An old story regarding a hammer found encased within rock has recently resurfaced. It came to us in a question: is this hammer, the London Hammer, an example of an out of place artifact (OOPart) that calls into question geology, archeology, and the natural history of the Earth? Let’s take a look.
The article that was shared with me is from Epoch Times, written by Tara MacIsaac. From the article:
A hammer was found in London, Texas, in 1934 encased in stone that had formed around it. The rock surrounding the hammer is said to be more than 100 million years old, suggesting the hammer was made well before humans who could have made such an object are thought to have existed.
If this were true, it would be quite interesting. In fairness to Epoch Times and Ms. MacIsaac, the article does do a decent job presenting some of the evidence. I’d ask for a bit more of a scientific inquiry tone to the piece, but there have been far worse examples of reporting than this one.
The London Hammer is well known to those who follow the debates and discussions around OOParts. You may recall that I blogged about OOParts last year. In that piece, I mentioned a good site to explore for bad archeology claims, named, of course, Bad Archaeology. They had a short write up on the London Hammer saying:
One of the major problems with this object is that there is no evidence whatsoever that the nodule was ever part of the Red Creek’s geology, which is the Lower Cretaceous Hensel Sand Formation. These deposits are thought to be roughly 110-115 million years old. Having acquired the object in the early 1980s, Baugh promoted it as a ‘pre-Noachian’ artefact (in other words, dating from a time before the mythical Flood of Noah). However, it was soon pointed out by a geologist that minerals dissolved from ancient strata can harden around a recent object, making it look impressive to someone unfamiliar with geological processes. In fact, the style of the hammer would lead us to recognise it as nineteenth-century in date and of definitely American provenance.
Carl Baugh is the current owner of the London Hammer. He is the director of the Creation Evidence Museum of Texas. The museum features the London Hammer (London Artifact, as they call it) as one of their displays of evidence for creation.
A good scientific discussion of the London Hammer comes from Glen Kuban on his Paluxy site. Give the piece a read, he does a good job breaking the claims down. He concludes:
As with all extraordinary claims, the burden of proof is on those making the claims, not on those questioning them. Despite some creationist assertions that the hammer is a dramatic pre-Flood relic, no clear evidence linking the hammer to any ancient formation has been presented. Moreover, the hammer’s artistic style and the condition of the handle suggest a historically recent age. It may well have been dropped by a local worker within the last few hundred years, after which dissolved sediment hardened into a concretion around it. Unless Baugh or others can provide rigorous evidence that the hammer was once naturally situated in a pre-Quaternary stratum, it remains merely a curiosity, not a reliable out-of-place artifact.
I couldn’t have said it better. Another interesting read on this artifact comes from J. R. Cole from the National Center for Science Education. He writes:
The stone concretion is real, and it looks impressive to someone unfamiliar with geological processes. How could a modern artifact be stuck in Ordovician rock? The answer is that the concretion itself is not Ordovician. Minerals in solution can harden around an intrusive object dropped in a crack or simply left on the ground if the source rock (in this case, reportedly Ordovician) is chemically soluble.
The confounding factor in all this, of course, is that Baugh will not release the artifact for independent testing. He has had it tested, it is claimed, but not in a transparent way.
The best conclusion I can draw from this is that the artifact probably isn’t an out of place artifact.