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The Search for Neanderthals in North America

chest of gold

The 'unsanctioned' race of amateur archaeologists to find pre-Clovis and Neanderthal sites in America

(2nd edition - Nov 2010) by A.O. Kime
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While archaeologists believe it highly unlikely the ancient Neanderthals ever inhabited North America, many of whom think it an impossible scenario, ridiculous, the notion is nonetheless alive among some amateur archeologists. Right or wrong - however they might be in the minority - they are members of a growing group of concerned citizens who have taken it upon themselves to assure the most accurate accounting is taking place regarding the ancient history of North America.

The truthful aspects of antiquity is in jeopardy because of the institutional habit of wanting to maintain the status quo - and maintaining the status quo shuts the door to opposing facts in indigenous matters. It has had the effect of leaving undisturbed and thus fortifies the native status of the American Indians. Other possibilities are summarily ignored... such as the ancient arrival of other races who could also be considered indigenous. Of course, the status quo is welcomed by the American Indians who wish to protect their valuable 'native' status.

That's not to say the American Indians weren't the first arrivals - likely they were - but it shouldn't be set in stone. Contrarily, the sciences of archaeology and anthropology have demonstrated they will turn a blind eye to anything that isn't within their 'indigenous model' and 'date model'. This inhibiting atmosphere for discovery appears unique to the North American continent.

Of course, any discovery of Neanderthals would vastly undermine contemporary theories… the current professional belief North America wasn’t inhabited until 11,500-13,500 years ago. These ‘earliest arrivals’ are commonly referred to as ‘Clovis people’ (Paleo-Indians)… evidence of their existence having been first discovered in Clovis, New Mexico in 1932.

While Neanderthals are thought to have been extinct for 24,000-33,000 years, such a discovery of a Neanderthal in North America would substantially push back the believed timeframe of the first inhabitants. Perhaps to be pushed back even further if the recent (2003) discovery of human footprints in central Mexico (external website) are actually 40,000 years old.

On the other hand - if an American Neanderthal actually existed - radiocarbon dating might prove they didn’t die out quite so long ago. Whatever the timeline, it would also squash the current belief Neanderthals lived only in Europe and Asia.

Pre-Clovis and the politicized Kennewick man

While seemingly the majority of these concerned citizens are not suggesting Neanderthals were once inhabitants of North America - or even suggesting a date quite that long ago - several have recently claimed discovering evidence of ancient dwellers perhaps pre-dating the Clovis peoples by several thousand years. However, professional archaeologists and anthropologists are ignoring these findings, to a man purportedly... although that doesn’t necessarily mean the evidence isn’t credible. After all, protecting the long-heralded beliefs of an institution has been typical for ages. It has also been a matter of institutions jealously guarding their turf… which effectively amounts to not allowing outsiders to tinker. While tinkering amateurs could upset any organized process, over the ages they’ve been known to have made numerous valuable contributions… however slow to be accepted.

For example, discovered by a teenager in 2000 was the partially mummified hadrosaur (external website) in North Dakota but it wasn't professionally recognized until 2007... but only then by a foreign paleontologist .This time lapse of seven years seems to indicate the young man likewise had trouble drawing attention to this most complete dinosaur yet known. Ultimately to become involved was a paleontologist from the University of Manchester in England but conspicuously absent and gone unmentioned in a TV interview were any of his counterparts from America.

In the end, of course, science must prevail in these circumstances but all too often the decades have witnessed archaeologists and anthropologists being contemporary-minded glory seekers. At least it often appears the case if overstating the significance of a discovery (grandstanding) qualifies. Charles Darwin, of course, wasn't contemporary-minded but he is guilty of being a fame seeker at the expense of human origins.

Further, institutional self-protectionism seems to have grown since the 1950s to include protecting personal reputations at all costs… which likely means often at the expense of the truth. After all, within an institution a contrary but truthful stance is far more threatening to a career than a mistake. It is medievalism - heresy the crime. While surely most credentialed individuals within these sciences are principled, honorable and even likable, but to also be ‘beyond reproach’ has always been a rare commodity since nobody likes standing in the unemployment line.

