Category Archives: NORTH AMERICA

2,000-Year-Old Realistic Green Mask Found Nestled Inside an Ancient Pyramid

2,000-Year-Old Realistic Green Mask Found Nestled Inside an Ancient Pyramid

Mexico has many remarkable archaeological sites that provide insight into its pre-Columbian history. Among the most impressive structures is the Pyramid of the Sun, which continues to reveal amazing discoveries.

Built approximately in 100 CE, this pyramid is the largest structure in Teotihuacan and has been under continuous research by archaeologists.

Although few artifacts have been unearthed on-site, in 2011,researchers from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) made a surprising discovery using a 380-foot-long tunnel excavated by archaeologists in the 1930s.

By using the tunnel, the team was able to reach the mother-rock level. Upon arrival, they discovered a valuable assortment of artifacts, such as fragments of clay pottery, animal bones, obsidian pieces, three serpentine human figurines, and a remarkable “Green” serpentine mask. The green mask holds significant interest as, during its unearthing, it was the sole mask of its type discovered in a ritual context in Teotihuacan.

According to a statement by INAH, the discovery comprises 11 ceremonial clay pots dedicated to a rain god resembling Tlaloc. The findings also included animal bones, such as rabbits fed to eagles, and feline and canine remain yet to be identified.

These offerings were placed on a rubble base where the temple was built around 50 AD. It is noteworthy that Tlaloc was still revered in the region even after 1,500 years.

These offerings were believed to be deposited as part of a ritual to inaugurate the pyramid’s construction, which explains their location at the lower level. The discovery of this mask was particularly noteworthy because it depicted a human face with remarkable accuracy and simplicity.

This is significant due to the importance of masks in indigenous people’s religious practices. The Aztecs, in particular, were a culture that placed great value on masks, as noted by renowned anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss.

There are numerous types of masks, both intended for wear and crafted as miniature versions, possibly for use as amulets. With a history of mask-making in the region spanning millennia, ranging from rudimentary pottery to intricate art pieces, the diversity of masks would have been remarkable, given their various shapes and forms.

Unfortunately, only a limited number of masks have been discovered despite the estimated abundance of them, but the depictions of masks throughout history strongly suggest that many more existed over the centuries.

The Pyramid of the Sun, known today as the world’s third-largest pyramid, was named by the Aztecs who visited Teotihuacan centuries after its abandonment. The original name of the pyramid remains a mystery.

Teotihuacan was once a flourishing city known as the City of the Gods, with a population of 200,000 at its peak. However, researchers have yet to learn about the people who inhabited this city and why they disappeared.

In the Aztec culture, masks played an essential role in religious ceremonies as they were meant to represent one of their many gods. The Aztecs were known for their artistic skills and colorful masks.

However, the few masks discovered so far had strong symbolism, such as animal features or distorted proportions compared to humans.

Some scholars suggest that individuals did not wear masks during their duties. Instead, they were placed on holders or over a skull, sent as tokens to other rulers and chiefs, or used as death masks.

This might explain why some masks were not carved out to allow the wearer to see. Despite this, most of the masks showed some elaboration or alteration of the human figure.

Masks have played a central role in the religion and rituals of Mesoamerican civilizations for millennia. Therefore, finding a mask resembling a buried person is unique.

New archaeological findings in the future may shed more light on this discovery, the site at large, and the beautiful Mesoamerican cultures.

Sitting to the north-east of Mexico City, Teotihuacan is one of Mexico‘s most visited ancient architectural sites.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) has been researching to uncover more information about the ancient civilization of Teotihuacán.

One of the recent discoveries made by INAH was an underground tunnel found beneath the Pyramid of the Moon. The use of electrical resistance technology enabled the mapping of the tunnel without the need for ground excavation.

The tunnel leads to an underground chamber, preceded by a chamber measuring 49 feet in diameter. This newly discovered chamber may hold more treasures. The accumulation of these findings will hopefully provide more insight into the civilization of Teotihuacán and reveal more information about its decline.

