Category Archives: Bizarre

250,000 year old Mastodon Hunter from Puebla

Author : Simon Kjikàqawej
E-mail : simon.raven@#####.com
Comment:
Hi, 

I noticed you copied it wholesale. I am not the original author, therefore I would like you to make it obvious that I am not, and link to the original site as well. The original site is here:  and some relevant files:  .

Also, do not hot link the images from my site, but upload to yours, or edit out the images.

Thank you,
Simon

I am not the author, nor is Simon, from whose site I lifted this amazing article and images. Virginia Steen-McIntyre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Steen-McIntyre) appears to be the author and her name on Wikipedia redirects to their page on this archeological site. Please visit this site (http://www.valsequilloclassic.net/) and these forums (http://www.valsequilloclassic.net/forums/) for the actual source of information on this remarkable area in Mexico and what appears to be the suppression of research.

This is strictly five-finger research on my part, I didn’t write a word, but I certainly find it interesting:

250000 Year Old Mastodon Hunter From Puebla

The Fifth World Archaeological Congress
Theme: Colonialism, Identity and Social Responsibility
Session: The History of Archaeology in the Service of ‘Isms’

HERESY IN THE CAMP: HUEYÁTLACO, A 250,000 YEAR OLD MASTODON-HUNTER SITE FROM CENTRAL MEXICO AND ITS TREATMENT BY DARWINISM IN LATE 20TH CENTURY USA

Virginia Steen-McIntyre

INTRODUCTION

Archaeologists and anthropologists say the Hueyátlaco site is impossible. In no way were humans actively hunting mammoth and mastodon in the Valsequillo Reservoir area of south-central Mexico a quarter-million years ago. Much less could they produce elegant incised art work. And/or perhaps even nibble on maize.

Geologists say that may be true, at least according to established theory. But then you must explain away: (1) Well made stone tools associated with remains of butchered extinct Pleistocene animals dated by the uranium-series methods at 250,000 years. (2) Overlying (younger) beds of volcanic ejecta (pumice and coarse ash) giving roughly similar zircon fissiontrack dates. (3) Infinite 14C dates (no carbon remains). (4) A primitive human skull, collected in the area over 100 years ago, filled with microfossils (diatoms) including several taxa that either became extinct or first appeared during the Sangamon Interglacial 80,000 to ca 320,000 years ago. (5) A similar Sangamon-age diatom suite collected from the artifact-bearing layers and overlying sediment. (6) A layer of volcanic ash from deep within a sediment core in Mexico City, associated with grains of maize pollen, that might be the same age.

Hueyátlaco is a dangerous site. To even publicly mention the geological evidence for its great age is to jeopardize one’s professional career. Three of us geologists can testify to that. It’s very existence is blasphemous because it questions a basic dogma of Darwinism, the ruling philosophy (or religion, if you will) of the western scientific world for the past 150 years. That dogma states that, over a long period of time, members of the human family have generally become more and more intelligent. The Hueyátlaco site is thus ‘impossible’ because Mid-Pleistocene humans weren’t smart enough to do all that the evidence implies. Besides, there is no New World anthropoid stock from which they could have evolved.

The high priests of Darwinism have spoken. The heresy has been suppressed; the heretics suitably punished. And the Hueyátlaco site has been relegated to limbo for the past 30 years. It may have passed from the minds of most archaeologists, but the Hueyátlaco site is far from dead. Interest in it has revived thanks to recent exposure in the popular media and seed money from a wealthy North American philanthropist. A new generation of scientists from several countries is now prepared to carry on the study: new maps, new surveys, new excavations, new dates. At this juncture in time, with young blood poised to add new chapters to ‘The Valsequillo Saga’ it behooves the older generation, those of us still living who were involved in the classic phase of the study (1962-1981) to remember how things were back then and to share with the present generation the salient points of the history of that era. It follows here.

