Nampa Image or figurine

The Nampa Figurine: 2-million-year-old Relic or Just a Hoax?

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In 1889, a group of workers was searching for water near the town of Nampa in southwestern Idaho. To create a well, they drilled a borehole down about 295 feet (90 meters), at which point their steam pump began to spit out bits of clay. Amongst the projectiles, the workers discovered a tiny clay form (the size of a dime) that appeared to have been formed into the shape of a skinny clothed woman. Was this a real figurine or just a coincidence? Who crafted it and why? Or, as some suspect, is the whole story a hoax?

A Professional Description

Professor Albert A. Wright of Oberlin College described the figurine and its authenticity in 1979: “It was not the product of a small child or amateur, but was made by a true artist. Though badly battered by time, the doll’s appearance is still distinct: it has a bulbous head, with barely discernible mouth and eyes; broad shoulders; short, thick arms; and long legs, the right leg broken off…There are also faint geometric markings on the figure, which represent either clothing patterns or jewelry - they are found mostly on the chest around the neck, and on the arms and wrists. The doll is the image of a person of a high civilization, artistically attired.” (Jochmans quoted in MessageToEagle, 2014).

The Region of the Find

The workers would have drilled through a geological stratum known as the Glenns Ferry Formation. Composed mainly of clay, the Formation was created approximately 2 million years ago during the Pliocene-Pleistocene transition. Since 1975, the area has been designated as a US National Natural Landmark known as Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument. It is considered the world’s richest collection of plant and animal fossils that lived in North America just before the Ice Age. Notably, paleontologists have found the greatest collection of fossils of the Hagerman horse (also known as the American Zebra, this ancient horse became extinct about 10,000 years ago). Today, the town of Nampa is 124 miles (200 km) from the national monument park.

Equus simplicidens Cope, 1892 - fossil horse bones (real) from the Pliocene of Idaho, USA

Equus simplicidens Cope, 1892 - fossil horse bones (real) from the Pliocene of Idaho, USA.( CC BY 2.0 )

The Initial Authentication of the Discovery

The clay of the Glenns Ferry Formation was sealed beneath a layer of basalt formed by volcanic activity. There is a good deal of iron throughout and much of the clay evinces iron oxide discoloration. Much of what we know about the Nampa figurine’s discovery comes from the description written by George Fredrick Wright, a geologist from the Boston Society of Natural History at the time of the find. Wright argues “There is no ground to question the fact that this image came up in the sand pump from the depth reported” (Ancient Code, 2016). Wright goes on to explain how the artifact was found. Then he describes why he is confident that it is a genuine artifact: “In visiting the locality in 1890 I took special pains, while on the ground, to compare the discoloration of the oxide upon the image with that upon the clay balls still found among the debris which had come from the well, and ascertained it to be as nearly identical as it is possible to be. These confirmation evidences, in connection with the very satisfactory character of the evidence furnished by the parties who made the discovery, and confirmed by Mr. G. M. Gumming, of Boston (at that time the superintendent of that division of the Oregon Short Line Railroad, and who knew all the parties, and was upon the ground a day or two after the discovery) placed the genuineness of the discovery beyond reasonable doubt.” (Ancient Code, 2016)

Reasonable Doubt

Much was made of the discovery and many drew parallels between the Nampa Figurine and the Aurignacian figurines found in caverns in France and Belgium, especially the female figurine dubbed ‘The Venus impudica from Laugerie-Basse.’

Vénus impudique, 1907 drawing

Vénus impudique , 1907 drawing ( Public Domain )

Yet, the Nampa Figurine flies in the face of generally accepted timelines of history, evolution, and humanity. Both then and now, scholars believe that the authenticity of the Nampa Figurine is impossible.

“Other than  Homo sapiens sapiens , no hominid is known to have fashioned works of art like the Nampa Figurine,” write Richard Thompson and Michael Cremo in their book  The Hidden History of the Human Race (The Condensed Edition of Forbidden Archeology) . “The evidence, therefore, suggests that humans of the modern type were living in America at the Plio-Pleistocene age which dates about 2 million years ago.” (Ancient Code, 2016)

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