The Gravettians were the most successful human survivors of the last ice age. They provided most of the DNA for modern Europeans. They were nomads from the Black Sea region who made their homes mammoth skin tents held together by salvaged mammoth bones on the open treeless land. These people developed spear throwers to kill the large mammoths and they tamed wolves like dogs to protect their encampments from intruders and to help them hunt. Food was scarce in the last glacial maximum and survival depended on food, shelter, and intelligence as well as some innovation. Continue Reading
Cerutti Mastodon Site in San Diego, California discoveries indicate that early humans were in North America at least 130 kya.
Calico Hills Early Man Site in California indicate humans were in North America 100-200 kya.
Bluefish Cave Site, Canada indicates humans were in North America 24 kya.
Puebla, Mexico Site indicates humans were in Mexico 200-250 kya
Pedra Furada Site in Brazil indicate humans were in South America 48-60 kya.
And there are more…………….
When we take a look at these sites and the dates they have yielded we find that it appears humans have been in the Americas since 250-200 kya. But this is far from being the generally accepted timeframe for when humans migrated into the Americas! That timeline says we migrated across the Bering Landbridge around 15 kya! However, the more archaeologists discover, the more it appears that “someone” was in the Americas before 15 kya and that “mystery population” is affectionately known as “POPULATION Y.” Additionally, the more we learn about Paleoindians the more apparent it becomes that they did NOT look like modern Native Americans and, in fact, were quite different. At the tip of South America we have a people known as the Fuegians who ironically have many features sen in Homo erectus and we find the same features in a people known as the Pericues who lived at the tip of Baja California. But, according to mainstream thinking H. erectus was long extinct before these timeframes. I suggest that hypothesis is WRONG and note that some researchers believe H. erectus could have existed up until 20-30 kya!! Continue Reading
Could ancient people from Asia have taken a sea route instead of a land route into the Americas? Is it possible that they could have built boats and actually sailed across the Pacific or along the ancient shoreline to reach the New World? Further, could ancient people such as the Solutreans (1) have done the same only in the ancient Atlantic? And, finally, could ancient Pacific Islanders have done something similar?
When we typically think of the expansion migrations of ancient human ancestors we tend to think of them in terms as ancient humans walking out of Africa, into Asia, Europe, Southeast Asia, and into the Americas but walking as a way of migrating was NOT the only means available to our “ancient ones.” Surely over the course of the 2 million years that Homo erectus (the Great Explorer & Migrator) (2) existed at least one individual sat along a shoreline and pondered the floating leaf perhaps bedecked with an insect floating down the waterway and considered himself/herself doing the same. And surely one of these individuals in those 2 million years at least attempted to make a boat of some sort and set sail across the waters! In fact, I find it HIGHLY LIKELY that this is what happened! But where is the evidence?
When you ask where the evidence for this is you might want to take into account that at the beginning of the end of the last Ice Age 21 kya ocean levels have risen by about 120 meters (394 feet) on average. What that means is that any evidence for prehistoric seafaring is most likely now underwater! I highly doubt we’d find it on dry land today due to these rising sea levels since the end of the last glaciation period.
When it comes to prehistoric rising sea levels there are a few things we need to keep in mind. For one, back in 2012 it was discovered that prehistoric rising sea levels have NOT been constant! Rather, it has been punctuated by rapid accelerations due to massive floods from the ice caps and in particular Antarctica. According to Paleoclimatologists (those who study ancient climates) the largest increase we currently know about is called the “Melt-Water Pulse 1A.” This event was one of the most significant during the last glaciation according to studies carried out by CEREGE Laboratory in conjunction with the universities of Tokyo and Oxford.
This research confirmed speculation of the existence of such a nonuniform rising event in sea levels which had been a matter of debate for a while. This research concluded that such an event began 14.6 kya coinciding with the start of the present warming period we are in today known as the Bolling Oscillation (3) which marked the final end of the last Ice Age and brought the present warming period (interglacial period). On average sea levels rose on average about 14 meters (46 feet) globally over a period of less than 350 years. This averages out to about 45 mm (0.15 feet) per year. Currently, sea levels are rising an average of about 3 mm (0.0098 feet) per year.
The research team analyzed core samples taken from a coral reef near the island of Tahiti in Polynesia. Corals, like ice cores, remember climate changes. Corals are excellent for determining sea level variations and give us an excellent picture of ancient climates. Reconstructing sea levels from fossilized corals and using geophysical simulations researchers were able to identify the source of the once mysterious accelerations in rising sea levels. They discovered that the Antarctic ice cap was responsible for up to 50% of such increases! Before this research we thought it was only melting ice from the Northern Hemisphere that contributed to the Melt-Water Pulse 1A namely the Laurentide Ice Cap that covered a large part of what is today North America.
You can go to the Science Daily link below to read more about this research but for our purposes here this study just adds more support for the notion that ancient sea levels were much lower than they are today and what that means is that IF ancient human ancestors (at least some of them) did cross the waters to get to the New World instead of walking then the evidence for such seafaring is now buried under at least 300 feet or more of ocean water! Add to that the sediments that have built up on the sea floor since those possible ancient voyages and our luck of finding evidence of prehistoric sea voyages is pretty much like finding a needle in a haystack!
No one can escape the fact that humans have always been fascinated with the seas! History gives us plenty of shining examples of this from the ancient Phoenicians to the Vikings to us today not to mention the seafaring abilities of the people of Polynesia et al. I think humans had this same “love” for the waters in prehistoric times as well. In terms of Homo erectus I do NOT think this species/breed of ancient human ancestors were idiots nor lazy! In fact, Homo erectus MUST have been fairly intelligent and industrious IF he came out of Africa and migrated across the planet! That is excluding the America’s but of course 🙂 I do not think a group of ancient H. erectus during their continental migrations came up to a large river such as the Volga and made the decision to walk around instead of floating across! Hell that walk around would have added miles and miles to their journey! This ancient human ancestor had a knack for exploring and adventure and no one can deny that fact. Why should this same knack and sense of adventure coupled with ingenuity not apply to crossing the waters?
