Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Cardiff Giant

Red = Passive Voice/Transitive Verbs
Yellow= Abstract Subjects
Teal = Linking Verbs in S-LV-SC sentence pattern

Why did people so readily accept the giant? What was their basis of belief? This can be answered by a number of reasons. The first and most basic is the bible. During the mid 19th century the bible was the prevailing educational force in America. Most people went to church and they believed in the bible because it was their source of an explanation for why things were in the world. It explained the origins of man, beast and nature.  Within the bible it states that before the flood, giants had existed as a race. Goliath from the story of David and Goliath was among these who, after a series of mathematical conversions, would be estimated at nine and a half feet tall. People believed and accepted this and the Giant was merely physical proof of it. For those who were a little more scientific and somewhat well read, there was another explanation. In Arizona there are petrified trees, from what we now understand as fossilization, many of which are so well preserved they still show the rings of the trees. The argument went that if this could happen to the trees then it could also happen to a person. Lastly and the most basic, people simply wanted to believe. People, who would normally be called logical, sane or balanced, wanted to believe in the mysterious, the unknown and the exciting.
            There were of course skeptics, but the question is who and what is the basis of their skepticism? These skeptics were scientists, specifically chemists, geologists, paleontologists and naturalists. Most notably were J. F Boynton, a geologist from the University of Pennsylvania, and Othniel C. Marsh, a Yale professor and an acclaimed paleontologist. They were immediately critical of such dramatic claims, and as men of science set out to evaluate the Giant. Boynton, and later Marsh who supported him, claimed the Giant to be a fraud for a number of reasons. First the Giant, which was made of stone, appeared to be made of gypsum, a soft rock that would not survive long (geologically speaking) in the New England soil. Secondly upon evaluation of the excavation site he noted that there was fresh plant material in the soil from which the Giant was removed, indicating a recent burial, as opposed to the compaction and stratification of soil that had been unmoved for thousands of years. Boynton hypothesized that the Giant had not been in the ground for longer than three years, then went further and calculated that the giant had been in the ground no longer than a year, 370 days to be exact. A well-known sculptor, Eratus Dow Palmer, also evaluated the Giant and determined it had been man made, noting identifying marks of sculptor’s tools on the face. Boynton was indeed correct in his evaluation, Newell and his cousin (one of his associates) having placed the Giant in the ground approximately one year before.

1 comment:

  1. good job with your identifications in first paragraph, although second paragraph IDs are off...

    But no revision? that was the other half of the blog assignment this week.