News FocusArchaeology

Texas Site Confirms Pre-Clovis Settlement of the Americas

Science  25 Mar 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6024, pp. 1512
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6024.1512

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Summary

Near the headwaters of a small creek, a group of hunter-gatherers made their camp and began to craft stone tools, leaving thousands of sharp stone flakes and chips discarded on the ground. At one time or another, similar scenes have played out almost the world over. But the remarkable thing about this one, as detailed on page 1599 of this week's issue of Science, is that it happened near Buttermilk Creek, Texas—about 15,500 years ago. That's long before the Clovis hunters, once thought to be the very first people in America, had appeared. The ancient tools also offer a first glimpse into how the distinctive fluted Clovis points may have developed over millennia. Although some previous claims of pre-Clovis artifacts have been controversial, other archaeologists say the new research is highly convincing.

  • * Heather Pringle is a contributing editor at Archaeology magazine.