Skip to comments.Bye, Bye Beringia (8,000 Year Old Site In Florida)
Posted on 08/11/2003 7:26:47 PM PDT by blam
Bye Bye, Beringia
Anthropology and Archaeology of The Americas
by Bill Jones
One might think that Archeology sites throughout the World have produced many datable human remains. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ancient human remains have so rarely been found that these singular findings could not be connected to others to form chronologies about human evolution.
The scarcity of human remains to be analyzed has prevented the sciences of Anthropology and Archaeology from forming conclusions about the cultural levels of ancient humans. We try to measure the culture of a people in terms of the totality of their socially developed behavior, their arts, crafts, tools, and language. As a result of scarcity of samplings, ancient humans have been generally classified in such terms as; savages, hunter-gatherers, roving bands, etc. This is especially so for the early inhabitants of the New World. Some recent discoveries shatter that prevailing picture of the ancient people of North America.
The Windover Site at Titusville, Florida 4,500 miles to the South and East of Beringia is the Windover Archaeology site. One of the so-called roving bands of hunters settled there to live. At Windover, more ancient human remains were discovered than the total of all others found previously in the New World, and they were the oldest. The Windover site produced the largest and oldest group of human remains, and most complete insight of an ancient culture ever found. The following quoted article tells of some astounding findings there. The following article was originally published on May 16, 1996 by The News Herald (Panama City, Florida), and is reprinted here with permission:
Archaeology finds new picture of Paleo Indians
By: Robert Suriano, Florida Today
Melbourne -- Food was plentiful in the lush land that was Broward County 8,000 years ago, making life good for the people who buried their dead in a shallow pond near Titusville. They walked the ground between the site of today's Walt Disney World and the Space Coast, hunting white-tailed deer and bobcat among the pine and oak trees. They fished for bass and sunfish or scooped up turtles, frogs, and snakes. Their primary job -- filling their stomachs -- took only about two hours each day, leaving plenty of time for making jewelry from bones and seeds or weaving clothing from the leaves of sabal palm.
That is a richly detailed picture that continues to emerge today of the Paleo-Indians, whose watery burial ground was discovered in 1982 during construction of a housing project off State road 405. Known worldwide as the Windover Archaeological Site, more than a decade of research from that dig is challenging previous notions about these people of the distant past.
"They enjoyed a good lifestyle, said Glen Doran, the Florida State University archaeologist who oversaw the Windover excavation that lasted from 1984 to 1986. "Life was a little easier than it even may have been a few thousand years later. You had a a lot of different resources packed pretty densely into this area within a few kilometers walk in any direction. Clearly, this was a good place to be."
And so it remains for Fran and William Hinson and child, 12 year old Hilary, who play in the yard that borders the burial site, now a National Historic Landmark.
"I was intrigued with their level of civilization," she said. "They exhibited a civilization far beyond what had been previously believed that ancient Indians in North America and Florida would have shown." The Windover site, named for the sprawling rural housing development that surrounds it, bore archaeological treasures that amazed experts with their quality and quantity.
*Skeletal remains of 169 people, split almost evenly between males and females, ranging from 6 to 70 years old. About 75 of the skeletons were relatively intact.
*90 intact human brains that include the oldest DNA samples in the World.
*Artifacts of wood, bone, and seed that were made into jewelry and tools, providing insight into the ancient peoples' lives.
*Tests showed the oldest skeletons were buried 8,100 years ago. The youngest was placed in the ground 6,900 years ago.
"To put this into context," Doran said, "these people had already been dead for 3,000 or 4,000 years before the first stones were laid for the Egyptian pyramids!"
They were lean and robust, most likely a copper-skinned people. The tallest man stood 5 feet and 6 inches tall. The average woman was 5 feet and 2 inches.
Like all people of their time, about 6,000 BC, they kept moving in a yearly pattern that followed the most ample sources of food. For this group that meant walking the land between the St Johns River and the Ocean.
They had risen above the subsistence level, giving them time to do things not typically associated with early people.
But they were not free from human hostility. The remains of a 29 year old male show a deep wound in the buttocks, probably caused by an antler. The injury is such that Doran thinks it was caused by a human wielding the antler in anger. He says that the wound is counter to previously stated views of these people as passive. Most of the other skeletal remains showed signs of long festering infections that likely brought natural deaths during a time before antibiotics and medicine. But overall, the group appeared to be healthy. They had triumphed over the rigors of daily life.
"Relative to a lot of other populations at this time period, these folks were relatively well off." Doran said. A sign of their wealth is the cloth that was found among the bodies, the oldest cloth ever found in the Western hemisphere.
"This cloth will set the example," Doran said. It is rare that fabric textiles even 1,000 years old are preserved in the United States."
*All told, 87 cloth fragments from an estimated 67 complete items were recovered from the dig. The cloth was made from the leaves of sabal palm. The pieces reveal five different methods of fabric making, all without benefit of a loom. Even so, some fabrics are woven as tightly as a cotton T-shirt. Others are made more loosely twined into blankets, capes, and toga-like garments.
