Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology
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Committed to the scientific investigation of human antiquity, Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology uses interesting archaeological hoaxes, myths, and mysteries to show how we can use science to learn things about the past. By placing wildly inaccurate claims within the context of the scientific method, this indispensable supplementary text demonstrates how science approaches questions about human antiquity and, in doing so, shows where pseudoscience falls short.
trouble finding the fossil in a museum case, I approached a woman at the front desk, asking where I might see the Piltdown remains. “Oh, that is not on display sir,” she said, and went on to inform me, rather condescendingly, “It was all rubbish, you know.” Well, I guess I knew that. It seems that the Piltdown Man fossil has been a literal skeleton in the closet of prehistoric archaeology and human paleontology. Things have improved since 1996. Today, when you visit the website of the British
him. In fact, he lived for about thirty years after the injuries and, based on the location of the wounds and the degree of healing, he likely suffered no permanent disabilities. His right arm healed completely, his ribs fused as best they could, and the pierced bone of his pelvis mended itself. The spearpoint remained in his body, healing bone growing around it, from the time the wound was inflicted until his death—and even beyond. In fact, it remains there still, more than 9,000 years after his
populations, both modern and ancient. The haplogroups A, B, C, D, and X2a are common in Native American populations as well as among the native people of northeast Asia, clearly indicating their historical and biological connection. The bar on the far right represents a population in the Middle East and reflects an entirely different haplogroup pattern. Current Perspectives 111 in all Native American groups they sampled, and a specific version of haplogroup X (specifically, X2a) was found in
huge, conical burial mound close to 100 feet high in Miamisburg, Ohio (bottom). (Top: photo by Major Dache M. Reeves. Courtesy National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution; bottom: K. Feder) 156 The Myth of the Moundbuilders Figure 7.2 Monks Mound is an enormous, tiered pyramid of earth, the centerpiece of mound construction at Cahokia in Illinois. By any measure, Monks Mound is one of the largest pyramids in the world. Monks Mound served as a platform on top of which a
artifact was found while witnesses looked on; in both of these circumstances, the Decalogue seemed to respond a little too conveniently to the complaints of those skeptical of the Keystone’s authenticity. As noted in Chapter 3, it is pretty typical for archaeological hoaxers to use the criticisms of skeptics to improve the quality of their fakes. Consider the example of the Michigan Relics, a series of some 800 faked artifacts of clay, copper, and slate discovered throughout Michigan between 1890