Thursday, October 31, 2013

Brazilian Human Prehistory Mirrors Africa?

It does not say so explicitly, but we have to presume that the charcoal carbon dated out in those high numbers to give us the quoted reading.  What it does do is powerfully confirm that south America was populated during the primary expansion of humanity perhaps over fifty thousand years ago.  North America suffers from the massive influence of the Ice Age and the Pleistocene nonconformity of 12900 BP.  Large tracts of South America survived in better shape.

Again, sea transport was available to move peoples around and the sea levels were three hundred feet lower at least causing many stepping stones to be available that are now well sunk.

A better approach to estimating human arrival times is to presume the earliest plausible time and then discover why not for which there are many diverse reason for any given site.

30,000 year old Brazilian artifacts throw wrench in theory humans first arrived in Americas 12,000 years ago
By Agence France-Presse

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 

It’s no secret humans have been having sex for millennia — but recently discovered cave art suggests they were doing it in the Americas much earlier than many archeologists believed.

A new exhibit in Brazil showcases artifacts dating as far back as 30,000 years ago — throwing a wrench in the commonly held theory humans first crossed to the Americas from Asia a mere 12,000 years ago.

The 100 items on display in Brasilia, including cave paintings and ceramic art, depict animals, ceremonies, hunting expeditions — and even scenes from the sex lives of this ancient group of early Americans.

The artifacts come from the Serra da Capivara national park in Brazil’s northeastern Piaui state, on the border of the Amazon and Atlantic Forests, which attracted the hunter-gatherer civilization that left behind this hoard of local art.

Since the 1970s, Franco-Brazilian archaeologist Niede Guidon has headed a mission to carry out large-scale excavation of Piaui’s interior.

It’s difficult to think there exists a site anywhere with a higher concentration of cave art,” the 80-year-old Guidon told AFP.

Many paths led to Americas

Other traces of the civilization include charcoal remains of structured fires, explained Guidon, who hails from Sao Paulo.

“To date, these are the oldest traces” of human existence in the Americas, she emphasized.

The widely held theory has suggested human beings only reached the Americas some 12,000 years ago from Asia, crossing the Bering Strait to reach Alaska.

Some archeologists contend flaked pebbles at the Brazilian sites are not evidence of a crude, human-made fire hearth made some 40 millennia ago, but are rather geofacts — a natural stone formation, not a man-made one.

But Guidon said she believes the Serra dwellers may have come originally from Africa, and she said the cave art provides compelling evidence of early human activity.

The paintings are estimated to date back some 29,000 years, she said, noting: “When it began in Europe and Africa, it did here too.”

Other sites, including Valsequillo in Mexico and Monte Verde in Chile, also indicate the presence of communities tens of thousands of years ago.

These sites have led archeologists to speculate that peoples traveled various routes to reach the Americas and at different stages, archeologist Gisele Daltrini Felice told AFP.

In search of tourists

UNESCO conferred World Heritage status on the Serra da Capivara in 1991, but tourists remain thin on the ground, which frustrates Guidon.

“After putting in a great amount of effort (to promote the site) we are up to 20,000 visitors a year,” the archeologist said.

But “World Heritage sites get millions, and we are prepared to receive millions,” she added.

The interior of the Piaui region is marked by widespread poverty, which has much to gain from tourism, Guidon stressed.

But resources are lacking to promote the attractions in a remote corner of the giant nation, she said. The nearest city is the modest town of Sao Raimundo Nonato, which has spent years trying to have an airport built.

The EU is promoting both the new exhibit as well as a swath of conferences on the area under the auspices of UNESCO, Brazil’s Institute of Parks and the country’s Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage.

“The idea is to promote cultural, historic and nature-based tourism in order to aid the development of areas adjoining Brazil’s major parks — and especially the Serra da Capivara, which has the most modern infrastructure,” with 172 sites to visit, said Jerome Poussielgue, European Union cooperation and development officer for Brazil.

And the foundation behind research into the park is backing development projects — including a ceramics factory that reproduces images of the cave art, a program aimed at giving local women work experience.

“We would like to help in the development of a region where women suffer hugely from violence,” says Guidon.

Sierra da Capivara National Park
Many of the numerous rock shelters in the Serra da Capivara National Park are decorated with cave paintings, some more than 25,000 years old. They are an outstanding testimony to one of the oldest human communities of South America.

Outstanding Universal Value
Brief synthesis
Established in 1979, the Serra da Capivara National Park stretched across the municipalities of São Raimundo Nonato, São João do Piauí, and Canto do Buriti in the south-eastern section of Piauí state in Brazil’s Northeast Region. In 1994, the municipality of Brejo do Piauí and, in 1995 the municipality of João Costa were dismembered   of São João do Piauí. The municipality of Coronel José Dias was dismembered of São Raimundo Nonato in 1992. These three municipalities, plus São Raimundo Nonato, are partially located in the area of the Serra da Capivara National Park.

