The First Americans (Peopling Of The Americas)

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FraterLibre

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confusing

Confusing science with politics doesn't do anyone any good.

Science must prove its thesis to peer review. Culture and politics don't. It's far better to find out the facts than rely upon traditions. It's far better to let facts be known than to suppress them for political reasons.

Indians claimed Kennewick man was their ancestor and demanded the right to bury it in a hidden place so no one would ever be able to analyze it and ascertain the facts.

Scientists claimed the right to analyze the find and figure out what exactly it was, how old, etc.

The Army was bullied by Washington politicians afraid of the Indian lobby causing unwarranted trouble, which they did anyway.

Scientists were caught in the middle between politicians on either side.

Finally a court decided it was best to at least try to figure things out in a way that can be checked by impartial parties thereafter -- science, in short.

If Kennewick man proves to be older than known Amerind colonies, and further proves to have origins in northern Europe somewhere, then Indians may lose their claim of primacy and fear loss of political clout, such little as they have, loss of their dubious claim to the title Native Americans, and loss of what ever special political category status they may enjoy now.

That's what it's all about, politics, very modern and very ugly. Racism played into it on all sides, alas.

Blaming science for this is absurd. No archaeologist I've ever read proposes that Indians wiped out a superior mound-building culture -- that nonsense went out with the 1800s. The mound builders are generally thought to have been unknown Indian tribes and nations perhaps migrated from Central or South America, these days.

That may change as more findings come alone. Every new finding adds to the overall mosaic of truth and myth, and each established fact adds to the clarity and dispells some of the mist.

Who could be against this?
 
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Anonymous

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Re: Only confusing to those who refuse to see another's view

Originally posted by FraterLibre
Confusing science with politics doesn't do anyone any good. Science must prove its thesis to peer review. Culture and politics don't. It's far better to find out the facts than rely upon traditions. It's far better to let facts be known than to suppress them for political reasons.


I was trying to relate the distrust many Native Americans have against white people, and white government. Please don't turn this into something that it isn't.

Indians claimed Kennewick man was their ancestor and demanded the right to bury it in a hidden place so no one would ever be able to analyze it and ascertain the facts.

Scientists claimed the right to analyze the find and figure out what exactly it was, how old, etc.

The Army was bullied by Washington politicians afraid of the Indian lobby causing unwarranted trouble, which they did anyway.

Scientists were caught in the middle between politicians on either side.


Yes, the scientists were caught in the middle. I'm sure they have good intentions, but you can't wipe out hundreds of years of lies and broken treaties with good intentions.

There's a reason this mistrust is still strong. Did you know many museums in the United States still posess Native American cultural artifacts? Most of these are essential to tribe and culture, yet they're only now being returned...if at all. It's akin to the Magna Carta or the body of Abraham Lincoln being locked away in a vault somewhere for years and years.

If that wasn't enough, when the artifacts are returned some of them have actually been poisoned through the archival process.

That's one example of many, and THAT'S what I was trying to convey. There's ample reason for distrust.

Finally a court decided it was best to at least try to figure things out in a way that can be checked by impartial parties thereafter -- science, in short.


That's a very simplified vew of the situation.

http://www.cr.nps.gov/aad/kennewick/

Kennewick man WAS studied and DNA tests were carried out. As many speculated, the samples were too degraded for DNA analysis.

http://www.cr.nps.gov/aad/kennewick/#dna

If Kennewick man proves to be older than known Amerind colonies, and further proves to have origins in northern Europe somewhere, then Indians may lose their claim of primacy and fear loss of political clout, such little as they have, loss of their dubious claim to the title Native Americans, and loss of what ever special political category status they may enjoy now.


I suggest you study the information found in the links I've supplied...

Kennewick man's skeleton shows no link to Northern Europe. Let's get that straight right now. No link to Northern Europe. The skeleton shows a close relationship to the Ainu, who have been shown NOT to be European.

Frankly I find you insulting. "Dubious" claim to be Native Americans? "Special claim of category THEY enjoy now"?

Let's get one thing straight here, Native Americans were butchered by the white people, almost eradicated by disease, culturally raped and stripped of their religion, land and history. Many are forced to live on reservations that are hundreds of miles away from ancestral lands. Many of those lands are now subdivisions or golf courses (Newark earthwork in Ohio is now a golf course). Whatever "special treatment" we're getting now is moot, and cold comfort.

Blaming science for this is absurd. No archaeologist I've ever read proposes that Indians wiped out a superior mound-building culture -- that nonsense went out with the 1800s.


Maybe among mainstream scientists, but there's still people who believe in the Newark "Holy Stones" even though they've been discredited by science. The fact remains that they still hold a fascination with some people. The same people who are using Kennewick man to bolster their outlandish theories.

http://www.econ.ohio-state.edu/jhm/arch/symp.htm

Besides, I'm NOT BLAMING SCIENCE.

That may change as more findings come alone. Every new finding adds to the overall mosaic of truth and myth, and each established fact adds to the clarity and dispells some of the mist.

Who could be against this?


Just make sure these findings aren't used to butress an agenda.

The outcome could be quite..."dubious". Don't you think?
 

intaglio

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Thanks for the info soubriquet.

