21. A Nineteenth Century Troll Birthed a Hoax That Endures to This Day
As news of the Cardiff discovery spread, hundreds of archaeologists and scientists, and thousands of the curious, flocked to Newell’s farm. He took full advantage of the rush, and charged visitors 50 cents for a look. Newell made no claims about the giant’s authenticity, but invited visitors to draw their own conclusions. While the find seemed to be a crude statue to many observant people, many more saw it as proof of the Bible’s assertions that giants had once walked the earth. Between the two, the skeptics were right. In matter of fact, what came to be known as “The Cardiff Giant” was a statue, commissioned by an atheist troll named George Hull to prank the faithful.
Hull got the idea after a heated debate at a revival meeting about Genesis 6:4, which some faithful claimed was proof that giants once inhabited the Earth. So he bought a ten-foot block of Gypsum in Iowa, and shipped it to Chicago. There, he commissioned a stonecutter to shape it into the likeness of a man, and swore him to secrecy. Chemicals were applied to give the carving an aged look, and needles were used to puncture and pit its surface, making it look more weathered. Hull then shipped it to the farm of his cousin, William Newell, who buried it behind his barn in 1868. A year later, Newell hired workers to dig a well behind the barn, where they came across the buried hoax.