Dating sites for pacific islanders
But bit by bit, the Clovis-first picture has crumbled.
The biggest blow came in 1997, when archaeologists confirmed that an inland site at Monte Verde in Chile was at least 14,500 years old—1000 years before Clovis tools appeared.
The evidence that might settle the question has been mostly out of reach.
As the glaciers melted starting about 16,500 years ago, global sea level rose by about 120 meters, drowning many coasts and any settlements they held.
The density of early coastal sites here "is unprecedented in North America," says archaeologist Loren Davis of Oregon State University in Corvallis, who joined the project in 2009.
The Cedros Island sites add to a small but growing list that supports a once-heretical view of the peopling of the Americas.
In this view, maritime explorers voyaged by boat out of Beringia—the ancient land now partially submerged under the waters of the Bering Strait—about 16,000 years ago and quickly moved down the Pacific coast, reaching Chile by at least 14,500 years ago."I had no idea what it meant," says Des Lauriers, now a professor at California State University (Cal State) in Northridge.Curiosity piqued, he returned for a test excavation and sent some shell and charcoal for radiocarbon dating.So grab a seat: We're off on a virtual island tour.ON CEDROS ISLAND IN MEXICO—Matthew Des Lauriers got the first inkling that he had stumbled on something special when he pulled over on a dirt road here, seeking a place for his team to use the bathroom.