Rock Art Dating and the Peopling of the Americas

Elizabeth Shogren. Ancient North Americans gouged elaborate rock art into a heap of big boulders northeast of Reno, Nev. That makes the carvings the oldest known petroglyphs on the continent, according to a paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. Experts have known about these petroglyphs and believed they were old, but nobody knew just how old until paleoclimatologist Larry Benson used his expertise in the history of the climate of the West to date them. The discovery is significant because the first people who lived on this continent are largely a mystery. They arrived more than 14, years ago, but archaeologists have found little to tell us about their culture — hardly any weavings, pottery or other handiwork. The new discovery shows that some of the earliest North Americans were surprisingly creative artists.

Nevada Rock Carvings Proven To Be Oldest In North America

Scientists now say that the petroglyphs at Pyramid Lake, Nevada, are the oldest in North America to have been age-dated. Though appearing confident about some details, they cannot yet identify the ancient peoples who carved those rocks. But the ancients did possess one characteristic that surprised secular scientists.

When these dates were first reported, many North American archaeologists considered them an Petroglyph LL-1, a spiral motif, is the oldest dated engraving.

David S. The peopling of the Americas is both the oldest and most frequently researched question in American archaeology. Although rarely considered, early art has the potential to provide insight into questions that may be obscured by other kinds of evidence, particularly stone tools. What part did art play in the peopling of the Americas? This question is addressed starting with a reconsideration of rock varnish chronometrics as applied to Great Basin, eastern California, petroglyphs.

This demonstrates, conservatively, that the petroglyph tradition began before 11, YBP, probably before 12, YBP, and potentially in the 14, years range. Comparison of these ages with evidence from other regions in the hemisphere demonstrates substantial artistic and stylistic variation in rock art by the Paleoindian period circa 10,—11, YBP. This suggests that, while art may have been part of the baggage of the first immigrants, regional cultural traditions had already been developed by the Terminal Pleistocene, if not earlier.

Nevada petroglyphs the oldest in North America

A set of petroglyphs in western Nevada dated in August to between 10, and 14, years old, are the oldest rock art ever found in North America, tracing back to a time in which it is believed the first inhabitants had recently arrived in North America. The previous oldest rock art in North America was dated at 6, years old and can be found at Long Lake in Oregon.

The Oregon petroglyphs were carved in rocks across approximately 60 sites, before being covered in ash from the Mount Mazama volcanic eruption. The ancient petroglyphs in Nevada are carved into limestone boulders located on the west side of the now dried-up Winnemucca Lake.

The oldest direct evidence for the use of watercraft we have is all from the early Nevertheless, final Pleistocene petroglyphs may well exist in North America In Time and Space: Dating and Spatial Considerations in Rock Art Research.

Official websites use. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites. By: Larry V. On the west side of the Winnemucca Lake subbasin, Nevada, distinctive deeply carved meter-scale petroglyphs are closely spaced, forming panels on boulder-sized surfaces of a partially collapsed tufa mound. The large, complex motifs at this side are formed by deeply carved lines and cupules.

A carbonate crust deposited between 10 and calibrated years B.

North America’s Oldest Dated Petroglyphs at Winnemucca Lake, Nevada

On the west side of Nevada’s dried-up Winnemucca Lake, there are several limestone boulders with deep, ancient carvings; some resemble trees and leaves, whereas others are more abstract designs that look like ovals or diamonds in a chain. The true age of this rock art had not been known, but a new analysis suggests these petroglyphs are the oldest North America, dating back to between 10, and 14, years ago. Though Winnemucca Lake is now barren, at other times in the past it was so full of water the lake would have submerged the rocks where the petroglyphs were found and spilled its excess contents over Emerson Pass to the north.

See Photos of Amazing Cave Art. To determine the age of the rock art, researchers had to figure out when the boulders were above the water line. The overflowing lake left telltale crusts of carbonate on these rocks, according to study researcher Larry Benson of the University of Colorado Boulder.

a dried-up lake bed in Nevada have been confirmed to be the oldest recorded petroglyphs in North America, dating back at least years.

Submit your own Neatorama post and vote for others’ posts to earn NeatoPoints that you can redeem for T-shirts, hoodies and more over at the NeatoShop! The rock carvings on the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation in Nevada are fairly well known, but no one knew just how old they were before paleoclimatologist Larry Benson dated them using the history of the area’s climate. Just by looking at the designs, Benson thought he might know how old they were. He noticed that the symbols are much whiter than the gray rock they’re carved into.

He knew from his climate research that the dry area where the petroglyphs are located was once a lake, and that the white coating was probably left from the last time the rocks were submerged in water, which suggested that the petroglyphs may be older than 11, years “And I did know, at least from my limited knowledge, that these were probably older than the oldest dated petroglyphs in North America,” he recalls.

