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Originally there were two main points of controversy about Piltdown. Did the Piltdown cranium and the Piltdown jaw-bone (mandible) represent one creature, ‘Eoanthropus’ as Smith Woodward inferred; or did they belong to two creatures, the cranium that of a man and the jaw-bone that of an ape, as David Waterston, Gerrit Miller and A. T. Marston believed? The second point of controversy concerned the antiquity of the specimens.
On the resumption of excavation in the autumn of 1972, a funerary complex belonging to a community of priests was discovered among a group of religious buildings in the early urban Bronze Age centre of Altin-depe in South Turkmenia. All the material found there dates from the early stages of Namazga V, or, using the accepted chronology, from the end of the third millennium BC (Masson, 1973, 481). It had previously been established that the chief building of this religious group was a stepped, tower-like edifice which had clearly been built in the style of the Mesopotamian ziggurats and had been rebuilt three times in the course of its existence (Masson and Sarianidi, 1972, 117–18). The funerary complex excavated in 1972 corresponds chronologically to the first, relatively small, ziggurat and was situated southeast of it.
In 1968 Geoffrey Bibby, then carrying out an archaeological survey in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, was shown a collection of flint implements and ‘about two hundred potsherds, of a thin, greenish-yellow ware decorated with geometric patterns in dark-brown paint’ (1970, 376). They had been found by an American school teacher, Grace Burkholder, who, together with other amateur archaeologists from the headquarters of the Arabian American Oil Company at Dhahran, had scoured the nearby desert in pursuit of archaeological remains. Bibby with considerable astonishment recognized the pottery as identical with the Mesopotamian al ‘Ubaid.
In order to obtain a good site chronology the radiocarbon measurements must be carried out on samples having a firm archaeological basis and high probability of association with the event or structure the date of which is required. Patently the radiocarbon date can be no better than the sample provided for measurements, and any missassociation at this stage cannot subsequently be rectified. Often discordant radiocarbon dates are explained away by supposing that the sample was ‘contaminated’ with earlier or later material. Calculations based on these surmises may often disclose that excessively large amounts of contaminants must be postulated to secure a given result.
Many scholars have examined the changes that occurred in Greek life around the twelfth century BC. After a period of great prosperity during Late Helladic III B, there followed an era of war, uncertainty, and cultural disintegration that was part of a general upheaval extending from Italy to the Near East. In Greece the disruption was especially pronounced, and many areas were left relatively unpopulated. The ensuing ‘Dark Age’ witnessed the birth of a profoundly different society.