Interesting if Kennewick does show a relation to the Ainu as they are not a mongoloid race. Especially interesting if it is shown to have a relation to the Tierra del Fuegans.

Note, if you come across any - erm - persons of restricted outlook (lets not be insulting) point out that the southern and meso american civilisations were amerind.

About "respecting cultures" this is a 2 way street. Sure respect the culture of an oppressed/repressed people but the converse applies - having been oppressed/repressed does not give you the right to demand that the overbearing culture's values be disregarded. It becomes especially tricky in the area of religion and origins but the answer there is not to retreat into obscurantism.
 
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FraterLibre

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Water

Being of Scottish and Irish descent, I'm not prone to be much bothered by such stuff, having been oppressed with the best of 'em, if never BY the best of them.

I stand by what I wrote and refuse to be drawn into nonsense.
 
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Anonymous

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Re: Water

FraterLibre said:
Being of Scottish and Irish descent, I'm not prone to be much bothered by such stuff, having been oppressed with the best of 'em, if never BY the best of them.

I stand by what I wrote and refuse to be drawn into nonsense.

Some of the things you said were crude and inconsiderate, sorry if you can't see that. Stand by them, just goes to show me that people never change.
 
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Anonymous

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Or, to take a step back and employ another perspective...

Lemme see if I've got this straight in my head: for centuries Europeans have been claiming a 'superior right' to hold opinions and pursue agendas predicated on the flimsy notion that they are somehow part of a special cultural group and that the path by which this cultural group arrived at its specialness was of itself special.

(But we are -according to some- in the process of growing out of it, although golfers are obviously doing so far more slowly than everybody else.)

Now, however, Native Americans are claiming a 'superior right' to hold opinions and pursue agendas predicated on the flimsy notion that they are somehow part of a special cultural group and that the path by which this cultural group arrived at its specialness was of itself special.

I like the irony of that.
 
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FraterLibre

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Intended

sobriquet said:
Some of the things you said were crude and inconsiderate, sorry if you can't see that. Stand by them, just goes to show me that people never change.

Oh, yes, I'm fully in control of my writing and its tone and know full well they were going to be considered crude and inconsiderate by some. As Churchill said, there are those one would wish to offend.
 

rynner2

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Cool it, folks.

If you can't say anything good, it's better to say nothing.
Remember the Guidelines.
 
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FraterLibre

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Figures

Rynner - We can't quote Churchill??

You work for Tony Bush?
 

rynner2

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Date limit set on first Americans
A new genetic study deals a blow to claims that humans reached America at least 30,000 years ago - around the same time that people were colonising Europe.

The subject of when humans first arrived in America is hotly contested by academics.

On one side of the argument are researchers who claim America was first populated around 13,000 years ago, toward the end of the last Ice Age. On the other are those who propose a much earlier date for colonisation of the continent - possibly around 30,000-40,000 years ago.

The authors of the latest study reject the latter theory, proposing that humans entered America no earlier than 18,000 years ago.
See link for full details.
 
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Anonymous

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New questions about migration of first Americans

New questions about migration of first Americans
Doubts resurface about land route through Siberia
Allison M. Heinrichs, Los Angeles Times
Friday, July 25, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle |

URL:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=3D/chronicle/a/2003/07/25/MN25=
3509.DTL

An archaeological site in Siberia -- long thought to be the
original jumping-off point for crossing the Bering land bridge
into North America -- is actually much younger than previously
believed, shaking the theory that the first Americans migrated
overland during the final cold snap of the last great ice age.

Using radiocarbon dating, scientists found that the Ushki site,
the remains of a community of hunters clustered around Ushki Lake
in northeastern Russia, appears to be only about 13,000 years old
-- 4,000 years younger than originally thought.

The new date places the Ushki settlement in the same time period
as the Clovis site, an ancient community found in New Mexico,
making it highly unlikely that people could have traversed the
thousands of miles from Siberia in such a short period.

"This was the last site out there in Siberia that could have been
an ancestor for the Clovis," said Michael Waters, co-author of
the research appearing today in the journal Science. "We have to
think bigger now and start thinking outside the box."

History books have long touted the idea that the first Americans,
hunting a herd of mammoths, crossed into North America across the
Bering land bridge, a strip of land that is believed to have
linked Russia to the United States between 10,000 to 18,000 years
ago. The land is thought to have been exposed during a period of
glaciation when Arctic ices locked away much of the ocean's
waters, making the sea levels close to 400 feet lower than today.

"The new age assessments may indicate that archaeologists continue
to search in the wrong direction for an answer to Clovis origins,"
said Anthony Boldurian, a University of Pittsburgh anthropologist
who subscribes to the relatively new idea that the first Americans
may have used boats to skip across Atlantic ice floes from Europe,
entering North America perhaps as early as 20,000 years ago.

Other archaeologists, including Michael B. Collins from the Texas
Archeological Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at
Austin, believe that early humans from the Japanese archipelago
followed whales and other marine food sources across the Pacific
Ocean to North America. "If you open up the possibility of water
routes, even in the glacial maximum, they could skirt around the
edge of the icepack in the North Pacific and come down the West
Coast (of America)," he said.

