Barely thirty years ago experts in the field of American Archeology would not admit to the presence of man anywhere on the continents of North and South America earlier than 12,000 years ago. American Upper Paleolithic archeology was not a part of the curriculum in the universities of America. During a class in European Prehistoric Archeology at the University of Oklahoma under Dr. Robert Bell, we were informed of his participation in an important dig at Sandia Cave near Albuquerque, N.M. Although the lower level of occupation was clearly dated at 27,000 B.C. (Hibben, 1941), the experts refused to recognize it (Haynes & Agonino, 1986; Preston, 1995, et al.). Thirty years later things have changed somewhat. Site after site has been discovered in the Americas accumulating reliable dates back to roughly 40,000 years ago.
After reports of the existence of numerous cave paintings began surfacing in 1963, a survey was taken in 1970 of the Säo Raimundo Nonato region of Brazil. Follow up surveys in 1973 and 1975 turned up more than 100 decorated rock-shelters. Done mostly in red, yellow, black and white (with some gray), figures of deer, jaguars, armadillos, lizards, rheas, crabs, humans, trees, and various abstract signs have all been catalogued. Excavation of the sites was first initiated in 1978 by Brazilian archeologists from the Paulista Museum, lead by Niede Guidon of the University of Säo Paulo.
Today over 300 archeological sites have been discovered (most with rock art), captivating the interest of no less than 35 specialists in the fields of archaeology, geology, ecology, as well as other related disciplines. Säo Raimundo Nonato is described as lying "in one of the most beautiful and wild regions of South America." (Guidon, 1987) The natives call the region caat-inga, or "White Forest".
The region is littered with charcoal-containing hearths. "Charcoal samples from the hearths yielded a consistently ordered series of twelve carbon 14 dates that ranged from 32,000 to 17,000 years ago." (Ibid.) The most ancient dates were obtained from red marks found on chunks that fell from the rock walls, becoming embedded within layers dating from 32,000 to 27,000 years old. At another nearby cave, Toca do Sitio do Meio, artifacts dated from 15,000 to 12,000 years B.P. These discoveries alone illustrate that humans had been occuping South America at least as long as 32,000 years.
In 1991 Prof. Baffa from the Physics Department of the University of Säo Paulo at Ribeirao Preto, dated a layer of calcite that was covering two red anthropomorphic figures at the site of Toca da Bastiana. The calcite dated to 17,000 years old. (Guidon & Delibrias, 1986)
Even more recently Prof. Guidon noted that calcite was formed on rockwall paintings at least 36,000 years old. Such a figure reinforces the results obtained by archaeologists at Serra da Capivara (e.g. Pedra Furada.) using the C-14 method. (Guidon, La Salva, et al., 2003) This serves to push activities of human beings in Brazil back to at least 36,000 years ago.
Over 300 sites have been found within the park, the majority consisting of rock and wall paintings (like the one on the right) dating from 30,000-50,000 years B.P.
The fact that prehistoric human activity seems to have taken place earlier in South America than in North America places the Bering Strait Only hypothesis in grave doubt. During an interview Guidon bravely supported the theory that certain prehistoric Europeans may have crossed the Atlantic Ocean to populate Americaan idea which is gaining evidential support almost daily. (Bellos, 2000)
Archeologists are slowly beginning to realize that to understand American prehistory, European prehistory must also be considered. The Solutreans of Spain, and possibly the Magdalenians, are now believed to have crossed the Atlantic using the southern Equatorial current and to have entered the Caribbean arena 18,000-12,000 years ago. From there they continued onto the American continents, eventually spreading both north and south.
Dr. Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, states: "We now know that human beings learned to sail 50,000 years before the present. Mankind settled in Australia then and it was not linked by any land bridge to Asia. It could only have been reached by boat. Clearly, we had mastered sailing tens of thousands of years before America was colonized, so we should not be surprised by the idea that people took boat trips across the Atlantic 18,000 years ago" (Stanford & Bradley, 2004)
Dr. Tom D. Dillehay (1999) of the University of Kentucky, writes: "It is likely that people arrived in the Southern Hemisphere no later than 15,000 to 14,000 years ago." One such site has been excavated at Monte Verde, Chile, 500 miles south of Santiago. Evidence was gathered and carefully analyzed over the last two decades by a team of American and Chilean archeologists led by Dillehay. Early in 2006 a group of archeologists, including several of Monte Verde's most rigorous critics, visited the site and inspected the artifacts, coming away totally convinced.
In his report of the site visit, Dr. Alex W. Barker, chief curator of the Dallas Museum of Natural History, said: "While there were very strongly voiced disagreements about different points, it rapidly became clear that everyone was in fundamental agreement about the most important question of all. Monte Verde is real. It's old. And it's a whole new ball game." And according to Michael B. Collins of the University of Texas at Austin, Monte Verde is "a bona fide archeological assemblage, it is very old, and it has profound implications for American prehistory." (Collins, 1999)
As in Europe, these people didn't live in caves, but in "frame houses". Excavations turned up wooden planks of which the houses were built; also logs with attached pieces of hide that probably helped to insulate these domiciles. Pieces of wooden poles were also unearthed. Bi-facial stone projectile points were found, along with other artifacts, such as choppers, scrapers, etc. Amazingly, some meat survived in the peat bog, which DNA tests proved to be mastodon. (Dillehay, 1999)
Dr. Mario Pino, a geologist at the Southern University of Chile in Valdivia, has apparently discovered a much earlier occupation level only hundreds of feet away on the north bank of Chinchihuapi creek. "There's no doubt about the ageit's 33,000 years old," Pino declared. (Wilson, 1998) When independent archeologists visited Monte Verde to authenticate the younger portions of the early man site, they also examined the material from the nearby, deeper, 33,000-year-old layer. Dating of this strata is based on a number of Carbon-14 tests of charcoal recovered from hearths. (Ibid.)
Dr. David J. Meltzer, an archeologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, who was a member of the review committee that endorsed the younger site, considers the older layer as "really intriguing," but cautions against any firm conclusions until a more complete investigation has been made. Excavations over a much larger area could provide more artifacts and samples for radiocarbon analysis. If these should support the preliminary findings, the archeological community will be quicker to accept it than they were of the first Monte Verde discovery.
The finds are nothing short of amazing, since such a date approaches the date that Cro-Magnon first appeared on the other side of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, little skeletal material has yet been found, so no conclusions have been reached as to the ultimate origins of humans who occupied this area of South America. If human remains are eventually unearthed, genetic science will no doubt be brought into play in determining such origins.
The once prevalent idea that earliest humans populated North America only from a point of origin in the Arctic North, moving southward along an "ice-free corridor" between the continental glaciers, is no longer supported by the known distribution of sites. Pre-Clovis most probably entered the western hemisphere from the direction of the Caribbean, before dispersing into North and South America. Since massive land areas exposed during the ice age are now submerged, much archeological material remains underwater making the exact time of entry into the Americas difficult to ascertain. (Stanford & Bradley, 2004)
The above admission opens up several other problems. Archeology is beginning to demonstrate clearly that ice age mankind was getting to the shores of the Americas. But to cross a 3,000 mile-wide ocean requires some technology and logistics that are not being faced. It takes months to cross a body of water as large as the Atlantic, which necessitates food, water and other supplies, which in turn require a sufficient amount of onboard storage space. Therefore, we are not talking about small flimsy boats made of animal skins, and a crew of two. A crew of at least a dozen is far more likely.
We are, therefore, postulating a ship at least as large as the average Viking vessel, or possibly as large as ancient Phoenician warships. Such would need to be propelled by sails or other means, which would necessitate a sizeable crew. Navigational knowledge and techniques (with the necessary instrumentation) must be assumed. The alternative to this is to admit the presence of a reasonably large land mass (and maybe some islands) in the mid-Atlantic during the ice age to shorten the trip.
