The Discoveries of Belgian Geologist Aimé Louis Rutot at
An Unresolved Archeological Controversy from the Early Twentieth Century
by Michael A. Cremo, Historian of Archeology, Bhaktivedanta Institute,
Los Angeles, 9701 Venice Blvd. #5, Los Angeles, CA 90034, USA
Telephone: 1-310-837-5283, Fax: 1-310-837-1056, Email: email@example.com
In the early twentieth century, the Belgium geologist Aimé Louis
Rutot announced discoveries of stone tools in Oligocene formations in Belgium,
at sites such as Boncelles. The artifacts, although somewhat primitive, resembled
those made by modern humans, such as the Tasmanians. The discoveries attracted
considerable attention. They were discussed at scientific conferences and
were the subject of substantive articles in the scientific literature. For
some years after they were discovered, they were displayed in museums in Belgium.
However, because the discoveries contradicted the emerging consensus on human
evolution, they were eventually dropped from ordinary discourse in
archeology and the artifacts were removed from display, thus illustrating
the influence of theoretical conceptions in the treatment of evidence in the
prehistoric and protohistoric sciences. In this paper, I will explain how
my own theoretical conceptions, drawn from the ancient Sanskrit historical
texts, have influenced my perception of Rutot's discoveries and their subsequent
Why Do I Choose Boncelles?
From July 31 to August 5, 1909, the Archeological and Historical Federation
of Belgium held its 21st Congress in Liége. The Congress met in the
Museum of the Archeological Institute at the Maison Curtius, on the Quai de
Maestricht. One of the principal attractions of the Congress was to be a
lecture on archeological discoveries at Boncelles, presented by Aimé
Louis Rutot (1847-1933), conservator of the Royal Museum of Natural Sciences
in Brussels, who would also guide an excursion to the site.1
Boncelles is a small town about 10 kilometers south of Liège. In
1906, Émile de Munck, a collector of archeological materials, explored
a sandpit near here, and found some crude flint implements in an Oligocene
stratum. In those days, the idea of Tertiary man was still current among many
European archeologists, so Oligocene implements were not outside the realm
of possibility. The Boncelles artifacts therefore could have been yet another
eolithic industry, the earliest of a series that had already been found in
the Pliocene and Miocene. (“Ah, yes, the eoliths,” archeologists today
will sigh, remembering with an air of sad superiority the strange delusion
that had infected the minds of some of their illustrious predecessors, in
the pre-scientific era of their discipline.) De Munck reported his initial
discoveries to Rutot.2 Among the first specimens gathered by de Munck, there
were many flint flakes showing signs of fine retouching and utilization.3
“It was these implements, including a scraper with a clear bulb of percussion
and nicely retouched sharp edge, which convinced me that at the place pointed
out by de Munck there existed a deposit of Tertiary eoliths that deserved
to be explored and studied,” said Rutot.4 Rutot and de Munck collected additional
artifacts from Boncelles, and in 1907 Rutot wrote up the discoveries in a
report titled “A Grave Problem.”5 Rutot called the Boncelles industry the
Fagnian, after the name of the region, Hautes-Fagnes.The extreme antiquity
of the Fagnian artifacts from Boncelles did pose a grave problem to archeologists
of the early twentieth century, and the gravity of the problem has influenced
me, as an historian of archeology in the early twenty-first century, to select
this particular case for the topic of this paper. Why? Because in my
heart, I would like it to be true that hominids (perhaps even humans of our
type) used stone tools at Boncelles in the early Tertiary.
Method and Outlook
As I have mentioned in several of my works, I am a kind of creationist,
a kind of anti-evolutionist, but a rare one—some have called me a Hindu creationist,
others a Vedic creationist, still others a Krishna creationist.6 I accept
all of these designations. My work as an historian is indeed influenced by
the historical texts of ancient Indian, the Puranas, which tell of a human
presence on this planet going back hundreds of millions of years, to the very
beginnings of the earth’s history.7 It is this Vedic perspective that has
caused me to select Rutot’s report on Boncelles as a topic of inquiry and
governs my interpretation of it. The Oligocene age atributed to the artifacts
by Rutot is a clear sign to most historians of archeology and archeologists
that Boncelles is not of interest, and that something is definitely wrong
(the oldest hominids could be no more ancient that the early Pliocene, according
to currently dominant ideas). For me, the Oligocene age attributed to the
artifacts is a signpost that attracts my interest, and I think, “Maybe there’s
something to it.” Furthermore, Boncelles is not an isolated case. There are
hundreds of cases of archeological evidence for extreme human antiquity, consistent
with Vedic historical accounts, in the scientific literature of the past
150 years, as documented in my book Forbidden Archeology.8
Although I am guided in my historical research by my Vedic theoretical perspective,
it is not that I uncritically accept every archeological discovery that happens
to be consistent with Puranic accounts of extreme human antiquity. My procedure,
as an historian of archeology, is to consult primary published works, and
to also, whenever possible, visit the sites, examine the collections of artifacts,
and research the archives, for correspondence, field notes, and maps. Then
I make my judgment, which may be yes, no, or undecided.
This method naturally brings me in contact with working archeologists, and
in my interactions with them, I obtain, directly and indirectly, their perspectives
on the objects of my historical investigations. These current workers are
as much the objects of my study as the persons who studied prehistory and
protohistory in the past, such as Rutot. Therefore, I will not avoid speaking
about my contacts with them. In this sense, this paper is an ethnographic
study of contemporary archeologists in their museum habitat as well as an
exercise in history of archeology.9
Inevitably, history of science intersects with philosophy of science. Philosophically,
I confess to being a contructivist, although ultimately I shy away from total
relativism. We can agree to know at least something. Furthermore, I go along
with those who prefer a naturalized philosophy of science, one grounded in,
but not artificially limited by, the current and past practices and theories
of the discipline in question. I also am influenced by the reflexive approach
to science studies, as should be clear from the style of this paper. Other
labels that might be applied to me are antimaterialist, antireductionist,
and, to some extent, antirealist.
I oppose a rigid professionalization of scientific and scholarly inquiry,
and value a multicultural approach. As Ian Hodder of Cambridge University,
says (1997, p. ): “Day by day it becomes more difficult for a past controlled
by the academy. The proliferation of special interests on the ‘fringe’ increasingly
challenges or spreads to the dominant discourse itself . . . . Within this
unstable kaleidoscope, it is no longer so easy to see who is ‘in’ the academy
and who is ‘outside.’”14
A History of My Boncelles Studies
I first became interested in Rutot’s report on Boncelles when I was researching
my book Forbidden Archeology. At that time, I read Rutot’s 1907 report and
found it quite convincing. In October 1997, I was on a lecture tour of universities
in the Netherlands and Belgium. One of my stops was the Catholic University
of Louvain. My audience there was composed of archeologists Pierre Vermeersch
and Philip Van Peer and their students. I mentioned the Boncelles artifacts,
and was later assured by Van Peer and Vermeersch that they were false. In
fact, they said they sometimes used artifacts collected by Rutot from Boncelles
in classroom exercises, during which archeology students had to visually separate
real from false stone tools. So the Boncelles objects were false. How could
it be otherwise?
Still, I thought it would be good to have a look myself. I made some inquiries
at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and was put in touch with
archeologist Ivan Jadin. I made an appointment, and met him in the Institute’s
reception area. The scientific research sections of the Institute are housed
in a twenty story glass, brick, and steel tower that was erected in front
of the old museum buildings where Rutot had worked in the early twentieth
century. The archeology section is at the top of the building. On the elevator
ride up, Jadin told me that this arrangement—the mollusks on the bottom floors,
humans on the top—was deliberate on the part of a former director of the Institute,
reflecting the evolutionary progression of the development of life. After
we arrived on the nineteenth floor, Jadin took me into the storage rooms
of the archeology department. We pulled out a few large wooden trays of Rutot’s
artifacts, and loaded them into a trolley designed for transporting these
trays. We wheeled the trolley into the archeology lab. There I set the heavy
trays on tables, and went through them for about three hours, in a preliminary
way, taking a few pictures with my digital camera. Jadin also showed me in
the storage rooms a large drawer containing a collection of Rutot’s correspondence.
That stuck in my mind, because I wanted someday to go through that collection.
I mentioned to Ivan that I had heard Rutot was involved in psychical research.
It was true he said. He showed me an essay Rutot had written on the
topic.16 He promised to copy it for me and mail it to me. Toward the
end of my visit, we exchanged cards. I said I would like to come again to
do further research. He said I would be quite welcome, and that I could stay
in the Institute guest house nearby. Then it was time to go.
Three years later , in November 2000, Ana C. N. Martins, archeologist and
vice president of the Portuguese Association of Archaeologists, invited me
to give a paper at the symposium on the history of archeology that she was
organizing for XXIVth Congress of the International Union of Prehistoric and
Protohistoric Sciences, to be held in Liège, Belgium.17 I immediately
decided to do it on Rutot.
After the proposed paper was accepted by her and the Congress program committee,
I tried to get in touch with Ivan Jadin at the Royal Belgian Institute of
Natural Sciences, to arrange for a second research visit. But I got no reply.
I later learned from Anne Hauzeur, of the archeology section, that Ivan
was not then at the Institute because of illness, but she said I was welcome
to come and study the artifacts and papers of Rutot if I would first get
formal permission from the director, Daniel Cahen.
Of course, I was wondering how that would go, because I do have a little
bit of a reputation in history of science and archeology circles for my Vedic
creationist views.18 My formal request included acknowledgment of my
affiliation with the Bhaktivedanta Institute, and I directly said that I intended
to look at Rutot’s work at Boncelles in light of the Vedic historical writings.
Cahen replied that he had no objection.
I reported that to Anne, who then informed me that Vanessa Amormino, a graducate
student from the prehistory department at the University of Liège,
working under Marcel Otte, had been cataloguing Rutot’s papers. Anne wanted
me to get her permission to look at Rutot’s papers. So I wrote to Vanessa,
mentioning that I was planning on looking into Rutot’s documents, including
his correspondence. She had no objection and sent me a copy of her database,
which included entries for maps, illustrations, and manuscripts, but no correspondence.
She said she wasn’t aware of the box of correspondence that Jadin had shown
me. I wondered if I could have been mistaken.
On July 19, 2001, I showed up once more in the archeology section of the
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, accompanied by a photographer
assistant. Anne Hauzeur received me, and I began my work by looking through
a box of Rutot’s miscellaneous papers. Among them I found his collection of
calling cards, several hundred of them, including those of most of the leading
European and American archeologists of the day. And I was happy to see the
box of correspondence was also waiting for me on a trolley in the lab. At
this time, Anne was busy preparing a paper on a neolithic site in Luxemburg,
which she was presenting over the weekend at a conference in France. She
said that Dominic Bosquet, another staff archeologist could help me in her
Finding the Sandpit at Boncelles
I had my own plans for the weekend. I mentioned to Anne and Dominic that
I intended to search for the site at Boncelles. Both Anne and Dominic were
discouraging, telling me that the area had been extensively developed with
factories and shopping centers, and that the site would most probably
have been eradicated. Nevertheless, I was determined to give it a try.
In his report, Rutot provided the following information about the location
of the main site: “The discovery of the eoliths in question here were made
by de Munck in a sandpit situated alongside the main road from Tilft to Boncelles,
about 500 meters before arriving at the crossroads, at the place called Les
Gonhir.”19 Through friends in Antwerp, I found a young man who was willing
to spend a day driving my assistant and me to Boncelles to search for the
sandpit. We arrived in Boncelles in the late morning, and located the Tilft
road. We did find a crossroads (a small traffic circle), and stopped nearby.
From previous experience locating the sites of Ribeiro in Portugal, I had
learned that a good way to proceed is to find an elderly inhabitant to ask
for directions. Fortunately, we immediately spotted an elderly gentleman walking
up the road. My Belgian friend inquired from him, and we learned that the
very place we were standing was still called Les Gonhir. In fact, the surrounding
land was owned by the gentleman. We asked about the sandpit. He indicated
that there was indeed a sandpit up the road a few hundred meters. We asked
him to draw a map, and he did so, showing on it the entrance road, which
he said was blocked with a gate. We drove back up the Tilft road and found
the small unpaved road. Parking the car on the Tilft road, we walked some
distance down the little road and found the sandpit. A nearly vertical exposure
about 15-20 meters high extended for about two hundred meters. In one
place, it was apparently still being worked a little. I compared the layers
visible in the exposure at this place to the drawing of the strata in Rutot’s
report, and it was clear to me that we were seeing the exact same layers.20
Unfortunately, minor slumping had covered the implement-bearing layer of
flint at the base of the series.
Studying the Boncelles Collection
On returning to the Institute the next week, I once again met Anne Hauzeur,
who had returned from her conference. Together we went into the storage rooms
and pulled out several trays of Rutot’s artifacts from Boncelles, loaded them
into a trolley, and wheeled the trolley back into the archeology lab, where
Anne gave me and my photographer assistant some space to work. I began going
through the trays of artifacts, thousands altogether. One of my goals was
to match some of them to the illustrations in Rutot’s report. Somehow or
other, I was able to match about a dozen of them.
Dominic happened to have come out from his office to the lab, so I showed
him how I had matched some of the artifacts to the illustrations. I then mentioned
that I had found the sandpit at Boncelles. He asked, “Did you find any artifacts?”
Taking the expression semantically at face value, it is a simple question
that requires an answer, yes or no. But in the context of Belgian archeologists
working in the archeology laboratory of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural
Sciences, the expression takes on another value. It is not a question to
be answered, but an ironic comment on the falsity of the whole phenomenon
of Rutot. The ironic comment is not intended to draw a yes or no answer,
but a knowing smile or laugh, or a further contribution to the joke. However,
I chose to respond in a different way. I explained, in all seriousness, that
Rutot’s artifact-bearing flint bed at the base of the section was covered.
“I was just joking,” said Bosquet. “Oh, yes, of course,” I replied.
This “joking” is an example of disciplinary shop talk. The attitude that
underlies such joking is part of the phenomenon under study, the phenomenon
of the disciplinary suppression of uncomfortable evidence. The discomfort
is removed by the attitude of not taking the evidence seriously. This “not
taking seriously” is accomplished by various means, including the jokes and
ironic comments exchanged from time to time within the membership of the community
that finds the evidence uncomfortable or embarrassing.
Belgian Archeologists Embarrassed by Rutot
Belgian archeologists, particularly those connected with the museum housing
Rutot’s collection do have some interest in characterizing the Boncelles artifacts
as false. Once, Anne Hauzeur, came up to me as I was working. I suggested
that it might be good to do something special with the specimens I had matched
to the illustrations in Rutot’s report on Boncelles. She provided me with
some plastic bags and some cards for labeling. After bagging and labeling
the specimens with the figure numbers in Rutot’s 1907 report, I replaced
them in their original trays. At this time, she remarked casually to me,
“You know, it is a false collection.” I infer that she somehow did not quite
understand why I was spending so much time with the collection, even though
I had indicated that my interest was merely historical. Although I assume
she assumed that I did in fact know the collection was false, or had the
reputation of being false, there was perhaps some nagging doubt in her mind.
So she delivered her remark to me in an offhand way. She casually referred
me to a report by Marguerite Ulrix-Closset, comparing the Rutot collection
to accepted middle paleolithic specimens.21
There is a tradition of Belgian archeologists putting Rutot in his place,
sometimes with good reason.22 Of course, Rutot, in the course of his career
as a naturalist was quite a collector himself, and during his tenure as conservator
at the Royal Museum, was equally energetic in acquiring the collections of
others. It is undoubtedly true that some of his acquired collections, such
as the Dethise collections were false, in the sense that they included forgeries
or frauds.23 But we should not be too quick to adopt a condescending
attitude toward Rutot. In a recent editorial in Antiquity, we learn of the
possibility that “more than 1200 fake antiquities are displayed in some of
the world’s leading museums.”24 Nevertheless, the forgeries identified in
collections acquired by Rutot, perhaps combined with negative attitudes
towards Rutot’s involvement in psychical research, resulted in an almost total
rejection of Rutot’s entire body of archeological work.25 But it seems to
me that the dismissals may have been too extreme, with some good being thrown
out with the bad. No one has claimed that the Boncelles artifacts are forgeries,
or that any fraud was involved in their discovery or acquisition.
