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The Oldest Americans May Prove Even Older
New York Times ^ | 6/29/04 | JOHN NOBLE WILFORD

Posted on 06/29/2004 4:20:56 PM PDT by NukeMan

BARNWELL, S.C., June 24 - On a hillside by the Savannah River, under tall oaks bearded with Spanish moss, an archaeologist and a graduate student crouched in the humid depths of a trench. They had reason to think they were in the presence of a breathtaking discovery.

Or at the least, they were on to something more than 20,000 years old that would throw American archaeology into further turmoil over its most contentious issue: when did people first reach America, and who were they?

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: archaeology; atlantis; clovis; dillehay; economic; ggg; glaciation; godsgravesglyphs; goodyear; history; preclovis; topper; velikovsky; vikings

1 posted on 06/29/2004 4:20:56 PM PDT by NukeMan
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To: NukeMan; blam
Ping!!

Good Article, but registration required. FWIW, I used to live in Aiken, SC, not so far from Barnwell.

2 posted on 06/29/2004 4:21:55 PM PDT by NukeMan
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To: *Gods, Graves, Glyphs

Ping!


3 posted on 06/29/2004 4:24:38 PM PDT by NukeMan
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To: NukeMan

And they all drive *really* big cars!


4 posted on 06/29/2004 4:25:34 PM PDT by NYC GOP Chick (Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! -- RIP, President Reagan)
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To: VadeRetro; jennyp; Junior; longshadow; RadioAstronomer; Physicist; LogicWings; Doctor Stochastic

Ping


5 posted on 06/29/2004 4:26:36 PM PDT by NukeMan
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To: NYC GOP Chick
And they all drive *really* big cars!

And leave the left turn signal on for miles!

6 posted on 06/29/2004 4:26:40 PM PDT by saquin
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To: saquin

Hey! I work alone here! ;)


7 posted on 06/29/2004 4:27:22 PM PDT by NYC GOP Chick (Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! -- RIP, President Reagan)
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To: saquin

And they all drive *really* big cars!

And leave the left turn signal on for miles!

And they pull onto the shoulder when facing oncomming traffic.


8 posted on 06/29/2004 4:30:21 PM PDT by cripplecreek (you tell em i'm commin.... and hells commin with me.)
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To: NukeMan

I used to live there as well. I spent elementary school there, in the late seventies. Used to ride my bike across town to the library, which at the time was in this large white mansion (likely it's smaller than I remember).

Beautiful town, with streets covered in giant oaks and cobblestone roads in places.


9 posted on 06/29/2004 4:31:44 PM PDT by Laurence of the Rats (Eternal Hate To Rome)
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To: NukeMan
Excellent find. This is the Topper Site and I've been wating for some new news from this site.

"In his more exuberant moments, Dr. Goodyear ventured that the dates could be as old as 25,000, even 30,000, years ago. He has already found elsewhere on the site what appear to be 16,000-year-old artifacts, evidence for a pre-Clovis peopling of America similar to findings in Virginia and Pennsylvania. None of those discoveries has convinced skeptics."

These artifacts are similar to the ones in Iberia.

10 posted on 06/29/2004 4:31:55 PM PDT by blam
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To: NukeMan; shamusotoole
Iberia, Not Siberia?
11 posted on 06/29/2004 4:33:44 PM PDT by blam
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To: NukeMan
FReeper 'farmfriend' quit FR so we don't have a GGG ping list anymore. Anyone want to volunteer for the job?

Immigrants From The Other Side (Clovis Is Solutrean?)

12 posted on 06/29/2004 4:38:55 PM PDT by blam
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To: NukeMan
European DNA Found In 7-8,000 Year Old Skeleton In Florida (Windover)
13 posted on 06/29/2004 4:42:08 PM PDT by blam
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To: Laurence of the Rats

It's still a beautiful city (I haven't lived there since 1995), and the library is *still* in the same building you described.


14 posted on 06/29/2004 4:43:06 PM PDT by NukeMan
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To: NukeMan

There is every reason to believe, that the American continents were not discovered only once by a fairly large migration ove a period of probably a millennium, but again and again, by repeated visits and transplantations, from many sources. These people, like the first colonies of Europeans who arrived on these shores, may have encountered some overwhelming resistance to their presence, and died out, thousands of years before any other migrants arrived.

