Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Chile: Monte Verde, South America

Skeletal remains has been excavated over the past four years near the town of Tulum, about 80 miles southwest of Cancún, by a team of scientists led by Arturo González, director of the Desert Museum in Saltillo, Mexico. Clues from the skeletons' skulls hint that the people may not be of northern Asian descent, which would contradict the dominant theory of New World settlement.
That theory holds that ancient humans first came to North America from northern Asia via a now submerged land bridge across the Bering Sea. "The shape of the skulls has led us to believe that Eva and the others have more of an affinity with people from South Asia than North Asia," González explained.

The three other skeletons excavated in the caves have been given a date range of 11,000 to 14,000 years ago, based on radiocarbon dating. Tulum. But at the time Eve of Naharon is believed to have lived there, sea levels were 200 feet (60 meters) lower, and the Yucatán Peninsula was a wide, dry prairie. The polar ice caps melted dramatically 8,000 to 9,000 years ago, causing sea levels to rise hundreds of feet and submerging the burial grounds of the skeletons.

Stalactites and stalagmites then grew around the remains, preventing them from being washed out to sea. González has also found remains of elephants, giant sloths, and other ancient fauna in the caves. Fell's Cave is a rock shelter in the valley of the Chico River, not far from the Strait of Magellan in the Chilean part of the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago. It was initially occupied by hunters around 10,000 B.C.E. who left behind an impressive layer of refuse which was sealed by hundreds of pounds of debris from the fall of the shelter overhang.

The hunter's refuse included fire-pots with the broken bones of native horse, sloth, and guanaco, as well as stone and bone tools. Among the stone tools were fishtail spear-points, a form of stone point found in many places in South America. Fishtail points are flaked bi-facially (that is, worked on both sides) and have pronounced shoulders above a clearly shaped stem. Some are fluted with small channels removed from the bottom. In 1936-37, the discoveries in Fell's Cave represented the first evidence of early humans in South America. Since then, older sites such as Monte Verde have been identified.
The remains were found some 50 feet (15 meters) below sea level in the caves off

Chile: Monte Verde, Chile: is a boggy stream-bed in which mastodon bones and wet preserved plant remains were found with a few stone tools, including three bi-pointed points and a crude bi-face. Monte Verde which was occupied some 14,500 years ago, provides a slightly different view of life for the early inhabitants of South America. Due to the quality of preservation at Monte Verde, natural materials such as wood, fiber, and cordage remain. Even a human footprint has been found there. This range of artifacts crafted from perishable materials is typically lost to archaeologists.

Their preservation due to the extremely wet conditions at Monte Verde indicate that baskets, fishing nets, and tents made from hides were among the range of belongings used by the thirty or so people who lived there. These campers were likely able fishermen and gatherers of wild plants, which would have supplemented their diet of hunted animals. They also crafted exquisite leaf-shaped spear-points. These weapons and hunting tools are not dissimilar from the examples from Fell's Cave, which suggests that the two sites, while separated in time by more than 4,000 years, were part of a long-standing and connected tradition of thriving in the new world.

Venezuela: At Taima Taima, an oil field site in northern Venezuela, fragmentary tools were found with cut mastodon bones in a spring where cultural and natural materials had become mixed. One tool is a bi-pointed style point. The ancient habitat was swampy, wooded, and subtropical. The radiocarbon dates range too widely for comfort - from about 41,000 to 12,000 B.P. Late Pleistocene people may have killed mastodon there, but exactly when is not certain.

In nearby Colombia, early pre-pottery sites have also been found, notably at El Jobo in Falcón, that date to about 14,920 B.C.E. There carved stone was used for such objects as small pendants: shell and bone are also known to have been used. Some of these sites contain triangular points, while others have ground-stone tools. Food remains are tropical forest fruits and nuts. In the Andes highlands of Peru, early work had uncovered possible big-game kill sites dating to as early as 20,000 years ago, but these had no clear association with humans.

Researchers: Arturo González 

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