By comparing the coatings of the carved rocks with non-carved rocks in the area, he determined that the petroglyphs were carved in a dry period between 10, and 14, years ago. Read more about the dating process at NPR. Link -via Metafilter Image credit: Larry Benson. Customization and personalization available. Your email has been sent! This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Newest 2 Comments Better to think of it as America’s oldest street art.

Dating North America’s oldest petroglyphs, Winnemucca Lake subbasin, Nevada

Subscriber Account active since. Researchers found that petroglyphs discovered in western Nevada are at least 10, years old, making them the oldest rock art ever dated in North America. University of Colorado On the west side of Nevada’s dried-up Winnemucca Lake, there are several limestone boulders with deep, ancient carvings; some resemble trees and leaves, whereas others are more abstract designs that look like ovals or diamonds in a chain.

The true age of this rock art had not been known, but a new analysis suggests these petroglyphs are the oldest North America, dating back to between 10, and 14, years ago. Though Winnemucca Lake is now barren, at other times in the past it was so full of water the lake would have submerged the rocks where the petroglyphs were found and spilled its excess contents over Emerson Pass to the north.

“A new high-tech analysis shows the oldest known petroglyphs in North America, which are cut into several boulders in western Nevada, date.

The petroglyphs found on limestone boulders near Pyramid Lake in northern Nevada’s high desert are similar in design to etchings found at a lake in Oregon that are believed to be at least 7, years old. Unlike later drawings that sometimes depict a spear or antelope, the carvings are abstract with tightly clustered geometric designs — some are diamond patterns, others have short parallel lines on top of a longer line. Scientists cannot tell for sure who carved them, but they were found on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s reservation land.

The petroglyphs could be as much as 14, years old, said Larry Benson, a geochemist who used radiocarbon testing to date the etchings and was the lead author of the research paper. British prehistoric rock art. Rock art discovery could shed light on when New World was settled. Radiocarbon testing dated the carbonate layer underlying the petroglyphs to roughly 14, years ago.

Geochemical data and sediment and rock samples from adjacent Pyramid Lake show they were exposed to air from 13, to 14, years ago, and again from 10, to 11, years ago. Dennis Jenkins, an archaeologist with the University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History, called it a significant discovery. He led recent excavations of obsidian spear points near Paisley, Oregon, that he dated back 13, years, and noted that the bigger challenge is identifying who created the petroglyphs.

He said they bore similarities to petroglyphs at nearby Winnemucca Lake, and Hattori began connecting the dots after Benson spotted the carbonate coating on the rocks. The etchings in Nevada and Oregon have relatively deep, carved lines dominated by linear, curved and circular geometrical designs. Some feature “tree-form designs” with a series of evenly spaced, vertically oriented ‘V’ shapes bisected by a vertical line.

THE ROCK ART OF THE SERRA DA CAPIVARA

A new high-tech analysis led by a University of Colorado Boulder researcher shows the oldest known petroglyphs in North America, which are cut into several boulders in western Nevada, date to at least 10, years ago and perhaps even as far back as 14, years ago. The petroglyphs located at the Winnemucca Lake petroglyph site 35 miles northeast of Reno consist of large, deeply carved grooves and dots forming complex designs on several large limestone boulders that have been known about for decades, said CU-Boulder researcher Larry Benson, who led the new effort.

Although there are no people, animals or handprint symbols depicted, the petroglyph designs include a series of vertical, chain-like symbols and a number of smaller pits deeply incised with a type of hard rock scraper. Benson and his colleagues used several methods to date the petroglyphs, including determining when the water level the Winnemucca Lake subbasin — which back then was a single body of water connecting the now-dry Winnemucca Lake and the existing Pyramid Lake — reached the specific elevation of 3, feet.

The elevation was key to the study because it marked the maximum height the ancient lake system could have reached before it began spilling excess water over Emerson Pass to the north. When the lake level was at this height, the petroglyph-peppered boulders were submerged and therefore not accessible for carving, said Benson, an adjunct curator of anthropology at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.

Dating North America’s oldest petroglyphs, Winnemucca Lake subbasin, Nevada. Citation Data Journal of Archaeological Science, ISSN: , Vol:

A new study reported in the Journal of Archaeological Science shows Winnemucca petroglyphs, the oldest known petroglyphs in North America, date to at least 10, years ago and perhaps even as far back as 14, years ago. Although there are no people, animals or handprint symbols depicted, the petroglyph designs include a series of vertical, chain-like symbols and a number of smaller pits deeply incised with a type of hard rock scraper.

