Research Article

Late Upper Paleolithic occupation at Cooper’s Ferry, Idaho, USA, ~16,000 years ago

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Science  30 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6456, pp. 891-897
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax9830

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The early occupation of America

The Cooper's Ferry archaeological site in western North America has provided evidence for the pattern and time course of the early peopling of the Americas. Davis et al. describe new evidence of human activity from this site, including stemmed projectile points. Radiocarbon dating and Bayesian analysis indicate an age between 16,560 and 15,280 years before present. Humans therefore arrived in the Americas before an inland ice-free corridor had opened, so a Pacific coastal route was the probable entry route. The stemmed projectile points closely resemble those found in Upper Paleolithic Japan, also supporting the hypothesis of a coastal route.

Science, this issue p. 891

Abstract

Radiocarbon dating of the earliest occupational phases at the Cooper’s Ferry site in western Idaho indicates that people repeatedly occupied the Columbia River basin, starting between 16,560 and 15,280 calibrated years before the present (cal yr B.P.). Artifacts from these early occupations indicate the use of unfluted stemmed projectile point technologies before the appearance of the Clovis Paleoindian tradition and support early cultural connections with northeastern Asian Upper Paleolithic archaeological traditions. The Cooper’s Ferry site was initially occupied during a time that predates the opening of an ice-free corridor (≤14,800 cal yr B.P.), which supports the hypothesis that initial human migration into the Americas occurred via a Pacific coastal route.

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