Nestled in the State of Piaui, Brazil is a site affectionately known as “pierced rock” or in the Brazilian tongue as “Pedra Furada.” This site is important because it is a collection of over 800 archaeological sites which contain hundreds of rock paintings dating back to 11 kya. Along with the rock paintings there are stone shards and the charcoal remains of ancient fires all of which indicate an ancient human presence in the area in remote times.
Back in 1973 an archaeological team from France and Brazil excavated a site in the SE part of the Sierra de Capivara National Park in Brazil and this is when the first artifacts from this site were discovered. These find were reported and published in 1986 by Brazilian archeologist Niede Guidon. She and others since that time have conducted more excavations into the site.
The site was named Pedra Furada and primarily it is composed of rock shelters used by humans thousands of years ago. During the first excavations dates using C14 carbon dating were obtained ranging from 48-32 kyr. Repeated analysis confirmed these dates but extended the range to possibly 60 kya! This falls near the dates obtained at the San Diego California site known as Cerutti Mastodon Site recently reported (see my post on that) to be about 130 kyr making them far older than the generally accepted dates for human habitation of the Americas which is roughly 20,000 years ago.
Guidon established 15 levels at the site with Pedra Furada being the oldest level. These 3 levels are cultural levels. The other two levels are the Sierra Talhada level (12-7 kyr) and the Agreste level. The site has hundreds of rock paintings dated between 5-11 kyr. In addition, another site within the national park includes the Toca da Tira Peia site which shows signs of human habitation dating back to 22 kyr.
The finds at the Pedra Furada site are, as to be expected, “controversial” because of their age. They also directly contradict the “Clovis First Theory” proving that the Clovis Culture was NOT the first group of humans in the Americas! This is an ongoing heated dispute today with little to no agreement on what this discovery means as it is with the Cerutti Mastodon Site in California and others across the Americas.
The Pedra Furada site gives evidence for what is known as the “Long Chronology Theory” which holds that the first peoples in the Americas came at a much earlier date (21-40 kya or more) followed by more recent migrations into the Americas. The alternative theory, and most accepted, is known as the “Short Chronology Theory, that holds humans first came into the Americas around 15-20 kya followed by later migrations. I personally hold to the Long Chronology Theory!
As with any find in the Americas involving dates that exceed the 20 kyr mark the finds at Pedra Furada are controversial to say the least. Some researchers believe the associated artifacts are real artifacts while others think they are nothing more than mere geofacts. To summarize my feelings about this matter allow me to quote The Guardian’s writer Alex Bellos who writes:
“US archaeologists believe that the artifacts are geofacts created naturally because the North Americans CANNOT BELIEVE that they do not have the oldest site!”. Seems we have a big problem with ethnocentrism in the US today.
Then we have David Meltzer of Southern Methodist University who says if there really were pre-Clovis people in South America then why do we not find them in North America too? Well I think the Cerutti Mastodon Site in San Diego, CA and the Puebla site in Mexico along with others in North America pretty much answer that question. There is CLEAR evidence of pre-Clovis people in North America too but the mainstream in the US is busy ignoring it or covering it up!! Do they even know what they are looking at anymore???
Guidon says the charcoal is NOT from natural fires as it is only found inside the rock shelters. She says, “Americans criticize WITHOUT KNOWING. The problem is not mine! The problem is theirs! AMERICANS SHOULD EXCAVATE MORE AND WRITE LESS!!” I wholeheartedly agree!! Get out into the field and away from the damned desk!!!
The artifacts at the site are rather simple and we find the same simplicity at the Cerutti and other sites. It would seem that those early people who came into the Americas lagged behind a bit in improvements in stone tool technology for whatever reasons. Nevertheless, this is an IMPORTANT SITE in my mind and yet more PROOF that early humans were in the Americas long before commonly believed!
Finally, just to note there are several sites in the US that predate the Clovis Culture and these include the following:
Cerutti Mastodon Site, San Diego, CA dated at 130 kyr
Calico Hills Early Man Site, California, dated at between 100-200 kyr
Buttermilk Creek Complex, Texas, dated at 15.5 kyr
Meadowcroft Rock Shelter, Pennsylvania, dated at 16-19 kyr
Topper Site, South Carolina, dated at 50 kyr
Page-Ladson Site, Florida, dated at 15 kyr
Cactus Hills Site, Virginia, dated at 18-20 kyr (evidence of Solutrean Hypothesis)
The Schaefer and Heboir Mammoth Sites, Wisconsin, dated at 12-13 kyr
Lovewell Site, Kansas, dated at 22 kyr
La Sena Site, Nebraska, 18-20 kyr
Paisley Caves, Oregon, dated at 12-14 kyr
Pic from the Pedra Pintada site