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First drawing of a Mammoth in America

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  • First drawing of a Mammoth in America

    This article appeared in the media last August about the earliest drawing of a mammoth or mastodon being found in the Americas and dating to about 13,000 BP.
    Has anyone see anything new on this discovery? As far as I know, it is still being authenticated. It was found at Vero Beach, FL which is not far from me.

  • #2
    As it says in the article, the find was made by an amateur fossil hunter in 2006 or 2007 and sat underneath his sink until the engraving was noticed during cleaning of the bone in 2009… so the context of the find is not regarded as good.
    The analysis commenced in 2009 and the results were announced in 2011. It has been authenticated, but only insofar as confirming that the carving (which cannot of course be dated) was not done in recent times with modern tools. There was “no discontinuity (of colouration) between the carved grooves and the surrounding material” which proves that the bone aged with the carving already on it… but doesn’t definitively prove that the bone and the carving are the same age.
    Proving that it’s not a modern fake was important because archaeologists are still embarrassed by the so-called “Holly Oak Pendant/Gorget”, allegedly found in Delaware in 1864. This was a piece of whelk shell, apparently palaeo, with a carving of a woolly mammoth. The general consensus now is that this is a modern carving (on an old shell, carbon dated at about 1,500 years), faked from a drawing of a genuine French artefact (the “La Madeleine tusk”).

    Sketch of Holly Oak Pendant
    The Vero Beach bone has defied aging… it’s too mineralised. The species from which the bone came has also not been conclusively identified - it is either mammoth, mastodon or giant sloth… all of which died out in the region at the end of the last ice age – between 10-12,000 years ago. The carving is anatomically correct and must have been done by someone who had actually seen a mammoth.
    Although the dating has been widely reported as anything between 13-20,000 years, this is presumptive and not likely to be proven by further testing of the item itself. Although there is a mood of confidence in the archaeological community, they recognise that they need to find another one in an indisputable context.
    I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.


    • #3
      That was very interesting Roger.