May 2000 — Geology study done by consultants; ice age soil confirmed for pre-Clovis artifacts.
May 2001 — Geologists revisit Topper and obtain ancient plant remains deep down in the Pleistocene terrace.
The findings are significant because they suggest that humans inhabited North America well before the last ice age more than 20,000 years ago, a potentially explosive revelation in American archaeology.
The absolute age is not known." The revelation of an even older date for Topper is expected to heighten speculation about when man got to the Western Hemisphere and add to the debate over other pre-Clovis sites in the Eastern United States such as Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Pa., and Cactus Hill, Va.In October 2005, archaeologists will meet in Columbia for a conference on Clovis and the study of earliest Americans.Radiocarbon tests of carbonized plant remains where artifacts were unearthed last May along the Savannah River in Allendale County by University of South Carolina archaeologist Dr.Albert Goodyear indicate that the sediments containing these artifacts are at least 50,000 years old, meaning that humans inhabited North American long before the last ice age.The conference will include a day trip to Topper, which is sure to dominate discussions and presentations at the international gathering. Al Goodyear and his team dig up to a meter below the Clovis level and encounter unusual stone tools up to two meters below surface.
May 1999 — Team of outside geologists led by Mike Waters, a researcher at Texas A&M, visit Topper site and propose a thorough geological study of locality.
The Topper excavation site is on the bank of the Savannah River on property owned by Clariant Corp., a chemical corporation headquartered near Basel, Switzerland.
He recovered numerous stone tool artifacts in soils that were later dated by an outside team of geologists to be 16,000 years old.
"The dates could actually be older," Goodyear says.
"Fifty-thousand should be a minimum age since there may be little detectable activity left." The dawn of modern homo sapiens occurred in Africa between 60,000 and 80,000 years ago.
Evidence of modern man's migration out of the African continent has been documented in Australia and Central Asia at 50,000 years and in Europe at 40,000 years.