Bat Creek Stone in Cherokee, North Carolina

When John W. Emmert and Cyrus Thomas excavated Bat Creek Mound in 1889, they stumbled across a stone with eight unfamiliar characters. When Thomas saw it, he announced it as "beyond question letters of the Cherokee alphabet."

The stone was forgotten for around 70 years until an ethnologist named Joseph Mahan was confused by the fact that the letters didn't look like Cherokee. He sent a photo to his friend Cyrus Gordon, who realized that flipped upside down, the characters looked exactly...

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