Horses and a Bull from Altamira, 1912

  1. 42. Osborn, Henry Fairfield (1857-1935). 
    “Men of the Old Stone Age.”  American Museum Journal, 1912, 12:279-288. 

Henry F. Osborn was president of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and had heretofore been interested primarily in dinosaurs (Tyrannosaurus rex was discovered on his watch in 1902 and named and described by Osborn in 1905).  Around 1912, he turned his attention, and that of the Museum, to anthropology and prehistoric peoples, and it seems to have been the discovery of Paleolithic cave art that prompted the new interest.  Human fossils were important, and bone carvings were intriguing, but the paintings were majestic, and they provided a new kind of evidence that the humans of the Upper Paleolithic were, in Osborn’s words, “of superior intelligence and gifted with a strong artistic sense.”  In this article, a prelude to a book with the same title that he would write three years later (see item 44), he discusses the physical artifacts and fossils from Cro-Magnon and other sites, but it is clearly the Altamira paintings that get pride of place.