Letter | Published:

Carbon-14 dates point to man in the Americas 32,000 years ago

Nature volume 321, pages 769771 (19 June 1986) | Download Citation



The view that man did not arrive on the American continent before the last glaciation has been supported by the fact that until now the known and dated archaeological sites have not been of very great antiquity. But now we report radiocarbon dates from a Brazilian site which establish that early man was living in South America at least 32,000 years ago. These new findings come from the large painted rockshelter of Boqueirao do Sitio da Pedra Furada, the walls and the ceiling of which are decorated with a rich set of prehistoric paintings. We have excavated a sequence containing abundant lithic industry and well-structured hearths at all levels. Carbon-14 dates from charcoal establish a continuous chronology indicating human occupation from 6,160±130 to 32,160±100 years BP. A date of 17,000±400 BP, obtained from charcoal found in a level with fragments of a pictograph fallen from the walls, testifies to the antiquity of rupestral art in this region of Brazil.

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  1. Laboratoire d'Anthropologie Préhistorique d'Amérique, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 44 rue de la Tour, 75016 Paris, France

    • N. Guidon
  2. Centre des Faibles Radioactivités, Laboratoire Mixte CNRS-CEA, Boite Postale 1, 91190 Gif-sur-Yvette, France

    • G. Delibrias


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