Quirks & Quarks

Underwater archaeology confirms early humans in Americas

Artefacts and precise dating of a submerged site in Florida confirm people were in the Americas 14,500 years ago.

New finds suggest people were present 2000 years before previously thought

Underwater excavation at the site in Florida (Mike Waters)
New excavations at a controversial archaeological site in Florida have added further confirmation that humans had settled across the Americas more than 2000 years earlier than had previously been suspected. 

Dr. Michael Waters, a professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans, at Texas A&M University, and his colleagues re-examined the Page-Ladson site in north-western Florida, which is currently under the Aucilla river, but was a dry shoreline during the last ice age.  They found stone tools and butchered mastodon bones, and carefully radio-carbon dated material around them, to confirm human activity at the site more than 14,500 years ago. 

This is well before the earliest Clovis culture sites which had been thought to be the first humans in the Americas, and Dr. Waters suggests that it's likely humans were around even earlier than his new evidence would suggest.

Related Links

- Paper in Science Advances
- Texas A&M University release
- Center for the Study of the first Americans
National Geographic story
Smithsonian Magazine story