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2011 Archives

Oldest Art in America? Researchers Find Ancient Mammoth Carving


The following is from a story by The Associated Press that appeared in numerous media, including Fox News. David Meltzer, the Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory in SMU's Dedman College, provided expertise for this story.

June 23, 2011

A bone fragment at least 13,000 years old, with the carved image of a mammoth or mastodon, has been discovered in Florida, a new study reports.

While prehistoric art depicting animals with trunks has been found in Europe, this may be the first in the Western Hemisphere, researchers report Wednesday in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

"It's pretty exciting, we haven't found anything like this in North America," said Dennis J. Stanford, curator of North American Archaeology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, who was a co-author of the report. . .

It does appear to be the first American depiction of a mammoth or mastodon, said anthropologist David J. Meltzer of Southern Methodist University.

"I think the authors did a reasonable job making the case for the piece being genuine," added Meltzer, who was not part of the research team. . .

Meltzer, too, said he doesn't "for a moment, think the specimen begs any questions about the larger issue of the peopling of the Americas. It's just one specimen -- albeit an interesting one -- of uncertain age and provenance, so one should not get too carried away."

Read the full story.

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