The Grave Creek Tablet

This artifact known as the Grave Creek Tablet is likely a Jaredite artifact. In time, the language will be studied and compared with other artifacts to find similarities in the script.

This lengthy quote is taken directly from the book called The Mound Builders written by Robert Silverberg on pages 74 and 75. He is mostly taking direct quotes from other authors in the 1800s.

One of the important mound excavations of the day was carried out in 1838 at the Grave Creek Mound on the banks of the Ohio in what was then Virginia, but since 1863 has been West Virginia. This mound was one of the first major earthworks to be discovered by white men and got considerable attention in the late eighteenth century. A report quoted in Caleb Atwater’s paper on the mounds declares that in 1819 the mound was one of the most august monuments of remote Antiquity any where to be found. Its circumference at the base, is 300 yards; its diameter, of course 100. Its altitude, from measurement is 90 feet; and its diameter, at the summit, is 45 feet. The centre, at the summit, appears to have sunk several feet, so as to form a small kind of amphitheater. The rim enclosing this amphitheater is seven or eight feet in thickness . . . This lofty and venerable tumulus has been so far opened, as to ascertain that it contains many thousands of human skeletons, but no farther. The proprietor of the ground. Mr. Joseph Tomlinson, will not suffer its demolition in the smallest degree. I, for one, do him honour for his sacred regard for these works of Antiquity. . . .”

On March 19, 1838, Abelard B. Tomlinson, a member of the family that owned the Grave Creek property, began to excavate the big mound. At a cost of $2,500, he sank a shaft from the “amphitheater” at the summit of the mound to its base. At a depth of 77 feet he found a stone covered, log-walled chamber enclosing a skeleton decorated with thousands of shell beads, copper rings, and mica plates. Going deeper, Tomlinson found another log-walled chamber 111 feet below the summit, in a pit that must have been dug before the mound was built. It contained two skeletons, one of them surrounded by 650 shell beads. A horizontal trench cut through the mound revealed masses of charcoal and burned bones, and ten more skeletons.

To modern archaeologists, Abelard Tomlinson’s report on the Grave Creek dig is important because it provides the first clear description of the log tombs of what now is called the Adena Culture. Tomlinson’s contemporaries, though, simply described the vaults as the tombs of Mound Builder kings, and turned their attention to a much more exciting discovery: the Grave Creek Tablet.

Tomlinson had found it in the mound in June, 1838. It was an oval white sandstone disc, 3/4 of an inch thick and 1 1/2 inches in diameter, on which were inscribed three lines in an unknown alphabet.

This script will need to be compared with other writings such as the Kinderhook plates and other of the numerous writings which shall be showcased on this website.

Image taken from Drawing of Grave Creek Stone by Seth Eastman
The Cast and Wax Impression

In 1868, however, Davis made a plaster cast of the stone and deposited it in the Smithsonian Institution. In 1990, Donal Buchanan and I visited the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in order to view the cast and to check out rumors that the Smithsonian had the original. The NMNH in fact has four casts of the stone, but no original. [source]