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Idaho Site Challenges the Siberian Migration Theory
Monday, September 27, 2021


Learn about a site in Idaho that is the oldest radiocarbon-dated site in North America, helping to identify  when the first humans arrived in the new World in a virtual talk on Thursday, Sept. 30.

Idaho State University anthropology professor Charles Speer will offer a virtual talk titled “The Peopling of the New World” at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. To join in, RSVP to

“The question of when the first humans arrived in the New World, let alone Idaho, has fascinated scientists and the public alike for centuries,” said the library’s programs manager Kristin Fletcher. “Many scientists believe that humans have been occupying parts of Idaho for more than 12,000 years ago.  Dr. Speer will discuss a site near Cooper’s Ferry in North Idaho that is pushing that date back more than 4,500 years.”

Archaeologists recently uncovered nearly 200 projectile points, flake tools and bone fragments from large mammals at Cooper’s Ferry, which sits on Idaho’s Lower Salmon River canyon. They also have found charcoal, a fire-cracked rock, fire hearth, food processing station and other pits used in domestic activities.

The discovery suggests that humans lived in the area 16,000 years ago—earlier than scientists once thought. The projectile points resemble those found in Japan, indicating early man may have arrived in the Americas before an inland ice-free corridor opened.

Speer, an avid flintknapper and prehistoric skills enthusiast, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Idaho State University and the Curator of Anthropology at the Idaho Museum of Natural History. Born and raised in South Texas, he received his PhD in Ecological Anthropology from the University of Texas.

 After graduation he received a post-doctoral research fellowship at Texas State University in the Department of Anthropology. His research there allowed him to work with Clovis and Pre-Clovis Period materials dating to over 17,000 years old. The materials were found at the Gault Site in Central Texas. His research focuses on geochemical analysis of knappable stone to determine mobility patterns of prehistoric hunter-gatherers.


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