The Pre-Clovis and Clovis Debate

Meadowcroft Debate

"There's not a site that's engaged more vitriolic debate -- been more of a lightning rod -- than Meadowcroft," said Dr. James Adovasio of the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute, who excavated  Meadowcroft first in the 1970s. He fully believes Meadowcroft to be older than the Clovis period.
    Meadowcroft is one of the many sites that contradicts the Clovis theory. The Clovis theory is that the Clovis people were the first in North America, and they crossed the Bering Strait at the end of the last Ice Age. It wasn't hard to see that people had inhabited North America for almost as early as 13,000 years ago, but once the idea of people being here earlier than 13,000 years came about, a debate broke out among many archaeologists.
    Meadowcroft is an archeological site that has been excavated for many centuries. There are 11 layers of rock strata.  In the lowest layer of strata traces of human occupation has been found also many plant remains were found with plants such as, black gum, oak, and hickory. Along with the traces of human occupation and plant remains there has also has been found animal bones of white tailed deer, southern flying squirrel and passenger pigeons which all three aren't ice age species. Meadowcroft also includes the earliest corn, squash, and ceramics in this area.
    At Meadowcroft there are 3 subunits of rock. The upper most sublevel dates about 10,950 between 7,950 years ago. The middle layer has dates between 12,950 and 10,950 years ago. Finally the lowest sublevel contains radiocarbon dating from 19,600 to 13,230 years ago which is much earlier than the Clovis site. These subunits tell what life was like for the earliest humans in this area. The dates go back to the end of the last glaciations period.
    Not everyone as you can see agrees that the rock shelter has been used by humans as long ago as these tests say. Vance Haynes an archeologist who started his career at The University of Arizona suggests that the area could have been contaminated by older carbonates in the ground water. Adovasio counters this by saying that the low lying, south facing Meadowcroft Rock shelter was in micro climate, a sheltered region that might have had a more temperate climate.
    Doctor Adovasio says,"The argument that Clovis represents the first pulse of humans into the New World was essentially demolished by the almost universal acceptance of Monte Verde in South America and now other Pre-Clovis localities as conclusive evidence that people were here significantly earlier. The arguments about the antiquity of Meadowcroft pivot around the validity of the 11 earliest dates from the site all of which are Pre-Clovis in age."  He is basically saying that once the archaeologists fully accepted that Monte Verde in South America was older than the Clovis time, the debate came to an end.  Adovasio also stated the following on proof that has led him to believe Meadowcroft is older than the Clovis site.  "The deepest set of dates from Meadowcroft are all clearly older than Clovis and do not appear to have been contaminated in any way. This fact, coupled with the clear realization that the technology represented there is not Clovis pattern, has been accepted by many along with the clear stratigraphic evidence that Meadowcroft is indeed, as old as it is claimed to be."