Humans have always had some odd connection to the sea. Some ancient humans lived along ancient shorelines drawing their food and sustenance from the sea and some STILL do today. In my mind it is highly possible that ancient people coming from Asia or even from Europe built boats and sailed across the sea waters to lands hence unknown! And the evidence for those voyages is now under water and sediments along ancient shorelines that no longer exist. To summarily dismiss this notion is rather foolish in my opinion. We like to think of ourselves as the utmost achievement in human evolution but that may not be as true as we’d like to believe. Our ancient human ancestors could NOT have possibly been that ignorant or we wouldn’t be here today! The survival of the human species took courage, innovation, and a good dose of adventurism! They, like us, had to satisfy their curiosity and most times that meant coming up with something new, something different. A boat fits that scenario perfectly!
BTW I want to lastly mention that back in 2010 researchers found prehistoric hand axes of the Island of Crete that suggests seafaring existed at least in the Mediterranean MORE than 100 kya earlier than thought!!! And these hand axes may have belonged to Homo heidelbergensis!! (4) For more on this discovery see the National Geographic link below.
1) The Solutrean hypothesis holds that ancient peoples from southwestern France and Spain came to the Americas via boats following along the edges of broken sea ice that extended across the Atlantic from Europe to North America. These people were Cro-magnon (early archaic Homo sapiens) and made the cave art we see in SW France. We have not found such cave art in the Americas like that found in France, however, this theory argues that the Solutreans may have been a group of these people who for whatever reason didn’t create cave art. Although this theory is highly controversial it is possible. There are similarities found in the eastern US shores between Solutrean stone artifacts and Clovis artifacts.
2) The Out-of-Africa Theory holds that Homo erectus was the first ancient human ancestor to migrate out of Africa and into the Levant and from there into Eurasia, Asia (Peking Man), and Southeast Asia (Java Man). Quite a feat for a “primitive” species! Obviously, this speices had some measure of intelligence, sense of adventure, and knack for innovation and ingenuity! In other words, they weren’t as dumb as we might think!
3) The Bolling Oscillation was a warming period between the Oldest Dryas and Older Dryas stadials (cold period) at the end of the last glaciation. It’s used to describe a time period in relation to pollen zones in regions where the Older Dryas is undetected in the climatological record. It ranged between 14.6-14.1 kya. At this time it is believed ancient humans reentered the thawing forests of Europe to search of big game. These human cultures were the last of the Late Upper Paleolithic.
4) Homo heidelbergensis aka Heidelberg Man may have built and used rafts for fishing. If so then it is easy to extend that concept to conclude this ancient ancestor used his rafts for other purposes as well including exploration!
Archaeologists have long held the belief that the Clovis People were the first to arrive and settle in the Americas, however, this assumption is no longer the case in light of the growing evidence. The reason for this assumption was that no contrary evidence had been found to cast doubt on the Clovis being first. Of course, the theory was that the Clovis people crossed the landbridge that existed (more than once) between Siberia and Alaska during the last Ice Age and made their way southward via an ice-free corridor that existed at the time in Alaska and Western Canada.
Then in 2011 studies began to emerge challenging the Clovis First hypothesis. One such study took place at Buttermilk Creek, Texas where a prominent group of researchers claimed to have established the existence of a pre-Clovis culture. New C14 dates obtained by the researchers at Texas A&M University put the Clovis Culture in a shorter time frame beginning 450 years later than thought (13,200 kya to 12,900 kya). Most researchers now hold the view that the Clovis First hypothesis was wrong.
In 2015 another study undertaken by a number of researchers concluded that even though the theorized ice-free corridor in Western Canada was thought to be the entry point for the first Americans their research suggested that this ice-free corridor opened too late for the Clovis People to have passed through. These researchers suggested that by 10 kya the ice-free corridor in Alberta, Canada and British Columbia was gradually overtaken by Boreal Forest dominated by spruce and pine trees and that the Clovis people most likely CAME FROM THE SOUTH not the north possibly via following wild animals like bison!
There are also other discoveries over the years that have challenged the Clovis First hypothesis. One site was in Pedra Furada, Brazil which was dated between 10.5-12 kya and possibly greater than 50 kya but these dates were strongly disputed by other researchers. Another site was in Monte Verde, Chile which was dated between 18.5-14.8 kya and yet another was found at Taima-Taima, Venezuela dated at 14 kya. Other sites in South America are: Lapa do Boquete, Brazil dated at about 12 kya, El Abra in Columbia dated at about 11.7 kya, and the Tagua-Taugua site in Chile dated at around 11.4 kya.
In North America sites predating Clovis Culture include the Meadowcroft site in Rockshelter, PA dated at 16 kya, the Cactus Hill site in Virginia dated at about 15 kya, the Saltville site in Virginia dated at 14.5 kya, the Connley Caves site in Oregon dated at 13 kya, the Page-Ladson Prehistory site located in Florida dated at 15-14 kya, Paisley Caves in Oregon dated at 14.3 kya, the Tanana Valley site in Alaska dated between 13-14 kya, the Nenana Valley site in Alaska dated at about 12 kya, and as of now the Bluefish Caves site in the Yukon dated at 24 kya.
Some theorists believe pre-Clovis people migrated southward along the North American coastline while others argue that there were likely multiple migration routes. Continue Reading