No. 112: Jul-Aug 1997
An archeologist really risks his or her reputation if he or she suggests that the Americas were peopled before 12,000 years ago. At least that's the way it was until early 1997, when a select "jury" of a dozen skeptical archeologists visited the Monte Verde site in southern Chile. There, T. Dillehay, made his case for a culture that preceded North America's Clovis culture by at least 1,000 years. Monte Verde artifacts go back at least to 12,500 years before the present. The Monte Verde tour, backed by two very detailed reports, convinced some of the most obstinate skeptics. The "jury" was "in," and the Clovis culture was "out," at least as being the first New World culture.
Naturally, some still-skeptical archeologists bristled at the suggestion that a "jury" could decide for them. [But isn't that the way science always works?] Regardless, the once formidable 12,000year barrier now seems to have been officially breached.
The Monte Verde dates imply either:
(Wilford, John Noble; "Human Presence in Americas Is Pushed Back a Millennium," New York Times, February 11, 1997. Cr. M. Colpitts. Also: Meltzer, David J.; "Monte Verde and the Pleistocene Peopling of the Americas," Science, 276:754, 1997.)
Comment. Two delicious ironies emerge from this archeological turning point: