News 12 at 6 o'clock, May 24, 2010
ALLENDALE CTY, S.C. --- Researchers in the small town of Martin, South Carolina have been digging for more than a decade looking for the first form of human life in America.
For years scientists thought humans walked the earth about 13,000 years ago. But what they're digging up at Topper could change ancient history forever.
Researchers are sifting and measuring all in hopes to unearth some of the world's greatest treasures in Allendale County at the Topper Site.
"Perhaps the greatest scientific importance of this is the presence of very early humans," said Dr. Al Goodyear who is leading the Topper Expedition.
Dr. Goodyear is heading up the expedition on the Clariant property. For more than two decades, Dr. Goodyear along with researchers have found clues that could change ancient history as we know it forever.
"We have an abundant Clovis presence here, far, far greater than we ever imagined. But in 1998, we dug deeper looking for the possibility of earlier human. Some minimally 20-thousand years old and some perhaps 50-thousand years old," said Dr. Goodyear.
Researchers and volunteers come from all over the world, working around the clock, looking for traces of the past. And with evidence that life was in the south years before the ice age, its makes Topper one of the oldest sites of its kind. And the findings there are something researchers all over the world are digging into.
"It's controversial. The artifacts are seemingly impossible old. They're much simpler tools and so forth. The most significant claim and the most controversial would be could our species really be in this hemisphere not just a couple thousand years before Clovis but could they've been here 10, 20 or 30 thousand years before then?" said Dr. Goodyear.
Researchers are digging by land looking for traces of the past, they're also heading underwater to gather parts of ancient history.
If you drive just a few miles up the road, you'll find the Savannah River where even more researchers and volunteers are dredging the river hoping to find even more hidden treasures like ancient Clovis points.
"You might get a snake, you might get a Clovis point. So it's exciting," said Lorene Fisher who is digging at Topper.
Lorene fisher says the excitement is almost too much to handle.
"You might have heart palpitations. You're just so close to nature and the beginning of life. They're really having to rewrite the history books and to be a part of that, it's just awesome," said Fisher.
Researchers say it's an awesome experience and an awesome location to find and make history.
"You've got a huge flint source, unending supply of stone for your tools, and you have the Savannah River right in front of you. That's the magic formula for a good pre-historic site. Topper is the golden goose for us. We came here for one thing and found another and another," said Dr. Goodyear.
And with more treasures being uncovered every day, Dr. Goodyear says Topper is nowhere near finished giving up its ancient secrets.
"We know some things but there's more to discover here," said Dr. Goodyear.
A few years ago, an Arizona geophysicist found evidence of a meteor or comet explosion at Topper. Researchers say that could explain the extinction of the Clovis culture as well has woolly mammoths who once walked in earth years ago in Allendale County.