previous.gif     next.gif    


By Alfred de Grazia

Part Two: Geological Issues



When the Ninth Congress of the International Union of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences announced an excursion to the paleolithic sites of Southwest France, I joined up. It was September 1976.

The Guidebook of the Excursion was admirably executed and was prefaced by a motive for the excursion: "In the first place, to return as a pilgrimage to the sources of the science of prehistory; to see or revisit these world-renowned sites, which have given their name to the great epochs of Prehistory: Abbevillian, Acheulian, Mousterian, Aurignacian, Solutrean, Magdalenian and so many others of the Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Protohistory." What's in a name? - something of national pride, I fear. Who dares to question "the great epochs of Prehistory?"

My personal motives were sinister, as is discoverable in a journal entry upon arrival at the Hotel Terminus in Bordeaux, August 30.

I go to the Hotel Terminus, whose dignified greystone mass juts out from the trystone facade of the station. It is quiet and polished at the reception. "I am a day early but am reserved for tomorrow night with the archaeological group." No problem with the room. But no archaeological group is expected. "Wait," says the pretty receptionist to the handsome assistant-manager. "There is a letter here about a Monsieur Halloway, from an archaeological society." (I wonder whether it is the anthropologist Halloway.) I know at least that something will be happening with the tour. "Please ask Mr. Halloway if he might phone me when he arrives."
My room is broad, tall, and old-fashioned. The hotel was built to outlast the recent growth of the city. When I draw the long draperies and throw open the large windows, I am just above the melee of the railroad station. A paradisiac room for an urban sociologist. I am content. I feel like working immediately. I clear the little mirrored table, pour out a glass of Glenfiddich's whisky, and begin to leaf through my folders, stopping at a point where it occurs to me to write down the kinds of questions I must be asking myself and others throughout the field trip through the country of the famous prehistoric caves. I copy them here.
Is superposition the same everywhere?
How clear are the separations of "cultures"? Nearly always very sharp and clear? Sometimes very sharp and clear? Only occasionally very sharp and clear Never very sharp and clear
At how many sites are: all cultures represented? 'x' cultures represented?
Are animal remains found? In what % of the caves? Are human remains found? In what % of the caves?
Are C14 dates compiled from 'x' caves? and available?
Has any K/ A [Potassium 40-Argon 40] dating been done? Where?
Any other radiochronology, e. g. on ceramics?
What is the substance of "sterile" layers inside a cave? Why formed? Do these layers correspond to ash or in the same type of material outside the cave? (Where can I find statistics of the caves? Dating (absolute) of the reported 5 ash-levels around the Cro-Magnon dig?)
So the questions. But these are only a beginning. For several years, I have wondered who these people of the caves where? Where do they belong in time? Are they truly a presence that ranges from 5,000 to 15,000 to 30,000 or even 100,000 years in age?
What created the caves? Opened them up? Sealed them? Opened them and sealed them repeatedly?
What natural forces were playing about the world outside? The caves must have been used and disused while the last ice age came and went.
The great paintings. Were they to celebrate the presence of animals or pray for their return? Where are the heavens represented in the caves? Could some of the animals be a zodiac of the caverns?
I begin once more to riffle my pages. I am unprepared for the trip. This summer, until now, I have been writing of other subjects, related to ancient catastrophes - on schizophrenia among the first humans, of sudden destruction of cultures in the Middle Bronze Age, of the science of catastrophes. Now and then I would come across some mention of the cave country of France, of Spain, of grottoes of Africa and Italy, of the great Choukoutien cave of pithecanthropus in China. I know of ice caves as in America where ice lies deposited between layers of lava and schist, and melts very gradually over thousands of years. Why are none of the caves of Aquitaine 'ice caves'? The ice was near.
But I know nobody - neither expert guides nor "congressistes," as the group of us are called. I have found no geological map of the area: how can I ask questions, or ask the all-important critical follow-up questions without sub-surface and contour information? I have not read enough about the caves to be more than a sponge of information, too little to be a cross-examiner.
The telephone rings. It is Halloway, just arrived. He is pleased to know, too, that someone besides himself has appeared on the scene. He is from Providence, from Brown University, a classical archaeologist. We arrange to have a drink together in half an hour. I take a hot tub bath, rearrange my tangled jumble of possessions, and walk down the broad stairs of the foyer to meet him. There I note a puzzled couple, and hear the receptionist clerk saying to the man: "You are not by any means the first of this archaeological group of which we know nothing."
Halloway appears. About 40, bearded, sturdily built, bespectacled. We shake hands. "Let's try the competition across the street," I suggest. We go to the bar-restaurant of the Hotel du Faisan, and order Pernod. He is just in from the States, changed planes in Paris. Tired. He will go to bed directly. He has been digging in Southern Italy for several years, an early Bronze site particularly, where metal and pots are cooked on platforms of vitrified rock that they made. There is an abundance of ash. I inquire where the ash comes from. "From their work. When it got too high, they built another platform." "Any signs of a level of destruction?" "None," "Why did they stop?" "The work simply stopped. We don't know. Maybe if we dig up the area around we may discover why." We pay 12 Francs and leave. I return to my room, glance through Whitesides' Archaeological Atlas for a while, and descend to the Buffet-Restaurant of the train station. A vegetable soup, merlu fried with lemon, crème caramel, bread, wine (Bordeaux, of course). I discover I can see faces in the distance distinctly better with my bifocal glasses. This is a surprise. My eyes are getting old. To bed, quite tired, at 11: 30. The Atlas drops from my hands.
The next day I bought for the trip a Masson geological guidebook to Western Aquitaine and a camera. Back at the room in the evening. I am writing: " 'Why did they have to close the caves at Les Eyzies? ' And the answer, as often as the question: 'The pollution of the crowd was destroying the images. ' The heat, the torches - I recall one beautifully printed book saying something about thousands of sweating bodies and the vanishing images. What of the sweating caves themselves?
"Do caves not sweat? Stalagmites, stalagmites. An image in paint. Who can seal it in a wet tube of dripping walls and clay bottoms for 10,000 years and find it intact afterwards? I can understand the images carved into rock, but the paint that outlives them and the paint laid on flat - what preserves it? There must be good answers. Geologists and specialists on paints have visited the caves by the hundreds. How stupid I am not to figure out why! Just as I felt stupid when I stood at a headland day before yesterday, at St. Jean de Luz, and watched belts and streams of thinly laminated rock plunging crazily, tortured at all angles, into the sea, which rushes at them, foaming. What manufactured these fine layers in the dozens and then pushed them negligently over the sea like a jumble of tissue, like rolls of toilet paper?"

