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Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall


Monday, April 13, 2015

Walker Hill's "oldest stone tools in America", a silenced finding.


Back in January 2011 I posted on the Neandertal Skulls found in Minnesota and later lost. The site was located in Boundary Waters Canoe Area, northeast Minnesota. Today I will mention some "old" tools that caused quite a commotion in early 2007, but the findings were silenced and nothing more was heard of them.


An example of the uproar in the media is the article in National Geographic, which announced: "Ancient Stone "Tools" Found; May Be Among Americas' Oldest... Crude stone "tools" found in northern Minnesota may be at least 13,000 years old, a team of archaeologists recently announced....The team found about 50 such objects during a routine survey for road construction in the town of Walker, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Park Rapids. The finds include what appear to be a large hammerstone, beveled scrapers, rudimentary choppers, a crude knife, and numerous flakes that could have been used for cutting."


The image shows one of these tools, and it looks quite crude.



The tool looks very similar to the one found in Oregon which is now considered the "oldest", at 15.8 ky. (see yesterday's post).


Then... silence, no paper in a reputed peer reviewed publication, no more news, just silence.


Apparently orthodox science silenced the find. For those interested in the tough rebuke, you can read it at this link: The Walker Hill Site (21CA668):Comments on the Possibility of a Late Glacial Human Presence in Minnesota, by Scott Anfinson, Minnesota State Archaeologist, 2/20/07.


Some excerpts below:


All the raw materials of the “artifacts” from the site can be found in the local till...
All the re-working/flaking/abrading of the “artifacts” could have been produced by natural processes, specifically rapid stream action and frost shatter...
The purported “tools” were so crude as to be unconvincing or would have been difficult to use for the proposed tasks...
There was no evidence for biface production, which is the principal activity at many Clovis sites...
The vast majority of the lithics from the Walker Hill site did not demonstrate the characteristics that one would expect from humanly produced stone artifacts...


Among the arguments are some that surprised me: "There is no evidence for a pre-Clovis horizon anywhere in the Upper Midwest...The earliest inhabitants of the New World came from Old World lithic manufacturing traditions that had over two million years to perfect their craft (cf. Delagnes and Roche 2005) so one would expect some degree of skill demonstrated in the Walker Hill lithics. High quality workmanship is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the entire Paleoindian period"


The first point can be refuted by saying that this is the first site found. There is always a groundbreaking find that sets the precedent. But regarding the second point, perhaps we are not looking at modern human toolage, but at some Acheulean tools crafted by Homo sapiens or older Oldowan tools.



The two images above, from the website of the contemporary Ojibwe Indians who live at the site, look very "Oldowan" to my layman's eyes. The link is interesting, it explains the finds, the initial skepticism, and the belief that they are genuine.


However, Anfinson demolishes the finding in his paper; see Point #9 where he argues that the site was very inhospitable 14 kya, and lacked adequate prey for hunters.


Could the tools be older? and were brought to the surface strata by glacial action? In other words, could tools layed down 500 kya or 1 Mya have been later moved to superficial soil layers? Perhaps at an earlier time the region did offer better prospects to non-sapiens settlers.


By the way, Walker Hill, is 200 miles (320 km) southwest of the "Neander Skull site".



Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2015 by Austin Whittall © 

1 comment:

  1. Austin,
    Yet another good write up,
    After reading this and going back to your earlier neanderthal skull posting, I was motivated to look up a site that came up in an online converstation, Texas Street, San Diego CA.
    I found this summary of the archeology in the area.

    "EARLY MAN AT SAN DIEGO: A GEOMORPHIC·ARCHAEOLOGICAL VIEW

    George F. Carter

    Texas A&M University
    Department of Geography

    College Station, TX 77843-3147

    ABSTRACT

    The relatively stable, slowly uplifted San Diego coastal belt has preserved ancient landforms to an exceptional degree.

    Much of the area can be read as modified by a regressing sea throughout most of the Pleistocene. The glacial and inter-
    glacial sea level changes left classic alluvial covers over low sea stand beaches and valley fills recording high sea stands.

    The latest coastal terrace alluvial covers over high sea stand beaches contain an archaeological record. The valleys have

    fills attributed to episodes of high sea stand, and an archeological record is found in these fills also. The record of human

    occupation runs from an interglacial time into the present."

    and



    "Artifacts and Hearths From Beneath the 20·Foot Bench

    · From the face of the second bench and the upper part of

    · die third bench (the lowest of the three) hearths and artifacts

    occur wid~ly both laterally and in depth. They are evidence

    that man hved on the valley floor as it built up, an interglacial

    phenomenon. The attraction may have been the gully with its

    • supply of cobbles for making tools. The artifacts have been

    · wildly attacked, but more often than not by critics who have

    never been on the site nor ever handled the objects in question.

    They.we~ ~nstantly accepted by John Witthoft (1955). a pio-
    neer m hthlC technology. More recently, Barney Reeves of

    Canada. after three field sessions in San Diego, has accepted

    both the dating and the artifacts and thereby the evidence for

    early man (Reeves 1977. Reeves, Pohl and Smith 1986). The

    characterizing artifact is a cobble with either a natural or pre-
    pared platform from which long parallel sided flakes, techni-
    cally blades. have been struck. There are other artifacts, no-
    tably cleaver-like heavy items. resembling a tool called a skre-
    bl? in Siberian archaeology, a resemblance noted by Herb

    Minshall (1974. 1975, 1976, 1986). And there is much use of

    . sharp-edged flakes and cores. There is a total absence of manos

    and metates, bifacially flaked points, or any other tool typical

    ofany of the later people.

    · Archaeologist critics have at times questioned the age of

    · the site. No geologist, geomorphologist or soils man that has

    been on the site with me has ever suggested that it was a recent

    de~it. Some have suggested that it could be older than my

    estmlate of 100,000 years. It is a quite obvious valley fill,

    that has been left as a valley-flanking terrace. Its history may

    be more complex than I thought, and if so. it is somewhat

    older."

    www.scahome.org/publications/proceedings/Proceedings.09Carter.pdf

    These are the people i mentioned in an earlier conversation, that never developed an advanced blade technology.

    ReplyDelete

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