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No. 72: Nov-Dec 1990

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The Clovis Police

A new group of law-enforcers has been formed. Although the Clovis Police do not carry guns, they will make sure that all who stray from the archeological mainstream will be held up for censure. (Does this mean denial of funds and access to some journals?) The "law" that the Clovis Police will enforce says that humans did not enter the New World before 12,000 BP -- the oldest date of the artifacts attributed to the Clovis people.

Perhaps we have dwelt on this subject too long, but the whole idea of the Clovis Police is counter to the spirit of science. The members of the Clovis squad and their objectives can be found in a recent issue of Science. (Marshall, Eliot; "Clovis Counterrevolution," Science, 249:738, 1990.)

Somehow, the following two important articles escaped the Clovis Police.

Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Pennsylvania. Responding to mainstream criticism of Meadowcroft radiocarbon dates (Some people just refuse to believe them!), J.M. Adovasio et al report that they now have 50 internally consistent dates, some made using accelerator mass spectrometry, that place humans at Meadowcroft at least 14,000-14,500 years ago. (Adovasio, J.M., et al; "The Meadowcroft Rockshelter Radiocarbon Chronology 1975-1990," American Antiquity, 55:348, 1990.)

Monte Verde, Chile. Another recent issue of Science reviews the first of two volumes on the Monte Verde site. This volume deals with the site itself. The artifacts themselves are reserved for Vol. 2. The reviewer states: "Even without a detailed consideration of artifacts and cultural features, it presents convincing evidence of 12,000-to-13,000year-old human occupation in southern Chile." If these ancient Chileans came across the Bering land bridge no earlier than 12,000 BP, they made excellent time down to Monte Verde! The Monte Verde site has also produced some apparent tools radiocarbon-dated at 33,000 BP. The book's title is: Monte Verde. A Late Pleistocene Settlement in Chile. Tom D. Dillehay. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 1989, 306 pp., $49.95. (Morlan, Richard E.; "Pleistocene South Americans," Science, 249:937, 1990.)

T. Lynch, one of the Clovis Police, responds to such research with: "'no indisputable or completely convincing cases' have come to light in America." (From: E. Marshall's article.)

From Science Frontiers #72, NOV-DEC 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss