18,000-Year-Old Oregon Rock Shelter Is Earliest Known Site of Human Habitation in North America, According to New Discovery

Archaeologists in Oregon have found evidence that humans lived in the Rimrock Draw Rockshelter more than 18,000 years ago, making it the oldest known site of human occupation in North America.

Rimrock Draw Rockshelter in Oregon, USA. Image credit: BLM Oregon & Washington
North America is a continent rich in archaeological mysteries. For decades, researchers have debated when and how the first humans arrived in this land. Now, a new discovery in Oregon may challenge the conventional timeline of human settlement in North America.

The Rimrock Draw Rockshelter is a natural cave-like formation in eastern Oregon, near the town of Riley. It is located on public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The rockshelter has been used by various groups of people for thousands of years, as evidenced by the artifacts and features found inside.

The University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History Archaeological Field School has been excavating the rockshelter since 2011, under the leadership of archaeologist Patrick O’Grady. Over the years, they have uncovered several items of interest, such as stone tools, animal bones, and plant remains.