Within three days, I gave up the idea of an extensive account of my observations. At 11 p. m. September 3rd, I am writing in my journal at Périgueux:

Three heavy days and two bad nights have brought me to think that I shouldn't continue. Nothing ever works out the way that is expected. When the mind lacks coherence, everything lacks meaning. When the environment is confusing, it is difficult to be coherent. Why be so abstract when the simple fact is that I have been struggling for three days merely to keep pace with a group that is moving all the time with little sense of itself through strange country and unanticipated petty troubles of existence. The beds have been bad, the meals poor, the bus-riding tortuous and prolonged, the days of forced company ranged around the clock... What is the writer to do?
But most of all, the prehistoric times as they are advancing towards me from Aquitaine are a rough and dismaying array whose frightening aspect makes me want to retire from the fray.
In 3 days, we have ridden hundreds of miles, inspected 3 caves (I have gone into Lascaux today), 4 sites, 22 cuts, and spotted a number of caves, sites and cuts from the halted or moving bus. In addition we have visited three museums. Sets and trays of paleolithic or later artifacts march through my head in silent columns.
The people of the group are of greater interest, what they say, who they are. It is pathetic, in a way, to watch the paleolithic age scholar with his or her miserable accumulations of evidence and desperate concentration as if by specialization on the edge of a blade one can pierce the gloom of the birth of mankind. I am imitating them as well as I can, gazing fiercely at the cobbles and chips, hoping, too, for the Message.

Sporadic entries followed, but in the end I was left with handbooks and notes and questions, whereupon we all lost ourselves in the melee of the great Congress at Nice. There was nothing left but to reminisce. I was overwhelmed by the organization, the discipline, and the assuredness of the Masters of the Caves. I do not see how any individual, unless he could lead a precarious double life over a decade of time, could treat with the Ideology of the Caves. Lacking access and resources, an outsider could only work with the printed materials, a few visits, and a deductive theory bringing to bear the general materials of archaeology and geology.

Could not some authoritative scholar, long versed in the intricacies of Aquitanian archaeology, emerge in due course to say, "Dear colleagues, we must review and reevaluate the conventional theory of the Upper Paleolithic." Impossible, sociologically impossible. One would have to reverse his spin of perspective and contemplate a strange new model. Then, once persuaded of its utility, he would need to persuade others to listen to him, obtain resources for seemingly absurd research, and hold onto his job - not likely!

To compose a new theory of the caves, one must consider the origin of the caves. Could they have been quickly formed and folded in the orogeny of the Massif Central and the bursting of hundreds of volcanoes in the Holocene, even while the great Atlantic cleavage shoved Europe to the East? Heat and steaming waters can form caves quickly, and so the interesting natural sculpture within the caves, as I noted in our visit to the caves of Oxocelhaya and Isturitz.

Does any animal besides man penetrate into these grottoes? What geologically explains the great variety of forms? Different floodings and temperatures? The impossibility of any informed layman or ordinary scholar gaining much from visiting the caves. Bronze Age is found in the cave at Isturitz. Each chamber looks as if done up by a distinctive decorator. Red and black paint on the walls still from Paleolithic, little black horses. (Humidity constant? Young?) Stalactites make different sounds when struck. Any evidence that they were used as producers of sound? Recall: guide (" untrained") who made anthropomorphic figures out of every calcite formation. Recall: the glass cases where hundreds of objects were arranged "technologically" with no indication of where they were found, how originally, etc. (Compare with taking 2 congresses and by putting all Republicans in the first and all Democrats in the second, you show that a pure Republican was succeeded by a pure Democratic age.) All the hoopla (the comic strip ascendancy of man from Neanderthal to Cro-Magnon, etc.)

At Eyres-Moncube, we come upon the Gisement of Pennon, dug out by Professor Thibault, who explains it to us. He is:

very confident, certain in his modes of expression, polite, direct, says when he rarely doesn't 'know. ' Shows occasionality of use of this site. Maybe used as a flint-cutting site. Again deposits of sand that could be laid in a week or 100,000 years, followed by occupation, then another huge deposit contrast, another occupation... No hint of catastrophism among the 45 people... Time calendar not even discussed by anyone so far... Interest is general, attention good, but questions almost entirely factual and answers accepted. No controversy. Is this science: maybe so. Some complaint about not enough manpower to dig. Not one mention of skies. One American, expatriate in Canada, says unusually, 'Why did these people use the caves? ' Practically no interest in psychology. No talk of institutions. I probably initiate (stimulate) one half of the total volume of psychological or theoretical talk, now here, now there, often walking off, never completed. Desultory.

As we near Lascaux, I jot down a nearly undecipherable note, written on the bus.

I notice how often 2 or more (or all) of belts of deposits in Aquitaine look exactly alike save for a slight color and grain change. If you don't peer at it, it looks like a huge subsoil of the same sand (except here and there are stones). Yet they are dated even in a single profile as far apart as Holocene, Pleistocene, Quaternary, Tertiary and maybe even earlier. (And of course Riss, Wurm, Mendel I, II, III, and all of that, in between). Strange! Highly improbable.

At Lascaux:

Whenever calcite grains capture color they hold it. When the powdered rock is painted it has lost the paintings. Thus Case A: Bottom half of horse clearly and nicely painted, little affected... top half has disappeared, "because it is on calcacerous stone but not on the calcite like the lower half is." Quite persuasive. But what does this indicate about time? Two factors are involved in question whether a color will be preserved: the surface (calcite or not) and the pigment (whether organic carbon as in oil smoke or inorganic as in earth-oxide colors).

At the overhanging Gisement of Micoque:

Almost no assemblages are in order, and could be disastrous. Lots of open air digs. More than caves. Everywhere in Dordogne you dig you find some paleolithic artifacts. Never cases of reversed superposition of cultures: one is always earlier (below) other according to the progression. Sometimes contemporaneity, causing concern, but, to repeat, never true bouleversement... No tectonic bouleversement.

Settlements occurred even during the cold glacial periods, as at Aschenheim during Riss II. Different types of limestone form in different caves. I was watchful for signs of ashes. Very little reported or to be noticed. Where, in one place, carbon flecks were noticeable amidst clay sands laying over a silt bank and solid reddish soil, there occurred white bones on the same level. The carbonized bits could have been percolated from an occupancy location, or wind-blown or carried in by a flood that swept in and dispersed hearth ashes, or they dissolved into a soil. No systematic testing of soils for organic carbon content seems to have been done. In one case a 20 X 20 meter area carried an 8 inch band of carbonization; it is explained as the effect of many hearth fires, which I accept.

It appears that peat is heavily deposited in Aquitaine. How would this peat relate to Mackie's study of a peat deposit about half a meter deep over a megalith otherwise dated at about 800 B. C.? Neolithic farmsites are found under bogs of peat in Ireland. Over 10 meters of peat formed in the Holocene and is found below the river valley of Eau Claire. Another river running parallel runs on top of a peat bed of the same proportions.

La Cluna abri-cave contains a one-meter level of Mousterian culture stuffed with bones of different species, including large mammals. Mousterian sites often end with blocks of animal and human bones mélangés. Magdalenian sites were usually smashed up sooner or later by seismic disturbances, or so it is believed.

A scholar present told of the extinct volcano, now Laacher See, 80 km South of Bonn. It lacks cone or crater lip. Over 100 extinct eruptive sources of same type are found in the same region. Laacher is said to have exploded during the Allerit Period, around 11,000 B. P. Deep tufa is scattered around and to the East as far as Thuringia. A band of carbonized vegetation in the coastal area of the Netherlands is placed at the same time. We have only begun to fathom the fire remains of the Paleolithic. At Langerie Haute, for instance, a meter of ash rests on top of the Upper Magdalenian culture, coinciding, it is believed, with the very end of the Ice Age.

I note (Sept. 7) that the excavators do not find materials of recent times, and it would seem that after Magdalenian VI, the sites were abandoned. Upper Magdalenian is loaded with doubts and controversy. Some experts see sub-periods when others do not. Magdalenian III, IV, V are often clumped together; some argue this is an effect of seismism, others that warmth may have cracked and caused rock overhangs to fall. Water action, too, is blamed. But also some say there were no plural periods.

The walls of Ruffignac contain two groups of mammoths marching towards each other. They exhibit a fine sense of order, a disciplined composition. Elsewhere a parade of mammoths is overdrawn by serpentine lines. At Ruffignac, all corridors are very soft and wet, both floors and walls. One senses big water nearby. If in historic times, as reported, a flood covered the first kilometer of the cave up to the ceiling, a larger earlier flood would have swamped the whole tunnel complex and wiped out all artwork.

