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Life on Earth — pandemics

‘The best way to get beaten up professionally is to claim you have a pre-Clovis site,” said Michael Collins, U. of Texas.

The academics are warring and, sometimes, taking on the Native American tribal councils as well. Why? Seems that they’ve discovered that many early Europeans were the first to arrive in America and they are still here. And Anna Roosevelt, working at the mouth of the Amazon, is working on Benin, Egyptians, Phoenicians, and later, Romans, who were there. In Del Mar in California is an ancient human site — dated to 48,000 years ago.

Clovis is the site in New Mexico that was considered the oldest human settlement site in America. Recently, several other sites have turned up with much, much, older tools, dates and relics. Every time one of these sites has turned up, the researchers have been called frauds, crooks and, sometimes, stupid. The first to encounter this wrath was Prof. Adavasio, who dug up blades and cut flint in Pittsburgh dating back 18,000 years. Some fellow scientists who backed him were threatened with black balling.

Other sites have subsequently been found pushing the time of first man in America back 20,000 years and more. Now, along has come the most controversial theory of all. Tracing the method of making spears and flint tools, then comparing them with Solutrean (Ice Age people of France who made amazing cave paintings) flint knapping styles, Prof. Bruce Bradley has concluded that the Clovis spearhead and the older ones more recently found are similar to European techniques, not Asian ones.

Wow, has this stirred controversy. In have stepped a few universities to conduct DNA tests on “human artifacts” (meaning bones) and surprise, surprise, the DNA matches Solutrean humans.

“DNA lineage predominantly found in Europe got to the Great Lakes 14,000 to 15,000 years ago,” said Douglas Wallace, Emory University.

The Smithsonian has chosen the path of applauding the determination of the Solutrean Ice Age man and his ability to strive forward: “To ignore this possibility ignores the merits of people 20,000 years ago.” What they are really saying is that humans are industrious and travelled everywhere from the moment they could walk and explore.

The problem scientists now have is that amino-acid testing along with DNA tests are beginning to map human-transported plagues that traveled across the globe: harbingers of what we’re facing now. In China at Hamin Mangha around 3,000 BC there was a massive plague that their explorers took around the world over the next hundreds of years. Athens? 100,000 died in 450 BC from either Ebola or typhus. A total of 5 million died during the 180 year period after the Antonine plague hit ancient Rome. More than 5,000 died in Rome every day in 250 AD from the St. Cyprian plague. Bubonic plague ravaged the Byzantine Empire in 527 AD. The Black Death came from Asia to Europe in the 1300s. The Cocoliztli epidemic derived from Salmonella in the mid-1500s wiped out large populations in Central and South America. Of course, the Plague came back in Europe in the mid-1500s to the mid-1600s and their explorers spread it worldwide. And it came back to France and Russia in the mid-1700s. Yellow Fever hammered the Colonies in the late 1700s. Flu, late 1800s, again 1918 to 1920… polio epidemic 1916 in the USA — all killed millions.

As we endure this terrible COVID-19 we have to remember that it is just another in human-transported diseases and that humanity has survived and flourished — even through adversity and terrible loss. We’ll be here, maybe somewhat diminished, maybe somewhat scarred, but we will survive to fight and explore another day.

Writer Peter Riva, a former resident of Amenia Union, now lives in New Mexico.

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