#Archaeology; #OregonPaisleyCaves; #humanSterols
Newcastle Upon Tyne (England), Jul 18 (Canadian-Media): Gizmodo reports that archaeologists John Blong and Lisa-Marie Shillito of Newcastle University and their colleagues tested 21 coprolites unearthed in Oregon’s Paisley Caves for the presence of human sterols and bile, which are not soluble in water and thus chemically stable, https://www.archaeology.org news reports said.human sterols
Oregon-Paisley-Caves. Image credit: John Blong
Previous mitochondrial DNA testing of the ancient waste indicated that all of the samples were human in origin, but critics argued that DNA from later occupation of the cave may have washed into lower, older cave sediments and contaminated the samples. “We address issues of potential DNA contamination through fecal lipid biomarker analysis, providing evidence that there likely was DNA moving from younger human occupations into older cave sediments and coprolites, but also confirming that people were camping at the caves as early as 14,200 years ago,” Blong said. In the new analysis, only 13 of the 21 samples were identified as human droppings, while one was linked to a panther and another to a lynx. The researchers are now analyzing the coprolites for clues to what those early campers had eaten. For more on Paisley Caves, go to "America, in the Beginning."
Thanks to the extremely dry environment inside Oregon’s Paisley Caves, University of Oregon archaeologist Dennis Jenkins and his team came across five human droppings that dated to older than 14,000 years over the course of nine years of digging there.
In addition, they also found three points that Jenkins believes belong to what is known as the Western Stemmed tradition. Unlike Clovis points, which have a signature notch at their base so that wooden spears can be attached, these have constricted bases. They have also clearly been struck from smaller pieces of stone than the typical Clovis counterpart. Two human coprolites dated to just over 13,000 years ago were found within eight inches of one of the points. At the very least, this evidence suggests that there was a parallel occupation of the continental United States by both the Clovis people and a second group who made different types of tools.
Evidence of baskets and rope, plant fibers, wooden artifacts, and animal bones were also found at the caves. Pollen and other plant minerals extracted from the coprolites suggest that people came to the site in the spring and early summer. They also provide evidence that the people in the caves ate everything from edible roots to bison, horse, and even animals as big as mastodon.
Jenkins, for his part, thinks Paisley Caves were not a destination location. “There is very little debitage [residue from production] from stone tools over time,” he explains. “The archaeology suggests this is a place where people are passing by—something, weather or resources nearby, or the time of day, makes you stop in.”