Updated 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Monte Verdi might change the theory

In southern region of Chile, a portion of land with wild vegetation and native trees could be an archaeological treasure. In this site objects e with an estimated age of 14,000 years were found.

The story under the name “Monte Verde” can be summarized in three words: excavation, discovery and controversy.

Everything starts back in 1977, with a discovery that even today astonishes and ignited a huge discussion.

That year, archeologist and American anthropologist Tom Dillehay, along with a scientific team from the Universidad Austral de Chile, excavated in a wild-looking site, located in the region of Los Lagos.

To start, we must know that the site has three areas: Monteverde I, II and Chinchihuapi Monteverde, an ancient stream running through a long part of the sector.

The group of scientists came up with an amazing list of traces of late Pleistocene with the findings in Monte Verde. There were hunting objects, architectural elements, pieces of meat and animal leather, medicinal and exotic plants, wild potatoes, seaweed, animal bones, cordage, several hearths, pits, braziers and even a human footprint.

However, the validity of these findings has been strongly challenged by renowned archaeologists.

Since 1977 the archaeological work has focused heavily on two sites: Monteverde Monteverde I and II.

It was discovered that Monte Verde has an age of 33,000 years, which so far has not been fully accepted by the scientific community. In contrast, Monteverde II has an age of 14,800 years and has the greatest scientific consensus.

In 2008, a text published in the Science magazine validated the mentioned antiquity, close to 14,000 years, of some seaweed, found in Monteverde II.

Excavations in 2013 also revealed that the site may have been occupied by humans for 18,500 years, an even earlier date than the one that had been initially calculated.

Monte Verde findings question classical models and conventions that until today remain in the American archeology. And especially regarding theories of late settlement in America, because after Monte Verde the world started to consider "early settlement" in the continent.

The discovery caused much discussion. Until then, there was a clear consensus in science about who were the first inhabitants of America: Clovis.

The Clovis human community corresponds to inhabitants of an area close to New Mexico, United States and its origins were estimated around 11,200 years ago.

Clovis findings have been studied, as their arrowheads and lithic artifacts found in numerous exploration wells.
Monte Verde has cast doubt on this scientific truth.

Important archaeological treasures were found during the Panama Canal expansion.

The terrain is very uneven, but that's just part of its wealth, since it remains wild and with little human intervention.

And the story does not end. Stuart Fiedel, archeologist and American anthropologist, is a staunch defender of the Clovis model.

The scientist told BBC News that the evidence is not convincing when it comes to Monte Verde, unlike what it was given regarding Clovis human community since 1929, when this site was discovered.

The human footprint also generates suspicion because, in his opinion, "is too small to be an adult and too narrow to be a very young child."

And although in Latin America the Monte Verde evidence is getting stronger , Fiedel explains that this would hide an unscientific reason.

There is a kind of anti-Yankee feeling attributed to Latin American Academy and scholars, many international experts argue they accept any evidence that American colonization models are not applicable in South America and that these cultures developed independently for that reason.

Fiedel also says that thanks to a recent genetic study, Clovis is more
than ever a strong theory.

Unlike Clovis, Monte Verde settlements do not provide a plausible explanation of how they got there.

The controversy will continue and questions too. Especially around the objects found in Monte Verde. Because, if it was human settlement, how were they?
Tom Dillehay explains that the evidence suggests that the settlement consisted of some large group of no more than 30 settlers.

He adds that these ancient people would have been very well organized, with defined tasks regarding the production of tools, building shelters and food preparation.

The graves found, muddy and surrounded by stone tools, remains of seeds, nuts and berries, they think, according Dillehay, that there was an organized economy in Monte Verde.

The findings in Monte Verde II also says the scientist, would question the theory that all people of the Ice Age were nomadic hunters.

According Dillehay, it is believed that this settlement "was occupied for a year and at least part of its inhabitants were engaged in gathering plants and hunting animals."
In a small stove remains of burnt bones indicating the presence of prehistoric American horse they were found.

It seems, that the most important thing righ now, is that the Chilean state ensures all maximum preservation conditions for the site and the research, as it has been done so far.

However, currently Dillehay is somewhat critical of the value that has been given to the site, especially Chileans themselves.

Very few people know of this site after 40 years of its discovery. The Chileans are much more interested in their colonial and recent history and this makes it harder for future projects to prove the Earlier Settlement in Latin America.