Michael A. Cremo
Research Associate in History and
Philosophy of Science
Extracted from Nexus Magazine, Volume
8, Number 1
1860s, Portuguese geologist Carlos Ribeiro found worked
flints in Miocene strata which suggest a much earlier
date for the emergence of modern humans than that
accepted by mainstream scientists today.
CONTROVERSIAL EPISODE IN 19th-CENTURY ARCHAEOLOGY
My theoretical approach to archaeology is informed by the Puranas,
the historical writings of ancient India, which posit a human
presence extending much further back in time than most
archaeologists today are prepared to accept (Cremo, 1999). Therefore
I was intrigued when I learned of some anomalously old stone tools
discovered by Carlos Ribeiro, a Portuguese
geologist of the 19th
century. (image left)
While I was going through the writings of the American geologist J.
D. Whitney (1880) who reported evidence for Tertiary human beings in
California,1 I encountered a sentence or two about
found flint implements in Miocene formations near Lisbon. The
Tertiary comprises a group of geological periods -- the Pliocene,
Miocene, Oligocene, Eocene and Palaeocene -- extending from 2
million to 65 million years ago.
The Miocene extends from 5 million
to 25 million years ago. According to current accounts, the oldest
anatomically modern humans came into existence about 100,000 to
150,000 years ago, and the oldest hominids, human ancestors, go back
about 4 million years.
Later I saw Ribeiro’s name again, this time in the 1957 edition of
Fossil Men by Boule and Vallois, who rather curtly dismissed his
work. I was led, however, by Boule and Vallois to the 1883 edition
of Le Préhistorique by Gabriel de Mortillet, who gave a favourable
report of Ribeiro’s discoveries. From de Mortillet’s bibliographic
references, I went to Ribeiro’s original reports. Using all of this
material, I wrote about Ribeiro’s discoveries and their reception in
Forbidden Archeology (Cremo and Thompson, 1993).
When I learned last year that the European Association of
Archaeologists annual meeting for the year 2000 was going to be held
in Lisbon, I proposed a paper on Ribeiro’s work for the section on
the history of archaeology. Previously I had relied only on
published records. But for my new research, I visited the Museu
Geológico in Lisbon, where I studied a collection of Ribeiro’s
artifacts. The artifacts were stored out of sight, below the display
cases featuring more conventionally acceptable artifacts from the
Portuguese Stone Ages.2 After spending a week examining and
photographing the artifacts, I went to the library of the Institute
of Geology and Mines at Alfragide to study Ribeiro’s personal
papers,3 and later I went to visit some of the sites where Ribeiro
collected his specimens.4
At the archaeology conference in Lisbon, I presented Ribeiro’s
discoveries as a case study, showing how contemporary archaeology
treats facts that no longer conform to accepted views. Keep in mind
that for most current students of archaeology, Ribeiro and his
discoveries simply do not exist. You have to go back to textbooks
printed over 40 years ago to find even a mention of him. Did Ribeiro’s work really deserve to be so thoroughly forgotten? I think
SUMMARIZED HISTORY OF RIBEIRO’S DISCOVERIES
In 1857, Ribeiro was named to head the Geological Commission of
Portugal, and he would also be elected to the Portuguese Academy of
Sciences. In 1860, Ribeiro learned that flints bearing signs of
human work had been found in Tertiary beds between Carregado and
Alemquer, two small towns in the basin of the Tagus River, about 35
to 40 kilometers northeast of Lisbon. Ribeiro began his own
investigations, and in many localities found "flakes of worked flint
and quartzite in the interior of the beds".
Ribeiro found himself in a dilemma. The geology of the region
indicated the limestone beds were of Tertiary age, but Ribeiro
(1873a:97) felt he must submit to the then prevalent idea that
humans were not older than the Quaternary. (The Quaternary is the
most recent geological age, comprising the Pleistocene and Holocene.
It extends from two million years ago to the present.) Ribeiro
therefore assigned Quaternary ages to the implement-bearing strata (Ribeiro,
1866; Ribeiro and Delgado, 1867).
