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Steel Knife Found inside of Tree

(This is a hoax:  see notes at bottom)

Updated:  30 Aug 2004

Individuals have been passing the following item around, believing that it supports the issue of steel in the Book of Mormon.  However, as can be seen in the notes at the end of this page, this item is a hoaxIt should not be passed around.  There is no further need to contact CalState at Fresno.  The notes are self explanatory and come from authoritative administrative sources at the University.

From: [left blank]
To: [left blank]
Subject: Book of Mormon Evidence Discovered in California
Date: Thursday, August 05, 2004

What is everyone's take on this? Is there a Mormon version of truth or 
fiction . com where faith promoting rumors are researched?

Subject: Book of Mormon Evidence Discovered in California

This is really cool.† The "learned" people who made this discovery don't know what they really found, but we do.


 ††††† FRESNO, Calif., July 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers at California State University, Fresno are puzzled over an ancient, man-made artifact discovered by forestry students on a recent field trip in the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains.  The artifact in question is a steel knife that was apparently buried deep inside a Giant Sequoia tree and was found between growth rings in the tree indicating that it had been left there around 350-450 AD.
 ††††† The tree in question is located in the Atwell Grove inside Sequoia National Park.  The tree fell in February of this year after several years of erosion had weakened its root structure.  National Park Service and CSU Fresno Department of Forestry officials estimate that the tree had lived over 2,000 years at the time it fell.  The Park Service gave the university permission to dissect and study the tree, and students stumbled upon the knife while using a metal detector to measure mineral content.  The CSU Forestry Department speculates that the knife was left between two trees that later grew together and buried it under centuries of further growth.

 ††††† The knife was removed and taken to the CSU Fresno campus, where  several experts from the Archeology and Anthropology Departments have examined it.  All of the experts agree that the knife doesnít match any other artifacts from indigenous peoples in that area.  To date, there had been no evidence of Native Americans using steel tools and weapons at that time.  The strangest aspect of the story, however, is that the knife does seem to match artifacts from about a thousand years earlier from the other side of the world.  The knife looks like weapons that were common in the Middle East around 500 BC, and has faded engravings on the blade that appear to be Egyptian symbols. 
Researchers canít find any meaning in the engravings, but say that the still visible symbols roughly correspond to the phonetic sounds of MO-RO.   Ironically, one of Sequoia National Parkís most famous landmarks is a granite dome called Morro Rock.  Since Morro Rock wasnít named until the last 1800ís, 
however, the similarity is pure coincidence.
 †††† "Itís the damndest thing Iíve seen in my career," said CSU Fresno Associate Professor of Archeology Curtis Johnson, Ph.D. "Iím sure weíll find an explanation that makes sense sometime.  I really donít think anyone is going to believe that someone from the Old World wandered all the way to California a thousand years before Columbus."


Initial contact by individuals in California have indicated that the response from the University is that this report is a hoax.  As we (SHIELDS) obtain additional information we will add it here.

Follow up:

We contacted CalState University at Fresno and received the following replies:

Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2004 14:41:09 -0700
From: Tom Uribes <>
Subject: Knife Hoax


Thanks for your inquiry.  For now I can say that this is a hoax...we don't have a Professor Curtis at Fresno State nor a Department of Forestry.  We will contact you soon with specifics.  Thank you.


And the follow up:

Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2004 15:19:16 -0700
From: shirley armbruster <>
Subject: Re: Knife Hoax

The posting to PR Newswire was indeed a hoax and we have informed the agency of that.  California State University, Fresno does not have an Archeology Department, nor a Forestry Department.  We do not have a professor named Curtis Johnson.  The chair of our Anthropology Department calls the release a complete fabrication.
Your help in quelling this hoax is appreciated.

Shirley Melikian Armbruster
Director of News Services
California State University, Fresno

Additionally, we received the following from a person who contacted the PR Newswire:

General Info
Chat start time  Aug 30, 2004 3:31:14 PM EST
Chat end time  Aug 30, 2004 3:41:27 PM EST
Duration (actual chatting time)  00:10:13
Operator   Andrea
Chat Transcript
info: Thank you for contacting PR Newswire, a representative will be with you momentarily.
info: You are now chatting with 'Andrea'
Andrea: Thank you for contacting PR Newswire. How may I assist you?
Rebecca: Hello, Andrea, I received an interesting item today in my email and wondered if you could tell me if this is an actual release from PR Newswire
Rebecca: This is the header:
Andrea: Hi Rebecca! Sure, I will take a look....
Rebecca: Thank you very much, Andrea
Andrea: Rebecca, That headline is not from us.
Rebecca: hmmmm, I was afraid of that. Any idea why such a thing might have been circulated as being from PRN?
Andrea: We are researching it though, because it has been brought to our attention.
Rebecca: by other than myself then?
Andrea: yes
Rebecca: Is it possible to be apprised of what you find out?
Andrea: I'm not sure if even I will be aware of the findings.. but you are more than welcome to inquire about it again on a later date.
Rebecca: Thank you very much for chatting with me, Andrea
Andrea: No problem Rebecca, have a great day!
Rebecca: You too
Andrea: Thank you!
info: Thank you for contacting PR Newswire, your chat session has been ended.

I did a search of the faculty at CSU Fresno, and found no "CSU Fresno Associate Professor of Archeology Curtis Johnson, Ph.D."

So as far as I am concerned,  this is most likely a hoax.  DANG!

:-(  Beck