Friday, January 15, 2021

Early peoples in Texas - 15,000 years ago

A 15,000-year-old stemmed point. (Center for the Study of the First Americans, Texas A&M University) (unknown/Center for the Study of the First Americans, Texas A&M University)

Continent’s oldest spear points provide new clues about the first Americans
Washington Post By Sarah Kaplan Oct. 24, 2018

For as long as Buttermilk Creek has wound its way through Texas Hill Country, its spring-fed waters have carved through the region’s dark, dense clays, cutting away layers of earth to expose the rock — & the history — below.

Here, archaeologists have uncovered evidence of a human settlement stretching back as far as 15,500 years: hammer stones & broken knives, fragments of fractured tools. And now, scientists say, the Buttermilk Creek complex has offered up the oldest known spearheads in North America.


The new “projectile points,” reported this week in the journal Science Advances, come in two unusual shapes — a fact that geologist Mike Waters, who oversaw the excavation, found both “bizarre” & “really exciting.” The find adds to the evidence that the first people arrived in the Americas earlier than researchers thought, even as it raises new questions about who those people were & how they made their epic migration into the continent.


“This is a really fascinating paper,” said Jennifer Raff, an anthropological geneticist at the University of Kansas who was not involved in the new study. “It’s filling in some of the gaps in the archaeological record regarding the Clovis complex & the histories of the very first peoples in the Americas.


If the projectile point was the cellphone of the Pleistocene — an omnipresent technology that shaped cultures & defined daily life — the Clovis tools were the iPhone X. These points, named for the city in New Mexico where they were first found, featured a fluted bottom & rounded sides tapering to a sharp point.


The distinctive spearheads are scattered throughout the rock record between 10,000 & 13,500 years ago, from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains & as far south as Venezuela. The tools are so ubiquitous that for nearly a century, archaeologists thought that the Clovis tradition represented the first people to arrive in the Americas.


But research in recent decades has revealed archaeological sites much older than Clovis, & genetic analyses of modern Native Americans suggest their ancestors crossed a land bridge from Asia to Alaska about 20,000 years ago, then migrated down the Pacific coast between 20,000 & 15,000 years before present.


So who exactly were these early Americans?


The new points uncovered at Buttermilk Creek may offer a clue, said Waters, who directs the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M University. Because tools are so essential to the tasks of survival — hunting, cooking, building, killing — they can say a great deal about the people who wielded them.


In more than 10 years of excavations at his site, Waters & his colleagues have found Clovis points in a rock layer dating to about 13,000 years ago. Below that, in older rocks, they uncovered scores of stone point fragments, but no whole spearheads. It was difficult to know if they were looking at older Clovis artifacts, or something entirely different.


Then, in 2015, the archaeologists uncovered two perfectly preserved artifacts: One triangular point, which resembles a predator’s sharp tooth, & one lobe-shaped projectile with a tapered, or “stemmed,” bottom. With these whole points as models, Waters’s team was able to make sense of the 10 additional fragments they collected. They seemed subtly but significantly different from Clovis & other toolmaking traditions — neither a clear ancestor to the later technology, nor an obvious competitor.


“I just thought, ‘Holy cow,’” Waters recalled. “Whenever you see something for the first time that you didn’t expect, it’s always very exciting & exhilarating.”


Radiocarbon dating of the soils where the points were found suggested they were made between 13,500 & 15,500 years ago — offering a significant piece of archaeological evidence for a migration into the Americas that predates Clovis.


But the points also raise new questions, Waters said: Were the Clovis people descendants of these early inhabitants who came up with a new toolmaking technique? Or did they migrate separately into the continent before scattering their tools across the Americas? “We’re just beginning to answer that,” Waters said.


Skye Gilham, a forensic anthropologist who is a member of the Blackfeet tribe in northern Montana, said that recent archaeological & genetic research has been helpful in establishing a scientific link between the first Americans & their descendants living today. Findings like Waters', which provide evidence for her people’s long history in the Americas, have helped ensure the return of native remains to their communities. “We have said that we have always been here, our homeland,” Gilham said. Archaeology & genetics, she said, “reaffirm" that.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Claim that Evidence that 1st Americans came from the Pacific Coast

New Evidence Bolsters Theory That 1st Americans Arrived by the Pacific Coast
Gizmodo.com  by George Dvorsky  8/29/19

Archaeological evidence excavated in western Idaho suggests humans were in the region well over 15,000 years ago—prior to the opening of the massive ice sheets that blocked entrance into North America via the Bering land bridge. It’s further evidence that the continent’s first people arrived by traveling along the Pacific coast.


Prior to the Late Upper Paleolithic, humans had established a presence on every habitable continent on the planet—except North and South America. A gigantic and impenetrable obstruction known as the Cordilleran Ice Sheet blocked entry from Siberia into Alaska, preventing human migration into the New World.


But as the last great Ice Age ended, so too did this colossal barrier. Around 14,800 years ago, the Cordilleran Ice Sheet separated from its neighboring Laurentide Ice Sheet, creating an ice-free corridor that extended from Beringia through to what is now the Dakotas. This dramatic change in the environment has led archaeologists to surmise that the earliest migrants to North America arrived by traversing this corridor, in what’s referred to, appropriately enough, as the Ice-Free Corridor Hypothesis.


Trouble is, emerging archaeological and genetic evidence is increasingly pointing to an arrival date in North America prior to 14,800 years ago, leading to the Coastal Migration Hypothesis. Instead of traveling through the interior, this theory proposes a route in which the first settlers of North America traveled south along the Pacific coast, eventually surpassing the southernmost extent of the ice sheets.


New research published today in Science offers some of the earliest archaeological evidence of humans in North America, further bolstering the Coastal Migration Hypothesis. Working at the Cooper’s Ferry site in western Idaho, a team led by Loren Davis, a professor of anthropology at Oregon State University, uncovered stone tools, animal bones, traces of fire pits, and other signs of human occupation dated to between 16,560 and 15,280 years ago—several centuries prior to the appearance of the ice-free corridor.


“This is so cool,” Christiana Scheib, an archaeologist and paleogeneticist from the University of Cambridge, told Gizmodo. “This is a great example of the kind of archaeology we need happening in order to better understand the First Peoples in the Americas,” said Scheib, who wasn’t involved with the new study.


Archaeologist Alia Lesnek from the Department of Geology at the University at Buffalo, also not affiliated with the new study, said the new paper “presents an exciting new dataset that provides convincing evidence of human presence in modern-day Idaho as early as 15,300 years ago,” and that these results “add to a growing body of research suggesting that the First Americans arrived in North America by traveling along the Pacific coast.”


Last year, Lesnek and her colleagues uncovered potential geological evidence of an Alaskan coastal migration route that could have allowed humans to cross over from Eurasia into North America during the Ice Age.


But not everyone is convinced by the new evidence. One archaeologist we spoke to said more work will be required to validate the results presented in the new paper. The study describes findings from one of two excavation sites at Cooper’s Ferry, which has been investigated by archaeologists since the late 1990s.


“The Cooper’s Ferry site is located along the Salmon River, which is a tributary of the larger Columbia River basin,” said Davis in a press release. “Early peoples moving south along the Pacific coast would have encountered the Columbia River as the first place below the glaciers where they could easily walk and paddle in to North America. Essentially, the Columbia River corridor was the first off-ramp of a Pacific coast migration route.” To which he added: “The timing and position of the Cooper’s Ferry site is consistent with and most easily explained as the result of an early Pacific coastal migration.”




