by Scott M. Forsythe
Scientific Symposium I 1988
NOTE: This paper is based on a portion of a talk delivered at the Symposium which attempted to demonstrate how archaeological data could be correlated with some subjects considered in The Urantia Book. In the talk a variety of topics were presented in a brief summarized format with limited citation of references. Rather than attempting to recreate the talk, with the limitations of its format, it was decided that only one of the briefly considered topics would be explored in more depth as an illustration of the challenge and complexities of trying to correlate archaeological data with The Urantia Book. Further, after the talk was delivered, additional information became available on the topic of the Foxhall peoples, and it has been included in this paper. It is intended that further papers will be prepared on other topics considered in the talk and offered for publication in The Urantia Journal or other Urantia-movement publications. These papers will cover such topics as correlating archaeological data about the Neanderthals with information contained in The Urantia Book, the evidence for humans entering the Americas prior to 10,000 B.C., the evidence for Andites crossing the Pacific and reaching the west coast of South America, and an examination of the Sumerian myths about the Nodite city of Dilmun.
On pages 719 and 720 of The Urantia Book there is a discussion concerning some descendants of Andon and Fonta who are designated as "the Foxhall peoples." It is indicated (*719) that some 950,000 years ago various groups of Andonic descendants had migrated far to both the east and west from their original homeland. The Foxhall peoples were among those groups which traveled to the west and apparently by at least 900,000 had settled in England (i.e., the portion of Great Britain or the United Kingdom which is south of Scotland and exclusive of Wales). In fact, they are depicted as being the first humans to inhabit England, but the remains of the Foxhall peoples were the last to be uncovered through archaeology (at least as of the mid-1930's). They crossed from France to England by way of a land bridge now submerged beneath the North Sea and English Channel. The settlements or living sites of the Foxhall peoples were located along the banks of rivers or on the sea coast. As a result of the melting of the Ice-Age glaciers which once covered the north of Europe and the British Isles, the sea level rose and inundated all but three or four of the Foxhall living sites. They are depicted as being the ancient ancestors of the Eskimos. The Foxhall peoples are also described as being one of the two groups (the other being the Badonan tribes; see page 720) who valiantly struggled to keep alive the Andonic cultural and spiritual legacy.
Clearly, within the context of the depiction of the course of planetary evolution, the authors of The Urantia Book determined that it was important to render an account of the Foxhall peoples. However, in order to encounter a reference to human fossil or artifact remains found at an archaeological site in Great Britain associated with the name Foxhall, one would have to conduct a most diligent survey of the literature in the field of paleoanthropology (the alternative terms of prehistoric archaeology or human paleontology are also sometimes employed to designate this area of study). It was only by sheer serendipity, after years of perusal of paleoanthropological literature, that such a reference was found and then, as often seems to happen when the Gordian knot of ignorance is split, additional information began to be uncovered.
The initial reference was found in a book which examined the story of the Piltdown hoax. This is a famous case of archaeological fraud in which skull and jaw fragments displaying both ape-like and human characteristics (and thereby being the very embodiment of the proverbial "Missing Link") were discovered in a gravel pit near the small English village of Piltdown in 1912. These fossil fragments were accepted as genuine by a number of scientists until exposed as a fraud in 1953. During the time this fossil material was accepted as valid it held a significant and distorting place in the scientific explanation of human evolution. It is intriguing to note that no consideration is given to the Piltdown fossil remains in The Urantia Book, even though its text was set down in the mid-1930's.
Returning to the main subject, there is a brief discussion in this book (The Piltdown Inquest by Charles Blinderman) of hominid (a zoological family Hominidae which includes fossil and modern humans) or human fossil remains uncovered in Great Britain prior to the Piltdown discovery. Included in this discussion (Blinderman: 11) is the following sentence: "In 1855, a coprolite [fossilized excrement] pit in the Suffolk site of Foxhall yielded a human jawbone." The author indicates that the data on these various British hominid fossil finds, including the Foxhall jaw, was derived from a work titled Catalogue des Hommes Fossiles which was edited by Henri Vallois and Hallam Movius and published in 1953.