With the redating of the Ushki site, the oldest verified site
near the Bering land bridge is now the 14,000-year-old Broken
Mammoth settlement in central Alaska.

The Clovis site in New Mexico has yielded the earliest unequivocal
archaeological evidence that people were settled in North America
13,600 years ago. Archaeologist also point to a variety of other
locations, including the Monte Verde site in southern Chile and
the Cactus Hill site in Virginia (both dating to about 12,500
years ago) -- as evidence that the land bridge theory is faulty.

University of Kansas anthropological geneticist Michael Crawford
said early humans probably could not have crossed the land bridge
and traveled to New Mexico in 400 years. Reaching South America
by foot within 1,000 years was even less likely.

He contends that people may have entered North America across the
Bering land bridge at an earlier point through multiple migrations.
"Certainly the molecular genetics shows that it wasn't just a
single migration," he said. Genetic research shows that "humans
have been in America for at least 20,000 years."

But some archaeologists argue that because of the nomadic
characteristics of America's first settlers, the seemingly
difficult feat of traversing the American continents in 1,000
years is not impossible.

"We are talking about tiny numbers of people, highly mobile, who
would have traversed thousands of square miles as part of their
hunting round within surprisingly few generations," said Brian
Fagan, an emeritus professor of anthropology at UC Santa Barbara.

Radiocarbon dating may confirm that many other early American
sites are actually pre-Clovis settlements. This possibility,
combined with the fact that earlier Siberian sites have not been
found, has left archaeologists and anthropologists "scratching
their heads," Waters said.

"It's one of those things where we don't have all the answers
right now and that's what makes it so exciting," he said. "I
think we're in the threshold in the next 20 years of basically
rewriting North American history."

2003 San Francisco Chronicle |


Mike Ruggeri's Ancient America and Mesoamerica News and Links
http://community-2.webtv.net/Topiltzin-2091/AncientAmericaand

Ancient America Museum Exhibitions, Lectures and Conferences
http://community-2.webtv.net/Topiltzin-2091/AncientAmerica
 

naitaka

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http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994128

Narrow skulls clue to first Americans

Skull measurements on the remains of an isolated group of people who lived at the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California has stirred up the debate on the identity of the first Americans once again.

The earliest inhabitants of North America differed subtly but significantly from modern native Americans. The difference is clearly seen in the skull shapes of the first people to colonise the continent, who had longer, narrower skulls than modern people.

One theory says it is because two distinct groups of people migrated to North America at different times. But another theory says that just one population reached the continent and then evolved different physical attributes, except for a few isolated groups.

Anthropologists once assumed the earliest Americans resembled modern native Americans. That changed with the discovery of a 10,500-year-old skeleton called Luzia in Brazil, and the 9000-year-old skeleton of Kennewick man in Washington state.

Both had the long, narrow skulls that more resemble those of modern Australians and Africans than modern native Americans, or even the people living in northern Asia, who are thought to be native Americans' closest relatives.

Some researchers argued that they were simply unusual individuals, but scientists have now identified the same features in recent remains from the Baja California.

The Pericú hunter-gatherers survived until just a few hundred years ago at the end of the peninsula, says Rolando González-José, of the University of Barcelona, Spain, (Nature, vol 425, p 62).

He thinks the formation of the Sonora desert isolated the Pericú for thousands of years, but they vanished when Europeans disrupted their culture. González-José measured 33 Pericú skulls and found their features were similar to those of the ancient Brazilian skulls.

This backs the idea that a first wave of long, narrow skulled people from south-east Asia colonised the Americas about 14,000 years ago. These were followed by a second wave of people from north-east Asia about 11,000 years ago, who had short skulls.

This theory has been championed by Walter Neves, at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He says the second wave may have been larger, and eventually came to dominate the Americas. "The discovery is exactly what I have been predicting since the late 1980s," Neves told New Scientist.

However Joseph Powell, an anthropologist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, is not convinced. He thinks the earliest Americans did come from south-east Asia, but believes they evolved into modern native Americans.

"Even with two waves, each would have changed over the past 10,000 to 12,000 years through adaptation and microevolution," he says. Neves argues that the change in skull shape after 8000 years ago is too sudden for evolution.
 
F

FraterLibre

Guest
Only What's Tested

They can only make their sweeping statements about the samples they've tested and as soon as one turns up that contradicts their sweeping statements, they are all swept away.

What they should say is, "No sample we've tested dates earlier than about 18,000 years." That's as good as they can get.

Their eagerness to disprove leads them into logical conundrums, such as trying to prove a negative. This rivalry is a strong reason why these questions remain open; each group champions one view, rather than simply following where the data lead, because each group has a pet theory or viewpoint they're defending.

Primates, gotta wonder about 'em.
 
A

Anonymous

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11,000 BC Man found in British Columbia

Charlottes caves yield ancient artifacts

Larry Pynn

CanWest News Service

VANCOUVER -- A caving expedition to the Queen Charlotte Islands is believed to have found the massive ancient bones of a grizzly bear -- a species no longer found on the islands -- and the base of a spear point that could represent the oldest human artifact on the B.C. coast.



