I’m excited to share the Dedication and Introduction to Freedom, 250,000 BC: Out From the Shadow of Popocatépetl. It’s my first novella and is due about September 1, 2016. Each novella in this series will be dedicated to a different archaeological site in existence prior to 11,700 years ago.
Archaeological Site at Valsequillo
This book is dedicated to the archaeological site south of Puebla, Mexico at the Valsequillo Reservoir. What the site shows is an amazingly rich prehistoric view of human life in the Americas, specifically Mexico, in 250,000 BC. That date is the glory and infamy of the Valsequillo site.
Two mountains are involved in this story. The title, Freedom, 250,000 BC: Out From the Shadow of Popocatépetl, refers to the volcanic mountain, Popocatépetl, to the northwest of the Valsequillo site. Popocatépetl is pronounced po-po-ca-te-petal, the last part like flower petal. The other mountain, La Malinque, erupted and its ash preserved the amazing finds at the site.
There is no longer an archaeological site south of Puebla, Mexico at Valsequillo. It’s been buried and hidden. Why? The answer is as old as man. It’s a power war over dogmatic belief. I chose this site for the first novella in the series because of the controversy, not despite it.
In 1959 an accountant in Mexico who was fascinated by prehistoric finds in the Valsequillo area, chanced to discover a mammoth pelvis bone. He pried it from the soil. It was not an unusual find, until, when cleaning it later, he found animal carvings on the mammoth bone. Surprisingly one of the animals was an extinct gomphothere (Ryncotherium), a four-tusked elephant-like animal; another, a speared feline. There were others. The find immediately generated great interest. The Smithsonian Institution featured it, and “LIFE Magazine” did a brief article showing the carving (Illustration 1). The bone had been carved when green. In other words, it was carved when the bone was fresh. What’s remarkable, and unknown at the time of the article, is that the bone scientifically dated to 250,000 years ago. That simple scientific test would set off an explosive archaeological battle over the past that continues today. There was a carver 250,000 years ago in the Americas! That was heresy in the world of evolutionary belief; totally plausible scientifically.
Illustration 1: “LIFE Magazine,” Volume 49, No. 7, page 86.
In addition to the engraved mammoth pelvis bone two skulls have been found that relate to man in the Americas at a very early time. Skull 1: Associated with the Valsequillo site, the Dorenberg skull, found at the Valsequillo site in the late 1800s ended up in a museum in Leipzig, Germany, where it was destroyed by bombing during WWII. It’s gone. Inside that skull there was encrustation from diatoms. Diatoms are minute photosynthesizing algae with silica cell walls, intricate in form. Hugo Reichelt in Leipzig scraped diatoms from the skull to get a sense of its date. The date of the diatoms scraping was established as “antediluvian,” not a very helpful term. Essentially, it meant before the Biblical flood. Some of the diatoms were extinct 80,000 years ago. A few decades ago, Sam L. VanLandingham, a diatom paleontologist, dated a reference slide of diatoms at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The diatoms on the slide came from the Doremberg skull scraping. He dated them to the Sangamon age (about 80,000 to 220,000 years ago). Using today’s methods, Sam VanLandingham also dated diatoms at the site where the skull and artifacts had been found. The diatoms at the site dated to between 80,000 to 220,000 years before the present. The same forms of diatoms found in the soil at the site at Valsequillo and the skull scrapings are consistent. Skull 2: The Ostrander skull was found in California. With the brow ridges, it’s either a Homo erectus or Homo neanderthalensis. Very ancient people were in the southwest part of what’s now the USA and Mexico a long, long time ago. Neither skull remains available today. The first was destroyed in WWII and the second may have been given a Native American burial.
Illustration 2: Ostrander skull (on right). Used with permission from Austin Whittall.
So what happened at Valsequillo? The wonderful bone art found by Comacho, spotlighted by the Smithsonian, and photographed in “LIFE Magazine” was dated. C-14 wouldn’t go back far enough. Testing was performed using the Uranium series. The date? 250,000 years ago. Then things went haywire. The lead scientist on the site, Cynthia Irwin-Williams, refused to accept the date. Rather than face ridicule, which she knew would follow, she essentially dropped the project. And ridicule came. Along came other problems. Finds were removed from the scientists and hidden or destroyed. Scientists were accused of planting finds to discredit the work. How it never occurred to anyone that no self-respecting scientist would knowingly plant finds that would cause himself to be ridiculed, I don’t know.
What has been buried at the Valsequillo site is precious. Skulls, engravings, tools all once showed a site at 250,000 years ago just south of Puebla, Mexico. It’s part of a potentially rich and amazing heritage in this land of ours. Nonsense brought it to the current conclusion. Maybe in time there will be an environment in which the site can be revisited to learn what lies beneath the surface. More skulls, more carvings, more tools? Maybe humans can gain understanding that will help explain this world in which we live. As it is, it’s the single most intriguing archaeological site in the Americas from my point of view.