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    First Americans May Have Crossed Atlantic 50,000 Years Ago

    AR Articles on Ancient History

    The Roots of the White Man (Part I) (Nov. 1996)

    The Roots of the White Man (Part II) (Dec. 1996)

    Our Wandering Ancestors (Mar. 2000)

    New Lies for Old (Jun. 1997)

    More news stories on Ancient History

    Peter N. Spotts, Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 18

    In a discovery sure to set off a firestorm of debate over human migration to the western hemisphere, archaeologists in South Carolina say they have uncovered evidence that people lived in eastern North America at least 50,000 years ago—far earlier than any previously known human presence.

    If the results hold up, this could spur some significant rewriting of early human history. It adds to a growing body of evidence that human colonization of the Western Hemisphere is a more complicated—and much older—story than one involving simply a land bridge from Asia.

    Cracks in that theory had already begun to appear in recent years. But the new evidence—in the form of stone tools buried deep in the South Carolina countryside—could be the most credible and provocative yet. Coupled with other finds, it promises to spur inquiry into the possibility the hemisphere’s first humans may have come from Europe or Africa.

    This could also put human migration to the Americas on the same time footing as human movement out of Africa and into Australia and Central Asia.

    Lead archeologist Al Goodyear concedes that the findings of his group won’t be accepted without debate. “I expect outright rejection of these results,” he said in an interview. But he still asserts that the find is “the real deal.”

    The University of South Carolina archaeologist and his team uncovered what they interpret as simple stone tools in a layer of soil far below previous layers dated to about 16,000 years ago. “The geology and the [radiocarbon] dates are solid” for the layer in which the simple flake tools and coring tools were found.

    The dating of the artifacts to some 50,000 years ago, announced at a press conference Wednesday at the university, comes at a period in North American archaeology when researchers are still smarting from bruising battles over evidence that humans arrived several thousand years earlier than the so-called Clovis culture, whose artifacts date to between 10,800 and 11,500 years ago.

    “This is an interesting piece of information,” says Tom Dillehay, an anthropologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. “It really needs to be compared against other available evidence. Even people with open minds will hesitate on 50,000 years.”

    Part of a larger story

    Yet the South Carolina team’s find is not alone in its antiquity—dates which begin to push the radiocarbon-dating techniques used to their limits. One site in Oklahoma has been dated to between 30,000 and 35,000 years ago. Brazilian and European archaeologists are working a site in Brazil that they say dates to 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. And a site in Chile has yielded artifacts dating to 33,000 years ago. In all cases, however, the evidence has been controversial.

    Researchers interested in the origins of native Americans once held that the first Americans crossed a land bridge between Siberia and North America, then down into the “lower 48” through a corridor in the glaciers in the last ice age.

    The idea evolved after unique spear points were discovered in Colorado and New Mexico, near Clovis in the 1930s. Once people knew what to look for, Clovis spear points began to appear throughout North America at what have been interpreted as quarries and kill sites where hunters had brought down their Pleistocene prey. Scientists applied radiocarbon dating techniques to organic material found in the same soil layers as the spear points and found them to be between 10,800 and 11,500 years old.

    Yet several lines of argument and evidence have chipped away at the foundations of the Clovis culture as the earliest Americans, according Dr. Dillehay.

    He notes that so far researchers have failed to find sites in Siberia with primitive hunting technologies similar to those of Clovis people. Only one or two Clovis habitation sites have been found, so little if anything is known about the culture’s lifestyle. As with Goodyear’s site, researchers have unearthed artifacts at eastern US sites that predate Clovis.

    Genetic diversity in the Americas

    A Clovis-first approach fails to explain significantly older sites in Central and South America. And while genetic similarities between modern native Americans and Asiatic people have been documented, the high level of genetic diversity seen in native Americans “is difficult to explain in a Clovis time frame. It points to a deeper time.”

