NEW YORK (Oct. 20)
Jews escaping the Romans landed in the New World some 1,400 years before Columbus, a Brandeis University professor claimed over the weekend. Cyrus H. Gordon, professor of Mediterranean Studies at the Waltham, Mass., institution, presented his findings to the North Shore Archaeological Society on Long Island. He said an inscription on a stone found in a burial mound in Tennessee in 1885 or 1886 was composed of five Hebrew letters reading “For Judah.” The inscription had been presumed to be Cherokee since 1894, when the Smithsonian Institution published a photograph of the stone–upside down. The lettering is “distinctively Jewish.” Prof. Gordon said, and “attests to a migration of Jews, probably to escape the long hand of Rome after the disastrous Jewish defeats at 70 and 135 A.D.” He asserted that “The archaeological circumstances of the discovery rule out any chance of fraud or forgery. Prof. Gordon said the Melungeons of present-day eastern Tennessee are non-Indian, non-Negro, non-Anglo-Saxon whites who claim to be descendants of Mediterranean emigres who arrived in the New World 1,000 years before Columbus. The Jewish educator, who is 62, has written extensively on Old Testament archeology and has pioneered in the deciphering of Ugaritic, Minoan and Eteocretan inscriptions.