Texas is known for a lot of things: guns, barbecue, The Bushes (kinda), high school football. Now the Lone Star State may be known as the site where the earliest North Americans called home.
Archaeologists for the University of Texas A&M have unearthed artifacts in a creek bed near Salado, Texas that dates human settlements in North America some 2,500 years earlier than previously thought.
The Salado site isn’t the first find to challenge when humans migrated to the Americas — other sites have been found in Pennsylvania, Oregon and Chile — but it is the most complete with over 16,000 artifacts, said Michael Waters, director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M University.
“Now Texas can boast having the oldest (human) archaeological site in North America,” Waters said. “…This is the strongest evidence yet that humans colonized North America 2,500 years earlier than we first thought.”
The site is remarkable because it is significantly older than Clovis, NM, which until now, was the oldest known settlement in North America.
Most of the artifacts discovered were a bevy of cutting or sharpening tools like spears and knives. Archaeologists believe the site along the creek bed was a camping site used for hunting expeditions. The discovery also raises the larger question of how these people arrived in North America.
For people to be living in Texas 15,500 years ago, it means they had to be in other parts of North America even earlier. The find underscores the need to search across other areas of North America for pre-Clovis sites. Besides the Channel Islands, researchers are currently combing the Columbia River for any evidence of humans that far back.
Over the next several decades, Waters expects the archaeological and DNA evidence to answer many of the unknowns.
“What we’ve done here is create all sort of possibilities,” Waters said, adding that researchers are no longer held back by “the Clovis-first dogma.”
Regardless, Texas can now add another claim to its resume.
(Image via the Star-Telegram)