Charles Conrad Abbott and the Evolution of Humankind

Author(s): Carolyn Dillian; Charles Bello

Year: 2016


Charles Conrad Abbott is most well known for his participation in the "Great Paleolithic Debate" of the late 19th century, in which he used archaeological evidence to propose an independent evolution of humans in the New World and the Old World. His theories were soon dismissed as incorrect, but for a brief time, he gained scientific renown for his scholarly publications. However, his theories must be examined within the framework of scientific thought during this time. In 1859, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, which had wide-reaching implications for the scientific world. Charles Conrad Abbott, who was a nephew of paleontologist Timothy Conrad, would have been immersed in this literature at a relatively young age and strongly influenced by the scientific debates on human antiquity. The context and influences that affected his decision to pursue a life as a naturalist and archaeologist are explored here, and the scientific milieu of the late 19th century provides an important starting point for understanding Abbott’s infamous, and for a brief time influential, theories about the origins of modern humans in the New World.

Cite this Record

Charles Conrad Abbott and the Evolution of Humankind. Carolyn Dillian, Charles Bello. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404490)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -84.067; min lat: 36.031 ; max long: -72.026; max lat: 43.325 ;