Out-of-place artifact

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Out-of-place artifact (OOPArt) is a term coined by American naturalist and cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson for an object of historical, archaeological, or paleontological interest found in a very unusual or seemingly impossible context[1] that could challenge conventional historical chronology by being "too advanced" for the level of civilization that existed at the time, or showing "human presence" well before humans were supposed to exist.

The term "out-of-place artifact" is rarely used by mainstream historians or scientists. Its use is largely confined to cryptozoologists, proponents of ancient astronaut theories, Young Earth creationists, and paranormal enthusiasts.[2] The term is used to describe a wide variety of objects, from anomalies studied by mainstream science and pseudoarchaeology far outside the mainstream to objects that have been shown to be hoaxes or to have mundane explanations.

Critics argue that most purported OOPArts which are not hoaxes are the result of mistaken interpretation, wishful thinking, or a mistaken belief that a particular culture couldn't have created an artifact or technology due to a lack of knowledge or materials. Supporters regard OOPArts as evidence that mainstream science is overlooking huge areas of knowledge, either willfully or through ignorance.[2]

In some cases, the uncertainty results from inaccurate descriptions. For example: the Wolfsegg Iron was said to be a perfect cube, but in fact it is not; the Klerksdorp spheres were said to be perfect spheres, but they are not; and the Iron pillar of Delhi was said to be "rust proof", but it has some rust near its base.

Many writers or researchers who question conventional views of human history have used purported OOPArts in attempts to bolster their arguments.[2] Creation Science relies on allegedly anomalous finds in the archaeological record to challenge scientific chronologies and models of human evolution.[3] Claimed OOPArts have been used to support religious descriptions of pre-history, ancient astronaut theories, and the notion of vanished civilizations that possessed knowledge or technology more advanced than that of modern times.[2]

Examples[edit]

The following are examples of objects that have been argued by various fringe authors (see list) to have been OOPArts:

Unusual artifacts[edit]

A minority of OOPARTs are at least debatably unusual within the scientific mainstream, although not impossible for their time period.

  • Antikythera mechanism: Its clockwork-like appearance, dating to about 1,000 years before clocks were invented, has been claimed by fringe sources to be evidence of alien visitation,[4] and authors such as Zecharia Sitchin argue that this artifact is a product "not of Man, but of the gods".[5] However, mainstream scientists consider the Antikythera mechanism to be a form of mechanical computer created around 150–100 BCE based on the theories of astronomy and mathematics developed by the ancient Greeks whose design and workmanship reflect a previously unknown, but not implausible, degree of sophistication.[6][7]

Questionable interpretations[edit]

Unlikely interpretations[edit]

The iron pillar of Delhi
One of the Quimbaya "airplanes"

Natural objects mistaken for artifacts[edit]

Erroneously dated objects[edit]

  • Coso artifact: Thought to be prehistoric; actually a 1920s spark plug.[3]
  • Malachite Man: Thought to be from the early Cretaceous; actually a post-Columbian burial.[27][28]
  • Wolfsegg Iron: Thought to be from the Tertiary epoch; actually from an early mining operation. Inaccurately described as a perfect cube.

Modern-day creations[edit]

An Ica stone depicting a dragon-like animal

Entirely fictional[edit]

See also[edit]

