Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Kenosha Dig Points to Europe as Origin of First Americans
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ^ | 3-4-02 | John Fauber

Posted on 03/04/2002 12:05:29 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic

A contentious theory that the first Americans came here from Europe - not Asia - is challenging a century-old consensus among archaeologists, and a dig in Kenosha County is part of the evidence.

The two leading proponents of the Europe theory admit that many scientists reject their contention, instead holding fast to the long-established belief that the first Americans arrived from Siberia via a now-submerged land bridge across the Bering Sea to Alaska.

The first of the Europe-to-North America treks probably took place at the height of the last Ice Age more than 18,000 years ago, said Dennis Stanford, curator of archaeology at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, and Milwaukee native Bruce Bradley, an independent archaeological consultant and research associate of the Carnegie Museum.

Stanford and Bradley contend that if the original migration came from Europe, it would be logical to find more older sites in the eastern United States, as has been the case in recent years.

The Kenosha County digs show that woolly mammoths were butchered by humans here more than 13,000 years ago - at least 2,000 years older than what was once thought to be the oldest site in the U.S.

Stanford and Bradley also point to recent DNA analysis involving a particular genetic marker known as haplogroup X. The marker is found in a minority of American Indians, including some in the Great Lakes region, and Europeans, but is not found in Asians, suggesting an ancestral link between Europe and North America.

The two plan to publish a book laying out their findings in about a year, they said. They believe evidence in the book will win converts to their theory.

"There are several competing theories," said Milwaukee archaeologist David Overstreet. "All I know is people were here (in southeastern Wisconsin) several thousands of years earlier than previously thought."

Overstreet, director of the Marquette University-affiliated Center for Archaeological Research, has analyzed several southeastern Wisconsin sites where piles of bones of mammoths that had been butchered by people date back as far as 13,500 years ago.

The Kenosha County sites are among several eastern U.S. Ice Age sites that have fueled the growing controversy over whether North America's first people came from the Iberian Peninsula of Europe or from Asia.

"Whatever their source, Paleoindians appear to have reached the mid-continent by 13,500 (years ago) and successfully exploited the Pleistocene biomass (animals and plants) there for at least a millennium," Overstreet writes in a paper soon to be published in the international journal Geoarchaeology.

It was a time when the inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere lived in an icy environment of vast glaciers, boreal forests, mastodons, saber-toothed tigers and 1,000-pound cave bears.

In the more-accepted Asia theory, people migrated across a land bridge over the Bering Sea and down an ice-free corridor to the American Southwest, where they established a culture known as Clovis.

However, while artifacts unearthed near Clovis, N.M., date to more than 11,000 years ago, several sites in the eastern U.S., including the Kenosha County sites, date to between 13,000 and 19,000 years, long before Clovis.

"In the last half-dozen years, all this stuff is popping up in the eastern U.S.," Overstreet said. "There is no question that somebody was in this area (southeastern Wisconsin) mucking around with mammoths 12,000 to 13,000 years ago. The question is, where did they come from?"

Prehistoric travelers

In separate interviews, Stanford and Bradley offered some of the strongest arguments:

With much of the world's water having been evaporated and converted to ice, sea levels during the last Ice Age were as much as 400 feet below today's levels.

An expanded coastal region probably extended from the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern France and northern Spain to the southern tip of Ireland. In addition, the Grand Banks, a series of submerged plateaus extending several hundred miles off the coast of Newfoundland, probably were above water.

The geological conditions meant the prehistoric travelers would have needed to pull off only a 1,500-mile Atlantic Ocean crossing along sheltered ice sheets teeming with easily hunted marine mammals and fish, Bradley and Stanford said.

Stanford noted that 50,000 years ago or more, humans had become skilled enough at open sea travel that they were able to arrive on the continent of Australia. They most likely used small, animal-skin boats, taking advantage of favorable sea currents.

"There would have been huge reserves of food," Bradley said.

