Monday, 13 November 2017

Provenance an Issue: The 'Schleusingen collection' and Untermassfeld

A bizarre tale of theft and suspicious packages casts doubt on claims for an early-human occupation in northern Europe (Ewen Callaway, 'Archaeologists say human-evolution study used stolen bone', Nature 13 November 2017). The Untermassfeld site in Germany yielded more than 14,000 large animal fossils dating from between 900,000 and 1.2 million years ago, but serious concerns have arisen about the interpretations of material from this site claiming evidence for one of the earliest human occupations of Europe. In an extraordinary letter posted to the preprint server last month, archaeologists allege that three papers, published in 2013, 2016 and 2017, included material of questionable provenance and researchers express concern that appropriate questions regarding the provenance of the material appear not to have been asked.
In their papers, Landeck and Garcia Garriga attributed the material, along with hundreds of rock fragments of limestone and chert, to “the Schleusingen collection”, which they stated was recovered by a biology teacher in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Kahlke says he is personally unaware of a Schleusingen collection and questions whether the material was collected at this time. Rocks like those described in the papers can be found in the vicinity of the site, but he says that animal fossils are concentrated in a small area that has been under excavation since 1978. No other research teams had permission to excavate the site during that time, Kahlke says. But he says that material was routinely stolen from the site — which he reported to the police, most recently in 2012 — until the site and fossil bed were better secured. There is no suggestion that Landeck and Garcia Garriga were involved in these thefts.
but it seems they were involved in handling material from private collections, and then using it in their research. One of the bones mentioned in their work seems to have been stolen by artefact hunters from the excavation in may/June 2009.

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.