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".
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