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??
I can guess what the Mormons would say....
If they were Homo Erectus, I speculate they moved to the Castro Street Site and infected each other with a fatal disease.
I thought the earth was only 4000 years old.
200,000 years, and they still were in the stone age, and that's despite the vast natural resources that they had access to in North America.
I was thrown off a bit by the claim that "Humans" (to me, Homo Sapiens - not all Homos) made tools in CA 200,000 years ago. If we open this up to add all Homos as Human, then everything you posted is correct.
Were the first Americans the makers of the Clovis Points or did man arrive here at a much earlier time? This Website is a home for those who believe that Homo Erectus or Archaic Homo Sapiens (pre Homo Sapiens Sapiens) found their way to this continent at a much earlier time than is currently in vogue among archeologists.
It is currently in its planning stages and any suggestions by like minded individuals are welcome. The site will contain at least the following:
A page devoted to the Calico Early Man Site, selected for excavation by Dr. Louis Leakey, which has yield man made artifacts between 100,000 and 200,000 years old.
A discussion of Native American legend and tradition that holds that they did not come over the land bridge from Siberia. What then were their origins? Could they have become a people here, in America, as their traditions tell them by evolving from Homo Erectus already living on this continent just as Chinese evolved from Asian Homo Erectus, and Europeans from Homo Erectus living there, etc.
The Fallacy of Clovis
Those who believe man arrived in the Americas only shortly before leaving proof of his presence in the form of the famous Clovis Points, circa 12,000 years ago, will have serious difficulty in reconciling this theory with discoveries on going in the Eastern Calico Mountains of Californias Mojave Desert. Under the direction of Ruth Dee Simpson and at the urging the centurys foremost Archaeologist, Louis Leakey, a major archaeological dig has been on going there for the last 33 years.
The purpose of this first installment on the Homo Erectus -- The First Americans website is a discussion of surface lithics (stone tools) found in the general area of the Simpson/Leakey dig site and their implications for the Clovis School who believe man only arrived in the Americas within the last twelve or thirteen thousand years. Extensive quotes will be made from Simpsons newly released The Lake Manix Lithic Industry published as the San Bernardino County Museum Association Quarterly Volume 45, Numbers 3 & 4. Serious students are urged to purchase the entire study. For information concerning purchase E-mail email@example.com. All passages in quotation marks in this section are from Ms. Simpsons work and we thank her for the scholarship that makes this section possible.
While the author of this webpage does not believe that Homo Erectus is responsible for the surface lithics found in the Calico Mountains of California, he does believe the presence of these lithics is quite important in establishing the fact that man was on this continent eons before those of the Clovis school are willing to admit. Once the door is thrown open to an earlier arrival date for man on this continent, then serious study will hopefully begin on the many early man sites to be found in both North and South America, but currently ignored because of their threat to the comfortable group of academics who have built careers around Clovis.
As Ruth Simpson points out: "In 1926 the discovery of man-made weapon points in the skeleton of an extinct species of bison near Folsom, New Mexico, ushered in a new era of American archaeological research. Since then, prehistorians and geologists have been searching the North American continent for conclusive evidence relating to human presence during the Pleistocene. Most of the early localities which have aroused the greatest scientific interest in North America are characterized by artifact assemblages that include diagnostic weapon points." These sites have been identified with the sobriquet Paleo-Indian, as if it all began there. But does it?
"Behind the Paleo-Indian horizon lies a vast sweep of antiquity. Bits of evidence wrested from the silent sediments and relict landforms of the Pleistocene suggest that humans roamed North America long before 50,000 years ago. A few of the challenging elements of the newly established and newly accredited facet of American archaeology we call Pleistocene prehistory."
"One of the best evidences of this is the Manix Basin situated in eastern San Bernardino County, east of Barstow" California. "The basin is surrounded by the Calico, Lane, Alvord, Cave, Cady, Rodman and Newberry Mountains. During at least the late phases of the Pleistocene, the basin was filled with water furnished in part by the Mojave River which drains the high desert and Transverse Range to the south. This recurring lake was Pleistocene Lake Manix." "During late Pleistocene pluvial stages, four fillings of Manix Basin with water are recognized (Buwalda, 1914; Jefferson, 1968,.1985). Fillings terminated at the end of the last pluvial or wet period and because of downcutting by the Mojave River through the Cave Mountains at the end of Manix Basin. This downcutting developed Afton Canyon. Sequential shorelines left by Lake Manix are present at the 1880', 1840', 1800' and 1780' elevations. Radiocarbon dates on Anodonta shell reported by Bassett and Jefferson (1972) suggest that the major lake stand which left the 1780' shoreline ended prior to 47,000 B.P. and that this shoreline is of Tenaya or earlier age. Dates on Anodonta shell along the 1800' shoreline (Berger and Libby, 1966) correspond well and suggest that a relatively brief stand of the lake at 1800' is of Tioga age and the lake may have drained by 19,000 B.P., briefly occupying the 1780' shoreline again during recession. The modern Mojave River, cutting down through the lake sediments associated with the 1780' stand, has exposed abundant vertebrate fossils that support a Rancholabrean Land Mammal Age coinciding with the 47,000 B.P. date.The two shorelines at 1880' and 1780' elevation are well defined."
The reason the author quotes Ms. Simpson on the dates for the shorelines is the fact that stone tools are found on the surface of the desert in the Manix Basin. However, they are found above the ancient lakes 1780 foot elevation shoreline. As she points out: "There are several major high beaches and shorelines of Lake Manix. One of these at 1780 feet above sea level has been dated by tufa at ± 19,750 B.P. Above that shoreline there is a marked change in artifact type and distribution. These tools include ovate bifaces, hand-axe like tools, choppers, scrapers, hammerstones, cutting tools, and the like. All imply percussion flaking whereas many of the more recent specimens imply pressure flaking. Radiocarbon dates of circa 19,750 years for the 1780' shoreline and the abrupt change in artifact assemblages at that elevation suggest that artifacts above the 1780' shoreline are related in time to a filling of Lake Manix prior to 20,000 years ago."
More modern, pressure flaked tools are found through out the area, but the primative percussion flaked tools are only found above the shoreline of the now dry lake. The obvious conclusion to draw from this evidence is that at a time when the lake was filled to the extent that its shoreline had an elevation of 1780 foot above sea level, a primative culture existed along its shores. The two most recent times that the lake stood at this level were 19,750 and 47,000 years BP (before present). The more recent date is almost twice the age of the Clovis sites, while the older date approaches four times that of Clovis. The author of this website prefers the more recent date, not out of any fear of the more ancient date, but merely out of practicality. It was at the time of the last filling of Lake Manix to the 1780 foot level that the lake broke through a natural barrier in the area of todays Afton Canyon and drained into the Colorado River Basin, never to fill again. With the loss of Manix Lake the Pleistocene herds that roamed is shores would have moved on to better pastures and so would the men that hunted them. This seems to best explain the evidence found atop the surface of todays Mojave Desert.
* * * It seems ironic that scientists seem to have no problem with bison, mastodon, horses, and myrads of other creatures finding their way from Siberia to North America across the land bridge, that existed off and on between the two during periods of high glaciation over the last half million years, yet balk at the idea that man could also have achieved a crossing. Why?
Part of the problem may have its roots in feelings that are not even conscious, but nevertheless influence attitudes and thought processes giving moderns a general feeling of superiority over our ancestors. This viewpoint is constantly bolstered by Hollywood and authors of popular fiction, as they portray early man as a bunch of grunting savages. In consequence there is resistance every time a rogue archaeologist attempts to push back in time some important discovery, be it fire, art, or North America.
I thought the earth was a year old.
Here's where the leap of faith comes in...How does anyone know that the creatures that are said to have used these tools were humans???
As I understand it, the scientists have come up with empty blanks trying connect human DNA to the Neanderthal Man...
Wait....does this mean Leif Erikson DIDN'T discover America???
There is no evidence of Neanderthal DNA in modern populations.
That's not true. Modern Human DNA and Neanderthal DNA does 'connect'. It just wasn't recently, within the last 100,000 years or more.
Evolution is a soft science, a theory, still in its research phase. It is currently based on guesswork and opinions, and even the criteria for the dating methods they use are based on opinion. Yet, they treat their theory like an actual belief system.
If you dated the Darwinists according to the sediment on their brains they'd all be a million years old.
That time frame encompasses part of the Neanderthal era. Don't think they were in California.
That may be the case for DNA, but paleontologists/anthropologists have found in "modern" excavations (hundreds to thousands of years old but clearly after the Neanderthal era), traits that appear to be Neanderthal.
I read somewhere(now forgotten) that there was grave doubt that the Calico artifacts were in fact man made.
Maybe these folks.
Hybrid - Modern Human and Neanderthal
Geeze, not only do I discover I am a Jew but a red headed Jew at that.
"A discussion of Native American legend and tradition that holds that they did not come over the land bridge from Siberia. What then were their origins?"
DNA haplotypes show they did come from Asia.
I first saw the CEMS in 1971. Lots of smoke and mirrors.
Throw a bunch of rocks together and move them around alot and pretty soon they'll break up and fall into a pattern.
Cover with soil. Dig up in a few years. WOW! ---- A site!
Anytime Chuck Miller needs a story he'll dig out the same one he did 5-8 years before update it, talk to Fred and crew ---- WOW! A new Calico EMS story.
Natural occurance of this type abound in the High Desert but when a PHD says "Ahh vee hav zee site". Then it's a site! Sure!
Neanderthal and modern humans shared most of their DNA. It is still not proven conslusively that Neanderthals totally died out. Some modern humans may exist who had some Neaderthal ancesters. Maybe you!
I thought redheads "evolved" in western China/eastern India and migrated thru eastern Europe. I read where ancient graves have been discovered in China of "white" people, well preserved, with red hair intact.
If this came from Neanderthals, then this would be evidence of Neanderthal DNA in modern populations, b/c redhair is a genetic trait. Yet, all I have read is that there is no such connection.
Here it is:
Some of the Melanesians have red hair as do some of the Australian Aboriginies.
Folklore is not a reliable evidence of ancient origins. Consider that ancient campfires have been dated jusyt south of Pittsburgh at 16,000 years BP. That means that the makers, presumably Indians, were around, and living not far from the glaciers. They should have then seen the glaciers, and also mammoths and saber-tooth tigers, and yet we have nothing in Am. Indian folklore about these things. It is just too long ago for a folk story to hold up. It is about 800 generations! After just a few generations, nobody would believe grandpa's descriptions of a heap big ice sheet, or of mammoths, once they were gone.
Folklore has limits, definite limits.
>There is no evidence of Neanderthal DNA in modern populations.<
Although his theory is HIGHLY controversial, Professor Michael Hammer at the University of Arizona thinks he may have found just such evidence. Research on the matter is not yet published or peer-reviewed AFAIK, but stay tuned!