The archaeological site of Cactus Hill is situated on sand dunes above the Nottoway River in southeast Virginia, about 45 miles south of Richmond. The prickly pear cacti that are prevalently grown there in the sandy soil gave the place its name. One of the oldest archaeological sites in the Americas may be Cactus Hill. If confirmed to have been inhabited 16,000–20,000 years ago, it would offer proof that the Americas were inhabited before the Clavius.  The location has revealed many prehistoric habitation levels, including two distinct stages of early Paleoindian activity.
What startled the archaeologists when they discovered it at Cactus Hill?
5. What startled the archaeologists when they discovered it at Cactus Hill? More deeply underground than they had ever discovered before, they discovered human-made artifacts.
What river lies beneath Cactus Hill?
Native American camping grounds can be found in Sussex County at the Cactus Hill Archaeological Site, which is close to the Nottoway River. It covers the whole time of Native American occupancy in Virginia prior to contact with Europeans and includes stratified and well-preserved deposits from the Woodland, Archaic, and Paleoindian periods. The Nottoway River Survey and the Archeological Society of Virginia have both overseen excavations at Cactus Hill. Extremely uncommon archaeological deposits that predate Paleoindian Clovis habitation are attracting attention on a national and worldwide scale, making Cactus Hill one of the oldest Native American sites in North and South America to date. Radiocarbon dating has established that the charcoal from these pre-Clovis deposits at the location dates back more than 15,000 years.
Who lived in California before other people did?
Of course, the Spanish weren’t the first to find this region of wonder and extremes. Thousands of years ago, when a warmer temperature and a now-gone land bridge made such journey simpler, the first known inhabitants of California were daring Asians who crossed the Bering Strait to Alaska. The first European explorers to this hemisphere labeled the different countries and tribes that these men and women and their descendants established in North and South America as “Indians.” These early immigrants were cut off from the cultures that evolved in nearby Mexico and the western United States by the mountain ranges of the Pacific Coast. As a result, the early inhabitants of California had little in common culturally or linguistically with the Native Americans of the Great Plains and had less in common physically. Due to the state’s arid topography, which is characterized by mountain ranges and deserts, native groups found it challenging to travel long distances and were even geographically isolated from one another. In contrast to the larger tribes and nations to the east, the native populations of the region tended to live in large family groups or clans with weak political structures. The Great Plains tribes were denied access to the invaders’ horses, whose runaways produced the wild herds that provided them new mobility as early as the sixteenth century, while European settlement of California arrived late. The early Californians were a diversified people that was divided into up to 135 different dialects by language, which resulted in their isolation and division. The Karok, Maidu, Cahuilleno, Mojave, Yokuts, Pomo, Paiute, and Modoc were among the tribes. However, because the groupings were separated by mountains, major conflict was impracticable, and the tribes and clans of California lived rather tranquil lives.
Early Californians were unable to subsist through agriculture due to the region’s lack of rain during the growing season, but thanks to the region’s mild climate and rich soil, they were able to do so by expertly gathering and processing wild berries and nuts as well as catching the fish that crowded the region’s streams. The majority of California’s indigenous peoples relied heavily on acorns that had been leached of their poisonous acids and ground into meal. In fact, when the first English-speaking Europeans encountered California Native Americans, they were so impressed by their emphasis on digging up nourishing roots and gathering nuts from the ground that they gave them the nickname “Diggers,” and “Digger Indian” became a general term for many of the groups.
A big, healthy population was facilitated by a plentiful food supply, a tame climate, and the absence of war. According to estimates, the native population in California at the time of European settlement was roughly 300,000, or 13% of all indigenous peoples in North America.
What is the earliest artifact ever discovered in the US?
The earliest known artifact in the Americas, a scraper-like tool discovered in a cave in Oregon by archaeologists, is thought to date back 14,230 years.
Archaeologist Dennis Jenkins of the University of Oregon in Eugene believes the artifact demonstrates that people were residing in North America well before the widely dispersed Clovis culture, which dates back between 12,900 and 12,400 years.
The age of the bone was determined using sediment and radiocarbon studies. Jenkins announced the discovery at a speech at the University of Oregon late last month.
In one of several caverns close to the town of Paisley in south-central Oregon, his crew discovered the instrument in a rock shelter overlooking a lake.
