Reviews of Forbidden Archeology

What follows are selected reviews of Forbidden Archeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race by various scholars.   All reviews can be found in Forbidden Archeology's Impact.
Marylène Patou-Mathis (1995) Review of Forbidden Archeology. L'Anthropologie, vol. 99(1), p. 159. Translated from the original French. Reprinted by permission of Masson Editeur.

This enormous volume, 914 pages, dedicated to the hidden history of humanity, is surprising.  What is, then, this forbidden archaeology?  Moving past the first moment of surprise, one quickly open this book and flips through it with interest.  The first part presents the abnormal evidence (not accepted)--for example, cut and fractured bones, supposedly from man, discovered in tertiary caves; or the eoliths that have made such a lot of ink flow; or human remains found in California in the Piocene or Eocene periods, and the footprints of humans observed in the Pennsylvanian (Upper Carboniferous) of Rockcastle in Kentucky.  The authors tell us about the historical records of these discoveries and the polemics they gave rise to but don’t give final judgments.  The book's second part discusses conventional evidence: hominids from Java and China (Choukoutien among others) but also the fossil of Piltdown.  Africa, with the most ancient discoveries of remains of Australopithecus, isn’t forgotten.  There again, for about a hundred pages, the authors describe the historical records and discussions relative to these fossils: the pros and cons of their relationship with the true hominids.  Three appendices end the book. One concerns the chemical and radiometric analyses of human bones, the ages of which are disputed. A second concerns evidence for the existence of cultures in very ancient periods (Terriary, Secondary).  The third appendix summarizes the abnormal evidence for human antiquity: from the Precambrian (metallic spheres from the site of Ottosdalin in the Republic of South Africa) to the end of the Pleistocene.
   M. Cremo and R. Thompson have willfully written a provocative work that raises the problem of the influence of the dominant ideas of a time period on scientific research. These ideas can compel the researchers to publish  their analyses according to the conceptions that are permitted by the scientific community.  If the evidence given isn’t always convincing (far from it) regarding a very ancient origin of humanity, the documentary richness of this work, more historical and sociological than scientific, isn’t to be overlooked.

Wiktor Stoczkowski (1995) Review of Forbidden Archeology. L’Homme, vol. 35, pp. 173-174.

The book by Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson (1) promises to lift the veil of silence that conceals disturbing ideas on the earliest antiquity of mankind.  According to the authors, Darwinian orthodoxy tendentiously eliminates archaeological indications showing that Homo Sapiens is not a recent product of evolution and that for a long time he shared the Earth with numerous races of simian hominids from which he cannot be descended.  The profession of belief is clear and laconic.  There are 800 laborious pages of proofs, the academic appearance of which will, without a doubt, mislead more than one reader. In order to remove the possibility of the simian ancestry of man, the authors are occupied with demonstrating that man is older than the other kinds of hominids. After having given a new interpretation of classical fossils, they reveal to us the existence of human bones that were discovered in Illinois in rock from the Carboniferous period as well as human footprints from the same period in Kentucky and from the Jurassic period in Turkmenistan.  Man was not only living in these remote periods, but also he had already an advanced civilization.  As evidence they cite fossil anchors found in the depths of quarries, a mysterious inscription on a piece of marble extracted from its natural rock, a piece of money from the middle Pleistocene, a fossilized shoe sole from the Triassic, and even a metal vase from the Precambrian (600 million years ago).  Official science, charge  Cremo and Thompson, refuses to take into account these vestiges because they threaten the established conception of the origin of man.
   "Our attitude regarding life and its future is influenced by our views on life's origin," declare Jehovah’s Witnesses in another book, published by Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and dedicated to enlightening its readers about the weakness of the theory of evolution, on the grounds of, and in support of, the Book of Genesis. (2) This formula sums up very well what is at stake when the problem of origins is considered in our Western culture, no less than elsewhere.  And since we have the habit of thinking that the Western vision of the world is equivalent to that of science, it is not useless to remind ourselves that there are now 11 million copies in print of the book published by Watchtower (translated into 16 languages).  We are mercifully silent about the sizes of prints of scholarly works that we are proud of.  Historians of science repeat tirelessly that the Biblical version of origins was replaced in the nineteenth century by the evolution theory. This simple story is substituted, in our imaginations, for the more complex reality that we are today confronted with a remarkable variety of origins accounts. Those of official science are far from being uniform. Prehistory told by scientists committed to Marxist theory is not the same as that presented by feminist scholars. Furthermore, the version of prehistory found in children's school books is different from that found in professional scientific publications. And this in turn is very different from that of the Jehovah's witnesses, the American Creationist, the Catholic Church, or those who seek to explain our origin by extraterrestrial intervention. I have skipped over many other versions. And *Forbidden Archeology* gives us one more, dedicated to "His Divine Grace " Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and inspired by the Vedic philosophy that disciples study at Bhaktivedanta Institute in the U.S.A., a branch of I.S.K.C.O.N., the International Society  for Krishna Consciousness.
   Forbidden Archeology  isn’t to be recommended to those who are trying to inform themselves about prehistory, but it would be useful for readers interested in modern beliefs.  The man on the street "believes" in the theory of evolution like he believed (and continues to believe) in the Mosaic genesis, the Vedic genesis, and others.  However, the peculiarity of modern religious belief doesn’t lie in the act of believing, but in the manner in which it justifies itself. The 800 pages of meticulous archaeological descriptions that accompany the Vedic creed in Forbidden Archeology tell us much about the role that faith attributes to empirical confirmation in our days.  Modern irrationality is distinguished by unbridled research for scientific evidence to support  every belief.  And Western beliefs attempt today to not only be scientific and empirical but also systematic : hence, the complicity claimed by Cremo and Thompson with postmodern anthropology, which lifts relativity of interpretation to the level of an epistemological principle; hence the pretentious ramblings on the "human construction" of scientific facts, supported with names such as Paul Feyerabend, Thomas Kuhn, Steven Schapin, Steve Woolgar and Bruno Latour.  We, the Westerners, want to be so learned that we cannot even abandon understanding for naivete without covering our attempt with science.  The same ambiguity is found moreoever on the side of official science.  Have we not seen recently an illustrious French paleoanthropologist support the perusal of Yeti?  And what of the prehistories that certain scholars delight in telling in front of cameras, before the altar of Audimat?  It is significant that works like Forbidden Archeology are nourished not only by sacred texts, but equally by scientific publications, parts of which seem to evolve in an imaginary universe.  This book gives us a curious collection of ideas, each of which has already had, at one time or another, a place in acknowledged scientific work.  All of this  indicates that science itself also contributes to the store of traditional ideas, from which dilettantes, learned or simple, can nourish their thinking and model on old mythical structures.  What is new is our cult of the empirical method, which we worship without often understanding its true principles.  "To believe is to believe in not believing." (3) Indeed, the modern act of believing consists of posing as an act of scientific knowledge. [try another translator]

1. Michael Cremo is an editor at the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Richard Thompson introduces himself as a researcher working in several areas (math, biology, geology, physics).
2. Anonymous, Life: How did it appear? New York: Watchtower, 1985.
3. J. Pouillon, The Believed and the Known. Paris: Le Seuil, 1993.

Tim Murray (1995) Review of Forbidden Archeology. British Journal for the History of Science, vol. 28, pp. 377-379. Reprinted by permission of the Council of the British Society for the History of Science and Tim Murray.