The Park covers nearly 129, 140 hectares and has a circumference of 214 kilometres. It is situated in the morphoclimatic zone of the Brazilian Caatinga, distinguished by the multiplicity of plant formations typical of the semi-arid regions of Northeast Brazil. The region’s plant species are primarily characterized by the loss of most of their leaves during the dry season, extending from May to December, serving to lend the landscape its silver hue. The region borders two major geological formations – the Maranhão-Piauí sediment basin and the peripheral depression of the São Francisco River – and is endowed with a diversity of relief vegetation and landscapes of breathtaking beauty and dotted with exceptional vistas of the surrounding valleys, mountains, and plains.

The area houses one of the most important archaeological sites in the Americas containing evidence and artefacts that have forced a sweeping re-evaluation of the fundamental traditional theories underpinning the origins of human settlement in the Americas.

Over 300 archaeological sites have been found within the park, the majority consisting of rock and wall paintings dating from 50,000-30,000 years Before Present. Many of the numerous rock shelters in the Serra da Capivara National Park are decorated with rock paintings, some more than 25,000 years old. The analyses and dating of the evidence and artefacts found in the Serra da Capivara National Park serve to confirm the millennial presence of human beings on the American continent and the importance of the heritage. The ensemble of archaeological sites contains dating evidence that has thoroughly revolutionized classical theories regarding the entry route into the Americas by human populations along the Bering Strait. According to studies, the area encompassing the Serra da Capivara National Park was occupied by hunters and gatherers, followed by ceramic-farming societies. Discoveries at the Boqueirão da Pedra Furada archaeological site suggest that human beings may have settled the region as far back as 50,000 years ago, while the oldest remaining archaeological site with surviving rock  art dates back 10,530 years Before Present. In the light of these new findings, the region represents one of the most significant archaeological sites in the world and the property is an outstanding testimony to one of the oldest human communities of South America

Criterion (iii): The Serra da Capivara National Park bears exceptional testimony to one of the oldest populations to inhabit South America. It constitutes and preserves the largest ensemble of archaeological sites, and the the oldest examples of rock art in the Americas. Moreover, the iconography of the paintings allows us to identify information about  the region’s early peoples.

The inscribed property contains a multiplicity of attributes that warrant its Outstanding Universal Value. It is endowed with a network of sites converging to forge a rich collection of pre-historic elements enabling extensive research into the region’s environment, wildlife, plant life, and earliest inhabitants.

Formal establishment of the Park has served to ensure preservation of the archaeological sites, which stand as a testament to ancient human settlement in South America. Safely contained within the Park’s clear delimitations and 10-kilometer buffer zone, the area’s sites have remained effectively protected and intact, both in terms of their physical integrity preservation and historical and cultural value.

The Serra da Capivara National Park contains evidence of the settlement by cultural groups in the area for thousands of years. These groups successfully developed practices and pattern tailored to the environment, in addition to rich and complex cultural expressions, as reflected in the surviving art work. The surviving rock art provides tangible proof of cultural wealth of these pre-colonial peoples in Brazil. The authenticity of the diverse archaeological remains is unquestionable and conditions have been largely preserved with the conservation measures that have been implemented to date.

Protection and management requirements
The Serra da Capivara National Park is managed jointly by the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis – IBAMA), replaced by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation – ICMBio, established through Law 11516 of August 28, 2007, to manage federal conservation units (unidade de conservação – UC) throughout Brazil, and the American Man Museum Foundation (Fundação Museu do Homem Americano – FUMDHAM), a NGO engaged in scientific research. The National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage (Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional – IPHAN) contributes toward monitoring, oversight, and conservation of the archaeological heritage site, in strict cooperation with FUMDHAM. The Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade – ICMBio) and FUMDHAM are tasked with primary responsibility for management and administration, surveillance, and oversight of the Park and the corresponding Buffer Zone, maintenance and infrastructure, as well as environmental education initiatives and integration with the surrounding area.

The Serra da Capivara National Park is protected through Decree-Law 25 of 1937. It was officially designated a federal heritage site through Directive 54 of March 16, 1993 and entered in the Archaeological, Ethnographic, and Landscape Heritage Book (Livro de Tombo Arqueológico, Etnográfico e Paisagístico) under registration number 108, page 70, on September 28, 1993. Through Decree 83548 of June 5, 1979, the National Park was established to protect and preserve the cultural and ecological heritage contained in the area. In addition, the related archaeological sites are protected under Federal Law 3924 of 1961.