Admittedly, the eoliths of Boncelles are, if genuine, quite crude, but industries
of similar crudeness have won provisional acceptance among archeologists,
even though there may be remaining questions about the artifactual nature
of some of the specimens, or even the entire collection. For example, in a
recent volume of papers on the earliest occupation of Europe, Raposo and Santonja,
in connection with lithics found in the Gaudix-Baza depression in the Iberian
peninsula, comment on “doubts relating to the artifactual character of the
finds” reported by Carbonell et al.26 References to crude lithics accepted
by some researchers and rejected by others can be found throughout the same
volume. I believe the reason that they are mentioned in this book, and given
some serious consideration, is because they date back only as far as the
Early Pleistocene. If the Boncelles implements had been found in an Early
Pleistocene context instead of an Oligocene context, it is likely that they
would also have been mentioned in a contemporary discussion about the earliest
occupation of Europe.
A key issue in philosophy of science is the theory-laden nature of observation.
Given that most contemporary archeologists accept practically without question
that the very first hominids came into existence only about 5-6 million years
ago, it is no wonder that some such archeologists will find it necessary to
debunk, in some fashion, to the satisfaction of their peers, a collection
from perhaps 30 million years ago in the Oligocene. And it is natural that
the pressure to debunk would be most strongly felt by Belgian archeologists
who have to deal with the fact that Rutot was a prominent figure in the history
of Belgian archeology, and that his collections are still taking up space
in the storage rooms of their main museum of natural history, where he was
The Belgian archeologists are not alone in having to deal with such things.
In the case of Carlos Ribeiro, head of the geological Survey of Portugal in
the nineteenth century, I found that he originally displayed artifacts from
Portuguese sites with Miocene age attributions in the Museum of Geology in
Lisbon. Early in the twentieth century, museum officials, without disputing
the human manufacture of the artifacts, changed the age attributed to them
(from Miocene to well within the Pleistocene), apparently to fit them within
the developing paradigm of human evolution. Later the objects were removed
from display.27 In a paper I presented at the European Association of Archaeologists
meeting in 1999, I documented several other cases in which scientists had
dismissed evidence for Tertiary humans simply because it contradicted the
developing concepts of human evolution.28 For example, in the nineteenth century,
J. D. Whitney, the state geologist of California, reported anatomically modern
human skeletal remains and stone implements of advanced type (mortars and
pestles) from geological contexts now recognized as early Eocene.29 William
B. Holmes of the Smithsonian Institution dismissed the finds primarily on
theoretical grounds: “Perhaps if Professor Whitney had fully appreciated the
story of human evolution as it is understood today, he would have hesitated
to announce the conclusions formulated, notwithstanding the imposing array
of testimony with which he was confronted.”30 He therefore tried to cast doubt
on the provenance of the artifacts. In my 1999 paper, I proposed that the
acceptance of Pithecanthropus erectus of Dubois as a genuine human ancestor
in the early Pleistocene placed a limit on the age of any evidence for anatomically
modern humans. Holmes suggested that Whitney’s Tertiary evidence from California
should be rejected because “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 only.”31
Boncelles: The Provenance Seems Good
In the case of Rutot’s finds at Boncelles, the provenance of the artifacts
seems solid. We are not talking about surface finds, but about artifacts recovered
from a deposit of flint resting on Devonian sandstone beneath 15-20 meters
of Oligocene sand deposits. The sand at the pit from which artifacts were
first recovered did not contain any fossils, but at another pit 500 meters
to the northwest, the sand above the artifact-bearing flint bed yielded fossils
of an assemblage of shells generally accepted as Late Oligocene. The most
common species was Cytherea beyrichi. Rutot stated: “This shell is characteristic
of the Late Oligocene of Germany, notably the beds at Sternberg, Bünde,
and Kassel. . . . The other recognizable species (Cytherea incrassata, Petunculus
obovatus, P. philippi, Cardium cingulatum, Isocardia subtransversa, Glycimeris
augusta, etc.) are all found in the Late Oligocene.”32 Rutot's interpretation
of the stratigraphy at Boncelles is upheld by other authorities. Maurice
Leriche in 1922 and Charles Pomerol in 1982 both characterize the sands of
Boncelles as Chattian, or Late Oligocene.33
Schweinfurth quotes Rutot on the geological history of the Boncelles region:
“On the plateau (between the Maas and Ourtherivers), the primary stone was
covered with flint-bearing chalk, and during the Eocene period the chalk was
eroded away, leaving behind heaps of flint that later formed the flint beds.
At the beginning of the Late Oligocene a marine intrusion covered the flint
beds, depositing 15 meters of fossil-bearing sands over them.”34
Are the Boncelles Objects Really Artifacts?
Given the noncontroversial provenance of the Boncelles industry, Belgian
archeologists have rejected it by challenging its artifactual nature. My sense
is that the attempts to do this have not been met with any very critical evaluation.
The debunkings of Rutot have been seen as necessary, and have been all too
readily accepted by those who have a strong interesting in doing so. After
all, he was talking about tool using hominids in the Oligocene. That is quite
impossible, is it not? Something therefore has to be wrong, and if someone
takes on the duty of pointing out something wrong, who is going to offer
any objection, or subject the debunking to any heavy scrutiny?
Rutot, a veteran of the eolith wars, was himself prepared for challenges
to the artifactual nature of the Boncelles collection. According to Rutot,
the Boncelles tools were very simple ones. The Oligocene inhabitants just
picked up pieces of flint that appeared suitable for various tasks, modified
them slightly (to improve the working edge or make them easier to hold in
the hand), and then used them for various purposes. For Rutot, therefore,
the principal signs that the objects were artifacts rather than “naturefacts”
were chipping to improve gripping with the hand, chipping to make the working
edges more suitable for their task, and use marks on the working edges.
Among the Boncelles artifacts, Rutot found “numerous examples of all the
various Eolithic types, that is to say percuteurs (choppers), enclumes (anvils),
couteaux (cutters), racloirs (side scrapers), grattoirs (end scrapers), and
Among the percuteurs, Rutot identified several subtypes: the percuteur simple,
percuteur tranchant, the percuteur pointu, the tranchet, and the retouchoir.
The most common type was the percuteur tranchant, the sharpened chopper. “The
sharpened choppers collected at Boncelles,” wrote Rutot, “are as fine and
characteristic as possible. Clearly evident is the fact that most of the
flaking from usage is angled to the left, as always happens when an implement
is gripped in the right hand. The opposite occurs when it is employed with
the left hand.”36
I found among the Boncelles percuteurs a particularly convincing example
of a tranchet, with obvious removal of cortex and unifacial flaking to form
the working edge, which also shows apparent use marks.37 Searching through
thousands of Boncelles artifacts, I also found among the percuteurs the retouchoir
shown by Rutot in figure 7 of his report.38 The retouchoir, as its name implies,
is small percussion implement used in retouching the edges of other stone
tools. In his caption, Rutot says that the edges clearly show use marks, and
these can indeed be seen on the artifact.
In his report on Boncelles, Rutot gave this description of couteaux: “One
can see that couteaux are made from relatively long flakes of flint, blunt
on one side and sharp on the other. The blunt side generally retains the flint's
cortex. Prolonged usage of the blade turns the rectilinear edge into a sawlike
edge, with small irregular teeth. This is caused by chipping of the edge
when the blade is pressed against the irregularities of the surface of the
object being cut. The couteaux were not retouched. They were used for a long
time, until blunted by usage and polishing. It was rare that they were employed
until completely unusable. At Boncelles one finds couteaux of a very characteristic
type.”39 I happened to find in my research the couteau show in Rutot’s figure
In his report, Rutot described the racloir, or side scraper. The racloir
was ordinarily made from an oval flake, produced either naturally or by deliberate
flaking, with one of the longitudinal edges blunt and the opposite edge sharp.
After retouching for a suitable grip, the blunt edge was held in the palm
of the hand, and the sharp edge of the implement was moved along the length
of the object to be scraped. During this operation, series of small splinters
were detached from the cutting edge of the implement, thus dulling it. Rutot
stated: “The characteristic feature of the racloir, used as such, is the presence
along the working edge of a series of small chip marks, all arranged in the
same direction and located on the same side. When the implement became unusable,
it was possible to restore its edge with the retoucher stone, allowing it
to be further used.”41 In the Boncelles collection, I found the racloir pictured
in Rutot’s figure 9.42 Rutot’s caption said it had a bulb of percussion and
obvious use marks on the working edge. The bulb of percussion indicates that
this particular flake may have been deliberately struck from a core.
Rutot described another type of racloir discovered at the Boncelles sites:
“Frequently the working edge is not straight; it is finished by means of retouching
into one or more concave notches, probably for the purpose of scraping long
round objects. This is the notched racloir (racloir à encoche). Some
are made from natural flakes, others from flakes derived from deliberate
percussion.”43 I found in the Boncelles collection at the Royal Institute
of Natural sciences the racloir à encoche shown in figure 13 of Rutot’s
report.44 I also found other implements of this type that look quite convincing.
The next type of implement discussed by Rutot was the grattoir, another
broad category of scraper. According to Rutot, the grattoir differed from
the racloir “in that its working edge is employed longitudinally in relation
to the direction of the force of application, whereas the racloir is held
between the thumb and forefinger in such a manner to set the working edge
transverse to the direction of the force. When being used, the working edges
of the racloir and the grattoir are thus situated perpendicular to each other.”45
Rutot observed that in order to help the user direct and push the cutting
edge of the grattoir, these implements in many cases had special notches
to accommodate the thumb and forefinger. One such grattoir is shown in his
figure 26. I managed to find this grattoir in the Boncelles collection.46
I also located the large grattoir shown in Rutot’s figure 2747 and the notched
grattoir (grattoir à encoche) shown in Rutot’s figure 29.48
Rutot then described perçoirs (awls or borers). “These instruments,
also called poinçons,” he stated, “are characterized by the presence
of a sharp point, obtained by intentional modification of a natural flake
that already has a somewhat pointed shape.”49 I located in the Boncelles collection
two perçoirs shown in Rutot’s figures 32 and 33.50
According to Rutot, the Boncelles toolmakers had two ways of modifying a
naturally pointed flake to make an awl: “Sometimes the chipping on the two
edges making the point was done on just one side of the flake.
But sometimes one edge was chipped on the flake's front side, and the other
edge was chipped on the flake's back side. This procedure is convenient because
it allows all the blows to be struck in the same position and the same direction.
In effect, when the first edge is chipped, one flips the implement and chips
in the same place on the other edge to make a point.”51 Rutot showed a find
with this kind of chipping, unlikely to have occurred naturally, in his figure
34. I was able to locate this artifact in the collection.52 Rutot found other
objects that he characterized as throwing stones (pierres de jet) and flints
for lighting fires (briquets)
Comparison With Tasmanian Artifacts of Undisputed Human Manufacture
Rutot’s principal reponse to anticipated objections about the artifactual
nature of the Boncelles discoveries was to compare the Boncelles collection
to a collection of implements from Tasmania. Rutot said: “Hesitation is no
longer possible after the discovery of an industry fashioned by recently living
Tasmanians, which has been brought to our attention through the research conducted
by Dr. F. Noetling. The bringing to light of this industry is, as it were,
providential, because it demonstrates quite positively that eoliths are a
reality. The discovery shows that scarcely sixty years ago human
beings were making and using implements that are, according to competent and
impartial observers, absolutely of Eolithic type.”53 Rutot then said about
the Tasmanian industry: “We are . . . astonished to see its extraordinarily
primitive and rudimentary character. So the truth, after direct comparison,
is that the two industries [Boncelles and Tasmanian] are exactly the same
and that the Tasmanians, now annihilated, but still in existence just sixty
years ago, were at the same level of culture as the very primitive inhabitants
of Boncelles and the Hautes Fagnes. Only the materials from which the Tasmanian
tools were made were different--quartzite, diabase, granite, and similar types
of rock rather than flint.”54
In his report, Rutot compared illustrations of specific Tasmanian tools
to illustrations of specific Boncelles pieces. I have made a composite image
of these illustrations, and it can be seen that the Boncelles pieces are in
fact quite similar to the Tasmanian tools. I believe that Rutot used this
comparative method quite effectively to establish the artifactual nature of
his Boncelles collection. Of course, looking at drawings is one thing, and
looking at the actual implements is another. As always, the best thing is
to hold the implements in your own hands and look at them with you own eyes.
Fortunately, the Tasmanian collection is in the anthropology section of
the Royal Institute in Brussels. Anne Hauzeur had part of the collection
brought to the archeology lab for me to inspect and photograph. Lying on
one of the trays were some of the original museum exhibition panels, letters
brown with age. Hauzeur told me that it was good that these were there, because
in many cases, they provide the only available information about some of
the old collections in the museum. She told me that previous directors had
thrown out much of the documentation connected with these collections, including
In this Tasmanian collection I found some of the artifacts illustrated by
Rutot in his report. For example, I found the Tasmanian grattoir in Rutot’s
figure 51.55 In his caption, Rutot describes it as a natural flake used as
a grattoir. It is therefore analogous to most of the Boncelles implements
which are also natural flakes, slightly modified for use as grattoirs, racloirs,
etc. The Tasmanian grattoir, although smaller, is a good match for the Boncelles
grattoir shown by Rutot in his figure 27.56 Among the Tasmanian grattoirs
are many more that are not visibly different from some of the Boncelles grattoirs.57
I also found the Tasmanian notched grattoir (grattoir à encoche) in
Rutot’s figure 57,58 which Rutot compared to the Boncelles notched grattoir
in his figure 29.59 I found another Boncelles grattoir60 that greatly
resembles this Tasmanian grattoir. A Tasmanian racloir61 is very much like
many Boncelles racloirs.
I found in the Tasmanian collection a large perçoir62 that very closely
resembles the perçoir in Rutot’s figure 34.63 A smaller Tasmanian perçoir,
illustrated by Rutot in his figure 60 64 is comparable to many of the Boncelles
perçoirs, such as the one shown by Rutot in his figure 3265
Rutot’s comparison method was very effective. In other writings replied
to the standard objections to eoliths, namely that they could be produced
by the random action of natural forces, such as the contact of rocks in fast
moving streams, the action of waves, glaciers, pressure of overlying strata,
etc. He found ways distinguish between intentional and accidental chipping
Support for Rutot from his Correspondents
Rutot’s report on Boncelles, although controversial, received support from
several authorities, as can be seen from his correspondence with other researchers,
whose letters to Rutot contained: (1) favorable responses to his report on
Boncelles, (2) requests for specimens to display in museums, (3) discussions
related to Rutot’s upcoming presentations at scientific conferences, and (4)
promises to assist in raising money for future excavations at Boncelles.
William J. Sollas, professor of geology at Oxford University, wrote to Rutot
on July 22, 1907, after a visit to Belgium: “I am now again settled in my
customary work, but with my mind filled with pleasant images of the many things
I have seen and studied in Belgium, not the least delightful among thehm
being the wonderful series you so kindly and generously showed me of your
ancient implements. These have made a deep impression on me and I know understand
the full strength of your arguments in favor of eoliths. But I have learned
much besides this and can only very inefficiently express my thanks for the
many lessons you have taught me.”67
It seems that Sollas may have visited Boncelles with Rutot. In a letter
to Rutot, in connection with the upcoming Congress of the Archeological and
Historical Federation of Belgium in Liège, Marcel de Puydt, referred
to a passage from a letter by Rutot to him: “Your letter of 30 August touched
on other points of interest to our Congress. ‘25 very nice pieces,’ you wrote,
were found at Boncelles during your visit with an Englishman from the University
of Oxford, etc.”68
On January 20, 1910, Sollas wrote to Rutot, who had sent him a collection
of specimens from Boncelles: “Thank you for your kind letter informing me
of the dispatch of your generous present. The box reached me yesterday and
I have greatly admired its contents. I am arranging an exhibition for all
specimens relating to the appearance of man in the stratified rocks and shall
give a prominent place to the eoliths of Boncelles. I am very much impressed
with some of the characters these specimens display and await with great interest
the further developments of your discovery.”69
American anthropologist Frederick Starr of the University of Chicago wrote
to Rutot on December 29, 1908: “I have received the copy of ‘Un grave problème’
and have read it with care and interest. I am now making an effort to raise
the money that you suggest. I cannot of course know what success I shall meet.
I feel sure I shall accomplish something. . . . Thank you for the collection
sent me. I shall be glad indeed to have it. I will acknowledge its receipt
when it comes.”70
Florentino Ameghino, a geologist and archeologist from the National Museum
of Buenos Aires, Argentina, received from Rutot a copy of his report on Boncelles
and wrote a letter back to Rutot on August 16, 1910. After carefully studying
the drawings and descriptions of the implements, Ameghino concluded: “It remains
for me absolutely certain that during the Middle or Upper Oligocene there
was in Europe an intelligent being who intentionally broke stones.”71 Ameghino
had himself published reports of stone tools, hearths, and cut bones from
Miocene sites in Argentina.72
My Disagreements with Rutot
I disagree with Rutot on two central points—the level of workmanship displayed
in the Boncelles implements and the identity of their users.
Rutot believed that all of the Boncelles implements were simply natural
pieces or flakes of flint that were picked up and used as tools, with only
minor modification to improve the gripping surface or the working edge or
edges. It appears to me, however, that Rutot’s own observations demonstrate
that some of the flakes or pieces of flint may have been deliberately struck
from cores for further modification into tools.
Rutot noted: “In the case of grattoirs as well as racloirs, there are some
that bear very well marked bulbs of percussion.”73 For example, Rutot says
the grattoir in his figure 24, which displays nice use marks, is made on a
flake with a bulb of percussion.74 “I do not, however,” said Rutot, “consider
these flakes to have been intentionally made for use as implements. I believe
that the flakes with the bulb of percussion were detached involuntarily from
the edges of stone anvils while they were being struck by hammer stones. These
detached flakes were usable as tools just as were the sharp natural flakes
found nearby. And they were in fact used like them, but they were not deliberately
struck for this purpose.”75
I wonder how Rutot could say with such certainty that the flakes made into
implements were not deliberately struck for that purpose, especially the ones
with bulbs of percussion. Many authorities on lithic technology, such as
Leland W. Patterson, take bulbs of percussion to be a clear sign of intentional
I submit that Rutot was fitting the physical evidence to his own framework
of evolutionary ideas. He apparently wanted to characterize the makers of
the Oligocene industry of Boncelles as more primitive than the makers of later
industries in the Tertiary and Quaternary. But leaving aside Rutot's evolutionary
expectations, there is good reason to conclude that some of the Boncelles
tools were made from flakes intentionally struck for this purpose. Florentino
Ameghino, who had done a lot of experimental work in making stone tools himself,
was also of this opinion. In his letter to Rutot on the Boncelles discoveries,
he described several features of the artifacts, including bulbs of percussion,
that led him to conclude: “Natural causes are absolutely incapable of producing
similar pieces. The objects present the characteristics of intentional debitage
in a manner even more evident than in my quartzite pieces from the broken
stone industry of Monte Hermoso.”77
Let’s now consider the identity of Boncelles toolmaker. In his initial report,
Rutot was somewhat ambiguous, stating: “Who was the intelligent being? Was
it merely a precursor of the human kind, or was it already human?”78 But he
soon began to favor the idea of a precursor. Dr. Ewald Wüst wrote to
Rutot on January 24,1908, congratulating him on his work at Boncelles. But
then he asked: “So who was the user of these Oligocene eoliths? I personally
don’t have any doubts that it was some kind of intelligent being . . . . But
as for a human being in the Middle Oligocene, it cannot think it possible.
I think it is about time that it be seriously and rationally investigated,
as to whether or not living apes use eoliths.”79 In other words, he was suggesting
that perhaps it was some kind of apeman who made and used the Boncelles implements.
I found a reply written by Rutot to Wüst on 5 January 1908 on stationary
of the Musée Royal d’Histoire Naturelle de Belgique.80 On the question
of the intelligent being that used the eoliths at Boncelles, Rutot referred
Wüst to the recent work of Florentino Ameghino, who believed that the
first appearance of intelligent beings capable of using instruments was relatively
ancient (at least Eocene).81 Rutot summarized Ameghino’s views thus: “All
the apes, including the anthorpoid apes, came into existence during the Miocene
and their brutish descendants come from a stock with only the most primitive
intelligence. Therefore, it is not among the apes that one should search for
the precusor of humans, because the precursor is more ancient than the apes.”
In his later works, Rutot very definitely identified the human precursor
who used the Boncelles implements with a creature related to the Pithecanthropus
erectus of Dubois. For example in La Prehistoire, Rutot says: “Are we able
to conceive the external form of the precursors of humans in the Tertiary
epoch? It would be proper to answer this question negatively, because no skeletal
remains from the primitive beings of that age are yet known to us. Nevertheless,
we do have a partial cranium and another bone from Pithecanthropus of Java,
who is without a doubt very closely related to the race of precursors.”82
Rutot also commissioned the sculptor L. Mascré to make a life-sized
bust of the Tertiary human precursor of Boncelles as part of an entire series
of busts showing the various stage of human evolution.83 The busts are still
in the storage rooms of the Laboratory for Anthropologie and Prehistory at
the Royal Beligian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels.
In his identification of the makers of the Boncelles tools, Rutot was influenced
by his evolutionary ideas. But if he could call the Oligocene tools identical
to those made by anatomically modern humans in Tasmania during the Holocene,
it is not apparent to me why the makers of the Boncelles tools could not have
been physiologically identical to the modern Tasmanians. Therefore, it would
be best to return to Rutot’s original conclusion, which leaves open the possibility
that the toolmakers of Boncelles could have been human: “When we take into
consideration the analogies, or rather the identities, between the Oligocene
eoliths of Boncelles and the modern eoliths of the Tasmanians, we find ourselves
confronted with a grave problem--the existence in the Oligocene of beings
intelligent enough to manufacture and use definite and variegated types of
implements. Who was the intelligent being? Was it merely a precursor of the
human kind, or was it already human? This is a grave problem--an idea that
cannot but astonish us and attract the attention and the interest of all
those who make the science of humanity the object of their study and meditation”84
A couple of years ago, I attended an advance screening of a remake of the
classic Japanese monster film Godzilla in Los Angeles. The brother of John
Griesser, a filmaker friend of mine, was involved in making the computer-generated
special effects for the film. During the screening it appeared at one point
late in the film that the monster Godzilla was dead. Everyone breathed a sigh
of relief. But suddenly Godzilla jumped to life again, and the thrills continued.
The false ending is common Hollywood scriptwriter’s technique. And it would
seem that archeologists have perhaps written a false ending to the Boncelles
Future researchers may note: (1) The principal Boncelles sandpit site still
exists,and can be further explored. (2). The Rutot collection is still being
carefully kept in the archeology department of the Royal Belgian Institute
of Natural Sciences, and can be further studied. In that collection one can
now easily find the specific implements illustrated by Rutot in his 1907 report
on Boncelles. (3) There are letters in Rutot’s correspondence drawer at the
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences that relate to the Boncelles discoveries.
(4) The Boncelles implements do display good signs of intentional work. (5)
The Boncelles implements do convincingly resemble crude stone tools admitted
to be of human manufacture, i.e. the tools in the Tasmanian collection in
the anthropology department. (6) Rutot did give convincing replies to those
who thought eoliths were in all cases the product of natural forces only.
