Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Roman Coins Found in Oshkosh, Wisconsin Garden

Roman Coins Found in Oshkosh

    In 1883, A. M. Brainerd of Oshkosh, digging in his garden there, turned up a strange coin. He sent it to me. It was indubitably an issue from the mint of the Emperor Hadrian, in the second century. A copper tool and certain stone implements found in the same locality betokened an Indian or pre-historic grave. It seemed to me unlikely that any man in recent times would have passed tat spot with any Hadrianic coin in his pocket. Accordingly I looked on this find as proving pre-historic intercommunication between Wisconsin and Italy. I have now more faith than ever in my conjecture for several reasons. Thus I read in Gibbon that” in the sixth century of our era caravans traversed in the whole longitude of Asia in two hundred and forty-three days from the Chinese ocean to the sea-coast of Syria.” Proofs are not wanting of such intercourse many centuries earlier. In the present year Roman coins of the times of Tiberius (contemporary with Christ) and Aurelian in considerable quantities have been discovered in an inland province of China. When Hadrian’s money had reached China it was already two-thirds of the distance to Wisconsin.
What was easier than for some bits of it to cross the streak of silver sea which separates Asia and America? The passage of coins from Alaska to Oshkosh would have been as natural as that of the Obsidian arrows which are picked up on the shore of Lake Winnebago- for obsidian cannot be detected in situ nearer than the Pacific slope,-or at least the Yellowstone National Park- which according to aboriginal ideas was still harder of access.
My view that the Oshkosh medal came from the west rather than from the east, is confirmed by evidence that has just come to light. At the last Boston meeting of the American Antiquarian Society, several tools and ornaments brought from Cost Rica, and made of jadeite or chloromelanite, were exhibited. The raw material of these specimens up to this time has never been found in situ in America, nor in any other continent except in Asia. The articles, chemically tested in the laboratory of Harvard College by the Professor there, were pronounced by him “unquestionably Chinese jude.” Oshkosh is not so far as Costa Rica is from Behrings Straits. I am glad of jude coming to thicken other proofs which did demonstrate thinly that it was not Satan alone who of old went to and fro in the earth and walked up and down in it.
J. D. Butler, LL. D.