Are the Ica Stones evidence that humans and dinosaurs coexisted?

The Ica Stones, as they are often called, are a collection of engraved stones from the Ica region of Peru. To be fair, many stones are produced in other parts of Peru as artwork, but the Ica Stones are the most famous because of their depictions of dinosaurs, heart and brain transplants, maps, and telescopes.

In an evolutionary worldview, it is extremely unlikely that dinosaurs and humans coexisted, so it is generally a forgone conclusion that any stone that depicts humans riding dinosaurs is modern. There is no room to consider the authenticity of the Ica Stones (specifically those depicting extinct animals). This article from the Skeptic’s Dictionary, for example, which has been quoted all over the internet, is the typical response of skeptics to the stones. Alas, the author of the article did very little research, and most of the information in the article regarding the stones is wrong.

Dr. Stephen Meyers wrote a reasonable article on the stones, and while he did not see any of the stones, he went out of his way to research their authenticity by contacting experts on the stones. He did not come up with much information on the stones themselves, but the other evidence he uncovered gave him reason to doubt the stones’ authenticity.

Christopher Johnson wrote another article on the stones and actually went to see a collection of the engraved stones held in Pensacola, FL. While he points out the reasons that the stones could be real, he is not ready to vouch for their authenticity until further research has been done.

A little over a year ago, I was able to visit the Museo de Piedras Grabadas (Engraved Stone Museum) in Ica, Peru. The year before that, I was able to visit at least one person that supplied the museum with stones. (We visited two stone suppliers—I suspect that the other stone supplier we visited also sold stones to the museum.)

I learned several things that make me seriously doubt the authenticity of virtually all of the stones in the museum.

The first is the “patina” mentioned in the articles I referenced above. If you’ve ever broken a stone that has been sitting out for a few years, you probably noticed that the weathered surface of the stone was a different color than the freshly exposed surface. It has been claimed that the grooves in the stones were similarly weathered/not weathered in a way that proved/disproved that they had been exposed for a long time. What I found, however, was that the “patina” covering the rock and turning it black was…shoe polish. Really. I found this out the hard way when I threw a carved stone that I had purchased into my suitcase and the black shoe polish rubbed off on a pair of jeans. I assumed that the stones at the museum did not have shoe polish on them, but when I went to the museum, the stones looked exactly like the one I had purchased. I asked the museum curator about it, and he said that the black material was indeed shoe polish. His explanation was that the people that had found the stones had covered them with shoe polish so that the carvings could be seen easier, but based on the fact that none of the polish ended up in the grooves, I am certain that the polish was applied to the stones before they were carved.

The second blow to the stones’ authenticity that I came across was the person who sold me a stone. The person claimed to have sold some to the museum, and was honest enough to sell the stones cheaply as artwork rather than charging three or four times more and claiming that they were from tombs. Based on the unmistakable similarity of the stone I purchased with those in the museum, I tend to believe the story about the sale to the museum.

The third problem I encountered was the other artifacts in the museum. The curator had gone to the place where the stones had been found/produced, and had come back with “dinosaur eggs” and “dinosaur bones” to back up the drawings of the dinosaurs on the stones. From my geological investigations, however, I know that the “dinosaur eggs” are really what we call concretions—in this case, they were egg-shaped lumps of sediment held together with gypsum or carbonates. The “dinosaur bones” are actually the bones of Miocene whales, which were buried in volcanic ash and marine sediments.

So, in conclusion, if we’re looking for evidence that humans and dinosaurs coexisted, the Engraved Stone Museum is not the place to go. That said, archeologists have unearthed some artifacts in Peru that give one pause. I’ve seen very dinosaur-like creatures depicted on pottery that is held at the Museum of the Nation and the Larco Museum. This vase from the Larco Museum, for example, has a creature on it bearing a remarkable resemblance to a sauropod dinosaur.

I apologize for the picture quality—this item was on the bottom shelf of the museum archives in a poorly-lit room behind dirty glass.

I apologize for the picture quality—this item was on the bottom shelf of the museum archives in a poorly-lit room behind dirty glass.

The problem with using such a vase as evidence that humans and dinosaurs coexisted, however, is that if we claim that the depiction on this vase is a realistic representation of something, we have to at least entertain the possibility that the monkey-headed monster on the next vase was also real.

I would be very intrigued if genuine stones were found that depicted humans and dinosaurs together, and based on the biblical narrative, I suspect that dinosaurs were present in the Garden of Eden. I also suspect that the countless dragon myths told by so many cultures around the world hearken back to ancient memories of these massive reptilians. As the saying goes, however, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” and the engraved stones of Peru are not in the “extraordinary evidence” category.