In any profession there will be hoaxes and fraudsters, and archaeology is no exception. Here are five hoaxes that have been found out – and I am sure there are many more out there!!
The Piltdown Man, England – This is the name given to a skull and jaw bone found at Piltdown Quarry in Surrey, England. It was alleged that the skull and jaw belonged together and that they formed Charles Darwin’s missing link in human evolution.
Scientific investigations have since proven that the fossils were actually from three different species, two being chimps, and they had been modified to fit together and appear to be human.
Holly Oak Pendant, USA– In 1889 Hilborne T Cresson, an archaeology assistant working at the Peabody Museum, Harvard University in America, said he had found a shell pendant with carving on it. The carving was of a woolly mammoth.
Upon further investigation it was discovered that he said he had found it 25 years earlier and people started questioning as to why it had taken him so long to declare it.
Carbon 14 dated the shell to around AD 880 and as such no mammoths were living at this time, they were all extinct. Cresson had previously been doing some work on the cave paintings in France and it is beleived that he carved one of these images onto the shell himself.
Experts also stated that the carving was on the side if it had been worn as a pendant, which would not have happened by earlier peoples.
The James Ossuary, Israel – A limestone coffin, called an ossuary, was declared to have been found, to the public, in 2002. It was thought to have held the remains James, the brother of Jesus, due to an inscription on the side.
Scientific analysis has shown that the ossuary does infact date to the 1st century, however, the inscription was made at a much later date.
Shinichi Fujimura, Japan – Shinichi Fujimura was a top Japanese archaeologist working on prehistoric sites in Japan. At one of the sites he claimed that he had finds dating back 600,000 years, which would have re-written the Out of Africa Theory of human migration across the world.
He was caught on camera planting artefacts in his dig that his crew would later dig up.
Archaeology Wow!! – Folsom Points
Folsom Points are stone tools made and used by paleo-Indians in America around 10,500 years ago. The projectile points were first found in 1927 by Jesse Figgins of the Denver Museum of Natural History and named after town near the site he was excavating, Folsom.
At the site, White Horse Arroyo, New Mexico, were the remains of 32 bison which had been trapped and killed, and the points were found amongst their remains.
Folsom Points are bifacial (two faces) and leaf shaped and developed out of the earlier Clovis Culture. The Folsom Culture were early Paleoindian hunter gatherers who were highly mobile in their activities, often going hundreds of miles to gather rack for tool production.
The hunted bison, rabbit, deer, antelope and other smaller mammals, they mined ochre for decoration including some lines found on a bison skull, which leads to the understanding that they had some sort of ritual activities centered around the animals.
The Clovis and Folsom Cultures are two of the main early cultures found in America.
Archaeological Site Guide – Kaupang, Norway
Kaupang is a Viking site in Norway located near the Swedish border and opposite the coast of Denmark.
The site is beleived to have been the first major urban settlement in Norway and founded around the 780’s. During the 700’s and 800’s it was an important Royal seat but was abandoned in the 10th century. The population has been estimated at around 1,000 people.
Kaupang was a commercial centre, which included handicrafts, iron, soapstone and possibly fish. Foreign trade with Britain, the Rhineland and the Baltic is evident in the artefacts that have been uncovered.
In 1867 the site was first excavated by Nicolay Nicolaysen and he uncovered grave sites, 79 burial mounds and a 10th century cemetery.
In 1947 the site was excavated by Charlotte Blindheim and in 2000 it was excavated by Dagfinn Skre of the University of Oslo, Archaeology, Conservation and Historical Studies Department.
The excavations revealed 4 houses, hearths, pits, and postholes. There have been over 100,000 artefacts from these latest excavations and include gold coins from Dorestad, Arab silver coins, bronze and gold jewelry, pottery, tools and weapons.
The royal site was visited by King Magnús Óláfsson, King Sigurth, King Eystien, and King Hákon. King Hákon was buried in the church at Kaupang.
The findings from the excavations were published in 2007 and the final findings published in 2011. This really is an exciting Viking site and really gives us a better understanding of everyday Viking life!
Great Web Pages to Look At…….
Activity – Word Search 21 November 2014