martes, 30 de septiembre de 2014

Facts not ‘flexible’ in dating earliest Americans

Determining when humans discovered America is one of the most fascinating and contentious problems in archaeology.

An article in the September/October issue of Archaeology reviews the oldest well-documented sites in the so-called New World. One of them is next door in western Pennsylvania.

Meadowcroft Rockshelter, located less than 10 miles southeast of Steubenville, is described by excavator James Adovasio of Mercyhurst University as “a late-Pleistocene Holiday Inn” — a place where early Americans camped for short periods.

Adovasio and his team have excavated 50 tools and 700 pieces of chipped stone, including some made from Ohio’s Flint Ridge flint, dating to about 15,000 years ago.

There have been several claims for sites even older than those considered in the Archaeology review.

It’s fun to contemplate an extreme antiquity for the peopling of America, but the history of the modern human migration out of Africa and the genetics of modern American Indians suggest that people did not enter this hemisphere much before 16,000 years ago.

Claims for older sites shouldn’t be dismissed, but they must be carefully evaluated.

In the current issue of the journal Antiquity, an international team of archaeologists working in South America argues that they have found evidence of people who had lived in eastern Brazil more than 20,000 years ago. The site of Vale da Pedra Furada is located at the base of a cliff where rocky debris has accumulated for thousands of years. [...]

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