Authors and works:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hatcher Childress, David (1996). Lost cities of Atlantis, ancient Europe & the Mediterranean. Adventures Unlimited Press. ISBN 0-932813-25-9. Retrieved April 19, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d O'Hehir, Andrew (August 31, 2005). "Archaeology from the dark side". Salon.com. Retrieved 19 April 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Stromberg, P, and PV Heinrich (2004) The Coso Artifact Mystery from the Depths of Time?, Reports of the National Center for Science Education. 24(2):26-30 (March/April 2004) Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  4. ^ "The Antikythera Mechanism". Skeptoid.com. Retrieved 2011-08-24. 
  5. ^ Zecharia Sitchin (25 January 2011). Journeys to the Mythical Past. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. pp. 171–. ISBN 978-1-59143-951-6. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project", The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project. Retrieved 2007-07-01 Quote: "The Antikythera Mechanism is now understood to be dedicated to astronomical phenomena and operates as a complex mechanical "computer" which tracks the cycles of the Solar System."
  7. ^ Paphitis, Nicholas (December 1, 2006). "Experts: Fragments an Ancient Computer". The Washington Post (ATHENS, Greece). "Imagine tossing a top-notch laptop into the sea, leaving scientists from a foreign culture to scratch their heads over its corroded remains centuries later. A Roman shipmaster inadvertently did something just like it 2,000 years ago off southern Greece, experts said late Thursday." 
  8. ^ "Vinland Archeology". Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2011-08-24. 
  9. ^ "Bye, Columbus". Time. December 11, 1978. 
  10. ^ Von Handorf, DE, and DE Crotty (2002) The Baghdad battery - myth or reality? Plating and Surface Finishing. vol. 89, no. 5, pp. 84–87.
  11. ^ Flatow, I (2012) Archaeologists Revisit Iraq. interview with Elizabeth Stone, Talk of the Nation, National Public Radio. Washington, DC.
  12. ^ Steiger, B. (1979) Worlds Before Our Own. New York, New York, Berkley Publishing Group. 236 p. ISBN 978-1-933665-19-1
  13. ^ Fitzpatrick-Matthews, K, and J Doeser (2007) Metallic vase from Dorchester, Massachusetts. Bad Archaeology.
  14. ^ Sir David, B (1854) Queries and Statements concerning a Nail found imbedded in a Block of Sandstone obtained from Kingoodie (Mylnfield) Quarry, North Britain. Report of the Fourteenth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science vol. 51, John Murray London.
  15. ^ Fitzpatrick-Matthews, K, and J Doeser (2007) A nail in Devonian sandstone from Kingoodie, Scotland. Bad Archaeology.
  16. ^ anonymous (nd) The Mystery Stone. Museum Exhibits, New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord, New Hampshire.
  17. ^ Klatell, JM (July 23, 2006). New England's 'Mystery Stone': New Hampshire Displays Unexplained Artifact 134 Years Later. Associated Press. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  18. ^ Hristov, RH, and S. Genoves (2001) Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca. Dept. of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  19. ^ Schaaf, P and GA Wagner (1991) Comments on 'Mesoamerican Evidence of Pre-Columbian Transoceanic Contacts,' by Hristov and Genovés. Ancient Mesoamerica. 10:207-213.
  20. ^ Anonymous (2002) Mysterious Pipes Left by 'ET' Reported from Qinghai. People's Daily Online, Beijing, China. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  21. ^ Anonymous (2002) Chinese Scientists to Head for Suspected ET Relics. People's Daily Online, Beijing, China. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  22. ^ Dunning, B (2009) The Baigong Pipes. Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  23. ^ Brookesmith, P (2004) The Eltanin Enigma. Fortean Times. (May 2004). Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  24. ^ Heezen, BC, and CD Hollister (1971) The Face of the Deep. Oxford University Press, New York. 659 pp. ISBN 0-19-501277-1
  25. ^ Cairncross, B (1988) "Cosmic cannonballs" a rational explanation: The South African Lapidary Magazine. v. 30, no. 1, pp. 4-6.
  26. ^ Heinrich, PV (1997) Mystery spheres: National Center for Science Education Reports. v. 17, no. 1, p. 34. (January/February 1997)
  27. ^ Coulam, NJ, and AR Schroedl (1995) The Keystone azurite mine in southeastern Utah. Utah Archaeology. 8(1):1-12.
  28. ^ Kuban, GJ, (2005) "Moab Man" - "Malachite Man". The Paluxy Dinosaur/"Man Track" Controversy. Retrieved March 8, 2014.

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