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No. 7: June 1979

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Ancient Rock Cairns In The California Desert

The anomaly here resides in the caliche (CaCO3 ) adhering to the bones and rock undersides in a California burial cairn. The caliche has been dated at more than 21,000 B.P. by radiocarbon methods and 19,000 B.P. by thorium methods -- ages much too large for conventional archeological histories of the Southwest.

P.J. Wilke objects that only the age of the soil caliche has been measured and that the bones and their burial may be much younger.

This cairn site, called the Yuha burial site, possesses no other datable characteristics. On the other hand, many other California burial cairns (the California desert is amply provided with them) have been dated only from 5,000 B.P. to historic times. In this context, Wilke maintains that it is easier to believe that the Yuha bones are merely 5,000 years old, and that the problem is actually in the dating.

(Wilke, Philip J.; "Cairn Burials of the California Deserts," American Antiquity, 43:444, 1978.)

Comment. Such reasoning is the typical reaction when data contradict prevailing hypotheses -- and sometimes it is correct.

From Science Frontiers #7, June 1979. � 1979-2000 William R. Corliss