(7) the commitment of some archeologists to orthodox views on hominid evolution
may prevent them from objectively considering the possibility of Oligocene
stone tools. (8) Rutot’s own evolutionary conceptions prevented him from
seriously considering the possibility that the makers of his Boncelles tools
were fully human. The Oligocene implements of Boncelles therefore remain “un
I thank Daniel Cahen, director of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural
Sciences for his permission to study the Rutot artifacts and documents in
the Institute’s collections. I thank Anne Hauzeur and the staff of the archeology
department for giving me and my photographer assistant space to work in the
archeology laboratory, and for making all the practical arrangements for me
to study the artifacts and documents of interest to me. I am grateful to
Lori Erbs, my research assistant, for obtaining documents from various libraries
around the world. For financial assistance I am grateful to the Trustees
of the Bhakivedanta Book Trust. I also thank Ana C. N. Martins for inviting
me to give this paper.
References and Notes:
1. See the letters to Rutot from Marcel de Puydt, president of the Congress
section for prehistory and protohistory. The letters can be found in the Rutot
correspondence drawer, in a folder labeled “De Puydt,” in the storage room
of the archeology department (in the Laboratory of Anthropology and Prehistory)
on the nineteenth floor of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
at Rue Vautier 29, Brussels, B-1000 Belgium. The letters of special interest
are dated August 18, September 16, and December 18, 1908.
2. Rutot had long been a supporter of the eolithic industries from the Miocene
of Cantal, in France; from the Pliocene of the Kent Plateau in England, and
from the Pliocene of St. Prest in France. He also identified a series of eolithic
industries in the Early Pleistocene of Belgium—the Reutelian, Mafflian, and
Mesvinien. For a review see Rutot, A. (1918) La Préhistoire. Prèmiere
Partie. Brussels: Les Naturalistes Belges.
3. Rutot, A. (1907) Un grave problème. Une industrie humaine datant
de l’epoque oligocène. Bulletin de la Sociètè Belge de
Géologie de Paleontologie et d’Hydrologie. Tome XXI: 439-482, this
note p. 442.
4. Rutot, A. (1907) Un Grave Problème, pp. 442-443.
5. For another early report on Boncelles, see Rutot, A. (1909) Une industrie
éolithique antérieure à l’Oligocene supérieur
ou Aquitanien. Congrès préhistorique de France. Compte-rendu.
IVe Session Chambery, France, 1908. Le Mans, pp. 90-104.
6. Feder, Kenneth L. (1994) Forbidden Archeology (book review). Geoarchaeology,
9(4):337-340. Feder (p. 337) wrote, “The book itself represents something
perhaps not seen before; we can fairly call it 'Krishna creationism' with
no disrespect intended." Feder added, "While decidedly antievolutionary in
perspective, this work is not the ordinary variety of antievolutionism in
form, content, or style. In distinction to the usual brand of such writing,
the authors use original sources and the book is well written. Further, the
overall tone of the work is superior to that exhibited in ordinary creationist
literature." Marks, Jonathan (1994) Forbidden Archeology (book review).
American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 93(1):140-141. Marks (p. 141) described
my work as “Hindu-oid creationist drivel.” Wodak, Jo, and Oldroyd, David
(1996) Vedic creationism: a further twist to the evolution debate. Social
Studies of Science, 26:192-213. Wodak and Oldroyd (p. 207) said: “Forbidden
Archeology (FA) offers a brand of Creationism based on something quite different,
namely ancient Vedic beliefs. From this starting point, instead of claiming
a human history of mere millennia, FA argues for the existence of Homo sapiens
way back into the Tertiary, perhaps even earlier.” The full texts of these
reviews and many other responses to FA can be found in Cremo, M. A. (1998)
Forbidden Archeology’s Impact. Los Angeles, Bhaktivedanta Book Publishing,
along with papers by me outlining in greater detail my Vedic creationist
7. Cremo, M A. (1999) Puranic Time and the Archeological Record. In Murray,
Tim, ed. Time and Archaeology. Routledge, London, pp. 38-48.
8. Cremo, M. A., and Thompson, R. L. (1993) Forbidden Archeology. San Diego:
9. As a Vedic creationist, I have arrived on the shores of Archeology, much
as Malinowski arrived on the shores of the Trobriand Islands. I have learned
enough of the language and customs to establish contact and gain some slight
entry to the life of the natives. Nevertheless, as a visiting Vedic creationist,
I have my own intellectual “tent” in which I live, a recondite inner shelter
of traditions and cultural ways alien to those of the archeologists in whose
midst I sometimes find myself. For me, “going native” would be to become
an assistant professor of archeology. But that is not my purpose. What
is my purpose? That may be as difficult for a professional archeologist to
ascertain as for a Trobriand Islander to have ascertained the true purpose
of a Malinowski. Of course, I am not just arriving physically on the island
of archeology, by becoming personally present at archeological sites, archeological
laboratories, archeological museums, and archeological conferences, such as
this one. Beyond that, my texts, including this paper, are arriving into the
community of archeological texts. And how will this text be received by the
native texts? Will my text be ignored, or attacked? Will it win some
little grudging external toleration, or will there perhaps be some rare instances
in which my text is allowed entrance into the hidden cultural textways of
the archeologists. In other words, will this text become enmeshed in archeological
intertextuality, perhaps by appearing in a conference proceedings volume
along with native archeological texts and being drawn into the even deeper
realm of citation?
10. Garfinkel, Harold (1967) Studies in Ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs,
N.J.: Prenctice Hall.
11. Flynn, Pierce J. (1991) The Ethnomethodological Movement: Sociosemiotic
Interpretations. Berlin, Mouton de Gruyter.
12. Flynn, Pierce J. (1991) The Ethnomethodological Movement, p. 27.
13. Flynn, Pierce J. (1991) The Ethnomethodological Movement, p. 250.
14. Hodder, Ian (1997) ‘Always momentary, fluid, and flexible’: toward a
reflexive excavation methodology. Antiquity 71:691-700 (pp. 699-700).
15. I wrote in a paper presented at a conference on science and culture:
“[Archeologists and others] were reacting to Forbidden Archeology in much
the same way as some art critics of the 1960s reacted to the Brillo box sculptures
of Andy Warhol. The Brillo boxes were not art, it appeared to some critics,
but these critics could not help commenting upon them as if they were art.
And thus the boxes were, after all, art, or as good as art. I suppose it is
true, in some sense, that Forbidden Archeology is not real archeology, and
that I am not a real archeologist (or historian of archeology). And, for
that matter, neither is this paper a ‘real’ paper, and neither am I a ‘real’
scholar. I am an agent of Gaudiya Vaishnavism [one of the branches of Hindu
religion], with an assigned project of deconstructing a paradigm [modern
scientific concepts of human evolution], and this paper and Forbidden Archeology
are part of that project. And yet Forbidden Archeology is reviewed in AJPA
[American Journal of Physical Anthropology] and Geoarchaeology, and this
paper is read by me at an academic conference on science and culture, just
like Warhol's Brillo boxes were displayed in galleries for purchase by collectors
rather than stacked in supermarkets.” Page 22 in Cremo, M. A. (1998)
The Reception of Forbidden Archeology: An Encounter Between Western Science
and a Non-Western Perspective on Human Antiquity. Presented at Kentucky State
University Institute of Liberal Studies, Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Conference:
Science and Culture,Frankfort, Kentucky, March 30 -- April 1, 1995. In Cremo,
M. A., ed. Forbidden Archeology’s Impact. Los Angeles, Bhaktivedanta Book
Publishing, pp. 14-40.
16. Rutot, A. (1928) Spiritisme, Métapsychisme, Energétisme,
Néovitalisme. Brussels. H. Wellens, W. Godenne, and Co. Rutot also
published other writings on this topic, and had an extensive correspondence
on parapsychology. For a time, Rutot served as president of the Belgian Coucil
for Metapsychical Research. His combination of research into archeological
anomalies and the paranormal is highly interesting to me.
