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Evidence of the earliest human activity found in Chile’s south

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« on: April 23, 2012, 01:54:44 am »

Evidence of the earliest human activity found in Chile’s south
Sunday, 22 April 2012 06:00
Written by Jason Suder





University archaeologists found 14,000-year-old knives while studying elephant ancestors.

Archaeologists and anthropologists excavating a site in the south of Chile have uncovered stones that are believed to have been used as tools by humans 14,000 years ago.

Scientists from Universidad Católica de Temuco and Universidad Austral de Chile (UACh) were able to determine these were tools because they exhibit the marking congruent with ancient knives and cutting utensils.

human activity discoveryThe Volcano of Osorno nearby the site where scientists uncovered 14,000-year-old tools. (Photo by Claudio Sepúlveda Geoffroy/Flickr)

“There are rock detachments from a simple, intentional blow that demonstrate that they were doctored, and that means this is a product of a human being. It lets us postulate that cultural diversity was present in this epoch,” UACh archaeologist Efe Ximena Navarro told El Mostrador.

The discovery occurred near Osorno by accident while paleontologists were studying the fossilized remains of gomphotheres, ancestors of modern elephants presumed to have been hunted by human communities in the area.

The artifacts provide some of the oldest evidence of human existence in the Americas.

Researchers note that this group would have been contemporary to the society found at Puerto Montt, also located in the south of Chile, where the continent’s most ancient archaeological deposit exists.

"This means that there were other areas, other nearby areas in the south of Chile, that were inhabited by the first settlers," said Navarro, adding that this discovery uncovers new information about how the first inhabitants in South America lived.

Research confirmed that these settlers crossed the Bering Strait from Asia into the Americas rather than traveling south via Alaska. Passing over the ice bridges into Alaska would have delayed their settlement so far in the Southern Hemisphere several thousand years.

Unlike the more settled camp in Puerto Montt, this new site is believed to have been strictly used for scavenging. River stones have been found near the site that were most likely used for breaking apart endemic produce to consume with local game.

“This is a scavenging site, surely for the collection of fauna, and there exists the possibility that they picked fruits,” said Navarro.

Researchers will now use microscopes to perform further analysis of the new findings.

By Jason Suder (suder@santiagotimes.cl)
Copyright 2012 - The Santiago Times


http://www.santiagotimes.cl/chile/science-technology/23717-evidence-of-the-earliest-human-activity-found-in-chiles-south
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