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Ancient anglers

Notes from the North Woods

Last spring, a vast majority of the local lakes and ponds were devoid of ice by the April 1 trout season opener. Many anglers are hoping for a similar early start this spring.

Last spring, a vast majority of the local lakes and ponds were devoid of ice by the April 1 trout season opener. Many anglers are hoping for a similar early start this spring.

In fact, when a team of archeologists from the University of Oregon began poking around in the caves, cliffs and other likely areas of human settlement, what they discovered wasn't just old, it was ancient.

Their discovery did not include any old rusty hooks, or rotted wooden ships as they searched the islands of Santa Rosa and San Miguel, which are part of the Channel Islands off the coast of California .

What they did find were more than four dozen midden mounds, which in an archeologist’s vernacular translates to a big pile of garbage. But as trash heaps go, this one was different. There was no plastic or tin foil. The trash they found was dated from between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago, and it wasn't all they found.

They also discovered chipped stone tools and animal bones which may be linked to the lifestyles of some of the earliest settlers in North America. Based on the evidence, the scientists now believe there may have been two distinct cultures that lived in North America at the time. One of which, the well known Clovis culture lived inland and hunted mammoths and other mammals.

For many years, archeologists considered a ‘clovis spurnpoint’, which was discovered in the 1920s near Clovis, New Mexico to be a remnant of the oldest culture in North America.

The Clovis culture was recognized for their distinct stone tools and fluted arrowheads, as well as for creating ivory and seashell ornaments. The fact they had shells gives rise to a theory they traded with coastal cultures. However, some scientists believe the ancient cultures may have actually wintered on the islands where there was plenty of food, from both the ocean and the land.

Scientists scouring the island also found the remains of overwintering birds including Canada geese, snow geese, albatross and cormorants. But what astonished the scientists were finely crafted tools, including fishhooks and barbed spearpoints, which were surely used for fishing.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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