    These elements have undermined the Clovis-first theory sufficiently that now many researchers are open to the possibility that, like modern immigrants, people came at different times and from different parts of the globe—including Africa, Asia, Australia, and perhaps Europe. Indeed, most of the known Clovis sites are found in the eastern US. Some researchers have suggested that spear points found on the East Coast bear a striking resemblance to points found in Europe, raising the possibility that Stone Age Solutrean culture from what is now southwestern France may have made their way west.

    “The vast majority of North American archaeologists have become convinced that Clovis doesn’t explain the origins of the first people in the Americas,” says Dr. Dillehay, whose work on a 13,000-year-old Monte Verde site in Chile was instrumental in turning the intellectual tide.

    Goodyear and others agree a key point of contention will be whether the newly dated tools are human-made. Most Clovis-era tools, and even pre-Clovis artifacts, are worked on both sides of the rock. The Topper artifacts are flaked only on one side. Goodyear and others say that based on past experience, they are convinced that the artifacts were crafted with human hands. Critics are likely to view them as ambiguous, possibly nothing more than naturally chipped rocks.

    In 1998, Goodyear dug below the level where Clovis artifacts were found and found odd stone tools up to 1 meter deeper. The soils in the layer were dated to 16,000 years ago. Last year, the team dug even deeper and found tools, as well as charred vegetation they could used for radiocarbon dating. The samples were recovered at the site and prepared by Tom Stafford of Stafford Laboratories in Boulder, Colo. The widely respected specialist then sent the samples to the University of California at Irvine for dating.

    The resulting dates of up to 51,700 years old are minimum ages.

    "To follow the right path, is one to follow the mistakes he made in life, to learn off them. Learn to understand them..."

  • #2
    There was a discovery that proves that Native were in America 400 years b.c, so what if there is a site that tries to degrade Native Americans......

    I am not saying that its right, but look at the past, Europeans swept and expanded over countries. Making all of these "discoveries" making heroes out of communists and liars. Why isn't it written in history books that public schools use, because it would deface how great America's history is. U.S history it just the tip of the iceberg, only based on lies.


    • #3
      read the comments from the site. You can also post your own comments on the site.

      This is another attempt of white men to steal the heritage from people of color....

      We all know the ancient American Indians got here with flying saucer technology from Timbuktu. Hell, we all know THAT !!!

      Seriously, folks. There were MULTIPLE ice-age land bridges. Ice age cycles have existed for over 200,000 years miminum. There has been at least 5 such "ice-ages". Who says the only migrations occured during the last one?

      Posted by RICK at 5:11 PM on November 19

      Lead archeologist Al Goodyear concedes that the findings of his group won’t be accepted without debate. “I expect outright rejection of these results,” he said in an interview. But he still asserts that the find is “the real deal.”

      Of course they'll reject these new facts, just like they rejected The Bell Curve. Oh, the gnashing of teeth to explain how the "native americans" may not have been so native after all.

      Posted by Casey Crews at 8:56 PM on November 19

      Okay...with the caveat that I haven't yet actually read the article, let me just say: there's a hidden trap in the notion of Europeans having gotten to North America before the (presumably Asiatic) progenitors of the American Indians did: the so-called mega-fauna die-off. The "Native Americans" lived in such perfect balance and harmony with nature that they couldn't possibly have been responsible for the quick extinction of the larger mammals that occurred...I can't call the dates to mind, and right now I'm not going to go off and dig them up; please take my word for it, or search for yourself. My point is, anthropologists of my acquaintance (and yes, I know a few of them--diehard Boas-ians) positively bristle at the suggestion that the Indians were to blame for the mega-fauna die-off. So now, they have the perfect fall-guy. We're responsible for everything bad in the world and always have been!

      Posted by gnomon at 9:55 PM on November 19

      It is true that there were many land bridges, but modern humans didn't arise until seventy millenia ago or thereabouts. This discovery has so many people scratching their heads because it is very unlikely that modern Homo sapiens representatives could have spread so fast. There is no sense reading too much into this discovery. It is best to wait for some human remains-not just tools-of such definite antiquity to be found before drawing many conclusions.

