Originally uploaded by jtindall.
Yahoo! News informs us that researchers are searching for artifacts at what they believe to be a campsite dating back to 12, 200 years BP (before present). Investigators base this conjecture on radiocarbon dating of mammoth and prehistoric camel bones found at a rural site near Kanorado, about a mile from the Kansas-Colorado border.
This is an exciting find for those in search of the Earliest Americans since the “bones appear to have tool marks made by humans, who probably broke them to extract marrow for food or to make tools.” So, now the search is underway for human artifacts to support this observation.
Unfortunately, most of the tools that these prehistoric humans used were biodegradable, made of bone, wood, etc., which rarely survives. Thus, the archaeologists are hoping to find evidence of stone tools, and then compare such finds with patterns of stone tool making from other sites.
More than 100 archaeologists from the Denver Museum, the University of Kansas, the Kansas Archaeological Association and the Kansas Archaeology Training Program of the Kansas State Historical Society are working at the site. The Odyssey Archaeological Research Fund is partially funding the dig.
Odyssey is part of the Center for the Study of the First Americans. CSFA comprise a group of funds for research at a variety of archaeological sites throughout North America:
- For the Sundance fund
- There’s Danger Cave and Spirit Cave
- For Argonaut
- Murray Springs and other mammoth-kill sites in the San Pedro River drainage
- For Quest
- Folsom, Blackwater Draw, and Midland
- For North Star
- Topper and Cactus Hill
- For Odyssey
- Lindenmeier, Dent, and Big Eddy.
If human artifacts were to be found at the Kansas site, the researchers say, it would bring further into question whether the earliest inhabitants of North America came across the Bering Strait from Asia. Instead, since the Land Bridge was inundated by the rising sea level during the Farmdalian Recession, the earliest settlers may have arrived by boat in South America and journeyed northward.
Researchers base such a hypothesis, in part, upon discoveries at Monte Verde and a distribution of archaeological sites inconsistent with migration across Beringia. While archaeological evidence is discovered or re-assessed, the debate continues over whether the earliest humans to North America migrated across the Bering Land Bridge.
Such a pattern of migration from Asia to North America is unquestioned, as research pushes back the dates, some archaeologists have become increasing skeptical that it explains the origins of the First Americans. One possible explanation is that an Ice-Free Corridor at the critical time.
Joe Cramer, who along with his spouse, Ruth, established the Odyssey Fund (and coordinates all its activities personally from the family home in Denver), is one person who doubts this explanation. Instead, he suggests that the first Americans arrived “by way of both the North Pacific and North Atlantic” during or soon after the time of the Farmdalian Recession.
Since this time was about 25,000 years ago during the middle Wisconsin stage, a period that has been called the Altithermal of the Wisconsin, it is an ambitious undertaking to find evidence of earlier human inhabitants, and, thus, push the arrival of the first Americans back more than 10,000 years before the Clovis culture. The theory is that these earliest Americans, like later emmigrations including the “Clovis” people, used watercraft to reach North America.
Even more ambitious, if any actual human remains are found, is to link this migration pattern to a greater one, i.e., from the West Coast of Africa. While it would have taken these earliest humans many, thousands of years before reaching the Western Hemisphere, researchers currently are seeking evidence for these earliest migrations. The hypothesis is that the earliest humans left Africa and migrated by waer around what is now Yemen and Oman in the Middle East, eventually reaching the other side of the Arabian Sea and India.
While there is hope that artifacts can be found to support this theoretical migration, researchers currently are collecting samples and analyzing / mapping patterns of specific genetic markers.
This migrational pattern then continued around the Indian continent and up to Southeast Asia. It remains largely conjecture how to connect the migrational pattern out of Africa with the settlement of the Americas. Eventually, human migration by water reached down through the Pacific archipelagos to Australia, and, if the earliest visitors also made it to America by watercraft, by what path did they come?