History Moment: Tucson Artifacts 617x347

Photo: AZPM

In the mid 1920's, an excavation near Tucson turned up lead swords, crosses and other objects bearing Latin and Hebrew inscriptions.

Note: Historian Demion Clinco's History Moments do not represent the views or opinions of Arizona Public Media or Arizona Illustrated.

In December 1925, 32 lead artifacts of apparent Hebrew and Latin descent were found in Tucson. The objects, including lead swords, crosses, and candlesticks etched with the story of an ancient civilization, came to be known as the "Silverbell" or "Tucson" artifacts.

According to Demion Clinco, president of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, early researchers thought the objects dated back to 700 and 900 A.D. and were evidence of a Roman culture thriving in the Southwest in pre-Columbian times.

But when later studies showed the artifacts' true origins, the mystery only deepened.