The First American: The Suppressed Story of the People Who Discovered the New World (cont.)
By Christopher Hardaker
Without clear dates for the artifacts, talk was cheap and frustrations grew. Then geological science entered the fray. In 1968, a USGS geologist suggested using his new Uranium Series technique to date the bone, and that's when everything fell apart.
The bone dates from the Tetela sites were 250,000 years old! And so opened up one of the craziest archaeological wormholes in history. That's a quarter million years old! Modern man didn't live back then, and all the artifacts from Valsequillo were fancy spearheads and blades - things we Mods didn't know how to make until 30-40,000 years ago. And there was art! And Valsequillo was 250,000 years old? That's Homo erectus Time!! And there's art?
It not only threatened to trash the American paradigm of prehistory, it would also trash the Old World paradigm for the last phases of human evolution. This was serious. There were modern stone tools in Mexico that were 200,000 years older than the earliest modern tools in Europe and Asia and Africa. It was nuts. It was impossible any way you looked at it.
Geologists kept coming up with similar ages for the site no matter what they threw at it. And no matter what the geological sciences turned up, the archaeological community fought back with a stifling wall of absolute silence and noncomment. They would have none of it. Period. The wormhole became an academic black hole, the region became a forbidden zone, and Valsequillo dropped from the lips of credibility.
In the end the archaeologists won through silence. Irwin-Williams never published an official volume; not even site reports. And the curiousity that raged through the professional community was calmly checked at the door of credibility.
What happened to the artifacts? The art? Gone. Lost. Missing. Destroyed? There was lots of stuff. Priceless stuff. Now it is forgotten stuff, largely a non-subject on both sides of the border with professionals from Mexico and the US sharing a common disinterest. This was America's first art, first spearheads, first kill sites, and a lot of other firsts as well. It satisfied all the required perfections demanded by the Clovis First crowd. And it was still flushed down the academic toilet.
The archaeologists would not work with the geologists unless they recanted their "ridiculous" dates. The geologists could not do this. Every time they dated the site with different dating techniques, the site came out as old or older than 200,000 years. And it would take a lot more than catcalls by angry archaeologists to make the geologist betray the scientific laws governing their evidence. Science is not opinion, but that was all the archaeologists could muster. And in the end, the archaeologists won by default, by absolute noncomment; not even a whisper. And that was pretty much that.
Had it not been for a lone hold out geologist from the original project, one of America's greatest archaeology stories would have been lost to the fog of professional amnesia. She was able to recover the archives of Irwin-Williams, who had passed away several years earlier. Letters, notes, some photos and other materials would show that Valsequillo was pure archaeological gold. It may not have been the earliest contender for the preClovis throne, but it was simply the best. And my archaeological elders didn't tell us about it? Or they felt compelled to forget about it? Only deep therapy will tell. One thing is certain. From that point on, for the next thirty years, First American studies were held hostage by the myth of Adam and Eve Clovis.
Today, Valsequillo still remains unresolved. The good news is that pros are back doing work at one of the sites. A couple years ago, another investigator reported finding human footprints in lava a few miles away. It is an ongoing drama, and this is the prequel.