Moreover, those in the antiquities business have also been too quick to draw conclusions as evidenced by their habit of treating each new discovery as if the ‘final word’... to only be usurped by the next discovery. By implying it is the 'final word' is grandstanding since there can be no final word in archaeology or anthropology. After all, it isn't a perfect science like chemistry and the pieces of the puzzle are scattered from hell to breakfast. Archaeological conclusions are no more reliable than the ever-changing age of the universe.

However - in the spirit of maintaining the status quo - their final words are only changeable if they stay within the boundaries of their models. The final word that indians were the first arrivals in America is still their final word because it's their unchangeable indigenous model.

It’s enough motivation for anyone to strike out on their own. The truth, it seems, is a beckoning siren.

The Day’s Knob archaeological site (external website) in Ohio is a great example of this determination. Alan Day has found evidence of ancient bird-worshiping which may prove to be Pre-Clovis… except it has raised no visible interest within the archaeological community. Included in our article Pre-Clovis Cultures in North America are photographs of these artifacts and information about similar discoveries in Tennessee and Pennsylvania. While another half-dozen other such sites potentially exist, of no surprise they are all entrepreneurial (amateur) sites begging professional involvement.

Likewise frustrating were the political circumstances surrounding the 8,400 to 9,500 year-old remains of an individual found (1996) in Washington State dubbed the Kennewick Man. While many scholars believed him to be Caucasian, they were overruled by the then Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt who deemed him ‘indian’ (of Asian ancestry) instead... widely believed solely to satisfy the wishes of the local American Indian tribes. While this suspicion can be justified, surely the underlying reason was to maintain the status-quo. After all, to support the long-held contentions that 'indians' were the first arrivals is convenient. That's because Babbitt could avoid having to deal with legal challenges from the American Indians... whereas nobody would sue if he kept in tact the status-quo.

Expediency has always been the primary reason for maintaining the status quo which has been a fact so persistent throughout history... a reality further provoking into action the truth-seekers.

Evidence of Neanderthal believed found in Virginia among ancient relics... professional assessment sought

Steven Elchook from Virginia is another truth-seeker who believes he may have supporting evidence that Neanderthal were once in America but has been unsuccessful in his search for a professional assessment. His supporting evidence, he believes, is some ancient anthropomorphic art, stone tools, a Neanderthal jawbone (child) and individual teeth (a possible molar pictured below).

While the regional archaeologist from the Department of Historical Resources in Richmond, Virginia had told Elchook his finds weren’t in his field of expertise instead being a matter for anthropology, at least he was supportive by stating the finds may have enough merit to be further investigated. But, while the archaeologist suggested to Elchook that he go see an anthropologist… the man didn't refer him to one. Whether a brush-off or not, it became just another dead end.

fossilized molarWhile partially being a matter of Mr. Elchook not having ties to the archaeological community, it underscores the age-old adage “it’s not what you know but who you know”. Whether due to human nature or the remnants of medievalism, this reality should have no place in the sciences.

It had also been suggested to Mr. Elchook that he contact the Smithsonian Institute... although the usefulness of this avenue remains in question as well. After all, relics within a museum must have credentials and therefore likely just another dead end.

Until his finds are professionally assessed, the haunting question… is this pictured object Mr. Elchook discovered in Virginia really a tooth (molar) as he believes? If so, is it Neanderthal? While perhaps an anthropologist could judge somewhat by this photograph, the untrained eye might tend to believe it only an innocent rock. Nonetheless, after viewing a half dozen photographs of Mr. Elchook’s findings, a couple seemed to hold some promise... particularly the unusual arrowhead pictured below. Compared to a wide variety of other arrowheads, it is distinctively different.

arrowheadThe possibilities are tantalizing and the reason for posting Elchook’s account below. Hopefully it will draw the attention of some open-minded anthropologists. His sincere convictions, doggedness and compelling words are hard to ignore.

The area that these artifacts/fossil teeth were found is located approx. six miles from the Rappahannock River near Fredericksburg Va. Various creeks, springs and ponds are also in the surrounding area. The soil that these artifacts were found in is sandy and rocky. There is a creek nearby and a small pond about a mile away. The land where these artifacts were found is flat and spread out over an about acre of land.

