Madrid: Compania de Impresores y Libreros del Reino, 1872. Vilanova y Piera, Juan (1821-93). Origen, naturaleza y antigüedad del hombre. , 446pp. Frontispiece, 9 plates, folding table. Madrid: Imprenta de la Compańia de Impresores y Libreros del Reino, 1872. 230 x 152 mm. Tree sheep ca. 1872, gilt spine, light wear at spine and extremities, front endpaper a bit loose. Light toning but very good. First Edition of the first monograph on the antiquity of man published by a Spanish author. Vilanova was the first professor of geology and paleontology at the Universidad Central in Madrid, and a founding member of the Spanish Society of Natural History. Like the majority of Spanish geologists in the latter part of the 19th century, Vilanova sought to reconcile recent paleontological and geological findings with the teachings of established religion. He took an anti-Darwinist position on the question of human antiquity. Vilanova is best known as the first archeologist to excavate the cave of Altamira after Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola discovered the cave’s famous prehistoric paintings in 1879. Both he and Sanz de Sautuola believed that the paintings dated from the Paleolithic era, but the two men’s claims were forcefully rejected at the 1880 Prehistorical Congress, with many believing that the paintings were faked. The controversy over the authenticity of the Altamira cave paintings was not resolved until 1902, when French archeologist Emile Cartailhac, one of the most prominent of the doubters, retracted his opposition in an article titled “Mea culpa d’un sceptique” (Anthropologie 13 : 348-354). Garrison-Morton.com 7609. (Inventory #: 43976)
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