The Recovery and First Analysis of an Early Holocene Human Skeleton from Kennewick, Washington

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Department or Administrative Unit

Anthropology and Museum Studies

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The nearly-complete, well-preserved skeleton of a Paleoamerican male was found by chance near Kennewick, Washington, in 1996. Although analysis was quickly suspended by the U.S. government, initial osteological, archaeological, and geological studies provide a glimpse into the age and life of this individual. A radiocarbon age of 8410 ± 60 B.P., stratigraphic position in a widely-dated alluvial terrace, and an early-Cascade style projectile point healed into the pelvis date the find to the late Early Holocene. Initial osteological analysis describes the man as middle-aged, standing 173.1 ± 3.6 cm tall and weighing approximately 70-75 kg. Healthy as a child, he later suffered repeatedly from injuries to his skull, left arm, chest, and hip, in addition to minor osteoarthritis and periodontal disease. His physical features, teeth, and skeletal measurements show him to be an outlier relative to modern human populations, but place him closer to Pacific Islanders and Ainu than to Late Prehistoric Amerinds or any other modern group. Despite his uniqueness relative to modern peoples, he is not significantly different from other Paleoamerican males in most characteristics.


This article was originally published in American Antiquity. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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American Antiquity


Copyright © The Society for American Archaeology 2000