Wilford, J.N., Chilean Field Yields New Clues to Peopling of Americas, The New York Times, Aug 1998
People had lived here 12,500 years ago, about 1,300 years before the previously accepted date for earliest known Americans, derived from stone spear points found in the 1930's near Clovis, N.M.Dillehay, T.D., et. al., Monte Verde: Seaweed, Food, Medicine, and the Peopling of South America, Science, Volume 320, Number 5877, Pages 784-786, May 2008
On a recent visit to Monte Verde, east of this seaport in southern Chile, Dr. Mario Pino, a geologist at the Southern University of Chile in Valdivia, leaned into the north bank of the creek and stabbed the dark soil with the pick end of a geology hammer. He exposed more pieces of wood from the camp where prehistoric humans once lived.
But the wood held less interest to him than a green knoll several hundred feet away, south of the creek. Pointing with the hammer, Dr. Pino said that cursory excavations there had turned up possible remains of human habitation at Monte Verde 20,000 years earlier than the camp north of the creek. Should this prove true, it would revolutionize research into one of the most intractable mysteries in American archeology: Just when were the Americas first truly a New World, and how did people get here?
Dr. Pino and Dr. Tom D. Dillehay of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, the archeologist who has directed the Monte Verde explorations, are planning more extensive excavations of the knoll site in January 2001. They plan to strip away six feet of topsoil with a bulldozer, then begin fine-tooth digging in the lower layers where evidence of human activity has emerged.
''There's no doubt about the age -- it's 33,000 years old,'' Dr. Pino said of the sediment layers bearing the apparent artifacts under the knoll.
The identification of human artifacts at the early archaeological site of Monte Verde in southern Chile has raised questions of when and how people reached the tip of South America without leaving much other evidence in the New World. Remains of nine species of marine algae were recovered from hearths and other features at Monte Verde II, an upper occupational layer, and were directly dated between 14,220 and 13,980 calendar years before the present (12,310 and 12,290 carbon-14 years ago). These findings support the archaeological interpretation of the site and indicate that the site's inhabitants used seaweed from distant beaches and estuarine environments for food and medicine. These data are consistent with the ideas that an early settlement of South America was along the Pacific coast and that seaweeds were important to the diet and health of early humans in the Americas.