The Holloman Gravel Pit Finds

In September of 1999, I gave a lecture on my book Forbidden Archeology at the Department of Geology and Geophysics of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. The audience was mostly professors and graduate students of geology. The invitation came from Dr. David Deming, a geology professor at the university.

In my talk at the University of Oklahoma, in addition to mentioning cases from my book, I mentioned a case from Oklahoma that had come to my attention after Forbidden Archeology was published. In the 1920s, A. H. Holloman discovered human artifacts and fossils of extinct animals in a gravel pit he owned near Frederick, Oklahoma. He showed some of his finds to F. G. Priestly, a local medical doctor. Priestly had recently read in Scientific American an article by Harold J. Cook about human antiquity in America. So he wrote to the editor of Scientific American, A. G. Ingalls, telling him about the discoveries in Frederick. Ingalls wrote a letter to Cook, informing him of the discoveries, thinking he might be interested in investigating them. At that time, Cook was associated with the paleontology department of the Colorado Museum of Natural History in Denver. Cook informed the director of the museum, J. D. Figgins, who expressed great interest in the discoveries. In January of 1927, Cook and Figgins went to Frederick and, accompanied by Priestly and Holloman, visited the gravel pit. They examined human artifacts, fossil animal bones, and the stratigraphy of the pit. Figgins and Cook later published the first scientific reports of the discoveries.

In his report (“The Antiquity of Man in America,” published in Natural History (1927, vol. 27, no.3, pp. 229–239), Figgins (p. 235) explained that the gravel pit was “an open cut on the east face of a ridge.” He added, “At the time of our visit, a nearly vertical cut of not less than 150 yards in length and varying from fifteen feet to twenty-four feet in height was exposed with every phase of the several strata clearly defined.” The basal layer, about two feet thick, was a hard conglomerate of pebbles and gravel. A pointed flint artifact came from this layer. Figgins (p. 237) stated that it was “picked up by Mr. Holloman as it was broken out of the hard matrix by workmen.” The basal layer also contained fossils of extinct mammals. Above the basal layer was a layer of cross-bedded sandstone, about two feet thick, and above this were layers of largely unconsolidated sands and gravels, nine to fifteen feet thick, which contained fossils of extinct animals and human artifacts, including a flint arrowhead and three metates. A metate is a flat or slightly hollowed oblong stone on which materials such as nuts or seeds are ground using a smaller stone as a grinder.

In his article (“New Geological and Palaeontological Evidence Bearing on the Antiquity of Man in America”), also published in Natural History (1927, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 240-247), Cook stated that the artifact-bearing layers were “of early Pleistocene age” (p. 247). Today geologists think the Early Pleistocene goes from 781,000 to 2,590,000 years ago. When I was at the University of Oklahoma, I met paleontologist Richard Cifelli at the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. He gave me a copy of a manuscript by him and paleontologist Kevin S. Smith entitled, “Pleistocene Vertebrates of Oklahoma.” In this document Smith and Cifelli (p. 9) say that the fossils from the Holloman gravel pit belong to the Irvingtonian North American Land Mammal Stage. The Irvingtonian goes from about 240,000 years ago to 1,800,000 years ago. Because Smith and Cifelli (p. 9) also stated that the Holloman fossils were “Early Pleistocene,” this suggests the earlier part of the Irvingtonian. In his original report of the discoveries, Figgins (p. 237) stated that among the fossil animal species found in the basal layer (the one that contained the triangular flint artifact) was Trilophodon, an extinct four-tusked elephant. I did some research in the Paleobiology Database (www.paleodb.org) to determine the age range of Trilophodon. The first appearance of Trilophodon in the fossil record was 24.8 million years ago and the last appearance of 1.8 million years ago. So it appears that the artifacts from the basal layer at the Holloman gravel pit could be quite old—perhaps as much as 1.8 million years. The minimum age for the artifacts from above the basal layer appears to be at least a few hundred thousand years. All of this is consistent with the accounts of extreme human antiquity found in the Puranas, the historical writings of ancient India, which are a major inspiration for my work. It is interesting that the Bhagavata Purana (8.8.4), in describing events that took place millions of years ago, mentions elephants with four tusks.

Most scientists today believe that the first humans like us came into existence about 200,000 years ago. And many also believe that the first humans entered North America no earlier than 15,000 years ago. At the time of the Holloman discoveries, most scientists believed humans entered North America less than 10,000 years ago, during the Holocene (the most recent geological period). So some of these scientists found it hard to believe the Holloman evidence, which suggested humans like us were present during the Early Pleistocene.

David Deming, the geology professor who invited me to speak at the University of Oklahoma, became interested in the Holloman gravel pit discoveries. Recently Deming published an article (“The Holloman Gravel Pit and American Prehistory”) about them in Pleistocene Coalition News (2013, vol. 5, no. 5, pp. 2-4). The Pleistocene Coalition is an organization of researchers and scientists dedicated to exploring cases that contradict some mainstream archaeological ideas. Among the members is Virginia Steen-McIntyre, whom I have mentioned several times in these columns. She is the geologist who courageously upheld dates obtained by her and her colleagues, showing that the Hueyatlaco archeological site in central Mexico is over 250,000 years old. I encourage readers to visit PleistoceneCoalition.com, where issues of Pleistocene Coalition News are archived.

In his article, Deming wrote (p. 3): “Every possible objection was raised as to why the artifacts from Holloman could not be of Pleistocene age. Without bothering to visit the Holloman site, Leslie Spier argued that the arrowheads must have fallen into the pit from the surface. This is a standard tack in archaeology when anomalous evidence contradicts expectations. Another critic speculated that the gravel deposits represented a recent reworking and mixing of Pleistocene fossils with Holocene artifacts. All objections were met and defeated. In 1929, Mr. Holloman located an arrowhead cemented in place. A team of geologists from the University of Oklahoma led by Charles Gould visited the Holloman site and satisfied themselves as to the in situ nature of the artifact. Even critic Leslie Spier conceded that the human artifacts were of the same age as the fossil animals.” Unfortunately, because of all of the controversy about the site, Mr. Holloman decided to close it to researchers, and nothing much was said about it in scientific circles after that.

Before concluding this column, let me mention some other interesting discoveries made in the Pleistocene formations at the Holloman gravel pit—live toads inside round balls of clay hardened to a stone-like state. C. E. Decker describes them in an article (“The Age of the Toads in the A. H. Holloman Sand Pit at Frederick Oklahoma”) published in Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science (1930, vol. 10, pp. 82–84).  Decker (pp. 82–83) wrote: “If the deposit is Pleistocene… the question next arises as to whether the live toads which have been found inside the clay balls in the deposit necessarily are of the same age. One of these toads which was sent to Washington, D. C. for inspection, is still alive… He has been christened ‘Pleistie,’ suggesting that he originated in the Pleistocene. But did he?” Decker thought not.  He proposed that fairly recently, within the past year or two, toads had gone into hibernation after burrowing into the Pleistocene deposit. Particles of clay carried by ground water had formed around them and later dried, trapping the toads in hardened balls of clay. But maybe the toads really were from the Pleistocene. My guru, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, said in a lecture on Bhagavad-gita (Bombay, 25 February 1974): “The frogs, they can become in samadhi [yogic trance], situated in samadhi, for many, many years… I read long, long ago that in the coal mine, while they were digging coals, one frog came out from the coal and jumped over and died. That means the frog was buried within the lump of coal for many, many thousands of years, and he was keeping samadhi.” That is definitely possible, I believe. There are many reports of such things.

 

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 (see HumanDevolution.com). Visit MCremo.com).

The Forbidden Archeologist