Ancient stone tools found in N.America
By STEVE KARNOWSKI, Associated Press Writer 12 minutes ago
MINNEAPOLIS - What appear to be crude stone tools may provide evidence that people lived in Minnesota 13,000 to 15,000 years ago, which if confirmed would make them among the oldest human artifacts ever found in North America, archaeologists said Friday.
"They don‘t look like much," Wells acknowledged. "They don‘t look pretty."
Wells and other archaeologists discovered around 50 objects this past year while investigating a route for a planned road that would serve a major community development project in Walker. The items were found beneath a layer of glacial deposits that had been covered by windblown deposits. Based on what‘s known about the geology of the area, they believe the objects are between 13,000 and 15,000 years old.
Much more research needs to be done to allow firm conclusions, Wells and her colleagues acknowledged. "It‘s bound to be controversial," said Matt Mattson, another archaeologist on the project.
Other researchers have found that that part of Minnesota apparently was something of an "oasis" around 13,000 years ago, an area free of ice cover with shifting glaciers on most sides but with an access route to the southeast, Mattson said.
"It‘s probably worth protecting the site and going back in and more systematically excavating with the geologists and other disciplines to see if it‘s a real site," he said.
"It‘s an extraordinary claim and it requires some extraordinary evidence," Everson said. "But it‘s certainly worth pursuing."
"It seems to be there is an increasing body of science that there were stone stools and people here in that time period in North America," said Dan Rogers, chairman of the anthropology department at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
But a consensus is emerging that some humans arrived thousands of years earlier, even if scientists disagree on just how much earlier. And several agreed that if the Minnesota objects do turn out to be 13,000- to 15,000-year-old tools, they‘d be among the oldest human artifacts ever found in North America.
"Once it‘s gone it‘s gone," Mattson said. "We‘re looking at absolutely irreplaceable links in human history here. Once it‘s gone there‘s no retrieving it."