5,000 year old point. (Center for the Study of the First Americans, Texas A & M University) (unknown)
As long as Buttermilk Creek has wound its way through Texas Hill Country, its spring water has carved through the dark, dense clays of the region, cutting away strata of earth, to expose the rock – and the story – underneath.
Here archaeologists found evidence of a human settlement dating back to 15,500 years: hammerstones and broken knives, fragments of broken tools. And now, scientists say, the Buttermilk Creek Complex has offered the oldest known spear heads in North America.
The new "Projectile Points" reported this week in the Science Advances journal, appearing in two unusual forms – a fact that geologist Mike Waters, who oversees the excavations, is both "bizarre" and "really exciting " found. The find adds to the evidence that the earliest humans arrived in America earlier when researchers thought these people were and how they made their epic migration to the continent.
"This is a really intriguing work," said Jennifer Raff, an anthropological geneticist at the University of Kansas who was not involved in the new study. "It fills in some of the gaps in archaeological records relating to the Clovis Complex and the history of America's very first peoples.
When the projectile point was the Pleistocene cell phone – a ubiquitous technology that shaped and defined cultures Daily Life – the Clovis – Tools were the iPhone X. These dots, named after the city in New Mexico where they were first found, had a rippled bottom and rounded sides that tapered to a sharp point.
The distinctive spearheads are scattered throughout the The city rock record between 10,000 and 13,500 years, from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains and as far south as Venezuela.The tools are so ubiquitous that archaeologists for almost a century thought that the Clovis tradition was the first people on the American continent
The research of the last decades, however, has archaeological Discovering Sites Much Older Than Clovis and Genetic Analysis of Modern Natives The Americans suggest that their ancestors crossed a land bridge from Asia to Alaska about 20,000 years ago, and then migrated down the Pacific coast between 20,000 and 15,000 years off the coast.
Who were these early Americans?
Buttermilk Creek could give a clue, said Waters, who heads the center for the study of the first American at Texas A & M University. Because survival tools are so important – hunting, cooking, building, killing – they can say a lot about the people who run them.
Archaeologists are conducting an excavation at the Debra L. Friedkin site near Buttermilk Creek through Texas. (19659012) In more than 10 years of excavation at his site, Waters and his colleagues have found Clovis points in a rock layer about 13,000 years ago. Below were dozens of stone fragments in older rocks, but not spears. It was difficult to know if they saw older Clovis artifacts or something completely different.
Then, in 2015, the archaeologists discovered two perfectly preserved artifacts: a triangular point resembling the sharp tooth of a predator, and a lobe-shaped projectile with a conical or "stalked" bottom. Using all these points as a model, Waters' team was able to understand the 10 additional fragments that they have collected. They seemed subtly but significantly different from Clovis and other toolmaking traditions – neither a clear forerunner of later technology, nor an obvious competitor.
"I just thought," Holy Cow ", Waters recalled. "Whenever you see something for the first time, something you did not expect, it's always very exciting and intoxicating."
Radiocarbon dating of the soils on which the points were found indicated that they were produced between 13,500 and 15,500 years, significant piece of archaeological evidence for a hike to America that precedes Clovis.
But the dots also raise new questions, Waters said: Were the Clovis people descendants of these early inhabitants who developed a new tooling technology? Or did they wander into the continent separately before spreading their tools across America?
"We're just beginning to answer that," Waters said.
Skye Gilham, a forensic anthropologist at Blackfeet Community College, Montana, said Recent archaeological and genetic research has been instrumental in establishing a scientific link between the earliest Americans and their descendants living today. Insights such as Waters, which provide evidence of America's long history in America, have helped ensure the return of indigenous remains to their communities.
"We said we've always been here, our home," Gilham said. Archeology and genetics, she said, "reaffirm" that.
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