Provenance
6 - Sollas, William Johnson (1849-1936)


Date Range1849 - 1936
Details

Ernest Westlake's French collection of eoliths was sent to W. J. Sollas, of the Oxford Natural History Museum in 1923; the same time the Westlake Collection of Tasmanian implements went to Henry Balfour in the Pitt Rivers Museum.

W. J. Sollas and Ernest Westlake had corresponded and met at least once: Westlake wrote to his son Aubrey in 1920 that after seeing his French eoliths, Sollas's scepticism had been swayed. [Image 4, WEST00353, Letter to Aubrey Westlake from Ernest Westlake, 11 November 1920, Series 15, Westlake Archive, Oxford University Museum of Natural History.]

In the subsequent years Sollas made many notes on the eolith collection, which are now part of Series 12 in this Guide. He also corresponded with Margaret and Aubrey Westlake about his progress.

Sollas presented a paper to the British Association in Liverpool that 'gave an account' of Westlake's French 'discoveries', and promised to do the same in the third edition of his book, Ancient Hunters and their Modern Representatives. [Images 28-32, WEST00355, Letters to Margaret Westlake ('Mrs Charman') from W. J. Sollas, 28 and 31 August 1923, Series 15, Westlake Archive, Oxford University Museum of Natural History.]

Indeed, after careful consideration, Sollas concluded, in the third edition of Ancient Hunters that Westlake's French eoliths 'are the work of an intelligent being'. [Sollas, 1925: 98]

Westlake's French collection was, however, de-accessioned in 1980, after being deemed the work of nature, not human manufacture by Derek Roe and others at the University of Oxford. [Images 44-47, WEST00357, letter to Aubrey Westlake from Derek Roe, 19 January 1977, Series 15, Westlake Archive, Oxford University Museum of Natural History.]

ReferencesWikipedia, William Johnson Sollas, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Johnson_Sollas, accessed 14 December 2011.

Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, The History of the Deparment,
http://www.earth.ox.ac.uk/about_us/history, accessed 14 December 2011.

Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, http://www.gly.bris.ac.uk/www/history/biogs/sollas.html, accessed 14 December 2011.

Sollas, 1925.

Published by the The University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre and the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, August 2010
Listed by Rebe Taylor, with Michael Jones and Gavan McCarthy
HTML edition
Updated 14 February 2017
http://web.esrc.unimelb.edu.au/WEST/WESP006.htm

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