History has been found earlier, but it does not mean that it is static. New findings, published Wednesday in Science…
History has been found earlier, but it does not mean that it is static. New findings, published Wednesday in Science Advances illustrates the discovery of a dozen projectile points on the Debra L. Friedkin site from the core milk complex in downtown Texas. These spearheads reflect more than 13,500 years ago, possibly making them the oldest weapons ever found in North America and also measures a more complex picture of what we previously thought we knew about the continent’s first people.
Spears are a rather iconic aspect of Clovis, an ancient culture of Paeloamerican hunter collectors. These points typically reflect back between 1
3,000 and 12 700 years ago, and are launched (leafy) stone dots, filled with a concave base that allows them to attach as a spearhead. Therefore, the discovery of spearheads that precedes Clovis is a big deal.
“This discovery is significant because almost all pre-Clovis sites have stone tools, but spears are not yet available,” said Michael Waters, geologist at Texas A & M University, and leading author of the new study. “The dream has always been to find diagnostic artifacts-like projectiles that can be recognized as older than Clovis.” Waters and his colleagues have dug at Buttermilk Creek for many years now. “We always hoped to find a projectile point one day, but in archeology you get what you get.”
It seems they finally got it. In the latest excavation, Waters and his team identified hundreds of thousands of pre-Clovis objects from the Buttermilk Creek site, including hundreds of tools. A dozen of these objects were fragmented and complete projectiles, which came in two varieties: stamped points between 13,500 and 15,500 years ago and triangularly launched points between 13,500 and 14,000 years old. Everyone is definitely older than-and unique from-typical Clovis points.
“When we first discovered the intact hub, we lost our thoughts,” said Joshua Keene, a researcher in Texas A & M and a co-author of the study. “We had never seen anything, at least not in Texas!”
According to Waters, the gold standard for this kind of work is to find these objects in geological layers under which Clovis objects are layered, older artifacts. It was this with the latest discovery, and the results are confirmed by the fact that the entire prehistoric disc in central Texas is quite well documented and dated. The team dated the objects more accurately using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) update, where light is used to determine an absolute date for geological sediment.
“A big question that has largely been unanswered until now what is Clovis technology looking like?” Says Keene. The new objects differ from the large leafy Clovis points, as well as other strains found further south in Mexico and South America, making them a particularly unique part of the early human historical jigsaw puzzle.
So what does pre-Clovis score mean that people’s history in North America is? Waters emphasizes that we certainly know that Clovis originates in North America, south of continental ice sheets, and that people do not wear Clovis points from Alaska to the unfortunate parts of North America.
So for this purpose, there are two scenarios that he and his team believe can explain the results: Clovis lanceolate points may have evolved from the steved points created by pre-Clovis ancestors who found their way into the region earlier; or a second migration of another culture may have appeared on stage later with the triangular form of lance that soon developed into the Clovis point.
The results provide new strength to support the theory that there may well have been several migrations of people in the new world over thousands of years instead of just one, and that some of the earliest groups moved to Texas at all places, “Keene says. “These populations predetermined Clovis, or maybe even converted to Clovis.”
The new study also sheds some light in how unique the buttermilk place was premature immigrants. “They probably came to places like Friedkin because of the extreme abundance of high quality chert for making stone tools,” Keene says. “In fact, we have much evidence that Friedkin has been a popular re-tooling spot for almost 16,000 years.”
“I think they have done a great job to judge the deposits in the artifacts” and provide a “safe chronology”, says Ben Marwick, an archeologist based at the University of Washington that was not involved in the study. “They have invested a lot of effort and it has been paid very well, and I really think it’s a strength in the study.”
As said, Marwick also points out that the results have their limits. “The critical artifacts [the authors] based their findings are small in number. It leaves an unanswered question as to whether this is a true pattern of an early technique that we do not know much about or whether it’s just a single type of thing, and maybe there are only a few people who decide to make these varieties of artifacts one afternoon. “
Marwick also notes that there is no very robust description of the actual clay scraps in the paper and that the images turned out to show some vertical cracks in the layers. “There seems to be some potential for some of these artifacts to move through the cracks. It’s possible that some of the artifacts may have moved,” and are not as old as we really believe. Marwick has been working at similar archeological sites in Australia, where he and his team have had to anticipate such opportunities and explain them through microscopic analysis and other testing. “My feeling is that this work has not been done here, and I would look forward to seeing something of it before I get too excited about any of the requirements.”
Finally, while Marwick says it is possible, the points will be deduced from a separate group of immigrants, he is reluctant to put too much stock in that interpretation. “We know that a group can do many different kinds of artifacts. It’s not always that different kinds of artifacts mean different kinds of cultural groups.” There are only a handful of North American sites that researchers can work with, so it’s hard to come up to conclusions regarding the wholesale history of early human immigrants in North America. He is hopeful, more research can prove whether these types of findings are part of a pattern or just a kind of random feature within the field of anthropology.
Nevertheless, Marwick is encouraged by the overall impact of the results that early technology in America is more versatile than we previously thought. “It’s a very important part of this new paper,” he says.
“The US population at the end of the last Ice Age was a complex process,” says Waters. “This complexity is already seen in the genetic record. Now we begin to see this complexity reflected in the archaeological record.”