I make note that an anthropologist from the University of Massachusetts speaks doubtfully of an arrangement of a circle of crystals and a triangular display of the skulls of a deer, bison and horse uncovered at Nice. He says that this same site contained post-holes to support shacks, which postholes remained unchanged over 100,000 years except for small movements here and there. I questioned the time, saying that it was impossible for such a composition to remain unchanged for longer than a few hundred years. A physical anthropologist from Cornell asserted that people made the same kind of tools for 100,000 years or more, citing the Acheulian. I disputed this as well; he agreed with me on the first, which concerned Pont d'Ambon, though not the second. The psycho-sociology of invention would lead me to doubt that the strongest conservatism can prevent technical adaptations to the forces of the environment. Technology may often change faster than prayers.

The trip continues and I jot down another note:

The Pont d'Ambon site can be critical. A stream runs parallel to the bluffs, quietly, slowly, 100 yards away. No allowance here or in numerous other gisements for violent inundations from time to time. Yet, considering that the period is said to occur here from 12,300 to 9300 = 2800 years, more or less, river floods must have occurred 50 to 100 times, enough to wash out the place. (Heavy climatic changes were said to be occurring.) The best defense is that originally the stream was deep and not until the whole shelf was filled up and abandoned in 9640 B. P. did any flooding of significance occur. We discussed this question, some saying that the river started as a "V", but then it would have been caused by a catastrophic flash-flood to begin with, which in any event would slowly fill with sediments and broaden. But it is narrow. On the objection I thought they might raise, that the stream might have been farther away, the land rises on the other side gently. Further the men of the shelter would wand to be close to the water, so the stream would not change that much. Further, if a stream did change its course, it would do so in the course of catastrophe that would have inundated the living or occupation site. One said that this area might have been spared glacial flashfloods or heavy drainage, but I doubt this and, furthermore, heat and humidity, by pollen tests, indicate watery climate part of the time.

In sum, there are grounds for believing that the neat-appearing stratigraphic profile at Pont d'Ambon may testify to a rapid succession of a few seasons with stages of Magdalenian and Azilian occurring with different occupants carrying the "latest" stone chippings. The "climates" vary remarkably but may be erratic seasons; the flora and fauna change, but so they will change even now from year to year. The correlations among all four - technique, climate, flora and fauna are quite poor. There is a considerable mixing of artifacts as well. The dates are based upon five radiocarbon tests done on unscorched deer bone.

Over a thousand years (half the whole time) seems to have slipped away between the earliest two strata of the Azilian levels: erosion? abandonment? never existed? The absolute dates are probably far too old, to my way of thinking, which views radiocarbon as having little knowable association with the passage of time before 3000 years ago. With due caution for what may happen in the laboratory, the relative dates may be significant, but there is one contradiction in dates among the five possible ones, and the Azilian and Magdalenian periods are so close as to overlap when allowance is made for error (i. e. 12130± 160 and 12340± 220).

The lack of profuse material deposits of the Upper Paleolithic would be explained by the hunting-gathering complex, which seems to permit only a few inhabitants and these usually on the move. Still, where are the permanent settlements of the age? We cannot believe that the cave-users were dwellers therein; else they would be very neat housekeepers (and, in fact, what material exists is strewn about in disorder). How deep is 1000 years of an average Near Eastern tell? How deep is the typical thousand years of paleolithic occupancy? No answers are given to these answerable queries.

Despite arduous labors of classification, the cultural divisions of the Upper Paleolithic are not absolute, and may not hold out much longer, especially as the geographical areas studied expand toward Asia and Africa. The Solutrean may be contemporaneous with Magdalenian, with, it has been suggested, the tools developed by horse-hunters especially. Some tools (including Levallois bifaces) that are classified as Mousterian (Neanderthal) penetrate the kits of Upper Magdalenians.

