Archaeologists Found the Oldest Weapons Created in the Americas, Expanding the Timeline of Human Invention

Archaeologists have discovered 14 stemmed projectile points at the Cooper’s Field excavation site in Western Idaho from 13,200 to 16,000 years ago. The “razor sharp” points range in size from about half an inch to 2 inches long. They were also 2,3000 years older than ones previously found in the area, making them the oldest ever found in the Americas.

A research paper on the findings said the discovery included other stone tools, animal bone fragments, and “substantial amounts of lithic debris” (usually found in areas where stone tools are produced), providing additional details on how early humans in the Pacific Northwest produced and used stone weapons for hunting animals. The research paper also describes how changes in the ice brought ancient humans to the Columbia River, and then finally to the Cooper’s Ferry location.

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“This evidence greatly extends the timing of stemmed point technology in the Americas,” said the research authors in their report published in the journal Science Advances on December 23.

The study on the stone weapons was led by Oregon State University, Corvallis anthropology professor Loren Davis. In addition to their notable age, the paper noted that the stemmed points from Cooper’s Field are similar to ones found in Hokkaido, Japan, dating back to 16,000 to 20,000 year ago.

Davis said their presence adds further detail to the hypothesis people from the Ice Age period located in Northeast Asia and North America shared early genetic and cultural connections. Their presence in Idaho adds more detail to the hypothesis that there are early genetic and cultural connections between the ice age peoples of Northeast Asia and North America.

“From a scientific point of view, these discoveries add very important details about what the archaeological record of the earliest peoples of the Americas looks like,” Davis told the university. “It’s one thing to say, ‘We think that people were here in the Americas 16,000 years ago;’ it’s another thing to measure it by finding well-made artifacts they left behind.”

Archaeologists discovered the stone tools during summer excavations at the Cooper’s Ferry site between 2012 and 2017.

In the past, Davis and his research colleagues reported their discoveries of a 14,200-year-old fire pit and a food-processing area containing the remains of an extinct horse. According to Oregon State University, archaeologists have found more than 65,000 items in total at Cooper’s Field.


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