Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

South America's oldest textiles identified with carbon dating

Date:
May 23, 2011
Source:
Mercyhurst College
Summary:
Textiles and rope fragments found in a Peruvian cave have been dated to around 12,000 years ago, making them the oldest textiles ever found in South America, according to a new report.

Textiles and rope fragments found in a Peruvian cave have been dated to around 12,000 years ago, making them the oldest textiles ever found in South America, according to a report in the April issue of Current Anthropology.

Related Articles


The items were found 30 years ago in Guitarrero Cave high in the Andes Mountains. Other artifacts found along with the textiles had been dated to 12,000 ago and even older. However, the textiles themselves had never been dated, and whether they too were that old had been controversial, according to Edward Jolie, an archaeologist at Mercyhurst College (PA) who led this latest research.

The cave had been disturbed frequently by human and geological activity, so it was possible that the textiles could have belonged to much more recent inhabitants. What's more, the prior radiocarbon dates for the site had been taken from bone, obsidian, and charcoal -- items that are known to sometimes produce inaccurate radiocarbon ages. According to Jolie, charcoal especially can produce dates that tend to overestimate a site's age.

"By dating the textiles themselves, we were able to confirm their antiquity and refine the timing of the early occupation of the Andes highlands," Jolie said. His team used the latest radiocarbon dating technique -- accelerated mass spectrometry -- to place the textiles at between 12,100 and 11,080 years old.

The textile items include fragments of woven fabrics possibly used for bags, baskets, wall or floor coverings, or bedding. They were likely left by settlers from lower altitude areas during "periodic forays" into the mountains, the researchers say. "Guitarrero Cave's location at a lower elevation in a more temperate environment as compared with the high Andean [plain] made it an ideal site for humans to camp and provision themselves for excursions to even higher altitudes," Jolie and his colleagues write.

These early mountain forays set the stage for the permanent settlements that came later -- after 11,000 years ago -- when the climate had warmed, glaciers receded, and settlers had a chance to adapt to living at higher altitudes.

Jolie's research also suggests that women were among these earliest high altitude explorers. Bundles of processed plant material found in the cave indicate that textile weaving occurred on site. "Given what we know about textile and basket production in other cultures, there's a good possibility that it would have been women doing this work," Jolie said.

"There's an assumption that these early forays into the mountains must have been made exclusively by men," he added. "It appears that might not be the case, though more work needs to be done to prove it."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Edward A. Jolie, Thomas F. Lynch, Phil R. Geib, J. M. Adovasio. Cordage, Textiles, and the Late Pleistocene Peopling of the Andes. Current Anthropology, 2011; 52 (2): 285 DOI: 10.1086/659336

Cite This Page:

Mercyhurst College. "South America's oldest textiles identified with carbon dating." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110413121008.htm>.
Mercyhurst College. (2011, May 23). South America's oldest textiles identified with carbon dating. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110413121008.htm
Mercyhurst College. "South America's oldest textiles identified with carbon dating." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110413121008.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

India Clears Cows, Dogs, Dust for Obama Taj Mahal Trip

India Clears Cows, Dogs, Dust for Obama Taj Mahal Trip

AFP (Jan. 23, 2015) Preparations are under way at the Taj Mahal ahead of a visit by Barack and Michelle Obama. Duration: 01:11 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lincoln Collection to Be Auctioned in Dallas

Lincoln Collection to Be Auctioned in Dallas

AP (Jan. 23, 2015) Hundreds of pieces of Lincoln memorabilia collected by a Fort Worth, Texas businessman are set to be auctioned this weekend. (Jan. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Phones Used 100 Years Ago on Display

Phones Used 100 Years Ago on Display

AP (Jan. 22, 2015) The phones used to make the world&apos;s first coast-to-coast conference call 100 years ago have been put on display at the California Historical Society&apos;s 1915 World&apos;s Fair exhibit space in San Francisco. (Jan. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
King Tutankhamun Burial Mask Sloppily Glued Back Together After Cleaning Mishap

King Tutankhamun Burial Mask Sloppily Glued Back Together After Cleaning Mishap

Buzz60 (Jan. 22, 2015) King Tutankhamun Burial Mask is now being called &apos;irreversibly damaged&apos; after its famous beard broke off in a botched cleaning job and then was hastily glued back together. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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