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Monte Verde


Monte Verde is an archaeological site in south-central Chile, which has been dated to 14,500 years BP (Before Present).. This dating adds to the evidence showing that settlement in the Americas pre-dates the Clovis culture by roughly 1000 years. This contradicts the previously accepted "Clovis First" Model which holds that settlement of the Americas began after 13,500 years BP (Before Present). The Monte Verde findings were initially dismissed by most of the scientific community, but in recent years the evidence has become more widely accepted in some archaeological circles, although vocal "Clovis First" advocates remain.

Archaeological recovery

The site was discovered in late 1975 when a veterinary student visited the area of Monte Verde, where severe erosion was occurring due to logging. The student found a strange "cow bone" exposed in the eroded Chinchihuapi Creek that proved to be from a mastodon. Mario Pino, a Chilean geologist and Tom Dillehay, both teachers at the Universidad Austral de Chile at the time, started excavating Monte Verde in 1977. The site is situated on the banks of Chinchihuapi Creek, a tributary of the Maullin River located from the Pacific Ocean. One of the rare open-air prehistoric sites found so far in the Americas, Monte Verde was preserved as the waters of the creek rose a short time after the site was occupied and the peat-filled bog that resulted inhibited the bacterial decay of organic material and preserved many perishable artifacts and other items for millennia.

According to Dillehay and his team, the Monte Verde site was occupied around 14,800 13,800 BP by about twenty to thirty people. A twenty-foot-long tent-like structure of wood and animal hides was erected on the banks of the creek and was framed with logs and planks staked in the ground, making walls of poles covered with animal hides. Using ropes made of local reeds, the hides were tied to the poles creating separate living quarters within the main structure. Outside the tent-like structure, two large hearths had been built for community usage, most probably for tool making and craftwork.

Each of the living quarters had a brazier pit lined with clay. Around those hearths, many stone tools and remnants of spilled seeds, nuts, and berries were found. A 13,000-yr-old specimen of the wild potato,Solanum maglia, was also found at the site; these remains, the oldest on record for any species of potato, wild or cultivated, suggest that southern Chile was of the two main centres for the evolution of Solanum tuberosum tuberosum, the common potato . Remains of forty-five different edible plant species were found within the site, over a fifth of them originating from up to away. This suggested that the people of Monte Verde either had trade routes or traveled regularly in this extended network.

Other important finds from this site include human coprolites, a footprint, assumed to have been made by a child, stone tools, and cordage. The date for this site was obtained by Dr. Dillehay with the use of radiocarbon dating of charcoal and bone found within the site.

In the May 9, 2008 issue of Science, a team reported that they identified nine species of seaweed and marine algae recovered from hearths and other areas in the ancient settlement. The seaweed samples were directly dated between 14,220 to 13,980 years ago, confirming that the upper layer of the site, labeled Monte Verde II, was occupied more than 1,000 years earlier than any other reliably dated human settlements in the Americas.

Comparison to other early Americas sites

A deeper layer at Monte Verde has been reported radiocarbon dated to 33,000 years before present, but like other sites with reported extremely early dates such as the Topper site in South Carolina, this deeper layer find remains controversial.

Other very early human settlement in Southern Chile sites of comparable age to Monte Verde are the Cueva del Milodon, Pali Aike Crater lava tubeC. Michael Hogan {2008) Pali Aike, Megalithic Portal, ed. Andy Burnham [*] and Chan-Chan which is relatively close (about 200 km).

See also

Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact

Archaeology of the Americas

Models of migration to the New World

Lagoa Santa

External links

http://www.uky.edu/Projects/MonteVerde/

Monte Verde at UNESCO World Heritage

http://www.unl.edu/rhames/monte_verde/monte_verde1.htm

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Monte Verde


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