Ellen Lloyd – AncientPages.com - One of the strangest and most controversial archaeological sites in North America is the Calico Early Man site. It is located midway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas and, more exactly, just outside the town of Barstow in San Bernardino County in the central Mojave Desert of southern California.
Is the Calico Early Man site one of the most overlooked and important ancient sites in North America?
In 1942, amateur archaeologists discovered what they believed to be primitive stone tools in this area, but were the "tools" made by humans or through typical geological processes?
Are We Dealing With Stone Tools Made By Humans Or Geofacts?
Thousands of rocks that bear a strong resemblance to prehistoric tools have been found at the site. The fragments were embedded in the sediments of the shoreline of an ancient Pleistocene Era lake called Lake Manix.
A stone from the Master Pit had been dated to over 200,000 BP (Before Present). However, several scientists point out this date could have been the result of contamination from other elements in the soil, so currently, there is an effort to date verified lithics through thermoluminescence dating. While the results are still pending, the styles suggest 20,000 to 30,000 BP.
Dr. Leakey Found Intriguing Fragments
Dr. Louis S.B. Leakey (1903-1972), a Kenyan paleontologist and archaeologist, considered the Calico Early Man site to be of great archaeological importance and he studied the area.
According to Dr. Leakey, thousands of artifacts found in this barren desert environment were eerily similar in appearance and manufacture to those he found in Africa. This striking similarity intrigued and mystified him.
Dr. Leakey was in many ways a remarkable scientist. His first important African discovery (in 1948) was the skull of a Miocene hominoid, which he named Proconsul africanus. Today, it is believed that this ape-like creature lived from approximately 23 to 14 million years ago and was likely a common ancestor of both humans and other primate species. Most of Dr. Leakey’s significant discoveries were found in northern Tanzania at Olduvai Gorge. This area is particularly rich in fossils because of its unique geological history.
Some of the fragments were discovered at the Calico Early Man site. Image credit: www.barstowca.org
Dr. Leakey uncovered over 100 different forms of extinct animal life at Olduvai Gorge. The debate over the proper interpretation of many Leakey finds continues today, but no one questions Louis Leakey’s enormous contribution to human knowledge about the rise of our species.
Critics of Dr. Leakey have suggested his interest in the Calico Early Man site was not entirely genuine. These critics simply maintain Dr. Leakey, who was coming to an end of both his life and career, was feeling left out and forgotten as the archaeological world had moved on to discuss other finds and other scientists.
Did humans settle on the shores of the ancient Pleistocene lake more than 30,000 years ago? Credit: Public Domain
Astonishing discovery at a site like Calico Early Man could bring his name into the limelight.
Whether it’s true or not is uncertain, but Dr. Leakey was, without doubt, a very competent researcher, and he did find Calico Early Man site worth investigating.
For now, they examined previous findings, and they believe that some show enough evidence to rule them out as geofacts. However, these findings need to be published and undergo peer review before it can be determined whether the site shows clear evidence of prehistoric human habitation.
Because of the potentially ancient age of the artifacts, The Calico Early Man Site has always been highly controversial in the field of archaeology.
If the artifacts are indeed prehistoric stone tools, then it means humans settled on the shores of the ancient Pleistocene lake more than 30,000 years ago.
It would also mean that the Calico Early Man Site is one of the most important and overlooked historic sites in North America.
The Calico Early Man site remains an unexplained archaeological mystery.
Written by - Ellen Lloyd – AncientPages.com
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Desert Magazine 1946 July