Buried within the deepest layers of the site, Loren’s team found hundreds of artifacts, including stone tools, fire-cracked rocks used in hearths, bone fragments from possibly prey, and other evidence of human occupation, such as areas used for processing food. Tooth fragments from an extinct horse were also uncovered, though its connection to the settlement is not entirely clear.


Radiocarbon dating of animal bone fragments and burnt charcoal suggests the site was repeatedly occupied between 16,560 and 15,280 years ago. “Prior to getting these radiocarbon ages, the oldest things we’d found dated mostly in the 13,000-year range, and the earliest evidence of people in the Americas had been dated to just before 14,000 years old in a handful of other sites,” explained Davis. “When I first saw that the lower archaeological layer contained radiocarbon ages older than 14,000 years, I was stunned but skeptical and needed to see those numbers repeated over and over just to be sure they’re right. So we ran more radiocarbon dates, and the lower layer consistently dated between 14,000-16,000 years old.”


The new paper subsequently challenges the longstanding “Clovis First” theory of North American colonization, which proposes that the first migrants to the continent arrived via the interior ice-free route, eventually reaching the Dakotas. What’s more, the authors presented evidence showing that the tools used by the Cooper’s Ferry migrants were of a distinctly non-Clovis-like nature. Specifically, these people employed unfluted and stemmed projectile points, and not the fluted, broad-based points indicative of Clovis culture. Loren and his colleagues also argued that the tools used by the Cooper’s Ferry people bear a striking resemblance to those found in contemporaneous cultures living in northeastern Asia, including Japan. This would seem to suggest that these early migrants retained knowledge of this technology as they settled into North America.


“My perspective is that Cooper’s Ferry is intriguing, but not paradigm-shifting.” Ben Potter, an archaeologist from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, had some issues with the new paper. “My perspective is that Cooper’s Ferry is intriguing, but not paradigm-shifting,” Potter told Gizmodo. “Much more work needs to be done to establish the nature and age of the occupations.”


Potter expressed concerns about the layer itself, which he described as a hodge-podge of “multiple potentially overlapping components over four thousand years.” He also didn’t love the fact that the majority of dates established within the investigated layer were less than 13,800 years old (10 out of the 18 ages reported). There is “no good reason to hypothesize occupation” at more than 16,000 years ago “because of a few widely scattered charcoal fragments not directly linked to cultural feature, and one from a feature with much later ages,” he said. The date presented in the study most closely linked with stemmed points at other sites, around 11,600 years old, or the oldest hearth with a few flakes between 15,000-14,000 years old, he said, do not “preclude passage through the Ice Free Corridor and/or the Pacific coast,” and by “no means do these data refute the [ice-free corridor] hypothesis. Both interior and coastal routes remain viable,” he said.


On a similar note, Lesnek thought it important to point out that the oldest age established for the site, at over 16,500 years old, was not established directly from material that was actually dated. “Rather, that age comes from a statistical modeling program that uses dates from the entire sediment layer to estimate when the event—in this case occupation by humans—began,” Lesnek told Gizmodo. “However, the statistical modeling program the authors employ is robust and widely used in archeology and earth sciences. In addition, even if the authors used the oldest radiocarbon date to determine the age of the site, that would put humans in North America by 15,300 years ago, which precludes that the initial migration to the Americas took place through the ice-free corridor.”


Potter described the comparisons of the stemmed points with Japanese tools as being “superficial and unconvincing,” without “any technological analysis to support the hypothesized connections.” Similarly, Scheib said this connection was “interesting,” but it “doesn’t mean that these people came directly from there,” she told Gizmodo.


Scheib, who studies the DNA of America’s first people, said an early genetic split occurred among North America’s first settlers, and it may have happened around the time of the Cooper’s Ferry settlement. “One group is associated with Clovis tools and related to modern Central and South Americans and the other is related to modern North Americans,” Scheib told Gizmodo. “It would be very interesting to know whether the early people at Cooper’s Ferry are genetically more like one or the other. Or if this is the time when these two groups are actually becoming distinct entities.” Genetic evidence from Cooper’s Ferry—which has yet to be uncovered—could tell us more about how and where these two populations diverged, she said. Finding DNA could be tough but not impossible.


“The cultural material at Cooper’s Ferry was only accessible due to the construction of a road in the 1930s, which removed about 15 feet of sediment,” Lesnek told Gizmodo. “It may very well be that other ancient archeological sites are buried across North America, but we haven’t found them yet.”


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Did an Agricultural Society become dominant 5,000-10,000 Years Ago


From the Associated Press By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer Randolph E. Schmid, Ap Science Writer – Monday, March 7, 2011 

WASHINGTON – Thousands of years ago, our ancestors gave up foraging for food and took up farming, one of the most important and debated decisions in history.

Was farming more efficient than foraging? Did the easily hunted animals die out? Did the environment change? A new study by Samuel Bowles of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico argues that early farming was not more productive than foraging, but people took it up for social and demographic reasons.

In Monday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Bowles analyzed what it would take to farm under primitive conditions. He concluded farming produced only about three-fifths of the food gained from foraging.

But, Bowles notes, farming became the most common way of living between 10,000 and 5,000 years ago because of its contribution to population growth and military power.

Without the need for constant movement, child-rearing would have been easier and safer, leading to a population increase, Bowles said. And since stored grain might be looted, farmer communities could have banded together for defense and would have eventually pushed out neighboring foragers, he suggests.

Brian Fagan, a professor emeritus of archaeology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, called Bowles' ideas "provocative and fascinating." It had been suspected that the earliest farming was not necessarily more productive, said Fagan, who was not part of the research. "What he does is to draw attention to the social and demographic factors that contributed so importantly to the spread of farming," Fagan said. "This is a useful contribution to a debate about agricultural origins that has been under way for generations."

Samuel Bowles Abstract:

Cultivation of cereals by the first farmers was not more productive than foraging
Did foragers become farmers because cultivation of crops was simply a better way to make a living? If so, what is arguably the greatest ever revolution in human livelihoods is readily explained. To answer the question, I estimate the caloric returns per hour of labor devoted to foraging wild species and cultivating the cereals exploited by the first farmers, using data on foragers and land-abundant hand-tool farmers in the ethnographic and historical record, as well as archaeological evidence. A convincing answer must account not only for the work of foraging and cultivation but also for storage, processing, and other indirect labor, and for the costs associated with the delayed nature of agricultural production and the greater exposure to risk of those whose livelihoods depended on a few cultivars rather than a larger number of wild species. Notwithstanding the considerable uncertainty to which these estimates inevitably are subject, the evidence is inconsistent with the hypothesis that the productivity of the first farmers exceeded that of early Holocene foragers. Social and demographic aspects of farming, rather than its productivity, may have been essential to its emergence and spread. Prominent among these aspects may have been the contribution of farming to population growth and to military prowess, both promoting the spread of farming as a livelihood.

Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, NM, 87501; and University of Siena, Siena 53100, Italy
Edited by Henry T. Wright, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, & approved February 2, 2011 (received for review July 26, 2010)

Full article from The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for the United States of America.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Study reveals 10,000 years of Genetic Continuity in Northwest North America

Researchers are analyzing DNA from ancient individuals found in southeast Alaska, coastal British Columbia, Washington state and Montana. A new genetic analysis of individuals dating to at least 10,300 years ago. Graphic by Julie McMahon, University of Illinois


A study of the DNA in ancient skeletal remains adds to the evidence that indigenous groups living today in southern Alaska and the western coast of British Columbia are descendants of the first humans to make their home in northwest North America more than 10,000 years ago.some of these human remains finds that many of today’s indigenous peoples living in the same regions are descendants of ancient 
“Our analysis suggests that this is the same population living in this part of the world over time, so we have genetic continuity from 10,000 years ago to the present,” said University of Illinois anthropology professor Ripan Malhi, who led the study with University of Chicago postdoctoral researcher John Lindo; Penn State University biology professor Michael DeGiorgio; Rosita Worl, the director of the Sealaska Heritage Institute in Juneau, Alaska; and University of Oklahoma anthropology professor Brian M. Kemp.

The findings, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also suggest that these early American peoples had a complex population history, the researchers report.

The new work comes on the heels of earlier studies of ancient Americans that focused on mitochondrial DNA, which occurs outside the nucleus of cells and is passed only from mothers to their offspring.

“Mitochondrial DNA just traces the maternal line – your mother’s mother’s lineage – so, you’re missing information about all of these other ancestors,” said Lindo, the first author on the paper. “We wanted to analyze the nuclear genome so we could get a better assessment of the population history of this region.”

The team looked at genomic data from Shuká Káa (Tlingit for “Man Before Us”), an ancient individual whose remains – found in a cave in southeastern Alaska – date to about 10,300 years ago. They also analyzed the genomes of three more individuals from the nearby coast of British Columbia whose remains date to between 6,075 and 1,750 years ago.

“Interestingly, the mitochondrial type that Shuká Káa belonged to was also observed from another ancient skeleton dated to about 6,000 years ago,” Kemp said. “It seems to disappear after that. The nuclear DNA suggests that this is probably not about population replacement, but rather chance occurrence through time. If a female has no children or only sons, the mitochondrial DNA is not passed to the next generation. As a male, Shuká Káa could not have passed on his own mitochondrial DNA; he must have had some maternal relatives that did so.”
 
The researchers turned their attention to nuclear DNA, which offers a more comprehensive record of a person’s ancestry.

“DNA from the mitochondria and Y chromosome provide unique yet sometimes conflicting stories, but the nuclear genome provides a more comprehensive view of past events,” DeGiorgio said.

“The data suggest that there were multiple genetic lineages in the Americas from at least 10,300 years ago,” Malhi said.

The descendants of some of those lineages are still living in the same region today, and a few are co-authors on the new study. Their participation is the result of a long-term collaboration between the scientists and several native groups who are embracing genomic studies as a way to learn from their ancestors, said Worl, who is Tlingit, Ch’áak’ (Eagle) moiety of the Shangukeidí­ (Thunderbird) Clan from the Kawdliyaayi Hít (House Lowered From the Sun) in Klukwan, Alaska.

“We supported DNA testing of Shuká Káa because we believed science ultimately would agree with what our oral traditions have always said – that we have lived in southeast Alaska since time immemorial. The initial analysis showed the young man was native, and now further studies are showing that our ancestral lineage stems from the first initial peopling of the region,” said Worl, who also is an anthropologist. “Science is corroborating our oral histories.”

Earliest Evidence of Humans Living in South America


Monte Verde: Our Earliest Evidence of Humans Living in South America
By Bridget Alex November 1, 2019 

As the Ice Age began to wane, people from northeastern Asia spread to the Americas, some of the last uninhabited continents on Earth. The pioneers traveled south of mile-high ice sheets covering Canada and found vast lands, abounding with mammoth, giant sloth and other now-extinct megafauna.

This much has been known for decades. But when it comes to the details, debates have raged over precisely when and how humans populated the New World. Today, the story is beginning to take shape, thanks to well-dated archaeological sites, DNA analysis and geological work to understand when ice and sea levels permitted entry to the Americas. It’s clear that people occupied the continents by about 15,000 years ago, probably taking a route along the Pacific coast.

And one site, perhaps more than any other, helped scholars reach this conclusion: Chile’s Monte Verde. During excavations begun in the 1970s, archaeologists unearthed numerous artifacts, including remnants of 14,000-year-old huts, food scraps from megafauna and wads of masticated seaweed, likely chewed for medicinal purposes. The preservation was so exceptional, it cleared any doubt that humans had reached the New World by this time, and earned Monte Verde a place in every archaeology textbook to come.

Meanwhile, recent research on the site’s surroundings and deeper layers suggests humans inhabited this patch of South America as early as 19,000 years ago. While the claim remains controversial, it’s clear there’s still more to discover at Monte Verde.

Creekside Campsite
Buried under a peat bog, Monte Verde is near South America’s tip and about 30 miles from the Pacific in present-day Chile. Excavations began in 1976, led by archaeologist Tom Dillehay. Although no human skeletons were found, an excavated layer — radiocarbon dated to about 14,000 years ago — held clear evidence of human inhabitants, including a child-sized footprint.

At Monte Verde, the researchers discovered the ruins of a forager campsite, about as large as a football field, on the bank of a meandering creek. Still surviving were the wooden foundations of a long, rectangular building, which was subdivided into a dozen rooms, each containing food remains and clay-lined fire pits. It seems to have been a communal residence divided into personal dwellings. About 100 feet from these living quarters stood a wishbone-shaped structure accompanied by tools and butchered animal parts — likely a work area.

The archaeologists also recovered spun grass rope, wooden lances, animal hides and human feces from the site. Perishable items like these are rarely preserved at archaeological sites. But because Monte Verde is below peat deposits, organic materials were protected from decomposition. Food scraps also survived, revealing the people gathered at least 60 species of edible and medicinal plants, including a variety of seaweed species brought from the coast. And they hunted now-extinct creatures such as paleocamelids (an ancestor of llama and alpaca) and elephant-like gomphotheres.

Breaking the Clovis Barrier
Just as significant, though, is what the excavators did not find: Monte Verde lacked Clovis points — distinctive stone tools found at North American sites dating to roughly 13,000 years ago. Through much of the 20th century, many archaeologists supported “Clovis First” — the hypothesis that the people who made these artifacts were the first inhabitants of the Americas. Reports of older pre-Clovis sites were dismissed on the grounds that they were incorrectly excavated or dated.

But Monte Verde was remarkably well-preserved, meticulously excavated and analyzed with state-of-the-art methods. It convinced the archaeological community that non-Clovis peoples reached South America by at least 14,000 years ago. Clovis was not first.

Since then, numerous pre-Clovis sites have been reported between 13,300 and 15,000 years old. North America holds about 10 of them. But in South America, besides Monte Verde and its surrounding area, there are only two others: Huaca Prieta in Peru and Arroyo Seco in Argentina. With so few comparative sites, it’s difficult to say who and how widespread the Monte Verde people were.

Older Occupations
Dillehay and colleagues also reported potentially older artifacts from Monte Verde in a 1988 Nature paper. From a deeper layer dated to 30,000 years ago, they found three clay-lined burned areas and at least six stones that appear to have been shaped into tools. However, the finds were considered too meager to constitute a strong case for human presence.

