The Hidden History of the Human Race
by Michael A. Cremo and Richard L. Thompson
ADVANCED PALEOLITHS AND EOLITHS
Discoveries of Florentino Ameghino in Argentina
Tools Found by Carlos Ameghino at Miramar, Argentina
Attempts to Discredit Carlos Ameghino
More Bolas and Similar Objects
Relatively Advanced North American Finds
Sheguiandah: Archeology as a Vendetta
Lewisville and Timlin: The Vendetta Goes On
Sandia Cave, New Mexico
Neolithic Tools from the California Gold Country
ADVANCED PALEOLITHS AND EOLITHS
Advanced paleoliths are more finely worked than the crude
paleoliths. But industries containing advanced paleoliths may
also contain cruder tools. We shall first discuss the discoveries
of Florentino Ameghino, as well as the attacks upon them by Ales
Hrdlicka and W. H. Holmes. Next we shall consider the finds of
Carlos Ameghino, which provide some of the most solid and
convincing evidence for a fully human presence in the Pliocene.
We shall then proceed to anomalous finds made at sites in North
America, including Hueyatlaco, Mexico; Sandia Cave, New Mexico;
Sheguiandah, Ontario; Lewisville, Texas; and Timlin, New York. We
shall conclude with the Neolithic finds from the Tertiary gold-
bearing gravels of the California gold rush country.
Discoveries of Florentino Ameghino in Argentina
During the late nineteenth century, Florentino Ameghino thoroughly investigated the geology and fossils of the coastal provinces of Argentina, thereby gaining an international reputation. Ameghino's controversial discoveries of stone implements, carved bones, and other signs of a human presence in Argentina during the Pliocene, Miocene, and earlier periods served to increase his worldwide fame.
In 1887, Florentino Ameghino made some significant discoveries at Monte Hermoso, on the coast of Argentina about 37 miles northeast of Bahia Blanca. Summarizing the Monte Hermoso evidence, F. Ameghino said: The presence of man, or rather his precursor, at this ancient site, is demonstrated by the presence of crudely worked flints, like those of the Miocene of Portugal, carved bones, burned bones, and burned earth proceeding from ancient fireplaces. The layers containing this evidence are in the Pliocene Monte Hermosan formation, which is about 3.5 million years old.
Among the fossils recovered from Monte Hermoso was a hominid atlas (the first bone of the spinal column, at the base of the skull). Ameghino thought it displayed primitive features, but A. Hrdlicka judged it to be fully human. This strongly suggests that beings of the modern human type were responsible for the artifacts and signs of fire discovered in the Montehermosan formation.
Ameghino's discoveries at Monte Hermoso and elsewhere in the Tertiary formations of Argentina attracted the interest of several European scientists. Ales Hrdlicka, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C., also took great, though unsympathetic, interest in Ameghino's discoveries. Hrdlicka found the degree of support they enjoyed among professional scientists, particularly in Europe, dismaying. In addition to being opposed to the existence of Tertiary humans, Hrdlicka was also extremely hostile to any reports of a human presence in the Americas earlier than a few thousand years before the present. After building an immense reputation by discrediting, with questionable arguments, all such reports from North America, Hrdlicka then turned his attention to the much- discussed South American discoveries of Florentino Ameghino. In 1910, Hrdlicka visited Argentina, and Florentino Ameghino himself accompanied him to Monte Hermoso. Hrdlicka took an interesting approach to the discoveries that were made at that site. In his book Early Man in South America (1912), Hrdlicka briefly mentioned the stone implements and other signs of human occupation uncovered by Ameghino in the Montehermosan formation. Strangely, he did not directly dispute them. Instead, he devoted dozens of pages to casting doubt on subsequent, and less convincing, discoveries that he and Ameghino made in the Puelchean, a more recent formation overlying the Pliocene Montehermosan at Monte Hermoso. The Puelchean formation is about 1-2 million years old.
Apparently, Hrdlicka believed his lengthy refutation of the finds from the Puelchean formation was sufficient to discredit the finds in the far older Montehermosan formation at the same site. This tactic is often used to cast doubt on anomalous discoveries--criticize the weakest evidence in detail and ignore the strongest evidence as much as possible. Nevertheless, there is much evidence to suggest that the Puelchean finds, as well as the Montehermosan finds, were genuine.
Most of the tools discovered by Hrdlicka and Ameghino during their joint expedition were roughly chipped from quartzite pebbles. Hrdlicka did not dispute the human manufacture of even the crudest specimens. Instead, he questioned their age. He suggested that the layer containing them was recent. In making this judgement, Hrdlicka relied heavily in the testimony of Bailey Willis, the American geologist who accompanied him.
The layer containing the tools was at the top of the Puelchean formation. With some hesitation, Willis accepted the Puelchean as being at least Pliocene in age. He said it consisted of stratified, slightly indurated, gray sands or sandstone . . . marked by very striking cross stratification and uniformity of gray color and grain. Willis described the topmost layer, apparently included by Ameghino in the Puelchean formation, as a band about 6 to 16 inches thick, composed of gray sand, angular pieces of gray sandstone and pebbles, some fractured by man.
Willis remarked that the top layer of gray implement-bearing sand is identical in constitution to the lower layers of the Puelchean but is separated from them by an unconformity by erosion. An unconformity is a lack of continuity in deposition between strata in contact with each other, corresponding to a period of nondeposition, weathering, or, as in this case, erosion. For judging how much time might have passed between the deposition of the formations lying above and below the line of unconformity, the surest indicator is animal fossils. Willis, however, did not mention any. It is thus unclear how much time might be represented by the unconformity. It could have been very short, making the layers above and below the uncomformity roughly the same ageabout 1-2 million years old.
Attempting to eliminate this alternative, Willis wrote hand- chipped stones associated with the sands would mark them as recent. Willis assumed that any stone tools had to be recent and that the layer in which they were found therefore also had to be recent. It would appear, however, that the implement-bearing gray gravelly sand may actually belong to the Puelchean formation, as Ameghino believed, and that the stone implements found there could be as much as 2 million years old.
Ameghino also found stone tools, along with cut bones and signs of fire, in the Santacrucian and Entrerrean formations in Argentina. The Santacrucian formation is of Early and Middle Miocene age, making the tools found therein about 15-25 million years old. We have not encountered any mention of the Entrerrean in the current literature we have examined, but since this formation comes before the Monte Hermosan, it would be at least Late Miocene, over 5 million years old.
In many places, Ameghino found evidence of fires much hotter
than campfires or grass fires. This evidence included large,
thick pieces of hard, burned clay and slag. It is possible these
may represent the remains of primitive foundries or kilns used by
the Pliocene inhabitants of Argentina.
Tools Found by Carlos Ameghino at Miramar, Argentina
After Ales Hrdlicka's attack on the discoveries of Florentino Ameghino, Ameghino's brother Carlos launched a new series of investigations on the Argentine coast south of Buenos Aires. From 1912 to 1914, Carlos Ameghino and his associates, working on behalf of the natural history museums of Buenos Aires and La Plata, discovered stone tools in the Pliocene Chapadmalalan formation at the base of a barranca, or cliff, extending along the seaside at Miramar.
In order to confirm the age of the implements, Carlos Ameghino invited a commission of four geologists to give their opinion. These were Santiago Roth, director of the Bureau of Geology and Mines for the province of Buenos Aires; Lutz Witte, a geologist of the Bureau of Geology and Mines for the province of Buenos Aires; Walther Schiller, chief of the mineralogy section of the Museum of La Plata and consultant to the National Bureau of Geology and Mines; and Moises Kantor, chief of the geology section of the Museum of La Plata.
