It was American naturalist and cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson who invented the acronym OOPArt, which stands for Out of Place Artifact. These are objects of historical, archaeological, or paleontological interest that have been found in a very unusual place, are judged to be too advanced for their time, or that demonstrate the presence of humans before they were known to exist.
The acronym is rarely used by historians or scientists and is mostly confined to the terminology of cryptozoologists, advocates of ancient astronaut theories, and paranormal supporters.
Hoaxes Or History?
Detractors argue that some authors use questionable methods to interpret artifacts. They believe most OOPArts that have not proven to be out-and-out hoaxes are the outcome of either mistaken interpretation or an assumption that a particular culture couldn't have created an artifact or technology due to its lack of knowledge or materials.
However, a few alleged OOPARTs are arguably unusual within the scientific mainstream, although not impossible for their time.
More Advanced Knowledge From The Past
Supporters of alternate theories regard OOPArt as a sign that conventional science is overlooking important areas of knowledge, either willfully or out of ignorance. Often, scholars who question orthodox views of human history have used OOPArt in an effort to reinforce their hypotheses.
Creation science, for example, relies on irregular finds in archaeological records to challenge scientific models of human evolution. OOPArt has been used to support sacred views of history, ancient astronaut theories, and the belief in extinct empires that had a more advanced knowledge or technology than we have today.
The Maine Penny
An example of an object that could fit into the category of OOPArt is the Maine penny, an 11th-century Norse coin found at the Goddard dig, a prehistoric archaeological site in Brooklin, Maine, on the Blue Hill Peninsula. The coin is supposedly evidence of interaction between Vikings and Native Americans in Maine.
The common belief is that it was brought to Maine from Labrador or Newfoundland through a northern native trade system. In a fifteen year period, more than twenty thousand artifacts have been discovered; the Norse coin was the only object found that was not indigenous. Another example of OOPArt is the Baghdad Battery.
This object, made in Persia, consists of a vase and rods. It may have been used as a galvanic cell for electroplating, yet no other electroplated artifacts from this era have yet been found.
How Is This Possible?
The Kingoodie artifact is an item that resembles a corroded nail and was supposedly embedded in solid rock. A terracotta offering head of a Roman appearance was discovered below three intact floors of a Pre-Columbian interment site in Mexico and was dated between 1476 and 1510.
The artifact has been found to be older, and an ancient Roman background may be possible. The Dorchester Pot is a metal pot rumored to have been recovered in 1852 from solid rock at Meeting House Hill in Massachusetts. Young Earth creationists, who oppose scientific theories of evolution, regard the Dorchester Pot as having been created by an ancient civilization that predated the Noachian Flood (from the Biblical account of Noah's Ark), but had been made using far more advanced equipment than we presently allow for that time period.
Debunkers have identified the object as a Victorian era candlestick or pipe stand.
Antarctica Before Its Discovery
Other OOPArt examples include the Piri Reis map – an ancient map discovered in 1929 that was drawn on gazelle skin and showed part of the western world.
Graham Hancock's archeological fiction, Fingerprints of the Gods, claims the map, assembled by the Turkish Admiral Piri Reis, depicts Antarctica at a time before the discovery of the continent.
Predictions Of The Future
Golden figures made by the Quimbaya civilization in Colombia culture supposedly represent modern airplanes, but the Gold Museum in Bogotá describes them as figures of birds and insects.
Small human and animal figurines, Shakōkidogū, found in 1887 at the Kamegaoka Ruins of Japan, were made in the late Jōmon period (14,000–400 B.C.) and are interpreted as representations of extraterrestrial astronauts.
How Will We Know?
In the world of science, all theories are speculation until proven. Some theories deserve more attention than others, and often, when faced with theories thought to be improbable, it's hard to keep an open mind. But all research is worthy research if done well. No one wants to see science reduced to "junk science", so the best process is, as always, to test all theories against facts known and able to be demonstrated.
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