Publisher Information: London: Society of Antiquaries of London, 1800.
Frere, John (1740-1807). Account of flint weapons discovered at Hoxne in Suffolk. In Archaeologia: Or Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity Published by the Society of Antiquaries of London 13 (1800): 204-5; 2 plates (nos. XIV – XV). 282 x 217 mm. Whole volume, in 19th-century diced calf gilt, rebacked in morocco, light edgewear. Occasional minor foxing, light toning, but very good. Library stamp and withdrawal stamp on the verso of the front free endpaper.
First Edition of the first published description of human-made artifacts found in an unambiguously ancient stratigraphical setting. Frere’s brief paper describes the discovery in 1797 of several flint artifacts which he believed to be “weapons of war, fabricated and used by a people who had not the use of metals,” associated with “some extraordinary bones, particularly a jaw-bone of enormous size of some unknown animal” (p. 204). The flints were excavated at a brick-field in Hoxne, from a layer of gravelly soil about 12 feet beneath the surface, beneath geological deposits containing fossil animal remains. Frere speculated that the flints were possibly of great antiquity: “The situation in which these weapons were found may tempt us to refer them to a very remote period indeed; even beyond that of the present world . . . the manner in which they lie would lead to the persuasion that it was a place of their manufacture and not of their accidental deposit” (p. 205). He gave a precise description of the flints’ location in the stratified soil of the site, but was (understandably) unable to come up with a satisfactory explanation of the site’s geology, as Cuvier had not yet developed his system of geologic time markers.
Frere’s paper, read before the Society of Antiquaries on June 22, 1797, remained in obscurity until 1860, when geologist John Evans rediscovered it after traveling to France to confirm Boucher de Perthes’ discoveries of flint artifacts at Abbeville. In his “Flint implements in the drift” (1860), Evans gave the gist of Frere’s paper and included Frere’s original plates of flint tools among his own work’s illustrations. Hoxne, where Frere made his finds, would become one of the archeological sites used in the mid-nineteenth century to confirm the antiquity of man. Grayson, The Establishment of Human Antiquity, pp. 57-59. Spencer, Ecce homo, no. 2.123. Garrison-Morton.com 7291.
Book Id: 46406