Upon seeing the maps and accompanying reports, geologists in other
countries were perplexed. The French geologist E. de Verneuil wrote
to Ribeiro on May 27, 1867, asking him to send an explanatory note;
this was read at the June 17 meeting of the Geological Society of
France and later published in the bulletin of the Society (Ribeiro,
1867). On July 16, de Verneuil wrote once more to Ribeiro, again
objecting to his placing the Portuguese formations in the Quaternary
and insisting they must be Tertiary.
During that same year, Ribeiro learned that the Abbé Louis
Bourgeois, a reputable investigator, had reported finding stone
implements in Tertiary beds in France, and that some authorities
supported him (de Mortillet, 1883:85). Under the twin influences of
de Verneuil’s criticism and the discoveries of Bourgeois, Ribeiro
began reporting that implements of human manufacture had been found
in Miocene formations in Portugal (Ribeiro, 1871, 1873a:98).
From the standpoint of modern geology, Ribeiro’s assessment of the
age of the implement-bearing formations in the Tagus River valley
near Lisbon is correct. The official geological maps of Portugal show
the formations at Ribeiro’s key sites to be Early to Middle Miocene
(Zbyszweski and Ferreira, 1966:9-11).
In 1871, Ribeiro exhibited to the members of the Portuguese Academy
of Science at Lisbon a collection of flint and quartzite implements,
including those gathered from the Tertiary formations of the Tagus
valley, and published a study on them (Ribeiro, 1871). The
implements described in this study show not only striking platforms,
bulbs of percussion and worked edges, but also signs of use.
In 1872, at the International Congress of Prehistoric Anthropology
and Archaeology meeting in Brussels, Ribeiro gave another report on
his discoveries and displayed more specimens, mostly pointed flakes.
A. W. Franks, Conservator of National Antiquities and Ethnography at
the British Museum, stated that some of the specimens were the
product of intentional work.
Ribeiro’s Miocene flints made an impressive showing, but remained
controversial. At the Paris Exposition of 1878, Ribeiro displayed
specimens of Tertiary flint tools in the gallery of anthropological
science. De Mortillet visited Ribeiro’s exhibit and, in the course
of examining the specimens carefully, decided that they had
indubitable signs of human work.
De Mortillet, along with his friend and colleague Emile Cartailhac,
enthusiastically brought other archaeologists to see Ribeiro’s
specimens, and they were all of the same opinion: the flints were
definitely made by humans. Cartailhac then photographed the
specimens, and de Mortillet later presented pictures in his Musée
Préhistorique (G. and A. de Mortillet, 1881).
De Mortillet (1883:99) wrote:
"The intentional work is very well
established, not only by the general shape, which can be
deceptive, but much more conclusively by the presence of clearly
evident striking platforms and strongly developed bulbs of
Leland W. Patterson (1983), an expert in
distinguishing artifacts from "naturefacts", believes that the bulb
of percussion is the most important sign of intentional work on a
flint flake. In addition to the striking platforms and bulbs of
percussion, some of Ribeiro’s specimens had several long vertical
flakes removed in parallel, something not likely to occur in the
course of random battering by the forces of nature.
De Mortillet (1883:99-100) further observed:
"Many of the specimens, on the same
side as the bulb of percussion, have hollows with traces and
fragments of sandstone adhering to them, a fact which
establishes their original position in the strata."
In other words, they had not slipped
into the Miocene beds in more recent times.
At the 1880 meeting of the International Congress of Prehistoric
Anthropology and Archaeology, held in Lisbon, Portugal, Ribeiro
served as general secretary.5 Although very busy with all of the
details of organizing the event, and somewhat ill, he delivered a
report on his artifacts and displayed more specimens that were
"extracted from Miocene beds" (Ribeiro, 1884:86).
In his report ("L’homme tertiaire en Portugal"), Ribeiro (1884:88)
"The conditions in which the worked
flints were found in the beds are as follows:
(1) They were found as
integral parts of the beds themselves.
