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March 03, 2004

Eel Point

Eight to nine-thousand year old stone tools recovered from California's Channel Islands resemble those used for boat-building much more recently by Chumash Indians. Some see this fishing equipment as evidence for boat-building technology that may have allowed for initial human settlement of the Americas by sea rather than by the Bering land bridge. Count the Flea among those sticking to received wisdom in the absence of further evidence. Coastal sailing techniques do not lend themselves necessarily to blue water exploration and colonization.

"The basic problem is that all boats are made out of organic materials that just don't preserve in the archaeological record," said Professor Knut Fladmark, of Simon Fraser University in Canada. Professor Fladmark believes humans were building boats 40,000-50,000 years ago and cites evidence that Australia was colonised by this time despite the fact there was no land bridge connecting it to South East Asia.

"Until you find the boats there will remain a cadre of archaeologists who will insist on not accepting this," Professor Fladmark told BBC News Online. "Sea level rise since the last Ice Age flooded much of the coastline of North America, presumably drowning any possible evidence of early coastal migrations," Prof Raab added.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at March 3, 2004 10:48 AM