After carefully investigating the site, the commission unanimously concluded that the implements had been found in undisturbed Chapadmalalan sediments. The implements would thus be 23 million years old.
While present at the site, the commission members witnessed the extraction of a stone ball and a flint knife from the Pliocene formation. They were thus able to confirm the genuineness of the discoveries. Pieces of burned earth and slag were found nearby. The commission members also reported: Digging with a pick at the same spot where the bola and knife were found, someone discovered in the presence of the commission other flat stones, of the type that the Indians use to make fire. Further discoveries of stone implements were made at the same site. All of this suggests that humans, capable of manufacturing tools and using fire, lived in Argentina about 23 million years ago in the Late Pliocene.
After the commission left for Buenos Aires, Carlos Ameghino remained at Miramar conducting further excavations. From the top of the Late Pliocene Chapadmalalan layers, Ameghino extracted the femur of a toxodon, an extinct South American hoofed mammal, resembling a furry, short-legged, hornless rhinoceros. Ameghino discovered embedded in the toxodon femur a stone arrowhead or lance point (Figure 5.1), giving evidence for culturally advanced humans 23 million years ago in Argentina.
Is it possible the toxodon femur with the arrowhead was a recent bone that had worked itself down from the above? Carlos Ameghino pointed out that the femur was found attached to all the other bones of the toxodon's rear leg. This indicated that the femur was not a loose bone that had somehow slipped into the Pliocene Chapadmalalan formation but was part of an animal that had died when this formation was being laid down. Ameghino noted: The bones are of a dirty whitish color, characteristic of this stratum, and not blackish, from the magnesium oxides in the Ensenadan. He added that some of the hollow parts of the leg bones were filled with the Chapadmalalan loess. Of course, even if the bones had worked there way in from the overlying Ensenadan formation, they would still be anomalously old. The Ensenadan is from 0.41.5 million years old.
Those who want to dispute the great age attributed to the toxodon femur will point out that the toxodon survived until just a few thousand years ago in South America. But Carlos Ameghino reported that the toxodon he found at Miramar, an adult specimen, was smaller than those in the upper, more recent levels of the Argentine stratigraphic sequence. This indicated it was a distinct, older species. Carlos Ameghino believed his Miramar toxodon was of the Chapadmalalan species Toxodon chapalmalensis, first identified by F. Ameghino, and characterized by its small size.
Furthermore, Carlos Ameghino directly compared his Chapadmalalan toxodon femur with femurs of toxodon species from more recent formations and observed: The femur of Miramar is on the whole smaller and more slender. Ameghino then reported more details showing how the femur he found in the Late Pliocene Chapadmalalan of Miramar differed from that of Toxodon burmeisteri of more recent Pampean levels.
Carlos Ameghino then described the stone point found embedded in the femur: This is a flake of quartzite obtained by percussion, a single blow, and retouched along its lateral edges, but only on one surface, and afterward pointed at its two extremities by the same process of retouch, giving it a form approximating a willow leaf, therefore resembling the double points of the Solutrean type, which have been designated feuille de saule. . . . by all these details we can recognize that we are confronted with a point of the Mousterian type of the European Paleolithic period. That such a point should be found in a formation dating back as much as 3 million years provokes serious questions about the version of human evolution presented by the modern scientific establishment, which holds that 3 million years ago we should find only the most primitive australopithecines at the vanguard of the hominid line.
In December of 1914, Carlos Ameghino, with Carlos Bruch, Luis
Maria Torres, and Santiago Roth, visited Miramar to mark and
photograph the exact location where the toxodon femur had been
found. Carlos Ameghino stated: When we arrived at the spot of the
latest discoveries and continued the excavations, we uncovered
more and more intentionally worked stones, convincing us we had
come upon a veritable workshop of that distant epoch. The many
implements included anvils and hammer stones. Stone tools were
also found in the Ensenadan formation, which overlies the
Chapmalalan at Miramar.
Attempts to Discredit Carlos Ameghino
Carlos Ameghino's views about the antiquity of humans in Argentina were challenged by Antonio Romero. In his 1918 paper, Romero made many combative remarks, and after reading them one might expect to find some cogent geological arguments to back them up. Instead one finds little more than some unique and fanciful views of the geological history of the Miramar coastal region. Romero claimed all the formations in the barranca at Miramar were recent. If you find the fossils of distinct epochs in different levels of the barranca, he wrote, that does not signify a succession of epochs there, because water may have elsewhere eroded very ancient fossil-bearing deposits of previous epochs, depositing the older fossils at the base of the barranca.
Significantly, these same formations at Miramar had been extensively studied on several occasions by different professional geologists and paleontologists, none of whom viewed them in the manner suggested by Romero. The incorrectness of Romero's interpretation of the stratigraphy at Miramar is confirmed by modern researchers, who identify the formation at the base of the cliff as Chapadmalalan and assign it to the Late Pliocene, making it 23 million years old.
Romero also suggested that there had been massive resorting and shifting of the beds in the barranca, making it possible that implements and animal bones from surface layers had become mixed into the lower levels of the cliff. But the only facts that he could bring forward to support this conclusion were two extremely minor dislocations of strata.
Some distance to the left of the spot where the commission of geologists extracted a bola stone from the Chapadmalalan level of the barranca, there is a place where a section of a layer of stones in the formation departs slightly from the horizontal. This dislocation occurs near the place where the barranca is interrupted by a large gully. As might be expected, part of the barranca slopes down to the left at this point, but at the place where the bola stone was extracted, the horizontal stratigraphy remained intact. At another place in the barranca, a small portion of a layer of stones departed only 16 degrees from the horizontal.
On the basis of these two relatively inconsequential observations, Romero suggested that all the strata exposed in the barranca had been subjected to extreme dislocations. This would have allowed the intrusion into the lower levels of stone tools from relatively recent Indian settlements that might have existed above the cliffs. But from photographs and the observations of many other geologists, including Willis, it appears that the normal sequence of beds in the barranca at Miramar was intact in locations where discoveries were made.
In the 1957 edition of Fossil Men, Marcellin Boule said that after the original discovery of the toxodon femur, Carlos Ameghino found in the Chapadmalalan at Miramar an intact section of a toxodon's vertebral column, in which two stone projectile points were embedded. Boule stated: These discoveries were disputed. Reliable geologists affirmed that the objects came from the upper beds, which formed the site of a paradero or ancient Indian settlement, and that they were found today in the Tertiary bed only as a consequence of disturbances and resortings which that bed had suffered. Here Boule footnoted as a reference only the 1918 report by Romero! Boule did not mention the commission of four highly qualified geologists who reached a conclusion exactly opposite that of Romero, perhaps because they were, in his opinion, not reliable. However, having closely studied Romero's geological conclusions, particularly in light of those of Bailey Willis and modern researchers, we are mystified that Romero should be characterized as reliable.
Boule added: The archaeological data support this conclusion, for the same Tertiary bed yielded dressed and polished stones, bolas and boladeras, identical with those used as missiles by the Indians. Boule said that Eric Boman, an excellent enthnographer, had documented these facts.
Could human beings have lived continuously in Argentina since the Tertiary and not changed their technology? Why not, especially if, as certified by a commission of geologists, implements were found in situ in beds of Pliocene antiquity? The fact that these implements were identical to those used by more recent inhabitants of the same region poses no barrier to acceptance of their Tertiary age. Modern tribal people in various parts of the world fashion stone implements indistinguishable from those recognized as having been manufactured 2 million years ago. Furthermore, in 1921 a fully human fossil jaw was found in the Chapadmalalan at Miramar (see Chapter 7).
