|1/3. A stone spear point, about 8 to 10 centimeters long, is among the 12,000-year-old artifacts found at the hunting camp site. (Photo by Todd Cromar)|
In the dead-flat desert of northwestern Utah, archaeologists have uncovered a scene from a distant, and more verdant, time.
Just a few centimeters below the sun-baked surface, researchers have discovered a campsite used by prehistoric hunter-gatherers 12,300 years ago — when Utah’s West Desert was lush wetland.
Artifacts found at the site include the charred remains of an ancient hearth, a finely crafted spear point, and, most surprising, a collection of tobacco seeds — likely the earliest evidence of tobacco use ever found in North America.
“What makes this interesting is there’s no direct evidence of anybody using tobacco past 3,000 years ago,” said Dr. Daron Duke, senior archaeologist with the Nevada-based Far Western Anthropological Research Group, in a press statement. [...] Western Digs