Skip to comments.Comet Theory Collides With Clovis Research, May Explain Disappearance of Ancient People
Posted on 08/03/2007 11:29:34 PM PDT by ForGod'sSake
June 28, 2007
Comet theory collides with Clovis research, may explain disappearance of ancient people
A theory put forth by a group of 25 geo-scientists suggests that a massive comet exploded over Canada, possibly wiping out both beast and man around 12,900 years ago, and pushing the earth into another ice age.
University of South Carolina archaeologist Dr. Albert Goodyear said the theory may not be such "out-of-this-world" thinking based on his study of ancient stone-tool artifacts he and his team have excavated from the Topper dig site in Allendale, as well as ones found in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
The tools, or fluted spear points, made by flaking and chipping flint, were used for hunting and made by the Clovis people, who lived 13,100 to 12,900 years ago, and from the Redstone people who emerged afterwards. The two points are distinctly different in appearance, with Redstone points more impressively long and steeple-shaped.
"I saw a tremendous drop-off of Redstone points after Clovis," said Goodyear. "When you see such a widespread decline or pattern like that, you really have to wonder whether there is a population decline to go with it."
For every Redstone point, Goodyear says, there are four or five Clovis points. His findings are leading archaeologists from across North America to reexamine their fluted points, and their inventories are yielding similar results: a widespread decline of post-Clovis points that suggests a possible widespread decline of humans.
"What is interesting is that Redstone people came after Clovis people and may have lasted as many centuries as Clovis did, probably even longer, but there are fewer of these Redstone points than Clovis ones," Goodyear said. "That is really odd, because if the Redstone culture simply came right after the Clovis culture you'd expect at least as many Redstone points as Clovis ones. We just don't see that, and the question is why, and what happened to the people who made these tools?"
Archaeologists have long known that the great beasts of the age the wooly mammoth and mastodon suddenly disappeared around the same time period (12,900 - 12, 800 years ), but little was known about their demise. It was thought to be the result of over-hunting by Clovis man or climate change associated with a new ice age.
The notion that a comet collided with Earth and caused these events was farfetched until recently, when the group of scientists began looking for evidence of a comet impact, which they call the Younger - Dryas Event. They turned to Goodyear and the pristine Clovis site of Topper.
In 2005, Arizona geophysicist Dr. Allen West and his team traveled to Topper in hopes of finding concentrations of iridium, an extra-terrestrial element found in comets, in the layer of Clovis-era sediment.
"They found iridium and plenty of it," said Goodyear. "The high concentrations were much higher than you would normally see in the background of the earth's crust. That tends to be an indicator of a terrestrial impact from outer space."
The researchers also found high iridium concentrations at six other Clovis sites throughout North America, as well as in and along the rims of the Carolina Bays, the elliptically shaped depressions that are home to an array of flora and fauna along South Carolina's coast.
The Younger- Dryas Event suggests that a large comet exploded above Canada, creating a storm of fiery fragments that rained over North America. The fragments could have easily killed the giant mammals of the day, as well as Clovis man.
"No one has ever had a really good explanation for the disappearance of mammoth and mastodon," Goodyear said. "The archaeological community is waking up to the Younger-Dryas Event. It doesn't prove that these Clovis people were affected by this comet, but it is consistent with the idea that something catastrophic happened to the Clovis people at the same time period."
The comet theory dominated the recent annual meetings of the American Geophysical Union held in Mexico. Goodyear's Clovis-Redstone point study and West's research on the comet were featured at the AGU meetings and by the journal, Nature. The comet will be the subject of documentaries featured on the National Geographic Channel and NOVA television late this fall and in early 2008.
The Topper story
Dr. Al Goodyear, who conducts research through the University of South Carolina's S.C. Institute of Anthropology and Archaeology, began excavating Clovis artifacts along the Savannah River in Allendale County in 1984. In 1998, with the hope of finding evidence of a pre-Clovis culture earlier than the accepted 13,100 years, Goodyear began a concerted digging effort on a site called Topper, located on the property of the Clariant Co.
His efforts paid off. Goodyear unearthed blades made of flint and chert that he believed to be the tools of an ice age culture back some 16,000 years or more. His findings, as well as similar ones yielded at other pre-Clovis sites in North America, sparked great change and debate in the scientific community.
Believing that if Clovis and Redstone people thrived near the banks of the Savannah River, Goodyear thought the area could haven been an ideal location for a more ancient culture. Acting on a hunch in 2004, Goodyear dug even deeper down into the Pleistocene Terrace and found more artifacts of a pre-Clovis type buried in a layer of sediment stained with charcoal deposits. Radio carbon dates of the burnt plant remains yielded dates of 50,000 years, which suggested man was in South Carolina long before the last ice age. Goodyear's finding not only captured international media attention, but it has put the archaeology field in flux, opening scientific minds to the possibility of an even earlier pre-Clovis occupation of the Americas.
Since 2004, Goodyear has continued his Clovis and pre-Clovis excavations at Topper. With support of Clariant Corp. and SCANA, plus numerous individual donors, a massive shelter and viewing deck now sit above the dig site to allow Goodyear and his team of graduate students and community volunteers to dig free from the heat and rain and to protect what may be the most significant early-man dig in America.
Let’s see, this may be true. On the other hand that may be true. Still it’s possible the other could be true. Yes and of course this other different idea could be true. Well yes, but I’m holding out for that fifth possibility myself.
Ah science. At once so scientific and so refreshing. Heh heh heh...
Oh the possibilities...
I would like to see you people wrap up all this kind of thing within the next few years, I only have one life time and I don’t like all the unanswered questions that I have being unanswered by you science types.