Dr Benson with colleagues used several methods to date the petroglyphs, including determining when the water level the Winnemucca Lake subbasin — which back then was a single body of water connecting the now-dry Winnemucca Lake and the existing Pyramid Lake — reached the specific elevation of 3, feet. Tree form at the Winnemucca Lake petroglyph site. The tree form is 70 cm tall Benson LV et al. According to the team, a white layer of carbonate made of limestone precipitated from the ancient, overflowing Winnemucca Lake had coated some of the petroglyph carvings near the base of the boulders.

Previous study showed the carbonate coating elsewhere in the basin at that elevation had a radiocarbon date of roughly 11, years ago. The scientists sampled the carbonate into which the petroglyphs were incised and the carbonate that coated the petroglyphs at the base of the limestone boulder.

Dennis Cassinelli: North America’s oldest petroglyphs are at Winnemucca Lake

A few years ago, I attended a program by Eugene Hattori at the Nevada State Museum about the incredibly old petroglyphs that were carved into the tufa coating on boulders in the Winnemucca Lake area. Unlike most Nevada petroglyphs, such as those at Grimes Point that are carved on boulders coated with brown desert varnish, the ones at Winnemucca Lake are carved into the coating of tufa on the surface of boulders that had been under water several thousand years before.

Also, unlike petroglyphs on desert varnish-coated boulders, petroglyphs on tufa rock can be dated due to traces of organic material in the tufa. The western side of Winnemucca Lake is home to several boulders carved with petroglyphs that lie within the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation. The site was first described by Connick and Connick in

The true age of this rock art has not been known, but a new analysis suggests these Petroglyphs are the oldest in North America, dating back to between 10,

Skip to search form Skip to main content You are currently offline. Some features of the site may not work correctly. DOI: Benson and E. Hattori and John R. Southon and B. Benson , E. Abstract On the west side of the Winnemucca Lake subbasin, Nevada, distinctive deeply carved meter-scale petroglyphs are closely spaced, forming panels on boulder-sized surfaces of a partially collapsed tufa mound. The large, complex motifs at this side are formed by deeply carved lines and cupules.

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The Oldest American Petroglyphs

On the west side of Nevada’s dried-up Winnemucca Lake, there are several limestone boulders with deep, ancient carvings; some resemble trees and leaves, whereas others are more abstract designs that look like ovals or diamonds in a chain. The true age of this rock art had not been known, but a new analysis suggests these petroglyphs are the oldest North America, dating back to between 10, and 14, years ago.

Though Winnemucca Lake is now barren, at other times in the past it was so full of water the lake would have submerged the rocks where the petroglyphs were found and spilled its excess contents over Emerson Pass to the north. To determine the age of the rock art, researchers had to figure out when the boulders were above the water line. The overflowing lake left telltale crusts of carbonate on these rocks, according to study researcher Larry Benson of the University of Colorado Boulder.

Radiocarbon tests revealed that the carbonate film underlying the petroglyphs dated back roughly 14, years ago, while a later layer of carbonate coating the rock art dated to about 11, years ago.

Nevada rock carvings may be oldest in North America years ago, they are still the oldest petroglyphs that have been dated in North America.

All rights reserved. Ancient symbols etched onto the sides of boulders lying along the western edge of a desiccated lake in Nevada are the oldest confirmed rock carvings in North America—possibly dating back to the first peopling of the New World, scientists say. The so-called petroglyphs, carved in soft limestone millennia ago, range from simple lines, pits, and swirls to more complex and ambiguous shapes that resemble diamonds, trees, flowers, and veins in a leaf.

They range from about 8 inches 20 centimeters up to about 3 feet 1 meter in width. In a new study, published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science , geochemist Larry Benson and his team concluded that the petroglyphs, located about 35 miles 56 kilometers northeast of Reno at Winnemucca Lake, are at least 10, years old, and perhaps as much as 14, years old.

See video of rock art in Arizona. To date the petroglyphs, Benson and his colleagues began by figuring out just when they could have been made. Though Winnemucca Lake is dried up now, it was once so full of water that the boulders upon which the petroglyphs are etched were submerged. As the water levels slowly dropped, crusts of a mineral called carbonate formed on the boulders. Radiocarbon testing of these carbonate layers revealed them to range in age from about 14, to 10, years old.

The carbonate ages, combined with an analysis of sediment cores taken from neighboring Pyramid Lake, suggest that the boulders were exposed to air—and thus accessible for carving by humans—between about 14, to 13, years ago, and again from about 11, to 10, years ago. In between the two time periods, the boulders were submerged, the scientists say.

Winnemucca Lake Petroglyphs & The Lovelock Cave Mummies


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