Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pushing Back the First Americans, a Thousand or Two Years at a Time

From the

Franklin dig evidence reveals mastodon was butchered by ancient humans
12,000-year-old butchering marks, tools show ancient Cool Springs cuisine
1:51 AM, Dec. 27, 2011

FRANKLIN — A Cool Springs archaeological dig keeps yielding details about Paleolithic man and the big game he hunted.

State archaeologists say discoveries unearthed in 2010 at a long-studied archaeological site known as Coats-Hines in Cool Springs reveal it to be one of only a few sites that show early man in this area hunted and ate “megafauna,” a term describing very large animals.

Scientists confirm finding three and possibly four mastodons — large elephant-like creatures with tusks — at the site, with one mastodon, known as Mastodon B, having “unequivocal association” with human activity in the form of butchering marks.

“(O)nly a handful of sites have been identified in the Eastern United States which provide incontrovertible evidence of humans hunting megafauna,” archaeologists Aaron Deter-Wolf, Jesse W. Tune and John B. Broster, who oversaw the excavations, reported in the Tennessee Archaeology journal.
Earlier this year, the Coats-Hines site became one of 11 places added to the National Register of Historic Places by the state Historical Commission. Excavations began at the site in 1977.

An archaeological excavation turned up the bones, artifacts and animal remains that archaeologists now say prove human activity occurred here before 12,000 B.C. The site is in the backyard of a private home and is one of the two oldest human settlements documented in Tennessee.

Archaeologists and Middle Tennessee State University students turned up human artifacts, pollen samples and more than 1,500 animal bones that can be traced to a variety of species.

Excavations at the property in 1994 revealed the only known example in the Southeastern U.S. of mastodon remains directly associated with human-made stone tools in an undisturbed context, said Deter-Wolf, state prehistoric archaeologist.

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