Skip to comments.Calico: A 200,000-year Old Site In The Americas?
Posted on 12/17/2001 2:22:22 PM PST by blam
Calico: A 200,000-year old site in the Americas?
New World archaeological sites inferred to be even slightly older than the 11.5 ka Clovis complexes have been controversial; so claims for a 200 ka site in North America have heretofore been treated with substantial disdain. But the acceptance of Monte Verde and Diring may soon change that.
The classic "ancient site" in the New World is "Calico," located in the Central Mojave Desert of California (Shlemon and Budinger, 1990). Two issues have dogged acceptance of Calico by mainstream archaeologists: (1) the authenticity of the artifacts; are they truly the product of human manufacture, or merely naturally produced "geofacts?" and (2) the obvious pre-Clovis age of the deposits (see, for example, lengthy discussions in Leakey and others, 1968; Haynes, 1973; Bryan, 1978; Taylor and Payen, 1975; Carter, 1980; Meighen, 1983; Patterson, 1983; and Budinger and Simpson, 1985).
Thought to be about 200 ka old, the deeply buried chert and chalcedony tools of Calico are usually dismissed as being artifacts. However, if shown to respected Old World archaeologists, many Calico assemblages are readily described as typical Paleolithic implements. Regardless, when told that the ancient tools come from the New World, these same archaeologists then often reject their original interpretation! So much for unbiased reasoning in science! Nevertheless, although it will take time, the pre-Clovis Monte Verde site in Chile and the 260 ka Diring site in Siberia may well provide a "stepping stone" for mainstream archaeological acceptance of the Calico site.
An excellent question. k stands for 1000 in the SI system. a stands for year [anno].
In search of the earliest Americans
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?)
(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?)
Note the Atlantic crossing route. It has now been theorized that Cro-Magnon Man's (from Iberia and Southern France) Solutrean stone points and Clovis points are VERY similar.
Evidence suggests a diverse wave of migrants trekked here earlier than experts once believed . . . By HENRY EICHEL Columbia Bureau [name of paper unknown -ed.]
MARTIN, S.C. -- From a pair of 6-foot-deep pits, a team of archaeologists and volunteers has spent the last month sifting hundreds of tiny stone flakes from the gray sand, trying to unravel one of the continent's oldest mysteries: Who got here first?
For decades, most scientists believed the first Americans were big-game hunters who crossed a now-disappeared land bridge across the Bering Strait from Siberia during the last ice age about 11,500 years ago. Supposedly, today's American Indians are all descended from these ancient people. But the discoveries at the Topper Site in rural Allendale County, about 85 miles southwest of Columbia, are part of a growing body of evidence that could overturn that theory.
Scientists are starting to believe that people may have arrived in the New World thousands to tens of thousands of years earlier, in many waves of migrations and from many different places. Stone Age America may have been a more crowded and racially diverse place than we thought.
At the heavily wooded dig site earlier this week, University of South Carolina professor Albert Goodyear opened a plastic bag and took out a pale yellow rock about the size of a person's little finger. Pointing to the stone's sharp, beveled edges, Goodyear said, "Nature can't make this; a human being has to do it very carefully. He would have had to take like a split beaver tooth, or a tiny hard bone with a sharp tip, and he'd have to pressure the flakes off. You've got to be good."
The person who worked this piece of rock camped at this spot between 12,000 and 18,000 years ago, and possibly even earlier, said Goodyear, director of the Topper excavations. That was a time when huge ice sheets covered what is now the northern United States, and South Carolina was a much colder place, with spruce and fir forests that resembled present-day Canada.
Mammoth and mastodon roamed the forests, as did now-extinct species of bison, camels and tiny horses. "They all would have been here," Goodyear said, "but whether these people used them or not, we don't know." Unlike some other prehistoric sites where archaeologists have found human skeletons, animal bones, charcoal from ancient campfires and even the remnants of huts, none of those things appear to have survived in the acidic soil at the Topper Site. All that has remained are hundreds of small stone blades and the rocks from which they were chipped.
"They're little razor blade-type things," Goodyear said. "People might have set several of them into a wooden or a bone handle and used it as a knife to cut something soft, like fish." They are identical to blades discovered in Siberia that have been proved to be 20,000 years old, he said. Little blades like that were also typically used to groove and splinter antlers, mastodon tusks and wood.
If one could ask these prehistoric people for their biggest artifact, Goodyear said, "they might produce a hardwood spear with a 4-inch long antler tip on it." But, he said, "We won't find any in these sands." This year's dig wraps up today, but Goodyear has his eye on a spot in the Savannah River swamp a half mile to the north, where geologists have dated a peat bog to 18,000 years. "If there are any antler or wood artifacts, they'll be preserved in peat," he said.
Some things can be safely assumed about the people who once camped here. They were hunter-gatherers, because at that time, that's what everyone in the world was. Agriculture didn't catch on in a big way until about 6,000 years ago. So, they wandered a lot, looking for food. They traveled light. They wouldn't have needed much in the way of shelter in the summer, although they may have made huts out of animal hides for the winter. Were they the ancestors of modern Indians?
"There's a good chance they weren't," said Goodyear. "Some of the skulls that are showing up (at other sites) are not the typical Mongoloid types. They could still be from Asia, but from an old archaic population that migrated into the Western Hemisphere and died off." Ted Tsolovlos, 52, of Columbia, one of the 15 volunteers at the site this week, said, "I think ice age man was probably closer to God, in a sense, and that there was something magical about that time. We're finding these certain little facts about this culture. How did they see the world?"
For the past two years, through USC's Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, Goodyear has recruited volunteers from the public to sign up for a week or more to help with the excavation. They each paid $366, which included camping, lunch and dinner, evening lectures and a T-shirt. "I never thought I would enjoy digging in the dirt. But it's so much fun; you never know what you're going to find next," said Wanda Stover, a 48-year-old Bank of America officer from Charlotte who returned to the site for her second year.
In her pre-teen years, she said, she read Nancy Drew mysteries and other books set around archaeological digs and began a lifetime fascination with the subject. Then last year, she found the Topper Site expedition's Internet page and signed up. Goodyear will start taking applications for next year in January, giving preference to people who have been before. This year's 75 slots filled up by March.
For the next three weeks, geologists from around the country will comb the entire site, which is on land owned by Clariant Corp., a maker of industrial dyes. "They're going to interpret the age of the place based on the geological layers," Goodyear said. "That's a very important study that needs to be done for this site to gain widespread acceptance within the profession." Goodyear has been exploring the site since 1981. It's named for David Topper, a local landowner who first guided Goodyear and fellow USC archaeologist Thomas Charles to it. What made the heavily wooded hillside attractive to archaeologists were the outcroppings of chert, an impure form of flint. "You find a chert quarry, you'll find early man, because they were dependent on these rocks," Goodyear said.
Excavations since 1981 showed the quarry was a magnet for humans, with each layer of soil revealing an earlier culture. Two feet down, Goodyear found several 10,000-year-old spear points, and beneath those, some "blanks'' - rojectile points in their preliminary stages that had been broken and thrown away. "But I had never dreamed there was anything earlier," Goodyear said, because there weren't supposed to have been any people in North America before 11,000 years ago. But in 1998, Goodyear read in an archaeological journal about discoveries at a site called Cactus Hills, 45 miles southeast of Richmond, Va.
There, tests on charcoal from prehistoric campfires, along with stone tools and other evidence, showed that the site was occupied by humans at least 15,000 years ago. Earlier, in southern Chile, archaeologists had discovered the remnants of a 12,500-year-old hunting camp. That encouraged Goodyear to dig some deeper test holes. "In just a few hours," he said, "I was finding things I'd never seen before."
The finding on an island off California supports the notion that the first humans in America came by boat
Monday, July 5, 1999
By Richard L. Hill of The Oregonian staff
Three human bones found 40 years ago off the Southern California coast may rewrite the history of the Americas.
Recent radiocarbon dates indicate they are about 13,000 years old. If confirmed, that would make them the oldest remains ever found in North America.
The bones -- two thigh bones and a kneecap -- were found in 1959, buried 30 feet deep in the side wall of Arlington Canyon on Santa Rosa Island in the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara. Phil C. Orr, who was curator of anthropology and paleontology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, discovered them.
The finding adds support to the theory that at least some of the first humans who came to the New World may have arrived by boat rather than by a land route.
John R. Johnson, current curator of anthropology at the Santa Barbara Museum, where the bones are stored, said Orr was interested in the pygmy mammoths that had become extinct on the Channel Islands at the end of the last ice age.
"Phil was trying to prove that their extinction was no accident -- that humans were out there hunting the mammoth and roasting them in pits," Johnson said.
Orr, who died in 1991, was surveying mammoth bones on the island when he saw a human thigh bone poking out from the side of the canyon. A closer examination revealed the other two bones.
Johnson said Orr, who called his discovery "Arlington Springs Man," obtained a radiocarbon date of 10,000 years from charcoal in the same soil layer that contained the bones. But because of questions about the date's accuracy, he removed the block of earth that contained the bones, wrapped it in plaster and placed it in a museum storage room.
