We’re getting our first hints at what season two of America Unearthed plans to cover, and it doesn’t look promising. According to an article published in the Rockwall, Texas Herald-Banner, the H2 pseudo-documentary series is currently filming in Rockwall, a town twenty-five miles from Dallas and the site of an infamous geological formation that has been mistaken for a prehistoric rock wall for centuries.
I first wrote about the Rockwall rock wall in May 2012, when I reviewed claims for it made by former neo-Nazi and convicted child predator Frank Joseph of Ancient American magazine in the same anthology of that magazine’s work which printed Scott Wolter’s Bat Creek Stone claim, as well as Wolter’s first attempt at “proving” the Newport Tower was a Cistercian-Templar Venus-tracking, goddess-worshiping heretical church. (Those are all Wolter’s adjectives, not mine.) Needless to say, the rock wall hasn’t changed since last year. Honestly, I can’t believe anyone is trying to revive this faded “mystery.” In fact, in checking my reference books, I can’t even find recent mystery-mongering efforts to revive this wall’s spurious claims. (It does appear in a 2005 encyclopedia of the unexplained I found on Google, though not without caveats.) It has been so thoroughly debunked that last year I assumed it was sufficient to simply cite the geology as proof of reality. Ha! How naïve of me.
In 1854, the town of Rockwall took its name from what local residents, who had been living there since 1851, believed to be a prehistoric stone wall which surrounded the town. While digging wells, they found large sections of rock that seemed to resemble manmade constructions. Several layers of buried rock were piled one atop the other, broken and cracked so that each layer resembled carefully stacked, irregular bricks, something like dry stone walls writ large. Many believed that this ancient construction was built by an unknown prehistoric people, possibly the same lost white race that supposedly built the Native American mounds.
However, in 1874, geologist Richard Burleson examined the rocks and concluded they were a natural formation. In 1901, geologist Robert T. Hull was even more specific, identifying the wall as clastic sand dykes. In 1909, the definitive study of the site was published in Science. Geologist Sidney Paige surveyed the alleged wall and determined that it was made of sand dykes that intruded in Cretaceous rock, but moreover the “wall” was not a wall but rather a series of disconnected intrusions, with few if any connected sections. More recent geological work has confirmed the same results over and over again down to the present.
Frank Joseph, in discussing the wall, cited only the most superficial examinations (those conducted by W. L. Stephenson in 1927 and Robert T. Hill in 1975) alongside Martin Kelsey and Harold Denton’s 1980s visit to the site. He seems to have deliberately left out the 1909 study from Science, which involved significant fieldwork and was the reason that later geologists did not need to study the site as extensively; they were merely confirming earlier, well-done work.
However, in 1925, a freelance tomb raider (“amateur archaeologist”) named Count Byron de Prorok, preparing to go off in search of King Solomon’s mines, swept into town and declared the wall the remains of a lost civilization. He specifically felt that the wall belonged to a North African culture, probably the Carthaginians (an offshoot of the Phoenicians). Later speculators claimed the walls resembled “pre-Inca” constructions of Peru. Not ready to let good publicity go to waste, Rockwall turned the wall into a tourist attraction and, for a time, even charged admission to see the wonder of the “lost race” during the Texas centennial celebrations.
The town’s real estate developers wanted to capitalize on the fame of the walls, so they hired geologists from the local universities to prove that the walls were the remains of a fortress of the pre-Flood Biblical giants, all the better to sell land to Christian extremists. The geologists told the real estate people that the wall was natural. Not satisfied, they asked the Institute for Creation Research to come prove the wall belonged to the giants of Genesis 6:4. Young earth creationist John Morris came out to survey the site, and even the creationist agreed that the wall was completely natural, though of course he felt it was deposited recently, according to Flood geology.
When even creationists gave up on the wall, it faded into obscurity except among New Age extremists. In 1999, architect John Lindsey told a New Age group that the wall was the remains of a 30,000-year-old civilization, and in 2001 New Age believers began to assert that a “channeled” being from another plane named Lady Kadjina had explained that the wall belonged to Atlantis. Such claims were confined to New Age spirituality until Frank Joseph tried to revive the wall’s archaeological significance in the pages of Ancient American. Frank Joseph wrote that he could not imagine any Native Americans capable of building rock walls; he proposed that the Romans built it in the first century CE.
Scott Wolter, following in de Prorock’s and Joseph’s footsteps, is spending this entire week in Rockwall with producer Maria Awes to attempt to “prove” whether the wall is an ancient construction. We have seen that geologists have understood the “wall” for more than a century, but Awes told the local newspaper that the wall is a “lesser-known” mystery that was never “quite explained”—except, you know, by 140 years of geological investigation. The newspaper fibs along with Awes by ratifying the view that the wall’s origins have “never been determined,” a clearly false statement that ignores work done from 1909 on.
Awes’s subsequent statement to the Herald-Banner is interesting for other reasons:
“We always wish we could have an open set, but unfortunately because of the nature of the material and our show that just isn’t something we can do,” Awes said. “But we know that this is an exciting thing for the town, so if anybody sees the crew or our host around town, we want them to feel free to come up and talk to us. We won’t be able to reveal any details to anyone, but we love to hear people’s stories and get their feedback. The show will most definitely be worth the wait. I think at the end of the episode, people will finally have the answers they’re looking for.”
I’ll let you chew on that for a bit. I wonder what the “nature of the material” is? Judging by past episodes, the secrecy is necessary to help fabricate evidence, do repeated retakes of “spontaneous” discussions, and avoid scrutiny or observation from those with mainstream perspectives. More likely, she meant that they needed open space and quiet to film quickly and cheaply without interruption.
Update, 2:07 PM: A thought that came to me after posting this: If they just started their "testing" of the rock wall on April 7, how did Maria Awes known before any filming began what Wolter's conclusion about it is going to be to know this will be one of their best-ever investigations? It sounds like they knew what they wanted to find before they even started looking for it. Obviously, pre-production involves planning out what the show will do, but this hints that the plans involve determining a conclusion before doing a sham investigation for the camera.
Update, 8:57 PM: Apparently Rockwall is planning to vote on whether to spend $5 million to turn to the rock wall into a park. Also, a Dallas radio host discussed the rock wall last month and claimed that it was evidence of a lost white race of mound builders who ruled ancient America before the Native Americans invaded. Sigh. This racist old claptrap never dies. It was false when eighteenth century anti-Native racists invented the claim, and it's still false today.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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