Evidence of structure from 10,200 B.C. is discovered in Ohio

March 10, 1992|By Jim Carney | Jim Carney,Knight Ridder Newspapers

Akron, Ohio Evidence of what is being described as the oldest structure ever found in North America has been discovered in Sharon Township in Medina County, according to David Brose, the chief curator of archaeology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Results from a carbon-dating study received about two weeks ago placed the remains of the structure at about 10,200 B.C. -- 7,000 years before the pharaohs of Egypt.

The inhabitants would have been hunters and gatherers in what Mr. Brose described as a "lush" environment.

A nearby bog would have lured mastodons to drink, providing the inhabitants with both vegetation and meat for food.

Mr. Brose described the archaeological discovery -- named Paleo Crossing Site -- as a job for detectives as they attempt to piece together what may have happened 12 centuries ago.

Three post holes and two pits were discovered in an area covering about 150 square feet, Mr. Brose said. A contractor who was developing the site halted work so archaeologists could study the find, beginning in the fall of 1990.

Mr. Brose said the structure existed in a location that was below a ridge and above an area that was once a bog. The bog now is wet farmland.

Charcoal found in the post holes indicates that the structure may have burned.

Carbon-dating of charcoal found in a pit area near the structure revealed vegetation dating as far back as 13,120 years ago, which means the area was free from glacial ice for at least 700 years.

Because of the lush environment, these people may have spent the winter at the Medina County site and moved north during warmer months.

Sharp stones, known as Clovis points, have also been found. Similar specimens, first discovered in Clovis, N.M., date back 12,000 years.

The points found are two to three inches long and were likely attached to shafts and used as weapons, he said.

Until this discovery, the oldest structure uncovered in North America was found in the Illinois River Valley in the 1960s. Uncovered there was a series of post holes that dated back 6,200 years.

The people inhabiting this part of the world 12,000 years ago, Mr. Brose said, possibly viewed the area as a paradise.

"There was nobody here to compete with them," he said. "There were all these animals that had no fear of human beings."

At that time, all people in the world were living lives similar to the people who lived in the temporary structure in Medina County, Mr. Brose said.

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