Could they have been seafaring folk, who somehow traveled here from Western Europe or Africa? There is some possibility that there may have been sufficient shoreline available, in a lowered ocean, for several parties in small boats to have pushed off in fairly short hops across the Atlantic. If I recall correctly, the Mediterranean was once a dry rift valley, and only filled when the sea waters in the Atlantic were high enough to come over the natural dam at Gibraltar. A vast global warming was ostensibly given as the reason for the sea waters rising some hundreds of feet or so. And also explain the fairly widespread legends about a huge flood overwhelming the known world of its day.

"The Day after Tomorrow" was really kind of limited in its scope.


15 posted on 06/29/2004 4:46:26 PM PDT by alloysteel
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To: NukeMan

The Oldest Americans May Prove Even Older

By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD

Published: June 29, 2004

BARNWELL, S.C., June 24 - On a hillside by the Savannah River, under tall oaks bearded with Spanish moss, an archaeologist and a graduate student crouched in the humid depths of a trench. They had reason to think they were in the presence of a breathtaking discovery.

Or at the least, they were on to something more than 20,000 years old that would throw American archaeology into further turmoil over its most contentious issue: when did people first reach America, and who were they?

The sandy soil of the trench walls was flecked with pieces of chert, the source of flint coveted by ancient toolmakers. Some of the stone flakes appeared to be unfinished discards. Others had the sharp-edged look of more fully realized blades, chisels and scrapers. Long ago, it seemed, Stone Age hunter-gatherers had frequently stopped here and, perhaps, these toolmakers were among the first Americans.

With deft strokes of his trowel, the archaeologist, Dr. Albert C. Goodyear of the University of South Carolina, excised a chunk of chert about the size of a cantaloupe. Its sides, he said, had all the marks of flintknappers' work. They had presumably smashed one cobble against another, leaving fracture lines through the rock, and then recovered thin slices for making sharp tools.

"This is not a natural occurrence," Dr. Goodyear said, showing the beaten-about chert cobble afterward. "No river, fire or animals could do this. Too many blows have been struck."

If he is right, American prehistory is being extended deeper in time at this remote dig site near Barnwell. Dr. Robson Bonnichsen, an expert on early Americans who is not directly involved in the excavation, said it could even be "the single most significant Ice Age site in North America" as a place bearing tantalizing evidence for "understanding the earliest prehistory of the Americas."

The land is owned by the Clariant Corporation, the big Swiss chemical company, which allows archaeologists to dig to their minds' content in the forest at the Topper Site, named for the person who brought it to their attention more than 20 years ago.

Judging by the depth of sediments, the site may have been a toolmaking center at least 7,000 years earlier than the arrival of big-game hunters known as the Clovis people. Once thought to be the earliest Americans, Clovis hunters, named for the town in New Mexico where their traces were uncovered 70 years ago, left their finely worked fluted projectile points across the United States over five centuries, beginning 13,000 years ago. All the dates here are based on radiocarbon calculations adjusted to calendar years.

The two men in the trench, their shirts now soaked in sweat, were eager to find evidence that would yield more precise dates for the finds. They leaned into a seam of darker soil interspersed with black grains that the graduate student, Tony Pickering, had found three weeks before. It just might be the remains of a fireplace. If so, any residue of charcoal should give a reliable date through radiocarbon analysis.

Dr. Goodyear emerged from the trench clutching four small plastic zip-lock bags. "I don't know how we ever did archaeology before zip-lock bags," he remarked as he held them up for examination. Each bag contained soil and several pea-size black fragments that he hoped represented the residue of charcoal from a hearth.

"I hope the laboratory gets three dates out of this," he said. "And I hope they're all similar dates."

In his more exuberant moments, Dr. Goodyear ventured that the dates could be as old as 25,000, even 30,000, years ago. He has already found elsewhere on the site what appear to be 16,000-year-old artifacts, evidence for a pre-Clovis peopling of America similar to findings in Virginia and Pennsylvania. None of those discoveries has convinced skeptics.

A few conservative holdouts still question the one widely accepted pre-Clovis claim: that earlier people were living in Chile at a site excavated by Dr. Tom D. Dillehay of the University of Kentucky that is known as Monte Verde. A strong endorsement of Monte Verde by prominent archaeologists published in 1998 encouraged others, including Dr. Goodyear, to dig deeper.

