Friday, March 25, 2011

Only In Texas....!

Just one more interesting fact of history concerning Texas.

I know you may get tired of hearing about Texas, but being a native son I feel a certain compulsion to tell these stories when I find them! Besides, you have to admit this is pretty interesting! We can thank the folks over at LiveScience for this article.

Humans camped by the shores of a small creek in Texas possibly even before the Clovis society, classically regarded as the first human inhabitants of the Americas, settled in the West.

The site, located in central Texas on the bank of Buttermilk Creek, has produced almost 16,000 artifacts, including stone chips and blade-like objects, in soil dating up to 15,500 years old, more than 2,000 years before the first evidence of Clovis culture. Many of the items are flakes from cutting or sharpening of tools, but the research team also found about 50 tools, including several cutting surfaces — including spear points and knives.

"The tools that we found there indicate that they were camping along the Buttermilk Creek," study researcher Mike Waters, at Texas A&M University, told LiveScience. "This probably would have been a place where they were living and conducting daily activities."

All of the objects were small and light and seem to indicate that the group led a mobile lifestyle, moving from place to place but always returning. From the wear and tear on the artifacts, some seem to have been used for cutting soft materials, like hides, while others may have been used on harder materials, like stone.

The prehistoric humans seem to have used the site for multiple centuries, as the soil where the artifacts were found was dated to between 12,800 and 15,500 years ago. "They would leave the site and come back, and each time leave behind evidence of their activities," Waters said. "They slowly but surely built up these deposits. Dating them shows they range from 15,500 years ago, then just keep going until the Clovis material."

The researchers couldn't date the material with the gold-standard method using carbon-14, since none of the artifacts had organic components, such as plant matter. The team used a different kind of dating on the soil around the artifacts, and some researchers called it into question. Extended excavation of the site could reveal carbon-dateable objects, which would confirm the age of the site.

If the dating is correct, this group would predate the Clovis society, long thought to have colonized the Americas 13,000 years ago, and could have given rise to the Clovis society. These prehistoric human societies are generally defined by the stone tools they used, the size and shape of which changed over time. Clovis used bigger blades and tools than those found at this layer of the Buttermilk site.

The site isn't the first to predate Clovis, though Waters believes his evidence is the clearest yet.

Not everyone agrees with Waters' interpretations of the findings, though. While other researchers don't question that there were probably human populations in America before Clovis, they note the evidence isn't as strong at this site as at some others.

Tom Dillehay, a researcher at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee who wasn't involved in the study, told LiveScience that the ecological conditions at the site, including rain-swept mud and remnants of creek flooding, may have mixed the sediment layers, meaning the Clovis sediments could have been buried on top of the artifacts described by Waters, and therefore been considered more recent. The top layers are very thin.

Gary Haynes, of the University of Nevada, Reno, praised the authors for a "potentially major find" but had many of the same concerns about the research.

"They need to excavate a bigger area of the site before they can draw these kinds of conclusions," Dillehay told LiveScience. "I don't see that the data is there to present the conclusions that they are presenting."

I always kinda wanted to go on a dig, ya know? Just think of the excitement when digging up or finding something not seen for a thousand years or so! What a rush that would be!

Let's have some fresh coffee on the patio and talk about our old ancestors...OK?


Anonymous said...

I used to go artifact hunting on our ranch when I was much younger. I doubt the bird points and atlatl dart points I found were nearly as old as the ones mentioned in the post above, but they are old enough.

Its pretty fascinating when you think about it - what you are holding in your hand could be older than the Great Pyramyds. It has lain in the soil for centuries, only now to be held in your hand.

Like I said - Fascinating!

Momlady said...

'Preciate the history lesson, HJ. Always knew our country had ancient history.
Missed you yesterday.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Good story and I hope hope they prove that they are right on the dates. BTW, they call that place a camp instead of a "summer home" since the pre-historic people were not rich enough? (grin)

HermitJim said...

Hey Anon 7:21...
I love the fact that we can still find so many relics from the past!

The imagine runs a little wild trying to imagine the story behind the object! What a feeling!

I really appreciate you coming by today!

Hey Momlady...
Once you get down to the "real history" things become very interesting indeed!

I would imagine there is a lot of history in your area! No telling what a metal detector would turn up!

Thanks for the visit this morning, my friend!

Hey Dizzy...
I don't know how they determine the difference between a camp and a summer home! Interesting thought, though.

Wonder if it was because those folks were always moving so much?

You have a great day, and thanks for coming by today!

JoJo said...

Thank you for this bit of history it is very interesting. I would love to also go on a dig like this. I have friends who do this sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I think all history is interesting and especially when it is as old as this one. Sweden were still covered in ice back then, but they have found remains that is around 14 000 years old.

I live in an area that has lots of old graves from the stone age and forward. Many people finds old stone tools when they dig in their yards but I haven´t so far. But I think it is an old Viking grave ve have just hundred yards from my cottage. So keep on telling Texas history!

Have a great day!

HermitJim said...

Hey JoJo...
Your friends probably are doing volunteer digging, right? I think that's a great way for some of us to spend some of our time!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today.

Hey Christer...
Who knows? You may dig up an old viking someday when fooling around in your flower bed!

It would be great if you could use a metal detector around your yard! Who knows what you might find?

Hey, thanks for coming by today! said...

Archaeology (and Anthropology) always were and still are my secret, hidden passions. I didn't know that I could go to college and study these fields.
Every summer there was an open (somewhat) dig at that old Indian camp ground between Georgetown and Taylor...Rowe Valley. I did go out there several times. I was also in San Antonio when they were excavating in front of the Alamo.The same of 6th street in Austin. I always found it facinating!
Love ya.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim!
Metal detectors is strictly forbidden in Sweden just because of that :-) Lots of collectors both swedish and others used them to rob old graves and sell the findings on the not so legal market.