Verónica Ortega, the director of the Integral Conservation Project for the Plaza of the Moon, explains that the large offering complexes constitute the sacred heart of Teotihuacan, making it a mecca for civilization.

The discoveries made within these complexes can help to unravel the relationship that the ancient metropolis had with other regions of Mesoamerica.

The emergence of life on Earth could have occurred 300,000 million years earlier.

The emergence of life on Earth could have occurred 300,000 million years earlier.

An international team of scientists has identified mysterious filaments and tubes in fossils that were discovered several years ago in a fist-sized piece of ancient rock.

It is established that these traces were left by a biological form of life about 300 million years before life appeared on Earth, at least according to the generally accepted theory.

Initial discovery: Samples did not fit the generally accepted theories

These stone was discovered in 2008 in Quebec, Canada. Inside it, scientists found clearly visible comb-branched and parallel centimetre-sized filaments, consisting of red hematite. Some of them have curves, tubes, and various kinds of spheroids.

Initially, it was stated that the piece of rock contains the oldest fossils on Earth of microorganisms that lived on the seabed near hydrothermal vents and metabolized iron, sulfur, and carbon dioxide.

However, this statement immediately had opponents, since the age of the traces found did not fit into the generally accepted theory of the origin of life.

Age of the samples: When did life appear on Earth?

Already a preliminary analysis showed that these traces were left in the period from 3.75 to 4.28 billion years ago. And in itself, this conclusion challenges the generally accepted idea of ​​when life began.

After all, if this is true, then complex life on our planet appeared about 300 million years earlier than previously thought. In addition, it turns out that it appeared about 300 million years after the Earth itself was born.

“For more than 40 years, microbiologists have told us that the origin of life most likely occurred in hydrothermal vent environments, with microorganisms eating iron and probably sulfur, as we can infer from our own observations.”

Subsequent research concluded that this is the oldest evidence of life on Earth

Speaking of traces, opponents of the new theory argued that traces like biomarkers could also be created by non-biological materials. This is indeed possible. Therefore, the aim of the new study was to determine whether the disputed filaments and tubes are biological or not.

The conclusions made by the new research team suggest that traces were probably left by the most ancient bacteria ever discovered to date.

Certain structures could have been created by natural chemical reactions but the majority of the patterns should be the result of prehistoric iron-eating microbes.

The filaments you see in this microscope image indicate evidence of the oldest life forms on Earth.

In their work, the team also provides evidence that these ancient bacteria received their energy in different ways.

Apparently, they could do absolutely without oxygen and lived only at the expense of iron, sulfur, carbon dioxide, and light, which participated in biological processes in the form of photosynthesis.

In short, the new results, according to the researchers, suggest that diverse microbial life could have appeared on Earth as little as 300 million years after the formation of the planet. Geologically, it’s not just fast, it’s incredibly fast.

Skeletons found under Florida wine shop could be some of America’s first European settlers

Skeletons found under Florida wine shop could be some of America’s first European settlers

Historians announced in Florida that several small children’s bones buried beneath underneath the last place one might think to look: a wine shop.

However, there will be no police inquiry. The Florida wine shop happens to be located in St. Augustine, America’s oldest city. And those bones? They’re just about as old as the city is.

Skeletons Found Under a Florida Wine Shop May Be Some of America’s First Colonists

The archaeologists actually believe that these skeletal remains could have been among the first settlers in North America.

In the past few weeks, researchers have found seven people including three children, in the ancient graveyard.

According to the St. Augustine Register, one of them was a young white European woman.

Researchers are still examining the other remains, but a pottery fragment found nearby suggests that these people died sometime between 1572 and 1586.

“What you’re dealing with is people who made St. Augustine what it is,” Carl Halbirt, St. Augustine city archaeologist, tells FirstCoast News. “You’re in total awe. You want to treat everything with respect, and we are.”

