In 1889, workers digging a well in Nampo, Idaho, found a strange doll that could shatter how we perceive the timeline of human evolution. Because the man-made object was discovered 320 feet below the Earth’s surface, it confounds scientists trying to place it in history, as it would appear to be significantly older than the agreed-upon origin date of Homo sapiens in that part of the world.
Have humans been around for longer than we thought?
The depth at which this tiny clay figure was found would suggest it was made in the geological period of Plio-Pleistocene, which would mean it was created by a human being 2 million years ago, subverting the idea that Homo sapiens are only 200,000 years old.
The figure is half baked clay and half quartz. The geometric markings on its body indicate that there might have been jewelry attached at some point. Experts say this was not the work of a child, but of an artist of the time.
If it was not Homo sapiens who made this doll, who was it then? Scientists conjecture that no other hominid has ever made a work of art like this. It might not look very advanced, but scientists recently discovered that the right arm was cemented together.
Of course, there are many hypotheses about how the clay figure got so deep under the Earth that are more in line with our vision of human evolution. It could be as simple as the figure falling through a rock fissure of some sort, essentially sending it back in time.
Some experts have even noticed a similarity between this doll and dolls made by the nearby Pocatello Indians in the 19th and 20th centuries. Either way, it’s a fascinating look at the field of archaeology, which can sometimes tip itself upside down when a toy is found in the wrong pile of dirt.