And we shouldn't forget the archeological and anthropological evidence that several ice age "invasions" of Western Europe and Northwest Africa were originating from some unknown location to the west of those land masses (i.e., in the North Atlantic Ocean) during this same time-frame. It seems more reasonable to postulate the presence of a mid-Atlantic land mass with shorter ocean voyages to the east and the west than to theorize about long ocean voyages from starting points on the opposite side of the globe, when the origin of these well-documented Upper Paleolithic cultures point to such a source.
Archeological sites have been discovered in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina, dating back 18,000-15,000 years which demonstrate that ocean-going Solutreans may have first entered America from the direction of the Atlantic. Discussion of these and other Solutrean-Clovis connections took place during a recent convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Sometime earlier Dennis Stanford and Bruce Bradley had realized it was necessary to find artifacts in the Americas to bridge the gap in chronology between the Solutrean and Clovis cultures. So they scoured Clovis sites across the continent, places where other archeologists had been digging for years. Their first success came from a site called Cactus Hill, in Virginia, a point that resembled the Solutrean styleand it dated far earlier than the Clovis points. (Stanford & Bradley, 2004)
During the PBS interview, Dr. Stanford stated: "Here we have a projectile point from a feature that dates right at 15,900 years or 16,000 years ago, which is clearly right in the middle between Clovis and Solutrean. And what's really exciting about it is that the technology here is very similar to Solutrean. In fact it's closer to Solutrean than Clovis where you can see that it's in a progression between Solutrean and Clovis, so you have Solutrean, Cactus Hill and Clovis."
According to an interview by A. J. Hostetler, Newpaper Journalist (published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 11, 2006), Stanford stated that his "testable model" rests at least in part on recent findings of early human settlements along the East Coast, including one possibly 17,000 years old along Virginia's Nottoway River called Cactus Hill.
Dr. Eske Willerslev, director of the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, has reported to Science Daily (20 Oct 2011) that a pre-Clovis, man-made spear point had been discovered by archeologists 30 years ago embedded in the remains of a mastodon dating at least a thousand years before the arrival of the Clovis culture in North America. The original discovery took place at the Manis site in Washington state.
Professor Willerslev's team, in collaboration with Michael Waters' team at the Center for the Study of the First Americans, University of Texas A&M, has finally established a firm date of 13,800 B.P. for the kill by the convergence of no less than five separate dating methods. (Waters, Stafford, et al., 2008) Included in Willerslev's report was the following significant statement:
The Gault Site, located in central Texas about 40 miles north of Austin, is considered one of the premier archeological discoveries in North America. James E. Pearce, known as the Father of Texas archeology, excavated the site in 1929. It has been more recently excavated by Drs. Michael B. Collins and Thomas R. Hester of the Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin. (The issue of ice age Monumental Architecture within the Americas is dealt with separately on my Archeology page.)
The Gault materials tend to push "Clovis" back at least another 1000 yearsback to 13,500 B.P. and beyondand so far represents 65% of all known "Clovis" artifacts. (Collins & Hester, 2001) Recent excavations have brought to light incised stones, a true rarity in North America. Some archeologists see a "link" with the Upper Paleolithic cultures of Europe (Collins, n.d.; Wisner, 2000, et al.). Personally, I must confess that I cannot discern a difference between some of the Gault site points and those of the Solutreans.
In addition, the Gault site overthrows the long-held idea among archeologists that early Americans were no more than nomadic mammoth hunters. Besides being a very large site, the depth of the deposits and the abundance of artifactsover a million so farstrongly indicate an occupation spanning several hundred years (Collins & Hester, 2001). "Instead of a new group of people exploring an unknown land, we seem to see a people thoroughly familiar with their surroundings" (University of Texas, 2001). Once again, deep tests are bringing up evidence of an even earlier occupation.
Sandia Cave (Hibben, 1941), The Lewisville site (Krieger, 1957), The Gault site (Collins & Hester, 2001), Meadowcroft Rockshelter (Adovasio, et al., 1990), Cactus Hill (Dillehay, 1989), Monte Verde (Adovasio & Pedler, 1997), Pedra Furada (Collins, 1999), the Manis site (1978), and numerous other more recent archeological discoveries, are beginning to fill in the chronological "void" between the time of the Solutreans in Europe and Clovis in America, leaving little doubt that human populations have been living in the Americas for at least 40,000 years. (Dillehay, 1999, et al.)
During the PBS interview, Stanford also noted that during the ice age a northern route to the Americas was also possible. He said that ice age fishermen and hunters "sailed the Atlantic in tiny boats made of animal skins 18,000 years ago and colonized the eastern United States." (Stanford & Bradley, 2004)
"The gap between Europe and America was greatly reduced," Stanford said. "It could have been quite feasible for fishermen and whale and seal hunters to sail around the southern rim of the packs of sea-ice that covered the North Atlantic and reach land around the Banks of Newfoundland."
Such a theory (allowing only "tiny boats") at least allows numerous stop-offs for shooting game and collecting ice to provide fresh drinking water. Since at present the possible existence of a relatively large Mid-Atlantic land mass is denied, such a possibility (however bleak) seems to be born more of necessity than of reason.
At that time the planet was in the grip of the ice age, and much of its high northern and southern latitudes were desolate. According to Stanford, "Such a journey would represent one of the most astonishing migrations ever undertakenthe Earth wastelands blasted by storms and blizzards." On the other hand, much of the planet's water was locked away in icecaps and glaciers, causing sea levels to be much lower than today's. This exposure of continental shelf would trim the open-ocean gaps to a minimum.
Stanford's theoryoutlined at a recent archeology conference in Santa Fe, N.M.is based on discoveries indicating ancient American people were culturally far more like the Stone Age tribes of France, Spain and Ireland than the Asian people whom scientists had previously thought to be the sole prehistoric settlers of North America. But what about their physical characteristics?
The skull of the 15 year-old girl known as Minnesota Woman. Her remains were found beneath the layers laid down much later in the area by glacial Lake Pelican in Minnesota which had formed near the end of the ice age. (Blegen, 1975) Notice the "European-like" features of this specimen. She has been tentatively dated at 15,000-20,000 B.P. Another similar find has been christened Eva de Naharon, a 13,600 year old skeleton found in an underwater cave near Tulum, Mexico.
The skull of another young woman, nicknamed Luzia, has been dated at 11,500 years ago. After two decades in storage at the National Museum in Brazil, Brazilian scientists identified the fossilized cranium to be "the oldest human remains ever recovered in the Western Hemisphere." It is now only one of several such fossils. When first unearthed, the skull was separated from the skeleton, but was in good condition. Surprisingly, this particular fossil exhibited Negoid characteristics (Williams, 2003).
Dr. Walter Neves, a craniometric specialist who re-examined the skull in 1995, theorizes she came across the Pacific from Southeast Asia (via Australia), even though the location of the find (near the Atlantic shoreline) would seem to favor an Atlantic crossing. Luzia herself was originally discovered in 1975 in a rock shelter by a joint French-Brazilian expedition that was working not far from Belo Horizonte, Brazil's third-largest city.
The Luzia skull completely changed the accepted view of South American prehistory. According to Dr. Andre Prous, a French archeologist at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, the Luzia skull is having a profound effect on the way the first settling of South America is seen by science (Rohter, 1999). For instance, it is helping pull American archaeology out of the mire of "Clovis-first" thinking.
More than 40 skeletons have now been found in Lagoa Santa from the same period. They have been buried in an organized fashion and researchers believe they have discovered an ancient graveyard. It is hoped that Carbon dating on a number of specimens can confirm earlier estimations as to the date of Luzia (Rohter, 1999).
