Archaeologists from the Texas A&M University, Baylor University, and the University of Texas have unearthed what might have been the oldest weapons in North America.
The team was digging at the Debra L. Friedkin site and found numerous ancient spear points about 3 or 4 inches long. They believe that the weapons are about 15,500 years old.
Details of the discovery are published in the current issue of the journal Science Advances.
"There is no doubt these weapons were used for hunting game in the area at that time," stated Micahel Waters, a professor of anthropology and co-author of the study.
According to a dating technique known as Optically Stimulated Luminescence, the spear points were found under several feet of sediments in the site that is around 15,500 years old. This places the weapons before the Clovis people who are believed to be the first humans to arrive in the Americas.
The Clovis existed at around 13,000 to 12,700 years ago. Their weapons, which they used to hunt animals such as mammoths and mastodon, were also found in parts of the United States and northern Mexico.
Missing Piece Of The Puzzle
The discovery is significant because it fills the gap between the pre-Clovis and Clovis eras in the early histories of the Americas. Because it was created earlier, the researchers hypothesized that the newly discovered spear points in the archeological site in Texas might have influenced the creation of Clovis Point and other subsequent projectile weapons.
"The findings expand our understanding of the earliest people to explore and settle North America," added Walter. "The peopling of the Americas during the end of the last Ice Age was a complex process and this complexity is seen in their genetic record."
The spear points were discovered at the Debra L. Friedkin site about 40 miles northwest of Austin. Archaeologists found a total of 238 items, including 12 complete and fragmented projectile points.
The Debra L. Friedkin site has been an archaeological site for 12 years. The mission was funded by the North Star Archaeological Research Program and the Elfrieda Frank Foundation.