Since the last eighteenth century discussions of human antiquity and of the physical and cultural evolution of humanity have been marked by severe disputation and accusations of fraud.  Histories of palaeoanthropology and of quarternary geology (such as Grayson’s The Establishment of Human Antiquity, New York, 1983, and more recently Van Riper’s Men among the Mammoths, Chicago, 1993) have all canvassed the reasons for disputation and some (such as Spencer’s Piltdown: A Scientific Forgery, Oxford, 1990) have delved deep into disciplinary psychology to establish the motivation for fraud.  No one could deny that mainstream quarternary archaeology is unaware of its capacity to generate controversy.  Furthermore a knowledge of the discipline (and of its practitioners) clearly demonstrates that there is no single point of view about the meaning of the palaeoanthropological fossil record.  Indeed it should be emphasized that practitioners have had altogether too much fun fighting amongst themselves to be much concerned with other possible combatants.  Cremo and Thompson’s massive work clearly demonstrates that others now want to play the game.
   Whatever else Forbidden Archeology might be, it is a book with a point of view.  Despite more than 900 pages of discussion this can be fairly simply summarized.  First, there is a contention that quarternary archaeologists have ignored what is described as being clear and unambiguous evidence (fossils and artefacts) of a much higher human antiquity than that accepted by ‘the scientific community’.  Note that Cremo and Thompson are not claiming that the scientists have rejected evidence of there being ancestral forms of fully modern human beings other than those currently recognized (i.e. members of the genus Australopithecus and earlier forms of the genus Homo).  Instead, they are claiming that evidence of fully modern human beings has been found in the Tertiary geological record, and that knowledge of these radical data has been suppressed by practitioners for the last century or so.  Secondly, the explanation for this ‘Major Scientific Cover-Up’ (their words, not mine) is to be found in the ‘evolutionary prejudices’ of  ‘powerful groups of scientists’ who are members of the ‘scientific establishment’ who together act as a ‘knowledge filter’ reinforcing the dominance of ‘evolutionary prejudices’ by dispensing with anomalous and potentially destabilizing data.  Thirdly, that Cremo and Thompson are not clear whether this filtration process is conscious (in the sense of cover-up or fraud) or simply the unconscious recommitment to normal science by research drones who have all power for original thought sqaushed out of them by the system.
   Cremo and Thompson rest their case on two general assumptions.  First, that the plausibility of conventional quarternary archaeology and paleoanthropology depends not on the actual evidence adduced by practitioners, but on the cognitive plausibility of evolutionary theory.  Secondly, that scientists will move hell and high water to ‘preserve the paradigm’ and thus dispose of inconvenient evidence or ‘freeze out’ inconvenient practitioners.  It is worth noting that in this, as in any good consipracy theory, there are goodies and baddies, seekers after truth and representatives of the ‘dominant paradigm’.  At stake is the potential liberation of the human mind through deeper understanding of  the meaning of human history.  For Cremo and Thompson if you do not accept the plausibility of evolutionary theory then the flimsy edifice of quarternary archaeology that it supports crashes to the ground, leaving the way free to pursue another pathway towards enlightenment.  For them the vast store of anomalies (the documentation of which takes up the bulk of the volume) when taken together, provides compelling support for an attack on the paradigm of human evolution and on the data which have, up to this point, been seen to support it.
   It should be noted that theirs is far from being a disinterested analysis, as Forbidden Archeology is designed to demolish the case for biological and cultural evolution and to advance the cause of a Vedic alternative.  This is a piece of ‘Creation Science’ which, while not based on the need to promote a Christian alternative, manifests many of the same types of argument: first, an attempt to characterize the opposition as motivated by the need to preserve their view of the world rather than a desire to practice unfettered inquiry; secondly, to explain the currently marginal position of your alternative as being the result of prejudice, conspiracy and manipulation rather than of any fault of the theory itself; thirdly, to present the opposition (in this case mainstream palaeoanthropology and quarternary archaeology) as being united as a ‘secret college’ to manipulate the public mind and to exclude non-professionals from being able to control science for the benefit of all.
   I have no doubt that there will be some who will read this book and profit from it.  Certainly it provides the historian of archaeology with a useful compendium of case studies in the history and sociology of scientific knowledge, which can be used to foster debate within archaeology about how to describe the epistemology of one’s discipline.  On another level the book joins others from creation science and New Age philosophy as a body of works which seek to address members of a public alienated from science, either because it has bcome so arcane or because it has ceased to suit some in search of meaning in their lives.
   Above all this is a book about belief.  Cremo and Thompson believe the Vedas provide a more accurate and internally consistent explanation for life of earth, but for all the talk about logic and consistency their system on the whole simply would not function without the existence of a ‘supreme conscious being’.  In an interesting example of projection Cremo and Thompson distinguish between their true and justified belief and the views of their evolutionary opponents, which are characterized by them as being ‘unscientific’.  For them followers of evolutionary theory do so out of ignorance, fear, or blind faith, with the need to believe overcoming dispassionate assessment and objectve argument.
   What to do with this book and its claims?  One path is to take each case raised by Cremo and Thompson and by a steady process of attrition to demolish their account.  This can be (and is being) done.  But this does not go to the heart of the volume or explain why the authors believe so strongly in the existence of Tertiary humanity.  For that we have to go the the Vedas and in my view this can only be a personal journey.  For the practising quarternary archaeologist current accounts of human evolution are, at root, simply that.  The ‘dominant paradigm’ has changed and is changing, and practitioners openly debate issues which go right to the conceptual core of the discipline.  Whether the Vedas have a role to play in this is up to the individual scientists concerned.  Although Cremo and Thompson might characterize archaeologists and palaeoanthropologists as being at the wrong end of a knowledge filter, it is fair comment that nothing in the 900 or so pages of Forbidden Archeology seems to undermine Cremo and Thompson’s belief that Vedic literature got it right long before the advent of archaeological inquiry.

