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Discoveries in Brazil Could Predate the Arrival of the Clovis People in the Americas (Circa 20,000 BCE)

On March 27, 2014 Simon Romero, Brazil bureau chief of The New York Times, reported that researchers in Brazil unearthed stone tools which they believed offered proof that humans reached what is now northeast Brazil as early as 22,000 years ago (circa 20,000 BCE). These finds, excavated in the Serra da Capivara National Park (Parque Nacional Serra da Capivara), and reported in the March 4 issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science by Christelle Lahaye of the University of Brodeaux 3 and Eric Boëda of the University of Paris X, challenged the longstanding view that the Clovis people were the first settlers of the Americas.

"Among other South American locations proposed as human settlements well before North America’s Clovis culture, the most controversial is Brazil’s Pedra Furada rock-shelter. There, archaeologists unearthed burned wood and sharp-edged stones and dated them to more than 50,000 years ago. Pedra Furada’s excavators regard the finds as evidence of ancient human hearths and stone tools. Critics, and especially many Clovis investigators, say the Brazilian discoveries could have resulted from natural fires and rock slides.

"The new discovery came at Toca da Tira Peia rock-shelter, which is in the same national park as Pedra Furada. It also has drawn skeptics. The site’s location at the base of a steep cliff raises the possibility that crude, sharp-edged stones resulted from falling rocks, not human handiwork, says archaeologist Gary Haynes of the University of Nevada, Reno. Another possibility is that capuchins or other monkeys produced the tools, says archaeologist Stuart Fiedel of Louis Berger Group, an environmental consulting firm in Richmond, Va.

"The age of Toca da Tira Peia artifacts has also drawn debate. Dating the artifacts hinges on calculations of how long ago objects were buried by soil. Various environmental conditions, including fluctuations in soil moisture, could have distorted these age estimates. . . ." (https://www.sciencenews.org/article/disputed-finds-put-humans-south-america-22000-years-ago, accessed 03-29-2014).