In his statements about the Miramar finds, Boule provides a classic case of prejudice and preconception masquerading as scientific objectivity. In Boule's book, all evidence for a human presence in the Tertiary formations of Argentina was dismissed on theoretical grounds and by ignoring crucial observations by competent scientists who happened to hold forbidden views. For example, Boule said nothing at all about the above-mentioned discovery of a human jaw in the Chapadmalalan at Miramar. We should thus be extremely careful in accepting the statements one finds in famous textbooks as the final word in paleoanthropology.
Scientists who disagree with controversial evidence commonly take the same approach as Boule. One mentions an exceptional discovery, one states that it was disputed for some time, and then one cites an authority (such as Romero) who supposedly settled the matter, once and for all. But when one takes the time to dig up the report that, like Romero's, supposedly delivered the coup de grace, it often fails to make a convincing case.
What was true of Romero's report is also true of Boman's. Boule, we have seen, advertised Boman as an excellent ethnographer. But in examining Boman's report, the reason for Boule's favorable judgement becomes apparent. Throughout his paper, which attacked Florentino Ameghino's theories and Carlos Ameghino's discoveries at Miramar, Boman, taking the role of a dutiful disciple, regularly cited Boule as an authority. As might be expected, Boman also quoted extensively from Hrdlicka's lengthy negative critique of Florentino Ameghino's work. Nevertheless, Boman, despite his negative attitude, inadvertently managed to give some of the best possible evidence for a human presence in Argentina during the Pliocene.
Boman suspected fraud on the part of Lorenzo Parodi, a museum collector who worked for Carlos Ameghino. But Boman had no proof. Boman himself said: I had no right to express any suspicions about him, because Carlos Ameghino had spoken highly of him, assuring me that he was as honest and trustworthy a man as could be found. But Boman noted: Concerning the question of where it is possible to obtain objects for fraudulent introduction into the Chapadmalalan strata, that is a problem easily resolved. A couple of miles from the discoveries exists a paradero, an abandoned Indian settlement, exposed on the surface and relatively modernabout four or five hundred years oldwhere there exist many objects identical to those found in the Chapadmalalan strata.
Boman went on to describe his own visit to the Miramar site on November 22, 1920: Parodi had given a report of a stone ball, uncovered by the surf and still encrusted in the barranca. Carlos Ameghino invited various persons to witness its extraction, and I went there along with Dr. Estanislao S. Zeballos, ex-minister of foreign affairs; Dr. H. von Ihering, ex- director of the Museum of Sao Paulo in Brazil; and Dr. R. Lehmann-Nitsche, the well known anthropologist. At the Miramar barranca, Boman convinced himself that the geological information earlier reported by Carlos Ameghino was essentially correct. Boman's admission confirms our assessment that the contrary views of Romero are not to be given much credibility. This also discredits Boule, who relied solely upon Romero in his own attempt to dismiss the discovery at Miramar of the toxodon femur and vertebral column, both with stone arrowheads embedded in them.
When we arrived at the final point of our journey, wrote Boman, Parodi showed us a stone object encrusted in a perpendicular section of the barranca, where there was a slight concavity, apparently produced by the action of waves. This object presented a visible surface only 2 centimeters [just under an inch] in diameter. Parodi proceeded to remove some of the surrounding earth so it could be photographed, and at that time it could be seen that the object was a stone ball with an equatorial groove of the kind found on bola stones. Photographs were taken of the ball in situ, the barranca, and the persons present, and then the bola stone was extracted. It was so firmly situated in the hard earth that it was necessary to use sufficient force with cutting tools in order to break it out little by little.
Boman then confirmed the position of the bola stone (Figure 5.2a), which was found in the barranca about 3 feet above the beach sand. Boman stated: The barranca consists of Ensenadan above and Chapadmalalan below. The boundary between the two levels is undoubtedly a little confused. . . . Be that as it may, it appears to me that there is no doubt that the bola stone was found in the Chapadmalalan layers, which were compact and homogeneous.
Boman then told of another discovery: Later, at my direction, Parodi continued to attack the barranca with a pick at the same point where the bola stone was discovered, when suddenly and unexpectedly, there appeared a second ball 10 centimeters lower than the first. . . . It is more like a grinding stone than a bola. This tool [Figure 5.2b] was found at a depth of 10 centimeters [4 inches] in the face of the cliff. Boman said it was worn by use. Still later Boman and Parodi discovered another stone ball (Figure 5.2c), 200 meters from the first ones, and about half a meter lower in the barranca. Of this last discovery at Miramar, Boman said there is no doubt that the ball has been rounded by the hand of man.
Altogether, the circumstances of discovery greatly favored a Pliocene date for the Miramar bolas. Boman reported: Dr. Lehmann- Nitsche has said that according to his opinion the stone balls we extracted were found in situ, are contemporary with the Chapadmalalan terrain, and were not introduced at any later time. Dr. von Ihering is less categorical in this regard. Concerning myself, I can declare that I did not observe any sign that indicated a later introduction. The bolas were firmly in place in the very hard terrain that enclosed them, and there was no sign of there having been any disturbance of the earth that covered them.
Boman then artfully raised the suspicion of cheating. He suggested different ways that Parodi could have planted the stone balls. And he pounded a stone arrowhead into a toxodon femur, just to show how Parodi might have accomplished a forgery. But in the end, Boman himself said: In the final analysis there undoubtedly exists no conclusive proof of fraud. On the contrary many of the circumstances speak strongly in favor of their authenticity.
It is difficult to see why Boman should have been so skeptical of Parodi. One could argue that Parodi would not have wanted to jeopardize his secure and longstanding employment as a museum collector by manufacturing fake discoveries. In any case, the museum professionals insisted that Parodi leave any objects of human industry in place so they could be photographed, examined, and removed by experts. This procedure is superior to that employed by scientists involved in many famous discoveries that are used to uphold the currently accepted scenario of human evolution. For example, most of the Homo erectus discoveries reported by von Koenigswald in Java were made by native diggers, who, unlike Parodi, did not leave the fossils in situ but sent them in crates to von Koenigswald, who often stayed in places far from the sites. Furthermore, the famous Venus of Willendorf, a Neolithic statuette from Europe, was discovered by a road workman. It is obvious that if one were to apply Boman's extreme skepticism across the board one could raise suspicions of fraud about almost every paleoanthropological discovery ever made.
Ironically, Boman's testimony provides, even for skeptics, very strong evidence for the presence of toolmaking human beings in Argentina as much as 3 million years ago. Even if, for the sake of argument, one admits that the first bola stone recovered during Boman's visit to Miramar was planted by the collector Parodi, how can one explain the second and third finds? These were instigated not by the collector Parodi but by Boman himself, on the spot and without any warning. Significantly, they were completely hidden from view, and Parodi did not even hint at their existence.
Altogether, it appears that Boule, Romero, and Boman have
offered little to discredit the discoveries of Carlos Ameghino
and others at the Miramar site. In fact, Boman gave first-class
evidence for the existence of bola makers there in the Pliocene
More Bolas and Similar Objects
The bolas of Miramar are significant in that they point to the existence of human beings of a high level of culture during the Pliocene, and perhaps even earlier, in South America. Similar implements have been found in Africa and Europe in formations of Pliocene age.
In 1926, John Baxter, one of J. Reid Moir's assistants uncovered a particularly interesting object (Figure 5.3) from below the Pliocene Red Crag at Bramford, near Ipswich, England.
Moir did not carefully examine the object. But three years later, it attracted the attention of Henri Breuil, who wrote: While I was staying in Ipswich with my friend J. Reid Moir, we were examining together a drawer of objects from the base of the Red Crag at Bramford, when J. Reid Moir showed me a singular egg- shaped object, which had been picked up on account of its unusual shape. Even at first sight it appeared to me to present artificial striations and facets, and I therefore examined it more closely with a mineralogist's lens [Figure 5.4]. This examination showed me that my first impression was fully justified, and that the object had been shaped by the hand of man. Breuil compared the object to the sling stones of New Caledonia. According to Moir, several other archeologists agreed with Breuil. Sling stones and bola stones represent a level of technological sophistication universally associated with modern Homo sapiens. It may be recalled that the detritus bed below the Red Crag contains fossils and sediments from habitable land surfaces ranging from Pliocene to Eocene in age. Therefore the Bramford sling stone could be anywhere from 2 to 55 million years old.
In 1956, G. H. R. von Koenigswald described some human artifacts from the lower levels of the Olduvai Gorge site in Tanzania, Africa. These included numbers of stones that have been chipped until they were roughly spherical. Von Koenigswald wrote: They are believed to be an extremely primitive form of throwing ball. Stone balls of this type, known to them as bolas, are still used by native hunters in South America. They are tied in little leather bags and two or three of them are attached to a long cord. Holding one ball in his hand, the hunter whirls the other one or two around his head and then lets fly.
The objects reported by von Koenigswald, if used in the same manner as South American bolas, imply that their makers were adept not only at stoneworking but leatherworking as well.
All this becomes problematic, however, when one considers that Bed I at Olduvai, where stone balls were found, is 1.72.0 million years old. According to standard views on human evolution, only Australopithecus and Homo habilis should have been around at that time. At present, there is not any definite evidence that Australopithecus used tools, and Homo habilis is not generally thought to have been capable of employing a technology as sophisticated as that represented by bola stones, if that is what the objects really are.
Once more we find ourselves confronted with a situation that calls for an obvious, but forbidden, suggestionperhaps there were creatures of modern human capability at Olduvai during the earliest Pleistocene.
Those who find this suggestion incredible will doubtlessly respond that there is no fossil evidence to support such a conclusion. In terms of evidence currently accepted, that is certainly true. But if we widen our horizons somewhat, we encounter Reck's skeleton, fully human, recovered from upper Bed II, right at Olduvai Gorge. And not far away, at Kanam, Louis Leakey, according to a commission of scientists, discovered a fully human jaw in Early Pleistocene sediments, equivalent in age to Bed I. In more recent times, humanlike femurs have been discovered in East Africa, in Early Pleistocene contexts. These isolated femurs were originally attributed to Homo habilis, but the subsequent discovery of a relatively complete skeleton of a Homo habilis individual has shown the Homo habilis anatomy, including the femur, to be somewhat apelike. This opens the possibility that the humanlike femurs once attributed to Homo habilis might have belonged to anatomically modern human beings living in East Africa during the Early Pleistocene. If we expand the range of our search to other parts of the world, we can multiply the number of examples of fully human fossil remains from the Early Pleistocene and earlier. In this context, the bola stones of Olduvai do not seem out of place.
But perhaps the objects are not bolas. To this possibility Mary Leakey replied: Although there is no direct evidence that spheroids were used as bolas, no alternative explanation has yet been put forward to account for the numbers of these tools and for the fact that many have been carefully and accurately shaped. If they were intended to be used merely as missiles, with little chance of recovery, it seems unlikely that so much time and care would have been spent on their manufacture. Mary Leakey added: Their use as bola stones has been strongly supported by L. S. B. Leakey and may well be correct.
Louis Leakey claimed to have found a genuine bone tool in the
same level as the bola stones. Leakey said in 1960, This would
appear to be some sort of a 'lissoir' for working leather. It
postulates a more evolved way of life for the makers of the
Oldowan culture than most of us would have expected.
Relatively Advanced North American Finds
We shall now examine relatively advanced anomalous Paleolithic
implements from North America, beginning with those found at
Sheguiandah, Canada, on Manitoulin Island in northern Lake Huron.
Many of these North American discoveries are not particularly
old, but they are nonetheless significant because they give
insight into the inner workings of archeology and
paleoanthropology. We have already seen how the scientific
community suppresses data with uncomfortable implications for the
currently dominant picture of human evolution. And now we shall
encounter revelations of another aspect of thisthe personal
distress and bitterness experienced by scientists unfortunate
enough to make anomalous discoveries.
Sheguiandah: Archeology as a Vendetta
Between 1951 and 1955, Thomas E. Lee, an anthropologist at the National Museum
of Canada, carried out excavations at Sheguiandah, on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron.
The upper layers of the site contained, at a depth of approximately 6 inches (Level III), a variety of projectile points (Figure 5.5). Lee considered these recent.
Further excavation exposed implements (Figure 5.6) in a layer of glacial till, a deposit of stones left by receding glaciers. It thus appeared that human beings had lived in the area during or before the time of the last North American glaciation, the Wisconsin. Further study showed that there was a second layer of till, which also contained implements (Figure 5.7). Stone implements were also discovered in the layers beneath the tills.
How old were the tools? Three of the four geologists who studied the site thought the tools were from the last interglacial. This would make them from 75,000 to 125,000 years old. Finally, in a joint statement, all four geologists compromised on a minimum age of 30,000 years. Lee himself continued to favor an interglacial age for his implements.
One of the original four geologists, John Sanford of Wayne State University, later came out in support of Lee. He provided extensive geological evidence and arguments suggesting the Sheguiandah site dated back to the Sangamon interglacial or to the St. Pierre interstadial, a warm interlude in the earliest part of the Wisconsin glaciation. But the view advocated by Lee and Sanford did not receive serious consideration from other scientists.
Lee recalled: The site's discoverer [Lee] was hounded from his Civil Service position into prolonged unemployment; publication outlets were cut off; the evidence was misrepresented by several prominent authors among the Brahmins; the tons of artifacts vanished into storage bins of the National Museum of Canada; for refusing to fire the discoverer, the Director of the National Museum [Dr. Jacques Rousseau], who had proposed having a monograph on the site published, was himself fired and driven into exile; official positions of prestige and power were exercised in an effort to gain control over just six Sheguiandah specimens that had not gone under cover; and the site has been turned into a tourist resort. All of this, without the profession, in four long years, bothering to take a look, when there was still time to look. Sheguiandah would have forced embarrassing admissions that the Brahmins did not know everything. It would have forced the re-writing of almost every book in the business. It had to be killed. It was killed.
Lee experienced great difficulty in getting his reports published. Expressing his frustration, he wrote: A nervous or timid editor, his senses acutely attuned to the smell of danger to position, security, reputation, or censure, submits copies of a suspect paper to one or two advisors whom he considers well placed to pass safe judgement. They read it, or perhaps only skim through it looking for a few choice phrases that can be challenged or used against the author (their opinions were formed long in advance, on the basis of what came over the grapevine or was picked up in the smoke-filled back rooms at conferenceslittle bits of gossip that would tell them that the writer was far-out, a maverick, or an untouchable). Then, with a few cutting, unchallenged, and entirely unsupported statements, they 'kill' the paper. The beautyand the viciousnessof the system lies in the fact that they remain forever anonymous.
Most of the key reports about Sheguiandah were published in the Anthropological Journal of Canada, which Lee himself founded and edited. Lee died in 1982, and the journal was then edited for a short time by his son, Robert E. Lee.
Of course, it has not been possible for establishment scientists to completely avoid mentioning Sheguiandah, but when they do, they tend to downplay, ignore, or misrepresent any evidence for an unusually great age for the site.
Lee's son Robert wrote: Sheguiandah is erroneously explained to students as an example of postglacial mudflow rather than Wisconsin glacial till.
The original reports, however, give cogent arguments against the mudflow hypothesis. The elder Lee wrote that many geologists have stated that the deposits would definitely be called glacial till were it not for the presence of artifacts within them. This has been the reaction of almost all visiting geologists. And Sanford said: Perhaps the best corroboration of these unsorted deposits as ice-laid till was the visit of some 40 or 50 geologists to the site in 1954 during the annual field trip of the Michigan Basin Geological Society. At that time the excavation was open and the till could be seen. The sediments were presented to this group in the field as till deposits, and there was no expressed dissension from the explanation. Certainly had there been any room for doubt as to the nature of these deposits it would have been expressed at this time.
If one approach is to deny that the unsorted tool-bearing deposits are till, another is to demand excessively high levels of proof for a human presence at the site at the designated time. James B. Griffin, an anthropologist at the University of Michigan, stated: There are a large number of locations in North America for which considerable antiquity has been claimed as places inhabited by early Indians. Even whole books have been published on nonsites. Griffin included Sheguiandah in the category of a nonsite.
Griffin said that a proper site must possess a clearly identifiable geologic context. . . . with no possibility of intrusion or secondary deposition. He also insisted that a proper site must be studied by several geologists expert in the particular formations present there, and that there must be substantial agreement among these experts. Furthermore, there must be a range of tool forms and debris . . . well preserved animal remains . . . pollen studies . . . macrobotanical materials . . . human skeletal remains. Griffin also required dating by radiocarbon and other methods.
By this standard, practically none of the locations where major paleoanthropological discoveries have been made would qualify as genuine sites.
For example, most of the African discoveries of Australopithecus, Homo habilis, and Homo erectus have occurred not in clearly identifiable geological contexts, but on the surface or in cave deposits, which are notoriously difficult to interpret geologically. Most of the Java Homo erectus finds also occurred on the surface, in poorly specified locations.
Interestingly enough, the Sheguiandah site appears to satisfy most of Griffin's stringent requirements. Implements were found in a geological context clearer than that of many accepted sites. Several geologists expert in North American glacial deposits did apparently agree on an age in excess of 30,000 years. Evidence suggested there was no secondary deposition or intrusion. A variety of tool types were found, pollen studies and radiocarbon tests were performed, and macrobotanical materials (peat) were present.
The Sheguiandah site deserves more attention than it has thus
far received. Looking back to the time when it first became
apparent to him that stone implements were being found in glacial
till, T. E. Lee wrote: At this point, a wiser man would have
filled the trenches and crept away in the night, saying
nothing. . . . Indeed, while visiting the site, one prominent
anthropologist, after exclaiming in disbelief, 'You aren't
finding anything down there?' and being told by the
foreman, 'The hell we aren't! Get down in here and look for
yourself!,' urged me to forget all about what was in the glacial
deposits and to concentrate upon the more recent materials
Lewisville and Timlin: The Vendetta Goes On
In 1958, at a site near Lewisville, Texas, stone tools and burned animal bones were found in association with hearths. Later, as the excavation progressed, radiocarbon dates of at least 38,000 years were announced for charcoal from the hearths. Still later, a Clovis point was found. Herbert Alexander, who was a graduate student in archeology at the time, recalled how this sequence of finds was received. On a number of occasions, stated Alexander, the opinions voiced at that time were that the hearths were man-made, and the faunal associations valid. Once the dates were announced, however, some opinions were changed and after the Clovis point was found, the process of picking and ignoring began in earnest. Those who had previously accepted the hearths and/or faunal associations began to question their memories.
Finding a Clovis point in a layer 38,000 years old was disturbing, because orthodox anthropologists date the first Clovis points at 12,000 years, marking the entry of humans into North America. Some critics responded to the Lewisville find by alleging that the Clovis point had been planted as a hoax. Others have said the radiocarbon dates were wrong.
After mentioning a number of similar cases of ignored or derided discoveries, Alexander recalled a suggestion that in order to decide issues of early man, we may soon require attorneys for advocacy. This may not be a bad idea in a field of science like archeology, where opinions determine the status of facts, and facts resolve into networks of interpretation. Attorneys and courts may aid archeologists in arriving more smoothly at the consensus among scholars that passes for the scientific truth in this field. But Alexander noted that a court system requires a jury, and the first question asked of a prospective juror is, Have you made up your mind on the case? Very few archeologists have not made up their minds on the date humans first entered North America.
The idea that Clovis-type projectile points represent the
earliest tools in the New World is challenged by an excavation at
the Timlin site in the Catskill mountains of New York State. In
the mid-1970s, tools closely resembling the Upper Acheulean tools
of Europe were found there. In the Old World, Acheulean tools are
routinely attributed to Homo erectus. But such attribution
is uncertain because skeletal remains are usually absent at tool
sites. The Catskill tools have been given an age of 70,000 years
on the basis of glacial geology.
In the 1960s, sophisticated stone tools (Figure 5.8) rivaling the best work of Cro-magnon man in Europe were unearthed by Juan Armenta Camacho and Cynthia Irwin-Williams at Hueyatlaco, near Valsequillo, 75 miles southeast of Mexico City. Stone tools of a somewhat cruder nature were found at the nearby site of El Horno. At both the Hueyatlaco and El Horno sites, the stratigraphic location of the implements does not seem to be in doubt. However, these artifacts do have a very controversial feature: a team of geologists who worked for the U.S. Geological Survey gave them ages of about 250,000 years. This team, working under a grant from the National Science Foundation, consisted of Harold Malde and Virginia Steen-McIntyre, both of the U.S. Geological Survey, and the late Roald Fryxell of Washington State University.
These geologists said four different dating methods independently yielded unusually great ages for the artifacts found near Valsequillo. The dating methods used were (1) uranium series dating, (2) fission track dating, (3) tephra hydration dating, and (4) study of mineral weathering.
As might be imagined, the date of about 250,000 years obtained for Hueyatlaco by the team of geologists provoked a great deal of controversy. If accepted, it would have revolutionized not only New World anthropology but the whole picture of human origins. Human beings capable of making the sophisticated tools found at Hueyatlaco are not thought to have come into existence until about 100,000 years ago in Africa.
In attempting to get her team's conclusions published, Virginia Steen-McIntyre experienced many social pressures and obstacles. In a note to a colleague (July 10, 1976), she stated: I had found out through backfence gossip that Hal, Roald, and I are considered opportunists and publicity seekers in some circles, because of Hueyatlaco, and I am still smarting from the blow.
