After learning the history of the stone, I've had to totally revamp my own research.
Well, MT, consider this scenario:
It's a well-accepted fact by researchers that an unusual stone was discovered at the ninety foot mark. It also appears that the stone had some sort of marks on the side facing down. There's debate about whether the marks were discernible by those who first found it. It was, however, left in the shaft for some time (weeks? months?), before they arranged to bring it to the surface.
Whether the marks were natural or man-made, the stone was considered unique enough that one of the excavators kept in his house for decades.
Some fifty years later, a new group of excavators tried to locate the stone in order to lure in new investors. Let's say, for sake of argument, that the original stone was either not suitable (the marks not legible, or worn away), or was not able to be procured (lost or hidden).
But the new excavators were no dummies: they knew that a stone with a verifiable inscription would be all the incentive the new investors would need. So they hired a local linguist to scout among the locals, and interview anyone who'd seen the stone or heard about it from relatives.
This linguist gathered a host of symbols that people recalled seeing, though no one could recall the correct order or sequence. So the linguist, willing to be creative to fulfill his mission, decides to make his own message. He concocts a message to say exactly what the excavators expect to find: two million pounds in gold, forty feet below the location of the stone.
But, there's a problem: though the term "pound" for an English monetary unit originated as early as the Elizabethan era (1560 or so, see http://www.learnenglish.de/culture/britishmoney.htm
), the term pounds has always included its traditional unit of weight. So, what if instead of two million pounds Sterling, the message inferred two million pounds of gold?
One theory, suggested recently by Sasha Iman (n4N), is that the local nobles of Spain plotted to keep the New World's gold away from Charles II, an outsider from the Netherlands. They may have diverted as much as ten years or more worth of gold shipments to a location where a previous gold ship had been forced to land due to a violent storm.
Let's say these nobles only diverted a few ships a year, say five or six, for ten years. These fifty ships could have accounted for roughly half of the gold from the New World at that time (1520-1530), since the Spaniards were still plundering wrought gold objects, and hadn't begun mining themselves, when their gold shipments would increase tenfold. Each ship could easily carry twenty tons (40,000 pounds or so), most of it but not all in gold.
Five ships a year could amount to 200,000 pounds. Ten year's worth of diverted shipments could amount to -- Anybody? Bueller??
Two million pounds!
As James Woods' character from Contact
would say, "That is interesting, isn't it?"
So "Forty feet down, two million pounds..." could have been an actual message, not referring to a couple million pounds Sterling in gold, but a staggering 32 million Troy ounces of gold! That would equal roughly... let's see, $400 an ounce, times 32 million, carry the one...
That would be twelve BILLION dollars' worth of gold.
**Blink blink** Wow!
Now, I'm not saying this is the truth, only that the evidence is there, that this **could** have happened, and that the message on the Ninety Foot Stone **could** have been an actual reference to a set weight of gold, buried for later retrieval by the nobles of Spain.
Now, how does that affect your research, MacTeague?