afriCalendar Highlight: Luzia Woman

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

Luzia Woman is the name for an Upper Palaeolithic period skeleton of a woman who was found in a cave in Brazil.

Some archaeologists believe the young woman may have been part of the first wave of immigrants to South America. Nicknamed Luzia, her name pays homage to the famous African fossil ""Lucy"" (Dinknesh), who lived 3.2 million years ago.

Luzia Woman, the 11,500-year-old skeleton was found in Lapa Vermelha, Brazil, in 1975 by archaeologist Annette Laming-Emperaire.

New dating of the bones announced in 2013 confirmed an age of 11,243–11,710 years ago. Luzia is one of the most ancient American human skeletons ever discovered. Forensics have determined that Luzia died in her early 20s. Although flint tools were found nearby, there are no other human remains in Vermelha Cave.

Anthropologists have variously described Luzia's features as resembling those of Negroids, Indigenous Australians, Melanesians and the Negritos of Southeast Asia. However,Walter Neves, an anthropologist at the University of São Paulo, suggests that Luzia's features most strongly resemble those of Australian Aboriginal peoples. Richard Neave of Manchester University, who undertook a forensic facial reconstruction of Luzia described it as Negroid.

Anthropologists have theorized that Luzia's predecessors lived in South East Asia for tens of thousands of years, after migrating from Africa, and began arriving in the New World, as early as 15,000 years ago.

The oldest confirmed date for an archaeocyte in the Americas is 18,500 and 14,500 years ago for the Monte Verde site in southern Chile. Some anthropologists have hypothesized that Africans from coastal East Asia migrated in boats along the Kuril island chain, the Beringian coast, and down the west coast of the Americas during the decline of the Last Glacial Maximum."

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