Decades later, in 2013, Dillehay returned to the site to lead a team that dug 80 probes and test pits in the land around Monte Verde. The work, published in a 2015 PLOS One paper, identified 12 discrete spots with signs of a campfire (charcoal, ash, burned clay), stone tools and animal bones. Radiocarbon analysis dated the finds between 14,500 and 19,000 years ago.

The results suggest even earlier peopling of the Americas. Future work at Monte Verde may prove it.

Some Controversy about claims that the Oldest Evidence of North American Settlement May Have Been Found

The Cooper's Ferry archeological site is in western Idaho.

Oldest Evidence of North American Settlement May Have Been Found in Idaho

The first settlers of North America might have been seafarers

Humans might have first settled North America around 16,000 years ago, setting off on boats from northeast Asia and traveling along the Pacific Coast, new findings suggest. That's the earliest evidence yet of settlement in this region.

The mystery of how the first settlers arrived in North America remains hotly debated. For years, the dominant theory has been that the first people to arrive in North America walked across the Bering Land Bridge, which connected Asia and North America, when sea levels dropped at the end of the last ice age. From there, the theory holds, they followed an ice-free corridor which opened around 14,800 years ago, down to North America.

But growing evidence suggests that the first settlers didn't trudge through a flat, grassy plain following large prey, but rather set off along the Pacific Coast in ancient boats.

This ancient migration was one of the last major movements of people across the planet, said lead author Loren Davis, a professor of anthropology at Oregon State University. So, "people have a sense of wonder" about this journey, Davis said.

To re-create the picture of this vast, ancient migration, Davis and his team analyzed ancient remains found at the Cooper's Ferry archaeological site, which sits at the junction of the Rock Creek and the lower Salmon River in western Idaho.

The Cooper's Ferry site was first excavated back in the 1960s. Prior to that, it was once an ancient village called Nipéhe, according to oral histories recounted to Davis by the Niimíipuu tribe. Between 2009 and 2018, Davis and his team opened up and excavated two large holes in the ground — one of which is the focus of this study. In that pit, spanning just 23 feet by 43 feet (7 meters by 13 meters), they discovered a trove of early remains and artifacts.

The team uncovered 189 artifacts, including 27 stone tools and 161 pieces of debitage, or flakes of rock created in the process of making stone tools. The tools included stemmed point fragments, which have previously been found all around the western U.S.

They also found bone fragments from an extinct horse, Davis said. Around the animal bone fragments the team discovered numerous stone tools. A little ways away, they found something resembling a hearth or fire pit. "We think that represents someone butchering a horse," and then possibly cooking and eating it, Davis told Live Science.

This might be "the earliest radiocarbon-dated evidence of people interacting with extinct animals in North America," Davis said. Through radiocarbon dating, a method that analyzes radioactive carbon in biological samples to figure out their ages, they found that biological samples in the hearth were similar in age to the bones.

The radiocarbon dating of these charcoal and bone samples revealed that people occupied the area for a long period of time, but the oldest biological samples were between 16,560 and 15,280 years old. Since they were found in the same layers as human artifacts, such as tools, they are likely of similar age, Davis said.

For a long time, it was thought that the first settlers of the Americas were the "Clovis" people who arrived around 13,000 years ago. But later excavations at various sites in North and South America revealed evidence of settlements that predated the Clovis culture, such as Monte Verde in Chile, which has some artifacts of human settlement that date to between 14,000 and 19,000 years ago.

These new results suggest that humans already lived in Idaho around 16,000 years ago — over a thousand years earlier than the time during which an ice-free corridor opened up across the western U.S. "So you might say that we refuted the hypothesis of the ice-free corridor," Davis said. The findings lend "great support to the idea that people came down the Pacific Coast instead."

This study "provides further support for the Pacific coast as the route by which Native Americans arrived in mid-latitude North America," said John Hoffecker, a fellow at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who was not a part of the study. But "the authors have exaggerated the results of the dating." The dating suggests that the "earliest occupation of Cooper's Ferry is likely to be somewhat younger," closer to 15,000 years ago, Hoffecker told Live Science.

The authors suggest that some of the tools they found at Cooper's Ferry, such as the spear or dart points, are very similar to those found in northern Japan from a similar time. "So one hypothesis is simply that you're looking at the extension culturally of people that are bringing these ideas with them from northern Japan," Davis said.

But "both genetics and dental anthropology indicate unequivocally that Native Americans are not derived from northern Japan," Hoffecker said referring to the ancient people who lived in Japan.

The comparison of these Western stemmed points with Japanese counterparts is "superficial and unconvincing, based on five specimens selected for suggested morphological similarity," said Ben Potter, the department chair and a professor of archeology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who was also not a part of the study.

What's more, the findings don't refute the idea that the first people arrived via the ice-free corridor, he said. The feature with the "oldest consistent dates," does not preclude the passage through the ice-free corridor, he said.

In any case, "there appears to be an interesting and dynamic geoarchaeological story here," Potter told Live Science. "My perspective is that Cooper’s Ferry is intriguing, but not paradigm shifting."

Next, Davis and his team hope to further explore if there really is a connection between these ancient inhabitants and the people of ancient Japan and spend more time analyzing the artifacts that they spent a decade excavating.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Ancient DNA retells Story of Caribbean's First People, with a few Plot Twists...

Ancient DNA retells Story of Caribbean's First People

Florida Museum of Natural History 3 Dec 2020

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- "The history of the Caribbean's original islanders comes into sharper focus in a new Nature study that combines decades of archaeological work with advancements in genetic technology.

"An international team led by Harvard Medical School's David Reich analyzed the genomes of 263 individuals in the largest study of ancient human DNA in the Americas to date. The genetics trace two major migratory waves in the Caribbean by two distinct groups, thousands of years apart, revealing an archipelago settled by highly mobile people, with distant relatives often living on different islands.

"Reich's lab also developed a new genetic technique for estimating past population size, showing the number of people living in the Caribbean when Europeans arrived was far smaller than previously thought - likely in the tens of thousands, rather than the million or more reported by Columbus and his successors.

"For archaeologist William Keegan, whose work in the Caribbean spans more than 40 years, ancient DNA offers a powerful new tool to help resolve longstanding debates, confirm hypotheses and spotlight remaining mysteries. "This "moves our understanding of the Caribbean forward dramatically in one fell swoop," said Keegan, curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History and co-senior author of the study. "The methods David's team developed helped address questions I didn't even know we could address."

"Archaeologists often rely on the remnants of domestic life - pottery, tools, bone and shell discards - to piece together the past. Now, technological breakthroughs in the study of ancient DNA are shedding new light on the movement of animals and humans, particularly in the Caribbean where each island can be a unique microcosm of life.

"While the heat and humidity of the tropics can quickly break down organic matter, the human body contains a lockbox of genetic material: a small, unusually dense part of the bone protecting the inner ear. Primarily using this structure, researchers extracted and analyzed DNA from 174 people who lived in the Caribbean and Venezuela between 400 and 3,100 years ago, combining the data with 89 previously sequenced individuals.

"The team, which includes Caribbean-based scholars, received permission to carry out the genetic analysis from local governments and cultural institutions that acted as caretakers for the human remains. The authors also engaged representatives of Caribbean Indigenous communities in a discussion of their findings.

"The genetic evidence offers new insights into the peopling of the Caribbean. The islands' first inhabitants, a group of stone tool-users, boated to Cuba about 6,000 years ago, gradually expanding eastward to other islands during the region's Archaic Age. "Where they came from remains unclear - while they are more closely related to Central and South Americans than to North Americans, their genetics do not match any particular Indigenous group. However, similar artifacts found in Belize and Cuba may suggest a Central American origin," Keegan said.

"About 2,500-3,000 years ago, farmers and potters related to the Arawak-speakers of northeast South America established a second pathway into the Caribbean. Using the fingers of South America's Orinoco River Basin like highways, they travelled from the interior to coastal Venezuela and pushed north into the Caribbean Sea, settling Puerto Rico and eventually moving westward. Their arrival ushered in the region's Ceramic Age, marked by agriculture and the widespread production and use of pottery.

"Over time, nearly all genetic traces of Archaic Age people vanished, except for a holdout community in western Cuba that persisted as late as European arrival. Intermarriage between the two groups was rare, with only three individuals in the study showing mixed ancestry.

"Many present-day Cubans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans are the descendants of Ceramic Age people, as well as European immigrants and enslaved Africans. But researchers noted only marginal evidence of Archaic Age ancestry in modern individuals.

"That's a big mystery," Keegan said. "For Cuba, it's especially curious that we don't see more Archaic ancestry."

"During the Ceramic Age, Caribbean pottery underwent at least five marked shifts in style over 2,000 years. Ornate red pottery decorated with white painted designs gave way to simple, buff-colored vessels, while other pots were punctuated with tiny dots and incisions or bore sculpted animal faces that likely doubled as handles. Some archaeologists pointed to these transitions as evidence for new migrations to the islands. But DNA tells a different story, suggesting all of the styles were developed by descendants of the people who arrived in the Caribbean 2,500-3,000 years ago, though they may have interacted with and took inspiration from outsiders.

"That was a question we might not have known to ask had we not had an archaeological expert on our team," said co-first author Kendra Sirak, a postdoctoral fellow in the Reich Lab. "We document this remarkable genetic continuity across changes in ceramic style. We talk about 'pots vs. people,' and to our knowledge, it's just pots."

"Highlighting the region's interconnectivity, a study of male X chromosomes uncovered 19 pairs of "genetic cousins" living on different islands - people who share the same amount of DNA as biological cousins but may be separated by generations. In the most striking example, one man was buried in the Bahamas while his relative was laid to rest about 600 miles away in the Dominican Republic.

"Showing relationships across different islands is really an amazing step forward," said Keegan, who added that shifting winds and currents can make passage between islands difficult. "I was really surprised to see these cousin pairings between islands."

"Uncovering such a high proportion of genetic cousins in a sample of fewer than 100 men is another indicator that the region's total population size was small," said Reich, professor of genetics in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS and professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard. "When you sample two modern individuals, you don't often find that they're close relatives," he said. "Here, we're finding relatives all over the place."

"A technique developed by study co-author Harald Ringbauer, a postdoctoral fellow in the Reich Lab, used shared segments of DNA to estimate past population size, a method that could also be applied to future studies of ancient people. Ringbauer's technique showed about 10,000 to 50,000 people were living on two of the Caribbean's largest islands, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, shortly before European arrival. "This falls far short of the million inhabitants Columbus described to his patrons, likely to impress them," Keegan said.

"Later, 16th-century historian Bartolomé de las Casas claimed the region had been home to 3 million people before being decimated by European enslavement and disease. While this, too, was an exaggeration, the number of people who died as a result of colonization remains an atrocity," Reich said. "This was a systematic program of cultural erasure. The fact that the number was not 1 million or millions of people, but rather tens of thousands, does not make that erasure any less significant," he said.

"For Keegan, collaborating with geneticists gave him the ability to prove some hypotheses he had argued for years - while upending others. "At this point, I don't care if I'm wrong or right," he said. "It's just exciting to have a firmer basis for reevaluating how we look at the past in the Caribbean. One of the most significant outcomes of this study is that it demonstrates just how important culture is in understanding human societies. Genes may be discrete, measurable units, but the human genome is culturally created."

Daniel Fernandes of the University of Vienna and the University of Coimbra in Portugal was also co-first author of the study. Other co-senior authors are Alfredo Coppa of the Sapienza University of Rome, Mark Lipson of HMS and Harvard and Ron Pinhasi of the University of Vienna.

An earlier article from June 2020

Illustration of one of the early settlers in the Caribbean. Image credit: Tom Björklund.

Humans Colonized Caribbean Islands in Three Waves: Study

Jun 5, 2020 Sci News

An international team of researchers has sequenced and analyzed the genomes of 93 ancient Caribbean islanders and found evidence of at least three separate population dispersals into the region: two early dispersals into the Western Caribbean, one of which seems connected to earlier population dispersals in North America; and a third, more recent wave from South America.

The Caribbean Islands were one of the last regions in the Americas to be settled by humans.

The earliest archeological evidence suggests that the Caribbean’s first residents arrived roughly 8,000 years ago, and by 5,000 years ago, were widely dispersed.

However, how, when and from where the region’s first colonists came to the islands of the Antilles isn’t well understood.

Much of the Caribbean’s settlement history has heavily relied on interpretations from archaeological findings, such as the stylistic comparison of artifact collections between Caribbean sites and those from the surrounding mainland.

While these approaches have illuminated broad-scale population movements, many of the more nuanced aspects of Caribbean population history remain unknown.

To fill these gaps, Kathrin Nägele from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and colleagues analyzed genome-wide data from 93 ancient Caribbean islanders who lived between 400 and 3,200 years ago using bone fragments excavated from 16 different archaeological sites across the Caribbean.

The analysis provided new genetic evidence of at least three separate colonization events, including two early dispersals into the Western Caribbean – one of which was previously unknown and may have been connected to radiation events in North America that predate the diversification of Central and South American populations.

Afterward, a later expansion of groups from South America arrived and brought new technologies, including pottery, supporting previous archaeological interpretations.

“The new data give us a fascinating glimpse of the early migration history of the Caribbean,” said senior co-author Dr. Hannes Schroeder, a researcher in the Globe Institute at the University of Copenhagen. “We find evidence that the islands were settled and resettled several times from different parts of the American mainland.”

“Big bodies of water are traditionally considered barriers for humans and ancient fisher-hunter-gatherer communities are usually not perceived as great seafarers,” Nägele said. “Our results continue to challenge that view, as they suggest that there was repeated interaction between the islands and the mainland.”

“The new data support our previous observations that the early settlers of the Caribbean were biologically and culturally diverse, adding resolution to this ancient period of our history,” said co-author Dr. Yadira Chinique de Armas, a researcher at the University of Winnipeg.

The team’s results also revealed distinct genetic differences between the ancestors of the region’s earliest settlers and the newcomers from South America.

Despite coexisting for centuries, the scientists found almost no evidence of admixture, raising intriguing new questions about their interactions.

“Although different groups were present in the Caribbean at the same time, we found surprisingly little evidence of admixture between them,” said co-author Dr. Cosimo Posth, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

“The results of this study provide yet another layer of data that highlights the diverse and complex nature of pre-Columbian Caribbean societies and their connections to the American mainland prior to the colonial invasion,” said co-author Professor Corinne Hofman, a scientist at Leiden University.

