ADVANCED PALEOLITHS AND NEOLITHS
Discoveries of Florentine Ameghino
Tools Found by Carlos Ameghino
at Miramar, Argentina
Attempts to Discredit Carlos Ameghino
More Bolas and Similar
Relatively Advanced North
Sheguiandah: Archeology as a
Lewisville and Timlin: The
Vendetta Goes On
Sandia Cave, New Mexico
Neolithic Tools from the
California Gold Country
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
Summarizing the Monte Hermoso evidence,
"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."
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
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 judgment, 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 feast Pliocene in age. He said it consisted of,
slightly indurated, gray sands or sandstone . . . marked by very
striking cross-stratification and uniformity of gray color and
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 age—about 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
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
After carefully investigating the site, the commission unanimously
concluded that the implements had been found in undisturbed
Chapadmalalan sediments. The implements would thus be 2-3 million
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 2-3 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.
embedded in the toxodon femur a stone arrowhead or lance point,
giving evidence for culturally advanced humans 2-3 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 a part of an animal that had died
when this formation was being laid down. Ameghino noted:
are of a dirty whitish color, characteristic of this stratum, and
not blackish, from the magnesium oxides in the Ensenadan."
that some of the hollow parts of the leg bones were filled with the Chapadmalalan loess. Of course, even if the bones had worked their
way in from the overlying Ensenadan formation, they would still be
anomalously old. The Ensenadan is from 0.4-1.5 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
Carlos Ameghino then described the stone point found embedded in the
"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,
Torres, and Santiago Roth, visited Miramar to mark and photograph
the exact location where the toxodon femur had been found. Carlos
"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 2-3 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
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
"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."
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.
"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 ethnographer," 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 abovementioned 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 judgment
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:
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 modern—about four or five hundred years
old—where there exist many objects identical to those found in the
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
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 wider 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, 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 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, 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
"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.
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 tool-making 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 period.
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
In 1926, John Baxter, one of J. Reid Moir's assistants uncovered a
particularly interesting object 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. 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 stone-working but leatherworking as well.
All this becomes problematic, however, when one considers that Bed
[??] at Olduvai, where stone balls were found, is 1.7-2.0 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, suggestion—perhaps there were
creatures of modern human capability at Olduvai during the earliest
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
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
"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.
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 this—the 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. Lee considered
Further excavation exposed implements 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. 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
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.
"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 rewriting 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
judgment. 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 conferences—little 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 beauty—and the viciousness—of
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
The original reports, however, give cogent arguments against the
mudflow hypothesis. The elder Lee wrote that many geologists,
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
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."
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
Furthermore, there must be,
"a range of tool forms and
debris . . . well preserved animal remains . . . pollen studies . .
. macrobotanical materials . . . human skeletal remains."
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.
"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 overlying them."
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
"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
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 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
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
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 back-fence 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
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 New
Steen-McIntyre continued, explaining:
"Archaeologists are in a
considerable uproar over Hueyatlaco—they refuse even to consider it.
I've learned from secondhand sources that I'm considered by various
members of the profession to be
2) a news monger
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."
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
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
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. 30,000-50,000
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
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 note—we 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
America—Sandia 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.
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 him—it 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
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 streambeds.
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
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.
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
"This was," wrote Whitney, "a stone muller, or some kind
of utensil which had apparently been used for grinding."
informed Whitney "that he took it with his own hands from a carload
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
"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 carload 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 33-55 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
pre-volcanic 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
According to Sinclair, Pierce found another artifact along with the
"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
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 pre-volanic
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."
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 bedrock at Tuolumne Table Mountain indicates
they were 33-55 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
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:
statements, written down in my notebook during and immediately
following the interview, were to the following effect."
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
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:
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
But Holmes could produce no evidence that 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
The package of obsidian blades may have been rather quickly
covered by gravel in a deep hole in the streambed 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
"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."
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 it—that 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
"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.
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
"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."
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
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
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.