Archaeologists confirm 16,000-year-old Idaho stone arrowheads

(ORDO NEWS) — Archaeologists have conducted a radiocarbon analysis of finds made in America at the Paleolithic site of Coopers Ferry.

The results obtained confirmed past findings that people were present on these lands about 16 thousand years ago, that is, before the opening of the corridor between the Cordillera and Laurentian ice sheets.

According to the researchers, the petiole arrowheads found at this site are reminiscent of artifacts from Asia in terms of manufacturing technology.

The time and routes of the settlement of America are highly debatable topics. For a long time, representatives of the Clovis archaeological culture, which existed about 13.5–10.8 thousand years ago, were considered the oldest population of this continent.

But subsequent discoveries showed that people ended up in America earlier. It is safe to say that the first Americans settled south of the ice sheets as early as 16,000 to 15,000 years ago.

At the same time, more ancient evidence of human activity on this continent regularly appears.

For example, last year in the United States found human footprints about 21-23 thousand years old, and this year they found mammoth bones with traces of butchering, about 37 thousand years old.

At the same time, such finds are often disputed, as happened, for example, with the oldest site in Mexico.

In western Idaho is the Coopers Ferry Paleolithic site, which was first excavated in 1997. She received her wide popularity in 2019, when archaeologists presented the results of many years of research.

To establish the age of the tools found here, the scientists carried out radiocarbon analysis of charcoal samples and fragments of animal bones, and also obtained dates for feldspar samples using optically stimulated luminescence.

Combining the data obtained with the help of Bayesian modeling, they came to the conclusion that a person could have first appeared at this site about 16560-15280 years ago.

This testified in favor of the coastal route of migration of the first settlers.

Loren Davis of Oregon State University, together with colleagues from Austria, the UK, Canada, China, the US, and Japan, presented the results of the 2012-2017 archaeological survey at Coopers Ferry Site B.

In the layer with the oldest traces of human presence, scientists discovered three household or garbage pits.

The first of them received the symbol F78 and was an object with a diameter of about 105 centimeters and a depth of about 50 centimeters.

Among other things, the filling of this pit contained four intact and fragmented points, numerous chips, seven thermally deformed stones, two pieces of charcoal, and 226 fragments of animal bones.

The second pit (F108) was an object about 90 centimeters in diameter and about 40 centimeters deep. It contained seven intact and fragmented arrowheads, debitage, and 21 fragments of animal bones.

In the third pit (F151), approximately 75×60 centimeters in size and about 50 centimeters deep, the researchers found chips that appeared during the splitting of the stone and 16 animal bones.

Archaeologists confirm 16 000 year old Idaho stone arrowheads 2
Chronostratigraphic correlation of excavations A and B at the Coopers Ferry site

For radiocarbon analysis, scientists selected two fragments of animal bones from pits F78 and F108, and three more from pit F151.

The obtained calibrated dates indicate that the age of the finds from pit F78 is about 15719–15914 years, from pit F108 about 15590–15975 years, and from pit F151 about 15617–16675 years.

This allowed archaeologists to assume that all three objects belong to approximately the same time.

However, the finds made in excavation B were not limited to these three pits. Outside, the researchers found ten more stone chips, six fragments of animal bones and two arrowheads.

In addition, some finds date back to later times (approximately 11610–10595 years ago).

Among them were the bones of a wolverine (Gulo gulo), numerous stone tools, thermally deformed stones, debitage and bone remains of other animals.

Archaeologists confirm 16 000 year old Idaho stone arrowheads 3
Stratigraphy of Excavation B at the Coopers Ferry site and location of the discovered pits

The archaeologists noted that for Site A at the Coopers Ferry site, they had previously determined the chronology using Bayesian modeling.

It showed that people appeared at this site between 16500-15250 and 13450-11800 years ago.

For site B, the time of the first human appearance was determined using Bayesian modeling between 16,045 and 15,725 years ago.

This is comparable to the previous assessment, and the time frame in the second case is significantly narrower.

The study of stone artifacts from the Coopers Ferry site also allowed us to draw some conclusions regarding the origin of the industry of the early population of America.

In their opinion, the tool-making technology of these people was similar to that used by the Upper Paleolithic populations living in South Siberia and East Asia.

They see the closest analogue to the tips from Cooper’s Ferry in the artifacts of the late stage of the Upper Paleolithic, found in Hokkaido.

At the same time, the researchers noted that this does not at all indicate the origin of Paleo-Americans from the ancient population of Japan.

The latter, in particular, is contradicted by the data of paleogenetics and odontology.

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