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Seattle Area Dig Unearths Ancient Stone Tools

Construction is associated with many things—traffic jams, power outages, and of course, new sites for people to visit. But now, a construction site in Redmond, Washington has led to a new discovery.

An archaeological survey meant to approve construction near Redmond Town Center Mall led to the finding of thousands of stone tools from at least 10,000 years ago. This site is one of only a handful of archaeological sites in the region with discoveries that date back to that time period.

Archaeologist Robert Kopperl led the field investigation and told The Seattle Times that the site was a surprise to all involved.

We were pretty amazed…this is the oldest archaeological site in the Puget Sound lowland with stone tools.

The crew on site found more than 4,000 stone flakes, scrapers, awls and spear points.  After chemical analyses of the tools, scientists revealed that the tools shows traces of the different food sources for the time, including bison, deer, bear, sheep and salmon.

Originally, the site was surveyed in 2009 as part of a salmon habitat restoration project in Bear Creek. The $11 million project led to the first discoveries of artifacts closer to the surface of construction. As construction crews dug deeper, they found a layer of peat that was a foot-thick. A radiocarbon analysis of the soil found that it was at least 10,000 years old.

One of the more unique discoveries is the bottoms of two spear points. The points found do not display the well-known Clovis method of toolmaking, which is known for shallow grooves, or flutes, along the spear point; instead, they have concave bases, which is rarely seen.

Kopperl said that this find represents an earlier style not well-understood, as of yet.

It just shows you that humans continuously use the landscape, and that the places that people use today are the same places that people used yesterday.

Although the tools are a beneficial find for historical analysis, it also added cost to the restoration project and delayed its completion by approximately two years. Officials are working with local tribes Muckleshoot and Snoqualmie, whose ancestors are most likely attributed to the tools, to ensure the site is placed under permanent protection.

Once fully-analyzed, the artifacts will be given back to the Mucklshoot Tribe for curation. Currently, there are no plans to display the artifacts publicly.

Construction was completed this year. To help preserve any unexcavated artifacts, a thick layer of soil and vegetation was also added.

In other archaeological coverage here at Immortal News, 5,000-year-old human footprints were discovered in Denmark last November.

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