17. I presented a paper in Ana’s section at the 1999 European Association
of Archeologists Annual meeting in Bournemouth, England. The paper (“Forbidden
archeology of the Paleolithic: how Pithecanthropus influenced the treatment
of evidence for extreme human antiquity”) is to be included in a forthcoming
conference proceedings volume edited by Ana for British Archaeological Reports.
I presented another paper in Ana’s section at the European Association of
Archeologists 2000 meeting, which was held in Lisbon. The Lisbon paper was
on the Miocene archeological discoveries of the nineteenth-century Portuguese
geologist Carlo Ribeiro (“The discoveries of Carlos Ribeiro: a controversial
episode in nineteenth-century European archeology”).
18. In terms of my ethnomethodological research orientation, I regard my
request to study the Rutot collection at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural
Sciences (and my presence at this Congress) as a “breaching” technique. Flynn
(1991, The Ethnomethodological Movement, pp. 253-254) says, “Both the surrealists
and ethnomethodological movement utilized idiosyncratic devices and means
to ‘breach’ the normal routines of social reality in order to render them
strange. . . . For the ethnographic surrealists, concrete cultural objects,
whether foreign or local, were used to play a disruptive, illuminatory role
. . . objects sauvages were a source of the surrealist’s disposition toward
forcing a breach of perception and encouraging ‘making the familiar strange.’
Garfinkel has utilized similar ‘breaching’ procedures for rendering the commonplace
society ‘anthropologically strange.’ . . . . He led students in ‘incongruity
experiments’ such as inventing new rules during at TickTackToe game; engaging
friends in conversation and insisting that the person clarify the meaning
of common place remarks; entering stores and treating customers as if they
were clerks or a maitre d.” I detected that my two weeks of research in the
archeology laboratory of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science, during
which an assistant and I were continually preoccupied in the tasks of examining
and photographing the Boncelles artifacts, regarded as false by the staff,
did breach the normal routines and appearance of the lab, inducing a degree
of strangeness for the staff. Still, my presence was tolerated, for I have,
however imperfectly, mastered the techniques of “becoming the phenomena.”
Mehan and Wood (Mehan, Hugh and Wood, Houston  The Reality of Ethnomethodology.
New York. John Wiley and Sons.1975, p. 227) say, “If the purpose of the research
is to know the reality of the phenomenon, then the researcher must begin
by first becoming the phenomenon.” The purpose of my research in this case
was, and is, to know the phenomenon of disciplinary suppression of anomalous
evidence in archeology. The only way to do this was, and is, to establish
myself as part of the phenomenon.
19. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, p. 442.
20. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, fig. 1, p. 443.
21. In my Forbidden Archeology, I examined the phenomenon of the definitive
debunking report: “In paleoanthropology, we sometimes encounter the definitive
debunking report—a report that is repeatedly cited as having decisively invalidated
a particular discovery or general category of evidence.” (p. 151) “. . . researchers
who share a certain bias (in this case a prejudice against evidence for Tertiary
humans) cooperate by citing a poorly constructed ‘definitive debunking report’
(in this case by Breuil) as absolute truth in the pages of authoritative
books and articles in scientific journals. It is a very effective propaganda
technique. After all, how many people will both to dig up Breuil’s original
article . . . and, applying critical intelligence, see for themselves if
what he had to say really made sense.” (p. 164) “Barnes’s 1939 paper is typical
of the definitive debunking report, which can be conviently cited again and
again to completely resolve a controversial question, making any further
consideration of the matter superfluous. But on close examination, it appears
that Barnes’s definitive debunking report may be in need of some debunking
itself.” (p. 168)
22. For a review of the orthodox opinion of Rutot held by the generations
of archeologist that immediately followed him, see Stockmans, F., (1966) Notice
sur Aimé Louis Rutot. Annales de l’Académie royale de Belgique,
132e année, 123 pp. Stockmans said, “For those of my generation, who
came to know of him toward the end of his life, his name invariably evoked
the image of a credulous but honest man fooled by forgers and who talked with
the dead.” (p. 24). Rutot’s interest in psychical research damaged his overall
23. De Heinzelin, Jean (1959) Déclassement de la collection Dethise.
Bulletin de l’Institut Royal des Sciences naturelles de Belgique 35 (11) 27pp.
See also De Heinzelin, J., Orban, R., Roels, D., and Hurt, V. (1993) Ossements
humains dits néolithiques de la région de Mons (Belgique), une
évaluation. Bulletin de l’Institut Royal des Sciences naturelles de
Belgique 63: 311-336.
24. Stoddart, Simon, and Malone, Caroline (2001) Editorial. Antiquity 75(288):233-245,
p. 238, citing Muscarella, O. W. (2000) The lie became great: the forgery
of Ancient Near Eastern cultures. Groningen: Unesco/Styx Publications.
25. De Heinzelin, Jean (1957) Fagnien, Reutelien, Strépyien, Mesvinien,
Flénusien, Spiennien, Omalien. Lexique stratigraphique international.
Vol. 1, fasc. 4b, Paris.
26. Raposo, L, and Santonja, M. 1995. The earliest occupation of Europe:
the Iberian peninsula. In W. Roebroeks and T. Van Kolfschoten (eds) The Earliest
Occupation of Europe. Proceedings of the European Science Foundation Workshop
At Tautavel (France), 1993. Analecta Praehistorica Leidensia, Vol. 27. Leiden:
University of Leiden, pp. 7-25. Carbonell, E., Canal, J., and Sabchiz, N.
(1982) Cueva Victoria (Murcia, España): lugar de ocupación más
antiguo de la Peninsula ibérica. Endins 8:47-57. Palma de Mallorca.
27. Cremo, M.A. (2000) The Discoveries of Carlos Ribeiro: A Controversial
Episode in Nineteenth-Century European Archeology. European Association of
Archaeologists Sixth Annual Meeting, Lisbon, Portugal. September 10-16. Unpublished,
but available on request.
28. Cremo, M. A. (forthcoming) Forbidden Archeology of the Paleolithic.
European Association of Archeologists Fifth Annual Meeting. Bournemouth,
England, Sept. 15-18, 1999. Selected for publication in a conference proceedings
volume edited by Ana C. N. Martins for British Archaeological Reports.
29. Whitney, J. D. (1880) The auriferous gravels of the Sierra Nevada
of California. Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology Memoir 6
(1). See Cremo and Thompson (1993) Forbidden Archeology pp. 368-394 and pp.
439-451 for a review and discussion.
30. Holmes, W. H. (1899. Review of the evidence relating to auriferous gravel
man in California. In Smithsonian Institution Annual Report 1898–1899: 419–472.
Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution, p. 470
31. Holmes, W. H. (1899. Review of the evidence relating to auriferous gravel
man in California, p. 470.
32. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, p.447.
33. Leriche, M. (1922) Les terrains tertiaires de la Belgique. Congrès
Géologique International (13e, Bruxelles), Livret-Guide des Excursions
en Belgique, A4:1-46. p. 10. Pomerol, C. (1982) The Cenozoic Era. Chichester,
34. Schweinfurth, G. (1907) Über Rutot’s Entdeckung von Eolithen in
beligischen Oligocän. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 39:958-959, p.
35. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, p. 444.
36. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, pp. 452-453.
37. Tray 2768 Box 4 (my numbers 25A,B). The trays are shelved in the archeology
storage rooms of the Laboratory for Anthropology and Prehistory on the 19th
floor of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences building at Rue Vautier
29, B-1000 Brussels, Belgium. The rows of boxes within each tray do not have
numbers on them. I took the box at the top left of the tray to be the first,
and mentally numbered the boxes from left to right in the top row. I then
went down to the next row, and again mentally numbered the boxes from left
to right. Lying among the artifacts in the boxes are labels indicating the
tool type (grattoir, racloir, percuteur, etc.). Some of the labels are quite
old, apparently from the original exhibitions of the artifacts in the Royal
Belgian Museum of Natural Sciences organized by Rutot himself. Other labels
appear to be more recent. “My numbers” refers to the artifact identification
numbers shown in my 35mm slides.
38. Tray 2678, Box 5 (my number 26A), matches Rutot (1907) Un grave problème,
fig. 7, p. 454. I placed all artifacts matching Rutot’s figures in plastic
bags, along with identifying labels, before returning them to their boxes
in the trays, making it easier to find them.
39. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, p. 456.
40. Tray 2766, Box 5 (my numbers 5A,B,C), matches Rutot (1907) Un grave
problème, fig. 9, p. 456.
41. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, p. 458.
42. Tray 2766, Box 5 (my numbers 7A,B,C), matches Rutot (1907) Un grave
problème, fig. 10, p. 458.
43. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, p. 459.
44. Tray 2769, Box 6 (my number 30), matches Rutot (1907) Un grave problème,
fig. 13, p. 458.
45. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, p. 462.
46. Tray 2770, Box 11 (my number 31), matches Rutot (1907) Un grave problème,
fig. 26, p. 463.
47. Tray 2767, Box 2 (my number 19), matches Rutot (1907) Un grave problème,
fig. 27, p. 463.
48. Tray 2767, Box 2 (my number 18A,B), matches Rutot (1907) Un grave problème,
fig. 29, p. 463.
49. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, p. 464.
50. Tray 2767, Box 8 (my number 23A,B), matches Rutot (1907) Un grave problème,
fig. 32, p. 465; Tray 2767, Box 8 (my number 22A,B), matches Rutot (1907)
Un grave problème, fig. 33, p. 465.
51. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, pp. 464-465.
52. Tray 2767, Box 8 (my number 10A,B), matches Rutot (1907) Un grave problème,
fig. 34, p. 465.
53. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, pp.448-449.
54. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, p. 468. Rutot may have exaggerated
the similarities. It is likely that the Tasmanian industry as a whole included
some pieces more advanced than the typical specimens of Boncelles. Nevertheless,
the Tasmanian industry does contain a good many implements that are quite
similar to those of Boncelles, as I have seen in my firsthand study of the
collections of the two industries at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural
55. Tasmanian collection, unmarked tray, Box 1 (my number 41A), matches
Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, fig. 51, p. 475. Resembles my number
19. Trays of Tasmanian implements are from the anthropology section of the
Laboratory of Anthropology and Prehistory at the Institute.
56. Boncelles collection, Tray 2767, Box 2 (my number 19), matches Rutot
(1907) Un grave problème, fig. 27, p. 463.
57. See for example the two Tasmanian grattoirs from Tray 3246, Box 8, which
are numbered in my slides as 37A and 40A.
58. Tasmanian collection,Tray 3246, Box 4, (my number 34A,B), matches Rutot
(1907) Un grave problème, fig. 57, p. 476.
59. Boncelles collection, Tray 2767, Box 2 (my number 16A,B), matches Rutot
(1907) Un grave problème, fig. 29, p. 463.
60. Boncelles collection, Tray 2767 Box 1 (my number 13A), matches Rutot
(1907) Un grave problème, fig. 57, p. 476 (my number 34A,B).
61. Tasmanian collection, Unnumbered Tray, Box 5 (my number 42A).
62. Tasmanian collection, Unnumbered Tray, Box 8 (my numbers 43A,B, resembles
my number 21A,B).
63. Boncelles collection, Tray 2767, Box 8 (my numbers 21A,B), matches Rutot
(1907) Un grave problème, fig. 34, p. 465.
64. Tasmanian collection, Tray 3246 Box 7 (my numbers 36A,B), matches Rutot
(1907) Un grave problème, fig. 60, p. 476.
65. Boncelles collection, Tray 2767, Box 8(my numbers 23A,B), matches Rutot
(1907) Un grave problème, fig. 32, p. 465.
66. See for example: Rutot, A. (1902) Les industries primitives. Défense
des éolithes. Les actions naturelles possibles sont inaptes a produire
des effets semblables à la retouche Intentionelle. Bulletin de la Société
d’Anthropologie de Bruxelles. Tome XX, Memoire n. III, pp. 1-68; Rutot, A.
(1906) Éolithes et pseudo-éolithes. Bulletin de la Société
d’Anthropologie de Bruxelles. Tome XXV, Memoire n. I, pp. 1-29; Rutot, A.
(1909), Un homme de science peut-il, raisonnablement, admettre l’existence
des industries primitives, dites éolithiques? Bulletins et Mémoires
de la Sociéte d’Anthropologie de Paris. Ve Series, Tome X, pp.
447-473. In Forbidden Archeology, I also reviewed and critiqued attempts
to debunk eoliths and other crude stone tool industries by appealing to natural
forces (see pp. 151-177, for example).
67. Rutot Correspondence Drawer, Folder “Correspondents S.”
68. Rutot Correspondence Drawer, Folder “De Puydt.”
69. Rutot Correspondence Drawer, Folder “Correspondents S.”
70. Rutot Correspondence Drawer, Folder “Correspondents S.”
71. Rutot Correspondence Drawer, Folder “Ameghino.”
72. See for example Ameghino, F. (1908) Notas preliminaires sobre el Tetraprothomo
argentinus, un precursor del hombre del Mioceno superior de Monte Hermoso.
Anales del Museo nacional de historia natural de Buenos Aires, 16:105-242.
73. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, p. 462.
74. Boncelles collection, Tray 2767, Box 2 (my numbers 15A,B), matches Rutot
(1907) Un grave problème, fig. 24, p. 462.
75. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, pp. 462, 464.
76. Patterson, L. W. (1983) Criteria for determining the attributes of man-made
lithics. Journal of Field Archaeology, 10:297-307.
77. F. Ameghino to A. Rutot, August 16, 1910. Rutot Correspondence Drawer,
78. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, p. 480.
79. Rutot Correspondence Drawer, Folder “Correspondents W.”
80. Rutot Correspondence Drawer, Folder “Correspondents W.” This is the
only copy of a letter by Rutot that I found in the collection. It could be
a letter that for some reason was not sent by Rutot, or it could be a copy
or first draft of a letter that was sent.
81. Boule, M., and Vallois, H. V. (1957) Fossil Men, London, Thames and
Hudson, p. 491: “Ameghino also recorded facts of the same kind from more
ancient deposits dating, according to him, from the Oligocene and even from
the Eocene.” Ameghino, F. (1912) L’age des formations sedimentaires tertiaires
de l’Argentine en relation avec l’antiquité de l’homme. Anales de
Museo nacional de historia natural de Buenos Aires, 22:45-75. In this work
(p. 72) Ameghino referred to “eoliths, which we find in our formations at
the close of the Eocene and which differ from those of Boncelles in Belgium
in that they are of much smaller size.”
82. Rutot, A. (1918) La Préhistoire. Première Partie. Brussels.
Les Naturalistes Belge, p. 24, see also figures 19 and 20, p. 23. Rutot’s
statement that there were no discoveries of human bones from the early Tertiary
is not entirely true. J. D. Whitney reported anatomically modern human skeletal
remains from formations in Calfornia that are now given an Eocene age. Whitney,
J. D. 1880. The Auriferous Gravels of the Sierra Nevada of California. Harvard
University, Museum of Comparative Zoology Memoir 6(1). My Forbidden Archeology
documents additional reports of discoveries of anatomically modern human skeletal
remains from the Tertiary and even earlier.
83. For photographs of the entire series see Rutot, A. (1919) Un Essai de
Reconstitution plastique de quelques Races humaines primitives. Brussels.
Hayez, Imprimeur de l’Académie Royale de Belgique. For photographs
and description of the Tertiary human precursor, identified with the Boncelles
industry, see pp. 11-14, fig. 1, and plate 1.
84. Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, pp. 480-481.
85. And they are not alone. Rutot concluded that eoliths from other Belgian
sites were also of Oligocene age, such as eoliths found at Baraque Michel
and in a cave at Fonds de Forêt, north of the cavern at Bay Bonnet.
Rutot (1907) Un grave problème, p. 479.
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