Local man's legacy in stone


By Jay Michaels

Twin Falls, Idaho - A longtime Magic Valley resident passed away last week, but that man's skills in making stone tools using ancient techniques, will make sure that plenty of people will remember him around the world.

74 year old gene Titmus of Jerome passed away in Boise last Saturday; friends say that he was humble and enjoyed being with people.

Titmus's lifelong fascination with archaeology led him to figure out how to recreate ancient Mayan stone tools, the hard way.

Former Herrett Center Director Jim Woods says, “People, archaeologists around the country were amazed at what he came up with. And we have on display here a replica of one of his swords that he made with the blades that were made the same way that the Maya made their blades. And some of the / actual blades that Gene made that are sharper than a modern surgeon's scalpel, using the same techniques that the ancient Maya did.”

Woods says Titmus helped put together many exhibits at the Herrett Center when it moved to the College of Southern Idaho back in the 1980's.

Titmus was inspired to start knapping tools from flint and obsidian the original way, when he saw a TV news story where an archaeologist said it would take hundreds of hours to make one of these incredibly elaborate Mayan eccentric pieces by hand.

Woods says, “He’s been keeping track of how long it took to make each one. And the first one took 8 hours, and the next one took 9 hours, and there was a very elaborate one that took 12 hours. A far cry from 100 hours. And he said we need to do something to clarify the discrepancy in the knowledge that these things don't take hundreds of hours to make.”

Then Titmus began writing and submitting archaeological papers that outlined how ancient Mayans might have made their stone tools.

Woods says Titmus did his research on his own at home without a laboratory or any institutional support.

“In Gene's case, his reputation not only will live on, but I'm convinced it will become more as time goes by, and more people will begin to realize the extent and significance of his contributions.”

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