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September 10, 2009 7:31 PM   Subscribe

34,000 year old fibers found in Georgia.

You can find the abstract of the original Science paper here but the full thing is behind a paywall.
posted by kmz (35 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
First thing I thought when I read this is that the young-earthers will read the story, get to the part that says the fibers were carbon dated, and say, "Ah ha!" ...which is insane on my part (and theirs, of course).
posted by Huck500 at 7:42 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I knew it! I knew the legend of Atlanta was real!
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:43 PM on September 10, 2009 [16 favorites]


That's pretty neat.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:43 PM on September 10, 2009


This would significantly alter the timeline of confirmed evidence of when mankind settled in North America, would it not?
posted by stargell at 7:49 PM on September 10, 2009


The other Georgia, stargell.
posted by kmz at 7:49 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


This would significantly alter the timeline of confirmed evidence of when mankind settled in North America, would it not?

It would if this had been found in Georgia, but it was instead found in Georgia.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:52 PM on September 10, 2009 [11 favorites]


young-earthers

They're probably just waiting for a golden fiddle to be found nearby.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:54 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Duh! Well, it did send me on a search for more info about pre-Clovis migration theories. Y'all.
posted by stargell at 8:00 PM on September 10, 2009


In other news, a 40,000 year old washing machine was found on the front porch of a house in Alabama.
posted by darkstar at 8:01 PM on September 10, 2009 [17 favorites]


/not Alabamist
posted by darkstar at 8:02 PM on September 10, 2009


The little Google map with the pinpoint on Washington, DC is very informative!
posted by briank at 8:05 PM on September 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


In defense of all of those of us who read this and thought "East Coast"....

there is that map on the link page. Granted it points to DC, but still.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:08 PM on September 10, 2009


"Found near the cave was a square shaped piece of fabric with ancient writing that faintly resembles the words 'Calvin Klein'. Also, remnants of a prehistoric hoverboard."
posted by iamkimiam at 8:11 PM on September 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Evidence for Pre-Clovis Sites in the Eastern United States (.pdf)

includes one in Pennsylvania, two in Virgnia, one in South Carolina.
posted by stargell at 8:26 PM on September 10, 2009


This would significantly alter the timeline of confirmed evidence of when mankind settled in North America, would it not?

ca. 20 years ago I was sitting in my Andean Civ class, minding my own business, when I thought I heard the prof say that somebody'd carbon-dated an inhabited cave in southern S. America to around 100,000 BC. Being relatively more well-read than the average college undergrad, that rousted me from my usual daydreaming in class and prompted me to ask the prof the 80s equivalent of "WTF?!"

He said it was an anomaly or somesuch, and unfortunately I've forgotten what cave he was talking about, tho IIRC I heard about this research again in the 90s.
posted by Palamedes at 8:33 PM on September 10, 2009


Just when I saw this post, I was listening to William Burroughs say this in that finely-crushed gravel voice he had.

Creepy.
posted by chambers at 8:36 PM on September 10, 2009


The Methods section, for anyone who is interested.

"Methods The analysis of the material was conducted in accordance with the standard palynological methodology. Sample preparation began with 10-15 minutes of boiling in 10% alkaline solution (KOH), followed by centrifuging in heavy cadmic liquid (S1), and finally with acetolysis (S2). Identification and counting of pollens grains and spores embedded in glycerin was conducted under a light microscope with magnification x 300. Flax fibers were identified according to the characteristic properties of the structure and morphology, defined by us studying comparative microscopic samples of modern flax fibers (Figs. S3, S4). Literature on fibers was used in the process of identification too (S3-S7). Some of the characteristic features of the flax fibers structure are their considerable thickness (3-5 μm) and that they consist of multiple longitude segments (S4, S6). Applying these criteria, flax fibers are easily separated from other plant fibers. For instance, cotton fibers are thin (1.5-2 μm), flattened and not segmented (S5). An important diagnostic property is also the particular structure of the fiber extremities. Those of flax fibers are completely straight (as if truncated), while for example the cotton fibers ends are loose and create a convex arch, or an angle (S3, S8). The structure of the flax fibers is linear, while that of cotton is smooth (S4-S6). The archaeological context The earliest archaeological context in Dzudzuana - Unit D - represents the early Upper Paleolithic tool-kit of unidirectional short blades and small bladelets. The distinctive tool type is a small, finely retouched bladelet, typically <>Fiber images.
posted by cashman at 8:42 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Palamedes, he might have been referring to the Monte Verde site in Chile. That's only purported to be about 12,500 years old, but it is pre-Clovis and from what I can tell quite controversial.
posted by stargell at 8:43 PM on September 10, 2009


Fiber Images. Don't know how I botched it before. Maybe they're so old they're unlinkable.
posted by cashman at 8:44 PM on September 10, 2009


Ah - there was a carat in there.

End of the methods should read: "typically (less than) 4 mm wide. The lithic industry in Unit C is dominated by small bladelets detached from carinated cores. Unit B is rich in blades and bladelets removed from bipolar cores, shaped into microgravettes, elongated straight-backed items and numerous end scrapers. Unit A represents admixture of Late Neolithic/Eneolithic and historical occupations (S9). All the units contain worked bone artifacts including a perforated needle from Unit C as well as groundstone utensils and faunal remains (S10)."
posted by cashman at 8:47 PM on September 10, 2009


Re: wrong Georgia. I made the same mistake as stargell initially. There should be some sort of style guide rule about differentiating places with the same name. There's even a mention of a Georgian State Museum in the middle. Only at the last sentence do they mention the National Museum of Georgia. Nothing else about the article gives you a clue; Oxford Uni, the team leader's name, the byline location. Very irritating, that.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:50 PM on September 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


When I finally get my time machine to work, I'm going to take this post back to 1988 and make a joke about how Michael Stipe's clothes are really gross and old.
posted by The World Famous at 9:14 PM on September 10, 2009


The South American cave is most likely Pedra Furada, which has a series of sates from recent back to the limits of carbon dating ca. 50,000 years ago. This is a strong site in a lot of ways, but even as a bit of a professional pre-Clovis proponent, I find it to be just, ummm, too damn old. I can't point my finger to anything particularly wrong with it and certainly the recent ABOX-AMS dates are excellent - but are they cultural? Some thermoluminescene dates on hearth materials are suggestive of over 100,000 years of occupation. which just plain does not fit with anyones data. Meanwhile though, rock art from the ceiling of the cave, normally hard to date, has been found flaked off into layers dating to about 17,000 years old. To me, that is credible but again there is just such a lot of my own mental model I have to overcome.

Nonetheless, in my opinion, the "Clovis First" model is dead as a doornail. It might work for the first peopling of Wyoming, but not for North and South America.

Nice link, by the way -- thanks.
posted by Rumple at 10:12 PM on September 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Heh, I didn't make the "Wrong Georgia" mistake at all. But I did look up Pre Clovis on wikipedia, which had got me to This map, in this article.
posted by delmoi at 10:24 PM on September 10, 2009


In other news, a 40,000 year old washing machine was found on the front porch of a house in Alabama.

/not Alabamist


Hey, no need for the "/not Alabamist" bit, darkstar. We all know you mean the other Alabama.

check your maps, it's near Kazakhstan
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:26 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


And by the way, wasn't Clovis the good friend and schoolmate of my boy Jerry Clower?
posted by darkstar at 11:28 PM on September 10, 2009


oops...Clovis. (SLYT)
posted by darkstar at 11:30 PM on September 10, 2009


Cavemen got skirts!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:34 PM on September 10, 2009


I'm favoriting Rumple's comment on behalf of Kennewick Man and forgotten people from pre-history that had the fortitude to walk across continents not knowing what lie ahead. I just drove from Winnipeg to Seattle and I'm tired.
posted by vapidave at 12:17 AM on September 11, 2009


Evidence for Pre-Clovis Sites in the Eastern United States (.pdf)

includes one in Pennsylvania, two in Virgnia, one in South Carolina.


Judging by the politics in South Carolina alone I'd say they are still in the cro-magnon era!
posted by Pollomacho at 4:33 AM on September 11, 2009


There is always something interesting being found in many parts of the world and even older every time, I think that prehistoric man was probably more intelligent than people give credit for. Here on the Island where I live there are the oldest standing stones ever to be found on the earth over 5,000 years old, you look at the size of the stones and wonder how did they manage to move them, it would be even a major struggle for modern machinery today! There are many such sites around the Island in the Western Isles of Scotland, there are always more and more ancient artifacts being dug up every day here, Many from the vikings and viking ship burials. You wonder how people managed to survive on such an Island that has so much inhospitable weather conditions, bearing in mind no ferries in them days.
t shows that now matter how far back in time, man is an ingenious inventer to manage to survive for so long and survive.
posted by Paladon at 5:19 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


If it was Georgia the young earthists may well be alarmed, but fortunately it's Georgia, so false alarm.
posted by mattoxic at 7:25 AM on September 11, 2009


On having slept: Got it backwards, the other other Georgia.
Please disregard the dumb.
Republic of Georgia, damn.
posted by vapidave at 8:25 AM on September 11, 2009


Thanks so much for this link. This is already the second archeological record from Georgia this week: http://bit.ly/1mNWU1
posted by Matthias Rascher at 9:33 AM on September 11, 2009


It would've been amusing if they found that the fibers were not used for clothes or traditional twine, but for holding together the earliest recorded evidence of anal beads.

(Where do you think ancient man stored their non-pointy possessions before the earliest bags, anyway?!)
posted by markkraft at 12:34 AM on September 12, 2009


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