There is a class of ancient artifacts such as iron nails found in solid rock, a delicate gold chain found in a lump of coal in the 1890s, or an ornate bell-shaped vessel inlaid with silver blasted from rock in a Massachusetts that are called Out Of Place Artifacts, known popularly as OOPARTs. They seem to suggest that someone had been manufacturing objects millions of years before the human race was capable of such fine and precise work or even before humans existed on this planet. These artifacts are, in essence, a form of proof that another intelligence had once walked the Earth, maybe before the dinosaurs disappeared and that those sophisticated beings probably originated in outer space given the fossil and geological records relied on by our modern day scientists. It is circumstantial evidence that, if accurate, provides us with the proof that some ancient sightings were of alien spacecraft.
One of the first of the Out of Place Artifacts (OOPARTs) I came across was a reference in several UFO books to some sort of "bell-shaped vessel" discovered during blasting in a quarry in Massachusetts in the mid-19th century. For some reason I have always envisioned this as a "gravy boat."
According to those UFO books, the original source was the Scientific American in 1851. The story was headlined "A relic of a by-gone age" although some suggested it was labeled as "A Curiosity."
The story, as reported in those other UFO books, was that the blasting in the quarry "threw an immense mass of rock… in all directions." Among the shattered debris, the workmen found a small metallic vessel in two pieces that when reassembled formed a "bell shape" about four and a quarter inches high and about six inches wide at the top. The whole thing was something like an eighth of an inch thick.
The report continued, saying that it was made of zinc with "a considerable portion of silver." The sides were inlaid with silver and the carving was "exquisitely done by the art of some cunning workman." The magazine concluded, again according to all those other UFO books, that the find was worthy of additional investigation because the vessel was extremely old, pre-dating the first inhabitants of the continent.
I discovered that the University of Iowa library, (Pat Williams looks through the 1852 Scientific American in the bound periodicals) in it’s bound periodically section, held the entire run of Scientific American. It would be easy enough to check the primary source of the story. So I did. To my disappointment, but not great surprise, there was nothing in the 1851 issues about anything like the metal vessel being found. True, there were a number of things labeled as "curiosities" but nothing that told of manufactured items coming out of a quarry.
But research isn’t always that simple, and there is always the chance that someone had written down a date wrong and it was then copied by all those others who failed to do primary research but who believed the others had. So, I decided to look in both 1850 and 1852, and being somewhat compulsive about such things, I quite naturally started in 1850 because it came before 1852.
The article appeared in the June 5, 1852 edition of the Scientific American, on page 298. The details as listed in most of the UFO books were substantially correct. There was some additional information in that article, including that "On the sides there are six figures of a flower or bouquet, beautifully inlaid with pure silver, and around the lower part of the vessel a vine, or wreath, inlaid also with silver. The chasing, carving, and inlaying are exquisitely done by the art of some cunning workman."
The entry continues, noting "There is no doubt that this curiosity was blown out of the rock… but will … some other scientific man please to tell us how it came there?"
While I had been at the mercy of those other writers in the past, until I began to roam the stacks in the bound periodicals section of the University of Iowa library, researchers today aren’t so restricted (and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some of them have never seen the inside of a library). I typed "Scientific American 1852" into a search engine and in seconds was looking at a complete listing for Scientific American available on-line. Since I already knew the date, I could easily pull up what I wanted. Anyone with access to a computer and an on-line service could do the same (and therefore stay out of the library).
Like so much else in the UFO field, there is always something left out of the stories in all those UFO books. What is rarely mentioned is a paragraph at the end of the article in which it is suggested that Tuba Cain, one of the first residents of the area, meaning from the 17th century, had made the vessel.
But sometimes UFO research takes off on strange tangents. On closer examination of the Scientific American, it begins to look as if the mark at the end of the sentence that I thought originally was an artifact caused by the microfilm process, and right after the word Tuba, is an "L" that slipped out of alignment and into the margin. This means the name is a reference to Tubal Cain and Tubal Cain probably wasn’t an early reference to one of the first residents of Dorchester County, but was a descendent of Adam and Eve. Tubal Cain refers to blacksmiths from antiquity and the original Tubal Cain supposedly worked with bronze and iron in the far distant past and no where near the New World.
Here is something else from outside the UFO field (and that I wouldn’t have known if it hadn’t been for access to the Internet), Tubal Cain is a secret Masonic phrase, and something that certainly wasn’t well known in 1852. So now the question becomes is this tale of a metallic vessel found in solid rock true or does it have some significance to the Masons and the use of Tubal Cain is the clue. I confess that I don’t know. I am more than a little disturbed to learn of the history of Tubal Cain and the reference to it, or him, in this particular article. There is no reason for those other writers to have made anything out of the reference, unless they themselves were Masons and knew the code. Without the Internet, I certainly would not have made the connection, nor would I have been able to ask the question.
Ignoring that little bit of diversion, we find that if we are going to look at the rest of the case with a scientific detachment, we must ask a couple of other questions. First, did they find anything to suggest the vessel had been embedded in the rock? Did they find bits of rock that matched the contours of the vessel? If we were to date the "vessel" according to standard archaeological methodology we would be forced to conclude that the vessel was millions of years old because that was the age of the material in which it was found.
Second, they suggest that a scientific man should take a look at the vessel and named Professor Agassiz, as someone to study the find. The Scientific American wondered what Agassiz’s credentials were to make any sort of study. I confess that in today’s world, I’m a little curious about the man’s credentials as well, though there is nothing to suggest that he ever looked at the vessel or rendered an opinion about it so this is really a dead issue.
In the end, we’re left with many unanswered questions, including that of the placement of the vessel and if it was actually embedded in the stone as originally suggested. It is always possible that it was not embedded in the stone but was associated with it. That means, simply, that the vessel was in the ground on top of the stone maybe lost in it, but had not been embedded in the stone.
And we now wonder if there was a hidden meaning in this article that was meant for the Masons because of the use of Tubal Cain. In a world filled with speculations about a da Vinci code, Templars, and a bloodline related to Christ, it is not difficult to believe that the Mason of the 19th Century planted the article for some, probably trivial reason.