HUEYÁTLACO SITE

Hueyátlaco is one of four Early Human sites discovered in 1962 on the north shore of the Valsequillo Reservoir, State of Puebla, Mexico. The reservoir, which lies 100 km southeast of Mexico City and south of the city of Puebla is surrounded by four of Mexico’s famous volcanoes: Tláloc, Iztaccíhuatl, Popocatepetl, and La Malinche (Fig. 1).

The fluviatile and lake sediments exposed in the low-lying badlands around its shore are rich in layers of volcanic debris. The area has been a famous fossil collecting locality for over a century, and well preserved bones of extinct Pleistocene animals, including mastodon, mammoth, camel, horse, glyptodon, sloth, dire wolf and saber-tooth cat have been reported (Osborn, 1905; Irwin-Williams, 1967, Kurtén, 1967, Guenther, 1968, Gunther et al 1973).

In the same area, as recorded by the late Professor Juan Armenta Camacho, University of Puebla (1957, 1959, 1978) are found well made stone and bone tools, bones of extinct Pleistocene animals with signs of butchering operations, and even bones engraved with recognizable figures (Fig. 2).

The Hueyátlaco site was excavated by Professor Armenta and the late Dr. Cynthia Irwin-Williams, Harvard and Eastern New Mexico University in 1962-1966. Meticulous removal of the highly indurated sediment by them and their workers, often using only dental tools and brushes, uncovered a two component site. Uppermost were sediments that contained bifacial tools associated with the bones of butchered animals; lower in the section unifacial tools made their appearance (Irwin-Williams, 1967) (Fig. 3).

Early in the project an attempt was made to date Hueyátlaco using the radiocarbon method. It was not successful. Sufficient carbon was not preserved at the site. What was thought by Irwin-Williams to be charcoal turned out to be manganese dioxide concretions. Bones sent to the research laboratory at Humble Oil and Refining Company, Houston, Texas in 1962 (personal letter to Cynthia Irwin from C.R. Hocott, January 10, 1963) and to the University of Arizona (?) in 1968 (unsigned laboratory report of the results of examination of Hueyátlaco camel scapula 66-1,C5 10 and camel pubis 66-1, L-7, 300, dated January 16-19, 1969) were undatable by 14C: no collagen and only a very small amount of organic matter were preserved. It was thought at the time that this lack of carbon was caused by some odd quirk in the groundwater chemistry.

Harold E. Malde, the project geologist, thought it might be possible to date Hueyátlaco using the coarse layers of volcanic ejecta (tephra) that occurred at the site. By 1966 he had already dated several tephra layers in the 8,000 – 26,000 year range on nearby La Malinche volcano. He did this by the 14C method, using charcoal logs caught up in the deposits or in the burned buried soils at their base. If one could match up the petrographic properties between a sample of dated tephra from La Malinche volcano with a coarse sample of tephra from Hueyátlaco, one could say that both samples came from the same blanket of ejecta, and thus the Hueyátlaco site would be dated indirectly.

What the project needed was a tephrochronologist, a volcanic ash specialist who could us[e] a petrographic microscope to examine and “fingerprint” the mineral and glassy components of the dated pumice and ash layers on La Malinche volcano and compare them to samples of coarse tephra found at the Hueyátlaco site. I was chosen for the job. It was to be my PhD dissertation in geology at the University of Idaho.

To make a long story short, I spent six years (1966-1972) at the microscope, examining hundreds of tephra samples, looking for that elusive correlation (Malde 1967,1968; Steen-McIntyre 1968, 1972; Steen-McIntyre and Malde 1970). No luck. No correlation.