The quartz spear point could be up to 11,000 years old, based on the sediment layer in which it was found, lending further credence to the theory that early humans migrated down the coast of North America by watercraft rather than travelling inland along an ice-free corridor.



"Certainly, on the B.C. coast, it would probably be the oldest site," said Parks Canada archeologist Daryl Fedje, comparing it with similar ancient human sites dated to about 10,300 years on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska, 10,500 years at Charlie Lake near Fort St. John, and almost 11,000 years on Santa Rosa Island, Calif.



"It's a very interesting, very exciting find. But it's still preliminary. We're a long ways from knowing how it fits together. It's a complex story -- the cave, and the sediments."

more here..

http://www.canada.com/victoria/news/story.asp?id=2CC07B8D-BFE2-4BBB-A53E-FE3A87097171
 
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Anonymous

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Humans in Americas 56000 BP???

http://www.abc.net.au/cgi-bin/common/printfriendly.pl?/science/news/stories/s990775.htm

News in Science - Ancient hearth tests carbon dating - 17/11/2003

Ancient hearth tests carbon dating
Bob Beale
ABC Science Online
Monday, 17 November 2003

Rock art at Serra da Capivara National Park, home of the Pedra
Furada site in Brazil (Embassy of Brazil, London)

People were keeping warm by a fire in a rock shelter at least
56,000 years ago, according to new analysis of what may be the
oldest known human record in the Americas. This is about 40,000
years earlier than generally agreed for when people first arrived
in the Americas.

The international team of researchers dated charcoal from a
hearth at the controversial Pedra Furada archaeological site in
Brazil and reported its findings in the latest issue of the
journal Quaternary Science Reviews.

They used a new technique that pushes back the so-called
radiocarbon dating barrier, according to Dr Guaciara dos Santos
and colleagues who ran tests at the Australian National
University.

Scientists have been polarised about the age of the Pedra Furada
site because estimates have been in "profound disagreement" with
accepted wisdom about who, when, where and how people first
arrived in the Americas. These were supposedly the Clovis people
who walked from Siberia into North America across an Ice Age land
bridge only 12,000 to 14,000 years ago.

"These dates are good and reliable and there's no reason to doubt
them," Dr Michael Bird, a member of the team who developed the
new dating technique, told ABC Science Online. "The question goes
back to the archaeology. If they are hearths, they are very old
indeed." The site at Pedra Furada, in the Serra da Capivara
National Park, is a rich archaeological area of sandstone rock
shelters. It contains many prehistoric sites, including hundreds
of rock artworks, stone tools and human remains.

Earlier tests on charcoal from the deepest layers of the
excavations suggested that it was at least 40,000 years old, the
traditionally accepted accurate "barrier" limit of radiocarbon
dating. But scientists were still puzzled about the authenticity
of the hearths as human artefacts and whether younger carbon
sources could have contaminated the samples and skewed the
results.

The new study says that thermoluminscence testing of the
hearthstones showed that they "were heated independently from the
stones found outside the hearths in the same layer; thus, refuting
the possibility that the stones were heated by natural fires".

It revises the dates on those earlier charcoal tests using Bird's
technique to decontaminate it first. The procedure is known as
ABOX (acid-base-wet-oxidation) and involves chemically scouring a
fine layer off the charcoal surface.

"[This] reliably removes contamination from charcoal and wood
enabling credible radiocarbon dating to about 55,000 years before
present," the report said.

Bird said the method had been used in the past two years to secure
radiocarbon dates older than 40,000 years for archaeological sites
in South Africa and Australia, notably the famous Devil's Lair
site in Western Australia, which was redated at up to 50,000 years
old. Radiocarbon dates become progressively less reliable on
older material and until the ABOX technique was developed, few
scientists would accept their accuracy beyond the barrier limit,
he said.

"At 50,000 years you have only about 0.1% of the original
radiocarbon present, so contamination with younger material is a
major issue," Bird said. "This is a much better way of
pre-treating the samples to get rid of any contamination. It's
becoming the gold standard in archaeology for getting good
reliable dates that you can believe, particularly at these old
time scales."

Out of seven Pedra Furada charcoal samples scientists took from
the hearth structures in the deepest layers, five were beyond the
limit of the ABOX technique itself, returning ages greater than
56,000 years, the report said. Analysis of the final two samples
gave finite ages of 53,000 and 55,000 years.
 

madmath

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Re: Humans in Americas 56000 BP???

Interesting; I propose a possible explanation. A small group of early humans travels what was then the coast of the Americas, which is now underwater so we've found very few trace, but they never manage to gain sufficient numbers to fully colonize any part of the continent and eventually die off. And it isn't until the improved technology of the Clovis appears, and perhaps a climactic change, that humans can spread through the continents.
If a group of a couple dozen humans entered the Americas, but weren't followed by others for some reason, their genetic diversity would not have been sufficient to prevent their dying off from interbreeding. Or they might have encountered a new, virulent disease that killed off too many of them.
This is around the time that humans travelled over open ocean to Australia, so it's not unthinkable that a group travelled down the coast of the Americas.
 

intaglio

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This national park is approximately 600 miles inland (More if an extendedcoastline is proposed), about 5000 miles from Alaska, a similar distance from Greenland and about 3000 miles from Tierra del Fuego.
 

madmath

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intaglio said:
This national park is approximately 600 miles inland (More if an extendedcoastline is proposed), about 5000 miles from Alaska, a similar distance from Greenland and about 3000 miles from Tierra del Fuego.