The findings were published in the journal Science. Kathrin Nägele et al. Genomic insights into the early peopling of the Caribbean. Science, published online June 4, 2020

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Idaho Researchers look for Links between Clovis People & large Mammals on the Snake River Plain

By IDAHO STATE UNIVERSITY  Nov 28, 2019  

About 13,000 years ago on the banks of the Pleistocene American Falls Lake on the Snake River Plain, large “megafauna” mammals now extinct — such as mammoths, mastodons, camels, short-faced bears, dire wolves & saber-toothed tigers — lived alongside the Clovis people.

However, Clovis artifacts have never been recovered side-by-side with fossil remains of these extinct megafauna mammals, even though they’ve been found near each other.

Charles Speer, an Idaho State University anthropology assistant professor, along with colleagues at the Idaho Museum of Natural History, other universities & soon with ISU students, is engaged in research to document the link between the artifacts of the Clovis people & these extinct animals that populated the area during the same time period.
Charles Speer holds part of a mammoth fossil recovered at the 2018 ISU Archaeology Field School site in the Magic Valley near Kimberly. Next summer, Speer & the school will be working closer to home near American Falls Reservoir.

In a recently published paper on Clovis technology from American Falls on the Eastern Snake River Plain in the journal “North American Archaeologist,” Speer & colleagues detailed the potential for making new scientific findings that can shed light on this period of history in eastern Idaho. This potential includes discovering new information on the area’s climate, animals & people; all of which provides the rationale for thoroughly excavating a site in the area.

“We don’t have a connection in the Snake River Plain between Clovis stone tools, some of the earliest in North America, & the megafauna we have at the time,” Speer said. “We haven’t found any kill, butchering, or scavenging sites where we have the stone tools & animals in the same place. At the American Falls (reservoir) site, it is highly likely that we will find this connection. This next summer during the ISU archaeology field school in June, that is exactly what we are going to be looking for.”

The ISU researchers will be excavating a site down 8 to 10 feet below the surface. “The primary reason we are excavating is that the whole area is in danger of eroding away,” Speer said, noting the group has been tasked by the Bureau of Reclamation to recover as much as they can.

Speer explained that the climate on this portion of the Snake River Plain was likely colder & wetter 13,000 years ago. The climate was affected by the large glaciers to the north extending down from Canada only a few hundred kilometers away. Though the climate was cooler, this area was a magnet for the animals mentioned above, as well as familiar species still making the region home like mule deer, antelope, bison & elk.

“People camped out there, made their tools & hunted the animals. We really just want to make that connection showing they were exploiting these extinct animals because that is a big missing piece,” Speer said.

Studying the climate at the time & potential kill sites can help answer a host of questions about this area’s history.  “We are interested in the animals that died off right when this Clovis culture was at its peak,” Speer said. “We ask questions like ‘did these people kill all these animals, was it climate change or was it both?’ In North America alone, 90 genera of animals over 100 pounds died off during the Clovis period at the close of the Pleistocene 11,700 years ago,” Speer said. This included horses, that flourished when re-introduced 500 years ago by Europeans.

The researchers also are interested in how human beings reacted to climate change during this period, which was right at the end of the Pleistocene period, after which the climate warmed & dried considerably.

In addition, the researchers will be looking for evidence of a culture older than the Clovis living in eastern Idaho.  “Clovis for the longest time was thought to be the oldest culture in North America but know we know it is not,” Speer said. “Researchers in western Idaho have been excavating the Cooper’s Ferry site that is associated with a projectile point style called ‘Western Stemmed’ that is both contemporaneous & potentially older than Clovis. Additionally, they have recovered artifacts several thousands years older which we hope to also discover & fill in the missing pieces with here.”

“We are hoping to see an overlap & connection between the two,” Speer continued, “because we are right on this boundary where to the east you have Clovis in abundance & to the west we have Western Stemmed in abundance, but we don’t have any sites where the two are mixed up. We are also hoping to see the site stretch back in time to 17,000 or 18,000 years ago.”

The researchers will turn over any artifacts found at the site to the Idaho Museum of Natural History, which already has more than 10,000 specimens of megafauna that lived in the area & a collection of Clovis artifacts from the American Falls area.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Ancient DNA Analysis Reveals Asian Migration & Plague

Ancient DNA Analysis Reveals Asian Migration & Plague - Stockholm University January, 2021

 Northeastern Asia has a complex history of migrations & plague outbursts. That is the essence of an international archaeogenetic study published in Science Advances & lead from the Department of Archaeology & Classical Studies at Stockholm University. Genomic data from archaeological remains from 40 individuals excavated in northeastern Asia were explored in the study.

"It is striking that we find everything here, continuity as well as recurrent migrations & also disease-related bacteria," says Anders Götherström, professor at the Center for Palaeogenetics at Stockholm University & one of the Principal investigators of the study.

The scientists discovered that there were demographic events in the past common for the whole Lake Baikal region. For example, around 8300 years ago there was a migratory event discernible both east & west of Lake Baikal. But there were also events specific for each of the two areas. While the areas west of Lake Baikal provides evidence for recurrent migrations & intense mobility, the areas east of Lake Baikal preserved a long-term continuity for thousands of years, apparently with limited mobility from other areas.

"It is intriguing that our data reveals complex & contrasting patterns of demographic change in one of the least populated regions on earth; including notable gene flow & at the same time a genetic continuity without major demographic changes in the two areas around Lake Baikal", says lead-author Gulsah Merve Kilinc, former postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Archaeology & Classical Studies at Stockholm University & currently Lecturer at Department of Bioinformatics at Hacettepe University in Ankara.

The study also provides some new clues to the history of the Paleo-Inuit groups, the people who inhabited northern Greenland & Canada. While it has been suspected that the so called Belkachi-complex, a cultural group in the Baikal area, played a part in the early history of Paleo-Inuits, it has not been possible to evaluate this in detail. The analyses of remains of an individual associated with the Belkachi cultural-complex, dated to more than 6000 years before present now show that there is an association to a previously published Paleo Inuit (Saqqaq) individual (dated c.4000 yrs BP) on Greenland.

"This is the first genetic evidence of a link between a Neolithic period human group in Yakutia & the later Palaeo-Inuit groups, & this will inspire to new of research on the demographic development", says Jan Storå, Professor at Osteoarchaeological Research Laboratory at the Department of Archaeology & Classical Studies at Stockholm University.

Finally, the study provides new data on the most eastern occurrences of the bacteria Yersinia pestis, the plague. One individual from the Lena basin, dated to c. 3800 years ago, & buried with individuals that proved to be close kin genetically, carried DNA from Yersinia pestis. Also, an individual dated to c. 4400 years ago from the area west of Lake Baikal hosted Yersinia pestis. Interestingly, the population west of Lake Baikal seems to have decreased in size around 4400 years ago, judging from the genomic data.

"Despite a need for more data, our discovery of the decrease in effective population size that coincided with the appearance of Yersinia pestis points to a possible presence of a prehistoric plague - possibly a pandemic. However, this is just as an educated guess which needs to wait for confirmation", says Emrah Krdök, former postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Archaeology & Classical Studies at Stockholm University & currently Lecturer at Mersin University in Turkey.

The article "Human population dynamics & Yersinia pestis in ancient northeast Asia" is published in the scientific journal Science Advances.

Interesting article from 2014...

Mystery Of Paleo-Eskimos, The ‘Hobbits’ Of The Arctic Who Vanished 700 Years Ago, Revealed In Study By Philip Ross 08/30/14 International Business Times

A family photo of an Eskimo mother, father, & son, photographed in Noatak, Alaska, by Edward Sheriff Curtis circa 1929. Modern-day Eskimos are the ancestors of the ancient Dorset culture who were the first people to inhabit the North American Arctic some 5,000 years ago.  Photo: Creative Commons 

Paleo-Eskimos, the ancestors of modern-day Inuit & Native Americans & the earliest people to settle the North American Arctic, were isolated from other cultures for 4,000 years before vanishing around 1300 A.D., DNA analysis shows. The circumstances surrounding the strange disappearance of these early North Americans, known as the Dorset culture, has long been a mystery, but research suggests inbreeding, climate change or competition with other populations of hunters could have played a role, a study led by the University of Copenhagen & published Friday in the journal Science found.

“The Dorsets were the Hobbits of the eastern Arctic -- a very strange & very conservative people who we’re only just getting to know a little bit,” anthropologist William Fitzhugh, director of the Arctic Studies Center at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History & a co-author of the study, told the Washington Post. Because the Dorset people lacked sophisticated weaponry like bows & arrows, “they were, in a sense, sitting ducks,” he said.

Researchers studied the remains of some 169 Paleo-Eskimos discovered in northern Greenland, including their hair, bones & teeth. Scientists extracted mitochondrial DNA from the remains & compared it to genetic samples from modern people living in Greenland, northern Canada, the Aleutian Islands & Siberia. They found the Dorset people were genetically isolated from other populations & showed signs of inbreeding.

The research provides the clearest picture yet of how the North American Arctic was populated some 5,000 years ago. "Since the 1920s or so, it has been heavily discussed what is the relationship between these cultural groups," senior author Eske Willerslev of the Natural History Museum of Denmark, which is part of the University of Copenhagen, told the BBC. "All kinds of hypotheses have been proposed. Everything from complete continuity between the first people in the Arctic to present-day Inuits, [while] other researchers have argued that the Saqqaq & the Dorset & the Thule are distinct people."

Exactly who first populated the Arctic has long been debated. Scientists know  three broadly grouped cultures all occupied the northernmost parts of North America in the past few thousand years. They were the Saqqaq, who occupied the region until about 2,500 years ago, followed by several Dorset culture & then the Thule, the ancestors of modern-day Inuit, from about 1,000 years ago, the BBC said.

Because the Dorsets do not share any genetic similarities with people in the Arctic today, researchers concluded the population disappeared rather suddenly. Climate change could have something to do with it, scientists say. Regional temperature shifts could have strained the Dorsets food sources -- ox, seal & reindeer.

"When you're dealing with sea ice, just a few degrees can be transformative,” Todd Disotell, a professor of anthropology at New York University, told the New York Times. “Three bad winters in a row where you can't hunt seals, & you're in trouble.”


Friday, January 8, 2021

Terms associated with Researching Peoples in the Prehistoric Americas


As a historian of North America during the period when Europeans began to colonize the area now the USA, I am intrigued with, almost obsessed with, when mankind 1st appeared in The Americas, in North America, & especially in the Atlantic coast area later settled by European colonists. 

How did these early peoples try to gain some control over the weather patterns & geography? Did they create physical spaces to meet their basic needs for shelter, food, family, health, & safety. How did they organize their society & culture? Did they migrate on foot or water to these sites? Did they create myths & religions? 

Mankind has a history of constant migration, confrontation, & adaptation for hundreds of thousands of years. And, of course, different populations around the planet adapted to different conditions in different ways. If we are trying to trace early inhabitants of the Americas, we need to become familiar with the terms used to describe the period before written history. BWS

Arable: Land favorable to the cultivation of crops or land upon which crops are grown.

Archaic: The Archaic cultural period (7500 B.C. to 1000 B.C) is divided into subperiods
Early Archaic (7500 B.C. - 6000 B.C.),
Middle Archaic (6000 B.C. – 3500 B.C.) and
Late Archaic (3500 B.C. – 1000 B.C.) sub periods.

Archaeobotany: Or Paleoethnobotany is the study of archaeologically-recovered plant artifacts to
interpret how people in the past used and interacted with plants.

Clovis: A distinct Paleoindian group originally named for a distinctively shaped fluted stone spearpoint used to hunt megafauna. The Clovis people are generally regarded as the earliest human inhabitants of the New World.

Cultivation: The act of growing plants.

Dichotomous Key: Is a tool that allows the user to determine the taxomonic identity of items in the natural world, such as plants and animals. The key is a written device constructed from a series of organized statements which represent mutually exclusive choices. Identification is made by selecting choices based on the user’s comparisons with unknown specimen until a conclusion is reached.

Domestication: The process through which a plant (or animal) is adapted to life in close association with and to the benefit of humans.

Eastern Woodlands: The temperate forests zones of eastern North America stretching from the
Mississippi River east to the Atlantic ocean, and excluding the tropical forests of the south.

Extinct: A plant or animal species which no longer exists.

Extirpated: A local extinction, where a species ceases to exist in one area, but still exists elsewhere.

Flotation: A process to separate organic remains from archaeological soils.

Holocene: Is a geological epoch which began approximately 10,000 years ago and continues into the
present.

Horticulture: The art and science of growing plants.

Husbandry: The act of caring for or managing plants and animals for human benefit.

Little Ice Age: A modest cooling of the northern hemisphere following a warmer era (the Medieval
Warm Period) and spanning from the 1500’s through the mid 19th century.

Ice Age: A geologic period of long-term reduction in the Earth’s temperature which results in an
expansion of the continental and polar ice sheets.

Light Microscope: Or optical microscope is a type of microscope which uses visible light and a system of lenses to magnify images of small specimens.

Mantle: A thick layer of molten rock on which the earth’s crust floats.

Megafauna: Specifically, the Pleistocene Megafauna, the giant land animals of the last ice age like
mammoth, mastodon and giant bear which are now extinct.

Morphology: The form (structure, shape, color, pattern) of an organism or of a part of an organism.

Non-Indigenous: A plant or animal species that is introduced to a geographical area. Not native, an alien or exotic species.

Paleoethnobotany: Or Archeobotany is the study of archaeologically-recovered plant artifacts to
interpret how people in the past used and interacted with plants.

Paleoindian: The Paleoindian cultural period (10000 B.C. to 7500 B.C.) was a time of radical climatic change at the transition of the Pleistocene to the Holocene at the end of the last ice age.

Palynology: Is the science that studies fossil pollen and other palynomorphs (tiny organic-walled
micro-fossils).

Phytolith: Or plant opal silica bodies are rigid microscopic structures that occur in many plants. Silica Phytoliths vary in size and shape based on the plant taxon and plant part (root, stem, seed) from which they derive.

Radiocarbon Dating: A method of radiometric dating that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to determine the age of carbon-rich itens. Raw (or uncalibrated) radiocarbon ages are reported in radiocarbon years Before Present (BP) (1950). Raw ages can be calibrated to give calendar dates in years A.D. (Anno Domini) or B.C. (Before Christ).

Reference Collection - Botanical: A collection of botanical specimens arranged and maintained in a herbarium for comparative purposes to aid in the identification of archeobotanical artifacts. Materials in an Archeobotanical Reference Collection are often treated to simulate archaeological conditions such as carbonization or water-logging.

Scanning Electron Microscope: A type of microscope that uses electrons to illuminate a specimen and create an enlarged image. Electron Microscopes can obtain much higher magnifications than light microscopes.

Starch Grain Analysis: A methodology that uses microscopic starch residues preserved on artifacts (and in soils) to understand past plant use.

Tidewater: Applies to all geographic areas of Maryland where waterways are affected by tidal influence.

Wisconsin Glaciation: The most recent glacial period which began about 110,000 years ago, reached its maximum extent between 18,000 and 20,000 years ago, and ended between 10,000 and 15, 000 years ago.

Woodland: The Woodland cultural period (1000 B.C. - A.D. 1600) is divided into subperiods
Early Woodland (1000 B.C. – A.D. 200),
Middle Woodland (A.D. 200 – A.D. 900)
Late Woodland (A.D. 900 – A.D. 1650)

Thanks to Maryland's Jefferson-Patterson Park & Museum for their assistance.

Closer to Home - Early People in The Cheaspeake Region


An essay from The Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Maryland State Museum of Archaeology explained that, "The first human beings arrived in Maryland sometime during the end of the last glacial period. There is some evidence of possible pre-Clovis occupation of the region as early as 18,000 years ago. 

"The Clovis were a distinct Paleoindian group originally named for a distinctively shaped fluted stone spearpoint used to hunt megafauna. The Clovis people are generally regarded as the earliest human inhabitants of the New World. It is generally agreed that by about 11,500 years ago, Paleoindian people using Clovis tools had moved into Maryland and left evidence of their lives in the archaeological record.   The Paleoindian cultural period (10000 B.C. to 7500 B.C.) was a time of radical climatic change at the transition of the Pleistocene to the Holocene at the end of the last ice age.

"At the time people arrived in Maryland, the ice age was coming to an end, though the climate was still much colder and wetter than it is today. Mobile hunters probably came into the region that is now Maryland in pursuit of game. These Paleoindians lived in small family bands and moved frequently,  following the migration of animals and keeping a seasonal pattern of rotation from place to place. Human beings arrived in Maryland on a wave of change as a series of large-scale climatic shifts began to have a transformative effect on Maryland’s environment. A strong warming trend marked the onset of the Holocene epoch, which caused tremendous changes to the landscape, plants, and animals of the region. One of the biggest changes associated with this warming trend was a period of sea level rise that continues into the present.

"Throughout the Holocene, climatic conditions grew increasingly warmer and drier, causing formerly dominant animals and plants to be replaced by others who could thrive in the new landscape. The coastlines of the Chesapeake Bay and its many tributaries were particularly attractive to humans settling in Maryland. In addition to being a highly productive estuary, the Bay also provided a highway of rivers and creeks provided easy transportation routes. Archaeologists have found evidence that Native American campsites were focused along waterways. Pottery, tools, and shellfish remains from Maryland have been recovered up and down the Atlantic coast – suggesting that objects and ideas were moved around by waterborne trade.

"Ten thousand years ago, if not earlier, the megafauna had become extinct, and by 9000 years ago,  mixed hardwood forests began to form. By about 8,000 years ago, a continuing warming trend kept glaciers melting and the resulting sea level rise flooded the continental shelf, causing the widening of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Between 6,000 and 3,000 years ago, the modern outlines of the Chesapeake shore began to take shape.

"These significant changes in Maryland’s environment altered the ways in which people lived. New hardwood forests dotted the landscape. This time of cultural adjustment to a new environment is called the Archaic period. Archaic peoples lived in small groups in widely-scattered encampments. Their lives largely nomadic, with hunting and gathering filling their subsistence needs.

"Archaeological evidence documents gradual changes in this way of life by the end of the Archaic period. Important shifts in the way Native people used the land and its resources define the Transitional Archaic period. The number and size of archaeological sites increases, suggesting that denser populations of people lived more intensively on the land. There is also archaeological evidence of seasonal aggregation for ceremonial purposes. At this time, people also began using new technologies, including different kinds of tools and pottery."

Further Information: When Did People First Arrive in Maryland?
Dent, Richard J. 1995 Chesapeake Prehistory. Old Traditions, New Directions. Plenum Press, New York.
Grumet, Robert S. 2000 Bay, Plain, and Piedmont: A Landscape History of the Chesapeake Heartland from 1.3 Billion Years Ago to 2000. The Chesapeake Bay Heritage Context Project. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Annapolis, Maryland.
Reinhart, Theodore R. and Mary Ellen Hodges, eds. 1990 Early and Middle Archaic Research in Virginia. Special Publication of the Archeological Society of Virginia. Richmond.
Reinhart, Theodore R. and Mary Ellen Hodges, eds. 1991 Late Archaic and Early Woodland Research in Virginia. Special Publication of the Archeological Society of Virginia. Richmond.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Flight into Egypt - by Boat!!

1600, attributed to Ludovico Carracci, Flight into Egypt
Luca Giordano (Italian artist, 1634–1705) The Flight into Egypt
Maarten de Vos (Flemish painter, 1532-1603) Return from the Flight into Egypt

Flight into Egypt - Paintings

 Guido da Siena, (1225-1280) Flight into Egypt
 Guido da Siena, (1225-1280) Flight into Egypt
 1308 Duccio di Buoninsegna, Flight into Egypt
 1398 Melchior Broederlam (fl. 1381–1409) Flight into Egypt
1423 Toppling of the Pagan Idols (Bedford Master). 
 1432 Flight into Egypt, altarpiece from Verdu, 1432-34, by Jaume Ferrer II known as The Younger (active between 1430 and 1460-1470)
 1450 Fra Angelico (1395–1455) Flight into Egypt
 1465 Vittore Carpaccio (Italian painter, c 1465–1526) Flight into Egypt
1494 Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) Flight into Egypt
 1500 Fra Bartolomeo or Fra Bartolommeo (di Pagholo) (1472–1517), The Rest on The Flight into Egypt
 1501 Jörg Breu the Elder (1475–1537) Flight into Egypt
 1515 Antonio da Correggio (1490–1534) Flight into Egypt
 1515 Master of the Mansi Magdalen (Netherlandish, active 1510-1525) Rest on the Flight into Egypt c 1515
1516 Hans Baldung (1485–1545) Flight into Egypt
 1520 The Rest on The Flight into Egypt by Anonymous, Northern Italy
 1525 Wolf Huber (1480–1553) Flight into Egypt
 1530 Master AB German School Flight into Egypt
 1530 Paris Bordone (Italian High Renaissance Painter, 1500-1571) Rest on the Flight into Egypt with St Catherine and Angels
 1545 Jacopo Bassano (Italian painter, 1510-1592) Flight into Egypt
 Francesco Bassano the Younger (1563-1570) Flight into Egypt
Francesco Bassano the Younger (1563-1570) Flight into Egypt
 1563 Orazio Lomi Gentileschi (Italian artist, 1563–1639) Madonna and Child The Rest on the Flight into Egypt
1596 Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio 1571-1610 Flight into Egypt
 1598 Francisco de Zurbarán (Spanish painter, 1598–1664) Flight into Egypt
 1600s Russian icon of the Flight into Egypt; the bottom section shows the idols of Egypt miraculously crumbling down before Jesus
 1616 Jacob Jordaens Return of the Holy Family from Egypt
 1700 Mancini, Francesco (1679 - 1758) Flight into Egypt
 1720 Giovanni Odazzi (Italian, 1663-1731) Rest on the Flight to Egypt
1828 Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794–1872) Flight into Egypt

1480 Hans Memling (circa 1433–1494) Flight into Egypt