Kennewick Man

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Kennewick Man

Kennewick Man is the name for the remains of a prehistoric man found on a bank of the Columbia River near Kennewick, Washington, USA on July 28, 1996. The discovery of Kennewick Man was accidental: a pair of spectators found his skull while attending the annual hydroplane races.

The remains became embroiled in debates about the relationship between Native American religious rights and archaeology. Based on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), five American Indian groups claimed the remains as theirs, to be buried by traditional means. In February 2004, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a cultural link between the tribes and the skeleton was not met, opening the door for more scientific study.

The remains were first examined by anthropologist James Chatters. After ten separate visits, Chatters was able to collect three hundred and fifty pieces of bone as well as the skull, which completed almost a full skeleton. The cranium was fully intact except for two teeth. All of the major bones were found but in several pieces. Surprising results showed that they were dealing with a 9000 year old skeleton rather than a man of the nineteenth century, as originally thought. At the University of California at Riverside, a small piece of bone was used for radiocarbon dating to determine that the Kennewick Man was approximately 9,300 years old. After collecting all the bone pieces, Chatters concluded the subject was a Caucasoid male about 68 inches (173 cm) tall who died in his mid fifties.

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