Thursday, November 27, 2014

Evidence for Pre-Clovis Inhabitants of Americas Emerges from Sea Floor

Evidence for Pre-Clovis Inhabitants of Americas Emerges from Sea Floor

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I posted on this discovery some years ago, but it is now worth a serious revisit.  Since then DNA data has been acquired that has placed this conjecture on a strong footing.  We now have pre Clovis artifact under key Clovis sites and those are dated to times contemporaneous with the so called Soluterain conjecture.   

I will go further and say that the only thing left to do now is to rewrite all those text books and to quit attempting to dismiss the ideas.  I have no doubt that Ice Age continental humanity did make it over into the Americas from both East and West around 20,000 years ago at least. 

At the same time, i suspect that we will show that humanity existed globally on the continental shelf for at least forty thousand years in both Hemispheres.  What made the difference 20,000 years ago was the successful adaptation to serious cold weather living.

I want to note something else.  We cannot do this today either because it is dependent on huge meat stores walking around on the hoof in the same way that the Eskimos depend on the seal herds and little else.  The weather involved is found only at the edge of  Greenland and in Antarctica and even there the variation is comparatively modest...

Evidence for Pre-Clovis Inhabitants of Americas Emerges from Sea Floor  

12 August, 2014 - 03:18 aprilholloway

A fisherman inadvertently dragged up one of the most significant pieces of evidence for the existence of ancient inhabitants of North America prior to the Clovis people, who walked the land some 15,000 years ago. A small wooden scallop trawler was dredging the seafloor off the coastline of Chesapeake Bay, when he hit a snag. When he pulled up his net, he found a 22,000-year-old mastodon skull and a flaked blade made of a volcanic rock called rhyolite. A report in Live Science says that the combination of the finds may suggest that people lived in North America, and possibly butchered the mastodon, thousands of years before people from the Clovis culture, who are widely thought to be the first settlers of North America and the ancestors of all living Native Americans.

Most researchers believe the first Americans crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia about 15,000 years ago and quickly colonized North America. Artifacts from these ancient settlers, who have been named the Clovis culture after one of the archaeological sites in Clovis, New Mexico, have been found from Canada to the edges of North America. However, a number of discoveries in recent years have challenged the view that the Clovis were the first, and to date, no archaeological evidence of human settlements has ever been found in the Beringian land bridge.

The mastodon and stone tool finding further supports the perspective that there were other inhabitants of America that preceded the Clovis. The ancient fossil and tool were first hauled off the seafloor in 1974, and were donated to Gwynn's Island Museum in Virginia, where they sat unnoticed for four decades. However, scientists have now realised the significance of the items after Dennis Stanford, an archaeologist with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., carried out radiocarbon dating on the mastodon tusk and found it was more than 22,000 years old. While the stone tool cannot be dated, the characteristics of the artifact suggest it is also of the same age.

Both pieces show characteristic weathering that indicated they were exposed to the air for a while and then submerged in a saltwater marsh, before finally being buried in seawater, possible at the same time. Furthermore, the flint-knapping technique used to make it was similar to that found in Solutrean tools, which were made in Europe between 22,000 and 17,000 years ago. Taken together, the discovery gives credence to the Solutrean hypothesis, which proposes that the first inhabitants arrived by sea from southwest Europe millennia earlier than the Clovis.

Microstriations and wear shown are typical of tool use. The sharp crisp edges suggest it wasn't tumbled in the surf or carried by water. The wear on the tool suggests it was on dry land at some point and then buried by sea water, which means the tool was older than 14,000 years old. Credit: Dennis Stanford

"I think it's very convincing," said Michael B. Collins, an anthropologist at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, who was not involved in the current work. The weathering on both items — first with open air, then saltwater, then seawater exposure — would be almost impossible to get without them having been on land prior to rising sea levels, Collins explained.

While this discovery adds one more piece to a very large puzzle, the debate regarding the first inhabitants of the Americas is far from over.

Featured image: Left: The flaked blade. Right: The mastodon teeth. Credit: Dennis Stanford

Although there is a certain romantic element to the idea of Ponce de León going off in search of fabled lands and mystical springs in the jungles of ancient Florida, it is uncertain if it ever happened at all. In the end, we are left with scattered historical documents that were written after Ponce de León’s death and none of which were written by the explorer himself, leaving his true intent and what really happened lost to the mists of time.
This uncertainty regarding the historical quest for the Fountain of Youth has not stopped the legend from enduring. Some even claim that the explorer was successful in his mission, indeed possibly still alive somewhere out there, enjoying his perpetual youth. To this day, there is a spring said to be the actual one that Ponce de León was searching for in St. Augustine, Florida, which is said to be the oldest city in the U.S. The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine has become a popular tourist destination, where visitors can drink cups of water from the fabled spring. The park has seen various important archeological finds, such as an ancient cemetery and the ruins of missions dating back to the city’s founding. Although the site undoubtedly has historical value, the elderly people who come to visit in droves have yet to miraculously regain their youth, and it is doubted if Ponce de León ever even set foot in St. Augustine.
The Fountain of Youth Archeological Park, St. Augustine, Florida
The Fountain of Youth Archeological Park, St. Augustine, Florida
Whether Ponce de León ever really did search for the Fountain of Youth, there have nevertheless been stories over the years of those who have claimed to have found it. In 1989, the author Charlie Carlson allegedly interviewed a man who claimed to be a member of a secret society that had located the Fountain of Youth and were tasked with protecting it. The interviewee claimed to be 93 years old, whereas Carlson described him as looking around 40. The man claimed that the fountain had been found sometime before 1845 and that it was his society’s duty to make sure that it remained secret from the world. This anonymous informant reportedly offered proof to back up his claims in the form of census records for all of the members who had lived past 110 years old, of which there were quite a few. Some had apparently lived to be up to 122 years old while appearing to be much younger. Although many had died in accidents such as drowning, against which the magical waters offered no protection, not a single one was found to have died of old age. Is there really a secret cabal of immortals out there who have drunk from the fountain and have pledged to eternally hide its secret? Nobody knows.
While in modern days it will likely be genetics and stem cells that lead to prolonged life, mankind’s quest for immortality is not new and has taken many forms through the centuries, with various elixirs, magical charms, and famous artifacts such as the Philosopher’s Stone all reputed to grant everlasting life. Perhaps in the case of Florida’s Fountain of Youth there may be such a place tucked away among the many springs that are to be found here. Whether it is there or not, it is intriguing to imagine such wonders, and there will be those who will search no matter what, enamored with the notion that it could be possible to live forever if only they could find it. Maybe there are even those who already have.

Tools of Pre-Clovis Inhabitants

Evidence for Pre-Clovis Inhabitants of Americas Emerges from Sea Floor

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