Saturday, November 07, 2009


Archaeologists claim to have found the oldest known artifact in the Americas, a scraper-like tool in an Oregon cave (USA) that dates back 14,230 years. The tool shows that people were living in North America well before the widespread Clovis culture of 12,900 to 12,400 years ago, says archaeologist Dennis Jenkins of the University of Oregon in Eugene. Studies of sediment and radiocarbon dating showed the bone's age. Jenkins and his team found the tool in a rock shelter overlooking
a lake in south-central Oregon, one of a series of caves near the town of Paisley.

I would like to interrupt this news release with a comment: Meadowraft Rock Shelter in Avella, Washington County, Pennsylvania, has been dated to 16,000 years ago. Consult the web site for Meadowcroft for further information. I'm not sure why the University of Oregon is not aware of this.

Last year, Jenkins and colleagues reported that Paisley Cave coprolites, or fossilized human excrement, dated to 14,000 to 14,270 years ago. That report established the Paisley Caves as a key site for American archaeology. Analysis of ancient DNA marked the coprolites as human. But in July, another group argued that the coprolites might be younger than the sediments that contained them. This team, led by Hendrik Poinar of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, also questioned the 2008 report because no artifacts had been found in the crucial sediments. The Oregon team strongly disputed the criticisms. The dating of the bone tool, and the finding that the sediments encasing it range from 11,930 to 14,480 years old, might put these questions to rest.

But -- this is all interesting and very early but Meadowcroft Shelter is still earlier.


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