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A Mammoth Fraud in Science

James B. Griffin, David J. Meltzer, Bruce D. Smith and William C. Sturtevant
American Antiquity
Vol. 53, No. 3 (Jul., 1988), pp. 578-582
DOI: 10.2307/281218
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/281218
Page Count: 5
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A Mammoth Fraud in Science
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Abstract

The Holly Oak pendant is a shaped piece of marine whelk (Busycon sinistrum) shell with two holes drilled in one end that bears an incised depiction of an extinct proboscidean (woolly mammoth or mastodon). It allegedly was recovered in 1864 from an archaeological site in Delaware. There was speculation in the 1970s as to its age and significance, and it was illustrated and cited as a Paleoindian artifact of Pleistocene age. Subsequent analyses indicated the artifact was fraudulent: The engraving probably was done in the 1880s on a shell recovered from an archaeological site. This has been confirmed by a recently obtained AMS radiocarbon date. The Holly Oak pendant is a modern forgery.

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