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No. 47: Sep-Oct 1986

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Humans in the americas 32,000 years ago?

The following abstract is from Nature. Ir relates to one of the most controversial digs in the New World: Pedra Furada, in Brazil.

"The view that man did not arrive on the American continent before the last glaciation has been supported by the fact that until now the known and dated archaeological sites have not been of very great antiquity. But now we report radiocarbon dates from a Brazilian site which establish that early man was living in South America at least 32,000 years ago. These new findings come from the large painted rock shelter of Boqueirao do Sitio da Pedra Furada, the walls and ceiling of which are decorated with a rich set of prehistoric paintings. We have excavated a sequence containing abundant lithic industry and well-structured hearths at all levels. Carbon-14 dates from charcoal establish a continuous chronology indicating human occupation from 6,160 130 to 32, 160 100 years BP. A date of 17,000 400 BP, obtained from charcoal found in a level with fragments of a pictograph fallen from the walls, testifies to the antiquity of rupestral art in the region of Brazil."

(Guidon, N., and Delibrias, G.; "Carbon-14 Dates Point to Man in the Americas 32,000 Years Ago," Nature, 321: 769, 1986.)

Comment. The Nature article just abstracted and other reports of the Brazilian discovery do not mention or discount the considerable evidence for very ancient man in North America. The dogma that man entered North AMerica about 12,000 years ago across the Bering Strait has dominated archeology so forcibly that such contrary evidence has been largely suppressed.

From Science Frontiers #47, SEP-OCT 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss

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