Skip to comments.(South Carolina) Fire Pit Dated To Over 50,000 Years Old (More)
Posted on 11/19/2004 8:07:26 AM PST by blam
Fire Pit Dated to Be Over 50,000 Years Old
Thu Nov 18,10:10 AM ET Top Stories - AP
By AMY GEIER EDGAR, Associated Press Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. - In the growing debate about when people first appeared on this continent, a leading archaeologist said Wednesday he has discovered what could be sooty evidence of human occupation in North America tens of thousands of years earlier than is commonly believed.
University of South Carolina archaeologist Al Goodyear said he has uncovered a layer of charcoal from a possible hearth or fire pit at a site near the Savannah River.
Samples from the layer have been laboratory-dated to more than 50,000 years old. Yet Goodyear stopped short of declaring it proof of the continent's earliest human occupation.
"It does look like a hearth," he said, "and the material that was dated has been burned."
Since the 1960s, anthropologists have generally accepted that hunters migrated to North America about 13,000 years ago over a land bridge into Alaska following the retreat of Ice Age glaciers.
But other sites, including the Topper dig in South Carolina, have yielded rough stone tools and other artifacts suggesting that humans lived in North America thousands of years earlier when the climate was much colder. While there is no ironclad proof that an older culture existed, scientists are increasingly open to the idea that humans arrived from many other directions besides the northwest, perhaps even sailing across oceans.
But a 50,000-year-old fire pit would scorch the prevailing occupation theory.
Goodyear's evidence was examined by other scientists, who performed radiocarbon tests on samples to determine their age. However, he made his initial case for the fire pit Wednesday in a news conference rather publishing data in a scientific journal edited by other researchers.
Goodyear, who has worked the Topper site since 1981, discovered the charcoal layer in May.
Thomas Stafford, director of Stafford Laboratories in Boulder, Colo., then took samples of the substance for tests at the University of California at Irvine.
The results showed that wood varieties oak, pine, red cherry and buckeye had been burned in a low-temperature fire at least 50,300 years ago, he said.
Stafford described the burnt layer as measuring 2 or 3 inches thick and about 2 feet wide. Rather than a simple black band in the soil, Stafford said the layer had the "shape of a very shallow plate."
He said it could have been the result of a fire tended by humans, or the ashes could have been deposited by wind, rain or flooding.
Other researchers were more skeptical of Goodyear's discovery, noting that previous claims of very old occupation at other sites never have been verified.
"We still need to be cautious," said Vanderbilt University anthropologist Tom Dillehay. "I would not yet rewrite the books. The find is very significant and shows that there is much we don't understand and can't easily reject or accept."
Other scientists were blunter.
"I think it's a 50,000-year-old geologic deposit," said University of Texas archaeologist Mike Collins. "It has almost nothing to do with the story of the peopling of North America."
Modern humans are believed to have emerged from Africa 100,000 years ago and spread around the world, elbowing out less capable human cousins like Homo erectus and Neanderthals.
It was the 50,000 year old barbeque sauce that really caught his attention.
Nah, they were trying to get rid of them d*mned fire ants even back then.
Rut ro, Shaggy! Someone is once agian challenging the victimhood status of indigenous people!
How do you carbon date something that has been burned? It seems like that would mess up the carbon compounds and throw off the results.
Here's an article about the Windover site in Florida.
Bye Bye, Beringia
Anthropology and Archaeology of The Americas
by Bill Jones
One might think that Archeology sites throughout the World have produced many datable human remains. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ancient human remains have so rarely been found that these singular findings could not be connected to others to form chronologies about human evolution.
The scarcity of human remains to be analyzed has prevented the sciences of Anthropology and Archaeology from forming conclusions about the cultural levels of ancient humans. We try to measure the culture of a people in terms of the totality of their socially developed behavior, their arts, crafts, tools, and language. As a result of scarcity of samplings, ancient humans have been generally classified in such terms as; savages, hunter-gatherers, roving bands, etc. This is especially so for the early inhabitants of the New World. Some recent discoveries shatter that prevailing picture of the ancient people of North America.
The Windover Site at Titusville, Florida 4,500 miles to the South and East of Beringia is the Windover Archaeology site. One of the so-called roving bands of hunters settled there to live. At Windover, more ancient human remains were discovered than the total of all others found previously in the New World, and they were the oldest. The Windover site produced the largest and oldest group of human remains, and most complete insight of an ancient culture ever found. The following quoted article tells of some astounding findings there. The following article was originally published on May 16, 1996 by The News Herald (Panama City, Florida), and is reprinted here with permission:
Archaeology finds new picture of Paleo Indians
By: Robert Suriano, Florida Today
Melbourne -- Food was plentiful in the lush land that was Broward County 8,000 years ago, making life good for the people who buried their dead in a shallow pond near Titusville. They walked the ground between the site of today's Walt Disney World and the Space Coast, hunting white-tailed deer and bobcat among the pine and oak trees. They fished for bass and sunfish or scooped up turtles, frogs, and snakes. Their primary job -- filling their stomachs -- took only about two hours each day, leaving plenty of time for making jewelry from bones and seeds or weaving clothing from the leaves of sabal palm.
That is a richly detailed picture that continues to emerge today of the Paleo-Indians, whose watery burial ground was discovered in 1982 during construction of a housing project off State road 405. Known worldwide as the Windover Archaeological Site, more than a decade of research from that dig is challenging previous notions about these people of the distant past.
"They enjoyed a good lifestyle, said Glen Doran, the Florida State University archaeologist who oversaw the Windover excavation that lasted from 1984 to 1986. "Life was a little easier than it even may have been a few thousand years later. You had a a lot of different resources packed pretty densely into this area within a few kilometers walk in any direction. Clearly, this was a good place to be."
And so it remains for Fran and William Hinson and child, 12 year old Hilary, who play in the yard that borders the burial site, now a National Historic Landmark.
"I was intrigued with their level of civilization," she said. "They exhibited a civilization far beyond what had been previously believed that ancient Indians in North America and Florida would have shown." The Windover site, named for the sprawling rural housing development that surrounds it, bore archaeological treasures that amazed experts with their quality and quantity.
*Skeletal remains of 169 people, split almost evenly between males and females, ranging from 6 to 70 years old. About 75 of the skeletons were relatively intact.
*90 intact human brains that include the oldest DNA samples in the World.
*Artifacts of wood, bone, and seed that were made into jewelry and tools, providing insight into the ancient peoples' lives.
*Tests showed the oldest skeletons were buried 8,100 years ago. The youngest was placed in the ground 6,900 years ago. "To put this into context," Doran said, "these people had already been dead for 3,000 or 4,000 years before the first stones were laid for the Egyptian pyramids!"
They were lean and robust, most likely a copper-skinned people. The tallest man stood 5 feet and 6 inches tall. The average woman was 5 feet and 2 inches.
Like all people of their time, about 6,000 BC, they kept moving in a yearly pattern that followed the most ample sources of food. For this group that meant walking the land between the St Johns River and the Ocean.
They had risen above the subsistence level, giving them time to do things not typically associated with early people.
But they were not free from human hostility. The remains of a 29 year old male show a deep wound in the buttocks, probably caused by an antler. The injury is such that Doran thinks it was caused by a human wielding the antler in anger. He says that the wound is counter to previously stated views of these people as passive. Most of the other skeletal remains showed signs of long festering infections that likely brought natural deaths during a time before antibiotics and medicine. But overall, the group appeared to be healthy. They had triumphed over the rigors of daily life.
"Relative to a lot of other populations at this time period, these folks were relatively well off." Doran said. A sign of their wealth is the cloth that was found among the bodies, the oldest cloth ever found in the Western hemisphere.
"This cloth will set the example," Doran said. It is rare that fabric textiles even 1,000 years old are preserved in the United States."
*All told, 87 cloth fragments from an estimated 67 complete items were recovered from the dig. The cloth was made from the leaves of sabal palm. The pieces reveal five different methods of fabric making, all without benefit of a loom. Even so, some fabrics are woven as tightly as a cotton T-shirt. Others are made more loosely twined into blankets, capes, and toga-like garments.
*Some skeletons were found with especially fine cloth, suggesting some of the dead enjoyed a special status, but not necessarily a society of kings and paupers. In addition to the cloth, artifacts of bone and wood were found among some of the skeletons. They include a wooden pestle and a paddle, perhaps used to pound plant fibers for weaving; a small hammer, needles made from deer antler, and the bones of manatees, rabbits, and fish.
If the number and quality of skeletal remains at the site caught the attention of archaeologists, an added discovery in 1984 caused great excitement.
*They found one skull that contained a soft, greasy, lard like substance. Doran scooped the material out and stored it in the refrigerator of his Cocoa apartment before sending it to a laboratory for chemical analysis. He guessed that it could be anything from slime mold to brain tissue.
"Organic matter," was the laboratory analysis. The material had decayed too much for the tests to determine whether it was human brain tissue.
A second chance came in December. Archaeologists found another skull with the substance inside. This time they sent the entire skull to the University of Florida laboratory in Gainesville, where molecular biologist, William Hauswirth and his colleagues were waiting. Instead of spooning out the material. Hauswirth removed the rear portion of the skull and tilted it. A shrunken but intact human brain slid out! Over time, the organ had lost mass and its tissue had mixed with peat, but the softball-sized matter was clearly a brain.
*By the end of the excavation, 91 brains were recovered. Ninety of them, minus the first that was not salvaged, are stored in the pathology freezer at Sands Hospital in Gainesville.
Although brain tissue has been discovered before, this was the first time that intact human brains had been preserved. Even while the bodies' other soft tissues deteriorated, the brains were secure in the safest place in the body, the skull.
"The crania is well designed to protect your brain while you are living," Doran said. "The end result is that it protects it when your are dead too."
The brains hold a frozen gold mine of genetic information in the form of DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid. While Doran said he thinks older human DNA has been recovered elsewhere in the World, so much of the genetic material never has been isolated from a single group of people.
Hauswirth said it contains genetic markers, or specific segments of DNA that are affiliated with one small subset of modern American Indians. This suggests that the Windover people did not reproduce with people from other groups, a finding that again challenges previous assumptions.
A New Culture Model for the Ancients
The primary significance of Windover is the seeming sophisticated culture of these people who lived there 8,100 years ago and before. Windover dates an advanced culture in North America that precedes any previously discovered anywhere else in the World. Their egalitarian culture paints a new picture of ancient people of the Americas. Until now, the model of ancient peoples pictured roving bands of hunters, grunting semi-savages, having no culture to speak of. Of course, the 4,700 BP pyramid builders of Egypt had advanced further in terms of architectural achievements and they had pictograph symbols to convey meaning, but they came along 3,400 years after the Windover people. Windover revealed a culture of people in the New World, twice as old as the Egyptian culture. Of course, there are artful paintings of animals and symbols in caves that are attributed to the Neanderthals, but little else to associate with Culture.
Now we know that 8,000 years ago, the Windover people wove fine cloth.; They buried their dead ceremonially. They cared for each other; by indulging and taking care of the handicapped. And they adorned the bodies of their dead with fine clothing, placing them in special positions that were spiritual to them, and things that would be useful in an after life were buried with them.
Logic places them in Florida for quite some time before they buried their dead in that peat bog. How long?; 1000 years? 5000? Could the ancestors of the Windover people have been the Clovis of New Mexico 11,000 years ago? Time, distance, and logic says not. The Windover people might be the ancestors of the Seminoles. They might be related to other Paleo Indian cultures of North America, past and present. There is sufficient human DNA to find out. The ancient human DNA is of such quality as to allow genetic cloning, or to make comparisons with present living ethnic groups, or to test kinship with other ancient peoples. But the latter would require usable DNA, and this treasure trove seems to be the oldest group of human DNA ever found anywhere in the World. Also, the artifacts collection has an abundance of the oldest fabrics ever found in the Western hemisphere... 8,000 year old cloth woven as fine as in a cotton t-shirt! At first it was thought that the clothing was hand woven, but that does seem to be possible. They must have used some sort of apparatus, a loom, to weave such fine cloth.
I saw a one hour documentary on this site and they said the DNA results indicated that these people were 'European.'
Isn't this sacrilege? Isn't there a law against denying the firstness, sacredness and indigineous-ness of the American Indian?
The older-than-13,000-year-old-Siberian-hunter-sacred-thou-shalt-not-debate-American-Indian Euro-mammoth hunter evidence has this NASTY habit of popping up all over the country. 50,000 years ago? Wow.
CALL IN THE ARMY!
BURY THE EVIDENCE, again.
THOU SHALT NOT....oh never mind. You get my point.
Nope---it is the RATIO of C14 to C12 that matters. Mere burning won't change that--the remaining carbon will still have the same ratio of isotopes as the original wood.
I believe you have to burn it anyway to do the carbon dating.
50,000 years old and STILL good! Hmmmmmmmmm BBQ..... (Homer drooling noises)
50,300 years ago,
... on August 15th. The odd thing is that there were some old tires and a burned can of "Billy Beer" in the burn hole.
Charcoal is almost entirely made of Carbon... So you can measure the ration of C12 to C14. However, the theory behind carbon dating ignores potential variables that could effect it's acuracy. Kind of like if I measured my nephew's height over a year's time, then calculated how long it would take for him to double his size, and then "scientifically" calculated how long ago he was two inches tall. (That's a hyperbollic analogy, but you can see it makes assumptions and ignores variables that effect the acuracy of employing that method.)
Radiocarbon dataing is not very usefull in actually determining the age of material with much degree of certainty... Despite this fact, it's still employed as a propoganda tool knowing most people don't know any better.
bump for later
Yup!!!! One of the "old ways" to do C14 dating was to use liquid scintillation counting. The first step WAS to convert all the carbon the CO2, then react it with lithium metal to form lithium carbide. Add water to convert the carbide to acetylene, catalytically convert the acetylene to benzene, dissolve the benzene in the liquid scintillation "cocktail" and count the radioactive decay. Complicated, no??
Today, they use high-resolution mass spec directly on the CO2 and measure ALL of the C14 and C12 without the need to wait for the C14 to decay. MUCH more sensitive, accurate, and less prone to error.
BUT, you are correct, in that both methods required "burning" the sample to get the carbon into the form of CO2 first.
AHA! No wonder I can't find my SC anscestors names on ship
passenger rolls...they HAVE always been here !
Bump for later. Love this stuff. Got to go back and check my book on Mound Explorations by Cyrus Thomas.
Maybe these were the people to first eat an oyster--very brave folks.
"Other researchers were more skeptical of Goodyear's discovery, noting that previous claims of very old occupation at other sites never have been verified."
Actually, previous claims were similarly dumped on, rejected on a priori grounds, and never investigated. So I guess that qualifies as "never verified." ;')
Thanks for the ping.
Archeologist finds evidence of humans in North America 50,000 years ago
Canoe (Canada) ^ | November 17, 2004 | AP
Posted on 11/17/2004 10:04:06 PM PST by SunkenCiv
Retracing the footprints of time
Alberta Report (via Web Archive) ^ | September 9, 1996 | Steve Sandford
Posted on 09/30/2004 7:56:25 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
I recently found the same thing. The earliest Conan I could find was in 1742 somewhere near Bamberg
Good info, thanks!
It depends on what degree of "certainty" you are looking for. The only "variable" that affects radiocarbon dating directly is the variation in the amount of C14 being formed in the atmosphere by radiation from the sun, which is affected by the variation of the "solar constant". Cross-calibration of radiocarbon with dendrochronology takes care of most of that error for "more recent" dates (out to -10-20,000 years or so).
Most people who think carbon dating is "propaganda" are biblical creationists, trying to stuff their religion down the throat of science.
I would agree with the former, I would disagree with the latter. I'd also say there is a similar correlation to conservatives and those that say the "science" of global warming is propoganda.
My use of the word 'European' was a direct quote from a Dr Arnold ----(?) who did the DNA lab work and also appeared on the documentary I mentioned above.
Good article, thanks for the link.
I think Mike Collins is an academic deposit.
Haplogroup X was called European DNA because it was thought that it only occured in Europe. If it were actually European than one of the founding maternal lines would have had to have come from Europe. Now that X has been found in the Altai the case for Europe is pretty weak.
How does that relate to the possibility that all of todays Indo-Europeans originated in/around the Gansu Province region in China?
On another point. James Chatters (of Kennewick Man fame), thinks that Kennewick Man came from a line of people that spawned both todays Asians and Europeans.
I don't know about Indo-europeans being from Gansu Province. (Do you have a link for that?) Indo-european is a language family that many people seem to think originated from anywhere from central Asia to the Black Sea area. All of the sources I've read are talking about a much older population ancestral to several language famlies. Wells "The Journey of Man" dates them to 35,000BP; Cavalli-Sforza "History and Geography of Human Genes" dates them to 50,000BP+
Both place the population somewhere in central or western Asia. Sounds like Chatters is following that line of thinking.
No. It was contained in the book, The Tarim Mummies, by J P Malloy and Victor Mair. Although, if you've noticed, I post a number of articles from that region.
"Indo-european is a language family that many people seem to think originated from anywhere from central Asia to the Black Sea area."
I've read a number of articles (some years ago now) that claimed linguists had traced the origins of the Indo-European language to Anatolia...pretty convincing articles.
Those guys to our south's been trying a long time to equal NC barbeque....;-)
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Wow, they found the very first Pig Pickin'!
We do beef, ya'll do pork. Guess it depends on what you were weaned on.
Ancient BBQ in South Carolina? Mustard-based no doubt!
Let the BBQ wars commence. The Texans are gonna weigh in with "beef is BBQ" shortly.
I'll search through the posts. Indo-european doesn't seem like a good fit for Gansu but the argument sounds interesting.
Yup Anatolia too although I lump that in with the southern Black Sea. The last article I read about that region said it was home to the first domesticated pigs. One things for sure the ancient Chinese definately had a thing for pigs.
"One things for sure the ancient Chinese definately had a thing for pigs."
A trait which some say is shared by a former POTUS.
Further evidenced by the pewter mug emblazioned with 'PBR'.
A good possibility. The human artifacts around this site complicates that possibility though.
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