Red Crag : Down the Memory Hole

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uniface

Red Crag : Down the Memory Hole

Post by uniface » Tue May 26, 2015 7:33 pm

. . . At this point, the controversy over Moir's discoveries was submitted to an
international commission of scientists for resolution. The commission, formed at the
request of the International Institute of Anthropology, was composed of eight prominent
European and American anthropologists, geologists, and archeologists. This group
supported Moir's conclusions. They concluded that the flints from the base of the Red Crag
near Ipswich were in undisturbed strata, at least Pliocene in age. Furthermore, the flaking
on the flints was undoubtedly of human origin. Members of the commission also carried
out four excavations into the detritus bed below the Red Crag and themselves found five
typical specimens. These tools would be at least 2.5 million years old. And because the
detritus bed contains materials from ancient Eocene land surfaces, the tools might be up to
55 million years old.

Commission member Louis Capitan stated: "There exist at the base of the Crag, in
undisturbed strata, worked flints (we have observed them ourselves). These are not made
by anything other than a human or hominid which existed in the Tertiary epoch. This fact is
found by us prehistorians to be absolutely demonstrated
."

Surprisingly, even after the commission report, Moir's opponents, such as Warren,
persisted in attempting to show that the flint implements were the product of natural
pressure flaking. Warren said that the flints may have been crushed by icebergs against the
ocean bottom along the coast. But to our knowledge no one has shown that icebergs can
produce the numerous bulbs of percussion and elaborate retouching reported on Moir's
implements. Furthermore, many of the Red Crag specimens are lying in the middle of
sediments and not on hard rock surfaces against which an iceberg might have crushed them.
In addition, J. M. Coles, an English archeologist, reported that at Foxhall implements occur
in layers of sediment that appear to represent land surfaces and not beach deposits. This
would also rule out the iceberg action imagined by Warren.

After Warren put forward his iceberg explanation, the controversy faded. Coles
wrote in 1968: "That . . . the scientific world did not see fit to accept either side without
considerable uncertainty must account for the quite remarkable inattention that this East
Anglian problem has received since the days of active controversy
." This may be in part
true, but there is another possible explanation—that elements of the scientific community
decided silence was a better way to bury Moir's discoveries than active and vocal dissent.

By the 1950s, scientific opinion was lining up solidly behind an Early Pleistocene African
center for human evolution. Therefore, there would have been little point, and perhaps
some embarrassment and harm, in continually trying to disprove evidence for a
theoretically impossible Pliocene habitation of England. That would have kept both sides of
the controversy too much alive. The policy of silence, deliberate or not, did in fact prove
highly successful in removing Moir's evidence from view. There was no need to defeat
something that was beneath notice, and little to gain from defending or supporting it either.

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