The publication of a paper by Steen-McIntyre and her colleagues on Hueyatlaco was inexplicably held up for years. The paper was first presented at an anthropological conference in 1975 and was to appear in a symposium volume. Four years later, Steen-McIntyre wrote to H. J. Fullbright of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, one of the editors of the forever forthcoming book: Our joint article on the Hueyatlaco site is a real bombshell. It would place man in the New World 10x earlier than many archaeologists would like to believe. Worse, the bifacial tools that were found in situ are thought by most to be a sign of H. sapiens. According to present theory, H.s. had not even evolved at that time, and certainly not in the
Steen-McIntyre continued, explaining: Archaeologists are in a considerable uproar over Hueyatlacothey refuse even to consider it. I've learned from second-hand sources that I'm considered by various members of the profession to be 1) incompetent; 2) a news monger; 3) an opportunist; 4) dishonest; 5) a fool. Obviously, none of these opinions is helping my professional reputation! My only hope to clear my name is to get the Hueyatlaco article into print so that folks can judge the evidence for themselves. Steen- McIntyre, upon receiving no answer to this and other requests for information, withdrew the article. But her manuscript was never returned to her.
A year later, Steen-McIntyre wrote (February 8, 1980) to Steve Porter, editor of Quaternary Research, about having her article about Hueyatlaco printed. The ms I'd like to submit gives the geologic evidence, she said. It's pretty clear-cut, and if it weren't for the fact a lot of anthropology textbooks will have to be rewritten, I don't think we would have had any problems getting the archaeologists to accept it. As it is, no anthro journal will touch it with a ten foot pole.
Steve Porter wrote to Steen-McIntyre (February 25, 1980), replying that he would consider the controversial article for publication. But he said he could well imagine that objective reviews may be a bit difficult to obtain from certain archaeologists. The usual procedure in scientific publishing is for an article to be submitted to several other scientists for anonymous peer review. It is not hard to imagine how an entrenched scientific orthodoxy could manipulate this process to keep unwanted information out of scientific journals.
On March 30, 1981, Steen-McIntyre wrote to Estella Leopold, the associate editor of Quaternary Research: The problem as I see it is much bigger than Hueyatlaco. It concerns the manipulation of scientific thought through the suppression of 'Enigmatic Data,' data that challenges the prevailing mode of thinking. Hueyatlaco certainly does that! Not being an anthropologist, I didn't realize the full significance of our dates back in 1973, nor how deeply woven into our thought the current theory of human evolution had become. Our work at Hueyatlaco has been rejected by most archaeologists because it contradicts that theory, period. Their reasoning is circular. H. sapiens sapiens evolved ca. 30,00050,000 years ago in Eurasia. Therefore any H.s.s. tools 250,000 years old found in Mexico are impossible because H.s.s. evolved ca 30,000. . . . etc. Such thinking makes for self- satisfied archaeologists but lousy science!
Eventually, Quaternary Research (1981) published an article by Virginia Steen-McIntyre, Roald Fryxell, and Harold E. Malde. It upheld an age of 250,000 years for the Hueyatlaco site. Of course, it is always possible to raise objections to archeological dates, and Cynthia Irwin-Williams did so in a letter responding to Steen-McIntyre, Fryxell, and Malde. Her objections were answered point for point in a counter-letter by Malde and Steen-McIntyre. But Irwin-Williams did not relent. She, and the American archeological community in general, have continued to reject the dating of Hueyatlaco carried out by Steen-McIntyre and her colleagues.
The anomalous findings at Hueyatlaco resulted in personal abuse and professional penalties, including withholding of funds and loss of job, facilities, and reputation for Virginia Steen- McIntyre. Her case opens a rare window into the actual social processes of data suppression in paleoanthropology, processes that involve a great deal of conflict and hurt.
A final notewe ourselves once tried to secure permission to
reproduce photographs of the Hueyatlaco artifacts in a
publication. We were informed that permission would be denied if
we intended to mention the lunatic fringe date of 250,000 years.
Sandia Cave, New Mexico
In 1975, Virginia-Steen McIntyre learned of the existence of another site with an impossibly early date for stone tools in North AmericaSandia Cave, New Mexico, U.S.A., where the implements, of advanced type (Folsom points), were discovered beneath a layer of stalagmite considered to be 250,000 years old. One such tool is shown in Figure 5.9.
In a letter to Henry P. Schwartz, the Canadian geologist who had dated the stalagmite, Virginia Steen-McIntyre wrote (July 10, 1976): I can't remember if it was you or one of your colleagues I talked to at the 1975 Penrose Conference (Mammoth Lakes, California). The fellow I spoke to as we waited in line for lunch mentioned a uranium series date on the stalagmite layer above artifacts at Sandia Cave that was very upsetting to himit disagreed violently with the commonly held hypothesis for the date of entry of man into the New World. When he mentioned a date of a quarter million years or thereabouts, I nearly dropped my tray. Not so much in shock at the age, but that this date agreed so well with dates we have on a controversial Early Man site in Central Mexico. . . . Needless to say, I'd be interested to learn more about your date and your feelings about it! According to Steen-McIntyre, she did not receive an answer to this letter.
After writing to the chief archeological investigator at the Sandia site for information about the dating, Steen-McIntyre received this reply (July 2, 1976): I hope you don't use this 'can of worms' to prove anything until after we have had a chance to evaluate it.
Steen-McIntyre sent us some reports and photos of the Sandia
artifacts and said in an accompanying note: The geochemists are
sure of their date, but archaeologists have convinced them the
artifacts and charcoal lenses beneath the travertine are the
result of rodent activity. . . . But what about the artifacts
cemented in the crust?
Neolithic Tools from the California Gold Country
In 1849, gold was discovered in the gravels of ancient riverbeds on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in central California, drawing hordes of rowdy adventurers to places like Brandy City, Last Chance, Lost Camp, You Bet, and Poker Flat. At first, solitary miners panned for flakes and nuggets in the gravels that had found their way into the present stream beds. But soon gold-mining companies brought more extensive resources into play, some sinking shafts into mountainsides, following the gravel deposits wherever they led, while others washed the auriferous (gold-bearing) gravels from hillsides with high pressure jets of water. The miners found hundreds of stone artifacts, and, more rarely, human fossils (Chapter 7). The most significant artifacts were reported to the scientific community by J. D. Whitney, then the state geologist of California.
The artifacts from surface deposits and hydraulic mining were of doubtful age, but the artifacts from deep mine shafts and tunnels could be more securely dated. J. D. Whitney thought the geological evidence indicated the auriferous gravels were at least Pliocene in age. But modern geologists think some of the gravel deposits are from the Eocene.
Many shafts were sunk at Table Mountain in Tuolumne County, going under thick layers of a basaltic volcanic material called latite before reaching the gold-bearing gravels. In some cases, the shafts extended horizontally for hundreds of feet beneath the latite cap (Figure 5.10). Discoveries from the gravels just above the bedrock could be from 33.2 to 55 million years old, but discoveries from other gravels may be anywhere from 9 to 55 million years old.
Whitney personally examined a collection of Tuolumne Table Mountain artifacts belonging to Dr. Perez Snell, of Sonora, California. Snell's collection included spearheads and other implements. There is not much information about the discoverers or original stratigraphic positions of the implements. There was, however, one exception. This was, wrote Whitney, a stone muller, or some kind of utensil which had apparently been used for grinding. Dr. Snell informed Whitney that he took it with his own hands from a car-load of 'dirt' coming out from under Table Mountain. A human jaw, inspected by Whitney, was also present in the collection of Dr. Snell. The jaw was given to Dr. Snell by miners, who claimed that the jaw came from the gravels beneath the latite cap at Table Mountain in Tuolumne County.
A better-documented discovery from Tuolumne Table Mountain was made by Mr. Albert G. Walton, one of the owners of the Valentine claim. Walton found a stone mortar, 15 inches in diameter, in gold-bearing gravels 180 feet below the surface and also beneath the latite cap. Significantly, the find of the mortar occurred in a drift, a mine passageway leading horizontally from the bottom of the main vertical shaft of the Valentine mine. This tends to rule out the possibility that the mortar might have fallen in from above. A piece of a fossil human skull was also recovered from the Valentine mine.
