Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.

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Emile Fradin died February 10th. You've probably never heard of him. The Economist has an obit here.

Briefly: in 1924, when he was a 17 year-old plough-boy in rural France, Fradin discovered -- or claimed to have discovered -- a chamber beneath the earth with some remarkable archaeological objects. Experts initially thought the site was Neolithic, but with "a baffling admixture of Iron Age, Roman, and medieval remains."
But most exciting were the dozens of square clay tablets inscribed with letters which, if Neolithic, predated by many millennia the Phoenician characters from which Western alphabets were supposed to have come—making Glozel [Fradin's nearby home village], not the Middle East, the cradle of Western civilisation.
Now, to me, all this fairly screams fraud. However, despite several attempts, fraud was never proven. Fradin set up a local museum to house and display his find. The museum is still running. Respectable archaeology does not seem to have passed final judgment on the matter of whether any of the objects Fradin found are real.

[SPOILER ALERT: Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls," and (very minor) China Miéville's The City and the City.]

Before reading this obit, I hadn't heard of Fradin or his find. But when I read it, I was immediately reminded of two pieces of fiction. 1) Lovecraft's fine short story, "The Rats in the Walls," in which a subterranean chamber beneath an ancient castle, used for cannibal butchery by the narrator's ancestors, is found to contain ruins of all ages, from the 19th Century back through medieval, Roman, and prehistory. 2) China Miéville's The City and the City. One TCatC's elements is an archaeological site that contains relics from many past ages, all jumbled together. This site, too, has been suspected of being fraudulent, but at the time of the story, is still being worked by academic archaeologists. I couldn't relate Miéville's invention to the novel's major theme of social construction of reality and 'breaching', and unless I missed something, its meaning is never explained.

Googling Lovecraft's story and Miéville's novel, I can't find any mention of Fradin or Glozel. Still, I would not be at all surprised to find that either author was familiar with the Glozel story, and found it inspiration for the similar element in his fiction.
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