Recent Discoveries Attributed to Early Man in America

By Ales Hrdlicka | Go to book overview

THE "ANCIENT MAN OF CUZCO," PERU

The Cuzco discoveries represent one of those rare fortunate instances in which a serious earlier error in the chronological determination of human remains is fully corrected by some of those who were responsible for the original claims.

In 1911-12, just before the publication of Early Man in South America,1 in which were indicated certain fallacies in the numerous reports of geologically ancient human remains from South America, a considerable stir was caused by the announcement that human bones of "glacial age" had been found in the Cuzco gravels by the Yale Peruvian Expedition. The news reached the press, and because of the prominence of the expedition was given wide publicity long before the actual report on the finds could be made. In April, 1912, this report, by three authors, appeared in The American Journal of Science. It consisted of a section by Prof. Hiram Bingham, director of the expedition, on "The Discovery of Prehistoric Human Remains near Cuzco, Peru";2 of an account by the geologist of the expedition, Prof. Isaiah Bowman, on "The Geologic Relations of the Cuzco Remains";3 and of a "Report on the Remains of Man and of Lower Animals, from the Vicinity of Cuzco, Peru", by Dr. George F. Eaton.4

Professor Bingham gave a concise account of the circumstances of the find, which may well be repeated practically in full.

The Yale Peruvian Expedition was organized to do archæological, geographical, geological, and topographical reconnaissance. We spent the first part of July, 1911, in and about Cuzco. On the morning of July 6, while walking up a gulch called Ayahuaycco quebrada west of Cuzco, . . . I noticed a few bones and several pieces of pottery interstratified with the gravel bank of the gulch and apparently exposed by recent erosion. This led me to examine both sides of the gulch very carefully. A hundred yards above the point where the first bones were noticed we found that erosion had cut through an ancient ash heap containing a large number of fragments of bones and pottery. Still farther up the gulch and on the side toward Cuzco I discovered a section of stone wall built of roughly finished stones more or less carefully fitted together. At first sight this wall appeared to have been built to prevent further washing away of that side of' the gulch. Then I noticed that above the wall and flush with its surface the bank appeared to consist of stratified material, indicating that perhaps the wall antedated the gravel deposits.

Fifty feet up the quebrada another portion of wall appeared. Between this and the section first seen the gravel bank somewhat protruded. On top of the bank was a cultivated field. In order to see whether the wall extended behind this gravel bank, under the field, and whether the two portions were continuous, I excavated and found, after half an hour's work on the compact gravel, that there was more wall behind the stratified sides of the gulch. The prefect of Cuzco later helped me to secure the services of six Indians,

____________________
1
Bull.52, Bur. Amer. Ethn., 1912.
2
Amer. Journ. Sci., 4th ser., vol. XXXIII, pp. 297-305, New Haven, Apr., 1912.
3
Ibid., pp. 306-325.
4
Ibid., pp. 325-333.

-10-

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Recent Discoveries Attributed to Early Man in America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Letter of Transmittal 3
  • Contents 5
  • Illustrations 7
  • Recent Discoveries Attributed to Early Man in America 9
  • The "Ancient Man of Cuzco," Peru 10
  • The la Brea Skeleton, California 17
  • The "Fossil" Man of Vero, Flortda 23
  • Addenda 61
  • Index 67
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