Last month the Roswell Record incorrectly reported that a small stone found by Robert Ridge in December 2004 eleven miles from the supposed 1947 flying saucer crash site in New Mexico would be featured on Ancient Aliens this month. Instead, the object, known since 2008 as the “Roswell Rock,” is the focus for this episode of In Search of Aliens, S01E04 “The Roswell Rock.” The small stone is carved in low relief with a layered image composed of a background of a circle surrounding a square atop and overlapping which are carved two smaller circles each inscribed with a crescent and a circle.
The design is identical to that of a crop circle that appeared in Chisledon in England on August 2, 1996, which was almost certainly a human-made hoax, so a cynic might well argue that the rock was a similar copycat hoax. As we shall see, the Roswell Rock version is cruder and less perfect than the 1996 crop circle, suggesting it is a copy. One would expect the aliens to do better work.
Giorgio Tsoukalos has come to Roswell, New Mexico, “which is ground zero for modern day UFO researchers,” to see this rock. Tsoukalos, driving a black SUV with an “ancient aliens on board” bumper sticker, says that the Roswell UFO crash has been “done” too many times to bother with (largely because it’s not a UFO crash), and he says he’s only interested in the rock. Naturally, this pretense lasts only as long as the title credits since the very next scene begins to recap the Roswell UFO crash, which the show intends to imply has something to do with this rock throughout the hour, simply assuming that viewers believe that the U.S. government really did suppress the crash of an alien craft.
Tsoukalos suggests that the Roswell Rock is evidence of the flying saucer crash, which at first glance suggests that aliens use earth rocks as ballast or something similarly stupid. He will later reveal that he thinks the rock is a cosmic key and/or a lunar calendar. Aliens do not use smartphones and must therefore keep their apps on rocks.
Tsoukalos examines the rock and suggests that the carving on the rock, which is magnetized, resembles Egyptian obelisk carvings. Ridge demonstrates the magnetism and performs a feat of prestidigitation—one I’ve done myself and know how to do. He holds the rock in the palm of one hand and pushes his other hand toward it rapidly and repeatedly, using the air blasts generated by the push to make the unbalanced rock seem to wiggle and move. Tsoukalos says that the rock is reacting “to your body energy.” I do not believe Ridge realizes that he is performing a simple magic trick.
Ridge and Tsoukalos take a helicopter out to the site where Ridge found the rock, but as Ridge talks of “the crash” and “the skip site” (where the saucer bounced while crashing!), it’s clear that Ridge isn’t just a disinterested observer but a true believer in the Roswell myth in its most elaborate post-Stanton Friedman form.
Tsoukalos goes rock hunting with Ridge and tries to compare natural rocks to the polished and worked Roswell Rock and unsurprisingly concludes that they do not match. He therefore visits Linda Moulton Howe, a fellow ancient astronaut theorist, to get her opinion on the rock and its relationship to the 1996 Chisledon crop circle. Howe says that the rock and the crop circle as “exactly identical” but the show’s own graphics demonstrate just how far off the rock is from the more geometrically perfect crop formation, almost as if a carver were freehand carving a copy from a photograph.
Howe claims that the crop circle must be alien because it appeared quickly, and she claims that it represents lunar astronomy. In 1996, the symbol was found beside another crop circle that seemed to represent the path of the moon relative to the earth, almost as though earthbound humans had designed and planned it. Frankly, what amazes me most is that Howe’s open-plan home is sparsely furnished and blandly decorated. For such a colorful dresser, you’d think she’d be into colors other than beige. Leaving that aside, Howe says that no one has proved the Roswell Rock “to be a hoax,” which is a bit of a baffling statement since there is no evidence anyone intentionally carved the rock to fool anyone, or that Ridge is in any way dishonest. What “hoax” is she referring to? A human-made rock can still be a legitimate artifact, even if Howe isn’t aware of its original purpose.
After the break, Tsoukalos and Ridge meet with stonecutter David Sadler to see if sandblasting can replicate the carving. Sadler explains that every cut on the rock can be duplicated with known carving techniques. (No fooling!) Although Sadler’s finished piece looks almost exactly the same as the Roswell Rock in the comparison shot, Tsoukalos insists that they are very different, even over Sadler’s objections that the type of rock used was different and the sandblasted piece has not been as carefully finished and detailed since he literally just completed the sandblasting seconds earlier. Tsoukalos doubts an exact match is possible, but I side with Sadler that if he had 30 days rather than 30 minutes, he’d have made a perfect duplicate. (Update: As Tracy points out in the comments, an exact replica has already been produced.)
Tsoukalos and Ridge go to meet a geoarchaeologist, Bill Doleman, for yet another opinion. Dedicated fringe viewers will remember Doleman from the old 2006 Sci-Fi Investigates series (with ufologist Richard Dolan and Survivor contestant “Boston” Rob Mariano), where he investigated paranormal claims. He also led an archaeological dig for the Roswell UFO, documented in another Sci-Fi Channel show, The Roswell Crash (2005), with Bryant Gumbel. Doleman proposes grinding into the rock to see beneath the patina, but Ridge refuses. Doleman concludes that the rock is not native to the region, but why would it be? The geoarchaeologist does not identify the type of rock.
Finally I realize whom Tsoukalos reminds me of when he says “wild” for about the tenth time this episode. That was the catch phrase for the second European-accented Mr. Freeze from the old Adam West Batman series (played by Otto Preminger, the second of three actors in the role), and Tsoukalos certainly seems like he would fit in seamlessly in that comic book universe.
Tsoukalos tells us that the carving of the Roswell Rock is so clean it seems like it was done with a knife (thus negating his earlier claims of impossible carving) before telling us that it looks just like the carving of the rocks at Puma Punku, “which many scholars believe to be more than 10,000 years old.” That is not true in any sense unless by “scholar” you mean “fringe historian copying Arthur Posnansky.” Puma Punku is and remains less than 1500 years old according to every mainstream archaeologist. He immediately reverses course and declares the Roswell Rock the work of unexplained alien technology.
After the break, Tsoukalos, Doleman, and Ridge investigate the rock’s magnetism with the help of an electrical engineer, who is conducting the tests in his garage, presumably because his employer wouldn’t let him use his laboratory for a show about aliens. The engineer concludes that the rock is magnetized, which we already knew. Ridge finally agrees to let Doleman use a grinder to cut into the back side of the rock, and Ridge cries when the rock is scratched. Doleman concludes that the rock is a fine-grained sandstone impregnated with magnetite. Checking for myself, I see that according to the U.S. Geological Survey, New Mexico has many beds of fine-grained sandstone, particularly Dakota Sandstone, which is very similar in grain and color, and black sandstone, which contains magnetite. None of this, of course, requires the rock to be from New Mexico—anyone could have carved it and dropped it while out saucer hunting between 1996 and 2004. Ridge is still crying when Doleman declares the rock to be, yes, a rock. Even Tsoukalos eventually finds it unusual that Ridge has made the rock “a part of him”—that his identity is so closely tied with the rock.
The men then visit a radiologist to do a CAT scan on the Roswell Rock. After the break, the CAT scan reveals that the rock does not have anything inside of it. So, at the end of the hour we’re where we started: The rock is a rock, and there is a carving on it that can be closely replicated with enough time and trouble. Tsoukalos instead concludes that the rock was soft when it was impressed with its design and the rock then hardened around the design. Therefore, he says, the Roswell UFO may have crashed in 1947 while looking for this rock, which he claims could be some kind of cosmic key or perhaps a lunar calendar. “That is pure speculation,” Tsoukalos says, “but that does not prohibit me from asking questions.”
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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