But their interpretation is already igniting controversy among scientists.
An archaeologist from the University of South Carolina on Wednesday announced radiocarbon tests that dated the first human settlement in North America to 50,000 years ago — at least 25,000 years before other known human sites on the continent.
Many scientists thought humans first ventured into the New World across a land bridge from present-day Russia into Alaska about 13,000 years ago.
Section of the Savannah riverbed from the Topper site. This new discovery suggests humans may have crossed the land bridge into the Americas much earlier — possibly during an ice age — and rapidly colonized the two continents.
But whether the Topper site proves valid, Collins said most archeologists now believe people settled in America before 13,000 years ago, refuting a theory that has held sway for 75 years.
Since the 1930s, archaeologists generally believed North America was settled by hunters following large game over the land bridge about 13,000 years ago.
Archaeologists will meet in October of 2005 for a conference in Columbia, South Carolina, to discuss the earliest inhabitants of North America, including a visit to the Topper Site.
Goodyear has been excavating the Topper dig site along the Savannah River since the 1980s.
“Topper is the oldest radiocarbon dated site in North America,” said Albert Goodyear of the University of South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology.
If true, the find represents a revelation for scientists studying how humans migrated to the Americas.
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