The food, which probably included fish, seals, walruses and the now-extinct great auk, actually may have been the motivation for their wanderlust.

Overstreet added that the European glacier may have been cutting off hunting areas, forcing those inhabitants to find new food sources.

"They certainly were on the move," he said. "These people were capable of making that trip if they needed to."

'Completely crazy'

While Overstreet said he still has not completely accepted the new theory, others flatly reject it.

"It is a highly improbable theory," said James Stoltman, a professor emeritus of North American archaeology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Stoltman said he did not think Stanford and Bradley presented credible evidence to support their hypothesis.

Stanford and Bradley also point to the similarity between the bifaced stone spear points found in the U.S. and the Solutrean area off the north coast of Spain and dating to between 16,500 and 22,000 years ago.

However, while Solutrean and Clovis points are both bifaced, there are major differences, said Thomas Pleger, who teaches Great Lakes archaeology at UW-Fox Valley.

Pleger said there just is no credible evidence to support a theory of an Ice Age migration from Europe.

"It is a completely crazy and unsupported hypothesis," said Lawrence Guy Straus, a professor in the anthropology department at the University of New Mexico and an expert on the Upper Paleolithic period in Western Europe. He also serves as editor of the Journal of Anthropological Research.

Straus said there are major differences between bone and stone technology used by Solutrean people and the Clovis culture of North America.

In addition, he said most of the British Isles, the supposed jumping-off point for the migration, was covered with ice between 13,000 and 27,000 years ago.

There also is no evidence that the Solutrean people had acquired skills, such as navigation, deep-sea fishing and marine mammal hunting, that would have been needed to pull off such a migration, he said.

Ancestry in question

Straus also said the Stanford/Bradley theory has angered some American Indian groups whose ancestry has been tied to Asia, not Europe.

"It is basically saying they weren't here first," Straus said.

However, at the same time traditional religious beliefs of many American Indians fail to acknowledge any migration from another part of the world, said John Norder, an assistant professor of anthropology who specializes in American Indian matters.

Norder, who also is a member of the Dakota Sioux, said a common religious belief among many American Indians is that their ancestors' land was either created for them or that they came to it from an underworld.

Recently, some American Indians have incorporated the idea of their ancestors crossing a Bering Sea land bridge, he said.

In the meantime, the theory of Stone Age Europeans discovering America dominates the debate.

"People discuss it as being crazy and wish it would go away," said Straus. "I'm amazed at the amount of attention."


TOPICS: Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: Wisconsin
KEYWORDS: acrossatlanticice; archaeology; brucebradley; crevolist; dennisstanford; europe; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; goodyear; history; johnnorder; kenosha; meadowcroft; origins; precolumbian; solutreans; toolmaking; tools; tooltime; topper; wisconsin
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-6061-8081-92 next last

1 posted on 03/04/2002 12:05:29 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: blam
FYI
2 posted on 03/04/2002 12:05:49 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: crevo_list, PatrickHenry, Junior, jennyp, RadioAstronomer, VadeRetro
More origins research.

Don't forget to visit the Crevo List for all the latest!

4 posted on 03/04/2002 12:08:01 PM PST by cracker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic
Diffusionist BUMP!

Down with isolationism!!!

5 posted on 03/04/2002 12:09:23 PM PST by Darth Sidious
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic
Ha ha, I'm Native American now! Gimme my casino!
6 posted on 03/04/2002 12:10:13 PM PST by eno_
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic
European-American bump
7 posted on 03/04/2002 12:12:53 PM PST by SauronOfMordor
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic
"It is a completely crazy and unsupported hypothesis,"

Sounds like a candidate for mainstream acceptance in about 50 years. Like Wegener's continental drift.

8 posted on 03/04/2002 12:13:53 PM PST by RightWhale
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: OneidaM, Dog, b4its2late, DJ88, kayak
"All I know is people were here (in southeastern Wisconsin) several thousands of years earlier than previously thought."

And they were all cheeseheads. Every one.:)

9 posted on 03/04/2002 12:14:10 PM PST by MozartLover
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic
You are quite right in saying that the first North Americans to leave descendants to the present day, entered from the East/or Middle Atlantic part of the USA, and did so just a little under 20,000 years ago.

Only a few years ago, no one dared to excavate anywhere that might produce evidence of this, for the tyranny of Hrdlicka lived on after him for a couple generations.

What is troublesome is just what race or ethnic group these people can be assigned to. Back in the sixties, I changed my history textbook from "Siberia" to "Iberia" as source of first Amerindians, and it is gratifying to know I was right!

Seriously, though, while we can say these people came from the East and were of Solutrean (European) culture, their physical type does seem to lean toward the Asiatic or (Amerindians already in South America?)...making one wonder if a handful of culture-bearers arrived from Europe, but picked up slaves in South America who were the bulk of the (few dozens-to-hundreds) arrivals of some 19500 years ago (from whom the whole N Amer aborig pop descended)...and thus racially the orig settlement was S American Indians, but culturally distinct under its seagoing European elite, which may have lasted only a short time before melting in...

10 posted on 03/04/2002 12:18:48 PM PST by crystalk
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic
The Kenosha County digs show that woolly mammoths were butchered by humans here more than 13,000 years ago - at least 2,000 years older than what was once thought to be the oldest site in the U.S.

Did they find huge stores of kringle? That'd make the story much more authentic (it's an Wisconsin insider joke).

11 posted on 03/04/2002 12:21:42 PM PST by Catspaw
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic
TOOL TIME ON CACTUS HILL

In search of the earliest Americans
Tim Beardsly

SEARCHING FOR CLUES to human occupation of Cactus Hill are archaeologist Michael F. Johnson (above) and his helpers. Artifacts found there may be 14,000 years old.

On a scorching Saturday in late August in southern Virginia, at the end of a dirt track leading through fields of corn and soybeans, archaeologist Michael F. Johnson sits in the shade of oak and hickory trees eating his packed lunch. Nearby, bright-blue tarpaulins protect excavations that have brought Johnson here most weekends for the past several years.

The object of Johnson's passion is a dune of blown sand known as Cactus Hill. Between bites, Johnson is debating with visiting archaeologist Stuart J. Fiedel what the place was like 14,000 years ago. It must have been ideal for a summer camp, Johnson thinks. Facing north, it would have been cooled by winds coming off glaciers hundreds of miles distant. He offers me an inverted plastic bucket to sit on. The dune would have been dry, he continues, a welcome relief from the surrounding insect-infested bogs. The Nottoway River was at the time only a stone's throw away. There were lots of animals: mastodon, elk, bison, deer, perhaps moose and caribou.

And there were people, maintains Johnson (who is employed by the Fairfax County Park Authority), hunter-gatherers whose descendants may have given rise to Native American tribes. Johnson has found at Cactus Hill quartzite blades, blade fragments and both halves of a broken "point" suitable for a spear, fully nine inches below the well-defined Clovis horizon at the site. That level, recognized all over the country by its characteristic and abundant stone-tool technology, was created 13,000 years ago, according to Fiedel, who conducts surveys for John Milner Associates. (Several studies in the past few years indicate that the conventional date of 11,000 years, based on radiocarbon dating, is a significant underestimate.) Only in recent years has a long investigation at Monte Verde in Chile finally convinced most archaeologists that humans were in the Americas well before Clovis times, so a new potential pre-Clovis site is an important rarity.

In a separate, adjacent dig at Cactus Hill, Joseph M. McAvoy and Lynn D. McAvoy of the Nottoway River Survey have found numerous blade-type tools, some associated with charcoal fragments that tested at 15,000 and 16,000 years old by radiocarbon dating or 18,000 to 19,000 years old by Fiedel's recalibration. Johnson is excited that McAvoy's larger excavation and his own have found "fully comparable" artifacts from below the Clovis horizon. Cactus Hill is "one of the best candidate pre-Clovis sites to come down in a long time," says C. Vance Haynes, Jr., of the University of Arizona, a leading scholar of Paleo-Indian cultures.

