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300-million-years-old cast iron cup from Oklahoma

It’s a perfect piece of metal and it was discovered in 1912 in a mine in Wilburton, Oklahoma, its discoverer was Frank J. Kennard and according to him, it was found within a block of coal. But what makes this cup so mysterious? Well, as many other objects found across the world, the age of the artifact has caused debate.

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Such objects are called out-of-place artifacts (OOPArt or oopart) because they were found in an archaeological layer in which their existence is simply impossible. In fact, there were many such artifacts in history, but rarely did any of them survive to the present day; most simply disappeared somewhere.

This history began in 1912 in a coal-fired power plant in the town of Thomas, Oklahoma, USA. One of the workers split a piece of coal that was too large for a wheelbarrow, and inside it was a small object that looked like a bowl or pot.

The bowl was further examined and it turned out to be made of cast iron (an alloy of iron and carbon). Inside the pieces of coal, a solid imprint of the bowl was preserved, that is, it turns out that it did not fall into the coal recently, but was in it for so long that the coal formed around it.

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Then it was found out that the age of the coal seam from which this batch of coal was brought to the power plant was about 300 million years.

Imprint of a bowl in a piece of coal

To prove the authenticity of the find, there is a small note written by the same worker who found this bowl.

Kennard, who was in 1948 a Benton Co worker, said: “While I was working in the Municipal Electric Plant in Thomas, Oklahoma in 1912, I came upon a solid chunk of coal which was too large to use. I broke it with a sledge hammer.

“This iron pot fell from the centre leaving the impression mould of the pot in the piece of coal. Jim Stall (an employee of the company) witnessed the breaking of the coal, and saw the pot fall out. I traced the source of the coal, and found that it came from the Wilburton, Oklahoma, Mines.”

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At the end of the note it was added that he was “Sworn in at Salpur Springs, Arkansas, November 27, 1948.”

The coal deposits of the Wilburton Mine have been studied several times and it is still confirmed that they are, in fact, about 295-300 million years old.

Regrettably, the only evidence comes from the testimony of a person and that does not have much scientific rigor. This object disappeared, like many others that had a similar history and the same age.

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If the object was found today, it would provide much more insight into the discovery, the origin of the item, who created it and what was the purpose, but most importantly, it would shed light on its true age.

There is the theory regarding how an object like that might have ended up inside the coal, as the mines are filled with puddles of saturated water, eventually the water hardens and the object might have ended up inside the piece of coal.

As noted by Mark Isaac: “The cup appears to be cast iron, and cast iron technology began in the eighteenth century. Its design is much like pots used to hold molten metals and may have been used by a tinsmith, tinker, or person casting bullets.”

The usual problems are seen in the discovery of this item, anecdotal evidence is basically the only thing we have, yet that does not explain how the artifact ended up embedded in the coal which is around 300 million years old.

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Zoe Mitchell

Zoe Mitchell is an independent researcher and writer specializing in extraordinary topics. With a degree in journalism, she delves into the mysteries that lie beyond the surface of our reality.