John Davidson (1994) "Fascination Over Fossil Finds." International Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine August, p. 28.

When a scientific theory gathers the status of a dogma, the possibilities of new research being conducted in that area and the room for new theories on the matter become severely restricted.
   Those who try to break through such barriers run the risk of castigation and prejudice.  They find few champions in academia.  The going is all uphill.  Mentally they are pushing against the habits and collective unconscious of many powerful minds and help even of the simplest kind from the ‘establishment’ is rarely forthcoming.
   Their task is not an easy one and many do not have the character, the time, the funds or the other necessary resources to do justice to their thesis.  It then becomes easy for others to criticise their work, dismissing it from the viewpoint of ‘established opinion’ as the work of a misguided enthusiast withoug giving the real consideration it deserves.
   Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson are therefore to be congratulated on spending eight years producing the only definitive, precise, exhaustive and complete record of practically all the fossil finds of man, regardless of whether they fit the established scientific theories or not.  To say that research is painstaking is a wild understatement.  No other book of this magnitude and calibre exists.  It should be compulsory reading for every first year biology, archaeology and anthropology student--and many others too!
   The 914 excellently produced pages of Forbidden Archeology take us through so many anomalies of fossil man--anomalies only according to modern theories that unless every single one of these finds is incorrectly dated, documented and observed, man’s present scientific theories of his own origins must now be radically re-assessed.  If only one human fossil or artifact of the 50 or so meticulously documented and discussed from the Miocene or early Pliocene is correctly dated then everything concerning the theories of human origins must return to the melting pot.  And the evidence is that a large proportion of them are entirely credible.
   Why then have they not been previously considered?  Because the roller-coaster of habituated mind patterns and dogma has simply brushed them aside as do creationists who--faced with all the evidence of ancient times--still insist that the world was created in 4004 BC, according to a preconceived opinion.  The psychological processes are in both instances the same.
   We are treated to Pliocene bones, including a skull from middle Pliocene strata near Castendolo in Italy, maybe five million years old.  Bones found in Carboniferious coal in Pennsylvania, at least 286 million years old and capped by two feet of slate rock, 90 feet below the surface.  Footprints of human-like, bipedal creatures who lived in Carboniferous Kentucky and Pennsylvania and Missouri, too.  Flint tools from the Miocene, 10 to 12 million years old, found in Burma and the same from even older Late Oligocene sands in Belgium.  Hundreds of metallic spheres with three parallel grooves running around their equator, found in recent decades by South African miners in Precambrian mineral deposits 2.8 billion years old.  And a great deal more.
   The book is both entertaining and scholarly--a rare combination.  It rolls along presenting its information in a logical and coherent fashion, making honest comment and assessment as it goes.  There is nothing long-winded about it--only thoroughness.  Data is not pressed into the service of any particular docrtine but presented and left to tell its own story.  Words like ‘possible’ and ‘not sure’ are used quite commonly, a practice that demonstrates an intellectual honesty and integrity that would with profit benefit many proponenets of the more conventional points of view.
   Cremo and Thompson also describe the processes by which data gets suppressed consciously and unconsciouly--and discuss all the evidence upon which modern theories are founded.
   Forbidden Archeology deserves to provoke discussion and controversy.  It should not be swept aside or ignored.  If the general scientific community once again put their heads in the sand until the turore passes by, they will be guilty of negligence in their duty to the world at large as self-professed seekers of the truth of things.

Researchers Shake the Theory of Evolution." Politiken, January 1. SECTION AND PAGE. Reprinted by permission of Politiken and Mikael Rothstein.

Human beings like us have lived on the Earth for millions of years.  In order to substantiate the theory of evolution scientists who study the origin of man have deliberately suppressed or even destroyed evidence, claim two researchers in a remarkable book.
   When Charles Darwin published his pioneering work The Origin of Species in 1859, he suspected his theory of evolution would cause a stir.  According to his theory of evolution man was reduced to a creature on par with all other living beings.
   The theory of evolution also disputed the religious thesis of the simultaneous creation of the species, appearing at the time of Darwin as they had done since the time of creation.
   The theory of evolution challenged the unique qualities of man and the divine nature of the creation; Darwin himself became a victim of the vicious teasing and humilation of his times.  He was pictured as a monkey in the newspapers and his relation to worms and maggots was made clear because he said the species evolved from each.
   However, the theory of evolution was not that easy to subdue, and with persistent support the new view survived and became within the next decades a real alternative to the theory of creation of the church.
   Later on, especially when paleontology and paleoanthropology (the study of the evolution of man) set sail, great parts of theology yielded and formulated an adjusted creation theory.  Now it was said that the species probably had evolved somehow or other, but God was behind.

