View of the East Bay Walls

The Berkeley Mystery Walls

All across the world, there is evidence that there is a lot of history that we don’t know all of the details about or are purely guessing at. Not all of this evidence is in far flung lands that require expeditions deep into a jungle or across a desert. In fact you can find evidence as close as California with the Berkeley Mystery Walls

Commonly known as the Berkeley Mystery Walls, these are actually a series of loose stone walls that can be found scattered across the hills surrounding the San Francisco Bay area and are formally named the East Bay Walls. The walls, up to a meter high and wide, run from a few hundred yards up to over half a mile long. The largest of the sandstone blocks weigh over a ton or more and vary from piles of rocks to well organized walls. Who built the wall is still unknown.

The Purpose of the Walls

Why the Berkeley Mystery Walls were built is completely unknown. The wall isn’t tall enough to be a fortification, or even a very good fence for livestock.

A common idea is that the walls were simply built during the process of clearing the area around them for farming or grazing.

The Mystery of the Wall Builders

The common explanation for the Berkeley Mystery Walls is that they were built by European settlers, in an effort to clear the fields. The problem is that there is evidence that the walls were there well before the Europeans arrived in the area. Much of what we ‘know’ about the East Bay Walls is actually just old assumptions.

The Berkeley Mystery Wall crossing the hills of California
The Berkeley Mystery Walls cutting across the California hills

Missionaries

One theory as to who built the stone walls was they are the work of Spanish missionaries that had come up from Mexico. The problem with this is that early Spanish settlers in the area wondered what they walls were and who built them. When they asked the local Ohlone Indian tribe and were told that according to their history, the walls were when they had arrived in the area.

Indian Wall Builders

Failing to find a modern source for the construction of the walls, most people automatically fall back to the Native Americans as the original wall builders. But this doesn’t seem to be the case.

As pointed out before, the Ohlone tribe’s history states that the walls were there before they occupied the area.

A science teacher, Mike Wing took interest in the Berkeley Mystery Walls and in doing his research talked to the MAPOM (Miwok Archaeological Preserve of Marin) who also said that they had not built the lines.

Chinese Wall Builders

With the standard fall-back of the ‘indigenous people did it’, the theories start getting thinner and thinner.

In 1904, the professor of Oriental languages at UC Berkeley declared that despite any evidence to the fact, the walls were surely the work of settlers from Mongolia. His argument was that the Chinese tended to wall in their cities, and the mystery walls were reminiscent of the Great Wall of China.

While there is proof that adventurers like Zheng He from China were making long distance voyages, there is no evidence that any of them made it to the Bay Area, settled and started building walls.

The Enduring Mystery of the East Bay Walls

Clearly the walls found across the San Francisco Bay area weren’t the work of modern humans or even native tribes, leaving us to wonder who could have built them.

Archeologists have recently discovered bones of a people they call the Ancient Beringians and they may have occupied North America as late as 25,000 years ago, before being displaced by the people that we now refer to Native Americans, despite the fact that they displaced earlier tribes.

It has long been held that the Clovis people were the true Native Americans, but recent finds have proven that to be incorrect. This assumption came from the archaeological digs near Clovis New Mexico. Tecent finds in Oregon and Alaska show that at least 1,000 years prior to that, there was a distinct group of people living in the Americas from the Clovis.

Testing of the bones of the girl known as  “Xach’itee’aanenh T’eede Gaay” from the Ancient Beringians shows that they split from the East Asians around 25,000 years ago. What they were doing in the Americas prior to being displaced by the Clovis people is a complete mystery.

Then of course there is the evidence that Pacific Islanders may have been on the West Coast as well. Radio carbon dating of the bones of the Kennewick Man show that he died about 9,000 years ago in what is now Washington State.

Then of course there are the giants of the Americas that history is completely ignoring. Could they have built the walls? The Paiute Indians have stories about red-haired, cannibal giants that they eventually wiped out. Could they have been the remnants of a society that built these walls?

The fact is, with no definitive evidence as to who built the East Bay Walls or why, these walls will remain a mystery until the earth swallows them up again.

Where You Can Find the East Bay Walls

If you want to go check out the Berkeley Mystery Walls, you can easily find them at several regional parks.

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