October 03, 2008

Earliest human occupation of southern South America

Journal of Archaeological Science doi:10.1016/j.jas.2008.09.024

AMS 14C dating of early human occupation of southern South America

James Steele and Gustavo Politis

The time of appearance of a persistent and demographically-viable huntergatherer population in late Pleistocene southern South America must be determined
by evaluating evidence from as large as possible a sample of candidate archaeological sites in the region. We co-ordinated the AMS dating of multiple bone and charcoal samples from previously-excavated strata at the following sites: Arroyo Seco 2, Paso Otero 5, Piedra Museo, and Cueva Tres Tetas (all in Argentina), and Cueva de Lago Sofia 1 and Tres Arroyos (both in Chile). With one possible exception (Arroyo Seco 2), we did not obtain new results to confirm earlier observations of pre-Clovis-age cultural activity at any of the sites considered in this study. The exception, Arroyo Seco 2, is considered in detail elsewhere (Politis and Gutierrez, in press). However, our results for the samples which were the most preferred indicators of cultural events (hearth charcoal and cutmarked bone) confirm that people were in the southern cone of South America at or soon after 11,000 BP (13,000 cal BP). Considered alongside recent age estimates for the Clovis culture in North America, these results imply the emergence of a consistent and archaeologically-robust human occupation signal almost simultaneously at locations dispersed throughout the Western Hemisphere. Such findings suggest that Palaeoindian demic expansion may have involved more than one terminal Pleistocene dispersal episode.


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