Excavations inside the Fiesta Mall (City of St. Augustine)

Archaeologists were able to dig underneath the building thanks to the effects of last year’s Hurricane Matthew, the flooding from which convinced the building’s owner that it was time to replace the wooden floor.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the building’s floor was constructed in 1888, and the soil beneath the building has remained untouched since then, thus creating a virtual time capsule.

The building also happens to be built where the ancient Church of Nuestra Señora de la Remedios used to stand.

“The mission churches across Florida buried everybody in the church floor,” Ellsbeth Gordon, an architectural historian, told FirstCoast News. “It was consecrated ground, of course.”

According to Smithsonian, Sir Francis Drake burned the church down in 1586, a hurricane destroyed it again in 1599, and the British once again burned it down in 1702.

That last time may have been for good, but until then the church had been the main meeting point for a colony that had been established 55 years before the Pilgrims ever set foot on Plymouth Rock.

While the archaeologists are planning on moving the bones found outside the wine shop to a nearby cemetery, the skeletons found inside will stay right where they have lain for the past 400 years.

Archaeologists Found More Than 200-year-old Shipwreck In Mexico’s Caribbean

Archaeologists Found More Than 200-year-old Shipwreck In Mexico’s Caribbean

A fisherman discovered a coral-coated shipwreck off the coast of Mexico that has laid hidden beneath the surface for over 200 years.

Archaeologists Find a More Than 200-year-old Shipwreck

The wreck is named after Manuel Polanco, the man who discovered it, and sits in a watery grave just 21 miles from Majahual on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

Archaeologists dated the wooden remains to the 18th or 19th century and although it is degraded, metal parts, iron ingots, the anchor and an eight-foot cannon are still intact.

The team believes the vessel sank after hitting the Chinchorro Bank, which was known for centuries as ‘ Nightmare reef ‘ or ‘Sleep-robbing reef’ due to the dangers it posed to sailors.

Researchers from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) found the shipwreck after receiving a tip from Polanco who spotted it while diving in the waters.

‘The fishermen are the ones who know Chinchorro best since they navigate it daily to earn their living, diving the Caribbean waters to find fish, lobsters or conch, that they sell in Mahahual or Xcalak, and often they happen to find submerged archaeological contexts,’ INAH shared in a press release.

‘Manuel Polanco is an example of this, because although he is now retired from diving, in the ’60s and ’70s, he found the remains of various shipwrecks, including two of the most iconic in Banco Chinchorro: ’40 Cañones’ and ‘The Angel’.’

Underwater archaeologists said the currents where the cannon was found were strong

Polanco alerted archaeologists about the wreck in the 1990s, but experts have only made the first dives to inspect it in the past two months.

Unfortunately, Polanco is now in his golden years and was unable to accompany the researchers to inspect the wooden remains.

When the team dove to the depths where the ship laid, they found the organic material had degraded over the centuries.

Laura Carrillo Márquez, SAS researcher and head of the Banco Chinchorro Project, said: ‘It lies directly on the reef barrier where the ocean current is strong.’ ‘Only the solid elements remain, encrusted into the reef.’

She noted all that remained were the pig iron ingots that were used as ballast, some tubes, a cannon approximately eight feet long and an anchor.

Because the anchor was ‘active’, Márquez believes that the crew saw the reef up ahead and hoped to slow down the boat before crashing.

The anchor was found in shallow waters at Banco Chinchorro

However, the anchor was unable to stop the vessel and it collided with the ‘Nightmare reef.’

‘Although some of the vestiges seem to indicate a British affiliation, the INAH researcher clarifies that this hypothesis must be yet corroborated or discarded, through analyses that will be meticulously done, taking care of the natural environment of the site,’ Márquez explained.

