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A team of scientists has discovered what are now considered to be the oldest weapons ever discovered in North America. The researchers came across ancient spear points that have shown to be 15,500 years old.
The findings raise new questions about the settlement of early peoples on the continent. The weapons and tools, crafted using chert were found under several feet of sediment.
The most important thing is that they pre-date Clovis, which have thought to have been the first people to migrate to America for years.
The spearpoints were found 40 miles northwest of Austin, Texas, at the archeological site of Debra L. Friedkin, and could point to the existence of two separate migrations into North America, one earlier than previously thought, explain researchers.
“There is no doubt these weapons were used for hunting game in the area at that time,” explained professor Michael Waters, head of anthropology and director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M.
“The discovery is significant because almost all pre-Clovis sites have stone tools, but spear points have yet to be found. These points were found under a layer with Clovis and Folsom projectile points.”
“Clovis is dated to 13,000 to 12,700 years ago and Folsom after that. The dream has always been to find diagnostic artifacts – such as projectile points – that can be recognized as older than Clovis and this is what we have at the Friedkin site.”
Clovis is the name scientists have given to distinctive tools made by people in America starting some 13,000 years ago. This prehistoric Paleo-Indian culture is considered to be the ancestor of most of the indigenous cultures of the Americas.
The Clovis invented what is referred to as the Clovis Point, a spear-shaped weapon made of stone, and discovered in parts of Texas and Northern Mexico. These weapons were crafted in order to help the ancient hunt animals, including mastodons and mammoths.
Speaking to Gizmodo, Professor Waters said that “Given the age of the Debra L. Friedkin site—early people carrying stemmed points likely arrived by entering the Americas along the Pacific coast.”
“Later lanceolate point forms like Clovis may have developed from the stemmed point forms or a second migration of people carried some sort of lanceolate point, like the triangular lanceolate form we found at the Friedkin site, and this developed into Clovis, he added.
Who these ancient people were, living in Northern America more than 15,500 years ago remains a profound mystery, a mystery which scientists hope to solve in the near future.
The discovery has been published in the current issue of Science Advances.