DATING METHODS

URANIUM SERIES DATING

Meanwhile, Dr. Barney Szabo, a geochemist with the U.S. Geological Survey was applying the then-new uranium-series dating methods on material supplied by Irwin-Williams to date three of her sites: Caulapan, Hueyátlaco, and El Horno. The Caulapan site was situated roughly 5 km northeast of Hueyátlaco, in a remnant deposit of young sediment that had once filled the steep-walled Caulapan barranca. It consisted of only one stone flake, but that flake was associated with a proboscidean vertebra that could be dated by the U-series methods and shell that had been dated previously by Meyer Rubin, U.S.G.S., using the 14C method. From Hueyátlaco, a butchered articulated camel pelvis associated with bifacial tools was chosen for dating. The El Horno site, roughly a kilometre southwest of Hueyátlaco and lower in elevation provided a tooth fragment from a butchered mastodon associated with unifacial tools. The resulting dates for the Hueyátlaco and El Horno specimens are included in Table 1.

The Caulapan dates for the proboscidian bone were well received (20,000 ± 1,500 yrs, 230Th and 22,000 ± 2,000 yrs, 231Pa). They agreed with a 14C date on shell from the same sedimentary horizon (21,850 ± 850 yrs, Szabo et al., 1969, Table 2.). Exciting, to say the least! It meant Caulapan was twice as old as the oldest officially recognized site yet dated from the Americas! But oh! the others! They were at least ten times older that Caulapan! Cynthia Irwin-Williams, the project archaeologist, stated that the dates for the reservoir sites couldn’t be correct. At the time, bifacial tools were thought to have originated in the Old World around 50,000 years ago. In addition, even the unifacial tools were well made. According to theory, both tool types had to be the work of Homo sapiens and the species evolved only 100,000 years ago, and NOT in Mexico!

This was the beginning of strain between the archaeologist and project geologists over the Valsequillo sites, a strain that would grow over the years until there was a complete break in communication that lasted until Irwin-Williams’ death.

Cynthia agreed reluctantly to published Barney’s dates. She insisted the paper appear in a journal few anthropologists would ever read. It finally saw print in 1969 in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, a journal for geochemists and geophysists, published in Amsterdam (Szabo et al . 1969). In her subsequent lectures and reports, Irwin-Williams consistently criticized the uranium-series dating methods and rejected the Hueyátlaco and El Horno dates (Irwin-Williams 1978, 1981 and cited references). She never mentioned the U-series dates for Caulapan, the ones that agreed with the 14C date for the same unit.

GEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE FOR GREAT AGE

After a number of years at the microscope, it became evident to me that I would never find that correlation between the Hueyátlaco tephra layers and one of those from the dated sequence on La Malinche. The Hueyátlaco equivalent must be older than 26,000 years and out of sight, buried deep within the flanks of the volcano. Perhaps Barney’s dates, as “impossible” as they seemed, were correct!

Looking at the evidence with new eyes, those not clouded by the ruling paradigm, it was obvious that the Hueyátlaco site was old. That is, if the stratigraphy was as we had assumed. The artifact-bearing layers were buried beneath 10 metres of younger sediment at the site proper, and mapping by Malde indicated that the Tetela brown mud unit near the top of the section extended across a broad basin from 3 to 5 km wide, and that the nearby Rí­o Atoyac had cut through this unit to a depth of at least 50 metres, forming a mature dendritic system with a central valley generally more than 1 km across (Malde and Steen-McIntyre, 1981).

There were buried soils preserved there, each representing a long period of stable landscape where there was little erosion or deposition (Cornwall 1969, 1970, 1971). There was a secondary carbonate layer; not a soil caliche, but casts of old animal burrows and root molds. This in itself suggested that a very long period of time had passed since the calcium-rich sediment had been deposited, with a major swing in climate from semi-arid to humid and back to semi-arid again.

And finally there were the tephra layers themselves. Even though all but one lay above the high water mark at the reservoir, they were surprisingly weathered. Certain heavy mineral phenocrysts (crystals) were frayed or etched, especially at the ends, and not only were the volcanic glass shards hydrated, but they had passed beyond that stage to superhydration, where water had collected molecule by molecule in the enclosed bubble cavities — a process that usually takes millions of years to complete (Steen-McIntyre 1975b, 1977, 1981a, 1985 and cited references).