A cemetery discovered in Mexico City illustrates evolving burial practises

A cemetery discovered in Mexico City illustrates evolving burial practises

INAH experts recovered the skeletal remains of 21 individuals during the construction of the so-called “Pavellón Escénico“, in Chapultepec Park, Mexico City.

A cemetery from the early viceregal period (1521-1620 AD) was found in the area where the Chapultepec Forest Garden and “Pabellón Escénico” (Scenic Pavilion) are being built, reports the Ministry of Culture.

Experts from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), through the Directorate of Archaeological Rescue (DSA), made the discovery in the area known as ecological parking.

In the text, the coordinator of the DSA, María de Lourdes López Camacho, explains that during the monitoring of the works as part of the Chapultepec Project, the INAH dug a two-by-two-meter test pit, and “human skeletal remains were detected from 1.37 meters deep.

Apparently, the remains would be from two different populations.

With the field assistance of archaeologists Blanca Copto Gutiérrez and Alixbeth Daniela Aburto Pérez, “it was decided to double the excavation.

In the last three weeks, the team recovered the bones – in various states of conservation – of 21 individuals, mostly female and male adults, including a couple of infants”, adds the archaeologist.

It details that the burials were carried out directly in the ground and at three different moments during the first century after the fall of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. 

“Despite the fact that most of the burials presented the same west-east orientation, which alludes to the belief in the resurrection in the Christian faith, their arrangement suggests two types of population: one of indigenous origin, probably Mexica, and another European”.

According to the studies, it is a collective burial.

The archaeologist explains that for the most part, “individuals were placed outstretched with their arms crossed over their chests or in the pelvic region, as indicated by the Catholic funeral rite; However, two were buried in a flexed and lateral way, in the Mesoamerican style, not to mention that another couple of individuals were buried carrying a seal and a green obsidian blade, both pre-Hispanic”.

According to their studies, it is a collective burial that corresponds to an early viceroyalty cemetery, “because it shows the transition from pre-Hispanic funeral customs to those implemented with the arrival of the Spaniards and their religious system.”

The report adds that “according to the coordinator of the DSA Bioarchaeology Section, Jorge Arturo Talavera González, who made a first osteological report -which will be complemented with other analyses, including DNA-, the epigenetic traits of certain individuals indicate the presence of two different populations in that context, the Amerindian individuals being identifiable by their spade-shaped teeth .”

Regarding health conditions, the document concludes, “preliminary observations indicate that the people buried suffered, among other conditions, hypoplasia, attrition and dental calculus (wear of enamel and dental structure, as well as tartar), inflammation of the periosteum ( fibrous sheath that covers the bones) and other infectious processes, as well as diseases related to the nutritional deficit”.

A woman discovered the mummies in her garage in 1980 while cleaning

A woman discovered the mummies in her garage in 1980 while cleaning

In 1966, two California teenagers became fascinated with Mummies and Archaeology. They wanted to make a find for themselves and had heard that the prehistoric tribes of northern Mexico had a tradition of burying their dead in caves.

Near Sunny San Diego, the small area known as Lemon Grove is famous for its Giant Lemon, a sight to behold for all roadside novelty-seekers. Also, mummies. 

What do you do when your earnest search for a mummy actually yields one? What if it yields two? If you are the two teenage boys who managed to find this treasure trove of mummification, you panic and hide them in a garage. 

In 1966, two California boys went to Chihuahua, Mexico in search of mummies.

Quite the mummy fanatics, they knew Indian tribes had once brought their dead to the cool, dry caves near Chihuahua, and considered the area prime hunting grounds for a mummy of their very own.

The mummies were found in a cave in Chihuahua, Mexico

For over a month, they peeked into every nook and cranny of the caves until their tenacity finally paid off – the boys not only found a coveted mummy, they found two.

The boys gazed at their prizes, the mummified remains of a teenage girl, as well as the tinier corpse of a one-year-old. Despite their determination to find them, they were now faced with the reality of having them.