I'm not familiar enough with Brasilian geography. However, the location does not impede my hypotheses too much. 50,000 years is a long time for sites to disappear, and perhaps we simply have not found or recognized the other sites.

Therefore, in true scientific fashion I'll modify my thesis, and posulate more broadly that there were some small migrations to the American continents from Asia that did not see enough people crossing to survive, due to being out-competed by local predators, through inbreeding, or a combination thereof. I still surmise that most of the evidence is now underwater, since the coasts have moved inland, inundating any shore-line camps and remains.

I wonder if there are other inland sites that have been "overlaid" by more recent habitations. A good cave is a good cave, and most wouldn't change that much in a few thousand years.

One thing that troubles me about these sites it the lack of skeletal remains of the proper age, of humans or prey animals. If the humans were using the fire for cooking, there should be some burnt animal bits around the cave.
 
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FraterLibre

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Technology

We can't know for sure unless and until technology develops a way for us to survey for human remains belowground, then dig for them and test them. Other than that, we're lost in a sea of random discoveries and questionable interpretations.
 
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Anonymous

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4imix;

Pedra Furada= Papo Furado in my opinion;

well probably, anyway.

And this Acid-base wet-oxidation technique; my missus (the archaeologist in our family) says it sounds like fun; the music that goes with it is pretty good, too.
 
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FraterLibre

Guest
Good One

Interesting article, and futher confirms the general notion that human habitation of North America was earlier than we've been taught. I'd guess that even the pre-Ice Age global maritime civilization enthusiasts may one day be proven right.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Kennewick Man

This one has rattled around for an awful long time - seems like the ball is back in the court of the scientists but I can't imagine it'll stay there for very long ;)

February 06, 2004

Scientists Win Latest Ruling in Kennewick Man Case



The 9,000-year-old remains known as Kennewick Man should be made available for scientific study, according to a federal court ruling. On Wednesday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided in favor of researchers who sued to stop a group of Native American tribes from burying the skeleton, which they claim as their ancestor.

The bones, including a skull, were found on the bank of the Columbia River by two teenagers in 1996, near the town of Kennewick, Wash. After dating the remains to between 8,340 and 9,200 years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the land where the discovery was made, initially turned them over to Native American tribes in the Northwest, who did not want any further testing performed on them. Eight anthropologists then sued to gain access to the remains, claiming that the decision did not follow federal law. Judge John Jelderks agreed, ruling that in order to be eligible under the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)--which aims to return museum artifacts to Native American tribes--Kennewick Man must have "a relationship to a presently existing tribe, people, or culture." But because "Kennewick Man's culture is unknown and apparently unknowable," the tribes' request to repatriate the remains was denied. The four tribes--the Colvill, the Umatilla, the Yakam and the Nez Perce--appealed the August 2002 decision.

With Wednesday’s ruling, the three-judge Appeals Court panel upheld the decision to allow scientists to study Kennewick Man. The researchers contend that analysis of the remains will help answer questions about how humans came to populate North America. The tribes can still challenge the decision within 45 days, however. Thus, for now, Kennewick Man will remain in the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, his home for the past six years while the courts have been determining his fate.

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa003&articleID=00054BC3-B5EA-1022-B5EA83414B7F0000

Emps
 

intaglio

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If (and it's a big if) Kennewick man is found to be unrelated to the Amerind races it gives ammunition to the people who say that Amerind claims to priority in the Americas is bunk.
 
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Anonymous

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I can understand the paranoia of the Native Americans although most prefer to be called indians. They have been marginalized, lied to and treated as subhuman for to many generations to suddenly have faith that these people won't try to undermine the few claims they have gained. I personally think it is irrelevent if they replaced or intermarried with earlier groups that came from other parts of the world or if they displaced some unknown indigenous people. It doesn't change what has been done to them or their culture.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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intaglio said:
If (and it's a big if) Kennewick man is found to be unrelated to the Amerind races it gives ammunition to the people who say that Amerind claims to priority in the Americas is bunk.

Its mor elikely to mean that a lot of the models of the colonisation of the Americas are overly simple.

There may have been a range of different groups making the crossing(s) and what we see as native Americans are a melange of these groups or the fortuitous survivors of one (or more) groups. It would certainly explain the confusing evidence.

I think they have to still be iven priority as they were the only surviving people in the Americas when the Europeans arrived and that is good enough.

Emps
 
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Anonymous

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I agree with you about the colonization models. There are to many stories like the idea of Madoc and the early welsh settlers as well as some evidence for Chinese and Norse. I think it should be pointed out that if their descendents were still here they still got the shaft along with the other indians.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Good article and a good map.

Quest for the Lost Land

Renée Hetherington, J. Vaughn Barrie, Roger MacLeod and Michael Wilson

Editor's note: For more background about the studies on the early Americans and dating terminology, read the previous feature.

