Is Metamora Logo An Ancient Keltic Face ?

by, John J White, III & Beverley H Moseley, Jr

Originally published in The Midwestern Epigraphic Society Newsletter

 

Many of the advertisements for the Metamora Museum of Ethnographic Art feature a photograph of the sculptured stone face shown below. The Museum Director Paul J Hendricks represents this artifact conservatively to be American-made colonial art (< 1840), and he displays it after years of collecting as his favorite find. The authors, on the other hand, had no trouble agreeing that there is a significant probability that scientific investigation will conclude that this artifact can be added to the hypothetical Dr Barry Fell collection of ancient Keltic evidence found in North America, especially the New England region.

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Let us explain that the Metamora Museum of Ethnographic Art is a private institution (donations requested) located in the Odd Fellows Hall of Historic Metamora, an 1838 Canal Town {www.metamoraindiana.com} in southeast Indiana. It is operated as a tourist attraction with a canal, railroad train, grist mill, and 50-60 shops selling food, handicrafts, and related domestic products.

Mr Hendricks claims that the stone bust was dug up on an estate near Boston, MA in the 1840s. He thinks that it is a type of colonial folk art of a young woman who lived in the Ohio Valley region. The snake and the female are viewed as symbols of birth and renewal.

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The authors speculate that the bust is an ancient memorial erected near to the place of the find by ancient visitors from the Atlantic coast of Europe. If so, they could have been some of the Barry Fell ‘Kelts’ found in the New England area, who would have fled the Romans, Christians, Vikings, or Visigoths. This young male face is executed in the classic Kelto-Romano style. The bust is unfinished in the back, showing perhaps the dearness of the labor and tools required. The snake is a symbol of the old Pagan Earth-God and is worn here much like the Keltic-type torque, which in symbology is a two-headed serpent. We prefer to suggest sculpturing in the 50-600 CE period. Snakes have had a rare and controlled role in the art of the Christian era. If colonial, there should be more examples!

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