Fully modern humans in America 70,000 years ago?

SMWM_Gräberstraße_-_Bleisarg_2.jpgPhoto By Wolfgang Sauber (Self-photographed) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Years ago when I started looking into mis-placed artifacts in America, things like the Chief Joseph Tablet, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be weird if modern humans and civilization started in America and spread across the globe from here?”

The Hopis do, after all, have an historical account of the Four Worlds. After human’s emergence into the fourth world, they went out to all four directions in search of a homeland. According to the Native American elder who first told me this story, some never returned the Four Corners area, but went instead to settle other lands, other continents. This is not the only Native American story placing human origins in the Americas.

Of course I immediately dismissed the whole idea as crazy, as worthy of a good novel plot perhaps, but crazy. Why? Because the theory that humans could only have crossed the Bering Land Bridge into America between 13,000 and 16,000 years ago is a solidly established “fact.”

 

But is it?

For years I was intrigued by “finds” of people like Virginia Steen-McIntyre. In the 1960s she excavated the site at Hueyatlaco where she found human tools at a presumed “kill site.” The stone tools could not be dated, but the strata in which they were found was “Uranium dated” to 260,000 +/- 60,000 years ago.

Humans making and using tools in America 200,000 years ago? One discovery does not make a full-fledged theory. The tools and bone fragments could have eroded into that layer of the earth. (Think about it. A flood comes along and erodes the dirt into a deep gorge. Among the debris washed into the gorge are the remnants of a “kill site” so the tools fall into the gorge before it is covered over again.)

Still, the find does make you question…..

My interest was renewed a few months ago when Graham Hancock put out a call for information that might support his new theory about modern human origination in America. I started researching my old interest again. Maybe my crazy thought had merit after all.

That brings me to the out-of-print book I was reading last night: American Genesis: The startling new theory that the first fully modern men made their world debut in North America, by Jeffrey Goodman, Ph.D..

It is one thing to find human formed tools—it is another to find the remains of fully-modern humans.

In his book, Goodman presents not one but many finds supporting human habitation in America long before the Bering land bridge.

 

 

The Santa-Rosa fire-pit:

Did you know that radio-carbon dating only takes one back back 40,000 years because, if it is older than 40,000 years there is no more carbon-14 to measure? I didn’t.

It seems a fire-pit with a roasted wooly mammoth has been excavated in the island of Santa Rosa and the coals have no carbon-14 to date. That means the fire was over 40,000 years old. Was it an accidental fire roasting the animal? Unlikely as the pachyderm was found in a fully formed “oven” of layered wood planks and rocks. Beside the pit were flaked tools used to butcher the animal. (Goodman, 1981, pp72-73.)

Unless Bigfoot did that, I think we can safely say humans did.

So we know habitation in the Americas went back at least 40,000 years. But how much further back?

 

Enter Racemization dating (the technical stuff you can skip)

Amino acid racemization dating was developed by Dr. Jeffrey Bada of Scripps Institute to date very old fossils. It fell out of favor because so many factors affect the results, most of them accelerating the process of amino acid decay and, therefore give older dates.

However, when Bada applied the technique to skulls found in America, he first tested a sample of the strata near the skull and then tested the skull. When the strata, which has a known date, agrees with the skull, one can be confident in the results.

Bada also used the technique with skulls dated by Carbon-14 and got the same results as the carbon-14.

 

So how old are skulls In America?

We have human skulls dated to 44,000 (the La Jolla skull fragment) and 48,000 years old (the Del Mar skull). These dates are firm according to Bada.

And then there is the Sunnyvale Girl dated to 70,000 years ago by racemization. (Bada does say there was little material to test so the dates are not as firm as for the Del Mar and La Jolla skulls.) Sunnyvale Girl was excavated in San Jose in 1972.

 

But hold onto your hats there

Uranium dating by Bischoff and Rosenbauer (1981) give a date for the Sunnyvale Girl of 8300 to 9000 years ago, well within the Bering land bridge hypothesis.

Disappointed? Don’t be. It seems bones can pick-up uranium after they are buried (Bada and Finkel, 1982). So that is not conclusive, either.

Unfortunately, this is where the matter rests. Search as I did, I could find no further analysis of either the Del Mar Skull nor the Sunnyvale Girl.

But I did find this picture:

unspecified.pngPhoto from New Scientist, July 14, 1983

Is it my imagination—or is that the skull of a giant? Giants in America–that is another blog post altogether!

And so is Goodman’s theory that modern humans migrated out of America, not into it. Hint: the Del Mar skull maybe 70,000 years old and, according to Goodman, the oldest Old World remains of Homo Sapiens are 35,000 years old. I still have to Google that one.

 

References:

Full Disclosure: Opening photo is not an American skeleton

Goodman, Jeffrey (1981). American Genesis: The startling new theory that the first fully modern men made their world debut in North America. New York: Summit Books. 

