In DepthArchaeology

Tools suggest people reached Americas early

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Science  24 Jul 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6502, pp. 355-356
DOI: 10.1126/science.369.6502.355

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Summary

At first glance, Chiquihuite Cave in Mexico's Zacatecas state is an unlikely place to find signs of early humans, let alone evidence that might change the story of the peopling of the Americas. It sits a daunting 1000 meters above a valley, overlooking a desert landscape in the mountains north of Zacatecas. Getting there requires a 4- or 5-hour uphill scramble over a moonscape of jagged boulders. But in the soil below the cave's floor, a team led by Autonomous University of Zacatecas, University City Siglo XXI, archaeologist Ciprian Ardelean dug up almost 2000 stone objects they think are tools. By combining state-of-the-art dating methods, the team found that the oldest were deposited 26,000 years ago—more than 10,000 years before any other known human occupation in the region. That was the height of the last ice age, when ice covered much of North America, and long before researchers thought the Americas were settled. But some other researchers remain skeptical, in part because they aren't convinced the artifacts are tools.

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