Ancient Stone Tools in Brail - Humans arrival

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.

Rock shelters in Serra Da Capivara National Park

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

By April Holloway


I am confused by this persistent Clovis First argument on two fronts. First, when Europe has solid evidence of Homo Sapiens going back at least 30,000 years, and Neanderthals several hundred thousand, why are these Clovis First people trying so hard to limit human presence in the Americas to less than 14,000 years? It seems to me any evidence of older human habitation here makes the migration stories as well as the spread of humanity story far more interesting. Knowing our species nature as well as I do, it's hard for me to imagine my ancient cousins waiting so incredibly late to decide to find and inhabit the Americas. I feel the time gap between European and American habitation as currently accepted has always been awkward.

Second, the true beauty and value of science as a method lies in its relentless quest for truth through the pursuit of evidence, coupled with its ability to change its views and its focus as new evidence refines the parameters of the search. I feel a deep sense of unease when I read about how scientific peers or government agencies attack or belittle new findings that suggest currently accepted explanations might be wrong. If the purpose of science is to study and reveal truth based on evidence, then ALL evidence should be examined openly and with the same vigor as that which established the current understanding of the question. To do otherwise is to transmute current knowledge into dogma, and the LAST thing any of us need is a scientific dogma.


angieblackmon's picture

I'm so late to the game...I'm just hearing about the Clovis there's something older (but newer! haha)...I guess I need to get on top of all of this...can't wait for my kid's teacher to ask who discovered America...I can hear the parent-teacher conference now! :) :) :)

love, light and blessings


Really, are you serious, that's been known for decades. The Clovis theory is basically like saying If we sail west we will fall off the Earth. A woman lost her career cause she found a site in Mexico and the academic community lost their minds and at first she thought she was just pushing the date back another 10,000 years. It ended up being about 500,000 years and was covered up, literally by having a house built over the site while scientists were trying to get a permit to go back. You can find her story on Forbidden Archeaology on YouTube if you don't believe it. In 1909 a Phoenix newspaper wrote about a find in the Grand Canyon that also was covered up. They found Egyptian style mummies and artifacts in a cave on a cliff that people still aren't allowed to go near. When will people wake up and stop believing things that have already been proven wrong?

This is really massive. If these stone tools were found and dated to a fringe date like 13,500 or 14,000, maybe even 15,000, not a lot would change besides the knowledge that people may have come from down the coast whilst others were settling up north in the cold. But since it's 22,000 - twenty-two?! - it's incredible. I hope this gets a lot more coverage because a date like that changes everything and I hope finds like these become more common because this great picture of American prehistory is getting grander every month it seems. Great story. 


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