(2) They had sharp, well-preserved edges, showing
that they had not been subject to transport for any great
(3) They had a patina similar in colour to the rocks
in the strata of which they formed a part."
The second point is especially
important. Some geologists claimed that the flint implements had
been introduced into Miocene beds by the floods and torrents that
periodically washed over this terrain. According to this view,
Quaternary flint implements may have entered into the interior of
the Miocene beds through fissures and been cemented there, acquiring
over a long period of time the coloration of the beds (de Quatrefages, 1884:95). But if the flints had been subjected to such
transport, then the sharp edges would most probably have been
damaged, and this was not the case.
The Congress assigned a special commission of scientists the task of
directly inspecting the implements and the sites from which they had
been gathered. On September 22, 1880, at six in the morning, the
commission members boarded a special train and proceeded north from
Lisbon, getting off at Carregado. They proceeded further north to
Otta, and two kilometers northeast from Otta arrived at the southern
slopes of the hill called Monte Redondo. At that point, the
scientists dispersed into various ravines in search of flints.6
Paul Choffat (1884a:63), secretary of the commission, later reported
to the Congress:
"Of the many flint flakes and apparent cores taken
from the midst of the strata under the eyes of the commission
members, one was judged as leaving no doubt about the intentional
character of the work."
This was the specimen found in situ by
Bellucci. Choffat then noted that Bellucci had found on the surface
other flints with incontestable signs of work. They appeared to be
Miocene implements that had been removed from the Miocene
conglomerates by atmospheric agencies.
De Mortillet (1883:102) gave an informative account of the excursion
to Otta and Bellucci’s remarkable discovery:
"The members of the Congress arrived
at Otta, in the middle of a great freshwater formation. It was
the bottom of an ancient lake, with sand and clay in the centre
and sand and rocks on the edges. It is on the shores that
intelligent beings would have left their tools, and it is on the
shores of the lake that once bathed Monte Redondo that the
search was made. It was crowned with success.
"The able investigator of Umbria, Mr Bellucci, discovered in
situ a flint bearing incontestable signs of intentional work.
Before detaching it, he showed it to a number of his colleagues.
The flint was strongly encased in the rock. He had to use a
hammer to extract it. It is definitely of the same age as the
deposit. Instead of lying flat on a surface onto which it could
have been secondarily re-cemented at a much later date, it was
found firmly in place on the underside of a ledge extending over
a region removed by erosion. It is impossible to desire a more
complete demonstration attesting to a flint’s position in its
Study of the fauna and flora in the
region around the Monte Redondo site showed that the formations
present there can be assigned to the Tortonian stage of the Late
Miocene period (de Mortillet, 1883:102). Some modern authorities
consider the Otta conglomerates to be from the Burdigalian stage of
the Early Miocene (Antunes et al., 1980:139). After the excursion,
the commission members discussed Ribeiro’s artifacts and came to a
conclusion that was generally favourable to the authenticity of the
discoveries (Choffat, 1884b:92-93).
Altogether, there seems little reason why Ribeiro’s discoveries
should not be receiving some serious attention, even today. Here we
have a professional geologist, the head of Portugal’s Geological
Commission, making discoveries of flint implements in Miocene
strata. The implements resembled accepted types, and they displayed
characteristics that modern experts in lithic technology accept as
signs of human manufacture. To resolve controversial questions, a
congress of Europe’s leading archaeologists and anthropologists
deputed a committee to conduct a first-hand investigation of one of
the sites of Ribeiro’s discoveries.
There, a scientist discovered in
situ an implement in a Miocene bed, as witnessed by several other
members of the committee.
FINDINGS ENTER SCIENTIFIC OBLIVION
Carlos Ribeiro died in 1882. In 1889, his colleague Joaquim Fillipe
Nery Delgado conducted some new explorations at Monte Redondo.
Delgado recovered some artifacts, which he displayed at the 10th
International Congress of Prehistoric Anthropology and Archaeology.
No artifacts bearing signs of human work were found in excavations
he conducted. Delgado (1889:530) therefore declared he had not been
able to duplicate Ribeiro’s discoveries of worked flints in solid
rock. But Delgado did see signs of human work on the flints found
loose on the ground (1889:530). He said that many of these,
"are incontestably Tertiary and have
been naturally separated from the underlying beds solely by the
action of atmospheric agencies" (1889:529).
In the discussion that followed
Delgado’s talk, de Mortillet said he did not think Delgado’s failure
to find worked flints in his four excavations was all that
significant. He pointed out that even in places very rich in
artifacts, such as Chelles and St Acheul in France, one could go
through many cubic meters of sediment without finding any flints
showing signs of work (Delgado, 1889:532).
In 1905, in a memorial volume dedicated to Ribeiro, Delgado further
distanced himself from the conclusions of his departed colleague
(1905:33-34). Influenced by the discovery of Pithecanthropus erectus
in Java in the 1890s, he cast doubt on the discoveries of Ribeiro.
Pithecanthropus, an ape man, had been found without any stone tools
in a formation that scientists considered to be from the very latest
part of the Tertiary. Delgado implied that this ruled out the
existence of humans like us in the Tertiary, anywhere in the world.
He also implied that Pithecanthropus made it unlikely that similar
precursors to modern humans would be found in the European Tertiary.
South-East Asia, apparently, would be the place to look.
In 1942, Henri Breuil and G. Zbyszewski of the
Geological Service of
Portugal restudied the artifacts collected by Ribeiro. They
suggested that some of them did not actually display any signs of
intentional human work. And, not accepting the Tertiary age of the
rest, they reclassified them as corresponding to accepted
Pleistocene and Holocene industries, such as the Clactonian,
Tayencian, Levalloisian, Mousterian, Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic
and Neo-Eneolithic (Zbyszewski and Ferreira, 1966:85-86; Breuil and
Here is one example of such reclassification. Ribeiro (1871:14)
described an implement of light-brown flint. It was one of several
extracted from the Lower Miocene beds forming the hill called
Murganheira. The implement from the Miocene beds at Murganheira has
worked edges, two of them joining to form a point. The point shows
signs of use. On the tool itself is written "15.IV.1869 1.5 km N da
Bemposta", indicating the artifact was found on April 15, 1869, 1.5
kilometers north of Bemposta, a locality just south of the
On the new label prepared by the
Geological Service of Portugal during the period of
reclassification, the artifact is identified as an Upper Palaeolithic flint implement found by Ribeiro at Murganheira, near
Alemquer. Apparently there was no disputing the artifactual nature
of the object, but its age was assigned on the basis of its form
rather than its geological provenance. The Upper Palaeolithic refers
to a time in the later Pleistocene when humans of modern type were
making stone tools of relatively advanced type.
Some time after this reclassification of Ribeiro’s collection, the
artifacts were removed from display at the Museo Geológico in
Lisbon. Ribeiro and his artifacts entered into an oblivion from
which they have yet to emerge.
CONFLICT OF FACT AND THEORY
The history Carlos Ribeiro’s discoveries demonstrates the complex
interpretative interplay between geology and archaeology and
evolutionary theories. In the 19th century, even though most
European archaeologists were working within an evolutionary
framework, the time dimension of the evolutionary process had not
been settled, mainly because of the lack of skeletal evidence in
appropriate geological contexts. The looseness of the evolutionary
framework therefore allowed archaeologists to contemplate the
existence of Tertiary humans.
That changed in the very last decade of the 19th century. With the
discovery of Pithecanthropus erectus,
Darwinists began to solidify
an evolutionary progression that led from Pithecanthropus, at the Plio-Pleistocene boundary, to anatomically modern humans in the Late
Pleistocene. This left no room for Tertiary humans anywhere in the
world, and put the spotlight on South-East Asia as the place to look
for Tertiary precursors to Pithecanthropus. Ribeiro’s discoveries
lost their relevance and gradually disappeared from the discourse on
A century later, things have changed somewhat. Africa is now
generally recognised as the place where hominids first arose. For
some time, the earliest tools were thought to date back only to the
Early Pleistocene. But in recent years, archaeologists are once more
pushing the onset of stone toolmaking well into the Tertiary.
