At the World Archaeological Congress in Kyoto

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I get my message of extreme human antiquity out in many ways, to many different audiences. For example, in my Atlantis Rising columns, I am addressing people specifically interested in alternative science that challenges the mainstream consensus. Sometimes I am using media like radio, television, and the web to reach out to the more general public. Another one of my audiences is the community of professional archaeologists. One of the ways I reach this audience is by presenting papers at conferences of professional archaeologists. Over the years, I have done this many times.

One of the largest international organizations of archaeologists is the World Archaeological Congress (WAC). Founded in 1986, the WAC is open to alternative perspectives on archaeology. As a sign of this, the scientific journal published by the WAC is called Archaeologies, indicating there can be more than one archaeology. There can be a Western scientific archaeology, but there can also be other archaeologies, based on different worldviews. There can be an Australian aboriginal archaeology, a Native American Indian archaeology, and, in my case, an archaeology based on the accounts of extreme human antiquity found in the Puranas, the historical and cosmological texts of ancient India. The consensus in modern scientific archaeology is that humans like us first appeared less than 200,000 years ago. But the Puranas contain accounts of human populations existing many millions of years ago. In my book Forbidden Archeology, I documented archaeological evidence consistent with these accounts.

The World Archaeological Congress holds a major conference every four years, in a different country. Because I keep up my membership in the World Archaeological Congress, I receive announcements of these conferences, which include a “call for papers.” Some months ago, I received the call for papers for the World Archaeological Congress being held in Kyoto, Japan, from August 28 to September 2, 2016. At a big conference, like that held by the WAC, attended by about 1,500 archaeologists, there are many parallel sessions in which papers are presented. So my first step was to look over the list of sessions to see if there was a session to which I might like to submit a paper. My attention was drawn to the session: “Hidden treasures: innovative archaeological research on museum collections.” The session abstract said, “Through innovative studies of the extensive collections held in museums, archaeological research is re-invigorating these long-neglected sources of information about the past. Assemblages from old excavations lying dormant in storage for decades, and even longer, are being explored and reinterpreted through new questions and methodologies… This session will bring together a broad range of case studies to form the basis for discussions about how archaeology can better make use of the hidden treasures embedded in museum collections.” My work does in fact involve research into artifacts held in old, little-known museum collections.

So I wrote to the organizer of the session, archaeologist Robin Torrence of the Australian National Museum, to propose a paper. The first thing I did was to acknowledge my position as an outsider: “I am a little controversial, in terms of my background and theoretical outlook. I am not a professional archaeologist, and my ideas about archaeology are informed by my intellectual commitment to concepts about human origins and antiquity expressed in the Puranas, the historical writings of ancient India. The idea that most influences me is that humans have existed for longer periods of time than most archaeologists today would deem likely.”

Then I proposed my idea for a paper: “I will present three cases: (1) my research, at the Museum of Geology in Lisbon, into stone tools collected in the nineteenth century by Carlos Ribeiro, some alleged by him to be of Miocene antiquity; (2) my research, in the Royal Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels, into stone tools collected in the early twentieth century by Aimé Rutot, alleged by him to be of Oligocene antiquity; (3) my research, in the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology (Univ. of Calif., Berkeley), into stone tools collected by, among others, J. D. Whitney, some alleged by him to be of at least Pliocene antiquity. I will also make some general statements about the value of old museum collections, and about museum policies regarding maintaining these collections, access to them, and display of them.” The proposal was accepted.

The title I chose for my paper in the session on “hidden treasures” was “Tertiary hidden treasures: archaeological evidence for extreme human antiquity in early museum collections.” The Tertiary is the larger geological period that includes the Pliocene (2.58 to 5.333 million years ago), Miocene (5.333 to 23.03 million years ago), Oligocene (23.03 to 33.9 million years ago), Eocene (33.9 to 56.0 million years ago), and Paleocene (59.0 to 66.0 million years ago). The simple stone tools found by geologist Carlos Ribeiro in Portugal were from the early Miocene, which means they could be 20 million years old. In the nineteenth century, Ribeiro displayed them in the Museum of Geology in Lisbon, with labels giving their age as Miocene. After Ribeiro died, museum staff wrote new labels for the artifacts, giving them far younger ages that fit the orthodox timeline for human origins. The stone tools found by geologist A. Rutot at the Boncelles, Belgium, site came from a formation of late Oligocene age, between 23 and 28 million years old. The advanced stone tools from the California gold mines, reported to the scientific world by geologist J. D. Whitney in 1880, were believed by him to be of Pliocene antiquity. But modern geologists consider the deposits in which they were found to be of early Eocene antiquity, which means they are about 50 million years old. I wrote a full academic paper, fully documenting all this, especially my experiences in accessing these collections of Tertiary hidden treasures in the museums in which they are stored. I also prepared a PowerPoint presentation in which I summarized the main points of the paper. At the WAC Conference sessions, presenters are given 15 minutes for their talks.

On August 25, 2016, I flew from Los Angeles to Kansai airport, located on an island near Kobe, Japan, arriving in the early evening of August 26. I took a train directly from the airport to Kyoto. The ride took about 70 minutes. From the Kyoto train station, I took a taxi to my hotel, the Palace Side Hotel, across the street from the old Kyoto imperial palace and gardens. Many archaeologists were staying there. The next day, Saturday, my main goals were to rest up from the flight and locate the conference venues. After breakfast, I walked north through the gardens of the Kyoto imperial palace, coming out at Dosheisha University. I located the building where the registration and opening ceremony would take place the next day. I also located the building where most of the lecture sessions would be held. I also located a vegan restaurant, the Morpho Café, and had a vegan burger and fries with coleslaw. The next day, Sunday, I registered and went to the opening ceremony. Then I studied the conference schedule book to pick the sessions I would attend over the next few days. I chose sessions that included archaeologists I had met at previous meetings of the WAC. The session in which I was to give my paper met on Tuesday afternoon. When my turn came I gave my talk with my PowerPoint presentation. After the session, an archaeologist from India approached me and said he was intrigued by my description of the Puranic accounts of extreme human antiquity. He said he was one of the editors of an academic journal in India and asked if I would be interested in submitting something for publication. That evening I got an email from a researcher from New Zealand who was interested to learn more about some of the things I said in my talk.

The next day, August 31, was devoted to conference tours. The tour I chose went first to the Goshiki-zuki burial mound (from the fourth century AD) in Kobe. On the bus ride I sat next to a Japanese archaeologist who works at the Kanai Higashiura site, known as Japan’s Pompeii. At this site, about 1,400 years old, a warrior dressed in armor was found in volcanic ash. Next we visited an archaeology museum in Kobe. Then we visited the Shogun-era castle at Himeji. The Himeji Castle’s construction began in the fourteenth century AD. What I found most interesting is that the whole central tower of the Himeji Castle is made of wooden beams and columns. A white plaster, however, covers the outer surfaces.

The next day, on September 1st, I went to more lecture sessions. In the evening, I went to the conference gala dinner. I wound up sitting next to archaeologist Alice Kehoe, who is favorable to the idea of extensive transoceanic contacts between the Americas and the Old World before the time of Columbus. On September 2, there were some closing plenary sessions and a farewell party. The next day, I flew from Kansai airport back to Los Angeles.


Michael A. Cremo is the author, with Richard Thompson, of the underground classic Forbidden Archeology: The Hidden History of Human Race. He has also written Human Devolution: A Vedic Alternative to Darwin’s Theory. (Visit


The Forbidden Archaeologist •