BRANTFORD – Disappointed to the bone after important finds of stone tools were ignored by the Canadian Archaeological Society, German born Ilse Kraemer stopped her archaeological pursuits years ago and turned towards protecting the environment.
Her archaeological finds, made roughly 30 years ago, did not fit the well-trod belief that no one lived in the Western Hemisphere before 13,000 years ago and would not be accepted as evidence contrary to that belief.
Around 1982, her greatest prize became her deepest disappointment. She found stone tools that survived the last Ice Age relatively intact, near Hagersville, Ont. These cutting and scraping tools had a microscopic deep, shiny red patina covering them, as well as on the flakes of cast-off material surrounding them.
On the advice of known and reputed archaeologist Thomas E. Lee, Dr. George F. Carter at Texas A&M University, and others, samples of these flakes and tools were sent to several universities in North America and Europe for analysis and dating.
Carter did his own study on the red tools and wrote Kraemer stating, in part, “Based on the typology of this material and the weathering, I would suggest some quite high age is possible. I judge it to be old, and probably very old.”
He put a probable date of 200,000 B.P. (before present), by judging the piece on several criteria.
“I have never seen anything comparable to this on any Sandia-Clovis-Folsom material,” he wrote Kraemer.
German archaeologist and author Werner Muller contacted Kraemer from Berlin with great interest in her find. He had found in his studies of Early Man that suggests the migration of man could have happened from Alaska to Siberia and into Asia by way of that same Bering Strait land bridge.
Muller wrote Kraemer: “The North Sea region from Ireland to Scandinavia is known to have served as a bridgehead centre of American cultural forms. Some of these have survived down to the present day, and suggest that the supposedly new continent is the source of the late Paleolithic strata of Europe.”
But besides fellow archaeologist and friend Dr. Lee, Carter and a couple of other free thinking western scientists, Kraemer ran into a brick wall in Canada trying to get the find recognized as significant.
What she found was that while the European scientific community she sent samples to, including at Vienna University in Austria, easily identified the finds as from extreme antiquity, approx. 100,000 to 200,000 years old, the North American science world only gave the samples as passing glance.
There were other finds in the west that predated the land bridge theory, but they also were dismissed as being some kind of anomaly. After all, there were no humans here before those who migrated over the land bridge sometime around 13,000 years ago, right?
On the other hand, the European archaeological community, which had been working with Early Man sites throughout the European, Asian, African block, saw, analyzed and dated her find as being as old as 100,000 years given the depth and shine of the red patina on her tools. This Desert Varnish, as it is called, takes 10’s of thousands of years to form and only in exactly the right conditions.
In the past three issues of the Two Row Times, we traced the discovery of these and other finds that indicate that there were in fact, people living and flourishing on this side of the world for nearly as long as Early Man has been on the planet.
Since publishing her story, Ilse Kraemer, now in her 80s, has received numerous communications and phone calls from far and wide, asking for more information about her 30-year-old find.
Six Nations and other indigenous peoples of North America have shown interest in her finds as well. Some have said that the acceptance of early indigenous antiquity in the west could carry some political and legal implications as well.
Kraemer feels somewhat vindicated by the growing acceptance of a new generation of the archaeologists and paleontologists, and with more recent finds that have also evidenced proof of early occupation of the Americas.
“I know the Indians have always said they didn’t come here from anywhere else, but were always here,” says Kraemer. “I think they could be right.”
Kenyan paleoanthropologist and archaeologist Louis Seymour Bazett Leakey and his wife Mary discovered what has been called the oldest humanoid found in Africa, which dates to about 3.2 million B.P. The fossil remains of the young woman the Leakey’s found were named Lucy. But is it possible there was more than one Lucy?
Dr. Leakey was also part of the team that excavated the Calico Early Man Site in California with Ruth DeEtte Simpson. When their finds of stone tools were dated to be as old as 100,000 years, even the great Dr. Leakey lost his reputation over it. By then the land bridge idea had become so entrenched, that even Dr. Leakey himself couldn’t get the Western world to accept the finds of the Calico site as proof of the existence of Early Man in the West being much earlier than accepted.
“It’s certainly got people talking again,” says Kraemer from her home in Brantford. “The phone has been ringing off the wall. People are quite excited about it again.”
Kraemer is hoping for vindication for herself as well as for Dr. Lee who brought to light stone tool artifacts made out of quartzite on Manitoulin Island. His discovery also dated to before the last Ice Age at around 50,000 B.P.
“I am so glad you wrote this story,” says Kraemer. “Maybe newer eyes with much more training in Early Man tools and artifacts, will prove it true. Man was here long before the text books say he was.”
Archeology 1 & 2 & 3: Some clips of documentation that has been mentioned in the article. Photos by Jim Windle