Falsehood or Untruth?

By Guidon, N.; Pessis, A. -M. | Antiquity, June 1996 | Go to article overview

Falsehood or Untruth?


Guidon, N., Pessis, A. -M., Antiquity


In December 1993 Brazilian, European and American researchers joined forces in Sao Raimundo Nonato, Piaui, Brazil, to analyse the state of research on the peopling of the Americas (conference proceedings in press).

The article by Meltzer et al. (1994) is based on partial data and false information (highlighted below). Its battery of questions takes us by surprise; none of the three colleagues came up with these questions during the 1993 meeting - mounted precisely to generate direct dialogue on the peopling of the Americas. We disagree with their statement, 'the comments on Pedra Furada are not offered lightly' (p. 696). The commentaries are worthless because they are based on partial and incorrect knowledge.

We believe that the initial intention of the authors was different; they got carried away into an exercise in academic style, from a fragile scientific base of fragmentary data and with a scepticism born of a subjective conviction. We differ; in our approach, a systematic analysis must be based on confirmed facts, make explicit its presuppositions, and indicate parameters of acceptance for proofs. Stylistic enthusiasm makes the authors forget that in the field of prehistory nothing is definitive; working with vestigial data, we do not have a real universe but only fragmentary series. We must work in an interdisciplinary way, the data supplied by different specialisms contributing to full explanation. Nothing is static in this field; a scientific honesty must exist in which data that exist and data which are lacking are analysed with equal care and rigour. Meltzer et al. do not possess 10 years' worth of excavation results. They are not specialists in the Pleistocene archaeology of tropical regions, as becomes evident when one reads their observations. Emphasizing their qualifications and experience, they do not take the curricula of the Pedra Furada team into account.

Errors of observation

The Pedra Furada excavations were completed under the direction of Fabio Parenti, who studied all the vestiges and data for his Ph.D thesis (1993).

In the caption to figure 1 (p. 697), it is stated that the site 'occurs at the base of the escarpment'. This is wrong. It is 19 m above the valley floor, as is correctly stated on p. 703.

In the caption to figure 2, Meltzer et al. do not indicate the site is protected by an overhang (cf. their figure 4), evident in the central part of the photograph. And they do not point out the two waterfalls visible in the photograph, clearly on each side of the site.

An error (p. 697) arises from Meltzer et al.'s inexperience of large sites in tropical regions relatively recently submitted to climatic change (12,000-10,000 years ago). They report a declivity, visible in the stratigraphy, 'from the front to the rear of the shelter'. In areas of the shelter where the fall of blocks altered the stratification, the slope is from outside to inside. But in the great part of the site, the inclination is from the inside to the outside [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED].

In a large shelter like Pedra Furada, the site history is not uniform. It was precisely the fall of the blocks which ensured, in certain areas, the Pleistocene layers have not been disturbed.

Meltzer et al. say (p. 697), 'Along the shelter wall the chutes are marked by pronounced manganese staining.' How could they know by simply looking this was manganese staining? They neither say that these stains are limited nor undertake a correlation between these stains and the excavated areas. The excavators have taken into consideration possibilities of disturbance where these stains were found low down; these have been duly registered.

Pot-holes exist under the waterfall at the west of the site, but none has been 'obscured by a cement column' (p. 697). The columns were constructed in holes made by masons in the base-rock or in the back wall. The walkway is suspended over the pot-hole, where it has no support columns. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Falsehood or Untruth?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.