Glozel



Glozel is a locality of the town of Ferrieres-sur-Sichon, in the south-east of the department of Allier, located about thirty kilometers from Vichy, in the Bourbon mountains. It became famous from 1924, when was discovered a set of objects, attributed at first to a prehistoric time but whose antiquity and sometimes the authenticity were quickly disputed. The objects discovered are carved stones, pottery, bones, fragments of glass, and especially ceramic tablets bearing inscriptions evoking a writing in an alphabet often close to the Phoenician alphabet. These vestiges are at the origin of a strong controversy which divided a part of the scientific community, then the general public, into “Glozéliens” and “anti-Glozéliens”. The “Glozel affair” had many judicial episodes. After further analysis and dating, the Ministry of Culture released in 1995 a report that the site is primarily medieval, while containing many artifacts of the Iron Age. The report also concludes that the site has been overloaded, at an undetermined date, with some fakes whose author remains unknown.

The initial discovery was made in March 1924 by Émile Fradin, then 17, and his grandfather Claude Fradin clearing the field Duranthon, later nicknamed “Field of the Dead”. The foot of one of the cows pulling the plow sinks into a cavity. Releasing the cow, the Fradins discover a pit whose walls are covered with bricks and whose floor is covered with slabs of clay. The pit contains human bones, stone or bone implements, and ceramic fragments. Neighbors begin to search around or come to see the finds, many bring home items. Adrienne Picandet, the village teacher, soon hears about the discovery and goes on site. She informs the Academy Inspectorate; the Bourbonnais emulation society and the Bourbon local studies society were warned in June 1924. At the beginning of July, the Bourbonnais emulation society dispatched Benoît Clément, the teacher of the neighboring town of La Guillermie. He begins to search unorthodox, assisted by Attorney Joseph Viple, sometimes using the pick and destroying the first pit. The two men carry a number of objects with them. After a few weeks Viple told the Fradins that the objects were uninteresting and that it was better to re-cultivate the field; they executed themselves. In January 1925, Clement attributed the discovery of the site (and in particular a brick with signs) by sending a letter to the Bourbonnais Emulation Society. He asked for a grant to carry out more organized excavations at Glozel but a refusal was served in the January-February 1925 issue of the bulletin published by the Society. On reading this letter, Antonin Morlet, an archaeologist and practicing in Vichy, learned about the discovery. He will be with Émile Fradin one of the most fervent defenders of Glozel. Morlet goes to Clément where he discovers fascinating objects. The two men visit, in April 1925, the field where the objects were found. Morlet, a specialist of the Gallo-Roman era, considers that the objects of Glozel do not date from Antiquity but are much older, perhaps Magdalenian (presence of bone harpoons, engravings representing reindeer, etc.). . He decides to finance new excavations himself and proposes to rent the field of Fradin for a year by leaving them the property of all the remains uncovered.

The excavations of Morlet began in May 1925 and continued until 1936. He discovered tablets, figurines, tools of flint and bone, engraved stones. Great names in archeology come to search Glozel at the invitation of Morlet: Louis Capitan is the first in June 1925. In September 1925, Morlet revises its first chronological attribution and publishes a booklet entitled New Neolithic Station and co-signed by Emile Fradin . The first press articles on Glozel are published in Le Matin in October and in the Mercure de France in December. In two years, the deposit delivers about 3000 very varied remains, including a hundred tablets bearing signs, fifteen tablets with hand prints, sexual idols, engraved pebbles, stone carved objects, polished stone, ceramic, glass, bone and antler.

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