A mummy found in 1940, which has been dated to 7420 B.C., was first found by the husband-and-wife archaeological team of Sydney and Georgia Wheeler. The Wheelers, working for the Nevada State Parks Commission, were surveying possible archaeological sites near Carson City, Nevada, to prevent their loss due to guano mining. Upon entering Spirit Cave they discovered the remains of two people wrapped in tule matting. One set of remains, buried deeper than the other, had been partially mummified (the head and right shoulder). The Wheelers, with the assistance of local residents, recovered a total of sixty-seven artifacts from the cave.
These artifacts were examined at the Nevada State Museum where they were estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000 years old. They were deposited at the Nevada State Museum’s storage facility in Carson City where they remained for the next fifty-four years.
In 1996 University of California, Riverside anthropologist R. Ervi Taylor examined seventeen of the Spirit Cave artifacts using mass spectrometry. The results indicated that the mummy was approximately 9,400 years old (uncalibrated Radio-Carbon Years Before-Present (RCYBP); ~11.5 Kya calibrated) — older than any previously known North American mummy.
In March 1997, the Paiute-Shoshone Tribe of the Fallon Reservation and Colony made a Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) claim of cultural affiliation with the artifacts. Further study determined that the mummy exhibits Caucasoid characteristics resembling the Ainu, although a definitive affiliation has not been established. There is also a possible link to Polynesians and Australians that is stronger than to any Native American culture.
The findings were published by the Nevada State Museum on October 24, 1999, and received international media coverage.
In September, 2006, the United States District Court for the District of Nevada ruled on a lawsuit by the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe and said that the Bureau of Land Management made an error in dismissing evidence without a full explanation. The court order remanded the matter back to the BLM for reconsideration of the evidence.
To restate this, the Spirit Cave Man (above) is thus 9400 years old and exhibits Caucasoid characteristics resembling the Ainu, long before Caucasoids were suppose to be in North America.
Of course, a similar find is found sealed in an enigma, wrapped in a like-natured mystery, that of the Kennewick Man of Washington State.
One of the first forensic reconstructions from the skull of the Kennewick Man looked extremely familiar to those who viewed it soon after its completion.