William J. Sinclair suggested that many of the drift tunnels from other mines near the Valentine shaft were connected. So perhaps the mortar had entered through one of these other tunnels. But Sinclair admitted that when he visited the area in 1902 he was not even able to find the Valentine shaft. Sinclair simply used his unsupported suggestion to dismiss Walton's report of his discovery. Operating in this manner, one could find good reason to dismiss any paleoanthropological discovery ever made.
Another find at Tuolumne Table Mountain was reported by James Carvin in 1871: This is to certify that I, the undersigned, did about the year 1858, dig out of some mining claims known as the Stanislaus Company, situated in Table Mountain, Tuolumne County, opposite O'Byrn's Ferry, on the Stanislaus River, a stone hatchet. . . . The above relic was found from sixty to seventy- five feet from the surface in gravel, under the basalt, and about 300 feet from the mouth of the tunnel. There were also some mortars found, at about the same time and place.
In 1870, Oliver W. Stevens submitted the following notarized affidavit: I, the undersigned, did about the year 1853, visit the Sonora Tunnel, situated at and in Table Mountain, about one half a mile north and west of Shaw's Flat, and at that time there was a car-load of auriferous gravel coming out of said Sonora Tunnel. And I, the undersigned, did pick out of said gravel (which came from under the basalt and out of the tunnel about two hundred feet in, at the depth of about one hundred and twenty-five feet) a mastodon tooth. . . . And at the same time I found with it some relic that resembled a large stone bead, made perhaps of alabaster. The bead, if from the gravel, is at least 9 million years old and perhaps as much as 55 million years old.
William J. Sinclair objected that the circumstances of discovery were not clear enough. But in the cases of many accepted discoveries, the circumstances of discovery are similar to that of the marble bead. For example, at Border Cave in South Africa, Homo sapiens sapiens fossils were taken from piles of rock excavated from mines years earlier. The fossils were then assigned dates of about 100,000 years, principally because of their association with the excavated rock. If Sinclair's strict standards were to be applied to such finds, they also should have to be rejected.
In 1870, Llewellyn Pierce gave the following written testimony: I, the undersigned, have this day given to Mr. C. D. Voy, to be preserved in his collection of ancient stone relics, a certain stone mortar, which has evidently been made by human hands, which was dug up by me, about the year 1862, under Table Mountain, in gravel, at a depth of about 200 feet from the surface, under the basalt, which was over sixty feet deep, and about 1,800 feet in from the mouth of the tunnel. Found in the claim known as the Boston Tunnel Company. The gravels that yielded the mortar are 3355 million years old.
William J. Sinclair objected that the mortar was made of andesite, a volcanic rock not often found in the deep gravels at Table Mountain. But modern geologists report that in the region north of Table Mountain there are four sites that are just as old as the prevolcanic auriferous gravels and contain deposits of andesite. Andesite mortars might have been a valuable trade item, and could have been transported good distances by rafts or boats, or even by foot.
According to Sinclair, Pierce found another artifact along with the mortar: The writer was shown a small oval tablet of dark colored slate with a melon and leaf carved in bas-relief. . . . This tablet shows no signs of wear by gravel. The scratches are all recent defacements. The carving shows very evident traces of a steel knife blade and was conceived and executed by an artist of considerable ability.
Sinclair did not say exactly what led him to conclude the tablet had been carved with a steel blade. Therefore, he may have been wrong about the type of implement that was used. In any case, the slate tablet was in fact discovered, with the mortar, in prevolanic gravels deep under the latite cap of Tuolumne Table Mountain. So even if the tablet does display signs of carving by a steel blade, that does not mean it is recent. One could justifiably conclude that the carving was done by human beings of a relatively high level of cultural achievement between 33 million and 55 million years ago. Sinclair also said that the tablet showed no signs of wear by gravel. But perhaps it was not moved very far by river currents and therefore remained unabraded. Or perhaps the tablet could have been dropped into a gravel deposit of a dry channel.
On August 2, 1890, J. H. Neale signed the following statement about discoveries made by him: In 1877 Mr. J. H. Neale was superintendent of the Montezuma Tunnel Company, and ran the Montezuma tunnel into the gravel underlying the lava of Table Mountain, Tuolumne County. . . . At a distance of between 1400 and 1500 feet from the mouth of the tunnel, or of between 200 and 300 feet beyond the edge of the solid lava, Mr. Neale saw several spear-heads, of some dark rock and nearly one foot in length. On exploring further, he himself found a small mortar three or four inches in diameter and of irregular shape. This was discovered within a foot or two of the spear-heads. He then found a large well-formed pestle, now the property of Dr. R. I. Bromley, and near by a large and very regular mortar, also at present the property of Dr. Bromley. This last mortar and pestle are shown in Figure 5.11.
Neale's affidavit continued: All of these relics were found. . . . close to the bed-rock, perhaps within a foot of it. Mr. Neale declares that it is utterly impossible that these relics can have reached the position in which they were found excepting at the time the gravel was deposited, and before the lava cap formed. There was not the slightest trace of any disturbance of the mass or of any natural fissure into it by which access could have been obtained either there or in the neighborhood. The position of the artifacts in gravel close to the bed-rock at Tuolumne Table Mountain indicates they were 3355 million years old.
In 1898, William H. Holmes decided to interview Neale and in 1899 published the following summary of Neale's testimony: One of the miners coming out to lunch at noon brought with him to the superintendent's office a stone mortar and a broken pestle which he said had been dug up in the deepest part of the tunnel, some 1500 feet from the mouth of the mine. Mr. Neale advised him on returning to work to look out for other utensils in the same place, and agreeable to his expectations two others were secured, a small ovoid mortar, 5 or 6 inches in diameter, and a flattish mortar or dish, 7 or 8 inches in diameter. These have since been lost to sight. On another occasion a lot of obsidian blades, or spear-heads, eleven in number and averaging 10 inches in length, were brought to him by workmen from the mine.
The accounts differ. Holmes said about Neale: In his conversation with me he did not claim to have been in the mine when the finds were made. This might be interpreted to mean that Neale had lied in his original statement. But the just-quoted passages from Holmes are not the words of Neale but of Holmes, who said: His [Neale's] statements, written down in my notebook during and immediately following the interview, were to the following effect. It is debatable whether one should place more confidence in Holmes's indirect summary of Neale's words than in Neale's own notarized affidavit, signed by him. Significantly, we have no confirmation from Neale himself that Holmes's version of their conversation was correct.
That Holmes may have been mistaken is certainly indicated by a subsequent interview with Neale conducted by William J. Sinclair in 1902. Summarizing Neale's remarks, Sinclair wrote: A certain miner (Joe), working on the day shift in the Montezuma Tunnel, brought out a stone dish or platter about two inches thick. Joe was advised to look for more in the same place. . . . Mr. Neale went on the night shift and in excavating to set a timber, 'hooked up' one of the obsidian spear points. With the exception of the one brought out by Joe, all the implements were found personally by Mr. Neale, at one time, in a space about six feet in diameter on the shore of the channel. The implements were in gravel close to the bed-rock and were mixed with a substance like charcoal. When all the testimony is duly weighed, it appears that Neale himself did enter the mine and find stone implements in place in the gravel.
