Not sure if anyone has notice this so I thought I would pass it along. It is definitely of some interest to everyone on the site.
A lump of flint that challenged creationist history and was dubbed by an eminent archaeologist "the stone that shattered the time barrier" has been tracked down after 150 years in the vast stores of the Natural History Museum in London.
On 26 May 1859, six months before Charles Darwin shattered the biblical creation story when he finally plucked up the courage to publish his theory of natural selection, the stone hand axe from the bottom of a French quarry was presented to the world at a lecture at the Royal Society in London.
Neither John Evans nor Joseph Prestwich, the businessmen and amateur archaeologist and geologist who found it, nor their distinguished audience, could guess its true age, around 400,000 years. But they did know it came from "a very remote period", when the woolly mammoth and rhinos, whose bones were mixed up in the same layer, roamed the plains of northern France.
There was no way the mammoths and the man-made tool could be fitted into the traditional biblical timescale, calculated by the 17th-century Archbishop Ussher, that God made the world in 4004BC.
The axe then vanished for 150 years, until it was tracked down by another archaeologist and geologist team – Clive Gamble, a professor at Royal Holloway, and Robert Kruszynski of the Natural History Museum – who publish their quest in next month's Antiquity journal.
They hunted it through thousands of prehistoric stone tools in national collections. They tried the collections of the Society of Antiquaries, where the axe was last seen in public at a second lecture in June 1859. Kruszynski found it at the South Kensington museum, with a minute Victorian label recording the date and quarry where it was found at St Acheul outside Amiens. A photograph showed the quarrymen who uncovered the axe, one pointing to it still half-buried in gravel.
Gamble and Kruszynski will take their trophy to the Society of Antiquaries next month to mark the anniversary of the May lecture at the Royal Society.
* Maev Kennedy
* guardian.co.uk, Monday 25 May 2009 23.37 BST