      Posted by Jeff Davis at 12:46 AM on November 20

      In response to gnomon's The "Native Americans" lived in such perfect balance and harmony with nature that they couldn't possibly have been responsible for the quick extinction of the larger mammals that occurred...

      It is my understanding that Native Americans used to stampede buffalo off of cliffs and then cherry pick the parts. I wonder how many years it would take of this practice to wipe out a species.

      Posted by Drew at 5:08 AM on November 20

      It is surprising our PC government hasn't tried to supress this finding but give them time. That's what the feds did with the biggest find of the last decade: "Kennewick Man" in Washington state. His skeleton is thought to be 9000 years old and his skull doesn't resemble those of any indian peoples but reportedly has European features. The Corp of Engineers wasn't going to let science get in the way and moved to give the skeleton to local tribes to bury in a secret location without any scientific study at all! (What were they afraid of?)
      Fortunately, a group of scientists sued the government and won. So we may yet hear the truth about very early European migrations to North America.
      Contrast how Kennewick Man has been handled with the "Ice Man" who melted out of an Austrian glacier a dozen or so years ago. There was no debate whatsoever about studying this man who lived 50 centuries ago. And what incredible information was gleaned from his body, clothes and tools! Compared to the rest of the world those crafty Europeans were quite advanced 5000 years ago! AR should cover the efforts to study Kennewick Man.

      Posted by Polonius at 11:36 AM on November 20


      I was trying to be ironic. That's what the italics were for.

      Maybe I'm being overly sensitive. In any case, you are correct. In the east, Indians practiced a kind of slash-and-burn agriculture that left the otherwise-forested land with what European settlers called "Indian old fields"--open meadows where the trees had been killed off and the land subsequently exhausted by what we now call "continuous corn."

      Posted by gnomon at 2:39 PM on November 20


      Sorry. I missed the italics when reading your comments.

      Posted by Drew at 5:43 AM on November 21

      I think the hype of "First Americans may have arrived from Europe" is glossing over the fact that the only substantial evidence is that there is a shared genetic marker between modern Caucasoids and Native Americans. No matter what this
      came from a common source at one point, but evidence of actual
      people hopping boats from France to North American is in short

      Kennewick man could have had substantial caucasoid makeup and still not have "come from Europe" in the sense of crossed the
      Atlantic, but could have been part of a Caucasian wave that
      pushed accross siberia.

      That said it is obvious to almost anybody that North American Indians while predominantly mongoloid were peculiar in appearance and some tribes in the Northern areas had extremely long skulls and average heights well above six feet (much larger than contemporary mongoloid populations).

      Perhaps with some of the taboos being lifted from physical anthropology we can use more real science in determining the origins of these people.

      Posted by J.H. at 8:01 AM on November 22

      One of the guys I knew in prison was a Jicarilla Apache. When we discussed the Kennewick Man and other evidence of prehistoric caucasian settlement of the Americas, he replied "Of course there were multiple migrations. That's why American Indians don't look completely caucasian or completely oriental." I suspect even the only Indians denying this are ones with political axes to grind.

      Posted by M. Scott at 3:21 PM on November 22

      At this point, it is disingenuous for any serious anthropologist to deny the existence of early white settlements in North America. However, the important lesson to be learned is what happens to a White population that mixes with lower races: the Whites are either (1) slaughtered into extinction (this has been going on in America for several decades), or (2) racially diluted with the lower race to the point of living as primitive savages.

      Need a recent example? Do a little research about the racial composition of modern Portugal. From world leader to forgotten backwater in the course of one century. You'll be shocked to learn why.

      Posted by Legal Eagle at 10:14 AM on November 23
      "To follow the right path, is one to follow the mistakes he made in life, to learn off them. Learn to understand them..."


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