Rock: Its Museum and its Park
By Manuel Luciano da Silva, M. D.
President of “The Friends of Dighton Rock Museum . Inc”
to get to Dighton Rock State Park:
50 miles south of Boston . 10 miles north of Fall River.
Use highways leading to route 24. Ten miles NORTH of Fall River , Exit 10, go WEST two miles following the signs to the Museum.
Panoramic view of the Dighton Rock Museum . The building with small windows contains the rock. The building in the foreground is the Museum proper which contains the panels and artifacts.
Dighton Rock at midtide, until 1963 the tides protected the inscriptions from the vandals
Physical description of Dighton Rock
Dighton Rock weighs 40 tons. It is a bolder. It is upside-down. It migrated from somewhere in North America during the melting of the ice cap, ten thousand years ago, rolling down until it stopped on the left margin of the Taunton River.
When Dighton Rock lay in the riverbed, (until 1963), it was covered by tidal water all but four hours each day. At high tide, the top of the rock was covered by three or four feet of water.
In the winter, when the Taunton River was frozen, the rock remained hidden under an ice cap. These harsh conditions, ironically, protected the inscriptions from vandalism.
Dighton Rock is gray-brown crystalline sandstone of medium to coarse texture. It has the form of a slanted, six-sided block, 5 feet high, 9. 5 feet wide, and 11 feet long. The surface with the inscriptions has a trapezoidal face and is inclined 70 degrees to the northwest.
State Park and Museum
Dighton Rock, and the surrounding 101 acres, (same size as the Vatican ), became a State Park in 1954. In 1963, Dighton Rock was removed from the water, raised 11 feet to a cofferdam but retaining its original orientation, and protected by a chain link fence.
To ensure protection for the rock, a glass enclosure and an eight-sided pavilion were built around it in 1973.
In 1974 the Massachusetts Legislature approved an Act (Chapter 501, House Bill No. 5475) to create the Dighton Rock Museum:
"The Department of Natural Resources is hereby authorized and directed to construct a building at the Dighton Rock State Park in the town of Berkley for the purpose of displaying objects associated with Dighton Rock and with the history of Portuguese and other landings, explorations and settlements in the area."
The museum displays six panels explaining the physical characteristics of the rock and also the four theories in the order in which they were proposed:
In 1977 the Museum was opened to the public displaying also:
(1) the model of Vasco da Gama ship - "Nau São Gabriel" - used on his first trip to India in 1498, around the Cape of Good Hope . (Gift of Portuguese Prime Minister, Pinheiro de Azevedo)
(2) The model of Fernão de Magalhães (Magellan) - "Caravel Victoria "- used on the first circumnavigation of the world -1519-22 - three years, less 11 days. (Gift of Spanish King, Don Juan Carlos).
(3) Marble Portuguese Discovery Monument . (Gift of Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal ).
(4) American Indian Lithocollage by Chipi Tegu, from Providence , RI
How many theories for Dighton Rock inscriptions?
There are over one thousand books and articles written about Dighton Rock, since 1680. More than twenty theories have been proposed. Some say that Jesus Christ did it! Others the Devil did it! The majority of the theories are ridiculous and stupid! They are imaginary and full of fantasy.
Any one who wants to make the correct diagnosis of the inscriptions engraved on the face of the Dighton Rock has to be an EPIGRAPHIST. (epi= at the surface + graphist = who exams engravings at the surface). I have consulted one hundred and thirty American Universities and they all informed me that, in U.S.A. , there are NO epigraphists of the XV and XVI century!!!
For any theory to stand, we have to find engraved on the face of Dighton Rock inscriptions attesting and affirming that same theory. If there are NO engravings that specific, that theory holds no water… it is false! This is the very reason why only four theories were selected to have panels explaining them inside of the museum.
The four theories
Dighton Rock and its inscriptions have been the object of curiosity and controversy for over 300 years. For centuries, the boulder sat in the mud (and sewage), at this point in the Taunton River , its broad westward surface tempting passersby to carve their messages.
of the most popular of these are presented in the museum panels. Through
drawings, photographs, and direct quotations, theories are presented,
chronologically of their suggestions, supporting:
(1) American Indians; ( 2)
Phoenicians; (3) Norse; and (4)
We invited you to study each theory, then view the rock, and draw your own conclusion.
four theories are presented
in the same order they were discovered
17th Century = American Indian
theory was derived by Reverend John Danforth in 1680. Upon drawing only the
visible half (upper half) of the inscriptions, he believed them to depict a
story about foreign men who came up the river to
fight the Indians.
first recorded drawing of the Dighton Rock inscriptions was produced by Reverend
John Danforth in 1680. Danforth drew only the upper half of the inscriptions,
perhaps because the lower half was covered by tidal water most of the day.
Danforth attributed the markings of the Wampanoag Indian Nation known to have
It is reported from the tradition of
the old Indians, that there came a wooden house (and men of another country in
it) swimming up the river Assonet, that fought the Indians and slew their Sachem
(Sachem). Some interpret the figures to be hieroglyphical. The first figure
representing a ship, without mast, and meer (mere) wrack cast upon the Shoales.
The second representing an head of land, possibly a cape with a peninsula. Hence
In 1732, the Royal Society of London requested and received Danforth’s copy of Dighton Rock. It was later presented to the British Museum where it is preserved today.
Danforth’s interpretation of his drawing were:
(1) "Ship without mast"
(2) "a cape and a peninsula"
The American Indians live in North American for thousands of years before people from Europe came to these shores. The Indians did not use letters or numerals.
What Danforth drew thinking that it was an old ship are fragments of the Portuguese Cross of Order of Christ with extremities terminating in 45 degree angles. Danforth did not know the existence of the Portuguese Cross!
18th Century = Phoenician
Court Gebelin – who never saw Dighton Rock in loco, from Paris,
In 1781, Antone Court de Gebelin, a French scholar, who never visited Dighton Rock, proposed, from Paris France, a Phoenician origin for the inscriptions. His interpretation was based on Steven Sewall’s drawing of 1768, for he never personally visited Dighton Rock. De Gebelin’s interpretation drew upon figures from Phoenician mythology. Here is his description:
monument is divided into three unmistakable scenes, one representing a past,
another a present and a third a future event".
relatively empty scene represents the solitude of the future. The largest figure
is a colossal bust, the Oracle, who has just been consulted; the line above him
is his veil. On the right arm of the Oracle is a butterfly, symbol of return or
resurrection. To his right is a small stature or priest."
represents the present and for this reason is placed in the middle of the
picture. Its essential objects are two animals that face one another. One
represents the foreign nation, the other the American. The former is a horse, at
rest in a kneeling position; the other a beaver recognizable by its long
the right are four figures. They clearly relate to a past event. The figure at
the extreme right is Priapus, (penis), god
of fecundity, father of fruits. He cannot be mistaken. The next figure to the
left is an owl, symbol of Minerva, goddess of wisdom and of the arts. The next
figure, a little to the left and lower down, is the head of a sparrow -hawk,
with a kind of a mantle over its shoulders. The fourth figure, farthest left in
the group, is unmistakable the little Telesphore, divinity of a happy
This Phoenician theory does not present any Phoenician symbols, not even
the pine or cedar tree which is the symbol of
Century = Norse or Viking
theory was developed in 1837 by Carl Christian Rafn, who never saw Dighton Rock
in loco. According to Rafn these
inscriptions document the travels of Thorfinn Karlsefni, a Viking leader in
search of a new land called
In 1837, Carl Christian Rafn, a Danish scholar, who never visited Dighton Rock, proposed a Norse or Viking origin to the carvings based on a drawing of the inscriptions provided by the Rhode Island Historical Society (1835).
together with his Icelandic assistant, Finn Magnusen, read into the markings a
message related to the characters mentioned in the "
his book. "Antiquities Americanae", published in
"Following the numerals CXXXI is a Latino-gothic character resembling an
M. This is a monogrammatic combination standing for
"Underneath it is a diamond shaped O followed by an R which are parts of
ORFINS for the name Thorfinn."
Before giving his conclusion Rafn explained that: "... the C stands for the Icelandic ‘great hundred’ which is 12 (Icelandic) dozen instead of ten tens. Hence the whole signifies not 131 but 151, (to coincide) with the true number of Thorfinn’s men".
After this explanation Rafn presents his Viking this way:
CXXXI , NAM , ORFINS
Which reads as:
and his 151 companions took possession of this land."
This Viking theory does not present any national symbols of the Viking
Century = Portuguese
the Portuguese Historical Cartouche
evidence to support this theory was discovered by Joseph D. Fragoso in 1951, and
DaSilva in 1960.
detailed interpretation was presented to the First International Congress of the
History of Discoveries in
Fragoso and Da Silva each dedicated more than 30 years of their lives to
developing the Portuguese theory. All these three men visited the Dighton Rock
many times at different phases of tides, during the day and during the night.
photo was obtained, on November 2nd 1959, by the two medical
doctors: Dr. Manuel Luciano da Silva and Dr. Luis Charles Dupont.
Flag #1. Portuguese Coat of Arms, U-shaped
Flag # 2. Portuguese Cross of the Order of Christ
Flag #3. Portuguese Coat of Arms, V-shaped
Captain's name: Miguel Corte Real
Date: 1511 (numeral 5 like a capital S)
The Portuguese theory was conceived in 1918 when Edmund B. Delabarre, a psychologist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, detected the date 1511: "I saw it, clearly and undoubtedly, the date 1511. No one had ever seen it before on the rock or photograph; yet once seen, its genuine presence on the rock cannot be doubted." (December 2, 1918).
