A tenet of geology is that rocks are old. Therefore, objects of human origin embedded in rock suggest that the rock formed after the object was created. However, there are several examples of these anomalies, which, upon first appearance, seem to set the geological timescale and assumptions topsy-turvy. One of these items is the London Hammer.

The story of its discovery goes as follows: Mr. and Mrs. Max Hahn found a nodule with the wood handle sticking out near Red Creek in London, Texas in either 1934 or 1936. Later retelling of the story by others say it was lying loose on a rock ledge when found. The nodule was broken open several years later to reveal the entire embedded iron head.

These type of anomalies are known colloquially as OOPARTs (out-of-place artifacts). Such items also include similar embedded objects like iron nails and gold chains but also alleged human footprints in prehistoric rock. Other OOPARTs assumed by some to be ancient objects created by some mysterious culture are actually natural phenomena that resemble cultural products. I hope to include some more interesting OOPARTs descriptions in future posts.

But let’s take this London hammer artifact and try to determine just how strange it is.

The matrix around the hammer head included modern shells.

The hammer is of 19th-century origin. We know this because we can find matching hammers used by miners of that time and not before. The wooden handle of the hammer would not preserve much longer intact. Wood would either decompose or mineralize, depending on the conditions. How did it get encased in rock? The clue to this seems to lie in the description of the rock type – “limey”. Calcite precipitates from saturated solutions quickly under the right conditions, weeks to years. Shell beds also accumulate and cement together in a short time. In this case, we can surmise that a miner might have dropped the hammer or it fell into a spot where he was unable to retrieve it, perhaps into some limey clay that eventually hardened around the hammerhead. However, there are some suspicious details about the hammer.

First, it was not found in situ. We have no documentation of exactly where it was found or under what conditions. We just have a story from the Hahns. The strata in this location are Cretaceous in age but do not match the concreted substance. The nodule matrix cannot reliably be associated with a host rock.

But the primary problem is where the artifact is now kept and for what purpose. The item resides in a Creationist museum in Texas and is exhibited as “proof” that a worldwide flood occurred and wiped out most of the earth’s inhabitants, as related in the Biblical tale of Noah. Carl Baugh, the current owner of the artifact, will not allow testing of the wooden handle or the concretion matrix to definitively characterize its origin, though there is an undetailed, uncorroborated report from a supporter of Baugh who claims the handle was dated “from present to 700 years ago”.

Researcher Glen Kuban has an excellent chronology and details of the history of the artifact and its problematic provenance here. He supports the explanation that the hammer is a typical 19th-century miner’s tool that was encased in the limey concretion by natural means. This plausible explanation does not overturn any geological ideas about the age of the earth or of humans’ place in it. The London Hammer is simply the result of unique circumstances that produced a fascinating object.

Unfortunately, those who possess the item now (Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, TX) have no reason to have it analyzed further to help determine how this anomaly formed because of their use of it to support their anti-science narrative of Biblical creation.

Update 25-June-2024

Here is another example of rapid cementation of a recent item – an engine block left in an intertidal zone became incorporated into the rock along with shells and rock.

Young-earth creationists will shift position on these artifacts depending upon what might gain them traction in an argument. As noted above, they will claim that the rock indicates that humans were around long ago at the same time as extinct animals, so evolution must somehow be false or that fossils can form very quickly so the earth does not have to be old. Both arguments have mistaken assumptions and are flawed. Some rock does form quickly. But some types of rock are demonstrably ancient – perhaps even a billion years old for some continental bedrock – as are the creatures whose remains were preserved in them. There are multiple lines of evidence that establishes that the earth is over 4 billion years old and that there are billions of animal species that evolved and lineages that went extinct over time. It wasn’t just a few thousand years and a flood that constitutes the history of earth.

6 thoughts on “The hammer entombed in rock

    1. A good question. For many years Baugh refused to allow it. I found one reference from Kuban’s site (a highly reputable source) that it was done:

      Finally, in the late 1990’s Baugh supporter David Lines reported on a web site (Lines, 1997, 1999) that carbon 14 dating had “recently” been done on a specimen from the inside of the handle, and that the results “showed inconclusive dates ranging from the present to 700 years ago.” No information was given by Lines about when or where the dating was done, nor was any formal report referenced. The date range also seems a little curious, since most C14 labs report a date with a plus-or-minus margin of error, rather than a wide range. Perhaps a number of tests were done with different results, but Lines does not clarify this. Evidently preferring a date in the thousands of years, Lines asserted that the dating results provided “graphic evidence that the handle has been contaminated by current organic substances.” However, C14 labs have ways of minimizing modern carbon contamination, and it would not likely produce ages orders of magnitude in error.

  1. Archaeologist here. Regarding carbon dates. To be taken seriously, dates need to include the +/- factor and the lab name and sample number.

  2. That doesn’t look like a mining hammer, that looks like a hammer for driving railroad spikes from the late 19th into the early 20th century. It’s possible it might have been used in mining but that long, narrow double ended shape is classic for that usage. Most were mass produced but in that era they were often modified by local blacksmiths, might even have been made locally.

    As for the “rock”, it’s impossible to tell but I’ve worked with a lot of old buildings dating back to the late 19th century and that coloration and texture it doesn’t look like stone at all, it looks like good old fashion lime mortar used for laying brick and or stone walls and foundations. If that were found near the vicinity of an old railroad line I’d think it had probably been accidentally walled into a foundation for a railroad bridge. Notice the indentations on the lower left corner of the “stone” where it looks like it separated away from a joint between rocks.

  3. I used to attend the annual meeting of the Texas Society of Mammalogists, which is always held in Junction, Texas. On the way, I would also visit the museum that has that hammer, so I’ve seen it many times, along with the nearby dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy River riverbed in the state park there and the huge fossil emporium on the way, along with a funky rock shop. I also always drove through the tiny town of London on the way to Junction.

  4. Many seem to want to believe that the story of humanity (much as they are now), goes back way longer, with risen and fallen societies. We’ve had them rise and fall but the extreme examples with incredible and sometimes magical technology blooming before tragically and with very cinematic destruction pay the price for their shallow and immoral cultural decay, or something like that. The story getting a bit old and still we’re starved for good evidence that would demand further investigation.
    Phew, had to get that out of my system!

Leave a Reply (Comments may not be immediately approved.)

Back To Top