03 January 2009

Impact 10,900 BCE? A Possible Solution to Several Coincidental Mysteries of Pre - Historia

Several pre-historic mysteries have been waiting for a solution.
  1. What caused the Lesser Dryas abrupt global cooling 12,900 years ago?
  2. Why did the Clovis culture of SW North America disappear?
  3. Why did technology migrate from South and Central America northward, when human migration from Asia went the opposite direction?
  4. What caused the extinction of large mammals such as mammoths?
Those and other mysteries may have a common solution: a devastating asteroid impact into mile-thick ice covering southern Canada 12,900 years ago.
Now researchers are reporting that the abrupt cooling — which took place about 12,900 years ago, just as the planet was emerging from an ice age — may have been caused by one or more meteors that slammed into North America.

That could explain the extinction of mammoths, saber-tooth tigers and maybe even the first human inhabitants of the Americas, the scientists report in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

...But if true, the hypothesis could explain the disappearance of ice age mammals like mammoths and argue against the alternative idea that the animals were hunted to extinction by humans.

It might also help explain the disappearance of the Clovis people, a culture named after a distinctive arrow point discovered in a mammoth skeleton in Clovis, N.M., who are believed to have arrived in the Americas more than 13,000 years ago.

Douglas J. Kennett, a University of Oregon archaeologist who is the lead author of the Science paper, said no Clovis points or bones of the extinct animals had been found above the diamond layer. “It seems those two things synchronously end,” he said.

Dr. Kennett said there also appeared to be a gap of several centuries between the disappearance of the Clovis and the resettlement by other people. _NYT_via_Instapundit
Even more mysterious to me than the disappearance of the Clovis culture, is the fact that more advanced technology appears to have been discovered and heavily utilised first in South and Central America, then migrated northward to tribes of southern and eastern North America. A destruction of northern cultures and a disruption of southward migration paths would have isolated the early migrations south of the devastation zone, where their cultures would have evolved separately from source cultures.

The return to glaciation represented by the Lesser Dryas no doubt destroyed or disrupted earlier human attempts at civilisation in both the old and new worlds. Old legends of "Atlantis" and other mythical lost civilisations might have their origins in pre-impact times between the emergence from the last glaciation and the Lesser Dryas. Much has been lost to human history, and much that human history partially captured is ignored.

It is likely that a catastrophic cutting off of partially civilised cultures has occurred multiple times to human and primate cultures. These groups would have had to "start over" in building a civilisation, revert to barbarity, or die off (with a few other possibilities perhaps best suited for fiction writers).

Future humans may soon face the same challenge of starting over.

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Blogger Stopped Clock said...

I think it is pretty uncontroversial to state that technology migrated poleward because society was more advanced in the tropics while the tribes living in the north were having enough of a struggle just staying warm. Really, that's been pretty much the rule around the whole globe for all of human history, except in the tropics itself, where the rainforest is even worse than the deserty areas. Northern Europe got its culture from Southern Europe, which got its culture from the Middle East; the same thing happened in India, Asia, and the Americas.

Saturday, 03 January, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

Perhaps. But remember that in the old world humans evolved in the tropics and spread out.

In the new world, by contrast, humans migrated from the near-Arctic southward, down the spine of the Americas all the way to Tierra del Fuego.

In North America, some technologies brought over from Asia were forgotten then re-acquired from South America via Central America. Completely opposite the situation in the old world where humans and civilisation originated in the center and spread outward.

Saturday, 03 January, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

I have made a bit of a study of the new world discovery/re-discovery of technology. There are several scholarly books and papers you would need to read to understand why the spread of technology in the New World is counter-intuitive to what the accepted migrational story would lead you to expect.

Think about it a bit longer and collect more data. Then think about it some more.

Saturday, 03 January, 2009  
Blogger Bruce Hall said...

A slight variation of the theory was aired on the History Channel some time ago.


Sunday, 04 January, 2009  

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