Oldowan tools have been found in the Pliocene at Gona, Ethiopia (Semaw
et al., 1997). The tools, found in large numbers and described as
surprisingly sophisticated, are about 2.5-2.6 million years old.
Therefore, we should expect to find stone tools going back even
further into the Tertiary.
Conventional candidates for the Tertiary toolmakers include the
earliest Homo or one of the australopithecines (Steele, 1999:25).
But there are other possibilities. Footprints described as
anatomically modern occur in Pliocene volcanic ash, 3.7 million
years old, at Laetoli, Tanzania (M. Leakey, 1979).8 There is even
evidence putting toolmakers close to the Iberian Peninsula, in
Morocco, in the Late Tertiary (Onoratini et al., 1990). At the Ben
Souda quarry near Fez, stone tools were found in place in the
Saissian formation which had long been considered Pliocene.
Noting the similarity of the Ben Souda
tools to the Acheulean tools from a Middle Pleistocene formation at Cuvette de Sidi Abderrahman in the area of Casablanca,
al. (1990:330) decided to characterize the part of the Saissian
formation containing the tools at Ben Souda as also being Middle
Pleistocene (repeating the early mistake of Ribeiro!). Another
possibility that deserves to be considered is that there are tools
of Acheulean type in the Tertiary of Morocco.
It may be noted that anatomically modern human skeletal remains have
been found in the Tertiary (Pliocene) of Italy at Castenedolo (Ragazzoni,
1880; Sergi, 1884; Cremo and Thompson, 1993:422-432) and at
(de Mortillet, 1883:70; Issel, 1868; Cremo and Thompson,
1993:433-435). There may therefore be some reason, once more, to
consider the possibility of Tertiary industries in Portugal.
Such a possibility is not much in favour today, as can be seen in a
recent critical survey of evidence for the earliest human occupation
of Europe (Roebroeks and Van Kolfschoten, 1995). The basic thrust of
the book, which is a collection of papers presented at a conference
on the earliest occupation of Europe (held at Tautavel, France, in
1993), is to endorse a short chronology, with solid evidence for
first occupation occurring in the Middle Pleistocene at around
Other discoveries favouring a long
chronology, perhaps extending into the earliest Pleistocene (1.8 to
2 million years) are mentioned, although the consensus among the
authors of the Tautavel papers is that such evidence is highly
questionable. The sites and the artifacts are nevertheless
mentioned, and are not entirely dismissed. The editors and authors
of individual chapters simply say that, in many cases, better
confirmation of the age of the site and the intentional manufacture
of the artifacts is required.
Given this liberal approach, Ribeiro’s artifacts should have been
mentioned in the chapter on the Iberian Peninsula (Raposo and
Santonja, 1995). In that chapter, the authors give the impression
that the oldest reported stone tool industries in Portugal are Early
Pleistocene pebble industries, documented by Breuil and Zbyszewski
(1942-1945). Raposo and Santonja (1995:13) called into question the
dating of the pebble tool sites, concluding that they "do not
document beyond doubt any Early Pleistocene human occupation".
But the main point is this: although the
industries reported by Breuil and Zbyszewski were not accepted, they
were at least acknowledged. The same is true of other controversial
sites indicating a possible Early Pleistocene occupation elsewhere
in the Iberian Peninsula. Raposo and Santonja did not accept them,
but they acknowledged their existence, thus offering current
archaeologists the option of conducting further research to
establish more firmly either the dates of the sites or the
artifactual nature of the stone objects found there. Ribeiro’s
discoveries deserve similar treatment.
