An international team of archaeological experts and students are working against time in northern Argentina to uncover important prehistoric artifacts.
GV AND SV Archaeologists digging in soil (3 shots)
GV PAN FROM dam TO archaeologists sifting river mud (3 shots)
GV Salto Grande dam
GV Archaeologists walking back to camp with finds
SV's AND CU's finds being examined and sorted (3 shots)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: An international team of archaeological experts and students are working against time in northern Argentina to uncover important prehistoric artifacts. Early next year the giant Salto Grande dam will begin operating and its reservoir will flood an area now know to contain significant evidence on prehistoric South American life.
SYNOPSIS: The rescue operation was initiated by Uruguayan archaeologists alarmed at the threat posed by construction of the dam. They found artifacts up to 9,000 years old. This pushed back by several centuries the previous dating of earliest human settlements in the area. By recording the geological layers in each dig, the workers have been able to build a picture of successive Indian cultures.
Much work remains to be done by various experts and to speed the digs, the Uruguayans have been joined by experts from Canada, France, Argentina and Brazil. The French National Centre for Scientific Research and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) have contributed money, while the Uruguayan government gave equipment, including a helicopter for aerial surveys.
The dam reservoir will fl???d the area from January next year. After that, all evidence of the Salto Grande prehistory will be lost. Already some 20,000 specimens have been recovered, including tools of carved and polished stone, bone instruments, ceramics and pottery. There have even been some unusual human remains found. The condition and treatment of the bones has taught the experts a lot about the rites and skills of the early South Americans. They appear to have been mainly hunting and harvesting ???, followed by farmers who lived on the pampas of what are now Argentina and Brazil. The studies have also shown considerable changes in the topography since th???se days.