Thursday, June 23, 2011
Ice-Age North American Artwork [News Item]
Ice Age Art Found In Florida Depicts Ancient Mammoth
Posted on: Thursday, 23 June 2011, 05:40 CDT
Researchers have discovered a bone fragment in Florida at least 13,000 years old with the incised image of a mammoth or mastodon, in what may be the first example of Ice Age art found in the Americas, scientists said on Wednesday.
The artifact is the oldest and only known example of Ice Age art depicting a proboscidean (the order of animals with trunks) in the Western Hemisphere, the researchers said.
Fossil hunter James Kennedy discovered the bone in Vero Beach, Florida, and noticed the engraving while cleaning it.
Recognizing its potential importance, Kennedy contacted scientists at the University of Florida and the Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute and National Museum of Natural History.
"This is an incredibly exciting discovery," said Dennis Stanford, anthropologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and co-author of the study.
"There are hundreds of depictions of proboscideans on cave walls and carved into bones in Europe, but none from America—until now."
"The results of this investigation are an excellent example of the value of interdisciplinary research and cooperation among scientists," said Barbara Purdy, professor emerita of anthropology at the University of Florida and lead author of the team's research.
"There was considerable skepticism expressed about the authenticity of the incising on the bone until it was examined exhaustively by archaeologists, paleontologists, forensic anthropologists, materials science engineers and artists."
One of the researchers' main goals was to study the timing of the engraving to determine whether it was made thousands of years ago or more recently, as an imitation of earlier, prehistoric art.
The bone was originally discovered near a location, known as the Old Vero Site, where human bones were found side-by-side with the bones of extinct Ice Age animals in an excavation from 1913 to 1916.
The researchers examined the elemental composition of the engraved bone and others from the site using optical and electron microscopy, which revealed no discontinuity in coloration between the carved grooves and the surrounding material.
This indicated that both surfaces had aged simultaneously. Furthermore, the edges of the carving were worn and showed no signs of having been carved recently, or that the grooves were made with metal tools.
These factors led the researchers to believe the art is genuine, and that is serves as evidence that people living in the Americas during the last Ice Age created artistic images of the animals they hunted.
The engraving is at least 13,000 years old, the researchers concluded, as this is the date for the last appearance of these animals in eastern North America. More recent Pre-Columbian people would not have seen a mammoth or mastodon to draw.
The study further validates the findings of geologist Elias Howard Sellards at the Old Vero Site in the early 20th Century. His claims that people were in North America and hunted animals at Vero Beach during the last Ice Age have been debated over the past 95 years.
A cast of the carved fossil bone is now part of an exhibit of Florida Mammoth and Mastodons at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.
The research is published online June 12 in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
Typically, of course, the experts are wrong and have not done their research. Incised images of extinct Ice-age mammals on bones of extinct Ice-age mammals in Mexico and have been known for something like seventy years now. Some of the petroglyphs commonly known to experts that study petroglyphs have been thought to have been of Ice-age vintage and so stated in the mass media in past decades, and some examples of what look to be crude sculptures in stone and bone were also stated to be of similar vintage in the past, even cited in scientific journals; and the same situation also goes for South America. In fact not only has American Ice-age art been alleged as old as the European examples, but they have been said to be of similar age and stylistic schools. E.F. Greenman in his 1963 article"The Upper Paleolithic and the New World", an earlier presentation of the TransAtlantic colonization theory, mentioned and illustrated some cave art reported from Wisconsin in the 1870s which was said to be similar to European cave art; two large boulders with human faces crudely carved on them were dug up from 26 feet down and associated with bones of extinct animals; and the National geographic has illustrated a piece of Llama sacrum dug up fromtequixquia, Mexico, said to be deliberately carved to resemble an animal face, perhapos a Coyote. In 1960, Dr. Juan Armenta Comacho, director of the Department of Anthropology at Puebla, Mexico, recovered a piece of mammoth pelvis engraved with figures illustrating several Ice-age mammals including a horse, a mammoth and a sabertoothed cat. Ivan Sanderson elsewhere reported an earlier occurance of what may have been a related culture of the Mexican great plateau, characterized by carving animal figurines out of animal bones-and then separately again about the Acambaro pottery figurines of supposed dinosaurs. The situation in South America is worse if anything because there is so much rock art there and some of it is definitely supposed to be very old. it would seem that scientists in the United States are so parochial that they do not even consider Mexico to be part of North America.
The real problem is a recurring one that centers around what are supposed to be depictions of mammoths or mastodons, more rarely perhaps giant ground sloths and other creatures. Scientists got so used to writing them off that they gained a knee-jerk reaction of crying "Hoax" automatically without good evidence. And in this case, the news stories hearken back to an earlier instance of what was supposed to be an engraving of a mammoth that was subsequently declared to be a hoax.
A Mammoth Fraud In Science
The Holly Oak pendant, shown in the accompanying sketch, reveals a mammoth incised on a piece of seashell. Said to have been discovered in 1864 at a Delaware archeological site, it has been employed to "prove" two different theories:
That humans were in North America as the Ice Ages waned and when mammoths still roamed the continent; and
The the mammoth survived in North America well into the Christian era.
In an article in American Antiquity, J.B. Griffin et al marshall considerable evidence implying that the Holly Oak pendant is a fraud. Much of this contrary evidence seems weak:
The discoverer of the pendant, H.Y. Cresson, was not highly regarded in American archeological circles of the time;
The pendant was not taken seriously by other archeologists;
The drawing of the mammoth "looks like" it was copied from an accepted European engraved tusk; and
The shell from which the Holly Oak pendant was made "looks like" shells found in other archeological sites with more recent dates; and so on.
The only "hard" evidence that the pendant is a fake comes from radiocarbon dating, which suggests that the shell is only 1530 ± 110 years old. The authors state that since mammoths positively did not survive that recently, the pendant must be a fraud.
Griffin et al thus dump the Holly Oak oendant into the archeological wastebasket of "proven" frauds. This rather large wastebasket, they say, also contains the Calaveras skull, the Davenport elephant pipes, the Lenape stone, and the Nampa Image!
(Griffin, James B., et al; "A Mammoth Fraud in Science," American Antiquity, 53:578, 1988. Also: Lewin, Roger; "Mammoth Fraud Exposed," Science, 242: 1246, 1988.)
Comment. We hate to see the Holly Oak pendant consigned to that infamous wastebasket, but the marks against it, soft as many of them are, are multitudinous. It could be resurrected as an anomaly if the radiocarbon date is shown to be grossly in error, as they sometimes are for seashells; or if the mammoth really did hang on it North America until fairly recent times. In our handbook Incredible Life, we have 10 pages of rather "soft" data that imply that the mammoths actually did survive the BC/AD transition. [This includes C14 dates on certain mammoth fossils themselves. So if you are going to kich about the date of a whelk shell being possibly wrong, you are not then entitled to the defense that the mammoth fossil C14 date is off by approximately the same amount of time-DD]
From Science Frontiers #61, JAN-FEB 1989. © 1989-2000 William R. Corliss
Below are the Holly Oak pendant together with the European ivory it was said to be copied from. I would call that a general resemblance only and not close enough to make a case for copying: there are probably a dozen other known representations of mammoths that are at least that similar and are not considered to be hoaxes.
Incidentally, the Old Vero deposits which have Ice Age fossil remains have also been pointed to as evidence for old "Mound Builders" activity since some of the fossil bones are supposed to be found in association with pottery and other advanced artifacts. There are once again the allegations that the C14 dates are funny. Immanuel Velikovsky points to this as evidence to support his theory in Earth In Upheaval, but the sources are legitimately scientific.