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.

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 September 21, 2014 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 September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Iconic 'Easy Rider' Chopper Bike to Go on Auction Block

Iconic 'Easy Rider' Chopper Bike to Go on Auction Block

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) The iconic Harley-Davidson motorbike ridden by Peter Fonda in the 1969 classic "Easy Rider" is to go under the hammer in California, and auctioneers predict it will make at least $1 million. Duration: 01:09 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Egypt Denies Claims Oldest Pyramid Damaged in Restoration

Egypt Denies Claims Oldest Pyramid Damaged in Restoration

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) Egypt's antiquities minister denied Tuesday claims that the Djoser pyramid, the country's first, had been damaged during restoration work by a company accused of being unqualified to do such work. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
King Richard III's Painful Cause Of Death Revealed

King Richard III's Painful Cause Of Death Revealed

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) King Richard III died in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, and now researchers examining his skull think they know how. 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