Letters inside marble?

Letter shapes in marble
Letter-like shapes seen in marble from the Henderson Quarry at Norristown (Pennsylvania, USA)

In November 1829, workers at the Henderson Quarry near Norristown, 17 km (12 miles) north-west of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, USA), cut a block from a layer of marble found at a depth of 18-21 m (60-70 feet) and estimated to be around eight million years old. While sawing through the block, workmen at the Savage Sawmill spotted a rectangular indentation, about 38 mm (1½ inches) wide by 16 mm (⅝ inch) high, with two raised characters inside it, one of which was said to resemble the Greek letters pi and iota (ΠΙ) (some accounts reverse the letters and make them IU) (Browne 1831, 361). Norristown has long been known for its marble and limestone, the latter being quarried commercially as early as the 1690s.

It is difficult to know what this is meant to demonstrate. Does the discovery mean that someone was writing using the Greek alphabet (or, if we reverse the figures, the modern Latin alphabet) eight million years ago? If so, how did the ‘letters’ come to be encased inside a block of marble? Whilst Greek inscriptions (or any other type) may easily be made on the surface of a marble block, it is impossible to inscribe inside marble, which is what this discovery would demand if we are to accept it as part of a writing system. This phenomenon is known as a simulacrum: something in nature that happens to resemble something else with meaning to the observer.

14 Replies to “Letters inside marble?”

  1. Could it be something like a shaped iron tool, embedded inside the marble 8 millions years ago, that latter went to dissolve by oxidation, leaving the empty volume it once occupied?

    1. Quite unlikely that it is an iron tool. Beginning of the bronze age (when the use of soft metals has started) is dated with four thousand years BC. Even stone age has begun only 2.5 mio. years ago.

      1. The entire story is just plain bizarre. I have no idea what it is meant to show. How on earth could anyone have carved letters inside the stone and how could anyone believe that they had?

        1. Well, sub-surface laser engraving can in principle do that in relatively transparent solids. But it is difficult to believe that such technology was available 8 million years ago :-)

  2. Wish there was an actual photograph of this marble. Is this still being studied as there is such a big question mark over how,what,where and when? Does any one know how reliable the dating tests are these days? I have heard stories about volcanic rock being tested a few days after it had cooled and the tests came out it was millions of years old. Don’t know how reliable that information was though, i did get it from the internet lol

    1. All we have is this one drawing. Dating the marble would not give the date of any inscription, of course.

  3. In the early 1800’s dating technology was not available, although it must’ve been amazing for ppl back then to discover such an event. When and who determined the age of the rock let alone the the es time ted time when the writing was performed. Had it Bennett that amazing wouldn’t ppl have saved such an impressive work, where is the rock???

    1. Rocks take a certain time to form and from how deep something is burred you can gain a reference of how long it has lain there.

  4. in Sanskrit Ni was another name for Num, the God of the Waters. (Sumerian)

    Perhaps the carving is not as old as the Stone.

    Other Finds

    – Letter-like Shapes in Marble, Philadelphia

    In 1830, letter-like shapes were discovered within a solid block of marble from a quarry 12 miles northwest of Philadelphia. The marble block was taken from a depth of 60-70 feet.

    This was reported in the American Journal of Science (vol. 19, 1831, p. 361). The quarry workers removed layers of gneiss, mica slate, hornblende, talcose slate, and primitive clay slate before coming to the layer from which the block containing the letter-like shapes were cut.

    While they were sawing through the block, the workmen happened to notice a rectangular indentation, about 1.5 inches wide by .625 inches high, displaying two raised characters.

    Several respectable gentlemen from nearby Norristown, Pennsylvania, were called to the scene and inspected the object. It is hard to explain the formation of the characters as products of natural physical processes.

    This suggests the characters were made by intelligent humans in the distant past.

    1. If the stone formed over something that time and the elements destroyed what the stone formed around, it probably said IN in English.

      1. “…it probably said IN in English.”

        Then someplace nearby, we should be able to find one that says OUT!

  5. Is it possible that the saw ran into a section of marble that was more porous and fragile than usual, resulting in it crumbling away to reveal a small void? Just an un-educated guess because otherwise this makes no sense.

  6. THERE ARE THEORIES THAT THE GREEKS EXISTED 140 MILLION YEARS AGO! AN EXAMPLE OF WHY THIS THEORY EXISTS IS THE FACT THAT THEY CALLED EARTH PANGEA WHICH WAS AT THE TIME ONE PIECE WITHOUT CONTINENTS!!CONTRARY TO OTHER THEORIES MOUNT OLYMPUS EXISTED BEFORE THE CREATION OF OTHER MOUNTAINS!! ANOTHER EXAMPLE IS THAT THE GREEK LANGUAGE WAS NOT DEVELOPED IN FIVE 5,000 YEARS BUT 40,000 YEARS AT LEAST!! IN THIS CASE IT SHOWS THAT THE LANGUAGE IS A LOT OLDER!!!!!

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