The Roles Are Changed

  So now today it is 1994, and the scientific worldview has cemented its influence in all ways.  While previously science had to justify itself through religion, religion today has to prove that its dogmas and conceptions are scientifically valid, if it wants to be taken seriously.  The roles have been changed.  Therefore, the provocations of today come from religion.
   By the way, regarding the discussion of the origin of man, there is a new book, Forbidden Archeology, which was published last year, which is exciting reading material.  The book, which takes up more than 900 compact pages, is a tour de force through innumerable archeological and paleoanthropological facts.  The authors aim to prove that it is not possible to maintain the theory of evolution when the facts are examined in their totality.
   The two authors, Richard Thompson and Michael Cremo, have spent around eight years researching the book before sitting down at the typewriter.  The result is in principle just as provoking as The Origin of Species.

Hard to Turn Down

   The conclusion is hard as stone: the authors claim that the established group of scientists, who deal with the descent of man, has, in order to make the theory of evolution fit, consciously suppressed or even destroyed evidence.
   Now, dishonesty in that field is not an unknown phenomena.  In the dawn of archeology and paleoanthropology, there were quite a few examples of fraud.  On the other hand, it is not unusual that those who are up against the dominating views see conspiracies everywhere.
   Objectively speaking, however, it is difficult to turn down great parts of the evidence that the authors present: Why has a long list of problematic findings not been treated scientifically?  Why are there purges in the scientific collections?  Why do they ignore imbalances between chronological and geological assumptions?
   Thompson and Cremo take the reader through several hundred years of research, mention hundreds of cases, end up in all continents, and on the basis of an impressive file, unearth documents which were forgotten, but which conclusively affect the present position of science.
   Among other things, they claim that men like us have been on the Earth for millions of years--generally man (homo sapiens) is considered to be around 200,000 years old.

Forbidden Finds

   The proof for the significantly older age should be--among other things--the so-called out-of-place-artifacts, that is, objects made by men, which appear at places where they should not--e.g. a shoeheel from the Triassic (i.e. 200 million years old), a nicely-made gold thread in sediments more than 320 million years old, a metallic jar more than 600 million years old in rocks from the Precambrian.
   Most solid is, however, the analysis of the fossil finds and the archeological procured objects, which are analyzed by the same method that paleoanthropology and archeology normally employ.  What is new, Thompson and Cremo say, is not the method, but the material that is under study.  If the established group of scientists delved into the suppressed material with an open mind, they would reach the same results.
   Since the arguments rest on a long list of examples, the authors expect that the serious critic will systematically refute them all; because that is what Thompson and Cremo have done, to systematically question the time-honored conceptions bit by bit.

Read Critically

   On the one hand, the authors have written an interesting history of science.  On the other hand, a genuine thriller.
   Part of the story is, however, that both the authors belong to the Bhaktivedanta Institute in San Diego, which is the academic center for ISKCON (The International Society for Krishna Consciousness),  a part of the Vaisnava religion from India (a branch of Hinduism).
   The authors--who are trained not only as scientists and mathematicians, but as monks--thus also have a missionary and theological perspective.  Their otherwise thorough academic argumentation can thus find support in the Vaisnava mythology, which actually describes the history of man and the geological development of the Earth in a way that is compatible with the conclusions Thompson and Cremo provide.
   One therefore has to read critically, but that one has to do always, anyway.
   A number of reviewers abroad have praised the book to the skies.  Others have condemned it as nonsense.  It seems, however, difficult to refute the concrete documentation as wrong quotations, manipulation with facts, etc.  More difficult is it--for me, also--to accept that the evolutionistic faith of our childhood is not so safe and sure anyway, even though it can be proved.
   Some, however, delight in the provocation.  Also, in Denmark there are religious scientists, who argue creationistic views (Christian thought).  More people would have a hard time to change horses midstream and ride along the creationistic path.
   By reading Thompson and Cremo’s book one can thus get a glimpse of the feeling the people of the church experienced when Darwin’s theory was presented.  The discussion is not only about facts.  It is about our self-perception as human beings and about our ideas of the world we live in.

Back to Home Page