A team of archaeologists has uncovered an ancient stone tool in the high desert of eastern Oregon. After analysis they concluded that the stone is the oldest of its kind discovered in the western parts of North America.
The discovery was announced on Thursday, March 5, by the Bureau of Land Management, which is responsible for controlling the land on which the ancient stone tool was found.
Patrick O’Grady, archaeologist at the University of Oregon and one of the researchers who made the discovery, explained that Rimrock Draw Rockshelter, which is outside Riley, still has parts that are still unexcavated.
O’Grady talks about the stone tool describing it as a hand-held scraper made out of a piece of orange agate, which is not normally found in the eastern parts of Oregon.
The stone was unearthed underneath approximately 8 inches of volcanic ash from when Mount St. Helen erupted more than 15,800 years ago. The depth was approximately 12 feet below the surface.
Scott Thomas, archaeologist at the Bureau of Land Management, believes that the site where the stone tool was found could be the oldest site of this kind west of the Rocky Mountains.
It could also be older than the Clovis culture, of which the experts think were the first people to migrate into North America all the way from Asia.
The earliest artifacts that were associated with the Clovis culture were stone points which date back approximately 13,000 years ago.
O’Grady said the new discovery is “tantalizing” and is looking forward to dig the entire area and see what the volcanic ashes have hidden underneath them.
Donald K. Grayson, archaeologists at the University of Washington, said there are scientists who are skeptical regarding the new discovery.
He says that the scientists accept two pre-Clovis sites that are well studied. One of those sites is called Paisley Cave, which is located at approximately 60 miles southwest of Rimrock site. The second site is Monte Verde from Chile.
Both of these sites are about 1,000 years older than the Clovis sites.
The experts analyzed the blood samples found on the ancient stone tool and found that the blood belonged to a bovid, most likely an ancestor of the modern buffalo.
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