Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wednesday Weird: The Nampa Doll

On August 1, 1889, professional well-driller M.A. Kurtz was working near his home in Nampa, Idaho, along with two crewmen, when their steam pump spat out a piece of brownish clay about an inch and half long.

The clay, though, was shaped like a man.

Which, wouldn't be that big a deal except for the fact that the little clay "doll" had come from below a 15-foot layer of lava rock, 100 feet of sand, 6 inches of clay, 40 feet of more sand, then 165 feet composed of clay, sand, clay nodules mixed with sand, and coarse sand layers - 320 feet down.

The small doll is composed of half clay and half quartz, and according to at least one expert not the product of a small child or amateur.

Though badly worn, the doll`s appearance is still distinct: it has a bulbous head, with slightly discernible mouth and eyes, faint geometric markings found mostly on the chest around the neck, and on the arms and wrists which may represent clothing or jewelry. The broken leg was most likely caused by the drill.

The pump for the drill only worked in one direction - meaning, if the doll had fallen into the hole from above, it would have been destroyed by the pump. In a study, a professor found quartz grains under the doll`s right arm had been cemented by iron molecules which also indicates extreme age.

Geologists know the lava rock layer occurred before the last ice age. Scientists estimate the layer in which the doll was found at is over 300,000 years old.

Today, the Nampa doll is on exhibit at the Idaho State Historical Society in Boise.

Thoughts and theories?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Guess that proves people were around in that area back then.

Matthew MacNish said...

Old school Voodoo doll.

But WTH does this mean:

"not the product of a small child or amateur?"

Seems weird, right?

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

I remember reading about this before. Pretty cool.

What will aliens find of our societies in 300 millennia?

Rena said...


This one isn't that strange. In general, it's assumed that Australopithecus (oh yeah, my spellchecker knew that), was definitely a tool using bad ass, so any of the evolutionary steps after that aren't concerning (australopithecus went out ~2 million years ago).

However, NO ONE thinks there was Australopithecus--Or the descendants in North or South america prior to about 80K years ago, and that's generous. So, umm, yeah, That's a little interesting. I wonder what else is in that layer. (also, if the beds are disturbed or the drill crossed a fault, there's no guarantee that the layers below are actually older than the volcanic layer, but you know, science and stuff).

CourtneyC said...

Sarah! I lost you! I've missed our Weird Wednesday posts with the passion of a thousand fiery swords.
Found. Bookmarked.
Waiting on you to do a book tour through Austin.

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