Dr. Bonnichsen, who is director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M University in College Station and has visited the Topper site and examined some of the possible artifacts, said, "If the preliminary findings hold, this is a tremendous discovery." But he cautioned that "a lot of hard research needs to be done to really test this thing thoroughly."

Dating the putative fireplace will be an important next step. As soon as that is done, Dr. Goodyear said, he and other scientists from several universities expect to announce the age and describe the excavated materials in a journal article, perhaps by the end of the year. Even if the charcoal is from a natural fire, not a human campfire, he said, the analysis should establish the age of any artifacts from the same sediment layer.

A bigger hurdle, scientists said, may be to establish that the stone pieces are indeed human-made tools. Many a presumed pre-Clovis site has failed to gain scholarly acceptance over the question of whether stone pieces that look like tools were the work of early humans or of nature.

Dr. Bonnichsen said much of the 16,000-year-old chert material previously excavated by Dr. Goodyear "looks really good" and might well be tools. At the laboratory at Texas A&M, microscopic examination of the supposed cutting edges showed gouges and scratches that appeared to be wear marks from scraping hides, butchering and cutting wood. They look, he said, "as if they are going to qualify as artifacts."

But it is too soon, he added, to render a nature-versus-culture verdict on the stone pieces from the greater depths and earlier ages at Topper. More experimental work is required to understand how the chert could have been modified into tools.

Dr. Goodyear, whose specialty is the study of stone tools, agreed, though he insisted that "so far we have found no plausible way nature could have made these tools, but we have shown how humans could have made them." The sample collected so far, Dr. Bonnichsen and others said, is too small to be definitive.

Dr. Goodyear said he planned a wider and more intensive search next year. Dr. Sarah C. Sherwood, an anthropologist at the University of Tennessee, is to visit the site next month to investigate the hearthlike material for signs of bone and plant remains, possible evidence for cooking fires, and to determine whether the remains are indeed from a fireplace and are not an accumulation of ash deposited by river floods. Other scientists from Tennessee, Texas A&M, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Smithsonian Institution have inspected the digs, some of them conducting their own tests.

At the end of dig season this year, Dr. Goodyear seemed reconciled to the prospect of hard years of excavation, research and argument ahead.

"If this is 25,000 years old, and I think it is, then scientists will come here from all over the world to see for themselves," he said, while driving back to Barnwell after a day in the field. "And they will argue about it for another 10 years."

The challenge for the Topper archaeologists, as for others making pre-Clovis discoveries, is not only the ambiguity of the evidence, but also its unfamiliarity. Clovis workmanship was painstaking and distinctive. Nearly all the spear points were several inches long and sharpened on both sides. Many of them were found among bones of mammoths that they were used to kill, accounting for the long-held reputation of the Clovis people as primarily big-game hunters. That also agrees with the theory that the first Americans crossed from Siberia to Alaska in pursuit of mammoth and mastodon at the end of the last Ice Age.

Yet all claims for pre-Clovis cultures rest largely on finds of a much more primitive technology. If these are tools, they are simpler and the weapon points are not bifacial; they are finished on only one side. For these and other reasons, archaeologists who made their careers on the Clovis culture usually react to possible evidence of predecessors with stiff skepticism.

Calling this the "Clovis bias," Dr. Goodyear said, "You look for something with one idea in mind, and you don't see it, then people become uncomfortable and confused, and they often reject it."

That is changing, though. Three other likely pre-Clovis sites have been found in the eastern United States: at Meadowcroft, Pa., near Pittsburgh, and at Cactus Hill and Saltville in Virginia. Other sites in South America, besides Monte Verde, may precede the Clovis period.

Bluefish Caves, in the Yukon, is still disputed as a focus of pre-Clovis research.

Signs of pre-Clovis people are sparse because these mobile bands were few in number and trod lightly on the land, and also because archaeologists had until recently not been looking deeply enough.

"For generations, we assumed that Clovis was the primordial human culture south of the ice sheets, but that model has long been discredited," Dr. Brian M. Fagan, an archaeologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, wrote in an updated edition of "The Long Journey: The Peopling of America," published this year by the University Press of Florida.