Until recently, researchers believed our North American roots stretched back only about 11,200 radiocarbon years before present (YBP). These earliest settlers, from a culture now called Clovis, traveled from northeast Asia across the "Beringia landbridge," hunting large mammals with stone tools and colonizing the Americas via an "ice-free corridor" east of the Canadian Rocky Mountains (see story, this issue).


However, in 1989, archaeologist Tom Dillehay at the University of Kentucky published a two-volume work entitled Monte Verde: A Late Pleistocene Settlement in Chile, which describe a human settlement dated to 12,500 YBP, approximately 1,300 years before Clovis. This site contained non-Clovis stone tools, a child's footprints and a community of dwellings constructed in part from animal skins. Archaeological sites like this and others found south of areas glaciated during the last ice age, and dated to between 12,500 and 11,500 YBP, imply that people had reached the southern tip of South America prior to the recession of the giant ice sheets, leading archaeologists to postulate alternative migration routes. Now geologists are also working on these alternative routes, exploring the region's glacial past to reconstruct a potential path for early peoples along the northwestern coast of North America.

This digital topographic map of North America shows two possible early migration routes into North America. The terrain and bathymetry inset maps show the Queen Charlotte Islands region off the coast of British Columbia as it appears today, and as it likely appeared after the Last Glacial Maximum between 11,750 and 11,250 years ago. Lower eustatic sea level combined with a forebulge resulted in the formation of a coastal plain and thus a landbridge that probably facilitated the migration of plants, animals and potentially humans between mainland North America and the Queen Charlotte Islands and Vancouver Island.

Coastal migration

In the early 1960s, Calvin Heusser, Alex Kreiger, Kenneth Macgowan and Joseph Hester suggested the possibility of a Pacific coastal migration route for early peoples. In the mid-1970s Knut Fladmark, now at Simon Fraser University in Canada, did extensive analysis of the paleoenvironmental and archaeological data pertaining to a "coastal route," but his work met with little support. However, this all began to change when archaeologist Daryl Fedje from Parks Canada and geologist Heiner Josenhans from the Geological Survey of Canada discovered a forest of standing stumps deep under the marine waters off the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Today, the possibility that the Americas' first settlers migrated via a coastal route has become an intriguing and increasingly popular, albeit contentious, theory. As with the ice-free corridor hypothesis, debate continues over whether archaeologists are presumptuous in assuming that the northwest coast of North America could support early migrating humans in their journey southward.

Somewhat puzzling, considering the renewed interest in the coastal migration route, is the fact that few sites along the northwest coast of North America are older than 10,000 YBP. In 1997, archaeologist E. James Dixon, now at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and others reported in Geoarchaeology their discovery of a human pelvis and mandible in a cave on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska. The mandible dated to around 9,200 YBP, and a bone tool found in the same cave dated to 10,300 YBP (marine reservoir corrected to circa 9,800 YBP). Although exciting finds, these dates were more than 2,000 years shy of the evidence at Monte Verde. Yet, despite this lack of early archaeological evidence, the coastal migration route is fast becoming the prevailing theory as to how and when the first Americans arrived.

Perhaps the coastal migration route is simply riding a wave of popularity; perhaps scientists lack sufficient creative vision of alternative ice-age human lifeways. But as enticing new evidence accumulates, including indications that brown and black bears, caribou and mountain goats survived along North America's northwest coast during and subsequent to the last ice age, the search intensifies to find substantive evidence of the region's ability to support early peoples and artifactual evidence of their presence.

The coastal migration route follows continental plate boundaries, most of which are active and subject to major earthquakes. At the edge of the continental plates, the lithosphere is often thin and flexible and thus responds relatively rapidly to changes in eustatic sea level, sedimentation, erosion, glacial and water loading, and tectonic movement. As a result, along the northwest coast of North America, coastlines have continuously shifted, resulting in sea levels and coastlines significantly different than today's. But only by identifying their past locations can we determine where and when Americas' first peoples could have lived, and thus where early archaeological sites, if they exist, may remain.

In January 2000, the first author Hetherington, then a graduate student, began a quest for the lost land purported to exist by proponents of the coastal migration theory. Building on research done by geologists and archaeologists along the northwest coast of Canada, she began to unravel the puzzle of why archaeologists hadn't yet found any evidence of people living along the coast prior to 10,300 years ago. After collecting and analyzing thousands of mollusk shells and combining results with geological evidence, interesting insights emerged.

Setting the scene

During the last ice age, early groups traveling along the northwest coast of North America would have seen coastal plains stretching over 100 kilometers as far as the eye could see, where now rough seas preside. They could have lived adjacent to productive estuaries and shellfish beaches now buried under moss and shrubs deep in the coastal rainforest. Such drastic geographic changes were the result of a drop in eustatic sea level of more than 120 meters, initiated when large amounts of water from the oceans were trapped as ice in expanding glaciers and continental ice sheets situated throughout Russia, Europe and the Andes in South America, and which extended across virtually all of Canada and southward beyond the Great Lakes into the United States. Large continental and alpine glaciers advanced and retreated across North America's north Pacific continental shelf. As ice advanced and retreated across the region, coastlines shifted in response both to ice movement and to eustatic sea-level change.

The degree and direction of local sea-level change and coastline movement were dependent on where coastlines were situated relative to glacial ice. Heavy ice loads resulted in crustal depression and local relative sea-level rise on Canada's western mainland. When crustal depression exceeded eustatic sea-level lowering, coastlines rose above levels seen today. In areas peripheral to the ice, crustal uplift generated a "forebulge," similar to the upward bulging that occurs when laying on a water bed or the bulging area around a finger as it pushes down on a balloon.

The glacial and sea-level history of the Queen Charlotte Island region, just off the northwest coast of Canada and just south of where James Dixon found human bones, is particularly complex and, from an archaeological perspective, particularly fascinating. The relatively low Queen Charlotte Mountain glaciers developed more slowly and later than on the mainland. Ice formed small caps, 500 meters thick, which flowed from the mountains. The limited size and extent of the Queen Charlotte Mountain source areas and the proximity of the deep water (of the open Pacific Ocean, Dixon Entrance and Queen Charlotte Sound) limited expansion of Queen Charlotte ice. Consequently much of the area became part of a peripheral forebulge. Ice-free areas (or refugia) may have developed on the islands and on the coastal lowlands of Graham Island, the northernmost island, where glaciation was limited and of short duration.

Although researchers had previously gathered detailed local sea-level observations at a few locations in the area, vastly different sea-level histories for sites less than 50 kilometers apart made well-constrained regional reconstruction elusive. However, by radiocarbon dating intertidal marine shells obtained from beach deposits and combining that data with seismic surveys, geologic evidence and georeferenced computer modeling, we have been able to reconstruct the regional sea-level history subsequent to the last glacial maximum.

Despite rising eustatic sea level, deflation of ice to the north and east promoted sufficient isostatic uplift to close the 100- to 150-kilometer-wide Hecate Strait by 11,250 YBP. Hecate Strait became Hecate Sea, a narrow, elongate, shallow-water embayment that opened southward into Queen Charlotte Sound. Two coastal plains extending up to 150 kilometers in width emerged from the sea, creating a land bridge between the islands and the mainland. These plains separated Hecate Sea from the open marine waters of Dixon Entrance to the north, significantly reducing marine circulation and contributing to a lowering of both salinity and temperature. Coastlines shifted more than 100 kilometers within the span of a few human lifetimes, causing us to reflect on the impact upon early peoples.

Coastal migration route

During the last glacial maximum (about 15,000 YBP in the Queen Charlotte Islands) and for about 2,500 years afterward, glacial ice extended out from the Canadian mainland into Dixon Entrance, blocking navigation along northern Queen Charlotte Islands and between the islands and the mainland. This change required any migrating peoples to skirt the western side of the islands or to travel over ice when moving southward or northward. For about 1,000 years, the emergent land bridge would have required early people again to travel along the west coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands or overland.

By 11,750 YBP, a warming climate supported the appearance of pine forests. Lakes were numerous, and many intertidal shellfish species colonized regions where similar species are common today. The uplifted coastal plains could have acted as migrating glacial refugia for early floral, faunal and potential human populations. Their existence may help explain how large mammals, such as the 41,000-yearold black bear (found by Tim Heaton of the University of South Dakota) on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska, north of the Queen Charlotte Islands, may have survived through the glacial period. The uplifted coastal plains could also have provided subsistence resources for mammals like the 12,000-year-old mountain goat found in caves on northern Vancouver Island.

Before the last glacial maximum, Vancouver Island supported large mammals, including mammoths, mastodon, helmeted musk-oxen and bison. A mammoth humerus from southern Vancouver Island has been dated to 17,000 YBP, while three tusks from Chilliwack in the lower Fraser valley have been dated to 22,000 YBP. Parkland terrestrial fauna found by Brent Ward from Simon Fraser University and colleagues in Port Eliza Cave, Vancouver Island, date to between 18,000 and 16,000 YBP; they document the presence of toads, several bird species, Townsend's vole, heather vole, marmot, a very large marten and a mountain goat. Early postglacial remains from caves on the island indicate that mountain goats were again present, and finds from southern Vancouver Island document large bison, including one dated to 11,750 YBP. Neither species remains on the island today; Richard Hebda of the Royal British Columbia Museum in Canada suggests that Younger Dryas habitat change (from a cooling) from open parkland to coniferous forest may explain the latest Pleistocene disappearance of the bison. Some species may have survived in refugia on the island or the adjacent exposed platform through the last glacial maximum. If they did not, then dispersal of species such as bison suggests the presence of pathways on ephemeral outwash plains during early ice retreat. Perhaps such outwash plains were widespread and could have assisted in providing a corridor for human dispersal as well.

Early food

Early coastal human migrants potentially obtained much of their food from the sea. Sea mammals were probably available in the open ocean throughout the glacial period; however, when glaciers were melting, shellfish occupation of the inshore marine environment would have been affected by low salinity and high turbidity. Based on the assumption that modern species provide a proxy for habitat characteristics of late- Pleistocene and early-Holocene species, Hetherington worked closely with malacologist (zoologist who studies mollusks) Robert G.B. Reid at the University of Victoria in Canada.

