Paisley Caves

Paisley Caves

Infobox Cave
name = Paisley Caves complex
photo =
caption =
location = 5 mi (8 km) N of Paisley, Oregon
depth =
length =
coordinates = coord|42.76195|-120.55368|display=inline,title
discovery = 10,000+ years ago
geology =
number of entrances = 5+
list of entrances =
difficulty =
hazards = archaeological site
access =

The Paisley Caves complex are a system of four caves in an arid, desolate region of south-central Oregon, United States. One of the caves contains archaeological evidence of the oldest definitively-dated human presence in North America.


A field school from the University of Oregon has been examining the site since 2002 and analyzing its pre-Clovis artifacts. cite web
url =
title = Fossil Feces Is Earliest Evidence of N. America Humans
author = David Wolman
publisher = National Geographic News
date = April 3, 2008
accessdate = 2008-04-25
] In the summer of 2007, they identified the oldest human DNA yet discovered in the American continents. This assertion is based on several samples of coprolite (fossilized excrement) found in the Paisley Caves complex, between Lakeview and Bend, Oregon, on the eastern side of the Cascade mountain range. [ Gilbert, M. Thomas P., Dennis L. Jenkins, et al. [ DNA from Pre-Clovis Human Coprolites in Oregon, North America] , Science Express. 2008-04-03.] [ [ Preclovis] ] [ Fox, Maggie. [ Ancient feces indicates earlier American origins] , Scientific American, April 3 2008. ]

The fossils were found in Paisley Five Mile Point Cave at the same level as a small rock-lined hearth some convert|7|ft|m|0 below the modern surface. At that level was also discovered a large number of bones from waterfowl, fish, and large mammals including extinct camel and horse. Radiocarbon dating places these coprolites between 12,750 and 14,290 calendar years before the present, probably representing a pre-Clovis occupation. DNA analysis provides apparent genetic ties to Siberia or Asia. [ [ Researchers, Led by Archaeologist, Find Pre-Clovis Human DNA] Newswise, Retrieved on July 7, 2008.] Evidence at other archaeological sites—as well as 1930s work at Paisley Caves—had also been thought to provide such evidence, but questionable excavation techniques clouded the issue. Knowing this, the U of O team worked carefully to avoid the mistakes of the past.

The theory that Pre-Clovis immigrants traveled to North America down the Pacific Coast suggests that the travelers would have passed through the hinterlands of what is Oregon today. The Paisley Caves, up-river from the Pacific Ocean along the Klamath River, are therefore an ideal spot to search for the evidence of such people. The fossils provide evidence of the groups possibly having lived there. DNA from coyote, fox, and dog (or wolf) were also found. cite web
url =
title = DNA from Pre-Clovis Human Coprolites in Oregon, North America
author = M. Thomas P. Gilbert
coauthors = Dennis L. Jenkins, Anders Götherstrom, Nuria Naveran, Juan J. Sanchez, Michael Hofreiter, Philip Francis Thomsen, Jonas Binladen, Thomas F. G. Higham, Robert M. Yohe II, Robert Parr, Linda Scott Cummings, Eske Willerslev
format = PDF
work = "Science"
publisher = American Association for the Advancement of Science
date = 3 April2008
accessdate = 2008-04-13

The caves are in the Summer Lake basin at convert|4520|ft|m elevation and face to the west in a ridge of Miocene and Pliocene era basalts mixed with soft volcanic tuffs and breccias from which the caves were carved by Pleistocene era waves from Summer Lake. The caves are located north of the city of Paisley, Oregon. [ cite web
url =
title = NGBPP Research at the Paisley Caves
author = Dennis L. Jenkins, Director, Northern Great Basin Field School
accessdate = 2008-04-03

See also

* Fort Rock Cave
* Kennewick Man
* Marmes Rockshelter


* [ Paisley Caves description] from University of Oregon
* Citation
last = Wilford | first = John Noble
title = Evidence Supports Earlier Date for People in North America
newspaper = The New York Times
date = April 8, 2008
url =

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