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New evidence of the first Americans

By Colin Ricketts - 26 Mar 2011 17:18:1 GMT
New evidence of the first Americans

Images Credit: Michael R. Waters.

New archaeological evidence has found new evidence of the earliest Americans, pre-dating the Clovis culture which was once thought to be the continent's first human society.

The evidence has been found in Texas, where thousands of artefacts were discovered beneath a previous find of Clovis relics. Archaeologists believe the new evidence is between 13,200 and 15,500 years old and shows signs that the Clovis people adapted and improved on previous technologies.

The find at the Debra L. Friedkin site has been called the Buttermilk Creek Complex, and Michael Waters from Texas A&M University reports on his work in the new issue of Science.

The relics comprise blades, scrapers and choppers and luminescence dating was used to date the sediment in which they were found.

''At the Debra L. Friedkin site, Texas, we have found evidence of an early human occupation… 2,500 years older than Clovis,'' said Dr. Waters. ''This makes the Friedkin site the oldest credible archaeological site in Texas and North America. The site is important to the debate about the timing of the colonization of the Americas and the origins of Clovis.''

The newly discovered tools are small and made of chert, a sedimentary rock. They are thought to be a mobile toolkit and are of a recognisably different type – despite some similarities in technology – to Clovis tools.

The Clovis people were believed to have been the first settlers on the American continent, travelling by land from Asia before the continents were separated. However, there is little evidence of the Clovis people in the continent from which they supposedly came and some American finds of the same period are not comparable.

''This discovery provides ample time for Clovis to develop,'' said Waters. ''People [from the Buttermilk Creek Complex] could have experimented with stone and invented the weapons and tools that we now recognize as Clovis. In short, it is now time to abandon once and for all the 'Clovis First' model and develop a new model for the peopling of the Americas.''