Friday, November 9, 2007

America's Most Mysterious Tower

A stone structure overlooking Newport Harbor in Rhode Island is as mysterious as its appearance. While it looks like no other building in America, boasting eight arches formed by eight, rounded columns, and is constructed of stone from many eras, its exact date of origin - as well as its original purpose - are lost to history.

Various stories say the building was built in the 12th-Century by Norse colonists; by 14th-Century Scottish explorers; 15th-Century Chinese sailors; 16th-Century Portugese pilgrims; or possibly by none other than one Benedict Arnold in the 17th-Century! As best as anyone can tell, the building was erected between 300 and 900 years ago.

The first written reference (according to History Channel Magazine) was in the 1678 will of Benedict Arnold, where he (supposedly) refers to it as "my Stone built windmill!" Archaeological excavations have uncovered artifacts dating back no further than the 17th-Century. C-14 carbon dating of the mortar indicates it was built between 1635 and 1698.

However, many have pointed out that C-14 carbon dating is not very reputable, and that the lack of pre-17th-Century artifacts is not proof that the tower did not exist prior to that time. Also, the mortar tested may have come from later repairs to the tower.

The tower's builders have been in question for ages now - since at least 1839, when Danish scholar, Carl Christian Rafn, discussed it.

In 2006, the nonprofit organization, Chronognostic Research Foundation, claimed to have found stones bearing tool marks that pre-date the 17th-Century. These rocks were found beneath the extent of the previous dig in 1949.

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