When should you ask questions? When should you dig deeper? Are there times that you should be willing to take a gamble on being against the ‘common knowledge’? Why is it important to ask questions?
When you have an idea that something is different than what is commonly known, you have a theory. When you want to be able to prove it you need to have proof that will stand up to digging into. This is where the ability to ask questions and be willing to take a few strange looks and people thinking you are a little strange. When you start getting used to asking questions you find that it is easier to ask them and want to learn more.
Let’s look at a question that is a bit of interest to me, could Mesoamerican cultures have evolved in a separate but similar environment as those in other parts of the world at different times. The most common thought is that people came to North America and then into Central and South America about 10 to 20 thousand years ago.
If we look at the last major ice ages that we have had, there are questions abound on what is being said. There have been at least 5 significant ice ages in the past 1 million years. There have been about a dozen periods of glacial expansions in the same time. 1
So, if there have been about a dozen periods of glacial expansions in the last million years, then why couldn’t people have come over the land/ice bridge that would have connected Siberia to Alaska? Why couldn’t people have come over and instead of staying in the northern part of the continent gone down to the central part where it is warmer? There would be evidence of the existence, right?
So, if there is evidence, where would need to look? Mexico, Central and South America sound like a good idea.
I did some basic digging and found something of interest. There was a site in Mexico called Hueyatlaco. Never heard of it, me either however the reason that I bring this up is the fact that it was being worked in the 1950’s and they had evidence that it showed that humans lived in the area up to 250,000 years ago. The research was done in the 1960’s. 2 One of the people that were working at the site was Cynthia Williams.
“Shortly after the excavation of the Hueyatlaco site, and shortly after the dating of the site was made public, the Mexican Government came to be directly involved. The head of the Archaeological Department of the Mexican Government was very upset at these very ancient dates at this site.
It is also believed by us that he did not like the fact that Americans were finding this site, nor did he like that the Americans involved were women. Whatever his motive, he had the Mexican army go and close the site down, and confiscate all of the artifacts and related materials.” 3
So why wouldn’t the Mexican government want the information out? Why were they so worried about the fact that the information showed that people had been in the area for longer than the common accepted knowledge? Or did someone else put pressure on them?
The materials and artifacts that were found in Hueyatlaco, they have vanished. They were taken by the government and when Ms. Williams went to do research on them, they couldn’t be found. They had been ‘lost’ by the government.
Does this make you want to see what else you can find? With the internet being a web of information who knows, maybe asking the right questions will lead someone to figure a puzzle out that others haven’t been able to and bring a new aspect on life.
Update on Post:
I spoke with one of my in-laws, Wayne who is an archeologist and anthropologist on this topic and he pointed out that there was another side that we needed to consider. He suggested that we needed to consider the topic of the earliest to most current forms of radio carbon dating that has been on the Mesoamerican area.
Wayne studied and lived in Mesoamerican area for many years and pointed out the fact that the area that the dig was done in and during the 1950’s and the 1960’s they were more of a male oriented culture than the United States was.
I went online and did some looking for some information on the way that radio carbon dating works and so we can look at the aspect in with the questions on the dig in Hueyatlaco. The basics that we all know of how radiocarbon dating works is that any living thing whether animal or plant has carbon in it. When that living thing dies the carbon will degrade at set rate and we can tell how long ago the item in question has died.
According to http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Nuclear/cardat.html carbon dating is a variety of radioactive dating which is applicable only to matter which was once living and presumed to be in equilibrium with the atmosphere, taking in carbon dioxide from the air for photosynthesis.
According to https://c14.arch.ox.ac.uk/dating.html the items that can be radiocarbon dated must have been a living creature at one point in time. Common materials for radiocarbon dating are: bone, wood, charcoal, linen, wool and parchment. How radiocarbon gets there
The radiocarbon formed in the upper atmosphere is mostly in the form of carbon dioxide. This is taken up by plants through photosynthesis. Because the carbon present in a plant comes from the atmosphere in this way, the radio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in the plant is virtually the same as that in the atmosphere. Plant eating animals (herbivores and omnivores) get their carbon by eating plants. All animals in the food chain, including carnivores, get their carbon indirectly from plant material, even if it is by eating animals which themselves eat plants. The net effect of this is that all living organisms have the same radiocarbon to stable carbon ratio as the atmosphere.
The dating principle
Once an organism dies the carbon is no longer replaced. Because the radiocarbon is radioactive, it will slowly decay away. Obviously, there will usually be a loss of stable carbon too but the proportion of radiocarbon to stable carbon will reduce according to the exponential decay law:
R = A exp(-T/8033)
where R is 14C/12C ratio in the sample, A is the original 14C/12C ratio of the living organism and T is the amount of time that has passed since the death of the organism.
By measuring the ratio, R, in a sample we can then calculate the age of the sample:
T = -8033 ln(R/A)
The simplified approach described above does not tell the whole story. There are two reasons why the radiocarbon date is not a true calendar age:
this is not exactly as originally measured by Libby; the original half life is still used in calculations in order to maintain consistency and because other effects are more important
the radiocarbon concentration of the atmosphere has not always been constant; in fact it has varied significantly in the past
Both of these complications are dealt with by calibration of the radiocarbon dates against material of known age.
Further complications arise when the carbon in a sample has not taken a straightforward route from the atmosphere to the organism and thence to the measured sample. Common examples are:
where material from the soil or conservation work becomes incorporated into the sample resulting in an admixture of carbon with a different radiocarbon content; the purpose of chemical pre-treatment is to remove all such material
these occur, for example, when some of the carbon reaches the sample by way of the oceans; because the radiocarbon composition of the oceans differs from that of the atmosphere, this can lead to erroneous dates; stable isotope measurements can be used to see if this effect is present since the stable isotope concentration of the oceans is also different