One possible objection is that although there is some reason to
believe in a possible Early Pleistocene occupation or even a very
late Pliocene occupation of Europe, there is no reason to support a
Miocene habitation. But there is a body of evidence that can provide
a context in which the Miocene discoveries of Ribeiro might make
Miocene flint tools are reported from Puy de Boudieu, near Aurillac,
in the department of Cantal in the Massif Central region of France (Verworn,
1905). The flint implements were found in layers of fluviatile
sands, stones and eroded chalk, along with fossils of a typical
Miocene fauna, including Dinotherium giganteum, Mastodon longirostris,
Rhinocerus schleiermacheri and Hipparion gracile. The
implement-bearing layers were covered with basalt flows (Verworn,
Verworn was very cautious in identifying the objects he found as
objects manufactured by humans. Summarizing his methodology, Verworn
"Suppose I find in an interglacial
stone bed a flint that bears a clear bulb of percussion, but no
other symptoms of intentional work. In that case, I would be
doubtful as to whether or not I had before me an object of human
manufacture. But suppose I find there a flint which on one side
shows all the typical signs of percussion, and which on the
other side shows the negative impressions of two, three, four or
more flakes removed by blows in the same direction. Furthermore,
let us suppose one edge of the piece shows numerous successive
small parallel flakes removed, all running in the same
direction, and all, without exception, located on the same side
of the edge. Let us suppose that all the other edges are sharp,
without a trace of impact or rolling. Then I can say with
complete certainty: it is an implement of human manufacture."
Verworn found about 200 specimens
satisfying these criteria, and some of these also showed use-marks
on the working edges.
Similar discoveries come from various places around the world. They
stone tools from the Miocene of Burma (Noetling, 1894)
stone tools and artistically carved animal bone from the Miocene of
Turkey (Calvert, 1874)
incised and carved animal bones from the
Miocene of Europe (Garrigou and Filhol, 1868; von Dücker, 1873)
stone tools from the Miocene of Europe (Bourgeois, 1873)
tools and human skeletal remains from the Miocene of California
a human skeleton from the Miocene of France (de Mortillet, 1883:72)
For an extensive review of such evidence from
all periods of the Tertiary, from all parts of the world, see Cremo
and Thompson (1993).
Much of this evidence, like Ribeiro’s evidence, disappeared from
active consideration by archaeologists because of their commitment
to a human evolutionary progression anchored on Pithecanthropus
erectus - mouse on right image (Cremo, forthcoming).
For example, the influential anthropologist William H. Holmes
(1899:424), of the Smithsonian Institution, rejected the California
gold mine discoveries reported by J. D. Whitney by saying:
if Professor Whitney had fully appreciated the story of human
evolution as it is understood today, he would have hesitated to
announce the conclusions formulated, notwithstanding the imposing
array of testimony with which he was confronted."
Holmes (1899:470) specifically appealed the Java Man discovery,
suggesting that Whitney’s evidence should be rejected because,
implies a human race older by at least one half than Pithecanthropus
erectus of Dubois, which may be regarded as an incipient form of
Not all of the evidence for Tertiary Homo comes from the 19th
century. K. N. Prasad (1982:101), of the Geological Survey of India,
"a crude unifacial hand-axe pebble
tool recovered from the Late Miocene-Pliocene (9-10 m.y. BP) at
Haritalyangar, Himachal Pradesh, India".
He added (1982:102):
"The implement was recovered in
situ, during remeasuring of the geological succession to assess
the thickness of the beds. Care was taken to confirm the exact
provenance of the material, in order to rule out the possibility
of its derivation from younger horizons."
Describing the tool itself, Prasad said
"The quartz artifact, heart-shaped
(90 x 70 mm), was obviously fabricated from a rolled pebble, the
dorsal side of which shows rough flaking... On the ventral side,
much of the marginal cortex is present at the distal end. Crude
flaking has been attempted for fashioning a cutting edge.
Marginal flaking at the lateral edge on the ventral side is
Prasad concluded (1982:103):
"It is not impossible that
fashioning tools commenced even as early as the later Miocene
and evolved in a time-stratigraphic period embracing the
The discoveries of Ribeiro, and other evidences for Tertiary man
uncovered by European archaeologists and geologists, are today
attributed (if they are discussed at all) to the inevitable mistakes
of untutored members of a young discipline.