"Phil realized what a stupendous find it was," Johnson said, "so he did the smart thing by archiving that block of earth with the remains for that future time when dating techniques would improve."
Johnson and Don P. Morris, an archaeologist with Channel Islands National Park, recently sent a minute bone fragment to Thomas W. Stafford, a research geochemist who runs the Stafford Research Laboratories in Boulder, Colo., who came up with the 13,000-year-old date.
The researchers also determined that Arlington Springs Man actually is Arlington Springs Woman. They estimated from the length of one thigh bone that the woman was about 5 feet 1 inch tall.
Johnson said field work at the discovery site might provide more information. "Once there is a series of radiocarbon dates obtained in the strata above Arlington Springs Woman, it'll give us more confidence in the dates we have," he said.
Discoveries of such ancient remains are rare. The oldest previous skeletal remains found in North America were those of "Buhla." They were found in 1989 in a gravel quarry near Buhl in south-central Idaho. Only about half of her was recovered, as her pelvis and other lower-limb bones apparently were lost in a rock crusher. Radiocarbon dating put the remains at 10,675 years old.
The oldest remains found in Washington or Oregon are those of Kennewick Man, a virtually complete skeleton found in July 1996 on the banks of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Wash. A radiocarbon date determined the remains to be about 9,300 years old; further testing is planned.
(If the 13,000 year old date holds up, this would be the oldest human skeleton found anywhere in the Americas, North and South. Luzia is dated at 11,500 years old.)
THE GLEN ROSE AND ANTELOPE SPRINGS TRACKS
Here is the remarkable story of ancient human tracks, which evolutionists would rather that you not know about.
THE GLEN ROSE TRACKS
There are giant human tracks, in Texas, by dinosaur prints.
In a Cretaceous limestone formation near Glen Rose, Texas, are to be found some remarkable footprints. They are the tracks of giant men! You can go look at them for yourself. (But when you arrive, ask one of the old timers to tell you where to look. As soon as they are exposed, they gradually begin eroding away.)
Glen Rose is located in north central Texas, about 40 miles southwest of the Fort Worth-Dallas metropolitan area. The area has little rainfall; and, for several months each year the Paluxy River is completely dry. From time to time the river changes its course. This occurs at those times when the quiet river becomes a raging torrent. Because the river has such a steep slope (a drop of 17 feet [51.8 dm] per mile), it is the second swiftest river in Texas and quite dangerous in time of heavy rainfall.
Tracks are found in several of the layers of limestone, as they are exposed by river erosion. Man tracks have been found in layers BELOW that of the dinosaur prints! Fossils from land, seashore, and open sea have all been found here.
Human footprints are found above, with, and below prints of bears, saber-toothed tigers, mammoths, and dinosaurs.
THE ANTELOPE SPRINGS TRACKS
Sandaled footprints were found amid trilobites.
Trilobites are small marine creatures that are now extinct. Evolutionists tell us that trilobites are one of the most ancient creatures which have ever lived on Planet Earth, and they existed millions of years before there were human beings. William J. Meister, Sr., a drafting supervisor by trade (and, by the way, a non-Christian), made a hobby of searching for trilobite fossils in the mountains of Utah. On June 1, 1968, he found a human footprint, and there were trilobites in the same rock! The location was Antelope Springs, about 43 miles northwest of Delta, Utah.
Breaking off a large, two-inch thick piece of rock, he hit it on edge with a hammer, and it fell open in his hand. To his great astonishment, he found on one side the footprint of a human being, with trilobites right in the footprint itself! The other half of the rock slab showed an almost perfect mold of a footprint and fossils. Amazingly, the human was wearing a sandal!
The footprint measured 10¼ inches long by 3½ inches wide at the sole [26.035 x 8.89 cm], and 3 inches wide [7.62 cm] at the heel. The heel print was indented in the rock about an eighth of an inch [1.676 cm] more than the sole. It was clearly the right foot, because the sandal was well-worn on the right side of the heel. Several easily visible trilobites were in the footprint. It had stepped on them, pressing them underfoot.
No chance of hand-made "carvings" here, as the evolutionists charge at Glen Rose. The footprint was located halfway up a 2,000-foot mountain face, and Meister had to stop to rest many times as he climbed. Where he found the print, he had to make footholds to stand on, in order to search for trilobites.
