03 January 2014

Mysterious metal plates?

We came across a webpage recently that mentioned artifacts from Calakmul that would soon be released to the public by the Mexican government. Since this is one of our favorite sites in the Yucatán, we were initially interested. Although not mentioned in the article, at least one of the artifacts looked like it could be made of metal with engraved images. However, upon closer inspection and comparison with photos of other items from the same group, it appears to be of polished, smooth stone. The greater problem is that the point of the page is to show contact with aliens and the ancient Maya, so they are likely fake. Most of the iconography doesn't really match what is known about the Maya culture and the figure in the carving on the right side of the image bears a suspicious resemblance to items seen in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Mainstream archaeologists hate the suggestion of alien contact with ancient cultures, even more than they hate the idea of pre-Columbian contact between the Old World and the New.

But a link on the page about a documentary called Revelations of the Mayans leads to some interesting information. It's a YouTube video taken from season 2 of an episode of Ancient Aliens called "Underground Aliens," broadcast on the History Channel on 18 November 2010. If this aspect of the 'evidence' is overlooked, what it shows is actually far more interesting and may have a more earthbound explanation. At 19:22 on the video, the story is told of Padre Carlos Crespi, a Silesian monk born in Italy in 1891 who served in Ecuador from 1923 until his death in 1982. In the courtyard of the Maria Auxiliadora church, he kept an enigmatic collection of artifacts given to him by the local indigenous people, the Shuar.

Notable among his collection were metal plates with an unknown language inscribed on them. There were many other artifacts of gold, metal, and stone in the collection, but none have been the subject of serious study. Padre Crespi apparently had no interest in selling or otherwise benefiting from them, but did show them to visitors. The have been seen and photographed various times, and were filmed as part of a documentary. Items of all types were in the collection, including this stone carving showing what seems to be an elephant over marks that look like Hebrew block script letters, which were adopted by Jews in the 3rd century BC. Before that, an older writing system similar to Phoenician called paleo-Hebrew was used. The true provenance of these items is unknown, so controversial pieces like this one would be highly suspect by most archaeologists. Some of them look suspiciously too Egyptian or Babylonian.

Sadly, the collection has vanished. Some items may have been destroyed in a fire in 1962. Others may have ended up with private collectors or may still be stored somewhere, but if any survived their current locations are unknown. None have been seen since Crespi's death. His explanation is that they all came from caves and subterranean tunnels, known only to the local Shuar. Stories were told of vast libraries of metal books hidden underground in the Ecuadorean jungle. Several people have claimed to know the location of these caves, but have since passed away. In 1976, a large expedition was organized by Scottish explorer Stan Hall. Included in the group of spelunkers, cameramen, experts, and Ecuadorean military was astronaut Niel Armstrong. They explored Cueva de los Tayos, a large cave system believed to be the origin of the artifacts, but found nothing like those kept by Padre Crespi. However, they did find a few other archaeological relics.

We are left with no definite answer as to what the items in Padre Crespi's collection were. Could they have been legitimate items carved by ancient peoples or were they modern hoaxes? Supporters of the ancient alien theory including Erich von Däniken believe that such artifacts are evidence of visits by technologically advanced or extraterrestrial beings. But we can find a much more likely and down-to-earth explanation for libraries of metal plates hidden underground and lost to later civilizations.

Click here for more information on Padre Crespi and his collection.
Click here for information on Cueva de los Tayos.
Click here for "Underground Aliens" on YouTube.