In the summer of 1996 two college students were wading in the Columbian River in Kennewick, Washington when they stumbled upon a skull.
While clearly old, the skull did not appear Native American, according to reports. But when experts sent a sample off for carbon dating, they discovered the remains were more than 9,000 years old.
Kennewick Man: The Scientific Investigation of an Ancient American Skeleton, edited by Douglas W. Owsley and Richard L. Jantz (TAMU Press, 2014) reveals for the first time the results of the scientific study of this remarkable find.
"The book recounts the history of discovery, presents a complete inventory of the bones and explores every angle of what they may reveal," wrote Douglas Preston in a cover story for the Sept. issue ofSmithsonian Magazine.
"Three chapters are devoted to the teeth alone, and another to green stains thought to be left by algae. Together, the findings illuminate this mysterious man’s life and support an astounding new theory of the peopling of the Americas."
But, the scientists' journey toward examining and studying the specimen was not an easy one. Says Preston, "If it weren’t for a harrowing round of panicky last-minute maneuvering worthy of a legal thriller, the remains might have been buried and lost to science forever."
Read the full article, which features details on the secrets Kennewick Man has revealed and continues to reveal about the first Americans, interviews with key researchers including Owsley of the Smithsonian Institution, numerous images, and details on the lawsuit that kept the skeleton under wraps for years here.