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The Great Paleolithic WarHow Science Forged an Understanding of America's Ice Age Past$
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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

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In the Belly of the Beast, 1921–1928

In the Belly of the Beast, 1921–1928

(p.295) Chapter Eight In the Belly of the Beast, 1921–1928
The Great Paleolithic War

David J. Meltzer

University of Chicago Press

A flurry of discoveries in the 1920s of stone artifacts in association with extinct animals culminated in the discovery of spear points unequivocally associated with bones of an extinct bison at a site in Folsom, New Mexico. The antiquity of the bison was not precisely known but it was generally agreed to be Pleistocene in age, and its association with the points was unimpeachable. The Pleistocene barrier to human antiquity was finally broken. That end came about largely in spite of and not because of those promoting this evidence of antiquity, Harold Cook, Jesse Figgins and Oliver Hay. The trio's previous, wildly inflated claims of human antiquity at Snake Creek, Nebraska, and Lone Wolf Creek, Texas, earned the skepticism of the scientific community, led to confrontations with Holmes and Hrdlička, but also a means by which the controversy could be resolved. When the Folsom discovery was made others, paleontologist Barnum Brown and archaeologists Frank Roberts and Alfred Kidder, were called in to attest to the meaning of the find. As Folsom did not rely on inherently ‘primitive’ artifacts or attributes of human skeletal morphology, neither Hrdlička nor Holmes could do much more than watch from the sidelines and smolder.

Keywords:   Folsom site, Harold Cook, Jesse Figgins, Snake Creek site, Lone Wolf Creek site, Barnum Brown, Frank Roberts, Alfred Kidder

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