anklets appear to be made in exactly the same way as the pipe belt just described.

These figures also have helmets that exactly match Homer’s description of Hector. If the body found in Fall River is one of an Asian race that temporarily settled in Central America and then moved to Mexico and founded those cities, while exploring the ruins who have recently made such astonishing discoveries; then we may well suppose also that this is one of the race whose deeds, although undated and almost without a definite name, were immortalized by the Father of Poetry; and who, probably in still earlier times, built the Cloci under ancient Rome, which were rather absurdly attributed to one of the Tarquinii, in whose time the whole population of Rome would not have been sufficient for the work, which, moreover, would have been useless when it was finished.

Of this Great Race, who founded cities and empires on their way to the east and eventually got lost in South America, the Romans seem to have glimpses of legend in the history of Evander. But we are rather inclined to believe that the remains found in Fall River, belonged to the crew of the Phoenician ship.

The place where they were found is on the sea coast, in the immediate vicinity of “Dayton Rock”, famous for its hieroglyphic inscriptions, which have not yet been sufficiently explained, and near which copper vessels were found.

If this last hypothesis is accepted, then part of it is that these navigators – the unwitting and unfortunate discoverers of the new world – lived for some time after they landed; and having written their names, and perhaps even epitaphs, on a rock at Daytona, they died and were buried by the natives.

Gibbs, George (1853), “The Armored Skeleton”, in Schoolcraft, Henry R., Information on the History, Status, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Collected and Prepared under the Direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. , By Act of Congress March 8, 1847 , Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Company

Archaeological evidence that the continent was visited by people who had letters before the age of Columbus.

Armored Skeleton [The following description of some armored human skeletons found at Fall River, or Troy, Massachusetts, is by George Gibbs, Esq.

A few years later, reports were published in Rhode Island newspapers and widely copied elsewhere, saying that an armored skeleton had been discovered near Fall River, on the Rhode Island line.

A full description was also published in one of our periodicals (presumably American Monthly Magazine), and from there copied into Stone’s Life of Brant (app. 19, vol. 2), which, judging by the nature of the armor, it was assumed that they are of Carthaginian origin – the remains of some adventurer who was shipwrecked.

Other theories arose more recently from the discoveries of the Northern Society of Danish Antiquaries and their interpretations of hieroglyphic figures on the rocks at Daytona and elsewhere, which attributed the remains to one of Thorfin’s traveling companions.

These assumptions, however, appear to have been made without any critical examination of the bones themselves or the metal tools found with them.

The discovery last summer (1839) of other bodies, also with brass ornaments or weapons, prompted a more thorough investigation, and my informant, who was then in Newport, went to Fall River for the purpose of examining them.

The following description was compiled by him from notes made on the spot, and must be relied upon as strictly accurate.

It may serve to correct a false impression on a matter of some historical importance, and for that reason alone is considered worthy of attention. led to a more detailed investigation, and my informant, who was at that time in Newport, went to Fall River to examine them.

The following description was compiled by him from notes made on the spot, and must be relied upon as strictly accurate.

It may serve to correct a false impression on a matter of some historical importance, and for that reason alone is considered worthy of attention. led to a more detailed investigation, and my informant, who was at that time in Newport, went to Fall River to examine them.

The following description was compiled by him from notes made on the spot, and must be relied upon as strictly accurate.

It may serve to correct a false impression in a matter of some historical importance, and for that reason alone is considered worthy of attention. The meat on the breast and some of the upper ribs is also left: it is black, wiry and very wrinkled. The bones of the legs correspond in size and length to the arms.

Along with this skeleton was found a piece of copper plate, somewhat thicker than the copper in the sheath, and it was hung around the neck. This, however, does not appear to be his original position, as there were no traces of the green carbonate that covered the copper parts on his chest.

This plate was shaped like a carpenter’s saw, but without serrated edges; it was ten inches wide, six or seven inches wide at the top, and four at the bottom; the lower part is broken, so it was probably longer than it is now.

The edges were smooth, and a hole was made in the upper part, through which, apparently, it was suspended from the body on a strap. Several copper arrowheads were also found, about an inch and a half long and an inch wide at the base, with a round hole in the center for attaching them to the shaft.

They were flat, the same thickness as the aforementioned plate, and rather sharp, with concave sides, with a square base and no serrations. Shaft pieces were also found.

The most remarkable thing about this skeleton, however, was a belt of parallel copper tubes, about a hundred in number, four inches long, and as thick as an ordinary pencil.

These tubes were thin and external to other wooden tubes, through each of which a leather strap was threaded, tied at each end to a long strap wrapped around the body.

These straps survived, as did the wooden pipes; the copper was badly rotted and disappeared in some places. This belt was attached under the left arm, tying the ends of long cords together, and ran around the chest and back just below the shoulder blades.

Nothing else was found but a piece of rough cloth or mat, as thick as canvas, several inches square. It should be noted that the flesh appears to have been preserved wherever the copper touched it.

I could not find out either the place where this body was found or its position. As for the bodies found this summer, I saw the person who dug them up.

They were found plowing up a hill to make a road, about three or four feet underground, about two hundred or three hundred yards from the water, and almost opposite Mount Hope.

Apparently, at least three bodies were buried here, but they were completely broken by a plow; only one skull, which in shape resembled the one described above, was found intact. The meat on one of the thigh bones was whole and similar in color and composition to what was in the first skeleton, and so on.

It had traces of copper rust on it. Three or four copper plates were found, similar to the one found first, one of which had a leather strap through a hole in the top.

Copper arrowheads and parts of shafts were also found. One arrowhead was fastened with a piece of cord, similar to a well-twisted fishing line, passed through a hole and wound around the shaft.

There were also some matting, a tuft of short, red, curled hair, and one of the black hairs, but neither male nor male. and a curved iron bar, about fourteen inches long, badly rusted, not sharpened, but smaller at one end than at the other.

It does not appear to have been used as a weapon. These are all the remains discovered.” These are the famous Fall River skeletons.

But little proof is required to show that they must have been North American Indians. The state of preservation of the flesh and bones proves that they could not have been very ancient; the piece of skull now shown was perfectly healthy and had a jagged suture edge.

The conical shape of the skull, characteristic of the Indian, also seems convincing. The nature of the metal tools found with them is not the basis for any other assumptions.

Both Rome and Phoenicia were well acquainted with the fine working of iron and copper; they were, apparently, just sheets of copper roughly cut into simple shapes; neither the belt nor the plates were suitable for protective armor.

Finally, the use of copper for arrowheads by the Indians during the advent of the Puritans is well documented.

They are mentioned by Mort in his Journal of the Plantation of Plymouth in 1620, printed in the eighth volume of Massachusetts Historical Miscellany, pages 219–220; at the Higgeson Plantation in New England, Massachusetts Historical Collections Volume I, p. 123, and elsewhere. They are also found in many burial mounds in the West.

Those of the New England Indians may have been derived from residents of the French Academy who traded with them long before the settlement at Plymouth.

It follows from these circumstances that the Fall River skeletons belonged to Indians who may have lived during Philip’s wars or a few years earlier, but these are only Indians.


Contact us: [email protected]

Our Standards, Terms of Use: Standard Terms And Conditions.