Paisley Caves

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42.76, -120.55
United States of America
Date range max:
14,300 Bp
Date range min:
12,265 Bp

The Paisley Caves or the Paisley Five Mile Point Caves complex is a system of eight caves in an arid, desolate region of south-central Oregon, United States north of the present-day city of Paisley, Oregon. The caves are located in the Summer Lake basin at 4,520 feet (1,380 m) elevation and face west, carved into a ridge of Miocene and Pliocene era basalts mixed with soft volcanic tuffs and breccias by Pleistocene-era waves from Summer Lake. One of the caves may contain archaeological evidence of the oldest definitively-dated human presence in North America. The site was first studied by Luther Cressman in the 1930s.

Scientific excavations and analysis in the Paisley Caves since 2002 have uncovered substantial new discoveries, including subfossil human coprolites with the oldest DNA evidence of human habitation in North America, various artifacts, and animal remains. The DNA was radiocarbon dated to 14,300 BP or roughly 12,000 BCE. The caves were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.