British scientists have analyzed an American skeleton of a 26-year-old woman who died during the last ice age on the edge of prehistoric Lake Texcoco which once existed in the Valley of Mexico. The remains were dated at ca. 13,000 B.P. by Liverpool's John Moores University and Oxford's Research Laboratory of Archaeology. She has been christened Peñon Woman by her discoverers.
The most intriguing aspect of the skull is that it is very European in appearance (Conner, 2002). Upon examining the bones, Dr. Silvia Gonzalez, an archaeologist working at John Moores University and the leader of the research team, found the skull to be "dolichocephalic"; that is, long and narrow, like those of western Europeans of today, not short and wide like the mongols of Asia. However, the origin of the people represented here remains in debate.
Dr. James C. Chatters, a University of Washington specialist in human osteology, while investigating what was originally thought to be a modern homicide, found himself analyzing the bones of a 9,000 year old skeleton. Upon examination, the 5 feet 9 inches tall specimen had "characteristics that are similar to those of Europeans." (Chatters, 2000) According to Chatters, the skull is dolichocranic (long-headed) rather than brachycranic (round-headed), and exhibits "fairly prominent brow ridges." Now known as Kennewick Man, this skeleton possesses many of the characteristics of our typical Atlantean Cro-Magnons.
The 9,000 year-old skull of Kennewick Man, found near the Columbia River in Washington.
Dr. Douglas W. Owsley (Online), Division Head for Physical Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution, has recently described the Kennewick skull, as well as certain other ice age American skulls, as being "long-headed and having a short face" (i.e., "disharmonism"). Dr. Göran Burenhult (Online), professor of archeology at Gotland University in Sweden comments:
On 9 September 2004 during the international "Early Man in America Seminar" in Mexico City, an archeological team from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History reported one of the most significant finds in recent American archeological history. Three well-preserved skeletons were discovered in underwater caves off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula. Archeologist Arturo Gonzalez led the dive team. The skeletons were found in 65-foot-deep water. Charcoal samples were recovered and sent to the University of California in Riverside, where they were carbon-dated at over 13,000 B.P. Such a find as this is strongly indicative of an "Atlantic" connection.
Recent genetic studies, as well as an intensive reevaluation of Mexico's Toloquilla footprints, indicate that the earliest human migrations to the Americas began at least 40,000 years ago.
On the other hand, actual skulls found in North America dating back into the ice age are relatively few in number. If Atlantis did extend eastward toward Spain to a point "facing" (or "opposite") Cadiz as Plato says, the distance from the western shores of Atlantis to the Americas would have been at least ten times as great. This could be the reason for the minimal amounts of skeletal material and archeological sites in the Americas when compared to Western Europe
It should be noticed that it is usually the very oldest American skulls which exhibit the Cro-Magnon trait of "disharmonism" (the short-faced dolichocephalics); rather than the more plentiful broad-faced, round-headed (brachycephalic) skullsmongolian types who entered the Americas from Asia via the Bering land bridge. No one can say with any confidence who arrived here first.
It's rapidly becoming obvious that there was no "First American". The Americas were being populated as far back as 30,000-40,000 years ago by diverse people from all over the world. Today's anthropologists are finally admitting to "a surprising degree of diversity" among ancient skeletons scattered over the two continents. "In addition, signs of violence seen in the bones would seem to indicate the presence of different and competing peoples." (Morell, 1998; Owsley & Jantz, 1997, et al.)
The proximity of the western shores of Atlantis to the American continent does not appear to enter the equation among most academics. But anthropological remains (bones, skulls, or nearly complete skeletons) tell us much about the kinds of people who were coming here during the ice age. On my Anthropology page I mentioned that Cro-Magnoid skulls have been found in the Americas, and throughout this website I have presented evidence supporting the theory that the particular type of man known as Cro-Magnon originated in Atlantis.
Drs. Stanford and Bradley point out important discoveries in genetics which have been made by researchers at Emory University and the Universities of Rome and Hamburg. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is inherited exclusively from the mother, normally contains four markers called haplogroups, labeled A, B, C, and D. These four are shared by 95 percent of Native Americans.
