March 02, 2012
New Evidence: Ancient Hunters Populated North America Earlier Than We Thought
By Chad Love
It's looking more and more like ancient hunters were in North America, earlier -- and sometimes much earlier -- than previously thought.
From this story on bradenton.com:
Cut marks found on Ice Age bones indicate that humans in Ohio hunted or scavenged animal meat earlier than previously known. Dr. Brian Redmond, curator of archaeology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, was lead author on research published in the February 22, 2012 online edition of World Archaeology. Redmond and researchers analyzed 10 animal bones found in 1998 in the collections of the Firelands Historical Society Museum in Norwalk, Ohio.
Found by society member and co-author Matthew Burr, the bones were from a Jefferson's Ground Sloth. This large plant-eating animal became extinct at the end of the Ice Age around 10,000 years ago. "This research provides the first scientific evidence for hunting or scavenging of Ice Age sloth in North America," said Redmond. "The significant age of the remains makes them the oldest evidence of prehistoric human activity in Ohio, occurring in the Late Pleistocene period."
Meanwhile, other archeological discoveries along the eastern seaboard are calling into question the long-held assumption that North America was first populated from the west via Siberia.
From this story in the (UK) Independent:
New archaeological evidence suggests that America was first discovered by Stone Age people from Europe – 10,000 years before the Siberian-originating ancestors of the American Indians set foot in the New World. A remarkable series of several dozen European-style stone tools, dating back between 19,000 and 26,000 years, have been discovered at six locations along the US east coast. Three of the sites are on the Delmarva Peninsular in Maryland, discovered by archaeologist Dr Darrin Lowery of the University of Delaware. One is in Pennsylvania and another in Virginia. A sixth was discovered by scallop-dredging fishermen on the seabed 60 miles from the Virginian coast on what, in prehistoric times, would have been dry land.
The new discoveries are among the most important archaeological breakthroughs for several decades - and are set to add substantially to our understanding of humanity's spread around the globe. The similarity between other later east coast US and European Stone Age stone tool technologies has been noted before. But all the US European-style tools, unearthed before the discovery or dating of the recently found or dated US east coast sites, were from around 15,000 years ago - long after Stone Age Europeans (the Solutrean cultures of France and Iberia) had ceased making such artefacts.
Most archaeologists had therefore rejected any possibility of a connection. But the newly-discovered and recently-dated early Maryland and other US east coast Stone Age tools are from between 26,000 and 19,000 years ago - and are therefore contemporary with the virtually identical western European material. What’s more, chemical analysis carried out last year on a European-style stone knife found in Virginia back in 1971 revealed that it was made of French-originating flint.
Pretty fascinating stuff, eh? Who knows how long our ancestors may have been tramping around North America?