The Settlement of the American Continents: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Human Biogeography

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When many scholars are asked about early human settlement in the Americas, they might point to a handful of archaeological sites as evidence. Yet the process was not a simple one, and today there is no consistent argument favoring a particular scenario for the peopling of the New World. This book approaches the human settlement of the Americas from a biogeographical perspective in order to provide a better understanding of the mechanisms and consequences of this unique event. It considers many of the questions that continue to surround the peopling of the Western Hemisphere, focusing not on sites, dates, and artifacts but rather on theories and models that attempt to explain how the colonization occurred. Unlike other studies, this book draws on a wide range of disciplines—archaeology, human genetics and osteology, linguistics, ethnology, and ecology—to present the big picture of this migration. Its wide-ranging content considers who the Pleistocene settlers were and where they came from, their likely routes of migration, and the ecological role of these pioneers and the consequences of colonization. Comprehensive in both geographic and topical coverage, the contributions include an explanation of how the first inhabitants could have spread across North America within several centuries, the most comprehensive review of new mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome data relating to the colonization, and a critique of recent linguistic theories. Although the authors lean toward a conservative rather than an extreme chronology, this volume goes beyond the simplistic emphasis on dating that has dominated the debate so far to a concern with late Pleistocene forager adaptations and how foragers may have coped with a wide range of environmental and ecological factors. It offers researchers in this exciting field the most complete summary of current knowledge and provides non-specialists and general readers with new answers to the questions surrounding the origins of the first Americans.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Of great value to the ongoing, and sometimes contentious, debate about the New World peopling.”—Journal of Field Archaeology
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816523238
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 281
  • Sales rank: 1,205,522
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

C. Michael Barton is Professor of Anthropology at Arizona State University. Geoffrey A. Clark is Regents’ Professor of Anthropology, both at Arizona State University. David R. Yesner is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Georges A. Pearson is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Kansas.

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Table of Contents

1 An interdisciplinary perspective on long-term human biogeography and the Pleistocene colonization of the Americas 1
I The first American settlers 9
2 An anthropological genetic view of the peopling of the New World 11
3 Peopling of the New World : a comparative craniofacial view 28
4 Evaluating historical linguistic evidence for ancient human communities in the Americas 39
5 The concept of Clovis and the peopling of North America 49
6 A review of bioarchaeological thought on the peopling of the New World 64
II The trail to the Americas 77
7 Rapid migrations by arctic hunting peoples : Clovis and Thule 79
8 Pan-American Paleoindian dispersals and the origins of fishtail projectile points as seen through the lithic raw-material reduction strategies and tool-manufacturing techniques at the Guardiria Site, Turrialba Valley, Costa Rica 85
9 Deconstructing the North Atlantic connection 103
10 Invented traditions and the ultimate American origin myth : in the beginning... there was an ice-free corridor 113
III The land and people transformed 121
11 Modeling the initial colonization of the Americas : issues of scale, demography, and landscape learning 123
12 The ecology of human colonization in pristine landscapes 138
13 Beyond "big" : gender, age, and subsistence diversity in Paleoindian societies 162
14 Early Paleoindians as estate settlers : archaeological, ethnographic, and evolutionary insights into the peopling of the New World 173
15 Late Pleistocene extinctions through second-order predation 177
16 Megafauna, Paleoindians, petroglyphs, and pictographs of the Colorado Plateau 189
17 Peopling of the Americas and continental colonization : a millennial perspective 196
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