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A Journey to a New Land


Cactus Hill

The Cactus Hill site is located in a sand dune about 70 km from Richmond, Virginia. It contains archaeological remains that date from the 18th century back to the Clovis period and beyond.

Artifacts from the Clovis level included the typical Clovis points, made of a type of stone called chert. A piece of nearby charcoal was radiocarbon dated to about 11,000 years ago. Below the Clovis level, archaeologists discovered several stone blades, projectile points and a scraper, all made of a different type of stone called quartzite. A soil sample near one of the blades was radiocarbon dated to about 17,000 years ago.

Critics say that the artifacts found at the lower level may have originated at a higher level, and been pushed down through the sand by burrowing animals or some other natural process. But researchers have analysed sand samples and found that the sands have not been mixed. Also, the radiocarbon dates have been confirmed by another dating method called “optically stimulated luminescence”. This dating method measures the amount of time that has elapsed since sand grains were exposed to light.