Similar Native American stacked-stone hunting blinds of later date have been found across the Western United States, the Northeast, and in the Arctic.
The discovery is the latest find in what has become an increasingly large body of evidence that the Paleoindians were much more sophisticated than earlier generations of archaeologists once assumed.
Last year, archaeologists working at Winnemucca Lake in Nevada discovered petroglyphs dating back to 8000 to 12,000 BCE, some of the oldest ever discovered in the Americas. The petroglyphs are sophisticated, including geometric forms and shapes geochemist Larry Benson likened to the veins of a leaf. The shapes suggest abstractions and, if we can judge by cross-cultural comparisons, a well-developed shamanic culture.
Alongside this is the now-famous carving of a North American mastodon on a piece of bone found by Florida collector James Kennedy in 2009 that archaeologists dated to a similar time period. In light of the other finds, there is still less reason to follow Dennis Stanford in assigning this piece of art to European Solutreans. Additionally, discoveries at the pre-Clovis site of Monte Verde indicate a rich culture that included wooden architecture and wide knowledge of the use of herbs and plants.
In the past, it was common to depict Paleoindians as essentially itinerant hunters whose entire culture involved chasing mammoths with pointy sticks. The latest discovery shows that Ice Age hunting techniques were more sophisticated, on par with those of the Old World.
I do wonder, however, how long it will be before fringe theorists see in these stone walls Old World cyclopean architecture, the remains of Bible giants’ temples, or the ruins of the temples and pyramids of Atlantis. After all, both Ignatius Donnelly and Gavin Menzies identified the Great Lakes as an outpost of Atlantis in conjunction with the area’s rich copper deposits, and Frank Joseph spun the alleged “pyramid” (a glacial deposit) beneath a lake near Aztalan in Wisconsin into “proof” that the upper Midwest was in fact the original site of Atlantis, taking the fanciful nineteenth century application of the name of the Aztec homeland, Aztlán, to the site as proof of a connection to Atlantis itself.
As I reported a while back, the name ended up attached to a Wisconsin mound site due to some incorrect calculations by Baron von Humboldt, who took Aztec mythology literally and, through faulty math, calculated that they originated “north of the 42d parallel,” roughly in the area of the Great Lakes. Most archaeologists today place the original Aztec homeland in northern Mexico or, at the most distant, the southwestern United States.
At any rate, the new discovery is extremely interesting and contributes to our picture of the earliest Americans.