|2/4. The newly discovered, 55-inch-long (140 centimeter) mammoth tusk. Credit: Brian Wygal|
A prehistoric campfire and a number of archaeological treasures — including a large tusk of a mammoth, and tools fashioned out of stone and ivory — remained hidden for thousands of years in the Alaskan wilderness until researchers discovered them recently.
Researchers found the 55-inch-long (140 centimeters) mammoth tusk, the largest ever found at a prehistoric site in the state, during a 2016 excavation at the Holzman site, located about 70 miles (110 kilometers) southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska. A radiocarbon dating analysis revealed that the tusk was about 14,000 years old, the researchers told Live Science in an email.
"The radiocarbon dates on this mammoth place it as one of the last surviving mammoths on the mainland," Kathryn Krasinski, a co-principal investigator of the excavation and an adjunct faculty member in the anthropology department at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, told Live Science in the email.
The research team found the tusk in soil deposits about 5 feet (1.5 meters) underground. Though other sites have ivory fragments, this discovery marks only the second time that researchers have uncovered an entire mammoth tusk from an archaeological site in Alaska, the researchers said.
The findings suggest that the earliest documented people in Alaska likely went out of their way to acquire mammoth ivory, and that they were creating tools with the material, the researchers said. [...] livescience.com / Link 2 (Video)