Pedra Furada sites

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"Pedra Furada" redirects here. For the village in Portugal, see Chorente, Góios, Courel, Pedra Furada e Gueral.
Stone arch at Pedra Furada.

Pedra Furada (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈpɛdɾɐ fuˈɾadɐ], meaning pierced rock) is an important collection of over 800 archaeological sites in Brazil, including numerous rock paintings, which suggest a human presence prior to the arrival of Clovis people in North America. A Brazilian and French team excavating a site located in the Southeastern portion of the state of Piauí in what is now the Serra da Capivara National Park discovered the site in 1973. The discovery was reported by the Brazilian archaeologist Niède Guidon, who published her findings in 1986.[1]


Pedra Furada includes a collection of rock shelters used for thousands of years by human populations. The first excavations yielded artifacts with Carbon-14 dates of 48,000 to 32,000 years BP. Repeated analysis has confirmed this dating, carrying the range of dates up to 60,000 BP.[2] Archaeological levels that are well excavated yield dates between 32,160 ± 1,000 years BP and 17,000 ± 400 BP. The collection of stone age artifacts includes darts and atlatls but no arrows or bows.

Guidon has established 15 distinct levels, classified in three cultural phases, called Pedra Furada, that includes the oldest remains, Serra Talhada, from 12,000 to 7,000 BP, with tools like knives, scrapers, flakes used "as is" or with some retouch and lithic cores, all made of quartz or quartzite. Finally there is Agreste late phase. The site also has hundreds of rock paintings dated from 5,000 to 11,000 years ago.[3]


The discoveries are the subject of debate as they apparently contradict the "Clovis first" view for humans in the Americas, or short chronology theory with the first movement beyond Alaska into the New World occurring no earlier than 15,000 – 17,000 years ago, followed by successive waves of immigrants.[4][5] Pedra Furada provides arguments for the proponents of the long chronology theory, which states that the first group of people entered the hemisphere at a much earlier date, possibly 21,000–40,000 years ago,[6][7] with a much later mass secondary wave of immigrants.[8][9]

Additional discoveries at Monte Verde, Chile, dated to 14,800 years BP, were initially contested in the very same way and with similar arguments,[10] as well as other anthropological discoveries in Piedra Museo in the Argentinian province of Santa Cruz, dated 11,000 years BP,[11] in Topper in the state of South Carolina, U.S.A. dated 50,000 years BP,[12][13] and the Meadowcroft Rockshelter located near Avella in Washington County in southwestern Pennsylvania, United States, dated to 16,000 years BP, have raised doubts about the "Clovis First" theory, and have led to alternative proposals for the routes of colonization and the diffusion of culture through the continent, in a heated dispute that has not been resolved.

Indigenous Amerindian genetic studies have concluded that the "colonizing founders" of the Americas emerged from a single-source ancestral population that evolved in isolation, likely in Beringia.[14][15] The isolation in Beringia might have lasted 10,000–20,000 years.[16][17] Age estimates based on Y-chromosome micro-satellite place diversity of the American Haplogroup Q1a3a (Y-DNA) at around 10,000 to 15,000 years ago.[18][19] However, mtDNA data suggests a primary wave of migration coming to the Americas from 35 to 25 kyA.[20] The Y-chromosome evidence does not address if there were any previous failed colonization attempts by other genetic groups, that could be represented by those settling the Pedra Furada site, as genetic testing can only address current population ancestral heritage.[18]


