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Tools of Pre-Clovis Inhabitants

Evidence for Pre-Clovis Inhabitants of Americas Emerges from Sea Floor


A fisherman inadvertently dragged up one of the most significant pieces of evidence for the existence of ancient inhabitants of North America prior to the Clovis people, who walked the land some 15,000 years ago. A small wooden scallop trawler was dredging the seafloor off the coastline of Chesapeake Bay, when he hit a snag. When he pulled up his net, he found a 22,000-year-old mastodon skull and a flaked blade made of a volcanic rock called rhyolite. A report in Live Science says that the combination of the finds may suggest that people lived in North America, and possibly butchered the mastodon, thousands of years before people from the Clovis culture, who are widely thought to be the first settlers of North America and the ancestors of all living Native Americans.

Most researchers believe the first Americans crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia about 15,000 years ago and quickly colonized North America. Artifacts from these ancient settlers, who have been named the Clovis culture after one of the archaeological sites in Clovis, New Mexico, have been found from Canada to the edges of North America. However, a number of discoveries in recent years have challenged the view that the Clovis were the first, and to date, no archaeological evidence of human settlements has ever been found in the Beringian land bridge.

The mastodon and stone tool finding further supports the perspective that there were other inhabitants of America that preceded the Clovis.  The ancient fossil and tool were first hauled off the seafloor in 1974, and were donated to Gwynn's Island Museum in Virginia, where they sat unnoticed for four decades. However, scientists have now realised the significance of the items after Dennis Stanford, an archaeologist with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., carried out radiocarbon dating on the mastodon tusk and found it was more than 22,000 years old.  While the stone tool cannot be dated, the characteristics of the artifact suggest it is also of the same age.

Both pieces show characteristic weathering that indicated they were exposed to the air for a while and then submerged in a saltwater marsh, before finally being buried in seawater, possible at the same time. Furthermore, the flint-knapping technique used to make it was similar to that found in Solutrean tools, which were made in Europe between 22,000 and 17,000 years ago. Taken together, the discovery gives credence to the Solutrean hypothesis, which proposes that the first inhabitants arrived by sea from southwest Europe millennia earlier than the Clovis.

Microstriations and wear shown are typical of tool use

Microstriations and wear shown are typical of tool use. The sharp crisp edges suggest it wasn't tumbled in the surf or carried by water. The wear on the tool suggests it was on dry land at some point and then buried by sea water, which means the tool was older than 14,000 years old. Credit: Dennis Stanford

"I think it's very convincing," said Michael B. Collins, an anthropologist at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, who was not involved in the current work. The weathering on both items — first with open air, then saltwater, then seawater exposure — would be almost impossible to get without them having been on land prior to rising sea levels, Collins explained.

While this discovery adds one more piece to a very large puzzle, the debate regarding the first inhabitants of the Americas is far from over.

Featured image: Left: The flaked blade. Right: The mastodon teeth. Credit: Dennis Stanford

By April Holloway



LadyGreenEyes's picture

Dennis Stanford was a very sharp fellow.  The book he co-authored with Bruce Bradley, Across Atlantic Ice, does a fine job of making the so-named Solutrean Hypothesis more of a real theory.  The evidence is very solid, and fits in well with real legends from many Amerind tribes of white-skinned people being in various areaas when the Amerinds arrived.  Yes, real legends.  One is from the Cherokee, with it being stated that these people were run out or killed by either the Cherokee or the Creek.  There are many others.  If people did in fact come across the edge of the ice, from Europe, they would have been in much smaller numbers than any Beringia crossing would have brought.  Typical fights for territory would have been quite imbalanced, so it’s likely most would have been eliminated.  No attack on anyone; just stating human nature and how things have happened in recorded history all over the world. 

To deny all of the evidence isn’t scientific at all.  Who was where in ancient times doesn’t change current politics, and facts don’t change because they might hurt someone’s feelings.  The simple truth is, the Americas were likely peopled by those from every race, much earlier than has been historically accepted, and we do not, and never can, know who was here first.  We should look for the facts, not argue politics about the ancient past.


LadyGreenEyes's picture

Fascinating. Can you share photos of some of these?  Have any been tested?  I am sure there is much that we don’t know about prehistory.


LadyGreenEyes's picture

Never?  What about all of these legends?

What about many more from Central and South America of white-skinned people who taught things, were considered to be gods, and were the reason the Spanish were treated as such? 


As an actual native who knows our history, NEVER have we said that you people were here before you invaded our lands in the early 1500's. Only in the ignorant imaginations of fools like yourself does this lie get told.
So there is a story about how some of our people were sent to the outside world to spread wisdom and that one day a group of fair-skinned people would come to our shores with the wisdom given to them and our world would enter a peaceful age. This same story also warned about what would happen if these people were corrupted, about how death and destruction would follow them where ever they go. That is the only story that any of our people have in regards to the white race.

I am doing research in this area. Please email so I can see what you have. Would love to talk to you. [email protected]


aprilholloway's picture


April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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