I’d not seen such an advanced state of weathering from the 10,000 year tephra layer collected at the Tlapacoya archaeologic site, Valley of Mexico, or the ca 25,000 year tephra in the La Malinche sequence. In fact, the only similar superhydration curves for volcanic glass were from a sample at 72 metres depth in the Belles Artes sediment core in Mexico City, where the tephra layer contained grains of modern maize pollen; and a volcanic ash from Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, dated by others at 251,000 years (Fig. 4) (Steen-McIntyre, submitted).

ZIRCON FISSION-TRACK DATES

Obviously more work needed to be done to make certain of our stratigraphy, and to collect sediment samples for analyses and material for radiometric dating — in this case tiny zircon crystals from the tephra layers, for fission track dating. In 1973, with the blessings of archaeologist Irwin-Williams, three of us geologists, Roald Fryxell Laboratory of Anthropology, Washington State University, Hal Malde and I returned to Hueyátlaco for more excavation.

We cleared away the vegetation from Irwin-Williams’ 1966 southernmost trench wall, which was still standing in 1973, and excavated a cross trench to connect it with a pair of INAH trenches to the south. The stratigraphy was as we had surmised: the artifact-bearing beds passed beneath (were older than) the bluff of sediment that contained the tephra units, the buried soils, and the secondary carbonate layer (Fig. 5). The complete sedimentary record for the site was preserved in two sets of stabilized sediment columns (stratigraphic monoliths), and we collected coarse pumice fragments that contained zircon crystals from within two of the tephra units, the Tetela brown mud and the Hueyátlaco ash. Dr. Charles Naeser, a geochemist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver agreed to concentrate the crystals and run fission track dates on them.

The zircon fission track dates are shown in Table 2. A large plus/minus because we are working at the extreme end for the method, but they fall closer to Szabo’s 250,000 U-series dates than to Irwin-Williams’ 23,000 preferred one. In fact, the four radiometric dates for Hueyátlaco seem to cluster around 275,000 years (Fig. 6)!

MEDIA WOES

It’s one thing to make an earth shaking discovery in the field of Early Human studies; it’s another thing to get the information into print. Cynthia Irwin-Williams, the site archaeologist, declared our dates “impossible”, and her colleagues agreed with her. She rejected our early dates (Irwin-Williams, 1978, 1981), insisted on a ca 23,000 year date for the site (Dincauze, 1984, p. 288) and ceased all further communication with us.

In the fall of 1973 we announced our Hueyátlaco dates at a press conference at the Geological Society of America annual meetings in Dallas, Texas (Steen-McIntyre et al., 1973). The news went around the world and then — nothing. The site was ignored; the data suppressed.

Our attempts to bring the Hueyátlaco dates to the general scientific public seemed jinxed from the beginning. The first blow was the death of our colleague, Roald Fryxell in a single-car crash in 1974. It was with heavy hearts that Hal Malde and I carried on without him. In 1975, we presented our evidence for the age of the Hueyátlaco site and my note on the Belles Artes tephra/maize pollen possible age equivalent at a symposium for anthropologists and archaeologists in Santa Fe, New Mexico (Steen-McIntyre, 1975a; Steen-McIntyre et al., 1975). My abstract containing the information about the Belles Artes tephra was never published. The conveners did not know how to add a table of scientific data to the text, so they left out the whole thing. We submitted the papers for publication in their symposium volume. And waited five years for it to be published. In 1980 it was decided not to publish the volume at all, and the manuscripts were returned. I then submitted the Hueyátlaco manuscript to the editor of Science 80, at his request. And waited, and waited. I finally cornered him by telephone in his office. He stuttered a bit, then said the manuscript had fallen behind the file cabinet and had been lost. It was returned. I presented the information at a 1980 NATO conference in Iceland, as one of the invited speakers (Steen-McIntyre, 1981). When I checked the final version shortly before publication, I discovered the editor had drastically changed the section on Hueyátlaco and removed all mention of the Belles Artes data. Reason? “Someone” had told him the work was “controversial”. I had to threaten media exposure for his university before he reluctantly agree to print my original version, but he never did replace the table with the Belles Artes data.

