Human Antiquity Affirmed, 1860

  1. 9.  Prestwich, Joseph (1812-1896).
    “On the occurrence of flint implements, associated with the remains of animals of extinct species in beds of a late geological period, in France at Amiens and Abbeville, and in England at Hoxne.”  Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1860, 150:277-317.

Joseph Prestwich was intrigued by the discoveries at Brixham Cave and decided to take a first-hand look at claims made by Boucher de Perthes and others that stone tools found in gravel beds in northern France were contemporaneous with extinct animals such as mammoths.  He and John Evans (1823-1908) travelled to Abbeville to visit Boucher de Perthes, and while there, they heard that a stone hand ax had emerged from the bank in nearby Amiens.  They rushed over, saw the stone in situ, and shrewdly hired a photographer to record an image before the stone tool was removed.  It was the first time in archaeology that a photograph was used to verify a discovery.  Prestwich was now fully convinced that humans were truly ancient, and he announced his conclusions at a meeting of the Royal Society on May 26, 1859.  Since this paper is THE watershed event in the controversy over human antiquity, we show the first page of the article instead of one of the  plates of tools. The photograph was not published with this account, although it survives.

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