Skip to comments.Ancient Tools At High Desert Site Go Back 135,000 Years (California)
Posted on 11/24/2005 1:02:17 PM PST by blam
Ancient tools at High Desert site go back 135,000 years
Chuck Mueller, Staff Writer
BARSTOW - In the multicolored hills overlooking the Mojave River Valley, the excavation of stone tools and flakes reveals human activities from the distant past. A new system of geologic dating has confirmed that an alluvial deposit bearing the stone tools and flakes at the Calico archaeological site is about 135,000 years old.
But the site could even be older.
Calico project director Fred Budinger Jr. said a soil sample, taken at a depth of 17 1/2 feet in one of three master pits at the dig near Yermo, verifies that the deposit dates to the Middle Pleistocene Epoch - the Ice Age.
"This new date confirms earlier estimates that humans were in the Manix Basin, near the base of the Calico Mountains, as early as 125,000 to 200,000 years ago," Budinger said.
The dating system, known as thermo-luminescence, reflects the amount of time that has elapsed since a layer of sediment was exposed to sunlight.
Another system, called uranium-thorium dating, pushed the age of sedimentary layers at the digging site to about 200,000 years ago.
But studies now under way with beryllium 10, an element used in dating exposed surfaces, could open the door into the more distant geological past.
"Beryllium 10 can date rock forms back almost to the formation of Earth itself,' said Budinger, senior archaeologist with Tetra Tech Inc., an environmental engineering and consulting firm with offices in San Bernardino.
Meanwhile, another system of dating known as optically stimulated luminescence also may be used to determine the age of artifact-bearing beds at the Calico site. This system is used to date sand dune layers.
Lewis Owen, a former geology professor at UC Riverside and now with the University of Cincinnati, is in charge of the new research.
"No other archaeological site has made use of these dating methods," Budinger said. "And until we get results (from Owen), expected this winter, we say the Calico site is 100,000 to 200,000 years old."
Humans who inhabited the Manix Basin chipped tools from chalcedony and chert, rocks that break like glass, to serve as scrapers, choppers, gravers, saws and digging tools. The Calico area was a workshop, and no direct evidence of man, such as bones or teeth, have been found at the site.
Manix Lake, a 91-square-mile freshwater lake extending from present-day Yermo to Afton Canyon, drained 18,000 years ago. A unique combination of environmental factors - erosion, faulting, and folding - exposed the alluvial deposits.
Excavations at the Calico Early Man site, often simply called the Calico Digs, began in November 1964.
Heading the project was
world-renowned archaeologist Louis Leakey, famed for discoveries with his wife, Mary, at the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania over three decades.
Among their finds was Zinjanthropus, an early man dating back 1.75 million years. Louis Leakey was project director at Calico from 1965 until his death in 1972.
San Bernardino County archaeologist Ruth DeEtte Simpson, field director under Leakey, then became project director.
Calico's current site manager, retired electronics engineer Chris Christensen, served as Leakey's chauffeur and body guard.
"The archaeological world was concerned with his safety out here," Christensen recalled.
He now oversees digging operations and guides visitors to the site.
"Volunteers from as far away as Berkeley and San Diego take part in digs the first weekend of every month from October through May," he said. "Some are professional geologists and archaeologists."
Since excavations began, more than 64,000 tools, flakes and stone chips have been collected at Calico, said Johanna Lytle, president of the nonprofit Friends of Calico. Most are housed in the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands.
Extensive improvements have been added to the site, which includes three master digging pits and 22 test pits.
"One of Louis Leakey's favorite tools was 'the Calico Cutter,' as he called it," Christensen said, displaying a replica of the artifact in the small museum on the grounds. "It shows bifacial flaking and use-wear patterns ... evidence of human activity that could not be caused by nature."
The site, two miles off Interstate 15 at Minneola Road, attracts visitors from across the nation and around the world.
Dennis and Patricia Pollet of Redondo Beach stopped by Wednesday.
"While my wife and I are very interested in ancient man, this is our first chance to see a dig of consequence," Dennis said. "People who visit Calico have a rare opportunity to see an actual excavation site."
"You can actually get the feel of an old civilization here," said Patricia. "You get a chance to touch our human past."
Earlier Than You Think George Carter
Anyone want to specualte who were these people?
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I thought the earth was only 6,000 years old.
I thought the earth was only 6,000 years old.
Or where they went. "Humans" have not lived in CA for the past 200,000 years, and we all know this. Anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa about 125,000- 150,000 years ago. I find this story very hard to believe. It sounds like another Piltdown Man hoax. If this is true, EVERY theory of human evolution is out the window.
Obviously, YOU'RE WRONG.
It was intelligent lifeforms from another planet on a camping trip.
Frankly, this sounds like a more likely explanation.
There were many species of humans 3-4 different types living at the same time.
I expect these Calico people were Homo-Erectus.
Kennewick Man and
the First Americans
by James C. Chatters
and the Battle for
Native American Identity
by David Hurst Thomas
by Elaine Dewar
No Bone Unturned:
Inside the World of
a Top Forensic Scientist
and His Work on
America's Most Notorious
Crimes and Disasters
by Jeff Benedict
The Riddle of the Bones:
Race, and the
Story of Kennewick Man
by Roger Downey
While still revolutonary, this makes more sense. I don't consider Homo Erectus as Homo Sapiens (Homo, yes, human, no), nor does anyone else in the field. Still, how did they get here, where did they go and why no remains?
In my youth I was aquainted with an old woman that was born and raised in Calico. When she was sixteen she cooked meals for 60 miners. This was during the days of Calico when they had a dog that carried the mail to the campsites.
The dog would show up with the mail in saddlebags, the miners would feed the dog, and it would go on to the next claim. She was the grandmother of somebody I knew.
It is not that human evolution is wrong.
It is that it is on a much longer scale than imagined.
And not in the way that it is imagined.
Oh. I guess it is unimaginably wrong.
Sorry, couldn't help it ;^)
My suspicions(and yours I think) are getting more and better confirmation as each year goes by. "People", in one species or another, and off and on(?), have been here for a long time.
wow! thank you
"If this is true, EVERY theory of human evolution is out the window."
That doesn't follow, not at all. The only consequence of this finding (which is only the first of many) is that the isolationist political nonsense that has been infecting the study of PreColumbian humans in the Americas just got a tooth knocked out and a cut over the eye.
Tools are found all over the world. Erectus (or someone) left tools on an island (and it has been an island for millions of years, even during the large-scale glaciations) 800,000 years ago.
another related topic (which doesn't show up in the FR search for "erectus"):
First Americans - Homo Erectus in America
http://home.pacbell.net/tcbpfb/ | January 01, 1999 | Tom Baldwin (apparently)
Posted on 09/24/2004 7:54:26 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Maybe the people represented in the Calico Site died out for some reason??