In 2013, another proposal was levied in front of the BUAR [the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources]. This time, the proposer was none other than Scott Wolter, a forensic geologist and host of the pseudo-scientific archaeological show America Unearthed on the History channel. Wolter proposed to assemble a team to remove the rock, and put it on permanent display in a museum on Martha’s Vineyard, so it could be safeguarded for further study. The BUAR, as well as the historic preservation commission of the Wampanoag tribe, jointly shut down the request.
But that’s not the half of it. Regular readers will remember that back in season one of America Unearthed Scott Wolter visited Arizona and claimed that some runes found in the desert in 2010 were a grave marker for Peter “Rough” Hurech, an alleged twelfth century English explorer, whom Wolter asserted was the architect who taught the ancestral Pueblo (Anasazi) how to build cliff dwellings. I dismissed the claim after attempting to confirm Alan Butler’s assertion on the show that the Staffordshire County records office in England had proved the existence of Peter “Rough” Hurech when that same records office told me that they provided no information to Butler and had no record of any person named Hurech, let alone Peter.
Williams identified the runes as common Germanic runes, and not Anglo-Saxon as claimed by Wolter and his friend Mike Carr, who had offered a prima facie false translation during the episode that involved death, an Englishman, and something called the “Temple of Eden.” Williams identified an unusual lightning-bolt rune in the inscription as the vowel A, based on its use in the Istaby inscription, apparently the only known medieval instance of its appearance as such. He then was able to transliterate the runes and compare them to known languages. He discovered that the inscription was made in a modern reconstruction of an extinct Baltic language called Sudovian, which translated reads “Hello! I (the) Sudovian write runes. Pashka is my name.” The reconstructed language exists in service of a hypothesis about Viking colonization of the Baltic coast. Williams discovered that the owner of the Sudovian homepage containing the reconstructed (i.e. made up) language is Joseph Pashka, who lived in Arizona and told Williams that while he did not carve the runes, he knows who did and that they were made around 1993.
Williams added commentary in his report on Wolter being very, very wrong, and he noted that there is a colonialist streak to claiming Native people needed English help to build their own houses.
Elementary competence in reading runes is obviously not considered as hard science, and the result of it all is what happens when you let a runic cowboy instead of a professional runologist investigate a runestone. When does entertainment with a claimed scientific basis become simply deceitful?