Another possible explanation is that some of the discoveries are
genuine, and were filtered out of the normal discourse of a
community of archaeologists that had adopted, perhaps prematurely,
an evolutionary paradigm that placed the origins of stone toolmaking
in the Pleistocene.
But as the time-line of human toolmaking begins once more to reach
back into the Tertiary, perhaps we should withhold final
on Ribeiro’s discoveries. A piece of the archaeological puzzle that
does not fit the consensus picture at a particular moment may find a
place as the nature of the whole picture changes.
As an historian of archaeology, I believe that the discoveries of
Ribeiro remain worthy of being considered in discussions of the
earliest human occupation of Europe. I am pleased that the Museo
Geológico in Lisbon is once more considering exhibiting the
I also encourage new investigations at Monte Redondo
and other sites identified by Ribeiro.
1. Whitney was a prominent
geologist, and his reports on the discoveries were published by
the Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology. The
discoveries included anatomically modern human skeletal remains
and stone artifacts, such as mortars and pestles and obsidian
spear-points. They were found in gold mining tunnels that
reached Eocene river channels, sealed under hundreds of feet of
Miocene and Pliocene basalt flows in the Sierra Nevada
mountains, at places such as Table Mountain in Tuolumne County,
California. See Cremo and Thompson (1993:370-393, 439-452) for a
review and discussion.
2. The Museu Geológico is located on the second floor of
the 17th-century building in the historic centre of Lisbon that
also houses the Academia Real das Ciências de Lisboa. I was able
to match artifacts in the museum collection to 21 of the 128
drawings of artifacts shown in Ribeiro’s principal publication
on them (Ribeiro, 1871). Artifacts were matched to figures 13,
15, 16, 26, 27, 29, 36, 36b, 43, 45, 46, 55, 62, 63, 64, 73, 74,
77, 80, 82, 94. Assuming that all the artifacts figured in
Ribeiro’s 1871 publication were originally in the collection, it
appears that most are now misplaced or otherwise missing.
3. The Instituto Geológico e Mineiro is located in
Alfragide, in the newer western suburbs of Lisbon. The library
of the Museu Geológico was transferred there from central Lisbon
a few years ago.
4. The main guide to the localities I visited was
Ribeiro’s 1866 publication. The localities that I found, with
considerable help from Portuguese friends who served as drivers
and translators, were:
(1) A site at the base of
an escarpment that runs along the north side of the road
that goes from Carregado to Cadafaes (Ribeiro, 1866:28). The
site is about half the distance between Carregado and
Cadafaes (now spelled Cadafais), and can be reached by a
small dirt road going through some vineyards.
(2) Quinta de Cesar in
Carregado (Ribeiro, 1866:32).
(3) The hill called
Murganheira, east of Alemquer (Ribeiro, 1866:34).
(4) Encosta da Gorda,
near the eastern side of the Murganheira hill (Ribeiro,
(5) The site on the right
bank of the River Otta, where it passes the village of Otta
(6) Monte Redondo, about
two kilometres northeast of Otta (Ribeiro, 1866:45).
5. The Congress was held in
the ornate main hall of the library in the building housing the
Academia Real das Ciências, located on the floor below the Museu
Geológico. The hall, still there today, is worth a visit.
6. In July 2000, I retraced the commission’s route. There
is a road leading east from Otta to Aveiras de Cima. Just as
this road leaves Otta, one turns onto a small dirt road leading
north and, following it, one eventually comes to Monte Redondo.
Monte Redondo and the surrounding area remain in a natural
condition, undisturbed by any construction. Although I suspect
the landscape has changed somewhat, ravines on the southern
slopes of Monte Redondo, like those described in the report of
the conference expedition, are still visible. Their profiles
resemble the one figured by de Mortillet (1883:101).
7. In the Pithecanthropus erectus discovery, Dubois
associated a femur with a skullcap. Considering the historical
impact of Pithecanthropus on consideration of evidence for
Tertiary humans, it is noteworthy that modern researchers no
longer consider the association genuine. When Day and Molleson
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