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No. 7: June 1979

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Ancient Rock Cairns In The California Desert

The anomaly here resides in the caliche (CaCO3 ) adhering to the bones and rock undersides in a California burial cairn. The caliche has been dated at more than 21,000 B.P. by radiocarbon methods and 19,000 B.P. by thorium methods -- ages much too large for conventional archeological histories of the Southwest.

P.J. Wilke objects that only the age of the soil caliche has been measured and that the bones and their burial may be much younger.

This cairn site, called the Yuha burial site, possesses no other datable characteristics. On the other hand, many other California burial cairns (the California desert is amply provided with them) have been dated only from 5,000 B.P. to historic times. In this context, Wilke maintains that it is easier to believe that the Yuha bones are merely 5,000 years old, and that the problem is actually in the dating.

(Wilke, Philip J.; "Cairn Burials of the California Deserts," American Antiquity, 43:444, 1978.)

Comment. Such reasoning is the typical reaction when data contradict prevailing hypotheses -- and sometimes it is correct.

From Science Frontiers #7, June 1979. 1979-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
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  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987