I resort to my journal:

The typical stratification of an excavated abri, cave, or open site permits various wash-outs and wash-ins of material, and gaps of flooding, of quick "decade" or "century" pollen and faunal changes. The reason why this short-term stratification is ignored or neglected is that C14 dates of charcoal and bones generally produce "acceptable" dates from 9000 B. P. to 18,000 B. P. for these strata. From the earliest level, say 15,000 to latest, say 10,000, there are 5000 years of time to account for in the strata and hence they are regarded as long-term deposits, rather than short-term ones.
Many of the papers and discussions of the IXth Congress centered upon the climates and ecologies of the various hominids and men. Talk of 'warming' and 'cooling', of interstadials, of Wurm I and II, of moist and dry, consumed much of the week's work and hundreds of papers. Then came 'shards, ' and them came dates, which are intended to bring order to the discoveries but, like climatic schedules, are a source of confusion in themselves.

The chronologists and the stone-flake classifiers are preponderant elements of a profession that has few findings with which to work, and a deep suspicion of theory. Prehistorians prefer to study coprolites rather than human thought. They are like pollsters who, by getting rid of anomalous, misunderstood, or complex responses, present the public as speaking in "baby talk." When it comes to fields of megaliths weighing tons, they go so far, under great pressure from a few cranks, as to believe that early man wanted to find the solstices and equinoxes and plot the Moon's course, but hardly attend to the question of motives underlying the movement of great stones. But the megaliths of Stonehenge and Brittany are a better measure of the fearful memories and expectations of their builders than of their astronomical skills.

The excursion ended at the Congress of Nice, subject of my last note.

September 13, 1976

French domination of the field of prehistory is especially evident in the grand trappings of the IXth Congress whose name is emblazoned in giant letters upon thousands of posters around Nice as if it were a World's Fair or at least the Cannes Film Festival.
The field was taken up by the French a hundred years ago when the rest of the world ignored pre-history, thought it was amusing (as with the American Indians) but not a great discipline, or was deficient in all field research areas of historical science (as e. g. Thailand, India) and relied upon legends.
But the concentration of leadership means the concentration of concepts and their imperialism in many places where they are perhaps inapplicable. Written during a thoroughly boring grand reunion in the Hall of the Parc d'Expositions. 1/ 5 of the 3000 people is listening, the rest gaze here and there, listen absentmindedly, think of other matters, talk to their neighbors or as I, read and write. There are 21 on the high, semi-circular rostrum. 2 hours are given over to it. I was able to be only 30 minutes late.
The Program is intimidating. Hundreds of papers are listed, among them mine. Yet calculate the time per paper permitted, and it comes to 3 minutes each. Obviously some will not have come to Nice, others will scarcely cover the sub-titles of their talk, some will cling fiercely to the rostrum, some will summarize for others. The usual main function of coming to meet one's kind is rather poorly provided for because the residences are widely separated and as yet I've not seen the central "hall of encounters" that should be the central focus of all such conventions. [Later I concluded that the vast list of papers was an effective method of helping hundreds of scholars to get a vacation from their repressive governments, to boost their local reputations, and to qualify for travel funds and foreign exchange.]
The Congress ended, I posted a score of volumes of preliminary reports to America, I met Dr. Elizabeth Ralph, Director of the Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Natural History, and we went home together.

Princeton, September 18, 1976

Elizabeth Ralph told me among many things, that:

She thought Velikovsky was difficult and wrong.
That the Ramses C14 dates of 13th century from at least 3 types of material disproved him and that there were 19th dynasty 7th century readings.
That she almost lost her job in the fracas over doing some tests for Velikovsky (those were the ones that FOSMOS of which I was President authorized circa 1970 but Bruce Mainwaring carried on all the negotiations and asked all the nasty questions in his sweet way.) I doubt this but she was scared by her boss Rainey, I suppose, as well as the unusual excitement over the matter of testing Velikovsky's stuff. She is a tough, durable woman, masculine, straight-talking. Like just about everyone in the controversy vs. Velikovsky, she is not as fully informed as she thinks nor understands all the branches of logic involved.
I raised question after question with her during the 12 hours we were altogether on the ground and aloft, eating, drinking (she drank a lot) smoking (ditto) and talking. I wasn't arguing, which is useless, but finding out what this remarkable woman knew about many questions that bothered me. Most, of course, she couldn't answer. It was important, I think, that she liked my rough sketch on an Air France route map of the outlines of a Hudson Bay Crater (Chubb Islands as the center), a second circle of lakes and water all around the center of Chubb Islands, including the Great Lakes and Great Slave Lake, etc. She had no objections either to my theory of all-around mid-second millennium destruction.
She said, in answer to my question about magnetometers, which she has employed in Greece and elsewhere, that they aren't too useful and are useless where ash and pumice are measured. There must be metal in the rock to take a direction after the melt, so she wasn't able to do much on Thera with Marinatos.
She said that for political reasons, that is, the insistence of Marinatos, they've held off their latest Thera measure for years, because it was 1650 ± while he was convinced of its being 1450 ± . I know the Thera dating is in confusion, quite apart from this incident.
Yet Elizabeth said in answer to my careful questioning that all their dates were published, for better or worse, even if they did not turn out well for the investigators. (I cannot believe this, as see above [with Marinatos].) She takes several runs on every date and if they aren't close to their average, she throws them away and starts over again. "Throws them away" bothers me, although at the moment I cannot stop to pursue the effects of the logic of throwing things away.
She says all labs do the same, publish all in the carbondating mag, including British Museum, of which we have contrary evidence (Mainwaring's report).
I asked her whether she knew of the old article by Folghereiter that showed Etruscan vases with South-North clay-iron filings orientations instead of North-South, which would be expected if baked in the Northern Hemisphere. This is a sharp proof of magnetic reversal of the Earth for some period of time in the 8th and 7th centuries B. C., and was uncovered and advanced as such by Velikovsky.
Elizabeth says yes, but unfortunately kilns are stuffed with vases so as to bake more ceramics and conserve heat. Therefore, a vase might have been baked on its head.
Yesterday I had a two-hour visit with Velikovsky in the course of which I asked his opinion of the matter. He replied that the direction of the vase in baking can be told by the glazing which drips a little in the time before it hardens. Very well. But did the glazing occur in a simultaneous baking with the clay or might the ceramic body have been backed earlier and then heated a second time for glazing perhaps at a lower temperature. This is a neat and important little problem. If one absolute case may be proven of a vase that was baked upright and acquired an opposite orientation magnetically, then we have an important proof of 8th-7th century troubles. For, as I explained to Ralph, the magnetic reversal, important in itself, would also be an effect of causes with huge other effects.
With luck, this study might take a week.

Restudy the articles of Fohlgereiter and Mercanton (see citation in Velikovsky's work).
Read Monley's Science News (Penguin, 12, 1948 or 9) report on magnetism on vases.
Consult experts unless one or more of these are perfectly precise in handling the glaze-sequence problem.
a) Further experiments on vases needed, or
b1) All OK for Velikovsky
b2) Problems in glazing, or
b3) Problems in position, or
b4) New problems
Then conclusions: How long does it take for the magnetic field to reverse itself, and were vases dated accurately, and when did it reverse itself to the present?
Incidentally, if this test were performed with a large number of vases from the Neolithic to present, a sample of each culture should have a modal group that is logically positioned to show the N-S axis, and this axis would be presumed to change when the modal axis changed. This might be one way of resolving the Etruscan vase mystery. (Velikovsky said Mercanton, who praised Folghereiter, was Director of the Meteorological Observatory at the University of Lausanne.)

It appears in retrospect now that my excursion to the Caves of Aquitaine was a failure, yet the experiencing of it and its sequel were successes, if doubts of my own mind and the minds of others are thrown into the balance. Almost nothing of importance can be said of the Paleolithic that will stand up as fact, and almost nothing that I can add as constructive counter-fact can be proven, either. Conventional and quantavolutionary scholars dispute in a darkness like that of the caves. But we caught for a while the exciting sense, around us, of another, an ancient contest, between vast, marvelously ornate natural sculpting and determined, hard-lined drawing by tight, defiant human minds.


previous.gif     next.gif