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When and how did the first human beings settle in the American continent? Numerous data, from archaeological researches as well as from palaeogenetics, anthropological and environmental studies, have led to partially contradictory interpretations in recent years, often because of the lack of a reliable chronological framework. The present study contributes to the establishment of such a framework using luminescence techniques to date a Brazilian archaeological site, the Toca da Tira Peia. It constitutes an exemplary case study: all our observations and measurements tend to prove the good integrity of the site and the anthropological nature of the artifacts and we are confident in the accuracy of the luminescence dating results. All these points underline the importance of the Toca da Tira Peia. The results bring new pieces of evidence of a human presence in the north-east of Brazil as early as 20,000 BC. The Toca da Tira Peia thus contributes to the rewriting of the history of the peopling of the American continent.
Lahaye et al. (2013) published a paper that does precisely that – it demands a radical reformulation not just of the Paleoindian archaeological record but of the Eurasian Upper Paleolithic archaeological record as well. The Toca da Tira Peia rockshelter in Brazil (originally discovered in 2008) has yielded 113 knapped artifacts from 4 perfectly preserved layers dated from 4,000 to 22,000 YBP by luminescence techniques. The anthropogenic origin of the lithic artifacts is beyond doubt (see Fig. 5 below), the dating method is top of the line and is widely used to date artifacts in the Old World, and the oldest dates are some 10,000 years older than Clov