Also see web addresses imbedded in the blog.

 

Hindsight is 20-20, right?

IMG_1636-2.JPGPhoto: Peyote Stitch Amulet Bags by AE

 

Looking back, I should have named this blog Weaving It Together.

As happens to all of us, I cycle through periods of different interests. When I started this blog, I was learning to knit and thinking of all the possibilities it entailed.

But now my thumbs are sore from the repetitive motion, I have done over a dozen sweaters, as many scarves plus blankets and ponchos, and mastered the tension of my stitches enough to feel “accomplished.” Yes, I’ll keep knitting, but not as obsessively.

To give poor thumbs a rest, I decided to return to seed-bead weaving. I like the wider range of colors, the different textures available and, well, the fact I can be more creative with beads than with yarns.

Now, having finished a gift for a friend in the UK, I am embarking on my next beaded piece.

The first step in planning a piece is to get your colors together so I spent a few satisfying hours going through my bead stash this morning. In so doing, I discovered a bead and fiber piece I did many years ago.

IMG_1638.JPGBeads and Fibers by AE

I had stashed it away in a bag because I felt it was not very good. But in hindsight, and to my surprise all these years later, maybe it’s not so bad after all. It was my first try at bead and fiber work and you can’t know everything when you try something for the first time. Yes, I can see where it needs improvement—some of the beads are too heavy for the piece and the threads were pulled too tight, causing the spaces for the beads to shrink so it bunches where it should lie flat. These are all challenges to overcome and now I look forward to trying another one. I even have the beads ready to go:

IMG_1637.JPG

 

As for the seed bead project I am starting now, here is the palette:

IMG_1621-a.jpg

I won’t use all those colors…not by a long-shot. But I like to be prepared. Besides, the beads speak to you as you work–in a way yarns do not. So, I want a lot of them chatting together.

The Dashka Stone Map: 120 Million Years Old

creatormap.jpg
 Photo Attribution: Irregular Times

 

Here is what we know:

  • The stone comes from Chandra in Bashkortostan, part of the Russian Federation.
  • The stone is about 6 inches thick.
    • The bottom layer is cement or ceramic.
    • The middle layer is diopside glass enriched with silicon to make it stronger.
    • The top layer is porcelain which is what gives it the “sheen” from diffusing the light and adds a layer of protection.
  • The stone weighs about a ton.
  • The stone is hard to date. Two shells were found in it, one dated to 120 millions years, the other to 500 million. (The older one was most certainly petrified at the time the slab was created. So the younger one may have been too.) Russian experts are going with 120 million years old, but I have seen a date of 50 million years. Either date would be exceptional. Another estimate puts it at 3000 years.
  • The stone has an uncanny resemblance to a region of the Ural Mountains in Russia.
  • Researchers at both Bashkirskiy State University and Moscow State University are conducting research on the stone.
  • Some reports indicate this is one of several (some sources say up to 200) such stones.

 

This is what Professor Alexander Chuvyrov of Bashkirskiy State University is saying:

At first, we could not imagine the map was so ancient. Happily, relief of today’s Bashkiria has not changed so much within millions of years. We could identify Ufa Height, while Ufa Canyon is the main point of our proofs, because we carried out geological studies and found its track where it must be according to the ancient map. Displacement of the canyon happened because of tectonic stabs which moved from East. The group of Russian and Chinese specialists in the field of cartography, physics, mathematics, geology, chemistry, and Old Chinese language managed to precisely find out that the slab contains the map of Ural region, with rivers Belya, Ufimka, Sutolka,” – Alexander Chuvyrov said while showing the lines on the stone to the journalists. – You can see Ufa Canyon – the break of the earth’s crust, stretched out from the city of Ufa to the city of Sterlitimak. At the moment, Urshak River runs over the former canyon.”

 

As shown below, Professor Chuvyrov believes there are canals, dams and other environmental alterations depicted on the map.

creatormap.jpgdashkastone.jpgAttribution: Irregular Times

Further, Professor Chuvyrov believes he has found inscriptions on the stone, but as yet these are undecipherable.

Primary arguments against the stone as a map:

  • The stone could be due to natural layering—not a man-made process. (If so, this would be the only example of this particular layering of sediments.)
  • An advanced civilization with air travel would be required to make it and we have no evidence of this. (Ah, but we may have just such artifacts. See next blog for other artifacts reported to be millions to billions of years old.)

When I first saw the Dashka Stone map, I thought it must be a natural stone that coincidentally suggested an area of the Urals. Now I am not so sure and do think it was human-made. But, whether 120 million or 3000 years old, it is remarkable as it does suggest air travel and monumental earth works—dams and canals—we would not expect to find in that area or era.

 

 

Sources: