At the start of the America Unearthed program on the lead crosses, my immediate sense was a hoax. The story unfolded, and while the objects themselves looked goofy and hoax-like, the location and condition of their discovery point toward authenticity. It seems that I’m not the only one having trouble with this; there are professionals who say the crosses are authentic, and others who say they aren’t.
Here is my list of pros and cons regarding the legitimacy of the crosses.
Factors supporting hoax:
1. The only landmark noted near the find was a deserted lime kiln. If the items were real, and if they were meant to carry an ancient people’s history to future generations, which is what the writing on the crosses purports to do, then I would expect them to be buried near a landmark or to be near a settlement of the people who produced them.
Even the Dead Sea Scrolls, which remained hidden in unmarked caves for about 2000 years, were found near the ruins of the ancient community of Qumran. Where is the ancient community associated with the Arizona Lead Crosses? To me, the absence of associated ruins, is the biggest hoax factor of the find.
2. The inscriptions on the crosses tell a story of Roman Jews who migrated to America to avoid religious persecution from Muslims. Some say these writing use common phrases that were used by Cicero and other Romans. I’m not sure how this is important. Is not Latin, Latin?
3. An old timer from the region recalled a young artist, Timotio Odohui, who liked to work with soft metals and who lived near the lime kiln. This may be the smoking gun. The artist’s family was said to have moved north from Mexican after the French 1860’s invasion of Mexico. I assume that Odohui would have been living near the kiln around 1880.
4. A dinosaur image is on one artifact. Forked tongue or not, this sure looks like a dinosaur, and it does not look like any desert lizard I have ever seen. This is just goofy and shouts of hoax, unless you think extraterrestrials might be involved.
Factors supporting authenticity:
1. Today we know that the Toltecs came to Tula (Southern Mexico) from the north around 900 AD. I doubt this was known in 1924 or 1880. The writing on the lead crosses says that their people were at constant war with the Toltecs, and were in danger of being destroyed around 900 AD. Apparently this impending doom was the motive for recording their history on the crosses.
2. Lead is expensive. It’s about 1/3 the value of copper. One of the crosses weighted 64 pounds. Currently lead sells for about a dollar a pound. Who would be willing to make and bury several hundred dollars of objects just for the hell of it, never making one dime from selling the things, nor even claiming notoriety for constructing the hoax? However lead does make sense if someone wants to leave a history for future people to read. It has longevity and it was available in a mine nearby.
3. The desert gets very little rain fall and it would take a long time for the mineralization build on the crosses to occur. Looking at the mineralized under a microscope, Wolter did not see any signs of faked mineralization.
It is highly unlikely that Timotio, or anyone else, would pour hundreds of gallons of water onto the ground in the middle of the Sonora Desert, just to fake the ageing of lead or to compact the soil around objects into caciche.
4. The objects were buried six or more feet deep. What hoaxer would dig 6 feet deep in hard caliche to bury fakes?
So these objects remain an enigma. Without an associated human settlement, they are difficult to declare authentic. Without a demonstration of how they were faked in situ, it is difficult to label them as frauds.
For more information read this article.
Now I have to digress and tell my story of a potentially ancient object found in the desert near where I lived.
When I was in high school, a neighbor boy showed several of us a heavily rusted (red and crumbling) stub of a blade that extended from a brass handle. He claimed to have found it in the desert. We laughed him off and accused him of burying his hunting knife, then digging it up months later in an attempt to fake us out.
Now thinking back, I have to ask, what kid would wreck his hunting knife to prank his friends? Also I know from experience that when one buries something in the desert, they would be very lucky to find it again—sand dunes move.
Fifty years later, I reassess the object he had to be either a dagger or the remains of a rusted sword from a Spanish conquistador. It could also have been a U.S or Mexican cavalry sword, but it was so deteriorated that I think it had to be older. I wish I had examined it more carefully before laughing him off.
Finally the lead crosses speak of leaving France in the 700’s to escape Muslim religious tyranny. Most people don’t realize that Islamic forces were invading France from Spain in the 700’s. Their advance was halted by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours in 732. Martel’s grandson, Charlemagne, is called the Father of Europe.