About the obsidian spearheads found by Neale, Holmes said: Obsidian blades of identical pattern were now and then found with Digger Indian remains in the burial pits of the region. The inference to be drawn from these facts is that the implements brought to Mr. Neale had been obtained from one of the burial places in the vicinity by the miners. But Holmes could produce no evidence that the any miners had actually obtained the blades from burial pits.
Holmes simply stated: How the eleven large spearheads got into the mine, or whether they came from the mine at all, are queries that I shall not assume to answer.
Using Holmes's methods, one could discredit any paleoanthropological discovery ever made: one could simply refuse to believe the evidence as reported, and put forward all kinds of vague alternative explanations, without answering legitimate questions about them.
Holmes further wrote about the obsidian implements: That they came from the bed of a Tertiary torrent seems highly improbable; for how could a cache of eleven, slender, leaf-like implements remain unscattered under these conditions; how could fragile glass blades stand the crushing and grinding of a torrent bed; or how could so large a number of brittle blades remain unbroken under the pick of the miner working in a dark tunnel? But one can imagine many circumstances in which a cache of implements might have remained undamaged in the bed of a Tertiary stream. Let us suppose that in Tertiary times a trading party, while crossing or navigating a stream, lost a number of obsidian blades securely wrapped in hide or cloth. The package of obsidian blades may have been rather quickly covered by gravel in a deep hole in the stream bed and remained there relatively undamaged until recovered tens of millions of years later. As to how the implements could have remained unbroken as they were being uncovered, that poses no insuperable difficulties. As soon as Neale became aware of the blades, he could have, and apparently did, exercise sufficient caution to preserve the obsidian implements intact. Maybe he even broke some of them.
In a paper read before the American Geological Society in 1891, geologist George F. Becker said: It would have been more satisfactory to me individually if I had myself dug out these implements, but I am unable to discover any reason why Mr. Neale's statement is not exactly as good evidence to the rest of the world as my own would be. He was as competent as I to detect any fissure from the surface or any ancient workings, which the miner recognizes instantly and dreads profoundly. Some one may possibly suggest that Mr. Neale's workmen 'planted' the implements, but no one familiar with mining will entertain such a suggestion for a moment. . . . The auriferous gravel is hard picking, in large part it requires blasting, and even a very incompetent supervisor could not possibly be deceived in this way. . . . In short, there is, in my opinion, no escape from the conclusion that the implements mentioned in Mr. Neale's statement actually occurred near the bottom of the gravels, and that they were deposited where they were found at the same time with the adjoining pebbles and matrix.
Although the tools discussed so far were found by miners, there is one case of a stone tool being found in place by a scientist. In 1891, George F. Becker told the American Geological Society that in the spring of 1869, geologist Clarence King, director of the Survey of the Fortieth Parallel, was conducting research at Tuolumne Table Mountain. At that time, he found a stone pestle firmly embedded in a deposit of gold-bearing gravel lying beneath the cap of basalt, or latite. The gravel deposit had only recently been exposed by erosion. Becker stated: Mr. King is perfectly sure this implement was in place and that it formed an original part of the gravels in which he found it. It is difficult to imagine a more satisfactory evidence than this of the occurrence of implements in the auriferous, pre-glacial, sub- basaltic gravels. From this description and the modern geological dating of the Table Mountain strata, it is apparent that the object was over 9 million years old.
Even Holmes had to admit that the King pestle, which was placed in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, may not be challenged with impunity. Holmes searched the site very carefully and noted the presence of some modern Indian mealing stones lying loose on the surface. He stated: I tried to learn whether it was possible that one of these objects could have become embedded in the exposed tufa deposits in recent or comparatively recent times, for such embedding sometimes results from resetting or recementing of loose materials, but no definite result was reached. If Holmes had found the slightest definite evidence of such recementing, he would have seized the opportunity to cast suspicion upon the pestle discovered by King.
Unable, however, to find anything to discredit the report, Holmes was reduced to wondering that Mr. King failed to publish itthat he failed to give to the world what could well claim to be the most important observation ever made by a geologist bearing upon the history of the human race, leaving it to come out through the agency of Dr. Becker, twenty-five years later. But Becker noted in his report: I have submitted this statement of his discovery to Mr. King, who pronounces it correct.
J. D. Whitney also reported discoveries that were made under
intact volcanic layers at places other than under the latite cap
of Tuolumne Table Mountain. These included stone tools found in
gold-bearing gravels at San Andreas in Calaveras County, Spanish
Creek in El Dorado County, and Cherokee in Butte County.
In light of the evidence we have presented, it is hard to justify the sustained opposition to the California finds by Holmes and Sinclair. They uncovered no actual evidence of fraud, and their suggestions that Indians might have carried portable mortars and spearheads into the mines are not very believable. A modern historian, W. Turrentine Jackson of the University of California at Davis, points out: During the gold rush era the Indians were driven from the mining region, and they seldom came into contact with the forty-niners from the mining region.
One might therefore ask why Holmes and Sinclair were so determined to discredit Whitney's evidence for the existence of Tertiary humans. The following statement by Holmes provides an essential clue: Perhaps if Professor Whitney had fully appreciated the story of human evolution as it is understood to- day, he would have hesitated to announce the conclusions formulated, notwithstanding the imposing array of testimony with which he was confronted. In other words, if the facts do not fit the favored theory, the facts, even an imposing array of them, must go.
It is not hard to see why a supporter of the idea of human evolution, such as Holmes, would want to do everything possible to discredit information pushing the existence of humans in their present form too far into the past. Why did Holmes feel so confident about doing so? One reason was the discovery in 1891, by Eugene Dubois, of Java man (Pithecanthropus erectus), hailed as the much sought after missing link connecting modern humans with supposedly ancestral apelike creatures. Holmes stated that Whitney's evidence stands absolutely alone and that it implies a human race older by at least one-half than Pithecanthropus erectus of Dubois, which may be regarded as an incipient form of human creature only. For those who accepted the controversial Java man (Chapter 8), any evidence suggesting the modern human type existed before him had to be cut down, and Holmes was one of the principal hatchet men. Holmes stated about the California finds: It is probable that without positive reinforcement the evidence would gradually lose its hold and disappear; but science cannot afford to await this tedious process of selection, and some attempt to hasten a decision is demanded. Holmes, Sinclair, and others all did their part, using questionable tactics.
Alfred Russell Wallace, who shares with Darwin the credit for formulating the theory of evolution by natural selection, expressed dismay that evidence for anatomically modern humans existing in the Tertiary tended to be attacked with all the weapons of doubt, accusation, and ridicule.
In a detailed survey of the evidence for the great antiquity of humans in North America, Wallace gave considerable weight to Whitney's record of the discoveries in California of human fossils and stone artifacts from the Tertiary. In light of the incredulity with which the auriferous gravel finds and others like them were received in certain quarters, Wallace advised that the proper way to treat evidence as to man's antiquity is to place it on record, and admit it provisionally wherever it would be held adequate in the case of other animals; not, as is too often now the case, to ignore it as unworthy of acceptance or subject its discoverers to indiscriminate accusations of being impostors or the victims of impostors.
Nevertheless, in the early part of the twentieth century, the intellectual climate favored the views of Holmes and Sinclair. Tertiary stone implements just like those of modern humans? Soon it became uncomfortable to report, unfashionable to defend, and convenient to forget such things. Such views remain in force today, so much so that discoveries that even slightly challenge dominant views about human prehistory are effectively suppressed.
Last updated on August 7, 1995.
Copyright (c) 1995 Govardhan Hill Publishing