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The Piltdown Plot

Created by Clark University Professors Charles Blinderman and David Joyce, this site explores one of the most famous scientific frauds in history. For almost forty years, Piltdown Man "inhabited a branch of the tree of human evolution, [and was] featured in professional articles and books, in newspaper reports, and even in biology textbooks read by high school students." It was not until 1953 that scientific detectives decisively proved that Piltdown was a hoax; the fossils consisted of the skull of a woman combined with the jaw of an orangutan. Essentially a large collection of primary documents, this site traces the hoax from its origins in 1912-17 to the 1953-55 expose. Included are articles that set the context of early 20th-century anthropology, examples of favorable and critical commentary on Piltdown Man, and pieces setting out the "prosecution" and "defense" of likely hoax suspects (please note that the final two sections, on Secondary and Tertiary suspects, are still under construction). While any user with an interest in the Piltdown hoax will want to pay this site a visit, because of the large selection of articles, the site also lends itself for use in anthropology or history of science courses.
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