It would be wonderful if you guys could wrap up the major issues soon, say within 15 or twenty years.
Thank you very much.
Yeah well, science is not an exact, er, uh science???
Maybe we'll get some help from some of the science types on this forum -- I ain't one of 'em ;^)
Looks to me like they don't have much choice; the evidence is mounting. Hard for them to stick to their uniformitarianism(?). Must give 'em heartburn, eh?
Younger- Dryas Event now scheduled for Iran.
A nuclear winter???
“Maybe we’ll get some help from some of the science types on this forum — I ain’t one of ‘em ;^)”
Well, you sure have a good eye for the interesting science article.
I gotta confess, I went looking for one. I was hoping to find some information about the Mexico meeting. Some heavyweights are/were participants, so whatever comes out of that gathering should be interesting and probably newsworthy to boot.
[Lets see, this may be true. On the other hand that may be true. Still its possible the other could be true. Yes and of course this other different idea could be true. Well yes, but Im holding out for that fifth possibility myself.]
[I only have one life time and I dont like all the unanswered questions that I have being unanswered by you science types.] :^)
Thanks to the scientific method, humanity has started to mature intellectually and is beginning to realize that there is nothing simple about the way nature works. The idea that a few simple and easily understood rules (in the Newtonian tradition) are all that is required for events in the universe to happen is a relic of the past.
Also of peripheral interest, to me anyway, several of the group were going to try to tie the Carolina Bays’ formations in with a comet near miss or aerial explosion, etc.
Don't say that! Ya gotta leave somethin' for your kids to discover!
|Did a comet hit the Great Lakes region and fragment human populations 12,900 years ago?|
Multi-institutional 26-member team of researchers propose a startling new theory: that an extraterrestrial impact, possibly a comet, set off a 1,000-year-long cold spell and wiped out or fragmented the prehistoric Clovis culture and a variety of animal genera across North America almost 13,000 years ago.
Driving the theory is a carbon-rich layer of soil that has been found, but not definitively explained, at some 50 Clovis-age sites in North America that date to the onset of a cooling period known as the Younger Dryas Event. The sites include several on the Channel Island off California where University of Oregon archaeologists Douglas J. Kennett and Jon M. Erlandson have conducted research.
The theory is being discussed publicly, for the first time, today in a news conference at the 2007 Joint Assembly of the American Geophysical Union being held this week in Acapulco, Mexico. Kennett is among the attendees who will be available to discuss the theory with their peers. The British journal Nature addressed the theory in a news-section story in its May 18 issue.
Before today, members of the team including Kennett's father, James P. Kennett of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Richard B. Firestone of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory had been quietly introducing the theory to their professional colleagues.
Douglas Kennett, with Erlandson watching, detailed the theory May 19 to a fully packed UO classroom, where students and faculty members from archaeology, art history, anthropology, biology, geology, geography, political science and psychology, pelted Kennett with questions.
The researchers propose that a known reversal in the world's ocean currents and associated rapid global cooling, which some scientists blame for the extinction of multiple species of animals and the end of the Clovis Period, was itself the result of a bigger event. While generally accepted theory says glacial melting from the North American interior caused the shift in currents, the new proposal points to a large extraterrestrial object exploding above or even into the Laurentide Ice Sheet north of the Great Lakes.
"Highest concentrations of extraterrestrial impact materials occur in the Great Lakes area and spread out from there," Kennett said. "It would have had major effects on humans. Immediate effects would have been in the North and East, producing shockwaves, heat, flooding, wildfires, and a reduction and fragmentation of the human population."
The carbon-rich layer contains metallic microspherules, iridium, carbon spherules, fullerenes, charcoal and soot. Some of those ingredients were found worldwide in soils dating to the K-T Boundary of 65 million years ago.
The K-T layer marks the end of the Cretaceous Period and the beginning of the Tertiary Period, when numerous species were wiped out after a massive asteroid is believed to have struck Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico.
Missing in the new theory is a crater marking an impact, but researchers argue that a strike above or into the Laurentide ice sheet could have absorbed it since it was less intense than the K-T event.
Kennett said that 35 animal genera went extinct at the end of the Pleistocene, with at least 15 clearly being wiped out close to 12,900 years ago. There would have been major ecological shifts, driving Clovis survivors into isolated groups in search of food and warmth. There is evidence, he said, that pockets of Clovis people survived in refugia, especially in the western United States.
"This was a massive continental scale, if not global, event," Kennett said. He and Erlandson say that they are currently evaluating the existing paleoindian archaeological datasets, which Kennett describes as "suggestive of significant population reduction and fragmentation, but additional work is necessary to test the data further." Earlier research efforts need to be re-evaluated using new technologies that can narrow radiocarbon date ranges, and, as funding becomes available, new sites can be located and studied, Erlandson said.
"As we have grown more confident in the theory," Erlandson said, "we've been letting some of it out in informal talks to gage the response to see where we are headed and what the initial objections are, which will help us to maintain our own objectivity."
The interest in pursuing both old and new leads could ignite a major surge of interdisciplinary questioning and attract a new wave of interested students, Kennett and Erlandson said.
Source: University of Oregon
This news is brought to you by PhysOrg.com
A chill factor is needed for the Iranians, who in all likelihood will drop a nuke on Israel, from Syria.
Then the Faisel will hit the fan. So we need to know how to survive a nuclear winter, the way the Clovis Pointers did but Red Stoner did not. Maybe the Clovis people invented long johns or something......central heating in log homes??
Ping. You might find this interesting.