An ancient tiled floor

While digging a cellar under his property in 1936, Thomas W Kenny (1899-1975), a resident of Plateau City (near Grand Junction, Colorado, USA), is said to have discovered a tiled floor. It was found at a depth of 3 metres (ten feet) and consisted of tiles set in mortar. Allegedly, they were dated at between 20,000 and 80,000 years old, although the technique used to date them is not stated, and lay in a Miocene geological stratum.

The story first appeared in Frank Edwards’ Strangest of All (1956) and the above account is all the detail we have. Nothing about the composition of the ‘tiles’, nothing about their size, nothing about the layout, nothing about the technique that allowed them to be dated, nothing about the identity of their discoverer. In short, nothing that would enable an assessment of the story to be made. We have to take everything on trust. And a sceptical approach requires us to ask awkward questions. Were the ‘tiles’ of even size and thickness? What was the nature of the ‘mortar’ in which they were set? Is there anything in the local geology that might resemble tiles and mortar? Without answers to these questions, the little information we have been given is worse than useless.

3 Replies to “An ancient tiled floor”

  1. While the book you reference should include more data, why would a resident of Plateau City in 1936 be concerned about gathering such data for a book to be written in 1956?

    It appears the man who made the claim in 1936 – named Thomas W. Kenny did exist. He was born on 17 Apr 1899 and died in May of 1975 in the town of Collbran, CO located in the “Plateau Valley.” He is buried in Cedar Crest Cemetery in Mesa, CO. His wife Della pre-deceased him. Apparently from the obit for their daughter Ada May McKelvie, who died in 2008, there are still surviving children in Collbran.

    The authors of the book should have included more information and references, but like your critique of the “wall in a coal mine” story from Oklahoma, you are inferring that because evidence about the persons making these claims is not present in the written material you are reviewing that such persons don’t exist. In these two instances they definitely do. Whether their claims are true or not is another question.

    1. The source I used for the story just referred to the person who dug the cellar as “a resident of Plateau City”, which is why I did not provide a name. I will update the entry to include the name of the discoverer, not that it has any bearing on the reported story. Like the wall in the coal mine, it’s unsupported by any other data. What’s more to the point is that there are geological formations across the world that have sometimes been mistaken for tiled floors (to the extent that archaeologists have disagreed about their artificiality).

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