Debate continues as to whether or not the artifacts and hearths are instead geofacts that were made naturally. This seems to be a dividing line on the debate between archaeologists disputing Guidon's theory that the site's artifacts prove pre-Clovis human settlement in the Americas. The controversy has been characterized by Alex Bellos, at The Guardian, as "U.S." archaeologists believing that the items are geofacts created naturally, "because the North Americans cannot believe that they do not have the oldest site", while David Meltzer, of the Southern Methodist University in Dallas asks "...if we have (pre-Clovis) humans in South America, then by golly, why don't we have them in North America too?". Guidon has answered critics of her theory, saying that "The carbon is not from a natural fire. It is only found inside the sites. You don't get natural fires inside the shelters" and adding that "The problem is that the Americans criticize without knowing. The problem is not mine. The problem is theirs. Americans should excavate more and write less".[21] French palaeolithic archaeologist Jacques Pelegrin, believes there is a possibility for natural processes creating flaked stones that could mimic the Pedra Furada specimens because of their simplicity, but he finds this very unlikely in this case because of continuous human presence in the site.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Guidon, Niède y G. Delibrias. 1986 "Carbon-14 dates point to man in the Americas 32 000 years ago"; Nature 321: 769-771
  2. ^ Guidon, Niède. 1986 "Las Unidades Culturales de Sao Raimundo Nonato - Sudeste del Estado de Piaui-Brasil"; New Evidence for the Pleistocene Peopling of the Americas: 157-171. Edited by Alan Bryan. Center for the Study of Early Man. University of Maine. Orono.
  3. ^ "Pedra Furada, Brazil: Paleoindians, Paintings, and Paradoxes: An interview with Drs. Niède Guidon, Anne-Marie Pessis, Fabio Parenti, Claude Guérin, Evelyne Peyre, and Guaciara M. dos Santos"
  4. ^ "Chaw joins poop in archaeology arsenal". University of Wisconsin. 
  5. ^ Axelrod, Alan (2003). The Complete Idiot's Guide to American History. Alpha Books. ISBN 0-02-864464-6. Retrieved 5 February 2010. 
  6. ^ "Introduction". Government of Canada. Parks Canada. 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2010. Canada's oldest known home is a cave in Yukon occupied not 12,000 years ago like the U.S. sites, but at least 20,000 years ago 
  7. ^ "Pleistocene Archaeology of the Old Crow Flats". Vuntut National Park of Canada. 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2010. However, despite the lack of this conclusive and widespread evidence, there are suggestions of human occupation in the northern Yukon about 24,000 years ago, and hints of the presence of humans in the Old Crow Basin as far back as about 40,000 years ago. 
  8. ^ "Atlas of the Human Journey". National Geographic. 
  9. ^ "Journey of mankind". Brad Shaw Foundation. 
  10. ^ Tom D. Dillehay, Michael B. Collins, Mario Pino, Jack Rossen, Jim Adovasio, Carlos Ocampo, Ximena Navarro, Pilar Rivas, David Pollack, A. Gwynn Henderson, Jose Saavedra, Patricio Sanzana, Pat Shipman, Marvin Kay, Gaston Munoz, Anastasios Karathanasis, Donald Ugent, Michael Cibull, and Richard Geissler. "On Monte Verde: Fiedel's Confusions and Misrepresentations". University of Kentucky. Retrieved 2 November 2010. 
  11. ^ Paleoamerican Origins, Smithsonian,
  12. ^ The Topper Site: Beyond Clovis at Allendale,
  13. ^ New Evidence Puts Man In North America 50,000 Years Ago, Science Daily,
  14. ^ Jody Hey, "On the Number of New World Founders: A Population Genetic Portrait of the Peopling of the Americas", Public Library of Science Biology, 3(6):e193 (2005)
  15. ^ Tamm, E; Kivisild, T; Reidla, M; Metspalu, M; Smith, D. G.; Mulligan, C. J.; Bravi, C. M.; Rickards, O; Martinez-Labarga, C; Khusnutdinova, E. K.; Fedorova, S. A.; Golubenko, M. V.; Stepanov, V. A.; Gubina, M. A.; Zhadanov, S. I.; Ossipova, L. P.; Damba, L; Voevoda, M. I.; Dipierri, J. E.; Villems, R; Malhi, R. S. (2007). "Beringian Standstill and Spread of Native American Founders". PLoS ONE (eISSN-1932-6203) 2 (9): e829. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000829. PMC 1952074. 
  16. ^ "The peopling of the Americas: Genetic ancestry influences health". Scientific American. 
  17. ^ "First Americans Endured 20,000-Year Layover - Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News". Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  18. ^ a b The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey (Digitised online by Google books). Random House. 2002. ISBN 0-8129-7146-9. Retrieved 21 November 2009.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  19. ^ (2003) "Y-Chromosome Evidence for Differing Ancient Demographic Histories in the Americas," (pdf) Maria-Catira Bortolini, Francisco M. Salzano, Mark G. Thomas, Steven Stuart, Selja P. K. Nasanen, Claiton H. D. Bau, Mara H. Hutz, Zulay Layrisse, Maria L. Petzl-Erler, Luiza T. Tsuneto, Kim Hill, Ana M. Hurtado, Dinorah Castro-de-Guerra, Maria M. Torres, Helena Groot, Roman Michalski, Pagbajabyn Nymadawa, Gabriel Bedoya, Neil Bradman, Damian Labuda, Andres Ruiz-Linares. Department of Biology, University College, London; Departamento de Gene´tica, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil; Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientı´ficas, Caracas, Venezuela; Departamento de Gene´tica, Universidade Federal do Parana´, Curitiba, Brazil; 5Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; 6Laboratorio de Gene´tica Humana, Universidad de los Andes, Bogota´; Victoria Hospital, Prince Albert, Canada; Subassembly of Medical Sciences, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Laboratorio de Gene´tica Molecular, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellı´n, Colombia; Universite´ de Montreal, Montreal. 73:524-539. Retrieved 2010-01-22.
  20. ^ from Mitomap data
  21. ^ "Brazilian Findings Spark Archeological Debate" by Alex Bellos
  22. ^ "Stones of contention" by David Meltzer

Coordinates: 8°50′00″S 42°33′12″W / 8.83333°S 42.55333°W / -8.83333; -42.55333