Linguistic Anthropologists using the latest technology are trying to solve an “ancient mystery” of how and when early humans inhabited the New World. Their latest finds suggest complex patterns of contact and migration among the first people who settled in the Americas. Ahhh…….life is not so simple and this research proves that once again.
The research is being led by the University of Virginia. Researchers say that ecological, genetic, and archaeological data support the hypothesis of human habitation in Beringia during the last Ice Age using new linguistic methods to compare similarities and differences between languages.
This new research is analyzing more than 100 linguistic features and findings indicate there were more complex patterns of contact and migration among the early people of the Americas. They note that the diversity of language in the Americas is like no other continent on the planet with 8 times more isolates than found on any other continent. Isolates are languages that have no demonstrable connection to any other language with which it can be classed into a family.
In North America there are 26 isolates while in South America there are 55. These isolates are primarily found along the western edges of North and South America. Compare this to just 1 isolate found in Europe, 8 found in Africa, and 9 in Asia and you begin to see the significance of this study! The isolates found in North and South America far outweigh those found in Europe, Asia, and Africa combined!!
Scientists have been rethinking the landbridge theory that is theorized to have existed (more than once) between Siberia and Alaska. It may NOT have just been a bridge! In fact, several scientists are coming to the opinion that it was far more than just a bridge, perhaps some kind of landmass. Humans are known to have lived in this area for up to 15K years and they are known to have migrated down into North America and some migrations were in reverse, meaning back into Asia. Continue Reading
Entrance to the Apache Death Cave, Canyon Diablo, Arizona
I had seen the cave from I-40 several times as I passed over the bridge and glanced down in the bottom of Canyon Diablo (Spanish for the “Devil’s Cave”) and never really thought anything of it although I made a note in my head to explore it someday. When that day came we made our way down into the canyon which is rather tricky to say the least and to the magnificent cave at the bottom. It was well worth the trek down into the canyon and a memory I will always cherish.
Canyon Diablo is just east of Flagstaff, Arizona on I-40 and according to Navajo legend the area is cursed by the dead and anyone who tries to reside there risks upsetting the angry spirits who long ago met a terrible fate in the cave at the bottom of the canyon. But the story told by the Navajo elders has more to say about the place and the cave than just a curse because they tell a story of how a lost band of Apaches were in the area in 1878 conducting raids on Navajo encampments. In one of those raids the Apache killed the inhabitants of a Navajo camp including men, women, and children and only three girls managed to somehow survive the bloody raid. Those three girls were taken by the Apaches and the village was ransacked.
Ruins of the Pioneer settlement at Canyon Diablo, Arizona
The Navajo leaders discovered the massacre and organized a party to exact revenge on the Apache raiders. They dispatched about 24 of their best warriors to track the Apaches down and as they were doing this news reach the Navajo elders that the Apache had conducted yet another raid on another Navajo settlement! That second raid had taken place near Canyon Diablo and the elders dispatched a search party to the area to find the marauding Apaches.
The Navajo warrior search party went out but could not find the Apaches and they were about to give up the search. That is when the search party came across something bizarre! A blast of very hot air suddenly shot up through the ground, the elders say, which of course startled the warriors and their horses. When they took a closer look the Navajo warriors discovered that the Apaches were held up in a huge underground cave so big that it could hold 42 men and their horses! The blast of very hot air they had felt was coming from the fires lit by the Apaches in the underground cave which had made the ground very warm. Thus, the Apache fires had given them away to the Navajo warriors!
Two Guns, Canyon Diablo, Arizona
The Navajo warriors knew they had to stop the Apache marauders so they devised a plan to rid themselves of them and it was a diabolical plan to say the least. Some of the warriors ambushed and killed the Apache lookout and other warriors gathered as much Continue Reading