Is the Nampa figurine the oldest in the world?
The following article is an extract taken from the chapter Out Of Time And Place from The Myth Of Man by JP Robinson.
A small clay figurine (above) was unearthed in Nampa, Idaho in 1889. It was discovered from the 300-foot level of a well boring. The ancient sculpted piece shares a similarity with an Upper Paleolithic female figurine known as the Willendorf Venus (below) which was discovered in 1908 in Willendorf, Austria, and dates back between 28,000-25,000 BCE.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the clay layer in which the Nampa figurine was found is ‘probably of the Glenns Ferry Formation, upper Idaho Group, which is generally considered to be of Plio-Pleistocene age’. Should the object prove to have been found where it was claimed to have been, this would date the rare artefact at around 2 million years old.
George Frederick Wright (below), a geologist of Boston Society of Natural History, reported in his 1912 book , ‘The record of the well shows that in reaching the stratum from which the image was brought up they had penetrated first about fifty feet of soil, then about fifteen feet of basalt, and afterwards passed through alternate beds of clay and quicksand. . . down to a depth of about three hundred feet when the sand pump began to bring up numerous clay balls, some of them more than two inches in diameter, densely coated with iron oxide. . . the image in question was brought up at a depth of three hundred and twenty feet.’
Describing the actual figurine Wright noted, ‘The image in question is made of the same material as that of the clay balls mentioned, and is about an inch and a half long; and remarkable for the perfection with which it represents the human form. . . It was a female figure, and had the lifelike lineaments in the parts which were finished that would do credit to the classic centers of art.’
Professor Albert A. Wright of Oberlin College is an expert on such matters and believed the Nampa artefact to be the product of a true artist as opposed to a child or an amateur. Explaining the object in detail he wrote:
'Though badly battered by time, the doll’s appearance is still distinct: it has a bulbous head, with barely discernible mouth and eyes; broad shoulders; short, thick arms; and long legs, the right leg broken off. There are also faint geometric markings on the figure, which represent either clothing patterns or jewellery - they are found mostly on the chest around the neck, and on the arms and wrists. The doll is the image of a person of a high civilization, artistically attired.’
Concerning the authenticity of this sensationally ancient piece of art which puts into question current theories of human development, how can we be sure that it was actually found at the depths below the ground as described above? G.F. Wright insists that he showed the object to Professor F.W. Putnam who immediately claimed ‘the character of the incrustations of iron upon the surface as indicative of a relic of considerable antiquity.’
Wright wrote, ‘There were patches of anhydrous red oxide of iron in protected places upon it, such as could not have been formed upon any fraudulent object.’
Upon visiting the locality of the recovery site in 1890, Wright took it upon himself to compare the discolouration of the oxide upon the figurine with that of the clay balls which were still lying among the debris from the well. They were nearly identical with one another, or as close to the same as is possible.
Wright remarked, ‘These confirmatory evidences, in connection with the very satisfactory character of the evidence furnished by the parties who made the discovery, and confirmed by Mr. G. M. Cumming, of Boston (at that time superintendent of the division of the Oregon Short Line Railroad, and who knew all the parties, and was upon the ground a day or two after the discovery) placed the genuineness of the discovery beyond reasonable doubt.’
And according to Wright, the figurine conforms to numerous other relics of man that have been found on the Pacific coast beneath the lava deposits. He also remarked upon the resemblance to other ‘Aurignacian figurines’ found in prehistoric caverns in France, Belgium and Moravia.
The official oldest known example of a depiction of a human being is still considered to be the Venus of Hohle Fels (below), an Upper Palaeolithic Venus figurine made from mammoth ivory that was discovered in 2008 in a cave near Schelklingen , Germany called Hohle Fels. It has been dated to between 35,000 and 40,000 years ago and is believed to have been made at the very beginning of the Upper Paleolithic by the early Aurignacian people.
This makes the dating of the Nampa object at close to 2 million years old so anomalously ancient as to not be accepted by mainstream archaeology.
So, is it possible that the Nampa figurine somehow slipped down from a higher level into the depths? Wright insists that such an idea can be ruled out by stating, ‘. . . it was impossible for anything to work in from the sides [of the tube]. The drill was not used after penetrating the lava deposit near the surface, but the tube was driven down, and the included material brought up from time to time by use of a sand pump.’
Author Michael Cremo explained the implications of such a find were it to be proved authentic, ‘Other than , no hominid is known to have fashioned works of art like the Nampa figurine. The evidence therefore suggests that humans of the modern type were living in America around 2 million years ago at the Plio-Pleistocene boundary.’
The Nampa artefact is now on exhibit at the Idaho State Historical Society in Boise.
This article is an extract taken from the chapter Out Of Time And Place from The Myth Of Man by JP Robinson.
JP Robinson - The Myth Of Man
Jochmans, J.R. – Strange Relics from the Depths of the Earth, 1979.
Cremo, Michael A. and Thompson, Richard L. - The Hidden History of The Human Race, Bhaktivedanta Book Publishing, 1996