They couldn’t exactly carry the bodies out of the country in backpacks, and the gravity of their mothers finding out began to become a very worrisome, previously overlooked issue.

So the boys did what any secret-keeping teen would-they smuggled the bodies over the border, and convinced a friend to hide them in her garage. 

The mummy of Lemon Grove Girl, San Diego Museum of Man

With no real endgame in sight, the boys left their macabre finds in this safe location-safe that is until their friend’s mother decided that it was tie to do some spring cleaning. 14 years after being stashed away behind the garden tools and moving boxes, the girls were found.

The woman who found them was understandably shaken and naturally assumed that some sort of murder had taken place. Stolen mummies stashed there by neighbour kids isn’t exactly the first place the mind goes.

The police recognized immediately that the bodies were not likely to be murder victims, but could not figure out how the two ancient cadavers found their way into this suburban family garage-the teen is thought to have died between  A.D. 1040 and 1260.

While they investigated, the mummies were delivered to the San Diego Museum of Man for safekeeping. 

Fondly nicknamed “The Lemon Grove Girl”, the teenage mummy and her infant companion were stashed away until rightful ownership could be sorted.

Eventually, the police caught up with the boys, who were now grown men of course, and asked for an explanation. The men told their story, and in an ever so generous act of contrition offered to donate their mummies to the Museum of Man. 

The officials, eyes rolling, informed the men that due to their juvenile status when the crime was committed and the time that had passed, they were lucky that no charges would be pressed, and thanked them for the charitable offer, but the mummies were not theirs to give.

The museum however was very keen on becoming the keeper of the girls, and after being granted permission by the Mexican government to retain them, including the Lemon Grove Girl in their gorgeous Ancient Egypt and Mummies exhibit.

Ancient Mayan skeletons dating back 7,000 years discovered in Mexican cave

Ancient Mayan skeletons dating back 7,000 years discovered in Mexican cave

Archaeologists in Mexico have uncovered the ruins of the Maya ancient civilization, which date back 7,000 years and provide further insight into their enigmatic everyday lives.

According to experts, the age of the bones discovered corresponds to a period when humans transitioned from hunters to sedentary lifestyles.

In the Tacotalpa municipality of Tabasco state in southern Mexico, three Maya skeletons were discovered in the Puyil cave.

Experts have calculated that one is up to 7,000 years old, while the remaining two dates back around 4,000 years.

Archaeologist Alberto Martos said: “Seven thousand years old is what we’ve just placed it, which is the period of transition from being hunters to sedentarism.

“There were different groups during this time that used the caves, clearly it wasn’t a domestic cave.

“In prehistoric times it was probably used for rituals and cemeteries so as to dispose of remains of people. “For the Maya, it was a cave of ancestors.

“This cave was used by the Maya, they respected the remains that were already there and left their own remains inside.”

Earlier this month, scientists claimed an enormous drought that swept across Mexico around 1,000 years ago triggered the demise of the Mayas.

Those studying the climate at the time of the ancient civilization found rainfall fell by up to 70 percent at the time the region’s city-states were abandoned.

Nick Evans, a Ph.D. student at the University of Cambridge, was part of a team of international researchers that was able to calculate the conditions on the Yucatan Peninsula at the time of the decline using sediment samples from a local lake.

He said: “The role of climate change in the collapse of Classic Maya civilization is somewhat controversial, partly because previous records are limited to qualitative reconstructions, for example, whether conditions were wetter or drier.

“Our study represents a substantial advance as it provides statistically robust estimates of rainfall and humidity levels during the Maya downfall.”

The Maya civilization was noted for its hieroglyphic script – the only known fully developed writing system of the pre-Columbian Americas.

As one of the most dominant civilizations in Mesoamerica, they built cities with elaborate ceremonial buildings and huge stone pyramids to form large parts of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

They also made advances in agriculture, calendar-making, and mathematics, reaching their peak at around the sixth century AD.

According to archaeologists at a Mexico City news conference, three sets of human remains were unearthed at the Puyil cave located in the Tacotalpa municipality

It is thought the Mayas Skeletons invented the concept of ‘zero’.

This allowed them to work out complex calculations and create detailed and accurate calendars.

But by 900AD, their stone cities were deserted, creating much mystery around the reasons for their demise.

In addition to the drought that swept across Mexico, other theories for their demise have included overpopulation, military conflict, or a major environmental event.

Petrified Opal Tree Trunk Situated In Arizona Its About 225 Million Years Old

Petrified Opal Tree Trunk Situated In Arizona Its About 225 Million Years Old

What happened to the wood that made it that way in the beautiful petrified trees in the forests of Arizona? They believe that petrified wood is so old that in the prehistoric period, it emerged.

But do you know how petrified wood was made? This guide will show you how. What is petrified wood and how is it formed?

Fossil wood is considered to have grown when the material of the plant is buried by sediment. When the wood is buried deep in the muck, it is protected from decay caused by exposure to oxygen and organisms.

Because the wood is stored in deep water, the minerals in the groundwater flow through the sediment, replacing the original plant material such as silica, calcite, and pyrite.

Even very expensive minerals can infiltrate wood-like opal. The result is a fossil made from the original woody material, which often shows preserved details of tree bark, wood, and cellular structures.

This is probably the most popular petrified park in the world. The Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook in northeastern Arizona has established millions of years ago. About 225 million years ago, this was simply a lowland with a tropical climate with a dense forest.

Rivers made by tropical rainstorms washed mud and other sediments. This was where you would find giant coniferous trees 9 feet in diameter and towering 200 feet that lived and died.

Fallen trees and broken branches from these trees were buried by rich river sediments. Meanwhile, volcanoes nearby erupted numerous times and the ash and silica from these eruptions buried the area.

Eruptions caused large dense clouds of ash that buried the area and this quick cover prevented anything from escaping, of course, nothing can also move in, even oxygen and insects. In time, the soluble ash was dissolved by groundwater through the sediments. The dissolved ash became the source of silica that replaced the plant debris.

This silication process creates petrified wood. Aside from silica, trace amounts of iron, manganese and other minerals also penetrated the wood and this gave petrified wood a variety of colors. This is how the lovely Chinle Formation was made.

So how was this area discovered? Millions of years after the Chinle Formation was created, the entire area was dug and the rocks found on top of the Chinle have eroded away.

What was discovered was wood here was much harder and resistant to weathering compared to the mudrocks and ash deposits in Chinle. Wood that was taken from the ground surface as nearby mudrocks and ash layers washed away.

Petrified Forest National Park is another world-class tourist site in the area, straddling Interstate 10 about 70 or 80 miles east of Meteor Crater.

The park covers 146 square miles.   It’s dry and often windy, but the elevation of 5400 feet means that it’s not as hot as desert areas at lower altitudes, and it’s mostly covered in grass rather than cacti and other desert plants.

Of course, the big attraction here is the petrified trees, which grew here about 225 million years ago when this part of Arizona was at a much lower elevation near the shores of a large sea to the west.

As well as the trees, many fossilized animals such as clams, freshwater snails, giant amphibians, crocodile-like reptiles, and early dinosaurs have been found here.

At times volcanic ash was deposited on fallen trees in the forest here, and silica in the ash was dissolved by water and entered the trees, fossilizing them.

The silica in the logs crystallized into quartz, but often iron oxide and other minerals were mixed in, producing extraordinarily beautiful kaleidoscopic patterns and colors.

The petrified trees are often so attractive that a whole industry grew up around hauling them out from where they lay and cutting them up to make decorative furniture, wall displays, bookends, and other items. Theft from the park has always been a problem, and it’s estimated that around 12 tons of fossilized wood are stolen each year.

13,900-Year-Old Bone Projectile Point in the Americas Found Stuck in a Mastodon’s Rib!

13,900-Year-Old Bone Projectile Point in the Americas Found Stuck in a Mastodon’s Rib!

A team of researchers led by a Texas A&M University professor has identified the Manis bone projectile point as the oldest weapon made of bone ever found in the Americas at 13,900 years.

The Manis site mastodon rib with embedded point to the left.

Dr. Michael Waters, distinguished professor of anthropology and director of Texas A&M’s Center for the Study of First Americans, led the team whose findings were published this week in Science Advances.

The team studied bone fragments embedded in a mastodon rib bone which was first discovered by Carl Gustafson, who conducted an excavation at the Manis site in Washington state from 1977 to 1979.

Using a CT scan and 3D software, Waters and his team isolated all the bone fragments to show it was the tip of a weapon—a projectile made from the bone of Mastodon, prehistoric relatives of elephants.

“We isolated the bone fragments, printed them out and assembled them,” Waters said. “This clearly showed this was the tip of a bone projectile point.

A mastodon with an arrow pointing to the trajectory of the spear.

This is this the oldest bone projectile point in the Americas and represents the oldest direct evidence of mastodon hunting in the Americas.”

Waters said at 13,900 years old, the Manis point is 900 years older than projectile points found to be associated with the Clovis people, whose stone tools he has also studied. Dating from 13,050 to 12,750 years ago, Clovis spear points have been found in Texas and several other sites across the country.

“What is important about Manis is that it’s the first and only bone tool that dates older than Clovis. At the other pre-Clovis site, only stone tools are found,” Waters said. “This shows that the First Americans made and used bone weapons and likely other types of bone tools.”

He said the only reason the Manis specimen was preserved is because the hunter missed, and the projectile got stuck in the mastodon’s rib.

“We show that the bone used to make the point appears to have come from the leg bone of another mastodon and was intentionally shaped into a projectile point form,” Waters said. 

“The spear with the bone point was thrown at the mastodon. It penetrated the hide and tissue and eventually came into contact with the rib. The objective of the hunter was to get between the ribs and impair lung function, but the hunter missed and hit the rib.”

Waters studied the rib bone previously, presenting findings in a 2011 paper published in Science, in which radiocarbon dating determined the bone’s age and a genetic study of the bone fragments determined that they were mastodon.

“In our new study, we set out to isolate the bone fragments using CT images and 3D software,” he said. “We were able to create 3D images of each fragment and print them out at six times scale. Then we fit the pieces back together to show what the specimen looked like before it entered and splintered in the rib.”

Not much is known about the people who used the Manis spear point other than they were some of the first Indigenous people to enter the Americas. Waters said the Manis site and others are giving archaeologists some insight.

“It is looking like the first people that came to the Americas arrived by boat,” he said. “They took a coastal route along the North Pacific and moved south. They eventually got past the ice sheets that covered Canada and made landfall in the Pacific Northwest.

“It is interesting to note that in Idaho there is the 16,000-years-old Coopers Ferry site, in Oregon is the 14,100-year-old site of Paisley Caves. And here we report on the 13,900-year-old Manis site.

So there appears to be a cluster of early sites in the Northwestern part of the United States that date from 16,000 to 14,000 years ago that predate Clovis. These sites likely represent the first people and their descendants that entered the Americas at the end of the last Ice Age.”

Viking Colonies Collapsed Through Over Hunting Walruses

Viking Colonies Collapsed Through Over Hunting Walruses

Norsemen in exile from Iceland sailed to the shores of Greenland in the 10th century and survived thanks to the ivory of a unique species of walrus on the island. 

The precious material was traded throughout Europe in exchange for wood and iron and it allowed the Vikings to thrive in their desolate home. But just as swiftly as they arrived at the distant island in the Atlantic ocean, all signs of their occupation vanished in the 15th century. 

Experts now believe that their penchant for hunting walruses was ultimately their downfall as they forced the species to extinction, destroying their source of income. 

A modified medieval walrus skull

Norse people settled in Greenland in 950AD after Erik the Red was sent there in exile. By this point, much of Iceland’s native walruses had already been hunted to extinction by Vikings, and the new inhabitants in Greenland had inadvertently stumbled upon the next hunting ground.  

‘Our story starts where the Icelandic story ends. In Iceland, there are walrus finds in early Viking age sites,’ says Dr James Barrett, an academic from the University of Cambridge who led the study into the disappearance of Greenland’s Vikings. 

‘But later, they are described as a rarity. Previous research shows that the population of walruses in Iceland was hunted to depletion quite quickly after the Viking settlement.’

And it seems the Vikings did not learn from the lessons of Iceland, as a new study published in the scientific journal Quaternary Science Reviews reveals the same thing happened again. The demise of the Norse folk in Greenland was the very thing that helped them thrive — hunting walrus ivory.  

Academics at the universities of Cambridge, Oslo and Trondheim found that almost all ivory traded throughout Europe in Medieval times came from Greenland walruses.

After Iceland slaughtered its own populations of walruses, Greenland was, for centuries, the only source of the the valuable material. Norse settlements in the south-western region of the island held a monopoly on the material, which was in vogue throughout Europe. 

But as demand soared for the popular material, supply was dwindling and the Vikings forced further north in search of the animals they were overly reliant upon. 

At its peak, walrus ivory was a valuable medieval commodity, used to carve luxury items such as ornate crucifixes or the Viking game hnefatafl. 

The famous Lewis chessmen are made of walrus tusk. They showcase how the marbled effect of the ivory can be sculpted into various artefacts.  

The chessmen are thought to have been made in Trondheim shortly before 1200AD and discovered in the 1830s on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Scientists did not wish to destroy the rare tusks themselves so instead analysed parts of the walrus skull attached to the tusks.

A total of 67 of these skull fragments – known as rostra – were taken from sites across Europe, dating from between the 11th and 15th century.  Ancient DNA (25 samples) and stable isotopes (31 samples) extracted from samples of bone provided clues to the animals’ sex and origins.

It revealed that the Vikings became desperate for ivory and their journeys became longer, more arduous and less fruitful as numbers of mature male walruses dwindled. 

Scientists found that the hunters switched from hunting large males to settling for females and smaller animals. To compound the misery of the Pagan warriors, changing fashions and an emerging market for elephant ivory saw a rapid decline in demand of walrus ivory in the 15th century. 

Dr James Barrett said: ‘Walrus ivory was very popular and valuable especially early in the Middle ages, particularly for use in Romanesque art. 

‘But later, in the 1200s, there was a shift in popularity from walrus to elephant tusks around the time when Gothic art developed.’ With this major financial artery severed, the long-term habitation of Greenland was forced to an abrupt end, academics now believe.  

Dr James Barrett added: ‘Norse Greenlanders needed to trade with Europe for iron and timber, and had mainly walrus products to export in exchange.

‘We suspect that decreasing values of walrus ivory in Europe meant more and more tusks were harvested to keep the Greenland colonies economically viable.

‘Mass hunting can end the use of traditional haul-out sites by walruses.  ‘Our findings suggest that Norse hunters were forced to venture deeper into the Arctic Circle for increasingly meagre ivory harvests. 

‘This would have exacerbated the decline of walrus populations, and consequently those sustained by the walrus trade.’ It is thought that the lack of walruses was not the only issue but it at least played a significant role in the Viking withdrawal from Greenland. 

Other theories the collapse of the civilisation include climate change with the dawn of the ‘Little Ice Age’, unsustainable farming and the emergence of the Black Death.   

‘An overreliance on walrus ivory was not the only factor in Norse Greenland’s demise. However, if both the population and price of walrus started to tumble, it must have badly undermined the resilience of the settlements,’ says co-author Bastiaan Star of the University of Oslo.