Researchers discover oldest weapons – 15,500-year-old spear points – in North America

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Researchers from Texas A&M University have uncovered what appears to the oldest weapons ever found in North America. Dating back nearly 15,500 years, the ancient spear points shed new light on the settlement of early peoples that inhabited the continent, archaeologists stated.

Published recently in the Science Advances journal, the discovery was made by Michael Waters, a professor of anthropology and the director of Texas A&M’s Center for the Study of the First Americans, along with researchers from Baylor University and the University of Texas. As per reports, the three to four-inch-long weapons were found during excavations at the Debra L. Friedkin site in Central Texas.

Named after the family who owns it, the site – located around 40 miles (64.3 kilometers) northwest of Austin – has been undergoing digging for the last 12 years. As part of the latest round of excavations, archaeologists unearthed ancient chert spear points underneath several feet of sediment.

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Believed to be at least 15,500 years old, the artifacts pre-date the Clovis people, who were for decades regarded as the first human inhabitants of the New World. Speaking about the new discovery, Waters said –

There is no doubt these weapons were used for hunting game in the area at that time. The discovery is significant because almost all pre-Clovis sites have stone tools, but spear points have yet to be found. These points were found under a layer with Clovis and Folsom projectile points. Clovis is dated to 13,000 to 12,700 years ago and Folsom after that. The dream has always been to find diagnostic artifacts – such as projectile points – that can be recognized as older than Clovis and this is what we have at the Friedkin site.

Read more: Did The Irish Reach The New World Before The Vikings And Columbus?

A prehistoric Paleo-Indian culture, Clovis was named so for the unique Pleistocene-era stone tools found at Blackwater Locality No. 1 near Clovis, New Mexico back in the 1920s and 1930s. According to historians, the Clovis people started making the “Clovis point”, which is distinct fluted projectile point uncovered in Texas and other parts of the United States as well as northern Mexico, nearly 13,000 years ago. They were used primarily to hunt animals like mastodons and mammoths. Waters added –

The findings expand our understanding of the earliest people to explore and settle North America. 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. Now we are starting to see this complexity mirrored in the archaeological record.

Source/Image Credits: Texas A&M University

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About the Author

Sukanya Mukherjee
With a master's degree in English Literature and several years of writing experience under her belt, Sukanya specializes in creating content particularly related to history, science, and technology. In the past, she worked as a business journalist at a reputable digital media company. Apart from being an avid fan of Victorian literature, she can found spending her free time baking and exploring the Great Himalayas!
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