"We simply do not know when the first human settlers moved south of the ice sheets," Dr. Fagan concluded, noting that the archaeological record now showed the migration to be "an untidy process of rapid colonization, by people acquiring foods in many ways, who used a broad range of stone and wooden artifacts and, also occasionally, bone tools to survive."

It makes sense to Dr. Goodyear and his associates at the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology in Columbia that long before Clovis, bands of people moving up the Savannah River from the coast spotted chert washing out of the hillside. It still does. The dirt road at the Topper site is sprinkled with the rock. The hunter-gatherers quarried the chert, made their tools as best they could and then went on their way, to return again and again.

And so will Dr. Goodyear and probably many more archaeologists in search of the earliest people to live in the Americas.

16 posted on 06/29/2004 4:50:12 PM PDT by Russian Sage
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To: blam

Yes, The Topper site. Thanks for refreshing my memory!


17 posted on 06/29/2004 4:53:15 PM PDT by NukeMan
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To: NukeMan

I was reding this on the train this morning..it ws in the "Science" section of the NY Times..saw the SC byline, and figured they were taking one last shot at Strom Thurmond....


18 posted on 06/29/2004 4:54:04 PM PDT by ken5050 (We've looked for WMD in Iraq for LESS time than Hillary looked for the Rose Law firm billing records)
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To: alloysteel
"If I recall correctly, the Mediterranean was once a dry rift valley, and only filled when the sea waters in the Atlantic were high enough to come over the natural dam at Gibraltar."

The last time the Mediterranean completely dried out was 5 million years ago. Evidence suggests that it has been severely dessicated at least 40 time since then, the last was during the last Ice Age. Scouring marks on the bottom near Gilbralter suggest a massive inflow (broken dam) at the end of the Ice Age.

19 posted on 06/29/2004 4:54:07 PM PDT by blam
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To: alloysteel
Here's (click) a map of the world with the water reduced by a little over 300 ft. Notice that the Mediterranean is in two , possibly three sections...and this is without further dessication that would have occured after the blockage. Some say the depth of the worlds oceans were reduced by 500 ft. (Lots of islands)
20 posted on 06/29/2004 5:25:06 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

There's a lot of old stuff along the Adriatic. Looks like a lot of that was dry land back then. That probably flooded real good and there might be villages under the water there, too.


21 posted on 06/29/2004 5:29:24 PM PDT by RightWhale (Destroy the dark; restore the light)
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To: RightWhale
"There's a lot of old stuff along the Adriatic. Looks like a lot of that was dry land back then. That probably flooded real good and there might be villages under the water there, too."

Yup. The Adriatic may have dried up too. When Ryan & Pittman had the idea of looking for oceans that may have dried up during the Ice Age, they considered a number of places before settling on the Black Sea, which has proved to be correct. Probably a number of similar situations...for sure, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf was completely dry.

22 posted on 06/29/2004 5:41:45 PM PDT by blam
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To: LadyX

Hey Maggie, over here, in case you haven't seen this.


23 posted on 06/29/2004 7:01:25 PM PDT by WVNan (Be faithful in little things, for in them our strength lies. (Mother Teresa))
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To: Russian Sage; NukeMan; Laurence of the Rats; WVNan; deadhead; The Mayor; Aquamarine; dixie sass; ...
Thanks for bringing me here, Nan!

L of the R, thank you for printing out the whole article.
I happen to have led a nomadic life, ranging from my native Florida and the Keys to above the Arctic Circle in Alaska (lived in Fairbanks 3 1/2 years BP - Before the Pipeline), and retired 9 years ago to Barnwell, SC.
It is a charming, clean, very conservative and patriotic God-Honor-Country town - and where my grandfather pastored a church in the 1920's.

This find is located just a few miles west of me.
Wonder if our weekly paper due out tomorrow will mention this!
We are in the county seat for the Savannah River Site, and benefit from the taxes generated.

We had numerous Indian mounds in Florida (one on our property), and South Indian Field with many important finds was located on the St. Johns River 5 miles west of me there.

Nan, I guess you and I are not older than dirt after all..:))

NukeMan and L of the R, Aiken is indeed a lovely town, and has grown beyond belief in the past 5 years!!
As you know, they have many fine horses there, and one finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby in May.