The paper on the Hueyátlaco geology was finally published in 1981 in Quaternary Research, a prestigious journal for Pleistocene scientists (Steen-McIntyre et al., 1981; Malde and Steen-McIntyre, 1981). But it was too late. The rumor mill had been busy, the old dates were rejected out-of-hand. The site was declared “controversial”, with a maximum possible age of 23,000 years. I was discredited as a scientist, unable to work in my profession, and my personal integrity is questioned to this day.

From 1981 to the present, the struggle has been to get the old Hueyátlaco dates out to the general scientific public. Because establishment science has declared these dates “impossible” this has not been easy. The information has NOT appeared in letters I’ve written to Nature, Science, Science News, American Scientist (Steen-McIntyre, 2000), National Geographic, The New Yorker.

Neither has the interview I did for an article on maverick scientists that was to appear in Harper’s Magazine. (In the latter case, the article, by an investigative reporter, was accepted and, I assume, paid for, but never run.)

MEDIA SUCCESSES

By contrast, the alternative media have become interested in the dates, especially since “The Valsequillo Saga” appeared in Cremo and Thompson’s book, Forbidden Archeology (1993, 1994), Cremo’s Forbidden Archeology’s Impact (1998), and Bill Cote’s video Mysterious Origins of Man (1996). This has resulted in various interviews for videos in Japan and Mexico and a radio talk show, and for articles in the popular press (for example, Steen-McIntyre 1998 a,b). Also, since 1997, there have been new excavations at Hueyátlaco, new research, and new radiometric dates, all thanks to the interest of a wealthy philanthropist and a world-class micropaleontologist.

HUEYÁTLACO, 1997 TO PRESENT

Exciting new information for the Hueyátlaco site has come to light since 1997, but the work is not mine and not all of it is published, so I can say little about it here. There are new radiometric dates on the overlying tephra layers — zircon fission track and (U-Th)/He (Donelick et al.). The artifact-bearing horizons have been found to be rich in diatoms, including over a dozen taxa that either became extinct or first came on the scene during the Sangamon Interglacial 80,000 — 330,000 years ago (VanLandingham 2000, 2002 a,b,c,d, 2003) .

We have evidence for two primitive human skulls. The Dorenberg skull was collected in the area over 100 years ago (Reichelt,1899 (1900)) . The interior cavities were filled with a diatomite that contains the same Sangamon-age suite of taxa that occurs associated with the artifacts at Hueyátlaco (VanLandingham 2000, 2002b,c, 2003). It was on display in a museum in Leipzig for many years, and was destroyed during the bombings of WW II. We are looking for a photo or drawing of it.

The second skull, the Ostrander skull, is rumored to have been collected illegally at Hueyátlaco sometime in the late 60’s or early 70’s and recently to have been turned over to a Native American tribe for reburial. No attempt was made to date it.

A photo of the Ostrander skull is shown in Fig. 7 , the only one we have, comparing it with a modern skull. Note the thick brow ridges and shallow brain case.

HUEYÁTLACO SITE: THE SAGA CONTINUES …

These are truly exciting times for Hueyátlaco and the Valsequillo area! As I mentioned earlier, a new Valsequillo Project is waiting in the wings, with a new generation of archaeologists and geoscientists eager to work together to “determine the age of the Valsequillo Reservoir sites once and for all.” It is with a sense of relief that I can now turn the work over to my younger colleagues.

It’s been a long haul, at times exhilarating, at times discouraging. For almost 40 years, the Hueyátlaco site has dominated my professional career, detrimentally for the most part, and it’s time to move on to other things. Along with St. Paul I can now leave it in good hands saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”.

Copyright: © 2010 Simon Kjikàqawej

License: CC by NC SA (non-commercial share-alike) unless specifically noted.
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