There are three areas on this acre of land where these items have been found. Some artifacts seem to have been dug up due to some nearby construction. These were found near the surface of the ground and began to become visible after some heavy rainfall. The first area is where a stone tool was found. The images attached came from that stone tool. This stone tool is approx. two inches in length and an inch and a half in width. It seems to be a hand tool used to strip animal hide or to cut meat. There are images on this artifact that depict a hunting scene. There is also red ochre that is still visible on this hand tool. Other items found in the same area consist of a spear point. This is also about an inch an a half in length. There appears to be engravings on both sides of this spear point. One of these engravings is of a hunter holding a spear looking at an animal in the distance. These images are very faded but can be seen in the proper lighting. Another item found in this same area is a hammerstone. It has an image of a small horse standing on a hill.

The second area is located about fifty feet from the first area. This is a very sandy area. A large granite stone was found here about the size of football. There are various engravings on this stone and also areas that were used to sharpen or make stone tools. The spear point, for example, fits perfectly into one of these shiny areas. Beneath this granite rock was found a stone with the image of a man carved in the middle of it. There also are remains of a yellow colored ochre on this stone. This area of land is where various fossil teeth were found. The large fossil molar appears to match the molar found in the museum of Wales, identified there to be from an early Neanderthal, was found in this area about a foot beneath the surface. The fossil teeth that are similar to those found in Yuanmoa China were also found in this same general area. Those fossil teeth were identified in China to be from either Homo Erectus or possible Neanderthal.

The third area is where a large fossil incisor was found located near a wooded area about thirty feet from the second area. This large incisor appears to have Neanderthal characteristics. The body of the tooth is enlarged and the inside part of the tooth that faces the tongue has a prominent bulge. It was located just below the surface of the ground. This tooth appears to be the same age as the fossil molar that was found. Also found here were two rounded hammerstones about the size of a baseball. There also was found stone artwork. This stone is about half the size of a baseball and has been carved out. In the center of this stone appears to be a man. The best way to describe this stone is that it resembles a cave with an image of a man inside.

Exactly where these artifacts came from and the age of all of this is yet to be determined. This would require a hands-on examination of these fossil teeth and molar by a paleoanthropologist to make that determination. My personal opinion from what I have found and researched is that this could be evidence of a Neanderthal presence in the distant past and possibly even Homo erectus. Fossil teeth seem to match those of other fossil teeth found in other places around the world. Some images found on stone tools also seem to have characteristics of Neanderthals such a heavy brow ridge and a flat sloping forehead. Homo Erectus also had a prominent brow ridge.

In July 2007 I made an appointment with the Department of Historical Resources in Richmond, Virginia to meet with the regional archaeologist. The purpose of this meeting was for him to physically examine the artifacts, stone tools, fossil teeth and a large molar I had found here in Virginia. When he began to examine the molar, I suggested that we log on to the Internet and go to the museum of Wales website. A large adult molar of an early Neanderthal that was found in Pontnewydd cave in Wales is pictured there. I felt the Neanderthal molar pictured on that website had very similar characteristics to the molar that I had found in Virginia. He visually examined the image of the molar in the museum of Wales website and agreed that there were strong similarities to the fossil molar I had found here in Virginia. He then proceeded to take photographs of the fossil teeth and molar I had found. He commented that the molar that I had found appeared older than the molar pictured in the museum website due to the level of fossilization that had occurred. He then suggested that I contact a Paleoanthropologist to examine the fossil teeth and molar I had found to confirm that these were actually Neanderthal, since this was out of his field of his expertise.

My objective here is to raise an interest in this discovery and have it further examined by someone who has similar interests in a professional manner.

Steven Elchook
November 2007
email: steveinva.com@gmail.com

While the Elchook findings may not prove to be Neanderthal, or even ‘pre-Clovis’, at least they should be investigated and the point of this article. Ignoring a request to assess a finding seems odd considering no policeman would refuse to check out a corpse unless they found it themselves.

Since these professionals are employed directly or indirectly by governments - presumably for the good of the public - then it should be a matter of serving the public and not each other. As it is, they are oblivious.

We must keep this in mind... once a science (or field) has exhausted it's usefulness - invariably to justify and perpetuate itself it begins to utilize pseudo science. For example, fictitious are the Indian tribal names Anasazi, Hohokam, Sinagua, Salado and the Mogollon. In pseudo science, if you can't explain history you invent it. See The Aztecs and Montezuma Castle.

A.O. Kime

Last modified: 03/04/16