The team member who found the artifact, Kevin Smith, recalls making the find. The familiar ring and sensation of a trowel striking bone can be heard and felt, according to Smith, a master’s student at California State University, Los Angeles. “We had banged into a lot of extinct horse, bison, and camel bone,” Smith recalls. “I changed to using a brush. I soon saw this enormous bone emerge, and I could see its sharp edge. I retreated and said, “Hey everyone, we have something here.”
It is unknown if the cave inhabitants belonged to an earlier civilisation or the Clovis people. The distinctive fluted spear and arrow points used by the Clovis people have not been discovered in the cave.
According to Jon Erlandson, an archaeologist at the University of Oregon who wasn’t involved in the study, “They can’t yet rule out the Paisley Cave people weren’t Clovis.”
The age of Monte Verde in Chile, the only other American archaeological site older than Clovis, is roughly 13,900 years.
Jenkins and coworkers announced last year that coprolites from Paisley Cave, or fossilized human feces, age to between 14,000 and 14,270 years ago1. That study recognized the Paisley Caves as a significant location for American archaeology.
Ancient DNA testing identified the coprolites as human. However, in July, a different group asserted that the coprolites may be more recent than the sediments they were found in2.
Because no artifacts had been discovered in the vital sediments, this team, led by Hendrik Poinar of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, questioned the 2008 findings as well. The Oregon squad vehemently refuted the accusations3.
These questions might be answered by the date of the bone tool and the discovery that the sediments encasing it range in age from 11,930 to 14,480 years. Jenkins told the Oregon meeting that the stratigraphy “couldn’t be better dated.”
According to Todd Surovell, an archaeologist at the University of Wyoming in Laramie who was not involved in the research, “They have obviously made their argument even stronger.”
The coprolites suggested that the cave’s inhabitants were primarily vegetarian, although other experts questioned this4. (Editor’s note: The authors of this reference provide commentary on the importance of their work in the article’s comments section.) Jenkins mentioned more evidence in his most recent talk that points to a diet low in meat but high in edible plants like the fernleaf biscuitroot Lomatium dissectum.
A team of archaeologists who specialize in the history of the Americas met with government representatives and a member of the neighborhood Klamath tribe in late September to assess the findings at Paisley Caves. The experts looked at the tool, examined the sediments, and evaluated other plant and animal evidence over the course of two days.
Archaeologist David Meltzer of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, who attended the seminar, thinks it was an amazing presentation. “This is undoubtedly a significant location, but additional tests must be conducted to complete the transaction.” He claims that knowing how the samples came to the cave is one of the solutions.
What is the world’s most ancient archaeological site?
Theopetra Cave is the oldest archaeological site in the world as of 2012, when experts discovered that humans had been residing there for more than 135,000 years. This discovery came after decades of investigation and excavations.
Initially, the study team headed by Kyparissi-Apostolika believed that the cave had been inhabited by humans for at least 50,000 years. Children’s footprints, on the other hand, indicated that Theopetra was used more than 80,000 years ago.
Theopetra Cave is a rich trove of antiquities from the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic eras, among others. The location is also home to one of the world’s oldest known man-made structures, a 23,000-year-old wall that was probably created to shield the cave’s inhabitants from chilly winds.
What Native American artifact is the oldest?
A conical projectile tip measuring 10 centimeters in length and composed of pure copper was hammered out by hunter-gatherers living next to Eagle Lake in Wisconsin about 8500 years ago. A New World technological success and a conundrum are highlighted by the expertly made point, which is utilized to hunt large wildlife. The results of a recent investigation of that artifact and other remnants of prehistoric mining show that the Old Copper Culture actually originated far earlier than previously believed before inexplicably disappearing.
According to the dates, early Native Americans were among the world’s earliest humans to extract metal and craft it into tools. They also argue that a change in the climate in the area may have contributed to the sudden stoppage of most copper tool production and the pioneering metallurgists’ transition back to stone and bone tools after thousands of years.
The Great Lakes region of North America is home to the largest and purest copper reserves on Earth. Native Americans eventually picked up the skill of heating, hammering, and grinding ore into implements. They left behind innumerable copper artifacts, such as deadly projectile points, large blades, and axes, as well as tiny fish hooks and awls, as well as thousands of mines. According to David Pompeani, a geologist at Kansas State University, Manhattan, who specializes in historic mining, it’s not unusual to see locals today “who have buckets of copper artifacts [that they’ve uncovered] hidden away in their basements.”
When scientists started dating the artifacts and mines, they noticed a puzzling pattern: The dates indicated that the Old Copper Culture’s inhabitants started making metal tools around 6000 years ago and generally abandoned them about 3000 years later, for unknown reasons. Following that, early Native Americans mostly utilized copper for smaller, less functional items connected with ornamentation, including beads and bracelets. The history is “simply so odd,” in part due to the fact that many other prehistoric tribes continued to use metal tools after learning how to create them, according to Pompeani.
The Old Copper timeline was questioned by Pompeani’s dissertation research, which he started about ten years ago. On Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula and Isle Royale, he took sediment cores from lakes close to ancient mines and studied the trace metals in the cores, including lead and titanium that had been liberated during the ore’s processing. The investigations revealed that copper mining started about 9500 years ago in some regions, which is 3500 years earlier than previously believed. In The Holocene, published in 2015, Pompeani stated that it also ended earlier, roughly 5400 years ago.
The updated timetable is now supported by fresh data presented by a team led by Pompeani. Eight newly obtained dates connected with the Old Copper Culture were among the 53 radiocarbon dates that were reanalyzed by the researchers using contemporary techniques. Others came from charcoal, wood, or bone discovered at mines and in human graves. Some came from wood or cordage still attached to spearpoints. The 8500-year-old projectile point discovered in Wisconsin turned out to be the oldest item that could be accurately dated.
The team writes this month in Radiocarbon that the Old Copper Culture developed at least 9500 years ago and peaked between 7000 and 5000 years ago based on the most trustworthy dates and sediment evidence. In the Middle East, where archaeologists have discovered a copper pendant they estimate to be 8700 years old, copper-working cultures have been known to exist for at least as long as this one, and possibly longer.
For archaeologist Michelle Bebber of Kent State University in Kent, who has studied the civilization, the older window for Old Copper’s peak is not a surprise. According to her, the dates demonstrate that hunter-gatherers were very inventive and eager to “frequently experiment with novel materials.”
But why did the prehistoric copper experiment terminate suddenly? Old Copperstyle arrowheads, knives, and awls may not have been superior to the alternatives, according to Bebber’s work duplicating them, especially when you take into account the time and labor needed to make metal tools. She discovered that stone and bone instruments were generally as effective to copper in controlled laboratory testing, such as shooting arrows into clay blocks that simulated meat. According to her, this might be because the copper from the Great Lakes is unusually pure, making it soft as opposed to other, harder natural copper alloys found around the globe. The only tool that outperformed bone hole punchers was a copper awl.
Another potential cause of Old Copper’s decline around 5000 years ago has been pointed forth by Pompeani. Around that time, the region had a persistent dry period, according to sediment cores, tree ring data, and other evidence, he claims. That might have driven ecological and social upheavals that made it challenging to dedicate time and resources to the production of copper implements. Copper may have evolved into a luxury good over time, used to denote social standing.
The Great Lakes people, however, continued to utilize copper awls for thousands of years despite the fact that they required little ore for production.
Where in North America have the earliest human artifacts been discovered?
The earliest conclusive proof of human activity in the Americas and a window into life more than 23,000 years ago can be found in the footprints discovered in White Sands National Park in New Mexico. University of Arizona archaeologist Vance Holliday co-authored a journal paper in Science that details the findings.
Which South American archaeological site is the oldest?
Monte Verde is an archaeological site that has been dated to as early as 18,500 cal BP. It is situated close to Puerto Montt in the Llanquihue Province of southern Chile (16,500 BC).
 Previously, 14,500 years cal BP was the generally accepted dating for the earliest occupancy at Monte Verde.  This dating strengthened the argument that human habitation in the Americas dates back by about 1,000 years before the Clovis culture (or 5,000 years if the 18,500 BP dates are confirmed). This runs counter to the widely held “Clovis first” theory, which claims that the Americas were only settled after 13,500 cal BP. The majority of scientists first rejected the Monte Verde discoveries, but over time, the evidence gained wider acceptance in the archaeological world.  
The “coastal migration” theory is further supported by paleoecological evidence of the capacity of the coastal terrain to support human life.
 Animal bones and rock surfaces that have been dated indicate that the coastal corridor deglaciated and became habitable around 17,000 years ago.  Despite the fact that proving coastal migration theories can be challenging because of the sea level rise that has happened since the last glacial maximum, archaeologists are becoming more open to the idea that the first settlement of the Americas took place along beaches.