Frank C. Hibben


Frank C. Hibben

Frank Cumming Hibben (December 5 1910-June 11 2002 ) was a controversial American archaeologist who specialized in Native-American archaeology of the South-West. Although his career inspired many people to enter into archaeology, it has been found that he produced a large portion of fraudulent work throughout his career and greatly damaged the career's of many other researchers. He remains an inspiration to many but a villan to many others.

Frank C. Hibben was born in Lakewood, Ohio and became interested in archaeology as a child, working a number of summers at Ohio State Museum digs [http://www.unm.edu/foundation/newsletter/0003hibben.html Frank Hibben Funds New UNM Anthropology Building ] ] . He received his bachelor's in archaeology from Princeton University in 1933 and then moved to the University of New Mexico, where he taught archaeology while working on a master's degree in zoology, which he completed in 1936. [http://www.adamsguns.com/hibben.htm Frank C. Hibben ] ] . He returned back East, earning a PhD in the Anthropology Department at Harvard University in just one year before resuming his work at UNM. In 1932, he had become the first director of the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. Over the next years, Hibben led digs at the important site of Chaco Canyon, amassing an impressive amount of Native-American artifacts for the museum.. The results of these excavations were very important in the shaping of the interpretation of the prehistory of the South-West.

During World War II he was the aide to Admiral Foy of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tasked to memorise battle plans to prevent any possible interception by the enemy and then carry them to the generals in various theatres of war. Near the end of the war he was in a plane shot down by a German submarine, and carried shrapnel for the rest of his life. In 2000, he donated a large sum of money to build a new anthropology building at UNM .

It is however controversial that UNM named the building after Hibbens because most of his archaeological research has been found to be filled with fraudulant findings and his work is now regarded as questionable at best. His shadowy scientific past and the great discredit that he has done to archaeology as well as the direct personal damage he caused to the career's of many other reputable and hard working scientist has been written about in nature magazine [cite journal
last = Dalton
first = Rex
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = University buildings named on shaky ground
journal = Nature
volume = 426
issue = 374
pages = 200–201
publisher = Society for American Archaeology
location =
date = 2003
url =
doi = 10.1038/426374a.
id =
] as well as the New Yorker. [cite journal
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = The Mystery of Sandia Cave
journal = New Yorker Magazine
volume = 71
issue = 16
pages = 66–83
publisher =
location = New York
date =
url =
doi =
id =
]

The primary reason for Hibben's fame was his 1937 claim to have discovered undisturbed sedimentary layers with a pre-clovis spearhead he termed "Sandia point" showing that people lived in Sandia Cave, New Mexico, about 25,000 years ago. This would have been by far the earliest date claimed for an indigenous culture found in the American continent.

During a 1936 expedition, experienced archeologist Wesley Bliss excavated the Sandia Cave, a cave in the Sandia Mountains, and reported his findings to University of New Mexico project head Dr. Brand. Frank C. Hibben, a UNM student who had not been involved in the excavation, later worked in the cave. He reported finding a spearpoint beneath a layer of material dating more than 25,000 years old, along with the bones of camels, mastadons, and prehistoric horses. [cite book
last = Josephy, Jr.
first = Alvin M.
title = The Indian Heritage of America
publisher = Bantam Books
year = 1973
location = New York
pages = 42
url =
doi =
id =
isbn =
] The 25,000 year age suggested by Hibben was erroneous, as the bones were carbon dated from 14,000–20,000 years ago (16,000-14,000 BCE). The published notes of Bliss and others in reference to the poor layer integrity and cross-layer contamination associated with rodent burrowing proved that Hibben's dating of historical sedimentary layers was consistently inaccurate. [cite journal
last = Bliss
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = A Chronological Problem Presented by Sandia Cave, New Mexico
journal = American Antiquity
volume = 5
issue = 3
pages = 200–201
publisher = Society for American Archaeology
location =
date = 1940a
url =
doi =
id =
] [cite journal
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Sandia Cave
journal = Correspondence in American Antiquity
volume = 6
issue = 1
pages = 77–78
publisher =
location =
date = 1940b
url =
doi =
id =
]

Frank Hibben's claim of a Clovis point dating to more than 25,000 years ago is cited as strong evidence for the existence of a much older pre-Folsom culture in North America (as contended by the authors of the controversial "Forbidden Archaeology"). [cite web
last = Lepper
first = Bradley T.
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Hidden History, Hidden Agenda: A Review of "The Hidden History of the Human Race", by Michael A. Cremo and Richard L. Thompson
work = The TalkOrigins Archive
publisher =
year = 1996
url = http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/mom/lepper.html
format = HTML
doi =
accessdate = 2008-01-17
] However, Hibben's publications misrepresentated the initial excavation work of Dr. Wesley Bliss, who noted the proper layers, and the poor layer integrity in areas, among other findings that were erroneously misconstrued and reported by Frank Hibben to prop up his theory. Dr. Bliss did not find any of the spearpoints in the layers reported later by Hibben. His work has been further discredited by Haynes and others, who found the cave's rock formations to be quite different from those described by Hibben. It is now believed that the spearpoints were not as old as was originally reported by Hibben, and it is believed that Hibben's sloppy work and false testament to man's history in North America has greatly hindered the accuracy of our understanding of prehistoric North America. Frank Hibben was generously rewarded for this false work, which assisted him greatly in starting his impressive career, supported by the University of New Mexico. The errors in Hibben's work were covered up for 60 years until until being openly acknowledged and reported. [cite journal
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = The Mystery of Sandia Cave
journal = New Yorker Magazine
volume = 71
issue = 16
pages = 66–83
publisher =
location = New York
date =
url =
doi =
id =
]

In 1946, Hibben described an expedition to Chinitna Bay on the west side of Cook Inlet in Alaska, where he claimed that he found lithic points that match those of the Folsom people living in New Mexico 10,000 years ago.

Archaeologist James Dixon of the University of Colorado in Boulder and others went to the isolated location and found Hibben's claim to be false in 1978. "It is clear that the site never existed," - Dixon.

Archaeologist Bruce Huckell of the University of New Mexico, says that "Some think Hibben's work is all faked", "Others think we don't have enough information to know."

In addition to being an anthropologist, Hibben was a big-game hunter, being awarded the Weatherby Hunting and Conservation Award in 1964. He also served in various capacities related to wild animals, such as chairman of the Albuquerque Zoological Board (1960-1970) and chairman of the New Mexico State Game and Fish Commission (1961-1971) .

elected publications

*"Association of Man with Pleistocene Mammals in the Sandia Mountains, New Mexico," "American Antiquity", 2(4):260-263. [the first article to describe Sandia Cave.
* "The Lost Americans" (1946)
* "Treasure in the Dust" (1951)
*"Prehistoric Man in Europe" (1958)
*"Digging Up America" (1960)
*"Hunting in Africa" (1962)
*"Kiva Art of the Anasazi" (1975)
*"Under the African Sun" (1999)

References


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