On this day Fiedel is listening hard to Johnson's arguments in favor of pre-Clovis occupation, but he is frowning. Johnson says 14,000 years is a "conservative" estimate of the age of his oldest finds. Fiedel agrees that Johnson's fragments are clearly human artifacts, but he is not persuaded by his dates. "You can't be sure stuff hasn't moved around," he says later. Burrowing wasps and rodents, notoriously, can move objects through sand. McAvoy's published evidence of a pre-Clovis technology at Cactus Hill is "fairly convincing," Fiedel says, but the radiocarbon dates seem almost too old, suggesting evidence of fire 5,000 years before the Clovis culture exploded--a time when few other signs of humans have been documented. Haynes, too, notes that there could be unrecognized errors in the dating of the Cactus Hill layers.

Johnson is undeterred. The pieces of his prized ancient broken point came from the same level but were found several feet apart: because animals would hardly move the separated fragments vertically the same distance, they are probably in their original bed, he argues. Moreover, the stone and the style of workmanship differs from that of Clovis material. "I'm really confident it doesn't fit into Clovis," he says. Johnson's opinion on tool styles counts for something; he has taught himself how to make "Clovis" points that can fool most people.

Fiedel and the other visitors at Cactus Hill this day continue to spin scenarios about the earliest Americans as they take up tools and patiently skim successive half-inch layers of sand from a more recent horizon. Perhaps the inhabitants were members of a hypothetical proto-Clovis culture, Fiedel muses. He observes that some blades like Johnson's and the McAvoys' have recently come to light in South Carolina. But when did the makers arrive from Eurasia? The land bridge that connected it to Alaska was often covered by glaciers. The Cactus Hill archaeologists visiting Johnson's dig, all donating their time, ponder the conundrums as they patiently mark every visible fragment of stone and photograph each exposed level, then sift through the removed material for anything they might have missed the first time. The heat is daunting. As the afternoon wears on, the debate between Johnson and Fiedel moves first one way, then the other, like a tug-of-war.

The debate might never be resolved. The site's owner, Union Camp Corporation, has halted sand mining at Cactus Hill, provided some security and allowed the archaeologists complete access, but time presses. Johnson grimaces as he lifts a tarp to show a ruined trench where the Clovis horizon has been crudely dug out by looters in search of stone points, which can sell for thousands of dollars each. In the process, the pillagers have destroyed layers above and below Clovis. Cactus Hill may be among the earliest inhabited sites in the U.S. But if point rustlers continue to run ahead of the volunteers, science may forever be unable to prove it.

(I've read subsequent reports that state that the tools found there are similar to the technology present at the time on the Iberian peninsula. Early Basque?)

12 posted on 03/04/2002 12:24:42 PM PST by blam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: RightWhale
Sounds like a candidate for mainstream acceptance in about 50 years. Like Wegener's continental drift.

Just goes to show that all science is bunk. After all, if these scientist were so smart, how come thier theories keep changing? Next year they'll say we all came from South America!!! Juts wait a year, you'll see. Meanwhile I'll stick to my tribe's creation myth. At least it never changes, so it must be true! </creationist mode>

Oh wait, yes it does:

Norder, who also is a member of the Dakota Sioux, said a common religious belief among many American Indians is that their ancestors' land was either created for them or that they came to it from an underworld.

Recently, some American Indians have incorporated the idea of their ancestors crossing a Bering Sea land bridge, he said.


13 posted on 03/04/2002 12:27:12 PM PST by jennyp
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: eno_
Ha ha, I'm Native American now! Gimme my casino!

----------

LOL...yeah, chips with everything!

