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10 March 2005
2,000-year-old artefacts found in USA

Archaeologists in North Carolina, USA have uncovered ancient artefacts that is forcing historians to reconsider their theories about early Native Americans in the state.
    The site, at Chapel Hill on the campus of the University of North Carolina, has yielded spear points and pottery fragments, suggesting that small groups of migrant Indians used the site on a seasonal basis. The finds were made during building work on campus for the Center for the Study of the American South in July 2004, but following analysis the reports are only now being published.
    Steve Davis, the associate director of the University's Research Laboratories of Archaeology, said "They were living as bands of hunters and gatherers, moving seasonally as different resources became available. They were mostly gathering nut crops, wild seeds, and greens. And they were hunting. Probably their primary source of protein was the white-tailed deer."
    The spear points indicate that the Indians were hunting in the area during the Middle Woodland period (500 BCE to 500 CE), and would have been used as part of a spear-throwing device known as an atlatl, which preceded the development of the bow and arrow. But it was the pottery that was most significant, as it is evidence of domestic life on site.
    Brett Riggs, another University archaeologist, said "We'd assumed that the reason so few Native American sites had been documented was because there wasn't a lot of occupation during that period. What this has made us aware of is that we may have just been looking right over the top of the evidence [of occupation] without recognizing it."
    The deputy state archaeologist for North Carolina, Delores Hall, said "This could change our interpretation of all kinds of things. It opens up a big can of worms. We may need to rethink a lot of things, which is not a bad thing to do."

Source: National Geographic News (7 March 2005)

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