Discovery of ancient stone tools in Brazil challenges belief about human arrival in the Americas
Archaeologists have announced the discovery of stone tools in Brazil which they say prove that ancient humans arrived in the Americas long before the Clovis people, upending the predominant theory of how the continent was settled.
According to current perspectives, the Clovis people arrived in the Americas from Asia about 13,000 – 15,000 years ago. However, researchers found stone tools embedded in a rock shelter where prehistoric humans once lived, which have been dated to 22,000 years.
“If they’re right, and there’s a great possibility that they are, that will change everything we know about the settlement of the Americas,” said Walter Neves, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Sao Paulo.
The stone tools were found in Serra Da Capivara National Park, Brazil, a region steeped in history with thousands of rock art paintings across 945 separate sites. The tools were dated using thermo luminescence, a technique that measures the exposure of sediments to sunlight, to determine their age.
One of the many rock shelters in Serra Da Capivara National Park. Photo source .
The finding adds to the growing body of research which challenges the ‘Clovis-first model’, which supposes that human settlers arrived in the Americas by walking over a land bridge across the Bering Strait from Siberia to Alaska around 13,000 to 15,000 years ago. Last year, for example, palaeontologists in Uruguay published findings suggest that humans hunted giant sloths there about 30,000 years ago .
However, as with all prevalent views, contradicting the Clovis model which has been espoused for more than half a century, has fuelled a heated debate, and scholars in the dwindling Clovis-first camp were quick to reject the findings.
Gary Haynes, an archaeologists at the University of Nevado, Reno, argued that the stone tools were not tools at all but were simply stones that became chipped and broken naturally when they fell from a rock ledge, while another archaeologists from the Louis Berger Group, an environmental consulting company, claimed that monkeys probably made the tools instead of humans.
Having their findings disputed is nothing new for the archaeologists working at Serra de Capivara. Dr Guidon, the Brazilian archaeologists who pioneered the excavations, asserted more than two decades ago, that her team had found evidence in the form of charcoal from hearth fires that humans had lived in the region about 48,000 years ago. Prior to that, her team had found remnants of ancient fires dating back 100,000 years. Her theory is that the first humans arrived in the Americas not overland from Asia, but by boat from Africa. But that is just too much for some scholars to swallow.
Featured image: Rock art in the Serra Da Capivara National Park, Brazil. Photo source: Wikipedia