Stone-age Europeans were the first to set foot on North America, beating American Indians by some 10,000 years, new archaeological evidence suggests.
By Matthew Day
(The Telegraph) In a discovery that could rewrite the history of the Americas, archaeologists have found a number of stone tools dating back between 19,000 and 26,000 years, and bearing remarkable similarities to those made in Europe.
All of the ancient implements were discovered along the north-east coast of the USA.
The tools could reassert the long dismissed and discredited claim that Europeans in the form of Christopher Columbus and his crew were the first to discover the New World.
Previous discoveries of tools have only been dated back to 15,000 years ago and prompted many archaeologists and historians to question claims that stone-age man managed to migrate to North America.
But the striking resemblance in the way the primitive American tools were made to European ones dating from the same period now suggests a remarkable migration took place.
Adding to the weight of evidence is fresh analysis of stone knife unearthed in the US in 1971 that revealed it was made of French flint.
Professor Dennis Stanford from Washington's Smithsonian Institution, and Professor Bruce Bradley from Exeter University believe that the ancient Europeans travelled to North America across an Atlantic frozen over by the Ice Age.
During the height of the Ice Age, ice covered some three million square miles of the North Atlantic, providing a solid bridge between the two continents. Plentiful numbers of seal, penguins, seabirds and the now extinct great auk on the edge of the ice shelf could have provided the stone-age nomads with enough food to sustain them on their 1,500-mile walk.
"Across Atlantic Ice", a book by professors Stanford and Bradley presenting the case for the trans-Atlantic trek, is published next month.