Paris: Arthur Bertrand, [ca 1870’s]. Folio. [iv], vi, 326 pp. FIRST AND ONLY EDITION. With 14 plates (4 double-page and in color) and text illustrations. Later half-morocco over marbled boards; other than some light browning, a very clean interior. Signature of Ph. Robert in pencil on title page. Item #14565
and its environs, considered the most complete survey of the area’s prehistory available at the time (Zittel). Though much of the volume covers geology and animal fossils, a notable chapter is devoted to human pre-history in Syria and Palestine. Lartet treats the subject with caution, however, being well aware of the Biblical significance inextricably linked to the area and the potential risk of ruffling more than a few feathers with his observations (he also wanted to avoid embroiling his patron, the Duke of Luynes, in any vitriol).
In the Epilogue, Lartet addresses the potential conflict between his findings and those interested in a Biblical interpretation, calling it “the most delicate of all subjects” and noting that his research is only concerned with the physical evidence, not theological debate. It is a bit surprising that Lartet did not go further with his argument; he would have been more than qualified to do so, having discovered the first Cro-Magnon skeletons not ten years prior to this publication.
Lartet (1840-1899) was a French geologist and paleontologist. His discovery of the first Cro-Magnon skeletons is considered “one of the most important discoveries in human paleontology” (DSB). Louis’ father, Edouard Lartet, was also a renowned paleontologist and major contributor to the burgeoning field of human pre-history.
Extremely rare; we could not locate any copies currently on the market or sold at auction. OCLC records only 10 copies in America; Dictionary of Scientific Biography, VIII, pp. 44-45; Zittel, History of Geology, p. 219.