The ongoing flow of financial resources and international cooperation is essential to give continuity to the measures provided for under the Management Plan prepared by FUMDHAM in 1991. The key goal of the plan is to reclaim the balance between protection of the existing cultural heritage and the ecological components of the Park, an effort that requires permanent monitoring and surveillance, in addition to measures to conserve the archaeological remains and to provide physical infrastructure for visitor access. The primary challenge at present consists of ensuring progressive and systematic registration (photogrammetry / metrology) of the sites containing cave art, so as to enable future research, as well as the execution of ongoing conservation measures, all of which is contingent on uninterrupted national and international support.

The Serra da Capivara National Park and the area’s conservation have emerged as essential to the region’s future by virtue of the growth and expansion of archaeological ecotourism, a key driver of economic development in the area. Tourism to the region has increased steadily since implementation of the first infrastructure projects, including the Museum of the American Man.

To ensure continuity of these efforts, consolidation of a sustainable management system for the Serra da Capivara National Park is required, with a view to fostering the strategic coordination of the various initiatives launched by FUMDHAM and the participating government agencies, including IPHAN and ICMBio. Moreover, promoting greater accessibility and incentives to tourism, among other measures, is seen as a potentially effective strategy to generate the additional means needed to maintain and conserve the area into the future.

Long Description
Many of the numerous rock shelters in the Serra da Capivara National Park are decorated with cave paintings, some more than 25,000 years old. They are an outstanding testimony to one of the oldest human communities of South America.

The park is situated near the town of São Raimondo Nonato, 220 km south of Floriano and 5,230 km from Teresina. The main body of the park is the Serra do Congo massif and the central Chapada da Capivara in the State of Piauì.

Over 300 archaeological sites have been found within the park, the majority consisting of rock and wall paintings dating from 50,000-30,000 years ago. Certain geological formations and palaeofauna that included giant sloths, horses, camelids and early llamas indicate that the Ice Age environment was quite different from the existing semi-arid conditions.

The site must have been inhabited by the early men who populated the American continents. Fragments of broken wall found in the Pedra Furada shelter appear to be the oldest traces of rock art in South America; they have been dated to 26,000-22,000 BC. In spite of the value of the rich archaeological elements discovered thus far, this site is especially remarkable because of the rock-art paintings that decorate the shelters.

The shelters in Serra da Capivara National Park bear exceptional testimony to the oldest human communities that have populated South America and preserve the oldest examples of rock art on the continent. Moreover, the deciphering of the iconography of these rock-art paintings, which is being carried out gradually, reveals major aspects of the religious beliefs and practices of this people.

Physiographically, the area is connected with the Piaui and Bom Jesus do Gurgeia regions of the north-eastern basin. For 180 km, cliffs up to 270 m high form a border between two contrasting geological zones: a plain to the south-east and mountain massifs to the north-east. Erosion has hollowed out canyons and valleys within the mountain terrain. The landscape is characterized by mountains, valleys and open plains. The area is an important watershed, including the river valley system of Riacho Toca da Onca, Riacho Baixo da Lima, Riacho Bom Jesus and the Gruta do Pinga. Typical of the semi-arid region of the north-east of Brazil, the vegetation is in a transition zone between the central and the Atlantic provinces.

The park largely consists of dense thorny scrubland vegetation, known as caatinga, with a predominance of semi-arid vegetation dominated by succulents, drought-resistant deciduous thorny trees and shrubs, and other xerophytic vegetation. Relict isolated patches of forest cover survive in a few deep, narrow canyons. This vegetation, which includes palaeo-endemic relict genera and families representative of rainforest which were found in the area during the humid Ice Age of over 11,000 BP, is restricted to the canyons that retain moisture during the dry season. Serra de Capivara is recognized as one of the few protected areas within the caatingasbiogeographic province which includes a vegetation type endemic to north-east Brazil. It contains unique species of animal and plant unknown elsewhere. Characteristic fauna is scarce in caatinga thorn scrubland, although recorded in the park are notable species including ocelot, bush dog, rocky cavy, red-legged seriema and a species of Tropidurus lizard.



Francisco Osuna said...

sometimes it takes a while for scientists to catch up with what others have discovered. I read a book "On the Old West Coast" by Major Horace Bell where he relates that he spoke to an Indian elder in 1850. The elder told that oral history of the tribe said that the opening to the Pacific from S.Francisco Bay was not at the Golden Gate originally. The Bay opening was originally at Monterrey. Note that Salinas near Monterrey is from the Spanish for Salt Flats, as though that area was a dried salt lake. I mentioned it to geologists but there does not seem to be interest

arclein said...

That does sound possible. Land movements come with that country and we seriously underestimate just how much is possible. going back to the Pleistocene Nonconformity any wild movement is possible. Successor shifts would have also been major.