Until recently, the textiles had not been dated, and the actual date of their origin has become a bit of a controversy in of itself, as some researchers question the validity of the age of the textiles according to the lead researcher, Edward Jolie, an archaeologist from Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania.
The cave where the items were found is located in the intermountain Callejo’n de Huaylas Valley (2,500-4,000m)
The first complex, also thought to be the oldest, referred to as ‘Complex I’ was characterized by flakes, scrapers, a tanged triangular-bladed projectile point, and the remains of deer and small animals such as rabbits, birds, and rodents. In the second complex, ‘Complex II’, similar items were uncovered, as well as additional animal remains. Cultural material, such as triangular, lanceolate, and other contracting-
Some of the fiber-based artifacts were woven together into four coils and two bundles of finely processed fiber indicative of artifact construction material, 53 lengths of knotted and in knotted cordage or varying diameters, and three fragments of finely woven textiles of different structural techniques.
Part of the controversy regarding the origins of the materials found in the cave stem from evidence that the cave had been disturbed frequently by human and geological activity, making it possible that at least some of the textiles could have belonged to more recent inhabitants. This is in addition to prior radiocarbon dates for the site, taken from bone, obsidian, and charcoal; all of which are known to produce inaccurate radiocarbon ages at times, charcoal most of all, according to Jolie.
“By dating the textiles themselves, we were able to confirm their antiquity and refine the timing of the early occupation of the Andes highlands,” Jolie said.
Even in the face of such controversy, Jolie stands by his findings. By using the latest radiocarbon dating techniques, including accelerated mass spectrometry, Jolie and his team are able to place the origins of the textiles between 12,100 and 11,080 years old.
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