Coso artifact

When and where was the Coso artifact found? 

In 1961, Wally Lane, Mike Mikesell and Virginia Maxey found the Coso artifact. Being co-owners of the LM&V Rockhounds Gem and Gift Shop in Olancha, California, they went into the Coso Mountains to look for unusual rocks. 

Later that day, they found a fossil-encrusted geode. The date: February 13, 1961. Located on a mountain peak 4,300 feet high. And about 340 feet above the dry Owens Lake, six miles northeast of Olancha. Geologists estimate that about 10,000 years ago, Owens Lake was as high as the top of the peak.

The interior of the artifact exposed by X-ray.

Drilling down

Mike Mikesell ruined a diamond saw blade by cutting it open. After which the geode proved to contain something strange. In the middle of the Coso artifact was a metal core. It measured about .08 inch (2 millimeters) in diameter. Enclosing the core was what appeared to be a ceramic collar. That collar was itself encased in a hexagonal sleeve carved out of wood. It had – presumably at a later date – become petrified. Around the petrified wooden enclosure was the outer layer of the geode, consisting of hardened clay, pebbles, bits of fossil shell, and two nonmagnetic metallic objects resembling a nail and a washer. 


A fragment of copper still remaining between the ceramic and the petrified wood suggests that the two may once have been separated by a now decomposed copper sleeve. Later, the x-ray of the object would reveal a shape resembling a spark plug, according to the editor of INFO Journal (International Fortean Organization), Paul Willis.

The Coso artifact, found by Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey and Mike Mikesell in 1961

Dating the find

Researchers date the find on an approximate stratification and the composition of the outer crust. Hence, the object has been dated from 250,000 to 500,000 BCE. Although the name of the geologist who provided the dating is not mentioned in any source material.

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