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Coso artifact

The Coso Artifact is a spark plug found encased in a lump of hard clay or rock on February 13, 1961 by Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey, and Mike Mikesell while they were prospecting for geodes near the town of Olancha, California, and long claimed as an example of an out-of-place artifact.[1]

If a spark plug were encased in a 500,000-year-old mineral, this finding would represent a substantial scientific and historical anomaly, as spark plugs were invented in the 19th century. Critics have argued, however, that the Coso Artifact can be explained by known natural processes.



Following its collection, Mikesell destroyed a diamond-edged blade cutting through the rock containing the artifact and discovered the item.[1] The identity of the alleged trained geologist and his means of dating the nodule were never clarified, and his findings were never published in any known periodical.[1] The nodule surrounding the spark plug may have accreted in a matter of years or decades, as demonstrated by examples of very similar iron or steel artifact-bearing nodules, which are discussed and illustrated by Cronyn.[2]

Criticism and analysis

The origin of the artifact has been the cause of much speculation.[1] Pseudoscientific suggestions for the artifact's origin have included:

  • An ancient advanced civilization (such as Atlantis);
  • Prehistoric extraterrestrial visitors to Earth;
  • Human time-travellers from the future leaving or losing the artifact during a visit to the past.

An investigation carried out by Pierre Stromberg and Paul Heinrich, with the help of members of the Spark Plug Collectors of America, suggested that the artifact is a 1920s Champion spark plug. Chad Windham, President of the Spark Plug Collectors of America, identified the Coso Artifact as a 1920s-era Champion spark plug, which was widely used in the Ford Model T and Model A engines. Other spark plug collectors concurred with his assessment.[1]

Stromberg and Heinrich's report[1] indicates the spark plug became encased in a concretion composed of iron derived from the rusting spark plug. It is typical of iron and steel artifacts to rapidly form iron oxide concretions around them as they rust in the ground.[2]

The location of the Coso artifact is unknown as of 2008. Of its discoverers, Lane has died, Maxey is alive but avoids public comment, and the whereabouts of Mikesell are not known.


  1. a b c d e f Stromberg, P., and P.V. Heinrich, 2004, ''The Coso Artifact Mystery from the Depths of Time?'', Reports of the National Center for Science Education. v. 24, no. 2, pp. 26-30 (March/April 2004)
  2. a b

External links

ca:Artefacte de Coso es:Artefacto de Coso it:Geode di Coso ja:

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