Is The London Hammer An Ancient, Out of Place Artifact?
What could be so unusual, or controversial about the discovery of an iron hammer encased in rock? After all, archaeologists have discovered historical artifacts for as long as humans have been searching for their ancient roots. But what happens when an object defies historical study and appears to exist in the mysterious realms between worlds, as a kind of time traveler? For what is known as the “London Hammer,” the world has been wrangling with a seemingly ordinary household tool; one steeped in mystery, archaeological wonder, and for many, unanswered questions.
Alleged to date back more than 400 million years, the London Hammer, or as it is also called, the London Artifact, can be looked at as a study in how the modern and ancient worlds can connect, and collide. How else can we explain that an obviously human-made instrument linked to the late 1800s never rusted, despite the wood transforming into coal? How could the London Hammer withstand normal aging impacts such as oxidation, and what explanations can be made for it having been found in a rock formation that precedes human existence? Perhaps it’s best to start where the London Hammer was supposedly discovered – the tiny town of London, Texas.
LONDON HAMMER: FROM TEXAS TO THE WORLD STAGE
For Max and Emma Hahn, it was a summer day like many others. In 1936, the Texas couple took a hike along Red Creek near London, Texas, a tiny community located in the center of the Lone Star State. But the hike was like no other the Hahns had ever experienced. Not because of the weather, or the beauty of the landscape, but because they discovered a strange piece of wood encased in what seemed to be an unusual formation of rock.
It wasn’t until 1947 that their son broke through the rock and uncovered what was attached to the wooden handle — an iron-headed hammer. For close to four decades, the hammer remained a local oddity and relatively unknown, until it came to the attention of Carl Baugh, a Young Earth creationist, after an article was published on the artifact in the Bible-Science Newsletter in 1983. Baugh was influential in a form of creationism which believes that Earth and all its forms of life were created by a deity’s supernatural acts 6000-10,000 years ago. He promoted the hammer as proof of an antediluvian discovery, which remains in exhibit at Baugh’s Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, Texas.
Of equal interest to archaeologists, the London Hammer posed a scientific dilemma. What could possibly explain how a modern instrument was encased in ancient, prehistoric Ordovician rock from between 65-135 million years ago?
There are many who doubt where the hammer was supposedly found; others claim the rock formation is consistent with the minerals and sediments of the surrounding area, putting the claim of the rock dating back to hundreds of millions of years ago in doubt. Others claim that the hammer could have been discarded and the rock formation occurred through the natural process of petrification.
Carbon 14 dating of the hammer’s wooden handle would provide a pathway to best determine the age of the rock, as well as the hammer. Unfortunately, the hammer’s owner, Baugh, has only conducted private testing and has to date not published the results. The strongest criticism of the Baugh’s pre-flood theory comes from Glen J. Kuban, former creationist, computer programmer, and paleontology enthusiast, who states that “no clear evidence linking the hammer to any ancient formation has been presented.”
Despite this, there are certain facts about the London Hammer which does shed some light on the mysterious tool.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE MYSTERY
Objects such as the London Hammer are commonly referred to as Out of Place Artifacts, or OOParts, anomalous objects that bring into question geology, archeology, and the natural history of the Earth. The physical facts of London Hammer are as follows:
- The Hammer measures at six inches in length with a diameter of one inch.
- The metal is made up of 96.6% iron, 2.6% chlorine, and 0.74% sulfur.
- The iron head has not rusted since it was discovered in 1936.
- The wooden handle is unmineralized with small traces of carbonization
- While the exact discovery location has not been verified, the lack of sharp nicks seems to confirm that it was not chiseled from a larger rock formation, but found loose, as the Hahns claimed.
There is much debate surrounding the London Hammer’s origin remains unanswered. Was the artifact hit by a meteorite that formed around the tool? According to what is known about the chemical component of a meteor, the formation’s composition would seem to discount this theory. Some counter this by asserting the existence of an ancient, advanced civilization which left behind tools eerily similar to those of a more modern era.
The most well-known argument refuting the London Hammer’s provenance in an ancient time comes from J. R. Cole from the National Center for Science Education who wrote in 1985 that:“the stone concretion is real, and it looks impressive to someone unfamiliar with geological processes. How could a modern artifact be stuck in Ordovician rock? The answer is that the concretion itself is not Ordovician. Minerals in solution can harden around an intrusive object dropped in a crack or simply left on the ground if the source rock (in this case, reportedly Ordovician) is chemically soluble.”
The mystery surrounding the London Hammer remains. For those who believe, the hammer represents a kind of mystical time traveler. For others, it is a geological wonder. Whatever the belief, the London Hammer does represent our unquenchable thirst for knowledge, meaning, and connection to a larger order.