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Barry Fell encouraged us to question what we were taught about the ancient world. Through the Epigraphic Society Occasional Papers (ESOP), he provided a forum in which new ideas about the ancient world and cross-cultural contacts could be discussed. He markedly broadened the field of American epigraphy and provided evidence of a substantial input of language and script from cultures on other continents.

Barry Fell’s influence upon me lay not in the fact that he was always right. He wasn’t. It lay in the fact that he called into question what I was taught as "eternal verities." He caused me to think.

When I was a boy, my father and my teachers might as well have been God. When they spoke, it was ex cathedra and not to be queried. It was not until sometime after college that I seriously began to question what I had learned, and Barry Fell continued this education. In the process of writing for ESOP and participating in related conferences, I met many fine scholars and broadened my knowledge and experience in epigraphy.

Previously, the field of epigraphy in the Americas was restricted primarily to Mayan and other meso-American scripts. Known North American indigenous scripts (Cherokee, Micmac, Cree) were generally accepted as being late introductions by missionaries. Barry not only called this view into question, but established the presence of Old World scripts in widely diffuse locations. His proposals reinforced and markedly expanded the views of Cyrus Gordon and others who had proposed the Pre- Columbian existence of certain Near Eastern scripts in the New World. One of Barry’s greatest contributions was the identification of Ogham Consaine (vowel-less ogham) within the continental United States.

Barry’s work on Iberic led to my own studies. We disagreed on particulars; but, if he had not inspired me, I never would have attempted the decipherment of the Iberic scripts. I am deeply grateful.

Barry has provided us with a conceptual foundation and a structure for a continuing exchange of ideas about Old and New World epigraphy. Let us build upon this positive heritage.

Donal Buchanan, Secretary

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Last modified: April 07, 2003