Media ReportMarch 10, 2006
Discover 'Soper's Frauds' at new WSU exhibitThe Detroit News
Were they fakes or precious relics lost civilizations created? That was the big question a century ago when clay, slate, copper and stone objects decorated with strange hieroglyphics and references to the Bible were dug from Indian mounds all over the Lower Peninsula between 1890 and 1920. Experts, who came to inspect the "finds," uniformly dismissed them as "fakes," "frauds" and "humbugs." But a core of believers, including men of the church and others, continued to defend them, some even to this day. The story behind the Michigan relics is told in a fascinating new exhibit at the Wayne State University Museum of Anthropology, one of the Detroit Cultural Center 's little-known gems. The Michigan Historical Center in Lansing loaned the museum the material on view through the end of the year. Tom Killion, who heads WSU's anthropology department, points out that people of that era didn't have an understanding of Michigan 's history and prehistory. "They didn't realize that Biblical and ancient Egyptian relics would not be found in Michigan 's Native American mounds," he says. "It's easy to fill the void with all kinds of stuff."