Meister mentions that he told Burdick and Carlisle about the site. This is what happened next:
"The first week in August, Dr. Clifford Burdick, a well-traveled consulting geologist of Tucson, Arizona, visited the site of the discovery at Antelope Springs with Mr. Carlisle [a graduate geologist at the University of Colorado]. On this visit Dr. Burdick found a footprint of a barefoot child in the same location as my discovery. He showed my this footprint on August 18.
"The day before, my family and I had met Dr. Burdick at Antelope Springs. While there we found another sandal print. Dr. Burdick continued; and, on Monday, August 19, he informed me by letter that he had found a second child's footprint.
"In addition to my discovery and that of Dr. Burdick's, a friend of mine, George Silver, digging alone in this location, discovered more footprints of a human or human beings, also shod in sandals. His specimen, which he showed to me (I also showed this specimen to Dr. Melvin Clark), had two footprints, one about a half inch [2.54 cm] above and on top of the other.
"Finally Dean Bitter, teacher in the public schools of Salt Lake City, discovered other footprints of human beings wearing sandals much like those found by George Silver and me. Both Dr. Cook and I have seen his specimens found at Antelope Springs, some distance from the site of my discovery."William J. Meister, Sr., "Discovery of Trilobite Fossils in Shod Footprint of Human in `Trilobite Beds'A Cambrian FormationAntelope Springs, Utah," in Why Not Creation? (1970), p. 190.
As a result of finding the footprints, Meister became a Christian.
*Leland Davis, a consulting geologist, analyzed the strata the footprints had been found inand found them to be "consisting almost entirely of Cambrian strata"! This is the oldest regular fossil-bearing strata on the planet!
You can find a complete description of the Antelope Springs footprint discoveries in the book, Why Not Creation? pp. 185-193.
Similar giant human footprints have been found in Arizona, near Mount Whitney, in California; near White Sands, New Mexico; and other places.
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What has to be borne in mind is that the "people" of pre-history are not the same species as those making history here during the last 6,000 years, or so. No respectable anthropologist I am aware of asserts anymore that these older species are us. "Something" unique happened about 6K years ago, perhaps using the same basic bodies as before, but we clearly ain't the same as them.
The group that we call the American Indians today first appeared in North America about 6,000 years ago and are believed to have their origins in North China.
This is exactly what happened at either the Meadowcroft or the Topper site (Can't remember which). The discoverer dug down to the Clovis level then stopped. Only after the discovery of the Monte Verde site did he decide (years later) to go back and dig deeper. Below the Clovis level, guess what, he found even earlier human artifacts.
Thanks for the heads up. It's always interesting when _really_ strange stuff gets good press.
However, I have very unorthodox views on pre-history... Specifically, I wonder about two things.
1) There is slim but accumulating evidence that universal "constants" are not constants at all. If constants are changing which affect radioactive decay, then many "accepted" chronologies will have to be re-evaluated.
2) On an even more extreme issue, I've always been intrigued by Genesis 10:25 -- "Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided;" This is typically interpretted to refer to the incident at the Tower of Babal, when the people were dispersed, but later, in Genesis 10:32 we read -- "These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood." Here the text speaks of the nations being divided, not the earth. What if Scripture here is being accurate? What if the Tower of Babal story _actually_ recounts the breakup of the supercontient Pangaea taking place in historic/pre-historic times, rather than hundreds of millions years in the past?
I think it makes for a more entertaining view of the past to think that the "super continent" -- call it Pangaea, whatever -- existed into almost historic times. If this is so, then it explains how a _single_ flood could have inundated the "entire earth." Because if the continents were merged during prehistory, then a single catastrophe could have affected everyone.
There are other implications to Pangaea existing into pre-historic times, and they're all fun to speculate about.
I think you are behind the times on this one, blam. Go to any world-class conference on this subject and see most of the pioneering anthros distancing themselves from the old Darwinian theories and old texts and moving the dividing line up to ~10,000 years ago and closer. Some are still holding at the close of the last ice age, ~13,000 years at most.
I can live with that, until something better comes along. Hardcore Darwinism and "evolution" exists only in the outdated notes of a few outdated professors. The old guard is trying hard to hide him in the closet and develop some distance from his theories. When the director of the British Museum announces that Darwinism is dead, you know it's history.
That's been debunked. It was/is an early Soviet era dump site.
If you think about it long and hard the idea that we are not the first try at civilization explains a lot. I mean if there was a large meteor(comet) or a nuclear war, 99% of the survivors would be forced to live in basically stone age conditions. All it takes is one event and we have to start all over again. It should not be a big leap to conclude that has occured at least once. "
I do believe this. I'm a catastrophist. There's quite a bit of evidence for this view.