*Some skeletons were found with especially fine cloth, suggesting some of the dead enjoyed a special status, but not necessarily a society of kings and paupers. In addition to the cloth, artifacts of bone and wood were found among some of the skeletons. They include a wooden pestle and a paddle, perhaps used to pound plant fibers for weaving; a small hammer, needles made from deer antler, and the bones of manatees, rabbits, and fish.
If the number and quality of skeletal remains at the site caught the attention of archaeologists, an added discovery in 1984 caused great excitement.
*They found one skull that contained a soft, greasy, lard like substance. Doran scooped the material out and stored it in the refrigerator of his Cocoa apartment before sending it to a laboratory for chemical analysis. He guessed that it could be anything from slime mold to brain tissue.
"Organic matter," was the laboratory analysis. The material had decayed too much for the tests to determine whether it was human brain tissue.
A second chance came in December. Archaeologists found another skull with the substance inside. This time they sent the entire skull to the University of Florida laboratory in Gainesville, where molecular biologist, William Hauswirth and his colleagues were waiting. Instead of spooning out the material. Hauswirth removed the rear portion of the skull and tilted it. A shrunken but intact human brain slid out! Over time, the organ had lost mass and its tissue had mixed with peat, but the softball-sized matter was clearly a brain.
*By the end of the excavation, 91 brains were recovered. Ninety of them, minus the first that was not salvaged, are stored in the pathology freezer at Sands Hospital in Gainesville.
Although brain tissue has been discovered before, this was the first time that intact human brains had been preserved. Even while the bodies' other soft tissues deteriorated, the brains were secure in the safest place in the body, the skull.
"The crania is well designed to protect your brain while you are living," Doran said. "The end result is that it protects it when your are dead too."
The brains hold a frozen gold mine of genetic information in the form of DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid. While Doran said he thinks older human DNA has been recovered elsewhere in the World, so much of the genetic material never has been isolated from a single group of people.
Hauswirth said it contains genetic markers, or specific segments of DNA that are affiliated with one small subset of modern American Indians. This suggests that the Windover people did not reproduce with people from other groups, a finding that again challenges previous assumptions.
A New Culture Model for the Ancients
The primary significance of Windover is the seeming sophisticated culture of these people who lived there 8,100 years ago and before. Windover dates an advanced culture in North America that precedes any previously discovered anywhere else in the World. Their egalitarian culture paints a new picture of ancient people of the Americas. Until now, the model of ancient peoples pictured roving bands of hunters, grunting semi-savages, having no culture to speak of. Of course, the 4,700 BP pyramid builders of Egypt had advanced further in terms of architectural achievements and they had pictograph symbols to convey meaning, but they came along 3,400 years after the Windover people. Windover revealed a culture of people in the New World, twice as old as the Egyptian culture. Of course, there are artful paintings of animals and symbols in caves that are attributed to the Neanderthals, but little else to associate with Culture.
Now we know that 8,000 years ago, the Windover people wove fine cloth.; They buried their dead ceremonially. They cared for each other; by indulging and taking care of the handicapped. And they adorned the bodies of their dead with fine clothing, placing them in special positions that were spiritual to them, and things that would be useful in an after life were buried with them.
Logic places them in Florida for quite some time before they buried their dead in that peat bog. How long?; 1000 years? 5000? Could the ancestors of the Windover people have been the Clovis of New Mexico 11,000 years ago? Time, distance, and logic says not. The Windover people might be the ancestors of the Seminoles. They might be related to other Paleo Indian cultures of North America, past and present. There is sufficient human DNA to find out. The ancient human DNA is of such quality as to allow genetic cloning, or to make comparisons with present living ethnic groups, or to test kinship with other ancient peoples. But the latter would require usable DNA, and this treasure trove seems to be the oldest group of human DNA ever found anywhere in the World. Also, the artifacts collection has an abundance of the oldest fabrics ever found in the Western hemisphere... 8,000 year old cloth woven as fine as in a cotton t-shirt! At first it was thought that the clothing was hand woven, but that does seem to be possible. They must have used some sort of apparatus, a loom, to weave such fine cloth.
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I believe there are apartment houses presently sitting on the site.
Hm, add in a couple of sessions of Hip-Hop and 8,000 years doesn't sound like very long at all.
"Osteologists look at metric and nonmetric features of skeletal material from different groups and use this information to attempt to understand population similarities and differences within an evolutionary and adaptive framework. The search for other early (pre-6000 BP year old samples) has led Doran to Japan which also has substantial collections of early human skeletal material.Ê "
Yup. That would be Arlington Springs Woman, I don't think they'll find DNA from this woman.
That is the popular theory at present. The same seems to be shaping up for the Atlantic coast also, The tools being found at the Topper and Cactus Hill sites in Pennsylvania and South Carolina are consistent with tools from the Iberian Area for the same period, 12-20,000 years ago.
...and then, we have the Australians shoving in down in South America, First Americans Were Australians
Time will tell.
It's pretty obvious now, modern man has totally underestimated early man. But we remain so sactimonious. That's down right silly.
Sanctity has nothing to do with it. Follow the money, my friend, follow the money.
Will do. And you are welcome.