A study found evidence that indigenous Fuegians traveled to the Falkland Islands long before the arrival of Europeans

A study conducted by the American University of Maine found evidence of human activity in Falkland Islands between the years 1250 and 1420, some 300 years before the arrival of the Europeans to the southern archipelago. The research, published in the journal Science Advances, states that the findings are consistent with the culture of the Yagan (Yámana) people of Tierra del Fuego.

The team led by Kit Hamley, a researcher at the National Science Foundation of the Climate Change Institute of the University of Maine, announced that she found elements that prove that indigenous South Americans arrived in the Falklands between 1250 and 1420, although they do not rule out that this landing occurred much earlier.

Evidence collected on the islands is based on radiocarbon dating of charcoal remains and animal bones.

Puerto Argentino, in the Falkland Islands. (Photo: AFP / Pablo Porciuncula Brune).

What were the findings that prove the arrival of indigenous people to the Falkland Islands before the Europeans

According to the research, the coal debris left marks of increased fire activity around AD 150. But in addition two abrupt peaks are reported that could mean human activity in 1410 and 1770. The Europeans arrived in the Falklands precisely at the end of the 18th century.

Scientists also collected bones from sea lions and penguins on the island of Goicoechea. These bones were stacked, which begs the question, who stacked them neatly?

Nearby researchers found a stone projectile tip similar to that used by indigenous South Americans.

American researchers theorize that these indigenous groups made short visits to the island and then returned to the mainland. In their stays they left little cultural and material evidence in the archipelago.

Hamley said that “these findings broaden our understanding of indigenous movement and activity in the remote and harsh South Atlantic Ocean ”.

This is really exciting because opens new doors to collaborate with descendant indigenous communities and may our understanding of ecological change throughout the region grow. People have long speculated whether indigenous South Americans made it to the Falkland Islands, so it’s really gratifying to be able to play a role in helping that part of the past come to life on the islands, ”he said.

South American Indians came before Europeans
South American Indians came before Europeans

Another important element taken into account by the study includes a tusk of a guará or Malvinas wolf-fox, an extinct species in the mid-1800s. It is believed that this animal came from the continent, where it did not prosper either.

It is believed that the guará (close relative of the Aguará-guazú) was domesticated by the Yagans of Tierra del Fuego.


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