Monday, 29 June 2015

Early North Americans

The shore of Calvert Island, British Columbia
photo: A. Davey
Archaeologists digging on the shore of Calvert Lake in British Columbia, Canada, might have found sets of the oldest human footprints to be found in North America. The footprints could date to thirteen thousand years, but there is a slight snag: the land had risen at that location so the footprints are nowhere near as deep as might be imagined. Because of the unclear stratigraphy, it is also possible that the footprints are only two thousand years old. I hope for the former, of course, but suspect the latter.

Canada Geese on the Columbia at Kennewick, Washington
photo: Bobjgalindo

Just south of British Columbia is the state of Washington and in 1996, on the banks of the Columbia River at Kennewick, skeletal remains were found of a man that was carbon dated to about nine thousand years. Because of the unusual structure of the bones which appeared different from the local native populations, some archaeologists speculated that "Kennewick Man" might have been European. The local natives, said that he was one of their own and fought to be able to conduct a funeral for him. Well, the score is now official: Native population: 1 Archaeologists 0.


  1. Hi John:

    Aaah! It's that word again: 'Speculation'...immensely popular and frequently used in archaeological circles when they haven't got a clue of what's what. Is this what we really send them to university to do...speculate? Hardly sets them apart from the more intelligent sections of Joe Public does it?

    Maybe I'm missing something here?


    John Howland

  2. No, John, you're not missing anything. With today's demand for sensation, archaeologists, ever more frequently have to assume the role of the carnie barker to get much attention from the public.

    I have a old friend who is a carnie:

    Once, when one of his staff members quit suddenly, I helped him out by running his "missing link" exhibit at the Calgary Stampede. One customer was upset: "It's a fake!" he yelled after touring the exhibit. Scott happened to be visiting at the moment, and he yelled back: "of course it's fake... never trust a carnie!"



  3. And so the two trolls slapped each other on the back and retired under their respective bridges...