Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Great Paleolithic WarHow Science Forged an Understanding of America's Ice Age Past$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

David J. Meltzer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226293226

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226293363.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 16 September 2021

Establishing the American Paleolithic, 1872–1881

Establishing the American Paleolithic, 1872–1881

(p.41) Chapter Three Establishing the American Paleolithic, 1872–1881
The Great Paleolithic War

David J. Meltzer

University of Chicago Press

In 1872, Charles Abbott started finding artifacts in Delaware River gravels at Trenton, NJ, similar to European paleoliths. That discovery caught the eye of Harvard's Frederic Putnam, who provided financial aid, moral support and scientific respectability to the cause. Geologist George F. Wright seized the challenge of ascertaining the age of Abbott's finds. It was no easy task. Trenton was south of the limit of glacial advance by 60 miles, and had multiple gravel layers. Which were the same age as the glacier, and which were more recent? How did paleoliths fit that sequence, and the broader history of North American glaciation, then becoming more complicated with the realization there had been more than one glacial episode? The age of Abbott's paleoliths landed in a tug of war between competing camps. Nonetheless, he was certain the specimens were glacial in age, and in January of 1881 they took center stage at a Boston Society of Natural History meeting, where the city's scientific elite rose to bear witness to his discoveries. In scarcely a decade Abbott had shown that the future of American archaeology might be deep in its geological past.

Keywords:   Charles Abbott, American Paleolithic, glacial history, astronomical theory of glaciation, Trenton Gravel site, George Frederick Wright, Frederick Ward Putnam, Boston Society of Natural History

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.