Knowing the date 1511, Delabarre searched through European history and discovered that there existed in Lisbon, Portugal, royal charts (copies of these letters are in the Museum), attesting to the fact that Gaspar Corte Real visited North America for a second time in 1501 and never returned to Portugal.
further uncovered the fact that Miguel Corte Real left
With this knowledge of Portuguese history, Delabarre reviewed all 27 drawings, paintings and photographs made by different scholars since 1680 and stated that the following is engraved on the rock: (1) the date 1511; (2) the captain's name - Miguel Corte Real; (3) The Portuguese V-shaped coat of arms.
1951, Joseph D. Fragoso, a language instructor at
In 1960, after carefully examining Delabarre's and Fragoso's theory, Manuel Luciano da Silva, a physician from Bristol, Rhode Island, -- who discovered the fourth Cross of the Order of Christ engraved on the rock, -- presented a detailed interpretation of the inscriptions to the First International Congress of the History of Discoveries held in Lisbon, Portugal, affirming the Corte Real theory. Da Silva compared Dighton Rock with undisputed Portuguese markers in Africa, America and Asia . On his presentation Dr. da Silva noted:
"The similarity of these land makers so many thousands of miles away from each other, is indeed striking. They have engraved on them the same Portuguese coat of arms, the same Cross of the Order of Christ and the same style of numerals."
"They were made by Portuguese navigators who received the same training and education at the Nautical School of Prince Henry the Navigator, in Sagres, Portugal ".
Delabarre, Fragoso and Da Silva each dedicated more than 30 years of their lives developing the Portuguese theory. They examined, in local, the rock many times, at all different phases of the tides.
Here are the flags of the Scandinavian countries: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden. Pay attention to the shape of the crosses in all the four flags. The branches are all simple. Take a look at the flag from Lebanon, where Phoenicia was thousand of years ago. The main icon is a pine, cedar tree. None of these crosses, nor the icon of the tree are engraved on the face of Dighton Rock
Now take a look at the center of the Portuguese flag and observe its icon:
The Portuguese Shields in diagrams
Here is the center of the Portuguese flag: with the world sphere and the Portuguese National Shield: a "V" inside of a "V".
Here is the Portuguese Cross of the Order of Christ carried on the sails of all Portuguese caravels. Pay attention to the extremities terminating in 45 degree angles!!
Here is a partial photo of the face of Dighton Rock taken at night with light side ways. Compare both Portuguese National Symbols on paper, with the ones engraved on the face of the rock.
I have taken two men, totally blind, to "see" Dighton Rock inscriptions and they "saw" the Portuguese national symbols with their fingers engraved on the face of the rock!
Do you want to have fun?
Take a look at the Portuguese Historical Cartouche. It has all the essential elements for you to have the pleasure of making the correct diagnosis of the Dighton Rock inscriptions.
Then, compare these four sets of Portuguese symbols with the inscriptions on Dighton Rock.
Get hold of a copy of the “National Geographic Magazine”, January 1975, Vol. 147, No.1, and take a look at page 98. On it you will see a beautiful photograph in color of the face of Dighton Rock taken at night, using tangential lighting or sideways lighting.
Get a magnifying glass to examine this photograph, and compare the inscriptions on the rock with the photograph presented above showing the Portuguese national flags, the name of the captain Miguel Corte Real and the date 1S11, with the numeral five like a capital S today!
National Geographic, Page 98, January, 1975
By using this simple technique you will be able to SEE and FEEL -- like an Epigraphist -- the ARCHE0LOGICAL EVIDENCE of the Portuguese inscriptions!
The Portuguese Theory was first discovered by Professor Edmund Burke Delabarre, Chief of the Psychology Department of Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island , on December 2, 1918.
More than 87 years have gone by and nobody up to now has refuted the Portuguese theory. On the contrary, the discoveries by Fragoso and Da Silva have reinforced it.
you want to visit the Dighton Rock Museum?
Officials connected with
Brian Shanahan, Regional Supervisor of DEM
Steven Bates, Supervisor
John Roberts, General Manager
Tel. & fax of the
Friends of Dighton Rock Museum, Inc”.
Pres- Manuel Luciano da Silva, M. D.
Vice- President- Raul Benevides
Secretary- Walter Fraze Jr., Esquire
Treasurer- Richard A. Vasconcellos
345 N. Main Street, Fall River, MA 02720, U. S. A.
Tel. (508) 675-1104
Rock has been approved in 1975 as “Historical Site”. Some
day it should be a National Monument and National Park.
for the Dighton Rock with much more information: http://www.apol.net/dightonrock/
- “Dighton Rock” -- by Edmund
Burke Delabarre -- Book with 369 pages, 108 illustrations.
- “Portuguese Pilgrims and Dighton Rock”- By Manuel Luciano da Silva --
Book with 100 pages and 164 illustrations. Published in 1971, Editor:
Nelson D. Martins,
- “New England’s Little