A network of caves in rural Oregon may be the oldest site of human habitation in the Americas, suggesting an ancient human population reached what is now the United States at the end of the last Ice Age, Oregon officials said on Friday.
That realization prompted the U.S. National Park Service to add the Paisley Five Mile Point Caves to its list of nationally important archaeological and historical sites, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said in a statement.
Only recently have researchers become convinced that humans lived at the Paisley caves a thousand years before the human settlement documented in the so-called “Clovis” sites in New Mexico, Dennis Jenkins, director of the University of Oregon Archaeology Field School, said in the statement.
The “Clovis First” hypothesis holds that distinctive projectile-point artifacts found at multiple sites across the United States are signs of the first human settlements in North America, the statement said.
But Jenkins’ team used radiocarbon dating to determine that more than 200 samples of human feces collected from the Paisley caves were deposited in the area 14,300 years ago, nearly 1,000 years efore the human settlement evidenced in the Clovis era.
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