Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Speedy Land Travelers Or Seagoing Sailors? Temple Archaeologist Investigates Earliest Americans

Date:
June 12, 1997
Source:
Temple University
Summary:
Were the first Americans coastal sailors or speedy bands of land-bound hunters? Once, most archaeologists agreed that ancient hunters raced southward over the Bering Land Bridge to the tip of South America in about 1,300 years. But . . .

Were the first Americans coastal sailors or speedy bands of land-bound hunters? Once, most archaeologists agreed that ancient hunters raced southward over the Bering Land Bridge into Alaska, onto the Southern plains of Texas, and finally to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America, completing this enormous journey in about 1,300 years.

But, in response to recent discoveries of what seem to be older human artifacts in South America, the archaeology profession has prematurely jettisoned this theory for an alternative view based on theoretical sea travel, says Temple University anthropology professor Anthony Ranere.

“Mine is a somewhat unpopular position, but I think the bulk of the evidence still supports the late entry, fast movement model,” says Ranere. “According to the model that I prefer, people first crossed the Bering Strait Land Bridge into North America about 12,000 years ago.”

However, older artifacts thought to date to 12,500 years ago have been found in Monte Verde, Chile. How could archaeologists explain these finds? By proposing that ancient travelers boated down the North American West Coast 25,000 or more years ago. “They could hardly have left Alaska any other way during the period from 25,000 to 12,000 years ago since a massive continental ice cap covered the entire upper half of North America, forming a barrier to overland movement,” says Ranere.

But Ranere points out that many other sites, once thought to be much older than the 12,000 years before present entry date, have been discredited one by one due to errors in dating. Only Monte Verde stands unchallenged. “If some flaw in the dating of Monte Verde is eventually discovered, which leads to a revision of its antiquity to say, 10,500 years before present, then the late entry model again makes sense,” says Ranere.

Ranere argues that, given the amount of game available, once on the North American continent, bands of hunters would have been able to move rapidly into new and strange areas without having to wait generations to gain intimate knowledge of the plants in different climates.

“Spear points are not root grubbing tools, they’re for killing game, and no specialized plant processing tools have yet to be identified in these early sites,” adds Ranere.

Ranere’s own painstaking field work at La Mula-West along the central Pacific coast of Panama backs up his claims. He has recovered spear points manufactured with the same technology as early spear points from North America.

“La Mula-West is essentially a workshop for manufacturing stone tools. In order to gear up for hunting, ancient people had to stop near sources of jasper, flint, obsidian, or other suitable rock types, and make large numbers of spear points. Since many points were broken in the manufacturing process, a large amount of workshop debris is left behind for us to analyze. So, if a lot of time had elapsed between occupation of sites in North America and our site in Panama, you would expect to see an evolution of technology, instead of the identical technology we found,” says Ranere.

The spear points could be quite deadly weapons. “There is some evidence that ancient people used an additional section of wood called a spear thrower to extend the length of their arms, allowing them to really hurl these spears 70 to 80 meters with some accuracy,” notes Ranere.

Ranere will take seven students along when he returns to central Panama this summer. This time, he is looking for remains of early crops that early hunters and gatherers added to their diet between 8,000 and 9,000 years ago.

Ranere presented his views in April at the meeting of the Society of American Archaeology in Nashville.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Temple University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Temple University. "Speedy Land Travelers Or Seagoing Sailors? Temple Archaeologist Investigates Earliest Americans." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 June 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/06/970612101335.htm>.
Temple University. (1997, June 12). Speedy Land Travelers Or Seagoing Sailors? Temple Archaeologist Investigates Earliest Americans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/06/970612101335.htm
Temple University. "Speedy Land Travelers Or Seagoing Sailors? Temple Archaeologist Investigates Earliest Americans." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/06/970612101335.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Newsy (July 25, 2014) Unverified footage posted to YouTube purportedly shows ISIS militants destroying a shrine widely believed to be the tomb of the prophet Jonah. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

AFP (July 25, 2014) Visitors will be able to look down from a glass walkway on the grave of King Richard III when a new centre opens in the English cathedral city of Leicester, where the infamous hunchback was found under a car park in 2012. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

AP (July 25, 2014) Emory University's Center for Digital Scholarship has launched a self-guided mobile tour app to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's Battle of Atlanta. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins