The Really Ancient


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Southwest Expedition
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Camp Internet
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      Welcome to Camp Internet's Explore the Ancient Southwest!

Ice Age People of the Southwest

The Pendego Cave

Before the well-known Clovis peoples who lived in the area 10,000 years ago, another even more mysterious people occupied the land. There is evidence that a people now called the Sandia were living in New Mexico as long ago as 35,000 years, possibly 55,000 years ago, making them one of the First People known to live in the New World, and the earliest in the Ancient Southwest.

Archeologists excavating the Pendego dry cave in Orogrande, New Mexico have discovered the following signs of human habitation : fire hearths, clay-lined pits, hand-made cordage from natural fibers, crude stone tools, and animal bones with human tool marks. Another interesting evidence of early people from the cave are hand and finger imprints in clay that had been brought up to the cave from a nearby river. Imagine seeing handprints made over 12,000 years ago . And they also found bone objects obviously worked by human hands into a pendant, pointed awl, and serrated knife - the tools and ornaments of a very early Southwest people.

What allowed scientists to first date this site at 12,000-19,000 BC was human hair found in the cave. And still early dates are being analyzed by examining bison and horse bones. The bison bone appears to have been broken in two by human force inorder to scrape out the marrow. This bone has been dated to 33,000 or 55,000 BC by two different independent labs. Another story-rich bone is prehistoric horse bone dating to 36,000 BC that has a small stone tool lodge up inside that must have been caught there while trying to get the marrow out.

You can see from the cat scan and the
plastic model that there is a dense object lodged up inside the hollow of the bone - an object that did not occur naturally during the horse's life time. How else other than human hand did it get there ?

Archaeologists on the project are RS MacNeish, D Chrisman, and G Cunnar of the Andover Foundation for Archaeological Research, with the University of Massachusetts Amherst.