Mansoor Amarna Collection

Dr. C. Osborne Hutton Report

From Stanford University


C. Osborne Hutton

Mr. Edgard Mansoor of Redwood City, California visited me on Monday, February 8,1960, and brought to my attention copies of several reports that had been submitted to him in connection with examination and study of a collection of stone sculptures, reported to have been found at Tell El-Amarna in Egypt. Mr. Mansoor requested that I should evaluate these reports for him, and I agreed to do so. Accordingly, I have studied the findings of the following investigators:

  1. W.J.Young, April 14,1949.
  2. A.Lucas with a supporting report by Zaki Iskandar and
    Zahira Mustafa, November 28,1950.
  3. Robert R. Compton , December 18, 1958.
  4. Ben H. Parker, February 2,1959.
  5. Eliot Blackwelder, February 6,1959.
  6. Sami Gabra, February 23,1959.
  7. Robert E. Arnal, March 7,1959.
  8. Paul L. Kirk, March 16, 1959.
  9. Leon T. Silver, March 27,1959.
  10. De Ment Laboratories, June 17,1959.

The task that confronted these investigators was to determine the authenticity, or otherwise, of the stone objects; that is, are they of great age, or are they the products of a relatively modern craftsman ?

All of the reports, except that due to Mr. W. J. Young, present evidence along many lines that lead to only one conclusion, namely that the objects studied are genuine antiquities. Furthermore, the data set out in the sole report that casts doubt upon the authenticity of the objects ( W.J. Young ) are, in my opinion, imprecisely expressed, and scientifically unsound in a number of respects. In this connection at least two points should be clearly understood :

( 1 ). Mr. Young expresses the opinion that because the objects studied by him fluoresce in ultra-violet light, under the conditions imposed by him, they are, necessarily, of recent manufacture. I believe that the data and statements set out by De Ment Laboratories and by Mr. R. E. Arnal effectively destroy Mr. Young's position in this direction.

( 2 ). If I have interpreted his phraseology correctly, Mr. Young states that the form of the dendrites in the sculptures points to absence of antiquity. Mr. Compton, and Mr. Silver in particular, point out that there has been growth or creep of manganese oxides and/or hydroxides at the surface, and that erosion has caused the manganese oxide/hydroxide efflorescences to exhibit some relief above the limestone surface. These findings, by the latter two investigators, definitely support the belief that the surfaces are of considerable age, and contradict Mr. Young's position on this matter.

Furthermore, the characteristics of the erosion surfaces, together with the relief and polish exhibited by foraminifera and other organic remains, the lack of evidence of artificial polish on some broken, but not very recent, surfaces, the gradation of thin surface patina into less altered limestone, and several other situations, clearly support the conclusion of great age. Furthermore, there is no need to go into the question of the nature of the stone used because this has been shown quite definitely to be natural limestone devoid of any " paste " or artificial filling.

There is one line of evidence, however, that is, in my opinion, of very special significance; this concerns the data obtained by Mr. Silver on the relative amounts of several critical trace elements in the surface stone, and in the interior of the objects tested. Mr. Silver has found definite evidence of relative enrichment of the outer surfaces in manganese, barium, and copper, whether the color is grey or yellow, and this critical evidence, more than anything else, weighs most heavily in favor of the antiquity of the objects studied. In fact, this is the only plausible explanation that may be offered to account for the selective enrichment of the surface layers in these elements.

After a careful consideration of the data set out in all of the reports submitted for review, I am of the opinion that the weight of evidence is most definitely in favor of the genuine antiquity of the sculptures studied by the investigators, and I am unable to find any significant, or critical, data that would support Mr. W. J. Young's conclusions in any way whatsoever.

C. Osborne Hutton
Professor of Mineralogy
Stanford University
Stanford, California
February 21,1960