They analyzed thousands of mollusk shells taken from submarine sediment cores (collected over the past 15 years by co-author Barrie and colleagues at the Geological Survey of Canada) and raised beaches throughout the region for clues about the ancient temperature, salinity, sedimentation rate, substrate and sea level. She also searched for edible mollusks - those shellfish having sufficient size to be worth the effort of collecting, and which researchers believe early peoples used.

Their research showed that by 13,200 YBP, the edible shellfish Macoma nasuta overcame the high sediment barrier and invaded the muddy sands of a mudflat that is now Hecate Strait, east of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Shortly thereafter, rapid colonization by many species of edible shellfish suggests open ocean conditions were present and that food resources were readily available. Late-Pleistocene to early- Holocene edible shellfish biomass compares favorably with levels commercially harvested on modern beaches, with the exception of a decline between 10,900 and 10,100 YBP, coincident with the appearance of cold-water shellfish.

The disappearance of most temperate bivalve shellfish species between about 11,000 and 10,000 YBP indicates the onset of a brief cold interval consistent in timing with the Younger Dryas cooling event. Seasurface temperatures reached less than 9 degrees Celsius. Some cold-hardy species persisted in the southern part of the region; however, reduced shellfish biomass during the Younger Dryas cool interval may have required early peoples to travel greater distances to collect coastal resources, or increase their reliance on land-based resources, or both. Temperate sea-surface conditions reappeared throughout the region by about 10,000 YBP. Warming temperatures contributed to rising eustatic sea levels, which inundated low-lying areas and transgressed the land bridge, severing the connection between the Queen Charlotte Islands and the Canadian mainland.

Locating the lost land

Although researchers have cored and dated numerous resource-rich coastal zones in the Queen Charlotte Islands region that would have made excellent early habitation sites, many sites are now drowned and difficult to access. Nevertheless, definitive evidence of early coastal migrants may not be long in coming.

In December 2003, some of the co-authors and others published an article in Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences that reveals hundreds of kilometers of reconstructed paleocoastlines that coincide with present-day exposed land. It is along these landscapes that possible early archaeological sites may be located. Paleocoastlines of particular interest, and which offer the greatest opportunity for long-term colonization and archaeological site accessibility, lie along the west coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands and westernmost points along the Canadian mainland, where the effects of glacial ice were reduced. Supporting this interpretation are recent multibeam swath and geological survey data from the southwestern shelf of the islands, which show a lack of ice-contact deposits, implying that glaciation did not occur along this coast. These findings provide encouragement that with perseverance, we will succeed in our quest for the lost land and for uncovering new scientific evidence of early peoples.

Hetherington is a postdoctoral research associate at the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. Email: [email protected].

Barrie is a research scientist and head of the marine program for the Pacific Division of the Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada and adjunct professor at the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria. MacLeod is a geographic information systems specialist at the Geological Survey of Canada, Pacific Division, Natural Resources Canada.

Wilson is an instructor in both the department of geology and the department of anthropology at Douglas College, New Westminster, British Columbia. He is also adjunct professor of archaeology at Simon Fraser University.

Funding for this research has been generously provided by the Geological Survey of Canada, the University of Victoria, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Parks Canada, and the Ord and Linda Anderson Interdisciplinary Scholarship fund. The paper is a result of contributions made at Special Session 1 "Early humans and the evolving northeastern Pacific Margin" at the Geological Association of Canada (GAC), Mineralogical Association of Canada, and Society of Economic Geologists Joint Annual Meeting, held in Vancouver in May 2003, and sponsored by GAC Marine Geosciences Division and the International Geological Correlation Project No. 464.

Link:
"The Ice-Free Corridor Revisited," Lionel E. Jackson Jr. and Michael C. Wilson, Geotimes, February 2004

Further reading:
Dalton, R. 2003. The coast road. Nature, 6 March 2003, 422:10-12.

Dillehay, T. D. 1984. A Late Ice-Age Settlement in Southern Chile. Scientific American 251, 106-117.

Dixon, E. J. 1999. Bones, Boats and Bison: Archeology and the First Colonization of Western North America. University of New Mexico Press.

Heaton, T.H. 1996. An ice age refugium for large mammals in the Alexander Archipelago, Southeastern Alaska. Quaternary Research 46, 186-192.

Hetherington, R., Barrie, J. Vaughn, Reid, Robert, G.B., MacLeod, Roger, and Smith, Dan J. 2003. Paleogeography, glacially-induced crustal displacement, and Late Quaternary coastlines on the continental shelf of British Columbia, Canada. Quaternary Science Reviews, in press.

Koppel, Tom 2003. Lost World: Rewriting Prehistory — How New Science is Tracing America's Ice Age Mariners. Atria Books, New York, NY.

Ward, B.C., M.C. Wilson, D.W. Nagorsen, D.E. Nelson, J.C. Driver and R.J. Wigen. 2003. Port Eliza Cave: North American west coast interstadial environment and implications for human migrations. Quaternary Science Reviews, 22(4):1383-1388.

http://www.geotimes.org/feb04/feature_Quest.html
 
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FraterLibre

Guest
Good One

Another informative article. The one thing that seems obvious to me is that much more investigation must take place before we can even begin to know for certain the true shape of prehistorical migrations and settlements in North America.
 
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