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Potentially oldest artifacts found in the Americas

Projectile points found at the Cooper's Ferry site in the USA

Loren Davis

Projectile points made roughly 16,000 years ago have been found at the Cooper’s Ferry site, located on the Salmon River in the state of Idaho, USA. The artifacts may be the earliest evidence of the first tool-making technology brought to the Americas (Science Advances, December 23). As sharp as knives, the 14 complete and fragmented points were identified during archaeological excavations carried out between 2012 and 2018 by a team led by Loren Davis, an archaeologist from Oregon State University. They are between 1.2 and 5 centimeters long and were found next to pieces of charcoal and animal bones dated at almost 16,000 years by carbon isotope analysis. This suggests the points are about 3,000 years older than those produced by the Clovis culture and found throughout North America, and 2,300 years older than previous artifacts discovered at Cooper’s Ferry. According to Davis and his colleagues, the newly described points appear to have been made using the same method as was used between 20,000 and 16,000 years ago by people who lived in what is now Hokkaido, Japan. Some archaeologists who were not involved in the study have questioned this connection.