Archaeologist Tracy Brown has hunted among the ruined detritus of society (you know, at flea markets and garage sales) in search of a mysterious stone slab, upon which one can find mysterious markings that would shake the foundations of his field. Well, that may be overstating things.
More than 40 years ago, a small stone slab, measuring 14" by 13" was found near Nashville, TN. The stone tableau bore the image of what appeared to be ancient moundbuilders and seemed to date to the Mississippian Period (1000-1400 CE). Yet, what struck those scientists who examined it was that it didn't seem to be rendered in the style of those people. It featured none of their iconography nor any of the symbology associated with this culture. It seemed to be struck by the hand of an outsider.
The stone was first discovered at a mound complex in 1968 by a Nashville man, Malcolm Parker. It was only 1 of 6 similar stones found in the area since 1874. When the collector passed on, it seems his widow gave away more than $100,000 worth of artifacts for free. Now, scattered to the four winds, these artifacts (and the information they could tell archaeologists) has been lost.
Brown's hope is that, through vigilence, he and others like him can find the stone and other artifacts and help complete the picture of who and what the enigmatic Mississippian people were. And could it be determined, after examination, that the outsider's hand who carved the image was that of one of the many non-North American peoples who some researchers believed reached these shores long before the likes of Columbus?