U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
 
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Mystery of the Mesa

A Science Detective Story

An artist's depiction of a Paleoindian campsite on the south side of the mesa

By Richard Brook and Mary Tisdale

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Map showing the position of Alaska and North America
How can a few spear points and other faint traces of the past tell the story of a people who lived nearly 12,000 years ago? A recent discovery on the remote northern slopes of Alaska shows how scientists, working much like detectives at the scene of a crime, study such scant clues to piece together the tale of America's first settlers. It also highlights the essential role of scientists in writing the earliest chapters of America's history.

(Above) An artist's depiction of a Paleoindian campsite on the south side of the mesa. The woman in the foreground removes skin from the inside of a hide with a scraper made of bone with a stone tip. Beside her on the ground is a bone "beamer," another tool for cleaning animal skins. Dwellings are of caribou hide draped over willow frames that are lashed together with cord made from animal tendon. The cooking vessel is made of animal skin and the spoon is made from the horn of an animal.


 
Last updated: 11-13-2009