PLEASE NOTE: The Subversive Archaeologist has published a retraction of this post, which can be accessed by clicking here.
|From Neves et al. (2012)|
How funny is this? Just about an hour ago I was musing on the absence of any lunacy from PLoSone in the past while. Then up pops this on the news ticker. Earliest rock art in the Americas!
Wow! This one definitely required all the despatch and prompt publishing that PLoSone offers! Just one thing. They published it so promptly they didn’t have time to look at the so-called work of art. If this is a petroglyph I’ll eat something unpleasant. They’re calling it anthropomorphic! The only anthropomorphizing that’s revealed here is in the (vivid) imagination of the excavator.
This ‘figure’ is on the bedrock in a limestone rockshelter in Brazil. Superposed sediments have been dated to plus or minus 11 kya. It’s described as a human figure, male, with an oversized phallus. Poppycock! Horse-hockey! Oldest art in the Americas? Hardly.
Let’s see… Limestone is predominantly calcium carbonate, which dissolves, even in the presence of only mildly acidic water–that’s how caves and sinkholes form. Let’s see… What natural process could possibly have produced what appears like a connected series of peck marks? Wait, wait, I know this one… Water? Too right. Acidic water. Dripping from the roof of the rockshelter. Or carried along as part of a root system as the sediment gradually accumulated over the years. Or… well, you get the point.
This is not a petroglyph. And PLoSone doesn’t have a referee worth the intrinsic value of this laughable claim.
Give me a break.