16 June 2021 The Future is the Product of the Past

New Evidence could Change the Date People First Arrived in North America

While investigating the origins of agriculture, researchers made an unexpected discovery.

According to an unexpected finding made by an Iowa State University researcher, the earliest people may have arrived in North America more than 30,000 years ago – over 20,000 years earlier than previously assumed.

Andrew Somerville, assistant professor of world language and cultural anthropology, said he and his colleagues made this discovery while studying the origins of agriculture in the Tehuacan Valley in Mexico.  As part of this work, they wanted to date the earliest human occupation of Coxcatlan Cave in the valley, so they obtained radiocarbon dating of several rabbit and deer bones that were collected from the cave in the 1960s as part of the Tehuacan Archaeological and Botanical Project. The date of the bones took the work of Somerville and his colleagues in a different direction.

The date range of the bone samples at the bottom of the cave ranged from 33,448 to 28,279. The results were published in the academic journal “Latin American Antiquity“. Somerville said that although previous research did not determine the age of the objects at the bottom of the cave, he did not expect such an old age. These findings add to the debate about a long-standing theory that the first humans crossed the Bering Land Bridge into the Americas 13,000 years ago.

“We weren’t trying to weigh in on this debate or even find really old samples. We were just trying to situate our agricultural study with a firmer timeline,” Somerville said. “We were surprised to find these really old dates at the bottom of the cave, and it means that we need to take a closer look at the artifacts recovered from those levels.”

Somerville says the discoveries provide researchers with a better understanding of the region’s chronology. Earlier research relied on charcoal and plant samples but says bones were the better material for dating. However, questions still remain. Most importantly, is there a human connection to the lower layer of the cave where the bones were found?

Coxcatlan Cave
Coxcatlan Cave. Source

To answer that question, Somerville and Matthew Hill, ISU associate professor of anthropology, plan to take a closer look at the bone samples for evidence of cut marks that indicate the bones were butchered by a stone tool or human, or thermal alternations that suggest the bones were boiled or roasted over fire. He says the possible stone tools from the early levels of the cave may also yield clues.

“Determining whether the stone artifacts were products of human manufacture or if they were just naturally chipped stones would be one way to get to the bottom of this,” Somerville said. “If we can find strong evidence that humans did in fact make and use these tools, that’s another way we can move forward.”

It took a year to find the bones

The Tehuacan Archaeological-Botanical Project’s artifacts were dispersed to various museums and labs in Mexico and the United States in the 1960s, but it was unknown where the animal bones were sent.

After a year of searching, the lab director, Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales, agreed to give Somerville and Casar a tour to help search for the missing collection. The tour proved to be beneficial. Among the countless boxes of artifacts, they found what they were looking for.

Andrew Somerville
Andrew Somerville made an unexpected discovery while studying the origins of agriculture. Photo by Christopher Gannon

“Having spent months trying to locate the bones, we were excited to find them tucked away on the bottom shelf in a dark corner of the lab,” Somerville said. “At the time, we felt that was a great discovery, we had no idea it would lead to this.”

Once he located the bones, Somerville got permission from the Mexican government to take small samples – about 3/4 inch in length and 1/4 inch in width – from 17 bones (eight rabbits and nine deer) for radiocarbon dating. If closer examination of the bones provides evidence of a human link, Somerville says it will change what we know about the timing and how the first people came to America.

“Pushing the arrival of humans in North America back to over 30,000 years ago would mean that humans were already in North America prior to the period of the Last Glacial Maximum, when the Ice Age was at its absolute worst,” Somerville said. “Large parts of North America would have been inhospitable to human populations. The glaciers would have completely blocked any passage over land coming from Alaska and Canada, which means people probably would have had to come to the Americas by boats down the Pacific coast.”

Isabel Casar, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and Joaquín Arroyo-Cabrales, a researcher with the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico, contributed to this research. The work was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.

Source: Iowa State University

Banner
Related Post

A Gold Mourning Ring Found on The Isle of Man

21 April 2021

21 April 2021

The ring found with a metal detector on the Isle of Man in December 2020 will be exhibited in the...

Albastı “A Mother’s Nightmare “

5 February 2021

5 February 2021

Albastı is one of the bad characters in Turkish mythology. The fearful dream of puerperal women and babies, Albastı continues...

Africa May not be Where the First Pre-Human First Appeared

22 March 2021

22 March 2021

According to one opinion: About 2 million years ago, our first ancestors moved north from their hometown and left Africa....

Columns in Lagina Hecate Sanctuary Rise Again

19 February 2021

19 February 2021

Lagina Hecate Sanctuary is located in Yatağan district of Muğla. It is an important sacred area belonging to the Carians...

World’s Largest Geoglyphs Found in the Thar Desert

29 May 2021

29 May 2021

A massive spiral encompassing 100,000 square meters unearthed in the Indian desert may be the greatest drawing ever drawn. The...

Poland’s largest megalithic cemetery discovered

3 March 2021

3 March 2021

Archaeologists excavated in Poland discovered a large megalithic complex, including dozens of tombs dating back 5,500 years. The site was...

Viking Family identified using New DNA Technology

9 June 2021

9 June 2021

Researchers were able to confirm the connection between two Viking remains discovered in Denmark and England thanks to new DNA...

The first Iberian lead plate inscribed with an archaic script was found at Pico de Los Ajos in Yátova

13 June 2021

13 June 2021

At the Pico de Los Ajos site in Valencia, Spain, a rare lead sheet engraved in ancient Iberian was unearthed....

A New Hypothesis Tries to Explain What Triggers People’s Big Brains

14 March 2021

14 March 2021

The big brain is the decisive feature of our species. Not only are they the most complex organs in the...

Remains of a 5-year-old girl found under Real Alcázar in Spain

9 May 2021

9 May 2021

The body of a five-year-old fair-haired girl who lived in the late Middle Ages and was most likely of noble...

The Earliest Evidence of a Domesticated Dog in the Arabian Peninsula

9 April 2021

9 April 2021

Dogs have been the best friend of humans since ancient times. Although it is not known exactly when dogs were...

Secrets of the Galloway Hoard Revealed

27 May 2021

27 May 2021

Experts have uncovered fascinating secrets of a Viking Age hoard discovered by a metal detector to be presented to the...

Romanian Police Find the Stolen Viking Helmet

21 February 2021

21 February 2021

Romanian police specializing in heritage crimes recovered a medieval helmet of “Viking origin” on February 7, which had disappeared a...

New Dead Sea Scrolls in The Horror Cave

16 March 2021

16 March 2021

On Tuesday, Israeli archaeologists revealed dozens of recently discovered fragments of Bible text, the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were based...

A newly Discovered Church in Sudan could be a Cathedral

2 June 2021

2 June 2021

Archaeologists have found the remains of the largest church known from medieval Nubia in old Dongola (Sudan). Dongola was the...

Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *