View Full Version : Archaeological Trench Warfare at Glozel

Thursday, August 9th, 2007, 02:44 PM
Archaeological Trench Warfare at Glozel

Philip Coppens

The excavations near the French village of Glozel, a hamlet located 17 kilometres from the French spa town of Vichy, are among the most controversial of archaeological endeavours. These excavations lasted between 1924 and 1938, but the vast majority of finds-more than 3,000 artefacts-were unearthed in the first two years. The artefacts were variously dated to Neolithic, Iron Age and Mediaeval times. What transpired is a textbook case of archaeological feuding and fraud versus truth.

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Gorm the Old
Thursday, August 9th, 2007, 06:30 PM
This situation is very reminiscent of the famous feud between the two famous vertebrate palaeontologists, Othneil C. Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope in the late 19th century. Both studied dinosaurs and other large Mesozoic fauna.

The two men detested each other and worked at sites near each other in the western US. Their graduate students and field hands were involved in numerous fist-fights and even sabotaged each other's sites. When they left at the end of the field season, they dynamited their sites so that no one else could collect there.

Marsh was so avid for recognition and priority that he took to publishing his findings by telegrams. Unfortunately, his handwriting was so bad that many generic names had to be revised later because of spelling errors in transmitting messages from his illegible notes.

The classic example was the name "Lephalaphodon" which appeared briefly in the palaeontological literature until Marsh was able, on his return to Yale, to correct it to "Loxolophodon" as he had intended.

Both Marsh and Cope collected so much in such haste that, when I was a graduate student at Yale 50 years ago, much of Marsh's material, collected in the late 19th century had still not been studied, some 70 or more years later.