Homo Diluvii Testis

In 1725, Swiss naturalist Jacob Johann Scheuchzer identified a fossil specimen as an early human, dubbing it “Homo diluvii testis” ie, “man a witness of the Flood”, claiming that he had found incontrovertible evidence of Noah’s deluge. The fossil became a symbol of Christian chronology - a young earth, created in seven days and now only a couple thousand years old. Just under a century later, the fossil was re-examined by the early geologist Georges Cuvier, and revealed to be an ancient giant salamander, living from millions of years ago.

Once proof of biblical shallow time, the fossil became a visible embodiment of geological deep time. Two sets of identities converging on one scattering of stonified bone; it wobbles between human and amphibian depending on who tells its story.

Homo Diluvii Testis / Man Who Testifies to the Flood. Wax, Plaster, Papier Maché, Fabric, Embroidery Thread. 144 x 102 x 14 cm. 2022.