A brand new evaluation of archaeological websites within the Americas challenges comparatively new theories that the earliest human inhabitants of North America arrived earlier than the migration of individuals from Asia throughout the Bering Strait.
Conducted by University of Wyoming Professor Todd Surovell and colleagues from UW and 5 different establishments, the evaluation means that misinterpretation of archaeological proof at sure websites in North and South America could be accountable for theories that people arrived lengthy earlier than 13,000-14,200 years in the past.
The researchers’ findings seem at the moment in PLOS ONE, a journal revealed by the Public Library of Science. The paper is the newest growth within the debate over the peopling of the Americas, by which some are actually questioning the long-held consensus that the primary Americans had been hunter-gatherers who entered North America from Asia by way of the Beringia land bridge as much as 14,200 years in the past, after which dispersed southward between two giant glaciers that then coated a lot of the continent.
The conclusions of Surovell and colleagues are based mostly on an evaluation of buried archaeological deposits, utilizing a brand new statistic known as the Apparent Stratigraphic Integrity Index they developed. While the stratigraphic integrity of early archaeological websites in Alaska is excessive—producing robust proof in assist of unambiguous human occupation—the websites in additional southern areas pointing to potential earlier human occupation present indicators of artifact mixing amongst a number of time durations.
“If humans managed to breach the continental ice sheets significantly before 13,000 years ago, there should be clear evidence for it in the form of at least some stratigraphically discrete archeological components with a relatively high artifact count. So far, no such evidence exists,” Surovell and colleagues wrote. “(Our) findings support the hypothesis that the first human arrival to the New World occurred by at least 14,200 years ago in Beringia and by approximately 13,000 years ago in the temperate latitudes of North America. Strong evidence for human presence before those dates has yet to be identified in the archaeological record.”
Specifically, the brand new evaluation in contrast the stratigraphic integrity of three websites argued to include proof of earlier human occupation—two in Texas and one in Idaho—with the integrity of websites in Alaska, Wyoming and Pennsylvania. The three websites claimed to be older than 13,000 years in the past all confirmed patterns of serious mixing, whereas the others didn’t.
The researchers had been unable to acquire detailed details about another websites in North and South America presupposed to include proof of human occupation earlier than 13,000 years in the past.
“Sites claimed to be older than 13,000 years ago are few, and data supporting their status as sites have been poorly disseminated,” Surovell and colleagues wrote. “Given the status of available data regarding these sites, we must question whether there are any sites in the Americas south of the ice sheets that exhibit an unambiguous and stratigraphically discrete cultural occupation with sufficient numbers of artifacts of clear human manufacture.”
The paper would not fully rule out the chance that people colonized the Americas at an earlier date. “But in the event that they did, they need to have produced stratigraphically discrete occupation surfaces, a few of which might be anticipated to have giant numbers of artifacts.
“That they did so in Beringia but failed to do so south of the continental glaciers suggests that either there was something fundamentally different about pre-Clovis human behavior and/or geomorphology south of the ice sheets, or that the evidence indicating the presence of humans south of the ice sheets has been misinterpreted,” the researchers wrote. “At a minimum, it shows that, when stratigraphically discrete occupations are not present, additional studies must be performed to demonstrate that stratigraphic integrity of association between artifacts and dated strata exist.”
Joining Surovell within the analysis had been UW colleagues Sarah Allaun, Robert Kelly, Marcel Kornfeld and Mary Lou Larson; Wyoming State Archaeologist Spencer Pelton; Barbara Crass and Charles Holmes, of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks; Joseph Gingerich, of Ohio University and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History; Kelly Graf, of Texas A&M University; and Kathryn Krasinski and Brian Wygal, each of Adelphi University.
Todd A. Surovell et al, Late date of human arrival to North America: Continental scale variations in stratigraphic integrity of pre-13,000 BP archaeological websites, PLOS ONE (2022). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0264092
University of Wyoming
Study challenges theories of earlier human arrival in Americas (2022, April 20)
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