Dennis Jenkins’ lecture about an archeological dig at Paisley Caves in Oregon was a general public science lecture at its best. He demonstrated how carefully his scientific work was done. His dig in this previously known archeological site was careful and detailed in the extreme, with each centimeter-thick layer of material carefully removed, analyzed and documented with a record photograph of every step of the process.
He did find human artifacts like stone points and other tools such as a bone sewing needle but the most valuable items were the human coprolites (feces). These are useful because they are radiocarbon datable, they contain human DNA, and they contain plant pollen which identifies what had been recently eaten. Paisley cave was an occasional overnight stop for thousands of years for paleo-indians and over those millennia dust and other fine material drifted in and formed clearly defined layers of sediments separating the older from the newer materials.
The coprolite was collected by scientists who specialize in this type of study. Note the complete body covering and the quick transfer of just exposed coprolite into a sterile and soon-to-be sealed container.
Note the glass hood, rubber gloves and air-flow containment under the hood.
These are some of the artifacts which were found deep under the surface and layered into the stratified sediment. Thus they were clearly datable to where they were found.
These layers are clearly visible and show that they were undisturbed and had enough materials to be accurately dated.
The conclusions were – Paleoamericans were in the Paisley Caves (at 42.7613 -120.5513) by at least 14,300 years ago. They were related to ancient Siberians and modern Native Americans. They were well adapted to this environment. They were broad range foragers.
After the lecture Professor Jenkins and I talked for fifteen minutes about various things concerned with his work. One sad thing was that much of his careful scientific work had been done before he received significant financial backing from granting sources. That was surprising because these findings predate the Clovis Culture as being the first Americans. The Clovis-first theory has been accepted by archaeologists since the 1930s but these findings predate that by a thousand years. That is why it was essential to get the data collection perfect and to do that right requires plenty of money for the precise lab tests which are done by totally unrelated testing groups.