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Home / Science / The oldest weapons in North America offer a new perspective on prehistoric technology

The oldest weapons in North America offer a new perspective on prehistoric technology



History exists in the past, but that does not mean that it is static. New results, published in Science Advances on Wednesday, illustrate the discovery of a dozen projectile points at the Debra L. Friedkin site from the Buttermilk Creek complex in central Texas. These spearheads date back more than 13,500 years, making them possibly the oldest weapons ever found in North America, and also paint a more complex picture of what we used to think about the earliest humans on the continent.

Spearheads are a fairly iconic aspect of Clovis, an ancient culture of Paelo-American hunters and gatherers. These points usually date from 1

3,000 to 12,700 years and are lanceolate (leaf-shaped) points of stone, with a concave base, which makes it possible to attach them as a spearhead. So the discovery of spearheads older than the Clovis is a pretty big deal.

"This discovery is significant as almost all pre-Clovis sites have stone tools, but spearheads still need to be found," says Michael Waters, a geologist at Texas A & M University and principal author of the new study. "The dream has always been to find diagnostic artifacts – such as projectile points – that can be recognized as older than Clovis." Waters and his colleagues have dug at Buttermilk Creek for many years. "We always hoped to find a project point someday, but in archeology you get what you get."

It looks like they finally got it. In this latest excavation, Waters and his team have unearthed hundreds of thousands of Clovis objects from the Buttermilk Creek site, including hundreds of tools. A dozen of these objects were fragmented, completing projectile points that existed in two variants: stalk tips between 13,500 and 15,500 years and triangular lance-shaped points that are between 13,500 and 14,000 years old. They are all definitely older than the typical Clovis points and unique –

"When we found this intact spearhead point, we lost our minds," says Joshua Keene, a Texas A & M researcher and co-author of the study. "We've never seen anything like that, at least not in Texas!"

According to Waters, the gold standard for this type of work is finding these objects in geological layers below the Clovis objects: the lower the layer, the older the artifact. That was exactly the case with this latest discovery – and the results are supported by the fact that the entire prehistoric record of Central Texas is pretty well documented and dated. The team more accurately dated the objects using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating, in which light uses an absolute date for geological sediments.

"A big question that has largely gone unanswered so far is: Clovis technology?" Says Keene. The new objects are distinct from the large leaf-shaped Clovis points as well as other stalk points found further south in Mexico and South America, making them a particularly unique piece of the early puzzle for human history.

So, what does that mean? -Clovis Points Mean About The History Of Mankind In North America? Waters points out that we know for a fact that the Clovis originated in North America, south of the continental ice sheet, and that people did not carry Clovis points from Alaska to the unattached parts of North America.

To this end, there are two scenarios that he and his team think possible, could explain the results: Clovis lanceolate points may have evolved from the stem tip forms created by ancestors before Clovis, who previously invaded the region were; or a second migration of another culture could have come later on the scene and carry the triangular lanceolate form, which was soon developed to the Clovis point.

The results "give new strength to support the theory that it could go very well There were several migrations of people to the New World over thousands of years and not just one, and some of the first groups moved in just to Texas, "says Keene. "These populations predated Clovis, or maybe even made Clovis."

The new study also sheds some light on the uniqueness of the Buttermilk site for early migrants. "They probably came to places like Friedkin because of the extreme abundance of quality stone used to make stone tools," says Keene. "In fact, we have a lot of evidence that Friedkin has been a popular place to re-equip for almost 16,000 years."

"I think they have done an amazing job dating the deposits in the artifacts" and offer "A Safe Chronology," says Ben Marwick, an archeologist at the University of Washington who was not involved in the study. "They invested a lot of effort and it paid off very well, and I really think that's one of the study's strengths."

That being said, Marwick also points out that the results have their limits. "The critical artefacts [the authors] upon which their findings are based are small, leaving an unanswered question as to whether this is a true pattern of early technology of which we do not know much, or if it is just a one-time thing, and perhaps There are only a small number of people who choose to do this sort of artifact message. "

Marwick also notes that there is no very robust description of the actual clay deposits in the paper, and that the Pictures to show some vertical cracks in the layers seemed. "It looks like some of these artifacts might go through the cracks, it's possible that some of the artifacts have slipped down," and are not as old as we might really believe. Marwick has worked on similar archaeological sites in Australia, where he and his team had to anticipate such opportunities and explain them through microscopic analysis and other tests. "I feel that this work was not done here, and I would look forward to seeing some of it before I am too pleased with some allegations."

Finally, while Marwick says, it is possible that the points arising from a separate group of migrants he hesitates to put too much emphasis on this interpretation. "We know that a group can make many different kinds of artifacts, and it's not always the case that different kinds of artifacts mean different kinds of cultural groups." There are only a handful of sites in North America that scientists can work with Therefore, it is difficult to draw conclusions on which wholesale will refer to the history of early human migrants in North America. He hopes that more research can show whether such findings are part of a pattern or just some sort of random peculiarity in the field of anthropology.

Nevertheless, Marwick is encouraged by the general implication of the results that early technologies in America is more diverse than we previously thought. "It's a very important part of this new paper," he says.

"The population of America at the end of the last ice age was a complex process," says Waters. "This complexity can already be seen in the genetic record, and now we begin to reflect that complexity in the archaeological record."

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