The Epigraphic Society
Glozel is a village about 20km from Vichy in the centre of France. In 1924 a seventeen-year-old boy, Émile Fradin (1906-2010)(b), discovered a number of artefacts including inscribed tablets with writing similar to ancient Phoenician scripts. Some of the pottery depicted animals extinct in the area for over 10,000 years. A group of academics were assembled in 1927 to decide on the authenticity of the find. The experts decided that the whole collection was forged. It must be remembered that at the time the Piltdown controversy was at its height leaving any reputation-conscious scientist very wary.
Nearly fifty years passed until, in 1975 using a new dating method known as thermoluminescence, the antiquity of the Glozel objects was confirmed as ranging from 300 BC to 1300 AD, exonerating the then 68-year-old Émile Fradin from any suggestion of fraud.
Discoveries of similar objects have been found at other nearby sites, for example at Moulin Piat, 2.5km south, at Guerrier 3 km away on the right bank of the River Vareille (some pieces can be found at the Earth Science Museum of Villeurbanne University); at Puyraval 10 km upstream. In recent times an extensive Neolithic site with a remarkable megalithic alignment composed of over 100 stones was discovered near Glozel.
The Atlantis perspective on this is that Glozel appeared to offer evidence of ancient cultural development, including writing, in this part of Europe, far earlier than previously thought possible. The initial claims were seen as possible support for the 9600 BC date given by Solon for Atlantis.
Claudius Roux is quoted by James Bramwell [195.111] as saying “I wonder then whether the Glozel mystery does not tend to merge into the mystery of Atlantis, and whether the regions round the Pillars of Hercules have not in prehistoric and protohistoric times played an important part in civilization……………..further researches in France, Spain and in North Africa will prove perhaps that this hypothesis is well-founded, at the same time enabling the Atlantean problem to be cleared up.”
However, it does not appear to me that it is credible that 10,000-year-old inscriptions exist that are similar to Phoenician scripts. The intervening 8,000 years would have altered the shape of the characters out of all recognition just as our modern Roman script is different to its antecedents in the Eastern Mediterranean just three thousand years ago. The thermoluminescence tests support this view but the Glozel writing still has value as an example of ancient scripts.
Alice Gerard, a retired archaeologist from New York, has spent the last decade studying the mystery of the Glozel site and has written of her efforts to verify the authenticity of the discoveries there and dispel the initial response of scientists who dismissed it as a hoax. Her book is supported by a website(a).
The excellent Migration and Diffusion website has a paper(c) written by the American Donald B. Buchanan, Secretary of The Epigraphic Society, which offers a preliminary decipherment of the Glozel script. Paulo Stekel has built on Buchanan’s work and offers a couple of papers of his own(d)(e). A (French) site dedicated to Glozel translation attempts is also available(f).
Philip Coppens on the internet(g)(h) and later in The Lost Civilisation Enigma, reviews[1275.16] the early years of the Glozel debate in which his account reflected very badly on the professional archaeologists of the day and later. While the evidence now indicates that no fraud by Fradin was involved, there are still questions outstanding, relating to the mixed datings of the artefacts themselves.
>In 2020 Catherine Breniquet published a paper entitled How Writing Came about in Glozel, France(i) in which she reviews the history of the Glozel artefacts and the script to be found on them, with particular reference to the possibility that they are forgeries.<