13 Feb: The 500,000 Year-Old Spark Plug

The Coso Artifact – a man-made, cylindrical object apparently encased in a geode – was discovered by Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey and Mike Mikesell while prospecting for gems in Olancha, California on February 13th, 1961.

The OOPArt (or ‘out-of-place artifact’) caused a sensation amongst Creationists, Forteans and conspiracists, who believed it might be up to half a million years old – but has since been identified as a 1920s-era Champion spark plug.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly consider whether the ‘Rock Hounds’ were deliberately defrauding people, or were just open-minded enthusiasts; ask why their find had such resonance with Creationists, when its existence cannot be consistent with the world being merely thousands of years old; and reveal how the ‘mystery’ was conclusively debunked… 

Further Reading:

• ‘When Some 1920s Garbage Was Mistaken for an Ancient Artifact’ (Smithsonian Magazine, 2017): https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/1920s-garbage-or-ancient-artifact-probably-1920s-garbage-180962081/

• ‘Hidden History – Lost Civilizations, Secret Knowledge, and Ancient Mysteries, By Brian Haughton’ (Red Wheel/Weiser, 2007): 


• ‘Coso Artifact: Science Triumphs Over Theorists’ (Science For Everyone, 2022):

#Discoveries #60s #California #Strange