The Phoenician Fortress Reconsidered

As a companion piece to the FAQ on Rockwall, Texas I am presenting this C&P from the soon to be defunct Ishtar’s Gate forum. This was in response to a new member’s query regarding the infamous “A Phoenician Fortress and Furnace in Oklahoma?” which I wrote for Gary Vey’s Viewzone online magazine. Just as the entry on Rockwall allowed me to organize and update my observations, this entry serves the same purpose. It also reiterates the history of how these two subjects came to be intertwined. Just consider this another FAQ and update on the evolution of the observations and opinions I held in 2010.

stephjn wrote:Can any of you shed any light on this article for me?
A Phoenician Fortress and Furnace in Oklahoma?

Hi, stephjn,
First of all bear in mind that article was written a few months after my wife and I discovered “The Phoenician Fortress” September 10, 2000. The account is accurate though my interpretations were naive. For a reassessment, read my introduction at written a couple of years later. I should revise that assessment even further through the lense of a decade of research and experience which separates my initial discovery and what I now consider to be best evaluation of that site.

First of all, the “fortress” is largely a natural phenomenon, that is, a formation of mineralized joint fractures formed initially in the Pennsylvanian. Since that discovery I have found other examples of this formation throughout Eastern Oklahoma and even specimens in North Texas where I reside. When I first posted the photos online they were generally accepted as artificial structures because few, if any viewers had ever seen anything like them. Geologists and skeptics asserted that they were common as dirt, liesgang banding. Yet it took several years of dedicated scouring to find images to post online. By that time I had already found them myself, thanks to dialogue with more diplomatic geologists and rockhounds. The tesselated pavements of Eagle Hawks Bay are probably the closest match, though the Carpet Rocks of Petite Jean Park in Northwestern Arkansas are even closer as they are more closely geologically related. What is most usual about the “Fortress” is that the formation is vertical rather than horizontal and unlike the similar formations on cliffsides in Southern California, these form freestanding walls in several locations (see many more photos at in the galleries). These bear more resemblence to clastic sand dikes or sills, but having delved into that subject even more deeply than orthoganal joint fracturing, the mechanism is distinctly different. The distinctions became more apparent as I researched ever more deeply into the shale-buried walls of Rockwall, Texas (an extensive set of galleries can be found in the Quivira Project section at which I took over after John Lindsey left after a serious illness and change of location to West Texas). That is the current focus of my research and the discovery of the “Phoenician Fortress” was what led me to become Lindsey’s assistant and primary field researcher shortly thereafter.

Finding any possible cultural associations with the two projects was the primary motivating factor in both. As far as the “fortress” goes, the only cultural association that can be confirmed by mainstream archaeology is that of a late Archaic group (1,200-1,500 BCE) utilizing the individual blocks as fishweirs on the Kiamichi River discovered by the Oklahoma Archeological Survey in the mid-90’s. The manner of quarrying and shaping the blocks was taught to Anglo-American settlers by indigenous tribes removed to Oklahoma in the 1830’s. They, in turn, no doubt learned the technique from Caddoan groups whose direct ancestors had built the fishweirs and stone foundations found elsewhere in Eastern Oklahoma and perhaps influenced the builders of the Buried City in Ochiltree County Texas and the Antelope Creek Culture of the adjacent Cimarron County in the Oklahoma Panhandle, though these are much later constructions. A definite trade relationship existed between the Pueblo IV culture of New Mexico and both the Caddoans of Rockwall Texas and Eastern Oklahoma. How much, if any, of their masonry technique was exchanged is also part of a current research project of mine. In the same area of the “Fortress” Meeks Etchison, a former archaeologist for the Ouachita National Forest, described a discovery of what sounded to me to be the “Terra Preta”, an artificial soil of the Amazon. This was on a bare limestone ridge far from a convenient source of water. This is the the only faint hint of a connection with South America which I early on surmised due to correspondence with Buck Buchanan, an assistant to the late Gene Savoy who discovered the Cloud Cities of the Chachapoyas. Again, I have come to think that the Chachapoya culture came much too late to have an association with various sites in Eastern Oklahoma, though I still think there might be some earlier connections from South America. That is highly speculative on my part at this stage.

As to Gloria Farley’s Phoenicians/Punic inscriptions, I found no evidence of them after extensive surveys of the “Fortress” and lately I have come to think that she misinterpreted a pre-alphabetic symbol indigenous to the Americas. Again, refer to the latest gallery at Quivira at for some examples from Texas, Oklahoma and Northern Mexico which supports my view. I still retain an open mind regarding pre-columbian Phoenician contact, but I no longer think it has any direct bearing upon the sites in which I am focused in Oklahoma and Texas. There is a more intriguing possible connection with Upper Paleolithic symbols from the Old World but again, that is extremely tentative at this point, and deserves a separate topic of discussion. I have drifted quite a distance from the Hyperdiffusion stage I passed through enroute to where I am now and Bronze Age contact holds very little interest to me at this time. What I am interested in is, I believe, indigenous and predates the Phoenicians by thousands of years. The “Phoenican Fortress in Oklahoma” is something of an embarrassment which I shall have to live with to my dying day as it has assumed something of a life of its own which will no doubt outlive me. Live and learn. If you have need of any more specific clarifications, I will do my best to provide them.
Yours truly,
David Campbell


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