No. 114: Nov-Dec 1997
The title refers to a circle of 11 earthen mounds located new Monroe, Louisiana; the Watson Break site. Local residents have known about the mounds for years, but archeologists weren't attracted to them until clear-cutting of the trees in the 1970s made the size and novelty of Watson Break all too obvious.
Just how anomalous is Watson Break? Archeologist V. Steponaitis, from the University of North Carolina, opined:
"It's rare that archaeologists ever find something that so totally changes our picture of what happened in the past, as is true for this case."
On what does Steponaitis base such a powerful statement?
(Saunders, Joe W., et al; "A Mound Complex in Louisiana at 5400-5000 Years before the Present," Science, 277:1796. Also: Pringle, Heather; "Oldest Mound Complex Found at Louisiana Site," Science, 277:1761, 1997. Also: Stanley, Dick; "Finds Alter View of American Indian Prehistory," Austin American Statesman, September 19, 1997. Cr. D. Phelps.)
Comment. If you have been following the archeological news stories, you have seen at least three items destined to "revolutionize" the prehistory of the Americas: (1) The Watson Break site; (2) The Monte Verde site (more than 12,500 years old, SF#112); (3) Kennewick Man (a Caucasian skeleton 9,300 years old in North America, SF#109).
|The mounds and ring structure at Watson Break, Louisiana. (Smithsonian sketch).|