Catalogue des Hommes Fossiles is a decidedly obscure publication, and it required going through an inter-library loan process to obtain a copy of it from the corporate library of Mobil Exploration and Producing Services, Inc., in Texas. In summary, the brief citation (Vallois and Movius: 210) on the fossil find provides the following information: "A mandible (lower jaw) of modern human type was found by a workman on a pile of `coprolite' nodulesat a depth of 16 feet in a pit on Mr. Law's Farm in 1855." Mr. Law's Farm is identified as being located at Foxhall, four miles east of Ipswich, Suffolk, which lies northeast of London near the coast. The mandible was examined, probably within the years immediately following its discovery, by George Busk, Thomas Huxley and Richard Owen (all very prominent British scientists of their day and at times antagonists over the debate on Darwin's theory of evolution), and they all considered its antiquity questionable. An American physician, Dr. Robert Collyer, wrote a brief article reporting the Foxhall fossil find, and it is believed he took the mandible with him when he returned to the United States in about 1878, "after which all trace of its whereabouts was lost." Interest in the mandible revived in 1919 when J. Reid Moir (a geologist and at one time thought by some to be associated with the Piltdown hoax) worked the Foxhall site and found flint flakings and cracked flints (both presumed to be evidence of human action) at the 16-foot level of the nodule bed. Additional bones found in the bed proved to be too fragmentary to allow identification. At the conclusion of the citation there is a short bibliography consisting of four articles, including the one by Dr. Collyer, which discuss the Foxhall jaw, but thus far copies have not been obtained for review.
While the above information is all that is currently available on the Foxhall jaw, additional data about the site has emerged from a recently published book which surveys developments in Britain during the Paleolithic (i.e., Stone Age) period. In this book (The Lower and Middle Paleolithic Periods in Britain by Derek Roe) the site is identified as being on Foxhall Road, in Ipswich, Suffolk. Interestingly there is no mention of the fossil jaw find at the site. Rather, there is a brief summary of the results of excavations at the site by various investigators (including J. Reid Moir) during the initial decades of this century (Roe: 177-78). The site is described as being a brick pit which was later built over and therefore no longer available for investigation. It is reported that over seventy handaxes were recovered from the site and these are now retained in the collections of the Ipswich Museum and the British Museum. These handaxes are described (Roe: 198) as being "technologically the most advanced industry of this Group [which refers to the handaxe typology system devised by Roe]." Intriguingly The Urantia Book indicates (*719) that the Foxhall peoples maintained the Andonic tradition of flintworking while other groups had allowed the quality of their craftsmanship to significantly deteriorate. The Foxhall Road brick pit represents the sedimentary remains of a small, ancient lake which formed in a hollow of chalky boulder clay. A review of the records of the excavations of the site suggest that it had one major lakeside occupation, perhaps followed by at least several other occupations of much shorter duration. It is estimated that the site chronologically falls within the middle to late Hoxne (Roe: 178,198). Hoxne is an open-air archaeological site located in Suffolk that is dated to be between 400,000 to 300,000 years old (Tattersall: 275). The handaxes found at Foxhall are similar to ones found at Hoxne and, since dates have been worked out for the Hoxne site, its chronology has been extrapolated to relate to the Foxhall site. Five articles which describe the results of the various excavations at the Foxhall site are listed in the bibliography of Roe's book. These articles were published in the early decades of this century, and copies have not yet been obtained to allow a review of them.
It appears, based on the evidence summarized above, that a correlation exists between the fossil and artifact finds at the Foxhall site in Great Britain and the Andonite group designated as "the Foxhall peoples" by the authors of The Urantia Book. Admittedly more research seems to be necessary to establish the extent of this correlation. For instance, it is not altogether clear that the mandible found in 1855 at the Foxhall site does, in fact, constitute a physical remain of the Foxhall peoples. Scientists of that day apparently suspected that the mandible was of relatively recent age rather than being truly ancient and, because it has disappeared, the matter may never be resolved. However, the handaxes recovered at the site in the early portion of this century present clear evidence for the presence of ancient humans at Foxhall. Still, the archaeologically assessed chronology for the site (between 400,000 to 300,000 years old) seems at variance with the information in the book that the Foxhall peoples were present in England 900,000 years ago. It could be argued that this chronological difference is of little significance, because the archaeological date estimate could be revised to an earlier time period and The Urantia Book does not indicate how long the Foxhall peoples resided in England. Possibly this Andonite group continued to live in England to the time of the scientifically estimated date of the Foxhall site. Perhaps a review of the as-yet-unseen articles on the Foxhall site, as well as the development of a more thorough understanding of the Palaeolithic period of British prehistory, will produce additional insights on "the Foxhall peoples."
Blindermann, Charles, The Piltdown Inquest, Prometheus Books, 1986.
Roe, Derek A., The Lower and Middle Palaeolithic Periods in Britain, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981.
Tattersall, Ian, Eric Delson and John Van Couvering, eds., Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory, Garland Publishing, 1988.
Vallois, Henri V., and Hallam L. Movius, eds., Catalogue des Hommes Fossiles, XIX Congres Geologique International, Algiers, 1953.
A service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship