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The debate of when early people migrated to Americas is as strong as ever. I’ve heard dates ranging from 40,000-10,000 BCE. That is a very broad range. Most archaeologists do agree that there most likely were multiple waves of people who made their way to this continent. This is one of the explanations given for the cultural variety that existed among native groups.

Lapa Do Santo petroglyph. "The Little Horny Man." Photo: Laboratory for Human Evolutionary Studies - University of São Paulo.

The oldest known petroglyph in the Americas was discovered in 2009 in Brazil. Radiocarbon dating estimates the petroglyph to have been carved 9,000-12,000 years ago. Assuming that people migrated over the Bering Straight (or at least sailed around the coast) they would have had to do so with enough time to migrate all the way to South America. Obviously, people would have had to migrated to central Brazil by the earliest date of the petroglyph at 12,000 years ago.

A brief report released by the archaeological team expresses their arguments for why this petroglyph is an important find.

Little is known, however, about the symbolic world of the first humans who settled the New World, because artistic manifestations either as rock-art, ornaments, and portable art objects dated to the Pleistocene/Holocene transition are exceedingly rare in the Americas.

Photo: Laboratory for Human Evolutionary Studies - University of São Paulo.

The figure definitely appears to be a human representation.

The figure was pecked in the bedrock and consisted of a small anthropomorphic filiform petroglyph with tri-digits, a c-like head, and an oversized phallus.

Walter Alves Neves, an archaeologist at the University of San Paulo says the team has named the figure “the little horny man.” The rock art was found about 13 feet below the ground surface. The figure is about 12 inches tall and 8 inches wide, with an oversized phallus about the size of the figures arm!

Lapa do Santo Cave archaeological site. Photo: Laboratory for Human Evolutionary Studies - University of São Paulo.

13 feet down. Photo: Laboratory for Human Evolutionary Studies - University of São Paulo.

No doubt this petroglyph will provide additional evidence to the story of early American occupation.

Rock-art similar to the one reported here can be found in at least two other rockshelters in the same region, Lapa do Ballet and Lapa das Caieiras. However, the stylistic similarity is not restricted to Lagoa Santa but extends to other parts of Brazil. Two stylistic traditions have been defined in Northeastern Brazil: The Nordeste and the Agreste Traditions. The Nordeste Tradition is indirectly dated to between 12 and 6 kyr, while the Agreste Tradition seems to be later, spanning from 9 to 2 kyr, although there is some controversy about these ages…Several authors have suggested that a short chronology for the occupation of the New World cannot account for the variability of the South American lithic industries in the Early Holocene… Both pieces of information converge to support a deep chronology for the peopling of the New World.

Read the full report here: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0032228

Sources:

Rock Art at the Pleistocene/Holocene Boundary in Eastern South America

Oldest American Rock Art Found in Brazil

‘Little Horny Man’: Rock Carving of Giant Phallus Discovered

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