Recently, however, the same genetics team identified a fifth haplogroup, called X, which is present in about 20,000 modern Native Americans. Scientists have also done some testing on pre-Columbian Amerind skeletal remains from before 1300, and found haplogroup X in the same proportion as in modern Amerind populations. A most interesting fact is that haplogroup X is most prominent in European populations, but nearly absent in Asian.
No sooner had this hit the airwaves when geneticists began finding traces, however small, of haplogroup X among the peoples of Asia. Reports soon arose among genetic experts that, yes indeed, the X factor had been discovered there. Shortly afterward, minor variations began to play a part.
So far, it appears that haplogroup X (including its variants) is to be found scattered among people living in Europe, Asia Minor, the Near East and North Africa. A relatively small number of people in the Altai region of Siberia have X also. (Derenko, et al., 2001), although geneticists find this occurrence to be of more recent origin (i.e. more recently than 5000 BC). Some X has been found in Mongolia also, but it's said to be "not commom in modern Asia". (Scientific American Frontiers, 2008). It appears that the haplogroup X has not yet been found in the populations of central Asia.
Haplogroup X is turning out to have so many variations (X1, X1a, X1b, X2, X2a, X2b, X2c, X2d, X2e, X2f) that a sort of "genetic chaos" seems to be emerging. Not being a specialist in genetics, I will leave it to the experts to try to sort this out. Unless this state of affairs can be better defined, no one group of colonizers of ice age America can be declared as "correct" to the exclusion of others. This leaves Paleolithic Europeans as one of the several possible candidates.
It has recently been admitted by some geneticists that the founders of Native America may have included those of "Caucasian" ancestry. (Brown, et al., 1998) Many admit that the presence of X in North America opens up the possibility of an early migration westward from Europe. (Havelock, 2004).
No doubt, the controversy raises perplexing problems, especially for those who insist that all Native Americans came across the Bering Land Bridge (and "political correctness" can also stand in the way of objective study of human remains), but genetic scientists hope to eventually provide answers by sequencing the Mongolian haplogroup X mtDNA to see if it's an intermediate form between European X and Native American X.
However, the possibility that some portions of the Americas were populated from the direction of the Atlantic Ocean must now be considered. To refuse this is to ignore the several non-Mongoloid, European-looking skulls which have been found in both North and South America (the total number of ice age, Native American skulls can be counted on one's fingers). In all fairness such a migration must be included as part of the overall equation.
In addition to the European Marker X in North America, the Araucanians of Chile (most likely arriving in the Americas 18,000-12,000 years ago) carry apparent "Caucasian" genes. For instance, it is common for Araucanians to have curly reddish brown hair and green eyes (Bonnichsen et al., n.d.).
Comprehensive studies of blood types also show that Mayans, Incas and Araucanians are all virtually 100% group O, with 5-20% of the population being rhesus negative. This was the blood type of the original Europeans and stems from Cro-Magnon man (Kurlansky, 2001). The races that possess this blood type are races of the Americas, the Canary Islands, the Berbers, the Basques, and Gaelic Kelts.
I have long suspected that the Araucanians of Chile might be of Cro-Magnon descent, since several Cro-Magnoid skulls have been found in that area, and have also wondered if the language of the Araucanians is in any way related to the Berber-Ibero-Basque Language Complex. It is my hope that some linguist familiar with the native languages of South America will do a study on those languages from that point of view.
We could have descendants of ice age Atlanteans scattered throughout the massive continents of North and South America. All modern scientific theories choose to ignore the possibility of a large Cro-Magnon-populated land mass (Atlantis) lying in the central North Atlantic, which could easily have provided migrations of Cro-Magnon populations in both directions (to Europe and America) during the ice age.
Glossary of Terms
Adovasio, J. M., J. Donahue, and R. Stuckenrath, "The Meadowcroft Rockshelter Radiocarbon Chronology 1975-1990," American Antiquity, No. 55, 1990.