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Antiquarianism and organic remains

Landscapes Below: Mapping and the New Science of Geology

Fossils presented evidence of a changing or evolving landscape. Elevated strata far from the ocean contained shells of marine animals suggesting the area had once been the ocean floor. That the Alps, for instance, had once been underwater suggested cataclysmic changes had occurred in the deep past. Human-made objects such as coins or pieces of pottery found deep in the earth also showed how much the landscape had changed within recorded human history. Both fossils and antiquarian objects were treated with the same value and authority as ancient texts: they provided an account of past events.

However, that the fossil record could be used to develop a chronology of the Earth’s formation remained controversial during the period.