My “Romerica” book focuses on dozens of Roman-era artifacts, coins and stone structures scattered around New England and the Ohio River Valley. In the book I speculate that these objects may be related to the Roman Ninth Legion, which mysteriously disappeared from the historical record after helping put down the Bar Kokhba uprising in Jerusalem in 135 AD. Since the book came out last November, I have learned of two new sites which add additional support to the possibility that Roman-era explorers came to America around the second century.
First, a site in the Shenandoah Valley in western Virginia appears to be an ancient iron smelting operation. I recently visited this site, known as the Arkfeld Farm. The owner has done meticulous work documenting his finds and has brought in outside experts to help with testing and dating the site. Here is a picture of what he believes to be part of the remains of the smelting operation:
From the site, he had three different samples tested at the University of Washington using Optically Stimulated Luminescence testing. He tested a brick, a mortar/cement sample, and a piece of slag (a byproduct of iron smelting). The results are as follows:
Brick Date: 10 AD +-160
Slag Date: 30 BC +-700
Mortar Date: 150 AD +-100
Furthermore, the owner has documented similarities between this site and an iron smelting site dating to the Roman era located near Hadrian’s Wall at the England-Scotland border. In what may be a crucial piece to this puzzle, Hadrian’s Wall was built and patrolled by the Roman Ninth Legion. (Note that there is no known evidence of Native American iron smelting operations in North America.)
Second, an inscription along the shoreline in York Harbor, Maine appears to date back to the Roman era. The inscription, evidencing considerable aging, consists of two lines of Roman letters. According to one source, the lettering reflects a version of the Roman alphabet not used after the 4th century AD. (Images below are 1) photograph of inscription and 2) “chalked-in” version, both from 1968.)
The script appears to be an excerpt from Virgil’s Aeneid, written c. 19 BC, and translates to: “There is far off at sea and facing a storm-beaten shoreline, a reef often wholly submerged, and pounded by the towering breakers.” Some commentators suggest the reef in question refers to nearby Boon Island, where mooring holes 2-3 inches in diameter and 1 foot deep have been found.
Both these sites appear to add corroboration to the assertions made in “Romerica” that Roman-era explorers made their way across the Atlantic.