14 posted on 03/04/2002 12:27:23 PM PST by yankeedame
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic
Volume 52 Number 4 July/August 1999

THE TOPPER SITE: PRE-CLOVIS SURPRISE

xcavations have revealed a deep stratum with apparently pre-Clovis artifacts at the Topper site on the Savannah River near Allendale, South Carolina. Albert Goodyear, of the University of South Carolina's Institute for Archaeology and Anthropology, was surveying chert sources in 1981, when a local man (named Topper) led him to this site, which is on a hillside near the Savannah River (500 feet from its main branch). Testing in 1984 revealed side-notched points, dated elsewhere to 10,000 (radiocarbon) years before present, were found at 70 to 80 cm and fluted blanks (Clovis preforms) were found at 80 to 100 cm. Later excavations never went beyond the one meter mark. At the time, no site had been accepted as older than Clovis (10,800 to 11,200 radiocarbon years), and there was therefore no reason to expect deeper culture-bearing deposits existed.

In 1998, inspired by potential pre-Clovis sites like Monte Verde, Chile, and Cactus Hill, Virginia, Goodyear decided to dig deeper. After some 40 cm of essentially barren deposits, the excavators began finding small flakes and microtools. Goodyear recalls that he "kind of went into shock. I had no idea we'd find artifacts." This year's excavations have confirmed that discovery.

The lower level, now exposed over a total of 28 square meters, has yielded some 1,000 waste flakes and 15 microtools (mostly microblades). The excavators also found a pile of 20 chert pebbles plus four small quartz pebbles, possible hammerstones.

The same yellow chert was used in the upper and lower levels, but apparently in the upper levels the people had access to large pieces of chert extracted from the hillside and cobbles of it from the riverbed, while in the deeper level only small pebbles of it were used. Because artifacts of the types in the upper level are not found in the lower level and vice versa, Goodyear does not believe the flakes and tools were pushed into the lower level by tree roots or burrowing animals.

For now, dating of the artifacts depends on the stratigraphy and comparison with other sites. There is little organic material preserved in the sandy matrix making radiocarbon-dating difficult. Samples for carbon-dating and OSL (optically stimulated luminescence) dating are now being analyzed.

Goodyear thinks the site was used for the exploitation of chert pebbles sometime between 12,000 and 20,000 years ago. No evidence of bifaces and unifaces typical of later Clovis have been found in the lower level, and Goodyear looks to Siberian microblade industries for parallels. Artifacts from possible pre-Clovis sites, including Topper, Cactus Hill, and Meadowcroft (in Pennsylvania), will be shown to Asian scholars at the Smithsonian this August. Plans call for excavations at Topper, which stopped at the end of May, to resume next spring.--MARK ROSE

15 posted on 03/04/2002 12:28:54 PM PST by blam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic
The Red Record (Walam Olum)
16 posted on 03/04/2002 12:31:49 PM PST by blam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Catspaw
Kringle would be found just north of Kenosha in Racine County. I was born in Kenosha, but not that long ago so I don't remember there being any mammoths although the catechism nuns were pretty mean.

D

17 posted on 03/04/2002 12:32:20 PM PST by DC Packfan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: MozartLover
"All I know is people were here (in southeastern Wisconsin) several thousands of years earlier than previously thought."

In the winter they visit Florida and they cannot drive worth a ?????

18 posted on 03/04/2002 12:32:23 PM PST by scouse
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: WIMom
Uh, maybe you should think twice before using that particular image.
19 posted on 03/04/2002 12:34:37 PM PST by The Old Hoosier
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: DC Packfan
Kringle would be found just north of Kenosha in Racine County. I was born in Kenosha, but not that long ago so I don't remember there being any mammoths although the catechism nuns were pretty mean.

There may not have been any county lines in the time of the woolly mammoth :-)) And--because I'm hungry for a kringle (pecan, please), it may be time for a road trip to Racine.

And--wince--you have just made my knuckles ache thinking about the Catholic school nuns.

20 posted on 03/04/2002 12:37:10 PM PST by Catspaw
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-6061-8081-92 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson