ALEXANDRIA (AP) -- Recent scientific testing could soon end the 100-year-old debate on the authenticity of the Kensington Runestone.
New research suggests the stone is an artifact from a visit to Minnesota in the 1300s by a group of Norwegians and Swedes who sailed up the Great Lakes.
Scientists presented their findings last month at the Midwest Archaeology Conference in St. Paul.
The stone was found in 1898 in Kensington by farmer Olaf Ohmann. Over the years, some have accused Ohmann of chiseling the 202-pound stone's Norse runes himself and planting it in his field as a hoax.
Scholars say the runes appear to describe the journey of eight Goths (Swedes) and 22 Norwegians. American Indians killed 10 of them, and scholars say the stone might have marked their grave.
Earlier this year, the Kensington Runestone Foundation hired scientists to conduct physical and linguistic tests on the rock and its runes.
They brought the stone to the St. Paul laboratories of Scott Wolter, a geologist and president of American Petrographic Service.
"Even after a couple hours of looking at this thing, I thought the carvings were quite old," Wolter said. "Let's just say that this thing was in the ground after it was carved for decades, probably centuries."
He said the stone's authenticity is holding up to examination by the latest technology and knowledge of language and history. Wolter said it was the first rigorous scientific study of the stone's origins.
Wolter said modern approaches to test the runestone are providing insight not available to the archaeologists who first called the stone a hoax.
"When the language portion was looked at 100 years ago, the experts of the day, in fairness to them, did not have the information available that exists today," he said.
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