24 posted on 06/29/2004 8:35:20 PM PDT by LadyX (((( To God be all honor and glory -- ))))
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To: alloysteel

Seafarers, perhaps, most likely from northwestern Europe. We know well that there were people living along the coastlines; we have cave paintings of marine animals in France and Spain. And the people could well have built skin boats and "island-hopped" along the shore (now the bottom of the Atlantic continental shelf 200-300 feet below sea level). About 50-60,000 years ago, people crossed at least 90 miles of deep ocean from Sunda (modern-day Indonesia) to get to Sahul (present-day Australia and New Guinea.)

One wonders about the discovery of haplogroup X (a European/Middle Eastern genetic trait, absent in most Siberian populations) in precolumbian Indians, and the similarities between the technology and material culture of Clovis and the Solutrian culture of Atlantic Europe at about this time.

The flood stories do seem to reflect time periods postdating the Ice Age. Some flood stories in SE Asia may reflect what happened to Sunda; the Black Sea flood is probably reflected in Greek myth (the Deukalion legend) and in Sumerian and Semitic legends (Gilgamesh and Noah, respectively). The Black Sea flood occurred several thousand years after the end of the Pleistocene (5600 BC versus 9000 BC) but resulted from rising sea levels after the collapse of the Laurentide Ice Sheet in the North Atlantic. The Black Sea, between the end of the Pleistocene and 5600 BC, had been a lake, and was probably a center for Neolithic communities.

BTW, the Mediterranean originated about 5 million years ago, long before any humans existed.

As for multiple migrations to the Americas, that makes sense, based on the skeletons (Eurasian types at Kennewick and Spirit Cave, Australoids in Brazil at Lapa Vermelha). Genetic evidence is tougher, though.


25 posted on 06/29/2004 9:43:15 PM PDT by monkeyman81
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To: monkeyman81
"Australoids in Brazil at Lapa Vermelha). "

Ancient Hearths To Test Carbon Dating (Humans In Brazil 56K+ Years Ago)

"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."


26 posted on 06/29/2004 10:16:50 PM PDT by blam
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To: NYC GOP Chick

Hey girl! There are several sites in the area. One is about five miles from here at Fort Dorchester - an extinct town. There is also one, I believe at Edisto. The information that is coming out is amazing - it is changing all preconcieved ideas.

Melungeons, Red Bones, and another group are supposed to be or rather thought to be descended from Portugese sailors that were stranded here in SC close to Hilton Head.

The Mayans had a legend/story that a white man would RETURN to their shores. This was why they excepted the spaniard so readily.

Bits and pieces of information read and digested are popping into my mind. Quess I'll be doing more searching today to tie them together.


27 posted on 06/30/2004 4:30:43 AM PDT by dixie sass ( Claws are sharp and ready for use!)
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To: dixie sass

Thank you for the info, Miss Dixie! Good running into you again - I hope everything's going well with you. :)


28 posted on 06/30/2004 8:24:13 AM PDT by NYC GOP Chick (Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! -- RIP, President Reagan)
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To: alloysteel
A vast global warming was ostensibly given as the reason for the sea waters rising some hundreds of feet or so.

Impossible! Only Republicans and SUV's cause global warming!

Seriously, there was a vast global warming, over many tens of thousands of years; it was the end of the ice age. Old news.

29 posted on 06/30/2004 8:38:49 AM PDT by JimRed (Fight election fraud! Volunteer as a local poll watcher, challenger or district official.)
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To: blam; FairOpinion; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach
Just updating the GGG information, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

30 posted on 09/14/2005 11:19:52 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Down with Dhimmicrats! I last updated by FR profile on Sunday, August 14, 2005.)
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To: saquin

Shhh...no one was supposed to know: I'm much older than I look.

:9p


31 posted on 01/08/2006 12:53:15 AM PST by bannie (The government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul.)
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this appears to be the oldest FR topic about Al Goodyear:

Site Sheds Light on Human Arrival
Source: AP via Yahoo
Published: May 26, 2001
Posted on 05/27/2001 06:25:12 PDT by sarcasm
http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a3b11003848e1.htm


32 posted on 08/11/2006 9:13:05 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (updated my FR profile on Thursday, August 10, 2006. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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